My Experience of Being Interviewed for Showtime’s Dark Net

I was contacted in the beginning of July last year by a producer working for an Academy Award winning production company based out of NYC. The producer got in touch based on my YouTube channel and on their experience of my being a person of candor. Later I would find out this person had a parent who had been a trauma therapist for many years. I found the producer to be engaging and kind. They asked me questions about my experience with Freedomainradio:
-How did you first discover FDR?
Can you tell me about where you were in your life when you found FDR?
-What was it about Stefan Molyneux’s ideas that touched you?
-How has your participation in FDR shaped the person you are today?

After a pair of phone calls where the producer asked me general questions about my life, my ideas on psychology and self-knowledge, and my experience of having been a Freedomainradio listener, it was agreed that a documentary team would fly out to my then-home in Beaverton, Oregon. My impression from the producer was that the final product they were shooting for would be a “balanced look” at Freedomainradio unlike media pieces done on it in the past. This is nearly verbatim what the person said to me in the phone call. I figured the final product would slant slightly negative on FDR but that my contributions would shine a light on breaking from one’s family of origin. I was told my segment would be 5 minutes of the 30 minutes allotted for the show. An assurance was made to me that some of my views on healing from childhood trauma would be included. It’s worth noting that I told the producer that I had no quarrel with Freedomainradio or its listeners.
I had no idea the documentary would be on Showtime but I did know it would be on a major cable network. I was really excited to be around a professional film crew and learn all about an industry I’ve had so little experience with. There was also some talk about going to a mountain river and getting shots of me jumping off a cliff into a swimming hole.

The documentary team flew in to Oregon in the middle of July and spent the large part of two business days filming me at my home and at nearby Forest Park. They set up a bunch of very expensive camera equipment and were clearly very competent at their craft. The interview was a lot of fun! It was essentially like answering the “Who will build the roads?” question for psychology, self-knowledge, and philosophy from a very curious and intelligent person. My interviewer had clearly done their research and beneath their professional demeanor I sensed a genuine desire for some measure of truth. I talked about the rational basis for a person to leave their family of origin, how old-time Statist media gatekeepers are beginning to be blown out in this Internet age, and what benefits I got out of Freedomainradio. The interviewer was very respectful of a couple no-fly zones I named beforehand (stuff I’m not currently processed on). I had the thought, “Good boundaries!” The interview was 3.5 hours long. The last 90 minutes of it seemed to become a fun game of “Who can stump Steve?” with questions from some of the crew being funneled in through the interviewer. Thinking back on it, they were clearly asking me questions for their own personal clarity and probably most of it wouldn’t make it into the final cut. I was aware not to answer as a person providing therapy but as a person who takes an interest in philosophy, etc.
During the breaks I watched the crew do their thing and learned a lot about how high level documentary teams work. The people were very nice to me and I learned all about their filming experiences in far-flung places. There was some talk about some of my ideas on parenting and self-therapy here and there. They bought me lunch on each day and offered to get me Starbucks (I declined).
There were only a few questions (out of like a hundred) that were a bit “fish for the dirt on Molyneux/FDR” to me. I remember being asked:
-How much money have you donated to Freedomainradio over the years? (I said “I don’t remember but thinking about it, I’d like to give some more”; I have since donated more.)
-What is Stefan Molyneux like as a father and as a person? (I responded, “I have never had a personal relationship with him nor met him in person so I don’t know.”)

After the interview I remember being surprised and thinking to myself that there really wasn’t much of a “gossip” component to the interview at all.
The rest of the filming was a lot of fun. They had me bang on my drums for a bit and make one of my YouTube videos, filming me in the process.
The last shots filmed were of me walking in Forest Park in the bloom of summer. It’s the opening scene in my segment.
Between filming and the actual airing of the Dark Net episode there wasn’t much happening. I did get a nice card from the producer saying that after our filming, the crew couldn’t stop talking about my ideas. I felt good about that.

