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Men’s Rehabilitation Therapy Thesis

Men’s Rehabilitation Therapy Thesis

We’ve come into a dynamic and challenging era in the new age of Gender in the United States. As sexual equity has increased, creating more egalitarian opportunities for both men and women. The challenges of sexual fluidity, the marginalized intersex community and the cohesive definition of gender remain as frontiers to be mastered. This challenge is prevalent in our lives as it determines our proclivities, anxieties and coping mechanisms in our most basic Belonging Needs as outlined in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. As a man navigating gender equity and my role as well as future as a holder of the XY chromosome, I’d like to ensure I can understand how I fit and pass that on to my own offspring if I am ever so fortunate to bear any. As a rehabilitation counselor, privileged to be a sexually fluid, cisgender masculine identifying male, I’d like to expand my practice to specialize in men’s rehabilitation. I feel my Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling; my work experience in counseling; and my strong network into both the straight and LGBT male communities provide me a demographic from which I can both gather and provide transformative data. As well, I feel my Bachelor of Art in language; my art studio; and my professional experience in both fitness and modeling; can help me form effective experimental designs as well as therapies to assist men in navigating, mastering and finding satisfaction in both their male sexuality, orientation and gender identity. In a Ph. D program, I’d like to pursue the hypothesis:

Through art, drama and sex therapies focused on photography, modeling and role play, men can be cognitively, psychiatrically, physically and sexually rehabilitated in the effect of reducing homophobia, sexist anti-female bias, sexual dysfunctions, body dysmorphia and general antisocial personality disorder related behaviors. I’d like to pursue this using conventional, boudoir, physique and Avant Garde film and photography to produce “process film and images” in which the client (a male), counselor (myself) and the surrogate (art viewer) can use CBT, appreciative inquiry and motivational interviewing to achieve both internal and external results of self-improvement accordant to gender and sex egalitarian goals as depicted through the performance of visualizations.

To properly discuss male rehabilitation with the challenges of our new era of sex and gender freedom and transitions, we need to ask and define what the terms of the conversation mean. Many terms on the tables that have grown out of Feminist and LGBT discourse have been under attack and not objectively analyzed. And as a result, the core technology we use in this discussion to improve society—language—has become convoluted. Complicated questions have arisen like, “What’s the difference between unisex vs gender neutral?”; “Does toxic masculinity mean masculinity is toxic?”; “Isn’t feminism only for white women?”; “How is a masculinism movement not inherently misogynistic?” etc. Because of cultural and policy factors of the USA like abstinence only until marriage education (AOUM), inadequate sexuality education for students with disabilities, etc. education on the basic terms of sex and gender are too much of a dire risk for the public and professional world assume (Fine, 2006, p.307-308).

Because the conversation is so sophisticated, before we fully engage we all have to scale back our questions to more simple elementary basics that we thought we knew, but are actually more complex, like, What is sex? What is sexuality? What is gender? What is orientation? I’ll initially explore these terms and as the paper unfolds, I’ll explain and apply other terms as they arise in an analysis of my hypothesis.

What is Sex?

Sex is both noun and verb. While it can apply to action that incudes procreation, it also serves as mechanism of stress relief, social bonding, reconciliation, trust building, performance and even business. However, as a noun it classifies how we are born from our mothers and our genital descent. The sexual types are not just male or female, but usually termed intersex: hermaphrodite (herm), male hermaphrodite (merm) and female hermaphrodite (ferm). Intersex hermaphrodites usually have sexual organs and features solidly in the middle. Intersex male hermaphrodites present as male, but internally have female organs. And Intersex female hermaphrodites present as female although their internal equipment is male. In more medical language, the varieties of intersex are congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) and especially rare, 5-alpha-reductase deficiency (5ARD). However, when we look at forms, we are only offered “male” or “female” (our sex). There are never any squares with “male, merm, herm, ferm and female” nor forms with “XX, CAH, AIS, 5ARD, XY”. As a public, we are ill-informed and our understanding of the varieties in which we humans naturally (without human tinkering) occur is quite low and tend to be restricted to limited segments of the medical community.

So, when it comes to the public, the proliferation of both non-information and misinformation forces the public to confuse sex with gender and restricts our discourse on both gender and sexuality. Gender identity discussions become even more convoluted when “cisgender” discussions tend to be heteronormative and focus on male vs female, while discussing the intersex minority remains taboo if not marginalized. When people explore more common non-traditional sexuality and gender realities like transgenderism or transsexualism, the common focuses are male-to-female (MTF) or female-to-male (FTM) dynamics. It is virtually never that you see male-to-intersex (MTI) or female-to-Intersex (FTI) procedures nor patients who seek it specifically as a goal. When people discuss cisgender privilege or how case documents should have “male”, “female”, “transgender”, it often is a faux pas of heteronormative privilege. In a culture of pathological binary thinking, the intersex-positive stance can revolutionize and reenergize discussions between the sexes and balance some of the arguments of the transgender/ transsexual movement. Transitioning sex to either male or female is a privilege for anyone of a cisgender birth, while born Intersexual individuals never had the opportunity to choose formal identifiers of “male”, “female” and especially their birthright term: “intersex”.

Sexual Physiology continuum

What is Gender?

Oftentimes when discussing human sexuality and gender, controversy ensues because not are the two confused, but there is also a large degrees to which gender is non-biologically socially constructed and rooted in communication, art, language, etc. In order to succinctly understand it, the public must establish a valid definition of gender in order to meaningfully discuss it as well as govern it. Often in society we carry the misconception of gender based in Sex Role Theory (SRT) which “fosters the notion of a singular female or male personality, a notion that has been effectively disputed, and obscures the various forms of femininity and masculinity that women and men can and do demonstrate” (Courtenay, 2000, p. 1387). This essentially points out that the idea of gender is one we continue to conflate and confuse with sex. While SRT tries to convince us that sex and gender are not only binary, but they are synonymous as well. However, the research and science support that both physical sex as well as social gender are neither binary, yet both varied. However, Courtenay goes on to elaborate on a few ways gender works:

  • From a constructionist perspective, women and men think and act in the ways that they do not because of their role identities or psychological traits, but because of concepts about femininity and masculinity that they adopt from their culture. (Pleck et al., 1994a).
  • Gender is not two static categories, but rather “a set of socially constructed relationships which are produced and reproduced through people’s actions” (Gerson and Peiss, 1985, p. 327);
  • It is constructed by dynamic, dialectic relationships (Connell, 1995). Gender is “something that one does, and does recurrently, in interaction with others” (West and Zimmerman, 1987, p. 140; italics theirs);
  • It is achieved or demonstrated and is better understood as a verb than as a noun (Kaschak, 1992; Bohan, 1993; Crawford, 1995).
  • Most importantly, gender does not reside in the person, but rather in social transactions deemed as gendered (Bohan, 1993; Crawford, 1995).
  • Gender is viewed as a dynamic, social structure.
  • Gender is constructed from cultural and subjective meanings that constantly shift and vary, depending on the time and place (Kimmel, 1995).

For a physiological comprehensive answer definitive to both gender and sex, Trogrimson and Minson state:

“Accordingly, it is imperative that scientists and editors come to a consensus on these terms to alleviate any confusion in their usage. These words have specifically different etymologies and meanings. In the most basic sense, sex is biologically determined and gender is culturally determined. The noun sex includes the structural, functional, and behavioral characteristics of living things determined by sex chromosomes. Sex (noun) is derived from the Latin word “sexus,” meaning either of two divisions of organic nature distinguished as male or female, respectively (8). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, sex (noun) has a definition as “the sum of those differences in the structure and function of the reproductive organs on the ground of which beings are distinguished as male and female, and of the other physiological differences consequent on these; the class of phenomena with which these differences are concerned” (8). Gender can be thought of as the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex. Gender (noun) is derived from the Latin word “genus” referring to kind or race (8). Gender (noun) is defined as “a kind, sort, or class referring to the common sort of people” (8). It is through an understanding of these principal definitions that scientists can apply these terms in a specific manner to sex-based research.” (Trogrimson and Minson, 2005, p. 785).

