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The cloak of invisibilty

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The cloak of invisibilty

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When she was little, her grandfather told her about the cloak of invisibility. A little girl wanted to get inside a palace, but as she was poor and never could get inside, she could only dream. One day a fairy appeared, holding a blood-red cloak, sparkling in the sunlight. She carefully draped it around the girls shoulders, and left. Three days later, when she by coincidence looked into a mirror in a hotel where she went in to wash her face, she startled when she could`t see herself in the mirror. In shock her cloak fell off her with a heavy thud, and she magically reappeared. Picking it up and taking it on again, she vanished once more.

The following days, she experimented with her cloak, and not only could she not see herself in the mirror when she put it on, no one else could either. With a thumping heart, she went to the palace. The cloak firmly around her slim body, walking with shaky legs, she stepped inside her palace of her dreams. Not only did her eyes rest upon beauty she never knew existed, but she also saw the prince himself. He was so handsome, that her cloak almost fell off her again, but she managed to avoid the disaster by clutching it tight. Three days later, she ventured into the palace again, and saw the prince sitting in the library, reading a book with tears streaming on his beautiful face. Without thought, she ran over to him, always eager to help. When she ran, her cloak made her trip and she fell, exposing the body she always tried to hide. The prince looked up from his book in shock from the loud thud, and the sudden appearance of a girl right in front of him. Their eyes met, and if there is such a thing as faith, this was it.

Three years later, they were happily married and had a girl, a little princess. The girl with the cloak, was never invisible again.

Her grandfather looked at his grandchild and smiled. She sat there, in rapt attention, dreams floating in her eyes. She looked at in him in awe and asked with a tender voice:

«Can I have a cloak like that?» He chuckled, stroking her hair and thinking he would give her anything, if he only could. On her 4th birthday a present was under a bed together with a little fairy doll on top of it. Eagerly she ripped off the paper, exposing a beautiful red cloak with glittering beads all over it. Before her parents, who always disapproved of her no matter what she did, could come in and realize that her grandfather had indulged in her once again, she hid it in the closet where she herself hid when her father roared in anger.

Later, she tried it on. She hid her bruises, misery and pain, and felt safe underneath the soft satin cloak. When she heard footsteps outside her room, she did not shiver like usual. She only put the cloak tighter around her, hiding in her closet, murmuring that everything would be okay. Like magic, her father left her alone, though he probably knew she sat there, and could have dragged her out to the bed like he sometimes did.

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She had always felt invisible, even without a cloak, but this time it felt good. When she recalled how much fear and horror she endured in her life, as an adult, she knew that she finally could change her future. Her cloak was always with her, no matter how dirty and ragged it became. Bit by bit, she felt safe enough to show small pieces of her invisible self to people who loved her. She managed to hide when someone untrustworthy came into her life, and slowly the bruises that had marked her body for so many years, faded. Sometimes, in the darkness before the dawn, she still put the cloak on, and little by little she managed to show herself to the world. She was like a broken mirror, but slowly the pieces came together again, and finally, one day, she was able to look at herself fully. Her husband, a kind man, helped her and found many of the broken pieces. Handling them with care, he fixed the mirror together with her, until they both could look into each others eyes without ever having to turn their gaze away from what they both hid inside.

At their third anniversary, he hid a present under her bed, with a little fairy on top. Her eyes filled with tears, as she saw the soft present underneath it. With shaking hands, she unwrapped it. A new cloak, even softer than the first one, appeared. Her tears flowed freely now, and when her husband came in with a birthday breakfast on a silver tray, he came over and held her hand. Carefully, he draped the soft silk around her shoulders. To her amazement, he wore a black cloak himself, shining in the sunlight from the new day. Together, they walked over to the mirror.

Her tears stopped flowing, and in that moment, life was good.

She never had to hide again.

This post was reblogged from my blog: Mirrorgirlblog

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A Tale of Two Scientists

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I haven’t posted here in a while, as I’ve been busy building my new site, designed for the support of caregivers. I invite you to check it out at http://www.exploringdementia.com

In 1907, two very important papers were published. The author of one paper went down in history, as the saying goes, while the other eventually faded into relative obscurity until just recently.

The first of these two men was Dr. Alois Alzheimer, famous for his work in helping to define the disorder that now bears his name. He was born in Bavaria, and earned his medical degree at Wurzberg University in Germany. Soon after graduating, he began work in the Asylum for Lunatics and Epileptics in Frankfurt. In 1901, he observed a patient who exhibited symptoms very similar to those observed in someone with senile dementia. However, Auguste Deter was only 51 years old.