The promos for the show came out and it was clear this was going to be a “cautionary” style show about the “dark side” of the Internet. Eventually it came out that the episode I’d be in would be titled “Trapped”. I wrote and expressed my displeasure to the producer, whose production company is wholly separate from Showtime. From the exchange I came away with the impression that the production crew had a particular perspective on the Freedomainradio-related portion of the episode and that the Showtime writers had a different perspective. Showtime writers named the episode “Trapped”. I suspect those 5 minutes I was likely to get were cut down to 2 minutes because of Showtime. I think I understand. Alice Miller-flavored thoughts on childhood trauma and the plight of children from a young guy who’s wholly sober don’t exactly “bring in the ratings”. Gossip and dysfunction are the names of the game for these big-time TV networks.

I’m disappointed but not too surprised that the final product came out the way it did. I thought the fellow using drone technology and the Internet to have some semblance of engagement with society was interesting. I thought the segment on the woman with electromagnetic hypersensitivity was sad and misguided. I thought the piece on the woman who returned to her family was also very sad and confused. I thought my bit was pretty solid and I was able to convey a lot of truth in just a short bit of time. I wish they’d given me more air time!
I don’t so much see the Freedomainradio component of the episode as a hit piece, though it is in some respects, as much as I see it as woefully behind the times and a little cringe. I happen to think the family is the world’s foremost cult, with children as slaves to their parents’ dysfunction. I made that much clear during the interview. However, I do not think the family must be destroyed. It must be restructured to solely serve the learning and growth of children.

For those who care: where I stand is that I do not think Freedomainradio is a cult. I made that much clear to the producer before the documentary crew came out to my home. I do think that Stefan Molyneux made mistakes with some of the people he allowed into his home early on and has since learned from those mistakes. I myself made similar mistakes and have done my own part to learn and become better. I know some of the people who went to those first FDR BBQ’s and I think they’re high quality people. I have never made contact of any kind with anyone who has come out saying that Freedomainradio is a cult or some variant thereof.
I do listen to Freedomainradio a few times a month and donate accordingly. I find some of the race, IQ, and immigration shows interesting these days. I’m also having a blast seeing Donald Trump demolish the liberal media and the Republican establishment; Stefan Molyneux’s commentary here has been fun.

I’m grateful to the documentary crew who came out to film me. I learned a lot about how filming works and had a lot of my opinion on big TV networks confirmed to me. I think I grew as a person from the experience. Otherwise I would not have done it. I am also grateful to Stefan Molyneux for being an essential person in my building up my emotional and intellectual literacy, particularly in my early and middle 20’s.

There’s a war on children happening right now. Let us not shoot the messengers.

Entering a Valley of Uncertainty

After much deliberation, I’ve decided to take a leave of absence from the Master of Arts in Counseling program I have been in for a little over a year. I have completed all of the “academic” portion of the program and would have entered into practicum and then internship starting next term. I turned down a decent internship placement near my apartment with very little supervision oversight from the on-site staff a couple of weeks ago, a placement that up until then I had been working independently to secure. This week I wrote a message to the designated person at the university in charge of student withdrawals, declaring my intent to take a leave of absence. At this point it is a done deal.

I’m curious to see what I can do on an unlicensed path. I had a thriving practice for three months before I entered into the program. I’ve kept my practice since then but the university program from here on out would have taken larger and larger bites out of my time: one full day a week starting in January, 20 hours a week starting fall of 2016 for the duration of roughly 9 months. It’s a big committment, one that I’m not sure I’m ready for yet. I thought I was ready but the curiosity about taking an unlicensed path gnawed and gnawed at me and has led me to my current course of action.

