A Proposed Model for Near-Term Human Extinction Support Group (ESG) Functioning

by Bud Nye


Most people find the idea of the extremely high probability of near term human extinction (NTHE) as a result of global heating with its associated abrupt climate change, general ecological collapse, and nuclear power plant collapse very frightening and anxiety provoking, if not outright terror provoking. This high probability of NTHE shakes many people to their psychological, emotional, philosophical, and existential cores, and many find themselves moving back-and-forth among the various stages of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s model of five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Largely because of the profound, pathologically alienated and disconnected nature of our society, I think that many of us, perhaps most of us, find ourselves for the most part alone in trying to grasp and cope with these terrifying, unpredictable, and irreversible issues and processes. It all clashes severely with the naïve, human supremacist beliefs that our culture deeply programmed most of us, from our earliest childhood, to believe. Those of us who have worked through some of our denial, and thus find ourselves in this predicament, can find the support of others extremely helpful. For these reasons, a group of us formed an extinction support group in Tacoma, Washington, two years ago.

In proposing the model that I describe here, I wish to create a document that ESG members can read in order to construct an understanding, common among the group’s participants, of the kinds of interactions that 40 years of detailed, scientific research demonstrates produce loving, mutually supportive relationships among people. I draw, here, heavily on the relationship and emotion research of John Gottman, Paul Ekman, and Susan Johnson, but especially on Susan Johnson and her book, The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, 2nd Ed, 2004. This model comes from the previously mentioned two years’ experience with our Tacoma ESG, my taking a weekend workshop from The Gottman Institute titled “The Art & Science of Love” presented by Dr. John Gottman and his wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, and significant reading of a number of authors regarding relationships and what the most recent scientific evidence suggests makes relationships work well, versus not working well.

In my opinion, and it remains only my opinion and judgment unconfirmed by any research that I presently have any awareness of, the principles that Gottman and Johnson describe in their books largely apply to all relationships, not just to couples and children. I think that this includes friendships, business relationships, and relationships among participants in ESGs. The model I present here comes quite directly from Susan Johnson’s previously mentioned book. I have freely used and translated some of her couples work, which she describes in The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, into an ESG context. I have done this based on my possibly mistaken assumption that the principles she describes apply as well, or nearly as well, in this different context. I strongly recommend that anyone having an interest in this model, or the research basis for the many claims made here, read at least Johnson’s book for much more information and detail than I have presented. I have listed other books that I think strongly support this ESG model, and that present many additional research references, in a recommended reading section below.

Adult love and attachment theory

When researchers ask clients about the basis of happy, long-term relationships, they inevitably answer with one word: love. However, most research has focused on power, control, autonomy, and mediating conflict while excluding nurturance and love. The recent application of attachment theory to adult relationships has proven revolutionary because, for the first time, it provides a coherent, relevant, well-researched framework for understanding and intervening in adult love. The 10 tenants of attachment theory include:

  1. Attachment works as an innate motivating force. Seeking and maintaining contact with significant others works as an innate, primary motivating principle in human beings across the life span. Dependency, often treated as a pathology in our culture, works as an innate part of human behavior rather than as a childhood trait that we outgrow. Attachment and the emotions associated with it serve as the defining core feature of close relationships. As such, it lies at “the heart of the matter” for ESGs. This theoretical perspective claims considerable cross-cultural validity. It also links to the evolution of humans as social animals, and offers a universal perspective. We find the fear of isolation and loss in every human heart. When the wind of loss and isolation blows, it stings the eyes of all.
  2. Secure dependence complements autonomy. According to attachment theory, no such thing as complete independence from others or overdependence exists. We have only effective or ineffective dependency. Secure dependence fosters autonomy and self-confidence. Secure dependence and autonomy then work as two sides of the same coin, rather than as dichotomies. The more securely connected we find ourselves, the more separate and different we can become. Health in this model means maintaining a sense of interdependency, rather than considering oneself as self-sufficient and separate from others.
  3. Attachment offers an essential safe haven. Contact with others works as an innate survival mechanism. The presence of an attachment figure, which usually means parents, children, spouses, and lovers, but also friends, provides comfort and security. The perceived inaccessibility of such figures creates distress. Proximity to others relaxes the nervous system, serving as the natural antidote to the inevitable anxieties and vulnerabilities of life, including the extremely high probability of NTHE. For people of all ages, positive attachments create a safe haven that offers a buffer against the effects of stress and uncertainty.
  4. Attachment offers a secure base. Secure attachment also provides a secure base from which people can explore their universe and respond most adaptively to their environment. Importantly for the purposes of an ESG, the presence of such a base encourages exploration and a cognitive openness to new information. It promotes the confidence necessary to risk, learn, and continually update models of self, others, and the world, thus facilitating adjustment to new contexts, including NTHE. Secure attachment, perhaps with an ESG group, strengthens the ability to stand back and reflect on oneself, one’s behavior, one’s mental states, and the meanings one might construct for their life. When relationships offer a sense of felt security, as can occur in ESGs, people find themselves better able to reach out to and provide support for others, and deal with the conflict and stress in more positive ways. This seems especially valuable with collapse and the prospect of NTHE. People then tend to find relationships happier, more stable, and more satisfying. The need for a secure emotional connection with some others, a connection that offers a safe haven and a secure base, seems a central theme for ESGs.
  5. Emotional accessibility and responsiveness build bonds. In general, emotion activates and organizes attachment behaviors. More specifically, emotional accessibility and responsiveness compose the building blocks of secure bonds. We can find attachment figures physically present but emotionally absent, and separation distress results from the appraisal of the inaccessibility of an attachment figure. Emotional engagement proves crucial, with the trust that we will find that engagement available when needed. In attachment terms, any response, even anger, works better than none. With no engagement, no emotional responsiveness, the attachment figure says “Your signals do not matter, and we have no connection between us.” Emotion remains central to attachment, and this theory provides a guide for understanding and normalizing many of the extreme emotions that accompany distressed relationships with people, as well as our relationship with Earth’s biosphere. Our strongest emotions arise from and seem to have the most impact on our attachment relationships. Emotions tell us and communicate to others our motivations and needs; they serve as the music of the attachment dance.
  6. Fear and uncertainty activate attachment needs. When people find themselves threatened, either by traumatic events, the negative aspects of everyday life such as stress or illness, or by any assault on the security of the attachment bond itself, powerful emotions arise and attachment needs for comfort and connection become particularly important and compelling. Attachment behaviors, such as seeking closeness with others, become activated. A sense of connection with a loved one serves as a primary, inbuilt emotional regulation device. Attachment to key others serves as our “primary protection against feelings of helplessness and meaninglessness.”
  7. We can predict the process of separation distress. If attachment behaviors fail to evoke comforting responsiveness and contact from attachment figures, a process of angry protest, clinging, depression, and despair occurs, ending eventually in detachment. Depression works as a natural response to loss of connection. In secure relationships, people recognize and accept protest with an inaccessibility of connection. An emotionally focused ESG group participant sees the basic dramas of distress, such as demand-withdraw, as variations on the theme of separation distress. These dramas will surely become increasingly common as global heating with its associated abrupt climate change, ecological, and nuclear collapse continue at an ever-increasing rate.
  8. We can identify a finite number of insecure forms of engagement. Human beings have a limited number of ways to deal with the unresponsiveness of attachment figures. Only a few ways exist for coping with a negative response to the question “Can I depend on you when I need you?” Attachment behaviors can become heightened and intense as anxious clinging, pursuit, or aggressive attempts to control and obtain a response from loved ones. From this perspective, most criticism, blaming, and emotionally loaded demands in distressed relationships, including our relationships with Earth’s biosphere, serve as attempts to deal with and resolve attachment hurts and fears.
  9. Attachment involves working models of self and other. We define ourselves in the context of our most intimate relationships, including our relationship with Earth. As stated above, attachment strategies reflect ways of processing and dealing with emotion. Unfortunately, for most civilized people today, attachment does not include Earth’s biosphere. We find secure attachment characterized by a working model of self as lovable and cared for, confident, and competent. Research has found secure attachment associated with a stronger sense of self-efficacy. Securely attached people who believe others will respond when needed also tend to have working models of others as dependable and meriting trust. These models of self and other grow out of thousands of interactions and become expectations and biases that carry forward into new relationships. They do not work as one-dimensional cognitive outlines, but as procedural scripts for how to create relatedness and ways of processing attachment information. These models all involve goals, beliefs, and attachment strategies, all heavily infused with emotion. We form, elaborate, maintain, and most important for ESG participants, change these models through emotional communication with other people and other life forms on Earth. Once ESG participants step beyond their denial and angry protests, for example, they often begin to disclose fears about their own lovableness and “worth” within the drama of life and death.
  10. Isolation and loss have inherently traumatizing effects. It proves important to recognize that attachment theory remains essentially a theory of trauma. Attachment theory describes and explains the trauma of deprivation, loss, rejection, and abandonment by those we need the most and the enormous impact it has on us. These traumatic stressors have tremendous impact on personality formation and on a person’s ability to deal with other stresses in life. When someone has confidence of the availability of a loved one when needed, “a person will be much less prone to either intense or chronic fear than will an individual who has no such confidence”. An ESG can help provide participants with such needed relationships. As a theory of trauma, attachment theory specifically helps us to understand the weight behind emotional hurts such as rejection, perceived abandonment by, or loss of a loved one, all of which we will soon find ourselves overwhelmed by as a result of the self- and other species annihilation trap that we have created on Earth. Distressed participants dealing with the traumatic helplessness induced by isolation and loss tend to adopt stances of fight, flight, or freeze that characterize responses to traumatic stress.

In summary, Susan Johnson: “…it makes excellent adaptive sense to react with anxiety and protest to even the temporary ‘loss’ of an attachment figure who is the primary source of emotional and/or physical security.” This surely must include our attachment to Mother Earth, our attachment to Earth’s biosphere, which we find ourselves rapidly losing. Attachment serves as a theory that takes the mystery out of adult love and shows us the plot underlying the drama of distress so that we can redirect this drama most effectively for our psychological and emotional wellbeing insofar as that remains possible during collapse and NTHE. The trauma perspective, with its focus on the power of helplessness and fear, helps ESG participants tune in to the reality of distressed others and deal with that reality constructively.

