Progressive Politics Research and Commentary by Janette Rainwater
 
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Preface to the Sixth Edition, Budite Sebi Psihoterapeut

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The University of Ljubljana offered me a job teaching contemporary American literature (although I had no academic credentials in that area); my Ph.D. husband, sight unseen, was offered a position in physics. I was eager for us to accept. However, when I could not guarantee that we would find a flat with hot running water, he declined. So it took me fourteen years before I could return.

In 1972 I was in charge of the first European Summer Residential Training Program of the Gestalt Therapy Institute of Los Angeles. Since the choice of venue was up to me, we went to Yugoslavia. And Dubrovnik at festival time!

I didn't feel it was right to take advantage of the lower hotel prices of a "developing country" (a term I dislike) without giving something back. So I essentially blackmailed my colleagues into accepting my suggestion that we offer scholarships to Yugoslav psychologists and psychiatrists. I wrote to the mental health departments of all six republics, but only two responded. Croatia sent two psychiatrists and Serbia sent a psychologist.

That psychologist had poor English skills and kept such a low profile that I wondered what, if anything, he was getting from the ten days. However, he was the only one of the three who asked to return the next year to our training program in Austria. He must have spent the year in intensive English study, as he was able to take a most active part from then on, returning many more years, and arranging for us to hold our training workshops at Lake Bled in 1974 and in Portoroz in 1977 . He became Mr. Gestalt Therapy of Yugoslavia and his name, of course, is Mladen Kostic.

With this background you may understand how pleased I am that my book is being re-published. I hope you will find it useful for you personally, even in these very difficult times. My greatest hope for the world is that all of us become more self-aware, more responsible, and more willing to unite and work together to correct the world's injustices.

How many of you have heard the story of the Hundredth Monkey? Popularized by the anti-nuclear movement in the 80s, it is a well-meaning distortion of the observation of some animal behavior scientists on the Japanese island of Koshima in the 1950s. In order to identify the rhesus monkeys they were observing, the scientists would drop sweet potatoes into the sand and then categorize the monkeys as they swung out of the trees to get the food. Many of the monkeys disdained the potatoes, not liking the grit with which they were encrusted, but one enterprising young female got the bright idea to wash the sand off her potatoes before eating them. Soon her playmates were imitating her and washing their potatoes. A few mothers copied their children's behavior, but the older generation basically resisted the innovation. The children, however, taught the behavior to their children, so that after a time it was only monkeys who were born before 1950 that were still eating gritty potatoes.

This much is true.

The rest of the story is not and thus gave the skeptics an opportunity to debunk the entire investigation. Lyall Watson and Ken Keyes, Jr. seized on the Koshima research and propagated the notion that after a critical mass (the hypothetical "Hundredth Monkey") had been reached, monkeys on other islands spontaneously began washing their yams. They postulated that a sort of"morphic resonance" (Rupert Sheldrake's term) was in operation.

However the first (and true) part of the story provides a powerful model of how change can occur. One monkey's behavior had, in one generation, changed the behavior of a significant segment of the population. Each of us has the opportunity by our actions and our words to be a model, to influence the thinking and behavior of any number of people who then in turn will influence additional groups.

As Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

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Site last changed November 20, 2001.

© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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