NASA says it will re-evaluate the psychological screening it does for its astronauts, after Shuttle pilot Lisa Nowak was arrested this week on charges of attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, and battery. The space agency told reporters late yesterday that there had not been the slightest hint that anything was up with Nowak …
Where is the emotional training in our society?
This situation is an example of a prolific problem in US society, where individuals are able to excel and achieve many things yet remain uneducated in how to positively work through and live with their emotions. We have all witnessed a fifty year old man acting like a four year old brat, we have seen the stalking cases like this one where a conflict with the heart drives people to unacceptable behavior, selfishness is rampant because people never mature past the childish 'me' stage. For the most part, there is no component in any system, including 'parenting', where an individual is educated on what it means to mature emotionally and how to grow in that regard.
How does it get ya?
As a boy I read a lot of Hemingway. I was raised by a father and family that subscribed to the idea of 'the right stuff'. Hemingway wrote a short story of hobos, one of the hobos is an ex prize fighter and punch drunk. One of the characters says the ex fighter is crazy and asks another hobo if he knows what it means to be crazy. The hobo answers no, he doesn't know what it's like to be crazy and asks: "How does it get ya?"
Mental illness can develop in a variety of ways, but perhaps the worst is what is loosely termed as insidious. Schizophrenics are said to suffer from insidious onset of the disease when the symptoms arise very slowly and are difficult to distinguish from evolving character traits. What is most debilitating about an insidious onset of mental illness is that the patient has difficulty red flagging the symptoms and seeking help. Peevishness can turn to paranoia and the memories of innumerable social slights can lay the foundation for an accepted rationalization of paranoid delusional actions.
Successful people in high profile positions must be able to play the game. Social skills are as necessary as the requisite knowledge base. Once a person is widely profiled as successful and stable it's difficult even for psychological evaluators to see the onset of mental problems. In Canada, all too frequently, convicted, imprisoned criminals with violent pasts convince panels of professionals that they've mended their ways and are fit for parole. Once paroled they commit another violent crime. If a convict can deceive professionals then how much more easily can a successful professional, especially when the mental illness insidiously embeds itself and the patient h/im/erself can't distinguish paranoid delusion from historical fact.
An astronaut in diapers driving across America to kidnap a love rival is ripe with humour. A mentally ill person whose life has just crashed in ruins is horrific.
Re: Where is the emotional training in our society?
Yes; clearly, a lack of emotional/ethical training is a classic American problem - as demonstrrated by good Americans like Tristan and Isolde, Isabella of France and Edward II, Messalina and half of Rome...
Every time someone does something phenomenally loopy, we get an outbreak of "What's wrong with us"-es.
It's NOT an American problem; it's NOT a Western problem; it's a HUMAN problem. I BELIEVE in the perfectability of humanity, but we're nowhere NEAR there yet - for a monkey with an overlarge brainbox we're doing pretty well, overall!
Remember - we're a species which can produce crazy astronauts and Desmond Tutus; Mussolinis and Mother Teresas. Don't worry so much about about what other people (or worse yet, "society") is teaching other people's kids. Teach *YOURS* to be sane and, just maybe, if enough of us do that it'll reach critical mass.
“A truly religious person worries about his own spiritual well-being and the physical well-being of every other human being on this planet; a hypocrite worries about his own physical well-being and the spiritual well-being of every other human being on this planet”- Rav Yisroel Slanter.
Someone has to ask the question:
Does this mean NASA will no longer be recruiting space cadets to train as astronuts?
Re: Where is the emotional training in our society?
The original writer did sound as though he was aiming this at the US, which is unfair, but his fundamental point is correct. In all societies there is no training in effective understanding or management of our own emotions and needs. However the educate your own kids option has been tried for the last several thousand years with limited success. How many people know enough (as opposed to think they know enough) to even begin to educate their kids?
I recently came across an interesting concept, google for 'nonviolent communication' and you will find a very interesting distillation of self awareness and communication skills that surprised me (someone who thought they knew themselves and could express themselves) at how much more there was to learn. Try not to let the new-age webpage put you off, if you read the book you will find its actually very practical and down to earth, not at all hippie tree hugger.
One idea I recently heard suggested was that if enough schools taught NVC (or something like it) then the next generation would be much better equipped than ours, and critical mass could more easily be reached.
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