Showing posts with the label Psychology

Curiosity Saved the Cat: Mind, Body, and Soul

I was recently observing my cousin's five cats interact, and I was also recently at another house where there were a few cats. One cat would come out and want to be petted. Another would hide. One cat would jump at a toy and play with it. Another would run away and hide. There are always differences in the cat personalities, but at base there are really only two main perspectives that a cat can take on life.

Curiosity is the thing that encourages exploration. Exploration and fear are both ancient circuits in the brain. To a large extent motivation is linear, you can move towards something or away from it. You can approach or you can avoid.

When something is new it's natural to be afraid. Not being afraid is what is learned. For instance, if you take a cat to a new environment and drop it off then the first thing that it will do is stand still, tense, ready, and look around. It's trying to get its bearings, it's trying to orient itself in its new environment. The first …

Understanding Grief

I gave a speech last night at the Red Lotus Art Gallery in Muskegon, Michigan. It's an area that I've been working on for most of my life now, "Understanding Grief".

Here are three places that you can watch the speech:

Most of the world

Russia and a few other places


I'm working on becoming better at communicating the concepts that I've originated in this area. The process necessary to reach a new understanding in a subject for yourself is different than the process necessary to communicate those same ideas to someone else.

I talked about grief in my series of philosophy essays titled "The Most Important Question in Philosophy". It was well received. I wrote an article titled "Aphorisms on Grief, Suicide, and Meaning in Life". It was not well received, specifically be…

Three Meanings Behind Intelligent

The word intelligent is used in three basic ways. It makes sense because these things are related, but it also causes some problems because they aren't the same. By understanding the different ways intelligent is used we might be able to understand some oddities, like intelligent people doing dumb things.

The first way that intelligent (or smart) is used is to mean fluid IQ. Fluid IQ is how good you are at recognizing patterns. That's why some IQ tests show pictures with various patterns and you are asked to complete the pattern. It's your ability to learn in the present.

The second way that intelligent is used is to mean concrete IQ. Concrete IQ is how you have used your pattern recognition abilities over your lifetime to identify different patterns in the world. It's the amount of knowledge you've accumulated. Essentially, this is every test you have ever taken. These IQ tests look like your college, university, or graduate school entrance exams. It's what yo…

My Failures - Part 1 of ?

I have been fretting over starting this article for two days.

The basic idea here is that I have made various errors of judgment, decision, and action in the past. Because I have not adequately examined these errors I have not sufficiently developed the ability to avoid them in the future and do better. To do better in the future we must learn from the past. To develop foresight we must develop hindsight. A number of psychologists and philosophers talk about this. My favorite is Jordan Peterson. Here are two selections from his paper "Self-Deception Explained", and one from "Complexity Management Theory". (Somewhere he expresses the exact idea that I'm using better, but I can't find it at the moment.)

- - - - - - -

...not only do those who avoid get worse, but those who voluntarily expose themselves to the anxiety-provoking and depressing – even if extremely traumatic – get better! Pennebaker and colleagues have demonstrated, for example, that normal indivi…

Explorations in Business - Part 3 of ?

This is my third time trying to write this article in the last two weeks.

Here was my last attempt.

- - - - - - -

I always wanted to have an interesting life, and I do.

I have done the classics like mountain climbing, skydiving, alligator wrestling, whitewater rafting, running with bulls, scuba diving, ice luging, road tripping, etc. I officiated my second wedding this weekend, I just arranged to borrow the staffs, swords, and dueling pistols for one of my four speeches at the Harry Potter festival in Sparta, Michigan this summer, I'm writing notes for the comic book I'm working on, and the philosophy papers I'm working on, and the fictional tales I'm working on, and I'm editing horror stories for the "Horror Without Borders" anthology for the Russian publisher I'm working with. All of that just starts to hit on the interesting things I've done, but I have a bit of a problem.

Since I've focused so much on doing interesting things that almost a…

The Charismatic Elizabeth Holmes

Elizabeth Holmes built a 9 billion dollar company on her personality, and her personality alone. That's charisma. (Theranos is now worth zero dollars, but that's another story about corruption, fraud, deceit, empty dreams and promises, and her future prison sentence.)