Alzheimer spent a great deal of time in the ensuing years observing Frau Deter and chronicling the development of her disease. Eventually, he moved to Munich, and in 1902 began work at the Royal Psychiatric Clinic there. When Frau Deter died in 1906, he requested that her medical records and her brain be sent to him for further study. Upon autopsy, he discovered the now-characteristic shrinking of the cerebral cortex as well as the presence of neurofibrillary tangles and neuritic plaques.

Going on to publish a paper on the subject, in 1907, Alzheimer described Deter’s case at some length. He was not the one to name this newly-discovered disease after himself, however. That honor fell to Dr. Emil Kraepelin, Director of the clinic where Alzheimer worked at the time of his discovery, when he published his textbook “Psychiatry” in 1910. Kraepelin is a well-respected name in the scientific community, in his own right, for his work in the fledgling field of neuropsychiatry – specifically in the study of schizophrenia and other disorders.

At around the same time period that Alzheimer was doing his research, a scientist named Dr. Oskar Fischer, was working at the German University in Prague. From 1900 to 1909, he worked first in the Department of Pathological Anatomy, and then later moved to the Department of Psychology. He investigated sixteen cases of senile dementia – particularly the cerebral cortexes of these patients – using a number of different staining techniques. He not only described the presence of plaques in 12 of these individuals, but also was the first person to describe what is now known as the neuritic plaque. Plaques were not observed in the brains of 10 control cases, 10 psychotic individuals, and 45 patients with neurosyphilis.
Fischer went on to describe the appearance of these plaques, both as he initially observed them and also as they grew in size. His use of the word “neurofibrils” to describe the appearance of certain components of the plaques has persisted to this day, found in the modern term “neurofibrillary tangles.”

Moving on in his research, Fischer then began to investigate whether the clinical symptoms of these 12 individuals with senile dementia differentiated them from the other test cases. He linked the presence of plaques with a diagnosis of presbyophrenia, a diagnosis commonly used in the early years of the 20th century. This was considered to be a form of dementia, including behaviors such as confabulation, significant memory loss, hyperactivity, disorientation, elevated mood, and a preservation of “social graces.” It was thought to be either a form of Korsakoff’s psychosis or senile dementia. However, the term has vanished from current usage. Those four individuals who did not have plaques were considered to have exhibited senile dementia, thus identifying the two conditions as separate diseases.

In subsequent research, Fischer went on to describe eight stages of plaque development. He likened plaque formation to the inflammatory process, especially interesting now in view of the current research in that vein. (It was only when the state of immunohistochemistry had evolved sufficiently that Fisher’s theories were able to be validated.)

The work of Alzheimer and that of Fischer are considered to complement each other, with their use of staining techniques to identify the neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles being the major point that made their work stand out over that of others. Interestingly, Alzheimer also discovered what later became known as “Pick’s bodies” in what later became known as Pick’s disease or frontotemporal dementia. (The director of the clinic where Fischer did the bulk of his work was Dr. Arnold Pick, now famous for his work in the definition of FTD.)

The two scientists disagreed on a number of matters. For instance, Alzheimer took issue with Fischer’s theory that the plaques had a link with presbyophrenic dementia. While he agreed that plaques were a distinctive feature of senile dementia, he did not think that they actually caused the disease, as Fischer did. Alzheimer did actually give Fischer credit for helping to draw attention to plaques in the diagnosis of senile dementia. He considered that the cases of presenile dementia that he and Fischer had both described to be a sub-type of senile dementia, rather than an entirely new disease. Fischer also disagreed that a new disease was being reported. The two men differed in their opinion on the formation and the significance of the tangles.

So, why do we speak of Alzheimer’s disease, and not Fisher’s disease? In the years immediately following the work of both men, we do find references in the literature to “Fischer’s plaques.” Alzheimer himself actually used the term in a paper he wrote in 1911. The terms presbyophrenic dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were both in usage as late as 1949. However, by 1955, textbooks that had previously used Fischer’s name to denote the disease had been changed to use the term Alzheimer’s disease exclusively. Fisher’s work was reported as being obsolete.

Some credit other factors as playing a part in Fischer’s legacy. Despite teaching there for 17 years, Fischer was never awarded tenure at the German University, and in fact his appointment was revoked in 1939 as the university began to quietly remove all Jewish faculty in anticipation of the Nazi take-over. Fischer attempted to continue a private practice until 1941, when he was arrested by the Gestapo. This eventually led to his imprisonment and death in a Nazi concentration camp in 1942. The German University, where he had done so much work, was likewise closed down in 1945. Fischer did not have any students who continued his work, as Alzheimer did.