Changing inner experience

This ESG model works largely as a humanistic approach to support, recognizing the importance of emotion and focusing on it more systematically as part of the change process than other models and approaches might. The main tenets of a humanistic experiential approach to support include the following five points:

  1. A focus on process. Human beings constantly process and construct their experience, symbolizing that experience from moment-to-moment as words, images, and sounds, and creating meaning frameworks. Each group participant remains the expert concerning their own experience. The participant’s role in helping others lies in their own experience, attempting to help each other participant expand his or her awareness of their experience in the present moment in the meeting, integrate aspects excluded from awareness, and create new meaning frameworks. The focus of the meeting then lies on present process. It involves how we process events, which matters most from this perspective, not simply the content or facts of an event or experience. Each participant serves as a process consultant. The meeting then works as a collaborative process of discovery for all and the process remains unique for each person. This experiential perspective respects individual differences and views each person and their relationship with the group as a unique culture that all need to get to know.
  2. A focus on the necessity for a safe, collaborative alliance within meetings. We view people as primarily social beings who need to belong and feel valued by others and best understood in the context of their relationships to others. It does not seem surprising, then, that we consider the acceptance and empathy of other participants a key factor that fosters a reprocessing of experience, the construction of new meanings, and a new sense of agency relative to the NTHE theme. The acceptance of each other, or what Carl Rogers termed an “unconditional positive regard”, allows participants to encounter their experiences in new ways. Rogers suggested that empathic reflection of a person’s experience, for example, does not in fact work as a reflection but as a “revelation” that more fully orders and structures this person’s experience in a way that allows them to encounter and deal with the “frightening crannies of inner experience”. Participants attempt to behave in egalitarian, authentic, and transparent ways so as to create a safe haven in the meetings. In this safe haven, people can begin to see the choices they make in their relationships, such as to shut down and shut out others, and take responsibility for the impact of those choices on themselves and others. In meetings, creating safety involves a conscious effort to validate each participant’s experience with the trauma of NTHE and with other participants, without invalidating or marginalizing the core elements of the experience of others. The ultimate goal also involves creating a safe, accepting connection with other participants.
  3. A focus on health. Human beings naturally orient toward growth and development, and in general have healthy needs and desires. The constriction, disowning, and denial of these needs and desires, as happens so often and so strongly in an industrial, capitalist society, creates often severe problems. This view of problems arising out of a narrowing or rigidity, a “stuckness” in processing experience, parallels a more interpersonal systemic perspective that focuses on the problematic nature of narrow patterns of interaction. Health in this experiential model, as in systemic models, lies in openness to experience and responsive flexibility that allows for new learning, new choices, and adaptation to new environments. The experiential approach, then, does not make emotion and experience a pathology. The focus remains on growth though new experience and new ways of processing that experience, rather than on correcting alleged inherent deficits or deficiencies. The approach assumes that the ways people cope in dire circumstances with few choices, such as global heating with associated abrupt climate change and NTHE, often become limiting and inadequate for creating positive relationships and lifestyles. All ways of responding can help in psychologically and emotionally adaptive ways, providing these ways can evolve in response to new contexts.
  4. A focus on emotion. As in attachment theory, in this approach we give emotion a prime place, and we see it as essentially adaptive. Emotions can tell us and others what we want and need and motivate key actions, especially relationship responses. Recent experiential theorists suggest that we construct emotional frames or blueprints in relation to situations that frustrate or satisfy our needs and goals. These frames then guide us in differentiating and classifying experience, and in organizing expectations and reactions. These frames help us predict, interpret, respond to, and control our experience. As Albert Ellis often insisted, we do not so much store emotions as we reconstruct them by the appraisal of a situation that activates a frame, an organized set of responses. In ESG meetings, such blueprints may become activated and made available for exploration and development; we may then also modify them by new experience. We access, develop, and restructure emotion, and also use it to transform ways of constructing experience from moment to moment and in responding to others. Emotion serves as both a target and an agent of change.
  5. A focus on corrective emotional experience. Change occurs, in the present, as a result of the expanded processing of experience and the generation of powerful new corrective emotional experiences. Change does not then occur primarily as the result of insight, the ventilation of emotion, or improved skills. It arises from the formulation and expression of new emotional experience that has the power to transform how the individual structures key experiences, views him- or herself, and communicates with others. ESG participants who use an experiential approach then:
  • Focus on and reflect each participant’s emotional
  • Validate and accept that experience, rather than trying to marginalize or replace it.
  • Attune to and empathically explore that experience, focusing on what the person’s experiences as most alive and poignant.
  • Expand others’ experiencing by questions, usually process questions such as what and how and using conjectures.
  • Encourage other participants to engage in tasks that foster a new kind of processing of experience and their NTHE knowledge, and broadening and deepening this awareness until new facets emerge that reorganize the experience as a whole.

The goal for exploring intrapsychic experience involves fostering a new kind of contact with group participants and others. This goal influences the kinds of experience the participants will choose to focus on. In this ESG process, a balance must occur among exploring each participant’s intrapsychic experience, validating each person’s very different experience, and encouraging interaction between participants. All participants need to remain aware that everyone witnesses and reacts to the various processes among each other, and remain acutely sensitive to how others hear and process various comments. Participants need to make sure, for example, that in validating one person’s experience they do not discount another person’s experience.

The primary assumptions of this ESG model

Using attachment theory as the basis for understanding adult love and an experiential as well as systemic approach to change, what main assumptions does this ESG model make?

  1. The most appropriate model for adult intimacy involves that of an emotional bond, and a key issue in conflict relates to the security of that bond. We create such bonds in ESG meetings by accessibility and responsiveness, by emotional engagement. These bonds address our innate need for security, protection, and contact.
  2. Emotion serves as a key factor in organizing attachment behaviors and the way we experience the self and others in intimate relationships. Both attachment and experiential theory stress the importance of emotional experience and expression. Emotion guides and gives meaning to perception, motivates to action, and communicates to others. It serves as both a crucial target and agent of change in extinction support groups. We consider creating new emotional experience the most important factor in both intrapsychic and interpersonal change.
  3. We maintain problems in relationships by the ways we organize interactions and the dominant emotional experience of the participants in the relationship. These elements operate in a reciprocally determining way, and we can use them in groups to mutually influence and redefine each other.
  4. We consider the attachment needs and desires of participants essentially healthy and adaptive. Unfortunately, we often find these needs and desires enacted in a context of perceived insecurity that creates problems. Both attachment theory and the experiential view of human functioning emphasize the potentially adaptive nature of most needs and desires, and see problems as arising from disowning and constriction of these needs. We consider the recognition and validation of these needs as a key part of healthy ESG functioning.
  5. We find helpful change in ESGs associated with accessing and reprocessing the emotional experience underlying each participant’s position in their relationships with others. Creating new elements of emotional experience and new ways of expressing that experience tend to modify the positions participants take with each other, and allow for key new interactions to occur that then redefine the bond between participants in ESGs and others outside of these groups. Change does not occur primarily through insight, through some kind of catharsis, or through negotiation. It occurs through new emotional experience and new interactional events. As Einstein suggested, “All knowledge is experience: everything else is just information.”

Empathy plays a key role

An attuned, accurate empathic response can:

  1. Reassure a person that their experience makes sense to another human being. We then find it easier to grasp and own our less articulated experience. Increased openness to experience promotes the ongoing revision of this experience.
  2. Encourage participants to listen in a more attuned way to themselves and to loved ones. An empathic response from a participant models an accepting stance toward other participant’s experience, which enhances the recognition of and engagement in new elements of the experience and new ways of seeing. As participants attune to each other and do not judge, people tend to feel safe lessening the need to defend against difficult experiences as they come into focus. Empathy works as a necessary precursor to the validation that serves as one of the hallmarks of this ESG model.
  3. Focus attention on processing and unfolding specific experiences, and slow this processing so that participants can “hold” experiences in awareness and process them further. Participants can then see things in a new light and engage in ongoing experience on a deeper level.
  4. Organize and order chaotic or ambiguous experience, or put elements of such experience into an integrated and meaningful whole.
  5. Comfort and reassure participants so that they do not feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions. Empathic responses can modulate the intensity of a meeting and so maximize participant engagement. We can see empathy as the primary way participants create a “working distance” from emotion. Empathic reflections hold, support, and contain overwhelming experiences. To a large degree, what we can share we can bear.
  6. Allow feeling the meaning of key experiences, checked, explored, differentiated, and revised.

In general, then, sensitively communicated empathy enhances a participant’s sense of safety, promotes a focus on the construction of experience and its meaning, and so enables new responses. Each participant then can serve as a processing partner who, through various forms of empathic responsiveness, orders and deepens other participant’s experience. This enables each person to connect with another while staying engaged with their own emerging realities.

People can find empathic attunement and responsiveness a demanding task. ESG participants then need to have a willingness to engage with and attune to other participant’s experiences and to resonate with this experience.

Creating and maintaining an interpersonal alliance

Within this ESG model, an alliance forms characterized by participants having the ability to stay with each other as they encounter their emotional responses. Each participant serves as a collaborative partner in piecing together and processing experience, as well as a guide in creating a new relationship dance among themselves and with the planet that produced and sustains them. Participants serve as process consultants, not as experts on the contents of anyone’s psyche, or on “the right way” to construct meaningful, intimate relationships. The following characterizes the ESG process:

