"Dodging Satan" cover page (book review)

“Dodging Satan” or How Not To Raise a Catholic (Book Review)

Dodging Satan: My Irish/Italian, Sometimes Awesome, But Mostly Creepy, Childhood by Kathleen Zamboni McCormick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If we could open up a contest about the world’s most Catholic family, Bridget’s Italian-Irish concoction would definitely top up the rating. The clever girl is raised by the tight glove of religion from both sides of the large family, grows up to become the perfect Catholic and evade Satan’s calling who takes various shapes in her life as a child and young teenager: imaginary snakes coming out of the closet at night, her flirty and cheeky friend Lucy, and the non-avoidable puberty sex drive.

Her parents are not great fans of logic and prefer to keep up the pretense even when strong beliefs are brought into serious question, such as when they pretend to sip the Holy water that seems disgusting because everyone puts their finger in it or when her father refuses to buy her a two-wheeler only because she can fall off it and lose her virginity.

But we all know that Satan can not be easily dodged as he is the other face of God, which becomes increasingly clear for Bridget as time goes by. You couldn’t feel anything less than sympathy for the awesome Bridey, as her mother calls her, who asks some damn good questions about the ridiculousness of Bible passages when reality strikes – two dead family members in Vietnam although they had their crosses on the chest and wives that get beaten but stay in marriage only because they need to play the role of a good Christian wife.

This is a wonderful story of humor but also sadness and harsh truths. I am very happy that, in the end, Bridget decides to stay friends with Satan who, compared to God she has met, might not be so bad after all! This is a story of how not to raise a Catholic!

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Dog EQ: white Labrador dog carrying a stick

Dog EQ: Your Dog Can Read Your Face, Much Better Than You Think

As much as we love to consider us an advanced species, certain behaviors display contrasting evidence. We don’t need so much evidence besides the current state of the affairs in the world. It shows that humans are sometimes incredibly emotionally stupid.

But are dogs as susceptible to common EQ frailties typical for humans? Maybe it’s up to their upbringing or their species characteristics, but dog EQ is remarkably well developed. 

Dogs are emotionally intelligent, showing signs of emotional intelligence via behavioral or somatic outward indicators. 

Dogs Are 2.5 Years Old but Act as Centenarians 

Dogs use their dog EQ to read and understand your facial expressions and adjust their behavior. By looking at how dogs behave around humans and other dogs, we should humbly admit emotional intelligence defeat at least to the emotional gradient referencing dogs. 

Dogs feel basic emotions, including fear, anger, disgust, sadness, happiness, and surprise. All basic six emotions are inherent to humans, too. 

However, the specter of the dog’s emotional quotient doesn’t include higher-level emotions, for example, pride, shame, and guilt. The level of emotional maturity at dogs corresponds to that one of a 2-and-a-half-year-old toddler. 

But their interactional maturity and relational capacity often outperform even the most emotionally stable and intelligent humans.  

If the last three emotions contain an element of social comparison and evaluation, then how come dogs are so socially intelligent and loyal in human interaction than humans themselves? Perhaps that is exactly the reason. Humans compare, measure, and judge.

Do Complex Emotions Make Us Unhappy?

If you have a bit of an insight into your own emotions, you will acknowledge that judging and comparing yourself to others is the root of unhappiness. In that sense, dogs are substantially better-heeled than humans. 

A neurotic desire for improvement and achievement is not something dogs do by themselves. Unless trained to accomplish, dogs are simple creatures, focused on play, work (sniffing, searching, digging, for instance), and affection, which they either give or like to receive.

Even when acting on stimuli, dogs are not on a constant neurotic quest for improvement. 

It is no wonder that YouTube comments sections below popular dog channels frequently include white envy comments about the dog’s cool: “I wish I was as happy as Buggy, Piper, or Laurel” or whatever the concrete dog’s name is.

Emotions Are Not Exclusive to Humans

According to research, dog emotions are heterospecific. Heterospecific emotions are associated with a particular species, on this occasion canines, but are also used to relate to other species. This definition, which means dogs feel stuff when they interact with other animals and humans. 

To clarify previous inconsistent results, researchers in this study, C.A.Müller, Kira Schmitt, Anjuli L.A.Barber, and Ludwig Huber, experimented with training stimuli and facial expressions. They wanted to distinguish between local cues, domestication, memory, and human interaction as instigators or nurture factors of dog emotions. 

