“Go Deep My Friend….Go Deep!”



“Go Deep My Friend….Go Deep!”

by

L.T. Force, Ph.D.

Gerontologist

People say that attitudes can change in an instance; I believe that. Yes, it is true that certain behaviors and beliefs take time, practice and effort to alter. However, there are defining moments in one’s life where thoughts and actions can be altered - almost instantaneously.

I love long Train-rides and I love technology. Any chance I have to take Amtrak - I will. I like the experience and convenience. I also like the fact that Amtrak has internet capability. I like to write on the train -as I am doing now. (In fact, the reason I think I really enjoy it is I know I have a little Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) running through my genes - and the motion of the train and changes in scenery - in fact, help me focus on my writing).


Over the last weekend, I watched the Netflix movie:“Our Social Dilemma” - a movie that highlighted the concerns of the intrusiveness, absorption and tracking capability of social media apps. The alarming part was how deep and far these technology platforms can go in creating algorithms to monitor and predict your behavior. Like many who watched the movie - i immediately turned off most of my “notifications” on my apps. Again, I love technology - but I also love my privacy and independence more. As I continued to think about that movie - I also started to think about how other things in our modern world have influenced our thoughts, beliefs and behaviors.


I remember a number of years ago having a conversation with a colleague about the impact of psychotropics on emotion in college students. When I was early into the study of the field of Psychology - I was introduced to the work of Abraham Maslow and his work in the arena of “self- actualization”. In his theory Maslow spoke of: “Peak Experiences”.


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Definition: Peak Expetience


A peak experience is an altered state of consciousness characterized by euphoria, often achieved by self-actualizing individuals. The concept was originally developed by Abraham Maslow in 1964, who describes peak experiences as "rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality, and are even mystic and magical in their effect upon the experimenter." There are several unique characteristics of a peak experience, but each element is perceived together in a holistic manner that creates the moment of reaching one's full potential. Peak experiences can range from simple activities to intense events; however, it is not necessarily about what the activity is, but the ecstatic, blissful feeling that is being experienced during it.

History:

Peak experiences were originally described by psychologist Abraham Maslow as "moments of highest happiness and fulfillment" in his 1964 work Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences. To some extent the term represents Maslow's attempt to denominate those experiences which have generally been identified as religious experiences and whose origins have, by implication, been thought of as supernatural. Maslow (1970) believed the origin, core and essence of every known "high religion" was "the private, lonely, personal illumination, revelation, or ecstasy of some acutely sensitive prophet or seer".Maslow's assertions about peak experience, along with his famous hierarchy of needs, were widely celebrated due to the theories' focus on the psychology of healthy people, which stood out in a time where the bulk of psychology research focused on psychological disorders.

In original peak experience research, Maslow utilized interviews and questionnaires to gather participants' testimonies of peak experience. These early studies suggested common triggers for peak experience included art, nature, sex, creative work, music, scientific knowledge, and introspection.

Historically, peak experience is associated with the psychological phenomenon flow. Peak experience is differentiated from flow due to a number of factors including subjective level of experience intensity: while peak experience denotes a high level of stimulation or euphoria, flow is not associated with an increased level of stimulation. (Wikipedia)

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The conversation with my colleague centered on the impact of psychotropics on the ability to experience a Peak Experience. My point was - with the rapid increase of medication for college students - with the intent of stabilizing mood, thereby placing a structure or ceiling on mood and expressions.... my point was....the younger generation exposed to psychotropics may never experience the awe of a Peak Experience....because their moods and emotions are being regulated and governed by a pharmaceutical restraint.

Fast forward back to the stimulation and control of technology. We are bombarded with technological input- shaping the way we think….fostering the way we feel… and as such - we may never get to experience the natural and raw feelings of a: Peak Experiences - as we continue to be numbed by this implosion of technology.


The answer? Be aware. My personal belief is that: “we pay rent for all engagements in life….in all things that we do there is a cost associated” Technology can be good and a value-add …. Psychotropics can be good and a value-add….but when is enough….when is it too much?


Answer: Be aware and never give up the ability....the freedom and the luxury of going inside - in the presence of your own thoughts.... and in the presence of your own emotions. Go deep my friend….go deep! It is like the experience of being in a protected greenhouse that provides you with an understanding of the presence of quiet.... and the presence of safety - as the plants grow and develop. Same thing for the human condition:

"Go deep my friend....go deep....grow from the inside out!"

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