I Love My Phobias

By Richard Salbato


I must apologize for not writting a Newsletter for a long time but I have had a physical problem.  The reason I even mention this is that it is one of my phobias.  I never tell anyone my problems, except close friends, until after I have solved them.  If you tell people your problems, they almost always think you want some help or sympathy.  Close friends are a different story in that they are there to share you life, good or bad, and friends know how to verbally slap you on the head when you need it.   


Now that I am completely well, I will explain.  Five weeks ago I worked at least 40 hours on my computer in less than four days without working out.  At my age that is body abuse.  What happened is that a muscle in my back locked up in a knot and pinched the nerves in my left arm making it paralyzed.  Only with great pain could I move it and the arms weight when walking was very painful. 


Typing was almost impossible because I cannot type with one hand.  Do not laugh but I do not know where the keys are.  I just think and my hands go to the right keys.  The letters on my key board are worn out so that even if I try to type with one hand I cannot find the keys and do not know where they are. 


What I am doing in this Newsletter is something that I never do and that is explain myself to people. For the first time on my life I am going to explain something about my inter being, something that truthfully I do not think is anyone's business except God and myself.  I have my reason for doing it now.


The Myth of Neurosis


What made me think about writting this was a great book called "THE MYTH OF NEUROSIS" by Garth Wood.  Seldom do I ever read anything where I do not find some things I disagree with, but in this case,  Garth Wood was right on the money.  It was as though he got into my mind and wrote what I was thinking.  There are many books written about the stupidity and even harm that the new psychological world has brought to society.  "Psychological Society" by Martin Gross is one of them and I have read most of them. I even have a special section on my web site called the remnants of Communism, which is what I think this is.  The difference with Wood's book is that he gives an alternative.   


Life has moments of unhappiness and there are things that have happened in all our lives that if we dwell on them bring mental pain, but this does not mean that we are in some way unhappy.  All life has sad and unhappy moments and memories.  Self esteem brings happiness even in unhappy moments and this does not come from mental exercises but from real accomplishments in life.  Making hard goals and pursuing then until accomplished to the best of our abilities is true therapy.  There are normal unpleasant mental states which are inescapable and often a valuable part of everyday living. I often cry about things that make me sad, but this does not make me mentally ill.  In fact I am proud that I have feelings and can cry.   Life is full of evil, death, sinners, and we are sinners.  But we should not confuse evil or sinful actions with mental disease.  Because we are sometimes sad and some situations make us cry does not mean we are unhappy or mentally ill.


No man has a natural right to happiness and no one is always happy.  Happiness is an inner thing obtained though great hardship and effort.  It is the effort and pain that gives us that self satisfaction or knowing that what we are is good.  We must do it ourselves and not let others do it for us.  Inheriting a title or money does not give us happiness because it does not give us self esteme.  When we are not self made, the reward has to go to others and not to ourselves.  Most of these people do not even have free will, but must do the bidding of whosoever made them what they are.


They become clones or slaves to the person making us what we are.  We loose control of our own lives.  This is what happens in destructive cults.  In cults people give up their own opinions and actions and only do what the leader or leaders tell them.  This can happen in a country, Communist Russia, China, Cuba, Nazi Germany, it can happen in a family when parents control too much of children's lives, and it can even happen in a Catholic parish, when a priest takes to much control over all actions and thoughts. 


Happiness does not come from success unless that success is living up to our own convictions and having a clear conscience in our thoughts and actions.  I know successful people who are happy and successful people who are unhappy.  I can tell just by looking at their toys.  Though successful in an earthly way, people who lack self esteem or self respect need things to show off and make people believe they are happy: fancy clothes, flashy cars, stupid but beautiful girls to put on their arms to show that they are "somebody". 


Success does not mean unhappiness but it must be from the self satisfaction of doing something that was hard and morally correct according to your own conscience.  If you are successful but became so by violating your own moral code, you will never be happy with that success.  You compromised your own believe system to have a worldly image of success but in truth you will always despise yourself for doing it. I know people who have great financial success at the late years of their lives but made it by using others and taking from others.  They live out their lives on Valium because they cannot stand their own company.  Many successful businesses are full of these people.  The owners make money with illegal or immoral methods and the people who clime the ladder of success with them condone these methods. They do not end up happy.   


I think the primary reason for writting this Newsletter about myself is to show that I am very happy with myself even though I have never had a single success from a humanistic point of view.  Liking oneself does not mean that one does not have sorrows but those same sorrows must not be the fault of the person and if they are they must be forgiven by God and oneself and corrected if possible.  Many sorrows are in this life, this valley of tear, and there can never be a solution to all of them except to have a clean conscience concerning them.  


