anagnori

Archive for the ‘psychology’ Category

Psychotherapy and the Pursuit of Happiness by Ronald W. Dworkin

In academia, history, psychiatry, psychology on August 4, 2015 at 20:50

From: Psychotherapy and the Pursuit of Happiness by Ronald W. Dworkin

Freudianism sits alongside Marxism and Darwinism in the pantheon of modern theories held to be so revelatory that they not only gained the adherence of Western intelligentsia but shaped the broader culture. During the first half of the twentieth century, an air of intrigue and mystery hovered around Freud’s newly anointed practitioners. Psychotherapists occupied a strange universe, speaking in a language so incomprehensible but seemingly authoritative that it alternately awed and scared the average man on the street.

Psychotherapy is no longer an intellectual movement today as it once was. But in the form of modern professional “caring,” it has assumed a new role, which is to provide a peculiar sort of substitute friendship — what we might call “artificial friendship” — for lonely people in a lonely age.

To understand why this occurred and what it means for American culture, we must study the fractious history of the mental health field over the last six decades. It is a complicated story, with a staggering variety of terms, schools, leaders, and techniques, so any overview must necessarily leave out many important details. But from even just a synopsis of the conflicts that gave rise to today’s culture of psychotherapy — battles over who would hold the truest title to physician of the mind, tensions between scientists and clinicians, academics and professionals, elites and the public — we can see more clearly how psychotherapy has profoundly shaped the American conception of what happiness is and how we can achieve it.

Read the essay

Reposted with permission from: The New Atlantis

Advertisements

A Philosophy of Tickling by Aaron Schuster

In art, biology, philosophy, psychology on January 11, 2015 at 05:39

From: A Philosophy of Tickling by Aaron Schuster, CABINET Magazine, http://www.cabinetmagazine.org

… Aristotle famously defined man as the rational animal (zoon echon logon), and as the political animal (zoon politikon). But there are also passages in his work that indicate another less remarked upon, though no less profound, definition. In Parts of Animals, he writes: “When people are tickled, they quickly burst into laughter, and this is because the motion quickly penetrates to this part, and even though it is only gently warmed, still it produces a movement (independently of the will) in the intelligence which is recognizable. The fact that human beings only are susceptible to tickling is due (1) to the fineness of their skin and (2) to their being the only creatures that laugh.”1 Perhaps this notion of the “ticklish animal” was further elaborated in the second book of the Poetics, the lost treatise on comedy; indeed, the relationship between ticklish laughter and comic laughter remains an open question. Should tickling be investigated under the heading of comedy or of touch? Touch, Aristotle argues, is the most primary sense, and human beings are uniquely privileged in possessing the sharpest sense of touch thanks to the delicate nature of their skin. Though other animals have more advanced smell or hearing, “man’s sense of touch … excels that of all other animals in fineness.”2 We might view tickling as a side effect of the hyper-sensitivity of human touch. Our peculiar vulnerability to tickling is the price to be paid for more sophisticated and discriminating access to the world.

Does not tickling violate the basic mechanism of cause and effect, the principle that every action entails an equal and opposite reaction? The tiniest stroking produces a wildly explosive response, while a more vigorous rubbing may hardly elicit any reaction at all. On the most stupid bodily level, there is something miraculous in the activity of tickling that seems to contravene the everyday experience of causality, turning us into spontaneous philosophical skeptics. It is as if the lived body were split into two: a practical body governed by regular principles and interactions, and an oversensitive flesh that, with the slightest tingle, is apt to plunge all coordination and mastery into spasmodic helplessness.

Read the article

Reposted with permission from: CABINET Magazine

Heidegger and the case of domestic animals by Philippe Theophanidis

In animals, art, philosophy, psychology on March 2, 2014 at 20:52

From: Heidegger and the case of domestic animals by Philippe Theophanidis, Aphelis, http://aphelis.net

Although various interpretations are still subject to debate, it seems to be rather common to provide Goya’s dog with feelings or affective dispositions. But how to bear witness of the animal’s world without substituting our human experience to its own?

Here’s a short excerpt where Heidegger discusses the relationship we have with domestics animals: the fact that we are tempted to interpret their world even though, at the same time, it remains fundamentally foreign to our own.

However, if an original transposedness on man’s part in relation to the animal is possible, this surely implies that the animal also has its world. Or is this going too far? Is it precisely this ‘going too far’ that we constantly misunderstand? And why do we do so? Transposedness into the animal can belong to the essence of man without this necessarily meaning that we transpose ourselves into an animal’s world or that the animal in general has a world. And now our question becomes more incisive: In this transposedness into the animal, where is it that we are transposed to? What is it we are going along with, and what does this ‘with’ mean? What sort of going is involved here? Or, from the perspective of the animal, what is it about the animal which allows and invites human transposedness into it, even while refusing man the possibility of going along with the animal? From the side of the animal, what is it that grants the possibility of transposedness and necessarily refuses any going along with? What is this having and yet not having? (The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics World, Finitude, Solitude, [1983] 1995, p. 210 [307-309])

Read the full post

Reposted with permission from: Philippe Theophanidis

A Feeling of Oneness With the World by by Volker M. Welter

In architecture, biography, design, North America, psychology, uncategorized on March 2, 2014 at 20:43

From:  A Feeling of Oneness With the World: On the House of Dr. Franz Alexander by Volker M. Welter, Berfrois, http://www.berfrois.com

Following a map for a driving tour along Palm Spring’s mid-twentieth century Modernist homes and buildings, I had just peeked at Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House, the rebellious sibling from 1947 of Frank Lloyds Wright’s Fallingwater House in Pennsylvania, which was begun for the same client in 1935. Figuring out on the map where to drive to next, a house whose owner was identified as Dr. Franz Alexander caught my attention. I had come across that name some years earlier in connection with my research into Ernst L. Freud, the architect-son of Sigmund Freud. Rumour had it that Ernst Freud designed Alexander’s consulting room when both lived in Berlin in the 1920s, though I could never verify that. I decided to take a look at the house that carried the same name as the Austrian-Hungarian psychoanalyst.

