Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fixation Age and Comparisons

I hate sleeping. And, I mean, I might as well not sleep while I can. I was awake on
a regular basis last night and slept well for only the last two hours or so, so why
bother going to bed now? I'm just not in the mood. I might as well not sleep while
I don't have to get up early. Once I'm back at my internship, it'll be 9pm bedtime
for me. Yawn.

In other news, I've finished my PDP paper. I'm not really a fan. Eh. It's okay, I guess.
But you all know that I have mixed feelings about PDP as a program in regards to how
it is applied and executed. I'm all for reflexivity, but it is exponentially more
difficult and less fulfilling when it has to be confined. Really, when you think
about it, that's just silly. Confined reflection? Nonsense.

Nonsense is becoming an overused word in my vocabulary. Also, additionally. And
consequentially and subsequently. I need more words.

I also think I'm beginning to be able to articulate what I want, but I don't know
who I should tell, if anyone, yet. I'll write that out and save it somewhere secret.

This is old news, but apparently I deleted a collection of saved conversations and
they are forever gone. I regret that.

What I really want to write about is fixation. Also, how I want more people to read
my blog. Also, how much I hate facebook. I don't even have enough respect for the
company to capitalize it anymore.


Also, how a day without cell phone service is torture.

Fixation. Fixation. Fixation.

No, what I mean is fixedness.

Fixedness. Fixedness. Fixedness.

In Psychology, there is a term called functional fixedness. This refers to the
inability to think outside the box and invent non-typical uses for a typical object.
Generally, children are better at such creative use of objects because functional
fixedness has not been concretely adopted. For example, a child is more likely to
use a toy truck as a hammer when he or she has no hammer, but an adult will search
and search for a hammer when he or she could use a screwdriver or a plank of wood.

I propose that there are a number of different types of fixedness and that they are
probably becoming increasingly concrete.

Image fixedness. Have you seen the new white Coca-Cola cans? They're promoting the
salvation of the polar bear or something, but I've heard numerous people complain
about how the white can creates the expectation of diet soda. I'll admit, I thought
the same thing when I first saw one sitting on our kitchen counter: "Who bought
diet soda?"

I'm not entirely satisfied with the term image fixedness, because it leans more
toward brand fixedness and relates to those short online quizzes where the aim is
to correctly identify common logos. Our local paper does something similar every
once in a while.

That's why this would potentially work so well:


Expectation fixedness is another type that I thought about the other day, but I don't
remember how to explain it. I think it had something to do with being so fixated on
a particular expectation that any deviation from that is nearly life-shattering.
Here's a fun example. All those kids that are heart-set on abstinence until marriage?
That's their expectation fixation. And maybe they mess up, maybe only a little. If
their expectation fixedness was so severe, it's likely that their whole self-concept
will be damaged so greatly that it will require a great deal of long-term healing.
I wish I could remember my original example. It was better.

The types are probably endless. Time fixedness, plan fixedness, people fixedness...
The bottom line is that people are far too inflexible. Absolutely, concreteness is
important and necessary, but absolute concreteness is absolutely not. Balance and
moderation, my friends.

Is it just me or do I say the same thing(s) in every single post I write?

Lesson fixedness.


In regards to comparisons, this will be a short lesson. Maybe.

I've heard it said that, if you're feeling down about your life circumstances, that
you should take a few hours and volunteer in a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter
because it will make you feel better about where you are in life. Eh, okay.

I've also been told, when I'm venting about something specific, that "at least you
have [topic I was venting about]." For example, say I have a drippy shower that
always makes noise and wastes water. A typical disadvantage comparison might be to
say, "At least you have hot water and a shower to complain about." Eh, okay.

Neither of these work for me. And I don't think they should.

For the first, if your main motivation for volunteering on behalf of those that are
more disadvantaged than you is to make yourself feel more humble about your own
advantage, you're not doing it right. Okay, yeah, if that gets some people out there
to begin with, that's good. Okay. But I really do think a lot of the impact will be
missed if that is the main goal.

