Word-Built World: bedlam

Bedlam is a scene of madness, chaos or great confusion. If you allow football fans onto the field after the big game, it will be pure bedlam.

The term bedlam comes from the name of a hospital in London, “Saint Mary of Bethlehem,” which was devoted to treating the mentally ill in the 1400s. Over time, the pronunciation of “Bethlehem” morphed into bedlam and the term came to be applied to any situation where pandemonium prevails. The trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange appears to be bedlam, but the traders insist it’s organized chaos.

Definitions of bedlam

  1. noun a state of extreme confusion and disordersynonyms:chaospandemoniumtopsy-turvydomtopsy-turvynesssee lesstypes:balagana word for chaos or fiasco borrowed from modern Hebrew (where it is a loan word from Russian)type of:confusiondisorder resulting from a failure to behave predictably


Exposure therapy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Exposure therapy is a technique in behavior therapy to treat anxiety disorders. Exposure therapy involves exposing the target patient to the anxiety source or its context without the intention to cause any danger. Doing so is thought to help them overcome their anxiety or distress.[1][2] Procedurally, it is similar to the fear extinction paradigm developed studying laboratory rodents.[3][4] Numerous studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in the treatment of disorders such as generalized anxiety disordersocial anxiety disorderobsessive-compulsive disorder,[5] PTSD, and specific phobias.[6]

Medical uses

Generalized anxiety disorder

There is empirical evidence that exposure therapy can be an effective treatment for people with generalized anxiety disorder, citing specifically in vivo exposure therapy, which has greater effectiveness than imaginal exposure in regards to generalized anxiety disorder. The aim of in vivo exposure treatment is to promote emotional regulation using systematic and controlled therapeutic exposure to traumatic stimuli.[7]


Exposure therapy is the most successful known treatment for phobias.[8] Several published meta-analyses included studies of one-to-three hour single-session treatments of phobias, using imaginal exposure. At a post-treatment follow-up four years later 90% of people retained a considerable reduction in fear, avoidance, and overall level of impairment, while 65% no longer experienced any symptoms of a specific phobia.[9]

Agoraphobia and social anxiety disorder are examples of phobias that have been successfully treated by exposure therapy.[10]

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Virtual reality exposure (VRE) therapy is a modern but effective treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This method was tested on several active duty Army soldiers, using an immersive computer simulation of military settings over six sessions. Self-reported PTSD symptoms of these soldiers were greatly diminished following the treatment.[11][dubious – discuss] Exposure therapy has shown promise in the treatment of co-morbid PTSD and substance abuse.

Obsessive compulsive disorder

Exposure and response prevention (also known as exposure and ritual prevention; ERP or EX/RP) is a variant of exposure therapy that is recommended by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and the Mayo Clinic as first-line treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) citing that it has the richest empirical support for both youth and adolescent outcomes.[12][13]

ERP is predicated on the idea that a therapeutic effect is achieved as subjects confront their fears, but refrain from engaging in the escape response or ritual that delays or eliminates distress.[14] In the case of individuals with OCD or an anxiety disorder, there is a thought or situation that causes distress. Individuals usually combat this distress through specific behaviors that include avoidance or rituals. However, ERP involves purposefully evoking fear, anxiety, and or distress in the individual by exposing him/her to the feared stimulus. The response prevention then involves having the individual refrain from the ritualistic or otherwise compulsive behavior that functions to decrease distress. The patient is then taught to tolerate distress until it fades away on its own, thereby learning that rituals are not always necessary to decrease distress or anxiety. Over repeated practice of ERP, patients with OCD expect to find that they can have obsessive thoughts and images but not have the need to engage in compulsive rituals to decrease distress.[12][13]

The AACAP’s practise parameters for OCD recommends cognitive behavioral therapy, and more specifically ERP, as first line treatment for youth with mild to moderate severity OCD and combination psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for severe OCD.[13] The Cochrane Review’s examinations of different randomized control trials echoes repeated findings of the superiority of ERP over waitlist control or pill-placebos, the superiority of combination ERP and pharmacotherapy, but similar effect sizes of efficacy between ERP or pharmacotherapy alone.[15]


Exposure therapy is based on the principle of respondent conditioning often termed Pavlovian extinction.[16] The exposure therapist identifies the cognitions, emotions and physiological arousal that accompany a fear-inducing stimulus and then tries to break the pattern of escape that maintains the fear. This is done by exposing the patient to progressively stronger fear-inducing stimuli.[17] Fear is minimized at each of a series of steadily escalating steps or challenges (a hierarchy), which can be explicit (“static”) or implicit (“dynamic” — see Method of Factors) until the fear is finally gone.[18] The patient is able to terminate the procedure at any time.