My three favorite books on charisma are "Prophetic Charisma" by Len Oakes, "The Spellbinders" by Ann Ruth Willner, and "Charisma" by Charles Lindholm. There are tons of insights in each of them.

Without reading about charisma at all you would probably notice a few things about Elizabeth Holmes. She is a solid public speaker and tells a great story about her uncle getting sick. It's a great story to build a medical testing company on, which is what she did. She has a really deep voice and an icy stare. And she's extremely confident.

(None of this is bad. What's bad is that she used her skills to defraud a bunch of people by telling them that her and her company had invente…

Lack of Consistent Goal Pursuit

I'm going to try to understand my own lack of consistent goal pursuit in this article. We must start by realizing that the odds that I will be very insightful or successful in this endeavor are low. I will approach it from two perspectives. I will lay out the ideas first and then see how they apply to my story.

First, a unique view that's no longer in favor from phenomenology and existentialism. The idea is that there is no unconscious. There is no repression. Instead, there are just things that we are not conscious of. There are things that we don't know. Instead of the idea that there are things that we were aware that were too painful, this idea says that we never really examined them in the first place.

Let's use an analogy. Imagine you're standing in the middle of a room looking towards one wall. Let's call that wall your conscious awareness. You can't see the wall behind you. With the more traditional idea of the unconscious and repression you aren…

Psychological Landscape, Timescape, and Symbolscape

Life is complex. We need frameworks to help us organize that complexity. Here are three that I've been thinking about.

Psychological Landscape

First, how we represent the world. Jordan Peterson often characterizes the world as having two basic areas, a known area and an unknown area. This is true at several levels. There is the territory that we have explored and the territory that we haven't explored.

This can be physically true. I have explored the forests in West Michigan quite a lot. I haven't even been to the Florida Everglades. It is also true in a more general sense. I know a decent amount about literature, but little about chemistry.

Encounters and awareness of the unknown reveal our vulnerability and insufficiency, and thus cause anxiety. It's important for us to voluntarily confront these vulnerabilities, insufficiencies, and the unknown to the degree that we can.

I want to expand on this a bit. I think that two primary landscapes can be shown that are separat…

Why is Slytherin House Bad?

Is Slytherin house bad? Should they be bad? Why?


There are four houses in "Harry Potter": Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. Each is associated with certain psychological traits and attributes. Gryffindor is associated with bravery, Ravenclaw is associated with intelligence, Hufflepuff takes everyone but is most closely associated with friendliness and loyalty, and Slytherin is associated with ambition.

Slytherin is not presented as all bad in "Harry Potter", but they are presented as almost all bad. This is not particularly popular because many people are in Slytherin. But, there are good reasons for this. (Also, it's important to point out that no one is a pure fit for a house. Some of the characters in "Harry Potter" even seem to be a bit of a contradiction.)

My Profile

I did one test where it gave you the percentages of which house you would fit in. I was rated 43% Ravenclaw, 26% Gryffindor, 19% Slytherin, and 12% Hufflepuff.


An Interesting Note on Suicide from Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl focused on suicide quite a bit throughout his career. First, with the unemployed youth in Vienna after WW1. Then, with the persecuted and targeted leading up to WW2. After that, with prisoners in the concentration camps. This may be his most important paragraph on the subject.

I read this in the introduction of "The Feeling of Meaninglessness" by Viktor Frankl. It's a quote from an earlier work.

- - - - - - -

Now insofar as it is necessary to evaluate precisely to what extent the seriousness of suicide risk a person represents, either when one is determining the advisability and reasonableness of discharging the patient from a closed facility, or else during a patient’s initial intake into inpatient institutional care, I myself have created a standard method that proves itself effective without fail. It enables us to provide a diagnosis of continued suicide risk, or rather to make a diagnosis of the dissimulation of suicidal tendencies as such. At first, we…

Donate to Jeff's Work