For the second, I just really don't like these types of comparisons. To me, it's like
comparing a potential romantic relationship to a previous romantic relationship. It
really shouldn't and can't be done because people are so spectacularly different that
any comparison will have little to no worth. It might make you feel better, but it
doesn't really help. Similarly, I have been told such disadvantage comparisons in an
effort to make me feel more grateful for what I have. But, in all honesty, they don't.
The most blunt way to say it is that my immediate reaction goes something like this:
"Okay, but I don't care about that right now. I want to sift through my own problems
because they are present and real to me at this point and time. I don't need to be
distracted by the greater disadvantagement of others right now because I'm stressed
about this immediate situation."

And it's 1:14am. It realy bugs me that this timestamp is wrong.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

PDP Woes

Okay, so first of all, I just spent a good ten minutes on
and finally decided to use the word woe. I started with qualm, investigated
perturbation and scruple, explored ennui and lugubriosity, and decided on woe.
And it's still not really what I mean. What I mean is closer to anxiety, but not
the kind that includes physiological arousal. Maybe despair would be better.

PDP Despair

As I sat in front of a blank word document, trying to begin outlining my senior
reflective essay, I felt conflicted about a variety of issues - primarily two - and
decided that I would rant a bit via my blog so that my reflective essay did not
turn into a critical commentary on the nature of PDP.

So I'm going to try and get those thoughts out first, here, so that my reflections
about the effectiveness of PDP do not interfere with my reflections about MY
personal college experiences.

First and foremost, I simply do not know what to write about. It's not that I lack
material from which to draw, but it's that I am undecided about what I want to talk
about. I don't know how much information I want to dispel. I don't know just how
personal I want to get. I don't know how honest I am comfortable with being. The
solution that I settled upon in regards to this is that I will pick a few topics
for each section of my outline and simply write. Whatever happens, happens. In
short, I figure that if I write about it, I'm comfortable enough with it. And if I
don't? Then I'm not. But even so, I know that I probably won't be entirely comfortable
while I am writing it. And maybe I'll write about that.

Secondly, the four pillars of PDP are horrendous things. HORRENDOUS. HORRID. They are:
Intellectual Growth and Discovery
Citizenship and Community Responsibility
Ethical and Spiritual Growth
Emotional Maturation and Physical Health
Aside from the fact that the fourth pillar is clearly two very different categories
that are disguised as one, the pillars simply aren't helpful. To my understanding,
the whole point of PDP is to encourage people to become more reflective throughout
their day-to-day experiences and over the course of their lifetime. Okay, that's
fine, I totally agree with that. Clearly, I love being reflective (and reflexive*,
for my Sociologist friends!). But the pillars aren't helpful. For a lot of reasons.

The pillars are too restrictive. There are a lot of deeply influential experiences
that I have had that don't quite fit into one of these specific pillars.

And this is more than a simple issue of having four categories that are mutually
exclusive but are not exhaustive (hello, more Sociology terms!).

SIDE NOTE: Oh my goodness something crazy just happened that I have to talk about
it now, in real time as I'm writing because it's crazy! So I requested a new laptop
charger cord because my cord is becoming frayed and doesn't always make a connection.
I'm currently at work at the library and I guess there was static buildup in the
carpet or something because I heard a sound like a crinkly plastic after-dinner
mint wrapper and looked down to realize that the somewhat frayed section had minor
sparks! SPARKS, YOU GUYS. So, my laptop is now unplugged and I will definitely be
keeping it asleep and unplugged overnight and while it is unattended, so as not to
start any fires. Goodness! ANYWAY.

It doesn't just bother me that these four categories are not exhaustive. It primarily
bothers me that I feel tied down to these pillars. Okay, so PDP is supposed to help
us be reflective. Awesome. The problem is that, even if someone is usually reflective
throughout his or her day, those reflections are not going to be couched in terms
of these four pillars. Instead, such ongoing and spontaneous (reflexive*, perhaps?)
reflections are going to be couched in terms that are broader so that these new
lessons can be broadly applied to life in general.

I would argue that people are naturally reflective beings. Placing them into boxes,
pigeon-holes, and tracks or tying them to pillars goes against this natural flow.

P. George would probably agree with me. He's talked about increasing freedoms because
he believes that truer learning is possible in an environment that has greater freedom.
PDP will probably mostly die in the next year or two, but I wish it wouldn't. It
needs restructured, which has happened poorly in the past two years. PDP simply
needs more freedom. As P. George admitted, many students will absolutely squander
this freedom. But what about the ones who won't?

