Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

Voyageur

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The second part of the book looks to facing these emotions, and all the ripples that had moved out from the original focal point of saying truth against the lie discovered.
I noticed that too and quite enjoyed the book which is actually a first book of a new series: The Ravenwood Series.

The second half of the book easily flowed from the first, and really the whole story is not some grand adventure (although war factors), full of intrigue and villain's, no, it is simple - the search for and the understanding of simple truths. And yet it is powerful. This last part of the book is the reconciliation from one event (the calamity) that looks to the deeper understanding of truth and lies (and such pain that ripples from the latter in so many directions), even the middle ground is explored, along with the locking up of emotions and searching for the keys to same. Primarily, it is looking at what love means; an often surface word used with such ephemeral meanings that can't well, if at all, be captured in words themselves.

Without the need to put a spoiler here that digs into the story and its many characters, will just add a few quotes that may provide a feeling for Mary's latest book:

Perhaps,” he said, “some people find it more comfortable to see their world the way they want it to be. Do you think?” “Instead of the way it is...”

One could never predict the future, and the past could never be changed. The only influence one could ever have upon one’s own life or the lives of other people was in the present, yet the present was such a fleeting thing, gone even as one thought of it. Then one was confronted with yet another present moment, and so on throughout a lifetime. Each moment unveiling choices and decisions, any of which might have long-lasting consequences. It was a dizzying, even frightening thought, for any hope one might have of permanence or stability was just an illusion.

Had the choice been between love and truth? But were they not the same thing? Or, when he thought he had acted out of an adherence to the truth, did he really mean righteousness? Righteousness—the need to judge and condemn in the name of a perceived truth. ...

No one teaches you that the future is not assured, do they? They teach you useless things like the plays of Shakespeare and the difference between who and whom. They teach you to add and multiply and divide. They teach you to find Italy and India and China on a map, and how to paint in watercolors and embroider your initials across the corner of a handkerchief without pulling the linen out of shape. You have to learn all the important things from life itself.”

When people live in denial of the truthsometimes large groups of them all together—they lose their . . . I am not sure of the right word. They lose something precious, something good and right and true. Their integrity, perhaps? ...

Truth mattered.
It was love.

For readers here, there is something about this story of Mary's that fits rather well with what the C's so often say, all there is are lessons. IMO, she gets the right of "simple truths and understandings."
 

Persej

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
In this topic, Laura talked about stiring the sexual energies by using the method of sexual arousal so that we can utilize those energies for removing the fears and inhibitions in our minds.

Well, it seems that scientists have proven that that is what can happen in mice.

Fear extinction remains an unresolved challenge for behavioral exposure therapy in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Previous reports have suggested that social support from either familiar or unfamiliar same-sex partners is beneficial to attenuating fear responses during fear extinction and renewal. Despite that, few studies have examined the effects of social support in advance on fear extinction and/or retrieval. It is also not clear whether social company by a receptive mating partner in advance facilitates fear extinction. In the present study, we address these questions by introducing a co-housing method, where fear-conditioned male mice are co-housed with or without a receptive mating partner prior to fear extinction. We found that while co-housing with an ovariectomized female mouse showed little effect on fear extinction or retrieval, social company by a receptive mating partner in advance dramatically facilitates fear extinction. In addition, the number of cFos-positive neurons in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) were also found to be reduced in male mice accompanied with receptive mating partner in response to fear extinction and retrieval, indicating diminished neuronal activation. Electrophysiological studies further showed that the excitability of excitatory neurons in BLA was decreased, which is probably due to the attenuated basal level of excitatory synaptic transmission. Together, our observations demonstrate an effect of social company by a receptive mating partner can facilitate fear extinction and afford a possible cellular mechanism.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common psychiatric disorders. Among them, social anxiety disorder (SAD), or social phobia, are characterized by persistent fear and avoidance of social situations. Unfortunately, treatments for SAD are rather unspecific as patients are generally treated with anxiolytics and/or antidepressant drugs combined with cognitive behavioral therapy. However, a lot of patients are resistant to these treatments or relapse once the treatment is over. This, combined with the high prevalence of SAD, highlights the emergency to develop new treatment strategies more specific to SAD. However, to find new potential targets for SAD treatments, animal models are needed to understand the underlying mechanisms of SAD. One of the major restrictions of SAD research was the lack of animal models. In 2012, the model of social fear conditioning (SFC) has been developed specifically to study SAD. After conditioning, the conditioned mice (SFC+) develop social avoidance, a sign of social fear, and the main symptom of SAD. This is easily measurable during the social fear extinction training, mimicking the cognitive behavioral therapy. Oxytocin, well-known for its prosocial properties, is also a puissant anxiolytic. Previous studies found a crucial beneficial role of the neuropeptide oxytocin in social fear. In order to study the effect of an acute endogenous release of OXT, mating in male mice is an excellent model. Indeed, an acute release of OXT within the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus was found in male rats during mating.