The wood and steel roof of the Alexander House was a variation of an earlier experimental patented roof and wall construction or which a patent was pending. The curve of the roof on the Palm Springs house was a new experiment. White argued that it would help to passively heat and cool the interior; to soundly integrate his houses into the desert environment was a goal of his from early on. White’s characterisation of the Alexander house as a prototype of an environmentally sensitive desert home may have triggered the psychoanalyst’s scientific curiosity. Other elements of the house appear to be abstractions of the circumstances of the ‘oceanic feelings’ that Franz Alexander had experienced during his childhood, but the one that lingers is the view from the balcony: the equivalent of the gaze across the Baltic Sea, the azure dome of the sky recalling the large blue balloon, and the interior with its concave ceiling as a version of the finite universe with its curved space. In short, the desert house was the perfect setting for Alexander’s pursuit of both the scientific and the humanistic inquiries into humanity and its fate; a lifelong quest that had begun in Budapest and was far from over when Alexander settled in Palm Springs.

Read the essay

Reposted with permission from: Berfrois

Featured: Conviviality by Paul Walton

In Book Reviews, Featured, history, politics, psychology, review, society, sociology, technology, writers on December 26, 2013 at 14:41

Paul Walton is a journalist, editor and autodidact from Nanaimo most interested in literature and depth psychology.

Enjoy the essay and feel free to comment.

Featured: Ivan Illich: Tools For Conviviality by Paul Walton

Forty years after the publication of that cantankersome and challenging book by Ivan Illich, Tools For Conviviality has never been more inaccessible and never more vital.

There are many misunderstandings and misconceptions about Illich, and even after an interview series on the CBC in the late 1980s (later to be published as Ivan Ilich in Conversation by David Cayley, published by House of Anansi, 1992) anyone could be forgiven for remembering Illich, who died in 2002, as a man of the mind, a thinker, a philosophe, even a genius. This last perhaps comes closest if we recall the word djinn, a “tutelary spirit,” as the OED puts it. Tools For Conviviality might be termed in educational jargon “gifted,” well beyond its years, but it is more like a happy child who longs to share its joy.

This look at Tools For Conviviality began on a computer and taking a cue from Illich in the Cayley interviews migrated to a yellow pad and black pen. Writing by hand highlights a duality arising from Tools For Conviviality, The qualities of pen and paper include intimacy, a private moment of reflection and, if done well, humility. We can use tools on a human scale or be dehumanized by them. Composing on a computer makes demands very different from script, from posture to adjusting the eye to the glow of the electric monitor. The computer is also tentative, with constant attention to the save function and usurping what Illich later relished in In the Vineyard of the Text, about the 12th century abbot Hugh of St. Victor, who tasted the words during peripatetic readings in his garden.

Tools For Conviviality is arguably as close to a political prescription or ideology as Illich ever got. To Cayley he admitted that the essence of the book, the idea of inverting tools as abused by post-industrial interests, didn’t happen as he expected in 1973 — a dramatic Wall Street-style crash — but began to occur ways he did not anticipate. By 1988, he told Cayley, he was seeing more people recovering misused tools, i.e. resuming mastery over them for their own purposes.

Read the rest of this entry »

On Incest by Avi Garelick

In biology, philosophy, psychology, religion, sexuality, society on September 24, 2013 at 00:17

From: On Incest: Its Whys and Why Nots by Avi Garelick, The Hypocrite Reader, http://www.hypocritereader.com

Academically, we are obviously all morally opposed to incest and rightfully so. At the same time, there is an argument to be made in the Swiss case to let go what goes on privately in bedrooms. (Matthew Galluzzo)

Is it wrong to wonder what’s wrong with incest? Will it sit still as an object of reasoned inquiry? If you offer an explanation for the rational underpinning of the taboo, will that satisfy the deep feeling of disgust that surrounds it? There is something about the question what is wrong with incest that suggests the more transgressive question is something wrong with incest. Aren’t we naturally averse to incest, anyway? If so, the pertinent question is not so much why is incest wrong as why is it prohibited?

For Freud, incestuous urges are at the beginning of human experience. This is famously expressed in his concept of the Oedipus Complex—love your mother, kill your father. The basic Freudian notion of sex and incest is this: A human being’s sexual character is as old as he or she is. Sexual character does not arrive unprecedented at the onset of puberty, ready to attach itself to a previously non-sexual subject. Rather, the formation of adult sexuality patterns itself on the circuits of pleasures and prohibitions established in the subject’s early years. This is an immanent account. If you begin your life suckling at your mother’s breast, achieving pleasure and nourishment simultaneously, that is your first erotic enjoyment. All later enjoyments are in some sense a variation on that first one. Pleasure is fundamentally incestuous, and without a denial of these initial pleasures it might remain so. This denial is provided by the exclusive daddy-mommy pairing; the child is pushed away from the parent he loves by the other’s rights. This prohibition is the point of departure for all prohibition; it is internalized in the subject’s development of a sense of shame and repression around sex. The incest taboo thus has its origin in the strength of paternal prohibition. It is this prohibitive character that motivates the displacement of sexuality into an arena of strangers. But in Freud, the original incestuous urge never dissolves. It is merely redirected towards an acceptable object.

