Stages of American National Grief

Stages of American National Grief
The progression of stages of national grief is:

  1. Denial < > – “The country is fine.”; “Signs of decline are overblown by unpatriotic people.”
  2. Denial is usually only a temporary defense but while it is operative it is filled with rhetoric like, “Let’s take our country back to the way it was” which is largely a mythological construct of something that never was – a Norman Rockwell view of nationhood.
  3. Anger < > – “Why us? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to us?”; “We are the greatest nation ever.” “Who is to blame?”
  4. Once in the second stage, the citizen recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the nation is very difficult to care for, think clearly about or to make plans for its future due to feelings of rage. Looking for scapegoats becomes a preoccupation.
  5. Bargaining < > – “I will do anything to bring back the memory of what is an ‘exceptional’ nation. “God has established it with a unique destiny and surely he won’t let it die.” “I will pray to the Almighty who founded this country to rescue it from those who are out to destroy it.”
  6. The third stage involves the hope that the demise of the national identity can somehow be postponed or delayed. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life of that which has been known is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed and ideological pure state. Psychologically, the individual is saying, “I understand that the nation as it has been constructed is dying, but if I could just have more time to live the way it was…”
  7. Depression < > – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “The nation as I know it is going to die… What’s the point?”; “I miss so much the American myths of a country that used to be, why go on?”
  8. During the fourth stage, the individual begins to understand the certainty of death of the national idea. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse to associate with others or read the paper or keep up with the news and spend much of the time grieving. This process allows the person to disconnect oneself from attachments and affection for the underlying myths of what s/he believed to be his or her homeland.
  9. Acceptance < > – “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”
  10. In this last stage, the citizen begins to come to terms with the mortality of not the nation but the national idea as it has been and begins to think of how the nation might be if it was less absorbed with itself and its excessive individualistic mythology and more concerned with using its assets to fully serve by participating in an international, global understanding of its role. It is the beginning of creativity and new opportunity.

But for now, it seems, we are stuck between rage (TEA Partiers) and helplessness (Liberals)

thanks to Bruce Vincent for this clever bit

Ask Dr. Miller: Dealing with Stress in the World Today

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 stress?  In this podcast I explain the difference, give examples of each and provide simple ways (affirmations) to quickly release stress and enter a relaxed state of mind, body and spirit.

This audio excerpt is from my program Stress Fitness Volume 1. Please visit my online store at for more information about this and my other audio programs.

What is the matter with the people in this world? Why can’t they see the very obvious truth, that each of us has value, and that what we share in common with each other is so much greater in importance than the ways we happen to differ? With so many people pointing the way, why don’t they listen, and act accordingly?

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve had thoughts like those. Eventually it began to dawn on me – the world has been blinded by the propaganda advanced by their so-called leaders. As a result of this blindness we remain ignorant of truths lying right in front of us. [1]

Obama as Antichrist

The current domestic political situation is instructive. If there was ever a time to diligently search for solutions that will benefit us all, it is now. Who in their right mind would aim us in the direction of confusion and misinformation?

Yet there are a significant number of us who choose to believe that President Obama is a closet Muslim and a Nazi: that he wasn’t born in this country, and that he wants to pass a law mandating “death panels.” But this is just a single example of the nonsensical perspective that is nurtured by a certain segment of the media and then becomes a deep belief of all those who cannot see the distortion. But this is just one example.

Why would anyone aim to cultivate such fantasies and live by them?

Caution, Unseen Hand at Work

Perhaps Maynard Keynes’s “unseen hand” is at work here – the unseen hand of the marketplace. Fact is, there is money to be made by publishing information that distorts the world and creates suspicion, paranoia, fear, and conflict. The unseen hand caused to appear hungry, aggressive whose raison d’être is to specifically cater to those of us who are thus ignorant of the truth. After all, there is money to be made in the business of keeping people ignorant, and since “greed is good”. . .

We have not been taught to respect the truth, and the media generated distortion results in our never having an opportunity to even see the truth. We have been pumped full with propaganda and pap. (By the way, breaking with tradition, when I use the term media I mean to refer to all the communication tools and weapons aimed at us by the world we live in.) Our Information Universe is heavily impacted by media in many forms, ranging from our schoolbooks, with their stories of brave Columbus, and self-sacrificing Custer, all the way to today’s increasingly politically pitched news media.

This carefully manufactured blindness has resulted in our being ignorant of important facts because they are invisible to us.

Waking Up to the Media

I gradually began to recognize how deeply our culture has been twisted by our media. Our history books and prayer books, our newspapers and television have all systematically distorted the truth. Facts have been distorted and so has the mode of reasoning by which these factoids are examined and evaluated.

