Site materials are based on the research, theories and clinical treatment and organizational development strategies of Martin G. Groder, M.D. and Anastasia Rosen-Jones (formerly Marcia E. Rosen). The Groder-Rosen formal name for the "Dark Side" is the "Survivor Addict".

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Swamp Draining As A Metaphor For Social Change

I had no intention, a few evenings back, of igniting a fervor. I had received a return call from a board member, regarding my needing to update said board member on the latest, developing plans for New Horizons, the non-profit organization I head. My update; the announcement of plans in the works to create a “Draining The Swamp Initiative" for New Horizons, along with a “Draining The Swamp GAME,” nonetheless, did set off a bit of a tension.

Oh my! Oh my!

A most apropos quote for the circumstances of that phone conversation, as seen on the internet, from Sheryl Sandberg, the morning after went like this  – 
“The people who have taught me the most in my career are the ones who pointed out what I didn’t see.”
If that wasn’t most apropos, I don’t know what else could’ve been.

I’m not completely certain I got the whole of what my board member wanted me to look at in that discussion. But I believe later, after I had had time to consider our talk, I did get the gist of it. She probably wanted me to respect the fact that the various activities of New Horizons are geared to improving social conditions. And, further, that New Horizons, as a non-profit organization, must always remain apolitical. “Draining the swamp,” on the other hand, was clearly, to her way of thinking, a political creed, most especially linked to Donald Trump.

Thus a wrong track for us.

We, at New Horizons, are seekers of solutions to problems of separation in our country. Polarization -- being the almost extreme example of our social problems (violence, of course, the worst).  “Draining the swamp” as a metaphor, currently touted by Donald Trump and team -- is about fomenting divisiveness in the way it is being used. Even worse bullying and deriding everything in sight Trump does not like, labeled as corruption by him, i.e. the swamp in need of draining.

With this thinking behind the phrase, darned if I didn’t spark a passion in both of us with my update. So much so that the reactivity in our conversation, along with the ensuing aftermath, managed to slip into my sleep that night, work its way through my unconscious dream state and be there to wake me up at 5:00 a.m. the next  morning.

After many long hours; too many interfering with the good seven/eight hours sleep I usually get – and conferring with another board member for input, I definitely SAW the Light Board Member #1 was prompting me to notice. As a result, with enhanced clarity, numerous win-win options to modify my original plan began to surface. They did not, however, quite ameliorate all aspects of the differences between she and I. 

Most significantly, my new, projected New Horizons initiative, if adjusted to accommodate her view; meaning discard my own, did not yet take into account how and why I came to the bright idea to take up that theme, “draining the swamp,” in the first place. And, why I still believed, in spite of my expanded perspectives that I, personally, needed to stand by my idea in certain ways. You see, I believe that swamp draining is an apt metaphor for the effort needed to rid our society of toxins both socially and politically.  So, obviously, Board Member #1 and I were definitely at odds, or so it seemed.

Where did this leave us? 

Well, fortunately we are good practicers of what we preach. So we both leaned in, involved ourselves in a dialogue and came up with, lo and behold, a “temporary” elegant solution. I would write about swamp draining as a metaphor for both social – and – political change on this site and my own, personal one, Anastasia The Storyteller, to my heart's content. 

That means, nonetheless, that swamp draining will not be used as a metaphor, at least for now, on actual New Horizons communications.

O.k. I can live with that! At least that plan doesn't interfere with my freedom of speech!

Next, it looks like time for a full board dialogue (not debate) to find some form of common ground on the issue of what to call our newest initiative.  (More on this later.)

So I leave you with this for now, by way of making clear the point of this missive  –

I hold that “swamp draining” can be used as a metaphor for social change. It is not necessary to relegate it only to politics; and particularly not Donald Trump’s version of politics!

What is your opinion?

I am asking this of you as the New Horizons Board of Directors wishes your input on whether or not “Draining The Swamp” is a superb, sparkly, brilliant name for our new initiative, as I believe.  

Or a very BAD idea as Board Member #1 thinks.  

Board Member #2, as usual, sees both sides of the argument. And the other board members have not yet been consulted.

Since our annual board meeting is not until mid-July. We will be considering the issue until then. When the issue will, also, likely go into discussion and then a vote.

Please either post your opinions on this issue on this blog site (or our other two, New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Project or Anastasia The Storyteller) or email me, directly with your thoughts at

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"Draining The Swamp": An Interactive GAME Of Personal And Collective Transformation

How we transform the Dark Side at New Horizons and guide you on the adventure of a lifetime!