In some ways, I’ve felt the more I become involved in becoming a “bonafide” therapist, the more the chains of oversight and regulation have come into my field of view. At a week of intensives on campus last summer I mentioned to a classroom of peers that I was seeing clients online. The department chair there immediately grilled me on the details of my practice to determine whether or not I was within the confines of the law. That scared me. I piroutted like a courtroom lawyer.
Later this past summer I attended one of two sections of an Internal Family Systems Level 1 training. I met a lot of licensed therapists. I met a nice woman from the Midwest who nearly broke into tears when she heard of my practice and how I was currently working outside of the mental health system. She said that since she had become licensed, she had felt like she’d been in the maw of a horrible beast and had been struggling ever since. I could see the struggle in her between the comfort and security of being established in a licensed profession and the wilder side of her that wanted to do more radical, less peer-reviewed work.
I’ve had some more casual experiences of people working within the mental health industry. They ask me what my “credentials” are and when I tell them I haven’t any, they say,”Well, anyone can hang a shingle these days” in a condescending tone. There’s a bitterness I’ve experienced from nearly every person I’ve met that has gone through the educational and licensure process. That’s not to say I would end up that way but I certainly will if I don’t scratch this curious itch that’s been coming up for me in the past year. I could end up making bitter DSM jokes and watching myself so that I don’t cross any “counselor ethics”.
The internship market is really tight, for those not in-the-know. I know of a peer who contacted 15+ counseling centers in his metro area, several times each, to no avail despite a good resume. I faired well because I befriended a man who came into my part time job at a grocery store who happened to be the marketing director for a center here in Portland proper. The man put me in touch with the placement director and all systems were a ‘go’. The itch came back. I started really considering the placement. I would be seeing mostly Medicaid people with substance abuse problems. Very little oversight. An easy peasy setup…right nearby! I was itchy. I lost some sleep thinking things over.
I decided I’m not ready to do that yet. I’m too curious about the novels and music albums I have cooking up. I’m too curious about philosophy, saying things publicly that break from the norm and push the dialogue of civilization forward. I’m too curious about attempting to work with the brightest and the most healed by spending my working hours on my personal development rather than on courses and supervision meetings and continuing education hours and placements and paperwork and peer journals.

Desolation by Pierre-Etienne Travers

I may return to the counseling program and finish up. There are most certainly benefits to working within the system and some of the people I most look up to have done a lot of good within it. It’s just that there are some things I want to attend to NOW and don’t want to put off for the sake of official training. Up until now I have been able to “have it all” but I have my limits and this essay is a way of acknowledging them.

I don’t have a license and a degree in counseling and I’ve deliberately stepped off of that path for now. I can’t bill insurance clients. In most legal jurisdictions I can’t “hang a shingle” and have a physical office. I have no referral network and I can’t sign up for sites like Psychology Today. I likely shouldn’t term myself a “therapist” anymore as any person within the industry with a grudge could try to take me down and be legally supported in doing so.

For now, it’s worth it.

I am making myself more vulnerable here. I want to work with people who have studied themselves in self knowledge and philosophy. I am going to advertise my services. I’m going to ask for donations. If you have received value from my essays and videos, I ask that you refer someone to me or even drop me a line yourself and we can do good work together. More than a “thumbs up” or a “like”, that is what’s going to allow me to support myself and continue to do real work with people. I don’t want to move overseas again to drop my cost of living down. I want to live here in the USA and pay my bills doing what I love so dearly.

I’m taking a chance on a potential society where merits in regard to self knowledge and self therapy are recognized without State intervention and that the financial incentives follow that structure.

I could use your help.

Bruce Springsteen: Darkness And The Artist On Trial

Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness On The Edge of Town

Recorded in late 1977 through early 1978 and released in late spring of 1978, Bruce Springsteen’s album Darkness On The Edge of Town is a pinnacle of masculine artistic achievement. darknessontheedgeoftown_albThe album explores themes of male emasculation, suffering and redemption, sacrifice, ambition, courage, passion and desire, solitude, soul death, and solemnity. I consider this album the crown jewel of Springsteen’s catalog. It retains all of the fire and thunder of his early years. It captures the desolation and anguish Bruce paid for becoming legally entwined with an inadequate and jealous manager, a lesser man he battled in court for 10 months over commissions, contracts, and legal minutiae. Springsteen went on to become a musical superstar and a major torch bearer of American songwriting. Mark Appel, the former manager, contributed absolutely nothing to the music industry after his legal battle with Springsteen.
The wounds left in Bruce as a result of this legal battle and forced hiatus from recording, as well as the older wounds triggered up by the battle, gave the artist an edge and a determination to survive, live, and thrive by the force of his artistic will. This mix of suffering, grit, and redemption is captured perfectly in Darkness On The Edge of Town.