As it turned out, dog EQ is heterospecific, a finding which corresponds with other conventional knowledge about dogs. For instance, it is a commonly known fact that dogs use emotional expressions to recognize a prey-predator situation when interacting with other species. 

Dogs in this experiment presented an ability to read their owner’s faces as a result of a domestication process that builds emotional memories. However, some of the dogs included in the study bonded more closely with their owners and felt more deeply. Whether this is a result of a specific fondness borne out of a deeper and longer connection, it remains to be seen, as further research is needed. 

In addition, the researchers suggested that dog EQ may also be a result of emotional contagion, a phenomenon that develops in human social networks, too. 

One thing is certain: dogs are capable of love, and on their scale, that is the ultimate emotion. 

Don’t all spiritual leaders advocate love? And aren’t dogs better equipped to provide emotional support than humans?

Therefore, dogs just might be more emotionally intelligent than humans, although we rarely give them the credit for it.   

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.
Image by free stock photos from www.picjumbo.com from Pixabay

Why Every Writer Should Read “The Artist’s Way” By Julia Cameron (Book Review)

Rather than following the usual format of book reviews (if there is such a thing) I like sharing the personal journey of how reading a book affected my life. I read “The Artist’s Way” a long time ago – I believe it was over a decade ago when I had to face some deep personal issues. I didn’t read the book for writing purposes. It was recommended by a friend who, at the time, had no idea about my writing aspirations which dwelled in some slow-burning parts of mine since I was a child. But since I was happy to embrace and practice many different identities, they all helped me become the person I am now. Today, I like to call myself a writer. 

Somewhere around the time this book got into my hands, I became vested in psychology, for reasons that were more or less obvious to me. However, I wasn’t quite so aware of the deeply rooted psychological causes of the writer’s block. Yet thanks to “The Artist’s Way” to a great extent, I managed to turn writing into a lucrative career. The greatest benefit for me was not just the financial reward. That followed years after I read the book. I am able to earn money from my writing for another reason, which will be more obvious to anyone who has been happily immersed in the flow of writing

Writing Flow: The Most Desired Writer’s State

Csikszentmihalyi’s genius about what makes people happy is about this state of flow. Flow is a psychological state with which you are so fully enmeshed that you would do it for the sake of it, expecting no additional reward. Rather than expecting external incentives, flow gives intrinsic rewards by itself. 

This certainly doesn’t mean writing for free unless that makes you happy. Ultimately, other needs will win the state of flow and you will have to go to grab something to eat, drink, or hug. But it does mean that if you are in the flow, you will write substantially easier, and better, to that matter, because the ability to surrender to the thoughts on paper will help you become best friends with your writer’s block rather than consider it an arch-nemesis. 

The flow is something you can connect to the middle mode of the self in gestalt therapy. Middle mode is the space of creativity and spontaneity, one that emerges when you get rid of self-imposed restrictions, limiting beliefs, unfriendly internal voices,  and literary critics that get to you.

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron book review 2

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

The middle mode enables finding solutions to problems you may have never thought of.  Being in the middle mode is calling upon the creative child within before it was submerged under layers of insecurity ignited by a second-grade teacher who told you your writing lacks something, whatever that something may be. Although it is mainly used in the therapeutic process, once you get the feel of it, you can access that sweet spot where your creativity bursts with more ease. 

This doesn’t mean that the middle mode is always pleasant. It often involves hard work – those pages won’t fill out by themselves. But it does help you with understanding why and for whom you write, as well as to find your place in the global audience. 

Working in the middle mode is possible only if you engage both your brain hemispheres and work with your emotions, your senses, and your ratio, so that you come up with a piece of yourself sculpted in a uniquely personal yet somehow so shareable and relatable at the same time. 

Your Brain on Writing

If you haven’t looked at “The Artist’s Way” closer, here is a short description of the workbook: it is a set of exercises and accompanying guidance on how they work with the ultimate goal to befriend the writer in you. 

The exercises ask for complete surrender, especially the one where you have to write the first gibberish that comes to the top of your mind first thing in the morning. You basically need to open your eyes and start filling out those pages with the noise in your head. And, if I remember correctly, you need to do it for a month or so, repeating the same exercise each morning without stopping yourself. There is a recollection finale to wrap up the exercise, but if you ever decide to delve in, you’d better go through it yourself. 