During my PhD thesis, my first aim was then to investigate the effect of mating on social fear extinction in male mice. Male mice were allowed to mate during 1h before to be subjected to social fear extinction. Interestingly, I found a facilitation of social fear extinction exclusively after successful mating (with ejaculation, Ej+). The mice that did not ejaculate prior to social fear extinction (Ej-) did not show this facilitation. (...)

Altogether, I showed that ejaculation during mating specifically facilitates the extinction of social fear.



So apparently, sex produces certain chemicals that can be used for extinction of fear.
 

Steph_rivers

Padawan Learner
Well, I just finished reading survivor series book 1 “The Proposal”. I’ll say it’s the fastest book I ever finished in my life.

I found myself resonating with Hugo so many times that I would slightly pause to get some reflecting done. I would say myself as well that I would hide behind my “military cloak” (literally) and i would feel safer there sulking in my pessimistic thoughts and scowling at the world.

A lot of points on self forgiveness, free will really put things into better perspective, as well as the silly games we play on eachother as lovers when in reality all we really want is to love our significant other.

One of my favorite things that was said by Hugo was when he says “I keep my sheep for their wool, not their meat. I keep my cows for their milk and cheese, not their meat. I keep chickens for their eggs. I have felt very virtuous about about it all. But I eat meat. I concur in the killing of other, unknown animals so that I may be fed. And almost all creatures prey upon others for food. It is all very cruel. One could dwell upon it and become massively gloomy. But that is the way life is. It is a continual balance of opposites. There are hatred and violence, for example, and there are kindness and gentleness. And sometimes violence is necessary.”

This section and many others including Constance’s rant on men taking great effort into continuing to “work” and produce for one’s self and not be idle is just a wonderful thing to read.
It really feels like looking into the mirror and saying “… you know… you could do more…I’m right here…”

I am definitely getting my hands on the next book in the series.
 

Marina9

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Well, I just finished reading survivor series book 1 “The Proposal”. I’ll say it’s the fastest book I ever finished in my life.

I found myself resonating with Hugo so many times that I would slightly pause to get some reflecting done. I would say myself as well that I would hide behind my “military cloak” (literally) and i would feel safer there sulking in my pessimistic thoughts and scowling at the world.

A lot of points on self forgiveness, free will really put things into better perspective, as well as the silly games we play on eachother as lovers when in reality all we really want is to love our significant other.

One of my favorite things that was said by Hugo was when he says “I keep my sheep for their wool, not their meat. I keep my cows for their milk and cheese, not their meat. I keep chickens for their eggs. I have felt very virtuous about about it all. But I eat meat. I concur in the killing of other, unknown animals so that I may be fed. And almost all creatures prey upon others for food. It is all very cruel. One could dwell upon it and become massively gloomy. But that is the way life is. It is a continual balance of opposites. There are hatred and violence, for example, and there are kindness and gentleness. And sometimes violence is necessary.”

This section and many others including Constance’s rant on men taking great effort into continuing to “work” and produce for one’s self and not be idle is just a wonderful thing to read.
It really feels like looking into the mirror and saying “… you know… you could do more…I’m right here…”

I am definitely getting my hands on the next book in the series.

I just got this one and will start it tonight! That happened to me with the Bridgerton series, its the books i've read the fastest cause I enjoyed them a lot even though in the past I wasn't very drawn towards novels...

From what I've been reading here I think i'll also enjoy the Survivors series, will share my comments when I'm done with the first one :)
 

gottathink

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I just got this one and will start it tonight! That happened to me with the Bridgerton series, its the books i've read the fastest cause I enjoyed them a lot even though in the past I wasn't very drawn towards novels...

