The Emotional Life and Cognitive Dissonance



“Emotional life can be influenced, but it cannot be commanded.”[i]




In 1986, Dr. Robert Ornstein, then professor at the University Of California Medical Center in San Francisco as well as at Stanford University, conducted extensive research on the human brain; he concluded that “our illusion is that each of us is somehow unified, with a single coherent purpose and action …But that our mind is really a coalition made up of competing entities, we do not always, even often, know what we think or believe … when these different pieces of the mind are not in harmony, a condition called cognitive dissonance results. …”[ii]


The Complexity of our lifelong “self-states” (part two)



The limbic imprints of the infant brain come from facial expressions, tone of voice and touch etc. that can start in-utero and come from a myriad of social interchanges with whoever has contact with the child.  Touch, voice, tone, and facial expressions “… become emotional “Attractors” which come to fore and “play out our unconscious knowledge in every unthinking move we make in the dance of loving”.[iv]

These imbedded emotional inscriptions do not occur without social interchange. The Attractors remain camouflaged in our limbic brain and emerge to create our attractions for some circumstances (danger, serenity), environments (sounds, smells, tastes), people (male, female, tall, thin), and relationships and our rejection of others.


The Complexity of our lifelong “self-states”

bigstock-Surreal-Cubist-Eyes-And-Faces-7736887_resizeOur personal relationship histories and how we make meaning is fundamental. Daniel J. Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA school of medicine and says that “…in these ways, history and present context shape whichever “self” is organized in the moment. As relationship experiences are repeated, these “self-states” become repeatedly engrained and develop their own histories and patterns of activity across time.”[i] It is our contention that all of our “self-states” (parts) plus a Self (the internal spark of the Divine) are what ultimately constitutes a human being.


Like particle systems, The Faces We Live are Systems Too

bigstock-Surreal-Cubist-Eyes-And-Faces-7736887 (1) “Like particle systems, our selves are partially integrated systems of subselves that still from time to time assert their own identities.” Danah Zohar

What would it look like to have a ‘subself” or ‘part’ assert its own identity?

For an example, you have a part of yourself that is fiercely independent and loves privacy. Unexpectedly, you are faced with a failing elderly parent who needs you to care for them.

Having exhausted all possible alternatives, the situation falls solely on your shoulders alone.


The Quantum Self


“Faith” is a fine invention When Gentlemen can see, But Microscopes are prudent In an Emergency.” — Emily Dickinson


A variety of social, psychological and theological disciplines attempt to describe human nature and/or the fundamental consciousness of individuals.

In these next few blogs, as I struggle to find alternative ways to describe The Many Faces We Live and the importance of knowing our internal selves, I will address this topic from features as seen through the lens of quantum physics. In particular, insights gleaned from the work of The Quantum Self by Danah Zohar.

First, however, a disclaimer; it’s not so much that I understand quantum physics-are you kidding me-as it is that I sort of intuit some of its overall purposed landscape.

For example, in describing matter, some theories in quantum physics, point to the wave-particle duality, which states, “…that both the wavelike and the particlelike aspects of being must be considered when trying to understand the nature of things…”[1]



Storyteller gourd art

When Jeanette and I first saw the Storyteller Gourd while attending a conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico we knew it was the perfect image to depict the vast internal family or parts that make up each and every human being. The following Blog Series will incorporate excerpts from our unpublished book entitled THE STORY TELLERWITHIN: with FASTFEET and LITTLE FINGERS .

In the last decade there is confirmation of a movement toward understanding and appreciating cultural and epistemological diversity. This movement and appreciation for diversity is increasing in our educational, health, and religious institutions. Ecologically we are becoming aware of the necessity to understand and protect bio/ecological diversity. Have we researchers, however, spent enough time reflecting on the diversity of the human being itself, psychically, intrapsychically and interpersonally? This diversity lends itself not only to a multiplicity of being and of relating, but also is a fertile source of creativity and insight.


“I don’t know what got into me”



There is no such thing as a single human being, pure and simple, unmixed with other human beings. Personality is a world in himself, a company of many. That self … is a composite structure … formed out of countless, never-ending influences and exchanges between others and ourselves. These other persons are in fact, therefore, part of ourselves … we are members of one another.” Dr. Joan Riviere

Have you ever had the experience of doing or saying something then found yourself saying, “I don’t know what got into me?”
Most everyone I know has answered this question in the affirmative. This kind of common experiences is precisely what this blog site, The Faces We Live, is about.
We humans are not made up of one singular self, but many selves, which change according to the person and/or circumstances which they face.

