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The Psychonaut Show
35 minutes | Dec 22, 2019
S2 Ep12: Episode 2.12: The Dark Night of the Soul
We are sending out this Season Finale on the longest night before the new decade; it seems that we are in synchronicity with the cycle of seasons and politics and history. (Synchronicity is an idea of Carl Jung’s, but we’ll have to get to him next Season!) In this episode, we leave our familiar territory in the Psyche, the Mind, and travel over to the other side, the Soul. We go back to the 16th century and a short, Spanish monk named John. John of the Cross is the author of the Dark Night of the Soul, a phrase used by many, but fewer are aware of its origins. The Dark Night of the Soul has lessons for us in contemporary times. It teaches us when to go into pain, and not to run from suffering. It tells us that it is the search for Love, not the certainty that we have found it, that leads us to our highest Self. Above all, it tells us to embrace Mystery. And with this final episode on the Winter Solstice of 2019, we wish everyone a profound Dark Night, and to remember that the Light is already starting to grow again.
36 minutes | Oct 9, 2019
S2 Ep11: Episode 2.11: Session with a Listener – Lawyers in Love
We finally have our first episode with a loyal listener! Kathleen is an attorney who wanted to talk with Dr. JKB about The 8 Stages of Life, Episode 2.5. She wondered if she has missed out on the Sixth Stage and wants to know how to fix her love life. This episode is the culmination of the mission of The Psychonaut Show; we get to talk about the concepts from the history of psychoanalysis with a real person dealing with everyday life in 2019. Kathleen challenges me and gets me to think about these ideas more deeply. Together, we both learn about love, life and relationships with others, and, most importantly, with ourselves. (A Note on Sound – When Kathleen showed up, we decided to record outside the studio. Big thanks to Julio Gonzalez, our producer and sound designer, for taking terrible acoustics and making them listenable. We are learning! The next time one of you wants to be featured in an episode, the sound quality will be great! )
31 minutes | Jul 20, 2019
S2 Ep10: Episode 2.10: Reason – The Fourth Testament of the Psychonaut
The Testament of Reason is the second of the two Testaments of Faith; together with the Testament of Birthright, it is a lighthouse that guides us through the darkness of our inner worlds. It is the “ultimate” Testament, the one that all the previous Testaments lead up to. The Fourth Testament assures us that, no matter how irrational or even destructive an action or thought of feeling seems, if we look hard enough, we can find Reason. But what is Reason? From Roman Catholic doctrine (as presented by a former SNL cast member) to the Enlightenment, we come to understand the facets of Reason; the ability to think, the ability to find a cause for things we don’t understand, and that causes and Reasons are found not only in the past, but also in the present. Human beings are always seeking to make meaning of their experiences, and finding meaning is the core of the Testament of Reason. Like the man who realized his social anxiety was really his inner warrior preparing him for battle, or the girl who was seeking her ancestors in a cloud of cigarette smoke, when we understand the hidden meaning of our behavior, we have the power to change.
33 minutes | Jun 17, 2019
S2 Ep9: Episode 2.9: The Bodily Ego – Marilyn Monroe and the Orgasm Collector
In our last episode, Dr, JKB and Dr Clarice Kestenbaum focused on the most Freudian of body parts; in this episode, we bring in the whole body and explore its effect on how we see ourselves, how we show ourselves, and how we understand ourselves. “The Bodily Ego” was an idea that Freud mentions only once, but its implications were expanded and explored by Wilhelm Reich, darling of the beatniks and enemy of 1950s American sexual repression. In his Orgone Box (or “Orgasmatron” as it was parodied in the 1968 movie, Barbarella), sexual energies and the forces of the universe converged to cure everything from anxiety to cancer. In this episode, we bring Reich’s ideas back to earth and explore how our physical selves are intimately tied to our psychological selves. When we listen to our bodies, and learn to translate its special language, we can gain knowledge from the Unconscious that will truly make us “more attractive” in our daily lives.