Read the essay

Reposted with permission from: The Hypocrite Reader

Dr. Gabor Maté on the Stress-Disease Connection with Amy Goodman

In interview, medicine, North America, philosophy, politics, psychology, research, video on September 12, 2013 at 14:19

From: Dr. Gabor Maté on the Stress-Disease Connection, Addiction and the Destruction of American Childhood with Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!, http://www.democracynow.org

DR. GABOR MATÉ: The hardcore drug addicts that I treat, but according to all studies in the States, as well, are, without exception, people who have had extraordinarily difficult lives. And the commonality is childhood abuse. In other words, these people all enter life under extremely adverse circumstances. Not only did they not get what they need for healthy development, they actually got negative circumstances of neglect. I don’t have a single female patient in the Downtown Eastside who wasn’t sexually abused, for example, as were many of the men, or abused, neglected and abandoned serially, over and over again.
And that’s what sets up the brain biology of addiction. In other words, the addiction is related both psychologically, in terms of emotional pain relief, and neurobiological development to early adversity.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about this whole approach of criminalization versus harm reduction, how you think addicts should be treated, and how they are, in the United States and Canada?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, the first point to get there is that if people who become severe addicts, as shown by all the studies, were for the most part abused children, then we realize that the war on drugs is actually waged against people that were abused from the moment they were born, or from an early age on. In other words, we’re punishing people for having been abused. That’s the first point.

The second point is, is that the research clearly shows that the biggest driver of addictive relapse and addictive behavior is actually stress. In North America right now, because of the economic crisis, a lot of people are eating junk food, because junk foods release endorphins and dopamine in the brain. So that stress drives addiction.

Now imagine a situation where we’re trying to figure out how to help addicts. Would we come up with a system that stresses them to the max? Who would design a system that ostracizes, marginalizes, impoverishes and ensures the disease of the addict, and hope, through that system, to rehabilitate large numbers? It can’t be done. In other words, the so-called “war on drugs,” which, as the new drug czar points out, is a war on people, actually entrenches addiction deeply. Furthermore, it institutionalizes people in facilities where the care is very — there’s no care. We call it a “correctional” system, but it doesn’t correct anything. It’s a punitive system. So people suffer more, and then they come out, and of course they’re more entrenched in their addiction than they were when they went in.

Watch the videeo & read the full transcript

Reposted according to copyright notice from: Democracy Now! website

After the Social Media Hype: Dealing with Information Overload by Geert Lovink

In information, internet, philosophy, psychology, society, technology on September 9, 2013 at 16:01

From: After the Social Media Hype: Dealing with Information Overload by Geert Lovink, e-flux, http://www.e-flux.com

The question on the table is—following Foucault—how to minimize domination and shape new technologies of the self. Why has the internet industry bred its own monsters of centralization and control (Google, Facebook, Amazon) while promising the opposite? What bothers us is our own survival. Which techniques are effective in reducing the social noise and permanent data floods that scream for attention? What kind of online platforms facilitate lasting forms of organization? We’re not merely talking here about filters that delete spam and “kill” your ex. As the state of internet discourse shows, it is all about training and repetition (as Aristotle already emphasized). There is no ultimate solution. We will need to constantly train ourselves to focus, while remaining open to new currents that question the very foundations of our direction. This is not merely a question of distributing our concentration. When do we welcome the Other, and when should it be jammed? When do we stop searching and start making? There are times when our real-time communication weaponry should be fired up for mobilization and temporary spectre dominance, until the evening sets in and it is time to chill out and open other doors of perception. But when do these times ever arrive?

As Peter Sloterdijk already noticed in his You Must Change Your Life (2009), training is key. The “anthropotechnic approach,” as Sloterdijk calls it, is different from the rational IT world of engineers in that in it is cyclical, not linear. It is not about concepts and debugging. Instead, it is about workouts. Self-improvement will have to come from inside, in the gym. If we want to survive as individuals while maintaining a relationship of sorts with (potentially addictive) gadgets and online platforms, we will have to get into fitness mode—and stay there. In extreme cases, visiting a Social Media Anonymous group might be helpful, but what average users need is merely a minor trigger to instigate the process of forgetting the gadget world.

Some may view the idea of improvement through repetition as conservative and anti-innovative. In an environment where paradigm shifts happen overnight, planned obsolescence—not durability—is the rule. But Sloterdijk’s emphasis on exercises and repetition, combined with Richard Sennett’s argument (in The Craftman [2009]) in favor of skills, help us to focus on tools (such as the diary) that we can use to set goals in the morning and reflect in the evening on the improvements that we made during the day. However, the disruptive nature of real-time news and social media needs to find a place in this model. In the meantime, Sloterdijk remains ambivalent about the use of information technology. It is clearly not on his mind. In his recently published dairy covering the years 2008–2011 (called Zeilen und Tage and running to 637 pages), I counted precisely one entry that deals explicitly with the internet. In this short entry, he describes the internet as a universal bazaar and Hype Park Gemüsekiste. The same could be said of Slavoj Zizek, who admits that he is not the world’s hippest philosopher.2 Even though both use laptops and internet intensely, information technology has not (yet?) been an object of inquiry in their work.

Read the article

Reposted with permission from: e-flux

What’s Wrong with Technological Fixes? with Evgeny Morozov

In information, internet, interview, philosophy, psychology, society, technology on July 18, 2013 at 17:07

From: What’s Wrong with Technological Fixes? Terry Winograd Interviews Evgeny Morozov, Boston Review, http://www.bostonreview.net

Morozov characterizes this impulse to fix everything as “solutionism,” and offers two broad challenges to the solutionist sensibility. First, solutionists often turn public problems into more bite-sized private ones. Instead of addressing obesity by regulating the content of food, for example, they offer apps that will ‘nudge’ people into better personal choices. Second, solutionists overlook the positive value in the ‘vices’ they seek to ‘cure.’ According to Morozov, some of life’s good things come from ignorance rather than knowledge; opacity rather than transparency; ambivalence rather than certainty; vagueness rather than precision; hypocrisy rather than sincerity; messy pondering of imponderables rather than crisp efficiency. As these challenges reveal, Morozov’s critique is, in the end, animated by a sensible picture of human life that suggests a more modest view of technology than solutionists have proposed.