Gender Socialization continuum

The reason for this clarification is rooted in a couple of deficiencies of the medical science community that were made apparent during the 1985 US Task Force on Women’s health that prompted the rise of sex-based research. The task force found:

  1. Until the 1990s many American trained physiologists had been unclear on the difference between sex and gender although information proliferates other fields: “Increasingly, researchers are becoming aware of the appropriate use of the terms sex vs. gender. Still, some scientists are vaguely aware that a distinction exists between these terms or that this difference is an important one.” (Trogrimson and Minson, 2005, p. 785).
  2. And the technical specifications of the medical establishment were configured to male health (the medical norm group was that of a 70kg male) at the expense of female health: “The prominence of research investigations using the established “norm” of a 70-kg man shaped an understanding of human biology that lacked information in regard to female specific biology, anatomy, pathology, and treatments for disease. As a result, in 1985 US federal government declared that women’s health care sciences were insufficient and prompted legal action towards “sex-based research” that has fundamentally changed modern American medical sciences.

What is Sexual Orientation and Fluidity?

Breaking down human behaviors into basic points of solid, semi-solid and fluid—like the physics of hydrogen bodies sex and gender vary across geography and time. All human behavior should be similarly varied and accordingly proper analysis between the sexes should show a relative fairness in distribution of both heterosexual and homosexual behaviors.

Evidence of human sexual and diversity exist it the “two-spirit” and “berdache” phenomena throughout indigenous North and South America; In both Europe and America, there not only is a controversial and vibrant LGBTQ culture, economy and politic, it stems out of ancient traditions as old as both Roman and Greek empires—traditions that even the modern churches still wrestle with today; Africa and the Middle East both exhibit historically demonstrate an organically occurring participation in gender and sex fluidity despite the prevalence of inhumane and prescriptive religious dogma. Although modernly prohibited, phenomena such as eunuchs have proliferated male dominated Middle Eastern cultures. And additionally, many indigenous African cultures featured matriarchal female leadership traditions’; And again in Central and Eastern Asia, sexuality although has often been formally cisgender and heterosexual, infomral agreements and market culture have lent themselves to vibrant and distinctive alternative sex cultures.

Despite the timeless information on the flexibility and relativity of human sexuality, modern sex culture tends to stay polarized in a variety of ways like sexual activity versus sexual inactivity; heterosexuality versus homosexuality; sex for profit versus sex for free; sex for meaning versus sex for pleasure. To answer what is sexual orientation and fluidity, we also have to ask what are all the social, psychological and physiological functions of sex as well. Fahs touches upon a variety of interesting qualities that include “performative sexuality” (Fahs, p. 433, 2009). In the context of bisexuality and its common erasure or marginalization as temporary, choice, or farce (Fahs, p.434). Which goes to say that “performative sexuality” can be demonstrated hypocritically to one’s identifying sexuality; it is mechanically achievable despite notions of attractiveness or preference; it is aesthetic; it is flexible. The definition is derived from Fahs, “performative bisexuality”:

“where women often deny the significance of same-sex encounters even while engaging in them, thus further challenging the meaning of bisexuality as a permanent or meaningful identity”.

In the context of women’s sexuality more readily adapts to cultural scripts and expectations and therefore indicates a plastic nature to human sexuality (Fahst, p.435). Feminist theory highlights the plasticity of human sexuality in the female context, but this also can be generalized to male as well. Although literature tends to focus solely on what sex is most inclined to “erotic plasticity” (Baumeister, p.133, 2004), the real indicators for objectively recognizing and universalizing the phenomena is to look at the conditions that facilitate orientation in not just women, but also men—which this paper aims to do.

From a sociological viewpoint, comparative studies of men’s vs women’s erotic plasticity in a time period and cultural context in which dominate the sociopolitical landscape seems Western-centric and predictably skewed. And as modernization touches upon the world, it is important that we consider factors like time, geography, politics, etc. to make any accurate statement regarding orientation as it relates to gender and behavior between the sexes. Then we also have to acknowledge our contemporary factors as they influence the sexual ideas and habits we classify as “normal” in order to maintain a scientifically informed idea of average orientation and sexual fluidity.

From survey analysis of scholarly articles, women tend to be a major focus for orientation studies. Many articles are written under the presumption of ambiguous orientation for women, often describing their behaviors with terms such as ‘bisexual”, “sexual fluidity”, “sexual plasticity” or “erotic plasticity”. However, a quick glance of male focused studies—which tend to be segregated by either gay/ homosexual or straight—use the term “situational homosexuality” (Anderson, p. 112, 2008). Other terms that arise are “heteroasculinity”, “heteromasculine currency”, “good cause (for homosexual behavior)”, “heterosexual social identity threat”, “masculine capital”, “inclusive masculinity”, “feminine coding”, “sexual object appropriation (gay or female for power)”, “queer sexism” (Anderson, p. 110-112, 2008). In this discussion of “orthodox masculinity” versus “inclusive masculinity”, we get to see a framework on how bisexuality and fluidity become negotiated and labeled—no remain unlabeled altogether.

Orthodox Masculinity

Men are sexually fluid however depending on their gender take different approaches. Orthodox masculine men will “slightly alter a traditional, sexist version of masculinity by inviting gay men to participate in their anti-feminine attitudes (Anderson, p. 111, 2008). They condone homosexual and bisexual activity and even group sex, but not feminine expression (queer sexism) nor activity that includes gay identified men, and must be without the admission of same-sex desire.

Inclusive Masculinity

On the inverse is inclusive masculinity which makes masculinity available to gay men and femininity available to straight men. What’s most interesting is how Anderson describes the not only non-toxic, but socially reparative effects of inclusive masculinity:

“These informants even celebrate the expression of femininity among men and stigmatize men who act in orthodox masculine ways. To these men, Carson is a source of pride. Thus, men exhibiting inclusive masculinity not only separate the hegemonic powers of sexuality and masculinity from heteromasculinity, but they contest the privileging of orthodox masculinity over inclusive masculinity and (to a lesser extent) the privileging of men over women” (.p111, 2008).
Inclusive masculinity men don’t require a heterosexual, conquest “good cause” motivation. Inclusively masculine orientation also sees various forms of homosexual contact (kissing, oral, masturbation) as compatible with heterosexual orientation.

From Anderson’s study, the frequency of same-sex behavior between both the orthodox masculine and inclusive masculine qualitative test groups was equal (p. 111). This reinforces that bisexuality is not unique strictly to the female population. In addition it means that men do navigate between the two polarities of orientation—homo and hetero. However the incidence of sexuality seems more frequent, varied and competitive than the women. This is suggested in the data that highlights the group sexual behaviors and the transactional logic of Orthodox masculine sexuality orientation (which is masculine currency weighed) as well as with Inclusive masculine sexual orientation (which is non-judgmental).

The Multitude of Masculinities

Finally gaining an understanding of male sexual fluidity fills in some of the gaps especially due to the sexist bias in medicine and sexology evident in the 1985 Women’s Healthy Taskforce and the lack of research on male, non-gay bisexuality. Away from the traditionally assumed categories of men—straight or gay (opposed to women’s straight, bisexual, lesbian), it can be now seen that masculinity for men is even more varied: straight, bisexual (orthodox masculine, inclusive masculine) and gay. Thanks to this deeper understanding of male sexual orientation, it can also be applied toward female studies as well, demonstrated in the following figure.

The figure displays an orientation continuum that accounts for gender currency as well as physical sexuality.

What is Men’s Rehabilitation Therapy?

After the analysis of Anderson regarding the structure of male sexuality ad gender, the heavy lifting of the said concepts constitutes the reconstruction of varied, socially sustainable masculinities. Anderson identifies Orthodox Masculinity that frames the male definition of sexual experience: transactional, competitive, prescriptive, hegemonic and misogynistic. The definition clearly facilitates an ambivalent male gender and sexuality, free of social accountability nor repercussions. It serves for exclusion and “them vs us” psychology. However, Inclusive Masculinity achieves the opposite as it is often unlabeled, gender-fluid and sex-fluid. But first we have to look and ask, just how is Orthodox Masculinity problematic and in need of reform? What are the major social challenges that we have now and how might the exacerbated or alleviated depending on the approach of masculinity?