Introducing the Healing Powers of Writing

If you think that my pages were full of incomprehensible blabber, you are right. I was also aware they incorporated a lot of the emotional stuff I was processing at the moment. But I didn’t really care. I was determined to follow through, possibly because the pages were doing their magic. You can call the magic writing therapy in conventional psychotherapeutic circles or writing workshops and retreats in shamanic, alternative, spiritual, or “whatever-you-like-to-call” circles that don’t carry the preliminary stamp of mainstream healing techniques. 

Their common point is that writing heals. Writing heals because it makes you whole, helping you get in touch with less-known aspects of the self and connecting you to the whole of humanity. 

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron book review 3

Image by Steve Johnson from Pixabay

Whether you believe in a strong ego concept or are more in favor of global unity, you won’t be able to deny the boundaries that connect us all on an archetypal and collective level. 

As I went through the exercise, which was admittedly a painful process, I came up better equipped to dwell in the uncomfortable space of working together with the problematic self aspects and using them to the benefit of my writing. Thanks to “The Artist’s Way” I became capable of seating with hours at the desk and enjoying the process. I also learned how important wellbeing is and that nothing should be at the sacrifice of feeling safe. Whenever I get too safe, I challenge myself with a writing experiment. It is the best way for me at the moment to stretch out and connect. 

Writing with honesty and integrity is what keeps readers awake with open books late into the night. There is plenty of travel to reach such a destination and it is not for everyone. Without a doubt, Julia Cameron got me closer to the natural feel of the writing flow and if this is where you want to be, I strongly recommend persisting with the exercises.   

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.
The Inconceivable Truth: A gutsy memoir about defining and surviving childless womanhood in the 21st century book review

“The Inconceivable Truth: A Gutsy Memoir about Defining and Surviving Childless Womanhood in the 21st Century” by Nicki Fenthum (Book Review)

There was a moment in time when I didn’t quite understand why people decide to share their stories in so many personal details. I thought – why would someone want to expose to the bare bones to random strangers? Then it dawned on me – they are not doing it for themselves or, rather, they are not doing it only for themselves. They are doing it for the benefit of others.

That said, having and raising children is a deeply personal story. No one can truly live the life of another and feel it in the same way. That is why it is difficult to share on such a touchy subject. At the same time, challenges with pregnancy, fertility, and offspring are common for many parents.

Precisely because almost no one likes to meddle into people’s intimate affairs, we rarely see the real struggle and joy behind becoming or not becoming a parent.

This book is something else.

Nicki Fenthum offers the gift of an amazing personal story told with candor and shared with bravery. Although people interested in having children might have the greatest benefit from “The Inconceivable Truth: A Gutsy Memoir about Defining and Surviving Childless Womanhood in the 21st Century,” I believe aspiring mothers-to-be would get the most nutritious meat and potatoes from this book.

I don’t want to tell you much about Nicki’s story because I would produce spoilers. And although this is not a fiction book but a memoir, I think the impact of the message will be lost if you know the turn of events upfront.  

Why do you need to read this book? Above all, because it will give you a first-person experience of female fertility, a highly personal and intimate issue about which many mothers and fathers don’t like sharing much.

Having difficulties with conceiving can be traumatic. Sometimes, overt sharing can increase rather than heal the trauma. Here we see a different approach – someone who bares it all – the light and the dark stuff. 

Nicki Fenthum opens ups to the world not only from her role of a mother, but also as a wholesome human being that is a lover, a creator, a friend, a wife, a businesswoman, and, first and foremost, a vulnerable human soul with an inspirational will for life.

She touches the highs and the lows of human existence and approaches each life challenge with an incredible zest for life – she has the same unwavering ambition for her personal, as well as for her professional life.

The author speaks with honesty about her desire for control, violent traits, and dark emotional places. She reveals her strengths and weaknesses, and her passions and ambition.

You will get to learn about the effect of the city you live in on your physical health. Get ready for a lot of priceless details about what it is like to struggle with motherhood after you reach the age of forty.

There are plenty of things that your doctors might not tell you. And Nicki will tell you about all of them in full, in a beautiful exploration of what it means to live in the grey areas of life and what motherhood is all about.

The issue of children is complex – we all know it is personal yet it touches upon the social matrix.

This book might help you find your stance about children in the brevity of a lifetime when facing multiple conflicting opinions and advice from family, friends, and doctors.

It is a truly admiring memoir with a great example of how to use retrospection and self-reflection to gain valuable life lessons.    