  1. Empathic attunement. Participants continuously attempt to empathically attune to each other, and to connect on a personal level. We can describe empathy as an act of imagination, an ability to inhabit each other’s world for a moment. Empathy reduces participant’s anxiety and allows for a more complete engagement in ongoing experience. Participants do not evaluate other’s comments in terms of truth, realism, or dysfunction, but rather attempt to make contact with the other person’s world. We focus on what this person’s world feels like in this context, and the essence of their experience. A participant’s ability to listen, to connect what they hear with their own experience, and then to stay with this subjective perspective enables them to answer this question. This often involves a focus on a speaker’s nonverbal messages and an imitation or reflection of these physiological cues and the emotions implicit in them. (Thus the importance of Paul Ekman’s work and his book, Emotions Revealed, Recognizing Faces and Feelings To Improve Communication and Emotional Life.)
  2. A nonjudgmental stance proves essential in creating a powerful ESG alliance. This stance comes from participants’ awareness of their own human frailties, but also from the theories and beliefs they hold. If one adheres to a model that views people as deficient or defective, they will find it difficult to hold and communicate a nonjudgmental stance. We need to honor and prize all participants as they exist, not as we demand that they presumably “should”. We need to have the ability to tolerate ambiguity and aspects of participants as fallible human beings that even they themselves do not prize or accept. This stance of respect and acceptance allows ESG participants to face, with each other, what they could not face alone, or reveal to others. Times occur when participants find themselves hard pressed to honor another participant’s specific behaviors, but they can honor the emotional reality that motivates these behaviors. Attunement to and acceptance of what remains true for a participant comes before any attempt at change or finding remedies. This acceptance occurs actively rather than passively; it involves not just nonpathologizing but explicitly framing negative behaviors as creative adaptations to impossible circumstances, and a willingness to learn as bravery and strength.
  3. A crucial aspect of the alliance involves the genuineness of the participants, how real and present they remain. This does not mean impulsiveness or always self-disclosing, but remaining accessible and responsive to others in a way that others can trust. Participants can then admit mistakes, and allow other participants to teach them about their experience. In short, the ESG meeting occurs as a real human encounter, which participants take on with integrity. Part of a participant’s genuineness also involves a certain transparency or willingness for others to see them.
  4. Continuous active monitoring. To maintain this kind of alliance throughout and between meetings, participants must take an active, deliberate role in monitoring, probing, and, if necessary, restoring this alliance. Each participant monitors their engagement with others, actively seeking and processing other’s responses to him or her. If a participant has any hint that a rupture of the alliance may occur, then mending this alliance becomes an immediate priority. A participant might ask questions as to other’s reactions to their comments or actions, encouraging others to express their views and desires. An empathic question can prevent a rupture in the alliance and/or strengthen it. For example, at the end of an exchange, a participant might state that the others worked pretty intensely and invite their reactions, particularly concerns about the process or content of the exchange. Participants then explicitly encourage those involved to give feedback.
  5. Joining the system. Participants engage not only each other but also the ESG group’s relationship system. In systemic terms, the participant joins the system. The participant reflects the sequence and pattern of interactions, in an empathic and respectful manner, helping others to take a broader perspective on their interactions. They can then begin to own a part in creating the pattern. Participants need to have the ability to validate each participant’s experience of, and position in, the relationship in the presence of others, without in any way invalidating the other’s experience.

Emotion in ESGs

With this model, the ESG group focuses on emotional experience, expanding on, reformulating, and restructuring it. Expressing new and/or expanded NTHE-related emotions then allows for a reorganization of positions participants take with the self-annihilation predicament and, importantly, with each other. Accessing loneliness, for example, creates a new meaning context for oneself and others, allows reprocessing of any rage, hostility, or desperation, and challenges many perceptions.

In this model, we do not see emotion as a primitive, irrational response, but as a high-level information processing system (as Gavin de Becker describes in his book, The Gift of Fear). All emotions make sense when placed in context. The term here refers to the seven basic, universal, biologically predisposed emotions that Paul Ekman focuses on: anger, fear, surprise, joy, disgust/shame, contempt, and sadness. These emotions each involve a unique and universally recognized facial expression, an inborn neurological foundation, a social function that helps us survive and have effects on others, a quick and compelling onset, and early development soon after birth. We see these emotions as an integration of physiological responses, meaning patterns, action tendencies, and self-reflexive awareness of the experience.

We see emotion as a rich source of meaning: It gives us powerful, compelling feedback as to how our environment affects us. This feedback regulates our responses and organizes our behavior. Emotional expression, by communicating with others, also regulates social interaction. The primary social function of emotion perhaps involves mobilizing us to deal rapidly with important interpersonal encounters. In general, emotions, like an internal compass, orient us to our world and provide us with crucial information about the personal significance of events. They tell us what we want and need. Indeed, it proves almost impossible to make action decisions without reference to emotion. They serve as a primary and compelling motivating force. Anger energizes us for a fight, intimidates attackers, and defends against injury. Sadness protests loss and evokes nurturing and help from others. Shame bids us hide from others and retreat so as to keep our place in a social group. Fear energizes us for fight or avoidance and evokes protection. We see emotion as basically adaptive, providing a response system that can rapidly reorganize a person’s behavior in the interest of security, survival, or the fulfillment of needs. In ESG relationships, emotion tends to:

  • Focus attention and orient participants to their own needs and particular environment/social cues.
  • Color perceptions and meaning
  • Motivate and organize responses, particularly attachment behaviors.
  • Activate core beliefs concerning self, other, and the nature of relationships, including one’s relationship with the planet.
  • Communicate with others. Emotion serves intrinsically social ends. It serves as the primary signaling system in relationship-defining interactions. Emotion works as the music in the dance of interpersonal intimacy. When we change the music, we change the dance.

We can differentiate emotion into primary, secondary, and instrumental responses. Primary emotions occur here-and-now in direct response to situations; secondary emotions occur as reactions to, and attempts to cope with, these direct responses, often obscuring awareness of the primary response. For example, we may see angry defensiveness occurring in a meeting, rather than hurt, fear, or some other primary emotion. We use instrumental emotions to manipulate the responses of others.

Emotions can also have maladaptive effects or enhance problematic behaviors in the following ways:

  • If they remain unprocessed, they may arise out of context and constrict processing of present situations.
  • Overwhelming emotion that one cannot regulate can flood the senses and narrow focus. Intense fear, in particular, exercises such tight control over information processing that it often eliminates all parts of the perceptual field that do not seem to offer a direct escape route.
  • Limitations of emotional awareness or expression can limit responsiveness and trap a person into spirals of negative emotions and interactions. Distressed people generally interact on the level of secondary reactive emotions that then pull for negative responses from others and so maintain negative emotions within an emotional trap.

ESG participants work to focus on the primary emotional responses that often remain unattended to, undifferentiated, or disowned, although meetings often begin with participants reflecting and validating the secondary responses that participants habitually present as part of the cycle of distress. In the ESG meeting process, participants process emotions and regulate them differently, resulting in more adaptive responses. Participants can acknowledge and clarify constricted, overwhelming, or unprocessed emotional responses in the safety of the meeting. As change occurs, the participant’s relationships become a place where they can regulate difficult emotions in a different manner, express them in an adaptive way, and eventually reorganize them. For example, when a participant can acknowledge to self and others the panic that arises when thinking about global heating with abrupt climate change, this often evokes compassion and comforting behavior from the other participants, allowing new healing emotional experience to occur in the present relationships that reduce and change the nature of the panic response.

It seems important to clarify issues concerning the level of emotion and how we use it in ESG meetings. We can outline these issues as:

  • Generally, we do not discuss emotional experience from a distance with limited involvement. Labeling emotions and discussing them from a distance has no effect. For these reasons, in meetings we evoke and experience emotion as vividly as possible. This engagement with emotional responses allows for the discovery of new aspects of each participant’s emotional life and the reorganization of emotional responses. If an emotion begins to become overwhelming, we create a safe working distance from it.
  • The goal with exploration lies not to place labels on experience or teach participants “better” ways to express themselves. Rather, we engage in a process of emotional exploration and discovery that expands each participant’s experience of self in relation to each other and Earth.
  • New emotion. In ESG meetings, we do not use indiscriminate ventilation of negative emotion to create catharsis. This can prove detrimental. Distressed people often repetitively express secondary reactive emotions as problematic interactions in their day-to-day lives. Instead, participants find the discovery and development of new or unrecognized emotional experience helpful.

Which emotion do we focus on? We have three general guides:

  • Participants focus on the most poignant and vivid aspect of experience that arises in the meetings—for example, the tear, the dramatic nonverbal gesture, the potent image or label.
  • Participants focus on the emotion with most salience in terms of attachment needs and fears. This may involve anger. Sadness and grief, as well as the anguish of loss and helplessness often follows. Shame often proves key. However, fear and vulnerability lie at the heart of attachment theory and, probably most often, the core negative emotion regarding NTHE.
  • Participants focus on the emotion that seems to play a role in organizing negative interactions.


  1. Participants attend to, focus on, and reflect present poignant emotion, conveying understanding of the other person’s experience and directing that person’s attention to that experience. Reflection here does not just echo and paraphrase another person’s words, but instead provides an empathic absorption in their experience.
  2. ESG participants convey to others their entitlement to their experience and their emotional responses.
  3. Evocative responding: reflections and questions. These responses focus on the tentative, unclear, or emerging aspects of another participant’s experience and encourage exploration and engagement. Here, one bypasses the more superficial content issues in a conversation and responds to the emotions of the other person. We offer these reflections tentatively, for the other person to taste, try on, correct, reshape, or take on, not as an expert synopsis of their responses.
  4. As participants track the internal and interpersonal processes within others, they may try to highlight and intensify particular responses and interactions. Participants can use this heightened emotion to help others engage with their emotional experience in a new way, and create a different kind of dialog with others, including Earth. We may use several processes for achieving this:
  • Repeating a phrase to heighten its impact.
  • Intensifying the experience by saying it in a particular way, for example by leaning forward and lowering and slowing one’s voice.
  • Using clear, poignant images and metaphors that crystalize experience.
  • Directing participants to enact their response, turning intrapsychic experience into an external behavior or interpersonal message.
  • Maintaining a specific and sometimes relentless focus, thus blocking exits or changes in the flow of experience that will likely lessen the emotional intensity of the moment.
  1. Empathic conjecture/interpretation. Here, the participant makes an educated guess about another’s current state and experience from nonverbal, interactional, and contextual cues to help them give color, shape, and form to their experience and take this experience one step further. The aim here does not involve commenting on causes or patterns, or helping the person interpret their experience in a “better” way, but to extend and clarify that experience, so that new meaning can naturally emerge. Such conjectures do not occur as cognitive labels that categorize and therefore provide closure to experience, and not meant to give participants new information about themselves. The goal involves facilitating more intense experiencing from which new meanings spontaneously arise, not to create insight per se.

Inferences in ESG meetings might typically concern defensive strategies, attachment longings, and core catastrophic attachment fears and fantasies. These conjectures may take the form of statements concerning the need for self-protection, and formulations of attachment responses such as helpless mourning, the longing for comfort, or the classic human fears of engulfment/subjugation, rejection, and abandonment.

  1. Self-disclosure. We use this to build alliances, validate other participant’s responses, or as a form of joining with other participants to help them identify elements of their own experience.

Perhaps someday research will support or deny the validity of this proposed ESG model in helping people support one another through the unfolding collapse processes. Unfortunately, given the rapid nature of global heating with its associated abrupt climate change, as well as ecological and nuclear collapse, I doubt that anyone will ever do that research.

Recommended reading

This model comes almost entirely from Susan Johnson’s, The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, 2nd Ed, 2004, through my translating from the couple’s context into a more general group context. Other books that strongly relate to and, I think, support this model and otherwise would prove helpful for ESG participants include: Principia Amoris, The New Science of Love by John Gottman, 2015; Emotions Revealed, Recognizing Faces and Feelings To Improve Communication and Emotional Life, 2nd  Ed. by Paul Ekman, 2003; Trauma and Recovery, The aftermath of violence—from domestic abuse to political terror by Judith Herman, M.D., 1992; and The Gift of Fear And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence by Gavin De Becker, 1997.

