Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Last night JJ posted about the sale of Edvard Munch’s The Scream for nearly $120 million. Even Mitt Romney probably couldn’t have afforded it! Somehow I don’t see him as much of an art lover though…

I’ve always been fascinated by the connections between creativity and mental illness. When I took Cognitive Psychology as an undergraduate my professor talked about Munch, saying that the artist felt his mental illness was the source of his creativity and so never wanted to be treated for it. The professor said that once Munch was treated, he did lose much of his creative gift. After seeing the Munch painting in the news last night, I decided to find out a little about Munch’s life.

It turns out my professor’s story was a bit of an oversimplification. Munch did link his artistic talent to his emotional problems, but I’m not sure that he ever really overcame his illness. This fascinating 2006 article from Smithsonian Magazine gives a brief account of Munch’s life and sufferings. The source of Munch’s most famous painting, The Scream, was a hallucination he experienced while walking with some friends.

Munch’s The Scream is an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time. As Leonardo da Vinci evoked a Renaissance ideal of serenity and self-control, Munch defined how we see our own age—wracked with anxiety and uncertainty. His painting of a sexless, twisted, fetal-faced creature, with mouth and eyes open wide in a shriek of horror, re-created a vision that had seized him as he walked one evening in his youth with two friends at sunset. As he later described it, the “air turned to blood” and the “faces of my comrades became a garish yellow-white.” Vibrating in his ears he heard “a huge endless scream course through nature.”

Munch was a

restless innovator whose personal tragedies, sicknesses and failures fed his creative work. “My fear of life is necessary to me, as is my illness,” he once wrote. “Without anxiety and illness, I am a ship without a rudder….My sufferings are part of my self and my art. They are indistinguishable from me, and their destruction would destroy my art.” Munch believed that a painter mustn’t merely transcribe external reality but should record the impact a remembered scene had on his own sensibility.

That much of what my professor said was correct. He did make an explicit connection between creativity and his emotional demons. And Munch did suffer. His mother died of Tuberculosis when he was only 5 years old. He adored his sister Sophie who was a year older than he was, and she too died of TB at age 15. Munch’s father was much older then his wife and sounds very authoritarian and forbidding. He was “a doctor imbued with a religiosity that often darkened into gloomy fanaticism.” Munch also had a sister who spent most of her life in a mental institution and a brother who died suddenly when he was only 30.

Munch once wrote in his journal: “I inherited two of mankind’s most frightful enemies—the heritage of consumption and insanity—illness and madness and death were the black angels that stood at my cradle,” It’s easy to see where that iconic scream painting came from.

As a young man, Munch had a love affair with a dominating older woman, whom he depicted in his painting Vampire

After his father died of a stroke, Munch’s mental illness seems to have grown worse; but in the next few years he produced some of his best work. During this time, he got involved in another difficult romantic relationship with a woman who pursued him relentlessly while he relentlessly resisted.

Munch had been drinking heavily for years and eventually he became an alcoholic. He was most likely trying to self-medicate with alcohol, since he seems to have experienced auditory and visual hallucinations throughout his life. Finally he entered a sanitarium, where he cut back on his drinking and began to feel more mentally stable. This was in 1909. When he was released, he was about 40 years old and would live for 40 more years–he died in 1944.

Munch continued to paint and produced a great deal of work, but critics agree that his best work had been produced prior to his treatment. I’m not sure you could say that his mental illness was cured, though. It seems that he just dealt with it differently. In his later years he isolated himself in his home and avoided going out in public and being part of “the dance of life,” in his words.

And now, moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, let’s look at some current news.

Bloomberg evaluates Mitt Romney’s tax plan and finds it wanting:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax plan rests on a set of principles that, taken together, are difficult to reconcile.

Romney wants to reduce individual income tax rates by 20 percent, keep preferential rates for capital gains and dividends, broaden the tax base to limit revenue loss, and retain the tax-burden distribution across income groups.

Those goals are in conflict and will require that Romney consider limiting or eliminating the tax breaks for charitable deductions and home mortgage interest, said Martin Sullivan, contributing editor at Tax Analysts in Falls Church, Virginia.

“As soon as he gets in, he’s going to have to start backpedaling big-time on all of his promises,” Sullivan said. “It’s just not doable under any conceivable, realistic scenario.”