There are three types of exposure procedures. The first is in vivo or “real life.” This type exposes the patient to actual fear-inducing situations. For example, if someone fears public speaking, the person may be asked to give a speech to a small group of people. The second type of exposure is imaginal, where patients are asked to imagine a situation that they are afraid of. This procedure is helpful for people who need to confront feared thoughts and memories. The third type of exposure is interoceptive, which may be used for more specific disorders such as panic or post-traumatic stress disorder. Patients confront feared bodily symptoms such as increased heart rate and shortness of breath. All types of exposure may be used together or separately.[19]

While evidence clearly supports the effectiveness of exposure therapy, some clinicians are uncomfortable using imaginal exposure therapy, especially in cases of PTSD. They may not understand it, are not confident in their own ability to use it, or more commonly, they see significant contraindications for their client.[20][21]

Flooding therapy also exposes the patient to feared stimuli, but it is quite distinct in that flooding starts at the most feared item in a fear hierarchy, while exposure starts at the least fear-inducing.[22][23]

Exposure and response prevention

In the exposure and response prevention (ERP or EX/RP) variation of exposure therapy, the resolution to refrain from the escape response is to be maintained at all times and not just during specific practice sessions.[24] Thus, not only does the subject experience habituation to the feared stimulus, but they also practice a fear-incompatible behavioral response to the stimulus. The distinctive feature is that individuals confront their fears and discontinue their escape response.[25] The American Psychiatric Association recommends ERP for the treatment of OCD, citing that ERP has the richest empirical support.[26]

While this type of therapy typically causes some short-term anxiety, this facilitates long-term reduction in obsessive and compulsive symptoms.[27][28]:103 Generally, ERP incorporates a relapse prevention plan toward the end of the course of therapy.[24]


The use of exposure as a mode of therapy began in the 1950s, at a time when psychodynamic views dominated Western clinical practice and behavioral therapy was first emerging. South African psychologists and psychiatrists first used exposure as a way to reduce pathological fears, such as phobias and anxiety-related problems, and they brought their methods to England in the Maudsley Hospital training program.[29]

Joseph Wolpe (1915–1997) was one of the first psychiatrists to spark interest in treating psychiatric problems as behavioral issues. He sought consultation with other behavioral psychologists, among them James G. Taylor (1897–1973), who worked in the psychology department of the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Although most of his work went unpublished, Taylor was the first psychologist known to use exposure therapy treatment for anxiety, including methods of situational exposure with response prevention—a common exposure therapy technique still being used.[29] Since the 1950s several sorts of exposure therapy have been developed, including systematic desensitizationflooding, implosive therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, in vivo exposure therapy, and imaginal exposure therapy.[29]


A 2015 review pointed out parallels between exposure therapy and mindfulness, stating that mindful meditation “resembles an exposure situation because [mindfulness] practitioners ‘turn towards their emotional experience’, bring acceptance to bodily and affective responses, and refrain from engaging in internal reactivity towards it.”[30] Imaging studies have shown that the ventromedial prefrontal cortexhippocampus, and the amygdala are all affected by exposure therapy; imaging studies have shown similar activity in these regions with mindfulness training.[30]


Exposure therapy can be investigated in the laboratory using Pavlovian extinction paradigms. Using rodents such as rats or mice to study extinction allows for the investigation of underlying neurobiological mechanisms involved, as well as testing of pharmacological adjuncts to improve extinction learning.[31][32]

More at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposure_therapy


Samuel A. Cartwright (1793–1863)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Drapetomania was a conjectural mental illness that, in 1851, American physician Samuel A. Cartwright hypothesized as the cause of enslaved Africans fleeing captivity.[1]:41 Contemporarily reprinted in the South, Cartwright’s article was widely mocked and satirized in the northern United States. The concept has since been debunked as pseudoscience[2]:2 and shown to be part of the edifice of scientific racism.[3]

The term derives from the Greek δραπέτης (drapetes, “a runaway [slave]”) and μανία (mania, “madness, frenzy”).[4]

As late as 1914, the third edition of Thomas Lathrop Stedman‘s Practical Medical Dictionary included an entry for drapetomania, defined as “Vagabondagedromomania; an uncontrollable or insane impulsion to wander.”[5]


Cartwright described the disorder – which, he said, was “unknown to our medical authorities, although its diagnostic symptom, the absconding from service, is well known to our planters and overseers”[4] – in a paper delivered before the Medical Association of Louisiana[2]:291 that was widely reprinted.

He stated that the malady was a consequence of masters who “made themselves too familiar with [slaves], treating them as equals”.[6]

If treated kindly, well fed and clothed, with fuel enough to keep a small fire burning all night — separated into families, each family having its own house — not permitted to run about at night to visit their neighbors, to receive visits or use intoxicating liquors, and not overworked or exposed too much to the weather, they are very easily governed — more so than any other people in the world. If any one or more of them, at any time, are inclined to raise their heads to a level with their master or overseer, humanity and their own good requires that they should be punished until they fall into that submissive state which was intended for them to occupy. They have only to be kept in that state, and treated like children to prevent and cure them from running away.[7]

In Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race, Cartwright says that the Bible calls for a slave to be submissive to his master, and by doing so, the slave will have no desire to run away:[4]

If the white man attempts to oppose the Deity’s will, by trying to make the negro anything else than “the submissive knee-bender” (which the Almighty declared he should be), by trying to raise him to a level with himself, or by putting himself on an equality with the negro; or if he abuses the power which God has given him over his fellow-man, by being cruel to him, or punishing him in anger, or by neglecting to protect him from the wanton abuses of his fellow-servants and all others, or by denying him the usual comforts and necessaries of life, the negro will run away; but if he keeps him in the position that we learn from the Scriptures he was intended to occupy, that is, the position of submission; and if his master or overseer be kind and gracious in his bearing towards him, without condescension, and at the same time ministers to his physical wants, and protects him from abuses, the negro is spell-bound, and cannot run away.