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.
Mating in Captivity book review married couple

9 Lessons About Love I Picked Up from “Mating in Captivity” by Esther Perel (Book Review)

Lust and love. Safety and risk. Trust and curiosity. Boredom and novelty. Monogamy and polyamory. Familiarity and excitement. Picking up dirty laundry and sex binge weekends. 24 hours in pajamas and wild nights out for months. Three children and rock climbing. Unpaid bills and erotic lingerie. If you associate the first words in the above sentences with marriage and the second with dating or hookups, welcome aboard. You are one of the millions of humans who struggle with the mess of modern-day relationships. 

Our (Somewhat) Broken View of Love

It is almost impossible never to have come across Esther Perel’s “Mating in Captivity since it is a widely popular book and highly acclaimed by leading newspaper book clubs and bestseller lists. It is a bestseller because it touches upon an important aspect of modern life in which expectancies from marriage grow and spouses are no longer seen as mere partners in the economics of a household and family. 

True, nowadays we want a lot more from a partner, for two reasons mostly. One is the brainwashing done by the mainstream media with the romanticized idealism of the “happily ever after” and the other is our own incapability to love as adults because we simply don’t know how to. We love as we have been taught in our families. Most adults, with rare exceptions, have more or less kept aspects of their small child persona when they show up as adult partners in a relationship. But regardless of the distorted stories about love we have been told or accepted, the hookup culture, the inability to articulate what we want unless we text message,  true love has a bit of that magical quality which is difficult to describe yet keeps bits of the romanticism and the deservingness of a small child inside. 

How to Rekindle a Relationship or a Stale Marriage 

“Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence” is a book about all of this. Many problems in marriages or long-term  “serious” relationships come out from one of both partner’s inability to comprehend in themselves and the other, and manage and communicate their needs, wishes, and desires. 

But a huge part of the issues modern couples struggle with is down to pointing the mirror to the partner rather than turning it inwards for self-reflection. We expect from the partner to be our everything – we give them an impossible task which no one can fulfill. We want them to tick all the boxes in our expectation minds. We want them to act in a way, and when they don’t, we take that for a fault of character. 

Mating in Captivity book review old couple

Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

We all have our narrative of how to love. No two people have the same. Often, partners in marriage share a crime – they both have a dysfunctional pattern for bonding which attracts the other and glues to them like a fly to honey. Sometimes, marriage failure is due to accepting societal spousal roles without questioning whether they fit.

There is plenty to be said about the skyrocketing divorce rates and the declining marriage wows that marked the noughties and beyond. Happiness seems to remain an illusory quality for many marriages that involve an affair and fail in overcoming it. 

Can You Survive the Betrayal of the Affair?

What Esther Perel is talking about in “Mating in Captivity” is not the subject of serial affairs, a more complex problem, although it can fit in the context of this book partially. What she talks about is the affair that rocks an otherwise stable marriage. For some people, when the excitement of the novelty wears out, the easiest way to look for fun is outside of their marriage. Having an affair seems like a wonderful solution – there is someone new who can stir your juices, make your trip, entice you to look forward to meeting them, and, simultaneously – overwhelm you with guilt. 

An affair is not the only exit. Here is what other exits I took for myself and what you can from this book: 

  1. You CAN develop excitement within marriage. You just need to get creative. 
  2. When your partner has an affair it is never about you. It is never about you in the similar sense that nothing that anyone else does is about you. People have a subjective worldview and are driven by selfish reasons. Selfish doesn’t necessarily have to mean bad in this context. It can simply be related to the personal, the self. But in a way, it can mean selfish in the “bad way”, too, because it doesn’t take care of the relationship as a whole. An affair is a betrayal to the relationship more than it is a betrayal to the betrayed.  
  3. The more we know someone, or think we know someone, the less attracted we are to them.
  4. You can bring in novelty into our relationship or marriage by doing something new yourself or for yourself.
  5. The new thing that sparks erotic novelty doesn’t have to be sexual. 
  6. Your relationship is a whole with two parts. You don’t need to change the other for someone else to revive the relationship. 
  7. Not all relationships are meant to last. Sometimes the affair is the final red flag for the love that is long over. 
  8. You don’t need to feel obligated and continue the relationship after an affair. But it will do you an immense amount of good to know what went wrong and use those insights into a new relationship. 
  9. Some relationships have overcome the trauma of an affair. They are those that have grown stronger. It is possible. 

If you are struggling with keeping your marriage alive, if you want to redeem it after an affair, or if you are on the verge of committing one and in a desperate need of a quick solution, then you should get this book. It is one of the best investments I have made in my life. 

