robertogreco + depression   140

I Feel Better Now | Jake Bittle
"Depressed by the burden of life under capitalism? There's an app for that!"

...

"Much like climate change in the liberal imagination, depression in these programs is an effect without a cause."

...

"The same consumerist culture that once shunned mention of depression now also seeks to cannibalize its language for use in advertising and media."

...

"The navel-gazing recommended by apps like these has the potential to entice us away from larger questions about the structural forces that generate a great deal of our suffering."
depression  capitalism  navelgazing  2019  technology  samanthamash 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Your Work Peak Is Earlier Than You Think - The Atlantic
"What’s the difference between Bach and Darwin? Both were preternaturally gifted and widely known early in life. Both attained permanent fame posthumously. Where they differed was in their approach to the midlife fade. When Darwin fell behind as an innovator, he became despondent and depressed; his life ended in sad inactivity. When Bach fell behind, he reinvented himself as a master instructor. He died beloved, fulfilled, and—though less famous than he once had been—respected.

The lesson for you and me, especially after 50: Be Johann Sebastian Bach, not Charles Darwin."
retirement  charlesdarwin  decline  life  living  careers  2019  arthurbrooks  bach  teaching  innovation  invention  creativity  depression  via:ayjay 
june 2019 by robertogreco
"The Ideal Education" - Sir Ken Robinson with Sadhguru - YouTube
"Someone said that education is a necessary evil. It is a necessary evil because there is a resident evil in the world. We have very convoluted aspirations. In the sense, largely, most part of the education is trying to manufacture cogs for the larger machine that we have built. Our children are the fuel unfortunately. We have to put them into some slot where they'll function well. And when we say the work, the world is no more about people. The world is about the economic engine that we are driving. It's become bigger than us. We have to keep the engine going. We are scared to stop it for a moment. We have to keep going. Now the problem is this that we have created a world if our economies fail we will be depressed. If our economies succeed we will be damned for good. I feel it's better to be depressed.

Now talking about the school as a way of manufacturing cogs for the machine, there are many ways to do it. Every nation has its own system. If I have to shape you into a particular shape that you must fit into a particular machine, it's a cruel process. But now we can't let the machine fail, it needs spare parts. Constantly it has to absorb and humanity is the spare parts. So our children are the fuel and the machine parts which go into this to run the larger machine. That's one aspect.

So this is why I have addressed education in three different dimensions, which people around me are still trying to grasp why these three different things? There is one form of education which is called Isha Vidhya, I think they might have showed something about that. This is for the rural masses in India where the problem is they are in a economic and social pit which they cannot get out by themselves. The only ladder for them is education. Employment generating education. But there are reasonably well-to-do people where they might have gone through that in the previous generation, but this generation need not think about how to earn my living. They have to look at how to expand who they are. So we have Isha Home School which caters to that. Because this kind of education costs money. So only people who can afford it can do that. Costs money means not like how it costs here, by Indian standards it costs money. And there is another form of education, where people are not interested in serving this machine or that machine, they want individuals to blossom, so we have Isha Samskriti where there is no academic education of any kind. They only learn music, dance, art, Sanskrit language, Kalari, which is a very .. the mother of all martial arts and classical dance, classical music, yoga, English language as a passport of the world.

So these children are a treat to watch. This is how children should have been. Just to give you a glimpse of what it is, at the age of fifteen, for three years, they go into monastic life. Compulsorily they must go and compulsorily they must come out at eighteen. They cannot continue. They'll take monastic life for three years, but after three years, they cannot continue, they have to discontinue that and get back to normal life. This is for discipline and focus. So I was to initiate this fifteen year olds and you know these sixty days, they are going through, from morning 3:30 to 9:00 in the evening, they are going through almost eight hours of meditation, varieties of Sadhana completely silent for sixty days, fifteen year old kids, totally silent. So I want to .. just another five days left for the initiation, I want to see how they are and I go there at 3:30 in the morning to see them. All these kids are just sitting like this unmoving. I just looked at them and they were literally glowing. I sat there and wept because I have never seen children like this in my life. Definitely I was not like this when I was fifteen. I was nowhere near what they are today but you can't make the entire world like that.

This is an ideal to work towards. The idea of this kind of schooling is just to develop human body and human brain without any intention. Without any intention as to what they should become. They can become whatever they want. Only thing is human body and human mind should grow to its fullest capability and attention is the main thing. An indiscriminate and unprejudiced attention is what we're trying to evolve in the children, that they learn to pay attention to everything the same way. That you don't divide the world as something as good and something as bad, something high, something low, something divine, something devil, something filthy, something sacred. No, you learn to pay the same attention to everything. This is the fundamental of this form of education. What will they do, what will they do is the aspiration, so I guaranteed them one thing. Twelve years, if you enter the school, the commitment is for twelve years. You have to.. six if you come, eighteen you can leave. So they asked me what will the children do. I said one thing I'll assure you, we will not give you a certificate at the end.

They said 'Sadhguru, what?' I said, 'Did anybody ask me what is my certification?' Only in the American embassy they asked me, you know when I almost .. about.. twenty years ago, or eighteen years ago when I went to apply for the visa to come to United States, the counsel general wanted to meet me. She was a lady. I went to meet her and she said, "Yes I know what you have done and all this but do you have a yoga certification because in America, you will need this." I said, "If I had asked for a certification from my guru, he would have killed me, so I don't have." So I said no certification because doors in the world may open little slowly for you, but when they open, they stay open. Because not because of qualification, but by competence you open doors."
unschooling  education  society  sadhguru  kenrobinson  2017  learning  children  schooling  schooliness  unlearning  certification  economics  politics  life  living  perfectionism  death  schools  purpose  depression  attention 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Young Adulthood in America: Children Are Grown, but Parenting Doesn’t Stop - The New York Times
"Dad shows up at your job interview. Mom makes your medical appointments. The college bribery scandal is an extreme example of a broader pattern."



"Bribing SAT proctors. Fabricating students’ athletic credentials. Paying off college officials. The actions that some wealthy parents were charged with Tuesday — to secure their children a spot at elite colleges — are illegal and scandalous. But they’re part of a broader pattern, albeit on the extreme end of the continuum: parents’ willingness to do anything it takes to help their grown children succeed.

As college has become more competitive and young adults’ economic prospects less assured, parents have begun spending much more time and money on their children — including well after they turn 18. Modern parenting typically remains hands-on, and gets more expensive, when children become young adults, according to a new survey by Morning Consult for The New York Times.

A significant share of parents, across income levels, say they’re involved in their adult children’s daily lives. That includes making doctor’s appointments, reminding them of school and other deadlines, and offering advice on romantic life, found the survey, which was of a nationally representative sample of 1,508 people ages 18 to 28 and 1,136 parents of people that age. More than half of parents give their adult children some form of monthly financial assistance.

Bribing SAT proctors. Fabricating students’ athletic credentials. Paying off college officials. The actions that some wealthy parents were charged with Tuesday — to secure their children a spot at elite colleges — are illegal and scandalous. But they’re part of a broader pattern, albeit on the extreme end of the continuum: parents’ willingness to do anything it takes to help their grown children succeed.

As college has become more competitive and young adults’ economic prospects less assured, parents have begun spending much more time and money on their children — including well after they turn 18. Modern parenting typically remains hands-on, and gets more expensive, when children become young adults, according to a new survey by Morning Consult for The New York Times.

A significant share of parents, across income levels, say they’re involved in their adult children’s daily lives. That includes making doctor’s appointments, reminding them of school and other deadlines, and offering advice on romantic life, found the survey, which was of a nationally representative sample of 1,508 people ages 18 to 28 and 1,136 parents of people that age. More than half of parents give their adult children some form of monthly financial assistance.

Bribing SAT proctors. Fabricating students’ athletic credentials. Paying off college officials. The actions that some wealthy parents were charged with Tuesday — to secure their children a spot at elite colleges — are illegal and scandalous. But they’re part of a broader pattern, albeit on the extreme end of the continuum: parents’ willingness to do anything it takes to help their grown children succeed.

As college has become more competitive and young adults’ economic prospects less assured, parents have begun spending much more time and money on their children — including well after they turn 18. Modern parenting typically remains hands-on, and gets more expensive, when children become young adults, according to a new survey by Morning Consult for The New York Times.

A significant share of parents, across income levels, say they’re involved in their adult children’s daily lives. That includes making doctor’s appointments, reminding them of school and other deadlines, and offering advice on romantic life, found the survey, which was of a nationally representative sample of 1,508 people ages 18 to 28 and 1,136 parents of people that age. More than half of parents give their adult children some form of monthly financial assistance.

[chart:

"Parents of adults 18 to 28 who said they ...

Reminded their adult children of deadlines they need to meet, including for schoolwork 76%
Made appointments for them, including doctor’s appointments 74%
Offered them advice on relationships and romantic life 42%
Helped them study for a college test 22%
Helped write all or part of a job or internship application 16%
Called or texted to make sure they did not sleep through a class or test 15%
Told them which career to pursue 14%
Helped them get jobs or internships through professional network 14%
Gave more than $500 per month for rent or daily expenses 12%
Helped write an essay or school assignment 11%
Would contact a child's employer if he or she had an issue at work 11%
Contacted a professor or administrator to discuss child's performance or grades at college 8%
Wrote all or part of an essay or other school assignment 4%"]

Colleges now routinely have offices of parent relations. Companies including LinkedIn, Amazon and Google have hosted bring-your-parents-to-work days. Parents have applied to jobs on behalf of their children; lobbied their employers for a raise; and attended job interviews with them. They have called their children’s roommates to resolve disagreements or to check on their children’s whereabouts.

For certain members of the superrich, the tactics have been extraordinary — nobody would equate accusations of bribery with helping a college-aged child with homework or a job application. The factors driving most parents, researchers say, are widening inequality, the growing importance of a college degree, and the fact that for the first time, children of this generation are as likely as not to be less prosperous than their parents.

“It’s the same thing but on a much different level,” said Laura Hamilton, author of “Parenting to a Degree: How Family Matters for College and Beyond” and a sociologist at the University of California, Merced. “It’s really hard for parents to understand why you wouldn’t do anything you could do to assist your children. If you have the influence, the connections and the money, it’s not surprising to me that the parents made these choices.”

Even more typical parental involvement can backfire, many experts say, by leaving young adults ill-prepared for independent adult life, and unable to succeed at the schools and jobs their parents helped them get to.

“When one is hand-held through life, they don’t develop a sense of self-efficacy and life skills,” said Julie Lythcott-Haims, the author of “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success” and a former dean of freshmen at Stanford. “This sense among parents that I’ve got to get my kid to the right future is overlooking the fact that your kid has to get themselves there.”

It’s a continuation of the kind of intensive parenting that has become the norm in the United States. Today’s parents, especially mothers, are spending more time and money on their children than any previous generation — on things like lessons, tutors and test prep. Many parents’ anxiety only intensifies after 18, when children start the education and jobs they’ve been preparing for.

“Professional helicopter parents are really focused on using education to get their children into a professional career,” Ms. Hamilton said. “Their goal is basically to prevent their children from ever making a mistake.”

This kind of behavior is most prevalent among privileged parents, those with collegiate experience and wealth. In places with the biggest gaps between the rich and the poor, rich parents spend an even larger share of their incomes on their children, a recent paper found. The bribery scandal shows how far some parents will go — in one example, parents were accused of paying $1.2 million to help get their child into an Ivy League college.

More commonly, financial help comes in the form of tuition or rent payments. Parents used to spend the most money on their children during high school, according to Consumer Expenditure Survey data analyzed by the sociologists Sabino Kornrich and Frank Furstenberg. But now they spend the most before age 6 and after age 18 and into children’s 20s.

The increases in later years are because so many more children are going to college, which has become much more expensive, Mr. Kornrich said. Also, about a third of children this age still live at home. In the new survey by Morning Consult and The Times, about two-thirds of those who lived with their parents said it was because they could not afford to live on their own or were still in school.

One in three parents said they gave their 18-and-over children $100 or more a month, and 44 percent of those with children in college made tuition or loan payments for them. When asked at what age people should be financially independent from their parents, the largest share of young people said 25 to 28.

Recent research shows that even parents who can’t afford to give their grown children money increasingly provide them with significant support of other kinds. In the survey, wealthier parents were more likely to report giving their children money than less affluent ones were, but many nonfinancial measures of parental support remained consistent across income and education levels.

For example, three-quarters of parents with children ages 18 to 28 said they had reminded their children of school and other deadlines they needed to meet — whether the parents reported a low or high income. Four in ten parents, across income and education levels, said they offered romantic advice to their children.

Parents gave their children less money, professional advice and job application help as they got older. Romantic advice, however, did not taper off.

Parents reported a more engaged relationship with their grown children than they once had with their own parents. They said they spent more time with their children, communicated with them more often and gave more advice than their parents had when they were the same age. … [more]
parenting  2019  helicopterparenting  kevinquealy  clairecainmiller  youngadults  economics  anxiety  depression  inequality  relationships  helicopterparents  education 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Yong Zhao "What Works May Hurt: Side Effects in Education" - YouTube
"Proponents of standardized testing and privatization in education have sought to prove their effectiveness in improving education with an abundance of evidence. These efforts, however, can have dangerous side effects, causing long-lasting damage to children, teachers, and schools. Yong Zhao, Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas, will argue that education interventions are like medical products: They can have serious, sometimes detrimental, side effects while also providing cures. Using standardized testing and privatization as examples, Zhao, author of the internationally bestselling Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, will talk about his new book on why and how pursuing a narrow set of short-term outcomes causes irreparable harm in education."
yongzhao  2018  schools  schooling  pisa  education  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  china  us  history  testscores  children  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  sideeffects  privatization  tims  math  reading  confidence  assessment  economics  depression  diversity  entrepreneurship  japan  creativity  korea  vietnam  homogenization  intolerance  prosperity  tolerance  filtering  sorting  humans  meritocracy  effort  inheritance  numeracy  literacy  achievementgap  kindergarten  nclb  rttt  policy  data  homogeneity  selectivity  charterschools  centralization  decentralization  local  control  inequity  curriculum  autonomy  learning  memorization  directinstruction  instruction  poverty  outcomes  tfa  teachforamerica  finland  singapore  miltonfriedman  vouchers  resilience  growthmindset  motivation  psychology  research  positivepsychology  caroldweck  intrinsicmotivation  choice  neoliberalism  high-stakestesting 
march 2019 by robertogreco
On Bullsh*t Jobs | David Graeber | RSA Replay - YouTube
"In 2013 David Graeber, professor of anthropology at LSE, wrote an excoriating essay on modern work for Strike! magazine. “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” was read over a million times and the essay translated in seventeen different languages within weeks. Graeber visits the RSA to expand on this phenomenon, and will explore how the proliferation of meaningless jobs - more associated with the 20th-century Soviet Union than latter-day capitalism - has impacted modern society. In doing so, he looks at how we value work, and how, rather than being productive, work has become an end in itself; the way such work maintains the current broken system of finance capital; and, finally, how we can get out of it."
davidgraeber  bullshitjobs  employment  jobs  work  2018  economics  neoliberalism  capitalism  latecapitalism  sovietunion  bureaucracy  productivity  finance  policy  politics  unschooling  deschooling  labor  society  purpose  schooliness  debt  poverty  inequality  rules  anticapitalism  morality  wealth  power  control  technology  progress  consumerism  suffering  morals  psychology  specialization  complexity  systemsthinking  digitization  automation  middlemanagement  academia  highered  highereducation  management  administration  adminstrativebloat  minutia  universalbasicincome  ubi  supplysideeconomics  creativity  elitism  thecultofwork  anarchism  anarchy  zero-basedaccounting  leisure  taylorism  ethics  happiness  production  care  maintenance  marxism  caregiving  serviceindustry  gender  value  values  gdp  socialvalue  education  teaching  freedom  play  feminism  mentalhealth  measurement  fulfillment  supervision  autonomy  humans  humnnature  misery  canon  agency  identity  self-image  self-worth  depression  stress  anxiety  solidarity  camaraderie  respect  community 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Captain Awkward on Twitter: "Fellow #ADHD kids, what elaborate new planning/organization systems and rituals are we going to embrace enthusiastically for the first half of January?"
"Fellow #ADHD kids, what elaborate new planning/organization systems and rituals are we going to embrace enthusiastically for the first half of January?

If we can crowdsource data about price, fiddliness, cult following, # of dedicated subreddits, # of naturally organized people who swore it would change our lives or said “if I can do it anyone can!”, etc, then I can get a jump start on shame spiral trajectory calculations!

My poor therapists (all): Have you tried to-do lists?

Me: Yes! I love making them, but I constantly forget to check. Also putting a task on the list can “solve” its urgency & I forget. Whereas if I DON’T write it, the terror of forgetting might keep it in focus!

Therapists: [gif]

Me: I basically exist inside a giant perpetual-motion machine of prcrastination, forgetting stuff, guilt, and anxiety and sometimes I can harness it as motivation!

Therapists: [gif]

Therapists: But you DO accomplish things?

Me: Yes?

Therapists: But...how?

Me: Oh, that’s easy, I have enough raw intelligence & ability that sometimes the crippling fear of failure makes a volcano instead of an abyss, and work erupts out of the crater instead of collapsing in.

Therapists: But...wouldn’t be easier to keep a to-do list?

Me: Obviously!

Therapists: So, what CAN we work on?

Me: Could we maybe make the creative work volcanoes a little bigger and the crushing paralysis & shame abysses a little smaller?

Therapists: [gif]

In all seriousness, the thing about getting finally getting dx’d with #ADHD that helps me most isn’t the meds, which do mitigate it a bit, but that I stopped hating myself for being this way.

My whole childhood & life before diagnosis, my intelligence and literally everything I am good at was used as proof that I must be lazy & deliberately fucking up career & academic & household stuff out of spite.

The paradox of #ADHD - being excellent at complex, high-stimulus tasks and fuck-all at routine, “easy” tasks was a weapon in the hands of parents, teachers, & employers and a constant abusive echo in my brain.

What I internalized was that accomplishments that were fun or that came easy to me had no value, only the ones that involve effort “count.” But the things that involved the most effort for me were mundane tasks that came easy to others, so they had no value, either.

“But you are so good at ______ it should be easy to _____?” became “But I am so good at ____, I should be good at ____ and since I am not actually good at ____ I must be a hopeless fuckup.”

I also internalized a fallacy that I was not “allowed” to do rewarding ambitious enjoyable things until all my “chores” were done. Meaning I set impossible traps for myself for YEARS b/c I would never get the chores done?

TBH sometimes the right thing for me to do is put the laptop down & clean the house but also one main reason I can be a prolific writer is an internal shift in permissions, like, chores CAN actually wait if I’m in the grip of an idea, & I DON’T have to read/answer every email.

My condition comes with gifts like creativity and intense bursts of focus & enthusiasm and it is ok to ride those bursts and enjoy them and give my effort & time to “fun” work. It is also ok to kinda suck at some things.

This article was a turning point for me in getting dx’d - I had raised the prospect before and been told I was “too smart” & “too high-functioning.” Therapist was using (incredibly common) idea of hyperactive boys. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/04/adhd-is-different-for-women/381158/ ["ADHD Is Different for Women"]

This book by Sari Solden, rec’d by a friend, was also really helpful: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/women-attention-deficit-disorder-embrace-your-differences/id548946872?mt=11 ["Women With Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life"]

Finally, #ADHD is buds with Depression & Anxiety, and a lot of its symptoms overlap with PTSD. If you never get a clear ADHD dx it doesn’t mean you are not having real trouble with executive function. Your treatment (esp. meds) might differ, tho, so get checked out if you can.

Ok, actually finally finally finally there is tons of productivity & organizing advice from people who are naturally good at organization. You will often recognize it by the word “just” - “I just take 10 seconds to put things back where they belong!” “I just make lists!”

For us #ADHD buds this advice can be so, so, so overwhelming. It isn’t factually untrue (It does save time to put things away as you go? Or, er, I believe organized people when they say this?) but your instinct that the word “just” does not apply to you is CORRECT.

If the actual tips sound helpful and you want to try them, by all means! We can work on new habits and find better workarounds. But if it’s difficult, please know, that’s expected & you’re not imagining it. Please also don’t add it to the ways you beat yourself up.

I tweet for the kids who got their messy desks dumped out as an example to others. I tweet for the ones who never once brought a permission slip home, and got it signed, and brought that same piece of paper back in time for the field trip.

I tweet for the kids who peed their pants sometimes not b/c they weren’t potty-trained but b/c they got too absorbed in something & forgot to switch tasks.

I tweet for #ADHD couples, esp. brides, who are like “I want to marry YOU but what the hell is WEDDING PLANNING and why do people think I know how?”

I tweet for the ones who are panicking that “you have so much potential!” is turning into “you *had* so much potential.” Every day is a race against the sun and our own runaway brains.

BTW I also tweet for the parents who are like “oh crap I lost my kid’s permission slip...again...”

Also, hi to the people who really need an assistant but have no idea how to delegate things to an assistant and/or find the whole assistant thing terrifying b/c someone will know how truly, truly disorganized you are & how much you rely on adrenaline & charisma. [gif]

I see you, I am you, I have been you, and I have been your assistant. Let the nice person help you if you possibly can. They want to. They *like* it. You just have to be nice and honest & give them money.

If anyone has ever told you, patiently & kindly, that the best way to accomplish a big project is to break it down into small, digestible chunks, and you’ve nodded in agreement but internally screamed b/c you know a long list = more ways to lose focus, come here: [gif]"

[Via/see also: https://twitter.com/emilesnyder/status/1078020204016263168

This thread made me cry. I have never considered ADHD as something that might describe me. Depression, anxiety, yes. ADHD? Not so much.

But holy shit does this thread have my number re: procrastination, organization, shame spirals, etc..

https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1078060070078840833
Oh, but Emile. It's not you with the disorder, it's society. You're just made for a better, slower, simpler, more attuned, more holistic world. 90% of the shit people do when they get shit done is actually destroying the planet. If everybody just did less we could save the world.

https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1078106307536728064
Have you seen this research on the cultural dimensions of attentional stance? https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3dbc/c3420a3d1afa391fb46370cac52cf59ba98a.pdf ["Open Attention as a Cultural Tool for Observational Learning" by Suzanne Gaskins

"ABSTRACT:
Learning through observation in everyday activities is widely recognized in the ethnographic literature as a central way that children learn from others. There are two well-described
characteristics of learning through observation: participation in meaningful activities with people who are important in the children’s lives and a belief that children are active, motivated learners who take initiative to garner experiences and make meaning from them. Gaskins and Paradise (2010) have proposed that there is a third characteristic central to observational learning: open attention, defined as attention that takes in information from the full environmental context (that is, wide-angled) and is sustained over time (that is, abiding). This paper will describe open attention in some detail, giving examples of how open attention is encouraged in a variety of cultures, its value as a component of observational learning, the role of concentration, and the implications for understanding children’s learning (in and out of school) and play. The presentation will conclude that, while learning through observation is present in all cultures, in cultures where open attention is encouraged and expected, and where the responsibility for learning is given to the children, observational learning is both more powerful and more central to children’s mastery of the full range of cultural knowledge." ]]
attention  adhd  neurodiversity  2018  productivity  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  organization  anxiety  depression  context  procrastination  shame  forgetfulness  executivefunction  creativity  add  children  childhood  schools  schooling 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Laziness Does Not Exist – Devon Price – Medium
"I’ve been a psychology professor since 2012. In the past six years, I’ve witnessed students of all ages procrastinate on papers, skip presentation days, miss assignments, and let due dates fly by. I’ve seen promising prospective grad students fail to get applications in on time; I’ve watched PhD candidates take months or years revising a single dissertation draft; I once had a student who enrolled in the same class of mine two semesters in a row, and never turned in anything either time.

I don’t think laziness was ever at fault.

Ever.

In fact, I don’t believe that laziness exists.



I’m a social psychologist, so I’m interested primarily in the situational and contextual factors that drive human behavior. When you’re seeking to predict or explain a person’s actions, looking at the social norms, and the person’s context, is usually a pretty safe bet. Situational constraints typically predict behavior far better than personality, intelligence, or other individual-level traits.

So when I see a student failing to complete assignments, missing deadlines, or not delivering results in other aspects of their life, I’m moved to ask: what are the situational factors holding this student back? What needs are currently not being met? And, when it comes to behavioral “laziness”, I’m especially moved to ask: what are the barriers to action that I can’t see?

There are always barriers. Recognizing those barriers— and viewing them as legitimate — is often the first step to breaking “lazy” behavior patterns.



It’s really helpful to respond to a person’s ineffective behavior with curiosity rather than judgment. I learned this from a friend of mine, the writer and activist Kimberly Longhofer (who publishes under Mik Everett). Kim is passionate about the acceptance and accommodation of disabled people and homeless people. Their writing about both subjects is some of the most illuminating, bias-busting work I’ve ever encountered. Part of that is because Kim is brilliant, but it’s also because at various points in their life, Kim has been both disabled and homeless.

Kim is the person who taught me that judging a homeless person for wanting to buy alcohol or cigarettes is utter folly. When you’re homeless, the nights are cold, the world is unfriendly, and everything is painfully uncomfortable. Whether you’re sleeping under a bridge, in a tent, or at a shelter, it’s hard to rest easy. You are likely to have injuries or chronic conditions that bother you persistently, and little access to medical care to deal with it. You probably don’t have much healthy food.

In that chronically uncomfortable, over-stimulating context, needing a drink or some cigarettes makes fucking sense. As Kim explained to me, if you’re laying out in the freezing cold, drinking some alcohol may be the only way to warm up and get to sleep. If you’re under-nourished, a few smokes may be the only thing that kills the hunger pangs. And if you’re dealing with all this while also fighting an addiction, then yes, sometimes you just need to score whatever will make the withdrawal symptoms go away, so you can survive.


[image of cover of "Self-Published Kindling: The Memoirs of a Homeless Bookstore Owner," by Mik Everett with caption "Kim’s incredible book about their experiences being homeless while running a bookstore."]

Few people who haven’t been homeless think this way. They want to moralize the decisions of poor people, perhaps to comfort themselves about the injustices of the world. For many, it’s easier to think homeless people are, in part, responsible for their suffering than it is to acknowledge the situational factors.

And when you don’t fully understand a person’s context — what it feels like to be them every day, all the small annoyances and major traumas that define their life — it’s easy to impose abstract, rigid expectations on a person’s behavior. All homeless people should put down the bottle and get to work. Never mind that most of them have mental health symptoms and physical ailments, and are fighting constantly to be recognized as human. Never mind that they are unable to get a good night’s rest or a nourishing meal for weeks or months on end. Never mind that even in my comfortable, easy life, I can’t go a few days without craving a drink or making an irresponsible purchase. They have to do better.

But they’re already doing the best they can. I’ve known homeless people who worked full-time jobs, and who devoted themselves to the care of other people in their communities. A lot of homeless people have to navigate bureaucracies constantly, interfacing with social workers, case workers, police officers, shelter staff, Medicaid staff, and a slew of charities both well-meaning and condescending. It’s a lot of fucking work to be homeless. And when a homeless or poor person runs out of steam and makes a “bad decision”, there’s a damn good reason for it.

If a person’s behavior doesn’t make sense to you, it is because you are missing a part of their context. It’s that simple. I’m so grateful to Kim and their writing for making me aware of this fact. No psychology class, at any level, taught me that. But now that it is a lens that I have, I find myself applying it to all kinds of behaviors that are mistaken for signs of moral failure — and I’ve yet to find one that can’t be explained and empathized with.



Let’s look at a sign of academic “laziness” that I believe is anything but: procrastination.

People love to blame procrastinators for their behavior. Putting off work sure looks lazy, to an untrained eye. Even the people who are actively doing the procrastinating can mistake their behavior for laziness. You’re supposed to be doing something, and you’re not doing it — that’s a moral failure right? That means you’re weak-willed, unmotivated, and lazy, doesn’t it?

For decades, psychological research has been able to explain procrastination as a functioning problem, not a consequence of laziness. When a person fails to begin a project that they care about, it’s typically due to either a) anxiety about their attempts not being “good enough” or b) confusion about what the first steps of the task are. Not laziness. In fact, procrastination is more likely when the task is meaningful and the individual cares about doing it well.