I am now going to say something that may seem absolutely stupid.  My greatest reason for self satisfaction and self esteem is my failures.  My four major failures in life have been for refusing to compromise truth and justice for expediency.     


My Phobias


Phobias are nothing but fears.  Having fears does not mean one is mental or a coward.  Bravery is doing what you fear doing.  One might be called mentally ill if he had no fears.  Fear, like pain, can be a great mental protection.  In fact, some fears are very necessary.  God designed us to have a natural fear of falling at birth.  All fears are of the unknown whether good or bad and the greatest unknown is the future.  The best example is the fear of death because most of us are uncertain is to what is on the other side of death.  To the one with strong faith there is no fear of death because it is not unknown to him. 


Of course, there are unreasonable fears that should be overcome and this takes effort and when overcome we gain self esteem.  Examples of this could be fear of crowds or flying or spiders or even going away from your own safe property or home.  Some people have fear of even going outside.  These are not mental sicknesses - just  fear.   Giving in to fears is called cowardice.   No one calls a coward mentally ill.  He is just a coward.  The brave overcome fear and do what they have to do even if they are afraid.  The truth is that we cannot be called brave if we do not have fear.


Some phobias (fears) are not only justified but necessary for survival in the physical world and even in the moral world.  This is why parents will make children afraid of fire and its consequences, and why priests make children afraid of sin and its consequences.  Some phobias are appropriate to one person's life but not appropriate to another person's life.  Some phobias are even taught - like children talking to strangers.  In fact there are times when we should even develop phobias for our own protection.  Conditions make phobias appropriate like walking in the bush of Africa, whereas being afraid of a lion in the zoo would not be appropriate.   All this is common sense and can be taken care of by ourselves without the help of so-called experts.


I have had unreasonable phobias and overcame them myself without the help of experts.  My first unreasonable phobia was shyness.  I was so shy that I kept everything inside and this resulted in braking out in skin rashes all over my body.  At 15 years of age, I lost all the skin on my body.  I had to tie my hands to the bed so that at night I would not scratch myself in my sleep.  When no physical cause could be found, the medical doctor asked my mother if I keep things inside that bothered me.  I overheard that conversation and tested it.  The next day someone at school said something to me that I did not like and to this day he wishes he had not.  I was 15 years of age. My mother had taught me to be good to everyone no matter what they did.  I know that was not the moral thing to do because it only encourages people to do more.  I went too far the other way for a time but I never had a rash again. 


My father gave me an unreasonable phobia because he grew up in Colorado where Tarantula spiders are poisonous. California has bigger Tarantulas they are not poisonous.  At the age of five I was about to pick one of these up to play with when my father went crazy.  To make a point he put this very large spider in a jar and made us look at it with fear for many days.  He made it very clear that we should have a spider phobia.  Only in college did I realize that it was unreasonable and overcame it by letting a very large Tarantula walk on my arm.  No courage here, just ego.


As I said fear of falling is natural and in fact necessary but in the modern world of high rise buildings and airplanes it should be overcome.  I had this natural fear and overcame it by becoming a sky diver.  Funny story that I will save for people who email me but again not courage, just ego.   By the way, just to show that we can overcome things ourselves without the so-called experts, I also was prone to seasickness but figured out why myself and then spent years on the sea without pills.  This was maybe the most painful sickness I have ever experienced and others around me were not sick.  I think because they made fun of me (family members) my anger made me overcome the problem.  Anger can be useful.   This brings us to the phobias that I have but do not want to get rid of because they are useful and protective.  


The Phobias I Love



My greatest phobia is being out of my own control.  I have had nightmares and very bad ones at that.  In fact so bad that when I have had them I refuse to go back to sleep. I would walk back and forth all night lone to prevent myself from sleeping.  These nightmares are of being in a very tight place underground unable to move with just an air hole to breath and shouting out for people to dig me up but no one heard or cared.  


I have not had these dreams in 20 years because I figured out all by myself why I had them.  It was always when I placed myself in the hands of other people and my life was not my own.  These were good people and people who cared about me, but they did what they thought was good for me and not what I thought was good for me. 


