An Immunization Against Lethal Emotional Suffering

Among her many impressive achievements, Lucy Hone, PhD, is an academic researcher studying resilience science.

Not long ago, she suffered the most devastating personal loss a parent can imagine.

Below you can watch Dr. Hone’s brief and invaluable TEDx talk that offers scientific tactics and her own living example of how to become antifragile (not merely resilient) to the inevitable ordeal of inner suffering that results from a life-changing tragedy.

Every person on Earth should listen to her. Eventually we will all need to know and practice what she reveals here.

Assuming you’ve listened to her speech now (if you haven’t, please listen to it when you have time), can you recall Lucy Hone’s three scientific strategies for dealing with suffering?

This summary doesn’t do justice, but it should help transfer this vital information from your short-term memory into your long-term knowledge base. Here are the three things to remember…

  1. Adversity doesn’t discriminate. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons [and daughters] of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” – The Nazarene. Lucy says that we need to face and accept the fact that unspeakably horrendous things naturally happen to everyone. Having this realistic knowledge immunizes you against the devastating feeling that you’ve been treated unfairly by God (or by random fate) when your time arrives to suffer. “Resilient people get that ‘shit happens.’ They know that suffering is part of life.” – Lucy Hone, PhD
  2. Accept the good. With reference to the future, develop a habit of differentiating the things you can change from the things you can’t change. Then choose to focus on things you can change. Choose not to dwell on things you cannot change, but instead, try to accept them as unchangeable. Or at least open yourself to the concept and the feeling of accepting unchangeable negatives rather than battling them in rumination. Regarding the past, deliberately focus on things you can be thankful for, no matter how small they may seem when compared to your immense loss. “Resilient people are really good at choosing carefully where they select their attention. They have a habit of realistically appraising situations and typically managing to focus on the things they can change, and somehow accepting the things that they can’t. This is a vital, learnable skill…. Being able to also focus your attention to the good has been shown by science to also be a powerful strategy. … Make an intentional, deliberate, ongoing effort to tune in to what’s good in your world.” – Lucy Hone, PhD
  3. Become your own north-star GPS. “Resilient people ask themselves, ‘Is what I’m doing helping or harming me?’ … This was my go-to question after the girls died. I would ask it again and again. … This one strategy has prompted more positive feedback than any other. Asking yourself whether what you’re doing, the way you’re thinking, the way you’re acting is helping or harming you puts you back in the driver’s seat. It gives you some control of your decision making.” – Lucy Hone, PhD

It’s interesting to note that Lucy trained under Martin Seligman, the eminent psychologist who, among other achievements, brought us the concept of learned helplessness.

Like the experimental animals who were taught that nothing they could do would ever make a difference to their sufferings in the laboratory, young people in the Western educational systems are taught (as a corollary to the pseudoscience of “scientific” materialism) that they have no free will. This implies that humans are “scientifically” helpless in the face of suffering. Everything is predetermined in the force-fed academic doctrine. This brainwashing of young minds promotes learned helplessness as the integral truth of the human condition.

Everyone knows firsthand that suffering is real, but our schools insist that free will is a false illusion. All we can do is react in a predictable and inevitable way with no personal control, only a cruel illusion of agency.

And yet the cutting-edge science of resilience to human suffering calls for choices, the very use of the free will that we’re told does not exist. The ability we innately know we possess, to choose constructively and act upon our decisions, is stripped from the worldviews of young people in today’s schools. This is abuse, carried out by dedicated, well-meaning people who are unable or unwilling to recognize their mistake, their massive, lethally toxic mistake…

With well over 40,000 people committing suicide each year in the US alone, it’s beyond the time for each of us to insist that tax-funded schools allow our sons and daughters to learn at least one alternative paradigm to “scientific” materialism. And to learn about it in an atmosphere that doesn’t ridicule it the way UFO’s are ridiculed in academia. Preferably students might hear of something congruent with the human experience… 

For instance, they might be taught by example to respect rather than detest the theory that we live in a meaningful Universe where information, consciousness and intelligence are as foundational to the list of nature’s building blocks as matter and energy, if not more fundamental and irreducible.

If we are to take seriously the science of resilience, then believing in free will is a matter of mental health and coping with adversity.

Share these ideas and this post with every young person you know. Give them hope and some tools to survive the suffering and depression that comes to virtually everyone nowadays.


Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD

11 thoughts on “An Immunization Against Lethal Emotional Suffering

  1. So sad, so true…. We all so easily forget how we are fragile in confronts to destiny’s leeway. The current paradigm of “invincibility” created by our advances in science and technology fools us into believing that we are the masters of a meaningless, automated universe – the further our erring, the deeper our predicament.

    Stoics from over 2000 years ago were more insightful than we are today in matters of true, inner knowledge on existence. What comes to my mind related to Dr Hone’s TED talk is Epictetus (50 – 135 AD):

    “Never say of anything: ‘I have lost it’, but, ‘I have returned it.’ Is your child dead? It is returned. Is your wife dead? She is returned.

