Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Table of Contents:

Current Events


As we enter the election cycle, I call upon an old cartoon by Gary Trudeau, regard-ing the old British Petroleum oil spill. He notes snappy words and dismisses dull words or those with negative connotations. Spin doctoring. Manipulating. As we hear rhetoric about making America great (without any specific plans), we are asked to suspend […]

Semantics Illustrated

Saul Steinberg is a cartoon-artist whose drawings I find to be thought-provoking (and I dearly love my thoughts to be provoked). Here in a New Yorker magazine cover of September 17, 1960 he portrays words and names that evoke different associations in different people. Sail on, oh ship of American hegemony (at the time, a […]

Shadows on the Cave Wall

In a previous blog-post, I was reflecting on the acceleration of the appearance of mysteries. Now there are others that have come to my attention: changes in the speed of light?? What’s with “branes” (i.e., the concept of other-dimensional “membranes")? Static in the gravity field has been attributed to a magnification of the planck-sized (i.e. […]

Should Cruelty Be Considered Insanity?

I object to the conflation of mental illness and inhumanity. Only rarely is deep mental illness associated with cruelty. It does happen, but never on a broad scale. Were the Nazis who so methodically pursued the “Final Solution” merely nuts? Were the Hutus who engaged in genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda insane? In my […]

Sing! Sing a Song!

I love the words from that Sesame Street song that includes the phrase, “Don’t matter if it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear.” I’m interested in helping more people enjoy the arts—not just by witnessing, seeing, listening, but by doing, drawing, doodling, improvising, singing, drumming, dancing. I guess this might be a form […]

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Lewis Carroll wrote two books in the mid-late 19th century, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice’s Adventures Through the Looking Glass. (Lewis Carroll was his pen name; his real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Interestingly, a number of authors have had what’s called a nom de plume, a pen name.) Disney conflated those tw0 “Alice” […]

Slow It Down a Little

Too much too fast too intense… whoa! So I was intrigued by the mention by a friend of a “slow living” conference next early summer. They cover so many facets but I didn’t see psychology. I’ve been pondering SDP (social-depth psychology), the deeper resonances in the psyche of that part of the mind that is […]

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

There’s a trend towards introducing practical psychology in the schools—under the term, "social and emotional learning" or SEL. I have known some of its pioneering people and been to some conferences and am most eager to promote this. (Some resources are linked here on my website.)I wouldn’t be surprise if some practitioners mangle the method—that […]

Sociometry: An often-overlooked dimension of social psychology.

One of the more important dimensions of psychology operates not so much in the mind of the individual but rather in the interpersonal field. (This is perhaps why it was missed by the psychoanalysts.) One pioneer, Dr. Jacob L. Moreno, in the 1930s, noticed this dynamic and tried to find ways of measuring it. It’s […]

Some Elements of Hope

An acquaintance posted a jeremiad on one of the listserves I plug into—a rant by a friend about how we’re all going to hell in a handbasket. It was too sad—I couldn’t take it. There was a psychologist, Lev Vygotsky, who had a number of good ideas about education, my favorite being the concept of […]

Springtime ‘Splanation

Somebody asked me, “Whaddaya mean, ‘Splanations’?” So okay here’s uh xample.  Why does the cosmos go “bloom”? Well, first of all, most folks don’t even see spring bloom because it sorta sneaks up on you, goes too slow for your brain to sort it out. There are naked trees, then pregnant trees, then “Bloom!”  There […]

Strung Out and Spread Thin

Perhaps I’m being a sort of "Cassandra here, shaking my tambourine and prophesying, but it must be said: “Overload!” The information explosion and media glut has arrived. We are in exponential times, with accelerating everything. The trickle became a creek, a stream, a river, a delta, a flood, an ocean, and a tsunami, all in […]

The “Ethos of Effort”

This term refers to the un-thought-out valuing of effort, trying hard, doing your best. I was a little delayed in popping out of bed, enjoying the relaxation of sleeping, then enjoying a relaxed contemplation, but I was a little jolted by a guilt spasm at my lackadaisical behavior. I heard the line from and old […]

The Appeal of Psychoanalysis

I’ve wondered why Freud became so popular. It was not that he was charming. He could be pleasant but also somewhat opinionated. For one thing, he wrote fairly clearly, compared to his peers. The riddle of why any personage, artist, showman, etc., becomes “popular” is not easily answered. However here are some other factors. Freud […]

The Blame Game–Darn Right!

Recently John McCain, the Republican candidate for the Presidency, responded to controversy about Bush’s proposed 700 Billion Dollar rescue package by saying, “Let’s not play the blame game.” I was intrigued, because in many situations, especially in dealing with family conflict and other situations, it is indeed unwise and not productive to engage in simplistic […]

The Counter-Productive “War on Drugs”

Following up on the “War on Drugs” blog entry #1380 (and on my website), there has been another pulse: This last week for our summer lectures of miscellaneous presentations at Senior University Georgetown (which I helped found 17 years or so ago), one of the speakers, Russell Jones, gave a talk on parallels between the […]

The Enterprise of Psychotherapy

First of all, “good candidates” for psychotherapy are willing to locate the source of trouble in the self rather than others. Many people are not good candidates because they blame others, including the current President of the United States (POTUS). Many people agree with Trump in believing that were it not for the dummies, the […]

The Fragility of Memory

Evidence continues to accumulate regarding the fragility of memory. Beyond the scandal of the “recovered memory syndrome” around 1992 and other ways that distortions of memory have been used (or probably mis-used) in many kinds of legal proceedings, attention to this problem is an important corrective in our tendencies to give more authority to certain […]

The Influence of Abner Dean

I was strangely influenced as a young man by the surrealistic, semi-cartoon art of Abner Dean, who drew cartoons and pictures that intrigued me. I had been into comic books, but here was a fellow who, like Saul Steinberg, used cartooning to present serious themes. Recently, I remembered Dean and wondered why I was fascinated […]

The Lure of Irrational Hope

A friend asked, “Why are people so inclined towards irrational hope?” I pondered and here are some thoughts. You are welcome to comment. First, some hope is semi-rational in the sense of it doesn’t hurt to look for the best, and it’s no help to imagine negative consequences—unless you can do something realistic to change […]

The Myth of Efficiency II

A recent conversation on email with a colleague who is interested in emotional intelligence sparked my thinking: I realize that I’ve written about the myth of efficiency before, but this just raised the theme again. He wrote, “I strongly believe that strong communication and understanding will always triumph business owners who focus mainly on numbers, […]

The Pervasiveness of Illusion

On a paper on my website I present what I said (sort of) to those attending the June / Summer program of the Senior University Georgetown, where I often teach. I find that we’ve shifted in our awareness of the pervasiveness of illusion so that instead of illusion being a sometime thing, these dynamics tend […]

The Power of Image: Presidential Election, 2008

Today I heard on the news that both McCain and Obama separately have been talking up the idea encouraging people to become involved in giving to the community. It’s a good idea, but it needs a wave of positive emotion from the youth of America, and only Obama is really engaging the youth in a […]

The Power of Power-Point (Good and Bad)

My friend Ed sent me an article almost a year ago about the power of image (specifically Microsoft’s Power Point Presentations) to manipulate and possibly distort reality. It reminded him that back during the Vietnam War, there was a similar thing: The Generals in the field used to show maps painted colors suggesting who was […]

The Problem of Authority in Religion

Newsweek, February 14, 2011 , page 48, involves an article that’s sort of a book review of two recently released books that invite a re-evaluation of the common understandings of sexual mores as presented in the Bible—mainly in the Old Testament.  What interested me was a statement near the end of the article. Albert Mohler, […]