In exploring gender and all its complexity, my personal interest and motivation is in male gender expression, sexuality and masculinity of men. Feminist Theory has posited a plethora of positive points and contributions towards the empowerment of women as well as the recruitment of feminism allies. It has also spurned motivation throughout LGBTQIA communities. However, as the knowledge unlocked from feminism has bettered society, it has also reverberated into producing negative effects: polarization of WASP men as well as paternalistic, female-negative men; the lack of minority men in nurturing positions; homophobia and marginalization of the sexuality of feminist male allies; male chauvinist MTF transgenderism; retaliatory insensitivity toward male children; and many other, seen but not heard social problems.

But through the conclusions of feminist theory—that gender is performed—I feel I can help the male world through the art therapy of modeling, performance and a safe space for the exhibition and artistic appreciation and eventually holistic rehabilitation of masculinity. Men’s Rehabilitation Therapy (MRT) takes on a restorative approach to negotiating masculinity and explores these areas which will be detailed later:

  • The Performance of Gender and Drama Therapy for Rehabilitation
  • Performance Catharsis and Body Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Differentiating between Fitness and Bigorexia
  • Gender Dysphoria versus Sex Dysmorphia

References

Anderson, E. (2008). “Being masculine is not about who you sleep with…:” heterosexual athletes contesting masculinity and the one-time rule of homosexuality. Sex roles, 58(1-2), 104-115.

Baumeister, R. F. (2004). Gender and erotic plasticity: Sociocultural influences on the sex drive. Sexual and relationship therapy, 19(2), 133-139.

Fisher, V., & Kinsey, S. (2014). Behind closed doors! Homosocial desire and the academic boys club. Gender in management: An international Journal, 29(1), 44-64.

Fahs, B. (2009). Compulsory bisexuality?: The challenges of modern sexual fluidity. Journal of Bisexuality, 9(3-4), 431-449.

Kiesling, S. F. (2005). Homosocial desire in men’s talk: Balancing and re-creating cultural discourses of masculinity. Language in Society, 34(5), 695-726.

Hickey-Moody, A. (2015). CARBON FIBRE MASCULINITY: disability and surfaces of homosociality. Angelaki, 20(1), 139-153.

Fine, M., & McClelland, S. (2006). Sexuality education and desire: Still missing after all these years. Harvard Educational Review, 76(3), 297-338.

Torgrimson, B. N., & Minson, C. T. (2005). Sex and gender: what is the difference? Journal of Applied Physiology 2005 99:3, 785-787.

Courtenay, W. H. (2000). Constructions of masculinity and their influence on men’s well-being: a theory of gender and health. Social science & medicine, 50(10), 1385-1401.

Nancy Krieger; Genders, sexes, and health: what are the connections—and why does it matter?, International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 32, Issue 4, 1 August 2003, Pages 652–657, https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyg156

Ernst, M. M., Liao, L. M., Baratz, A. B., & Sandberg, D. E. (2018). Disorders of Sex Development/Intersex: Gaps in Psychosocial Care for Children. Pediatrics, e20174045.

Griffiths, D. A. (2018). Shifting syndromes: Sex chromosome variations and intersex classifications. Social studies of science, 48(1), 125-148.

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Dysmorphia and Disability

ABSTRACT
This paper explores the relationship of identity on disability and employment. Age, race, congenital development and acquisition affect aspects of an individual’s self-image, esteem, efficacy and identity in relationship to their diagnosis and interaction with their social and physical environment. The paper will initially explore the definitions of self image and self-concept and then look at a series of sources that focus on varying studies that determine various characteristics and their effects in the professional world. I will also look at how–although largely prohibited by employment and constitutional discrimination laws prohibit it–workplace and job market politics and culture revolve around first impressions and influence rooted in identity.

Literature Review

1) Identity Formation:
Racial, sexual, spiritual, regional, legal (nationality), vocational and educational aspects of what makes a person and how disability affects that formation.

The study found that youth with disabilities experienced higher rates of suspension than those without. Particularly students with emotional disturbances experienced higher suspension rates across all demographics compared to their non-disabled counterparts. The rates increase too for learning disabilities and other health impairments. The article goes on to discuss how disabled students–particularly African-Americans are suspended at three times the rate of other students. Although the relevance of race to disability may seem a stretch to connect with image counseling, as an African-American consumer I’d like to make the connection between race and dysmorphia topics. I’ve another article that is related and all together I feel it will have cohesion under cognitive disability studies.

Krezmien, M. , Leone, P. , & Achilles, G. (2006). Suspension, race, and disability: Analysis of statewide practices and reporting. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 14(4), 217-226.

“This study looks at the patterns formed by race and disability in the context of educational suspension within the state of Maryland. This study looks at all Maryland public schools, drawing information from state-public records including special education services, suspensions and enrollment from 1995 to 2003. The population breakdown was racially 50.4% white, 37.9% African American, 6.4% Hispanic, 6% Asian American, .4% American Indian; gender was 51.3% boys, 48.7% girls; placement was 88% general education, 12% special education; academically 30% high school, 23.9% middle school, 43% elementary, 2.5% preschool. The categories of disability that were included focused on cognitive, psychiatric and developmental disabilities. The data was analyzed using SPSS calculating the number of suspensions per thousand students and number of students per thousand suspensions. Then calculations were by logistic regression model to examine disproportionate suspensions by race from 1995 to 2003. Then third, using the regression model again, suspension was analyzed by a combination of race and disability.”

Social Media Provides a Digital Mirror for Identity Formation
Allen, Sharee Nicole, “”Adolescents, Social Media, and the Use of Self-Portraiture in Identity Formation”” (2015). LMU/LLS Theses and Dissertations. Paper 150.
http://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/etd/150

“Timing in the therapeutic process is very important when giving a self-portrait
directive: too soon in treatment may cause an insecure adolescent to regress or to
misinterpret a self-image (Muri, 2007). One way to curb this regression is to promote
insight into the so-called social acting. There is a distinct power in projecting one’s
visual self, particularly in a group context. By doing this, individuals encourage their
online audience to know them via the friends they are depicted with, attempting to
generate an impression of them as socially desirable (Zhao et al. 2008)””

“The circulation of Selfies online can be a therapeutic act. There exists a distinct
advantage in projecting one’s visual self. Even when depicting our id in a published
photograph, we recognize what is damaged within us, and open ourselves up for honest
healing. Several participants in this study identify themselves within a group context, an
attempt to label the self by association. This approach may have similar advantages to
group therapy: the formation of and the client’s integration into a group identity based on
a common characteristic.
Posts that contain no image might serve different purposes. In these cases, the
validation of one’s ideas is being sought, and the poster is classified by his or her
thoughts. Participant’s attempts to interact solely via words have been met with some
resistance, reminding us of the power of the visual sphere.”””
Issuew of Dysmorphia of Gender Identity

Arlene Istar Lev LCSW, CASAC (2006) Disordering Gender Identity, Journal of
Psychology & Human Sexuality, 17:3-4, 35-69, DOI: 10.1300/J056v17n03_03″

41:”These diagnoses then influence repressive social policies and judicial decision-making that further institutionalize these bigoted and oppressive polices. Clinically the
question is raised whether the “deviance,” “conflict,” or “disorder” that
women, people of color, and sexual minorities have experienced are, in
fact, symptoms of a “dysfunction in the individual”–as the definition for
mental disorders in the DSM maintains is necessary for a diagnosis to
be made (APA, 2000, p. xxxi, emphasis mine)–or an adaptation to untenable
and abusive social and clinical paradigms.

51:””By stating that some
gendered behavior in children is pathological, the DSM establishes a
“fiction of natural gender” (Spade, 2003, p. 25), an assumption that
there is normal and abnormal ways to express, that creates a policing
and surveillance of correct gender behaviors in all children. Boys are,
however, more frequently referred for assessment of gender disorders
than are girls (Zucker & Bradley, 1995; Cohen-Kettenis et al., 2003)–
and therefore more likely to receive treatment. In all likelihood this is
because they are held to more rigid gender conformity in their dress and
mannerisms and their transgressions cause more social difficulties
(Rottnek, 1999). Although it is their atypical gender identity that has
been identified as the problem, it is possible that their distress is related
to the stigma of being different, indeed being referred to clinics and
professionals to treat these differences, rather than their actual gender
experiences or expressions (Lev, 2004).