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With Pete Seeger in 1996

Before proceeding, I thought it worth mentioning that as Springsteen has not yet released a substantive autobiography, this essay should be regarded as theoretical and speculative (though I tend to think there’s a good dose of truth in it). It is my contention that had Bruce self-reflected more closely and intimately in the years after his battle with Mark Appel, he would not have so prone to adopt the working class politics he imbibed from populist authors such as John Steinbeck proceeding the Darkness… release and tour and preceding the release of his album Nebraska. Had Springsteen sought repair through psychotherapy instead of the intellectual abstraction of progressive politics and the anti-authoritarian stylings of Pete Seeger and others, he would have confronted the horror and terror of having had a father who loathed his long hair and his guitar and whom sought to influence him as a teen to become a lawyer, a father who sought to destroy his artistic spirit through the lens of legality. Bruce was compelled to repeat this drama as an adult by unconsciously choosing an exploitative and unambitious manager, Mark Appel, who would once again put the artist’s creative soul on trial.

The last song on the album, “Badlands,” approximates most accurately the struggle to cope and survive with another trial on his original voice:

I wanna spit in the face of these…
Badlands, you gotta live it everyday,
Let the broken hearts stand
As the price you’ve gotta pay,
We’ll keep pushin’ ’til it’s understood,
And these badlands start treating us good.

Replace the word “badlands” with the word “parents” and we see clearly a young man who was exploited constantly by his parents because of his great musical gifts. I personally relate and sympathize with this man’s experience given my exploitation at the hands of my parents, particularly my mother, for my gifts as a healer. I also had a father who sought to stifle my artistic voice, a man who nurtured secret hopes that I would join the military where “a man would be made” out of me. Springsteen had to fight to preserve his gifts and to retain his original sense of what it meant to become a man in the face of pressure from his parents. More on that in a bit.

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Darkness Tour

The Darkness On The Edge of Town years for Springsteen were perhaps his most lucid, as evidenced by the heights of his band’s musical performances during the album’s tour that have long since become rock n’ roll lore, yet no one was the “adult in the room” to witness Bruce’s true plight. There was no true, benevolent father figure to help Bruce grieve the dampening of his childhood brilliance by a judging and somber father. To his credit, Bruce did work to build within himself that benevolent father figure and he did attend some therapy in the late 80’s and early 90’s, perhaps more. With Darkness.., however, his fans and listeners became his witnesses. He bore his soul openly during the album’s tour, saying this during the famous August 9th 1978 Cleveland show at The Agora:

They (parents) said, “You gotta get serious. It’s time that you put that guitar down. It’s okay for a hobby but you’re not gonna get anywhere with that.”

As with any subject that strays near his emotional suffering, Bruce chuckles off the path that leads to grieving and takes up a wild story instead. While the defense is magically charming and has earned Bruce the adoration of millions of listeners (including the fans in attendance that night), the roots of sorrow, anger, and terror remained untouched and unprocessed.

The wild stories of his younger years as a songwriter, stories of innocent players in the free market, have turned into somber stories of working class heroes, immigrants, and outcasts as Bruce has aged. His anger at his father’s profound judgement and betrayal remains ungrieved, hidden behind the chuckle and wink of a gypsy.

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With Barack Obama in 2012

In terms of coping mechanisms, what saves us as children kills us adults. Nearly 40 years have now passed since Darkness… was released and one of Bruce’s primary dramas was relived. The coping the man has used to offset the horror of his father’s betrayal has now solidified and twisted its way through his personality. We can see it in his open support of socialist politicians such as Barack Obama and Marxist artists such as Tom Morello. Bruce has been unable to fully process what was done to him in childhood and what he re-enacted as a young adult. He has become a betrayer: of the promise his childhood once held before his father sought to kill his artistry, and the promise his musical career once held (Born To Run held the recipe to the next stage of evolution for rock n’ roll) before Mark Appel dragged him down into a year out of the studio at the fever pitch of his musical vitality. Bruce Springsteen’s politics kill the working class while his music seeks to build it up. The heights of artistic achievement of Born To Run cannot again be reached when there is no middle class left in the USA to support truly vibrant, virtuousic, and full music. Young musicians are not incentivized to practice assiduously and take artistic risks when their parents are on government welfare programs as a result of socialist politics, hardly lifting a finger to set good examples for their children. Bruce remains fundamentally split off from himself and his father’s treachery remains embedded in his personality. He never truly grieved the betrayal and in a certain sense, he has never truly left the courtroom of his childhood. His continued advocacy of progressive politics is our proof.