From what I've been reading here I think i'll also enjoy the Survivors series, will share my comments when I'm done with the first one :)
I have just finished The Proposal also. I enjoyed the little cameo appearances of the already familiar characters from other series. For example when the Duke of Bewcastle speaks up at a garden party I knew exactly what he would have been thinking and how he will have assessed Hugo.
 

gottathink

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
In this topic, Laura talked about stiring the sexual energies by using the method of sexual arousal so that we can utilize those energies for removing the fears and inhibitions in our minds.

Well, it seems that scientists have proven that that is what can happen in mice.




So apparently, sex produces certain chemicals that can be used for extinction of fear.
But sounds like the effect on fear extinction is contingent on sex being with a sociable mating partner.
 

gottathink

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I think we can extrapolate the effect to operate in a number of ways; we don't have to get stuck in the particulars of one study. It simply lends weight to the idea.
I have read a large proportion of Mary Balogh’s books and one Anne Campbell series, Sons of Sin.
At present I’m am part way through the second book of The Survivor series. I noticed yesterday that I have let go of some things, or rather accepted myself more. My physical injuries and imperfections as well as flaws in my character. I’m here wanting to survive as well and can either show up every day with an “intention to live”(Alejo) or not.

What I think may have been happening is that I have exposed my neural network repeatedly to how Mary Balogh’s characters have resolved their own issues in the context of building relationships and becoming self responsible.

The point I making is it is hard to know exactly what we need to learn the most and in what way, but if we keep exposing our brains to new ways of thinking and observe the mechanics of developing relationships in the romance novels, then we create new opportunities of how we can be. And this is a tangible mechanism that involves our sexuality with its powerful transformative effects. As the studies on mice and fear extinction indicate.

I realise this is all just summing up what we already know about the romance novels. But it is quite fascinating to me to observe the effects in myself. To realise I have actually changed and made another shift, it’s incredible...hallelujah!
 

Persej

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I think we can extrapolate the effect to operate in a number of ways; we don't have to get stuck in the particulars of one study. It simply lends weight to the idea.

Exactly. It lends weight to the idea that we might need help of hormones to remove our inhibitions. But those hormones can be created in a number of ways. Here is a study on humans:

Can Fear Be Erased?​

When University of Bonn psychologist Monika Eckstein designed her latest published study, the goal was simple: administer a hormone into the noses of 62 men in hopes that their fear would go away. And for the most part, it did.

The hormone was oxytocin, often called our “love hormone” due to its crucial role in mother-child relationships, social bonding, and intimacy (levels soar during sex). But it also seems to have a significant antianxiety effect. Give oxytocin to people with certain anxiety disorders, and activity in the amygdala—the primary fear center in human and other mammalian brains, two almond-shaped bits of brain tissue sitting deep beneath our temples—falls.

The amygdala normally buzzes with activity in response to potentially threatening stimuli. When an organism repeatedly encounters a stimulus that at first seemed frightening but turns out to be benign—like, say, a balloon popping—a brain region called the prefrontal cortex inhibits amygdala activity. But in cases of repeated presentations of an actual threat, or in people with anxiety who continually perceive a stimulus as threatening, amygdala activity doesn’t subside and fear memories are more easily formed.

To study the effects of oxytocin on the development of these fear memories, Eckstein and her colleagues first subjected study participants to Pavlovian fear conditioning, in which neutral stimuli (photographs of faces and houses) were sometimes paired with electric shocks. Subjects were then randomly assigned to receive either a single intranasal dose of oxytocin or a placebo. Thirty minutes later they received functional MRI scans while undergoing simultaneous fear extinction therapy, a standard approach to anxiety disorders in which patients are continually exposed to an anxiety-producing stimulus until they no longer find it stressful. In this case they were again exposed to images of faces and houses, but this time minus the electric shocks.

Those subjects receiving oxytocin had increased activity in the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain responsible for getting fear under control—and decreased amygdala responsiveness when exposed to the now-benign images that subjects had been conditioned to find frightening. Physical manifestations of fear, namely sweating, were also decreased in the treated group. The results, published October 29 in Biological Psychiatry, suggest that just a single dose of oxytocin may effectively enhance extinction-based therapies for fear and anxiety conditions.