Things that are kept stale, stagnant, without new energy – wither. It is so easy to do that when you get into the role of a long-term partner, parent, or breadwinner in a marriage. Recollecting the initial excitement and looking at our partner with new eyes is helpful. But nurturing the excitement within us by getting out of our comfort zone and, in turn, igniting the fires in the relationship, as well, is a rare find for modern companionships who want to rekindle the same love all over again, and many times in the future. 

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.
make your own neural network in python synapses

I Dare You to “Make Your Own Neural Network in Python” (Book Review)

If you’re a developer and expect deep expert insights about machine learning and neural networks, this “Make Your Own Neural Network in Python” review is not for you.

But if you are a tech addict and like reading and learning about new software applications, then this will most likely hit a spot. If you like to improve general knowledge on the matter, then you may find this reading experience useful as well. 

The Special Spot for Neural Networks in Machine Learning

Alongside developments in the complex field of AI in recent years, machine learning (ML) went from an emerging to mainstream technology. It will become even more essential as the years go by.

In parallel, I’ve asked myself many questions about what machine learning is and what is all the fuss about it – will computers truly be able to learn as humans do? Can they replicate learning from an example? Are we looking at a doomsday where machines take over?

I was sure that this last scenario is not likely to take place, but I was still curious about the essential differences between machine learning (ML) algorithms and existing code. 

Although conventional algorithms are not that simple, they can be packed into neat boxes for classification purposes.

How Are ML Algorithms Different Than the Rest of Computer Code

But a machine learning algorithm is one of a kind. It doesn’t require continuous instructions by the coder – it is rather capable of instructing itself on the principle of learning from example by trial and error.

And as the machine goes through the process of making sense of the input data, it improves by one sort of a sieving process, leaving the coarse mistakes behind, and making fewer and tinier mistakes as it goes forward and generates the desired output.

This is, of course, an analogy and not an expert elaboration of how machines learn. It is an aspect that relates to neural networks, as well. 

make your own neural network in python review brain

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

With visual aids, sketches, and diagrams, the authors Michael Taylor and Mark Koning explain a substantial segment of machine learning – neural networks, which is a sub-segment of deep learning. If you don’t have some programming background (and I don’t) it won’t be as easy to delve into the details.

Nevertheless, this is not only a coding book, but a text that ventures into the math and the logic of neural networks and can be interesting for someone with a mathematical or data science background.

Neural Networks Architecture

Again, if you are not a Python developer or don’t have another experience with creating algorithms, you will still find the book useful, but maybe only partially.

However, you do need to have some knowledge of high-level math – matrices and complex functions, and statistics – regression principles, for instance, to be able to decipher the logic of neural networks explained in this text.

make your own neural network review artificial synapses

Image by Ahmed Gad from Pixabay

Here is what I gained from this book:

  • Understanding of the concentric circles around neural networks, with them being the center-most, while AI being the outermost layer, with deep learning and machine learning positioned in-between.
  • Key terminology about neural networks, for example – nodes, synapses, connections, layers, and the ability to identify synonyms, for example, node=neuron.
  • Why deep learning is called “deep” and what are hidden, input, and output layers.
  • What is supervised, unsupervised, and semi-supervised machine learning
  • The critical value of partial derivatives and why you need to understand them before reaching out for this book to build upon that knowledge and make your own network.

Thanks to my neverending interest in psychology, the last point was intriguing for me. Neural networks are structurally set to correspond to the neuron synapses in the human brain, thus the similar technology. I haven’t seen many visual presentations of how neural networks work, but I like this one. 

Once I was done with the reading, it became clear that this field has only scratched the surface and that there are many new insights skilled experts need to make before we have a better grasp of it.

Now, will I be able to make my own neural network? Absolutely not. But will I read about technology development and innovations with a bit more confidence and acumen behind me? A definite yes.

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.
women who run with the wolves review

“Women Who Run with the Wolves” by C.P. Estés: Reclaiming Our Instinctual Nature

Wolves have a bit of a dire reputation following them. We see them as merciless predators, always hungry and at the feet of their next prey.

But as much as we don’t understand wolves, and for similar reasons maybe, we don’t understand women and we interpret them through a lens blemished with incomplete or poorly told fairytales across centuries. 

Wolves are ravenous only after a great famine, in wintertime, and kill with no intention to eat only when they are being driven by an instinct to survive as a remnant of past suffering. The same aggressive aspect can be seen in Estés‘s wild woman, the one who has been denied, said no to, squashed into a tiny space of being and welded to someone else’s wishes.