Well, Romney has a lot of experience with backpedaling, so that shouldn’t be a problem for him. It’s a lengthy article and you may feel like Munch’s The Scream while reading it. I hope no one experiences visual or auditory hallucinations, but Romney’s ideas may have the potential to trigger them in vulnerable people.

Bloomberg also finds Romney is deficient at evocative storytelling, and says this deficiency could explain why the Romney bot can’t seem to connect that well with normal humans. Here’s a “story” Romney tried to tell in Wisconsin:

“I met a guy who worked for the city and he was working, I think, in the landscape division for the city,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said at an April 2 town-hall meeting at an oil company in Milwaukee.

Romney never did get around to giving the name of the man or mention what city he had worked for, or identify the company he said the man founded after leaving his municipal job or say how much gasoline his trucks were burning.

“In today’s politics, it’s all about the narrative,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a communications professor and longtime Romney watcher at Boston University. “This has never been part of Romney’s wheelhouse. It’s just not his style.”

Story-telling is an age-old technique in politics. The two modern presidential candidates best-known for mastering the art tailored it to their political times and defeated incumbents. Ronald Reagan, a onetime movie actor, invoked a sense of patriotism and heroism amid economic distress and the Iranian hostage crisis, while Bill Clinton used personal narrative from his modest Arkansas upbringing to show empathy for Americans recovering from the recession of the early 1990s.

Unlike Edvard Munch, Romney lacks both imagination and creativity, and for those reasons, he probably could never even develop a mental illness.

Yesterday a Missouri legislator suddenly came out to his colleagues and begged them to withdraw the “don’t say gay” bill.

A Republican lawmaker in Missouri on Wednesday announced that he was gay and called on his colleagues to revoke their support for a “horrible” bill that would prevent the discussion of homosexuality in schools.

“I will not lie to myself anymore about my own sexuality,” state Rep. Zachary Wyatt said during a press conference at the State Capitol. “It has probably been the hardest thing to come to terms with. I have always ignored it, didn’t even think about it or want to talk about it. I’ve not been immune to it. I hear the comments — usually snide ones — about me.”

“I’m not the first or last Republican to come out. I’ve just gotten tired of the bigotry being shown from both sides of the aisle on gay issues. Being gay has never been a Republican or Democrat issue.”

Wyatt warned that Missouri’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill would make it impossible for LGBT students to speak with teachers and counselors when they were being bullied.

Someone needs to do a psychological study on why there are so many gay Republicans (like Richard Grenell, who just had to resign from the Romney campaign) and at the same time so many Republicans who hate homosexuals.

Maybe this could shed a little light on the problem: A recent study suggested that people who are homophobic are more likely to be repressing attraction to the same sex and to have grown up in authoritarian homes.

Study subjects — four groups of about 160 college students each, in the USA and Germany — also rated the attractiveness of people in same-sex or opposite-sex photos and answered questions about the type of parenting they experienced growing up, from authoritarian to democratic, as well as homophobia at home.

Researchers also measured homophobia — both overt, as expressed in questionnaires on social policy and beliefs, and unconscious, as revealed in word-completion tasks.

The findings suggest participants with accepting parents were more in touch with their innate sexual orientation. But, Ryan says, “if you come from a controlling home where your parents do have negative attitudes toward gays and lesbians, you’re even more likely to suppress same-sex attraction and more likely to have this discrepancy that leads to having homophobia and feeling threatened.”

Ryan says the study may help explain the personal dynamics behind some bullying and hate crimes directed at gays and sheds light on high-profile cases in which public figures who have expressed anti-gay views have been caught engaging in same-sex sexual acts.

In other words these people may be using the defense mechanism Freud called reaction formation, which I’ve written about previously in a post about Michelle Bachmann.

Freud theorized that the ego unconsciously uses defense mechanisms to protect itself from being overwhelmed by anxiety-producing thoughts, feelings, and situations. This is one of Freud’s ideas that has been supported by extensive empirical research.

Reaction formation is a highly neurotic defense mechanism in which a person appears to others to be “protesting too much”–for example, exaggerating how much she loves or hates something to the point that observers wonder if this behavior is a cover for the opposite feeling.

This isn’t the first study that has found a correlation between homophobia and homosexual attraction. In a previous study, some researchers actually measured arousal in homophobic and non-homophobic men.

The men viewed homosexual and heterosexual soft core porn videos and their level of arousal was measured by means of a device attached to their penises. Interviews and psychological tests were used to identify homophobic and non-homophobic men.

