ungloom (y)our heart balloon with this chewy amalgam of semiotic bubblegum

November 5, 2012 4:15 pm

"I find no catharsis…This is not a psychological enterprise for me, it is a calling. And anyone who knows a calling, it is a terrible, terrible thing. Because it is something you did not choose…It’s not some vainglorious shit, it’s what it is. It’s pretty mundane, to have a calling. You gotta get up every day and fucking do bullshit. So whether it’s transcendent or it’s kind of this oh-woe-is-me crap, the end of it is it’s the daily grind. But certainly what I find is that I happen to be very good at something that I find incredibly difficult. And I think that there are plenty of artists out there, who are incredibly good at shit they find very difficult. And if you don’t have any compassion for yourself, because most of the artists that we have now are artists who are very good at something they find very easy. What we need are more of these artists who find what they do very difficult—because it’s the process of that compassion or forgiving yourself that is difficult that creates some of the most glorious art, you know? But you write very little. I’m super slow. So it’s more like the daily grind, and the constant reminder that it’s okay. I mean I wake up every day and it’s like it is okay, that at this thing which I am good at, I’m very terrible at. How do you deal with your fear, your blockages, the way you resist yourself, in the process of creating art, how do you deal with it?

I have one limited experience from one subjectivity, so I can not pretend that anything I say about this is in any way authoritative.You know when anyone talks about art, it’s simply a heuristic, something that you bounce off of and perhaps it can produce learning, perhaps it doesn’t. My sense of it has been from my own experience, again very very tiny, very particular. My sense of it has always been that what defines an artist’s success, is not their training and their persistence, both necessary.Training and persistence, both necessary. But what defines an artist’s success is usually their compassion. And compassion starts at home. Most of us hobble ourself in our art because we have such limited compassion and it’s no accident, we live in a society that teaches us no compassion. And so we have no compassion for ourselves. And therefore every time we try to do something, first we take a bat, smash ourselves in the face, and then say sing. Or write. Or dance. In fact, I always think, develop your compassion, and your art follows. And it’s a very difficult struggle. It’s a very difficult struggle; I think that a lot of the professionalization of arts wants to render this myth that training and persistence are enough but the truth of it is, a person who forgives themselves with no training, will outwrite the greatest writer on earth. To forgive yourself for your limitations, to forgive yourself for your fragility, to forgive yourself for your mistakes, I mean, we’re not taught that. I wasn’t taught that—I come from a military family. A military, Dominican, fucking family. My father was a full out, card-carrying member of the Trujilato. You know? No I’m like, to the left of super progressive, but my dad was a straight-up fascist. And that’s just the way it is, it happens. And there was no forgiveness in a military family, you know? For me, it’s the endless struggle, because it’s like alcoholism, you don’t suddenly become compassionate to yourself, you do it every day. There is no achieving it. There’s no achieving it, you just struggle every day. I still remember in my family, again, this was good for one day, and terrible for another way—in my family, we never had that American thing, you know that American thing where nobody’s to blame. You know, my students, I love my students to death, I really do, I love my students to death but I don’t speak the language of excuse. So I always have to sit there and be like, ‘Oh wait, they’re trying to tell me an excuse!’ Cause I don’t even know, I don’t even know what the fuck it is. I was like ‘Oh shit! This is an excuse, dude!’ ‘Cause in my family, there was none of that. If a bottle fell, the closest person next to it would be like ‘I did that, I am responsible for that.’ And that was it. Which is a fucking terrible way to grow up. Because sometimes shit happens and there’s nobody to blame. And sometimes, the first reaction shouldn’t be blame, it should be forgiveness. And I think whether you lived in a more explicit version of that Dominican culture like my father or a less explicit, most of us live in that regime, a regime of no-forgiveness.”

April 27, 2011 1:42 pm

"Money can’t buy you love - or social skills"

"In three studies, lower-class individuals (compared with upper-class individuals) received higher scores on a test of empathic accuracy (Study 1), judged the emotions of an interaction partner more accurately (Study 2), and made more accurate inferences about emotion from static images of muscle movements in the eyes (Study 3). Moreover, the association between social class and empathic accuracy was explained by the tendency for lower-class individuals to explain social events in terms of features of the external environment."

- Social Class, Contextualism, and Empathic Accuracy  //  Psychological Science


"But what if people who are financially well-off get that way because they’re more self-focused? What if wealth doesn’t affect empathy, but empathy affects wealth? To find out, the researchers recruited 81 different students. This time, they asked some of the students to visualize an extraordinarily wealthy individual — someone like Bill Gates, Kraus said.

Next, the students were told to place themselves on the socioeconomic ladder, imagining their wealthy individual at the top. Thinking of the Gates-like figure triggered the students to place themselves lower on the ladder than they otherwise would have. Other students were told to imagine someone completely destitute; those students placed themselves relatively higher on the ladder.