TW: A key element of many solutionist approaches is a focus on devices and techniques to shape the actions of individuals. For example you quote Tim Chang, head of a major venture fund investing in “Quantified Self” apps that allow users to track their vital statistics: “the only way we’ll fix our horribly broken healthcare system is by getting consumers to think about health and not healthcare.” In addition to the turn to “consumer,” I would imagine there are underlying assumptions here you don’t share about the framing of the problem. Is that right?

EM: One of the arguments I make in the book is that it’s impossible to understand the appeal or impact of technologies for self-tracking outside of the specific domain where they are introduced. So if we want to understand how the many tools advocated by the Quantified Self crowd would affect, say, health, we need to know something about how the notions of health and disease have changed in the last five decades and what role not only science but also the pharmaceutical industry has played in this process. I’ve read a bit in sociology and anthropology of health and medicine and one unmissable trend there is the growing concern with what academics call “biomedicalization”—which is like the good old medicalization, with its imperialistic tendencies to redescribe all experiences and concerns in the language of modern medicine, but now boosted by the techno-scientific apparatus of biological sciences.

If you follow the arguments of some prominent voices in this field—say anthropologists like Joe Dumit—you’ll see that they draw an interesting connection between this constant search for new symptoms and the financial interests of Big Pharma, who, of course, wants to sell us more and more drugs to treat more and more diseases. So this is the context in which I think we should view the proliferation of various devices for self-tracking. And seen in this light, the picture isn’t very pretty. So part of what I’m arguing in the book is that it’s wrong to just celebrate these new ways of self-tracking—the fact that we can now build sensors into our t-shirts to monitor our health—without having some deeper views on how we think about health and disease. I’m actually not interested in advancing one view of health over another in this book; all I’m trying to do is to point out that most debates about self-tracking technologies—at least those we hear in the public arena—sidestep these issues and just present these tools as ways for us to know more about ourselves, etc. That’s why solutionists have such an easy time: they do not complicate their stories, framing all of their innovations as giant steps towards progress and Enlightenment.

Read the interview

Reposted with permission from: Boston Review

Merleau-Ponty’s Child Psychology by Talia Welsh

In philosophy, psychology, society on July 12, 2013 at 18:53

From: Merleau-Ponty’s Child Psychology by Talia Welsh, Berfrois, http://www.berfrois.com

As much as death signals the end of the self, birth is just as mysterious. Both extend out to infinity and signal the brevity and contingency of our lives. As mysterious are those first few years of life that one does not have access to as an adult, I know I existed before my earliest memories. I know I interacted with others, I learned to walk and talk. I was willful from my parent’s tales. But this person is as much a mystery to me as the foetus I once was. When does my sense of “me-ness,” my self as a myself, arise? What is its development and what is required for its formation?

Merleau-Ponty argues for a view that holds there are certain existential human conflicts around which all societies will develop norms and systems around. They are the parent-child conflict, the male-female conflict and the self-stranger conflict.[12] Children and parents will always view each other with some ambivalence, and our styles and ideals of childrearing are reflections of these essential struggles. Likewise, negotiating sexual difference (and sexuality, Merleau-Ponty did not consider adult same-sex sexual relationships) will be a centerpiece of social norms and taboos. This removes the idea of individual conflicts as universal (such as the Oedipus conflict) or individual successes and failures being required for maturity (since not all cultures value the same expressions). But it retains the sense that discussions about development will always include some ambivalence in every society given the inherent nature of conflicts between adults and children.

Read the article

Reposted with permission from: Berfrois

Fear Going On by Peter Stockland

In media, news, North America, psychology, society on April 17, 2013 at 19:41

From: Fear Going On by Peter Stockland, Cardus, http://www.cardus.ca

I had just returned from a run myself on a gorgeous Montreal April day, up Mount Royal to the Cross at the top and back, when I heard the news as I came into the change room of the Montreal Amateur Athletic building. My first concern was for the 30-plus members of the MAA running club who were at Boston. Reassured they were safe, my subsequent emotion was a bright flash of blackest revenge fantasy that involved inflicting horrible pain on those ultimately found responsible.

That, too, required a quick reality check. Vengeance will not beget justice no matter how odious the crime. So, where did that leave me? Where does that leave us as a people? Here is an image of what I am concerned might emerge from the struggle for an answer.

Read the post

Reposted with permission from: Cardus

Glad I Didn’t Have Facebook In High School! from Cyborgology

In internet, media, privacy, psychology, sociology on March 21, 2013 at 12:36

From: Glad I Didn’t Have Facebook In High School! from Cyborgology, The Society Pages, http://thesocietypages.org

“Glad we didn’t have Facebook then!” isn’t always wrong, but the statement makes at least two very arguable suppositions and it also carries the implicit belief that identity-change is something that should be hidden, reinforcing the stigma that generates the phrase to begin with.

