Let’s admit it: we’ve all had some really bad impulses.
Shouting at a lecturer, running in traffic, stealing an inadvisable kiss … who hasn’t had a sudden, mad, urge to do the unthinkable?
It’s a basic fact of human life, and once again evolutionary psychology is claiming to have explained it. Turns out, it’s a survival mechanism. Who would have guessed?
In a recent paper published in Science, Harvard researches say these urges are “ironic processes of control” that help us tame our anti-social impulses.
“These monitoring processes keep us watchful for errors of thought, speech, and action and enable us to avoid the worst thing in most situations,” the authors write.
In a post on the New York Times’ “Mind” blog, author Benedict Carey expanded on the idea that these self-destructive impulses evolved as a way of helping us manage our anti-social tendencies.
Perverse impulses seem to arise when people focus intensely on avoiding specific errors or taboos. The theory is straightforward: to avoid blurting out that a colleague is a raging hypocrite, the brain must first imagine just that; the very presence of that catastrophic insult, in turn, increases the odds that the brain will spit it out.
“We know that what’s accessible in our minds can exert an influence on judgment and behavior simply because it’s there, it’s floating on the surface of consciousness,” said Jamie Arndt, a psychologist at the University of Missouri.
So there you go, question answered, problem solved, right?
Maybe – unless you actually want to actually understand what’s going on in your mind, with your thoughts, and your impulses. Then this theory has absolutely nothing to tell you.
In fact, says Saybrook faculty member Kirk Schneider, it’s a classic example of what Rollo May, in his book Psychology and the Human Dilemma, called "turning mountains into mole hills."
Don Moss, Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine program director, has been elected President of Division 30 of the American Psychological Association for the term of 2010 – 2011.
Division 30 is the Society of Psychological Hypnosis.
The election is one more example of Saybrook’s long leadership in the American Psychological Association’s divisions as well as in the field of mind-body medicine and hypnosis.
The current President of Division 30 is Saybrook faculty member Eric Willmarth, whose term expires in 2010. Willmarth also received the American Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis’ Presidential Recognition Award this year.
From spiritual questions to daunting medical challenges: alumni scholarship support student research07/28/2009
Saybrook PhD student Erica Hamilton wants to create a multi-dimensional model for addressing a painful women’s medical condition. PhD student Les Ernst wants to interview spiritual directors across the U.S. to study how they teach people to discern an authentic spiritual experience.
Both of them will be able to complete these ambitious dissertations, thanks to support from the Saybrook Alumni Association.
This month the Alumni Association named Ernst and Hamilton its 2009 scholarship winners.
The $8,000 scholarships, begun last year, are awarded annually to two PhD students, in any Saybrook program, who have completed their coursework and are looking for funding to help complete their dissertation.
Saybrook Alumni Director George Aiken says there were nearly 20 essay and candidacy level doctoral students who applied, and that all of them were highly qualified.
If the scientific establishment didn’t have ADHD, this is the sort of thing they would be paying attention to: a long-term study recently completed by the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) showed that there are few-to-no long term benefits for treating children with ADHD with Ritalin.
According to the NIMH report:
The eight-year follow-up revealed no differences in symptoms or functioning among the youths assigned to the different treatment groups as children. This result suggests that the type or intensity of a one-year treatment for ADHD in childhood does not predict future functioning.
A majority (61.5 percent) of the children who were medicated at the end of the 14-month trial had stopped taking medication by the eight-year follow-up, suggesting that medication treatment may lose appeal with families over time. The reasons for this decline are under investigation, but they nevertheless signal the need for alternative treatments.
And, perhaps most importantly:
Children who were no longer taking medication at the eight-year follow-up were generally functioning as well as children who were still medicated.
These are the kind of results that humanistic psychologists have been predicting for some time, and humanistic psychology can be excused an exasperated sigh when it reads that the NIMH now thinks that the actual symptoms of individual children might be the most important factor they present with, as noted below:
The researchers also speculate that a child’s initial clinical presentation, including ADHD symptom severity, behavior problems, social skills and family resources, may predict how they will function as teens more so than the type of treatment they received.
For a generation of new college graduates, the future is not what they expected.
It had seemed so easy: get a BA, go get a job at an investment bank or a big company, make lots of money and the rest would take care of itself.
But “the rest” didn’t take care of itself – and as industry after industry has been roiled by social and technological change, there is an increasing drumbeat that “there has to be a better way” to handle work. “The future of work” is big news in the media, even a Time Magazine cover story last week.
Meanwhile, the easy future is no longer an option. According to a terrifying report from ABC News, only 20% of new BA’s are finding a full-time job right after college. As these students try to piece together a healthy economic life with the tools they have, they are the unwilling vanguard into the new economy.
But what will the future of work look like? What trends will be most important, what skills will be valued, and what will a “day at the office” look like?
Kathia Laszlo, a Saybrook faculty member in Organizational Systems, says that much of the current chaos in the economy comes from the fact that “We have created an artificial separation between work, learning and life.”
