Tag: psychology (page 1 of 8)

Psychological hibernation

I can’t really remember what life was like before having children. Becoming a parent changes you in ways you can’t describe to non-parents.

Similarly, if we tried to go back in time and explain how the pandemic has changed us, how we’re more susceptible to burnout, less up for meeting with other people, it would be almost impossible to do.

One term that might be useful, however, is ‘psychological hibernation’ — as this article explains.

Was it always like this? Can anyone actually remember what it was like before? For some reason, coming up with an answer to that question is like recalling a boring dream: the more you attempt to remember the details of life before Covid, the quicker it fades, as if it never happened at all.

In 2018, a group of psychologists in the Antarctic published a report that may help us understand our current collective exhaustion. The researchers found that the emotional capacity of people who had relocated to the end of the world had been significantly reduced in the time they had been there; participants living in the Antarctic reported feeling duller than usual and less lively. They called this condition “psychological hibernation”. And it’s something many of us will be able to relate to now.

“One of the things that we noticed throughout the pandemic is that people started to enter this phase of psychological hibernation,” said Emma Kavanagh, a psychologist specialising in how people deal with the aftermath of disasters. “Where there’s not many sounds or people or different experiences, it doesn’t require the brain to work at quite the same level. So what you find is that people felt emotionally like everything had just been dialled back. It looks a lot like burnout, symptom wise.” Kavanagh continued: “I think that happened to us all in lockdown, and we are now struggling to adapt to higher levels of stimulus.”

Source: The great Covid social burnout: why are we so exhausted? | New Statesman

Good decision-making

Some useful advice from Ed Batista about the difference between ‘good decision-making’ and ‘making the right decision’.

I believe the path to getting unstuck when faced with a daunting, possibly paralyzing decision… involves a fundamental re-orientation of our mindset: Focusing on the choice minimizes the effort that will inevitably be required to make any option succeed and diminishes our sense of agency and ownership. In contrast, focusing on the effort that will be required after our decision not only helps us see the means by which any choice might succeed, it also restores our sense of agency and reminds us that while randomness plays a role in every outcome, our locus of control resides in our day-to-day activities more than in our one-time decisions.

So while I support using available data to rank our options in some rough sense, ultimately we’re best served by avoiding paralysis-by-analysis and moving forward by:

  1. paying close attention to the feelings and emotions that accompany the decision we’re facing,
  2. assessing how motivated we are to work toward the success of any given option, and
  3. recognizing that no matter what option we choose, our efforts to support its success will be more important than the initial guesswork that led to our choice.

This view is consistent with the work of Stanford professor Baba Shiv, an expert in the neuroscience of decision-making. Shiv notes that in the case of complex decisions, rational analysis will get us closer to a decision but won’t result in a definitive choice because our options involve trading one set of appealing outcomes for another, and the complexity of each scenario makes it impossible to determine in advance which outcome will be optimal.

Source: Stop Worrying About Making the Right Decision | Ed Batista

Leslie Caron on Cary Grant’s attitude to money

I read most things online, but I came across this one via my print subscription to Guardian Weekly (which I recommend highly). Leslie Caron, who danced and acted with a host of big names, highlights Cary Grant’s attitude towards money.

I’ve always found Cary Grant fascinating, and in fact my online avatar used to be a photo of him. It seems, as Leslie Caron points out, that one’s mindset can be out of step with reality — which is a lesson to us all.

Who was her most talented leading man? “Cary Grant,” she answers immediately. In 1964, she starred with Grant in the romcom Father Goose; Grant was 27 years her senior. “Cary was a complicated brain,” she says, pointing to her head. “He was a remarkable performer. He was very instinctive, seductive, intelligent. But when he got mad he would get into a terrible state. He worried about money.” Surely he had plenty of it? Yes, she says, but when you grow up poor you always think like a poor person. “I remember Charlie Chaplin saying to me: ‘If I were rich …’” When Chaplin died in 1977, he left more than $100m to his fourth wife, Oona.

Source: ‘I am very shy. It’s amazing I became a movie star’: Leslie Caron at 90 on love, art and addiction | The Guardian