Extinction Support Group (ESG)

Meeting once a month in order to provide social and emotional support for those who understand what we experience happening in the world with global heating and its associated abrupt climate change, ecological, and nuclear collapse, the Tacoma Extinction Support Group has met for two years. Very easy to manage, the Tacoma group agenda works informally and with continually changing meeting facilitation. If anyone would like a copy of our most recent Agenda, Tool Box, and this Proposed ESG Model as templates for help in starting a similar group of your own, I will feel glad to send you copies. Just send an email request to me at bud.nye@gmail.com.

Comments 69

  • Mr. Nye,

    Now we’re talking!

  • I think that Mr. Nye means well & sincerely wants to help his fellow humans, but Mr. Nye is selling pure wind.

    I find his word salad of psychological buzzwords offensive & an insult to my intelligence.

    There is no substance in his suggestions.

    As an worshiping Einstein scholar, I am confident that a dedicated scientist, such as Einstein, would not have anything to do with this unscientific psychological flapdoodle.

    Ditto times two for Richard Feynman.

    Truth about the world exists including truth about our petty selves,& we can know that truth.

    Indeed, that is why those of us who have accepted the hard won facts of NTE will pay with our lives & the lives of all innocent children.

    There wasn’t one word in all the psychologizing banter & boo hoo about how to deal with the upcoming ugly deaths of smiling innocent children everywhere.

    Humankind has made a great journey along with Euclid, Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Planck, Einstein, Feynman, Hansen, Semiletov, Shakhova, & many others – only to be completely blind sided by our own energy largesse.

    As an mandatory antidote, I would suggest Barbara Ehrenreich’s witty & well written, BLIND SIDED.

    Another short hard hitting piece by Micahael Parenti exposing our consumer culture’s obsession with the self is here; http://www.google.com/search?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.autodidactproject.org%2Fother%2Fnewagemp.html&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

    Try to be kind to each other – it won’t be easy.

    I fail every day, but I keep on pushing the big rock just like Sisyphus.

    Dick Cheney, Mitch McConnell, mad dog Inhofe, Victoria Nuland, & all the Bushie clan are following THEIR bliss too.

  • Bud, that’s a great effort. I appreciate the time and thought involved. If it helps some people get together to express their feelings, it’s a good thing.

    Anyway, Merry Christmas to all! If you get the chance, immerse yourselves as deeply as possible in the shared love of family and friends. Eat some good food. And try to forget all about NTE for a couple of days!

  • I have previously mentioned Marshall Rosenberg’s work on non-violent communications. I love Rosenberg’s work. It is eloquent, profound, and quite simple. It has helped me curb my own programmed tendencies to evaluate everything all the time, thinking it is intelligent. http://www.cnvc.org

    Rosenberg says that our communications are primarily of three types, observation, evaluation, and expressing our needs and feelings. Most verbal and psychological violence toward others will be expressed through our evaluations, our judgments.

    Before we can speak we learn to judge, to label, to understand the world according to the assessed importance and acceptability of its parts. We think evaluations are the highest intelligence we can display, and when we understand a thing we will always know what to do, how to respond, what to feel.

    We are taught that “nice” evaluations are acceptable, while “not nice” evaluations are unacceptable, at least in principle. In fact, people issue “not nice” evaluations all the time and feel quite justified.

    Dr. Rosenberg comes across like an adult Mr. Rogers, and at times his ideas can appear too simple and childlike for some people, but it’s the child who is the issue, I think, and he’s grasped something intellectually, emotionally, and ethically profound.


  • I have to agree with Gerald. This verbal spewing does nothing to further consensus yet alone understanding of the critical issues.

    One of the biggest problems with the understanding of our predicament is that there are thousands of blogs and hundreds of thousands of comments to them which only serve to muddle the facts leading so many to the conclusion that “YOU CAN”T KNOW”.

    It’s total BS! there is plenty that we can know and that is the only thing that is relevant right now.

  • Non violent communication from a Palestinian girl in the Gaza Concentration Camp.
    Who is doing what, to whom, & why.

  • @ Gerald Spezio Says:
    December 23rd, 2014 at 6:15 am

    Thank you for that link that led to R. Dumain’s site! At first blush it seems quite intriguing.

  • Spike at Robert Scribbler suggests these gruesome facts;

    More empirical & modeling confirmation of Semiletov & Shakhova’s now almost ten year old hypothesis.

    “Methane is leaking from permafrost offshore Siberia
    Water molecules trap methane gas in an icy cage under high pressure and cold temperatures.
    If thawed, one cubic metre of the compound can release about 164 cubic metres of gas.” Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    I repeat; If thawed, one cubic metre of the compound can release about 164 cubic metres of gas.

    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-12-methane-leaking-permafrost-offshore-siberia.html#jCp

  • I am so bad, you can call me Shizel!

    I want to add, combining Rosenberg’s work with that of Byron Katie enhanced both for me. Katie and Rosenberg both focus on the damage and unhappiness caused by evaluations/judgments. It is why Katie’s “Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet” addresses our judgments of others, and the power behind those judgments to make everyone miserable and then some. Katie uses evaluations to better understand projection and the real self, and to experience the natural compassion and love we see in young children far more often than adults.

    Rosenberg seems to accomplish something similar by avoiding evaluations altogether and furthering communications that are true observations and not value judgments, and speaking our here-and-now feelings and needs.

    Both are extremely simple in their messages and they both emphasize a kind of unlearning, and a living understanding of compassion.

  • Bud: you could flesh that out a little more to make it book length.

    a few more items from JJFH from a few days ago http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/

    2014-12-21 – Around 1200 sea turtles wash ashore in two months in coastal Cape Cod (Massachusetts)

    2014-12-21 – Hundreds of fish dying in the Fitzroy River in Rockhampton (Australia)

    2014-12-21 – Hundreds of fish wash ashore dead in coastal Guaymas (Mexico)

    2014-12-21 – 5000 pigeons drop dead in a week in Bhimeshwor (Nepal)

    2014-12-21 – Naked man at intersection gets tased in coastal Bridgeport (Connecticut)

    2014-12-21 – Green pit vipers exploding in population and attacking people in multiple areas in Vietnam

    2014-12-21 – Bear attacks and injures 15-year-old girl in coastal Eastpoint (Florida)

    2014-12-21 – Third building in three weeks evacuated because of imminent collapse in Vienna (Austria)

    2014-12-21 – Pilot collapses and loses consciousness at the wheel of ship in the Western Scheldt (Netherlands)

    Quote: “The KNRM Breskens and a Belgian Sea King helicopter were alerted in the morning of Dec 21, 2014, due to a medical evacuation on the Wester Scheldt off Wielingen. The pilot of the ‘Bomar Juno’ had collapsed and become unconscious.”

    2014-12-21 – Drone spotted over nuclear facility in Belgium, 20 more drones spotted at nuclear facilities in France

    Quote: “The mystery appearance by an unmanned aircraft, on which Belgian authorities refused to provide much detail, resembles a spate of similar drone sightings over nuclear plants in neighbouring France this autumn. Around 20 unidentified drones have been spotted over nuclear plants since October throughout France.”

    Gerald – nice to see you again.

  • Learn to live in the now and you don’t need all this psychological bs.

  • Reactions to work like Bud’s will be deeply personal, and will vary depending on each individual’s psychology and worldview. What works for us depend on who we are. Bud’s approach will work for some, and not for others.

    While I understand Bud’s approach, it’s too intellectualized for me. Intellect was what got me into my pitched battle with despair. To paraphrase Einstein, what got me in could not get me back out. I needed something “squishier”.

    What worked for me was a combination of Deep Ecology, humanistic psychology, non-dualism, meditation and general systems theory. These are all “big picture” frameworks that give me different, healthier perspective on my place in the universe. The combination is a home-made version of Joanna Macy’s “Work That Reconnects”.

    It’s good to know that people like Bud are developing programs specifically aimed at supporting people in existential crisis stemming from collapse awareness. I do wish there had been a few such programs around when I was traversing that incredibly rocky terrain in 2005.

    I wish you much success, Bud. The world needs things like this, and will need ever more of it as time goes on.

  • So many numbered points and bullet points too!

    “Adult love and attachment theory”, that does sound serious, dear me, is it that I don’t get this because I’m European?

    Yes, fleshing it out, as Tom says, would make this essay into a good self-help book. Some people might benefit from it.

    I’m sorry, why not just get out there, into the “real” world and experience connection to life in ALL its manifestations. Then “empathetic attachment” will come quite naturally – unless you’re a robot. For real humans, it’s quite simple…
    And with this, no theory will help. It’s practise, practise, practise in the here and now.
    But then ignore me, I’m hopelessly emotional.

    I wish you all a peaceful Christmas holiday

  • The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita open with:

    The Supreme Lord said: While you speak words of wisdom, you are mourning for that which is not worthy of grief. The wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead. BG 2:11

    “Seeking and maintaining contact with significant others”

    Once one realises that there is no “I”, then there is also no “not-I”; and therefore no others, significant or otherwise.

    “no such thing as complete independence from others or overdependence exists.”

    That is a valid assertion for the body-mind complex.

    “We find the fear of isolation and loss in every human heart.”

    They have not sought enough.

    Attachment offers a secure base.

    Secure shackles.

    “We define ourselves in the context of our most intimate relationships, including our relationship with Earth.”

    The first error is failure to recognise the “I” for each member of the “we”. The “I” is a phantasm, an apparition, a mirage: once this is grokked, there is no “not-I” and therefore no “other” for relationships.

    “Isolation and loss have inherently traumatizing effects.”

    These are only possible as long as the delusion of an “I” subject to such isolation and loss is maintained.

    “A focus on process. Human beings constantly process and construct their experience,”

    Before the experience of an object, before the process of experiencing, there has to “BE” an experiencer. A focus on process misses the “being” of the experiencer. This is a common problem throughout neuroscience: they forget that science starts with observing, not with the observer: even when the act of observing affects the outcome, the observing and the outcome both pertain to the observed, and not the observer.

    “Emotion serves as a key factor in organizing attachment behaviors and the way we experience the self and others in intimate relationships.”

    Emotions are powerful shackles.

    “seven basic, universal, biologically predisposed emotions that Paul Ekman focuses on: anger, fear, surprise, joy, disgust/shame, contempt, and sadness.”

    And from a contemporary (neuro)scientific perspective:
    Jaak Panksepp has charted seven networks of emotion in the brain: SEEKING, RAGE, FEAR, LUST, CARE, PANIC/GRIEF, and PLAY.