Saybrook invites all interested students to take 3 minutes at the June RC and tell the world something about themselves
Almost every Saybrook student has a story to tell – and one way Saybrook stands out from other institutions is the quality of its students.
Saybrook students are often already professionally successful and personally accomplished: many seek higher education so that they can have a greater impact on the world. They tend to have unconventional ideas and an intimate knowledge of how much their profession needs unconventional ideas. They understand that quantitative thinking is never a substitute for qualitative thinking. In short, they’re looking for more than a grade or a credential: they’re looking for an education.
In an effort to get to know its students better, and to better present its students to the world, all interested students are invited to “tell their story” to our camera at the June RC. Each student will have up to three minutes to say whatever they want about themselves, their education, and Saybrook.
On May 26, California made national news when the state’s supreme court upheld Proposition 8 – a ballot initiative that stripped the right to marry away from gay and lesbian couples.
Legal analysts say the court made its decision because … while acknowledging that marriage is a “fundamental right” … the state constitution does not explicitly protect “fundamental rights,” and that therefore there is no ground to protect them from a popular vote.
Political analysts, meanwhile, point out that State Supreme Court justices are elected in California, and that the six justices had been threatened with recall efforts had they voted the other way.
But Joel Federman, who directs Saybrook’s Social Transformation Concentration, says there is sufficient precedent already for California to stand behind gay marriage.
“The California court had a precedent they could have followed to declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional, a 1996 US Supreme Court decision, Romer v. Evans, involving a constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, passed by a majority in Colorado, and intended to deny state and local government protection of "homosexuals, lesbians or bisexuals" from discrimination,” Federman wrote at topia.net. “As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority in that decision, striking down Colorado Proposition 2: ‘A state cannot...deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws.’ That eloquent phrasing captured the essential meaning of equal protection under the law, and applied it to same-sex discrimination.”
Eventually, Federman says, same-sex marriage will be an “unquestioned right, as obvious to the fair-minded as interracial marriage.”
“But,” he says, “in the meantime, we protest.”
But what will that protest look like? Civil rights marches emerged for the era of TV – what new forms of protest will emerge for the era of Facebook and Twitter? How effective will they be?
Saybrook President Lorne Buchman is pleased to announce that Chip Conley, a humanistic and socially conscious entrepreneur, will be the Honorary Degree recipient at the June, 2009 graduation. He has also graciously agreed to be graduation speaker.
The Honorary Doctorate Committee, composed of students, faculty, administrative staff and board carefully considered the outstanding candidates who had been nominated by members of the Saybrook community and graduating students for this year's honorary degree. The candidates who were chosen each represented a substantial body of work and high achievement in disciplines that embrace our values and principles. Although there were many nominees of substance, the top choices were forwarded to the President and the Board of Trustees for consideration, resulting in the decision to elect Chip Conley.
Chip’s most recently book PEAK: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow is introducing a new generation to Maslow’s work, and is once again demonstrating the relevancy of his writings and humanistic thought to contemporary business practice.
The Ford Foundation recently announced that it is endowing the first permanent arts foundation for the art and culture of American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native artists.
“This,” says Saybrook psychology faculty member Stanley Krippner, “can be a bonanza for indigenous arts.”
Krippner is just one of Saybrook’s many community members who have done extensive work with America’s native peoples, and many of them are thrilled the prospect of native artists finally receiving ongoing support and recognition.
But they also warn that there’s a big difference between “appreciating” native works of art that are preserved behind glass, and supporting the living, breathing, cultures that create today’s native traditions.
The first is easy, they say. The second is far more complex and challenging.
Seven years ago Alison Shapiro was the picture of a healthy 55 year-old. A happy life, a successful career; no health issues, no weight issues; her blood pressure was normal. She was in the middle of living out a lifelong dream, illustrating her first children’s book. She had three of 17 pictures finished.
Then she had a stroke. Twenty-four hours later, she had another.
You may think you’ve got problems, but probably not like Alison had.
The two strokes struck her brain stem – the most lethal place for a stroke to hit. Fifty percent of brain stem stroke victims die; others suffer from “locked in” syndrome, where they are fully conscious – and fully paralyzed. By the time the strokes were over, Alison’s left side was mostly paralyzed, and her right side was wildly uncoordinated. She couldn’t swallow, she couldn't sit up, her speech was heavily slurred, her eyes wouldn’t focus, she couldn’t walk.
It was the kind of event no one is ever prepared for.
“There I was, in that hospital,” she says. “I was completely stunned. It’s a very sudden event, it’s like a train wreck: one minute your life is fine, the next minute you can’t move. When it happened, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do. I had no idea how to face it.”
But don’t feel bad for Alison: she figured out how to face it. And she wants you to know that when you have to face it … or any other adversity … that you can, too.
Today Alison is healthy, active, and engaged with life again: a fully functioning person who has published her children’s book. In fact, she says she feels more empowered than she ever has before.
And this month Alison, the Chair of Saybrook’s Board of Trustees, is seeing the release of a book about her recovery experience.