Results showed that men who scored as homophobic on the tests and also admitted to having negative feelings toward homosexuals were more likely to be aroused by homosexual stimuli. Not only that, the men rated their own arousal levels as low when they watched homosexual videos. They were denying their own arousal levels. From the abstract:

These data are consistent with response discordance where verbal judgments are not consistent with physiological reactivity, as in the case of homophobic individuals viewing homosexual stimuli. Lang (1994) has noted that the most dramatic response discordance occurs with reports of feeling and physiologic responses. Another possible explanation is found in various psychoanalytic theories, which have generally explained homophobia as a threat to an individual’s own homosexual impulses causing repression, denial, or reaction formation (or all three; West, 1977 ).

That’s got to be a big part of what’s happening with Republicans. Now someone needs to study their woman-hating. It probably has something to do with how they feel about their mothers as well as the kinds of behaviors they observed between their parents.

I’m rambling today, aren’t I? I’d better wrap this up. Just a few more links.

Bill Clinton reviewed the new Robert Caro book on LBJ for the NYT Book Review.

Vanity Fair has an excerpt from a new biography of Barack Obama by David Maraniss (who also wrote a biography of Bill Clinton).

Finally, here are two stories about Hillary’s ongoing adventures in China. I sure hope she can work things out. Right now it doesn’t look good.

From the WaPo: Chinese activist Chen leaves U.S. Embassy for hospital, is surrounded by police

From the NYT: Chinese Dissident Is Released From Embassy, Causing Turmoil for U.S.

What’s on your reading list today?

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61 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    One of my main attractions to this blog is the writing of its contributors.

    The authors never cease to fail in offering a diverse collection of stories and essays that appeal to my “lazy butt” in that they open to discussion items of interest that I don’t need to research on my own. I am perfectly content to let them do all the heavy lifting on my behalf!

    Today’s post includes mention of Edvard Munch, a painter I knew little about. Thanks to bb I know more than I did when I woke up this morning. The poor man was a tormented soul.

    Mitt Romney is an ass. At a time when he could have shown some small measure of what it takes to be a “leader” he could have gone public and condemned the attacks against his advisor Granell for the homophobic tirade that led to his resignation. Instead, utter silence.

    Controversial as he may be, LBJ knew that the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1965 was going to cost the party the loss of the South yet he went ahead and “did the right thing”. Yet this man, who tells us he is ready to assume leadership based on nothing more than his desire to grab the prize, shows more of his gutless demeanor in the face of discrimination.

    In a nation that prides itself on its ability to overcome prejudice, Romney fails on all levels.

    How anyone can find this man a suitable leader is beyond comprehension. His silence is an accurate depiction of who he is.

    If he cannot stand up for one of his own, how can he ever be expected to stand up for the rest of us?

    Answer: He is incapable and it shows.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hi Pat,

      Romney really is a coward. I think it’s disgraceful that he let this happen and never said a word. According to Chris Matthews last night, the campaign was even leaving Grenell out of meetings! He had no choice but to quit.

  2. ecocatwoman says:

    Great roundup, again bb.

    I’m not much of a fan of the “art” scene. Guess I’m a reverse snob. Anyway there was a fascinating discussion of The Scream yesterday at NPR’s On Point. Link to audio here: http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/05/02/edvard-munchs-the-scream-up-for-auction Two comments caught my attention. Apparently the walk that Munch took with friends was leaving the sanitarium where his sister was. It was located near a slaughterhouse, so they/he could hear the screams coming from both facilities. Also a caller said that Krakatoa had erupted about 2 years before Munch painted this and,apparently, red skies were pretty common afterwards.

    I’ve always thought that homophobes were acting out on the feelings they’ve repressed. They hate themselves for their feelings and can’t “beat” it out of themselves, so they take it out on others.

    And you’ll love this – NPR talked about Newter’s campaign debt & that Romney will probably help him retire his debt like Obama helped Hillary. Helped her? Isn’t she still 40 million in debt?

    Finally a shout out to the incredible Jon Stewart. I watched his full interview with David Barton from Monday night. Jon was so nice, calm & reasonable, while making his points that Barton is a nut job. I could not have done anything but scream at that Barton idiot. Guess that’s why Jon has his own show & I don’t. Yeah, right.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I had to google David Barton to see who he is. I need to watch The Daily Show more often.

      As far as I know, Obama did nothing to help Hilary with her debt. I can’t imagine why Romney would help with Newt’s!