How did I overcome this phobia?  I did not, I embraced it.  I just do not allow my life to be in anyone's hands except my own.  I can become very extreme about this at times but in every case where I gave in to control I was always sorry and at times became even angry.  My very good friend comes to Fatima every year and stays with me.  He offered to take me in his car to Coimbra convent because he did not want to ride in my truck.  I told him I would go with him but that I had both back problems and prostrate problems and that I always stopped every 30 minutes to walk around and go to the bathroom.  Also at the Convent there are no bathrooms and so I must arrive early to go to a coffee shop first.  He agreed but did not stop and arrived late.  There was nothing I could do short of beating him up and not only was I very sick but ended up with a bad back for a month.  Doctors have told me that I must have prostrate surgery and others told me I must have back surgery but in both cases I have solved these problems myself, but it takes a very careful lifestyle.  I must be in control.  I often wonder how girls get into the cars of boys when in fact they are in the boys control and not their own.   


I have a very strange life style that does not fit into others life styles very well.  For instance I go to bed at 8:30 PM every night and get up at 4:00 AM everyday.  If I stay at someone else's home even for one night, I become very tired at an early hour and become very bad company.  I try to be very polite but get up at night at least four times to go to the bathroom and this does not go well in other people's lifestyles. 


Control by force

One thing that God will not do is force us to do what He wants us to do.  But people often want to force us to do what they want. It does not matter if it is for good or bad it is always bad if done with force.  You can ask me or even convince me to do something but you will never force me by threats, intimidation, or anything that is not of my own free will.  My good friend once asked me why I became a black belt and learned to use guns when I seem so gentle and kind externally.  I have owned guns from the time I was 16 years of age. 


I asked him what he would do if someone came up to him with a gun and told him to give him all his money and suppose all he had on him was one dollar.  Would he give it to the man?  "Of course!" he said. "I would not", I told him.  I would die before I would let anyone force me to do anything.  This may seem like a psychological disorder but I do not think so. 


I happen to be a great student of history and history is full of nothing but the strong trying to force the weak into doing what they want not by truth and logic but by the force of arms and power.  History is full of the stories of governments, gangs, and individual people who forced their ways on others and this would not have happened if they just said, "NO!"  Hitler would not have killed millions of people if those who helped him had just said, "NO!"  Of course they would have died and maybe even worse than death. 


Giving in to fear of death or pain gives bully's power.  I will not give them this power over me or anyone else when I see it happening.  I was kicked out of public school at the age of 14 years for fighting but to this day I am proud of what I did.  I never fought to protect myself but to protect others.  I do not like bullies.


We need order in the world and this means rules and regulations and this is something I believe in but these laws must be just and logical or I will do what the Christians of old did.  I will not obey unjust laws even if it means going to my death.  It can be an admirable thing to be jailed or even killed but it is never admirable to give in to force and do what they want you to do. 


The world is full of heroes who went to their death rather than give up secrets, or agree to make statements or sign documents denying their faith.  What some will say is that I do not have the prudence to know the difference between giving up one dollar and giving up something important like faith, but the truth is that giving up one dollar empowers the person to continue on with other people and if stopped there and then, he is stopped from future theft and force.  Power only wins when people give in to it.  Real power is having the conviction to never give in to force at any cost. 


That same man who thinks he can take something by force also beats his wife, girlfriend or children.  He respects no one but his own wants and desires.  That one dollar empowers him and encourages him.



Both my father and my mother lost their independence and when they did they lost their self respect because they became a burden on others. At any cost (even death) I will remain independent of others.  If I help someone and in return he helps me and it is a win - win situation, I do not consider this dependence but if I depend on someone else I have lost my independence.  Without independence you are in others control. 



My next greatest phobia is that I do not like to defend myself. Very often people say things about me that are not true. When someone accuses me of some crime or sin that is untrue I expect that people should know me well enough to know that it is untrue or ask me about it.  This is not only the moral thing to do but commanded by God.


If they just believe it without proof, they are unjust and sinning themselves by believing these things without asking me or seeing proof.  I have known many people here in Fatima over the past five years who suddenly avoid me and I know why, but since they do not bother to ask me I do not offer any explanation.  Even though they might not be my close friends they should know better just by seeing the way I spend each and everyday.  Even if they might think there be some truth to these lies or gossip they have a moral obligation to ask me and if they do not I will not seek them out to explain.  I do not need their approval to like myself.  I need my approval and if I have a good relationship with my God, I have a good relationship with myself. 


I have lost three good friends over this kind of thing, but all of these people knew me well for years and they should have known better.  I also have friends and even relatives that do know the truth about me but do not defend me out of expediency so that they can keep relationships with those making these lies.  To me this is a greater sin because they know the truth.


I will not seek them out to explain what they should have known by knowing me and my makeup which never changes.  In fact when it comes to defending yourself, it never works.  Other people must defend you.  You can think of any situation no matter what it is, one can never defend himself.  If someone calls you a drunk or some other type of sinner, what can you say?  Only those who know you well can defend you.  You cannot defend yourself.  If they do not ------- that is their sin because they allowed a lie to go unchallenged.   



