A conclusion we share — psychiatrist Martin Greenwald on loss and gratitude — and my comment about purported wisdom's short reach

© 2024 Peter Free


11 January 2024



In my late seventies


I wonder whether I have anything to impart to someone young.


Probably not.


Wisdom — more humbly called, perspective — does not sprout, unless earned the hard way.


And even then, given its narrow and paradoxical scope, it is of arguably questionable philosophical and guiding value.



Recently, psychiatrist Martin Greenwald . . .


. . . summarized his conclusion, regarding virtually the same topic — here, in excerpts:



I’ve been thinking about how I would respond if, in some hypothetical future non-psychiatric job interview, I were asked, “What have you learned in your time as a psychiatrist?”


[T]he hard truth is that there is often precious little one can do when the universe decides to crush you.


Loss is real, tragedy is real, unmitigated disaster is real, and no amount of rationalization, or anything else, can prevent it or make it go away.


Authentic compassion and love are only possible when the reality of loss is acknowledged and felt.


It is the possibility of genuine loss that opens the door to genuine gratitude.


One can’t be a a real person without having experienced some kind of genuine loss.


© 2024 Martin Greenwald, What Psychiatry Has Taught Me — A Reflection on Loss, socraticpsychiatrist.substack.com (09 January 2024)



True enough.


I said so — when I wrote a friend the same thing, months ago, during one of his own life's fragility reminders.



The moral? — Not much, is it?


Be squashed and grateful for the squashing?


Be thankful, ostensibly because only those who have been crushed, have a hope of appreciating the value of Life's painful paradox about meaning.


Notice, though, that this appreciation of gratitude depends upon being only partially squished and degutted.


Ergo, one might deduce that there are:



Proportionately many not-zapped humans, who consequently don't know or understand much, according to Greenwald and me.


Another reasonably large group that has been too dismembered (so to speak) to realize anything.


And last, a population of semi-squashed beings, who purport to perceive some value in all of this.



Thus, we see that wisdom — for instance, here regarding the importance of compassion and gratitude — shares itself only among a more or less randomly chosen group of experiencers.


Furthermore, almost certainly, wisdom shares itself only among those similarly inclined. Which means that most of the time, we are speaking and emoting past each other.


In a word, chaos.


And no universals.



Except for those we make up.


And then, indiscriminately insist that they apply to everyone.


Even to those who have no experiential and cultural base to appreciate their purported pertinence.



Perhaps it is Chaos, alone, that is Universal.


Imagine how helpful that supposed insight will be to our grandchildren.


The only thing that I have to marginally pass on, is a sense of dark humor.