      Thanks for the interesting info on Munch!

      • ecocatwoman says:

        Barton is a historian, much like Newter. Revisionist, right wing supporting historian. Like Newter said that Obama is the most radical, left wing president ever. So glad I don’t have kids that might take Newter’s history classes. Barton, of course, spins America’s christian history.

      • RalphB says:

        I’ve read where Obama did ask his contributors in ’08 to help pay down Hillary’s debt but most didn’t do it. He recently asked them again and maybe, since the ’08 rancor has died down some, it’ll be more successful this time.

        Of course, most of his Wall St bundlers aren’t donating to him this time either. Now they have one of their own to support.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Connie,

        I realized who he was as soon as I googled him. I’m very bad with names. Chris Rodda, who is an expert on the Christian Right’s twisting of history, says Stewart didn’t ask about the contents of the book, and so let Barton get away “completely unscathed.” I’m going to watch the video right now.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-rodda/pseudohistorian-david-bar_b_1471634.html

        • ecocatwoman says:

          Jon obviously had his own agenda & the book was a reason, I think, to bring Barton back on the show. Personally, I was pleased with the interview. Certainly we would never see a discussion like this in the MSM. Not even on Maddow.

  3. I loved this rambling post!

    There are so many famous creative people with mental disorders, and other neurological issues, like epilepsy and migraines. (Writers, artist, musicians and inventors.) Maybe the reason there are not as many unique artist these days is because of medical intervention with mental illness and brain disorders.

    The Scream always made me think of someone experiencing a migraine, with the distortions and colors and pain…

    While reading the journal of Obama’s girlfriend in New York, I was reminded of Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook. Not so much the content as the tone and the way Genevieve wrote. From the excerpts I have seen, it looks like Obama was always distant and aloof. I don’t think I could read the entire biography though, I just could not put so much time into a man I just don’t like. It is more than that though, it is like there is no connection or desire to find out what made him the man he is. Just as with the Steve Jobs biography, I have no interest in either of them.

    Did you see this BB: Actress Marilu Henner Speaks Of Rare Mental Condition That Allows Her To Remember Almost Every Moment Of Her Life « CBS New York

    Oh, and isn’t it something how much attention Ann Romney’s $990 t-shirt is getting. I just check memeorandum and it’s the topic that seems to cover the whole page. (I had a feeling it would when I found it a couple days ago.)

    The other thing getting traction is this: John Edwards wife had dramatic, clothes-rendering fight after affair scandal broke, testimony reveals – NYPOST.com

    Edwards daughter tearfully leaves courtroom during testimony – CNN.com

    Sort of like the scene in Damage where Miranda Richardson takes off her shirt and says, weren’t these enough?

    • Pat Johnson says:

      The Edwards trial is a mindblowing tragedy and I am at a loss as to why Cate Edwards would be found sitting alongside that man in the first place.

      The testimony is brutal in describing his behavior as her mother wasted away with a terminal illness and the “mistress” is described as a gold digging nutjob upon whom he was throwing his entire life away for in the process.

      • I am at a loss as to why Cate Edwards would be found sitting alongside that man in the first place.

        Me too, Pat…

      • Beata says:

        Family dynamics can be extremely complicated ( big duh, right? ). Maybe BB can help to explain Cate Edwards and her loyalty to a father who does not seem to deserve it. ( BB, if you have already discussed this, and I missed it, mea culpa. )

        Thanks for the fascinating information about Munch and all the other links.

      • Fannie says:

        Ditto……………makes you wonder if he has turned her into a model daughter, one without the guts to spit in his face, and bring his sorry ass down.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I haven’t been following the story, because it makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t know why Cate is standing by him. Probably because he’s her dad. I don’t know what kind of relationship she had with her mom either.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Totally agree, JJ. It’s always seemed to me that many of the great artists has some sort of mental illness.

      Marilu Henner was interviewed on the Diane Rehm show earlier this week. The audio & transcript are here: http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2012-04-30/marilu-henner-life-highly-superior-autobiographical-memory

      I’m ashamed to say that I fell for the Edwards charm. He is the only politician that I ever sent $$ to. Being a “big” woman, I always found it difficult to believe that someone as attractive as him would be married to Elizabeth. My own life expeiences kicking in. I read stories that she was very controlling – but we all know how strong women are called b***ches, whether they are or not. But John Edwards is a slick, slimeball. I just feel so bad for their children. No doubt the eldest daughter has been mommy to the 2 young ones since Elizabeth’s death. That’s so much responsibility for a young woman to take on. And who knows how she was affected by the death of her brother years ago. Just goes to show, with Edwards, that painting welfare mothers as poster children for bad parents misses the mark. Gross generalizations are nearly always seriously flawed.

