There is a lot of focus on mental illness these days and a lot of energy, time, and money is poured into understanding and treating the symptoms. I was caught up in that world myself for over twenty years — thousands of hours of therapy, thousands of pills, hundreds of self help books — trying to mitigate the symptoms of my PTSD.
Then I discovered psychologists George Pransky and Roger Mills — and the man they learned from — a ninth grade educated welder from Scotland named Sydney Banks that had an epiphany back in the 70s. Forty years later, that work continues to spread.
Their approach is wildly innovative. They focus instead on the principles of psychological experience and the hallmarks of good mental health. They educate and then, the client’s growing understanding of these things does the heavy lifting.
In this recent talk, Dr. Pransky outlines four indicators of good mental health. The ability to get over one’s self, the ability to change one’s mind, the ability to entertain new thought and the ability to recognize the subjective nature of human experience. His decades of practice developed from the principles of psychological experience uncovered by Banks have given him deep insight into how humans work and how life works.
You’ll need sound cancelling headphones because of the poor recording quality. But the content is worth the effort.
Earlier this year, for my 50th birthday, I hired a sound engineer for my gig-turned-party and we were able to get some nice recordings.
This one, “Drive Straight Through,” really captures my half century on this rock quite nicely. I wrote it back in 2013 but it’s power and meaning grow for me with each passing year as I see the direction my mind was pointing even before I realized where it was taking me.
Here’s a bit of the lyrics:
There is a place I like to think
We can find our way back to
Somewhere in time and space
Not far from here. We can just drive ourselves straight through.
Headlights burning up the highway
Moon-beamed clouds in our rearview mirror
Wide open starshine in a Guthry skyway
Love can be no clearer
Love can be no clearer
You can hear it below:
There are lots of places I’m pointing here but the biggest is that there’s a place I think we can get to that is near to us on our road trip through life. That we can jump the boundaries of space and time into an open, timeless experience of life on life’s terms. A place where “home can be no nearer” with wonder and love all around.
The old science is largely being replaced by new thinking as our understanding of quantum physics expands. Robert Lanza’s biocentrism theory lines a lot of that new thinking up and it becomes obvious that the principles of psychological experience are well supported in this new direction.
“The answer to life and the universe can’t be found by looking through a microscope or inspecting spiral galaxies. It lies deeper. It involves our very selves. Our consciousness is why they exist. It unifies the thinking, extended worlds into a coherent experience and animates the music that creates our emotions and purposes — the good and the bad, wars and love. It doesn’t load the dice for you to play the game of life. True, there’s pain and strife everywhere. But as Will Durant pointed out, we need to see “behind the strife, the friendly aid of neighbors, the rollicking joy of children and young men, the dances of vivacious girls, the willing sacrifices of parents and lovers, the patient bounty of the soil, and the renaissance of spring.”
In whatever form it takes, life sings because it has a song. The meaning is in the lyrics.”
– Robert Lanza
Check out his article here. And check out biocentrism if you’re scientifically curious about the true nature of reality.
Remember those tests that attached an amount of “stress points” to moving, to grieving, to retiring, to divorcing, to getting married? As if each and every item on the list had a certain amount of stress attached to it and you just needed to accept it and manage it?
If that were true, then all of us would be impacted in the same way by the same circumstances.
One of the gifts that a lifetime of PTSD gave me was recognizing that stress — and all of my other emotional responses to my perception of life — was not an outside-in experience.
We make our own stressful feelings. We manufacture them in our own bodies based on what we think, consciously or unconsciously, is happening to us. And once we turn the corner and truly grok this truth about stress and our other feelings, once we know they flow inside-out in direction, it changes our relationship with them. As this has settled in more, I’ve seen not only my PTSD symptoms largely evaporate but also the other stressful feelings that I used to think were inherent to certain circumstances or events like moving, buying a house, driving to work.
My favorite psychologist, Dr. George Pransky, has a really wonderful (and short) three part video on all of this that really helped me get it.