    • Epictetus gives us a wonderful worldview in that regard. Thank you for sharing it with me.
      I’m working on an sf story now that explores reincarnation in concrete terms. I hope the magic of this ancient belief system isn’t lost to the tangible elements in the story.
      How is your writing project coming along?
      I recently discovered that preserving total boredom before I write, plus holding off caffeine until I begin writing, helps me be more productive and avoid days when I just don’t have the “juice to write” (borrowing Hemmingway’s phrase).

      • Sorry for seeing this just now, I happen to open WordPress rarely enough.

        I am happy to find the confirmation to my supposition that you must be up to something that needs to be tackled, and which only you, with your particular blend of a strict scientist, but an “ideationalist” at core (I placed down the meaning) can lead to its rightful realization- finalization.

        Incidentally, reincarnation is what I presented back in April at a Progressive Connections Conference in Bruges, Belgium – a multidisciplinary approach to the subject of death viewed under all its aspects (my theme exactly was literature and Jungian archetypes, where I also spoke about my book). Strangely enough, although I received a warm interest and appreciation, with urges to publish quickly, I didn’t continue at perfecting my book. For the past six month or so I have been working – building up my case on the deep roots of an antic civilization that may have been ahead of us, was surely covering all continents and is the source of our civilization. Sure enough much of the documentation is to be found in prehistory, in the Neolithic, where we can somehow easily track back the existence of the religious, cultural and psychological archetypes. I intend to make a four 15-min video series on youtube. In my mind, if I can gather some interest around my videos, then I’ll also be able to pitch my book to an agent with a certain chance of success.
        “Ideational”: according to sociologist Sorokin (Russian born, naturalized in the Us in the 30s, Harvard President for a while), the evolution of human society went from at first a cultural mentality in which reality is exclusively spiritual – he calls it “ideational”, to one that is material, “sensate”, to finally mold into the “idealistic” view on reality, a synthesis of the two (he also prophesied that western civilization, deeply fallen into “sensate” view on reality will eventually fall into decadence and then it will only naturally shift to a new ideational or idealistic era – we kind of feel that, don’t we??)

    • Thank you, Spira. Keep inspiring the world with your unique Art.
      I’ve been doing cold water sessions in an unheated pool for the last three days and feel charged with dopamine or something. It reminds me of my youth when I would skin dive and body surf in the Pacific and come out feeling exhausted and euphoric for a few hours.

      • Euphoric is the key word here , isn’t it ( physiologically/psychologically) ?
        My concern with the cold water( as with everything ) is the threshold between benefit and side effects; and how to apply that in a personalised manner.
        Endorphins work!

        I would also argue that Dr Hone’ s key points include one more; the one where she honestly describes the experience of being to the ” other side” of the healing profession.
        What a transforming experience would be for all medi professionals to go through that in a detailed simulated manner…

        Anyway, it was so good to hear from you. Take good care my friend.

        • I invariably have concerns about the unexpected consequences of things I’m testing on myself. In the case of cold water exposure, there’s at least the risk of fatal hypothermia. I take a long hot shower or bath after total immersion in cold water, and so far I haven’t had a visit from the grim reaper. 😉 But there are always subtle long-term effects that can’t be known until the damage is done. I think this is where we’re probably going now with 5G, for instance. Maybe not with cold exposure. It might be worth considering that the geological temperature history of Earth (as interpreted now, which could change) shows that ice ages last much longer than warm periods. This might be taken to imply that Earth’s species are far more adaptable to cold than we realize. With ancient “mythical” reports of humans who lived much longer than we do today, it might make sense to consider the possibility that these myths are true and have something to do with life during the previous ice age. Totally wild speculation, but it’s always worthwhile to imagine a larger image from any perspective that the mainstream rejects. Anecdotally, I saw a video of an Asian woman in her 50’s who looked about as young as her son. She had been swimming in the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean daily for 20 years. (n=1)

          Very insightful point you make about Dr. Hone’s journey to the other side of her research. Crossing over to the depths of real suffering and then finding your way back from depression may be the most valuable experience anyone can have toward developing immunity to despair and suicide.

          Thank you for your insights, Spira. Take care and keep up the great work you’re doing.

          • I hope I didn’t come out as negative about what you are doing, cause I’m not. If not for anything else, you are qualified to assess the situation .
            My poor syntax was trying to portrait a general trend of adopting by the public whatever has more views on YouTube. 😉

            • I knew you weren’t being negative, Spira. Not at all. You always bring up important and interesting ideas each time you speak. It’s so true that we live in a world of group-think with YouTube and social media popularity guiding the way to “enlightenment.” Hopefully, the so-called wisdom of crowds will self-correct before too much insanity rules us. I’m feeling optimistic at this point because I just got back from my daughter’s cold, cold pool and those endorphins are kicking in. 🙂

              No worries, we’re ancient friends. 🙂

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