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Senior photo

Darkness On The Edge Of Town bares open the artist’s core wounds for everyone to witness. All of the parts that saved him from his mother and father in the final trial of his musical childhood are in there. It is for this reason I venerate the album and always will. I encourage you to listen closely. Every honest work by an artist allows us to a chance to bear witness. Darkness On The Edge Of Town is the searing of the lightning along the crack that formed on Springsteen’s heart. It is the entrance of corruption into the town of his conscience. He has been trying to go back ever since. His wounded child is seen and loved. May the man find the peace he seeks and put down the banner of statism before it destroys the chances of anyone else reaching what he reached as an artist.

Finding My Voice

After a lot of thought and deliberation, I’ve decided to bring back this website after having it down for nearly a year and a half.

In the last two years I have worked very hard on myself through self-therapy, work with a therapist and also with a supervisor, a Masters in Counseling program that I’m debating taking a leave of absence from, and through self-education in order to offer, as a therapist, a service that is up to my personal and professional standards. This has been a process of digging deep and getting real with myself, getting more serious about the company I keep and how it affects my work as a therapist, delineating boundaries, and developing my character with the structure of steady self-employment. You can see the fruits of this work over at NurturingTruth.com.

DSC_3023A big emphasis in my personal work has been on boundaries. Namely, determining what kinds of people I allow into my life, what I share in a particular venue or relationship, and the chosen limits and structure I inhabit in order grow and heal. I’ve seen there are certain boundaries I want to have around serving as a professional in helping others to dismantle their childhood trauma and live their dreams. These boundaries also serve me in my personal work.

Throughout this whole process, I’ve stayed aware that there’s a major institution in the world embodying childhood trauma that routinely crosses my boundaries: government. There is also a whole culture of psychological concepts, doublespeak, misinformation, and denial that surrounds and reinforces the position of the institution. This culture and this institution seek to repeatedly stand in the way of my efforts to become a fully enlivened human being. As a principle, when something or someone crosses my boundaries and seeks to violate me, I respond assertively to contain the wounded inner child of the other party and restore to myself my sanctity.

Ultimately, I think that working on myself to become more honest and fully integrated is the best use of my life’s energy. That being said, there are, at times, byproducts and some downtime that I think I can use to help the world. I’d like to help dismantle government permanently, not through reactivity or by fighting but by advocating for the truth and the True Self in others and myself. I want to give through a personal surplus. After all, my personal work remains.

I’m again taking up the pen name “Steven Summerstone” for the time being. In order to build a therapy practice in my 30’s and sustain myself according to the reality of the current and foreseeable labor market, I will want to keep one foot in the world of convention by using my legal name. I’m sure that at some point in the future the works I produce to serve others as a therapist and the works I put out under a pen name will synthesize beautifully through a deeper calling but for now, I think this will do.

John Rock is now AVAILABLE at Amazon.com!

Hey friends,

I have worked on my first full-length novel, John Rock: The World’s Most Wanted Man, off and on for about 13 months. It’s out TODAY on Amazon.com! I listed it for only $2.99 because I want you to be able to get your hands on it ASAP.

nuclear explosion

The basic plot synopsis is:

When an innocent volunteer worker in a West African field hospital is kidnapped, John Rock is the last man left who can save her. He will use his mastery of self knowledge, philosophy, Combat Pilates, and demolitions to get the dirty job done.

Matthew Bruce Alexander, author of the acclaimed anarchist science fiction novel Withur We, said this about the writing, “You have a great imagination and I laughed out loud at a lot of what went on in the story….(the writing) is straightforward, simple and clear. It does its job of relating the story without yanking the reader out of it.”

I feel very proud of the novel and think it’s definitely worth your while to pick up a copy if you like to laugh, are into self knowledge and philosophy, and enjoy a little action and adventure.

-Steve