“It would be far too early to give recommendations for a clinical use of oxytocin,” Eckstein cautions. “However, there is a large body of research suggesting a potential therapeutic role in various disorders in the future.” Though results were based on observation rather than fMRI findings, a smaller study published last year by Acheson and colleagues reported that intranasal oxytocin facilitates fear extinction in humans. Oxytocin also attenuates hyperactive amygdalas in social anxiety disorder and is being explored as a potential treatment for PTSD.


And we are not rats!!

We are not, but we do share many basic biological traits, so that learning about rats can help us learn more about ourselves. In fact, in the previous days, by reading about rodent experiments, I learned more about myself than by reading many psychological books.
 

hlat

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Spoilers Mary Balogh's Survivor's Club and Westcott.
I noticed iterations of storylines, which tended to be more innocent and optimistic in Survivor's Club and more realistic and darker in Westcott.

Domestic violence and loving dangerous men
In Survivor's Club, Gwen lost her baby due to jumping on horses with her husband, with the implication that he physically abused her. But it turned out he was only mental and she was doing stupid things to try to make him happy. He committed suicide and never put his hands on her.
In Westcott, Elizabeth lost her baby due to falling down the stairs, because she was trying to escape her husband beating her. Another time she tried to escape his abuse, but her parents allowed her abuser to take her back. On a subsequent escape attempt, her brother protected her and sent her husband away by knocking him out. Her husband died on his own a few years later drinking.

Stepmother making moves on stepson
In Survivor's Club, Hugo's stepmom grabbed his crotch, but Hugo didn't tell his dad. He demanded his dad buy him an officer's commission and went off to war. After the war, he restored a relationship with the stepmom. A fake Disney ending to me.
In Westcott, Justin's stepmom grabbed his hand and put it on her breast right before dad walked in. Justin told his dad he was innocent, but dad banished him. After dad died, Justin did not restore a relationship with the stepmom and waited until she died to go back home.

Bastard son
In Survivor's Club, George's son turns out to be his wife's bastard, but George loved him as his own son. When the son's dad tells him the truth, George's love is not enough for son and the son demands George buy him an officer's commission or he'll enlist as a common grunt. He goes off the war as an officer and dies.
In Westcott, Harry turns out to be his father's bastard, enlists as a common grunt only for Avery to unwind the enlistment and purchase him an officer's commission. He goes off the war as an officer and almost dies. His recovery is long and painful, and only after a decade does he come to terms with what his father did to him.

Rape
In Survivor's Club, there were suspicions that Imogen was raped by the French, and it turns out she was not.
In Westcott, Gabriel was accused of raping his teenage sweetheart Penny and killing her brother, forcing him to flee. When he returns, he confronts Penny who confesses it was Manford who raped her. Gabriel was going to kick Manford's ass, but Penny's dad kills Manford as Manford tries to kill Gabriel.

I think on balance, worse things happened to the characters in Westcott than Survivor's Club, and it felt more honest in Westcott.

On a different note, sometimes certain characters would have me thinking about clips from TV shows.

Agnes, Chloe, George
Scene from the TV show Highlander.
"Where do I come from!"

Imogen
Violent scene from the TV show Lost.
"You don't want to know what happened to me!"
 

Yas

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I started reading the Simply Series after having finished the Survivors Club and I must say that Simply Unforgettable, the first book in the series, has become one of my favourites.

The story in this book goes a bit faster than other Mary Balogh stories in my opinion. It's got some humour in it and it was really hard to stop reading the book once I had started.

I think its a story about honouring who you are and your talents, but also about a very common theme in these novels: being able to face the past and forgive yourself and others, to do your best with what you've got, to recognize also the good in you and what you did manage to do in a good way and also about learning to love and allowing another one to love you. There are also lessons about bringing up a person's essence from underneath their defences and getting to finally share, sincerely, what one has been trying to bury because of guilt and pain.

While I was reading, I felt angry at Frances sometimes because she was being offered love, kindness and a good life and she just couldn't accept it. Of course, it becomes clearer later on why she was doing that. She deemed herself unlovable because of her background and also because of some things she had done in the past that weren't really so bad but she felt mortified about them, she felt guilty for some things she hadn't done, and for some poor decisions she took when she was very young and being misguided by not-so-good people. I could understand her, then. And I could understand how, after having experienced that, the life she had created for herself at the school was very dear to her, it gave her meaning and also, probably, a feeling of redemption in the service she was providing to the students and the school. So it was hard to 'break' that shell of defence she had built around her. Also, thinking that she would somehow taint Lucius if she married him, she needed to be sure that she was going to be accepted by his family, so their marriage wouldn't be something that would harm him and his position.

