My Journey

My Journey Away From Faith: The Epilogue: Part 3

For part 2 of the epilogue, click here.
To start at the beginning of my journey, click here.

The idea of seeking a diagnosis scared me to death. My family had been anti-psychiatry both for religious as well as personal reasons. The featured image today is the mental asylum in Missouri where my great-great uncle spent the vast majority of his life. My great-great uncle was said to be a loner, he despised other people, was prone to emotional outbursts, suffered from learning disabilities and had a strange gait to his walk; all of these point to him also being autistic but at the time he was simply labeled as insane and locked away remainder of his years. My grandfather loved his uncle and so any talk of mental health was shunned in my family for many years. Psychiatrists were evil men who were bent on sending good people to horrific asylums, where who knows what might take place.

So with all of that in mind, I was perfectly happy being self-diagnosed. My wife however continued to encourage me to seek a diagnosis, she didn’t try to force me into it, but attempted to show me how a diagnosis might help me and in helping me I might be able to help others like myself and my nephew. My nephew had no idea that I self-diagnosed, to him I was his cool uncle but also in his mind I was another neurotypical person who had no idea what his struggles were like. I thought to myself that by seeking a diagnosis I could be a better role model to my nephew, showing him that autism doesn’t have to be the limiting force that many people try to portray it as.

Throughout life I had always considered myself a failure.

Throughout life I had always considered myself a failure. I failed to make friends in school, failed to understand subjects that I had no interest in, failed to hold down a job for many years, failed to sustain a healthy marriage, failed as a minister; my whole life had seemed to be paved with one failure after another. For many years I felt as if I was born on the wrong planet, or that maybe I was mentally handicapped and everyone else could see it but me. Once I began researching autism, all of that went out the window.

I wasn’t a failure, I simply hadn’t recognized my shortcomings and my capabilities. I realized that I wasn’t actually a failed human being but was actually a fairly successful one, who happened to be an Aspie, that just hadn’t found my way in life yet. I graduated from college and found a great job as an accountant. I also believe that my autism is what makes me so well suited for that role. I can spot issues in patterns of numbers that others might not see right away. If something seems off, I will be the first to question it, while other people might stay quiet. I found my way and through finding my way I thought I might make a good example for my nephew of what someone with autism can achieve.

I found my way and through finding my way I thought I might make a good example for my nephew of what someone with autism can achieve.

So after several months of gentle prodding, I agreed to see a local psychiatrist. While my wife was happy that I was taking this step, I however was horrified.  I thought of my great-great uncle, I worried that something like that might happen to me. I worried that maybe I was wrong and that all of my research had simply been a form of confirmation bias, or looking for the facts that fit your opinion. In my mind I knew that this wasn’t the case but the worries were still there.

The night before my appointment, my wife and I decided to list everything that I could think of about the struggles that I had faced in life. My handwriting is horrible so I dictated everything to my wife as she wrote it all down in a notebook. In the end we had come up with nearly 4 paged worth of information, starting from early childhood, through adolescence, the teenage years, early adult life and my current mindset and issues. I went to bed confident that I was prepared and ready to face this fear.

The next morning I awoke and spent the morning having a horrible anxiety attack.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe, my stomach cramped in pain, my head ached and the world spun. I told my wife that I no longer wanted to go to the appointment. She assured me that everything would be fine and explained what was going to happen that day. She said I would just be meeting the psychiatrist and talking for a bit. I began to calm down after I got to work, the appointment was during my lunch break and I had plenty to keep me busy that morning. Lunch arrived and I drove home to pick up my wife, we then drove to the local clinic and I had my wife check me in because my anxiety was beginning to build again.

psychiatrist couchA few moments later, the psychiatrist came out and called us into her office. I sat down on her couch and she sat in a chair a few feet away. She asked, “So what brings you to my office today?” I immediately began to cry…

Pulling myself together I described my nephew and how I saw many things similar between him and I. After that I went into detail about all of the things that I had written down in my notebook. Told her how hard I struggle with social situations and how eye contact is nearly impossible. I described my childhood, schooling, adult life and all things in between.

She paused for a moment…

“If I were to give my professional opinion, I would say you show all the signs of Asperger’s, or what’s known as high-functioning autism today.” She then went on to say that autism was not her specialty and adult autism was even harder to diagnose. She said that she only knew of one psychologist in the area who was trained and specializes in adult autism and diagnosis. He had a very long waiting list, but if I wanted she would refer me and see about getting me an appointment with his office. I agreed that it was something I desperately wanted to do, so she gave me a referral and told me that his office would contact me.

That was the last thing I heard for nearly two months. I am not a patient man and constantly I would ask my wife, “Why is this taking so long?” Eventually I had annoyed her long enough that she called and asked what the wait was about, turns out I needed to sign some paperwork in order for the referral to go through. I signed the paperwork, left the office and a few days later was contacted by his office. The e-mailed me even more paperwork to fill out which I did as quickly as possible. After e-mailing back that paperwork I went back to waiting. Nearly two weeks later, the office called me to schedule an appointment. Finally the date was set and my anxiety once again hit in full force.

To continue on to part 4, click here.

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Wednesday Woo

Wednesday Woo #4: Quantum Woo

For last weeks Wednesday Woo, click here.

“What one man calls God, another calls the laws of physics.”

Nikola Tesla

Quantum mechanics has shown us an entirely different and counter-intuitive physical world that can be conflated into the wildest ideas by those who speculate and misconstrue its findings. There is the variety of folks who claim that it is proof of god, since its spooky action seems almost like what is described in their religious books.

Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.”

This idea is even offered in quote mines from the founding fathers of this branch of physics:

Waren Heisenberg: “After the conversations about Indian philosophy, some of the ideas of Quantum Physics that had seemed so crazy suddenly made much more sense.”

Erwin Schrodinger: “This life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of this entire existence, but in a certain sense the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear; tat tvam asi, this is you. Or, again, in such words as “I am in the east and the west, I am above and below, I am this entire world.”

While this seems like great proof for the idea that the ancient ideas of reality have been revealed through quantum mechanics, it’s nothing more than wishful thinking. It’s true that some of the great minds who made discoveries in this field of science were familiar with the ancient texts of the vedas, as well as the bible, but this doesn’t mean their discoveries proved them. There also tends to be no real way of conveying the message of these scientific phenomena to the masses without taking a romantic and familiar approach. Granted, some of them may have followed such magical thinking, while some did not. Einstein expressed himself with the romantic antics of the spiritual, while maintaining a form of deism – which lacks a personal god.

Some of them actually seemed to have a god belief, like Werner Heisenberg, who claimed, “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”

There is also Erwin Schroedinger, who in the spirit of the Vedas expressed, “In itself, the insight is not new. The earliest records, to my knowledge date back some 2500 years or more… the recognition ATMAN = BRAHMAN (the personal self equals the omnipresent, all-comprehending eternal self) was in Indian thought considered, far from being blasphemous, to represent the quintessence of deepest insight into the happenings of the world.”

One thing that must be considered when going through all of these quotes and ideas of quantum mechanics is that not all of those who study physics are theists. Victor Stenger , a renowned particle physicist and author, is atheist, as are Sean Michael Carroll, and Lawrence Krauss. So which is it? Natural science proves god, or doesn’t it? If it truly proved the god-claim, surely all of those who gain an understanding of it would alter their belief accordingly. It just goes to show that mere quotes are not real evidence of anything. It also demonstrates that even when a scientist thinks they have proven the mystical realm, further experimenting may reveal they have not.

“So which is it? Natural science proves god, or doesn’t it?”

Since the double-slit experiment has made it into the mainstream era of spiritualism, it has been attached to the claim that the “non-duality” function of particles shows the yin-yang attributes of reality, and that the physical world is guided by consciousness because particles seem to change when observed. Some will even go so far as to say that reality simply doesn’t exist at all. Therefore, magic is real, and we are merely consciousness experiencing itself. We = god, right? Not exactly…

Experiments at the quantum level behave differently because they are being done at an atomic and subatomic level. It’s difficult to imagine such a world on our much larger scale, simply because our perspective differs. If we were 2 dimensional beings, it would be quite strange to experiment with a 3D world. Such is the same with the realm of the very small. Although, there have been experiments created that demonstrate what occurs at the quantum level for us to see.

As was demonstrated above, the actions at the quantum level do not prove that reality doesn’t exist. The moon is still revolving around the earth, even when you’re not looking.

Now to get to this “observer” phenomenon. An observer, as defined by quantum physics, differs from the layman idea of observation; much like the definition of the word “theory” differs from how we utilize it in daily life. An observer in physics is what interacts with the particles in an effort to find measurements and obtain data. Since the quantum world is much, MUCH smaller than what we are accustomed to interacting with, any measurement of it can interfere with behaviors seen. It has nothing to do with consciousness, since it can be seen occurring even without a conscious, human observer.

So how about that duality function of particles, eh? It’s rather funny, since I know a bit about duality in terms of its spiritual connotations. According to woo-woo, duality is an illusion caused by ego: the I -vs- other dynamic. In the philosophy, the “I” doesn’t exist, and all that exists is “One”.  I’m not sure how the particle-wave duality has anything to do with this other than the label “duality”. I am sure there are people who will stretch their logical faculties pretty far to make the connection, but in truth, there is none.

Why would the spiritual woo-woo and god-botherers claim that science proves consciousness is magic? For one, it fills up their community with credulous believers who will fall for any sort of claim they make. Such communities make for great sales, since word-of-mouth recommendations travel faster than the speed of any debunking. Do a quick google search for quantum healing, and you will be flooded with everything from magic jewelry to reiki. Apparently this is a very lucrative prospect. Check out the nano wand from China.

Wand

There was a stretch of time were I believed that quantum mechanics was some sort of proof that our reality is directly connected to consciousness and god. In fact, it took me a while to come out of this ideology. It wasn’t until I became open-minded to being wrong about these notions that I found the truth: I was being lied to. I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker – posting the Werner Heisenberg quote about finding god at the bottom of the glass of science over and over again. It was not fun to set aside my ideas about reality, but once I discovered I was wrong, and opened myself up to new evidence, I found much relief and wonder in the truth. I began watching a youtube channel called “Martymer81” where I found a skeptic who truly challenged my thoughts on this subject. I started researching things he said, and reading books from credited physicists like Lawrence Krauss and Stephen Hawking. Come to find out, I was dead wrong when it came to this subject. I had abused physics, used it, and conflated it all because I wanted to find comfort in a reality that seemed confusing, cold, and too rational. But since then, I have discovered the rational world to be one of curiosity as opposed to coldness. There’s so much more to find in science, and to close the door on that for a belief in woo or god is the ultimate closed-minded prospect. If all explanations point to the divine, then what is left to be curious about?

Here’s Martymer81’s take on quantum physics abuse. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.