First, the statement assumes that the net effect of social media for teens now and in the future will be negative. Bullying, harassment, and embarrassment as a result of online activity are certainly real—and not evenly distributed, with vulnerable populations at increased risk. However, social media visibility isn’t only a source of harassment but also a source of support. Things like the It Gets Better Project, Harssmap, Hollaback, to say nothing of, for example, the many potentially supportive comments on a Facebook post where a teen comes out of the closet demonstrate visibility, harm, and support in a complicated relationship, something true long before Zuckerberg started coding. I’m not sure how we can make a definitive calculation here, but before being so thankful we didn’t have Facebook to embarrass us, we might also think of how it could have also been a foundation of encouragement, assistance, and validation that many of us might have benefited from.

Read the article

Reposted with permission from: The Society Pages

Moral Enhancement by Julian Savulescu and Ingmar Persson

In anthropology, ecology, ethics, nature, philosophy, psychology, society, technology on March 16, 2013 at 15:44

From: Moral Enhancement by Julian Savulescu and Ingmar Persson, Philosophy Now, http://philosophynow.org

For the vast majority of our 150,000 years or so on the planet, we lived in small, close-knit groups, working hard with primitive tools to scratch sufficient food and shelter from the land. Sometimes we competed with other small groups for limited resources. Thanks to evolution, we are supremely well adapted to that world, not only physically, but psychologically, socially and through our moral dispositions.

But this is no longer the world in which we live. The rapid advances of science and technology have radically altered our circumstances over just a few centuries. The population has increased a thousand times since the agricultural revolution eight thousand years ago. Human societies consist of millions of people. Where our ancestors’ tools shaped the few acres on which they lived, the technologies we use today have effects across the world, and across time, with the hangovers of climate change and nuclear disaster stretching far into the future. The pace of scientific change is exponential. But has our moral psychology kept up?

With great power comes great responsibility. However, evolutionary pressures have not developed for us a psychology that enables us to cope with the moral problems our new power creates. Our political and economic systems only exacerbate this. Industrialisation and mechanisation have enabled us to exploit natural resources so efficiently that we have over-stressed two-thirds of the most important eco-systems.

Read the essay

Reposted with permission from: Philosophy Now

Tianeptine and Psilocybin by Sarah Ackley

In law, medicine, politics, psychology, research, science on February 4, 2013 at 19:32

From: Tianeptine and Psilocybin: The Science and Politics of Antidepressants by Sarah Ackley, The Hypocrite Reader, http://hypocritereader.com

Antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed class of drugs in the United States, prescribed more often than drugs that treat high cholesterol or headaches. However, with the bad press they’ve received in recent years, the slew of side effects they cause, and the increasing popularity of alternative and natural medicine, many are seeking alternatives to traditional antidepressants. Assuredly, many alternative antidepressants don’t work very well; St. John’s wort, a popular herbal remedy, has debatable efficacy, with most American studies showing that it is no more effective than placebo. However, there is important scientific evidence to support the use of two alternative antidepressants, tianeptine and psilocybin; yet these two drugs haven’t been researched in large clinical trials or adopted as conventional treatments in the United States. As we explore the critical research on traditional American antidepressants, as well as the trajectories of these two alternatives, we can begin to understand why these two treatments haven’t been approved for use in this country while other potentially less effective antidepressants remain the gold standard for mood disorders. The system in which drugs are researched, approved for use, and marketed to consumers has determined how, or even whether, we weigh the side effects and benefits of promising drugs. The medical establishment’s traditional definitions that conventional treatments are scientifically proven, while alternative treatments are not, do not hold in all cases.

Read the essay

Reposted with permission from: The Hypocrite Reader

Psychocivilization and Its Discontents by Magnus Bärtås, Fredrik Ekman and José Delgado

In ethics, government, interview, medicine, psychology, research, science on January 27, 2013 at 03:31

From: Psychocivilization and Its Discontents: An Interview with José Delgado by Magnus Bärtås, Fredrik Ekman and José Delgado, Cabinet, http://cabinetmagazine.org

The letter from Professor Delgado carries two insignias. One is made of Hebrew letters on what looks like a Torah scroll. Under the scroll it says “lux et veritas”—light and truth. The other insignia reads “Investigacion Ramon y Cajal.” In our letter to him, we have explained that we are two artists who have been studying his “astonishing research,” and that we are interested in his views on the relationship between humans and machines. José M.R. Delgado has written that he will be most happy to receive us at his home in Madrid.

Delgado’s name is a constant on various conspiracy websites dedicated to the topic of mind control; those with names like The Government Psychiatric Torture Site, Mind Control Forum, and Parascope. The Internet has in fact become the medium of conspiracy theorists. The network functions as an endless library where the very web structure lends itself to a conspiratorial frame of mind. The idea that every phenomenon and person can be connected to another phenomenon and person is the seed of the conspiracy theorist’s claim to “make the connections between things,” track the flow of power, and show how everything hangs together within some larger murky context.

Read the article

Reposted with permission from: Cabinet

Anaïs Nin on Why Understanding the Individual is the Key to Understanding Mass Movements by Maria Popova

In books, humanities, psychology, society, sociology on January 1, 2013 at 19:09

From: Anaïs Nin on Why Understanding the Individual is the Key to Understanding Mass Movements by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, http://www.brainpickings.org

There is an opacity in individual relationships, and an insistence that the writer make the relation of the particular to the whole which makes for a kind of farsightedness. I believe in just the opposite. Every individual is representative of the whole, a symptom, and should be intimately understood, and this would give a far greater understanding of mass movements and sociology.

Also, this indifference to the individual, total lack of interest in intimate knowledge of the isolated, unique human being, atrophies human reactions and humanism. Too much social consciousness and not a bit of insight into human beings.