Whatever is wrong in Washington, you/we don’t need to keep it going! 

“Draining The Swamp” Is One Of New Horizons Unique Interactive Games
Based on “old” New Horizons "signature" program --
(originally the “Discount Derby” as created by Martin G. Groder, M.D.)

“Draining The Swamp” is an interactive game based on more than fifty years of New Horizons evolving community development principles and practices to create the most up-to-date group dynamic  strategies.

Do you believe that our Congressional representatives ought to --
  • Learn how to work cooperatively with one another, at least to some degree;
  • Learn how to establish some degree of win-win intention on behalf of American citizens;
  • Find elegant solutions to the collective challenges facing our nation?
If these ideals make sense to you, are you willing to develop the necessary skills, to practice, in your own life, what you preach?

If you believe as we do, that greater unity is a way to a healthier future -- then New Horizons “Draining The Swamp” interactive game is a great place for you to start taking some next steps!

The objective of New Horizons this “Draining The Swamp” GAME is to help participants clear away personal cobwebs that obscure the clarity needed for people to solve small and large social problems. “Draining The Swamp” aids players in developing enhanced communication and conflict resolving skills to help move beyond power struggles and abuses. It also facilitates participant’s development of strengthened community bonds.  

Our “Draining The Swamp GAME” might even assist some folks in developing artfulness in helping to reweave the fabric of our society and politics?

Date: TBA 
Next Day Long Program 

New Horizons Harpers Ferry Retreat Center

Bring snacks and a bag lunch. Stay for potluck dinner and campfire storytelling.

Space will be limited! 
Register early!

Fee: Donations encouraged. $100 suggested or --

Pledge time, talent or treasures to ---
New Horizons Coffee House Conversations Project

Contact: Anastasia 240.409.5347
Email: SuperSleuthDSW

Thursday, April 13, 2017

On Why Presidents Lie And Some People Believe Them

Originally posted on Anastasia The Storyteller

Because I had just recently removed myself from the D.C. fast track; or the swamp as it is being called today. Because I still had friends in key places in Washington who were deeply connected to the center of Washington society and politics, including Watergate.

Because the Watergate break-in had occurred and Richard Nixon was being investigated by the Watergate Commission as he appeared culpable. Because the hearings were being televised and people, including me were drawn to watching. Because I was a captive audience lying in a hospital bed waiting for a cornea transplant and had nothing to do other than watch these trials. And, because I saw people around me seeming to believe Richard Nixon while my unsophisticated gut told me not to.

This is why I took on my very first super sleuthing adventure. Because I was in my first year of clinical training as a Transactional Analyst, I could analyze the transactions going on in this drama with my newly developing analytical skills. It was an intriguing exercise for a budding clinician. 

I needed to know how the president of the United States of America could lie to the American people – and -- how so many of his constituents could seem to believe him. 

(Many decades later I would discover that this pass timing activity of mine had much deeper roots in my own personal history. But that came later.)

So I dug in and I dug in further and further until I developed a passion for searching out truth and developed a great deal of understanding and expertise in handling these issues -- 

These days I feel a particular imperative to share what I learned and what I have come to know out of my decades of investigating the Dark Side of society and politics in the U.S.A.. I want you to hear the stories I have to tell about my adventures having to do with this and on the subject above itself. 

I want you to tell me back your stories of Dark Side encounters and how you may have transcended or transformed them to a higher good. We absolutely must do this kind of coming together. Storytelling is one of the best ways possible to pass forward the wisdom of the ages on such things!

Let us join together, now, in telling our stories!

When I saw Alec Baldwin last Saturday, again impersonating Donald Trump – and – his play-acting devotees on Saturday Night Live, depicting believers of what many of us see as the dangerous manipulations of innocent people by Trump and team, my heart hurt and my gut wrenched. The faces of those actors called up memories for me of the disbelief and confusion people felt when Nixon’s behavior negated the esteem and trust people had placed in him. I felt sick.

Today, this anguish comes out of me in the form of my wanting to urge you to use me now! 

More than ever, after my forty plus years of building my life’s work and my life’s passion for sorting out the ills of Watergate -- and -- doing my best to deter their being repeated, I have discovered how to move past such transgressions, or at least cope with them. 

Whether these ills have to do with the Dark Side of politics, corporate manipulations, street violence, domestic violence or child abuse, let us to talk to one another and learn from one another, NOW!

Right now, coping may be the best we can do. That and activism. Other than these there seems little else to do these days to set things right in our nation.

So please do use me! I am one of your national treasures.  Perhaps we are all that for one another.