Almost every young girl knows the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, the tiny one who was forbidden to venture into the woods because she would be eaten by a hungry wolf. This fairytale, as well as many others told by the Brothers Grimm, carry only a grain of truth transmitted by oral narration over generations. In the book, Clarissa speaks of the harsh editing work the brothers needed to undertake when collecting the tales, mostly because of religious requirements at the time. Many of these edits removed obscene, sexual, or overly wild elements from the female psyche and behavior. 

In the cleaned-up story, Little Red Riding Hood manages to win in the meeting with the big bad wolf but only with the help of the hunter savior. And that’s the child-friendly version of the popular folktale because there are gruesome and creepy versions that are by no means something that a child should lay eyes onto. For that, we can thank the editors for doing a good job. But along with the bathwater went the baby, too. In one of the versions, Little Red Riding Hood manages to outwit the wolf by telling him she needs to take a poo in the woods. He releases her, trying to keep her at hand by tying a string to her but she puts the string around a branch and escapes. This Little Red Riding Hood is the epitome of the wild woman archetype as a young girl.

little red riding hood sculpture

Image by Leonie Schoppema from Pixabay

Clarissa Pinkola Estés brings us back to the story of the wild woman, a story about songs, bones, and wolves. A remarkable storyteller, Jungian analyst, and healer who integrated the wisdom roots of her Mexican and Hungarian ancestry and heritage into her healing work, the author clears ages of cobwebs and removes the debris of semi-truths and incomplete narratives about the wild woman archetype, connecting the reader with the feminine intuitive aspect. 

You don’t have to be a woman to read the book but you will feel it to the bones if you scrape against your feminine psyche aspects. And they do exist, whether you like it or not, whether you are aware of them or not. When searching for and exposing the wild woman archetype during her healing work, Clarissa Pinkola Estes uses the Jungian active imagination method heavily applied by Jung himself, the packer of archetypes. I call him the packer and not the creator because he only put ribbons to something that already existed in the collective psyche and its individual incarnations. 

Sound of Devotion, Dimitra Milan

Sound of Devotion by Dimitra Milan. Image Credit: Artist’s Page

What I found vividly expressive, nurturing, and wholesome in the book was the interconnectedness of the abandoned, rejected wild woman archetype and our own current missing connection from nature. It is a wake-up call to shed light on a long-lost or perhaps never by now found part of the self/selves, which reverberates with the echo of the wildness, instincts, and intuition that hides at the core of our bones. The book includes subtle and more direct nudges to reintegrate one’s voice with the voice of the wild woman archetype, craft new stories, and take a different type of action by peeling off layers from the forbidden. 

Slaughtered sheep herds are a sign of fear for survival – when wolves live in an optimal environment, their needs are met and they are quite the playful canines. Wolves and women bite and derail destructively when out of touch with who they’re supposed to be. Imbued with folklore sagacity, “Women Who Run with the Wolves” is a quite unique take on how to reclaim one’s power, by becoming aware of the fear that caused a trauma in the first place. A true analytical gem.

(I’ve listened to this book on Audible, which is a perk of its own since it is narrated by the author. )

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.


The Red Book Liber Novus C.G. Jung review closed

The Red Book by C.G. Jung: A Personal Journey into the Collective Unconscious

The first time I saw a copy of the Red Book by Carl Gustav Jung, it was in a Zurich bookstore six years ago. I remembered I was mesmerized by this edition, which was a hardcover version of the original, with incredible images and some unusual format. But it was around $400 at the time, a small fortune for me, even when considering the fragile budget filtering that I applied when taken over by grandiose writing packed in a book. And it was in Germa.

Obviously, it didn’t come to my possession – today I am writing about The Red Book Liber Novus, a reader’s edition, edited and with an intro written by Sonu Shamdasani. 

There are thousands of websites dedicated to the magnificent work of C.G.Jung, one of which that I find particularly enticing and inquisitive is Lewis Lafontaine Depth Psychology blog, whose author is the most generous devotee of Jung’s work to what I’m aware of, especially in terms of cutting through the massive volume of content with surgical precision and finding palatable pieces for the reflection-hungry reader. 

And the ability to self-reflect was a skill Jung had in spades, one that set the base for The Red Book and the rest of his masterpieces, as well as one that is so important to understand if you want to connect to his work.

Some say that Jung was both a wealthy and educated man, which gave him the time to immerse so deep in the human collective psyche, but there’s more to it. Others claim that he went to write a unique piece in a state that included psychotic symptoms. However, the book was written at night, in wartime (during the First World War), and on the basis of a peculiar self-experiment which included self-induced phantasmagorical journeys by the great psychoanalytic himself. 