Read the post

Reposted with permission from: Brain Pickings

America’s Love Affair with Cars by Leigh Donaldson

In civilisation, culture, economics, North America, politics, psychology, sociology, transportation on November 18, 2012 at 22:47

From: America’s Love Affair with Cars by Leigh Donaldson, The Montreal Review, http://www.themontrealreview.com

In his essay, “Driven Societies“, Daniel Miller writes about telling his young son a story about seeing the earth from the sky and discovering that it is the car and the infrastructure associated with it, not the human being, that dominates the landscape. He expounds on what he terms the humanity of the car, what people achieve through its use, and how it is an integral part of our cultural environment within which we see ourselves as human. He writes: “The car today is associated with the aggregate of vast systems of transport and roadways that make the car’s environment, and yet, at the same time, there are highly personal and intimate relationships which individuals have found through the possession and use of cars.” Personally, I resist any implication that a piece of tin, chrome and plastic, in any manner, defines me as a person. Short of having to live in a car because I was rendered homeless, knock on wood, I don’t see how a person could get that intimate with a noisy, gas-guzzling, money-eating machine you can never quite fully rely on. But, I can see that the car can, for many, be an extension of self and a communicative device. These days they are readily available with innumerable credit arrangements, including no money down, so that almost anyone can drive off a car lot in one the same day. Here, we find that the product, especially  the pricier model, represents dreams and aspirations, and this often trumps whether or not a person can afford it or not. Advertisers, more than ever, create and nurture appetites for products outside the consumers pocketbook limitations. Catering to the general buyers’ irrationality, their psychological vulnerabilities, they make the car a “must have” item for everyone.

Read the article

Reposted with permission from: The Montreal Review

Why You’re Crazy: The DSM Story by Mark S. Roberts and David B. Allison

In biology, civilisation, culture, gender, government, history, medicine, philosophy, psychology, sociology on November 14, 2012 at 20:35

From: Why You’re Crazy: The DSM Story by Mark S. Roberts and David B. Allison, CABINET, http://cabinetmagazine.org

Nearly one thousand pages long and boasting over one thousand contributors, the latest version of the manual has an editorial staff that reads like the Who’s Who of clinical psychiatry. In fact, in its current rendition, the DSM is so impressive that it is often referred to as “the Bible” of mental disorders. Yet modern editions of the DSM manuals have grown into virtual monsters of social control, attempting to set the transgressive limits of virtually every human action and capacity. Behaviors such as caring, bereavement, anger, love, hatred, sexual desire, reading, nose-picking, writing, shitting, pimple-picking, nightmares, delusions (both “bizarre” and “non-bizarre” versions), hair twirling, and body odors all have their reasonable limits, which are set strictly by the DSM and its clinical interpreters. Twirl your hair to the extent that the damage is undetectable, and you may not be subject to a diagnosis of Trichotillomania (312.39)—that is, unless you express significant distress about hair twirling. Have a delusion that lasts for only twenty-nine days, rather than thirty, and you may escape being diagnosed with the dreaded Delusional Disorder (297.1). Fail to overcome your fear of mathematics, and you may be tagged with the equally onerous Mathematics Disorder (315.1)—unless, of course, it is medication-induced. But don’t despair. According to the DSM-IV-TR, the fourth and most current edition, you may have the dreaded Mathematics Disorder (315.1) and at the same time sexually abuse a child, but only have that recorded in the manual as a problem (see V61.21, Sexual Abuse of Child) rather than a full-blown disorder.

Read the article

Reposted with permission from: CABINET

The Technological Elimination of Pain by Ben Goertzel

In ethics, medicine, philosophy, psychology, science on October 24, 2012 at 22:42

From: The Technological Elimination of Pain is Both Feasible and Possible by Ben Goertzel, Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, http://ieet.org

The English word “pain” refers, primarily, to a subjective experience — the experience of something hurting.   But this experience isn’t a simple, indecomposable thing — it’s actually a complex experience with multiple layers.  Understanding the prospect of abolishing pain, involves carefully distinguishing these layers.

To abolish, or drastically reduce, our experience of pain, we will need to deal with pain in terms of its neural and cognitive correlates.  Subjective experiences — qualia — are different from neural or cognitive structures or dynamics.  But there are correlations.   For instance, deep thought correlates with the neocortex — if you remove it, the person doesn’t think deeply anymore.  The feeling of reminiscence correlates with cognitive structures related to emotion and episodic memory, and with neural regions such as the limbic system and the neocortex. And so forth.

What are the neural and cognitive correlates of the experience of pain?

Read the article

Reposted with permission from: IEET

Choose Your Choice by Claude S. Fischer

In culture, government, North America, politics, psychology, sociology on October 14, 2012 at 16:25

From: Choose Your Choice: The Great American Obsession by Claude S. Fischer Boston Review,  http://www.bostonreview.net

Choice has vastly expanded over American history, and not just in the material realm—the thousands of items in the supermarket, the world of travel destinations, and so on—but also in terms of social opportunities. Through changes in access, custom, and law, Americans have obtained freedom to choose their life paths and companions. Marrying across religious and racial lines, for example, has become increasingly common and acceptable. Gay marriage is coming, too, and already here in some places. Chacun à son goût, say the French, but it’s the Americans who really mean it.

Not only are there now more choices to make, but, over time, more kinds of Americans have gained the power to choose. The ideology of the eighteenth century held that only people who were truly independent—white men of property—were competent to choose wisely. The vote was, sensibly, then, restricted to such men. The next couple of centuries brought the working class, racial minorities, women, and young adults greater rights to choose and also more realistic choices. When women, for instance, could own their own property, earn their own income in respectable professions, and be heard in court, marriage became more equitable and more a matter of equal choice.

