Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Table of Contents:


“Objective” “Reality” ?

I do not wish to quibble over the fact that our thinking refers to a past event, but I would note that two perfectly sincere people who in addition like each other remember the past differently, This happened not because it was in the past so much as the fact that remembering derives from mental […]

“Subversive” Books

My friend Jackie Woolley, with whom I square dance and we work out in the same exercise class in our community gym, is a thinker and writer, and wrote recently about how she has enjoyed reading books, noting that they are subversive. Indeed, I too have enjoyed my quiet rebellion against what I intuitively sensed […]

“The Bloody Pulpit”

I have a friend who used to be a preacher, and on the phone recently he mixed metaphors, calling his calling a “bloody pulpit.”  I had heard of a “bully pulpit” —referring to Theodore Roosevelt’s use of his Presidency as that. But nowadays the presidency of Donald Trump has become so very controversial as to […]

“The Good Ol’ Days”

I have an acquaintance with an obviously conservative political inclination: She wrote: “It seems that no one wants responsibility anymore. I remember my proud, independent mother whose greatest fear was that some governmental institution might try to step in and interfere with the raising of her four girls.” Then she wrote, “We should all rise […]

About Psychotherapy Research

There are (at least) two variables involved in psychotherapy research: One is diagnosis, the other is ego strength. High ego strength allows people to exhibit a symptom, but also to recover from it. With low ego strength, all the other coping mechanisms are shaky or non-functional. People are deeply handicapped. Although it’s not a diagnosis […]

All Roads Lead to Illusion

As I reflect on the series of lectures on illusions that I gave last month for Senior University Georgetown, it became increasingly clear that a variety of phenomena that have not been vividly recognized as being similar—i.e., illusory—should be so thought of:   – the defense mechanisms of the psychoanalysts, and some of the other […]

Almost Real, Not Really

Walt Kelly in one of his Pogo comic strips, revealed his rich, whimsical streak that teetered over into fantasy. (His art deeply influenced my own.) Here he explains what I’m trying to say about “almost-real”:

And the Devil will Drag You Under…

That phrase from the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls (“Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat”) is evocative; but really, it’s not “the” devil—really they’re just old patterns of childish motives combined with the imps of facilitating mental magic that work to seduce you. They’re prevalent, in everyone, not intentionally malignant to begin with. This is […]


I’ve realized that in the 20th century a major subtle attitude emerged: that there were “answers.” It was okay to ask questions and the unspoken message was that someone somewhere did have an answer. What wasn’t said explicitly enough was that indeed, there were answers to some questions, but this accounted for perhaps only around […]

Asymptotic Limits

This is the property of infinitely approaching a limit while being mathematically barred from achieving it. It’s a useful concept not only when studying hyperbolas back in high school algebra, but also insofar as it applies to our tendencies to speak of ideals as attainable. Although there is an element of just liking fancy words—I […]

At Least They Admit They’re Fake

This came as spam: “Buy Custom Made University Diplomas, Fake College Degrees and Transcripts of World Famous Universities. Buy fake/novelty university diplomas and degrees online. We design our Degree or Diploma Certificates and Transcripts to look 99.99% identical to world famous originals including identical security grade transcript paper, identical water markings, raised-ink crests, embossed seals, […]

Autobiographical Note

I like the following quote by the early 20th century playwright, George Bernard Shaw: “Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.”     I erroneously did just that, not realizing that I was considerably brighter than others, and also had a bent […]

Basic Clear-Thinking Principles

Thinking isn’t what it seems. It’ll trick you! People think they’re thinking whenever they assess a situation. But assessment is not really thinking about whatever, it’s merely getting oriented. Feels like thinking. Maybe it is a first step. But rarely do they re-consider any impressions or assumptions. They’re easily tricked. The first trick is the […]

Being a Little Unsure

Although I am bold enough to spout off on this blog, let’s be clear that I make no claims to being ultimately right. Often there is a varying degree of uncertainty. What brought this to mind is that I value a degree of intellectual humility. Not so much as to inhibit self-expression, but not so […]

Beyond Reason in Philosophy

Most of true philosophy involves reason, but not all. I like this following quote from one of my favorite philosophers, Alfred North Whitehead (1869-1947), who wrote near the end of his book, Modes of Thought: “The use of philosophy is to maintain an active novelty of fundamental ideas illuminating the social system. It reverses the […]


There are realms beyond our own. This truth has been almost hammered into human minds over the last five hundred years: Micro-realms with the invention of the microscope, and macro-realms with the telescope. Current developments have extended these view many-fold. We have further learned that we perceive and can perceive only a limited range of […]


With the multiplication of diploma mills, I  wondered, why not? I imagined this:  a fancy-schmancy sign on a webpage: INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CERTIFICATE-OLOGY You can create, grant, authorize, bestow, honor, authenticate, and in other ways issue diplomas (and of course) certify as well as the best of ‘em! Deans, boards of Examiners, diploma mills, so-called […]


I like this cartoon because it illustrates the prevalence of non-communication in people who sincerely believe they communicate fine, about everything. They dissociate what is a hidden assumption so they don’t even know they’re not communicating.


This involves the mind’s propensity to just make things up. It’s an unconscious “mechanism” that is also called “confabulation.” We should not underestimate this dynamic. It makes dreams seem so real while you’re dreaming; it accounts for people swearing that they saw someone or experienced something that in fact they didn’t (i.e., “false memory syndrome”), […]


(This was written more than a week ago, too) The first point is to recognize that people can participate in raising their own consciousness. This is not a small step. Most folks take their own view of life, the world, people, themselves, pretty much for granted. It is what it seems to be. But of […]

Considering Psychiatric “Help”

I’m a retired psychiatrist, and I’m suspicious of psychiatric “help.” I estimate that less than a fifth of those seeking help are healthy enough so that for them psychotherapy is an aesthetic option, one aimed at elaborating a richer life. Then there are those who show deficits in rational thinking, those who "really need it.”  […]

Context-Dependent Knowledge

A pickpocket at a convention of saints would only see their pockets. This morning I heard that the World Series Baseball game that I saw part of on television was considered one of the greatest games in the history of baseball. Who knew? The only thing that impressed me was how many spits the various […]

Countering Annoyance at Distractions and Focusing My Priorities

Increasingly in the last year I’ve grown noticeably slightly annoyed at all manner of things, activities that were distractions to my growing focus. I’ve been a little bit puzzled by this reaction, since it seemed new. Then I realized that the annoyance was an externalization—as if the lure of other things was being promoted by […]

Counting Mistakes

There are parts of life where mistakes really do count, they make a difference. Part of this then involve a ready willingness to get quick feedback about what the mistake was and be willing to correct it. For many people this is undercut by tests in which you only learn (much later) your score, implying […]

Creativity Development

This may become another cultural institution, located somewhere between spirituality development (which is one way of thinking about modern religion), education (especially modern kinds, like Montessori for older youngsters), continuing education and recreation (recognizing that one keeps learning and reinventing oneself throughout life), and so forth. Creativity development, in retrospect, has been located to some […]