View Single Post
Old 02-16-2010, 05:08 PM   #17
Ellis Amdur
Location: Seattle
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 802
Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 17

Peter - I've only a few more thoughts on the subject we are discussing.
On the question of abuse and discipline in Japan, an incident while I was teaching jr. high school.
I taught in a module, separated from the rest of the building - two classrooms. The module was frequently unused, or mostly, just me teaching in one class. In the middle of one class, the walls started falling in. Thought it was an earthquake. But the damage was focused - too focused. I ran next door and found the school's "gang of five," the five young thugs in our school who, thinking the building deserted, decided to take it apart. I yelled, "Ungogu na!" And then, as they froze, with "Oh s***" expressions on their faces, I yelled, "Narabe!" They lined up and then, "Clench your back teeth hard!" (to avoid broken jaws). And then, one by one, I slugged each of them with a full-arm open hand slap, half-knocking each off his feet. Then, after a moment of total silence (and not a peep from my class next door), I said, "Get out of here. I didn't see a thing." Each of them gave me a very proper bow and left.
And I went back to teaching my class. Several hours later, the principal asked me if noticed anything wrong in the A classroom of the module. With a puzzled look, I said, "No."
Over the next day or two, I saw each kid on the way to class, and each simply greeted me with "konnichi wa, sensei," a smile, and on his way. And I can tell you, when these lads felt treated unfairly, each had a history of making one or another teacher's classroom hell.
I knew that, if the matter had been handled "properly," these five young men would have been a) expelled b) their parents terribly shamed c) every moment of their future irrevocably changed. For a moment of stupid boy-mob testasterone, this made no sense to me. One of the biggest changes I've seen in American since I was a kid - for the worse - is that boys can't fight, can't be obstreperous, or defiant, without it becoming either a criminal matter, or in some ways worse, something to diagnose and medicate.
The five kids were in the school for two more years. They were still the "boyz" of the school, but they were respectful without being craven - and on two occasions, when one of them was in trouble in their own lives, they came to me for "sodan," (consultation). They chose to be around me - and around the judo and baseball coaches - the only one's in the school who accepted young males as males, rather than usual teachers who were either intimidated and ineffectual or wasp-tongued, manipulative, record-keeping, passive-aggressive and vindictive. Ironically, the teachers were mostly very left-wing, but hated the working class kids most of all. Discipline with young men, I have found, should often be crisp, hard, and OVER.
Had this happened in America, I would have been both sued and arrested. A lot of my readers might think I was abusive. I personally think I saved their futures - and I believe, that if asked, all five (now) men would agree. Their actions over the next two years certainly suggest that I am right. [An example of either phenomenology, if I've properly, using Husserl's term, "bracketed," or pure subjective delusion of a "Oni Eego Kyoshi"].

I believe you raise several questions I cannot answer:
1. IAre there, in fact, any objective standard - either beyond culture or within a cultural context that are deterministic? - Can any historian, psychologist, or even parent assert that "a" incident will result in "b" personality development? - this, backed up by research or historical record. I do not believe such exists. Human beings are too "free" to be so subject - why, in the ancient Hebrew myth, that the angels were angry with God's creation of humanity, because in our freedom, we had something that God did not give the angels.
This definitely leads to legitimate questions regarding any of my assertions - but really, any assertion at all. Truly, all I'm saying is that my experience with many children (and my reading of many other authorities) shows that children with similar experiences show many of Takeda's behaviors. There is a significant pattern here.
One of the most remarkable aspects of PTSD is that it is NOT defined by the horror of the account - but by the person's response to the horror. In other words, trauma is a psycho-physical personal narrative, not a "fact." Hence, treatment/healing is often changing the personal narrative - because the incident cannot be changed. My "evidence" for Takeda's early trauma is the man he became, not merely the fact of the pain of the fingernails, the witnessing of the horrors of war, the disruption of attachment. Takeda's later life is congruent with the lives of many other people who experienced early lives much like Takeda. That's as far as I can go. I believe that this has not been noticed, because of another, more dominant narrative myth.
2. Can one assert with any assurance that such-and-such experiences "made" an individual? This is, without a doubt, fraught. I have seen - and contradicted - a number of assessors adamant assertions of such determinism. But my contradiction of them is more of the same! The only thing that makes it "true" is a) a judge accepts it (dubious proof, I know) b) that if my evaluation and recommendations are followed and the child's life improves along the trajectory I suggest, or a alleged abuser acts as I suggest they will, then there is a congruence strong enough to suggest the possibility of fact. But it is not fact, not proof - merely congruence. It just "rings true" - that's the best that can be said. (And this applies to all psychological evaluation, no matter how ostensibly objective it might be, no matter what "scientific" tests are used). Human beings are beyond all our deterministic suggestions.
Clinical observation is an art - not a science - although the art is supported by science, just as a great painting is supported by the proper use of pigments. But sometimes, all too often, it's very bad art (witness the "satanic panic" of the 1990's).
Even more fraught is "psychohistory." You are absolutely correct to question my conclusions because I've not only never met Takeda, I've never met anyone who had met him. I am at a minimum of three degrees of separation - and really four, when it comes to knowing anyone well who knew someone who knew someone who knew Takeda.
I believe your questions go directly to the heart of my book, which, there is no doubt, is provocation. My challenges at the end of the book, the title of the book, all of this is a challenge to the writer/researcher to do much of what you are doing. But beyond asking good questions which reveal the limits of my methods <and honestly, until proven otherwise, I "know" I'm right - all the evidence of Takeda's life and actions fit most perfectly with my conclusions) - but I hope, eventually, there will be a diary, letters, whatever to prove me right or wrong.
Imagine in Hoshina Chikanori's diary, a brief note of being consulted by a frustrated, despairing father named Sokichi, worreid about his , defiant son, and, after due discussion the only thing they could come up with as "moxa on fingernails" therapy.
So, in fact, I agree with all your questions - (with the exception, perhaps, that you are hewing a little too literally to the title of my book - for I could say that the roots of Ueshiba's power include, by definition, the personal make-up of his teacher, as this affected the teacher-student relationship) - but still stand by my account of Takeda's life, as explaining, in a much "truer" fashion, not only his development, but some of the nuances of his relationship with his students, Ueshiba among them.


  Reply With Quote