Culture of Fear V

January 30, 2016 at 5:41 AM Leave a comment

Overstimulation is a fifth way we Americans play into the hands of the terrorists. We love stimulation. We are addicted to stimulation. It is through the stimulation of social media that the terrorists recruit. In addition, what do they promise in their recruitment propaganda? Stimulation.


Stimulation is the response an individual has to external stimuli. An emergency room is very overstimulating to most people, as would be riding a fire engine to a fire call or sitting in the back seat of a police call zooming down the road with its lights flashing and sirens blaring. When we are engaged or overwhelmed by too many different sensations at the same time, we are over-stimulated.


I do not know how many of you play video games. My grandson does and likes me to watch him as he shoots things out of the sky or jumps over pits or averts disaster after disaster. Because he plays video games, he can react quickly enough to be successful at the games and has the endurance of a rhinoceros. I can watch for less than a minute and my eyes are crossing and my head spinning. We build up our stimulation muscle, just as we build our abs – exercise.


We live in a well-muscled society, and our stimulation muscles are no exception. The more stimulation we get, the more stimulation we want. Soldiers often have trouble leaving the intense stimulation of war. Firemen and policemen have difficulty retiring because everything seems boring and blasé without the sirens and lights and daily near-death experiences.


These fast-paced professions used to be the exception in life. Technology has changed all that. Now, thanks to cell phones that bring us calls and messages instantly, husbands and wives can contact each other every minute of the day. As a therapist, I cannot tell you how much anger I have heard over someone not being available at his or her spouse’s beck and call 24/7/365. Phones ding all over the world when someone on Facebook posts a new selfie. A separate ding announces our Friends have finished a new Word. Some other identifiable sound proclaims the person with whom we are engaged in a battle of worlds or wits has made a move. We know everything instantaneously.


Perhaps you have had the absolute pleasure of being the designated driver at some point in your life. You watch in amazement as people lose their inhibitions and get testy, flirty, and generally inappropriate. I was only the designated driver once but I learned more dirt on that group of friends than I ever have in a few hours. (That is saying something for a therapist.) Well, I have similar experiences when I am in a group of people now, almost any group of people, because I am not (yet) addicted to my phone. Even in McDonald’s or the doctor’s office or this morning in yoga class – people feel the need to answer every vibration and beep. I am sure every American would say they would never be a slave, but technology has transformed many of us into slaves. We are slaves to technology. The result is that we are all over-stimulated.


Stimulation is what comes at us from outside. There is a test in psychology, which identifies “victims.” There is actually a “victim” personality. This personality operates from an external locus of control. Victims are those people who allow themselves to be controlled from the outside. Healthy people use an internal locus of control. They control themselves instead of allowing outside forces to control them. Is it clear why I say overstimulation is the fifth factor that sets us up to be the victims of terrorists?


We as a culture are losing so much. We are losing touch with nature, each other and ourselves. When was the last time you had a conversation with someone who did not have a cell phone in his or her hand, at his or her elbow, or somewhere close so they could see who sent every vibration and beep? Moreover, speaking of being out of touch with nature, I read that when there is a full moon these days people rush to their computers to see pictures of the moon. Um . . . the moon is outside, up in the sky. If we go outside, we also get to take sips of the night air and check on the Big Dipper. Nevertheless, no. We look at the moon on the computer.


Losing touch with ourselves is a terrible loss, as well. I love to meditate, thanks to Christine McCorkle who introduced me to meditation a number of years ago. Meditation is a well-known and deeply respected non-medication prescription for anxiety. Meditation is a tried and true path to spiritual awareness and self-knowledge. When I work with clients who are anxious or confused about their emotions or what decisions to make, I often suggest meditation.


First, I have to explain it. Then I hear how impossible it is. Sometimes I can make someone laugh aloud if he or she asks me how long I sit in silence, and I tell him or her I like to sit for an hour at a time. That answer often causes bellowing. Now my one daughter-in-law has described me as “odd” for so long that I am coming to embrace it. Let me tell you how odd I am.

I have become the exception in life. I live in quiet. I don’t watch television, I don’t have music blaring all day, I don’t listen to the radio when I drive,  and I miss more cell phone calls than I answer because my cell phone and I often get separated. I have never played a video game, I only went on a rollercoaster to stop people from calling me chicken, and if I never have another surge of adrenalin in my whole life, I will be contented.


The opposite of overstimulation is peace. Peace is a state of mind and heart as well as an awareness of the perils of stimulation. I feel sorry for terrorists because of the misfits and trauma victims they all are and the misinformation and lack of knowledge they have absorbed. Who in their right mind can think that you do God any favors by killing one of God’s children? Who could believe in a God like that? “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.” John, the writer of the Gospel, does not say God so loved some parts of the world. God so loved THE WORLD. God did not love Iraq or purple people or short people or Americans. God so loved the world.


We, the inhabitants of the world, share a very small planet for a very short period of time. Until we realize that we are all in this together . . . we are all doomed. Staying overstimulated to avoid the truth is not going to help. Living in fear, isolation and smugness and being irresponsible and overstimulated is not going to promote peace. These are some of the most dangerous ingredients of war, evil and destruction.

Peace is possible, but we must “Let It Begin With Me,” as the song says.


Peace to each of you, our friends, from Susan and Tony.


I bet you cannot guess what we are going to talk about in February. Also, I have not said it for a long time, but if you would like to suggest a topic, please do. Email or respond to the blog post with ideas.

Neither have I mentioned for a long time that I offer phone consults if you have private matters you would like to discuss. $50. an hour. Email and we will find a mutually convenient time. (Susan is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Clinical Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.)

Prayer Page:

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Supporting Scripture:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God..” John 3:16-18 (ESV)

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV)

“Moses said to the people, “Do not fear.” Exodus 20:20 (ESV)

“But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20 (ESV)

“But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” Matthew 17:7 (ESV)

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Culture of Fear IV Attributes of Sage

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