You might be asking “What the hell is going on here?” and “What are we supposed to do with this?”

I don’t have all the answers. But I do have quite a few where these particular questions are concerned. 

At the top of my list of answers is that we must hang together, now, more than ever to pull ourselves together as one nation, looking out each for each other.

Storytelling can get us started!

With love for humanity in all its frailty,

Anastasia The Storyteller

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Dark Side Warrior And The Issue Of Truth

Interested in getting to the core of the Dark Side? 

First, assess your own Dark Side Warrior functioning to find out what makes it run. Next, go on to where that of others is disturbing the Force in your life.

The center of what makes the Dark Side Warrior run can be narrowed down to three basic, related psychological concepts.  On the surface they make look alike and even seem to operate similarly.

The three concepts are:
  • Discounting
  • Denial
  • Lying
On this site we will be exploring all three in the coming weeks and months, especially due to the crisis of Donald Trump as president that necessitates our paying close attention to these three; how and why they operate as they do; the roles they play in our own lives. And what each of us needs to be doing to get ourselves out of the traps each creates in diminishing your well-being and those close to you.

Please allow me to alert you, if you have not yet come to know it this so far: As far as I can see (and seeing beyond the ordinary appears to be something with which I am gifted) if you are not taking care of the deceit in your own backyard, in yourself and your closest relationships, you are a part of the problem of divisiveness our country is now enmeshed in.

So now let's look a bit more deeply at the snare we are currently in. For starters, let us note the definitions of each: discounting, denial and lying.

The term discount is a term derived from the literature of Transactional Analysis (TA). The term is generally meant to be the act of minimizing or ignoring aspects of reality related to an individual, a situation or the solving of a problem. Discounting can be either conscious or unconscious.

In TA literature, discounting, is discussed as a rather intricate phenomenon associated with passivity. The subject is well worth investigating, learning to understand and apply. New Horizons has designed its most sophisticated program, the Truth or Dare Game, to teach people how discounting is affecting their lives, how to understand its destructive effects and how to reverse them.

Conscious discounting: An example of conscious or purposeful discounting of another person is choosing to tune out the distracting sounds of children at play in order to keep one’s attention focused on a task.

Unconscious discounting: An example of unconscious discounting occurred in a couple I was coaching when the husband of the couple kept ignoring the emotions his wife was expressing of fear over purchases he had made that went beyond the couple’s budget.

Denial, on the other hand, is less an ignoring and more of an internalized defense against unpleasant or uncomfortable truths or reality.

Although discounting and denial can appear to operate similarly, I have found it to be valuable to distinguish between the two in treatment scenarios. This tack has proven itself to be important in attempting to figure out strategies for managing interactions with people who are using either discounting or denial interactively with me, or others I am mentoring/coaching.

However, both functions: discounting and denial, are faulty modes of processing reality.

Lying: in my system of managing or guiding transformation is a deliberate withholding of information in order to exact power and/or control of others.

Many disruptive behaviors may include all three of these out-of sync with reality internal functions. For example a person who is bullying is likely to be ignoring or minimizing (discounting) the emotions and needs of others. He or she might also not be able to have a healthy grasp (denial) of the consequences of this behavior for him or herself or the victim being bullied.

Lying might also play a role in this kind of upset as the need for power and control in situations of bullying is a major factor.

Where does Donald Trump’s deceitful behavior lie between these three dysfunctional modes of dealing with truth and reality? And where might you and/others around you fall into these traps.

It is hard to know for sure what would account for Trump’s repeated deceit without having his willing agreement to assess his dysfunction. My own professional analysis from afar is that Donald Trump appears to me to be acting as if he is a narcissistic sociopath. 

The narcissism accounts for his seeming inability to do other than pay attention to himself as the center of his world. That would account also for his inability to do other than discount (i.e. minimize or ignore) the thoughts, feelings, viewpoints and so forth of others.   Obviously, Trump is over-focused on himself and under-focused on others.

The sociopathy might account for his being in denial (i.e. seemingly having little or no compassion or concern) for others with a significant lack of empathy. Sociopaths have extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience. This could account for Trump’s racism, sexism and radically disruptive notions about how to “make America great again.”

Of, course, Trump lies all over the place; his need for power and control of others is off the charts! But what about you? And those around you? Do you tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, always?

In lieu of their being any certainty regarding Trump’s internal psychological dysfunctioning, it is essential that our American constituency develop increased skillfulness in assessing their own personal reality and truth telling behaviors. And, find ways to cope with our now being subjected to leadership that is functioning outside the bounds of truth and reality!


More to come.