54-55: “”This gatekeeping system reinforces the development of a false relationship
between therapist and client and some clinicians are developing
advocacy-based models that allow room for alternative “stories”
about cross-gender experience (see Cole et al., 2000; Bockting &
Coleman, 1992; Lev, 2004; Rachlin, 1997; Raj, 2002). These advocacy
models allow gender specialists to move out of a gatekeeping model of
assessment to a psychotherapeutic relationship that allows for a client’s
unique narrative and gender trajectory. These treatment philosophies
54 Sexual and Gender Diagnoses of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)
Downloaded by [SDSU San Diego State University] at 12:46 06 February 2016
and are based in a model of educated self-determination, where gender
variance is respected, and clinicians serve as advocates and educators,
as well as evaluators of mental health.”
Although teachcrs are trained, the general public response may be otherwise.”

 

2) Culture and Identity matching with career:
Looking at clients who have various language skills, cultural identities and knowledge and eve gender communities and their most emotionally and socially complimentary work environments.

3) Work-world Resilience of Identity Management:
Exploring social roles, discretion of disability, when to disclose, whom to disclose, etc.”
“Firstly, Weinberg’s “Expectations and performance” provides a very scientific understanding of how self-efficacy works. From his article and his goal of creating an empirical study on the internal psychological phenomenon, I was inspired to investigate what ways technology can be applied to manipulate and hone a consumer’s talent tapping needs. Self-motivation and empowerment are a basis for success for VR consumers and it’s great to know that Weinberg created a method in physically looking at how the self-talk can actually lead to advancement.
The qualitative, case study basis of the information gathered by the articles is especially helpful. Looking at how the individuals and their experiences in varying social contexts and in adversity like racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, etc, this assortment of articles brings a very helpful and broad view.

Adamson’s “Self-image, adolescence, and disability” definitely gives me framework on where interpretations could lead and underlying factors. I can definitely utilize the article on many general points although I think the socialized healthcare and welfare national context from which it comes creates results that may be very different than American references.

Levine’s “Denial and self-image” gives a great in depth look at acquired that also provides a great contrast to Adamson’s congenital disability focus. In addressing range it helps for my understanding how self-imaging processes differ developmentally. In line with the others, both Schieman’s “Age variations in personal agency and self-esteem” and Krezmien’s ”Suspension, race, and disability” provide me a better idea on the diversity of disability and its interaction with other characteristics. In helping consumers realize their potentials, knowing the interplay of other factors like sex and ethnicity provides a much more tailored and empathic repertoire.”

This article provides many correlative sources to understand how self-efficacy, self-esteem, health control in particular as items that contribute to self-identity and self-image can be adversely affected. How those adverse effects contribute to dysmorphia are integral to my thesis. I’d like to explore and break down how self-image works in a reverse engineering fashion in order to look at dysmorphia and its relationship with disability. Additionally in helping me accomplish that goal, this source provides me we reference on aging and ageism and its effects on self-image and dysmorphia.

Schieman, S., & Campbell, J. E. (2001). Age variations in personal agency and self-esteem: The context of physical disability.Journal of Aging and Health, 13(2), 155-85. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/215851694?accountid=13758

The article “Age variations in personal agency and self-esteem: The context of physical disability” gives an in depth analysis and a study focused on the social and psychological aspects of disability, positive self-identity, aging and disability. The study is conducted with a sample of 1,549 Canadians with and without disabilities in 1985. Its results conclude that older respondents reported lower scores at a percentage of 43% with reasons for lower health control rooted in physical impairments, global health, empathy and introspectiveness including more than half lower score reporting being rooted in low self-esteem. The article reinforces the social effects of aging on the self-esteem, efficacy and control over health. Integral are the comparison of the two views, “age as decline” a cognitive pattern associating loss of roles and physical function with aging, undermining social integration, potency, and the sense of self-worth. In opposition, “age as maturity” views older people as developing new capabilities to meet expectations and hardship.
“This results of the study reported that individuals generally marked high with due reason. The researchers provide two suggestions as to why: 1) earlier identity formation due to coping with easily discernable physical differences; 2) better socialization due to being exposed to persons outside of the home such as medical and educational staff. However those remain suggestions of the study because of contradictory evidence that was also gathered. The oldest and most mildly affected affected CP subject expressed a more negative self-image and the researchers suspect it had to do with internalizing non-self generated criticisms received elsewhere. This report is particularly helpful because of it’s focus on congenital disability. For non-cognitive, non-acquired disorders it gives a great example of the development of self image and the social context in which it occurs.”

Adamson, L. (2003). Self-image, adolescence, and disability. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 57(5), 578-581.

“The article takes a look at healthiness of self image among several students with cerebral palsy, three girls and four boys between the ages of 12 and 17 in sweden. The study utilized the “I think I am” personality inventory which is commonly used in general Swedish education in conjunction with transcribed interviews. The test is Likert based on a four point scale and express results in areas of physical characteristics, psychological well-being, skills and talents, relationships with family and relationships with others. Scores are expressed in integers in which high integers indicate a high self-image whereas negative indicate negative self-image. The participants were then interviewed with a semi-structured set of questions over a period of four months in a conversational format in order to properly assess the person’s thought pattern.”

“This article’s study found higher disparity scores on the questionnaire versus the adjective list, and higher on the now assessments versus the before assessments. A key quote on the conclusion of the study is that the findings “indicate mechanisms employed by individuals with major illnesses have more to do with denying their aspirations as gauged by the real-ideal-self-measure than with denying their real level of functioning.” The stroke patient group particularly rated lower than both the control group and the other patient groups regarding normal aspirations in order to achieve a sense of well-being. The studies indicate and reinforce that denial is a defense-mechanism that is critical for the survival of the seriously ill against susceptibility to frustration and despair. It gives a great amount of support in advocacy for people with disabilities’ vital need for self-image support for not just their real-self (physiological) but also their ideal-self (psycho-emotional) in order to be productive and satisfied.”

Levine, J., & Zigler, E. (1975). Denial and self-image in stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease patients. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 43(6), 751.

“In psychological and sports psychological writings ideas of self-confidence and self-efficacy are often reinforced as affecting a person’s performance. This article assesses Bandura’s 1977 theory of self-efficacy. He views “behavioral change as being mediated by a common cognitive mechanism, self-efficacy, which is defined as the strength of one’s conviction that he or she can successfully execute a behavior to produce a certain outcome”. Although the framework provides a means of conceptualizing, the article looks at a a study that set out to empirically gather data based upon Bandura’s self-efficacy theory. At the time of publication although Bandura’s ideas were supported, the scientific method of most of the studies suffered some error. The study is accomplished by looking at 30 male and 30 female students at North Texas State University who ranged from 18-24 years old. They were each randomly assigned to a high or low self-efficacy condition in a two by two by two, type of sex by type of self-efficacy by type of trial design. The experiment involved accomplishing a task of physical endurance. A trial was done to collect a baseline time for all participants. The participants then performed a task using the same muscles in another task on an isokinetic leg-strength machine. Subjects who reported low-self efficacy in the pre-test were then compared to those with high self-efficacy in the test and vise versa. Then they rigged the trial to be a competition in which one was a subject and the other was a confederate and the subject would lose. The experiment had two trials and culminates in the end with a post-experimental seven scale Likert questionnaire.”