What about the ones who won't?

Also, I think it would be REALLY most effective if students had to write a reflective
essay at the end of each semester. That way, they could reflect about each course
instead of having to choose at the end of their four years. It would also be a better
way to see semester-to-semester shifts and changes and to make connections across
semesters. Nobody's going to go for that idea, though.

*Reflexive doesn't mean what it sounds like it means. It has nothing to do with
reflexes. Well, largely. Reflexivity is a term within qualitative research that means
that a qualitative research must continuously be reflective in order to be aware of
how his or her personal perspective and worldview (shaped by personal experiences)
influence his or her perception of whatever is being qualitatively researched. I
suppose this can incorporate reflexes to the extent that reflexivity should become
as natural as a reflex. But it does not mean reflexes to the extent that reflexivity
is a thoughtless, knee-jerk reaction.

Also, how in the world is "won't" the contraction for "will not"?

And, I know that punctuation comes before quotation. If you want me to explain why
I broke this rule, I can. But not right now. It's time to carve my elephant.


Friday, December 9, 2011


It has recently come to my attention that quite a few people think that life would
be better, easier, and what have you without emotions. This topic is particularly
relevant because the topic of my Biological Psychology course for the past week has
been that of emotions (mechanisms, processes, functions, etc).

In the past week, I've heard people say things like "Life would be easier with no
emotions," "Things would be less complicated without emotions," and "If only I did
not have feelings."

I've also noticed that such comments nearly always come from men. Thanks, society,
for socializing males to deny the existence and usefulness of emotions and females
to view emotions as inevitable and reliable. Everybody's wrong.

On a side note, Psychology is to conditioning as Sociology is to socializing.

One of the questions on my Bio Psych take-home final includes a prompt to explain
the value of emotions in decision-making. I will probably post my essay response
here once I complete my exam, but that is not due until Wednesday, so...

So, why are emotions important? Are we better off with or without them? On one
hand, you have the view described by the quoted sentiments above that says that
emotions complicate everything, whether decision-making, relationships, problem-
solving, or something else. On the other hand, you have the view that says that
emotions give meaning, value, and purpose to experiences, relationships, and

Emotions contribute to a sense of worth, which allows self-support. Without emotions,
our accomplishments and relationships would mean little, if anything at all. Instead,
emotions allow us to explain the motivation behind our actions.

Can we explain the motivation behind our actions without incorporating emotion?
Probably, yes, but such motivation will be a robotic series of steps and will not
include true inherent value.

Emotions give us the means to love and be loved. Without emotions, our relationships
become overly-intellectualized and therefore robotic. Instead, emotions foster
commitment to family and non-family connections.

Can we do that without emotions? Maybe. Maybe we can rationalize why we should be
committed to our family without emotions, by giving reasons like financial support
and efficient living (i.e., it's cheaper to cook for four people than for one).
But that seems to take the fun and adventure out of it. In regards to non-family
connections, I would argue that emotionless relationships of any kind do not work.
Even in a non-romantic relationship that is focused on remaining casual instead of
working toward a forever future? I would argue yes. Relationships devoid of all
emotion simply are not enjoyable after a relatively short period of time.

Emotions give us the means to have fun and describe fun. Fun, enjoyment, and
adventure are all emotions. Without emotions, such experiences would lack value
and importance. Instead, emotions help us share in such enjoyable experiences.

Can we have fun without emotions? Probably not. Even if you enjoy something on a
purely intellectual level, that enjoyment is an emotion.

However, emotions are not an all or nothing topic. Both intellect and emotions are
fallible. It is absolutely crucial to realize that, while interpersonal relationships
and emotions are certainly important, people are fallible. Because of this, we must
never fully rely on others and the emotions they inspire in us to satisfy our worth.

And this ties back into all the times I've ever talked about inherent worth and value.
People and relationships with them are absolutely important, as are emotions. But
these are still external stimuli. A majority of the time, emotions are influenced
more by internal states, such as physical exhaustion or hormones. When this happens,
people look for an external source on which to blame their negative emotions, even
though they simply need a nap. Parallel to this is the importance of inherent worth
and value. In my opinion, these are internal states and are therefore generally
more reliable and predictable than external situations. For instance, you know,
acting in such a way that reflects one's core values? Yeah, that sounds right.