42 minutes | Mar 30, 2019
S2 Ep8: Episode 2.8: Castration Anxiety – The Cure for Poison Pee
Like “anal retentive,” “oral fixation,” and “penis envy,” Castration Anxiety has mostly become a joke today. This idea of Sigmund Freud’s has become a reason to dismiss psychoanalytic ideas as antiquated, irrelevant, and even sexist. But in this episode, we get a little help from our friend, the Good Witch, Dr. Clarice Kestenbaum, to reclaim and reframe the idea of Castration Anxiety. We see how awareness of this idea can give healing power to doctors, parents and teachers of boys and men. From Ninja Horses to “poison pee” to the little boy in Vienna who started it all, we explore the meaning of the body, and its importance in inner reality. We also learn that to work, the magic of psychoanalysis must be wielded with respect for outer reality; the society we live in and the prejudices it carries. We discover that this magic is not just for little boys, but for people of all genders who want to feel “more effective, more connected,” -- and definitely, “more attractive!”
44 minutes | Feb 17, 2019
S2 Ep7: Episode 2.7: Models of the Mind – A Catwalk to the Unconscious
In this episode, we go “back to basics,” and explore the original maps of the mind that psychoanalysis is based on. Where models and fashion burst into popular consciousness in the 1990s with Ru Paul, Right Said Fred, and “Absolutely Fabulous,” the 1890s were when Freud developed his models that portray the “Fabulous” landscape of our inner worlds; a landscape that includes lion tamers, a Steep Hill of Depression, and its own Border Wall. Like the ideas of another Jewish intellectual born in the outer reaches of an Empire, what Freud “really meant” has been the topic of debate and conflict for a long time. These ideas are also the basis of all the previous episodes here on The Psychonaut Show. So, we are going to strap in tight with our Egos – in direct opposition to psychedelics and the mindfulness gurus – and go for a long tour of the world he first mapped out. And it will all be worth it when we come back with a treasure trove of knowledge that will help us find balance and harmony within our own minds in the 21st century.
34 minutes | Dec 3, 2018
S2 Ep6: Episode 2.6: The Principle of Multiple Function - A Rule of Inner World Magic
Every world, whether real or Sci-Fi or fantasy, has principles that tell us how things work in that world. Our inner worlds are no different. The Principle of Multiple Function tells us that each psychic act has not one or two, but exactly eight mental functions that it must perform. That may seem complicated, but understanding this Principle frees us to act more effectively in our daily lives. The Principle of Multiple Function was developed by Robert Waelder, a child protégé who quoted Faust at age 5 and engineered a better charcoal at fourteen. But when he became blocked in his scientific work as a young man, he sought help from none other than Sigmund Freud himself. But was he a “one-hit wonder?” We go searching from 1980s British punk to Australian comedy to American Horror to find an answer. In practical terms, Robert Waelder gave us a way free ourselves from indecision. But we also explore Waelder’s desire to solve social problems by using psychoanalytic ideas, an endeavor very much in line with The Psychonaut Show! His ideas about the “sins” of both liberals and conservatives are as relevant now as they were more than half a century ago.
42 minutes | Sep 25, 2018
S2 Ep5: Episode 2.5: The Eight Stages of Man – On Vikings and Butterflies
Millennia ago, Hippocrates wrote, “Art is Long, Life is Short.” Well, this episode is long, but the concept of the Eight Stages of Man gives us insight into how the cycle of life unfolds, however long or short life may be. In this episode, we turn once again to the second generation of psychoanalytic theorists after Freud, his grandchildren, so to speak. Erik Erikson suffered an identity crisis that caused him to reinvent himself, and also invent some of the most important ideas about development in the history of psychoanalysis. He shows how we continue to develop past childhood, all the way to the end of life. The Eight Stages of Man teaches us that life is made up of a series of “tasks,” each stage presents us with a challenge to be met that brings us to the next stage and the next, all the way to the end. It is a map to The Circle of Life -- “Na Savenya!”
32 minutes | Jul 10, 2018
S2 Ep4: Episode 2.4: Narcissism - "You Probably Think This Episode Is About You."
Q: What do President Trump and daffodils have in common? A: They've both been called the name of a Greek myth. It seems that we hear about Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder all the time these days, especially as an accusation, but what does being called "a Narcissist" really even mean? To investigate this idea, we go back to Freud – of course. But we also bring in our friend from Season 1, Heinz Kohut, and our first actual living psychoanalytic theorist, Otto Kernberg! We also take a tour through the ancient myths of the original self-centered chap, Narcissus, and on the way we encounter the Goddess of Vengeance, visit the Budapest School, wrestle the Pathologic Grandiose Self monster and come to rest at the Reservoir of Self-Esteem. Whether you are dealing with a difficult boss, an obstinate adolescent, or are being accused of narcissism yourself, the lessons of this episode will help us remember what our mothers (and Ru Paul!) always told us...