If you aren’t a big fan of finding intricate connections in the web of the unconscious and its earthly personified concepts, you may not enjoy the Red Book as much. But if you are the person of dreams who lives at the edges of the inner and the outer world, you’ll find great pleasure in Jung’s work, as I did and I still do, only because this is not a text that could be read at one go. 

Unfortunately, the version I have doesn’t include the vivid images of Jung’s core psyche, who poured his soul in his creations, as he himself describes vividly: “My entire life consisted in elaborating what has burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me.”

The Red Book Liber Novus by C.G. Jung, edited by Sonu Shamdasani

Jung’s work has been popularized by mainstream psychology, popular psychology, and even poorly projected by Hollywood which can have its downsides, as well as its advantages. Regardless of how you view it, it is important to remember that the perceptions disclosed in Jung’s overall writing work a product of years of practical work with people or as they call them in psychiatry – patients.

But this book contains perhaps the largest huge chunk of Jung’s inner world and if you are not familiar with the basics of his theoretical system, this reading may be too nutritious to be digested quickly. While reading it, it’s crucial to take into account the period in which Jung lived, as well as his personal history – after all, each author shares a piece of the self when revealing their writing to the audience. 

To look at the captivating images, you can search for descriptive repositories online. You can also find plenty of Jung’s writings in PDF format if they’re still there. If you have a few hundreds of dollars to spend, then I definitely recommend getting a nice colored hardcover edition. The lucky chance for me in the version I got was that it comes with an introduction and editing work. It is evidently a labor of love and it includes extra information that can be helpful for first-time readers.

Jung was quite the writer and quite the illustrator – a rare jewel, for sure, one that comes once in a lifetime. But he was blessed with understanding the complicated amalgam of the material and the spiritual in a human, and above all, in himself.

Read the book with a fresh mind, and get rid of preconceived notions about life, death, science, philosophy, and religion. I was touched on many occasions by the acumen of Jung’s polymath abilities. 

To extract the most potent juice out of his work, including The Red Book, you might just need to retrieve a bit of your childlike curiosity and become more capable of conjuring thoughts of spirit, sleep well, peel years of theoretical concepts that have shaped the person you are today, and get ready to read at your own pace. At least that’s how I do it because everything else is too much. Reading Jung involves plenty of shadow work and that is not the most pleasant or pain-free experience – let’s call it depth psychology at its best and its worst.

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience. 


Can Your Heart Predict the Future

Can Your Heart Predict the Future?

There are many secrets to the human heart. As we advance in sophisticated technological research methods and innovative software we can start unveiling at least some of them.

Heart – the vital organ of emotions has been a research topic in prominent studies but we are just in the last decade or so using new measures to explore the heart’s intuitive intelligence.

The heart is a part of our holistic body system. To understand how the heart perceives information which is out of the scope of the immediate human awareness, the researchers  McCraty, Atkinson, and Bradley used physiological measures such as skin conductance, EEG (electroencephalogram) and ECG (electrocardiogram) reports.

By showing 30 neutral and 15 emotionally stimulating images to the study population, they were trying to investigate whether the heart will react with changes in the above measures when faced with the option of future emotional stimuli.

How Your Heart Scans the Future

Surprisingly, the study results have confirmed that the heart receives emotional content seconds before the stimulative event occurs and reacts with an accelerated heart rate. Research results reported a gender difference, showing that female participants in the study had a mildly stronger response to the prestimulus.

Can Your Heart Predict the Future anatomy

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The accelerated heart rate is an intuitive response to future emotional stimuli. The heart processes the intuitive affect received in the shape of prestimulus information in almost the same way it does for processing standard sensory stimuli.

The research results were important evidence of an unusual phenomenon. Although we may think we react to only what is happening at the moment, this is not the complete truth. Our bodies’ perceptive tools continually scan the future, and so does the heart in the overall system.

Defining intuition is a challenge that is not supported by a unanimous scientific definition. Many disregard it as a fantastical metaphysical idea, trying to explain it with alternative definitions, mainly including mental brain concepts.

However, even the human neurological system is not that simple. Scientists are just starting to discover curious new findings of the “gut brain”, the surprising link between what we eat and how we feel physically, but also mentally and emotionally, as well as about the unknown physiological functions of cranial nerve sections.  We have plenty to learn as we thread ahead.

