Contents — Oberlin College Psychology Dept.
Life at ChaosFarm continues to be delightfully disconnected from the COVID-19 world beyond the end of its lane. With all the sunshine that goes with the solar transit point having passed 64 degrees, the world seems to be only a little mixed up.
Spring has been fighting its way to the fore with a series of violent windstorms. Sure, the robins are fat and out in force despite the unseasonably cold weather. The same is true for cardinals and blue jays. Fortunately, that disgusting invasive pestilence, the English sparrow, has remained out of sight. After having wiped out most native songbirds, Britain’s most despicable export has been inconspicuous recently. Don’t worry. They are far too tenacious to go away.
A much more respectable invasive bird is the Canada goose. They are intelligent and quite stately to look at. These creatures appear to be avoiding ChaosFarm, much-preferring golf courses, and the town hospital. These once reclusive birds have almost become pets, or pests, depending on your point of view. Some people believe that Canadian geese are now congregating at the hospital because they all left Canada seeking better veterinary care.
When JD was a child, the idea of ever seeing a Canadian goose was unthinkable. Interestingly, these birds do not migrate instinctively but learn migration from their parents. They are happy to stay near home, regardless of the weather, if that is what their parents are doing.
Squirrel appearances and behavior have been pretty consistent over the years, including their penchant for intentionally running into the paths of oncoming cars. They are not doing that right now, as that behavior appears in the Fall. When they sense Winter is coming, they become frantic and careless as they scurry to stockpile Winter food.
This morning while JD was still in bed, he looked out the farmhouse window and saw a lone squirrel sitting on a limb next to its nest. It is a frigid but sunny morning, so the squirrel appeared to be taking advantage of the warmth. The squirrel stayed in the same place for a half-hour, continuously scratching itself for the entire time. Perhaps the creature was in bad health since squirrels usually never stay in one place very long.
Buzzards, buzzards everywhere
Buzzards were never seen around ChaosFarm years ago, but well over a dozen of them have set up residence in the woods beside the south pasture. They fly in strange ways that take advantage of their five-foot wingspans.
Sometimes they climb to higher altitudes and glide effortlessly over the land in disorganized groups. At other times they drop down to the treetop level and fly in bigger, tighter groups. Under these flying conditions, they have to flap their wings constantly to avoid hitting the treetops.
When a buzzard decides to land in a tree, he “puts his flaps down” and glides to the desired branch. On final approach, the underside of the buzzard’s wing changes from black to light gray and almost glows in the sunlight. The photo shows the top and bottom of a more than foot-long buzzard wing feather found in the south pasture. This is only a piece of one wing of one of these large birds.
JD developed some bad vibes about the psychology department As an undergrad at Oberlin because of what they were doing. The department loved the ideas of Sigmund Freud, aka “Siggie the Sextrovert.” Freud’s sex-centric view of the world just didn’t quite square with the observable world.
The department had an obsessive interest in studying the behavior of rats in an electrified maze. The professor could shock the rats under various conditions to see their reactions. These experiments came to be known as “running rats.” For all we know, they were doing correlation studies between the amperage in the shock and the decibels in the rat’s yelp. None of this seemed attractive to JD.
If psychology was all about shocking rats, what was the point? In the course of all this, the rat torturing lady professor vaporized in the middle of a semester. She gave no explanation for walking off the job without notice and could not be located. Other professors grudgingly filled in for the vagrant professor for the rest of the semester.
JD was further put off by the professor’s surname being the name of a well-known chain saw brand. Professorial disappearance was additional evidence to JD that something about the Psych Department was just plain nuts.
Psychology’s amazing vindication
Sometime after escaping from “running rats,” JD met a charming lady psychologist who was into using the Myers-Briggs concepts to help people understand other people better. JD thought that the best way to impress her would be to learn the Myers-Briggs concepts himself. This flawed plan went nowhere because the lady involved turned out to be a lesbian.
All was not lost because JD not only became qualified in the M-B concepts but additionally began learning the ideas of Carl Jung that were the M-B concept’s foundation. Jung’s thinking made a lot more sense than did electrically shocking rats in mazes.
As JD delved into this topic, he was surprised to learn that Isabel Briggs Myers’s effort to make Jung’s ideas available to the average person was not appreciated by Jung, to put it mildly. What Isabel had done was to shave the top layer off of Jung’s psychoanalytic model and pretend for simplicity that the top layer did not connect to the rest of the model.
Jung’s anger at treating his ideas this way was because his psychoanalytic model was tightly interconnected. Its use by untrained people could create quite a mess. Parlor games that speculated on the personality architecture of others could open doors to horrors that a social gathering could not handle. He was right.
The insights gained from this experience have allowed JD to have insights into the crazy behavior of the Oberlin College Board of Trustees. Understanding this behavior is a pre-requisite to formulating a plan for fixing it. Coming up with such a program is vastly more complicated than observing what is wrong.
Understanding the unrelentingly compulsive behavior of the BOT will be the topic for another post.