Read the article

Reposted with permission from: Boston Review

Žižek: silence and the real desert by Rob Weatherill

In Europe, humanities, philosophy, psychology, sociology, theory, writers on October 7, 2012 at 04:14

From: Žižek: silence and the real desert by Rob Weatherill, International Journal of Žižek Studies, http://zizekstudies.org

… For Žižek, opposing the Law via direct action, what he calls ‘the rumspringa of resistance’ only reinforces the System through our robust participation within it. Rumspringa refers to the “running around” of Amish youth, permitted experimentation and transgression for a brief time before they either, re-enter their strict community as evermore committed members, or leave altogether. Žižek is also against humanitarian aid, giving to charities to support orphans in Africa, opposing oil drilling in a wide-life area, presumably buying fair trade coffee, ethical products, or supporting feminists in Muslim countries, and so on. All the things that make well educated middle class people feel that they are doing “their bit” with their little rumspringa, before they revert to their normal lives. He is also against the by now standard response of dis-identifying with the system – I know it’s all a game – while participating fully within it. Or, more radically, going to California or Thailand to meditate, Zen-style, for a week or for a year – maybe the ultimate self-absorption in the guise of pan-spiritual withdrawal. What Žižek wants to explore is a “new space” outside the hegemonic position and its mirroring negation – the Heideggerian sense of a clearing, the opening up of a place, ‘through a gesture which is thoroughly violent in its impassive refusal…to quote Mallarmé – nothing will have taken place but the place itself’ (Ibid: 381). This gesture is no-thing. It is the ‘immanent difference, gap, between this [everyday] reality and its own void; that is to discern the void that separates material reality from itself , that makes it “non-all”’(Ibid: 383).

Read the essay

Reposted with permission from: International Journal of Žižek Studies

 

How Your Cell Phone Hurts Your Relationships by Helen Lee Lin

In internet, psychology, research, science, sociology, technology on October 4, 2012 at 06:34

From: How Your Cell Phone Hurts Your Relationships by Helen Lee Lin, Scientific American, http://www.scientificamerican.com

Most of us are no stranger to this scenario:  A group of friends sits down to a meal together, laughing, swapping stories, and catching up on the news – but not necessarily with the people in front of them!  Nowadays, it’s not unusual to have one’s phone handy on the table, easily within reach for looking up movie times, checking e-mails, showing off photos, or taking a call or two.  It’s a rare person who doesn’t give in to a quick glance at the phone every now and then.  Today’s multifunctional phones have become an indispensable lifeline to the rest of the world.

Read the article

Reposted with permission from: Scientific American

Anaïs Nin on Paris vs. New York, 1939 by Maria Popova

In art, books, community, culture, Europe, immigration, North America, psychology, society, writers on October 1, 2012 at 02:00

From: Anaïs Nin on Paris vs. New York, 1939 by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, http://www.brainpickings.org

From The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 3: 1939-1944 (public library) comes this poignant, articulate description of what Nin experienced as the difference between Parisians and New Yorkers — something recently explored in much lighter, more tongue-in-cheek terms — penned in the winter of 1939:

In Paris, when entering a room, everyone pays attention, seeks to make you feel welcome, to enter into conversation, is curious, responsive. Here it seems everyone is pretending not to see, hear, or look too intently. The faces reveal no interest, no responsiveness.

Overtones are missing. Relationships seem impersonal and everyone conceals his secret life, whereas in Paris it was the exciting substance of our talks, intimate revelations and sharing of experience.

Read the post

Reposted with permission from: Maria Popova

Mental Disorder or Neurodiversity by Aaron Rothstein

In biology, books, nature, psychology, research, science, society on September 30, 2012 at 03:52

From: Mental Disorder or Neurodiversity by Aaron Rothstein, The New Atlantis, http://www.thenewatlantis.com/

One of the most famous stories of H. G. Wells, “The Country of the Blind” (1904), depicts a society, enclosed in an isolated valley amid forbidding mountains, in which a strange and persistent epidemic has rendered its members blind from birth. Their whole culture is reshaped around this difference: their notion of beauty depends on the feel rather than the look of a face; no windows adorn their houses; they work at night, when it is cool, and sleep during the day, when it is hot. A mountain climber named Nunez stumbles upon this community and hopes that he will rule over it: “In the Country of the Blind the One-Eyed Man is King,” he repeats to himself. Yet he comes to find that his ability to see is not an asset but a burden. The houses are pitch-black inside, and he loses fights to local warriors who possess extraordinary senses of touch and hearing. The blind live with no knowledge of the sense of sight, and no need for it. They consider Nunez’s eyes to be diseased, and mock his love for a beautiful woman whose face feels unattractive to them. When he finally fails to defeat them, exhausted and beaten, he gives himself up. They ask him if he still thinks he can see: “No,” he replies, “That was folly. The word means nothing — less than nothing!” They enslave him because of his apparently subhuman disability. But when they propose to remove his eyes to make him “normal,” he realizes the beauty of the mountains, the snow, the trees, the lines in the rocks, and the crispness of the sky — and he climbs a mountain, attempting to escape.

Wells’s eerie and unsettling story addresses how we understand differences that run deep into the mind and the brain. What one man thinks of as his heightened ability, another thinks of as a disability. This insight about the differences between ways of viewing the world runs back to the ancients: in Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates discusses how insane people experience life, telling Phaedrus that madness is not “simply an evil.” Instead, “there is also a madness which is a divine gift, and the source of the chiefest blessings granted to men.” The insane, Socrates suggests, are granted a unique experience of the world, or perhaps even special access to its truths — seeing it in a prophetic or artistic way.