  • My psychotherapist is still Franz Fanon. Action gets the goods. Identifying, naming, engaging and ~overturning~ the origin of your oppression and on-going trauma does more to balance one’s psyche than any attachment, unless you are attached to the Mau Maus, the Zapatistas, the Black Panthers or Robert F. Williams’ North Carolina Deacons of Defense. Getting attached to a bunch of pacifiers will not likely remove from your life that which generates your suffering and may likely get you a long prison sentence where you can all but meditate at length on your past, present and guaranteed future trauma.

    Am not implying by this that there is an expected out from NTE, but that what things look like and how they feel for the most vulnerable and traumatized between now and then matters a hell of a lot.

    Further, this all sounds suspiciously like more White Folks’ psychological business cooked up ad pronounced from on a high pile of the bodies of dead indians, made on stolen indigenous territory of the great northwest. None of this business which has ever done me much personal good or had much of an effect except for trauma inducing rather than trauma alleviating. That’s not to even mention the warm, loving feeling induced by my own self getting banned straight up without notice from the FB so-called support group listed above, as well as the pugnacious belligerence seen hereabouts for going on two whole years. As James Baldwin once said “Why would I want to integrate into a burning building?”

    And from my clinical psychologists view, I can identify not only the previously mentioned projection onto others of similar pathologies going on in one’s own analysis, but now some rather substantial degree of dissonance between the prospect of “the bloody humans are all war crazed savages” (and that some of us out here ‘just don’t get it’) and now the urgent need to somehow come together with the same humans. Not to say that the intention is bad, but as so often in colonial society, it seems that the intention is what is supposed to be respected and revered and not the actual facts of the outcome on the ground.

    Recommended Reading:
    “Wretched of the Earth”, “Black Skin White Masks”, Franz Fanon
    For Indigenous Minds Only – A Decolonization Handbook Waziyatawin
    Seize The Time Bobby Seale
    Revolution of Everyday Life Raoul Vanegam
    Sane Society Erich Fromm
    The Fire Next Time James Baldwin

    Cheers and Good Day

  • Jef, Your channeling comment about my team last week was insightful. I’ve worked with Spielberg and even he says: “All we do is Channel”. Often we distort or get distracted by our own illusions about what is happening but the truth is complex. Our giant media networks & “Intersteller” productions are carefully trying to convey a control message…with a bit of hope….because having no hope will not help when things get really ugly. We are very interested in the exact REALITY of abrupt change. We wish Dr. Mc Pherson and others would give us better models and descriptions of the actual yearly effects of temperature rise. Not yet has one unlimited budget documentary been produced that shows what the next decade of temperature rise looks like. The unfolding events of methane, nuclear & other impacts needs to be put into our best production format. We are not at all afraid to present the truth, However, creating riots or disruption will not help manage the collapse. In 1983 at the start of the AIDS crisis it seemed like the media was ignoring the disease. But we were watching. We were delayed but it became big news that caused other problems like expensive political fights involving isolation “Camps” rather than funding medical care programs. Possibly for Dr. Mc Phereson it will be both a relief and curse when the full focus of our major media networks do decide to elevate the truth of his message. Civil Management of NTE 2031 is a very serious subject. We are watching & paying much closer attention than realize. Honestly, there are scientific advances going on at DARPA, CERN & Biogen that you do not know about. None of us knows every single thing. Tech evolution has the potential to release factors that are much too complicated and amazing to explain here.

    Of course it is impossible for the consumer heat machine to fix our problems or last much longer. Everything here is subject to NTE, but there might be a reason and lesson for this that you still do not understand. PLEASE keep an open mind – it will only help – because this final decade of horrible, dramatic and astounding changes will unfold. We can not change the past. We built a Titanic society and ran it full speed. Like it or not a phase of chemical release programs are in the works. Industrial cooling attempts are financed and granted to take place.

    Yet in Quantum reality there is proof that the microscopic universe keeps records. Bits of organic data survive hostile space travel. The stupid human destruction of a this beautiful and perfect planet is much greater and more powerful than any old Atlantis story. The truth of what is happening right now (and where this most likely goes) might be contained in a level of faith that many in pure science still can not yet fathom. For the moment it is a fact that all is not yet lost no matter how truly dire the predictions. Trust billions of years of universal alterations. Life conscience forms very likely exist far beyond our current state of understanding what is in process now.

  • One of life’s little pleasures is seeing ourselves as wise.


  • Elvis Costello must have great brain because Diana Krall married him.

    If that ain’t wise, you doan know wise.

  • Wester Says:
    December 23rd, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    “Recommended Reading:
    “Wretched of the Earth”, “Black Skin White Masks”, Franz Fanon
    For Indigenous Minds Only – A Decolonization Handbook Waziyatawin
    Seize The Time Bobby Seale
    Revolution of Everyday Life Raoul Vanegam
    Sane Society Erich Fromm
    The Fire Next Time James Baldwin”

    The last three would be on my recommended list. Vaneigem would have firmly placed the first two in the realm of “spectacular politics” (i.,e, within the dominant spectacle of social relations) which he and the other Situatiionists were relentless enemies of.

  • Gerald Spezio,

    You wrote: “I think that Mr. Nye means well & sincerely wants to help his fellow humans, but Mr. Nye is selling pure wind. I find his word salad of psychological buzzwords offensive & an insult to my intelligence. There is no substance in his suggestions. As an worshiping Einstein scholar, I am confident that a dedicated scientist, such as Einstein, would not have anything to do with this unscientific psychological flapdoodle.”

    I wonder: What, exactly, do you take issue with? My assumption that Gottman and Johnson’s work translates in important and valid ways to relationships in general and to ESG group functioning? If so, fair enough and in some ways I agree with you. I acknowledge several times in the essay that this remains only my assumption and opinion, and eventual research may not confirm it.

    Do you take issue with the reading level at which I wrote? If so, again, fair enough. I COULD have written the essay at a lower reading level using shorter, simpler sentences and shorter, more commonly used vocabulary, but I did not do that. Instead, I kept it at a fairly high reading level. Why did I do that? For entirely selfish reasons. I felt excited about it and wanted to submit it to Guy for possible posting as soon as possible. Lowering the reading level would have taken a good bit more thought and writing time. Meanwhile, I know this with certainty: No matter HOW I wrote it, no matter WHAT reading level, and no matter what the content, some people would like it and some would not. As the clinical psychologist Albert Ellis used to emphasize so often: because of the huge variability “We do WELL to please HALF of the people HALF of the time!” So I do not drive myself nuts by taking on the dramatically impossible task of trying to please everyone all of the time, or even most people most of the time.

    Do you take issue with the research basis that the model rests on? If so, all I can do involves emphasizing that it rests on a rock-solid scientific research foundation. If you deny this, then you also deny the validity of Gottman, Johnson, Ekman, Bowlby, and many others’ research over about the past 50 years, which, I strongly expect, you know absolutely nothing about. I strongly recommend that you carefully read Gottman, Johnson, and Ekman before continuing any arguments regarding the underlying scientific basis of the model (other than arguing about my extending it with my assumptions—but even that argument really doesn’t make much sense until after you have developed at least some familiarity with the relevant research).


    You wrote: “I have to agree with Gerald. This verbal spewing does nothing to further consensus yet alone understanding of the critical issues. One of the biggest problems with the understanding of our predicament is that there are thousands of blogs and hundreds of thousands of comments to them which only serve to muddle the facts leading so many to the conclusion that ‘YOU CAN’T KNOW’. It’s total BS! there is plenty that we can know and that is the only thing that is relevant right now.”

    Other than repeating my response to Gerald above to you, I find your comment puzzling. What do you refer to by “…understanding of the critical issues”? You SEEM angry with the motivation behind our starting and continuing an ESG in Tacoma for two years based on the near certainty of NTHE, but I simply don’t know. Your comments leave me feeling curious and puzzled about your concerns.

    Paul Chefurka,

    To clarify and emphasize: This model, and the work of Gottman, Johnson, and others on which I based it (mainly Johnson), has its basis largely—indeed almost entirely—in EMOTION, in emotion’s related physiology, and in eliciting and helping people further process their emotion, NOT on thinking or behavior.

    Regarding a book:

    As I tried to emphasize in the essay, researchers have already written the books, some of which I mentioned under the recommended reading heading. This model comes almost entirely from Susan Johnson’s book, The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, 2nd Ed. I only translated HER work into the ESG context (while writing in E-Prime) based on my ASSUMPTION that the principles, which she, Gottman, and others have developed through extensive research and clinical experience, which demonstrate extremely high levels of predictability, probably apply extremely well in this group context. I think that anyone who has a serious interest in this needs to read Gottman and Johnson directly and carefully. On the other hand, could I or someone else expand this essay into a book? Sure. But I do not presently see someone’s doing that as adding anything of significance to their directly reading and applying Gottman and Johnson as described in the essay. As I suggest near the end, perhaps research someday will confirm the model and experience will suggest the need for a book.

  • Bud, I appreciate your efforts and wish you and your group the best.
    But for me personally, this is more where my head is at, and something to celebrate amongst the ruins:

    “In an unprecedented decision, an Argentine court has ruled that the Sumatran orangutan ‘Sandra’, who has spent 20 years at the zoo in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, should be recognized as a person with a right to freedom.”

  • Bud,

    You say, “This model, and the work of Gottman, Johnson, and others on which I based it (mainly Johnson), has its basis largely—indeed almost entirely—in EMOTION, in emotion’s related physiology, and in eliciting and helping people further process their emotion, NOT on thinking or behavior.

    In that case it’s probably just your presentation of it that’s over-intellectualized for my taste.

  • Here is something interesting from 11-17-14!

    Scott Johnson

    “Keep up the work Guy…don’t give up…..we need people like you willing to talk about difficult subjects……no one is right on everything…no one…but darn it…..we need people like you who are willing to try to make people think about a very hard future which regardless of how anyone feels doesn’t look so good…..10 billion people to feed, massive upticks in CO2 which have huge changes for climate even if not what you indicate, massive utilization of earths non renewable resources…..ever massively produced plastics and styrofoam which never recycle…and on and on….

    your words are not in vain….keep it up!


  • Perhaps this poem has something to say to some of us gathered here upon the Beach of Doom.

    by William Ernest Henley

    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds and shall find me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul.

  • Paul, did you know that that poem was all of Timothy McVeigh’s last statement?

