Getting Happy... when you wish you were dead

Day 75 – Thursday, 24 Jan

Matthew Parks is at PADS tonight. Naturally our conversation touches on mental illness and I make the point that I have no organic mental illness. He then informs me that “being in his community” automatically entitles me to a diagnosis of PTSD. An interesting point is that Matthew has done absolutely nothing to evaluate me for signs and symptoms of PTSD. He bases the diagnosis solely on my having had a traumatic childhood and life.

This is surprising, and a little amusing. It fits with what Dr. Lozano has warned me about, and with what I’ve read from Dr. William Glasser and Dr. Terry Lynch. They’ve both written books about fulfilling personal needs and changing your behaviors.

We all tend to reach conclusions that support our view of the world. It takes consistent effort to check what you're thinking against what is true.

It makes me think of a conversation I once had with a group of university students. I don't have a degree, but I've spent a lot of time at universities talking with students, participating in their radio programs, and doing continuing education courses.

One time, I was having a conversation with about half a dozen students about common misconceptions. Now, you'd think that would be a dead giveaway, but not quite.

I told them that people often argue about which will hit the ground first: a ten pound weight, or a one pound weight. Every student immediately said the ten pound weigh would hit first.

They argued strenuously when I corrected them and said the weights would strike the ground at the same time.

You're welcome to look it up if you're interested. There was a certain science-type guy who figured this out by dropping weights from a tower a few hundred years ago.

That led us to talking about truth, so naturally I asked them whether absolute truth exists. Just as naturally, and very quickly, they answered with there's no such thing as absolute truth. After I gave them a few examples like, water expands when it freezes - and is the only substance that does. Water cannot be compressed, gasses expand to fill the available volume, and little brothers are always a nuisance. Then I capped the conversation by saying "So you're telling me there's absolutely no such thing as absolute truth."

That finally broke through their scepticism.

Most of the problems I've had in life have come about because I wouldn't live with another person's illusions. My parents always complained that I wouldn't listen. I complained that I never knew when to believe them, and that the rules changed from day to day. Girlfriends have found me demanding when I insist that lying for any reason - even to arrange a surprise party - is wrong.

Like those university students, most people are living with things that aren't true. They're also quite likely to argue in favor of those false beliefs if challenged.

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