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Rethinking Complexity

Systems, Technology, and Good Intentions

05/28/2012
Systems, Technology, and Good Intentions
A recent course I took at Saybrook taught by Professor Chuck Piazza provided me not only a significant understanding of knowledge management within my own professional field, but also deeply implanted a slice of insight that I had likely possessed already. The insight? That systems thinking shows that technological systems are meaningless without consideration of both the machines that compose them and the people that design, operate, and benefit from them. First, we must recognize what systems are, what their nature is, and where they exist. In the simplest terms, according to Donella...

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New Existentialists

New perspectives on death - a look at the Aghori sect

05/25/2012
New perspectives on death - a look at the Aghori sect
The way we think about death impacts the way we live our life. "It seems," write Daniel B. Pitchford and Rochelle Suri, "that people live inauthentic lives because the fear of death has a compelling grip on people and most choose to avoid engaging its impact." It doesn't have to be that way. In a paper now available at The New Existentialist's library, Dr. Pitchford and Dr. Suri write about the perspective on death of the Aghori sect in India. Understanding other paradigms of death, they suggest, provides the human being with a more nuanced perspective on the...

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Rethinking Complexity

Shredding

05/25/2012
Shredding
Spring is turning to summer here in the high desert and the restless energies of the changing seasons are moving through me. I've been cleaning out my office little-by-little lately, going through old mail and the like. The idea of shredding documents impacted me surprisingly deeply this time. When I've worked as an internal consultant, shredding doesn't bother me. In fact,I usually don't give it a second thought. I just put the unsolicited mail in the blue shred bin and away it goes. I would imagine the same happens with people who work in large organizations. Those...

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New Existentialists

On Fragile Art and People

05/24/2012
On Fragile Art and People
I am in a Shanghai art museum, looking at paintings that are hundreds of years old. So old, in fact, that even light damages them. But what good is art kept in the dark, out of view? Why preserve it if it will never be seen? So these paintings hang behind leaded glass, under dim lights controlled by motion sensors. I see a darkened room that others avoid, seemingly closed, but decide to venture in. As I approach, I am rewarded with gentle light, showing me something beautiful that was just waiting for me to brave the darkness. The lights are dim to protect the paintings, and dimly lit...

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Rethinking Complexity

When Forging Agreements, Silence is... Silence

05/24/2012
When Forging Agreements, Silence is... Silence
Agreements are the currency of human systems. Many agreements are implicit social or cultural conventions. We’re not really conscious that we’ve agreed to anything when we stop at red lights, for example, or when we allow people to exit the elevator before we enter. Other agreements are hard won and inconsistently implemented. When I ask about agreement-building in the organizations I work with, I’m almost always treated to grumbles and snarky comments about the challenge of making explicit agreements on behalf of taking concerted action. It seems nobody is satisfied with...

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New Existentialists

Cell Phone Therapy

05/23/2012
Cell Phone Therapy
Last fall, the Society for Existential Analysis in England held a conference on technology in psychology. My first thought when seeing the topic was that some presentations would address in some form the relationship of cell phones and texting to therapy. Curiously, cell phone use did not make the cut in the conference presentation schedule. Given their presence in the therapeutic space—phones belonging to both therapist and client—I naturally, but wrongly, assumed this would be a hot topic. I thought this would be especially true given the new research on using smartphones to provide...

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Rethinking Complexity

On the Immanent Transgression of Permission

05/23/2012
On the Immanent Transgression of Permission
Cuba imports cigars from him. He once had an awkward moment just to see how it feels. He is the only man to ever ace a Rorschach test. He once taught a German Sheppard how to bark in Russian. Do you recognize any of these lines? They're the product of a brilliant advertising campaign called "The Most Interesting Man in the World" developed by the Dos Equis beer company and the campaign's wildly successful by nearly any measure. As witty and engaging as these commercials are, what I’m interested in exploring is how they came to be and, more importantly, how they can...

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Rethinking Complexity

Why Economic Growth is the Wrong Focus for Africa (Part 1)

05/22/2012
Why Economic Growth is the Wrong Focus for Africa (Part 1)
The United Nations Development Programme (or UNDP) published its first human development report addressing African issues in Nairobi, Kenya, last week. The Africa Human Development Report 2012: Towards a Food Secure Future asserts, "If countries in sub-Saharan Africa are to realize their potential, they will need to overcome the undernourishment that afflicts more than a quarter of their people. Neither food security nor sustained human development can be met through economic growth alone." One in every four Africans—nearly 218 million people—is undernourished, according...

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New Existentialists

Psychopaths and Us

05/22/2012
Psychopaths and Us
Hypothetical psychopaths and presumed sociopaths have been much in the news lately, with “The Sociopath Next Door” claiming that four percent of the population is a sociopath, and recent media reports suggesting that 10% of Wall Street employees are psychopaths.   You’d also have to have a heart of stone not to weep for parents Anne and Miguel, whose son Michael is profiled in a recent New York Times article “Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Psychopath?” Such books and articles are the frontier where psychology and the popular imagination drink at the same...

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Mind-Body Medicine

MBM Student Completes Master’s Project on Combination of Equine Therapy with Mindfulness for Cardiac rehabilitation: Heidi Tobin (Fall 2010 Cohort)

05/21/2012

 

For my master’s project, I decided to research a medical subject that continues to account for the highest numbers of deaths in the American, adult population: heart disease and damaging cardiac events. I wanted to explore the possibility of offering a mind-body experience that has always been very healing and meaningful for me, to those living with injured hearts: interacting, riding, and partnering with equines (horses). This project proposes that two mind-body modalities—equine-assisted therapy and informal mindfulness practice—can work together to complement conventional medical interventions for those engaged in cardiac rehabilitation to decrease physical, emotional, and spiritual stress on the heart. In addition, I developed a plan of treatment using these modalities for stress-reduction in heart patients. I based this treatment protocol on a review of research on equine-assisted therapy and mindfulness practices, interviews with experts on equine therapy and cardiac rehabilitation, and existing programs of therapeutic riding.

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