It’s Finished, It’s Finished!

bigstock-Surreal-Cubist-Eyes-And-Faces-7736887_resizeIt’s finished, it’s finished! It seemed posting excerpts from my book, Ragdoll Redeemed: Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe would never end. My reason for blogging these excerpt’s was to bide time to decide if I wanted to continue writing. Despite the fact that I have two published books I do not consider myself a writer and since writing is quite difficult for me it is not a task that I take pleasure in or am remain committed.

On the other hand, I am totally committed to the initial purpose of my blog which was an opportunity to talk about the many faces we live. I ended my book (last blog) by referring too many of my personal parts/faces.



Sblog book coverhe was a famous movie star, yet she craved a sort of redemption, longing for recognition and admiration from those who had ignored her in her childhood. I hope that wherever Marilyn now rests, she knows that her redemption lives on in the adulation of millions who are still mesmerized by her brief life in this world. Shimmering like a candle in the wind; a candle that made life shine brighter for so many. I believe that the fundamental essence of Marilyn, of all of us, is neither created nor destroyed, but exists in timelessness, forever tethered to the mystery of God.  I believe that the essence of the many selves that Marilyn, Joey, and I lived remains  woven together like a tapestry. Despite Marilyn’s demons, her contribution to the tapestry of life is legendary. Joey, at fifty-seven, also surrendered to an isolated life and premature death, facilitated by booze and pills. Yet his legacy lives on in the daughters that he adopted and who became such a source of joy to Joey’s father, Joe Sr. Joey exposed me to a whole new world of possibilities, for which I will be forever grateful. I can only hope that the threads of my life will extend far and wide and add to the beauty of this unfolding tapestry. We cannot help but leave indelible footprints on the hearts of those who have loved us. I pray that my own lingering footprints will rest lightly. My longed-for redemption never came in any of the ways that I had imagined it would. Not one of those relationships with others that I thought might redeem me ever fulfilled that craving in the depth of my soul. Yet, somehow—through the patching and weaving together of all these lives—it has been done. I look into a mirror, into my own eyes, and see that redemption has come. I live and thrive encircled in the certainty  that I am completely and unconditionally redeemed. Curiously,this redeemed state of soul has not erased all my frailties and weaknesses. I am still as imperfect a human being as it is possible to be, but with one extraordinary change: I now see, that after all my desperate pursuits of a“pardon” from life, it has been in coming home to myself and rejoicing in the diversity of me that I am redeemed. Finally, I know that the many-sided prism that I have come to recognize in my self is the totality of the me I was intended to be. Today, I see that through all the years and all there relationships and all the parts I’ve played and roles I’ve filled, I am still the “ragamuffin”who loves simple, filling, cheapfoods like mashed potatoes with mounds of butter and a glass of cold milk. But I am a rich ragamuffin—rich in the horrors and the blessings that have been the mold from which I have been formed. Even now, as I finish this story of my quest for acceptance and redemption, Mary sits just a few feet away, holding out her arms in a gesture that invites me to surrender my self in to her love, just as Grandma used to do during her nightly prayer ritual. The light is caught in the prisms of the glass beads of my grandma’s rosary where it hangs, draped around Mary’s neck. I love them—the rosary, the statue, and Grandmother’s memory. And I love red lipstick and cleavage, even though cancer left me with only one breast to push up and show off. Broken ragdoll, patched and finally loved by me, I am—Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!—truly redeemed at last.


The Many Faces of a Ragdoll Redeemed

grandma & dawn 8Many years have passed since Grandmother left us. I now have my own prayer table. The Mary statue graces the center of my own “altar.” Her original, beautiful colors have faded, and she has been broken and reglued more times than I can count.  She is discolored, disfigured, and just plain old. But she has not lost any of the power Mary-Picture_0011my grandmother’s nightly prayers instilled in her to perform miracles, hear  prayers, and empower a believer with holy energy. Every time I look at her I feel the bountiful endowment of God’s grace, the myriad of unending prayers. Some of sorrow and others  of comfort, peace and gratitude, poured out before her presence by my grandmother. One day, when I pass on, perhaps this humble and rather pitiful-appearing treasure will end up in a heap in some obscure place, but the comfort that her presence has bestowed  on the young and old can never be diminished.