When you’re paralyzed with fear of failure, or you don’t even know how to begin a massive, complicated undertaking, it’s damn hard to get shit done. It has nothing to do with desire, motivation, or moral upstandingness. Procastinators can will themselves to work for hours; they can sit in front of a blank word document, doing nothing else, and torture themselves; they can pile on the guilt again and again — none of it makes initiating the task any easier. In fact, their desire to get the damn thing done may worsen their stress and make starting the task harder.

The solution, instead, is to look for what is holding the procrastinator back. If anxiety is the major barrier, the procrastinator actually needs to walk away from the computer/book/word document and engage in a relaxing activity. Being branded “lazy” by other people is likely to lead to the exact opposite behavior.

Often, though, the barrier is that procrastinators have executive functioning challenges — they struggle to divide a large responsibility into a series of discrete, specific, and ordered tasks. Here’s an example of executive functioning in action: I completed my dissertation (from proposal to data collection to final defense) in a little over a year. I was able to write my dissertation pretty easily and quickly because I knew that I had to a) compile research on the topic, b) outline the paper, c) schedule regular writing periods, and d) chip away at the paper, section by section, day by day, according to a schedule I had pre-determined.

Nobody had to teach me to slice up tasks like that. And nobody had to force me to adhere to my schedule. Accomplishing tasks like this is consistent with how my analytical, hyper-focused, Autistic little brain works. Most people don’t have that ease. They need an external structure to keep them writing — regular writing group meetings with friends, for example — and deadlines set by someone else. When faced with a major, massive project, most people want advice for how to divide it into smaller tasks, and a timeline for completion. In order to track progress, most people require organizational tools, such as a to-do list, calendar, datebook, or syllabus.

Needing or benefiting from such things doesn’t make a person lazy. It just means they have needs. The more we embrace that, the more we can help people thrive.



I had a student who was skipping class. Sometimes I’d see her lingering near the building, right before class was about to start, looking tired. Class would start, and she wouldn’t show up. When she was present in class, she was a bit withdrawn; she sat in the back of the room, eyes down, energy low. She contributed during small group work, but never talked during larger class discussions.

A lot of my colleagues would look at this student and think she was lazy, disorganized, or apathetic. I know this because I’ve heard how they talk about under-performing students. There’s often rage and resentment in their words and tone — why won’t this student take my class seriously? Why won’t they make me feel important, interesting, smart?

But my class had a unit on mental health stigma. It’s a passion of mine, because I’m a neuroatypical psychologist. I know how unfair my field is to people like me. The class & I talked about the unfair judgments people levy against those with mental illness; how depression is interpreted as laziness, how mood swings are framed as manipulative, how people with “severe” mental illnesses are … [more]
devonprice  2018  laziness  procrastination  psychology  mikeverett  kimberlylonghofer  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  mentalhealth  executivefunctioning  neurodiversity  discrimination  stress  anxiety  trauma  colleges  universities  academia  unschooling  deschooling  depression  mentalillness 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Talent. A Football Scholarship. Then Crushing Depression. - The New York Times
"Maybe you have never heard of Isaiah Renfro. He did not start at the University of Washington, nor did he play in the N.F.L. But you should know his struggle. There are scores like him, young athletes on college campuses grappling with mental illness — a crisis that is only now getting serious attention.

What experts know is this: Recent studies place suicide as the third leading cause of death for college athletes, behind motor vehicle accidents and medical issues.

And nearly 25 percent of college athletes who participated in a widely touted 2016 study led by researchers at Drexel University displayed signs of depressive symptoms.

Since that percentage is roughly in line with the general college population, the findings countered a long-held belief that athletes are less likely than their peers to become depressed — largely because they benefit from regular, emotion-lifting exercise.

As the stigma of mental illness has eased, the reporting of cases has increased. But experts also believe that young athletes now face more stress, which contributes to mental illness, than ever before.

“Performance and parental pressure, social media, more games on TV, more players who think they can go to the pros,” said Timothy Neal, the director of athletic training education at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a nationally recognized expert on mental health and college sports.

The N.C.A.A. is playing catch-up.

“We are still so young in addressing this,” said Brian Hainline, a neurologist who in 2013 became the N.C.A.A.’s first chief medical officer. He cited increasing concern not only about depression, but also about bipolar, eating, anxiety and attention deficit disorders, as well as addiction. “Mental health is our single most important priority.”

What happened to Isaiah Renfro seemed to be a result of this combustible mix, where brain chemistry meets the burdens of reaching success and then maintaining it.

He was hardly alone in his struggle."
athletics  anxiety  mentalhealth  depression  2018  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  parenting  expectations  americanfootball  pressure  health 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Opinion | Everything Is for Sale Now. Even Us. - The New York Times
"Almost everyone I know now has some kind of hustle, whether job, hobby, or side or vanity project. Share my blog post, buy my book, click on my link, follow me on Instagram, visit my Etsy shop, donate to my Kickstarter, crowdfund my heart surgery. It’s as though we are all working in Walmart on an endless Black Friday of the soul.

Being sold to can be socially awkward, for sure, but when it comes to corrosive self-doubt, being the seller is a thousand times worse. The constant curation of a salable self demanded by the new economy can be a special hellspring of anxiety.

Like many modern workers, I find that only a small percentage of my job is now actually doing my job. The rest is performing a million acts of unpaid micro-labor that can easily add up to a full-time job in itself. Tweeting and sharing and schmoozing and blogging. Liking and commenting on others’ tweets and shares and schmoozes and blogs. Ambivalently “maintaining a presence on social media,” attempting to sell a semi-fictional, much more appealing version of myself in the vain hope that this might somehow help me sell some actual stuff at some unspecified future time.

The trick of doing this well, of course, is to act as if you aren’t doing it at all — as if this is simply how you like to unwind in the evening, by sharing your views on pasta sauce with your 567,000 followers. Seeing the slick charm of successful online “influencers” spurs me to download e-courses on how to “crack Instagram” or “develop my personal brand story.” But as soon as I hand over my credit card details, I am flooded with vague self-disgust. I instantly abandon the courses and revert to my usual business model — badgering and guilting my friends across a range of online platforms, employing the personal brand story of “pleeeeeeeeeeaassssee.”

As my friend Helena (Buy her young adult novel! Available on Amazon!) puts it, buying, promoting or sharing your friend’s “thing” is now a tax payable for modern friendship. But this expectation becomes its own monster. I find myself auditing my friends’ loyalty based on their efforts. Who bought it? Who shared it on Facebook? Was it a share from the heart, or a “duty share” — with that telltale, torturous phrasing that squeaks past the minimum social requirement but deftly dissociates the sharer from the product: “My friend wrote a book — I haven’t read it, but maybe you should.”

In this cutthroat human marketplace, we are worth only as much as the sum of our metrics, so checking those metrics can become obsessive. What’s my Amazon ranking? How many likes? How many retweets? How many followers? (The word “followers” is in itself a clear indicator of something psychologically unhealthy going on — the standard term for the people we now spend the bulk of our time with sounds less like a functioning human relationship than the P.R. materials of the Branch Davidians.)

Of course a fair chunk of this mass selling frenzy is motivated by money. With a collapsing middle class, as well as close to zero job security and none of the benefits associated with it, self-marketing has become, for many, a necessity in order to eat.

But what’s more peculiar is just how imperfectly all this correlates with financial need or even greed. The sad truth is that many of us would probably make more money stacking shelves or working at the drive-through than selling our “thing.” The real prize is deeper, more existential. What this is really about, for many of us, is a roaring black hole of psychological need.

After a couple of decades of constant advice to “follow our passions” and “live our dreams,” for a certain type of relatively privileged modern freelancer, nothing less than total self-actualization at work now seems enough. But this leaves us with an angsty mismatch between personal expectation and economic reality. So we shackle our self-worth to the success of these projects — the book or blog post or range of crocheted stuffed penguins becomes a proxy for our very soul. In the new economy you can be your own boss and your own ugly bug brooch.

Kudos to whichever neoliberal masterminds came up with this system. They sell this infinitely seductive torture to us as “flexible working” or “being the C.E.O. of You!” and we jump at it, salivating, because on its best days, the freelance life really can be all of that.

But as long as we are happy to be paid for our labor in psychological rather than financial rewards, those at the top are delighted to comply. While we grub and scrabble and claw at one another chasing these tiny pellets of self-esteem, the bug-brooch barons still pocket the actual cash.

This is the future, and research suggests that it’s a rat race that is already taking a severe toll on our psyches. A 2017 study suggests that this trend toward increasingly market-driven human interaction is making us paranoid, jittery, self-critical and judgmental.

Analyzing data from the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale from 1989 to 2016, the study’s authors found a surprisingly large increase over this period in three distinct types of perfectionism: “Self-orientated,” whereby we hold ourselves to increasingly unrealistic standards and judge ourselves harshly when we fail to meet them; “socially prescribed,” in which we are convinced that other people judge us harshly; and “other-orientated,” in which we get our revenge by judging them just as harshly. These elements of perfectionism positively correlate with mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and even suicide, which are also on the rise.

The authors describe this new-normal mind-set as a “sense of self overwhelmed by pathological worry and a fear of negative social evaluation.” Hmm. Maybe I should make that my personal brand story."
hustle  anxiety  capitalism  precarity  money  passion  2018  socialmedia  gigeconomy  microlabor  labor  work  perfectionism  happiness  ruthwhippman  sales  depression  mentalhealth  alwayson  personalbranding 
november 2018 by robertogreco
BEFORE YOU GO TO SCHOOL, WATCH THIS || WHAT IS SCHOOL FOR? - YouTube
"EVERY STUDENT NEEDS TO SEE THIS!

Check out the Innovation Playlist
http://www.innovationplaylist.org

Directed by Valentina Vee
Produced by Lixe Hernandez
Shot by Andrey Misyutin
Motion Design by Hodja Berlev (Neonbyte)
Music by Raul Vega (Instrumental track here: https://phantomape.bandcamp.com/track...)

Don't forget to like, comment & SUBSCRIBE: https://goo.gl/3bBv52

For more inspirational videos, watch:
I Just Sued The School System https://youtu.be/dqTTojTija8
Everybody Dies But Not Everybody Lives https://goo.gl/xyiH9C
Prince Ea Reacts to Teens React To The School System https://youtu.be/nslDUZQPTZA

Recommended Reading:

1) What School Could Be, Ted Dintersmith
2) The Element, by Sir Ken Robinson
3) How Children Learn, John Holt
4) The Global Achievement Gap, Tony Wagner

Works Cited

Galloway Mollie., Jerusha Conner & Denise Pope. “Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools,” The Journal of Experimental Education (2013) 81:4, 490-510, DOI: 10.1080/00220973.2012.745469

Medina, John. Brain Rules. Seattle: Pear Press, 2014. Print.

Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan. "Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 August 2017. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170818115831.htm

Moffitt Terrie., and Louise Arseneault. “A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
(2011) PSOR 5 May. 2018."
education  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  learning  2018  princeea  howwelearn  schooliness  sleep  homework  johnmedina  terriemoffitt  louisearseneault  molliegalloway  jerushaconner  denisepope  time  timemanagement  tonywagner  teddintersmith  kenrobinson  johnholt  valentinavee  video  self-care  suicide  well-being  self-control  bullying  stress  anxiety  depression  whatmatters  cooking  success  life  living  purpose  socialemotional  ikea  music  youtube  children  passion  socialemotionallearning  health  rejection  ingvarkamprad 
september 2018 by robertogreco
The Equality Trust | Working to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing economic inequality
[See also:
(book) "The Spirit Level"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit_Level_(book)
The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better[1] is a book by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett,[2] published in 2009 by Allen Lane. The book is published in the US by Bloomsbury Press (December, 2009) with the new sub-title: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.[3] It was then published in a paperback second edition (United Kingdom) in November 2010 by Penguin Books with the subtitle, Why Equality is Better for Everyone.[4]

The book argues that there are "pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption".[5] It claims that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal countries, whether rich or poor.[1] The book contains graphs that are available online.[6]

In 2010, the authors published responses to questions about their analysis on the Equality Trust website.[7] As of September 2012, the book had sold more than 150,000 copies in English.[8] It is available in 23 foreign editions.

"The Spirit Level authors: why society is more unequal than ever"
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/09/society-unequal-the-spirit-level

[follow-up book] "The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Wellbeing"
https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/188607/the-inner-level/
Why is the incidence of mental illness in the UK twice that in Germany? Why are Americans three times more likely than the Dutch to develop gambling problems? Why is child well-being so much worse in New Zealand than Japan? As this groundbreaking study demonstrates, the answer to all these hinges on inequality.

In The Spirit Level Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett put inequality at the centre of public debate by showing conclusively that less-equal societies fare worse than more equal ones across everything from education to life expectancy. The Inner Level now explains how inequality affects us individually, how it alters how we think, feel and behave. It sets out the overwhelming evidence that material inequalities have powerful psychological effects: when the gap between rich and poor increases, so does the tendency to define and value ourselves and others in terms of superiority and inferiority. A deep well of data and analysis is drawn upon to empirically show, for example, that low social status is associated with elevated levels of stress, and how rates of anxiety and depression are intimately related to the inequality which makes that status paramount.

Wilkinson and Pickett describe how these responses to hierarchies evolved, and why the impacts of inequality on us are so severe. In doing so, they challenge the conception that humans are innately competitive and self-interested. They undermine, too, the idea that inequality is the product of 'natural' differences in individual ability. This book sheds new light on many of the most urgent problems facing societies today, but it is not just an index of our ills. It demonstrates that societies based on fundamental equalities, sharing and reciprocity generate much higher levels of well-being, and lays out the path towards them.

"Does inequality cause suicide, drug abuse and mental illness?"
https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2018/06/14/does-inequality-cause-suicide-drug-abuse-and-mental-illness

"“The Inner Level” seeks to push that debate forward, by linking inequality to a crisis of mental health. This time the authors’ argument focuses on status anxiety: stress related to fears about individuals’ places in social hierarchies. Anxiety declines as incomes rise, they show, but is higher at all levels in more unequal countries—to the extent that the richest 10% of people in high-inequality countries are more socially anxious than all but the bottom 10% in low-inequality countries. Anxiety contributes to a variety of mental-health problems, including depression, narcissism and schizophrenia—rates of which are alarming in the West, the authors say, and rise with inequality.

Manifestations of mental illness, such as self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse and problem gambling, all seem to get worse with income dispersion, too. Such relationships seem to apply within countries as well as between them. Damaging drug use is higher in more unequal neighbourhoods of New York City, in more unequal American states and in more unequal countries. The authors emphasise that it is a person’s relative position rather than absolute income that matters most. A study of 30,000 Britons found that an individual’s place in the income hierarchy predicted the incidence of mental stress more accurately than absolute income did. And in America, relative income is more closely linked to depression than absolute income. It is not enough to lift all boats, their work suggests, if the poshest vessels are always buoyed up more than the humblest.

The fact that relative status matters so much is a result of human beings’ intrinsically social nature, Ms Pickett and Mr Wilkinson argue. Group interaction and co-operation have been an essential component of humanity’s evolutionary success; indeed, the authors say, its social nature helped drive the growth of human brains. Across primates, they write, the size of the neocortex—a part of the brain responsible for higher-level cognitive functions—varies with the typical group size of a species. Living in complex social groups is hard cognitive work. Survival requires an understanding of roles within the social hierarchy, and intuition of what others are thinking. Thus people are necessarily sensitive to their status within groups, and to social developments that threaten it.

Such hierarchies are found in all human societies. But as inequality rises, differences in status become harder to ignore. There is more to be gained or lost by moving from one rung on the ladder to another. And however much some maintain that disparities in pay-cheques do not correspond to differences in human worth, such well-meaning pieties feel hollow when high-rollers earn hundreds or thousands of times what ordinary folk take home. Money cannot buy everything, but it can buy most things. The steeper the income gradient, the less secure everyone becomes, in both their self-respect and their sense of the community’s esteem.

And so people compensate. They take pills, to steel their nerves or dull the pain. Some cut themselves. Some adopt a more submissive posture, avoiding contact with others. Yet such withdrawal can feed on itself, depriving recluses of the social interaction that is important to mental health, undermining relationships and careers and contributing to economic hardship.

Others respond in the opposite way, by behaving more aggressively and egotistically. Studies of narcissistic tendencies showed a steep increase between 1982 and 2006, the authors report; 30% more Americans displayed narcissistic characteristics at the end of the period than at the beginning. Scrutiny of successive American cohorts found a progressive rise in those listing wealth and fame as important goals (above fulfilment and community). Over time, more people cited money as the main motivation for attending college (rather than intellectual enrichment).

Domineering responses to anxiety are associated with loss of empathy and delusions of grandeur. Thus highly successful people often display narcissistic or even psychopathic behaviour. In surveys, the rich are generally less empathetic and more likely to think they deserve special treatment than others. Modern capitalism, the authors suggest, selects for assertiveness, for a lack of sentimentality in business and comfort in sacking underlings, and for showy displays of economic strength. From the top to the bottom of the income spectrum, people use conspicuous consumption and other means of enhancing their image to project status.

The least secure are often the most likely to exaggerate their qualities. For example, countries with lower average life-expectancy tend to do better on measures of self-reported health; 54% of Japanese say they are in good health compared with 80% of Americans, though the Japanese live five years longer on average. Whereas 70% of Swedes consider themselves to be above-average drivers, 90% of Americans do. Such figures cast declamations of America’s greatness, and the politicians who make them, in a new light."

"The Inner Level review – how more equal societies reduce stress and improve wellbeing"
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/20/the-inner-level-review ]

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BmquJ7Ngvme/ ]
equality  inequality  society  trust  anxiety  well-being  stress  mentalhealth  uk  economics  community  socialmobility  class  education  drugs  drugabuse  health  violence  illness  consumption  hierarchy  horizontality  mentalillness  status  self-harm  gambling  depression  narcissism  schizophrenia  relativity  excess  cooperation  egotism  selfishness  empathy  dunning–krugereffect  greatness  politics  lifeexpectancy  japan  sweden  us  driving  capitalism  latecapitalism  fame  fulfillment  money  motivation  colleges  universities  exceptionalism  assertiveness  aggressiveness  richardwilkinson  katepickett  growth  erichfromm 
august 2018 by robertogreco
[Essay] | Punching the Clock, by David Graeber | Harper's Magazine
"In 1901, the German psychologist Karl Groos discovered that infants express extraordinary happiness when they first discover their ability to cause predictable effects in the world. For example, they might scribble with a pencil by randomly moving their arms and hands. When they realize that they can achieve the same result by retracing the same pattern, they respond with expressions of utter joy. Groos called this “the pleasure at being the cause,” and suggested that it was the basis for play.

Before Groos, most Western political philosophers, economists, and social scientists assumed that humans seek power out of either a desire for conquest and domination or a practical need to guarantee physical gratification and reproductive success. Groos’s insight had powerful implications for our understanding of the formation of the self, and of human motivation more generally. Children come to see that they exist as distinct individuals who are separate from the world around them by observing that they can cause something to happen, and happen again. Crucially, the realization brings a delight, the pleasure at being the cause, that is the very foundation of our being.

Experiments have shown that if a child is allowed to experience this delight but then is suddenly denied it, he will become enraged, refuse to engage, or even withdraw from the world entirely. The psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Francis Broucek suspected that such traumatic experiences can cause many mental health issues later in life.

Groos’s research led him to devise a theory of play as make-believe: Adults invent games and diversions for the same reason that an infant delights in his ability to move a pencil. We wish to exercise our powers as an end in themselves. This, Groos suggested, is what freedom is—the ability to make things up for the sake of being able to do so.

The make-believe aspect of the work is precisely what performers of bullshit jobs find the most infuriating. Just about anyone in a supervised wage-labor job finds it maddening to pretend to be busy. Working is meant to serve a purpose—if make-believe play is an expression of human freedom, then make-believe work imposed by others represents a total lack of freedom. It’s unsurprising, then, that the first historical occurrence of the notion that some people ought to be working at all times, or that work should be made up to fill their time even in the absence of things that need
doing, concerns workers who are
not free: prisoners and slaves."



"The idea that workers have a moral obligation to allow their working time to be dictated has become so normalized that members of the public feel indignant if they see, say, transit workers lounging on the job. Thus busywork was invented: to ameliorate the supposed problem of workers not having enough to do to fill an eight-hour day. Take the experience of a woman named Wendy, who sent me a long history of pointless jobs she had worked:

“As a receptionist for a small trade magazine, I was often given tasks to perform while waiting for the phone to ring. Once, one of the ad- sales people dumped thousands of paper clips on my desk and asked me to sort them by color. She then used them interchangeably.

“Another example: my grandmother lived independently in an apartment in New York City into her early nineties, but she did need some help. We hired a very nice woman to live with her, help her do shopping and laundry, and keep an eye out in case she fell or needed help. So, if all went well, there was nothing for this woman to do. This drove my grandmother crazy. ‘She’s just sitting there!’ she would complain. Ultimately, the woman quit.”

This sense of obligation is common across the world. Ramadan, for example, is a young Egyptian engineer working for a public enterprise in Cairo.

The company needed a team of engineers to come in every morning and check whether the air conditioners were working, then hang around in case something broke. Of course, management couldn’t admit that; instead, the firm invented forms, drills, and box-­ticking rituals calculated to keep the team busy for eight hours a day. “I discovered immediately that I hadn’t been hired as an engineer at all but really as some kind of technical bureaucrat,” Ramadan explained. “All we do here is paperwork, filling out checklists and forms.” Fortunately, Ramadan gradually figured out which ones nobody would notice if he ignored and used the time to indulge a growing interest in film and literature. Still, the process left him feeling hollow. “Going every workday to a job that I considered pointless was psychologically exhausting and left me depressed.”

The end result, however exasperating, doesn’t seem all that bad, especially since Ramadan had figured out how to game the system. Why couldn’t he see it, then, as stealing back time that he’d sold to the corporation? Why did the pretense and lack of purpose grind him down?

A bullshit job—where one is treated as if one were usefully employed and forced to play along with the pretense—is inherently demoralizing because it is a game of make-­believe not of one’s own making. Of course the soul cries out. It is an assault on the very foundations of self. A human being unable to have a meaningful impact on the world ceases to exist."
davidgraeber  2018  work  bullshitjobs  capitalism  karlgroos  purpose  well-being  life  living  labor  play  pleasure  delight  employment  depression  slave  wageslavery  wages  freedom  humans  psychology  obligation  morality  care  caring  despair  consumerism 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Are.na / Blog – Jenny L. Davis
"A lot of your work revolves around “affordances,” which you define as the “range of functions and constraints that an object provides”—a sort of intermediary between a “feature” of a platform and the actual outcomes of that feature. Does good design, in your opinion, narrow the range of affordances to minimize negative outcomes and maximize positive outcomes, or does it increase overall user freedom?"



"The idea of flexibility serving user-experience is rooted in a larger point: affordances aren’t uniform across persons and contexts. My grandmother’s phone would be as frustrating for me as mine would be for her. She would get lost in the choices of a mainstream phone just as I would feel stifled by the absence of Google Maps on her Jitterbug. This is why affordance analyses must always ask how features operate, for whom, and under what circumstances."
jennyldavis  grahamjohnson  2018  internet  online  are.na  socialmedia  depression  causality  web  twitter  instagram  facebook  drewaustin  stevenpinker  mayaganesh  technology  affordances  design  society 
april 2018 by robertogreco
People with depression use language differently – here's how to spot it
"From the way you move and sleep, to how you interact with people around you, depression changes just about everything. It is even noticeable in the way you speak and express yourself in writing. Sometimes this “language of depression” can have a powerful effect on others. Just consider the impact of the poetry and song lyrics of Sylvia Plath and Kurt Cobain, who both killed themselves after suffering from depression.

Scientists have long tried to pin down the exact relationship between depression and language, and technology is helping us get closer to a full picture. Our new study, published in Clinical Psychological Science, has now unveiled a class of words that can help accurately predict whether someone is suffering from depression.

Traditionally, linguistic analyses in this field have been carried out by researchers reading and taking notes. Nowadays, computerised text analysis methods allow the processing of extremely large data banks in minutes. This can help spot linguistic features which humans may miss, calculating the percentage prevalence of words and classes of words, lexical diversity, average sentence length, grammatical patterns and many other metrics.

So far, personal essays and diary entries by depressed people have been useful, as has the work of well-known artists such as Cobain and Plath. For the spoken word, snippets of natural language of people with depression have also provided insight. Taken together, the findings from such research reveal clear and consistent differences in language between those with and without symptoms of depression.

Content

Language can be separated into two components: content and style. The content relates to what we express – that is, the meaning or subject matter of statements. It will surprise no one to learn that those with symptoms of depression use an excessive amount of words conveying negative emotions, specifically negative adjectives and adverbs – such as “lonely”, “sad” or “miserable”.

More interesting is the use of pronouns. Those with symptoms of depression use significantly more first person singular pronouns – such as “me”, “myself” and “I” – and significantly fewer second and third person pronouns – such as “they”, “them” or “she”. This pattern of pronoun use suggests people with depression are more focused on themselves, and less connected with others. Researchers have reported that pronouns are actually more reliable in identifying depression than negative emotion words.

Language can be separated into two components: content and style. The content relates to what we express – that is, the meaning or subject matter of statements. It will surprise no one to learn that those with symptoms of depression use an excessive amount of words conveying negative emotions, specifically negative adjectives and adverbs – such as “lonely”, “sad” or “miserable”.

More interesting is the use of pronouns. Those with symptoms of depression use significantly more first person singular pronouns – such as “me”, “myself” and “I” – and significantly fewer second and third person pronouns – such as “they”, “them” or “she”. This pattern of pronoun use suggests people with depression are more focused on themselves, and less connected with others. Researchers have reported that pronouns are actually more reliable in identifying depression than negative emotion words.

We know that rumination (dwelling on personal problems) and social isolation are common features of depression. However, we don’t know whether these findings reflect differences in attention or thinking style. Does depression cause people to focus on themselves, or do people who focus on themselves get symptoms of depression?

Style

The style of language relates to how we express ourselves, rather than the content we express. Our lab recently conducted a big data text analysis of 64 different online mental health forums, examining over 6,400 members. “Absolutist words” – which convey absolute magnitudes or probabilities, such as “always”, “nothing” or “completely” – were found to be better markers for mental health forums than either pronouns or negative emotion words.

From the outset, we predicted that those with depression will have a more black and white view of the world, and that this would manifest in their style of language. Compared to 19 different control forums (for example, Mumsnet and StudentRoom), the prevalence of absolutist words is approximately 50% greater in anxiety and depression forums, and approximately 80% greater for suicidal ideation forums.

Pronouns produced a similar distributional pattern as absolutist words across the forums, but the effect was smaller. By contrast, negative emotion words were paradoxically less prevalent in suicidal ideation forums than in anxiety and depression forums.

Our research also included recovery forums, where members who feel they have recovered from a depressive episode write positive and encouraging posts about their recovery. Here we found that negative emotion words were used at comparable levels to control forums, while positive emotion words were elevated by approximately 70%. Nevertheless, the prevalence of absolutist words remained significantly greater than that of controls, but slightly lower than in anxiety and depression forums.

Crucially, those who have previously had depressive symptoms are more likely to have them again. Therefore, their greater tendency for absolutist thinking, even when there are currently no symptoms of depression, is a sign that it may play a role in causing depressive episodes. The same effect is seen in use of pronouns, but not for negative emotion words.

Practical implications

Understanding the language of depression can help us understand the way those with symptoms of depression think, but it also has practical implications. Researchers are combining automated text analysis with machine learning (computers that can learn from experience without being programmed) to classify a variety of mental health conditions from natural language text samples such as blog posts.

Such classification is already outperforming that made by trained therapists. Importantly, machine learning classification will only improve as more data is provided and more sophisticated algorithms are developed. This goes beyond looking at the broad patterns of absolutism, negativity and pronouns already discussed. Work has begun on using computers to accurately identify increasingly specific subcategories of mental health problems – such as perfectionism, self-esteem problems and social anxiety.

That said, it is of course possible to use a language associated with depression without actually being depressed. Ultimately, it is how you feel over time that determines whether you are suffering. But as the World Health Organisation estimates that more than 300m people worldwide are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% since 2005, having more tools available to spot the condition is certainly important to improve health and prevent tragic suicides such as those of Plath and Cobain."
depression  language  usage  2018  words  wordusage  psychology 
february 2018 by robertogreco
say instead | sara hendren
"Reader, when you have spent some time in the presence of someone using a wheelchair, or flapping their hands, or wielding a cane, or bearing up under a cloud of depression, say not to yourself oh now I shall be grateful for my life. Push past this quickest reflexive impulse, which is to compare your relative capacities as though on a scale of diminishment, to measure your lot. What looks like your gleaning wisdom is a falsity, for each of these conditions is its own and distinctive habitation. Flattening your encounter into a lesson does no good for you, nor for anyone else.