“This results from the article state “Substantial performance differences accompanying the subjects’ changes in efficacy expectations”. This indicates that high-efficacy resulted in higher endurance rates whereas low-efficacy indicated lower. Subjects with high-efficacy demonstrated increased exertion after failure. Low-efficacy subjects decreased their efforts after failure. While the confirmation of Bandura’s self-efficacy theory is handy for my interest in Disability and Self-Image, the article introduced me to some new ideas that include the learned helplessness theory which is described as “organisms are aware of contingencies and noncontingencies in their environments and that an experience with noncontingency in one situation may cause an expectation of noncontingency in a subsequent situation”. Although the study concluded that helplessness theory wasn’t suited, it introduced the idea of “learned skepticism”. Even of more interest, because the study addressed gender as an attribute, commenting, “It is highly possible that the females in this investigation perceived ‘leg strength’ performance as male-oriented, thus demonstrating lower expectations and a higher frequency of negative self-talk than their male counterparts”. The conductors of the study also speculated that accordingly male participants may have “underreacted to failure” by attributing reasons elsewhere in spite of more affirmational statements.”

Weinberg, R. S., Gould, D., & Jackson, A. (1979). Expectations and performance: An empirical test of Bandura’s self-efficacy theory. Journal of sport psychology, 1(4), 320-331.

” In psychological and sports psychological writings ideas of self-confidence and self-efficacy are often reinforced as affecting a person’s performance. This article assesses Bandura’s 1977 theory of self-efficacy. He views “behavioral change as being mediated by a common cognitive mechanism, self-efficacy, which is defined as the strength of one’s conviction that he or she can successfully execute a behavior to produce a certain outcome”. Although the framework provides a means of conceptualizing, the article looks at a a study that set out to empirically gather data based upon Bandura’s self-efficacy theory. At the time of publication although Bandura’s ideas were supported, the scientific method of most of the studies suffered some error. The study is accomplished by looking at 30 male and 30 female students at North Texas State University who ranged from 18-24 years old. They were each randomly assigned to a high or low self-efficacy condition in a two by two by two, type of sex by type of self-efficacy by type of trial design. The experiment involved accomplishing a task of physical endurance. A trial was done to collect a baseline time for all participants. The participants then performed a task using the same muscles in another task on an isokinetic leg-strength machine. Subjects who reported low-self efficacy in the pre-test were then compared to those with high self-efficacy in the test and vise versa. Then they rigged the trial to be a competition in which one was a subject and the other was a confederate and the subject would lose. The experiment had two trials and culminates in the end with a post-experimental seven scale Likert questionnaire.”

Cooper, P. S. (1993). Self-esteem and facial attractiveness in learning disabled children. Child Study Journal, 23(2), 79-89.

Investigated the relationship between facial attractiveness (FA) and self-esteem (SE) in 55 diagnosed learning disabled children (aged 8–13 yrs). Ss were 11 female and 44 male students. Each S was orally administered the Children’s Self-Concept Scale and a total score for SE along with 6 cluster scores were obtained. Facial photographs were taken of Ss and rated by adults and same age peers. A significant positive relationship emerged between FA and SE, and a significant difference was found between adult and peer mean rating of FA. No significant difference, however, was found between correlations of adult rating and total SE to peer rating and total SE. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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X-Men as Vocational Rehabilitaiton Archetype

Marvel’s X-Men: A Literary Archetype for the VR Counseling Field

ABSTRACT

In the 1960s, Stan Lee and Marvel Comics premiered X-Men. The book was an enthralling narrative of people born with congenital or genetic characteristics that made them different from the rest of society at large. These differences–sometimes extraordinary powers, sometimes extraordinary disabilities were accordingly a pivot leading to either stigma or privilege. The story revolves around two major characters in the book who embody those philosophies leading people with the x-gene to master their mutation into action of privilege or stigma. Although the X-MEN is a pulp fantasy of a hopeful, industrial, post War America, its fanciful and socially relevant themes provide a model of guidance and exploration upon the themes of biological condition, adaptive technology, the mind and human potential, rehabilitation of weaknesses into strengths and the advocacy and self-identity of the minority in face of adversity from the majority. The book provides a rich framework for exploring Rehabilitation Counseling and an analysis of the human condition.

The Biological Condition: Mutation, the Perspectival Pivot of Ability and Inability,

and Adaptation.

Both Professor X and Magneto recruit and scout mutants (X-Men 1963). Those in dire need and those with exceptional capacity. Of course they both carry out the same work of providing counsel in their two very different ways, but they have to deal with similar underlying issues. First the reality that the human societies from which they are coming are harsh, judgmental and even in some cases have sent them into destructive behavior and self-loathing. The X-Men universe features groups of people who are committed to hating mutants like the Friends of Humanity (FOH) or eugenicist oriented politicians and governmental leaders like Graydon Creed who are hell bent on government programs to eliminate mutants, seeing them as a threat to “normal” people (X-Men ).

Second, after freeing them from the doldrums of despair and self-esteem and self-efficacy deficits–sometimes impossible due to psychiatric complications like in the cases of Sabertooth’s psychopathy or Mystique’s personality disorders–Professor X and Magneto spend an immense amount of time in retraining them to hone their condition into strengths. The series is filled with great cases studies such as Wolverine who suffers from PTSD after governmental experimentation and special ops and has bouts of bloodthirsty violence in addition to total estrangement. Then there’s Storm who has bouts of claustrophobia. Or Jean Grey–the highest ranking psychic mind after Professor X–whose empathic ability is susceptible to bipolar mania. Or even the professor himself who had to master himself, suffering the schizophrenic ailments of hearing voices and navigating it to find his own.

Adaptive Technology: Prosthetic Functions from Bionics to Fashion.

One of the earmarks of comics have always been the gaudy costumes and outlandish codenames and dual identities of the characters. However we forget that many comics were published in a hyper-nationalized, racialized and militarized era of propaganda and espionage. And the reality of that era included real-life spies and public figures who often even changed their histories and names. In our era of non-compromising personal identities and absolute individualism, the importance of costume and its power is often misunderstood. Fitting into Narrative Psychological Theory and also the Dramaturgy Sociological Theory the idea of context and role are penultimate. A large part of the ritual is… “related to the idea of role enactment is the concept of identity. Social identity is an effect of role enactment (Sarbin & Allen, 1968). Identities are social productions that reflect the social definition of an individual’s reality (Weigert, 1986). An individual’s identity changes to adjust to each new social situation. Dress becomes the vehicle that announces one’s identity to others in the same way that a policeman’s uniform announces his identity (Stone, 1962). ” (Miller 808)

In other words, clothes visually communicate about the person to their environment. In addition the clothes involve a role to be played, almost like the participants of a West African masquerade. Costumes require an according action and illicit an according reaction. So in X-Men comics, the costumes and alter egos empower the characters to enter a modality to carry out their vocations, vocations which display their mastery of their disability. In one study findings saw that clothing affected the psychology of the wearer. In the study “the findings support the significance of costume in role enactment, since the largest percentage of respondents perceived Halloween as a success and believed that they could play different roles when wearing a Halloween costume (45%); see Table 4. This finding suggests support for the contention as presented by Stone (1962) and Goffman (1959) that people cannot leave their usual roles without leaving their usual dress.”(Miller 813)

The power of costume marks not just our culture and national identity but also our functions and specializations, as indicated by Earnst Harms article in the American Journal of Psychology, “the most important social influence on dress is what we may call the element of “costume.” In the entire realm of dress this element of costume is what gives the general inclusive stamp, while it has as its opposite the tendency toward the differentiation of social ranks… Costume also includes the national characteristics of dress as well as the peculiarities of professional groups, of soldiers, of political groups and organizations. And costume also includes fashion” (Harms 243) The dynamic costumes of say, Cyclop’s TBI/ vision impairment adaptive headgear, Rogue’s body contact insular jumpsuit, Gambit’s fingerless gloves, Wolverine’s claw release vents, or even Professor Xavier’s telekinetic hover chair illustrate the need of ergonomic, adaptation tailored technology away from generically produced adaptive technology. In addition for matters of vocation and professionalism the detail of what group the clothing binds or disassociates is an important consideration especially in job interview, application and retention.