      • Seriously says:

        I think I remember reading somewhere that they polled or focus grouped the Elizabeth “issue” and found that voters loved that he was married to a normal-looking person. He’s so gross, he probably would have dumped her years ago if being married to her hadn’t been politically advantageous. I just hope she got something out of the marriage that made it worth putting up with all the disrespect and callous behavior.

    • bostonboomer says:

      JJ,

      Did you notice that Taylor Marsh defended the $990 T-shirt and said she would have bought it too? I had no idea that Marsh was that wealthy.

      • Yes, and thank you for bringing it up, that was the reason I mentioned the t-shirt thing in the first place…I thought her reasoning was ridiculous.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I can’t imagine paying $1,000 for any item of clothing, but one-thousand bucks for a t-shirt? C’mon!!!!

        I’m a retired senior, so my wardrobe is mostly jeans, crop pants, sneakers, sandals and t-shirts, but I could buy 3-5 years worth of clothes with $1k.

        To my mind there is something grotesque about extreme wealth accumulation because it’s basically hoarding of the highest order. When I hear or read that Romney has $250 million dollars, I imagine 250 million cheese sandwiches, just sitting there, all scattered around, in various rooms, of his various homes. Even as whole nations go hungry, Romney is holding onto those 250 million sandwiches and looking for ways to collect more sandwiches, just IN CASE he gets really, really hungry somewhere along the way. :-)

        Maybe, Ann Romney will donate that fucking t-shirt to charity, where they can auction it off for what it’s really worth, $10 and then the charity can buy 10 cheese sandwiches from Mitt Romney.

        Sorry about the rant, I’m in outrage overload mode and I can’t get out of it. :-)

        • ecocatwoman says:

          You may be ranting but I’m laughing hysterically at the images your comment invoked. And, for that matter, do you think Romney has ever eaten a cheese sandwich in his life?

      • ANonOMouse says:

        “And, for that matter, do you think Romney has ever eaten a cheese sandwich in his life?”

        Probably not! He turned his oh-so-special nose up at bakery cookies, so cheese sandwiches, unless the cheese was imported from the Moon and the sandwich made from bread leftover from the Last Supper, are likely not his style.

      • NW Luna says:

        At first glance I thought that was a print of a snake coiled up — I saw the darker small feathers as scales.

        Wearing that shirt was a telegraphed message to the 1% that the Romneys are the right people.

      • NW Luna says:

        “….left over from the Last Supper?” Romney wouldn’t have hung out with a carpenter’s son who railed against the rich moneylenders in the Temple and said things like “Sooner will a camel go through the eye of a needle than a rich man enter into Heaven,” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

      • ANonOMouse says:

        “Romney wouldn’t have hung out with a carpenter’s son”

        He wouldm uf the carpenter’s son was building him a garage. :-) No, at risk of sounding like a poor snob, I don’t think Romney would turn a hose on carpenter on fire. He’d prefer to trickle down on him.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        OMG…. I would be nice if I could type. Corrected version of comment above “He would if the carpenter’s son was building him a garage. No, at risk of sounding like a poor snob, I don’t think Romney would turn a hose on a carpenter on fire. He’d prefer to trickle down on him.

      • quixote says:

        Ah yes. The T-shirt. What struck me was how terrible it looked. There’s this fish, and somewhere in the background is a woman.

        Then I started feeling sorry for the Romneys. All those car elevators, all those caffeine-free Cokes, and not enough money to hire a valet to pick out a good T-shirt in the morning.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Charles Pierce is asking the same thing this morning.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The shooter was a famous militia guy who started the group that “patrols” the border.

    • northwestrain says:

      Arizona is crazy — depends on where you live. After we left southern Arizona — a gang of militia gunned down (executed) supposed illegals on a road known to be a path from Mexico to Arizona. These creeps seem to have gotten away with murder — and the press only covered the news one day.

      My husband and I love the take the back roads — little did we know that the wacko jobs are hiding ready to murder anyone they think is an “illegal” Mexican. The area north of the border is like a war zone — with military bases, military contractors, ICE (immigration) war trucks all over the place. There are blimps in the sky — always watching.