No, say instead: I will live here too. I live here in this same universe where the body is a patchwork: a body built with others, the seams showing, an open assemblage. A body at once precarious, thriving, alternately frustrated or balletic, extended by instruments visible or invisible. But a patchwork nonetheless. A patchwork is the body’s truest state."
sarahendren  bodies  human  humans  2018  disability  ableism  depression  body 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Gifted and Talented and Complicated - The New York Times
"Child prodigies are exotic creatures, each unique and inexplicable. But they have a couple of things in common, as Ann Hulbert’s meticulous new book, “Off the Charts,” makes clear: First, most wunderkinds eventually experience some kind of schism with a devoted and sometimes domineering parent. “After all, no matter how richly collaborative a bond children forge with grown-up guides, some version of divorce is inevitable,” Hulbert writes. “It’s what modern experts would call developmentally appropriate.” Second, most prodigies grow up to be thoroughly unremarkable on paper. They do not, by and large, sustain their genius into adulthood.

What happens to alter the trajectory of shooting stars like Follett? In “Off the Charts,” Hulbert attempts to capture the complicated lives of child prodigies without descending into voyeurism or caricature. She has tried to “listen hard for the prodigies’ side of the story,” to her great credit.

This is an arduous task, and it sometimes shows in the writing, which can be stilted in its reliance on quotes and documentation. But Hulbert’s diligence results in a surprising payoff: The best advice for managing a child prodigy may be a wise strategy for parenting any child, including the many, many nonbrilliant ones.

Hulbert, The Atlantic’s literary editor, wrote her last book, “Raising America,” about the tortured history of parenting advice. So she is appropriately wary of preachy morality tales. “My goal isn’t to pile on the stark cautionary fare. Nor am I aiming to crack some ‘talent code,’” she writes in the prologue for “Off the Charts,” to our great relief.

Instead, she tries to place each of the boys and girls featured in the book in a specific time and place; their celebrity reveals much about their particular moment in American history. For example, Bobby Fischer’s chess prowess might not have been impressive enough for adults to overlook his breathtaking egotism — but for the launching of Sputnik and America’s anxiety about creeping Soviet domination in education and science. One era’s prodigy is another’s anonymous misfit.

The book begins with the story of two gifted boys who attended Harvard at the same time, in the early 1900s. Norbert Wiener, a budding philosopher and mathematician, was 14, and William Sidis, a star in linguistics and mathematics, was only 11. They were not friends, which was a shame. Both suffered under the weight of their elders’ intellectual expectations, combined with the impossibility of fitting in as boys among men. They were told they were superior, but then punished if they acted like it. Their identities depended on superhuman smarts, which made any academic failure feel like a knife to the heart.

Wiener would struggle with depression for the rest of his life, but he did manage to eventually find professional fulfillment at M.I.T., where he helped invent the field of cybernetics. Sidis was not so successful; after fleeing a criminal charge related to a political protest, he did low-level accounting work in New York. He continued to alienate others with his stubborn arrogance before dying at 46 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

What would have helped these boys and the other struggling prodigies in this book? Maybe nothing. But after poring over their words and stories, Hulbert has concluded that they might all offer parents similar advice: Accept who they are.

That doesn’t mean protecting them from failure or stress; quite the opposite. “What they want, and need, is the chance to obsess on their own idiosyncratic terms — to sweat and swerve, lose their balance, get their bearings, battle loneliness, discover resilience,” Hulbert writes. Interestingly, this is the same advice contemporary psychologists tend to give to all parents, not just the parents of prodigies. Parents must hold children accountable and help them thrive, which is easier said than done; but if they try to re-engineer the fundamentals of their offspring, they will fail spectacularly, sooner or later. And this lesson is particularly obvious in the extremes.

“Extraordinary achievement, though adults have rarely cared to admit it, takes a toll,” Hulbert writes. “It demands an intensity that rarely makes kids conventionally popular or socially comfortable. But if they get to claim that struggle for mastery as theirs, in all its unwieldiness, they just might sustain the energy and curiosity that ideally fuels such a quest.”

The special challenge for prodigies is that they are exceptional in more ways than one. “Genius is an abnormality, and abnormalities do not come one at a time,” explains Veda Kaplinsky, a longtime teacher of gifted students, in Andrew Solomon’s “Far From the Tree,” a book that is cited by Hulbert. “Many gifted kids have A.D.D. or O.C.D. or Asperger’s. When the parents are confronted with two sides of a kid, they’re so quick to acknowledge the positive, the talented, the exceptional; they are often in denial over everything else.”

The very traits that make prodigies so successful in one arena — their obsessiveness, a stubborn refusal to conform, a blistering drive to win — can make them pariahs in the rest of life. Whatever else they may say, most teachers do not in fact appreciate creativity and critical thinking in their own students. “Off the Charts” is jammed with stories of small geniuses being kicked out of places of learning. Matt Savage spent two days in a Boston-area Montessori preschool before being expelled. Thanks to parents who had the financial and emotional resources to help him find his way, he is now, at age 25, a renowned jazz musician.

Interestingly, some prodigies may actually do better when their eccentricities are seen by loving adults as disabilities first — and talents second. Hulbert tells the story of Jacob Barnett, born in 1998, who withdrew into autism as a toddler in Indiana. His parents tried every form of therapy they could find, before finally discovering that he could be drawn out through his captivation with astronomy. His mother, Kristine, took him to astronomy classes at the local university — not to jump-start his genius but to help coax him back to life. “If I had stopped and let myself bask in the awe of Jake’s amazing abilities — if I had stopped to ponder how unusual he really is — I don’t think I could have been a good mother to him,” she explained.

The most vivid section of the book comes at the end, when Hulbert reunites with the musical prodigy Marc Yu, a decade after first interviewing him at age 6. With his mother’s support, Yu had tried to ease up on his musical career and live a more normal life, an approach that had worked for other prodigies, including the child actress Shirley Temple. But Yu found that the strategies that worked at the keyboard were useless in high school, where no amount of discipline and focus could make him cool. The adorable, joke-cracking boy she’d remembered had grown into a lonely teenager. “I always expected things to go my way,” Yu told Hulbert. “If I wanted it, I worked hard enough, I got it, and people loved me. That’s no longer true, and I feel I exist in the shadow of popular kids.”

Yu’s story reinforces one of Hulbert’s central, if unsatisfying, findings: Children’s needs change. If you think you’ve got a child figured out, you will be proved wrong momentarily. As Hulbert writes: “Prodigies offer reminders writ large that children, in the end, flout our best and worst intentions.” And adults always overestimate their own influence."
children  prodigies  2017  annhulbert  success  parenting  2018  sfsh  acceptance  psychology  resilience  loneliness  depression 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Is everything you think you know about depression wrong? | Society | The Guardian
"So, what is really going on? When I interviewed social scientists all over the world – from São Paulo to Sydney, from Los Angeles to London – I started to see an unexpected picture emerge. We all know that every human being has basic physical needs: for food, for water, for shelter, for clean air. It turns out that, in the same way, all humans have certain basic psychological needs. We need to feel we belong. We need to feel valued. We need to feel we’re good at something. We need to feel we have a secure future. And there is growing evidence that our culture isn’t meeting those psychological needs for many – perhaps most – people. I kept learning that, in very different ways, we have become disconnected from things we really need, and this deep disconnection is driving this epidemic of depression and anxiety all around us.

Let’s look at one of those causes, and one of the solutions we can begin to see if we understand it differently. There is strong evidence that human beings need to feel their lives are meaningful – that they are doing something with purpose that makes a difference. It’s a natural psychological need. But between 2011 and 2012, the polling company Gallup conducted the most detailed study ever carried out of how people feel about the thing we spend most of our waking lives doing – our paid work. They found that 13% of people say they are “engaged” in their work – they find it meaningful and look forward to it. Some 63% say they are “not engaged”, which is defined as “sleepwalking through their workday”. And 24% are “actively disengaged”: they hate it.

Most of the depressed and anxious people I know, I realised, are in the 87% who don’t like their work. I started to dig around to see if there is any evidence that this might be related to depression. It turned out that a breakthrough had been made in answering this question in the 1970s, by an Australian scientist called Michael Marmot. He wanted to investigate what causes stress in the workplace and believed he’d found the perfect lab in which to discover the answer: the British civil service, based in Whitehall. This small army of bureaucrats was divided into 19 different layers, from the permanent secretary at the top, down to the typists. What he wanted to know, at first, was: who’s more likely to have a stress-related heart attack – the big boss at the top, or somebody below him?

Everybody told him: you’re wasting your time. Obviously, the boss is going to be more stressed because he’s got more responsibility. But when Marmot published his results, he revealed the truth to be the exact opposite. The lower an employee ranked in the hierarchy, the higher their stress levels and likelihood of having a heart attack. Now he wanted to know: why?

And that’s when, after two more years studying civil servants, he discovered the biggest factor. It turns out if you have no control over your work, you are far more likely to become stressed – and, crucially, depressed. Humans have an innate need to feel that what we are doing, day-to-day, is meaningful. When you are controlled, you can’t create meaning out of your work.

Suddenly, the depression of many of my friends, even those in fancy jobs – who spend most of their waking hours feeling controlled and unappreciated – started to look not like a problem with their brains, but a problem with their environments. There are, I discovered, many causes of depression like this. However, my journey was not simply about finding the reasons why we feel so bad. The core was about finding out how we can feel better – how we can find real and lasting antidepressants that work for most of us, beyond only the packs of pills we have been offered as often the sole item on the menu for the depressed and anxious. I kept thinking about what Dr Cacciatore had taught me – we have to deal with the deeper problems that are causing all this distress.

I found the beginnings of an answer to the epidemic of meaningless work – in Baltimore. Meredith Mitchell used to wake up every morning with her heart racing with anxiety. She dreaded her office job. So she took a bold step – one that lots of people thought was crazy. Her husband, Josh, and their friends had worked for years in a bike store, where they were ordered around and constantly felt insecure, Most of them were depressed. One day, they decided to set up their own bike store, but they wanted to run it differently. Instead of having one guy at the top giving orders, they would run it as a democratic co-operative. This meant they would make decisions collectively, they would share out the best and worst jobs and they would all, together, be the boss. It would be like a busy democratic tribe. When I went to their store – Baltimore Bicycle Works – the staff explained how, in this different environment, their persistent depression and anxiety had largely lifted.

It’s not that their individual tasks had changed much. They fixed bikes before; they fix bikes now. But they had dealt with the unmet psychological needs that were making them feel so bad – by giving themselves autonomy and control over their work. Josh had seen for himself that depressions are very often, as he put it, “rational reactions to the situation, not some kind of biological break”. He told me there is no need to run businesses anywhere in the old humiliating, depressing way – we could move together, as a culture, to workers controlling their own workplaces."



"After I learned all this, and what it means for us all, I started to long for the power to go back in time and speak to my teenage self on the day he was told a story about his depression that was going to send him off in the wrong direction for so many years. I wanted to tell him: “This pain you are feeling is not a pathology. It’s not crazy. It is a signal that your natural psychological needs are not being met. It is a form of grief – for yourself, and for the culture you live in going so wrong. I know how much it hurts. I know how deeply it cuts you. But you need to listen to this signal. We all need to listen to the people around us sending out this signal. It is telling you what is going wrong. It is telling you that you need to be connected in so many deep and stirring ways that you aren’t yet – but you can be, one day.”

If you are depressed and anxious, you are not a machine with malfunctioning parts. You are a human being with unmet needs. The only real way out of our epidemic of despair is for all of us, together, to begin to meet those human needs – for deep connection, to the things that really matter in life."
depression  society  psychology  johannhari  2018  work  labo  hierarchy  meaning  purpose  belonging  competence  culture  medication  pharmaceuticals  anxiety  workplace  democracy  cooperation  sfsh  joannecacciatore  irvingkirsch  michaelmarmot  meredithmitchell  johncacioppo  vincentfelitti  aintidepressants  brain  serotonin 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Burnout Society | Byung-Chul Han
"Our competitive, service-oriented societies are taking a toll on the late-modern individual. Rather than improving life, multitasking, "user-friendly" technology, and the culture of convenience are producing disorders that range from depression to attention deficit disorder to borderline personality disorder. Byung-Chul Han interprets the spreading malaise as an inability to manage negative experiences in an age characterized by excessive positivity and the universal availability of people and goods. Stress and exhaustion are not just personal experiences, but social and historical phenomena as well. Denouncing a world in which every against-the-grain response can lead to further disempowerment, he draws on literature, philosophy, and the social and natural sciences to explore the stakes of sacrificing intermittent intellectual reflection for constant neural connection."
books  toread  byung-chulhan  work  labor  latecapitalism  neoliberalism  technology  multitasking  depression  attention  add  adhd  attentiondeficitdisorder  personality  psychology  philosophy  convenience  neurosis  psychosis  malaise  society  positivity  positivepsychology  capitalism  postcapitalism 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Book Detail | Polity: The Expulsion of the Other Society, Perception and Communication Today, by Byung-Chul Han
"The days of the Other are over in this age of global over-communication, over-information and over-consumption. What used to be the Other, be it as friend, as Eros or as hell, is now indistinguishable from the self in our society's narcissistic desire to assimilate everything and everyone until there are no boundaries left. The result of this is a feeling of disorientation and senselessness that needs to be compensated for, be it by self-harm or, in the extreme, by harming others through acts of terrorism. 

In his new work, the renowned cultural theorist Byung-Chul Han builds on his previous critique of neoliberalism, arguing that in this absence of the Other, our times are not characterised by external repression but by depression through the self. In his characteristically concise style, he traces this violence of the identical through phenomena like fear, globalization and terrorism. He also argues that by returning to a society of listeners, by acknowledging the Other, we can seek to overcome the isolation and suffering caused by this crushing process of total assimilation."



"The Terror of the Same
The Violence of the Global and Terrorism
The Terror of Authenticity
Anxiety
Thresholds
Alienation
Counter-body
Gaze
Voice
The Language of the Other
The Thinking of the Other
Listening
Notes"



""No other philosophical author today has gone further than Byung-Chul Han in the analysis of our global everyday existence under the challenges of electronically induced hyper-communication. His latest - and again eminently readable - book concentrates on the "Terror of Sameness", that is on a life without events and individual otherness, as an environment to which we react with depression. What makes the intellectual difference in this analysis of sameness is the mastery with which Han brings into play the classics of our philosophical tradition and, through them, historical worlds that provide us with horizons of existential otherness."
Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Albert Guérard Professor in Literature, Stanford University

"The new star of German philosophy."
El País

"The Expulsion of the Other has the classic Byung-Chul Han 'sound,' an evocative tone which powerfully draws the reader in. ... With imperturbable serenity he brings together instances from everyday life and great catastrophes."
Süddeutsche Zeitung

"Han's congenial mastery of thought opens up areas we had long believed to be lost."
Die Tagespost"
byung-chulhan  books  toread  othering  others  communication  infooverload  philosophy  socialmedia  internet  web  online  news  otherness  sameness  depression  everyday 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Competition Is Ruining Childhood. The Kids Should Fight Back. - The New York Times
"Like the crack of a starting pistol, November begins the official college application season. But for students, this race started long ago.

Many of today’s kids have lived their entire lives, from sunup until midnight, in a fierce tournament with their peers. (I was one of them. A decade after graduation, I still can’t think of a period when I’ve worked harder than in high school.) From kindergarten to 12th grade, schools brag about how “competitive” they are. That means it’s not enough for students to do their best. Whether in the classroom, on the athletic field or at home on the computer, they must always be better. Youth has become a debilitating endurance test.

The thing is, we don’t even really know what we are racing for, much less how to tone down the competition. And most people don’t seem to be benefiting from this frantic contest, either as students or as adult workers. Americans are improving themselves, but the rewards keep flowing uphill to the 1 percent.

Everyone tells students that the harder they work to develop their job skills — their “human capital” — the better off they will be. It’s not true. In fact, the result is the opposite: more and better educated workers, earning less.

An analysis in September of Census Bureau data by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank, found that between 2000 and 2016 — years when many millennials first entered the job market — there was “little to no gain” in median annual earnings. This isn’t some limited fallout from the 2008 financial crisis; it’s a different type of phenomenon and part of a longer trend of wage stagnation that reaches back to the 1970s.

Educational achievement, on the other hand, follows a different trend. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over the same period (2000 to 2016), the percentage of young people with a high school diploma or its equivalent passed 90 percent for the first time. In the same period, the portion of graduates seeking and obtaining both two- and four-year degrees increased consistently, and the percentage of people ages 25 to 29 with postgraduate degrees jumped to 9 percent from 5.

And this cohort of young Americans hasn’t only put in the classroom work — to say nothing of extracurricular activities and internships. This cohort of young Americans has also taken on incomprehensible amounts of debt in order to do it.

Despite what we’ve heard, money isn’t a reward America hands out for hard work. Not only is more education not leading to higher wages, there isn’t even a positive correlation between the two. If anything, the flood of human capital puts employers in a position to offer workers a shrinking slice of the pie and get more in return. Kids are getting conned. I got conned, too.

If enough students manage to master cutting-edge job skills, it will be great for the “economy,” but as workers they will find themselves rewarded with lower wages. The dynamic may seem counterintuitive but not totally unexpected. In the ’70s, the economist Gary Becker theorized that employers would shift the costs of developing human capital onto workers, from paid on-the-job training to unpaid schooling. He figured that, though they need skilled labor, corporations would be disinclined to pay for training since other companies could then lure away “their” human capital.

As training left the factory and the office for the classroom, it also meant that work could be shifted to children, who are mostly not eligible for wage labor but can, it turns out, do a whole lot of school. If firms want workers who can speak Mandarin or code Python, why should they pay trainees to learn when they can scare kids into training themselves? Within this system, all an individual kid can do is try to put a sufficient number of their peers between themselves and poverty.

There are some winners, but the real champions are the corporate owners: They get their pick from all the qualified applicants, and the oversupply of human capital keeps labor costs down. Competition between workers means lower wages for them and higher profits for their bosses: The more teenagers who learn to code, the cheaper one is.

The struggle for success has heavy financial and psychological costs for the participants. Constant competition has affected how young Americans see themselves in relation to the world. That’s why the United States has measured huge increases in youth anxiety and depression, as well as a sharp decline in social trust. If kids are told to find comfort in the idea that they are sacrificing their mental health now for security in adulthood, they are being tricked once more.

At the end of their journey into adulthood they aren’t reimbursed for their efforts. And in this winner-take-all economy, most of them just lose. They can’t increase the size of Harvard’s freshman class just by working harder; all they can do is drive one another to anxiety, depression, paranoia and exhaustion. That, and save money for their future bosses.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The kids don’t have to keep getting conned.

This system may work for a small number of bosses and shareholders, but it’s not in the interest of education in a broad, exploratory sense — and it’s clearly not in the interests of young people themselves. But even though older adults are ostensibly worried about the kids, policymakers will never scale back academic competition, and most educators and parents are understandably loath to tell children, “Don’t work so hard.”

If change is going to come, it should come from students, in the classroom.

As individuals, students have no choice but to compete. But together, there’s no telling what kind of power they could exercise. They face an age-old collective action problem, but they are smart. Schools can’t run without students, and the economy can’t run without schools; their work matters, and they can withdraw it.

Unions aren’t just good for wage workers. Students can use collective bargaining, too. The idea of organizing student labor when even auto factory workers are having trouble holding onto their unions may sound outlandish, but young people have been at the forefront of conflicts over police brutality, immigrant rights and sexual violence. In terms of politics, they are as tightly clustered as just about any demographic in America. They are an important social force in this country, one we need right now.

It’s in students’ shared interest to seek later start times for the school day to combat the epidemic of insufficient sleep among high schoolers. It’s in their shared interest to improve their mental health by reducing competition. They could start by demanding an end to class rank or a cap on the number of Advanced Placement courses each student can take per year. It’s in their shared interest to make life easier and lower the stakes of childhood in general. Only young people, united, can improve their working conditions and end the academic arms race."
mlcolmharris  2017  children  competition  schools  schooling  homework  education  unions  organization  childhood  admissions  humancapital  achievement  economics  garybecker  sfsh  work  labor  wagelabor  corporatism  depression  paranoia  exhaustion  exploration  violence  us  policy  capitalism 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Teju Cole: ‘My camera is like an invisibility cloak. It makes me more free’ | Books | The Guardian
"The final piece in Cole’s 2016 essay collection, Known and Strange Things, is a description of that traumatic occurrence. It is called Blind Spot. Next month, his first book of photographs is published. It is also called Blind Spot. Why, I ask him, did he reprise that title for a book that is, in essence, about a sustained way of seeing? “Well, there is some dark humour in the title that people who have read the essay will hopefully pick up on,” he says, “but, as I write in the afterword, there is also the fact that the act of looking is limited. We only see a small part of what we are looking at, so there is a constant blind spot even with the kind of attentive looking that photography entails. There are many resonances in that title – how difficult it is to see clearly, how difficult it is to tell a dream, how difficult it is to make pictures that are new in some way.”

How well Cole succeeds in all of this is difficult to say, not because his images aren’t strong – they are in a detached and rigorously formal-to-the-point-of-deadpan way that was pioneered by the likes of Stephen Shore in the 1970s – but because Blind Spot is not simply a book of photographs. Instead, each image is accompanied by a corresponding passage of prose. The book unfolds – and succeeds – as a deftly choreographed dance of words and pictures, with Cole’s characteristically allusive style of writing here condensed to what he calls “fragments”. Sometimes, but not often, the words refer directly to what is in the picture, but more often the photographs are conceptual starting points for musings on his now-familiar obsessions: memory, myth, culture, politics, race and dreams.

The associations, though, are often not entirely clear. A photograph of a telegraph pole on a deserted street in Selma, Alabama prompts a memory of a dream Cole had about crossing a street but never arriving at the other side, which, in turn, calls up a quotation on consciousness and time by the French phenomenological philosopher, Maurice Merleau-Ponty. A street portrait of the back of a blond woman in New York City (see below), redolent of the work of Joel Meyerowitz, is matched with a fragment from Greek mythology concerning the painter Timanthes’s mysterious portrait of the grieving, veiled Agamemnon. This is, for want of a better phrase, quintessentially Cole-ian.

“I see it as a unified story,” he explains, “but one in which each fragment of prose is dense in the way that a poem is dense. There are thematic breadcrumbs scattered throughout the text, but, yes, it is oblique. It’s not meant to be obvious, but a more psychologically resonant series of fragments that detonate on some deeper level.”"



"Taken alongside his fiction and his essays, which range from the reflective to the polemical, as well as the photography column he writes for the New York Times, Blind Spot further enhances Cole’s already burnished reputation. He is a writer for our times, prodigious, wide-ranging and supremely confident in his reach. In Known and Strange Things, to give just a few examples, he discourses passionately on race in America, explores the poetics of Saul Leiter’s pioneering colour photographs and, in two consecutive essays, lauds VS Naipaul, the elegant writer, and nails VS Naipaul, the dreadful old reactionary.

If there is a personal touchstone for this kind of cross-fertilisation, it is surely the late John Berger, one of his heroes, though Berger, as I remind him, never took photographs. “I actually asked John why photography was not part of his practice,” Cole says, “In his case, to photograph a subject was to foreclose some part of what he could write about it. He saw it as an interference in his writing faculties. I don’t think like that about it. In fact, for me, taking a photograph of something often induces further thoughts on it.”

In the flesh, Cole is both charming and intense. When I met him briefly last summer at a party in Manhattan thrown in his honour by his editors at the New York Times, he was warm and inclusive, but, even in casual conversation, there is a palpable alertness about him that intrigues. He seems acutely conscious, too, of his own place in the intellectual firmament. In Known and Strange Things, he revealed that his antidote to insomnia was to “rise from my bed and watch Jacques Derrida talk”. In his deftly elegant takedown of Naipaul, there is also the distinct suggestion that a literary baton is being passed from the older master to the heir apparent.

Cole’s precocious literary talent must surely have been honed in childhood. Born in Michigan, he was taken back to Nigeria as a child by his parents when they had completed their studies. His upbringing, he says, was solidly middle-class and aspirational. His father worked in middle management and his mother was a school teacher; both instilled in him the notion that “the child had to do better in education than their peers”. When he travelled to America in the early 90s to commence his own college education, he felt he was returning home. “For sure, I had conflict and a certain nervousness, but not the kind that comes from thinking of oneself as an immigrant. I had a sense of my rights as an American. There was a period of adjustment – there still is – but the feeling I have sometimes of being lost in the world is more to do with my own personality than America.”

Cole studied art and art history at Kalamazoo College, Michigan – “a good liberal college with the kind of leafy campus you get in American campus novels” – and later tried and failed to apply himself to a degree in medicine, in part to appease his parents. That failure haunted him for a while and, he says, he suffered from a bout of depression around that time. “I had no money, no time to read or go to concerts and I felt starved of that. Plus, I was very cold in Michigan and isolated. For two years, I was struggling to do well when I was used to doing well. I do not want to dwell on it but, for a time, I was phenomenally not myself. All the things you hear about depression were there.”"



"
In Open City, his descriptions of his New York evince a keen, roving attentiveness reminiscent of the city’s great street photographers: Garry Winogrand, Meyerowitz and Leiter are presences in his prose alongside the more often cited Berger and WG Sebald. Cole, as he is keen to point out, has been taking photographs longer than he has been writing fiction. In Every Day Is for the Thief, the text is punctuated by Cole’s black-and-white photographs evoking the swaggering, chaotic thrust of Lagos, his childhood home.

In both novels, Cole’s writing style recalls Christopher Isherwood’s celebrated description of his own prose: “I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.”

Cole cites the great experimental film-maker Chris Marker as perhaps the crucial influence in his novels. “In his great film, Sans Soleil, Marker moves between zooming out and watching the flow of life and zooming in to look at the pattern of the details of everyday experience. He is not telling you one thing about a place, but allowing it all to come in and making the connections visible. He is a major influence on Open City and even more on Blind Spot, where the subject itself is that kind of interconnectedness.”

In many ways, then, Blind Spot continues in the vein of Teju Cole’s fiction. This time around, though, he is the peripatetic narrator on an altogether more epic global journey through cities in which he is often a lone stranger. The experience of travel – by air as well as wandering alone on land – is central here. Since the success of Open City, Cole has travelled extensively – to literary festivals, teaching programmes, writer’s residencies and promotional events. As the novelist Siri Hustvedt puts it in her introduction: “Teju Cole really gets around.” Thus, each photograph and fragment of prose is grounded in a specific location: Auckland, Basel, Chicago, Lagos, Nairobi, New York, Paris and so forth. “In each place I have travelled,” he writes, “I have used my camera as an extension of my memory.”

The images, and the reflections that follow from them, are also a way of fixing moments that might otherwise be lost in the sheer overload of global memories he has stored in his head in a relatively short time. “Certain experiences became more vivid as I was walking around and thinking about what I was photographing,” he elaborates. “In central Bali, for instance, there was an afternoon that has survived very clearly and vividly in my memory but also in the false memory of the photographs I took that day. They are stilled moments, fragments from a much bigger experience, a film that could only have been captured with a camera attached to my head.”

Given that he takes his camera with him wherever he goes, how visible a presence is he when he shoots on the street? He laughs, anticipating the underlying thrust of my question. “Well, a solitary black tourist is not a common sight in Switzerland or Kathmandu or northern Italy or even in upstate New York,” he says, ruefully, “so, I am already a little strange. But, there is a way in which having the camera makes me more free. It is a kind of invisibility cloak, especially when you are on a strange street far from home. But, oddly enough, I was more free in Kathmandu than in Lagos. The first assumption everywhere is, ‘there is a black tourist’ – but, in Nigeria, that question becomes more complex. There is more suspicion.”"



"“One of the responses to all that is to do the work I do. My essays are not political in the main, but they are trying to advance a humanist argument. Likewise, my photographs are complex, but I hope, … [more]
tejucole  2017  johnberger  blindspot  photography  writing  howwewrite  opencity  chrismarker  fiction  experience  invisibility  sanssoleil  christopherisherwood  garrywinogand  wgsebald  depression 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Mark Fisher’s K-punk blogs were required reading for a generation | Simon Reynolds | Opinion | The Guardian
"Last week the writer Mark Fisher took his own life. His on/off struggle with depression was something he wrote about with courageous candour in articles and in his landmark book Capitalist Realism: is There No Alternative? Fisher argued that the pandemic of mental anguish that afflicts our time cannot be properly understood, or healed, if viewed as a private problem suffered by damaged individuals. Rather, it was the symptom of a heartless and hopeless politics: precarious employment and flexible work patterns, the erosion of class solidarity and its institutions such as unions, and the relentless message from mainstream political parties and media alike that “there is no alternative” to managerial capitalism. That this is as good as it gets – so deal with it.

Finally the depression that Fisher, 48, had dissected acutely and fought against doggedly got the better of him. He left behind a wife and young son, a close-knit network of friends, allies, colleagues and students, and an ever-widening readership, all of whom were waiting always to hear what he had to say next.

Waiting for what Fisher had to say is a sensation I recall only too vividly. I remember the electric anticipation of those early-to-mid 2000s mornings when the first thing I would do after making some tea was check whether K-punk had posted. K-punk, Fisher’s online alter-ego, was the hub of a blog circuit in which I took part, and which for a glorious moment brought back the intellectual fervour of the postpunk music press.

“It wasn’t only about music and music wasn’t only about music,” Fisher once said of weekly papers such as the NME. “It was a medium that made demands on you.” More than any other blog of that time, K-punk reanimated the polymath, autodidact spirit of the golden-age rock press, where music held a privileged status – but film, TV, fiction and politics were in the mix too."
markfisher  2017  depression  capitalism  hopelessness  politics  policy  precarity  economics  labor  work  solidarity  society  k-punk 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Great Affluence Fallacy - The New York Times
"In 18th-century America, colonial society and Native American society sat side by side. The former was buddingly commercial; the latter was communal and tribal. As time went by, the settlers from Europe noticed something: No Indians were defecting to join colonial society, but many whites were defecting to live in the Native American one.

This struck them as strange. Colonial society was richer and more advanced. And yet people were voting with their feet the other way.

The colonials occasionally tried to welcome Native American children into their midst, but they couldn’t persuade them to stay. Benjamin Franklin observed the phenomenon in 1753, writing, “When an Indian child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian ramble with them, there is no persuading him ever to return.”

During the wars with the Indians, many European settlers were taken prisoner and held within Indian tribes. After a while, they had plenty of chances to escape and return, and yet they did not. In fact, when they were “rescued,” they fled and hid from their rescuers.

Sometimes the Indians tried to forcibly return the colonials in a prisoner swap, and still the colonials refused to go. In one case, the Shawanese Indians were compelled to tie up some European women in order to ship them back. After they were returned, the women escaped the colonial towns and ran back to the Indians.

Even as late as 1782, the pattern was still going strong. Hector de Crèvecoeur wrote, “Thousands of Europeans are Indians, and we have no examples of even one of those aborigines having from choice become European.”

I first read about this history several months ago in Sebastian Junger’s excellent book “Tribe.” It has haunted me since. It raises the possibility that our culture is built on some fundamental error about what makes people happy and fulfilled.

The native cultures were more communal. As Junger writes, “They would have practiced extremely close and involved child care. And they would have done almost everything in the company of others. They would have almost never been alone.”

If colonial culture was relatively atomized, imagine American culture of today. As we’ve gotten richer, we’ve used wealth to buy space: bigger homes, bigger yards, separate bedrooms, private cars, autonomous lifestyles. Each individual choice makes sense, but the overall atomizing trajectory sometimes seems to backfire. According to the World Health Organization, people in wealthy countries suffer depression by as much as eight times the rate as people in poor countries.

There might be a Great Affluence Fallacy going on — we want privacy in individual instances, but often this makes life generally worse.

Every generation faces the challenge of how to reconcile freedom and community — “On the Road” versus “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But I’m not sure any generation has faced it as acutely as millennials.

In the great American tradition, millennials would like to have their cake and eat it, too. A few years ago, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis came out with a song called “Can’t Hold Us,” which contained the couplet: “We came here to live life like nobody was watching/I got my city right behind me, if I fall, they got me.” In the first line they want complete autonomy; in the second, complete community.

But, of course, you can’t really have both in pure form. If millennials are heading anywhere, it seems to be in the direction of community. Politically, millennials have been drawn to the class solidarity of the Bernie Sanders campaign. Hillary Clinton — secretive and a wall-builder — is the quintessence of boomer autonomy. She has trouble with younger voters.

Professionally, millennials are famous for bringing their whole self to work: turning the office into a source of friendships, meaning and social occasions.

I’m meeting more millennials who embrace the mentality expressed in the book “The Abundant Community,” by John McKnight and Peter Block. The authors are notably hostile to consumerism.

They are anti-institutional and anti-systems. “Our institutions can offer only service — not care — for care is the freely given commitment from the heart of one to another,” they write.

Millennials are oriented around neighborhood hospitality, rather than national identity or the borderless digital world. “A neighborhood is the place where you live and sleep.” How many of your physical neighbors know your name?

Maybe we’re on the cusp of some great cracking. Instead of just paying lip service to community while living for autonomy, I get the sense a lot of people are actually about to make the break and immerse themselves in demanding local community movements. It wouldn’t surprise me if the big change in the coming decades were this: an end to the apotheosis of freedom; more people making the modern equivalent of the Native American leap."
society  capitalism  davidbrooks  2016  history  sebastianjunger  communalism  nativeamericans  abundance  depression  us  affluence  millenials  johnmcknight  peterblock  consumerism  care  hospitality  nationalism  local  community  privacy  isolation  competition  autonomy  berniesanders  solidarity  wealth  atomization  well-being  qualityoflife  hectordecrèvecoeur 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Demons Hate Fresh Air | Submitted For Your Perusal
"My father was a very disciplined and punctual man; it was a prerequisite for his creativity…. No matter what time you get out of bed, go for a walk and then work, he’d say, because the demons hate it when you get out of bed, demons hate fresh air."

—Linn Ullmann, in an interview with Vogue, on her father Ingmar Bergman

[from: http://www.vogue.com/872539/linn-ullmann-novel-the-cold-song/ ]
linnullmann  ingmarbergman  walking  demons  cv  work  howwework  depression  motivation  2014  mattthomas 
august 2016 by robertogreco
light
"What are the stories we tell about mental health? This little list seeks to contemplate the questions. This site in continuous improvement. Get an email for updates."
winnielim  depression  mentalhealth 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Limits of “Grit” - The New Yorker
"For children, the situation has grown worse as we’ve slackened our efforts to fight poverty. In 1966, when Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty initiatives were a major national priority, the poverty rate among American children was eighteen per cent. Now it is twenty-two per cent. If we suffer from a grit deficiency in this country, it shows up in our unwillingness to face what is obviously true—that poverty is the real cause of failing schools.

In this context, grit appears as a new hope. As the federal programs stalled, psychologists, neuroscientists, pediatricians, education reformers, and journalists began looking at the lives of children in a different way. Their central finding: non-cognitive skills play just as great a role as talent and native intelligence (I.Q.) in the academic and social success of children, and maybe even a greater role. In brief, we are obsessed with talent, but we should also be obsessed with effort. Duckworth is both benefitting from this line of thought and expanding it herself. The finding about non-cognitive skills is being treated as a revelation, and maybe it should be; among other things, it opens possible avenues for action. Could cultivating grit and other character traits be the cure, the silver bullet that ends low performance?"



"Now, there’s something very odd about this list. There’s nothing in it about honesty or courage; nothing about integrity, kindliness, responsibility for others. The list is innocent of ethics, any notion of moral development, any mention of the behaviors by which character has traditionally been marked. Levin, Randolph, and Duckworth would seem to be preparing children for personal success only—doing well at school, getting into college, getting a job, especially a corporate job where such docility as is suggested by these approved traits (gratitude?) would be much appreciated by managers. Putting it politically, the “character” inculcated in students by Levin, Randolph, and Duckworth is perfectly suited to producing corporate drones in a capitalist economy. Putting it morally and existentially, the list is timid and empty. The creativity and wildness that were once our grace to imagine as part of human existence would be extinguished by strict adherence to these instrumentalist guidelines."



"Not just Duckworth’s research but the entire process feels tautological: we will decide what elements of “character” are essential to success, and we will inculcate these attributes in children, measuring and grading the children accordingly, and shutting down, as collateral damage, many other attributes of character and many children as well. Among other things, we will give up the sentimental notion that one of the cardinal functions of education is to bring out the individual nature of every child.

Can so narrow an ideal of character flourish in a society as abundantly and variously gifted as our own? Duckworth’s view of life is devoted exclusively to doing, at the expense of being. She seems indifferent to originality or creativity or even simple thoughtfulness. We must all gear up, for grit is a cause, an imp of force. “At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.” Through much of “Grit,” she gives the impression that quitting any activity before achieving mastery is a cop-out. (“How many of us vow to knit sweaters for all our friends but only manage half a sleeve before putting down the needles? Ditto for home vegetable gardens, compost bins, and diets.”) But what is the value of these projects? Surely some things are more worth pursuing than others. If grit mania really flowers, one can imagine a mass of grimly determined people exhausting themselves and everyone around them with obsessional devotion to semi-worthless tasks—a race of American squares, anxious, compulsive, and constrained. They can never try hard enough.

Duckworth’s single-mindedness could pose something of a danger to the literal-minded. Young people who stick to their obsessions could wind up out on a limb, without a market for their skills. Spelling ability is nice, if somewhat less useful than, say, the ability to make a mixed drink—a Negroni, a Tom Collins. But what do you do with it? Are the thirteen-year-old champion spellers going to go through life spelling out difficult words to astonished listeners? I realize, of course, that persistence in childhood may pay off years later in some unrelated activity. But I’m an owlish enough parent to insist that the champion spellers might have spent their time reading something good—or interacting with other kids. And what if a child has only moderate talent for her particular passion? Mike Egan, a former member of the United States Marine Band, wrote a letter to the Times Book Review in response to Judith Shulevitz’s review of Duckworth’s book. “Anyone who would tell a child that the only thing standing between him or her and world-class achievement is sufficient work,” Egan wrote, “ought to be jailed for child abuse.”

Duckworth not only ignores the actual market for skills and talents, she barely acknowledges that success has more than a casual relation to family income. After all, few of us can stick to a passion year after year that doesn’t pay off—not without serious support. Speaking for myself, the most important element in my social capital as an upper-middle-class New York guy was, indeed, capital—my parents carried me for a number of years as I fumbled my way to a career as a journalist and critic. Did I have grit? I suppose so, but their support made persistence possible.

After many examples of success, Duckworth announces a theory: “Talent x effort = skill. Skill x effort = achievement.” It’s hardly E=mc2. It’s hardly a theory at all—it’s more like a pop way of formalizing commonplace observation and single-mindedness. Compare Duckworth’s book in this respect with Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers.” Gladwell also traced the backgrounds of extraordinarily accomplished people—the computer geniuses Bill Gates and Bill Joy, business tycoons, top lawyers in New York, and so on. And Gladwell discovered that, yes, his world-beaters devoted years to learning and to practice: ten thousand hours, he says, is the rough amount of time it takes for talented people to become masters.

Yet, if perseverance is central to Gladwell’s outliers, it’s hardly the sole reason for their success. Family background, opportunity, culture, landing at the right place at the right time, the over-all state of the economy—all these elements, operating at once, allow some talented people to do much better than other talented people. Gladwell provides the history and context of successful lives. Duckworth—indifferent to class, race, history, society, culture—strips success of its human reality, and her single-minded theory may explain very little. Is there any good football team, for instance, that doesn’t believe in endless practice, endurance, overcoming pain and exhaustion? All professional football teams train hard, so grit can’t be the necessary explanation for the Seahawks’ success. Pete Carroll and his coaches must be bringing other qualities, other strategies, to the field. Observing those special qualities is where actual understanding might begin."
grit  2016  angeladuckworth  race  class  luck  perseverance  daviddenby  education  mastery  practice  kipp  character  classism  elitism  obsessions  malcolmgladwell  serendipity  mikeegan  judithshulevitz  capital  privilege  success  effort  talent  skill  achievement  history  culture  society  edreform  nep  pisa  testing  standardizedtesting  nclb  rttt  socialscience  paultough  children  schools  poverty  eq  neuroscience  jackshonkoff  martinseligman  learnedoptimism  depression  pessimism  optimism  davelevin  dominicrandolph  honesty  courage  integrity  kindliness  kindness  samuelabrams 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Mental illness is a result of misery, yet still we stigmatise it | Richard Bentall | Opinion | The Guardian
"Of course genes play a role in making some people more vulnerable to psychiatric disorder than others, but the formidable advances in molecular genetics over recent years show that the same genes are involved when people are diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD and even autism.

More importantly hundreds, possibly thousands, of genes are involved, each conferring a tiny increase in risk. Hence, as American genetic researcher Kenneth Kendler says: “The genetic risk for schizophrenia is widely distributed in human populations, so that we all carry some degree of risk.” Everyone reading this article is likely to have some risk genes although, of course, some will have more than others.

The fact that so many genes are involved suggests it is unlikely that studying them will lead to therapeutic breakthroughs anytime soon. (Consider Huntington’s disease, a terrible degenerative neurological condition that is caused by a single dominant gene with a known biological function. Years after this gene was discovered there is still no sign of a medical therapy for this simplest of all the genetic conditions.)

Recent studies have pointed to a wide range of social and environmental factors that increase the risk of mental ill health. These include poverty in childhood, social inequality and early exposure to urban environments; migration and belonging to an ethnic minority (all trending in the wrong direction); early separation from parents; childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse; and bullying in schools.

In an analysis of all the research on childhood trauma and psychosis, my colleagues and I found that exposure to any of these childhood adversities increased the risk of psychosis approximately three-fold, and those who had multiple traumatic experiences were at much higher risk. In fact, the evidence of a link between childhood misfortune and future psychiatric disorder is about as strong statistically as the link between smoking and lung cancer.

There is also now strong evidence that these kinds of experiences affect brain structure, explaining many of the abnormal neuro-imaging findings that have been reported for psychiatric patients. And of course there are myriad adult adversities that also contribute to mental ill health, including debt, unhappy marriages, excessively demanding work environments and the threat of unemployment. Arguably the biggest cause of human misery is miserable relationships with other people, conducted in miserable circumstances.

Why is all this important? For one thing, many psychiatric patients in Britain feel that services too often ignore their life stories. In the words of Eleanor Longden, a mental health activist, “They always ask what is wrong with you and hardly ever ask what happened to you.” Patients are routinely offered powerful drugs (which clearly have a place but only help some patients), but very rarely the kinds of psychological therapies that may help them come to terms with these kinds of experiences, or even practical advice (debt counselling probably has a place in the treatment of depression, for example).

A narrow medical approach has been extraordinarily unsuccessful, despite what many people assume. Whereas survival and recovery rates for severe physical conditions such as cancer and heart disease have improved dramatically since the second world war, recovery rates for severe mental illness have not shifted at all. Those countries that spend the least on psychiatric services have the best outcomes for severe mental illness, whereas those that spend the most have the highest suicide rates.

To make matters worse, research shows that an exclusively biological approach tends to increase the stigma associated with mental illness. The more that ordinary people think of mental illness as a genetically determined brain disease, and the less they recognise it to be a reaction to unfortunate circumstances, the more they shun psychiatric patients. An exclusively biological approach makes it all too easy to believe that human beings fall into two subspecies: the mentally well and the mentally ill.

Finally, a narrow biomedical approach entirely neglects the public health dimension. Given the evidence, we should be able to dramatically reduce the prevalence of mental health problems by, for example, addressing childhood poverty and inequality, figuring out which aspects of the urban environment are toxic (not surprisingly, living close to a park appears to provide some protection against mental illness), and by aiming to ensure that all our children experience benign childhoods. Some potential influences on mental health (eg the way we organise our schools) have hardly been studied. We cannot create a mentally healthier world if we spend all our time peering into test tubes.

This is not to say that biological approaches have no value, or that research into the genetics and neuroscience of psychiatric disorders has no place. I have been involved in biological studies myself. But portraying mental ill health simply as brain disease can only increase stigma, diverts our attention away from other ways in which we can help patients, stops us from building a healthier world, and encourages in patients alienation, pessimism and a deep despair."
richardbentall  health  mentalhealth  2016  economics  poverty  schizophrenia  bipolardisorder  depression  psychology  publichealth  inequality  socialinequality  migration  race  class 
may 2016 by robertogreco
On the Wildness of Children — Carol Black
"When we first take children from the world and put them in an institution, they cry. It used to be on the first day of kindergarten, but now it’s at an ever earlier age, sometimes when they are only a few weeks old. "Don’t worry," the nice teacher says sweetly, "As soon as you’re gone she’ll be fine. It won’t take more than a few days. She’ll adjust." And she does. She adjusts to an indoor world of cinderblock and plastic, of fluorescent light and half-closed blinds (never mind that studies show that children don’t grow as well in fluorescent light as they do in sunlight; did we really need to be told that?) Some children grieve longer than others, gazing through the slats of the blinds at the bright world outside; some resist longer than others, tuning out the nice teacher, thwarting her when they can, refusing to sit still when she tells them to (this resistance, we are told, is a “disorder.”) But gradually, over the many years of confinement, they adjust. The cinderblock world becomes their world. They don’t know the names of the trees outside the classroom window. They don’t know the names of the birds in the trees. They don’t know if the moon is waxing or waning, if that berry is edible or poisonous, if that song is for mating or warning.

It is in this context that today’s utopian crusader proposes to teach “eco-literacy.”

A free child outdoors will learn the flat stones the crayfish hide under, the still shady pools where the big trout rest, the rocky slopes where the wild berries grow. They will learn the patterns in the waves, which tree branches will bear their weight, which twigs will catch fire, which plants have thorns. A child in school must learn what a “biome” is, and how to use logarithms to calculate biodiversity. Most of them don’t learn it, of course; most of them have no interest in learning it, and most of those who do forget it the day after the test. Our “standards” proclaim that children will understand the intricate workings of ecosystems, the principles of evolution and adaptation, but one in four will leave school not knowing the earth revolves around the sun.

A child who knows where to find wild berries will never forget this information. An “uneducated” person in the highlands of Papua New Guinea can recognize seventy species of birds by their songs. An “illiterate” shaman in the Amazon can identify hundreds of medicinal plants. An Aboriginal person from Australia carries in his memory a map of the land encoded in song that extends for a thousand miles. Our minds are evolved to contain vast amounts of information about the world that gave us birth, and to pass this information on easily from one generation to the next.

But to know the world, you have to live in the world.

My daughters, who did not go to school, would sometimes watch as groups of schoolchildren received their prescribed dose of “environmental education.” On a sunny day along a rocky coastline, a mass of fourteen-year-olds carrying clipboards wander aimlessly among the tide pools, trying not to get their shoes wet, looking at their worksheets more than at the life teeming in the clear salty water. At a trailhead in a coastal mountain range, a busload of nine-year-olds erupts carrying (and dropping) pink slips of paper describing a “treasure hunt” in which they will be asked to distinguish “items found in nature” from “items not found in nature.” (We discover several plastic objects hidden by their teachers along the trail near the parking lot; they don’t have time, of course, to walk the whole two miles to the waterfall.) By a willow wetland brimming with life, a middle-school “biodiversity” class is herded outdoors, given ten minutes to watch birds, and then told to come up with a scientific hypothesis and an experimental protocol for testing it. One of the boys proposes an experiment that involves nailing shut the beaks of wild ducks.

There is some dawning awareness these days of the insanity of raising children almost entirely indoors, but as usual our society’s response to its own insanity is to create artificial programs designed to solve our artificial problems in the most artificial way possible. We charter nonprofit organizations, sponsor conferences, design curricula and after-school programs and graphically appealing interactive websites, all of which create the truly nightmarish impression that to get your kid outside you would first need to file for 501(c)3 status, apply for a federal grant, and hire an executive director and program coordinator. We try to address what's lacking in our compulsory curriculum by making new lists of compulsions.

But the truth is we don’t know how to teach our children about nature because we ourselves were raised in the cinderblock world. We are, in the parlance of wildlife rehabilitators, unreleasable. I used to do wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and the one thing we all knew was that a young animal kept too long in a cage would not be able to survive in the wild. Often, when you open the door to the cage, it will be afraid to go out; if it does go out, it won’t know what to do. The world has become unfamiliar, an alien place. This is what we have done to our children.

This is what was done to us."



"If you thwart a child’s will too much when he is young, says Aodla Freeman, he will become uncooperative and rebellious later (sound familiar?) You find this view all over the world, in many parts of the Americas, in parts of Africa, India, Asia, Papua New Guinea. It was, of course, a great source of frustration to early missionaries in the Americas, who were stymied in their efforts to educate Indigenous children by parents who would not allow them to be beaten: “The Savages,” Jesuit missionary Paul le Jeune complained in 1633, “cannot chastise a child, nor see one chastised. How much trouble this will give us in carrying out our plans of teaching the young!”

But as Odawa elder and educator Wilfred Peltier tells us, learning -– like all human relationships –– must be based in the ethical principal of non-interference, in the right of all human beings to make their own choices, as long as they’re not interfering with anybody else. As Nishnaabeg scholar and author Leanne Betasamosake Simpson tells us, learning –– like all human relationships –– must be based in the ethical principal of consent, in the right of all human beings to be free of violence and the use of force. Simpson explains:
If children learn to normalize dominance and non-consent within the context of education, then non-consent becomes a normalized part of the ‘tool kit’ of those who have and wield power… This is unthinkable within Nishnaabeg intelligence.


Interestingly, the most brilliant artists and scientists in Euro-western societies tell us exactly the same thing: that it is precisely this state of open attention, curiosity, freedom, collaboration, consent, that is necessary for all true learning, discovery, creation."



"We no longer frame people as either “civilized”or “savage,” but as “educated” or “uneducated,” “developed” or “developing” (our modern terms for the same thing). But we retain the paternalistic attitudes of our forebears, toward our children and toward the “childlike” adults we find all over the world — a paternalism in which the veneer of benevolence is underpinned by the constant threat of violent force.

Control is always so seductive, at least to the "developed" ("civilized") mind. It seems so satisfying, so efficient, so effective, so potent. In the short run, in some ways, it is. But it creates a thousand kinds of blowback, from depressed rebellious children to storms surging over our coastlines to guns and bombs exploding in cities around the world."
education  unschooling  children  childhood  carolblack  attention  culture  society  learning  wildness  wild  wilderness  thoreau  ellwoodcubberley  williamtorreyharris  schooling  schools  johntaylorgatto  outdoors  natureanxiety  depression  psychology  wellness  adhd  mindfulness  suzannegaskins  openattention  miniaodlafreeman  paulejeune  wilfredpeltier  leannebetasamosakesimpson  consent  animals  zoos  nature  johannhari  brucealexander  mammals  indigenous  johnholt  petergray  work  play  howwelearn  tobyrollo  chastisement  civilization  control  kosmos  colonization  colonialism 
may 2016 by robertogreco
William Deresiewicz on the Ivy League, Mental Illness, and the Meaning of Life - The Atlantic
"Davis: You’ve observed that Ivy League students have an internal struggle with both “grandiosity and depression.” Can you explain this further?

Deresiewicz: Alice Miller wrote about this 30-plus years ago in the classic The Drama of the Gifted Child, but I had to experience it to see it for myself. The grandiosity is that sense of “you’re the greatest, you’re the best, you’re the brightest.” This kind of praise and reinforcement all the time makes students feel they’re the greatest kid in the world. And I would say that this is even worse than when I was a kid. Now there’s a whole culture of parenting around this positive reinforcement.

These kids were always the best of their class, and their teachers were always praising them, inflating their ego. But it’s a false self-esteem. It’s not real self-possession, where you are measuring yourself against your own internal standards and having a sense that you’re working towards something. It’s totally conditional, and constantly has to be pumped up by the next grade, the next A, or gold star. As Miller says, what you’re really learning is that your parents’ love is conditional on this achievement. So when you fail, even a little bit, even if you just get a B on a test, or an A- on a test, the whole thing collapses. It may only collapse temporarily, but it’s a profound collapse—you feel literally worthless.

These are kids who have no ability to measure their own worth in any realistic way—either you are on top of the world, or you are worthless. And that kind of all-or-nothing mentality really pervades the whole system. It’s also why it’s Harvard or the gutter: If you don’t get into Harvard, Yale, or Princeton, it’s a disgrace. If you go to Wesleyan, you can never show your face in public again.

This is not really the only way to succeed, but this crazy definition not only of success, but of how you achieve success, doesn’t even really reflect how actually successful people achieve success. Steve Jobs is an obvious example, because he was obviously very gifted and ambitious but he took a circuitous path, and people who are very successful doing interesting things also often take circuitous paths.

This notion that you’ve got to do X, Y, and Z or else your life is over makes you end up as a high-functioning sheep. You end up being the kind of leader that I talk about in the last section of the book. You get to the top, or you get near the top, but you don’t actually do anything interesting there—you just sort of fulfill your function in the organization. You don’t initiate or create.

Davis: That ties in with your argument that words like “leadership” and “service” have become hollow in the whole college process.

Deresiewicz: There’s a list of things that everyone knows you’re supposed to do to get into college: scores, extracurriculars, and then these two other things, “leadership” and “service.” They’ve been completely ritualized, and kids have become cynical about them because they know they just need to demonstrate them. In the case of leadership, which is supposed to be about qualities of character, self-sacrifice, initiative, and vision, it just means getting to the top, and that’s all. If you get a position with some authority you are, by definition, a leader. And service, if anything, is even worse. Service is supposed to be about making the world a better place or helping people who are less fortunate, but because it’s done for the resume, it really just becomes about yourself.

Davis: You argue that society transmits its values through education. How would you summarize the values transmitted through the elite-education system?

Deresiewicz: I would summarize the values by quoting Tony Hayward, the famous CEO of BP. In the middle of this giant environmental disaster he said, “I want to get my life back.” He had been promised certain rewards and now had this horrible experience of actually having to take responsibility for something, and feel bad. So those are the values that the system is transmitting: self-aggrandizement, being in service to yourself, a good life defined exclusively in terms of conventional markers of success (wealth and status), no real commitment to education or learning, to thinking, and no real commitment to making the world a better place. And I think we see that in the last 50 years, the meritocracy has created a world that’s getting better and better for the meritocracy and worse and worse for everyone else.

Davis: What kinds of values do you think education should be passing on?

Deresiewicz: Ultimately, colleges have inherited the spiritual mission of churches. As religious beliefs have declined with the rise of science, especially among educated people, people started to turn elsewhere to ask the big questions: What does life mean? What is the world about? People turned to works of art, to literature, music, theater, philosophy, which were in turn brought into college curricula."



"Davis: Gaining self-knowledge isn’t a simple or predictable process. Are there certain things that can only be learned outside the classroom?

Deresiewicz: There are certainly limits to formal institutional education. As you say, gaining self-knowledge is going to happen when it’s going to happen. But it’s certainly not going to happen if kids don’t have the tools to do it. So that’s the first thing that an education can do—help kids develop the means of reflection, and then, maybe it’ll happen the next year, or the next summer. A book you read in 12th grade or as a sophomore in college might suddenly click five years later. So yes, it happens throughout your life. But you’ve got to start, and I think you’ve got to start when you’re young. Developmentally, adolescence and the early 20s are precisely the time to ask these questions because you are engaged in making the transition from childhood certainty to adult conviction.

Aside from the classes themselves, the fact that we’ve created a system where kids are constantly busy, and have no time for solitude or reflection, is going to take its toll. We need to create a situation where kids feel like they don’t have to be “on” all the time. Given the chance, adolescents tend to engage in very intense conversation, and a lot of life learning happens laterally, happens peer to peer. But if they’re constantly busy, there’s literally no time. It’s crazy. We’ve taken adolescence away from adolescents. School must not take away your opportunities to self-reflect on your own.

When I taught humanities classes, I never talked about self-reflection, and I never invited students to talk about their feelings or their backgrounds or their experiences. I would sometimes do it with students one on one, if they wanted to, but it’s an indirect process. The books are designed to make you think about your life. You can just talk about Achilles, or Elizabeth Bennett, it doesn’t matter if you leave the personal stuff out of the conversation. The books do the work of getting the soul in motion.

One good thing that they do at Lawrence University is have a course where freshmen can read great books and at the same time think about what an education is for. You don’t have to talk too personally there, but at least you’re still preparing yourself to understand your college education in an appropriate way."



"I’ve continued to struggle with the psychological stuff—the cycle of grandiosity and depression, the constant comparisons. Once it gets implanted, you will always struggle with it, and you just get better, hopefully, at dealing with it. But the take home message is that everyone has to liberate themselves from this system. Education should be an act of liberation. We need to make a better system but ultimately everybody has to claim their freedom for themselves."
williamderesiewicz  education  culture  psychology  meritocracy  ivyleague  highered  highereducation  schools  selfworth  success  achievement  assessment  society  values  self-aggrandizement  meaning  meaningmaking  purpose  life  living  deschooling  unschooling  grandiosity  depression  laurencassanidavis 
december 2015 by robertogreco
bell hooks: Buddhism, the Beats and Loving Blackness - The New York Times
"G.Y.: Absolutely. You’ve talked about how theory can function as a place of healing. Can you say more about that?

b.h.: I always start with children. Most children are amazing critical thinkers before we silence them. I think that theory is essentially a way to make sense of the world; as a gifted child growing up in a dysfunctional family where giftedness was not appreciated, what held me above water was the idea of thinking through, “Why are Mom and Dad the way they are?” And those are questions that are at the heart of critical thinking. And that’s why I think critical thinking and theory can be such a source of healing. It moves us forward. And, of course, I don’t know about other thinkers and writers, but I have the good fortune every day of my life to have somebody contacting me, either on the streets or by mail, telling me about how my work has changed their life, how it has enabled them to go forward. And what greater gift to be had as a thinker-theorist, than that?"



"G.Y.: Is there a connection between teaching as a space of healing and your understanding of love?

b.h.: Well, I believe whole-heartedly that the only way out of domination is love, and the only way into really being able to connect with others, and to know how to be, is to be participating in every aspect of your life as a sacrament of love, and that includes teaching. I don’t do a lot of teaching these days. I am semi-retired. Because, like any act of love, it takes a lot of your energy."



"G.Y.: You’ve conceptualized love as the opposite of estrangement. Can you say something about that?

b.h.: When we engage love as action, you can’t act without connecting. I often think of that phrase, only connect. In terms of white supremacy right now for instance, the police stopped me a few weeks ago here in Berea, because I was doing something wrong. I initially felt fear, and I was thinking about the fact that in all of my 60-some years of my life in this country, I have never felt afraid of policemen before, but I feel afraid now. He was just total sweetness. And yet I thought, what a horrible change in our society that that level of estrangement has taken place that was not there before.

I know that the essential experience of black men and women has always been different, but from the time I was a girl to now, I never thought the police were my enemy. Yet, what black woman witnessing the incredible abuse of Sandra Bland can’t shake in her boots if she’s being stopped by the police? When I was watching that video, I was amazed the police didn’t shoot her on the spot! White supremacist white people are crazy.

I used to talk about patriarchy as a mental illness of disordered desire, but white supremacy is equally a serious and profound mental illness, and it leads people to do completely and utterly insane things. I think one of the things that is going on in our society is the normalization of mental illness, and the normalization of white supremacy, and the evocation and the spreading of this is part of that mental illness. So remember that we are a culture in crisis. Our crisis is as much a spiritual crisis as it is a political crisis, and that’s why Martin Luther King, Jr. was so profoundly prescient in describing how the work of love would be necessary to have a transformative impact.

G.Y.: And of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t find an important place in your work for rage, as in your book “Killing Rage”?

b.h.: Oh, absolutely. The first time that I got to be with Thich Nhat Hanh, I had just been longing to meet him. I was like, I’m going to meet this incredibly holy man. On the day that I was going to him, every step of the way I felt that I was encountering some kind of racism or sexism. When I got to him, the first thing out of my mouth was, “I am so angry!” And he, of course, Mr. Calm himself, Mr. Peace, said, “Well, you know, hold on to your anger, and use it as compost for your garden.” And I thought, “Yes, yes, I can do that!” I tell that story to people all the time. I was telling him about the struggles I was having with my male partner at the time and he said, “It is O.K. to say I want to kill you, but then you need to step back from that, and remember what brought you to this person in the first place.” And I think that if we think of anger as compost, we think of it as energy that can be recycled in the direction of our good. It is an empowering force. If we don’t think about it that way, it becomes a debilitating and destructive force.

G.Y.: Since you mentioned Sandra Bland, and there are so many other cases that we can mention, how can we use the trauma that black people are experiencing, or reconfigure that trauma into compost? How can black people do that? What does that look like therapeutically, or collectively?

b.h.: We have to be willing to be truthful. And to be truthful, we have to say, the problem that black people face, the trauma of white supremacy in our lives, is not limited to police brutality. That’s just one aspect. I often say that the issue for young black males is the street. If you only have the streets, you encounter violence on all sides: black on black violence, the violence of addiction, and the violence of police brutality. So the question is why at this stage of our history, with so many wealthy black people, and so many gifted black people, how do we provide a place other than the streets for black males? And it is so gendered, because the street, in an imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, is male, especially when it is dark. There is so much feeling of being lost that it is beyond the trauma of racism. It is the trauma of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, because poverty has become infinitely more violent than it ever was when I was a girl. You lived next door to very poor black people, but who had very joyful lives. That’s not the poverty of today.

G.Y.: How is the poverty of today different?

b.h.: Let’s face it, one of the things white people gave us when they gave us integration was full access to the tormenting reality of desire, and the expectation of constant consumption. So part of the difference of poverty today is this sort of world of fantasy — fantasizing that you’ll win the lottery, fantasizing that money will come. I always cling to Lorraine Hansberry’s mama saying in “A in Raisin in the Sun,” “Since when did money become life?” I think that with the poverty of my growing up that I lived with and among, we were always made to feel like money is not what life is all about. That’s the total difference for everyone living right now, because most people in our culture believe money is everything. That is the big tie, the connecting tie to black, white, Hispanic, native people, Asian people — the greed and the materialism that we all invest in and share.

G.Y.: When you make that claim, I can see some readers saying that bell is pathologizing black spaces.

b.h.: As I said, we have normalized mental illness in this society. So it’s not the pathologizing of black spaces; it’s saying that the majority of cultural spaces in our society are infused with pathology. That’s why it’s so hard to get out of it, because it has become the culture that is being fed to us every day. None of us can escape it unless we do so by conscious living and conscious loving, and that’s become harder for everybody. I don’t have a problem stating the fact that trauma creates wounds, and most of our wounds are not healed as African-Americans. We’re not really different in that way from all the others who are wounded. Let’s face it — wounded white people frequently can cover up their wounds, because they have greater access to material power.

I find it fascinating that every day you go to the supermarket, and you look at the people, and you look at us, and you look at all of this media that is parading the sorrows and the mental illnesses of the white rich in our society. And it’s like everybody just skips over that. Nobody would raise the question, “why don’t we pathologize the rich?” We actually believe that they suffer mental illness, and that they deserve healing. The issue for us as black people is that very few people feel that we deserve healing. Which is why we have very few systems that promote healing in our lives. The primary system that ever promoted healing in black people is the church, and we see what is going on in most churches today. They’ve become an extension of that material greed.

G.Y.: As you shared being stopped by police, I thought of your book “Black Looks: Race and Representation,” where you describe whiteness as a site of terror. Has that changed for you?

b.h.: I don’t think that has changed for most black people. That particular essay, “Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination,” talks about whiteness, the black imagination, and how many of us live in fear of whiteness. And I emphasize the story about the policeman because for many of us that fear of whiteness has intensified. I think that white people, for the most part, never think about black people wanting to be in black only spaces, because we do not feel safe.

In my last book, “Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice,” I really wanted to raise and problematize the question: Where do we feel safe as black people? I definitely return to the home as a place of spiritual possibility, home as a holy place.

I bought my current house from a conservative white male capitalist who lives across the street from me, and I’m so happy in my little home. I tell people, when I open the doors of my house it’s like these arms come out, and they’re just embracing me. I think that is part of our radical resistance to the culture of domination. I know that I’m not who he imagined in this little house. He imagined a nice white family with two kids, and I think on some level it was very hard for … [more]
bellhooks  2015  georgeyancy  buddhism  christianity  spirituality  religion  race  class  patriarchy  racism  classism  mentalillness  money  greed  mentalhealth  society  capitalism  consumerism  materialism  domination  power  gender  feminism  idenity  listening  love  humor  martinlutherkingjr  cornelwest  allies  influence  homes  intellectualism  theory  practice  criticalthinking  pedagogy  writing  children  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  howweteach  oedagogy  solitude  workinginpublic  publicintellectuals  narcissism  healing  malcolmx  blackness  whitesupremacy  abandonment  betrayal  anger  masculinity  markmcleodbethune  resistance  safety  whiteness  terror  wealth  imperialism  inequality  pathology  poverty  truth  truthfulness  sandrabland  thichnhathanh  activism  estrangement  everyday  humanism  humanization  humility  grace  change  changemaking  transformation  canon  empowerment  composting  desire  lotteries  lorrainehansberry  araisininthesun  culture  trauma  sorrow  leadership  psychology  self-determination  slow  small  beatpoets  jackkerouac  garysnyder  beatpoetry  ethics 
december 2015 by robertogreco
After a String of Suicides, Students in Palo Alto Are Demanding a Part in Reforming Their School's Culture | VICE | United States
"There are a few encouraging signs that the community is coming around to recognizing and ultimately fixing these flaws. In March, the school board voted to allocate $250,000 of the district's budget to hiring two more full-time therapists for the high schools, which will relieve the strained workload of the counseling staff. At Gunn, students took the matter of improving mental health into their own hands, organizing the Student Wellness Committee with the help of Herrmann. It organically grew out of their discussions on what needed to change at the school after Cameron Lee's death. One of the things they set up was a referral box, which allowed students to anonymously refer their friends to counseling. "A startling number of people have told me that they wouldn't talk to a counselor if they had a friend who was in trouble," Gunn sophomore class president Chloe Chang Sorensen explained.

The committee also launched a mental health awareness campaign to educate students about causes, symptoms, and resources available to them. And finally, the committee collaborated with an organization called Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES!) to implement a mindfulness curriculum in physical education classes starting in the fall. These students were not interested in waiting for the adults to act. They made themselves into agents of change."



"Students were not willing to passively accept the superintendent's decision. Two Gunn juniors, Ben Lee and Nina Shirole, co-founded the Palo Alto Student Union to advocate for and promote the student voice. They put up posters with the words SUPPORT STUDENT CHOICE, SUPPORT STUDENT VOICE all over Gunn. And many teachers supported their efforts. With the superintendent sitting behind him on stage, retiring Gunn mathematics teacher Peter Herreshoff said in a speech at graduation, "Your class this year witnessed the imposition of an unjust policy regarding zero period. Although it didn't affect you directly, you united in solidarity with future graduating classes to oppose that policy. Although you didn't win, yet, you learned about taking agency over your lives and working collectively to do that." The student union considered holding a student walkout over the zero-period change but ultimately decided to host a sit-in at a school-board meeting.

A few weeks after the decision was announced, dozens of students attended a Tuesday-evening board meeting. This was the meeting at which zero period was originally meant to be discussed, but McGee had unexpectedly made a unilateral decision beforehand. One after another, students came up to the podium and blasted the superintendent. Gunn senior and school-board student representative Rose Weinmann called the move "misguided paternalism." What students were most peeved about was that the zero-period decision was orchestrated in a top-down manner without their consultation. Ben Lee told me later, "We were blatantly disregarded by the community. It was good to show that we weren't lesser beings. We were going to fight for our right to be heard." He believes that the decision was rashly made to "appease a few people." Shirole also thinks it's a contradiction that physical education and broadcasting classes during zero period will remain when the underlying intention of the change was to help all students get more sleep. And she says the research on later start times does not "account for the element of choice," as zero period is optional."
nikhilgoyal  paloalto  suicide  education  schools  2015  culture  society  siliconvalley  mentalhealth  academics  gunnhighschool  depression  anxiety  stress  parenting  studentvoice  studentchoice 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Tyler Reinhard on the Lessons Between the Lessons (with tweets) · rogre · Storify
[Update 7 Feb 2017: Additional related thoughts from Tyler Reinhard and reference to this collection here: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:54a9852bd341 ]

"one of the greatest teachers i ever had told my mom i was struggling to stay engaged so she was going to triple my workload … it worked

she probably saved my life … she’s a cashier at a department store now

in 11th grade, i was such a problem for my teacher that the principal moved me to independent study in her third grade class

she probably saved my life too

the reason schools are so terrible in this country is because we don’t treat the women who run them with any respect

i think the reason i hated school so much was because i had to watch all these powerful women helping me slowly be broken by the state

i was really lucky to have a lot of really great teachers – almost exclusively women, but they were all visibly and chronically depressed

their constant advocacy *despite* their depression was perhaps the greatest lesson … and what ultimately motivated me to drop out of school

the best english teacher i ever had gave me a C minus and inspired me to become a writer

the best social studies teacher i ever had told me i would end up in prison for my beliefs, and inspired me to become a publisher

the best math teacher i ever had gave me extra homework on september 11 2001 in case we were being invaded

the best art teacher i ever had kicked me out of class for laughing at someones painting

the best science teacher i ever had taught me how to track animals and people through the woods

my mom raised me herself, we were in poverty the whole time, and enrolled me the first publicly funded Montessori school in the country

and when i told her i wanted to drop out, she supported me …

where do all these strong constantly generous women come from

how do they endure this world?

perhaps most importantly – what can we ever do to say thank you

all of the strong women in my life who have taught me how to be a good person have also inspired me to continue living through depression

never forget that helping people see beauty and knowledge in the chaos of the world could save their life

and never forget about the people who have taken the time to show that to you

we end up holding up education as the “way out of poverty” for marginalized people of color, but we miss what is important about school

they say “go to school” as if to say “you’re going to need some skills you won’t learn at home"

but for me, a black kid in a mostly white working class rural town, school was the place where i learned how hopeless the world really was

and was taught by the women of that town how to cope with it, and push on.

all the “job skills” i developed came from my outright opposition to that hopeless world

the wisdom to identify my interest in how other people handled powerlessness and depression as a site of lifelong learning came from school.

i wrote about why i think holding school up as a means of emancipation for people of color is a bad idea: http://maskmag.com/1IPzzQp

i want to encourage the parts of early education that matter: preparing children for a grueling life of darkness by teaching them empathy

not just by instruction, but by immersion …. i empathized with my teachers, and the monumental (largely hopeless) task they took on

the fact that teachers have to sneak massive life lessons between the lines of boring teach-the-test bullshit is a powerful metaphor

because if school prepares us for work, it means that work *doesn’t matter*, but what happens at work *does*.

from that curriculum, we can see economics, politics, social issues, and technology from a totally different position

not as productive machines, but as cages.

where relationships *have to form*

how we treat the people in our lives matters more than what we do with our lives, and it doesn’t matter if you do your homework

ok i’m done. thanks for listening."
tylerreinhard  education  society  marginalization  2015  empathy  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  depression  teachers  work  labor  engagement  women  gender  advocacy  poverty  resilience  hope  beauty  knowledge  hopelessness  opposition  jobskills  wisdom  emancipation  life  living  lifelessons  whatmatters  economics  politics  socialissyes  technology  cages  relationships  kindness  homework 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Suicide Clusters at Palo Alto High Schools - The Atlantic
"In the late 1990s, when she was an assistant professor in Yale’s psychiatry department, Suniya Luthar was doing research at an inner-city school in Connecticut. She wanted to know whether misbehavior correlated more with poverty or with a stage of adolescence. She needed a second school to use as a comparison. An undergraduate student she worked with had connections at a school in a Connecticut suburb that was more upscale, and Luthar got permission to distribute her surveys there. The results were not what she expected. In the inner-city school, 86 percent of students received free or reduced-price lunches; in the suburban school, 1 percent did. Yet in the richer school, the proportion of kids who smoked, drank, or used hard drugs was significantly higher—as was the rate of serious anxiety and depression. This anomaly started Luthar down a career-long track studying the vulnerabilities of students within what she calls “a culture of affluence.” I called Luthar, now a professor at Arizona State University, in March to find out whether the anxiety she was recording amounted to familiar teenage angst or something more serious. As it happened, she was about to fly to Palo Alto. A meeting on adolescents and suicide, hosted by Stanford’s psychiatry department, had been organized in a hurry. Earlier that month a fifth kid had killed himself, Byron Zhu, a 15-year-old sophomore at Palo Alto High. He had walked in front of an early-morning northbound train. The police were still at the scene when kids were biking to school that morning; the principal, who had rushed over, asked the police to put up a special barrier so they wouldn’t see.

Luthar had been invited to give a presentation on affluent youth as a largely unrecognized at-risk group. Convincing people that rich kids are at high risk isn’t easy, she said. But she has amassed the most thorough data set we have on that group, from schools scattered across the country. Luthar’s data come from school districts where families have median incomes of more than $200,000, and private schools where tuition is close to $30,000 a year. Her research suggests a U‑shaped curve in pathologies among children, by class. At each extreme—poor and rich—kids are showing unusually high rates of dysfunction. On the surface, the rich kids seem to be thriving. They have cars, nice clothes, good grades, easy access to health care, and, on paper, excellent prospects. But many of them are not navigating adolescence successfully.

The rich middle- and high-school kids Luthar and her collaborators have studied show higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse on average than poor kids, and much higher rates than the national norm. They report clinically significant depression or anxiety or delinquent behaviors at a rate two to three times the national average. Starting in seventh grade, the rich cohort includes just as many kids who display troubling levels of delinquency as the poor cohort, although the rule-breaking takes different forms. The poor kids, for example, fight and carry weapons more frequently, which Luthar explains as possibly self-protective. The rich kids, meanwhile, report higher levels of lying, cheating, and theft.

“We assume that because [these kids] have money and a good education, everything is fine,” Luthar says. And in the long run, money and education will protect them. But in adolescence, the dangers posed by the culture of affluence can be “quite potent.” That doesn’t mean rich kids are more likely to kill themselves. Studies on youth suicide have generally turned up few differences among social classes. But it does mean many are deeply suffering.

One of the two major causes of distress, Luthar found, was the “pressure to excel at multiple academic and extracurricular pursuits.” In one study, for example, kids were asked to choose and rank their parents’ top five values, from a list of 10. Half of the values were related to achievement (“attend a good college,” “make a lot of money,” “excel academically”), and the other half to well-being and personal character (“are honest,” “are kind to others,” “are generally happy with yourself and your life”). When the kids chose a greater number of achievement-related goals, that usually correlated with personal troubles, Luthar said.

The kids were also asked how much they identified with sentences such as “The fewer mistakes I make, the more people will like me” and “If someone does a task at work/school better than I, then I feel like I failed the whole task.” From their answers, Luthar constructed a profile of elite American adolescents whose self-worth is tied to their achievements and who see themselves as catastrophically flawed if they don’t meet the highest standards of success. Because a certain kind of success seems well within reach, they feel they have to attain it at all costs—a phenomenon she refers to as “I can, therefore I must.” Middle-class kids, she told me, generally do not live with the expectation that they should go to Stanford or earn $200,000 a year. “If I’ve never been to the moon,” she said of middle-class families, “why would I expect my kids to go there?” The yardstick for the children of the meritocratic elite is different, and it can intimidate as much as it can empower.

The second major cause of distress that Luthar identified was perhaps more surprising: Affluent kids felt remarkably isolated from their parents. When I wrote “The Overprotected Kid” for this magazine last year, I assumed that the brand of helicopter parenting I described as typical of my cohort involved a trade-off. Parents might be sheltering their kids, but at least they were more emotionally in tune with them than, say, the parents of the ’70s divorce generation were with their children. Luthar disabused me of this comforting narrative. The kids in the affluent communities she studied felt their parents to be no more available to them, either emotionally or physically, than the kids in severe poverty did.

Some of the measures Luthar used were objective: Did the family eat dinner together, or hang out in the evenings? Here, she discovered that some busy parents would leave adolescents alone in the afternoon and evening and often weren’t home at all during those hours. She also measured the kids’ feelings of closeness—“My father understands me,” or “My mother knows when I am upset.” Here again Luthar saw a fissure: Children had the sense that their parents monitored their activities and cared deeply about how they were spending their time, but that didn’t translate into feeling close. Many children felt they were being prodded toward very specific goals and behaviors by parental cues, some subtle, some less so. Their parents glowed warmly when they did well in school or sports but seemed let down when they didn’t. Often the kids learned to hide their failures—real or imagined—for fear of disappointing their parents. Other research has shown that a feeling of closeness to parents was inversely linked to household income, meaning that the most-affluent kids felt the most alienated. “It’s mind-boggling,” Luthar says. “We are comparing them to a group of parents we think of as being in dire straits—largely single mothers on welfare whose circumstances are assumed to affect the quality of their parenting. And yet kids from these affluent families, mostly Caucasian, say they feel no closer to their parents than the poor kids do.”

Luthar’s research was incorporated into the 2006 best seller The Price of Privilege, by Madeline Levine, a child psychologist who practices in the Bay Area. She reported that the adolescents she was encountering would “complain bitterly of being too pressured, misunderstood, anxious, angry, sad, and empty.” In the past couple of years, other best sellers have sounded a similar note. William Deresiewicz, a former Yale professor who contributes to this magazine, argues in Excellent Sheep that elite education “manufactures students who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose.” The New York Times columnist Frank Bruni’s Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania warns of the dangers of insisting that admission to an elite college is necessary for a successful life.

After leaving Stanford, Julie Lythcott-Haims wrote a book, published in June, called How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. In it, she confesses that as a dean, she had interacted with students who relied on their parents “in ways that felt, simply, off” and who seemed “existentially impotent.” She detailed the growing mental-health crisis at colleges, and described the brilliant, accomplished students who “would sit on my couch holding their fragile, brittle parts together, resigned to the fact that this outwardly successful situation was their miserable life.”

I’ve read all these books, and so have many of my friends. We have kids this age, or about to be this age, and yet somehow we can’t absorb the message. I didn’t, really, until I spent some time in Palo Alto.

Since Levine wrote The Price of Privilege, she’s watched the stress in the Bay Area and in affluent communities all over the country become more pervasive and more acute. What disturbs her most is that the teenagers she sees no longer rebel. A decade ago, she used to referee family fights in her office, she told me, where the teens would tell their parents, “This is bad for me! I’m not doing this.” Now, she reports, the teenagers have no sense of agency. They still complain bitterly about all the same things, but they feel they have no choice. Many have also fallen prey to what Levine calls a “mass delusion” that there is but one path to a successful life, and that it is very narrow. Adolescents no longer typically identify… [more]
hannahrosin  suicide  siliconvalley  affluence  parenting  schools  education  2015  hannarosin  paloalto  gunnhighschool  anxiety  mentalhealth  children  youth  adolescence  psychology  depression  academics  suniyaluthar 
november 2015 by robertogreco
SELFIE — Matter — Medium
"Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd. I look upon hundreds of faces every day and I feel refreshed. I feel refreshed by watching other people look upon those same faces, and so on. This second-order looking, this swelling communal river, is the aspect of selfies we need to fight to protect by not shaming those who take them. If you are afraid of wading into this river, if you feel there is nothing to see there, then selfies might not be meant for you.

And just to put it on the record, to make things clear, here are some of the other people who selfies are not for:

• Men who want to police what women can do with their bodies, when they are allowed to love themselves, all under the guise of “being concerned.” About what, exactly? Exploitation? Identity theft? The ogling of other men? This isn’t necessary! Concern is little more than a smokescreen for policing women’s behavior. Concern is both oppressive and nefarious.

• Women who claim to be feminists but then use their feminism as a weapon against selfies, writing blog posts about how duckfaces undermine efforts for equality. The women writing these posts are trying to separate themselves from the kind of women who would kiss the camera, not realizing that the binary they enforce — the good feminists, the bad feminists — is one that has been handed down to them by the powerful in order to keep women at each other’s throats for so long that they forget to overtake the patriarchy.

• Members of the media establishment who view a thick network of people who don’t need them (because selfie communities are making the beauty-industrial complex set up by magazines and Hollywood look wobbly and exclusionary) to be a tremendous threat. See also: members of the press who are afraid of citizens who don’t need the media’s cameras to be seen, their microphones to be heard, or their publications to have a voice.

• Anyone who says “All Lives Matter,” who doesn’t see that certain faces that have been long absent from the dominant visual history now need to be celebrated, that these faces self-reproducing en masse is now completely vital to their survival, that selfies can become protective shields against violence and hatred.

• Those who fear youth rather than struggling to understand it, who forget that they were once young, insecure, and lonesome, and who have maybe grown up to be old, insecure, and lonesome, resenting the ever-strengthening community that selfies are building.

• Those who censor selfies, who flag women’s nudes from Instagram for removal (for more on this, read Petra Collins odd story of having her selfie removed without her consent), whose puritanical way of seeing doesn’t allow for bodies to invade their world unless they can be in charge of them, who see naked bodies as anarchy.

• Those who harbor the creeping dystopian fear that when the robots take over they will recognize us by our selfies. These sci-fi concerns do not outweigh the current benefits of a life lived unafraid, of how powerful it feels to stare down a camera lens and press send. The known dangers of remaining unseen are far worse than those that might come out of risking it, of being brave now.

• Those who have never shared a selfie but are adamant that it “isn’t for them” that they don’t see why anyone would ever do this. These people are willfully walking away from discovering a place where identities are distinct from that of the oppressors. They are making a choice. It is not a crime to not take selfies; there are many ways to live and be happy. I repeat: you do not have to take them! But it is detrimental to speak of them in the language of stigma. This only bolsters the sense of dishonor around the act of taking a selfie, discourages people from ever entering into a practice, and into a community, that may very well save their life.

***

But there are millions of people who selfies are for. There are millions who use them, love them, and are loyal to them — these are the people talked to, emailed with, gazed at, and become a fan of while scrolling through my feeds, the people I have watched being watched. These are the people who find comfort and life force in their selfies, and who give the most to the community in return. These are the bodies that you tear down when you are afraid of them, these are the lives at stake.

• The geeky middle-schooler who is bullied in class, but has finally found his people online, who flashes peace signs into his camera while riding home on the bus.

• The girl who has just been heartbroken, who has been left, getting to wave a middle finger at the camera and at her anger, and find 100 people who will rush to her side. Every double-tap heals her heart, toughens the muscle.

• The survivor of domestic abuse, who was verbally assaulted and made to feel like nothing, and who is crawling back from that hurt by allowing other people to tell her that she is more than just her pain, that she looks radiant, glowing, free.

• The cancer patient who takes selfies in chemotherapy, documenting the tufts of hair as they fall out, who wants the world to know that they were brave, that they faced death with a wink, that they did not want to be forgotten.

• The Syrian migrants who have found comfort in selfies on their treacherous route through the Balkans, and who are challenging the world to see them as humans running from violence, even as countries and states continue to close their borders to them. Selfies are extremely effective tools for displaced people or people living in perilous conditions to reconfirm their humanity; it is easy to ignore a sea of faces, but difficult to turn away from just one, staring with hope and sorrow into the camera, searching for sanctuary.

• The world-famous pop star who is sick of being ripped apart by magazine profiles and talk show interviews and who knows that the candid portraits she takes of herself backstage get beamed directly to her fans, who are increasingly learning to check their idols’ feeds rather than gossip columns for the real dish. Beyoncé hasn’t given an interview in years, and she may never need to do so again.

• The teen recovering from anorexia who takes pictures of herself finishing burgers, bacon, green tea ice cream; who finds a community of others in recovery who encourage each other to eat, to get well, to aspire to fullness.

• The middle-aged dad who starts Snapchatting to commune with his kids instead of remain mystified by them, and finds out that he has never really looked at himself with fondness, not until now.

• The off-duty fashion model who just wants to be seen as a real girl for once, who crams fries into her mouth, a slovenly, gangly imp in a dirty sweatshirt.

• The teen with vibrant pastel hair who has found a place where they fit in, where they get encouragement as their body changes, where they get to be present and excited and to come out as transgender, where they get to begin living more fully as their authentic self.

• The woman who decides to photograph herself naked, to leak her own nudes, who decides to revel in her curves before anyone can take that joy away from her.

