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review 2020-05-28 13:38
The Dark Sides of Empathy
The Dark Sides of Empathy - Fritz Breithaupt,Andrew B B Hamilton

by Fritz Breithaupt

 

This is a Psychology book and as such a little dry. It examines the minds of people who rather than using empathy to sympathise with others in a positive way, are actually motivated by it to do harm.

 

Breithaupt gives five dark sides of empathy: self loss, black and white thinking, humanitarianism as ego gratification, the darkest one in my opinion is motivation for sadism, identifying with the victim, and vampiristic empathy, people who expand their own life experience by over-identifying with someone else, like helicopter parents.

 

It's a very dark read, but very thought-provoking and genius in its field. This would be very useful for anyone who works in the psychiatric field or for people who deal with negative qualities from someone else who may fit one of these categories. Also Horror writers who could easily base a scary character on these all too human flaws.

 

Impressively insightful, if disturbing.

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review 2020-05-24 14:23
The Art of Lucid Dreaming
The Art of Lucid Dreaming - Johnson Maureen, Res-Brennan Sarah Clare Cassandra

by Clare R. Johnson, Ph.D

 

I've been aware of lucid dreaming for years and even done it spontaneously a few times, but could never stay asleep for long once I realised I was dreaming. I immediately tried some of the first techniques explained in this book and got instant results on the first night for checking I was in a dream! Then several nights followed when I didn't have a lucid experience to test.

 

As the book points out, it takes practice. I started practicing with the techniques for 'programming' your mind to become lucid while falling back to sleep in the early morning hours, but not the full bladder one as that wakes me up quickly. I've had luck so far at the time of writing with trying to induce lucid dreams while falling back into a morning doze, but this is one of the things that takes practice. I fall into deep sleep too easily.

 

I took this one slowly, reading a few exercises and stopping to assimilate and experiment. I expect I'll be giving it a second reading as well. One of the unique things about the book is a 'quiz' to give you self-analysis about what sort of sleeper and dreamer you are in order to guide you towards the exercises that will be most effective for you. This gave me a lot of insight and some great suggestions to work with.

 

I have had multiple lucid experiences while reading the book and have been able to try the techniques for taking control of the experience and for trying to stay asleep for a while at least to enjoy it. I suspect this will get easier over time, but I'm definitely having some results.

 

The one thing I would take issue with is in a meditation, the author suggests staring into a candle flame. NEVER DO THIS!!! It can cause retinal damage! In any candle ritual or meditation, you look just above the flame, not into it. The rest of the advice on that one, to look around the periphery of the flame and see different perspectives, is fine. Just don't stare directly into it.

 

In the later chapters, the author gives advice for working any meditation or Yoga practice you might be using into the exercises, but she acknowledges that it isn't required if that's not your thing. The last chapter was about healing through lucid dreams, both psychological and physical. Despite being a natural sceptic, I know the mind can have tremendous effects on the body and I think it would be interesting to experiment with this. There were some apocryphal stories about people identifying and even eliminating tumours through lucid experiences, which I keep an open mind about.

 

In any case, the exercises to develop control of lucidity in your dreams are good and make perfect sense. My own early successes are enough to convince me that it's worth the practice and the author knows her stuff.

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review 2020-04-26 17:12
The Upside of Your Dark Side
The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self--Not Just Your "Good" Self--Drives Success and Fulfillment - Todd Kashdan,Robert Biswas-Diener

by Todd Kashdan, Robert Biswas-Diener

 

This is a Self-help/Psychology book about embracing your 'negative' emotions and living in balance with yourself.

 

It starts with a great example of how to test how people deal with uncertainty and the role that primal anger plays in competition sports. It challenges Maslow's theory of the hierarchy of needs and postulates that our expectations of what will make us happy are often wrong, a theory which appears very plausible.

 

The book focuses a lot on the idea that those who are most able to deal with negative feelings are most happy, live longest and are most creative. On the surface I would agree with this idea, but some of the specifics in the theory as put forward in this book didn't quite fit with my own experience.

 

The book suggested that we as a species have become easily stressed because we have come to rely on comforts. It also had some interesting insights about how being comfortable externally can lead to discomfort internally. The problem was that it was presented as a universal condition and didn't allow for naturally happy people to roll with the punches when they come, while still enjoying all the comforts of modern life on a more regular basis.

 

One complaint I had was that it was very American centric, using phrases like "We as Americans" in an assumption that the book's readership would be exclusively American and not acknowledging that the theories would apply to most of the Western world until much later on. Even then there were only passing mention of countries "closest to American".

