The first wave of Baby Boomers are retiring, and by some estimates one-in-five Americans will be over 65 by 2030.
How does a culture obsessed with youth cope?
So far, most of our fixes have been technological - and amazing new gadgets to help the elderly function are in the works.
But even the researchers behind these new inventions admit it: our society can't handle this "silver tsumani" without fundamentally changing they way it handles the elderly.
An essay at The New Existentialists suggests that psychology should be playing a key role in this transition. That instead of just trying to "fix" symptoms, psychologists have a vital role to play in providing healthy perspective to people about the a life that includes old age.
Republicans and Democrats? Not so much.
In his recent book, On Compromise and Rotten Compromises, Avishai Margolit, professor emeritus of philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, refers to compromise as “an ambivalent concept.” On the one hand, we laud those who can preserve friendship or peace through cooperation. On the other hand, we revile those who too readily accede to intransigence. Compromise can be pragmatic and strategic, consider the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis; compromise can be cowardly and weak, consider much of the historic judgment against policies of appeasement during the rise of Nazi Germany. In an environment where words are chosen carefully to frame a perception in order to influence another’s thinking, how we conceptualize compromise matters.
In 2009 a major study showed that women were increasingly unhappy in the modern world – and a host of pundits, psychologists, and sociologists asked “What’s happened to the fairer sex?”
Was it feminism that was making women less happy? Economic inequality? Higher expectations? Loneliness? Feminism? (That one came up a lot. Apparently people like to blame things on feminism).
Two years later, another data set has been analyzed, and it turns out that the reason more women are unhappy has nothing to do with women. According to the data, we’re ALL less satisfied with life than we were 25 years ago.
Why? What does it mean? At the New Existentialists, they have a pretty good idea: it means we've been trying to become happy by proxy, substituting medication and commercialization for an inner life. Turns out that doesn't work.
Saybrook University is always well represented at the American Psychological Association, with faculty, alumni, and students making presentations, leading panels, and holding debates.
This year they’ll be presenting on everything from using expressive arts in the workplace to the medical uses of hypnosis and the culture of cyberspace.
Saybrook’s annual APA convention dinner, sponsored by Dr. Stanley Krippner and the Saybrook Alumni Association, will be held on Friday, August 5, from 6 - 9 p.m., at Clyde’s of Gallery Place (707 7th Street, NW, Washington, D.C.).
To RSVP, or for more information, email Saybrook Alumni Director George Aiken, or call: 415-394-5968
A list of Saybrook faculty, student, and alumni presentations at this year’s APA (Aug 4-7) is below:
That, suggest Stewart Brand, is because we think that new information is always better. So what Aristotle thought 2000 years ago is always less relevant than what Ashton Kutcher tweeted five minutes ago.
But there are other ways of thinking about information. Here (with a hat tip to Atlantic Blogger Alexis Madrigal) is a passage from one of Brand’s books:
Most of this book is Used Information. It is reprinted from various issues of The CoEvolution Quarterly, a California-based peculiar magazine. You can look at that news two ways. If you operate by the Bread Model of Information, it's terrible news. You've been gypped - stale information. On the other hand if you view information as something fundamentally different from bread, there's the possibility of good news. Having lived longer, the information here may be wiser, more co-evolved with the world. It may be more refined, having cycled complexly through the minds and responses of 40,000 CQ readers. And it's been through two editorial distillations; the less-than-wonderful and out-of-date may have been extracted.
The notion that there’s value in information that isn’t cutting edge is out of fashion in our world, but it may be crucial to understand in the digital age.
Marc Pilisuk, who teaches in Saybrook's Social Transformation program, will speak on "Moral Courage, Nonviolence, and Peace Communities in Rural Columbia" on Wednesday, July 20.
Dr. Pilisuk is one of the leading scholars of peace in the world today. He is the editor of the recently published three volume anthology Peace Movements World Wide, the most extensive study of the global peace movement ever developed. He is also the 2010 winner of the Society of Psychologists for the Study of Social Issues’ Distinguished Service Award, and its 2011 award for teaching.
- What: Marc Pilisuk on "Moral Courage, Nonviolence and Peace Communities in Rural Colombia."
- Where: UC Berkeley, 210 Wheeler
- When: 3 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20
Organizations have tics, and blind spots, and habits, just like people do. So maybe it’s not surprising, in fact it’s brilliant, to apply psychological processes to organizations.
At the blog Rethinking Complexity, Jorge Taborga examines a Depth Psychology model of organizations, based on the work of Carl Jung.
“The organizational unconscious,” he writes, “is the unique array of ‘energies, contents and truths’ that operate beyond the conscious control of the organization. It is the bridge between the conscious organization and the collective unconscious. It provides the psychodynamic environment for these two forces to interplay.”
All of which is to say that organizations have complexes of which they’re not aware; things that they channel their energies into, without realizing it, that might be neurotic or actively hurtful.
Existentialism and psychoanalysis both view human life as containing tragic elements and hard limits -- we are free, but we can't have everything we want. According to Carlo Strenger, of Tel Aviv University: “The tragic dimension (of life) is no longer popular in our culture that perpetuates the myth of ‘just-do-it,’ and repeats the mantra that happiness is a birthright.”
As long as our culture denies life's tragic elements, as long as our science refuses to acknowledge that there may be any limits to our eventual mastery over life (we'll eventually develope Artificial Intelligence ... we'll eventually understand how "mind" reduces to "brain chemicals" ... we'll eventually prolong human life indefinitely and download our consciousness and reach "the singularity" and all you have to do is click your ruby slippers together three times and believe ...) then philosophies that teach us how to live with and through the human condition - however true and useful - will seem out of touch with a culture of Hollywood endings.
On the Rethinking Complexity blog, Saybrook Organizational Systems faculty member Kathia Laszlo makes a fascinating point: "There is no environmental sustainability without social sustainability."
Is this true? Does solving our planet's environmental crisis mean also addressing the social needs of its citizens?
I think she makes a compelling case. Let us know what you think in the comments section.
Photo by Patricia Ripnel
What’s that? There was widespread cheating on standardized tests in the Atlanta school system?
Surprise surprise …
It’s gotten to the point where you can reasonably expect: if a school district or state doubles down on standardized testing, forces teachers and schools to be held accountable for student scores, and then announcing amazing gains, a major cheating scandal will follow like night and day.
Texas, Washington D.C., Atlanta … all of the “miracle”gains caused by overemphasis on standardized tests have been increases only in smoke and mirrors.
So our emphasis on high stakes testing isn’t actually increasing student learning … and it’s causing what one analyst called “management by fear” in school systems. That can’t be good for teachers or principles.
It’s worse for students. As the Triple-Pundit blog noted, standardized testing actually impedes students’ ability to engage in systems thinking … exactly the kind of creative problem solving most valuable in the 21st century.
What are we doing? Why would we constantly push an educational practice that creates climates of fear, encourage cheating, hurts creative systems thinking, and doesn’t even improve performance?
Why do we do that?
In a recent essay for The New Yorker, Louis Menard recalls the first time a student ever asked him “Why did we have to read this book?” It’s the more direct way of asking: what is this education good for?
It was, apparently, the first time he’d ever thought of the question himself.
I could see that this was not only a perfectly legitimate question; it was a very interesting question. The students were asking me to justify the return on investment in a college education. I just had never been called upon to think about this before. It wasn’t part of my training. We took the value of the business we were in for granted.
The answer, he decided, depends on what college is for – and nobody’s really sure of that, anymore, are they?
The Existential Humanistic Institute is hosting a Learning Community on Thursday, July 7, to connect people interested in existential therapy and see how a vibrant existential culture can address local and global needs.
A Learning Community is a social forum in which people who share a common interest can get together and network, share resources and ideas, brainstorm, and build a local support system in the psychological world at large. Learning community meetings can look very different depending on who organizes them, but the common thread which they all share is that they bring people together who have diverging interests. It is also helpful to invite people from other professions (e.g. – the artistic community, the teaching community, the medical community) to create an integrative grassroots forum.
The EHI’s Learning Community meeting will be held:
- Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2011
- Time: 7:00 - 9:00 PM
- Location: Laguna Grove Care
- Address: 624 Laguna St. Map http://tinyurl.com/427obrj
- San Francisco, CA 94102
For more information, contact Candice Hershman