• The teens who are finding each other on Instagram and Tumblr, creating “image collectives,” like the Art Hoe movement, where “nonconforming gender teens are positioning themselves in front of famous art pieces from old masters to abstractionists to ‘raise questions about the historical representation of people of color in art.’” Teen stars like Willow Smith and Amandla Stenberg have joined in, causing #arthoe to explode and continue to challenge the we study and view art history. Because of movements like these, young people may now grow up in a world where they set the visual agenda, where they know how to challenge the art that is shown to them as important, and offer up a new iconography of beauty that both undermines the exclusive canon and rewrites the academic syllabus.

• The autistic child who starts taking selfies on his iPad, who finds a way to unlock his inner chambers by capturing his outer self, who finds a place in the vibrant Tumblr autism selfie community, where thousands of people post new pictures every week, trying to reach out and connect where words may fail them.
The old widow who has found an entire community full of people who will call her beautiful now that her husband cannot.

• The millions of people who do not fit the mold for what capitalism defines as physical perfection, whose skin or height or gender or personal aesthetic might have kept them out of the hallowed halls of Those Who Get To Be Seen before selfies existed, those who would not have seen themselves in photo albums a decade ago because no one ever wanted to take their picture, those who go their own way. I have seen people of every color and shape and pronoun beloved in their own online lands, the heroes of their own stories. I have watched, off to the side, scrolling through this kaleidoscope of faces, as they rack up likes and admirers and accolades, as they become icons to the exact people they hope to reach. I have seen them find each other and stick together. I have learned entirely new vocabularies for how to look, for where to look. And there is always, always more to learn.

***

This is the radical potential to selfies. This is what I think about most when I take them, when I channel women of the past, when I think about Julia and Clover and Frida and Francesca, when I think about all the people who wanted so badly to be seen but were born too soon to ever have an @ handle of their own.

I wish, all the time, my great-grandmothers (women I never knew; a gentle seamstress, a boisterous lawyer’s wife) could have taken a million selfies. I feel like I owe it to them and to those who feel unseen now, to keep posting, to keep sharing, to keep liking, to keep seeking out new faces to like. I feel that I am, that we all are, writing our own history with every… [more]
selfies  rachelsyme  2015  photography  history  ussies  juliamargaretcameron  marianhooperadams  francescawoodman  shaming  portraiture  socialmedia  mockery  power  gender  essenao'neill  social  bodies  sexism  teens  youth  hate  mobile  phones  society  culture  technology  applications  instagram  tumblr  depression  identity  capitalism  self-image  art  snapchat  oppression  judgement  media  feminism  behavior  multiliteracies  body 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Eponis | Sinope — Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to...
"Are you hydrated? If not, have a glass of water.

Have you eaten in the past three hours? If not, get some food — something with protein, not just simple carbs. Perhaps some nuts or hummus?

Have you showered in the past day? If not, take a shower right now.

If daytime: are you dressed? If not, put on clean clothes that aren’t pajamas. Give yourself permission to wear something special, whether it’s a funny t-shirt or a pretty dress.

If nighttime: are you sleepy and fatigued but resisting going to sleep? Put on pajamas, make yourself cozy in bed with a teddy bear and the sound of falling rain, and close your eyes for fifteen minutes — no electronic screens allowed. If you’re still awake after that, you can get up again; no pressure.

Have you stretched your legs in the past day? If not, do so right now. If you don’t have the spoons for a run or trip to the gym, just walk around the block, then keep walking as long as you please. If the weather’s crap, drive to a big box store (e.g. Target) and go on a brisk walk through the aisles you normally skip.

Have you said something nice to someone in the past day? Do so, whether online or in person. Make it genuine; wait until you see something really wonderful about someone, and tell them about it.

Have you moved your body to music in the past day? If not, do so — jog for the length of an EDM song at your favorite BPM, or just dance around the room for the length of an upbeat song.

Have you cuddled a living being in the past two days? If not, do so. Don’t be afraid to ask for hugs from friends or friends’ pets. Most of them will enjoy the cuddles too; you’re not imposing on them.

Do you feel ineffective? Pause right now and get something small completed, whether it’s responding to an e-mail, loading up the dishwasher, or packing your gym bag for your next trip. Good job!

Do you feel unattractive? Take a goddamn selfie. Your friends will remind you how great you look, and you’ll fight society’s restrictions on what beauty can look like.

Do you feel paralyzed by indecision? Give yourself ten minutes to sit back and figure out a game plan for the day. If a particular decision or problem is still being a roadblock, simply set it aside for now, and pick something else that seems doable. Right now, the important part is to break through that stasis, even if it means doing something trivial.

Have you seen a therapist in the past few days? If not, hang on until your next therapy visit and talk through things then.

Have you been over-exerting yourself lately — physically, emotionally, socially, or intellectually? That can take a toll that lingers for days. Give yourself a break in that area, whether it’s physical rest, taking time alone, or relaxing with some silly entertainment.

Have you changed any of your medications in the past couple of weeks, including skipped doses or a change in generic prescription brand? That may be screwing with your head. Give things a few days, then talk to your doctor if it doesn’t settle down.

Have you waited a week? Sometimes our perception of life is skewed, and we can’t even tell that we’re not thinking clearly, and there’s no obvious external cause. It happens. Keep yourself going for a full week, whatever it takes, and see if you still feel the same way then.

You’ve made it this far, and you will make it through. You are stronger than you think."
depression  coping  health  mentalhealth  via:mattthomas  sleep  eating  exercise  self-care 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Grammar, Identity, and the Dark Side of the Subjunctive: Phuc Tran at TEDxDirigo - YouTube
"Phuc Tran is in his second decade as a Classicist and Tattooer. He has taught Latin, Greek, German, and Sanskrit at independent schools in New York and Maine and was an instructor at Brooklyn College's Summer Latin Institute. In 2010, he served on a committee to revise the National Latin Praxis exam for ETS. Phuc currently teaches at Waynflete School in Portland."
phuctran  language  english  subjunctive  refugees  2012  identity  indicative  reality  presence  future  imperative  perspective  immigration  immigrantexperience  grammar  depression  regret  creativity  imagination  experience  optimism  philosophy  via:juliarubin  french  vietnamese  france 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Nature Rx
"Tired, irritable, stressed out? Try Nature! This non-harmful prescription is shown to relieve the crippling symptoms of modern life. Side effects may include confidence, authenticity, and being in a good mood for no apparent reason."

"CAUTION: Nature may cause you to slow down, quit your job, or seriously consider what the f#%k you are doing with your life."
nature  satire  wellbeing  comedy  life  living  depression  stress  modernity  video 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Helicopter parenting is increasingly correlated with college-age depression and anxiety.
"Recent studies suggests that kids with overinvolved parents and rigidly structured childhoods suffer psychological blowback in college."



"Madeline Levine, psychologist and author of The Price of Privilege, says that there are three ways we might be overparenting and unwittingly causing psychological harm:

1. When we do for our kids what they can already do for themselves;
2. When we do for our kids what they can almost do for themselves; and
3. When our parenting behavior is motivated by our own egos.

Levine said that when we parent this way we deprive our kids of the opportunity to be creative, to problem solve, to develop coping skills, to build resilience, to figure out what makes them happy, to figure out who they are. In short, it deprives them of the chance to be, well, human. Although we overinvolve ourselves to protect our kids and it may in fact lead to short-term gains, our behavior actually delivers the rather soul-crushing news: Kid, you can’t actually do any of this without me."



"Neither Karen Able nor I is suggesting that grown kids should never call their parents. The devil is in the details of the conversation. If they call with a problem or a decision to be made, do we tell them what to do? Or do we listen thoughtfully, ask some questions based on our own sense of the situation, then say, “OK. So how do you think you’re going to handle that?”

Knowing what could unfold for our kids when they’re out of our sight can make us parents feel like we’re in straitjackets. What else are we supposed to do? If we’re not there for our kids when they are away from home and bewildered, confused, frightened, or hurting, then who will be?

Here’s the point—and this is so much more important than I realized until rather recently when the data started coming in: The research shows that figuring out for themselves is a critical element to people’s mental health. Your kids have to be there for themselves. That’s a harder truth to swallow when your kid is in the midst of a problem or worse, a crisis, but taking the long view, it’s the best medicine for them."
college  education  parenting  depression  helicopterparenting  2015  julielythcott-haims  madelinelevine  self  identity  children  adolescence  youth  karenable  helicopterparents 
july 2015 by robertogreco
The History of Boredom | Science | Smithsonian
"Recent scientific research agrees: A host of studies have found that people who are easily bored may also be at greater risk for depression, anxiety disorders, gambling addictions, eating disorders, aggression and other psychosocial issues. Boredom can also exacerbate existing mental illness. And, according to at least one 2010 study, people who are more easily bored are two-and-a-half times more likely to die of heart disease than people who are not.

Why is unclear. Take depression: “One possibility is that boredom causes depression; another is that depression causes boredom; another is that they’re mutually causative; another is that boredom is an epi-phenomenon or another component of depression; and another is that there’s another third variable that causes both boredom and depression,” explains Dr. John Eastwood, a clinical psychologist at York University in Toronto. “So we’re at the very beginning stages of trying to figure it out.”

That’s partly because up until very recently, he says, psychologists weren’t working with a very good definition of boredom. Eastwood is one of a growing number of researchers dedicated to understanding boredom; in the October 2012 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, Eastwood and his colleagues published “The Unengaged Mind”, an attempt to define boredom.

The paper claimed that boredom is a state in which the sufferer wants to be engaged in some meaningful activity but cannot, characterized by both restlessness and lethargy. With that in mind, Eastwood says that it all is essentially an issue of attention. “Which kind of makes sense, because attention is the process by which we connect with the world,” explains Eastwood

Boredom may be the result of a combination of factors – a situation that is actually boring, a predisposition to boredom, or even an indication of an underlying mental condition. What that says about how the brain works requires more research.

“I’m quite sure that when people are bored, their brain is in a different state,” says Eastwood. “But the question is not just is your brain in a different state, but what that tells us about the way the brain works and the way attention works.”

Why is Boredom Good For You?

There has to be a reason for boredom and why people suffer it; one theory is that boredom is the evolutionary cousin to disgust.

In Toohey’s Boredom: A Living History, the author notes that when writers as far back as Seneca talk about boredom, they often describe it was a kind of nausea or sickness. The title of famous 20th century existentialist writer Jean-Paul Sartre’s novel about existential boredom was, after all, Nausea. Even now, if someone is bored of something, they’re “sick of it” or “fed up”. So if disgust is a mechanism by which humans avoid harmful things, then boredom is an evolutionary response to harmful social situations or even their own descent into depression.

“Emotions are there to help us react to, register and regulate our response to stimulus from our environment,” he says. Boredom, therefore, can be a kind of early warning system. “We don’t usually take it as a warning – but children do, they badger you to get you out of the situation.”

And though getting out of boredom can lead to extreme measures to alleviate it, such as drug taking or an extramarital affair, it can also lead to positive change. Boredom has found champions in those who see it as a necessary element in creativity. In 2011, Manohla Dargis, New York Times film critic, offered up a defense of “boring” films, declaring that they offer the viewer the opportunity to mentally wander: “In wandering there can be revelation as you meditate, trance out, bliss out, luxuriate in your thoughts, think.”

But how humans respond to boredom may have changed dramatically in the last century. In Eastwood’s opinion, humans have become used to doing less to get more, achieving intense stimulation at the click of a mouse or touch of a screen.

“We are very used to being passively entertained,” he says. “We have changed our understanding of the human condition as one of a vessel that needs to be filled.” And it’s become something like a drug – “where we need another hit to remain at the same level of satisfaction,” says Eastwood.

There is hope, however, and it’s back at the Boring Conference. Rather than turning to a quick fix – YouTube videos of funny cats, Facebook – the Boring Conference wants people to use the mundane as an impetus to creative thinking and observation.

“It’s not the most amazing idea in the world, but I think it’s a nice idea – to look around, notice things,” says Ward, the conference organizer. “I guess that’s the message: Look at stuff.”"
2012  boredom  via:anne  depression  attention  manohladargis  johneastwood  psychology  engagement  petertoohey 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Why Are Palo Alto’s Kids Killing Themselves? — Amazing humankind — Medium
"Saal, the psychiatrist, believes that many students at his daughter’s school are showing signs of acute stress disorder, a non-pathological response to trauma that is more immediate and more transient than PTSD. Even a single incident of stress, Saal says, can induce “a collection of overpowering recall.” While most people are capable of coping at that level, a cascade of trauma like that experienced by Palo Alto’s teens can produce more radical responses."



"Most people, in fact, were anxious to share, in great detail, what they’ve endured since the first Gunn student took his life back in May 2009.

This was particularly true of the teens, who volunteered acute insights about their town, their school, and the contradictions of a culture that demands personal excellence but withholds emotional support. They railed against their superintendent’s denials of responsibility; against the so-called Palo Alto mask that blocks reality in the name of perfection; against school officials’ lip service to bold change. “They just check boxes, put counselors in place so that it will look good, not thinking about how to do it in a way that really helps kids,” says Lauren Saal. Other students are eager to defend the school and knock what they perceive as victim-blaming. They decry attempts to fit all the suicides, as senior Anna Barbier says, “neatly under one umbrella.” “Fake” is the word used by two seniors to describe Gunn’s culture, which they fault for breeding intense competition while claiming to foster unity. But other students are frank about their own complicity in the noxious, cutthroat environment. “My dad always describes how when he was growing up, it was students against the system,” Anna says. “This is students against students.”"



"While they’re relentlessly pushed to chase higher grades and greater commendations, students say, they are simultaneously pressured to maintain an air of confidence and composure. Gaby Candes, a Gunn sophomore whose parents are both Stanford professors, refers to the condition as “Stanford duck syndrome”: “Everybody puts on a front of being super-relaxed and perfect, but under the surface they’re kicking furiously,” she says. “When all you see is calm ducks, you think that you are the only one who’s not perfect.” The attitude even bleeds into class activities that are intended to ameliorate stress. “We’re always doing exercises where they say, ‘We all have problems, and other people have problems just like you,’” says junior Hayley Krolik. “But nobody really believes it. This isn’t really an environment where people talk about being less than perfect.”

With everyone paddling desperately (but stealthily) in pursuit of distinction, pulling out in front becomes nearly impossible. “Everyone wants to be the one to stand out, because it’s really hard to stand out here,” says Hayley. Consequently, anything that gets you noticed — being gay, being Jewish, even being inordinately sad — garners social capital at Gunn. Depression is effectively “glorified,” a senior says, because it attracts attention."



"This push-pull is a bite-size encapsulation of the skirmishes currently consuming all of Palo Alto. There aren’t enough fingers in Silicon Valley to point at all the people, norms, and institutions that may or may not be responsible. “The parents blame the schools. The schools blame the parents. And when they are together, they blame the universities,” says Marin psychologist Madeline Levine, author of a bestselling book about the afflictions of affluent youth, The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids. Communities like Palo Alto, she says, may tout their Hallmark-ready battle cry of “We’re all in this together,” but all too often, there is little coming together on anything. “Where are the parents?” Levine rants. “How do they tolerate four hours of homework? Since when are kids making multiple trips to the ER? It starts to be a mass delusion. That’s what this feels like to me. What’s that book where all the girls become hysterical — The Crucible? That is what this feels like to me.”"



"The problem is that Palo Alto, in my experience, is a community with something of a tin ear, many denizens seemingly hearing only what confirms their preexisting worldview. Some of that tone deafness is understandable, given the complexity of the issues besetting the town. But some of it may be due to a general muzzling of suicide-related speech. The backstories of many of the 2009–10 suicides have long been shrouded in secrecy, leaving kids and parents speculating and rumormongering. The Stanford Psychiatry Department embarked on a “psychological autopsy” of the cluster, but no report was ever publicly released. In any case, Blanchard is dismissive of the study’s value: “There are many more [teens] who are not doing well,” she says. “Researching only kids who have passed away — its usefulness is so limited.”

Often it seems as if that de facto gag order from 2009 is still in effect. Even the kids speak in euphemisms, as if they’ve signed some town pact: During a “Listening to Youth Voices” panel in March, they referred to the suicides as “the recent events.” Some experts object to this use of abstruse terminology, which they believe reflects a damaging community-wide repression. “This is exactly the time to call it suicide and nothing else,” says Levine. “It couldn’t be clearer that there’s a crisis around kids being able to manage their feelings.”"



"For a moment, the Gunn turned Palo Alto problem became an Asian problem. But chestnut-haired Paly junior Carolyn Walworth, her school’s student rep on the district board, quickly forestalled any temptation to render the suicides an ethnic issue. On Palo Alto Weekly’s website, she posted a chilling diatribe titled “The Sorrows of Young Palo Altons” [http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2015/03/25/guest-opinion-the-sorrows-of-young-palo-altans ] in which she lamented the entire student body’s response to the crisis. “We are lifeless bodies in a system that breeds competition, hatred, and discourages genuine learning,” she wrote. “We lack sincere passion. We are sick….”

The self-criticism in the treatise was, in Levine’s view, a healthy step forward. She says that she fears for this generation of kids, “who don’t come out and say ‘Screw you.’ Where’s the rebellion? These kids have no sense that they could change something.” But more and more, students are stepping up to challenge the status quo. Carolyn and Martha have both done so. And, quite eloquently, so has Gunn senior Jessica Luo, who, in a letter to her ninth-grade self written for a youth forum, admonishes the younger Jessica: “The ‘culture’ and the ‘system’ are not some monster looming above Gunn and issuing commands. The ‘system’ is made up of your actions and the actions of people around you.”

“Something’s only going to change,” concurs Gunn junior Hayley Krolik, “if 75 percent of us start saying to people around us, ‘Oh, you got the A, but did you enjoy the project?’ And frowning on people who just do things because it will get them someplace.”

Jessica sees the magnitude of the problem facing her peers — and advocates for a wholesale revision of the student-school compact. “We aim our arrows at false targets,” she writes. “We shoot at AP classes while the real enemy lurks in an unspoken assumption: that people who take the harder classes are better. That’s because it’s easier to think of culture as a tumor that can be attacked, to throw policy changes like block schedules and homework restrictions at the tumor in hopes of shrinking it. But the tumor just comes back — because the disease is somewhere else.”

Jessica implores her younger self to stop, to think, and — as Kathleen Blanchard advises in the wake of her own son’s suicide — to listen deeply. “Notice the air you breathe,” she writes. “Notice the people you’re helping or harming. Know your enemy — know that it does not live in the problems that look clear-cut. It lives in the shady assumptions beneath.”"
culture  education  paloalto  highschool  suicide  pressure  depression  stress  2015  teaching  homework  learning  carolynwalworth  competition  rebellion  howwelearn  siliconvalley  society  madelyngould  laurensaal  madelinelevine  suicideclusters  marthacabot  dianakapp  gunnhoghschool 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Final Boss Form — Before you diagnose yourself with depression or...
"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes. —William Gibson."
depression  mentalhealth  environment  symptomsvscauses  2015  williamgibson  self-esteem  company 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Robert Sapolsky discusses physiological effects of stress
"In addition to numerous scientific papers about stress, Sapolsky has written four popular books on the subject—Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, The Trouble with Testosterone, A Primate's Memoir and Monkeyluv. Many of his insights are based on his 30-year field study of wild African baboons, highly social primates that are close relatives of Homo sapiens. Each year, he and his assistants follow troops of baboons in Kenya to gather behavioral and physiological data on individual members, including blood samples, tissue biopsies and electrocardiograms.

"We've found that baboons have diseases that other social mammals generally don't have," Sapolsky said. "If you're a gazelle, you don't have a very complex emotional life, despite being a social species. But primates are just smart enough that they can think their bodies into working differently. It's not until you get to primates that you get things that look like depression."

The same may be true for elephants, whales and other highly intelligent mammals that have complex emotional lives, he added.

"The reason baboons are such good models is, like us, they don't have real stressors," he said. "If you live in a baboon troop in the Serengeti, you only have to work three hours a day for your calories, and predators don't mess with you much. What that means is you've got nine hours of free time every day to devote to generating psychological stress toward other animals in your troop. So the baboon is a wonderful model for living well enough and long enough to pay the price for all the social-stressor nonsense that they create for each other. They're just like us: They're not getting done in by predators and famines, they're getting done in by each other."

It turns out that unhealthy baboons, like unhealthy people, often have elevated resting levels of stress hormones. "Their reproductive system doesn't work as well, their wounds heal more slowly, they have elevated blood pressure and the anti-anxiety chemicals in their brain, which have a structural similarity to Valium, work differently," Sapolsky said. "So they're not in great shape."

Among the most susceptible to stress are low-ranking baboons and type A individuals. "Type A baboons are the ones who see stressors that other animals don't," Sapolsky said. "For example, having your worst rival taking a nap 100 yards away gets you agitated."

But when it comes to stress-related diseases, social isolation may play an even more significant role than social rank or personality. "Up until 15 years ago, the most striking thing we found was that, if you're a baboon, you don't want to be low ranking, because your health is going to be lousy," he explained. "But what has become far clearer, and probably took a decade's worth of data, is the recognition that protection from stress-related disease is most powerfully grounded in social connectedness, and that's far more important than rank.""

[via: “The last 150 years has seen a profound increase in human free time. Baboon studies give us clues to what that means pic.twitter.com/VXS5zfuPFX” https://twitter.com/aza/status/578464289834434560

“Links for the last tweet
Free-time increase http://bit.ly/1C8DS9b via @MaxCRoser
Baboons http://news.stanford.edu/news/2007/march7/sapolskysr-030707.html … via The Primate's Memoir”
https://twitter.com/aza/status/578469675308216321 ]
2007  robertsapolsky  stress  physiology  work  mammals  intelligence  elephants  whales  animals  emotions  depression  health 
march 2015 by robertogreco
How To Fight Depression
"Talk to someone. The somewhat facile message of "get help" can be pretty annoying if you're a depressed person, because the state of mental health care in most places is a real mess; getting good help can be difficult, expensive, scary, and prohibitively exhausting for a person who's having trouble just getting out of bed. But talking to someone is crucial, whether it's a friend, a family member, a clergy person, or a counselor. I know it seems basic, but saying what you're feeling–honestly and straightforwardly—can lighten your burden anywhere from a little to a whole lot. And don't be scared to ask for exactly what you need, whether it's just an ear or help with grocery shopping; people can be daunted by depression and not know what to do, but if they care about you, they'll be glad to help you out. (Don't forget to be mindful of the fact that caring for a depressed person is a lot of emotional labor, but I think most depressed people lean too little on others rather than too much.)



Exercise. Oh, I hate this one. Exercising is hard and sucks. But what I probably hate the most about it is that it actually works, so now I have to do it. You don't have to become a gym rat or anything, but adding just a little movement and sweatiness to your day does some annoyingly super-effective mood-boosting thing to your brain. If you're not a gym or sports person (lord knows I'm not), try to work it into your daily routine by walking to a farther transit stop than usual, taking the stairs at work, or doing an exercise video at home. The real trick, though I've never managed this one myself, is to do it often enough that you get "addicted" to it—this is what people say happens! I swear!—and then you're stuck being slightly happier forever. Good luck with that.

Stop drinking, at least for a bit. This one can be pretty hard, because alcohol is fun, tastes good, makes socializing easier, and breaks up the monotony of your shitty feelings a bit. People will tell you alcohol is a depressant, and if you're anything like me, you'll smugly be like, "Actually, that's not technically even what depressant means," and finish your delicious beer.

But you know, even if alcohol doesn't actually make you more depressed (I anecdotally think it does, though the studies tend to be bedeviled by the obvious entanglement of cause and effect), it makes you more impulsive, which is extra dangerous when you're depressed. When you don't drink, you might be way bored and awkward at social events, and have to stay brutally aware of all your feelings (I'm sorry, I'm not really selling this), but you're also much less likely to scare the shit out of your friends with your uncontrollable weeping or to make a big old mess texting your ex. Who needs to deal with the consequences of drunk behavior when you're already depressed? Plus, the dark synergy of depression + hangover is to be avoided at all costs, and I always find my mood the day after drinking is a little lousier than usual. Worth giving it a rest for a bit, just to see if it helps. (And if you find you can't give it a rest, that tells you something important, too.)

Try practicing mindfulness. The idea of mindfulness comes from Buddhist practice; stated most basically, it means being non-judgmentally present in the moment, no matter where you are or what you're doing. Which maybe makes it sound really hard and not that fun: Probably the present moment doesn't seem that great, right? But with practice it can be an astonishingly anti-depressant brain habit that makes the present much more tolerable. It's got something for everybody—you can connect it with spiritual practice if you're into that, or do it on its own, and it also has a lot of support from peer-reviewed research as a treatment for anxiety and depression.

Hang out with some animals. I don't know what it is about animals that has such an anti-depressant effect. Maybe it's that they remind you that there's a different way to move through the world than "excruciatingly," or just that they're funny and cute or cool-looking. I like to go to the aquarium because looking at fish chills me out; either that or I play with a friend's dog. Volunteering at an animal shelter is another good way to get some quality animal time, plus doing any sort of volunteer work gets you out of the house and creates a brand new source of meaning in your life—another challenging but really effective anti-depression tactic.

Think about medication. This is a obviously a super-personal choice that requires the care and guidance of experts far more expert than me, and lots of people are opposed to taking antidepressants for all sorts of legitimate reasons, but talk to a handful of people who have dealt with depression and you'll definitely find someone who says medication saved his or her life. To me, this makes it at the very least worthy of some thoughtful consideration and discussion with a doctor. There's nothing to be ashamed of in using medications for depression, any more than there is for any other illness. They can give you the breathing room you need to get better.

Don't give up. "Easier said than done" is an understatement. But people who struggle with depression can have awesome, happy lives, too. Because if this endless winter proved anything, it's that even endless things don't last forever."
depression  lilybenson  2015  mindfulness  alcohol  mentalhealth  exercise  conversation 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Don’t do away with the fairies: we need to relearn our sense of the magical | Sara Maitland | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Woods are magical. Throughout northern Europe they are deeply linked to older ways of being, to what we might now like to dismiss as superstitious, childish nonsense.

But we cannot so simply wipe this out. Woods are our original home. If we do not populate the woods with imagination, with stories, with wonders, we will destroy them, or limit our own flourishing – or both.

I believe that most of us have a deep yearning for the magical, for a secret “otherness”, for an environment flowing with abundance – not just with nature but with super-nature too; with a rich background of stories and concepts and images, to inform our individual imaginations and give them actual material to come to grips with.

We know that our children are growing up richer and safer, less likely to die in childhood than ever. We also know that they (and their grownups ) have increasingly poor mental health, with higher levels of depression, anxiety, attention deficit problems and eating disorders. There are lots of reasons for this, of course; it is complex and complicated. But in 2012 a survey suggested that more than half of Icelanders believe in, or at least entertain the possibility of the existence of, the huldufólk – the hidden people, the elves. Iceland ranks well above the UK in social stability, equality and most noticeably happiness (ninth in the world, compared with our 22nd). Is it possible that there is a connection? And would we lose anything by assuming that there might be?"
nature  forests  woods  children  imagination  creativity  fantasy  iceland  magic  mentalhealth  environment  hiddenpeople  huldufólk  depression  anxiety  otherness  trees 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Creation and Destruction of Habits
"1/ There are two kinds of stories: about forming habits, and about preserving them. Superhero movies and Christmas movies.

2/ While you have room to grow in your life, forming habits is much easier than breaking habits. Neither is easy, however.

3/ A habit, once formed, demands use. This is because it exists as a sunk cost. Disuse would imply depreciating value.

4/ A living habit generates returns and grows more complex over time. This is growth. Growing habits occupy more room over time.

5/ A dying habit generates losses and grows simpler over time. This is decay. Dying habits decay to occupy less room over time.

6/ You are grown up when you run out of room to grow and are forced to break old habits in order to form new ones.

7/ The alternative to growing up is to preserve existing habits against decay through mummification. This is ritualization.

8/ To ritualize a habit is to decide to sustain steady losses for the indefinite future. This means feeding it with make-work.

9/ Living habits are ugly. Constant growth and increasing complexity means they always appear as an unrefined work-in-progress.

10/ The reward of a ritual is comforting, relived memories of once-profitable habits. These can be passed on for generations.

11/ Rituals are beautiful. Mummification is the process of aestheticizing a behavior to produce comfort instead of profit.

12/ Comforts must be paid for. But it is an easy decision to rob the ugly to pay the beautiful. Growth must pay for decay.