Forty years ago I realized that there was a plan to brake down all chains of command making all people equal.  I do not mean equal opportunity or equal rights under the law which is good.  I mean equal in authority.  The very chain of command that makes up social order was under attack.   I was in college when it started with the anti-war movement and went to civil disobedience, and then to the woman's liberation, and then to the brake-up of marriages.  From there it expanded to taking away the father's authority and rights over his children, and later to children's rights over parents rights. 


God designed this chain of command so that order would prevail in the world and we also see this in nature.  One great example is St. Ambrose ordering the Emperor of the World to get off the altar because he did not have as high an authority as a priest.  Popes, even if very humble personally, demand that the office of Peter be respected.  When we allow people to disrespect our authority we teach them to treat all authority with disrespect.  When we treat everyone with equal dignity we end up by treating God commonly and that is what is happening today at Mass.  If we allow our own respect at home or at work to be trampled on, why should we expect our children to honor God with reverences and respect.  Treating everyone commonly destroys the social order and I have a fear of that ------ a phobia.  



I do not want to die owning any debt even if it is a dinner not re-paid.  I know this is not the right spirit of charity but it is me.  People have a right to show their love of God by helping others and this includes me but for some reason I have a hard time with this and it bothers me.  I suppose it is because from 14 years of age I have made my own way and always helped others including my father and mother but never had anyone help me.  In bad times I have slept in my car rather than seek help and I have always paid any debts.  I will not go to my deathbed owning anything.  I think that comes from my extreme interpretation of what a nun once told me, "Even if confessed, stealing is not forgiven until paid back."  Accepting help is not stealing but in my mind I see it that way because I know I can find some way to pay it back. I have a fear (phobia) that God will say to me someday, "You could have paid it back but did not." 



By experts I mean people with degrees and titles in their names:  Doctor this or Professor that means nothing to me.  This does not make them good at anything, it only gives them license to think they are good and to tell others that they are experts at something.  But who are the true experts, the ones who have titles or the ones who are successful at something.  The experts at child psychology are not people like Dr. Spock but people who have raised successfully good and even great children. 


Whose advise do you want to take, a Doctor of child psychology who never had children or a man and woman who raised great and good children.  If you would do a little investigation you would see that almost every great scientific discovery was done by people with no degree or a degree in something other than what field they are now famous for.  I could point this out in every field of science but to keep within the science of the mind, let me point out that even the best fail for one good reason.


What was very prevalent in the United States a few years back was foster homes.  Foster homes were homes where families took children out of orphanages or reform schools and raised them as their own.  This system was a total failure even when the people were good people.  Why?  Because the children always knew that they were being paid money to take care of them and they were not doing it just for love.  The same problem happens with even good psychology, the mere fact that you pay them to listen to you or to give advice (which they seldom do) takes the love and caring equation out of the system, even if it is not true.


Some people call themselves Christian psychologists and base their advice on morals and Christian teaching but because they take money for this advice they disqualify themselves for true Christian psychology, which is properly called Moral Therapy. Whenever you take money for dispensing the gifts of the Holy Spirit you have sinned against God's laws and if you do this, how can you teach morals.   


I have been teaching Moral Therapy for over 20 years but never have I taken any money for it.  I give advice by phone and internet at least 30 times a day, but I always show people how to solve their own problems and do not presume to solve problems for them. 


Self esteem comes from solving your own problems not from me solving them for you.  I point to the truth but the truth must be applied to your life by your own knowledge of your own situation which I could never presume to know.  Nonetheless I must be doing something right since thousands of people have placed their problems in my direction for advice or just to share them with me.  I DO NOT TRY TO HELP THEM. I TRY TO TEACH THEM TO HELP THEMSELVES. 


Almost never do I give sympathy because even when needed sympathy tends to stop action and action is always what is needed to gain self respect.  I almost always avoid sympathy because sympathy is addictive and any addiction is bad.


Psycho-nuts make millions of dollars on addiction - Valium, (cocaine was started by doctors) and hundreds of other drugs, but mostly they create addiction to their own therapy by using sympathy and trying without success to create self esteem without real action.  The very hope of self esteem without real action is forever doomed to failure.  Addiction means lack of self control and when you are not in control you loose self esteem.  People become addicted to the sympathy of the therapist.