21 minutes | May 13, 2018
S2 Ep3: Episode 2.3: Return to the Transitional Space with Dr. Clarice
We've gotten a ton of feedback that last season's episode on The Transitional Space was very helpful, particularly for the painters, and poets, and composers among you. So we are going to travel back to the "in-between" with my psychoanalytic fairy godmother and senior stateswoman of magical realms, Dr. Clarice Kestenbaum. With Dr. Clarice in the captain's chair, we see how the Transitional Space is a world that overlaps childhood, creativity, and psychoanalytic theory. She tells the story of a mute boy, an angry mother, and a happy ending, and shares some of her own discoveries of inner space that led to her career as a world class child psychiatrist.
22 minutes | Apr 29, 2018
S2 Ep2: Episode 2.2: The Ultimate Superpower – Projective Identification
From the gym to the boardroom to the nursery, human beings are always interacting; and always dealing with each other's psychological baggage. (Except for infants, who are the only humans with no baggage.) Especially when things get tense, knowing what we bring to the table, versus what the other person is putting on us, can be mysterious. Projective identification is the key to solving this mystery. This is where the most powerful magic of psychoanalysis resides. Like a "Patronus" charm, or substitutiary locomotion, Projective Identification is a spell that requires skill and study. But used well, it can rescue us from the most treacherous of emotional entanglements. Melanie Klein's work is elaborated by the "Intersubjectivists" and the "Baby Watchers," and we go from German Idealism to Ancient Indian philosophy to Quantum Physics so that we can understand the very real phenomenon that may as well be ESP.
26 minutes | Mar 25, 2018
S2 Ep1: Episode 2.1: Birthright – The Third Testament of the Psychonaut
From "baskets of deplorables" to Saint Augstine's doctrine of "Total Depravity," it seems that finger-pointing and paranoia are often what we expect of one another. Finding the "light" can be difficult even in ordinary times, and impossible in times of hate and rage and hopelessness. The Testament of Birthright makes the audacious assertion that our fundamental nature is to grow, connect, and solve problems; in other words, to be good. In this episode, the first of Season 2 of The Psychonaut Show, we explore the first of the two Testaments of Faith. The Testaments of Faith are the cosmology of our inner worlds; they are what we need to believe if we are going to explore ourselves effectively. In this episode, we use the Testament of Birthright to talk about politics and avoid divorce, to overcome the burdens of history, and to find Buddha nature in a piece of chocolate cake.
53 minutes | Feb 4, 2018
BONUS EPISODE: Real-Life Wonder Woman: Clarice Kestenbaum, M.D.
We're still in hibernation mode and getting ready for Season 2. But halfway to spring, we are bringing out a very special bonus episode, just in time for Imbolc, the festival of newborns and the future! This is the podcast's first interview. Dr. Clarice Kestenbaum was recently introduced to the country as David Letterman's psychiatrist; she was featured at the Kennedy Center ceremony when he was given the Mark Twain Prize in American Humor. But I know Dr. Kestenbaum as Glinda the Good, her nickname as training director in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University. She held that position for more than 30 years, and it is now named after her. She is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia and the co-founder of CARING, a non-profit organization that brings together arts and mental health for school children in New York City and around the world. We talk about fairy tales and myths, Freud and anti-Semitism, growing up in LA in the 1940s, and Harvey Weinstein and the #metoo movement. She brings her inimical wit and wisdom to all these topics and gives us thoughts to live by.
33 minutes | Dec 13, 2017
Active Curiosity – The Second Testament of the Psychonaut
From the Spanish Inquisition to political correctness, curiosity has never had an easy time. Just ask the cat, the one that curiosity killed. Active Curiosity is the favorite question of little children, the one that drives their mothers crazy, "Why?" The Testament of Active Curiosity is the second of the Two Testaments of Action. Active Curiosity builds on Neutrality and takes our exploration of inner worlds further. It implores us to ask "Why," because that is how we get to the other side of conflict and confusion. Active Curiosity can be hard to come by in this era of extremism, but it is a beacon that can guide us through challenges in business, parenting, and even politics.