While the market offers stock options it has been apparent that fitted technology, considerate of individual physiologies increases ability. Even in the case of veterans “…the personal nature of disabilities in that each one was different depending on the injury to the veteran’s body. This required a customized approach to the prescription and provision of the prosthetic devices to be used by the veteran. Artificial limbs, orthotics, wheelchairs and other prosthetic devices didn’t lend themselves to bulk low-bid volume contracts as prosthetic devices had to be fabricated on a one-on-one basis.” (Downs 54-55) One of the most vibrant and typical examples of prosthetic limbs in X-Men is the war veteran Forge who has a cybernetic leg and arm. As fantastic as the idea sounds, it is the conceptual basis that essentially makes “disability” a pivot from acute inability to acute ability. A real-life example is Aimee Mullins.

Aimee Mullins, an infant paraplegic amputee, grew up mastering adaptation in accordance to the development of technology. And incredibly the pivot of disability allowed her the development of ability that made her bionic. Her journey out from human frailty ironically put her on a path of becoming more than human in some of her life aspects. Interacting with children in a presentation helped her realize… “that the conversation with society has changed profoundly… no longer… about overcoming deficiency. It’s a conversation about augmentation. . about potential. A prosthetic limb doesn’t represent the need to replace loss anymore. It can stand as a symbol that wearers have the power to create whatever it is that they want to create in that space. So people society once considered disabled can now become the architects of their own identities and indeed continue to change those identities by designing their bodies from a place of empowerment. What is exciting is that by combining cutting-edge technology robotics, bionics – with the age-old poetry, we are moving closer to understanding our collective humanity. If we want to discover the full potential in our humanity, we need to celebrate those heartbreaking strengths and those glorious disabilities we all have. It is our humanity and all the potential within it that makes us beautiful.” (Mullins 55).

This viewpoint of a malleable human potential could only be expressed by someone like Aimee Mullins who experienced the debilitating restrictions of physiological limitations and the virtually limitless freedom of physiological augmentation. It’s a viewpoint that is the basis of X-Men lore and the congenital disability metaphor of the mutant x-gene. Essentially Aimee Mullins addresses that the empty space of where a human being’s function has gone absent or has been replaced by vacancy, in that vacancy a new function, vocation or ability can occupy, accentuate, and accelerate that individual, their constituency and their environment.

The Mind and Potential

The Counseling Styles of Magneto and Professor X

Often compared to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X stand Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr (Max Eisenhardt). Better known as Professor X, Charles Xavier is born with a congenital condition of acute ESP that ironically manifested as a disabling condition in his youth. But as he resolved his difficulties with his condition, he realized his ability and mastered it into powers rather than debilitations. His political stance eventually solidified that as the series terms “mutant abilities” were not only a gift, but one that can serve to benefit humanity and “mutant-kind” mutually. Professor X grew up affluent and privileged and accommodated. On the converse is Magneto, Erik Lensher, his long-time colleague, yet political and philosophical opposite. Magneto’s stance is one of mutant supremacy. And although some mutations are debilitating, his view is that humanity is less advanced and mutants should have a more pivotal role in their own and civilization’s destiny. Magneto’s condition is a molecular structure that channels magnetic forces that he has mastered, effectively manipulating metal objects. His philosophy is harsh, yet an immediate result of surviving the Holocaust as a Jewish person.

The contrast between Magneto and Professor X border on the methods of Gestalt Theory versus Psychoanalytic theory. The notions of superiority of Magneto versus the notions of co-existence of Professor X mirror that of the Deaf community versus the hearing impaired. Within the range of people with disabilities the acknowledgement of in-group and outgroup cultural differences determines the cooperation we can achieve in helping solve one another’s problems. It essentially is the equation  of accommodation and the the realization that ability and inability are a spectrum in which disability is merely the downward lever for an often unacknowledged upward lever of pure ability or power.

Onslaught & Countertransference

Onslaught, X-Man #15 (May 1996) A very well written story arch that looks a countertransference manifestation that affect the Marvel universe called Onslaught–essentially a psychoprojection of Professor X’s unresolved transferences manifest in one catastrophic countertransference. The saga and it’s illustrations of interactions create a very detailed picture of a range of moods and brooding that illustrate the sarcasm, said doubt and general manipulative behavior that shouldn’t ever be the conduct of a counselor. But in the manifestation of the Onslaught countertransference monster, Professor X becomes unhinged, essentially affecting all of the characters in the Marvel Universe with which he interacted. The saga was quite powerful. And its an even more powerful metanarrative for deployment in counseling: 1) Believe in your clients doubtlessly.2) Don’t pick favorites nor evidence of favorability. 3) Share your thoughts on approach and technique openly and evenly. 4) Empower your clients to correct your miscouncil.

Effectively the saga ends with Onslaught defeated thanks to the teamwork of  all the Marvel Universe but not without the expense of major characters from throughout. Bad practice in counseling technique is ultimately costly and perhaps ambiguous advice and ambiguous emotional relationships are much stable and handier in the long run.

Psychoanalysis and the Astral Plane

Although academia has gone the route of championing empirical evidence exclusively, the scholars of the ancient traditions that set the foundations of our institutions of knowledge were much less conclusive about reality and made much more space in the accommodation of not just doubt, but also faith. The Astral Plane (Strange 1963) is one of those ancient concepts rooted in Platonic and Greek philosophical history. In the early nineteen hundreds, when science was gaining popularity, there was still a populous and educated group of scholars involved in “mystery religions” that looked at old texts.

One prominent scholar of the era was GRS Mead, who brought up a few valid points on the pursuit of knowledge and the nature of skepticism in that era. As quoted in his booklet, The Subtle Body, a composition looking at the idea of our human psyhco-energetic body as perceived through various knowledge systems, he writes in the proem: “It is, however, the prevailing habit of the skeptical rationalism of the present day to dismiss summarily all such beliefs of antiquity as the baseless dreams of a pre-scientific age, and dump them all indiscriminately into the midden of exploded superstitions.” His notions, though dismissed by the proper sciences–sciences that eventually popularly pursued eugenicist notions, by the way–because of they’re theosophic nature, analyzed all data addressing concepts like mind and spirit and theology in order to understand whether “death”, “life”, “soul” and “resurrection” were ancient concepts that were literally about the body, or even more deeply, devices acknowledging the intellectual or spiritual mind.

He goes on to write of the subtle body, acknowledging several times in the text as a theory. He writes, “Now, in my opinion, it is precisely this leading notion of a subtle body, which for so many centuries has played the dominant role in the traditional psychology of both the East and the West, that is most deserving of being retried, reviewed and revised to serve as working hypothesis, to co-ordinate and explain a very large number of these puzzling psychical phenomena.” (Meade 1919). What we can see in X-Men lore and in other parts of the Marvel mythos is the utilization of the same idea of a notion of a subtle body, but of course writers have approached it in terms of astral projections and astral bodies upon an astral plane. Its curious how ancient scholars who created the format for which we pursue knowledge entertained such concepts, and that such those same concepts certainly have retained their place in today’s discussion.

The most long lasting quote that impressed me after reading the booklet by GRS Mead was his quote describing the scholarship of his era, giving me great insight on the context of academia at the turn of the century. He writes, “On all sides we are hearing of telepathy, telergy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, psychometry, mesmerism, hypnotism, suggestion and auto-suggestion, automatic writing, trance-phenomena, mediumship of every variety, multiple personality, exteriorisation of sensibility, psychical materialisation, communication with the departed, visions and rapts, dream-psychology, the psychology of the abnormal, with all its manifold complexities and well-nigh inexhaustible data, psycho-analysis, psychical research, psycho-therapeutics, mental and spiritual healing of every kind, and so on and so forth. The atmosphere is thick with rumors of psychism, spiritism, theosophy, occultism, Christian science, new thought, magic and mystery and mysticism of every grade. (Meade 1919)”

For those of us in counseling psychology, the idea of our industry along with “psycho-analysis, psychical research, psycho-therapeutics, mental and spiritual healing” as in the same arena as other listed is eye-opening. Though Freud produced a large amount of work, to the rationalists at the time, even psychology was on the same side of the spectrum of baseless, low-evidence science. So in X-Men as I grew up reading about the astral plane and Professor X’s pyschoanalytic interactions via his own subtle body with subtle bodies of others, I was experiencing an age old intellectual discussion where quantifiable science had dropped off into the realm of qualitative data and potential fantasy. But is it not fantasy that motivates people in the counseling field for the goal of helping? Mustn’t we have faith that human potential is limitless?