Finally, the 81 students looked at 36 close-up photographs of eyes and judged the emotions portrayed in the pictures. Sure enough, those manipulated into seeing themselves as lower-class scored 6 percent better than those manipulated into perceiving themselves as well-off.

That was a critical finding, Kraus said.

"If you manipulate, then you can talk about class leading to empathy," he said.

research by Michael Kraus @ UCSF, article by Stephanie Papas

thought I’d already posted this but I guess not. Also this affiliated blog Psych Your Mind is neat.

October 6, 2010 11:48 am
Why So Many People Can't Make Decisions (Wall Street Journal)


Some people meet, fall in love and get married right away. Others can spend hours in the sock aisle at the department store, weighing the pros and cons of buying a pair of wool argyles instead of cotton striped.

Seeing the world as black and white, in which choices seem clear, or shades of gray can affect people’s path in life, from jobs and relationships to which political candidate they vote for, researchers say. People who often have conflicting feelings about situations—the shades-of-gray thinkers—have more of what psychologists call ambivalence, while those who tend toward unequivocal views have less ambivalence.

High ambivalence may be useful in some situations, and low ambivalence in others, researchers say. And although people don’t fall neatly into one camp or the other, in general, individuals who tend toward ambivalence do so fairly consistently across different areas of their lives.

For decades psychologists largely ignored ambivalence because they didn’t think it was meaningful. The way researchers studied attitudes—by asking participants where they fell on a scale ranging from positive to negative—also made it difficult to tease apart who held conflicting opinions from those who were neutral, according to Mark Zanna, a University of Waterloo professor who studies ambivalence. (Similarly, psychologists long believed it wasn’t necessary to examine men and women separately when studying the way people think.)

Now, researchers have been investigating how ambivalence, or lack of it, affects people’s lives, and how they might be able to make better decisions. Overall, thinking in shades of gray is a sign of maturity, enabling people to see the world as it really is. It’s a “coming to grips with the complexity of the world,” says Jeff Larsen, a psychology professor who studies ambivalence at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

In a recent study, college students were asked to write an essay coming down on one side or another of a contentious issue, regarding a new labor law affecting young adults, while other groups of students were allowed to write about both sides of the issue. The students forced to choose a side reported feeling more uncomfortable, even physically sweating more, says Frenk van Harreveld , a social psychologist at the University of Amsterdam who studies how people deal with ambivalence.

If there isn’t an easy answer, ambivalent people, more than black-and-white thinkers, are likely to procrastinate and avoid making a choice, for instance about whether to take a new job, says Dr. Harreveld. But if after careful consideration an individual still can’t decide, one’s gut reaction may be the way to go. Dr. van Harreveld says in these situations he flips a coin, and if his immediate reaction when the coin lands on heads is negative, then he knows what he should do.

Researchers can’t say for sure why some people tend towards greater ambivalence. Certain personality traits play a role—people with a strong need to reach a conclusion in a given situation tend to black-and-white thinking, while ambivalent people tend to be more comfortable with uncertainty. Individuals who are raised in environments where their parents are ambivalent or unstable may grow to experience anxiety and ambivalence in future relationships, according to some developmental psychologists…

July 2, 2010 4:20 pm
Attention from Parent Linked to Later Depressive Symptoms (Psych Central)


New research suggests siblings who received more attention from mom during youth are at higher risk of depressive symptoms during middle age.

Interestingly, the heightened attention could be associated with a child being a shining star or a black sheep.

The study by Cornell University gerontologist Karl Pillemer surveyed 275 Boston-area families and is the first to show that such harmful effects persist long into adulthood.

Prior research has shown that parental favoritism negatively affects mental health and often triggers behavioral problems in children, teens and young adults.

“Perceived favoritism from one’s mother still matters to a child’s psychological well-being, even if they have been living for years outside the parental home and have started families of their own,” says Pillemer, a professor in the department of human development and associate dean in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology.

“It doesn’t matter whether you are the chosen child or not, the perception of unequal treatment has damaging effects for all siblings.”

The study, which controlled for family size, race and other factors, drew on interviews with 275 mothers in their 60s and 70s with at least two living adult children. Researchers also surveyed 671 offspring of the women.

The findings could lead to new therapies for practitioners who work with later-life families, Pillemer says.

“We have a powerful norm in our society that parents should treat kids equally, so favoritism can be something of a taboo topic,” he says.

“If counselors can help older parents and adult children bring some of these issues into the open, it may help prevent family conflict from arising.”

Source: Cornell University

June 12, 2010 11:23 am
Five Gifts and Five Curses of Being Highly Sensitive (Psych Central)

thought y’all could relate to this.


1. sensory details
2. nuances in meaning
3. emotional awareness
4. creativity
5. greater empathy

1. easily overwhelmed/overstimulated
2. affected by emotions of others
3. need for ample solitude
4. unhealthy perfectionism
5. living out of sync with mainstream culture


An interview with Douglas Eby, a writer and researcher on the psychology of creative expression, high ability and personal growth.

