October 20th, 2005

Emotion as contrasted with Action

So I had another in the long series of Frustrating Conversations With Dad last night. This one was merely frustrating, not infuriating; he was actively trying to be helpful, and it was the fundamental problem that was being intractable.

That problem is the difference caused by my attempt to be an integral -- i.e., "whole"-- person, and his own lifelong strategy of splitting the world with my Mom, she taking the emotions and him having domain over implementation. So right now, with me having an emotional problem, he basically assumes he's completely unable to be of any assistance to me, doesn't bother trying, and pays for a shrink to try in his stead.

I'm willing to try and make what use I can of the shrink, but I feel that a shrink is inherently unable to be of aid with the fundamental problem, and a father, regardless of level of competence, *might* be able to help. I'm trying to keep my own, personal emotions connected to the actions in my life. I see this as a vital issue, and vital also in trying to communicate this skill to my older son, who also has problems with it. I could deal just fine with Dad saying, "Hey, I'm no expert here, but let's take a look and see what we see." He, however, has a long history of refusing to discuss any topic on which he has done less than a master's degree worth of work. Since he has been a lifelong student and is now 73, this limits the field rather less than it might sound; I *think* he has 14 degrees, but I might be off by two or three.

And one of those degrees *is* in psychology; a Masters' from the New School. But emotion, and its relation through motivation to action, was apparently not the core of his study program, and so he simply declines to discuss the issue.

Action can get things done, but it's only Emotion that provides a reason to do anything in the first place. If you don't Feel, why Do?

Input welcome; if there's enough interest to get a good discussion started, I could probably generate a few dozen pages of text. Having learned at least *some* internet manners, I can break that up into 200 to 500 word snippets that are easy to respond to, as long as there's at least one other participant in the discussion who can help prime the pump.

best,

Joel

Spoiling

Aunt on the warpath! I told her Gabe and I were going to pick up his string bass today, and she absolutely exploded with a rant on spoiling children and why it's a bad idea.

Thing is, I agree with her. But I don't feel that getting him an instrument is spoiling him, when he's planning on a career as an entertainer and the instrument is one of the few things his mother will actually part with some money to pay for.

So: How is "spoiling" defined, and how do I tell if I'm doing it?