Cerebro & The Danger Room:

Counseling Outreach Assessment Leads, Biofeedback technology, Training Protocols.

One of the most dynamic fictional devices is Cerebro, a sort of thought processor. In the comic book it is used for tracking and assessing the potential of mutants according to a psychic resonance or signature that’s particular to each. Using old speak–brainwaves. Although the idea of such a device is far fetched, the evidence for the need of such psychometry is proven in the multitude of problematic encounters that are manifest in accommodating individuals with disabilities or any type of physiological, psychosocial difference. One of the obvious indicators are the continuous human rights struggles that occur everyday on the basis of sex, gender, race, social class, religion, etc. Those who have power often mis-gauge those who do not and behaviors of dominance, violence and marginalization befall those of minority status.

The myriad factors that influence the quality of another’s existence must have various ways of being measured and indicated so they can better receive accurate and consistent assistance. But in so many cases the assessment is cheap and minimal or expensive and excessive.

The most effective strategy is to create singular testing and training systems that serve as a singular myriad test that does one hundred things at one time or limited sittings. The Danger Room in X-Men comics–much like Star Trek’s concept of the Holodeck, a hologram grid room deck of their aircraft–is a simulation space engineered to imitate multiple scenarios. With modern technology, wall projections, touch screens, sensors, track cameras, air conditioning, etc, many of the simulations that we practice as counselors as role-plays, group therapies, one on one counseling, etc, can easily be transferred into computer programs and be administered in a manner that allows us better distance to be objective observers and adjusters of a client’s behavioral processes. Because experience is an invaluable method of education and rehabilitation, a VR simulation can allow for a thousand experiences in a only a thousand seconds. Like a video game allows unlimited chances to try and try again. However the video game industry stays distinctly segregated into entertainment away from underfunded and under-mentioned rehabilitation counseling programs.

There are rudimentary frameworks that can develop into ideas like Cerebro and the Danger Room such as a new device being implemented in New Jersey knows as TACT. The “Technology Assisted Classroom Teaching (TACT)” device was “developed by The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health (CNNH) in Voorhees, NJ, is a teacher-initiated remote behavior capture system with access to professional support and expertise. This technology utilizes a camera and a small computer to efficiently record target behaviors, both antecedents and consequences, and also acts as an aide in teaching new skills. Behavior and teaching can be viewed in real time over Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant Internet portals, or can be captured and reviewed at a later date by a behavior analyst or other clinician. Teachers control the device, and data can be collected as needed. Such an approach reduces any “reactance” effects or distractions of an extra observer being physically in the classroom, and is very cost efficient, as there are no travel or other expenses of having a behavioral consultant attend in the classroom—often when the target behavior does not occur. TACT will also allow the Behavior Analyst to take data on a daily basis and provide the necessary feedback fostering behavioral progress and success in the classroom. TACT technology is viewed confidentially and in compliance with laws and regulations.” (Pelicari 2010).

Technology can be used to observe an entire teaching group and allow teachers a more neutral role in assessing the development of pupils, giving them detailed attention, given testing criteria can curriculum are broadly measuring and without cultural bias.

The underlying ideas and mechanism that Cerebro and the Danger Room would have to involve an optical, analytical network in order to adapt and anticipate the developmental needs of the user. And similarly, in the comics, the Danger Room featured a separate observation and control room on the balcony of the floor above the VR simulation grounds.

Although the pedagogical deliveries are very manual, disintegrated and traditional, with the developments of video gaming and virtual reality, I would imagine the integration of VR simulation will be the way of the future. Marvel Comic’s X-MEN and their “danger room” and many others. Technology and improved graphics resolution provides many solutions and is already available evident in products like Google Glass, Sony VR headsets, and wall projected touch screen as manufactured by Panasonic like the ones I used teaching ESL in Japan. VR simulators to cover curricula of social and cultural interaction can improve the comprehension of civics and more, reducing the counseling hours necessitated and increasing the potential number of sessions clients need for Therapy.

There is easily available evidence that supports that digital simulations assist the learning development particularly of students with autism. Some digital assessment and treatment technology already in research and on the market include SMART-games on the Pluff platform, which produced test results that indicated it “Overall results suggest that Pluff is acceptable, usable, and enjoyable for higher functioning children with ASD and that the directions for operating the controller were easily understandable” (Gotsis 2015).

Another digital platform is Small Steps Big Skills which was reviewed in two studies, one in the Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and in the Journal in Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities. The platform was said to have very favorable results: “Findings from the beta version of the game showed that linking these elements is an effective way to teach skills, and results were published in two special education journals. The first study results published in Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities in December, 2009 showed three elementary aged students with autism mastered all three skills taught through a beta version of the video game and generalized the skills to their natural environment. In a second study published in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in June, 2010 results showed three middle school-aged students with intellectual disabilities increased the percentage of steps completed in the correct order after playing the game” (Anonymous 2011). Conclusively, platforms like Small Steps Big Skills utilize video modeling and the Pluff platform provides real-time empathy reading simulation without the need of constant counselor interaction for retraining purposes. Ultimately VR programs will grow initially from their scripted scenario basis, but as did table-top RPGs of the 70s and 80s , they too can eventually be tapped by computerized and three dimensional GUI technology as is standard in the highest end entertainment systems.

Mapping Vocational Potentials Far Beyond RIASEC

In addition to training protocols for those venturing into and back into the job force with developmental disabilities or after sustaining debilitating injury, assessment batteries are a pivotal tool in evaluating what training and accommodations they require. While the industry of our nation does have its modern assessment staples like Holland’s RIASEC types, Krumbolt’s associative learning theory, the ever popular Myers-Briggs quadri-variable personality codes, an important scholar whose work deserves more attention and analysis is Dr. William Marston. While the other theories are helpful in their analysis and measurement of interest, Marston developed a theory that focused on group power dynamic and personality type. Often the discrimination against individuals with disabilities is enacted not because the management comprehended the moral implications of their dehumanizing behavior, but especially from a more elementary bullying sort of dynamic rooted I the fact that “they can”. Marston’s DISC theory looks directly at this ability potentials aspect. The assessment “…based on the work of psychologist William Moulton Marston, PhD. 2 Marston was interested in how people felt, behaved, and interacted with the world around them. 2 The DISC method is easy to administer and interpret. This instrument helps determine the different personality types (ie, Dominant, Influencer, Steady, Conscientious) of each person in the workplace.” (Slowikowski 2005).

Although comic books–especially historically–seem like a sociological Dramaturgy therapeutic panacea for society, one of the biggest reasons we’ve only been able to embrace their messages in retrospect was thanks to the moral fundamentalism of a McCarthyist mogul of censorship, Dr. Wertham, who essentially attacked the medium as the root cause of unsavory behavior in youth, much like Tipper Gore’s attack on the rap and rock and roll industry during the eighties. The 1950s censorship of pulp publishing and comic books ended careers, debilitated industrial growth and essentially ended important social ties and therefore cultural developments. Although the stories were fanciful, graphic and provocative, creative culture is a transmuting of thoughts–like X-Men’s Cerebro, and even psychic so-to-speak. When person picks up a publication and comprehends it, there is a timeless transmission of thoughts, be they two days or two thousand years previous. A book co-authored delivers to its human reader a discussion and collaborative narrative. A memoir or work of abstraction can be an empathic device of delivering experience and emotion. But Dr. Wertham didn’t comprehend the psychological and psychotherapeutic importance of the creative mediums and to this day, academia suffers an intellectual deficiency without it… “A true arch-enemy of the form, Wertham’s critique of comics went beyond criminological concerns: Comics didn’t just pervert children, you see, but ruined their ability to appreciate fine literature and art later on in life. He argued that tales about Batman–not to mention Tales from the Crypt–were like heavily seasoned food that destroyed young aesthetic palates before they could be trained to appreciate delicate, refined fare. Shakespeare, he fretted, just couldn’t follow Superman.” (Gillespie 2001).