May 17, 2010 4:33 pm
Meditate Your Way to More Willpower


Practicing mindfulness meditation for a few minutes each day can actually boost willpower by building up gray matter in areas of the brain that regulate emotions and govern decision making. “Paying attention to what’s happening in the moment, what’s going on in your body, your mind, and all around you, can make it easier to tune in to choices you make several hundred times a day when it comes to eating,” says health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, who teaches a class on the science of willpower at Stanford University.

April 13, 2010 11:56 pm
When Social Fear Is Missing, So Are Racial Stereotypes, Shows Study of Children With Williams Syndrome


Children with the genetic condition known as Williams syndrome have unusually friendly natures because they lack the sense of fear that the rest of us feel in many social situations. Now, a study reported in the April 13th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, suggests that children with Williams Syndrome are missing something else the rest of us have from a very tender age: the proclivity to stereotype others based on their race.

12:25 am

"The Evolution of Love"

"The growing length of childhood coevolved with the enlarging of the brain - which has tripled in size over the last 2.5 million years, since the time of the first tool-making hominids - and with the development of complex bonding, which includes friendship, romantic love, parent-child attachment, and loyalty to a group.

As the brain grew bigger, childhood needed to be longer since there was so much to learn. To keep a vulnerable child alive for many years, we evolved strong bonds between parents and children, between mates, within extended family groups, and within bands as a whole - all in order to sustain “the village it takes to raise a child.” Bands with better teamwork outcompeted other bands for scarce resources; since breeding occurred primarily within bands, genes for bonding, cooperation, and altruism proliferated within the human genome.

Numerous physical, social, and psychological factors promote bonding. Let’s focus on physical factors, and then drill down further to examine two chemicals inside your brain: dopamine and oxytocin. Both are neurotransmitters, and oxytocin also functions as a hormone when it acts outside the nervous system…”

this article, in Psychology Today, written by neuropsychologist/buddhist/co-founder of wisebrain.org rick hanson, goes on to talk about how dopamine has rewards/addiction mechanisms, and leads to increase in testosterone (ie sex drive), and how oxytocin’s experiential qualities are “pleasurable feelings of relaxation and rightness,” promotes bonding, is released with extended physical contact, orgasms, moving together harmoniously, probably during devotional/spiritual experiences, the stimulation of nipples, and more!

March 14, 2010 5:39 pm

fall for your brainheart (sit still, silent)

"She also found that those who had more activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex and greater emotional regulation after a fight displayed more cognitive control in laboratory tests, indicating a link between emotion regulation and broader cognitive control skills."

I think it was early in college while hangin with some gamer guys that I no longer believed in the duality between thinking/feeling, reason/emotion. There was a debate about what is more important, and some boys felt that logic overrode feelings, while others of us felt that they were inseparable, or rather that constructing them in opposition was neither reasonable or humane. More recently, in learning more about zen buddhism and its concepts of non-self or non-duality, it’s hard not to feel like science, philosophy, etc. are just beginning to shear at the hems of the umbrella-skirt of buddhism and daoism. The everchanging fabric of our interconnected reality, moving infinity, has been so wrinkled and soiled by syrupy untruths of difference, individualism, labor as life, etc.

What brought this on was the article quoted above called “Brain predicts partner’s emotional resiliency,” or what I like to re-interpret in unprivileging monogamy as “link found between greater emotional resiliency and broader cognitive control skills.” This unprivileging is based on my idea of heteronormativity as a dominating reality with monogamy being one facet. Michael Hardt, in his struggle to resolve the present problem that people are not able to rule themselves, asks what are the capacities people have now that can direct them toward self-government and finds some insight in love as a political concept. He talks about ways in which the idea of love has been corrupted/destroyed is by usurping its definition within the (hetero) couple and family.

My concern is that when we are all struggling to resist the oppressive terrors of alienation (its persistence within individuals, its systemic cultivations), we often get caught up in movements of resistance and opposition that we lose sight of, ahem—dareisayit, peace and love.

So it seems unsurprising that there’s a correlation between cognition capacity and emotional stability because it’s all part of the big harmony of the universe found in silence. This is part of why I say brainheart because they’re inseparable.

February 15, 2010 5:50 pm

wishful seeing

"Perceptions of distance depend in part on the desirability of the perceived object—which depends, in turn, on its capacity to satisfy a visceral or intrapsychic need. The effect of desirability on distance perception was observed in numeric reports, and it was also observed when we used techniques that are standard in perceptual research (action-based and visual matching measures) for measuring the behavioral consequences of perceptual biases. We suggest that these biases arise in order to encourage perceivers to engage in behaviors leading to the acquisition of the object."

- More Desired Objects are Seen as Closer // Emily Balcetis and David Dunning in A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science