Exhausted by Life? Your Heart Suffers, Too

Researchers from the American Heart Association completed research on 26 people that belong to another age group than the one that typically partakes in heart research. These study participants were healthy individuals under the age of 40.

The research, unsurprisingly, revealed that, when people are overworked, they are weak, exhausted, easily irritated and demoralized. The cluster of symptoms was named “life exhaustion”.

Can Your Heart predict the Future Life exhaustion

Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

People become tired of life, losing vitality. Lost vitality is another in the series of key factors that contribute to the growing psychosocial phenomena, including anxiety, depression, and social isolation.

What kind of conclusion about heart health can we make?

When we don’t listen to the heart’s intuitive wisdom, this vital organ gets severely neglected. A neglected heart suffers a greater risk of heart disease.

As it turns out, there are many studies that back up the proverbial wisdom to “listen to one’s heart” when making an important decision. If you are a fan of the brain logic only, you may want to consider including the heart as an additional weapon in your arsenal of life-managing skills.  

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.
emotional contagion: why does your Facebook feed turn into a war of words

Emotional Contagion: How Your Facebook Comments Feed Turns Into a War of Words

How often do you decide to stay out of a Facebook discussion? Is it because you don’t have anything to say? Or is it rather because Facebook discussions turn into a war of words so quickly so that even Gandhi cannot save them?

All you have to do is to look at just one long string of comments posted anywhere online. This is especially on point if the online space is specifically designed for socially sensitive issues. You will have reached the age of enlightenment as far as social media communication is concerned. 

Online public communication is often full of spite which doesn’t have anything to do anything with the concrete discussion topic.       

Part of the comments is well-argued. Commentators stick to the subject. On the other hand,  a huge volume of Facebook or other social media comments targets the author’s look or personality.

We often ad hominem attacks or vicious attacks of the author, the owner, or anyone in any way related to the text, the video, or the image from the subject topic.

How Social Media Trolls Nourish from Others’ Emotions

For a short amount of time, participants stay on topic. After a while, the comments start picking up their own pace and run out of control from the topic of social media or website feed. The more people take part, the more dissolved the topic.

emotional contagion social media reactions

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

It can get particularly messy when professional and semiprofessional trolls or flamers get involved.

The usual manner in which the rest of the audience replies to these online pyros is by publicly shaming them. However, instead of silencing them, trolls become a highly combustible material. Their flaming rhetoric gets even more attention, feeding upon itself.

The problem with trolling is that trolls feed on the attention of any kind. They can maintain the same solid position when opposed and when backed up.

Their only task is to be present, so both opposition and support do the job.

The trouble is that, when they do this, they appeal to an army of followers who are genuinely concerned about the subject topic. Many of those that are commenting involve in the communication because they need support or connection.

This is usually the tipping point at which instead of a discussion we get to witness a chaotic war of comments.   

The Science behind Emotional Epidemiology 

What is the dynamics behind the creation of these violent online spaces that take a life of their own?

The dynamics dwell upon emotional contagion. In social networks, emotions are contagious. Emotional contagion is a real phenomenon. “Real” emotions we share off-screen but also virtual emotional states can be transferred to others through the process of online emotional contagion.

When people are emotionally afflicted they feel the same emotions as someone who is nearby. Emotional contagion can take place without the participants’ awareness of how this happened. On massive social networks, there is even something called global emotional synchrony.

emotional contagion on social media: global emotional synchrony

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The Ripple Effect of On-Screen Emotional Contagion

Emotional contagion finds its partial support in a series of real field experiments.

Data collected from a large-scale experiment conducted in a real-world social network over 20 years indicates that long-term affective states or moods such as depression or happiness can transfer between members in the social network.  

The network, which can be anything starting from a neighborhood, company, marriage to a group of friends contained clusters of happy people, in which the happiness stretched as far as three degrees of distance. Three degrees of distance can, for example, include a scenario of a friend of a friend of a friend.

Those surrounded by the largest number of happy people, as well as those who held central positions in the network were the happiest. The outcome was not only due to people’s tendency to make friends with people who share similar personalities. The research has shown that happiness clusters formed as a result of the spreading of happiness.  People carrying the same “virus” show behavioral mimicry, too.  

You can now measure your own propensity towards getting the emotion virus. Knowing that you can get the disease is an important emotional intelligence tool. Even if you are susceptible to getting the cold, your own awareness can help you put some water to the fire next time you meet with a violent Facebook feed. 

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.