Saturday, 16 December 2017

Rabbit Shits and Goats

             The first thing that I noticed when I step into that small smelly room was some weird small pellet just 2 cm long with brown and a little green colour in it which was littered all across the room. “Is that rabbit shit?” was the first thought that came to mind. I braced myself and walk on straight into the room, not minding the stench and the fact that I was stepping on shit. Well, I still don’t quite sure what that was. If it is shit, then whose or what does it belongs to? I shook from the thought of that and was greeted by the officer of the facility. I was supposed to questioned a few ex-drug addicts on the effectiveness of the program in the rehabilitation centre. Just helping out my professor with her research. that experience alone was unimaginable. However, the feeling when I got home wasn’t the joy that I was expecting. It was guilt.
             As I sat there at the table with an Indian man in his late 40s across the table, I asked him a question. A question I myself can’t really answer. Something that I realised whether or not I have it in me. It was about responsibility. In the facility, or should I say in the farm, because it resembled more of a farm than an actual facility, they have to take care of the animals and also plantations. They have to feed the goats, clean the stable and lots more things to take care of. And when I asked him about the responsibility that he had in there, he responded with such excitement, like he couldn’t continue his day without giving the goats to eat. It’s because it’s his responsibility to do so. Nobody told him or forced him to do it, well maybe at first they did, but after some time, he wanted to do it, full heartedly.
            When I heard this, I couldn’t help but feeling guilty towards myself. I’ve always lived my life without the thought of the responsibility. Just let the grownups figure that stuff out. It got nothing to do with me. And as such, responsibility isn’t something that only grownups have to deal with. When I was 7 years old in the primary school, I hated going to school. I tried figuring out every possible reason not to go to school. I faked having a cold, purposefully woke up late (that did not work out well), and even just straight up fighting my dad (which I miserably lost). However, at the very end of the year, I tried to convince my father that there’s no reason to go to school. I mean, you don’t learn anything anymore. They’re having some sort of end of the year party or whatever. Then he said, we don’t go to school because we learn or study, but you go there because it’s your responsibility, just as I go to work because it’s my responsibility. Of course, at the time I was throwing the tantrum at him and didn’t really try to process what he meant. So after a long 13 years, I truly understand what he was trying to say.
            Everyone, doesn’t matter whether you are old or young, we all have our own responsibility to hold on. The difference is only how big the responsibility is. I believe, a person is truly matured when one understands or knows that responsibility that he has, and once known; one must carry on that responsibility. A few weeks ago, I was supposed to go to camping to some river forest or something. However, I overslept and missed the ride. I could, however go by riding a bus and then ride another bus, but I was too lazy to make that effort and instead, I continued sleeping. That was the best sleep I’ve had. I had no remorse, no guilt. I couldn’t give a shit whether my leader would be mad at me or not. I just don’t care anymore. Only now, that I realised, it was a responsibility given to me by my higher ups. They trust me to arrive and join in on the camping. And I failed them. It’s the same with any other thing. I have to go to class everyday; I was not forced to go. Nobody threatened me if I skip class. It is truly my responsibility to go. I was entrusted by the university as I was entrusted by my parents to go to school and as my father was entrusted to go to work to support the family. We always look at it as somewhat a bigger scale. As the prime minster, you have to hold the responsibility of taking care of the country and all that. It turns out, each and every one of us have that responsibility. If people were given trust to do work, instead of being told to do work, then this world would be very much efficient that it was before.
            I am truly sorry there isn’t much fact on this. There isn’t any as matter of fact. It has been awhile since I write anything here. It truly does feels good to let your mind roam about freely and write whatever that comes to mind. All this is just random bullshit. Don’t take it seriously, I was also going to write about how our own lives is a responsibility to uphold the true religion of God. But hey, then it wouldn’t be random bullshit. It would be like a philosophical and religious article about the meaning of life. Which is not something that I want to write about right now. See ya.            

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Of Free Will and Addiction

John Bradshaw once said in his book ‘Healing The Shame That Binds You’- “ Just as they are two kinds of cholesterol, HDL( healthy) and LDL(toxic), so also are there two forms of shame: innate shame and toxic or life destroying shame. When shame is toxic, it is an excruciatingly internal experience of unexpected exposure. It is a deep cut felt primarily from the inside. It divides us from ourselves and from others. When our feeling of shame becomes toxic shame, we disown ourselves. And this disowning demands a cover-up. Toxic shame parades in many garbs and get-ups. It loves darkness and secretiveness”.