Emotions absolutely must be treated with balance and moderation. It is usually
emotions that derail our success, but it is emotions that makes our success worth
something. Whether positive or negative, there are inevitably times when emotions
will interfere. Such times call for a greater focus on intellect. However, even
though there are times emotions should be de-emphasized, this does not mean that
emotions should be entirely eliminated.

Further, I argue that it is impossible for emotions to be entirely eliminated.
However, people still try because they believe that a life devoid of emotions will
be easier, less complicated, and so on. But it can't happen. Emotions are largely
autonomic and are frequently unconscious to a certain extent.

But people still try. They try and they try to suppress their emotions and what
happens? Well, there are a few situations we can hypothesize about. Maybe there
comes a point when all of their repressed and denied emotions become too much to
control and they end up exploding, which may result in increased solitude or
unprovoked aggression.

Or maybe there comes a point when they have gotten so good at suppressing their
emotions that they no longer know how to feel. Or maybe they never gave themselves
an opportunity to learn how to deal with stress.

In sum, if you ignore your emotions, you probably won't know how to effectively
handle them and use them for your benefit (contentedness, satisfaction, etc) because
you never will have allowed yourself to experience any emotions.

Emotions also cause a great deal of interpersonal problems if a person expects
everyone around him or her to be equal in regards to emotions, expression, feelings,
and mood.

Emotions = state of physiological arousal (plus outward expression and subjective feelings)
Emotional expression = outward signs of feelings
Emotional feelings = private emotional experience
Mood = low-intensity, long-lasting emotional state (baseline)

It is also unfair and dishonesty to deny your emotional feelings when they are
obvious to others through your emotional expression.

In regards to the processes of emotion...

emotional stimulus
cognitive appraisal (based on life experiences)
physical arousal (changes in heart rate, breathing rate)
behavioral response (action)
emotional expression
emotional feeling
additional cognitive appraisal that can reinforce or negate the previous four items

Additionally, physical arousal can increase behavioral response, which can increase
emotional expression, which can increase emotional feeling.

I hope I expressed my thoughts effectively.

We also talked about the importance of emotional intelligence, which is the ability
to be able to read people and intuit what they are feeling, even if they are not
explicitly expressing it. Emotional expression tends to become more subtle with age.
I would argue that emotional intelligence also includes the ability to accurately
estimate situations and the emotions involved in order to effectively handle other
people, relationships, decisions, problems, and so on.

Check out Daniel Goleman.

Again, I hope I expressed my thoughts effectively. I hope I effectively expressed my thoughts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

No Sleep

So, apparently I don't sleep anymore. I mean, I'll finally admit that occasionally
not needing sleep would be really convenient, so that I could just finish that
assignment or paint again or etc.

Last night was the latest I've stayed up this entire semester. 4am. After a phone
conversation with my best friend that lasted for five and a half hours. <3 And I
passed out at 4am and had a nap today and I feel fine. Thanks, college, for
eliminating my sleep schedule! And I had been doing so well with maintaining a
regular sleep schedule. Oh well. This is more fun and I only have one more week
of needing to not be sick.

On Sunday night, after I had finished what work I had wanted to do, instead of
doing more work or going to bed, I stayed up so that I could clean my room and
paint. I painted, you guys. It was so good.

Anyways, lots of little topics to write about, so let's get to it.

From last Tuesday until this past Monday afternoon, with the exception of making
time to paint, I had been pretty grumpy. I told a classmate on Monday that I had
had a crappy week and he responded by saying "It's only Monday!" and I corrected
myself by saying that I had had a crappy since-Tuesday.

I attributed this slump to a few things. Primarily, that my to-do list had managed
to overtake my want-to-do list, although I somewhat combated this with making
time to paint. Also, that the general morale of the campus seems to have decreased,
probably due to the fact that all the procrastinating, the overworked, and the
median students are experiencing the last-minute crunch of all the work they have
to complete. So, my to-do list was making me grumpy and the lowered morale of
campus served as an excuse for me to remain grumpy. Grumpiness loves company, for sure.

