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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder

The Attention Gift Hypothesis

I advanced it in 2014 but didn't state it clearly enough nor emphasize it strongly enough for
the Attention Gift Hypothesis to find Purchase in the Soil of the Social Consciousness.

Michael David Crawford, Baritone,

Thursday, April 30th, 2018

Copyright © 2003 Michael David Crawford. All Rights Reserved.

While my explanation of what I denote as the Attention Gift Hypothesis, whether April 14th, 2010 my statement of it was the very _first_ to advance it or had someone else already done so with a quite-likely completely different name but a roughly identical explanation I do not yet know.

Admittedly, I haven't gone to much effort to actually find out: literature research is for Graduate Students.

My 2010 statement of the Attention Gift Hypothesis was towards the middle of an essay about Courtship that I wrote in helping a desperately-lonely fellow Kuron by the name of Lemon Juice to find happiness in a relationship with a loving woman.

I contemplated Attention Gifts in a truly _conscious_ way in the Fall of 1997 as I puzzled as to how to win the heart of a certain mysterious stranger who introduced herself to me in a short, simple October 6th, 1997 electronic mail message.

My actual _formulation_ of the Attention Gift Hypothesis was the ultimate result of my writing's increasingly-sharper focus on literature and history beginning in early May 2003 when I wrote the following few paragraphs towards the middle of The Reality Construction Kit, the section immediately preceding "Why Am I Saying All This?", the conclusion my May 2003 online book Living with Schizoaffective Disorder:

[The Philosopher Immanuel] Kant called what we actually experience "phenomenal reality". It is created from noumenal reality first through a process of selection and then interpretation.

We can only see the wavelengths of light our eyes can detect, hear the frequencies of sounds our ears will accept, and understand a limited amount of complexity. Complexity is managed through a process that combines and simplifies the raw material of noumenal reality into the phenomenal reality of the objects we perceive. We then apply interpretation to the objects based on our cultures and our own personalities. There is only so much we can pay attention to or even notice at all. In a very real sense we only see or hear what we want to, although the decision might be made at a very primitive level in our brains. Some sights or sounds are scary and capture our attention because during evolution those of our ancestors who gave significance to such experiences survived to reproduce.

Importantly, many of the selections and interpretations involve choices, albeit unconscious ones, that are influenced first by our biology, then our culture, then our personality. And the salvation of the mentally ill is that although the choices are made automatically at first, we can make new choices. I'm not saying it's easy, but one can influence one's reality over time and eventually establish new patterns of automatic choices that can result in a reality that is much happier to live in than, say, the world of fear and despair I used to inhabit.

The objective of psychotherapy is not to provide you with a professional friend to listen to your tales of woe. It is to help you construct a new reality. While you can expect your therapist to be sympathetic when you are in crisis, a good therapist also challenges her client to question their assumptions. Therapy is hard because the answers to such questions are often painful to face.

Everyone who starts therapy hopes to get back to the good old days before they began to suffer, but that's not what therapy will do for them. Instead therapy helps you to let go of those of your beliefs, even your most cherished beliefs, that led you astray. In the end a successful therapy client may be very different than they ever were before, but if the therapist does her work well the client will ultimately be more truly themselves than they ever have been in their lives.

My at first quite rudimentary mental model grew in a generally hazy, slow sort of way until late May or early June 2010 an Aged Hippy Chick and I fell madly in love with each other during our time together in the Burlingame General Hospital's locked Psychiatric Ward.

My actual statement of the Attention Gift Hypothesis is the last of a few paragraphs I quoted at the end of what I posted just now in response to a Facebook video that captured a homeless woman's uncommon kindness of giving every last penny of the very small amount of money that strangers had given her that day to a young homeless man and his young daughter who had been given nothing at all:

"You need this much more than I do."

I started sing on the street for tips a little over two years before a whole bunch of my professional colleagues ganged up on me so as to drive home that the only way I would ever get back to work was to have a safe, reliable place to live. That led me to finally accept the offer of a free Federal government-funded apartment by Community Services Northwest of Vancouver, Washington.

From time to time one of my fellow homeless people would tip me a one dollar bill. I've been living in my apartment about two and a half years; the homeless still tip me occasionally.

Beginning in I think the late Summer of 1986 that someone stole my brand-new pair of pants off my clothesline at first angered me but a few minutes of quiet contemplation led me to find acceptance and serenity by concluding that whoever put the arm on my threads needed those threads more than I did at the time.

What many really _do_ regard as a symptom of my quite severe illness, my original Scrooge-like stinginess evolved into what those who don't think the product of madness but Simple Human Decency when a lean, muscular, muscular young black man asked me for money one afternoon at the Pasadena Plaza shopping mail on Colorado Boulevard a mile or two from Caltech.