      There are citizenship checkpoints on every road — these checkpoints were shut down but the state was expecting to win the Supreme court’s approval to reopen and enlarge these checkpoints. While there is so much poverty in Arizona — often hidden poverty — the state has millions to build high tech checkpoints. My guess is that most will have massive x-ray machine to x-ray all vehicles.

      Way back in the 70s I visited East Berlin and had to go through East Germany to get to Berlin. I see the identical macho — behavior I was seeing from the crazed East German guards. Massive poverty in East Berlin — nothing in the stores because people didn’t have the money to buy much of anything. Yet East Germany was spending a fortune on keeping people from escaping.

      All this massive boarder guarding along the US boarder could also be turned around to keeping Americans from leaving. I know a lot of people who are leaving or have left the US — so it could happen on a larger scale. Especially the young college age kids. Leave the US get jobs overseas — if there are any jobs??

      In Arizona it is too easy to buy guns. Take your picture with Santa while armed to the teeth — it happened last winter.

      The poor can be used — made to hate the other — rather than the real reasons for poverty — greed of the 1%. Just like poor Germans and other Europeans were taught to hate Jews.

      Arizona politicians seem to be running on a platform of hate — not all — but enough.

    • bostonboomer says:

      No, I’ll go read it. Thanks! That article about Marilu Henner is really strange. I need to look into that!

    • bostonboomer says:

      The super memory problem is called Hyperthymesia. It is linked with Obsessive-Compulsive disorder. It seems that these people spend inordinate amounts of time reliving the past and areas of the brain associated with long-term memory are enlarged in their brains. The enlargement could come from compulsively focusing on past memories, but there is probably also a genetic component.

      Frankly, it sounds like a curse to me. I definitely do not want to remember every single detail of my high school years!

      • dakinikat says:

        It sounds like a Buddhist nightmare. You couldn’t possibly ever be here now.

      • NW Luna says:

        Exactly. I practice to un-train my mind from wanting to re-play the past — or imaginarily play out the future.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        60 Minutes broadcast a special episode on Marilu Henner & a group of people who have the this ability (if that’s what you want to call it) a couple of years ago. The TV show “Unforgettable” (starring Poppy Montgomery) is based on the life of a police detective with this rare disorder. In one of the episodes Marilu Henner plays Poppy Montgomery’s aunt.

        I can’t imagine remembering everything that’s ever happened, every name, every face, every date, every event. It must be a burden.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        For those who’ve never watched Unforgettable, here’s link to the CBS website about the series.

        http://www.cbs.com/shows/unforgettable/

      • bostonboomer says:

        Well, technically it should be classified as a psychological disorder. Remembering everything from the past is a disability as far as I’m concerned. Forgetting is a very valuable ability. In addition, the 20 or so people who have been diagnosed with hypermnesia also have other obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and those can often be very debilitating.

        Most people have excellent long-term memories for daily purposes. Memory problems develop with aging because short-term memory deficits develop, interfering with the laying down of long-term memories.

        I saw the ads for that TV series, but it gave me the creeps!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        “Forgetting is a very valuable ability”

        Especially when you want to forget. I have three or four things I’ve been trying to forget for about 40 years. The memories of those things are getting murky, but I want amnesia.

        BB, I commented earlier in this thread about the accumulation of money and how I see it as a form of hoarding. I was wondering, is the drive to accumulate vasts amounts of wealth or trophies of wealth, a mental disorder, or just plain old greed? Or is greed a mental disorder?

      • Seriously says:

        I have an absolutely horrible memory. If I run into someone on the street and they ask where I’m coming from, I often can’t even remember. So I am sort of envious of Marilu Henner, but at the same time there are so many things I’m just as happy to forget. Couldn’t we just have selective total recall where we remember everything that’s worth remembering and forget anything traumatic??

  4. dakinikat says:

    Wow BB! What a treat to read. The Munch stories were fascinating.

    There seem to be a lot of closeted gay Republican men. That was one brave man to stand up to his colleagues like that! I hope his constituency rewards his honesty and bravery.

    Thanks so much for such a wonderful post. I really needed something interesting to read as you know!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thank you! I thought the guy in MO was very courageous too. He’ll probably be drummed out of the party for it.