  • Paul Chefurka,

    Thanks so much for your thought-full comments. Point taken. As I suggested to Gerald Spezio, I tried to bridge the gap between the much more detailed and abstract science and biological mathematics (both of which Gottman has nailed), and a more general audience, a difficult task, indeed, as any popular science writer knows very well. On the other hand, as Einstein said: “Explain it to me as simply as possible, but NO SIMPLER.” In oversimplifying something we cause more trouble than not. Even so, had I taken more time I probably could have organized, further simplified, and used concrete examples in order significantly to increase readability and understanding for a more general audience while not oversimplifying. Perhaps as we work through this with our ESG over time, which I expect we will do, I will revise the essay. If I ever do that, might I run it by you for a sniff test and suggestions?

    Henley’s poem, Invictus, reminds me of a point that Judith Herman makes in her book, “Trauma and Recovery, The aftermath of violence—from domestic abuse to political terror”: Sufficient trauma can and will break ANYONE, no matter HOW strong. Regarding feeling unafraid and the master of his fate, it appears as though Henley had sufficient luck to have experienced enough trauma to write beautiful, moving poetry—but not so much trauma as to destroy him psychologically and emotionally, which it certainly could have done while leaving him alive.

  • Paul & Ram,

    Not only was it obviously important to McVeigh, but Mandela used it during his incarceration (at least according to the film Invictus).

    The possibilities for a compare/contrast essay assignment are wide open.

    For an interesting take on McVeigh, see Vidal’s Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated. If that isn’t on your bookshelf and you just can’t wait to see if Santa brings you a copy, there’s always his Vanity Fair article from September 2001.



  • Dear Bud,

    Blah blah blah, it is nice you intellectually know this but you have never displayed knowing this at heart. Thanks though, it validates those of us who do know it at heart. Perhaps if you and other men as patriarchal by- product, know it at heart too, you should realize you have nothing left to lose by sharing it. And all the time. :-)

  • That’s a lovely poem Paul, with noble sentiments, but isn’t “I am the master of my fate” another way of saying that “I can create my own reality”?
    Oh how I wish that was true.
    If I was the master of my fate, I wouldn’t be going down with the ship, which, in our case, is the living skin of the planet.

    Here is a quote that makes me think of Guy – it’s one I used back when I was pairing poems and quotes with images over on the forum art thread:

    “… “How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: Who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves?…”

    And here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners;
    and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment.
    At last he threw his lantern on the ground,
    and it broke into pieces and went out.

    “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet.
    This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering;
    it has not yet reached the ears of men.

    Lightning and thunder require time;
    the light of the stars requires time;
    deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard.
    This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars —
    and yet they have done it themselves.”

    Friedrich Nietzsche, The Parable of the Madman (1882)

    Click to see the image:

  • WNYC’s RadioLab podcast
    Tuesday, December 23, 2014
    Season 13 | Episode 3

    This episode, we make three earnest, possibly foolhardy, attempts to put a price on the priceless. We figure out the dollar value for an accidental death, another day of life, and the work of bats and bees as we try to keep our careful calculations from falling apart in the face of the realities of life, and love, and loss.

  • Hi Wren, “master of your fate” would mean just what it already does to the way people view the world: if they can change it, or if they can change their perception of it (or reaction to it). I’m of the latter category and while I think the former can happen, I don’t think it’s controllable. It’s more like winning the lottery. You can buy the ticket, but whether you win or not is largely a matter of choice. We typically get to hear about whatever works, not all the failures. But as they say, if you don’t play, you definitely won’t win.

    In McVeigh’s case, I think he had a thing about self control which Vidal’s essay that infanttyrone linked to points out also (definitely a great topic for an undergrad liberal arts essay assignment).

  • 2014 will be the hottest year on record

    John Abraham
    Wednesday 17 December 2014 09.00 EST

  • I wish all of you happy holidays and best of luck in the New Year (we’re all gonna need it). Thanks to Guy for growing through all this turmoil, push-back, economic hardship and environmental disaster to be both an inspiration and a great example of how to live at this tragic time. The truth sets us free.

    Though we’d all like to retreat to a haven somewhere away from it all, even if only in our minds, it appears that our predicament isn’t going to stop or get any better in our lifetimes. Take solace and comfort when and while you can and be a source of these to as many as possible.

    Today’s reminder that we’re living a fantasy and that reality has a way of piercing this illusion, often when we least expect it:

    2014-12-22 – Driver has medical emergency, garbage truck slams into pedestrians in coastal Glasgow (Scotland), 6 killed, 7 injured

    Quote: “Bystanders said the driver appeared to be have had a fit or a heart attack at the wheel of the vehicle.”

    Quote: “Witnesses said the driver appeared slumped at the wheel after the vehicle had come to rest.”

    2014-12-22 – Driver has ‘medical emergency’, car hits heavy truck head-on, both burst into flame, in Orlando (Florida), 5 injured

    Quote: “The driver of the Mercury, he said, ‘must have been having some type of medical emergency. He zoned out and started drifting from the far right lane to the left lane and crossed the median and struck a work truck.’ The scene was chaotic as the flames engulfed the two vehicles and briefly set nearby electrical wires on fire, Chaffin said.”

    2014-12-22 – Mysterious explosions alarm people in Fitchburg (Massachusetts)

    2014-12-22 – Electrical substation erupts in flame in San Bernardino (California), 19,000 homes and businesses go dark

    2014-12-22 – Power lines go up in flames in the White River Valley near Highlandville (Missouri), 600 homes go dark

    2014-12-22 – Girl, 6, slumps over unconscious and dies on school bus in coastal Bridgeport (Connecticut)

    Quote: “She seemed fine when her parents put her on the bus, but by the time she got to school, a 6-year-old from Bridgeport had stopped breathing. She later died.”

    “Note: A naked man was just tased and arrested at an intersection in Bridgeport, mentioned in the 2014-12-21 update…”

    2014-12-22 – Man, 58, slumps over dead while sitting on crate in coastal New Haven (Connecticut)

    “Note: Bridgeport and New Haven are less than 20 miles apart…”

    2014-12-22 – Five people found dead on train tracks in one day in Bangladesh

    2014-12-22 – Naked man, 32, wrestles with officer, tries to get in police car, gets arrested, in Portland (Oregon)

    2014-12-22 – Pack of dogs chases people, charges cop, in Kennett (Missouri), cop shoots one dead

    2014-12-22 – Cook Nuclear Plant leaks 2000 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan near Bridgman (Michigan)

    Like the Terminator, this just won’t stop until we’re all dead.

    see the rest of the news, if interested:


  • scientists tell me there are other universes
    priests tell me there are other lives
    all i know is…

    if we are eating just over 40% of annual land chlorophyll production, 50% gets moved forward due to post peak food from weather extremes of increased moisture and heating of climates. since most live in cities near oceans, i would not advise solar and wind panels. we cannot afford billions of tons of perishable part time resource heavy toxic battery energy for 8 billion people every 25 years. we can’t keep buying the whole world a coke, the earth cannot take it. china is building 400 nuclear plants in 35 years no matter what. india says it will have a working thorium reactor by 2022. we don’t have any choice because one ton of coal only makes 6 solar panels. thorium will get us past peak minerals to provide the base power so-called green energy needs. we do not need billions and billions of tons of toxic lead, liquid metal or molten salt batteries everywhere, it’s too much mass per unit of work-energy.

  • Given the nature of some of the comments here, these comments John Gottman makes in his chapter titled “Imagining ‘The Love Equations’” in his book Principia Amoris seem relevant:

    “After more than four decades of research, as a field of study we emerge with the conclusion that love relationships are, in fact, highly predictable and systematic things, and WITH A CLEARLY UNDERSTANDABLE NATURE. Love has finally yielded its soft underbelly to scientific investigation. It turns out that, as wonderful as love it, and as horrible as it is when love fails, the whole process really is not all that complicated. This claim may seem outrageous to people who prefer a more romantic, magical, and mysterious view of love, and who may see the scientific study of love as a prurient invasion of privacy.”

    To paraphrase him regarding my extension of his work to ESGs: “We are doing science with heart, and heart-full support with science.”

    “Many people we want to talk to will only be interested in scientific insights into love if we can be quick about it, and can summarize its findings in a few simple blurbs that are easily summarized in the 11 o’clock news. Most newscasters think that our insights better not be too complex or be hard work to understand. Most of their viewers just don’t have the time in their busy lives for complexity unless it is easily absorbed and is also highly entertaining. Albert Einstein once said that everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. But how simple is too simple? What do you think is ‘too complex’ for you in understanding couples [and other relationships]?” “…Unfortunately, life often hands us a complexity we may not welcome.” [As with global heating and its abrupt climate change, ecological, and nuclear collapse!]

    “I’m sure that others might resent having their admittedly complex, deep, and heartfelt relationships ‘reduced’ to math. My goal in using math to understand love is not to DETRACT from the awe, romance, passion, and the wide spectrum of emotions we feel about love. UNDERSTANDING A PROCESS, IN MY VEIW, DOES NOT DEMEAN IT. When the great physicist Hans Bethe figured out how stars and our sun work, that was a stunning accomplishment. Yet I am sure that Bethe was still filled with awe and wonder as he gazed at a star-filled sky, and that he experienced the same sense of wonder all of us have on a clear, starry night. Knowing how stars work didn’t detract from his wonder; IT ADDED TO IT. Similarly, knowing how relationships work need not detract from the awe and wonder we all feel about loving and experiencing the joys and growth we experience in the depth of a love relationship. Understanding it should only DEEPEN our experience of awe.”

  • What Tim Bennett described as bandages for the wounds of empire in What A Way To Go:

    ‘Kiwis have left their Christmas shopping to the last minute this year, and have broken a spending record in the process.

    Shoppers spent more on Tuesday through Paymark, which processes most of the country’s electronic transactions, than on any day in its history.

    The total spend of $255 million was up 8.8 per cent on the same day last year, and it’s possible the record could be under threat on Christmas Eve.

    “To give some sense of the change in the last few days, spending this Tuesday was up 45.1 per cent on last Tuesday,” Paymark customer relations head Mark Spicer said.

    Furniture and floor stores were among the biggest beneficiaries, with spending up 19.9 per cent on the same day last year.’

  • Y’all have a safe ‘Happy Time of Year’.

    Afridia, more commonly called by North American Cartographers, Downunder is on a heightened fear alert, just because….er….its what is done now…livin in fear, (as distinct from Love or the Mystery).

    ‘Prime Minister Tony Abbott raises terror alert level to high’


    “….we have no particular intelligence…” damn right!!

    (‘You am, I are, We is, Afraidia.’