By contrast, Alzheimer worked under Dr. Kraepelin, who not only named the disease after him, but was also one of the most influential psychiatrists of his time. The Munich institute continued for many years, and when Alzheimer ceased his work there in 1912, he was succeeded by Spielmeyer, one of the most respected histopathologists of his time. It has also been speculated that, because the schools where the two men worked were rivals, Kraepelin was quick to gain recognition for his school as well as for Alzheimer. However, even though Kraepelin coined the term Alzheimer’s disease in 1910, it was not until the 1970s that the term became widely used to describe patients with senile dementia.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov “Presbyophrenia: the rise and fall of a concept”
“Oskar Fischer and the study of dementia,” by Michel Goedert, in Brain, 2009, 132.
“Oskar Fischer,” Wikipedia
“Prague: What Say You, Alois – Should it be ‘Alzheimer-Fischer’ Disease?” Gabrielle Strobel, http://www.alzforum.org

On Learning…

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Rudy Oldeschulte, M.A., J.D., Qualif. Psychoanalysis

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“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

― T.H. White, The Once and Future King

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Meditation – our experience of self and of the world…

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Rudy Oldeschulte, M.A., J.D., Qualif. Psychoanalysis

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“Positive emotions, such as compassion and patience, are teachable skills; and the way we think directly influences our experience of the world.”

Excerpts –

Montaigne believed that meditation is the finest exercise of one’s mind and David Lynch uses it as an anchor of his creative integrity. Over the centuries, the ancient Eastern practice has had a variety of exports and permutations in the West, but at no point has it been more vital to our sanity and psychoemotional survival than amidst our current epidemic of hurrying and cult of productivity. It is remarkable how much we, as a culture, invest in the fitness of the body and how little, by and large, in the fitness of the spirit and the psyche — which is essentially what meditation provides.

We know that the self is a social construct and the dissolution of its illusion, Harris argues, is the…

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‘Try to be a little kinder’…

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Rudy Oldeschulte, M.A., J.D., Qualif. Psychoanalysis

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It’s a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and to find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than ‘Try to be a little kinder.’

Aldous Huxley, quoted in The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama by Pico Iyer

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Saturday Morning: We immerse, slow down

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Live & Learn

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“… to read, we need a certain kind of silence, an ability to filter out the noise. That seems increasingly elusive in our overnetworked society, where every buzz and rumor is instantly blogged and tweeted, and it is not contemplation we desire but an odd sort of distraction, distraction masquerading as being in the know. In such a landscape, knowledge can’t help but fall prey to illusion, albeit an illusion that is deeply seductive, with its promise that speed can lead us to more illumination, that it is more important to react than to think deeply, that something must be attached to every bit of time. Here, we have my reading problem in a nutshell, for books insist we take the opposite position, that we immerse, slow down.”

David L. Ulin, The Lost Art of Reading


Notes: Quote – Litverve. Photograph: Amoris-Causa

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Montaigne and the Double Meaning of Meditation

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Rudy Oldeschulte, M.A., J.D., Qualif. Psychoanalysis

montaigne - Dali 1947

   Montaigne portrait – Dali 1947

Meditation is a rich and powerful method of study for anyone who knows how to examine his mind, and to employ it vigorously. I would rather shape my soul than furnish it. There is no exercise that is either feeble or more strenuous, according to the nature of the mind concerned, than that of conversing with one’s own thoughts. The greatest men make it their vocation, “those for whom to live is to think.   – Montaigne

“Meditation,” here, is taken to mean “cerebration,” vigorous thinking — the same practice John Dewey addressed so eloquently a few centuries later in How We Think. This conflation, at first glance, seems rather antithetical to today’s notion of meditation — a practice often mistakenly interpreted by non-practitioners as non-thinking, an emptying of one’s mind, a cultivation of cognitive passivity. In reality, however, meditation requires an active…

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Russell on thinking and societal changes…

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The great majority of men and women, in ordinary times, pass through life without ever contemplating or criticising, as a whole, either their own conditions or those of the world at large.  They find themselves born into a certain place in society, and they accept what each day brings forth, without any effort of thought beyond what the immediate present requires…they seek the satisfaction of the needs of the moment, without much forethought, and without considering that by sufficient effort the whole condition of their lives could be changed…It is only a few rare and exceptional men who have that kind of love toward mankind at large that makes them unable to endure patiently the general mass of evil and suffering, regardless of any relation it may have to their own lives. These few, driven by sympathetic pain, will seek, first in thought and then in action, for some way of escape, some new system of society by which life may become richer, more full of joy and less full of preventable evils than it is at present (p. viii).  

Bertrand Russell