  5. NW Luna says:

    Guess I don’t have to go to Afghanistan or Pakistan to be spied on by drones:

    Police apologize for not keeping council in loop on new drones

    City leaders and the public were caught by surprise last week when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington raised questions about the department’s planned use of two unmanned aerial vehicles it received in 2010 under a federal homeland-security grant. Police have been training to operate the drones, but no policies have yet been drafted to guide their use. Police say the drones won’t be deployed until those policies are in place within the next few months.

    He said a drone could also be used to determine whether a suspect was in an apartment or had hostages. “The idea of generally flying around to monitor the city, that’s not part of our plan,” McDonagh said.

    Still, City Council members expressed some skepticism. …. Jennifer Shaw of the ACLU told the council that the city could be a national leader in creating policies for drone use that respect individual privacy while making the best use of a new law-enforcement tool. ….

    After the hearing, Councilmember Nick Licata said the police’s failure to more fully disclose its drone program “played into people’s worst fears” of being spied on by the government. “We know there have been instances where police agencies have crossed the line and violated people’s civil rights. Going forward, I hope they will be open and transparent.”

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Bill Clinton reveals that Hillary never told him anything ahead of time about the bin Laden raid.

    http://thehill.com/video/administration/225195–bill-clinton-hillary-never-said-a-word-to-me-about-bin-laden-raid-

  7. bostonboomer says:

    The situation in China sounds really troubling. I hope Hillary can help work things out. It seems the man’s wife was tied up and beaten while he was in the U.S. embassy, and now he’s in a hospital in Chinese control. He’d like to get his whole family into the U.S., but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen.

  8. NW Luna says:

    The best health care in the world!

    Fifteen million babies are born prematurely each year, and the United States fared poorly in the first country-by-country global comparison of premature births, released Wednesday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other agencies.

    Seeing similar problems simultaneously in Africa and the United States “is really a tale of two planets,” said Dr. Joy Lawn, director of global policy for Save the Children and the report’s chief author.

    The report, which took three years, is the first to compare premature-birth rates in 184 countries. It was produced jointly by the WHO, Save the Children, the March of Dimes and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, which has more than 400 member organizations. Other contributors include nearly 40 major U.S., European and U.N. health and foreign-aid agencies and foundations. ….

    Nine of the 11 countries in which 15 percent or more of all births are preterm are in Africa; the other two are Pakistan and Indonesia. The United States shares the 12 percent range with Kenya, Turkey, Thailand, East Timor and Honduras, meaning 1 in 9 births is early. The rate in the United States has risen 30 percent since 1981. Most European countries, Canada and Australia are in the 7 to 9 percent range.

  9. When I was in college, a museum in Newport Beach had a showing of all of Munch’s major works, including “The Scream.” His best paintings simply do not reproduce well; you have to see the actual canvases to appreciate the layers of transparent and opaque paint. Alas, I don’t think a show like that is going to happen again anytime soon.

    Munch’s later works are, I think, undervalued.

    The proposition that madness aids in the creation of great art is romanticized nonsense.

    A little-known but quite brilliant painter named Robert Stoller taught me a lot about color theory. Bob — a wonderful person and a friend of the family — was a high-functioning schizophrenic. He always felt that drug treatment would impair his creativity, so he continued to live with his illness. Although he managed to become a respected art teacher at a community college, I have long felt that he could have been a figure of great renown, had he conquered his social anxieties. (For some reason, teaching students did not bother him, even though he had difficulty being around people his own age.)

    In my opinion, if Bob had sought treatment, his work would not have suffered. Frankly, I thought he did better work at a time when his symptoms were less pronounced. He might now be almost as well-known as Munch if he had not been so afraid of dealing with the world of galleries, critics and art dealers.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I agree that mental illness probably doesn’t directly aid creativity. I think there is sometimes a connection in that people who have had unusual experiences may reproduce them in their work.

      It also depends on what illness you’re talking about. There is more of an association with bipolar disorder than with schizophrenia, which is often very debilitating.

      There is a lot of evidence for writers, painters, and musicians reproducing traumatic past events in their work, often unconsciously. Freud called it sublimation.

      I noticed on Amazon that there is a new Munch art book coming out in June.

      I don’t know if it is associated with an exhibition. Apparently there were a couple of tours of his work a few years ago.

  10. Seriously says:

    That was fascinating! I’m not familiar with Munch’s later works, so I;m wondering about the changes that were perceived by the critics. Is it possible that he steered away from certain forms, subjects and colors because they were triggering?