    Seems such a high point of civilisation, to live in fear.
    All the natural world, all the ecosystems, (perhaps not quite all), all the tribal and extended clan life, all the local neighbourly relations, yep, its mighty good to know destroying all that was well worth the effort- all the highbrow technological posturing and fulminating for a ‘better human existence’ from the age of metals, the age of reason, the age of enlightenment, the age of transport and industry, the telecommunications age, the space age, the super-gadget age, the age of suburban infrastructure, the age of being chained to your domicile and its appliances,(necessitating and validating the age of newspaper supplements like ‘Travel’ or ‘Escape’… (proving the age of debt Slavery exists, even in the wishing well we call ‘but what about ME!-mind’), the age of storage of excess, (in the cupboard, in the shed, in the second shed, in the fat cells, in the cartilage, in the muscles cells of the the heart and in the the BUTT), the age of “oh, I don’t know, chicken tandoori…. or maybe tacos, just decide, can’t you for once?”, and my all time favourite Orwell/Huxley mix, the Age of the Selfie’, where the technological equivalent of the human body-mind, the phone/camera/computer gadget is used to locate and define self, as the self(ie)-image of the Divine,(or Greatest). Kind of like the Age of Narcissus….Well, it is just so great to know it was all worth it, just to get to the high ground of living the great dream of/in ‘The Suburbs of Fear’. Very soon to be replaced with the age of ‘The Suburbs of Fighting it out till the Last One Standing.

    Now, if we manage to find another planet to jump to, we could waste that one too !!!

    There would have to be a reason beyond pure excellence for NASA to be attempting to have their launch and orbiting and docking crafts and procedures to be automatic, and a pilot is only for back up….no?

    ‘Getting to Space is Never Easy, But It Will Be More Automated’


    “The next American spacecraft astronauts fly aboard to the International Space Station will be more automated than any that have come before thanks to advances in technology and software…..
    NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) is working with private industry partners Boeing and SpaceX to develop control systems that achieve a robust balance between computer and pilot guidance. In other words, the onboard computers will navigate the spacecraft into orbit and then to the station. Near the end of the mission, the crew would be able to climb inside the spacecraft after months in orbit and let the spaceship fly them home to Earth safely…..
    Also, emergency situations may call for a quick getaway back to Earth.

    “The intent here is to be predominantly automated so that, particularly in an emergency lifeboat scenario, you want to be able to have the crew jump in, close the door, hit the easy button and come home,” Kerr said. “We really want it to be as close to the Star Wars vision of the escape pod as possible.”….”

    Well that’s all OK, but what if the Earth is not a place to come back to?

    It looks like the elites who have the cash(while it still has meaning and power), will be signing up to go ‘Interstellar’. Also we can expect asteroid mining, and oh yes, the occasional Silicone based Alien to catch a ride back on a space freighter, all manufactured in space with 3D printing ….

    ‘Space Station’s 3D Printer Makes Wrench From ‘Beamed Up’ Design’



    ‘Let The Mystery Be – Iris DeMent’

  • Violent Night

    H/t globalriskreport dot info


  • Cyber hugs to all of you!
    And Happy birthday Jesus:
    (yes, time to drag this one out again… ;)

  • Merry Symbolic Celebration of Your Choice, everyone!

  • 2014-12-23 – Shopping carts burst into flame in the wee hours outside grocery store in Kansas City (Missouri)

    “Note: Kansas City is located at the confluence of the Kansas River and the Missouri River…”

    2014-12-23 – In separate incidents, unoccupied home and unoccupied building destroyed by fire in Charlotte (North Carolina)

    Quote: “A second fire broke out less than an hour away at a two-story home on Parkview Drive in south Charlotte. The large home was a total loss, officials said. No one was living there becuase it was undergoing renovations.”

    2014-12-23 – In separate incidents, vacant building burns and semi crashes into bunch of cars on I-10, in Indio (California)

    Quote: “The I-10 crash came at nearly the same time that an abandoned building caught fire in Indio, closing the eastbound lanes of Highway 111 for about an hour. Together, these two incidents severed the main thoroughfares for desert drivers, congesting eastbound travel throughout the valley.”

    2014-12-23 – Three vacant homes burn within 4 hours in Clover (South Carolina

    2014-12-23 – Two adults and two children found dead in submerged car in pond in Kissimmee (Florida)

    2014-12-23 – Naked man, 23, assaults person, walks down street with skateboard, gets tased, in Collingwood (Canada)

    Quote: “A 23-year-old Collingwood man is facing charges after reportedly walking through town naked, carrying a skateboard. Police said they came across the wandering man shortly after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. He’d earlier been involved in an assault at a nearby residence, where a male victim had been taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said. The naked man, who hasn’t been named, was tazed when he resisted arrest, police said.”

    2014-12-23 – Warming oceans causing severe coral bleaching from Hawaii to the Marshall Islands

    Quote: “Record warming of ocean water in the north Pacific has caused unprecedented coral bleaching from Hawaii to the Northern Mariana Islands, say scientists in the United States and the Marshall Islands. ‘The worst coral bleaching event ever recorded for the Marshall Islands has been occurring since mid-September,’ Dr. Karl Fellenius, the Marshall Islands coastal management extension agent in Majuro, said Friday.”

    2014-12-23 – Oil leaks into the Guaracara River on the island of Trinidad, sulfur smell, people sickening

    Quote: “Already one resident, Glenis Quashie-Dalrymple, had to seek medical treatment yesterday for respiratory problems she said was caused by fumes from the oil-covered river which flows behind her Silk Cotton Street, Marabella, home. She said over the weekend a high sulphuric smell was evident in the neighbourhood and her two younger children – ages seven and nine – complained of feeling unwell. ‘In the night they would be coughing but they do not have any runny nose or fever. For the last two days we notice a high sulphur smell and my son was vomiting,’ she said.”

  • Paul.

    Thanks for the good wishes.

    ‘Merry Symbolic Celebration of Your Choice, everyone!’

    I have a severe problem with what occurs around here, Several severe problems in fact.

    Having grown up in England, as a child I was led to believe that someone call Father Christmas came down the chimney (the bungalow my family lived in did have one) and filled stockings with nice things on the night of 24th-25th December. He did this for all children who had been good, and travelled across the sky on a magic sleigh drawn by reindeer to deliver presents.

    It was standard practice to decorate a tree in the living room with chains of tinsel and baubles and candles that were never lit, and electric mini-lamps depicting scenes from Cinderella. Brightly-coloured paper-chains were hung from the corners of the room to the centre, and along the walls. Prior to all this, my parents sent cards to most of their families (brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, cousins etc.) and practically everyone they knew. The cards received (several dozen) were hung on string lines across the living room or along the walls.

    This was all dome to celebrate the birth of someone called Jesus, who had been born in a stable and had been tracked down by three wise men (or maybe kings) because he was ‘the son of God’.

    Upon arriving in NZ I discovered that many of the cultural norms applied, despite Christmas being in the early summer. The transition from an ambient temperature in the range minus 5 to 10oC to an ambient temperature in the range 15 to 30oC was not eased by scenes of snow on cards.

    Many years later I discovered that the whole basis for celebration in the Northern Hemisphere was recognition by people who lived many tens of thousands of years ago that the Sun rose lower and lower in the early part of winter, and if the trend continued the Sun would not rise at all: it was therefore a cause for great celebration when, after rising at its most southerly point, the Sun was seen to be rising at a more northerly point on the horizon four days later. Thus, ‘The Sun died on The Cross (constellation) but was resurrected’.

    Needless to say. Maori people had their own version of the celebration of the ‘revival’ of the Sun, which occurs around 21st June on our completely screwed-up calendar system, inherited from the Romans, whereby the tenth month is called eighth month and the twelfth month is called the tenth month.

    This does not get much attention mainstream.


    Fortunately, greater numbers of more enlightened people are rejecting the whole bullshit narrative foisted on the masses by the slave masters and the commercial sector, but until ‘the monster’ finally dies the holiday period will continue to be characterised by increased levels of over-consumption, depression, family conflict and, suicide etc., and here in New Zealand by ‘the holiday road toll’, whereby people spend the last moments of their lives in a crumpled vehicle which came to an abrupt stop.

    I am not sure whether this is the consequence of too much ‘merry’ or not enough ‘merry’, since my dictionary tells me that merry means cheerful and lively or slightly drunk.

  • Ram Samudrala,

    I feel curious to know if you are familiar with the book (2 Vols.), Mathematical Biology, by Oxford mathematician and biologist, Dr. James Murray. John Gottman found this book extremely helpful in learning about and applying nonlinear differential equations to his work. (After discovering Murray, Gottman worked very closely with him for a number of years to develop his love equations.) From a review: “Moveover, mathematical analysis, ordinary differential equations, nonlinear thermodynamics, and chaos should be mastered before reading this excellent textbook.”

  • Bud, I will respond to your comment on the other thread here. I’m not sure I understand how you relate the above work to my comments, but it seems that you appreciate them so I will say thank you.

    I have difficulty thinking in a way that works with the kind of information and communications you prefer. Like others, I did not relate to your work here. However, I can’t know how beneficial your work might be for others, so it is enough to say, it’s not my way.

    I mentioned Marshall Rosenberg and his genius simplicity because when we stop evaluating other people, and limit ourselves to pointing out our observations (the real scientific method), and stating our feelings and needs (our rights as sentient beings), we can virtually eliminate verbal and psychological aggression and destructiveness. It really is that simple, and that hard. It causes us to look at our will to do harm, even only psychological and verbal harm. Can a person express themselves without *ever* expressing some kind of devaluing toward others?

    As I wrote above, because we believe that it’s “okay” to judge people positively, and because many of us believe that having the best, most erudite, unassailable and universal judgment/evaluation possible is what constitutes the highest intelligence, it is difficult to convince people of the value of not judging/evaluating at all, the value of real non-violence now, and every now hereafter.

    I believe love is innate, inherent in life, and it is freely given. Love is joy and peace. When I love, I experience joy and peace in relation to the subject of my love. I have no desire to harm, to change, to use or objectify. Real love really is unconditional.

    My moment is always now, and my failures are obvious if I will only be honest with myself. I have no successes, only peace. Being in nature and having wonderful animals, who are innocent and honest as humans are not, helps a lot.

  • OGF,
    “…having wonderful animals, who are innocent and honest as humans are not, helps a lot.

    If I did not have my animals, I would do something to myself, I’m afraid, to make the world stop. How the hell does one exist in a toilet bowl like this country and most of the world.

    I remember seeing an indigenous tribe somewhere lately and they had NOTHING but smiles and laughter. How can that be?

  • “I mentioned Marshall Rosenberg and his genius simplicity because when we stop evaluating other people, and limit ourselves to pointing out our observations (the real scientific method), and stating our feelings and needs (our rights as sentient beings), we can virtually eliminate verbal and psychological aggression and destructiveness. It really is that simple, and that hard. It causes us to look at our will to do harm, even only psychological and verbal harm. Can a person express themselves without *ever* expressing some kind of devaluing toward others?”