The problem is that not only has our global information system failed to give us the truth about ourselves and the world we live in, it has also not given us the tools we need in order to see the actual solutions that abound all around us. We desperately need to acquire and employ those tools that will enable us to be be certain that the decisions we are making are wise decisions.

To feel secure in the correctness and wisdom of our decisions we must examine the truth impartially, with freedom from prejudice, with an eye free from longing. We do not want our desire to see things a certain way to influence how we are seeing things. At least not too much. We need to strive to understand the truth, and to see more than merely projection of our prejudiced fantasy onto the current situation.

Any attachment to the past distorts our view of the present to some degree. It can be on other way – our present will always be colored to some degree by the past, at least until we have reached a stable state of enlightenment. Wisdom decrees that we reduce this distortion to the minimum, accept that some distortion remains, and then to take the transformational step of looking beyond the distortion. We must turn to a deeper intuition (the Force?), to enable us to sense what is deeper, and to set our journey by that deeper, inner standard, by the deeper essence of the situation, rather than just the situation itself.

[1] Sometimes we even go so far as to imprison those who would shed light on the world, as with the fate of poor Galileo, and those Joe McCarthy’s hearings abused.

Q: I have heard it said that part of our mind works like a computer filing system. You even mentioned this in one of your articles. What is this “computer filing system” and how does it affect our health?

A:  It’s not that I think we have a Macintosh desktop unit (or IBM PC) in our heads — what he have, however, is very much like computer software! It’s not the kind you can get at Fry’s, it’s built in (on our hard drive so to speak), and it’s the most powerful software on earth.

Most people’s lives run along very predictable pathways.  The person who was an annoying boor yesterday is likely to be one today, tomorrow, and for years to come.  People tend to experience recurrences of the same diseases and habits over and over again, never thinking to change their behavior. This is similar to getting an error message on the computer; a lot of people keep trying the same procedure over and over, sure that they are right and the computer is somehow wrong and will see the error of its ways.

Remember that over 90 percent of our diseases require us to behave in a certain way in order to get them — the direct result of the thoughts that we run through our minds, our attitudes, ways of handling stress! Repeating patterns like alcohol, cigarettes, shyness, aggressiveness, — and even our usual moods — depression, irrepressible optimism —are in no way preordained by the Gods, not even by the external universe.  They are primarily the result of the thoughts going through our minds. And much of what we think is programmed in during our developmental years.

I have developed specific procedures involving hypnosis or deep relaxation through which I can locate the program and even the date of the program in most cases, and help my client rewrite it. Examples are recorded in my book, Deep Healing: The Essence of Mind/Body Medicine. It’s a fascinating process.

As a physician for instance, I might see a person before a very important speech. Let’s say her name is Marie. She feels frightened, experiencing sweaty palms, a tense stomach, etc.  Marie has never liked speaking in front of a group of people but now finds herself about to deliver the valedictory address. It could have been oral exams to become certified in her profession, or speak to the assembled employees of two companies that have just merged. Finally, she has a chance to speak about something she really cares about. Yet, all those symptoms block the kind of inspiring peak performance that is possible. In addition, it makes her feel miserable throughout the whole process, for which she blames the process.  In her mind, she is constantly running thoughts of times of when she made mistakes in the past.  Many of these thoughts are at the conscious level, but even more are being run through at the unconscious level.

In addition, negative thoughts of the future —fears of fainting, stuttering, failing to get the point across, being attacked (and all kinds of unnecessary thoughts about the future) are running through Marie’s mind—and this has been happening for days.

Mental Programs

Marie has a program running in her mind that sorts through all the possible thoughts in the universe (of which there are quite a few) and comes up with precisely those thoughts which will trigger a malfunction of the hypothalamus.

The hypothalmus is the part of the brain that links thinking to physical status, behavior, and physiological functioning. When it goes out of kilter it can create very unpleasant physiological states such as sweating palms, dry mouth, and stomachache.  The same chemical imbalance this creates in the body also makes it difficult to think, and tends to block the reception of any pleasant experiences.  In addition to a growing fear and loathing of the upcoming presentation, Marie suddenly doesn’t get much pleasure from walking in the park, has recently found sex uninteresting, and in general is not a very happy camper.

This condition of the body and the unhappy mood then feedback through our sensory receptors — we notice ourselves feeling miserable and performing poorly and we begin to feel even more negative, and even less positive about the talk that we have to give or the test we have to take.