            Today I want to write something that has going through my mind for a while now. However, before I get deeper into today’s topic, there’s something that you have to understand in order to relate the events that will unfold. If I were to tell you that I’m an addict for a while now, the first thing would go through your heads are drugs or nicotine isn’t it? Well that’s wrong. Far from it. Instead, I’m addicted to porn. I couldn’t remember when I realized I have this addiction. But what I do know is when it all started. It was 8 years ago. I was only 12 years old. I don't really understood what I watched. And now, I’m 20 years old, and I couldn’t go on 3 days without watching it. It is in no way whatsoever that this addiction is even comparable to the addiction on drugs. But I believe that no matter how serious the matter is, there are always some common grounds which it is rooted. And that is what I want to talk about.

            Perhaps the reason for me to get back up was because I stumbled upon a subreddit called r/NoFap. A large community determined in helping others to overcome their addiction with porn. Now, in all those years trying to get better at myself I never did actually make it. My longest streak was like 4 weeks. And the standard goal in the subreddit is 90 days. For that was like a far off dream. Something that was impossible for me.   

            Alright, after a while now, I’ve been wondering about the reinforcement theory coined by the psychologist BF. Skinner. The theory basically tells us about how the mind works when we are addicted to something. About how we are reinforced by the external stimuli to trigger the said addiction. About how we associate the said addiction as a reward. This works at the heart of every addiction, gambling, alcohol, drugs, and even sex. All these cause a massive over-stimulation of dopamine receptors and therefore positive rewards. And this repeated use of drugs leads to withdrawal effects when trying to stop. Withdrawal is physically unpleasant and can be reduced again by taking the drug again, which is a negative reinforcement. This however leads to the question of, where does free will plays in on all of this? Are we to condemn by this addiction and never to stop? Does our own actions determined by what has occurred by our surrounding? And that eventually justify everything that we do. Is it not our fault that we are addicted? 

In the light of this, I would like to add another perspective in psychology which is the humanistic perspective. Which study the whole person and uniqueness of every individual. And through this, they believes that free will does exist in oneself. Personal agencies is the humanistic term for the exercise of the free will. It refers to the choice we make in life. But what really interests me is the degrees of free will. Of course this debate has go on for centuries and the humanistic psychologist have been trying to prove that in some way there is free will. The first view in this is the libertarian view, which entails that we truly are free in whatever that we do. And that environment or physics does not pre-determined our actions in any way. The other view however is the total opposite as it is the deterministic view. The middle ground in this debate however lies with the compatibilistic. Which just means soft determinist. Which in the most simplest sense, is how we can't change how biologically who we are, Like how we have different IQ for each and every individual. However,  we can have that free will to do whatever we want. The debate is that whatever that we choose is in fact because of the events that happened before this. Take an example like how I would write this blog right now. I have the free will of choice to write this, but perhaps I am writing this because of the fact that I really need a good reason to stop fapping. As the compatibilist suggest, the things that I did is because of my own justification and my justification exist as part of the unfolding wave of causality that is the universe. So, in simple terms, It is not so free will but more of a self-determinism. Our own actions are the result of our own justifications. There's no totally external systems that is the direct cause for our actions.

However, if this is the case, why do we still do irrational things if we have this so called free will in our hands? In one book entitled; "Irrationally predictable" by Dan Ariely, suggest how emotions can influence our decision-making. In his book, which he collaborated with the psychologist George Lowenstein, tested out how arousal can influence in  decision-making during a high-emotion situation. This is done by a few college students who were given a set of questions regarding sexual matters, for an example, "would you have sex with someone without any protection?" of course they answer like a normal rational person would, which was "no". But under the influence of arousal however, surprisingly enough, most of the students said yes. It's as if you're a totally different person when overwhelmed by those emotions, especially when the situation heightens the emotions. This also works with other emotions like anger, frustrations and even fear. For example, a person who has fear of flying would consider deciding on driving instead of flying, despite the fact that travel by air statiscally shows less danger than driving.