Read the essay

Reposted with permission from: The New Atlantis

Fiction books give a boost to the brain, says Stanford professor by Corrie Goldman

In books, humanities, literature, psychology, writers on September 17, 2012 at 01:28

From: Fiction books give a boost to the brain, says Stanford professor by Corrie Goldman, Phys.org, http://phys.org

Readers of literary works by the likes of Samuel Beckett, Stéphane Mallarmé and Geoffrey Chaucer are getting lots of exercise from these personal trainers for the brain. New research by Stanford’s Joshua Landy, associate professor of French and Italian, illustrates how authors throughout the ages have sought to improve mental skills like rational thinking and abstract thought by leading their readers through a gantlet of mental gymnastics. In contrast to the common practice of mining fictional works for moral messages and information, Landy’s theory of fiction, outlined in his new book, “How to Do Things with Fictions,” presents a new reason for reading in an age when the patience to tackle challenging pieces of writing has dwindled tremendously. Reading fiction “does not make us better people in the moral sense, whether by teaching us lessons, making us more empathetic or training us to handle morally complex situations,” said Landy. However, for those interested in fine-tuning their intellectual capacities, Landy said literary works of fiction can offer “a new set of methods for becoming a better maker of arguments, a better redeemer of one’s own existence, a person of stronger faith or a person with a quieter mind.”

Read the article

Reposted according to copyright notice from Phys.org website

Assemblages: Félix Guattari and Machinic Animism by Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizio Lazzarato

In anthropology, culture, nature, philosophy, psychology, society on July 28, 2012 at 18:36

 

From: Assemblages: Félix Guattari and Machinic Animism by Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizio Lazzarato, e-flux.com

There is a certain very particular “animist” sensibility that one could call delirium. Of course it is a delirium by our standards; it is something that cuts psychotics off from a social reality that is completely dominated by language—that is, from social relations—thus effectively separating them from the world. But this brings them closer to the other world from which we are totally cut off. It is for this reason that Félix maintained this laudatory view of animism—a praise of animism. And obviously this leads us to speak about art. For Félix, art was the strongest means of putting something such as the Chaosmos into practice.

Read the discussion

Marilyn Monroe’s Unpublished Poems by Maria Popova

In books, poetry, psychology, society on July 28, 2012 at 18:20

 

From: Marilyn Monroe’s Unpublished Poems: The Complex Private Person Behind the Public Persona by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, http://www.brainpickings.org

Her personal library contained four hundred books, including classics like Dostoyevsky and Milton, and modern staples like Hemingway and Kerouac. While she wasn’t shooting, she was taking literature and history night classes at UCLA. And yet, the public image of a breezy, bubbly blonde endures as a caricature of Monroe’s character, standing in stark contrast with whatever deep-seated demons led her to take her own life.

Read the post

Corporal Punishment by David Benatar

In education, ethics, philosophy, psychology, society on July 23, 2012 at 19:52

 

From: Corporal Punishment by David Benatar, World Corporal Punishment Research, http://www.corpun.com

It is surprising that the moral question of corporal punishment has escaped the attention of philosophers to the extent that it has. In this paper I want to consider the various standard arguments that are advanced against corporal punishment and show why they fail to establish the conclusion in defense of which they are usually advanced — that such punishment should be entirely abandoned. However, in doing so I shall show that some of the arguments have some force — sufficient to impose significant moral limitations on the use of corporal punishment — thereby explaining, at least in part, why the abuses are beyond the moral pale.

Read the essay

The Objectification of Women. A Conversation with Martha Nussbaum by Patricia Gras & Rose Mary Salum

In civilisation, ethnicity, gender, interview, philosophy, psychology on July 1, 2012 at 02:24

 

From: The Objectification of Women. A Conversation with Martha Nussbaum by Patricia Gras & Rose Mary Salum, LITERAL, http://www.literalmagazine.com

… I have studied the emotion of disgust a lot. Research on disgust shows that all of us are uncomfortable with the signs that mirror animals, that show we are mortal. And so the bodily fluids, the corpse, all of those things that psychologists call “animal reminders,” are heavily avoided. They are viewed as contaminating and they are stigmatized. In a second step, people who somehow come to represent those stigmatized things, fluids, decay and so on, are subordinated as a result. Now, in many cultures it seems pretty arbitrary how those groups get constructed in that role, maybe it is because of fear or anxiety, sometimes it is Jews, sometimes it is lower castes in Indian society, sometimes Muslims in India today, but women, in more or less all cultures, come in for that kind of projected disgust, as I put it. That is to say they are associated with the things about the body that are feared and viewed as contaminating because they give birth but also because they are seen as sights of fluid, the menstrual period, they are also seen as the receptacles of male semen, which is something that males feel anxious about. For all these reasons, the researchers who work on disgust think that misogyny is connected ultimately with people’s own anxiety about their own bodies.

Read more

A Theater Full of Bikers: What Would You Do? by Jay Livingston

In psychology, society, sociology, video on June 15, 2012 at 22:34

 

From : A Theater Full of Bikers: What Would You Do? by Jay Livingston, The Society Pages, http://thesocietypages.org

So sociological point one is that we are social animals.  Excluded we feel fear, accepted and included we feel comfort.  Point two is that laughter is social.  Here (and in many other situations) it’s a kind of tension-meter.  There ad had no joke that I was laughing at.  It was just a release from tension.  No tension, no laughter.

The ad also illustrates “definition of the situation.”  The rigged set-up shatters the couples’ standard definition of going to the movies. They are anxious not just because they are different but because they nave no workable definition and therefore no clear sense of what to do.

Finally, the ad raises the issue of stereotypes.  Stereotypes may actually have some general statistical accuracy.  The trouble is that the stereotype converts a statistical tendency to absolute certainty.  We react as though we expect all members of the stereotype to be that way all the time or most of the time.  Is it reasonable when you see 148 bikers to be fearful even to the point of leaving (I think some of the couples didn’t take the available seats)?

Read more & watch the video here

%d bloggers like this: