For further reading and further writing

I've handed in my final essay for this quarter. It was for a communications course called Communication of Self-Esteem, and it was a danged hard paper to write. I think that if I'd been watching me, I'd have been trying to figure out why I kept making a Byzantine labyrinth and pile of laundered knots all felted together out of what was really a fairly straight-forward task. But I haven't really had time to look at why on earth I would complicate things so much - there has only been time to walk the labyrinth and work the knots apart and get the thing handed in.

A long time ago, when we first saw the interior of our parish and first talked to the first person we ever met there, one of us commented, "I've never been more uncomfortable anywhere in my life - and I never want to go to church anywhere else." That person, it turned out, had a vocation to the sacred ministry.

I think this is the same. I've never had a more difficult time with myself any time I was trying to write - and I never want to write about anything else. I think I have found my spot. Located my lenses. Sometimes a girl's just gotta stop pressing forward for a minute or two, and straighten up and stretch, and look around a little. Sometimes when she does this, she has to admit that there's been a theme developing in her life.

First of all, part of my Documentation for this essay was an annotated book list. I'll put it at the end of this post. It represents thousands of hours of obsessive study I've done on my own, and I didn't really see it as the mountain of information it has become until I did this annotated book list. I am surprised to discover that I may have reached some kind of former addict's milestone at last. (Hi. I'm Stephanie, and I'm a recovering fundamentalist.) I can finally find truth and reality in places and from people I don't entirely agree with. (Thank you, Jane Austen. I've learned at last that sometimes even the odious Miss Bingley may be telling the truth. Thank you, Philip Barry. "Mac the night watchman is a prince among men, Uncle Willie is a... pincher.")

And secondly, the classes I want to take include:

HMS 381 -- The Psychology of Tranformational Narrative
HMS 378 -- Critical Thinking in the Human Sciences
HMS 352 -- Bio/Psycho/Spiritual Integration
PHL 201 -- Foundations of Philosophy
SPH 359 -- Phenomenology and Existentialism
ANT 304 -- Applied Anthropology
LIT 402 -- Psychoanalysis and Culture

It's pretty hard to look at that list and still avoid the truth of my strongest bent - my direction becomes obvious - even to me. It is time to admit it. This is the hardest thing I've ever done. And I never want to do anything else.

Here's my annotated bib (funny name, I think -- I bet we could sell them to the children of the hyper-educated -- annotated bibs). Click on the pics for links to the books. (Sounds like the beginning of a very rhymey book.)

Gillingham, Anna and Stillman, Bessie W. The Gillingham Manual: Remedial Training for Children with Specific Disability in Reading, Spelling, and Penmanship. Cambridge, Massachusettes: Educators Publishing Service, originally published 1935.
The Orton-Gillingham work makes use of a multi-sensory approach to teaching language skills, linking the three modalities of auditory, kinesthetic, and visual learning through specific exercises and sequential lessons. This basic training manual is for adult and child learners, and proposes to help the brain form connections through whole-body interactions with the written English language. It is a professional training manual, and would be best used with instruction from an experienced teacher, but the concepts are not complicated or difficult to implement. The use of all modalities for learning is so efficient that these methods are also useful for regular learners, and not just multi-sensory learners.

Levine, Mel. Keeping a Head in School. Cambridge, Massachusettes: Educators Publishing Service, 1994.
Dr. Mel Levine is fairly well-known among teachers who specialize in multi-sensory learning, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities. All Kinds of Minds, co-founded by Dr. Levine, specializes in neurodevelopmental issues. Keeping a Head in School was written for the students themselves, and is very useful for explaining what is going on with language processing so that the student can take ownership of his own learning process in the midst of a classroom environment which might not be very friendly to his brain’s ways of finding and holding information. This book is immensely helpful for any parent or teacher who would like to understand the challenges from the student’s point of view.

Baron, Renee. What Type Am I?: The Myers-Brigg Type Indication Made Easy. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.
Renee Baron is the author of several self-testing, self-analyzing, self-help type books. This book has an easily accessible, light-hearted format and is not useful for academic study, but is very useful for quick explanations. Especially enjoyable are the illustrations that are “worth a thousand words” of description of the sixteen personality types which capture the true flavor of various kinds of people.

Beck, Martha. Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001.
Life coach and author Martha Beck proposes the idea that it is possible to use the clues in one’s own life and one’s own body in order to discover one’s most authentic self. There are exercises throughout the book so that the reader has a format to follow for interaction with the theory. Useful ideas included are: the ability to choose an “everybody” so that the interior thought that “everybody thinks” or “everybody says” is populated by supportive people; ways to tell the difference between fear, grief, anger, and joy; and the four stages of change, beginning with “Square One.” This is a good book for the kind of thoughtful work that must be done whenever a person has detached from his own body in order to avoid feelings or reactions to overwhelming events, and it also highly useful for any period of life that includes a lot of change.

Keirsey, David. Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence. Del Mar, California: Prometheus Nemesis, 1998.
Keirsey has done some of the most widely accepted work in bringing the Myers-Briggs type sorter into the modern world. The book is a bit dry in its tone and is therefore not easily accessible reading for most people. Keirsey’s website, testing services, and books are an industry standard and are often used by corporations. He groups the sixteen types into the four broader categories of Guardian, Artisan, Idealist, and Rational, which I find to be too limiting for a thorough understanding, and too heavily reliant on the ancient Greek model of the four temperaments, but the research is extensive.

Myers, Isabel Briggs. Gifts Differering: Understanding Personality Type.
Written by one of the original Myers-Briggs Type Indicator pioneers and co-authored by her son, the book presents the work of Carl Jung in a way that repudiates the idea that we are all variants of a mythical and elusive “normal” person. Rather, Myers was a fierce champion of the benefits – the “gifts” – we have in our differences, and devoted her life to the uphill battle against established theory and practice of her day’s psychologies in an effort to help people understand that our differences are good. The book is a thorough explanation of her ideas and her work.

Myss, Caroline. Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing. New York: Harmony Books, 1996.
Caroline Myss takes the three views of humans found in the seven Christian sacraments, the Hindu chakras, and the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life, and unites them in a cohesive view of “biology as biography.” Although the book is made of theory and anecdote, and not practical exercise or tests, it is useful for the practical work of understanding what the body is trying to tell the soul about itself and its life. There are several charts which may be used for quick reference once the concepts are understood.

Pearman, Roger R. and Albritton, Sarah. I'm Not Crazy, I'm Just Not You: The Real Meaning of the Sixteen Personality Types. London: Financial Times Pitman Publishing, 1998.
A good explanation of the types and how they view the world around them, but chiefly remarkable for its brilliant title. There are several sets of dialogue included in this book, useful also for tuning the inner ear to the way the sixteen types sound in conversation, and charts listing characteristics of the various types against the same list for a different type so that the difference stand out in greater relief than mere explanation of one type at a time would be able to do.

Thomson, Lenore. Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual. Boston: Shambhala, 1998.
Although it is often described as “advanced” or as written for an esoteric audience, there is nothing off-putting or dry in Thomson’s brilliant contribution to the conversation about type theory. The book includes her version of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, using slightly more sophisticated versions of the questions than Keirsey’s Type Sorter, and groups the sixteen types into eight “primary functions.” The science of left- and right-brained people, documented by researchers explains the orientation of the types, and the functions beyond the basic introversion/extroversion and sensate/intuitive distinctions are discussed so that the lifetime of maturing and growing within a personality can be explored. For illustration purposes, modern popular culture and media are referred to, and Thomson’s treatment of the midlife dilemma in human development is especially valuable. There is also a helpful and concise explanation of what it means when a Jungian psychologist talks about the “shadow,” and what that shadow can tell us about ourselves and our development. Lenore Thomson, M.Div., writes on theology and psychology and lectures at the C.G. Jung Foundation in New York.

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