12 minutes | Oct 3, 2017
Neutrality 2.0 -- The "Other" Psychonaut
It's a "meta" episode this time, Psychonauts! We apply the First Testament of the Psychonaut, Neutrality, to the other definition of Psychonaut. That is, a person who travels consciousness with the use of hallucinogenic substances. From Joe Rogan to Harvard Divinity School, psychedelics are making a comeback – and being "judge-y" just isn't going to get us anywhere in this conversation. Especially as people with anxiety, depression, ADHD and other diagnoses are turning to alternative ways of relating to their minds. Using the fundamental principle of non-judgment, we take another trip to the special world of Neutrality and see how it can help us negotiate even the seemingly most dangerous of situations.
24 minutes | Sep 18, 2017
From the Book of Genesis to HBO, dreams are everywhere. But do they mean anything, really? Is it even useful to think about our dreams? Dreams are not just random neuronal firing; our brains are way too elegant. Dreams are the language of our unconscious, which thinks about our daily lives just like our consciousness does. We just have to translate this language to something we can understand. Using Dr. JKB's Three Rules of Dream Interpretation, we go "deep dream diving" and bring back precious pearls from the underwater world of dreams!
26 minutes | Sep 7, 2017
This is a big one, Psychonauts! From Anna O. in 1895 to Madonna in 1985, the concept of Dynamic Conflict explains (almost) everything. Without conflict, we wouldn't have movies or politics or comic books or economics or anything interesting in life. But Dynamic Conflict is the kind of conflict we can't see, because it exists in our unconscious! In this episode, we meet some of the people from the very beginning of psychoanalytic history, patients such as Dora, the Rat Man, and Little Hans. Over a century later, we see how our own experiences, around body image, around ambition, around fear, are not so different from those people long ago. Although conflict is something we instinctively avoid, it is everywhere around us, and especially inside. Once we accept that Dynamic Conflict is the stuff of life, we can navigate our way through obstacles to progress, whether it be in our careers, our physical selves, or our relationships with each other.
24 minutes | Aug 21, 2017
The Six Testaments of The Psychonaut
What does Euclidian Geometry have to do with Hinduism? Nothing, except that each has basic principles that serve as its unbreakable foundation. Whether spiritual or scientific, every effort to understand our world needs a foundation, and the Six Testaments of the Psychonaut are ours. Like The Declaration of Independence, we hold them to be self-evident. The Six Testaments; the Testaments of Action, the Testaments of Faith, and the Testaments of Growth, are the guiding stars and astrolabs of inner exploration that guide us as we go through the uncharted territories of the unconscious. As we will see, even the most seasoned of explorers still needs to reorient herself when she gets lost in the sea of a child’s imagination. The Six Testaments always bring us safely back to shore.
14 minutes | Aug 7, 2017
The Oedipus Complex – Of Forbidden Fruits and Triangles
All little boys want to kill their fathers and marry their mothers. Wait, what, really? These days, the idea that we go through an Oedipus complex usually just elicits an eye roll; though Freud once considered it the cause of all human neurosis. Although nothing is ever that simple, we should pause before throwing out the Oedipal baby with the Freudian bathwater. Other thinkers have drawn on other Greek myths to describe the child's dilemma, Persephone, Electra, and Orestes. At its core, this situation is about managing relationship triangles, one of the most daunting challenges that the developing human being encounters. In this episode, we rescue Oedipus and show how an ancient myth can help us be better parents, navigate our own relationships more mindfully, and understand every day experiences like competition and envy.
21 minutes | Jul 17, 2017
Transitional Space – The Magic of the “In-Between”
What do Teddy bears and the Catholic Eucharist have in common? Why was Stan and Kyle's saving Imaginationland the most important thing they ever could do for South Park and the world? Transitional Space is hard to describe, but we go searching from post-war London to avant-garde Lesbian comic strips, and find out how it is a crucial part of human experience. In his paper, “Transitional Phenomena and Transitional Objects,” the British pediatrician and psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott described an “in-between” world, a psychological experience that is neither completely inside, in imagination, nor completely outside, in external reality. The Transitional Space is crucial for our developing healthy relationships with others and the ability to transform our play into satisfying work. It is also the place where art, religion, and even psychotherapy, take place.
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