As every computer programmer knows GIGO — garbage in garbage out. The quality of your software, in other words, who (or what) writes your software and why, determines the quality of your life.

Through hypnosis or deep relaxation, I ask the person to go back in the archives of their mind to the first time they felt this way. In most cases, the programming happened during a specific incident or series of incidents early in life where the feedback from the universe (which may have been one parent having a bad day) was somehow unacceptable. The archives store every entry, and the mind under hypnosis is able to relive the exact moment when directed to.

We have two kinds of archives, the external archives and the internal archives.  The external archives consist of information we have learned from books, libraries, magazines, the internet, experts in certain fields and good friends, therapists and relatives that we feel can offer us valuable information, knowledge, and wisdom.

The internal archives has to do with what’s been stored within us even from times before our birth.  Our chromosomes carry such genetic memories.

I believe this genetic memory tunes us into trees and waterfalls, beautiful skies, beautiful flowers, and beautiful smells.  I think there is an internal archive of orientation that causes us to enjoy (and music has arisen in every culture). In every population people evolve the concept of God, of the Divine. Perhaps this is a kind of a species ROM memory, designed to lead us towards a simpler, healthier life.

On the other hand, our inner archive also contains a certain amount of garbage. The cost of modern society upon our well-being can be seen in this pile of garbage.  As we become more and more cut off from natural sources of love, beauty, exercise, and eating, we see more and more imbalance and disease. Stress-related diseases arise as we lose track of the natural flow of life in the maelstrom of our artificial lifestyles.

We are born with 2,000,000,000 neurons and few connections.  By the time we reach adolescence we have up to 15,000 connections to each neuron — 50,000 connections per second waking and sleeping during our childhood.  This is when the fundamental programs are laid down.  The neurons and glia are the bricks and mortar, the environment is the architect.  Our environment was our family, friends, social relationships, and our teachers. This is why it is not a simple thing to “undo” the influences of childhood in a single sitting.

For example, our nervous patient may have had a report to read in the second grade and didn’t admit to being unprepared. Perhaps her mother was in the hospital that day and with all the stress she forgot about the report. When she tried to “fake it” the teacher bellowed with anger and the other kiddies laughed mercilessly. That image set the progam for failure. By locating that image in the archive we can reprogram it for success. In this case, she might rescript the scene and visualize approaching the teacher, explaining the situation, and asking for one more day to prepare.

Perhaps then we visualize the upcoming talk. Is there time to prepare adequately? If so, we visualize total success in the delivery of the talk, from a state of deep relaxation and calm.

My first job when a person such as Marie comes to see me is to get her attention.  People are usually so bound into their own unpleasant internal process that they are really not listening very well to things coming from the outside. Next, I guide her into what I call the state of deep relaxation which, fundamentally, means guiding her to think thoughts and create mental images that are associated with relaxation.  This is, in effect, loading a new “application” into the brain.

In ten minutes or so, she is more relaxed than she has been for months.  The mind is clear of distractions and all negative thoughts about herself and her upcoming presentation has drained away.

This new mental state then creates a different state in the hypothalamus and a different physiological state. The results are an improved level of muscle tension, and an improved flow of chemical transmitters through the body carrying signals that inform the muscles and nerves that it is safe to be at rest, to absorb nutrients, to refresh and restore.

The openness that takes place in the mind is now used to create a positive image of the future —the image that you most would like to have if all your dreams came true, specifically in the area of life you are addressing. If you are preparing to speak in public, this image will probably be of an inspired talk which will elicit praise from everyone present. If it is a performance, the image might be of a graceful, effortless performance that achieves great results.

You can now intentionally hold that image in front of your consciousness so as to, in effect, “burn” the image into the image making (graphics package) portion of the conscious mind.  At the same time, the image begins to be copied onto our internal hard disk.  The patient practices going through this whole process several times a day at home.  In so doing, the image is more and more securely recorded within them.  Now their mind can go off and do other things.

Then whenever you feel it is necessary — such as when you begin to feel frightened, depressed or heavy, or just for practice, you go within and repeat this process of emptying the mind of its current set of programs and to “upload” this new image.

Once again, as the new image is loaded, you begin to experience your body and your world differently. As you experience everything differently, you suddenly see options that weren’t available before. You find you have confidence in your own creative skills and know you can rely on them to prevent problems before they happen. You feel less fragile and more able to absorb any minor conflict that might arise; as a matter of fact, you feel equal to the challenge! Your inner picture of the world suddenly gets brighter as if you found the dimmer switch on the monitor of the mind and turned it all the way up. You can run through the upcoming challenge mentally from beginning to end without error messages. You are home free.

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