Lucius had to learn his lessons too. But I think he did a great job in bringing up her essence and making it shine. And of 'letting go' in a way to let her go through her own process so that she could come to a point where she would marry him and accept the love that she was being offered.

For me, this book has a "Be true to your nature and fear nothing" flavour, because apart from being a lesson on finally letting go of the past and guilt (and learning the lesson from those painful and/or shameful experiences) and allowing love in life, it was about honouring the essence and what truly inspires one in life, and courageously following that 'call'.

It was a great book. I loved it!
 

Voyageur

Ambassador
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Just a Balogh fan and book release note:

The book Theft of Dreams (1998) was released today:

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On the eve of her twenty-first birthday ball, Cassandra would finally be free. Free from mourning her father's death, and free to begin a new life as Countess of Worthing. Cass had no intention of marrying --- not yet. Instead, she planned to rule her land and bask in her independence.
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
A few Jane Austen film adaptations that interpret what regency dress might have looked like.
If someone is interested in what the Georgian period might have looked like in terms of dress, below are a few TV series and movies. Most movies have trailers, playlist and some even full movies on YouTube.
Emma. 2009. BBC (A link to the Wiki) The TV series in four parts is said in the review video Every Jane Austen Adaptation Ranked from Worst to Best to have gorgeous costumes. It is ranked 9/15 in the review, while Emma 1996 (Movie) is ranked 5/15.
Love and Friendship 2016 (Full Movie) is listed 6/15. The costumes are "to die for" the review said.
The others were not noted for their costumes, but that does not mean they did not have some, that resembled. Maybe if one looks up the Wiki, one can find out.
Pride and Prejudice 1995 is rated 1/15, while Pride and Prejudice 2005 is 3/15.
Sense and sensibility 1995 is rated 2/15. In an interview, Kate Winslet explains why she did meditation and Tai Chi to improve on her character performance and make it more real.
Persuasion 1995 (Film) is ranked 4/15. The Wiki says: "Film scholars have observed significant changes from the source material, as well as class and gender themes." That is probably the case with many other adaptations.
Northanger Abbey [2007] - FULL MOVIE is 7/15 is part of the 2007 Jane Austen Season. A film from the same season and series is: Mansfield Park (2007) LEGENDADO PT-BR (There are Portuguese - Brazilian subtitles) ranked 14/15. A better adaptation is said to be Mansfield Park (1999) - English Subtitles / Mansfield Park (1999) - Full Movie listed 8/15 in the review.
In general, if creators of adaptations intend a historic atmosphere, their work can give ideas of what the dresses, houses and surroundings might have looked like and thus assist the imagination when reading.
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Romance novels and romantic musicals
In Session December 3, 1994, I noticed:
A: [Many predictions from the Cs] This is only the beginning. Just you wait "Henry Higgins," just you wait!

Q: (L) Are you a Rodgers and Hammerstein fan? {While “Rodgers and Hammerstein” is what I said, and the creators of “My Fair Lady” were actually Lerner and Loew, the general intent of the question was “musical comedy”.}

A: Yes.
I discovered that the musicals by these authors have romantic themes, and posted one and two. In The King and I, there is even a waltz lesson. At least watching should be able to remove the fear of trying :) Plots of the musicals explore the relation between men and women, as well as the boundaries set by tradition. While many have an American setting, My fair Lady is set in England possibly in the late 19th century, since it based on Pygmalion from 1913 by George Bernard Shaw which again is influenced by a play from 1871. In this play, the difference between the speech of the upper educated class and the lower classes is one theme, just as it is in some of the romance novels, if a protagonist comes with a background that did not include the proper lady or gentlemen version of English.

Missing the title of the story by Anton Chekhov
Today I heard the following short and funny story that is attributed to Anton Chekhov. Allegedly it remained unpublished due to its scandalous content.
Thank you for sharing @Keit. While reading up on the thread, I noticed the video posted in 2021 is gone. Do you have a title, maybe also in Russian?
 
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