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Posts tagged "psychology"

Jun 30, 2012
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C. G. Jung, The Red Book

Now here’s a book you can’t read on the StairMaster at the gym. Weighing in about 10 pounds and over a foot long, you have to find a nice big table to spread out with this thing. My friend @jessicahagy said, “I love having that big book in my office. Just opening it on a flat table feels like a ritual of sorts.”

The most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology. When Carl Jung embarked on an extended self-exploration he called his “confrontation with the unconscious,” the heart of it was The Red Book, a large, illuminated volume he created between 1914 and 1930. Here he developed his principle theories—of the archetypes, the collective unconscious, and the process of individuation—that transformed psychotherapy from a practice concerned with treatment of the sick into a means for higher development of the personality.

While Jung considered The Red Book to be his most important work, only a handful of people have ever seen it. Now, in a complete facsimile and translation, it is available to scholars and the general public. It is an astonishing example of calligraphy and art on a par with The Book of Kells and the illuminated manuscripts of William Blake.

There’s also an excellent introductory essay by Sonu Shamdasani that places the Red Book in the context of Jung’s life and work.

It ain’t cheap — about $120 — but it’s well worth seeking out. (I borrowed it from the Austin Public Library.)

Nov 27, 2011
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I know what’s going on inside me—I’m not a fool. But I don’t want to analyze it, I want to use it.

Aug 22, 2011
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William James’ attention exercise: “Draw a dot on a piece of paper, then pay attention to it for as long as you can.”

From Sam Anderson’s excellent, “In defense of distraction”:

James argued that the human mind can’t actually focus on the dot, or any unchanging object, for more than a few seconds at a time: It’s too hungry for variety, surprise, the adventure of the unknown. It has to refresh its attention by continually finding new aspects of the dot to focus on: subtleties of its shape, its relationship to the edges of the paper, metaphorical associations (a fly, an eye, a hole). The exercise becomes a question less of pure unwavering focus than of your ability to organize distractions around a central point. The dot, in other words, becomes only the hub of your total dot-related distraction.This is what the web-threatened punditry often fails to recognize: Focus is a paradox—it has distraction built into it. The two are symbiotic; they’re the systole and diastole of consciousness. Attention comes from the Latin “to stretch out” or “reach toward,” distraction from “to pull apart.” We need both. In their extreme forms, focus and attention may even circle back around and bleed into one other.

From James’ original text, Talks To Teachers:

From an unchanging subject the attention inevitably wanders away. You can test this by the simplest possible case of sensorial attention. Try to attend steadfastly to a dot on the paper or on the wall. You presently find that one or the other of two things has happened: either your field of vision has become blurred, so that you now see nothing distinct at all, or else you have involuntarily ceased to look at the dot in question, and are looking at something else. But, if you ask yourself successive questions about the dot,—how big it is, how far, of what shape, what shade of color, etc.; in other words, if you turn it over, if you think of it in various ways, and along with various kinds of associates,—you can keep your mind on it for a comparatively long time. This is what the genius does, in whose hands a given topic coruscates and grows.

William James’ attention exercise: “Draw a dot on a piece of paper, then pay attention to it for as long as you can.”

From Sam Anderson’s excellent, “In defense of distraction”:

James argued that the human mind can’t actually focus on the dot, or any unchanging object, for more than a few seconds at a time: It’s too hungry for variety, surprise, the adventure of the unknown. It has to refresh its attention by continually finding new aspects of the dot to focus on: subtleties of its shape, its relationship to the edges of the paper, metaphorical associations (a fly, an eye, a hole). The exercise becomes a question less of pure unwavering focus than of your ability to organize distractions around a central point. The dot, in other words, becomes only the hub of your total dot-related distraction.

This is what the web-threatened punditry often fails to recognize: Focus is a paradox—it has distraction built into it. The two are symbiotic; they’re the systole and diastole of consciousness. Attention comes from the Latin “to stretch out” or “reach toward,” distraction from “to pull apart.” We need both. In their extreme forms, focus and attention may even circle back around and bleed into one other.

From James’ original text, Talks To Teachers:

From an unchanging subject the attention inevitably wanders away. You can test this by the simplest possible case of sensorial attention. Try to attend steadfastly to a dot on the paper or on the wall. You presently find that one or the other of two things has happened: either your field of vision has become blurred, so that you now see nothing distinct at all, or else you have involuntarily ceased to look at the dot in question, and are looking at something else. But, if you ask yourself successive questions about the dot,—how big it is, how far, of what shape, what shade of color, etc.; in other words, if you turn it over, if you think of it in various ways, and along with various kinds of associates,—you can keep your mind on it for a comparatively long time. This is what the genius does, in whose hands a given topic coruscates and grows.

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What information consumes is rather obvious: It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.
— Economist Herbert A. Simon, 1971, quoted in Sam Anderson’s piece, "In Defense of Distraction" (Other gems from William James: “My experience is what I agree to attend to,” and Merlin’s wife: “You have all the information you need to do something right now.”)

Aug 18, 2011
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Nothing has a stronger influence…on their children than the unlived life of the parents.
— Carl Jung, quoted by Clay Tarver of Chavez in his terrific piece, “The Secret Life of a Rock Dad

Aug 17, 2011
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Poets who eventually commit suicide use I-words [I, me, my] more than non-suicidal poets.

May 06, 2011
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Empathy is like a universal solvent. Any problem immersed in empathy becomes soluble.

May 04, 2011
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We have to have our dark corners and the unexplained. We will become uninhabitable in a way an apartment will become uninhabitable if you illuminate every single dark corner and under the table and wherever—you cannot live in a house like this anymore. And you cannot live with a person anymore—let’s say in a marriage or a deep friendship—if everything is illuminated, explained, and put out on the table.

Mar 02, 2011
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Oct 07, 2010
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When two people start a conversation, they usually begin talking alike within a matter of seconds….This also happens when people read a book or watch a movie. As soon as the credits roll, they find themselves talking like the author or the central characters.
— James Pennebaker, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, describing language style matching (LSM), and the reason why I find myself thinking in Woody Allen’s cadences two hours after I watch one of his movies (via Bobulate)
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