He asked for money. What he actually _got_ was taken out to lunch.

It was not long at all before our conversation led me to understand in quite a deep way that far more important than any kind of food but even just a very _little_ been of human social contact.

I could go one for a hundred pages about the ways that I've demonstrates Simple Human Decency to many both homeless as well as luxuriously housed, even wealthy people but I'll skip to the hypothesis I ultimately advanced until April 14th, 2010 when I summarized Psychiatrist Eric Berne MD's 1965 text "Games People Play" which lucidly explained his approach to the Social Psychology of interaction between two or more people.

Berne called his conceptual framework "Transaction Analysis" with his books first chapter introducing the theory behind Transaction Analysis.

All but a very few human newborns survive to be healthy and happy until some problem external to that infant's and their mother's loving bond leads to what for most of the world's population is the cruel fate of Infant Mortality.

Barring the more readily apparent reasons fInfant Mortality, what from the moment of it's birth while greatly dismayed at having evicted from it's warm, comfortable, happy and nutritious home in its mother's womb, the newborn infant is quite strikingly passionate and vigorously physically actively.

How could it possibly be a few of these tiny little human dynamos lose all will to live then lie quietly and still until they die for No Apparent Reason?

What Berne's Biography states was his determination "to develop a new approach to psychotherapy" blossomed into his profoundly important theory and practice of Transactional Analysis.

At first on Thursday evenings in Monterey, California than from 1950 as well one Tuesday's in San Francisco, Berne led clinical seminars in which he tested his proposed psychological theories and practices by studying his own and his fellow seminar's participant's response to them.

His Tuesday evening group was in 1958 legally established as the San Francisco Social Psychiatry Seminars. This group eventually took up the question of the mysterious phenomenon of infant death due to "Failure To Thrive", eventually to arrive at the theoretical foundations of Psychological Games explained as well in "Games People Play's" first chapter.

"But Mike!" you quite reasonably protest, "what about that hypothesis you advanced on April 14th, 2010?"

Your Wish Is My Command:

I summarized Games People Play thus:

During the early 1960s the San Francisco Psychiatry Seminars puzzled over the question of why a phenomenon known as Failure to Thrive sometimes led to tiny infants suddenly losing all will to live, quickly wasting away then dying for no apparent reason. They were easily able to identify that the most savage form of child abuse known to man is not at all sickening incest or sadistic violence, but cruel neglect.

Fail to provide for your infant's emotional needs, despite diligently providing for its physical needs it will die of Failure to Thrive within a few months. Despite the cruel death of your own infant child, you will then find yourself strangely unable to get that worked up about your loss.


(I actually met in the Spring of 2010 a young mother whose newborn fraternal twins had been taken from her by the Santa Clara County Child Protection Services when her hospitals Maternity Ward nurses took note of her merely-perfunctory care of her son as while as her strikingly contrasting deep love of her daughter.

She was quite distraught and overcome with grief because she knew all to well that she'd never again see her precious baby girl unless she somehow worked up an ability to love her baby son who at the time she wasn't particularly interested in.)


Psychiatrist Eric Berne explains this in the theoretical introduction to his 1964 book Games People Play. The bulk of the book is a catalog and theoretical analysis of the strategies that such neglected infants employ to win the only love and affection they will ever know from their own mothers and fathers.

Berne calls these strategies Games, but only a few such Games are fun. Berne refers to these fun Games as Pastimes.


Most of the Games are destructive in some way; Berne points out that some Games end up in the courtroom or the morgue.


(Most Psychological Games are deadly serious, with their players being largely unaware of their own Game's existence.)


Being vital survival strategies during the earliest years of our childhoods, our Games continue until our deaths unless disrupted by psychotherapy or some other life-altering event.

One of the most common such events is cancer. There is something about knowing that one has but a few months left that enables one to discover what it is about life that one finds really important, and truly most beautiful. Thus one's time before The End might be spent with one's Game completely abandoned, with one somehow comforted and completely accepting of one's fate. If one miraculously survives, one's remaining years might well be filled with a radiant joy and peace of mind that one has not only never known, but never conceived of as being at all possible.

Biochemical and Psychiatric investigation into the question of why our mothers' love completely prevents Failure to Thrive has now lucidly explained the theoretical reasons for a fact that every animal lover has always known in a deeply intuitive way.

On April 14th, 2010 I wrote what I now denote as the Attention Gift Hypothesis was my simple statement:

The greatest gift that any member of any mammalian species may give to any other mammal is their Attention.

Thank You For Your Attention.

Michael David Crawford
Portland, Oregon
Thursday August 30th, 2018
7:57 AM

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