Prevention and remedy

In addition to identifying drapetomania, his feeling was that with “proper medical advice, strictly followed, this troublesome practice that many Negroes have of running away can be almost entirely prevented”.[4] In the case of slaves “sulky and dissatisfied without cause”–a warning sign of imminent flight–Cartwright mentioned “whipping the devil out of them” as a “preventative measure”.[2]:35[8][9]

Contemporary criticism

While Cartwright’s article was reprinted in the South, in the northern United States it was widely mocked. A satirical analysis of the article appeared in a Buffalo Medical Journal editorial in 1855.[10] Renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, in A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States (1856), observed that white indentured servants had often been known to flee as well, so he satirically hypothesized that the supposed disease was actually of white European origin, and had been introduced to Africa by traders.[11]

More at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drapetomania

“For I am fearfully and wonderfully made”

Psalm 139

O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.

Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 1, 2021


“Oedipus and the Sphinx,” Gustave Moreau/ courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Columnist Linda Weltner says that there’s a dual purpose to cleaning your home, rearranging the furniture, adding new art to the walls, and doting on your potted plants. Taking good care of your environment is a primary way of taking good care of yourself. She writes, “The home upon which we have lavished so much attention is the embodiment of our own self love.” I invite you to make that your inspirational meditation for the next two weeks.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): “For peace of mind, I will lie about any thing at any time,” said author Amy Hempel. Hmmmm. I’m the opposite. To cultivate peace of mind, I try to speak and live the truth as much as I can. Lying makes me nervous. It also seems to make me dumber. It forces me to keep close track of my fibs so I can be sure to stick to my same deceitful story when the subject comes up later. What about you, Taurus? For your peace of mind, do you prefer to rely on dishonesty or honesty? I’m hoping that for the next four weeks, you will favor the latter. Cultivating judicious candor will heal you and boost your intelligence.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): In her essay about education, “Don’t Overthink It,” philosopher Agnes Callard reminds us, “No matter how much we increase our investment at the front end—perfecting our minds with thinking classes, long ruminations, novel-reading, and moral algebra—we cannot spare ourselves the agony of learning by doing.” That will be a key theme for you in the next four weeks, dear Gemini. You will need to make abundant use of empiricism: pursuing knowledge through direct experience, using your powers of observation and a willingness to experiment.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said that when our rational minds are working at their best, they inspire us to cultivate our most interesting and enlivening passions. They also de-emphasize and suppress any energy-draining passions that might have a hold on us. I’m hoping you will take full advantage of this in the coming weeks, Cancerian. You will generate good fortune and sweet breakthroughs as you highlight desires that uplift you and downgrade desires that diminish you.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Leo author Wendell Berry suggests, “It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.” Although there’s wisdom in that formulation, I don’t think it’s true a majority of the time. Far more often we are fed by the strong, clear intuitions that emerge from our secret depths—from the sacred gut feelings that give us accurate guidance about what to do and where to go. But I do suspect that right now may be one of those phases when Berry’s notion is true for you, Leo. What do you think?

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In 1750, more than 250 years after Columbus first visited the New World, Native Americans were still a majority of the continent’s population. But between 1776 and now, the United States government stole 1.5 billion acres of land from its original owners—twenty-five times the size of the United Kingdom. Here’s another sad fact: Between 1778 and 1871, America’s federal administrations signed over 500 treaties with indigenous tribes—and broke every one of them. The possibility that these sins will eventually be remedied is very small. I bring them up only to serve as possible metaphors for your personal life. Is there anything you have unfairly gained from others? Is there anything others have unfairly gained from you? The next six months will be prime time to seek atonement and correction.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Libran Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh advises you and me and everyone else to “seek the spiritual in every ordinary thing that you do every day.” You have to work at it a bit, he says; you must have it as your firm intention. But it’s not really hard to do. “Sweeping the floor, watering the vegetables, and washing the dishes become holy and sacred if mindfulness is there,” he adds. I think you Libras will have a special knack for this fun activity in the coming weeks. (Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a series of “Mindfulness Essentials” books that includes “How to Eat,” “How to Walk,” “How to Relax” and “How to Connect.” I invite you to come up with your own such instructions.)

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): My unexpected interpretation of the current astrological omens suggests that you will be wise to go naked as much as possible in the coming weeks. Being skyclad, as the pagans say, will be healing for you. You will awaken dormant feelings that will help you see the world with enhanced understanding. The love that you experience for yourself will soften one of your hard edges, and increase your appreciation for all the magic that your life is blessed with. One important caveat: Of course, don’t impose your nakedness on anyone who doesn’t want to witness it.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): If you analyzed the best-selling songs as measured by Billboard magazine, you’d think we were in the midst of a dangerous decline in population. The vast majority of those popular tunes feature lyrics with reproductive themes. It’s as if there’s some abject fear that humans aren’t going to make enough babies, and need to be constantly cajoled and incited to engage in love-making. But I don’t think you Sagittarians, whatever your sexual preference, will need any of that nagging in the coming days. Your Eros Quotient should be higher than it has been in a while.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Pulitzer Prize-winning author Donna Tartt, born under the sign of Capricorn, writes, “Beauty is rarely soft or consolatory. Quite the contrary. Genuine beauty is always quite alarming.” In my view, that’s an unwarranted generalization. It may sometimes be true, but is often not. Genuine beauty may also be elegant, lyrical, inspiring, healing and ennobling. Having said that, I will speculate that the beauty you encounter in the near future may indeed be disruptive or jolting, but mostly because it has the potential to remind you of what you’re missing—and motivate you to go after what you’ve been missing.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): On July 21, 1969, Aquarian astronaut Buzz Aldrin was the second human to walk on the moon. It happened during a spectacular astrological aspect, when transiting Jupiter and Uranus in Libra were trine to Aldrin’s natal Sun in Aquarius. But after this heroic event, following his return to earth, he found it hard to get his bearings again. He took a job as a car salesman, but had no talent for it. In six months, he didn’t sell a single car. Later, however, he found satisfaction as an advocate for space exploration, and he developed technology to make future trips to Mars more efficient. I hope that if you are now involved in any activity that resembles Aldrin’s stint as a car salesman—that is, a task you’re not skilled at and don’t like—you will spend the coming weeks making plans to escape to more engaging pursuits.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Astronomers say the Big Bang birthed the universe 13.8 billion years ago. But a star 190 light years away from Earth contradicts that theory. Its age seems to be 14.5 billion years, older than the universe itself. Its scientific name is HD 140283, but it’s informally referred to as Methuselah, named after the Biblical character who lived till age 969. Sometimes, like now, you remind me of that star. You seem to be an impossibly old soul—like you’ve been around so many thousands of lifetimes that, you, too, predate the Big Bang. But guess what: It’s time to take a break from that aspect of your destiny. In the next two weeks, you have cosmic permission to explore the mysteries of playful innocence. Be young and blithe and curious. Treasure your inner child.

Homework: Send your suggestions about how I might be able to serve you better. Newsletter@freewillastrology.com

Incredible Jupiter flyover created from NASA Juno imagery

VideoFromSpace Imagery from a June 2, 2020 flyover of Jupiter by NASA’s Juno mission has been compiled by Kevin M. Gill to create this flyover. The spacecraft was “approximately 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers) of Jupiter’s cloud tops,” according the Juno team. — Juno: Taking a Long Look at Jupiter: https://www.space.com/32742-juno-spac… Credit: Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS Image processing by Kevin M. Gill © CC BY Music by Vangelis

Link to video sans audio: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/transcoded/f/f2/PIA23807-PlanetJupiter-FlyOver-Animation-20200602.webm/PIA23807-PlanetJupiter-FlyOver-Animation-20200602.webm.360p.vp9.webm

(Contributed by Michael Kelly, H.W.)

“I come from the light (not San Mateo)”

Trinity Church Boston In this Price Lecture, Dr. Elaine Pagels, one of the world’s foremost scholars of religion, speaks about her groundbreaking work on the Jesus of the canonical Gospels and the Jesus one meets in the Gospel of Thomas. Dr. Pagels is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University. Her work on the extra-canonical writings of ancient Christianity spurred a revolution in the field of New Testament Studies and brought the exciting, urgent, and wonderful diversity of early Christianity to vivid life. This lecture was co-sponsored by Trinity & Contemplative Outreach of Boston.

Direct democracy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Part of the Politics series
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Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which people decide on policy initiatives directly. This differs from the majority of currently established democracies, which are representative democracies. The theory and practice of direct democracy and participation as its common characteristic was the core of work of many theorists, philosophers, politicians, and social critics, among whom the most important are Jean Jacques RousseauJohn Stuart Mill, and G.D.H. Cole.[1]


In a representative democracy people vote for representatives who then enact policy initiatives.[2] In direct democracy, people decide on policies without any intermediary. Depending on the particular system in use, direct democracy might entail passing executive decisions, the use of sortition, making laws, directly electing or dismissing officials, and conducting trials. Two leading forms of direct democracy are participatory democracy and deliberative democracy.

Semi-direct democracies, in which representatives administer day-to-day governance, but the citizens remain the sovereign, allow for three forms of popular action: referendum (plebiscite), initiative, and recall. The first two forms—referendums and initiatives—are examples of direct legislation.[3] As of 2019, thirty countries allowed for referendums initiated by the population on the national level.[4]

compulsory referendum subjects the legislation drafted by political elites to a binding popular vote. This is the most common form of direct legislation. A popular referendum empowers citizens to make a petition that calls existing legislation to a vote by the citizens. Institutions specify the timeframe for a valid petition and the number of signatures required, and may require signatures from diverse communities to protect minority interests.[3] This form of direct democracy effectively grants the voting public a veto on laws adopted by the elected legislature, as in Switzerland.[5][6][7][8]

citizen-initiated referendum (also called an initiative) empowers members of the general public to propose, by petition, specific statutory measures or constitutional reforms to the government and, as with other referendums, the vote may be binding or simply advisory. Initiatives may be direct or indirect: with the direct initiative, a successful proposition is placed directly on the ballot to be subject to vote (as exemplified by California’s system).[3] With an indirect initiative, a successful proposition is first presented to the legislature for their consideration; however, if no acceptable action is taken after a designated period of time, the proposition moves to direct popular vote. Constitutional amendments in Switzerland, Liechtenstein or Uruguay go through such a form of indirect initiative.[3]

deliberative referendum is a referendum that increases public deliberation through purposeful institutional design.

Power of recall gives the public the power to remove elected officials from office before the end of their designated standard term of office.[9]


See also: History of democracy


One strand of thought sees direct democracy as common and widespread in pre-state societies.[10][11]

The earliest well-documented direct democracy is said[by whom?] to be the Athenian democracy of the 5th century BC. The main bodies in the Athenian democracy were the assembly, composed of male citizens; the boulê, composed of 500 citizens; and the law courts, composed of a massive number of jurors chosen by lot, with no judges. Ancient Attica had only about 30,000 male citizens, but several thousand of them were politically active in each year and many of them quite regularly for years on end. The Athenian democracy was direct not only in the sense that the assembled people made decisions, but also in the sense that the people – through the assembly, boulê, and law courts – controlled the entire political process, and a large proportion of citizens were involved constantly in public affairs.[12] Most modern democracies, being representative, not direct, do not resemble the Athenian system.

Also relevant to the history of direct democracy is the history of Ancient Rome, specifically during the Roman Republic, traditionally founded around 509 BC.[13] Rome displayed many aspects of democracy, both direct and indirect, from the era of Roman monarchy all the way to the collapse of the Roman Empire. While the Roman senate was the main body with historical longevity, lasting from the Roman kingdom until after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, it did not embody a purely democratic approach, being made up – during the late republic – of former elected officials,[14] providing advice rather than creating law.[15] The democratic aspect of the constitution resided in the Roman popular assemblies, where the people organised into centuriae or into tribes – depending on the assembly – and cast votes on various matters, including elections and laws, proposed before them by their elected magistrates.[16] Some classicists have argued that the Roman republic deserves the label of “democracy”, with universal suffrage for adult male citizens, popular sovereignty, and transparent deliberation of public affairs.[17] Many historians mark the end of the Republic with the lex Titia, passed on 27 November 43 BC, which eliminated many oversight provisions.[13]

Modern Era

Modern-era citizen-lawmaking occurs in the cantons of Switzerland from the 13th century. In 1847 the Swiss added the “statute referendum” to their national constitution. They soon discovered that merely having the power to veto Parliament’s laws was not enough. In 1891 they added the “constitutional amendment initiative”. Swiss politics since 1891 have given the world a valuable experience-base with the national-level constitutional amendment initiative.[18] In the past 120 years, more than 240 initiatives have been put to referendums. The populace has proven itself conservative, approving only about 10% of these initiatives; in addition, they have often opted for a version of the initiative rewritten by the government. (See “Direct democracy in Switzerland” below.)[5][6][7][8]

Modern Direct Democracy also occurs within the Crow Nation, a Native American Tribe in the United States of America. The tribe is organized around a General Council formed of all voting-age members. The General Council has the power to create legally-binding decisions through referendums. The General Council was first enshrined in the 1948 Crow Constitution and was upheld and re-instated with the 2002 Constitution.[19]

Some of the issues surrounding the related notion of a direct democracy using the Internet and other communications technologies are dealt with in the article on e-democracy and below under the heading Electronic direct democracy. More concisely, the concept of open-source governance applies principles of the free software movement to the governance of people, allowing the entire populace to participate in government directly, as much or as little as they please.[20]

Direct democracy is the basis of anarchist and left-libertarian political thought.[21][22][23] Direct democracy has been championed by anarchist thinkers since its inception, and direct democracy as a political theory has been largely influenced by anarchism.[24][25]


Further information: Referendums by country

Early Athens

Main article: Athenian democracy

Athenian democracy developed in the Greek city-state of Athens, comprising the city of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, around 600 BC. Athens was one of the first known democracies. Other Greek cities set up democracies, and even though most followed an Athenian model, none were as powerful, stable, or well-documented as that of Athens. In the direct democracy of Athens, the citizens did not nominate representatives to vote on legislation and executive bills on their behalf (as in the United States) but instead voted as individuals. The public opinion of voters was influenced by the political satire of the comic poets in the theatres.[26]

Solon (594 BC), Cleisthenes (508–507 BCE), and Ephialtes (462 BC) all contributed to the development of Athenian democracy. Historians differ on which of them was responsible for which institution, and which of them most represented a truly democratic movement. It is most usual to date Athenian democracy from Cleisthenes since Solon’s constitution fell and was replaced by the tyranny of Peisistratus, whereas Ephialtes revised Cleisthenes’ constitution relatively peacefully. Hipparchus, the brother of the tyrant Hippias, was killed by Harmodius and Aristogeiton, who were subsequently honored by the Athenians for their alleged restoration of Athenian freedom.

The greatest and longest-lasting democratic leader was Pericles; after his death, Athenian democracy was twice briefly interrupted by an oligarchic revolution towards the end of the Peloponnesian War. It was modified somewhat after it was restored under Eucleides; the most detailed accounts are of this 4th-century modification rather than of the Periclean system. It was suppressed by the Macedonians in 322 BC. The Athenian institutions were later revived, but the extent to which they were a real democracy is debatable.[27]


In Switzerland, with no need to register, every citizen receives the ballot papers and information brochure for each vote and election and can return it by post. Switzerland has various directly democratic instruments; votes are organized about four times a year. Here, the papers received by every Berne‘s citizen in November 2008 about five national, two cantonal, four municipal referendums, and two elections (government and parliament of the City of Berne) of 23 competing parties to take care of at the same time.Main articles: Politics of Switzerland and Voting in SwitzerlandFurther information: Landsgemeinde and Federal popular initiative

The pure form of direct democracy exists only in the Swiss cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden and Glarus.[28] The Swiss Confederation is a semi-direct democracy (representative democracy with strong instruments of direct democracy).[28] The nature of direct democracy in Switzerland is fundamentally complemented by its federal governmental structures (in German also called the Subsidiaritätsprinzip).[5][6][7][8]

Most western countries have representative systems.[28] Switzerland is a rare example of a country with instruments of direct democracy (at the levels of the municipalities, cantons, and federal state). Citizens have more power than in a representative democracy. On any political level citizens can propose changes to the constitution (popular initiative), or ask for an optional referendum to be held on any law voted by the federalcantonal parliament and/or municipal legislative body.[29]

The list for mandatory or optional referendums on each political level are generally much longer in Switzerland than in any other country; for example, any amendment to the constitution must automatically be voted on by the Swiss electorate and cantons, on cantonal/communal levels often any financial decision of a certain substantial amount decreed by legislative and/or executive bodies as well.[29]

Swiss citizens vote regularly on any kind of issue on every political level, such as financial approvals of a schoolhouse or the building of a new street, or the change of the policy regarding sexual work, or on constitutional changes, or on the foreign policy of Switzerland, four times a year.[30] Between January 1995 and June 2005, Swiss citizens voted 31 times, on 103 federal questions besides many more cantonal and municipal questions.[31] During the same period, French citizens participated in only two referendums.[28]

In Switzerland, simple majorities are sufficient at the municipal and cantonal level, at the federal level double majorities are required on constitutional issues.[18]

A double majority requires approval by a majority of individuals voting, and also by a majority of cantons. Thus, in Switzerland, a citizen-proposed amendment to the federal constitution (i.e. popular initiative) cannot be passed at the federal level if a majority of the people approve but a majority of the cantons disapprove.[18] For referendums or propositions in general terms (like the principle of a general revision of the Constitution), a majority of those voting is sufficient (Swiss Constitution, 2005).

In 1890, when the provisions for Swiss national citizen lawmaking were being debated by civil society and government, the Swiss adopted the idea of double majorities from the United States Congress, in which House votes were to represent the people and Senate votes were to represent the states.[18] According to its supporters, this “legitimacy-rich” approach to national citizen lawmaking has been very successful. Kris Kobach claims that Switzerland has had tandem successes both socially and economically which are matched by only a few other nations. Kobach states at the end of his book, “Too often, observers deem Switzerland an oddity among political systems. It is more appropriate to regard it as a pioneer.” Finally, the Swiss political system, including its direct democratic devices in a multi-level governance context, becomes increasingly interesting for scholars of European Union integration.[32]

United States

Main articles: History of direct democracy in the United States and Initiatives and referendums in the United States

In the New England region of the United States, towns in states such as Vermont decide local affairs through the direct democratic process of the town meeting.[33] This is the oldest form of direct democracy in the United States, and predates the founding of the country by at least a century.

Direct democracy was not what the framers of the United States Constitution envisioned for the nation. They saw a danger in tyranny of the majority. As a result, they advocated a representative democracy in the form of a constitutional republic over a direct democracy. For example, James Madison, in Federalist No. 10, advocates a constitutional republic over direct democracy precisely to protect the individual from the will of the majority. He says,

Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.


[A] pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.[34]

John Witherspoon, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, said: “Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state – it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage.” Alexander Hamilton said, “That a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure, deformity.”[35]

Despite the framers’ intentions at the beginning of the republic, ballot measures and their corresponding referendums have been widely used at the state and sub-state level. There is much state and federal case law, from the early 1900s to the 1990s, that protects the people’s right to each of these direct democracy governance components (Magleby, 1984, and Zimmerman, 1999). The first United States Supreme Court ruling in favor of the citizen lawmaking was in Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph Company v. Oregon, 223 U.S. 118 in 1912 (Zimmerman, December 1999). President Theodore Roosevelt, in his “Charter of Democracy” speech to the 1912 Ohio constitutional convention, stated: “I believe in the Initiative and Referendum, which should be used not to destroy representative government, but to correct it whenever it becomes misrepresentative.”[36]

In various states, referendums through which the people rule include:

  • Referrals by the legislature to the people of “proposed constitutional amendments” (constitutionally used in 49 states, excepting only Delaware – Initiative & Referendum Institute, 2004).
  • Referrals by the legislature to the people of “proposed statute laws” (constitutionally used in all 50 states – Initiative & Referendum Institute, 2004).
  • Constitutional amendment initiative is a constitutionally-defined petition process of “proposed constitutional law”, which, if successful, results in its provisions being written directly into the state’s constitution. Since constitutional law cannot be altered by state legislatures, this direct democracy component gives the people an automatic superiority and sovereignty, over representative government (Magelby, 1984). It is utilized at the state level in nineteen states: ArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoFloridaIllinoisLouisianaMassachusettsMichiganMississippiMissouriMontanaNebraskaNevadaNorth DakotaOhioOklahomaOregon and South Dakota (Cronin, 1989). Among these states, there are three main types of the constitutional amendment initiative, with different degrees of involvement of the state legislature distinguishing between the types (Zimmerman, December 1999).
  • Statute law initiative is a constitutionally-defined, citizen-initiated petition process of “proposed statute law”, which, if successful, results in law being written directly into the state’s statutes. The statute initiative is used at the state level in twenty-one states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, IdahoMaine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, UtahWashington and Wyoming (Cronin, 1989). Note that, in Utah, there is no constitutional provision for citizen lawmaking. All of Utah’s I&R law is in the state statutes (Zimmerman, December 1999). In most states, there is no special protection for citizen-made statutes; the legislature can begin to amend them immediately.
  • Statute law referendum is a constitutionally-defined, citizen-initiated petition process of the “proposed veto of all or part of a legislature-made law”, which, if successful, repeals the standing law. It is used at the state level in twenty-four states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming (Cronin, 1989).
  • The recall election is a citizen-initiated process which, if successful, removes an elected official from office and replaces him or her. The first recall device in the United States was adopted in Los Angeles in 1903. Typically, the process involves the collection of citizen petitions for the recall of an elected official; if a sufficient number of valid signatures are collected and verified, a recall election is triggered. In U.S. history, there have been three gubernatorial recall elections in U.S. history (two of which resulted in the recall of the governor) and 38 recall elections for state legislators (55% of which succeeded).

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have a recall function for state officials. Additional states have recall functions for local jurisdictions. Some states require specific grounds for a recall petition campaign.[37]

  • Statute law affirmation is available in Nevada. It allows the voters to collect signatures to place on the ballot a question asking the state citizens to affirm a standing state law. Should the law get affirmed by a majority of state citizens, the state legislature will be barred from ever amending the law, and it can be amended or repealed only if approved by a majority of state citizens in a direct vote.[38]

More at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_democracy

What dream characters reveal about the astonishing dreaming brain

What dream characters reveal about the astonishing dreaming brain | Psyche

Photo by JR Korpa/Unsplash

Antonio Zadrais a sleep and dream researcher at the Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur’s Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine and a professor of psychology at the Université de Montréal. His books include When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep (2021), co-authored with Robert Stickgold, and The Dreamkeepers (2020), a suspense novel blending sleep science with dream mythology. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

Edited by Christian Jarrett

June 28, 2021 (psyche.co)

My fascination with dream characters began while I was in college. That’s when, in the midst of a dream in which I knew I was dreaming (a ‘lucid dream’), I had my first encounter with an older gentleman, who tried to convince me that, actually, my experience wasn’t a dream. Over the next two decades, this man appeared in several other of my lucid as well as non-lucid dreams. He always maintained he was real, one time going as far as to suggest that we were sharing a common dream or, even more unsettling, that I was a character in his dream. Setting aside the intriguing nature of these exchanges, several aspects of this enigmatic dream figure were particularly striking, including his clever discourse, the liveliness of his gaze (which gave me a genuine feeling of ‘being looked at’ by another sentient being), and the fact that I never quite knew what he would do or say next.

Of course, characters in our dreams can appear one-dimensional or behave like mere ‘extras’ in a play, but others, like the gentleman I came to know, evince an intriguing degree of psychological depth – saying and doing things as if acting upon their own thoughts or feelings. Moreover, much as in waking life, we sometimes encounter people in our dreams whose actions elicit a myriad of physical and emotional responses within ourselves. Through their choice of words, facial expressions, tone of voice and mannerisms, not only can dream characters pull us into all kinds of discussions and interactions but, more amazing still, they can display convincing behaviours and feelings in response to different events taking place within the dream world.

Even in lucid dreams then, it is your dreaming brain, and not your conscious self, that is the true director and producer. Herein lies one of the great and often underappreciated mysteries of dreams: your brain is responsible for creating both your sense of self in the dream (often as a first-person participant or observer) as well as the virtual world with which you interact – including the people, animals and sordid creatures you might encounter – but it keeps key aspects of this process outside of your awareness. Alongside innumerable details of the setting (such as whether the sky is clear or dotted with clouds), this almost always includes what dream characters opt to say and do in your dreams, whether you’re lucid in them or not.

In one intriguing study from 1989 that illustrates the extent of this phenomenon, Paul Tholey, a German dream researcher and Gestalt psychologist, had nine proficient lucid dreamers ask people in their dreams to perform specific tasks, such as writing or drawing something, coming up with a rhyming verse or a word unknown to the dreamer, or solving simple mathematical problems. Not only were several dream figures willing to give such tasks a try, but some were surprisingly good at them.

When one lucid dreamer gave a dream character what he thought was the correct answer to the maths problem, the dream figure corrected him – and was right

For example, when one participant asked a dream character to produce a word unfamiliar to him, the character immediately said: ‘Orlog.’ This word really was unfamiliar to the dreamer. It was only upon waking that he learned, when he looked it up, that oorlog is Dutch for ‘war’ or ‘quarrel’. Likewise, when asked to write or draw something, some dream figures produced accurately rendered letters and sketches while sitting opposite the dreamer, with the dreamers sometimes having to rotate the sketch 180 degrees toward themselves in the dream to fully appreciate the drawing.

Dave Green, an English artist who uses lucid dreaming to create original sketches, recently described to me some similar unexpected twists in his dreams. For example, when Green asked a dream character to explain a drawing he’d just made, the man replied that he was from the Czech Republic. In another dream, a woman handed Green her finished drawing, only the sheet didn’t feature a sketch but a collection of random numbers and words.