 

It did go into more diverse cultural differences and made some interesting observations of expectation of 'emotional state' between individualists and collectivists.

 

I have to say that I don't accept their justification for temper tantrums or the way they all but glorify anxiety. In my experience, people who are angry are not more efficient or creative, but miss things because they are too wrapped up in their emotional state to think as clearly as they need to in a crisis situation. Even in sewing lessons I learned long ago that if you're feeling angry, put the creative project away until later because you're going to make mistakes.

 

I also felt at times that they were mixing up definitions of happiness with goal achievements. Yes, achieving a goal is one road to happiness, but it is not happiness itself. Some of the phrases used like "Happy people can be too trusting" in regard to politics and detecting deceit and "Happy people are lazy thinkers" in regard to "paying greater attention to the gist, not the details" really made me question the authors' qualifications. Have they never been happy? Do they really believe that feeling happy makes someone go stupid and unobservant?

 

Perhaps in general, some of these ideas may have some truth behind them, but as a generally happy person who will become very alert the minute someone tries to tell me a lie and someone who experiences happiness most when working on creative things, I found the theories seriously flawed. Still, there were some interesting ideas and if nothing else, food for thought as to what really constitutes happiness and the way that differences in attitude affect how any given person responds to the bumps in life.

 

It's an interesting read, but I recommend maintaining objectivity while reading and questioning rather than taking it all at face value.

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text 2020-04-01 18:45
Humanistic Psychology: Definition and History

Humanistic psychology can be traced to Abraham Maslow as the founding father, however through time has ended up being closely related to Carl Roger's Person-Centered Therapy (or Client-Centered Therapy). However, humanistic psychology today is much more comprehensive and more complicated than Maslow and Roger's foundational method. A broad meaning of humanistic psychology can include several techniques, consisting of person-centered treatment, emotion-focused treatment (EFT), Gestalt treatment, focusing, and existential-humanistic treatment.

Today, it prevails, at least in the United States, for specialists and scholars to view existential psychotherapy as one of the humanistic psychotherapies and research study suggests that it is among the more popular humanistic approaches (Paige et al., 2018). There are many factors for the convergence of these treatments. For one, considering that their development these two approaches have been in close discussion. Second, there have actually been lots of efforts to mix humanistic and existential therapy (i.e., Bugental's existential-humanistic psychotherapy). Lastly, both methods share many of the exact same worths.

Similarities to Existential Psychology

Both approaches are phenomenological. While the term phenomenology is a complex term which many psychologists and thinkers disagree about, the essence of what it indicates for these approaches is that they value personal experience and subjectivity. Psychology, in its attempt to become a science, has developed a preference for the goal. While phenomenological approaches don't discount the value of objective approaches, they believe it is essential to acknowledge the restrictions of objectivity. This, in part, suggests unbiased knowledge is only one part of the big picture.

The "here-and-now" or the restorative moment is a shared worth of these approaches. While the past is necessary, it is also crucial not to forget today. Consisted of in the here-and-now is a commitment to understanding, processing, and valuing the restorative relationship. This relationship is viewed as being a real relationship under unique restraints, limits, and contexts. To put it simply, while numerous psychoanalytic approaches see the treatment relationship as mostly a product of transfer, existential and humanistic techniques focus on the real in the relationship in addition to the transference/countertransference patterns.

Both techniques value self-awareness. In the more general sense, this is shared with all the depth psychiatric therapies. Nevertheless, there is another unique element to self-awareness within existential and humanistic idea. Self-awareness in the more basic sense refers to an understanding of the self that is primarily viewed as built up life experience and unconscious knowledge. In existential and humanistic thought, self-awareness is likewise deeply worried about the human condition and how this impacts the specific self.

Humanistic and existential approaches both value the standard goodness in individuals and the human capacity. Part of the therapy procedure is comprehended as releasing the individual as much as welcome their basic goodness and potential. In doing this, it is thought they will be happier and pleased with life.

Distinctions from Existential Psychology

While both approaches believe in the human potential and goodness, existentialism has actually focused more on the capacity for evil and human limitation. This is more of a distinction of process than standard values. In other words, humanistic psychology usually espouses a comparable position to existentialism, but humanistic therapists have actually not spent as much time dwelling in the shadow or daimonic. This difference should not be lessened regardless of the shared structure of their beliefs. Through time, humanistic psychology has been unjustly defined as being excessively "warm and fuzzy." Many people have actually avoided this theoretical technique because of the perception that it does not deal with the truth of the human condition. On the other hand, existentialists often get accused of costs too much time in the dark locations and being rather morbid. Neither characterization is accurate, yet these characterizations have, sometimes, influenced who has been drawn to the different theoretical positions and how they have actually developed over time.