13/ Living habits can be valued in terms of expected future returns. Comforts cannot because they are being sustained despite losses.

14/ Living habits have a price. Rituals are price-less. They represent comforts worth preserving at indeterminate cost.

15/ Price-less comforts evolve from things-that-cannot-be-priced to things-that-must-not-be-priced. This is sacralization.

16/ The sacred price-less is the economic priceless. We drop the hyphen and add a notional price of infinity. This is a sacred value.

17/ The ritualized habit associated with a sacred value becomes a virtue: a behavior that serves as is its own justification.

18/ Virtues are behaviors that are recognized as their own justification by their unchanging beauty. The sacred is beautiful.

19/ Vice is that which cannot visibly co-exist with virtue: it is behavior that justifies its own suppression or marginalization.

20/ Profanity is an inchoate mixture of virtue and vice. Experimentation separates ugly profanity into future virtues and vices.

21/ When your living habits cannot pay for their own growth, and you sacrifice beauty for experimentation, you get innovation.

22/ When your living habits can pay for their own growth and your comforting rituals, you have a beautiful life. This is individualism.

23/ When living habits can pay for themselves but not for comforts, you have a problem. This is failed individualism: depression.

24/ If you try to strip away comforts and retain only growth, you have cognitive-behavioral cancer. This is being manic.

25/ You can pretend that comforts are profits. To do this you deny new data and restate old justifications. This is called derping.

26/ You can also strip away rituals, deliberately making your life uglier by unburdening living habits. This is called empiricism.

27/ You can strip away enough ritual to keep your life ugly at work and beautiful at home. This is called being a loser.

28/ You can confuse the beautiful with the living and the ugly with dying and strip away the wrong things. This is called cluelessness.

29/ You can consciously develop your ability to contemplate both ugliness and beauty with equanimity. This is called mindfulness.

30/ You can strip away rituals up to the limit of your mindfulness, staying on the edge of manic-depression. This is being a sociopath.

31/ The most common response to failed individualism, however, is to get others to pay for your comforts. This is called culture.

32/ A culture that cannot pay for its own comforts overall is a called a tradition. One that has no comforts to pay for is called a frontier.

33/ Tradition is beautiful, frontiers are ugly. To mistake one for the other is the defining characteristic of the clueless middle class.

33/ A culture that is more tradition than frontier is a loser culture. Sincere partisan conservatism and liberalism are both for losers.

34/ A culture that is more frontier than tradition is sociopath culture. It offers few comforts and fewer sacred ones.

35/ A compassionate culture is one that drives each member to the limit of their mindfulness. It is inclusive by definition.

36/ A beautiful culture is one that highlights comforting tradition and hides profit and profanity. It is extractive by definition.

37/ A culture cannot be both compassionate and beautiful at once without ceasing to grow. To be a sociopath is to recognize this.

38/ A culture that ceases to grow is a culture that increasingly trades compassion for beauty, paying more for its priceless elements.

39/ A culture that chooses to grow is one that systematically devalues beauty and resists the allure and comfort of pricelessness.

40/ Civilization is the mortal tension between the imperative to keep growing and the imperative to remain beautiful.

41/ Those who choose beauty tell one kind of story, about a relatively shrinking set of beautiful things that define the human.

42/ Those who choose growth tell another kind of story, about an expanding zone of mindfulness that defines the superhuman."
culture  humans  ideology  venkateshrao  2014  habits  growth  frontiers  balance  tradition  ritual  sociopathy  conservatism  liberalism  individualism  mindfulness  cluelessness  comforts  empiricism  derping  depression  experimentation  beauty  marginalization  pricelessness  comfort  complexity  ritualization  makework  mummification  sacralization  sacredness  virtue  justification  life  living  behavior  manicdepression  civilization  rituals 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Parker Palmer and Courtney Martin — The Inner Life of Rebellion | On Being
"The history of rebellion is rife with excess and burnout. But new generations have a distinctive commitment to be reflective and activist at once, to be in service as much as in charge, and to learn from history while bringing very new realities into being. Journalist and entrepreneur Courtney Martin and Quaker wise man Parker Palmer come together for a cross-generational conversation about the inner work of sustainable, resilient social change."

[Also here: https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/parker-palmer-and-courtney-martin-the-inner-life-of-rebellion

and in clips

“Parker Palmer and Courtney Martin — Learning in Public”
https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/parker-palmer-and-courtney

“Courtney Martin — A New Relationship with Rebellion”
https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/courtney-martin-a-new

“Parker Palmer — Holding the Paradox of Chutzpah and Humility”
https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/parker-palmer-holding-the-paradox-of-chutzpah-and-humility ]
parkerpalmer  courtneymartin  comfort  persistence  rebellion  rebels  humility  burnout  discomfort  2015  depression  sustainability  resilience  mentalhealth  socialchange  savingtheworld  generations  agesegregation  intergenerational  interconnectedness  activism  reflection  service  idealism  privilege  success  efficiency  emotions  learning  howwelearn  piaget  listening  pause  ethics  busyness  resistance  soul  identity  maryoliver  attentiveness  attention  quakers  clinicaldepression  learninginpublic  living  love  flipflopping  mindchanging  malcolmx  victoriasafford  hope  jeanpiaget  onbeing  mindchanges  interconnected  interconnectivity 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Beautiful Bytes of Data | The Jose Vilson
"The word data slides easily off the tongue but has no personality and sounds as dry as a funeral drum. School administrators try to grace the word by telling parents that “data-driven school districts” will radically change public education, hoping that a staccato of words and a flare of alliteration will impress a captive audience. Some disingenuous school officials assert that “data-driven” is an essential tool for effectively managing a business, so why not a school system?

But it’s all a ruse. The sum of all the rhetoric about the importance of designing data-driven school districts is a shell game, a slight of hand practiced by illusionists to distract trusting parents who believe school administrators know what is best for their children. Anything “data-driven” must be beneficial for schools, parents are told, because data is information, and information is necessary to make sound decisions about curriculum, instruction and learning. And since even the best used car salesperson can no longer sell the faux elixir of Common Core now that this failed one-size-fits-all education policy has been exposed, school administrators need a new mantra to mystify parents.

Data has an ugly side, a face that frequently emerges when it is misinterpreted or convoluted to justify a faulty assumption or bad decision. The countless financial manipulations practiced by Wall Street brokers and bankers have repeatedly proven that data can be exploited and cause financial ruin for millions of people. Data may be defined as a set of values of quantitative and qualitative variables, and business savors at the trough of data, but schools should be people-driven rather than data-driven institutions.

The young man who stepped in front of the train was a beautiful byte of data, but he was more than the sum of the quantitative information collected by a data-driven school district. His social and emotional data fills less space on his school district’s list of quantifiable student data than math and science scores, and that is the shame of the present state of American public education.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24, and more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease … combined. Need quantitative data? Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,400 suicide attempts by young people grades 7-12, and four out of five teens who have attempted suicide give clear warning signs. Maybe its time to take off the blinders of a data-driven school district to see clearly that our students are suffering.

Data is not our generation’s penicillin. It is an ugly word used by school administrators, policy makers, and government officials to demean the greatest social institution ever designed by human hands – a public school. Data is being used to compare the United States with countries such as Finland because the Finns score higher on international math and science tests, but can someone – anyone – tell me what Finland produces with their wealth of science and math knowledge?

[crickets]
The United States may score lower on international math and science tests, but somehow we instill creativity in our students and produce amazing technologies.

I taught and helped mentor the young man who stepped in front of the train. I helped him get a scholarship to a vocational school after he earned a high school diploma. He wanted to be an electrician, but I also knew about the many demons that tormented his gentle soul. He endured a miserable childhood, never knew his father, drank too much, and could not leash his black dog of depression. I tried to place him on a road that could lead him to a better place, believing that terra firma would make him feel a clearer path to success and salvation, but he could not see nor feel the ground beneath his feet. I failed.

I believe the vast majority of classroom teachers are not opposed to collecting data that may enhance instructional strategies or improve learning, but do object to a school system trying to emulate a business model designed to increase production and profits rather than enhance social and emotional growth. The social and emotional learning needs of children are too often omitted when describing the purpose of a “data-driven school district” and this is a flawed education philosophy.

The young man was a beautiful byte of data. Now he is a cold dead statistic."
2014  data  depression  metrics  schools  publischools  comparison  standardization  standardizedtesting  politics  policy  pisa  finland  us  testing  commoncore  josévilson 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The Guest House - Poem by Jelalludin Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
"THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
    translation by Coleman Barks"

[via Paul Ford: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:07ceecf91bd5 ]
poems  poetry  rumi  humanism  depression  joy  emotions  awareness  hospitality  shame  malice  feelings 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Paul Ford, Ftrain - XOXO Festival (2014) - YouTube
"Paul Ford isn't easy to sum up, so we originally copped out and wrote the silly one-line bio we read before his talk. He's one of the most talented writers and programmers we know, frighteningly and frustratingly accomplished at both. He most recently created Tilde.club—a Unix server that is definitely not a social network—writes for The Message on Medium, and is working on a book about web pages for FSG while raising twins in Brooklyn, NY. He is a really great hugger."
paulford  internet  slow  time  notetaking  writing  depression  anxiety  2014  xoxo2014  xoxo  making  humility  harpers  quantifiedself  howwelearn  howwewrite 
october 2014 by robertogreco
What is the blue light from our screens really doing to our eyes? — Tech News and Analysis
"An eye doctor says he’s recently seen a few 35-year-old patients whose lenses, which are typically clear all the way up until around age 40, are so cloudy they resemble 75-year-olds’. A sleep doctor says kids as young as toddlers are suffering from chronic insomnia, which in turn affects their behavior and performance at school and daycare. A scientist finds that women who work night shifts are twice as likely to develop breast cancer than those who sleep at night.

What do all these anecdotes have in common? Nighttime exposure to the blue light emanating from our screens."



"The latest research, in fact, overwhelmingly suggests that delayed production of melatonin due to blue light exposure at night is causing far more problems than insomnia, from diabetes and certain types of cancer to lupus and migraine headaches. Optometrists are even seeing high levels of retinal stress in young people that could lead to the early onset of macular degeneration, which in extreme cases can cause near blindness."



"For those who like to read the scientific literature directly, here’s a quick tour of some of the latest findings, and a search on blue light and melatonin via the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubMed search tool can yield larger results:

• Room light not only suppresses melatonin production, but it could also impact sleep, thermoregulation, blood pressure and glucose homeostasis
• Blue light is considered a “carcinogenic pollution” that in mice correlates with higher cancer rates
• A lack of melatonin is linked to higher rates of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers, while blocking those blue rays with amber glasses is linked to lower cancer rates
• Exposure to blue light in people appears to have an impact on mood
• Lower melatonin in mice is linked with higher rates of depression
• Too much light exposure can cause retinal toxicity
• Blue light exposure may be playing a role in the higher incidence of cataracts and macular degeneration seen today"
biology  health  light  eyes  eyesight  insomnia  sleep  2014  screens  bluelight  mood  depression  cataracts  melatonin  cancer 
september 2014 by robertogreco
‘What Color Is Your Parachute?’ Is Still Going Strong - NYTimes.com
"When I went through the 42-year-old copy, I was struck by how pertinent most of its advice still was. Yes, it contains references to “personnel departments” (even the newer name for those, “human resources,” is starting to sound dated) and the wording may occasionally sound sexist to modern ears (“You must identify the man who has the power to hire you and show him how your skills can help him with his problems.”)

But three main points in the book still hold, as Mr. Bolles explained in a personal note he sent along with the book:

■ The traditional job-hunting system is a numbers game that is “heavily loaded toward failing the job hunter.”

■ A “creative minority” has come up with nontraditional, highly successful methods of job hunting that involve choosing the places you want to work and approaching the people there who can hire you.

■ Before choosing those places, job hunters must look inward, figuring out what they would most love to do — and where, geographically, they want to do it.

Those three concepts are as relevant in 2014 as they were in 1972, as are the shock of rejection, the loss of self-esteem, and the depression that can result from a prolonged round of job hunting, which Mr. Bolles also covers. Those parts of the book have stayed the same because human nature doesn’t change, he said."
employment  unemployment  rejection  self-esteem  depression  2014  rochardbolles  purpose  capitalism  humans  humanresources  hiring  hiringprocess  jobsearches  jobhunting  power  inequality 
september 2014 by robertogreco
We had a lot of trouble with western mental health... - Noteworthy and Not
"We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave.

They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. There was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again.

Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave."

~A Rwandan talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon, about his experience with western mental health and depression.

From The Moth podcast, ‘Notes on an Exorcism’
mentalhealth  trauma  depression  medicine  rwanda  exorcism  andrewsolomon 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Depression Quest: An Interactive (non)Fiction About Living with Depression
"Depression Quest is an interactive fiction game where you play as someone living with depression. You are given a series of everyday life events and have to attempt to manage your illness, relationships, job, and possible treatment. This game aims to show other sufferers of depression that they are not alone in their feelings, and to illustrate to people who may not understand the illness the depths of what it can do to people.



Depression Quest is a game that deals with living with depression in a very literal way. This game is not meant to be a fun or lighthearted experience. If you are currently suffering from the illness and are easily triggered, please be aware that this game uses stark depictions of people in very dark places. If you are suicidal, please stop playing this game and visit this link to talk to someone.

The goal of this game is twofold: firstly, we want to illustrate as clearly as possible what depression is like, so that it may be better understood by people without depression. Hopefully this can be something to spread awareness and fight against the social stigma and misunderstandings that depression sufferers face. Secondly, our hope is that in presenting as real a simulation of depression as possible, other sufferers will come to know that they aren't alone, and hopefully derive some measure of comfort from that.

It goes without saying that because of the very nature of depression, it is experienced differently by every person who suffers from it. We aren't trying to say that this is the "best" or "most accurate" representation, merely that this is an amalgamation of the experiences of the developers and several people close to them. Many of the following encounters deal with issues such as therapy, medication, handling a love life, and reaching out to support networks. In reality, less than half of depression sufferers actually seek treatment, for reasons such as lack of money, perceived personal failing, or public stigma. These things were included in order to touch upon as broad a range as possible, since all these elements can be very important to sufferers of depression, though they will likely not be the experiences of most sufferers.

It's important to recognize that not everyone with depression is so lucky. Many people with the illness don't have a lot of the luxuries that we have in this game. We've written it this way so that we can focus specifically on the illness, which becomes more and more difficult to deal with as the person who has it is less and less well-off."
depression  games  gaming  via:chrisberthelsen  interactivefiction  seriousgames  if 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Episode Eighty Six: Solid 2 of 2; Requests - GOV.UK 2018; Next
"Today, reading LinkedIn recommendations as they came in felt like reading eulogies. Apart from me not quite being dead. Not yet, at least. Or, I was dead and I hadn't realised it yet. It doesn't matter, anyway: all the recommendations from people I've enjoyed working with over the past three years just feel, unfortunately, like double-edged knives - ultimately good but only really readable with a twist.

Right now is a bad time, one of those terrible times when it doesn't even really matter that one of my good friends has pulled me aside, insisted that I have something to eat and sat patiently with me in a pizza joint while I stare off into space and mumble. It doesn't matter that he's great and doing these things for me and telling me that this too will pass: I am hearing all of the words that he's saying, the sounds he's making as that make all the little bits of air vibrate and hit my ear and undergo some sort of magic transformation as they get understood in my brain. But they don't connect. Understanding is different from feeling. And right now, I'm feeling useless and broken and disconnected and above all, sad. But I can't feel those things. I have meetings to go to. Hustle to hust. Against what felt at times like the relentless optimism of an O'Reilly conference I had to finally hide away for a while, behind a Diet Coke and a slice of cheesecake, because dealing with that much social interaction was just far too draining.

And so I'm hiding again tonight, instead of out with friends, because it's just too hard to smile and pretend that everything's OK when it's demonstrably not."



"Over the past couple of days at Solid it's become almost painfully apparent that the Valley, in broad terms, is suffering from a chronic lack of empathy in terms of how it both sees and deals with the rest of the world, not just in communicating what it's doing and what it's excited about, but also in its acts. Sometimes these are genuine gaffes - mistakes that do not betray a deeper level of consideration, thinking or strategy. Other times, they *are* genuine, and they betray at the very least a naivety as to consequence or second-order impact (and I'm prepared to accept that without at least a certain level of naivety or lack of consideration for impact we'd find it pretty hard as a species to ever take advantage of any technological advance), but let me instead perhaps point to a potential parallel. 

There are a bunch of people worried about what might happen if, or when, we finally get around to a sort of singularity event and we have to deal with a genuine superhuman artificial intelligence that can think (and act) rings around us, never mind improving its ability at a rate greater than O(n). 

One of the reasons to be afraid of such a strong AI was explained by Elizer Yudkowsky:

"The AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else."

And here's how the rest of the world, I think, can unfairly perceive Silicon Valley: Silicon Valley doesn't care about humans, really. Silicon Valley loves solving problems. It doesn't hate you and it doesn't love you, but you do things that it can use for something else. Right now, those things include things-that-humans-are-good-at, like content generation and pointing at things. Right now, those things include things like getting together and making things. But solving problems is more fun than looking after people, and sometimes solving problems can be rationalised away as looking after people because hey, now that $20bn worth of manufacturing involved in making planes has gone away, people can go do stuff that they want to do, instead of having to make planes!

Would that it were that easy.

So anyway. I'm thinking about the Internet of Things and how no one's done a good job of branding it or explaining it or communicating it to Everyone Else. Because that needs doing.

--

As ever, thanks for the notes. Keep them coming in. If you haven't said hi already, please do and let me know where you heard about my newsletter. And if you like the newsletter, please consider telling some friends about it."
danhon  2014  siliconvalley  ai  empathy  problemsolving  society  californianideology  unemplyment  capitalism  depression  elizeryudkowsky  humans  singularity 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Happiness and Its Discontents - NYTimes.com
"Over the past 30 years or so, as the field of happiness studies has emerged from social psychology, economics and other disciplines, many researchers have had the same thought. Indeed this “life satisfaction” view of happiness lies behind most of the happiness studies you’ve read about. Happiness embodies your judgment about your life, and what matters for your happiness is something for you to decide.

This is an appealing view. But I have come to believe that it is probably wrong. Or at least, it can’t do justice to our everyday concerns about happiness.

One of the most remarkable findings in this area of psychology, for instance, is just how many poor people say they are satisfied with their lives — very often a majority of them, even in harsh environments like the slums of Calcutta. In a recent study of poor Egyptians, researchers asked them to explain why they were satisfied, and their responses often took something like this form: “One day is good and the other one is bad; whoever accepts the least lives.” This sounds like resignation, not happiness. Yet these Egyptians were, in terms of life satisfaction, happy.

The problem is that life satisfaction doesn’t really mean what we tend to think it means. For you can reasonably be satisfied with your life even if you think your life is going badly for you, and even if you feel bad. To be satisfied is just to regard your life as going well enough — it is satisfactory. You might think even a hard slog through a joyless existence is good enough. It sure beats being dead, and maybe you feel you have no right to complain about what God, or fate, has given you."



"I would suggest that when we talk about happiness, we are actually referring, much of the time, to a complex emotional phenomenon. Call it emotional well-being. Happiness as emotional well-being concerns your emotions and moods, more broadly your emotional condition as a whole. To be happy is to inhabit a favorable emotional state.

On this view, we can think of happiness, loosely, as the opposite of anxiety and depression. Being in good spirits, quick to laugh and slow to anger, at peace and untroubled, confident and comfortable in your own skin, engaged, energetic and full of life. To measure happiness, we might use extended versions of existing questionnaires for anxiety and depression from the mental-health literature. Already, such diagnostics often ask questions about positive states like laughter and cheerfulness, or your ability to enjoy things.

The emotional state theory of happiness has significant advantages over the hedonistic view. Consider, for starters, that we don’t normally think of pain as an emotion or mood. It seems more natural, for example, to think of back pain as something that causes unhappiness, not as unhappiness itself. A more important point is that we are fundamentally emotional beings. Who we are is in great part defined by our emotional natures, by what ways of living make us happy. Yes, we have animal needs for food, shelter, clothing and the like. But we also have needs as persons, and happiness concerns the fulfillment of those needs.

What sorts of needs are we talking about? Among the most important sources of happiness are: a sense of security; a good outlook; autonomy or control over our lives; good relationships; and skilled and meaningful activity. If you are unhappy, there’s a good chance that it’s for want of something on this list.

Unhappiness is not just a brute physical or animal response to your life. It is you, as a person, responding to your life as being somehow deficient. Unhappiness, like happiness, says something about your personality. Whereas back pain does not: It is just a sensation, something that happens to you. Accordingly, Buddhists and Stoics do not counsel us not to feel pain; their training aims, instead, at not letting pain and other irritants get to us.

Our language also marks the difference: You merely feel a pain, but you are depressed, anxious, melancholy or whatever. Similarly, you might have a depressive or anxious or cheerful personality. But we never talk of someone having a “painful” or “pleasureful” personality."
life  happiness  satisfaction  socialpsychology  psychology  poverty  danielhaybron  unhappiness  well-being  anxiety  depression  emotions  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
The Agony of Perfectionism - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic
"The fortress of classic economics was built on the slushy marsh of rational consumer theory. The once-popular belief that we all possess every relevant piece of information to make choices about buying fridges, TVs, or whatever, has since given way to a less commendable, but more accurate, description of buyers, which is that we basically have no freaking clue what we're doing most of the time. Prices, marketing, discounts, even the layout of store and shelves: They're all hazards strewn about the obstacle course of decision-making, tripping us up, blocking our path, and nudging us toward choices that are anything but rational.

Today, rather than consider consumers to be a monolith of reason, some economists and psychologists prefer to think of us as falling into two mood groups: maximizers and satisficers. Maximizers are perfectionists. They want the best of everything, and they want to know they have the best of everything. Satisficers are realists. They want what's good enough, and they're happy to have it.

The trouble with perfectionists is that, by wanting the best, they aspire to be perfectly rational consumers in a world where we all agree that's impossible. It's a recipe for dissatisfaction, way too much work, and even depression.

In "Maximizing Versus Satisficing: Happiness Is a Matter of Choice," published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that maximizers are more likely to be have regret and depression and less likely to report being happy, optimistic, or have high self-esteem.

To be a maximizer requires an "impossible" and "exhaustive search of the possibilities," that invariably ends with regret when the person realizes, after the purchase, that there might have been a better choice. This regret actually "[reduces] the satisfaction derived from one’s choice." The paradox of caring too much about having the perfect version of everything is that you wind up feel dissatisfied with all of it.

A new paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research further illuminates the onerous woe of perfectionism. Maximizers apply for more jobs, attend more job interviews, spend more time worrying about their social status, and wind up less happy, less optimistic, "and more depressed and regretful" than everybody else.

In a battery of tests designed to prime subjects to act like maximizers and satisficers, the researchers validated just about every stereotype about perfectionists: They work harder, search more deeply, and perform better in their jobs, but the emotional byproducts of their accomplishments are regret and dissatisfaction. (You might say that hard-earned success in life is wasted on the people least likely to appreciate it.)

Both papers concluded that the Internet is a briar patch of misery for maximizers. Not only does it allow them to more easily compare their lot to the sepia-toned success stories of their peers on Facebook and Instagram, but also it makes comparison shopping hell. From the first paper's discussion section:
The proliferation of options [online] raises people’s standards for determining what counts as a success, [from] breakfast cereals to automobiles to colleges to careers. Second, failure to meet those standards in a domain containing multiple options encourages one to treat failures as the result of personal shortcomings rather than situational limitations, thus encouraging a causal attribution for failure that we might call “depressogenic.” [ed: had to look that one up.]

In short: The Internet doesn't have to make you miserable. But if you insist on comparing your choices and your life to every available alternative accessible through a Google search, it will.

For consumers, this means embracing the limitations of classical economics. We don't know everything. We don't have everything. And that's okay. Pretending otherwise is, in fact, anything but rational."

[See also: http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bschwar1/maximizing.pdf ]
choice  choices  paradoxofchoice  perfectionists  satisficers  economics  rationality  reason  2014  unhappiness  happiness  depression  jobhunting  perfectionism  optimism  regret  worry  anxiety  possibilities  satisfaction  caring  self-esteem  realism  derekthompson  advertising  internet  infooverload  information  comparison 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Body Atlas Reveals Where We Feel Happiness and Shame - D-brief | DiscoverMagazine.com
"Chests puffing up with pride — and happiness felt head to toe — are sensations as real as they are universal. And now we can make an atlas of them.

Researchers have long known that emotions are connected to a range of physiological changes, from nervous job candidates’ sweaty palms to the racing pulse that results from hearing a strange noise at night. But new research reveals that emotional states are universally associated with certain bodily sensations, regardless of individuals’ culture or language.

Once More With Feeling

More than 700 participants in Finland, Sweden and Taiwan participated in experiments aimed at mapping their bodily sensations in connection with specific emotions. Participants viewed emotion-laden words, videos, facial expressions and stories. They then self-reported areas of their bodies that felt different than before they’d viewed the material. By coloring in two computer-generated silhouettes — one to note areas of increased bodily sensation and the second to mark areas of decreased sensation — participants were able to provide researchers with a broad base of data showing both positive and negative bodily responses to different emotions.

Researchers found statistically discrete areas for each emotion tested, such as happiness, contempt and love, that were consistent regardless of respondents’ nationality. Afterward, researchers applied controls to reduce the risk that participants may have been biased by sensation-specific phrases common to many languages (such as the English “cold feet” as a metaphor for fear, reluctance or hesitation). The results are published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Hot-Headed

Although each emotion produced a specific map of bodily sensation, researchers did identify some areas of overlap. Basic emotions, such as anger and fear, caused an increase in sensation in the upper chest area, likely corresponding to increases in pulse and respiration rate. Happiness was the only emotion tested that increased sensation all over the body.

The findings enhance researchers’ understanding of how we process emotions. Despite differences in culture and language, it appears our physical experience of feelings is remarkably consistent across different populations. The researchers believe that further development of these bodily sensation maps may one day result in a new way of identifying and treating emotional disorders."
2013  psychology  science  physiology  emotions  shame  happiness  love  humans  anger  disgust  depression  contempt  pride  envy  anxiety  surprise  sadness  fear 
january 2014 by robertogreco
▶ Ideas at the House: Tavi Gevinson - Tavi's Big Big World (At 17) - YouTube
"She's been called the voice of her generation. The future of journalism. A style icon. A muse. Oh, and she's still in high school.

Tavi Gevinson has gone from bedroom blogger to founder and editor-in-chief of website and print series, Rookie, in just a few years. Rookie attracted over one million views within a week of launching, and has featured contributors such as Lena Dunham, Thom Yorke, Joss Whedon, Malcolm Gladwell, and Sarah Silverman.

Watch this inspiring talk as Tavi discusses adversity, the creative process, her outlook on life, what inspires her, and the value of being a 'fangirl.'"
tavigevinson  2013  teens  adolescence  rookie  writing  creativity  life  living  depression  frannyandzooey  books  reading  howwework  patternrecognition  procrastination  howwelive  teenagers  gender  feminism  authenticity  writer'sblock  making  fangirls  fanboys  wonder  relationships  art  originality  internet  web  fangirling  identity  happiness  fanart  theideaofthethingisbetterthanthethingitself  culture  fanfiction  davidattenborough  passion  success  fame  love  fans  disaffection  museumofjurassictechnology  collections  words  shimmer  confusion  davidwilson  davidhildebrandwilson  fanaticism  connection  noticing  angst  adolescents  feelings  emotions  chriskraus  jdsalinger  literature  meaning  meaningmaking  sensemaking  jean-paulsartre  sincerity  earnestness  howtolove  thevirginsuicides  purity  loving  innocence  naïvité  journaling  journals  notetaking  sketching  notebooks  sketchbooks  virginiawoolf  openness  beauty  observation  observing  interestedness  daydreaming  self  uniqueness  belatedness  inspiration  imagination  obsessions  fandom  lawrenceweschler  so 
december 2013 by robertogreco
The College-Loan Scandal: Matt Taibbi on the Ripping Off of Young America | Politics News | Rolling Stone
"How is this happening? It's complicated. But throw off the mystery and what you'll uncover is a shameful and oppressive outrage that for years now has been systematically perpetrated against a generation of young adults. For this story, I interviewed people who developed crippling mental and physical conditions, who considered suicide, who had to give up hope of having children, who were forced to leave the country, or who even entered a life of crime because of their student debts.