And then Monday afternoon happened. What happened Monday afternoon? Well, first
and foremost, I was able to talk it out and explain to myself that the lowered
morale of campus was reinforcing my grumpiness. And that I MUST make time to be
able to incorporate my want-to-do list with my to-do list. Thus why I am awake
and writing right now instead of going to sleep. Sure, there's a balance, but for
the past few weeks, I had been getting my to-do lists done and getting enough
sleep, which resulted in a severe neglect of my want-to-do list.

Even though I was maintaining my health by getting enough sleep and was maintaining
my academic success by getting my work done, my emotional/mental/spiritual health
had been severely neglected over the past few weeks. Self-care! No burnout!

Also on Monday afternoon, I explained to myself what beneficial lesson could be
learned from the recent past. That is, what positive purpose does the recent past
serve? I learned that I truly am capable of making genuine and empathetic connections
with others, but that these genuine and empathetic connections do not have to result
in my being exploited. And should not. But even so, that I can make connections
without being exploited and that I do not have to be exploited in order to make
connections. Good thing my one reader that was bothered by my repetitiveness decided
to no longer be my friend. Hah.

Long story short, my piano lesson was amazing and my piano teacher is an incredible
individual. He asked me for counseling-related advice in regards to stress relief
techniques and responded by saying that he always feels better after our chats.

I think I made his day.

And then! Monday evening, THIS LESS WAS EXEMPLIFIED AGAIN. While I was working at
the library, after I was minimally productive, I decided to do some more self-care
through origami. First of all, lots of students apologized for interrupting my
origami-related concentration, which made me laugh. Second of all, my coworker
commented that he had an origami collection from a previous student, which he then
retrieved from his desk to show me. After we talked about origami, I offered him
the dish I had just completed making to him to add to his collection.

I think I made his day, too.

And both of them certainly made my day.

During Monday afternoon and evening, as I walked across campus, I inhaled deeply
with the realization that I was having a really good day. Simultaneously, this
thought went through my head: "I am having a really good day and I don't want to
talk about it." Well, that seems odd. I thought so, too, at first. Until just
recently when I was writing about the dampened morale and remembered that this
thought had crossed my mind. How does it make sense? It makes sense in that I did
not want to talk about it because my having a really good day was something that was
extremely precious because it had not happened in such a long time. And I did not
want to talk about it because those who would hear would have been the same people
who had previously shared in my grumpiness. But I am talking about it now because
I had another really good day today and am feeling more confident in my ability to
not let these really good days slip away, regardless of how low the morale of
campus may be. Similarly, I also feel more confident in my autonomy in regards to
the fact that I feel like I know how to maintain these really good days.

We'll see how this plays out, because tomorrow is going to be busy and very well
may be ridiculous.

In contrast, also today, my confidence as a tutor was somewhat shaken because I was
repeatedly reminded of the fact that I had not tutored recently. Why did no one
want to ask me? Did I scare them away somehow? Did I fail one time and everyone
knew? I don't know. But it didn't really matter because tutoring is simply income
that is doubly supplementary and I have since scheduled a tutoring meeting with a

Autonomy feels really, really good. I took another recent matter into my own hands
and went straight to the top. And, although the issue could not be remedied, some
appropriate consequences have been served and the afflicted group has gained more
authority, autonomy, status, and what have you.

Lastly, I wanted to add this to my honors project paper somehow, but it did not
really fit in. I read sections of the book, Interaction Ritual Chains, by Collins
and in it he explains how a conversation between two people reflects greater
solidarity (vis-a-vis Durkheim) when their breathing becomes synchronized and
their rhythm becomes extremely matched because each person is able to anticipate
what the other is saying, will say, and how. I read this section for my honors
project about the group dynamics of Jazz Band and I wish it would have fit in
somewhere because it relates so well to that most precise moment of synchronized
breathing that occurs before each piece. Right before the downbeat of measure one,
there is a cohesive intake breath and you can FEEL it and it is my favorite.

I think this was the fastest blog post I have ever written. I still want to paint,
but I will actually go to sleep, but only because tomorrow is so busy. I should have
time to paint between my crammed schedule, maybe, depending on how I eat lunch.

Anyway. Out.