An essential discussion in between Carl Rogers and Rollo May highlights and extends these distinctions. The discussion started with an article released by Carl Rogers in the Association for Humanistic Psychology's Perspectives. It was followed by a later short article published by May (1982) in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology along with a reply by Rogers (1982; both articles were republished in Miller, 1992). For Rogers, human evil stands out from human nature. It lies in the culture. For May, individuals innately have both the potential for good and for evil. For Rogers, and numerous humanistic psychologists, evil is an external reality which affects individuals through culture and socialization. Since he does not believe this properly deals with our own capacity for evil, May voices concern for this partly.

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text 2020-03-24 10:55
Overview of Humanistic Psychology

Humanistic psychology can be traced to Abraham Maslow as the founding father, however through time has become carefully related to Carl Roger's Person-Centered Therapy (or Client-Centered Therapy). However, humanistic psychology today is much more comprehensive and more intricate than Maslow and Roger's foundational technique. A broad definition of humanistic psychology can include several techniques, including person-centered therapy, emotion-focused treatment (EFT), Gestalt therapy, focusing, and existential-humanistic therapy.

Today, it prevails, at least in the United States, for specialists and scholars to see existential psychiatric therapy as one of the humanistic psychotherapies and research study suggests that it is one of the more popular humanistic methods (Paige et al., 2018). There are many reasons for the merging of these treatments. For one, because their development these 2 methods have actually remained in close dialogue. Second, there have been many efforts to mix existential and humanistic treatment (i.e., Bugental's existential-humanistic psychotherapy). Lastly, both techniques share a lot of the same worths.

Resemblances to Existential Psychology

Both approaches are phenomenological. While the term phenomenology is a complicated term which numerous psychologists and thinkers disagree about, the essence of what it means for these techniques is that they value personal experience and subjectivity. Psychology, in its effort to end up being a science, has developed a preference for the goal. While phenomenological approaches do not mark down the importance of unbiased methods, they think it is necessary to recognize the limitations of neutrality. This, in part, suggests objective understanding is only one part of the big picture.

The "here-and-now" or the therapeutic minute is a shared value of these approaches. While the past is necessary, it is likewise important not to forget the present. Included in the here-and-now is a dedication to understanding, processing, and valuing the therapeutic relationship. This relationship is seen as being a genuine relationship under distinct restraints, limits, and contexts. Simply put, while numerous psychoanalytic techniques see the therapy relationship as mainly a product of transfer, existential and humanistic methods concentrate on the genuine in the relationship in addition to the transference/countertransference patterns.

Both techniques value self-awareness. In the more basic sense, this is shown all the depth psychotherapies. Nevertheless, there is another unique aspect to self-awareness within existential and humanistic thought. Self-awareness in the more general sense refers to an understanding of the self that is mainly viewed as collected life experience and unconscious understanding. In humanistic and existential idea, self-awareness is also deeply interested in the human condition and how this affects the individual self.

Humanistic and existential techniques both worth the basic goodness in people and the human capacity. Part of the therapy procedure is comprehended as freeing the individual as much as embrace their basic goodness and potential. In doing this, it is thought they will be better and satisfied with life.

Distinctions from Existential Psychology

While both methods believe in the human potential and goodness, existentialism has actually focused more on the potential for evil and human constraint. This is more of a difference of procedure than fundamental worths. Simply put, humanistic psychology normally espouses a comparable position to existentialism, but humanistic therapists have not spent as much time residence in the shadow or daimonic. This difference should not be reduced regardless of the shared structure of their beliefs. Through time, humanistic psychology has actually been unjustly characterized as being excessively "warm and fuzzy." Many individuals have avoided this theoretical method because of the perception that it does not deal with the reality of the human condition. On the other hand, existentialists often get implicated of costs too much time in the dark places and being rather morbid. Neither characterization is precise, yet these characterizations have, at times, influenced who has been drawn to the different theoretical positions and how they have actually established over time.

An important discussion in between Carl Rogers and Rollo May highlights and extends these differences. The discussion started with a short article published by Carl Rogers in the Association for Humanistic Psychology's Perspectives. It was followed by a later post released by May (1982) in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology in addition to a reply by Rogers (1982; both posts were republished in Miller, 1992). For Rogers, human evil is distinct from humanity. It is located in the culture. For May, people innately have both the capacity for good and for evil. For Rogers, and numerous humanistic psychologists, evil is an external truth which affects individuals through culture and socializing. May voices concern for this partially because he does not believe this properly handles our own capacity for evil.

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