They all take responsibility for their own mistakes. They know they didn't arrive at gorgeous campuses for four golden years of boozing, balling and bong hits by way of anybody's cattle car. But they're angry, too, and they should be. Because the underlying cause of all that later-life distress and heartache – the reason they carry such crushing, life-alteringly huge college debt – is that our university-tuition system really is exploitative and unfair, designed primarily to benefit two major actors.

First in line are the colleges and universities, and the contractors who build their extravagant athletic complexes, hotel-like dormitories and God knows what other campus embellishments. For these little regional economic empires, the federal student-loan system is essentially a massive and ongoing government subsidy, once funded mostly by emotionally vulnerable parents, but now increasingly paid for in the form of federally backed loans to a political constituency – low- and middle-income students – that has virtually no lobby in Washington.

Next up is the government itself. While it's not commonly discussed on the Hill, the government actually stands to make an enormous profit on the president's new federal student-loan system, an estimated $184 billion over 10 years, a boondoggle paid for by hyperinflated tuition costs and fueled by a government-sponsored predatory-lending program that makes even the most ruthless private credit-card company seem like a "Save the Panda" charity. Why is this happening? The answer lies in a sociopathic marriage of private-sector greed and government force that will make you shake your head in wonder at the way modern America sucks blood out of its young."



"We're doing the worst thing people can do: lying to our young. Nobody, not even this president, who was swept to victory in large part by the raw enthusiasm of college kids, has the stones to tell the truth: that a lot of them will end up being pawns in a predatory con game designed to extract the equivalent of home-mortgage commitment from 17-year-olds dreaming of impossible careers as nautical archaeologists or orchestra conductors. One former law student I contacted for this story had a nervous breakdown while struggling to pay off six-figure debt. It wasn't until he tapped into one of the few growth industries open to young Americans that his outlook brightened. "I got my life back on track by working for a marijuana delivery service in Manhattan," he says. "I've had to compromise who I am . . . because I started down a path that I couldn't turn away from. Student loans aren't hope. They're despair.""
matttiabbi  education  studentloans  studentdebt  debtslavery  depression  economics  finance  highereducation  highered  colleges  universities  2013 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Annals of Innovation: Dymaxion Man : The New Yorker
"Fuller’s schemes often had the hallucinatory quality associated with science fiction (or mental hospitals). It concerned him not in the least that things had always been done a certain way in the past. In addition to flying cars, he imagined mass-produced bathrooms that could be installed like refrigerators; underwater settlements that would be restocked by submarine; and floating communities that, along with all their inhabitants, would hover among the clouds. Most famously, he dreamed up the geodesic dome. “If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top . . . that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver,” Fuller once wrote. “But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s fortuitous contrivings.” Fuller may have spent his life inventing things, but he claimed that he was not particularly interested in inventions. He called himself a “comprehensive, anticipatory design scientist”—a “comprehensivist,” for short—and believed that his task was to innovate in such a way as to benefit the greatest number of people using the least amount of resources. “My objective was humanity’s comprehensive success in the universe” is how he once put it. “I could have ended up with a pair of flying slippers.”"



"During the First World War, Fuller married Anne Hewlett, the daughter of a prominent architect, and when the war was over he started a business with his father-in-law, manufacturing bricks out of wood shavings. Despite the general prosperity of the period, the company struggled and, in 1927, nearly bankrupt, it was bought out. At just about the same time, Anne gave birth to a daughter. With no job and a new baby to support, Fuller became depressed. One day, he was walking by Lake Michigan, thinking about, in his words, “Buckminster Fuller—life or death,” when he found himself suspended several feet above the ground, surrounded by sparkling light. Time seemed to stand still, and a voice spoke to him. “You do not have the right to eliminate yourself,” it said. “You do not belong to you. You belong to Universe.” (In Fuller’s idiosyncratic English, “universe”—capitalized—is never preceded by the definite article.) It was at this point, according to Fuller, that he decided to embark on his “lifelong experiment.” The experiment’s aim was nothing less than determining “what, if anything,” an individual could do “on behalf of all humanity.” For this study, Fuller would serve both as the researcher and as the object of inquiry. (He referred to himself as Guinea Pig B, the “B” apparently being for Bucky.) Fuller moved his wife and daughter into a tiny studio in a Chicago slum and, instead of finding a job, took to spending his days in the library, reading Gandhi and Leonardo. He began to record his own ideas, which soon filled two thousand pages. In 1928, he edited the manuscript down to fifty pages, and had it published in a booklet called “4D Time Lock,” which he sent out to, among others, Vincent Astor, Bertrand Russell, and Henry Ford.

Like most of Fuller’s writings, “4D Time Lock” is nearly impossible to read; its sentences, Slinky-like, stretch on and on and on. (One of his biographers observed of “4D Time Lock” that “worse prose is barely conceivable.”) At its heart is a critique of the construction industry. Imagine, Fuller says, what would happen if a person, seeking to purchase an automobile, had to hire a designer, then send the plans out for bid, then show them to the bank, and then have them approved by the town council, all before work on the vehicle could begin. “Few would have the temerity to go through with it,” he notes, and those who did would have to pay something like fifty thousand dollars—half a million in today’s money—per car. Such a system, so obviously absurd for autos, persisted for houses, Fuller argued, because of retrograde thinking. (His own failure at peddling wood-composite bricks he cited as evidence of the construction industry’s recalcitrance.) What was needed was a “New Era Home,” which would be “erectable in one day, complete in every detail,” and, on top of that, “drudgery-proof,” with “every living appliance known to mankind, built-in.”"



"Like all Fuller men, he was sent off to Harvard. Halfway through his freshman year, he withdrew his tuition money from the bank to entertain some chorus girls in Manhattan. He was expelled. The following fall, he was reinstated, only to be thrown out again. Fuller never did graduate from Harvard, or any other school. He took a job with a meatpacking firm, then joined the Navy, where he invented a winchlike device for rescuing pilots of the service’s primitive airplanes. (The pilots often ended up head down, under water.)"



"Fuller was fond of neologisms. He coined the word “livingry,” as the opposite of “weaponry”—which he called “killingry”—and popularized the term “spaceship earth.” (He claimed to have invented “debunk,” but probably did not.) Another one of his coinages was “ephemeralization,” which meant, roughly speaking, “dematerialization.” Fuller was a strong believer in the notion that “less is more,” and not just in the aestheticized, Miesian sense of the phrase. He imagined that buildings would eventually be “ephemeralized” to such an extent that construction materials would be dispensed with altogether, and builders would instead rely on “electrical field and other utterly invisible environment controls.

Fuller’s favorite neologism, “dymaxion,” was concocted purely for public relations. When Marshall Field’s displayed his model house, it wanted a catchy label, so it hired a consultant, who fashioned “dymaxion” out of bits of “dynamic,” “maximum,” and “ion.” Fuller was so taken with the word, which had no known meaning, that he adopted it as a sort of brand name. The Dymaxion House led to the Dymaxion Vehicle, which led, in turn, to the Dymaxion Bathroom and the Dymaxion Deployment Unit, essentially a grain bin with windows. As a child, Fuller had assembled scrapbooks of letters and newspaper articles on subjects that interested him; when, later, he decided to keep a more systematic record of his life, including everything from his correspondence to his dry-cleaning bills, it became the Dymaxion Chronofile.

All the Dymaxion projects generated a great deal of hype, and that was clearly Fuller’s desire. All of them also flopped."



"In “Bucky,” a biography-cum-meditation, published in 1973, the critic Hugh Kenner observed, “One of the ways I could arrange this book would make Fuller’s talk seem systematic. I could also make it look like a string of platitudes, or like a set of notions never entertained before, or like a delirium.” On the one hand, Fuller insisted that all the world’s problems—from hunger and illiteracy to war—could be solved by technology. “You may . . . want to ask me how we are going to resolve the ever-accelerating dangerous impasse of world-opposed politicians and ideological dogmas,” he observed at one point. “I answer, it will be resolved by the computer.” On the other hand, he rejected fundamental tenets of modern science, most notably evolution. “We arrived from elsewhere in Universe as complete human beings,” he maintained. He further insisted that humans had spread not from Africa but from Polynesia, and that dolphins were descended from these early, seafaring earthlings."

[Slideshow: http://www.newyorker.com/online/2008/06/09/slideshow_080609_fuller# ]
buckminsterfuller  architecture  creativity  design  2008  history  biography  dropouts  bmc  blackmountaincollege  depression  spaceshipearth  writing  systems  systemsthinking  invention  technosolutionsism  comprehensivists  generalists  specialists  specialization  creativegeneralists 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Existential Depression in Gifted Children | The Unbounded Spirit
"It is such existential issues that lead many of our gifted individuals to bury themselves so intensively in “causes” (whether these causes are academics, political or social causes, or cults). Unfortunately, these existential issues can also prompt periods of depression, often mixed with desperate, thrashing attempts to “belong.” Helping these individuals to recognize the basic existential issues may help, but only if done in a kind and accepting way. In addition, these youngsters will need to understand that existential issues are not ones that can be dealt with only once, but rather ones that will need frequent revisiting and reconsideration."
depression  existentialism  structure  life  psychology  children  meaning  meaninglessness  gifted  potential  purpose  isolation  failure  aloneness  via:litherland 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Diagnosis - Human - NYTimes.com
"I fear that being human is itself fast becoming a condition. It’s as if we are trying to contain grief, and the absolute pain of a loss like mine. We have become increasingly disassociated and estranged from the patterns of life and death, uncomfortable with the messiness of our own humanity, aging and, ultimately, mortality.

Challenge and hardship have become pathologized and monetized. Instead of enhancing our coping skills, we undermine them and seek shortcuts where there are none, eroding the resilience upon which each of us, at some point in our lives, must rely."
psychology  grief  depression  add  adhd  diagnosis  2013  tedgup  psychiatry  medicine  mortality  aging  humans  beinghuman  resilience  pharmaceuticals  pain  shortcuts  life  living  society  us  coping 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Junior Seau: Song of sorrow | UTSanDiego.com
"Within two years of retiring, three out of four NFL players will be one or more of the following: alcohol or drug addicted; divorced; or financially distressed/bankrupt. Junior Seau was all three."
bankruptcy  drugs  alcohol  depression  suicide  2012  nfl  juniorseau  football  sports 
october 2012 by robertogreco
Leaving the Guardian, creativity vs mild depression, the quantified self and running. |
And then, suddenly it stopped. Opening up the laptop in the evening to throw together two lines of code became too much. The words for a blog post would go racing through my head all day, but the effort needed to sit down that night to write them out was mentally exhausting. This wasn’t just an irritation, it was down right infuriating, I could see myself missing out on interesting things.
That you can sit there and go “I really want to do this” but you just can’t actually get up and make it happen is thuddingly amazing.
Interestingly my posting of Instagram photos increased over this period. I’ve tried to figure out why and this is the closest I could get. Kellan wrote a blog post [http://laughingmeme.org/2012/07/10/oldtweets/ ] about the 1st year of tweets, in which he said it worked best in the first year because of “ambient intimacy”. There were so few of us (relatively) using it that when you tweeted you knew you were mainly broadcasting to just your friends, even though the tweets were public.
thinking  revdancatt  depression  creativity  work  life  quantifiedself  socialnetworks  socialnetworking  flickr  twitter  instagram  blogs  blogging  cv  startups  organizations  guardian  motivation  sharing  identity  self  publicself  onlineself  via:litherland 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The Reinvention of the Self § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
"Marmosets are the ideal experimental animal: a primate brain trapped inside the body of a rat."

"The structure of our brain, from the details of our dendrites to the density of our hippocampus, is incredibly influenced by our surroundings. Put a primate under stressful conditions, and its brain begins to starve. It stops creating new cells. The cells it already has retreat inwards. The mind is disfigured.

The social implications of this research are staggering. If boring environments, stressful noises, and the primate’s particular slot in the dominance hierarchy all shape the architecture of the brain—and Gould’s team has shown that they do—then the playing field isn’t level. Poverty and stress aren’t just an idea: they are an anatomy. Some brains never even have a chance."

"The genius of the scientific method, however, is that it accepts no permanent solution. Skepticism is its solvent, for every theory is imperfect. Scientific facts are meaningful precisely because they are ephemeral, because a new observation, a more honest observation, can always alter them. This is what happened to Rakic’s theory of the fixed brain. It was, to use Karl Popper’s verb, falsified."

"Neurogenesis is an optimistic idea. Though Gould’s lab has thoroughly demonstrated the long-term consequences of deprivation and stress, the brain, like skin, can heal itself, as Gould is now beginning to document, finding hopeful antidotes to neurogenesis-inhibiting injuries. “My hunch is that a lot of these abnormalities [caused by stress] can be fixed in adulthood,” she says. “I think that there’s a lot of evidence for the resiliency of the brain.”"

"The mind is like a muscle: it swells with exercise. Gould’s and Kozorovitskiy’s work reminds us not only how easy it is to hurt a brain, but how little it takes for that brain to heal. Give a primate just a few extra playthings, and its neurons are capable of escaping the downward cycle of stress."

"Neurogenesis is a field that doubts itself. Because it has been scorned from the start, its proponents talk most emphatically about what they don’t know, about all the essential questions that remain unanswered. Their modesty is accurate: The purpose of all of our new cells remains obscure. No one knows how experiments done in rodents will relate to humans, or whether neurogenesis is just a small part of our mind’s essential plasticity."
uncertainty  trophins  childhoodstress  children  childhood  lizgould  biology  geniakozorovitskiy  resilience  resiliency  neuronova  jonasfrisén  fernandonottebohm  robertsapolsky  serotonin  prozac  antidepressants  depression  pharmacology  psychiatry  psychology  ronaldduman  michaelkaplan  josephaltman  paskorakic  brucemcewen  christianmirescu  neurogenesis  howwelearn  science  permanence  adaptability  change  ephemeral  observation  scientificmethod  research  stress  poverty  surroundings  environment  primates  marmosets  brain  neuroscience  elizabethgould  via:litherland  2006  ephemerality  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed as Mentally Ill | Mad In America
"Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.



Americans have been increasingly socialized to equate inattention, anger, anxiety, and immobilizing despair with a medical condition, and to seek medical treatment rather than political remedies. What better way to maintain the status quo than to view inattention, anger, anxiety, and depression as biochemical problems of those who are mentally ill rather than normal reactions to an increasingly authoritarian society."

…authoritarians financially marginalize those who buck the system, they criminalize anti-authoritarianism, they psychopathologize anti-authoritarians, and they market drugs for their “cure.”"
despair  inattention  xanax  drugs  adderall  overdiagnosis  diagnosis  policy  illegitimacy  saulalinsky  defiance  hyperactivity  children  youth  teens  russellbarkley  impulse-control  impulsivity  disruption  behavior  oppositiondefiantdisorder  odd  trust  skepticism  opression  marginalization  deschooling  unschooling  education  schooliness  schools  cv  brucelevine  medication  depression  add  adhd  criticalthinking  society  control  anxiety  anger  compliance  attention  pathology  2012  anti-authoritarians  authoritarianism  authority  psychiatry  politics  health  psychology  anti-authoritarian  problemswithauthority  issueswithauthority  from delicious
march 2012 by robertogreco
Synesthesia's blended senses - latimes.com
"The study of synesthesia has helped shift the way scientists think about the brain. In the past, they have focused on matching different areas with specific functions; now, the entire organ is viewed as a tapestry of interwoven connections.

"The whole system is a giant network," Eagleman says. "It's no longer sufficient to think about single areas in isolation."

Like synesthesia, many neurological disorders — such as schizophrenia, autism,Alzheimer's disease, depression and epilepsy — have been linked to abnormal communication between brain regions. The hope is that as neuroscientists learn about how the connections in the synesthetic brain differ from those in normal brains, they will also gain insight into how these differences develop — and how they sometimes manifest as harmful disorders."
davideagleman  sensoryprocessingdysfunction  depression  epilepsy  alzheimers  schizophrenia  autism  music  sudio  sounds  smells  colors  numbers  ucsd  networks  senses  brain  neuroscience  2012  synesthesia  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Mark Williams on Mindfulness on Vimeo
"Is mindfulness the answer to all our prayers? The benefits are compelling: it’s free, you can do it anytime, anywhere, and it’s been scientifically proven to work. It is recognised by those in and out of the health profession as a useful tool for generally improving our mental wellbeing, as well as dealing with more serious issues such as depression or anxiety disorders.

Professor Mark Williams, a leading authority on mindfulness, takes to our pulpit to explore the science behind it and look at its practical application in everyday life. He takes us through the myths, realities, and benefits of meditation, and looks at how such practices can help us to live lives of greater presence, productive and peace."
attention  noticing  imagination  ptsd  peace  presence  meditation  anxiety  well-being  teens  mentalhealth  mindfulness  2011  markwilliams  sadness  depression  life  health  parenting  philosophy  psychology  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Could A Club Drug Offer 'Almost Immediate' Relief From Depression? : Shots - Health Blog : NPR
"Ketamine has been used for decades as an anesthetic. It also has become a wildly popular but illegal club drug known as "Special K."

Mental health researchers got interested in ketamine because of reports that it could make depression vanish almost instantly.

In contrast, drugs like Prozac take weeks or even months…

I talk to Carlos Zarate, who does ketamine research at the NIH and has never met Merrill. Zarate says patients typically say, " 'I feel that something's lifted or feel that I've never been depressed in my life. I feel I can work. I feel I can contribute to society.' And it was a different experience from feeling high. This was feeling that something has been removed."

I compare this to what Merrill said about her experience: "No more fogginess. No more heaviness. I feel like I'm a clean slate right now. I want to go home and see friends or, you know, go to the grocery store and cook the family dinner.""
health  medicine  research  mentalhealth  drugs  carloszarate  2012  katamine  depression  psychology  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
Op-Ed: Scars of the jobless - WWW.THEDAILY.COM
"Research has confirmed what anyone who grew up with a Great Depression survivor long suspected: Prolonged periods of joblessness & economic insecurity can permanently change your outlook…mostly not for the better.

My grandfather—who came of age on a farm just as prices were crashing, banks were failing & loans coming due—used to hide large sums of money around the house. My grandmother once found $10k stuffed into a teapot she was about to donate to a rummage sale…

I will certainly never again wonder why the old ladies I grew up with hoarded rubber bands and tin foil in giant balls. If you’ve been through it, you probably don’t either: Losing a job and not being able to find another one makes you afraid in a way that never really leaves you.

Those who have endured a lengthy bout of unemployment are more anxious & prone to depression than those who have not, & less likely to participate in community activities, even decades later. "
depression  greatdepression  economics  unemployment  jobs  underemployment  despair  anxiety  2011  meganmccardle  psychology  meganmcardle 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Why More Americans Suffer From Mental Disorders Than Anyone Else - Alice G. Walton - Life - The Atlantic
"That mental health disorders are pervasive in the United States is no secret. Americans suffer from all sorts of psychological issues, and the evidence indicates that they're not going anywhere despite (or because of?) an increasing number of treatment options…

The WHO has come up with vast catalogues of mental health data, which they are constantly updating. See how the U.S. compares to other countries:"
mentaldisorders  mentalhealth  psychology  us  comparison  2011  trends  international  depression  eatingdisorders  substanceabuse  drugs  pharmaceuticals  society  wealth  inequality  disparity  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
AIGA | Video: Jonathan Harris [Cold + Bold]
"Combining elements of computer science, architecture, statistics, storytelling and design, Jonathan Harris’s online projects create large-scale living portraits of the human world—portraits that both simplify and complicate our understanding of it. Jonathan discusses his recent work and poses intriguing questions about what kind of space the digital world is becoming and what that world is doing to us as individuals."

[I find myself on a Jonathan Harris binge about once a year. This time sparked by an article: http://designmind.frogdesign.com/articles/the-never-ending-story.html . Hadn't seen this video before.]

[The passage he reads in the video was originally posted here: http://www.number27.org/today.php?d=20100319 ]
design  art  jonathanharris  storytelling  coding  coldness  2010  thewhy  purpose  meaning  meaningfulness  human  digital  life  empathy  programming  depression  glvo  relationships  feelings  emotions  rationality  determinism  problemsolving  detachment  expression  web  internet  abstraction  humanity  control  learning  resistance  resistanceofthemedium  process  cold+bold  identity  individuality  diversity  outcomes  scale  sociopaths  jaronlanier  culture  behavior  introspection  self-reflection  time  computation  howwework  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
GRIEF — THE BI BLOG
"Neither love nor depression have the words “finish” or “end” or “done” in their vocabulary. Love is belief in expansiveness, of more and again and adventure, of a year that keeps unfolding, of Death Valley in summer and northern Sweden in winter and even just Venice Beach on a gloomy day in June. Depression, too, is expansive, but in a different way, a swirling vortex of shit, a downward funnel that just spins deeper.

Grief, however, is bounded. It twists and gnarls and it stifles the breath. It forgoes the linear in favor of spikes and spots and synchronicity. When you think you’ve managed to escape grief, it hoods you again, capturing you in another convolute. A knot under my sternum that sticks on every inhale, a peach pit, the bitter walnut falling out of a cracked shell. And then: the knot tires itself, giving way to all the muscles that gripped it; the walnut spit out, the peach pit tucked into a napkin, then folded in quarters."
love  depression  grief  mollywrightsteenson  fredscharmen  endings  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
Adam Kirsch On The Literature Of David Foster Wallace | The New Republic
"Can reading—more to the point, can writing—be a kind of drug, a distraction from an otherwise insufferable existence? Is it possible to be addicted to writing?"

"The Pale King is Wallace’s attempt to find out if fiction can sustain this kind of attention to boring, banal reality, without contracting into the solipsistic fugues of Brief Interviews or expanding into the manic inventions of Infinite Jest. In fact, Wallace only occasionally tries to make his book itself rebarbatively dull—to enact the boredom he writes about."

"His posthumous book shows that when Wallace died he was in the middle of the ordeal of purging and remaking his style. This is the kind of challenge that only the best writers set themselves. One of the many things to mourn about Wallace’s death is that we will never get to know the writer he was striving to become."
davidfosterwallace  adamkirsch  infinitejest  thepaleking  2011  books  boredom  depression  writing  reading  philosophy  reinvention  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
« earlier      
per page:    204080120160

related tags

3d  abandonment  ableism  abstraction  abundance  academia  academics  academisa  acceptance  achievement  achievementgap  action  activeminds  activism  adamkirsch  adaptability  add  adderall  addiction  adhd  administration  adminstrativebloat  admissions  adolescence  adolescents  advertising  advice  advocacy  aesthetics  affluence  affordances  agency  agesegregation  aggressiveness  aging  ai  aintidepressants  alcohol  alisonmalmon  alleniverson  allies  aloneness  alternative  alwayson  alzheimers  america  americanfootball  anarchism  anarchy  andrewsolomon  anecdote  angeladuckworth  anger  angst  animals  annhulbert  anti-authoritarian  anti-authoritarians  anticapitalism  antidepressants  anxiety  apologies  applications  araisininthesun  architecture  are.na  argentina  art  arthurbrooks  arts  asia  aspergers  assertiveness  assessment  athletics  atomization  attention  attentiondeficitdisorder  attentiveness  attitude  authenticity  authoritarianism  authority  autism  autodidacts  automation  autonomy  avatar  awareness  babyboomers  bach  background  bailout  balance  balzac  banking  bankruptcy  barbarism  beatpoetry  beatpoets  beautifullosers  beauty  behavior  beinghuman  belatedness  bellhooks  belonging  berniesanders  betrayal  billclinton  biography  biology  bipolardisorder  blackmountaincollege  blackness  blame  blameworthiness  blindspot  blogging  blogs  bluelight  blues  bmc  bodies  body  books  boomers  boredom  borges  brain  brainchemistry  brenebrown  brothers  brucealexander  brucelevine  brucemcewen  bubbles  buckminsterfuller  buddhism  bullshitjobs  bullying  bureaucracy  burnout  business  busshism  busyness  byung-chulhan  cages  californianideology  camaraderie  cancer  canon  capital  capitalism  capitalpunishment  care  careers  caregiving  caring  carloszarate  carolblack  caroldweck  carolynwalworth  cataracts  causality  centralization  certainty  certification  cervantes  change  changemaking  character  charlesdarwin  charlesdickens  charterschools  chastisement  childhood  childhoodstress  children  china  choice  choices  chriskraus  chrismarker  chrispeterson  christianity  christianmirescu  christopherisherwood  civilization  clairecainmiller  class  classism  clayburell  clinicaldepression  cluelessness  coding  cognition  cognitive  cold+bold  coldness  collapse  collections  college  colleges  colonialism  colonization  colors  comedy  comfort  comforts  comics  commoncore  communalism  communication  community  company  comparison  compassion  competence  competition  complexity  compliance  composting  comprehensivists  compromise  computation  confidence  confusion  connectedness  connection  connections  consent  conservatism  consumerism  consumption  contempt  context  control  convenience  conversation  cooking  cooperation  coping  cornelwest  corporatism  courage  courtneymartin  creation  creativegeneralists  creativity  crime  criminality  crisis  criticalthinking  culture  curiosity  currency  curriculum  cv  d.school  dandelions  danhon  danielgilbert  danielhaybron  darwin  data  davelevin  davidattenborough  davidbrooks  daviddenby  davideagleman  davidfosterwallace  davidgraeber  davidhildebrandwilson  davidwilson  daydreaming  death  debt  debtslavery  decentralization  decisionmaking  decline  defiance  delight  democracy  democrats  demons  denisepope  depression  derekthompson  derping  deschooling  design  desire  despair  detachment  determinism  devaluation  development  devonprice  diagnosis  dianakapp  digital  digitization  directinstruction  disability  disaffection  discipline  discomfort  discrimination  disgust  disparity  disruption  diversity  documentary  dollar  domination  dominicrandolph  dospassos  dostoyevsky  dreams  drewaustin  driving  dropouts  drugabuse  drugs  dunning–krugereffect  dysthymia  earnestness  eating  eatingdisorders  economics  edreform  education  edwardvogel  efficiency  effort  egotism  elderly  elephants  elitism  elizabethgould  elizeryudkowsky  ellwoodcubberley  emancipation  emotion  emotions  empathy  empiricism  employment  empowerment  endings  engagement  english  entrepreneurship  environment  envy  ephemeral  ephemerality  epilepsy  eq  equality  ericgwilson  erichfromm  españa  español  essenao'neill  estrangement  ethics  eudaemonia  everyday  everydayrebellion  evolution  evolutionarypsychology  exceptionalism  excess  executivefunction  executivefunctioning  exercise  exhaustion  existentialism  exorcism  expectations  experience  experimentation  exploration  expression  eyes  eyesight  facebook  facundo  failure  fame  families  fanart  fanaticism  fanboys  fandom  fanfiction  fangirling  fangirls  fans  fantasy  fatigue  fear  feelings  feminism  fernandonottebohm  fernandopessoa  fiction  filetype:mov  film  filtering  finance  finland  firstperson  flaubert  flickr  flipflopping  floratristan  flow  focus  food  football  forests  forgetfulness  forgetting  forwardthinking  france  francescawoodman  frannyandzooey  fraud  fredscharmen  freedom  freelancing  freewill  french  frontiers  frustration  fscottfitzgerald  fulfillment  fun  future  gabo  gabrielgarcíamárquez  gambling  gamechanging  games  gaming  garrywinogand  garybecker  garysnyder  gdp  gender  generalists  generalizations  generations  generationx  genes  genetics  geniakozorovitskiy  genius  gentleness  genx  georgewbush  georgeyancy  gifted  gigeconomy  glass-steagall  glvo  goldmansachs  grace  grades  grading  grahamjohnson  grammar  grandiosity  gratitude  greatdepression  greatness  greed  grief  grit  growth  growthmindset  guardian  guimarãesrosa  gunnhighschool  gunnhoghschool  habits  hannahrosin  hannarosin  happiness  harpers  hate  healing  health  hectordecrèvecoeur  hedonics  helicopterparenting  helicopterparents  hemingway  herbs  hermanmelville  hiddenpeople  hierarchy  high-stakestesting  higherducation  highered  highereducation  highschool  hiring  hiringprocess  history  hollywood  homes  homeschool  homework  homogeneity  homogenization  honesty  hope  hopelessness  horizontality  hospitality  howtolove  howwelearn  howwelive  howweteach  howwework  howwewrite  hugheverett  huldufólk  human  humancapital  humanism  humanity  humanization