But dynamically—in the same era the medium was attacked—a highly educated and inventive Harvard graduate and inventor of the polygraph, Marston, championed pulp publications. In a particularly comic book context, if… “Wertham was the Lex Luthor of comics, hell-bent on their total annihilation, then William Moulton Marston was their Man of Steel, dedicated to championing their cause. Marston was a Harvard– trained psychologist who had a law degree to go along with his Ph.D. In the ’20s and ’30s, Marston was best known as a tireless advocate of the polygraph-he developed an early lie detector machine-and he lobbied unsuccessfully for its use in the courts.” Marston wrote Wonder Woman which initially was a comic book that explored feminist ideas, bondage themes and the dynamics of power-play, privilege and stigma.

Marston was obviously highly educated and understood his material as a conceptual free-space to find solutions for human issues. And in his intellectual acrobatics, not only did he come up with the polygraph, he also came up with an assessment theory called DISC, which unlike RIASEC, focuses squarely on power-dynamics of personality. Conclusively, though the 1940s and 50s were an era biased towards the WASP demographic, great minds like Marston’s have a lasting influence. The highly educated writers of that era simulated application of theories like Narrative therapy in their fiction in a sociological context. If career counseling and other industries are economic bodies of a macro-body we call “society”, the rehabilitation of it–in the Dramaturgy sociological theoretical framework that emphasizes role and performance–requires we approach its condition with Narrative Therapy, imparting Jungian Archetypes for its improvement. Science-fiction from Asimov to Bradbury to Verne has always done this and the intellectual cross-training of Academia and industry must maintain the tradition for any future to remain possible.

Mutant Eugenics, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Biodiversity

The Crux of Social Privilege- Stigma & Vitalness of Self-Advocacy

In a great article that addresses the inherent biases often held by those in places of privilege over those not–in this case those who hold the stigma of being physiologically different–the presumptions, anticipations and attitudes all expressed in our narratives serves as a very explicit indicator of the harmony or disharmony of our interaction. An excerpt that illustrated the value of the minority vs minority interaction of LD constituencies (the mother and child) versus the constituencies of pedagogy (the teachers and administrators) is epitomized by their narrative/ counter narrative.

“This dynamic, this narrative/counter narrative exchange, is similar to the dynamic that birthed the LD category. The early LD advocates described by Sleeter (1987) were responding to oppressive narratives that they felt would have devalued their children — narratives that would have stripped them of their intelligence, their emotional stability, and/or their affiliation with dominant cultural, narratives that would have associated their privileged white offspring with the children of the poor and the ethnically othered.” (Hale 2010). The frustration of this advocacy is the exact backdrop of X-Men comics and the Xaviers School for Gifted Youngsters. One character, Jubilation Lee, codenamed Jubilee has a mutation that affects electrical circuitry. Her own mastery the crux, uncontrolled and developing, her ability merely damaged every electric circuit with which she came in contact. But with mastery, she could produce explosive results. However, like all consumers of the VR counseling field, Charles Xavier first discovered her in a home setting with parents overwhelmed in dealing with the negative narrative of the public system that couldn’t help her and therefore stigmatized her. And in the tragedy of what makes X-Men, the professor intercepts her to his private boarding school, because her “normal” parents ultimately aimed for return to foster care. Although X-Men is an extreme case in the failure of advocacy and the system itself in serving physiological diversity of a population, it also highlights the amazing advance and potential that can be tapped via personalized learning programs and accommodations of learning styles and physical capacities.

Hale’s article goes on to address the strongly pedagogically rooted issues. The article acknowledges that… “the protagonist is always the social standing of a child and his parents. The antagonists are the ideological assumptions that underlie schooling and the perceptions and biases of those in the school community. The conflict is the struggle between competing views of the child, the antagonistic view being that the child is lazy or stupid and the parents’ being an affirmation of their child’s positive essence. The plot, driven by the central conflict, moves from incident to incident of difference, exposition, and shame until finally the parents, drawing on resources only available to the relatively privileged, enlist experts who wield the symbolic power of science to inoculate their child from criticisms and aspersions, while locating the cause of his difficulties within him. The dénouement involves a change of identity, from “normal” to disabled, from accused to excused. The whole process establishes a rationale to which the parents can cling in moments of doubt and conflict.” As though the pedagogy is unaware that they pursue a narrative in which the system wins and bankrupts the individuals of difference rather than tapping into the minefield of their potential. So accordingly in our field, our role as VR counselors is to serve as a Professor X and channel the ability of our clientele and consumers in order to make them heroic, in costume, in ability, in society.

The Dangers of Self-Loathing over the Human Condition and the “Survival of the Fittest” Myth to Rehabilitation

What is even more compelling in similarity to the comics is how the real-life diagnosis of LD was influenced by socially constructed notions of race. While in X-Men, there are obvious genetic and evolutionary influences on the fight for mutant advocacy, in real life the pseudo science of race essentially was used for eugenicist purposes against the disabled and minority. A perfect example is a book written most accordingly by the offspring of science fiction legend, HG Wells, Spencer Wells, entitled The Journey of Man, delves into the propagandic beginnings of the history of the “Survival of the Fittest” myth. The Journey of Man excerpts how eventually Herbert Spencer, rather than Darwin put forth the term initially. (Wells 11) “As we saw earlier, Darwin wa not a ‘hard’ racist… It was the philosopher Herbert Spencer, for instance, who actually coined the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’, and he used it to justify the social divisions inherent in late-nineteenth-century Britain in a series of widely read books and essays. If divisions within society could be explained by science, then surely differences between cultures had a similar cause.

Combined with the Victorian obsession with classification, this leap from ‘might makes right’ to a belief that these cultural differences must be definable using scientific methods encouraged the growth of the eugenics movement.” Herbert Spencer popularized eugenics, which eventually targeted the physiologically disabled and minority of society. As Spencer Wells explains, “”While eugenics began as a movement dedicated to social enlightenment, its aims were soon perverted, and by the 1910s and 20s it was being used in the United States as scientific justification for the forced sterilization of people believed to be mentally subnormal. It was also behind the mean-spirited implementation of racist immigration tests and quotas (in the 1920s desperately poor eastern European immigrants, most of whom were illiterate, were expected to arrive at Ellis Island in New York knowing how to read). The systematic extermination of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and other supposedly inferior groups by the Nazis in the 1940s had its scientific justification in the application of eugenic principles. Physical anthropology had jumped to the head of the queue in its race to prove ‘useful’.” (Wells 12). The terrorist and eugenic pursuits of Graydon Creed (Uncanny 1993), Bolivar Trask & the mutant hunting Sentinels (X-Men 1965) and The Friends of Humanity Uncanny (X-Men 1992) all parallel the reality of eugenics and the variety of government sanctioned human rights violations that ail our collective human history.

In the X-Universe the theme of predation upon that psychosocial self-loathing over biological worthiness and value recur again and again. In another situation, a core member of the X-Men born with wings reaches a regretful depression and finds himself taken advantage of by the genetic manipulator and megalomaniacal mutant named Apocalypse. Angel is brainwashed and further mutated into the genetic supremacist Archangel (X-Factor 1987). Again, a core member of the founding X-Men, Hank McCoy, codename Beast furthers his mutation in self-loathing pursuit of a “cure” (Amazing 1972).

The Vitalness of Advocacy for Self-Identity Preservation and Diversity in face of the Majority.

Human biology has always proven a need for biodiversity and the Bedouin of Negev, Israel are a perfect example. An article of The New York Times reported, “Bedouins do not carry more genetic mutations than the general population. But because so many marry relatives — some 65 percent of Bedouin in Israel’s Negev marry first or second cousins — they have a significantly higher chance of marrying someone who carries the same mutations, increasing the odds they will have children with genetic diseases, researchers say. Hundreds have been born with such diseases among the Negev Bedouin in the last decade.” (Kraft 2006). That similar pattern was occurrent in the political age of Western Church-states and also apparent in Japan’s imperial lineage. Just as Spencer Wells writings on human migration emphasize the need for biodiversity, as cross pollination occurs in the plant world, it also reigns true for human civilization.

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