    Well said, OGF.

    Thanks to all the regulars for their caring and dedication, and best wishes for the holidays (however you view them)and coming year.

  • http://www.radio4all.net/files/michaelslate@redfuture.com/4024-1-The_Michael_Slate_Show_12-24-14.mp3

    Michael Mann interview with Michael Slate

    Mann on the 2014 Synthesis Report by the IPCC, which contains a strongly-worded assessment of the danger facing the planet due to the burning of fossil fuels.

    Starts at time 20 minutes.

  • Whether you agree or disagree with Bud, we should thank him for addressing a very difficult and taboo topic. NTHE is not the type of subject that lends itself to easily convincing explanations. I happen to find Bud’s model and commentary most applicable for this material as well as other important aspects of life.

  • Bud: yes, Jim and I were ostensibly colleagues at the University of Washington where I was faculty for 13 years. I’m more familiar with his papers in the primary literature however. I’m not familiar with Gottman’s work I think (but unsure). Why do you ask?

  • oldgrowthforest –

    Real love really is unconditional.

    and it is unconditional because it is infinite. inexhaustible. perfect.

    it has no fear – none – because it knows nothing of fear. fear cannot touch it.

    it is utterly alien, unreal, unknown, unfindable, and nowhere, because it is attached to nothing.

    does the infinite One love itself, all of itself, just as much as it damn well pleases?

    oh yes it does. with infinite tenderness, bliss, slippery erotic joy and intimacy –

    and oh so much deeper, oh so much more.

    anytime, baby! anywhere.

  • Ram Samudrala,

    Thanks. As I read Gottman (Principia Amoris at the moment), learning about his history, his theory of love, and the mathematics he used in developing it, including working with James Murray with his Biological Mathematics expertise at U.W., I realized that you were probably familiar with Murray and his work. Out of curiosity I thought I would ask rather than just assume.

  • ‘It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul.’

    this ending to a poem shared by paul chefurka (mr. 2lot?!) speaks directly to me this evening. i keep thinking/perceiving how hopelessly and egregiously flawed human beings are, knowing a day of reckoning lies in the near/moderate term future for myself, and of course everyone else, a time to ‘pay the piper’, or devil, as the case may be. keep denying/suppressing my unhappiness and despair in order to avoid having to seriously consider suicide. i rather strongly suspect that suicide is a rational choice in my situation, to end the psychological pain (unhappiness) of having to deal with my own flaws/crap in a social environment that constantly reinforces negative perceptions/moods, one that is clearly clueless, crazy, cruel, and last but certainly not least, doomed.

    doomed. it’s our strong bond on this beach of doom hosted by the great guy. we know the shit’s gotta go down sooner or later, and while there exists considerable disagreement as to how soon it must occur, we’re all basically in agreement that’s it’s very likely a hell of a lot sooner than the vast majority of somewhat rational and well informed sheeple think. i think most of us have enough imagination as well as life experience to know that when shit goes down someone gets hurt. we’re looking at the greatest shitstorm of all time bearing down upon us. a shitstorm that may come at any moment for any particular sherson, but probably will not come for most of us for years or maybe a few decades. at any rate, we face a shitstorm that calls for a response, which can come in 2 basic forms: survivalism, and suicide prep.. unless one anticipates committing suicide with great dispatch, i think it pays to do both.

    but i think we definitely need to overcome laws/stigmas associated with suicide, including merely having open, non-dogmatic (no ‘just say no to suicide’ bs) philosophical discussions with the aim of forming alliances and supportive relations, that could eventually help facilitate our/one’s suicide act, make it as painless/merciful as possible. perhaps even joyous, if possible. because surreally, when it comes to being the captain of one’s fate, that can mean one thing and one thing only, considering the only ‘fate’ we may truly control is our own, in a very limited way, that being how and when we should die. no one can or is going to ‘save the world’. no one can outsmart or overcome nature or ‘god’. everyone’s more or less in the same boat, gazing at the beach of doom.

    i find it questionable one can even control one’s own fate re. suicide, considering fear of and aversion to death/dying. perhaps some of u have overcome such fear. perhaps some of us never will, in which case we may face a crueler fate. no one asks to be born, or to suffer, but it happens all the time. if free will exists at all, it certainly must include the option of suicide. considering our current collective state of affairs, it’s irrational at best, tragically foolish at worst, not to have a plan and be prepared to put it in action at a moment’s notice.

    that’s in fact my situation/description. stupid/crazy. not sure which, probably both. probably doesn’t matter.

    i suppose it all comes down to fear and/or other incapacitating thoughts/emotions. i keep wishing for a magic pill or something that would enable me to have the courage and clarity of purpose of one without such inhibitions. how comforting it would be to know that when death/suffering is at hand, i’ll have some say in the matter.

  • terry,

    i suppose it all comes down to fear and/or other incapacitating thoughts/emotions. i keep wishing for a magic pill or something that would enable me to have the courage and clarity of purpose of one without such inhibitions.

    Yes, that’s what it comes down to. Unfortunately, like everything else worthwhile in life, there’s no pill for it. Getting rid of my fear took several years of hard work, with the help of a couple of fortuitous events along the way that I had no way to predict, or any control over. I essentially had to tear down my original worldview and build a new, more coherent one from scratch. It’s work that will take a lifetime, no matter how much or how little time I have left.

    You seem mildly surprised that there are dimensions to my psyche that aren’t circumscribed by entropic concerns. We’re all complex critters. Not all of our facets are appropriate for discussion on a board like this, while many simply don’t need public discussion.

    Regarding 2LoT, I’ve realized that where collective human behavior and its fruits are concerned, 2LoT is but one part of a larger picture. In order to bring more of the jigsaw puzzle into focus, a better grounding in systems science, complexity theory and cybernetics seems to be in order, so that’s what I’m beavering away on at the moment. As a result of what I’m learning, I doubt you will see much more single-minded “Theory of Everything” blather from me.

    Please don’t give up on yourself. It’s possible to get beyond the fear.

  • ‘Please don’t give up on yourself. It’s possible to get beyond the fear.’

    paul, u’re missing my point. i’m hoping that on the far side of fear, i’ll easily be able to give up on myself (not to mention the rest of this fucked up world). put it all behind me, be done with it. one way or another, that’s my fondest wish: to surreally live for however long or briefly, and then to give it up on my own terms. that’s free will!

  • In that case your job will be much easier. Once the pain of staying is greater than the pain of leaving, you’ll be done.

  • Dear Terry. Strength to you my brother.

    “It is better for me to oppose the forces that would drive me to self-murder than to endure them…Black and white alike, ill in the same way, mortally ill…Revolutionary suicide does not mean that I and my comrades have a death with, just the opposite. When reactionary forces crush us, we must move against these forces, even at the risk of death. We will have to be driven out with a stick.”
    – Huey Newton’s autobiography, ‘Revolutionary Suicide’.

    Tavis Smiley said of Dr King in his recent book “Death of A King” – on the last year of King’s life – “You can’t control how you will die, but you can control what you die for.”

    “Sokolov was a cold-blooded man, molded in Russia by inhuman struggles, apart from which he could no longer live. He came out of the storm, and the storm was within him…Sokolov laughed at our demonstration, mere child’s play. He him­ self was silently preparing the real reply to the workers’ murderers. At the end of a sad train of events, his laboratory was discovered; he found himself hounded down, without means of escape. Flight was impos­sible because of his face, notable for its intense eyes and conspicuous in a crowd because the top part of his nose had been crushed (appar­ently with a blow from an iron bar). He shut himself up in a furnished room at Ghent, loaded his revolvers, and waited; and when the police came, he fired on them as he had fired on the Tsar’s police. The peace­ful sergeants of Ghent paid for the Cossacks’ pogroms and Sokolov laid down his life, “whether here or there matters little, so long as one lays it down on the great day, for the awakening of the oppressed.” Victor Serge, Memoirs of A Revolutionary

    “Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation…that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution. Pass on the torch. Join us, give up your life for the people.” George Jackson, Soledad Brother, dead at age 29.

  • Death wish….not death with…oh well….

  • Lunch ranted about the state of the planet, then warmly encouraged the women to purge themselves of shame and anger.

  • Paul wrote: “Regarding 2LoT, I’ve realized that where collective human behavior and its fruits are concerned, 2LoT is but one part of a larger picture. In order to bring more of the jigsaw puzzle into focus, a better grounding in systems science, complexity theory and cybernetics seems to be in order, so that’s what I’m beavering away on at the moment. As a result of what I’m learning, I doubt you will see much more single-minded “Theory of Everything” blather from me.”

    That’s a wise comment. When it comes to the behaviour of complex systems, there is no singular theory of everything as much as there seems to be a theory for each thing (i.e., complexity is a theorist’s nightmare).

  • Obesity costs the British taxpayer more than police, prisons and fire service combined, independent research earlier this year found.


  • Britain’s multi-billion pound sex and illegal drug industries have helped the UK leapfrog France to become the world’s fifth largest economy.

    The latest global economic league tables includes a £10bn boost in UK earnings from drugs and sex – which earlier this year led to Brussels issuing a £1.7bn bill to the Treasury.


  • I’ve posted a guest essay at the top of the page. It’s here.

  • shep, I am so with you. Animals are wonderful companions. I currently have a couple of dogs, a petite standard poodle and a Berner mix. The poodle is hilarious, happy, and pure beauty in motion. She has been a great dog, sweet and gentle toward all things. I once saw her first bark and then approach a moose in the yard, which she licked on the nose. It was a strangely adorable and terrifying moment. However, prior to now my favorite pets of my life were a brown tabby named Tuna, and a one-eyed, long-haired Chihuahua I found in the desert south of Tucson in 1972.

    All of them are not equal, just like people. I enjoy the company of many kinds of animals and my life feels incomplete without at least one in the house. I am lonely without them, and I enjoy their peace and simple happiness, their ability to be here now.

    Some of them, though, are more than pets or companions and they are as precious as any true friend can be. I can honestly attest that a few of my other-species friends have brought me joy every single day of their lives and gave me no grief whatsoever other than in their passing.

    I can’t say that about any human I know, including myself.

    artleads, thank you. mo flow, yes, it’s like that. Real love doesn’t chafe; it’s not a burden.

  • “Anyone who asks why we need a workshop for only women in 2013,” Lunch told me, “doesn’t realize the effect the patriarchy has had on our psyches.”

    From the article on Lunch. Makes sense to me. And so does basing one’s actions on enjoyment (pleasure?).