Willard Gaylen

Willard
Gaylen
c. 1940

American Psychiatrist and Bioethicist, Co-founder and President of The Hastings Center, Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia Medical School and Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, Author and Editor

Author Quotes

Feeling good and feeling bad are not necessarily opposites. Both at least involve feelings. Any feeling is a reminder of life. The worst 'feeling' evidently is non-feeling.

Feelings are the fine instruments which shape decision-making in an animal cursed and blessed with intelligence, and the freedom which is its corollary. They are signals directing us toward goodness, safety, pleasure, and group survival.

In a world where survival is always seen as a struggle, and in which some pitfalls always exist, if something brings into question our confidence in our own coping ability, it will threaten our safety.

Jealousy, which serves the struggle for survival, can deteriorate into the envy which draws defeat even from victory.

Life is to be enjoyed, not simply endured. Pleasure and goodness and joy support the pursuit of survival.

Man, the most complicated of the animals, has a relatively short gestation period. Beyond that, he will be born, unlike most mammals, in a ridiculously helpless state.

Our imagination and reasoning powers facilitate anxiety; the anxious feeling is precipitated not by an absolute impending threat-such as the worry about an examination, a speech, travel-but rather by the symbolic and often unconscious representations.

To probe for unconscious determinants of behavior and then define a man in their terms exclusively, ignoring his overt behavior altogether, is a greater distortion than ignoring the unconscious completely.

We are not as free and self-determining as we would like to believe, and we are not as independent as we pretend to be. We must face the fact that we are not as rational as we would like to think we are. The rational roots of our conduct are pathetically overvalued. We must appreciate the power of emotions over human behavior in order to effectively institute changes in that behavior. Despite a preference in the culture of autonomy for rational persuasion and a bias against manipulation and coercion, persuasion rarely works.

We must live in groups; other people are like nutrients for us, and are absolutely essential for our survival.

When men achieve the fruits of their material success, they often become aware of an emptiness—an incompleteness—in their lives; the hollowness of having, but not raising, children, of not making true commitments to them. Which, sadly, does not mean that they weren't capable of it.

Dependency is the basic survival mechanism of the human organism. When the adult gives up hope in his ability to cope and sees himself incapable of either fleeing or fighting, he is "reduced" to a state of depression. This very reduction with its parallel to the helplessness of infancy becomes . . . a plea for a solution to the problem of survival via dependency. The very stripping of one's defenses becomes a form of defensive maneuver.

English is such a deliciously complex and undisciplined language, we can bend, fuse, distort words to all our purposes. We give old words new meanings, and we borrow new words from any language that intrudes into our intellectual environment.

Expressing anger is a form of public littering.

All of us must act selfishly to Iearn charity, must lie to learn honor, must betray and be betrayed to learn to value trust and commitment.

A man may not always be what he appears to be, but what he appears to be is always a significant part of what he is.

A street thug and a paid killer are professionals - beasts of prey, if you will, who have dissociated themselves from the rest of humanity and can now see human beings in the same way that trout fishermen see trout.

Because we are intelligent creatures-meaning that we are freed from instinctive and patterned behavior to a degree unparalleled in the animal kingdom-we are capable of, and dependent on, using rational choice to decide our futures.

Shame and guilt are noble emotions essential in the maintenance of civilized society, and vital for the development of some of the most refined and elegant qualities of human potential - generosity, service, self-sacrificed, unselfishness and duty.

Author Picture
First Name
Willard
Last Name
Gaylen
Birth Date
c. 1940
Bio

American Psychiatrist and Bioethicist, Co-founder and President of The Hastings Center, Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia Medical School and Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, Author and Editor