Some people try to have self esteem with plastic surgery, hair styles, nose rings, etc. but the results are artificial and bring no self gratification.  Others who are born with admirable qualities: beauty, brains, strength, etc. and try to use these for self esteem fail because they are not something they accomplished themselves but were God given.  Those who use God given qualities and improve on them with hard work and in helping others create self esteem because it cames from their own efforts and hard work.   


Moral Therapy

Moral Therapy must come from Friends or yourself.  The friend can be a priest, a father, a daughter, a classmate, a workmate, or anyone else but it must be a friend. Not all priests or fathers or daughters are friends.  Catholic Moral Therapy works with a wonderful thing called a conscience.  We rid ourselves of a guilty conscience and give ourselves a very hard goal to accomplish.  We get rid of what we do not like about ourselves and give ourselves great and meaningful goals to go after.  Reaching the goal does not matter as much as how hard we work towards it.  True and useful self esteem comes from what we do.  We must be able to look at our lives and be satisfied with how we lived it.


It is true that talking about our problems helps to get them into the open but we do not need people for this unless they are very dear friends.  Sometimes it works just to keep a diary or sitting quietly with God.  God speaks to us through our conscience, and our conscience tells us what we should and should not do. 


Success Phobia

There must be a balance between family and work.  Some people spend too much time on financial success and some too much on family.  The proper balance depends on what is needed the most and if the balance is for the good of all.  If it is good for only one and not all it is not good.  In the end all that matters is our children and loved ones and they need both love and food.  I have seen both extremes - too much work and too much family to the neglect of work.


Financial success has a price even if their is no family involved.  Often it requires compromise with morals or at least with the time needed for personal growth.  I have had both financial success and personal growth success but in the end failed in the financial realm because I was not willing to pay the price.  I think if I had always had a family I would have had the reason to be successful in the worldly way, but without family it just did not matter.  What mattered was just being a good person and dying in God's grace.  In some ways I have a fear of financial success because I think it would corrupt me.  I have seen very great and holy people with lots of money that were not corrupted by it, but I fear that I would be.  I have had the fancy cars and the beautiful homes on the beach but I was not close to God.


True success is being happy with what you have accomplished and what goals you still want to accomplish giving meaning to life.  The biggest problems in my life have been my refusal to condone evil and that I never compromised my beliefs for expediency.  This is not the way to have success in the world, but it is the way to have a clear and good conscience.  To be honest I do not cry at sad moments because I am numb to sadness but when I see a happy ending to a movie I always cry and cannot help it, because I have never had a happy ending to anything.  This does not take away my self respect because I know that all my failures were because I did not compromise truth and justice for expediency.


I have made a great effort in four major things in my life and have so far failed in all of them.  One thing keeps me going and that is that I never quit.  I will not consider that I have lost until I am dead.  I might have lost battles but I always consider that I will win the war.  Some of these things have gone on now for 40 years and all at a great psychological and financial price.


Extreme Phobia

I have, according to the politically correct, Homophobia but what does that mean?  I am not afraid of homosexuals and talk often with them, but what I will not do is condone their lifestyle as normal. If that is a phobia then I love my phobia.  On the other extreme I know people who will not talk with sinners at all out of fear that their sins might contaminate them, but I have no problems being around sinners and have converted more sinners (even extreme sinners) then I have the self righteous religious who think they never sin.   I hate sin (Sinophobia), even my own, but I do not hate sinners nor do I hate myself.  I do hate all extremes except the pursuit of truth and justice. 


Sometimes living in this secular world of extremes makes me think of the movie, "Instinct" about what people called an Ape Man.  He did all the right things but was so misunderstood he was jailed like an animal.  He thought it so useless to try and explain himself even to his daughter, he just said to her, "Goodbye!"


Notes on Moral Therapy

Anxiety can be good and useful

Guilt is always good and useful

Dependence on others is the enemy to self respect 

No one is an expert in the art of living without common sense

Sympathy is seldom useful to solvable problems

Sympathy should only be used in unsolvable sadness - death etc.

Every life is different so only the person can find the right way to his own happiness

Action and not words bring self esteem

Actions or lack of actions that make us feel guilty diminish self respect

Fears are natural and some are good

No one is responsible for our actions except ourselves

Self control is the greatest road to self esteem

Only self determination brings about self esteem and not outside control

Everything must be self - self discipline, self control, self respect, self restraint

Avoid all extremes except love of truth and love of neighbor

Avoid peace without justice

Sadness does not take away happiness because there is always some sadness

All life has tears and sadness at times

Conflict is not always bad because good and evil exist as a war

Bad people are bad and not sick

Selfish people are never happy people

Self absorbed people can never be happy people

Excuses for bad actions bring no cure