Tag Archives: Mental Health

Returning, Again, to Robert M. Pirsig | The New Yorker

All roads lead to “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”

By Jay Caspian Kang, October 25, 2022

As readers, we believed Robert M. Pirsig could see the Buddha in a well-maintained carburetor. We wanted to see it, too, and we wanted to work as he did.Photograph from Alamy 

Every writer I know has memories they return to in their work over and over again. There is rarely much logic to the choices, nor do such memories tend to align with the sorts of significant events that traditionally make up the time line of one’s life.

My point of fixation, one that’s appeared a few times in my writing, occurred during a solo cross-country road trip I took at the age of nineteen. I was driving to Seattle, where I knew nobody, and was planning to stop for the night in Billings, Montana. It was already late, and I had been keeping myself awake with a non-stop chain of cigarettes and vending-machine coffee I’d dutifully bought at every rest stop along the way. I had a pile of books on tape on the passenger’s seat.

About an hour outside of Billings, I put in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” which, coincidentally, starts out on a road trip to Montana. The first line—“I can see by my watch, without taking my hand from the left grip of the cycle, that it is eight-thirty in the morning”—had a hypnotic effect on me. I blew through Billings that night, and for the next six hours I listened to Robert M. Pirsig’s barely fictional meditation on fatherhood, Chautauquas, Zen, tools, and the idea that quality—the main conceptual preoccupation of Pirsig’s life—lay in the repetition of right actions.

Editor’s Note: Read more, see link below for original item…

Source: https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/returning-again-to-robert-m-pirsig

How libraries became refuges for people with mental illness.

By Anthony Aycock, Sept 22, 20225:50 AM

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo/Slate. Photo by Chanvre Québec on Unsplash and Pawel_B/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Welcome to State of Mind, a new section from Slate and Arizona State University dedicated to exploring mental health. Follow us on Twitter.

The Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges is often credited with saying that “Paradise is a library.” He must not have meant a downtown public library, circa 8 p.m. Such places, like most communal spheres, can be a challenge to oversee.

Some people treat them like a sort of roomless hotel, sleeping in chairs and bathing in restrooms. I used to watch a man who looked like the famous woodcut of Blackbeard the Pirate ride the escalator of my three-story library up, down, up, down. For hours. Carrying a duffel bag. He never bothered anyone, so our security officers left him alone. (Can’t say the same for the lady of the evening who was meeting clients in the stairwell.)

Then there are the questions from believers in Qanon. Election deniers. Sovereign citizens. The woman who ranted about the “news” that the World Health Organization was going to “force a vote to allow them to take over the U.S. and force a lockdown like China.” (If WHO had that kind of power, why bother with a vote?)

The man who asked me how he and a few of his buddies could get into the governor’s office to “remove him” over pandemic closures. (Would that all insurrectionists did such thorough research!) Declinism is the feeling that everything is getting harder, scarier, and weirder, and a lot of people seem to have it.

Work in a library, I want to tell them, and you’ll learn what weird is.

Source: https://slate.com/technology/2022/09/libraries-mental-health-support.html

Why Social Media Makes People Unhappy–And Simple Ways To Fix It | Scientific American

Research suggests platform designs make us lose track of time spent on them and can heighten conflicts, and then we feel upset with ourselves

By Daisy Yuhas, June 20, 2022

Disrupted sleep, lower life satisfaction and poor self-esteem are just a few of the negative mental health consequences that research has linked to social media.

Somehow the same platforms that can help people feel more connected and knowledgeable also contribute to loneliness and disinformation.

What succeeds and fails, computer scientists argue, is a function of how these platforms are designed.

Amanda Baughan, a graduate student specializing in human-computer interaction, a subfield of computer science, at the University of Washington, believes that interdisciplinary research could inform better social platforms and apps. At the 2022 Association for Computing Machinery Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in May, she presented findings from a recent project that explored how social media triggers what psychologists call “dissociation,” or a state of reduced self-reflection and narrowed attention.

Baughan spoke with Mind Matters editor Daisy Yuhas to explain how and why apps need to change to give the people who use them greater power.

Source: Why Social Media Makes People Unhappy–And Simple Ways To Fix It – Scientific American

Scientists Discover How to Peer Into the ‘Mind’s Eye’ – CNET

If you find it hard to mentally visualize objects, you’re not alone. You might have aphantasia.

By Monisha Ravisetti, April 26, 2022 12:12 p.m. PT

Where do you lie on the aphantasiac spectrum?
Getty Images

Picture a red apple. Great. Now, which of the following describes you?

Group 1: You’re visualizing a vibrant, ruby-colored fruit like it’s living in your mind.

Group 2: You’re pondering the concept of an apple without getting any mental imagery. If you’re in the former group, you might wonder whether group 2 just didn’t understand the prompt. If you’re in the latter, you might find it extremely odd for group 1 to exist at all. And group 2, you might have aphantasia.

For those of you still scratching your head about which category you fall under, the good news is that an experimental startup in Australia is on a quest to find an objective measure of how vivid your imagination is. Having made some serious headway recently, it published a paper about its progress in the journal eLife last month — but we’ll get back to that.

Source: Scientists Discover How to Peer Into the ‘Mind’s Eye’ – CNET

How grief and loss affect your brain, and why it takes time to adapt : Shots – Health News : NPR

By Berly McCoy, December 20, 20212:55 PM ET

Grief is tied to all sorts of different brain functions, says researcher and author Mary-Frances O’Connor. That can range from being able to recall memories to taking the perspective of another person, to even things like regulating our heart rate and the experience of pain and suffering.
Adam Lister/Getty Images

Holidays are never quite the same after someone we love dies.

Even small aspects of a birthday or a Christmas celebration — an empty seat at the dinner table, one less gift to buy or make — can serve as jarring reminders of how our lives have been forever changed.

Although these realizations are hard to face, clinical psychologist Mary-Frances O’Connor says we shouldn’t avoid them or try to hide our feelings. “Grief is a universal experience,” she notes, “and when we can connect, it is better.”

O’Connor, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, studies what happens in our brains when we experience grief.

She says grieving is a form of learning — one that teaches us how to be in the world without someone we love in it. “The background is running all the time for people who are grieving, thinking about new habits and how they interact now.”

Source: How grief and loss affect your brain, and why it takes time to adapt : Shots – Health News : NPR