Dream characters’ responses to arithmetic problems can be just as intriguing. In Tholey’s original work, as well as in a follow-up study from Germany in 2011, the vast majority of dream characters’ answers to even very simple maths problems, such as three times four or two plus three, were wrong. In a handful of cases, dream characters first gave a wrong answer, then corrected themselves. Moreover, when one lucid dreamer gave a dream character what he thought was the correct answer to the maths problem, the dream figure corrected him – and was right. Some of the characters’ emotional reactions to the questions were also peculiar. One dream character started to cry, another immediately ran away. In other cases, dream characters replied that the question was of a personal nature or that the answers involved were either too subjective or important to be shared.

The fact that dream characters can exhibit remarkable cognitive abilities, from speaking fluently (sometimes even with a foreign accent) to engaging in complex social interactions, to displaying a range of situation-specific emotions, reveals something astonishing about the dreaming brain. Alongside the unfolding story and your own sense of self, it can create a host of dream characters who not only interact with you (or among themselves), but also appear to have private access to their own subjective perception of, and reaction to, the events unfolding within the dream.

Experienced lucid dreamers will sometimes delve into this dynamic process by asking key dream characters potentially insightful questions such as: Who am I? Who are you? How can you help me? What is the most important thing I should know about what awaits us? Not only do some dream characters appear to take these questions seriously, but their replies can be startlingly witty or insightful. In rare cases, dream figures have even presented the dreamer with a possible solution to a pressing problem. I believe that, when used in this manner, lucid dreaming can allow you to explore and interact with parts of your mind (you might call it your unconscious) in ways that you can’t in non-lucid dreams – or during wakefulness, for that matter. To paraphrase the psychoanalyst Carl Jung, this way of interrelating with people in your dreams can help make ‘the unconscious conscious’.

One adaptive function of dreams resides in the brain’s ability to imagine possibilities, and to use this information to better prepare us for an uncertain future

Even if you aren’t a habitual lucid dreamer, you can still explore this facet of your dreams. Start by keeping a dream diary, which involves making notes on your dreams, either during the night if you wake then, or first thing in the morning. After you’ve collected about 20 or more dream reports, look for patterns in your dreams. For instance, where do your dreams tend to take place? Who are the people you most frequently see in your dreams? Are these characters present in dreams that have specific themes or emotions? Who do the characters remind you of and why? How do they make you feel, and how do you interact with them and they with you? As you explore these questions, you might learn more about the ways in which your brain constructs your dreams and, in the process, learn something new about yourself.

However, the way that your brain keeps much of the dream ‘script’ and dream characters’ minds outside of your immediate awareness isn’t just a fascinating quirk that’s worth exploring out of personal interest. Rather, some of my colleagues and I believe that it might play an important role in the biological function of dreams, helping to explain why we evolved to dream at all.

In our recent bookWhen Brains Dream (2021), Robert Stickgold, a sleep and dream researcher at Harvard Medical School, and I drew on scientific findings to argue that while dreaming, the brain explores novel and creative associations between recently formed memories and older, often only weakly related memories, and monitors whether the resulting narrative constructed from these memories induces an emotional response. If an emotional feeling is detected, we argue that the brain tags the association as potentially valuable, strengthening the link between the two memories and making the association available once you wake up.

This model suggests that one adaptive function of dreams resides in the brain’s ability to imagine possibilities within our dreams, to evaluate our reactions to them, and to use this information to better prepare us for an uncertain future. This overarching function of dreams is likely optimised when people react to their dreams much like they react to the things they consciously experience during wakefulness. And, for the most part, that’s exactly how we behave in our dreams. After all, it’s usually only after we wake up that we realise that the experience we were having was in fact a dream. While immersed in the dream-world, we typically believe that the dream is real, which is why we feel sad in a dream upon being told that a loved one has passed away, or bewildered by the fact that we find ourselves unprepared for that high-school exam, or why we run away in a panic from a knife-wielding figure.

If our model is correct, it would help to explain why the people we encounter in our dreams, while not physically real, certainly seem to behave as if they are, and why we, the dreamers, routinely engage with them as if they were autonomous, conscious beings. The unpredictability of dream characters is also consistent with, and important for, several other recent models of dream function, such as: the threat simulation theory of dreams (this is the idea that dreams evolved to help prepare us for a range of real-life threats and dangers); the social simulation theory of dreams (which sees dreaming as an evolutionarily adaptive mechanism that allows us to rehearse waking social perceptions and interactions); and the longstanding idea that dreams play a role in emotion regulation.

In all of these models, part of the efficacy of the presumed function of dreams depends on us being emotionally engaged by the dream narrative and believing (while still asleep and dreaming) that what we’re experiencing is real. Having characters in our dreams say and do things as if they were real, sentient beings certainly helps to make this possible.

Of course, the fact that the characters in your dreams might serve some evolutionarily advantageous function of dreaming doesn’t detract from the extraordinary nature of what’s going on when you sleep. Consider the notion that, since your brain is responsible for creating your dreams, any time a character says or does something that surprises you in a dream, you are, in a very real sense, surprising yourself. And who knows, maybe some dream characters are surprising themselves too. Now that I think of it, perhaps the next time I meet that older gentleman in my dreams, I’ll ask him what unexpected night-time encounters he’s experienced lately. As to how he’ll opt to reply, your guess is as good as mine.