             As to not lose focus of our topic at hand, I want to remind you at the beginning of this article I mentioned about addiction. And how we can make the rational choice to refuse the urges. Even so, we have seen how under the distress of high-emotion situations, we are doomed to make irrational decisions. Though, when it comes to emotions, I was reminded by one other philosophy; Stoicism which teaches the development of self-control and fortitude to overcome destructive emotions. It is in no way teaches one to be emotionless, but rather to reject the materialistic and have a clear judgment and inner calm when dealing with such horrid events. The philosophy has more to it than just that, but I just want to focus at how having control of our own emotions is vital in order to lead a better life. The very basis of this philosophy was in fact to control the masses back in ancient Greece as people back then were easily prone to get angry. In respond to anger, the Stoics said that anger was the result of ignorance and lack of knowledge. Seneca, one of the founders of Stoicism even said that anger was the result of overly optimism that lead to unrealistic expectations. As for my opinion, this school of thought is easy enough to implement as lots of religions already have it; the control over oneself. This philosophy even has a lot of similarities on the teachings of Gautama Buddha. As I myself understand this, there are a lot of similarities in Islam as well. As for example, the month of Ramadhan, we not only have to fast, but also have to learn on controlling our behaviour and to live moderately on everything, including emotions. Even the issues that I mentioned previously could have been easily solved by Islam and other religions. But of course, some just want to have an alternative on the solutions and most already have the mentality of secularism.

What I’m trying to say is that we have (to some degree) control ourselves. We are not pre-determined to make the same mistakes over and over again. In respect to my own problem, what I really needed was change.  And that change starts within me. The intention to change for the better. That intention is the most important part. It starts with each and everyone. I will try my best in the NoFap program and I hope anyone reading this has something that he or she can change for the better. And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you can’t do it alone.   

Sunday, 17 September 2017


      That feeling of overwhelmed by your surroundings and the expectations that you have to hold onto. It’s a big step I’ve to admit that; living off to a new place. However the one thing that I realise whenever I got to a new place, is that I got this huge feeling of anxiety and inferiority. I realised I have such a big problem with anxiety when I was at matriculation. The very first few weeks of staying there was horrid. My hands wouldn’t stop shaking. The feeling of vomiting would come in the morning, before going to class. I thought it was just indigestion of some sort. But nope. You could say that I diagnosed myself. But I was right. I realized I had this problem. What did I do? Well I assessed and analysed my problem. Finding the root cause of the problem. Nip in the bud before any other major problem arised from it. Of course, I got it cured. And I was having the time of my life there with my friends. Taking pictures together. It wasn’t really the anxiety that held me from socializing with them. It was me myself that thought I wasn’t good enough. That fear of thinking that you have anxiety will actually cause you to have an anxiety episode. It’s bad enough when that happened, but I had the constant feeling even I was not in that situation. It’s called the catch-22. A paradoxical of regulations and rules that makes one a victim of its provisions no matter what one does. But I don’t want to get deeper into that.

                And now, not just a couple weeks ago, I enrolled in National University of Malaysia under the course of Bachelor of psychology. And you have to realise the expectation of people when they hear this. And it’s like I’m always proving myself that I can reach this expectation, and so, this is where my major problem revolves. Upon closer inspection, I realised I had an inferiority complex. An inferiority complex is is a lack of self-worth, a doubt and uncertainty about oneself, and feelings of not measuring up to standards. Well, the feeling of inferiority is not that all abnormal. An inferiority feeling usually acts as an incentive for development. What Sigmund Freud coined this term as a complex is because of how the inability of a person to compensate for one’s inferiority. In the classical Alderian psychology, they categorised it into primary and secondary inferiority feelings. The first or primary inferiority is the normal or usual feelings of inferiority that a child has the feeling of weakness and dependency towards others. However it can be intensified with the comparisons of siblings, romantic partners and adults. The secondary inferiority is the adult’s experience of insufficiency to achieve one’s desired objective of success to compensate for the inferiority feeling.

        And if you know anything about me, this is the perfect description of myself.  Ever since I could remember, there was my brother. Five years older than me, charming, have flair of persona, and most important of all, he can convince anyone. And I have this kind of a total dependency towards him. Always afraid to say no to him. Always liked anything that he liked. And not to mention the age difference between us. This feeling of inferiority is exaggerated of course, with my incapability to achieve the impossible- which is perfection.  When I first came here, I was overwhelmed and thought that I could never live up to be a famous psychologist like my senior or my professors. Its like I have to put on a mask whenever I said that I was a psyche student. Put on a smile. Try to look confident a bit. Make eye-contact.

                Alas, I realised something, the reason behind this. There’s two reason; first, its because that I looked at everyone like how I look at my brother. That same total dependency. Its only when I finally I realised that human have their own weaknesses. Like my brother, everyone has that one thing that of they cannot do. Something that they’re afraid of. So in a way, they’re no better than me. The second reason is the feeling as though my weakness is dragging me down, and I can’t do anything about it. However, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. And to focus solely on your weaknesses and neglect your potential is a waste. After I realised this though, everything started to shape up. Its true that knowledge is power. Once you know the root of the problem, it’ll be much much easier to handle it.