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Archive for 'psychology'

new book – ‘Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age’ by Sven Birkerts

October 6, 2015

Changing the Subject

Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age by Sven Birkerts (Graywolf Press, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Trenchant, expansive essays on the cultural consequences of ongoing, all-permeating technological innovation

In 1994, Sven Birkerts published The Gutenberg Elegies, his celebrated rallying cry to resist the oncoming digital advances, especially those that might affect the way we read literature and experience art–the very cultural activities that make us human.
After two decades of rampant change, Birkerts has allowed a degree of everyday digital technology into his life. He refuses to use a smartphone, but communicates via e-mail and spends some time reading online. In Changing the Subject, he examines the changes that he observes in himself and others–the distraction when reading on the screen; the loss of personal agency through reliance on GPS and one-stop information resources; an increasing acceptance of “hive” behaviors. “An unprecedented shift is underway,” he argues, and “this transformation is dramatically accelerated and more psychologically formative than any previous technological innovation.” He finds solace in engagement with art, particularly literature, and he brilliantly describes the countering energy available to us through acts of sustained attention, even as he worries that our increasingly mediated existences are not conducive to creativity.
It is impossible to read Changing the Subject without coming away with a renewed sense of what is lost by our wholesale acceptance of digital innovation and what is regained when we immerse ourselves in a good book.

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Comments (0) - culture,new books,psychology,reading

new book – SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient–Powered by the Science of Games’ by Jane McGonigal

September 17, 2015


SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient–Powered by the Science of Games by Jane McGonigal (Penguin, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

An innovative guide to living gamefully, based on the program that has already helped nearly half a million people achieve remarkable personal growth

In 2009, internationally renowned game designer Jane McGonigal suffered a severe concussion. Unable to think clearly or work or even get out of bed, she became anxious and depressed, even suicidal. But rather than let herself sink further, she decided to get better by doing what she does best: she turned her recovery process into a resilience-building game. What started as a simple motivational exercise quickly became a set of rules for “post-traumatic growth” that she shared on her blog. These rules led to a digital game and a major research study with the National Institutes of Health. Today nearly half a million people have played SuperBetter to get stronger, happier, and healthier.

But the life-changing ideas behind SuperBetter are much bigger than just one game. In this book, McGonigal reveals a decade’s worth of scientific research into the ways all games—including videogames, sports, and puzzles—change how we respond to stress, challenge, and pain. She explains how we can cultivate new powers of recovery and resilience in everyday life simply by adopting a more “gameful” mind-set. Being gameful means bringing the same psychological strengths we naturally display when we play games—such as optimism, creativity, courage, and determination—to real-world goals.
Drawing on hundreds of studies, McGonigal shows that getting superbetter is as simple as tapping into the three core psychological strengths that games help you build:

• Your ability to control your attention, and therefore your thoughts and feelings
• Your power to turn anyone into a potential ally, and to strengthen your existing relationships
• Your natural capacity to motivate yourself and super-charge your heroic qualities, like willpower, compassion, and determination

SuperBetter contains nearly 100 playful challenges anyone can undertake in order to build these gameful strengths. It includes stories and data from people who have used the SuperBetter method to get stronger in the face of illness, injury, and other major setbacks, as well as to achieve goals like losing weight, running a marathon, and finding a new job.

As inspiring as it is down to earth, and grounded in rigorous research, SuperBetter is a proven game plan for a better life. You’ll never say that something is “just a game” again.

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See also: Book website

Comments (0) - new books,psychology

new book – ‘Paranoid: Exploring Suspicion from the Dubious to the Delusional’ by David J. LaPorte

September 7, 2015


Paranoid: Exploring Suspicion from the Dubious to the Delusional by David J. LaPorte (Prometheus Books, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

From the pathological killer who gunned down the innocents at Virginia Tech to the average citizen who suspects the government is monitoring phone calls, the signs of suspiciousness and paranoia are all around us. In this comprehensive overview of an increasingly serious problem, an experienced psychologist and researcher describes what paranoia is, how and why it manifests itself, and the many forms it takes, including stalking, pathological jealousy, as a reaction to post-traumatic stress disorder, and perhaps even militia movements.

Using striking vignettes from the present and the past, each chapter illustrates specific manifestations of paranoia while also describing in layperson’s terms the clinical analysis of the condition. Among the topics discussed are the evolutionary origins of our “suspiciousness system” and factors that can trigger it today, the connection between illicit drug usage and paranoid behavior, PTSD, violent expressions of paranoia, and options for treating various kinds of paranoia.

The author emphasizes that life in post-9/11 America is a fertile environment for paranoia; in an era of computer hackers, omnipresent security cameras, NSA surveillance, and terrorism, “normal” people have good reasons to be suspicious as their sense of security and privacy is undermined. But in such an insecure atmosphere, everyday suspicion can easily be ratcheted up, resulting in paranoia and occasionally violent outbursts. He warns of a possible epidemic of paranoia and suggests public health measures that could be used to counteract this potentially dangerous trend.

Whether you consider yourself susceptible to paranoia or know others who might be, this enlightening book will help you understand the many factors that can distort your mental outlook.

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new book – ‘In the Mind Fields: Exploring the New Science of Neuropsychoanalysis’ by Casey Schwartz

August 25, 2015

In the Mind Fields

In the Mind Fields: Exploring the New Science of Neuropsychoanalysis by Casey Schwartz (Pantheon, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

“Everywhere I looked it seemed that we were being defined by what our brains were doing . . . Everywhere, there were hucksters and geniuses, all trying to colonize the new world of the brain.”

“I’d never been a science person,” Casey Schwartz declares at the beginning of her far-reaching quest to understand how we define ourselves. Nevertheless, in her early twenties, she was drawn to the possibilities and insights emerging on the frontiers of brain research. Over the next decade she set out to meet the neuroscientists and psychoanalysts engaged with such questions as, How do we perceive the world, make decisions, or remember our childhoods? Are we using the brain? Or the mind? To what extent is it both?

Schwartz discovered that neuroscience and psychoanalysis are engaged in a conflict almost as old as the disciplines themselves. Many neuroscientists, if they think about psychoanalysis at all, view it as outdated, arbitrary, and subjective, while many psychoanalysts decry neuroscience as lacking the true texture of human experience. With passion and humor, Schwartz explores the surprising efforts to find common ground. Beginning among the tweedy Freudians of North London and proceeding to laboratories, consulting rooms, and hospital bedsides around the world, Schwartz introduces a cast of pioneering characters, from Mark Solms, a South African neuropsychoanalyst with an expertise in dreams, to David Silvers, a psychoanalyst practicing in New York, to Harry, a man who has lost his use of language in the wake of a stroke but who nevertheless benefits from Silvers’s analytic technique. In the Mind Fields is a riveting view of the convictions, obsessions, and struggles of those who dedicate themselves to the effort to understand the mysteries of inner life.

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See also: When Freud Meets fMRI, The Atlantic

Comments (0) - cognitive science,new books,psychology

new book – ‘Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking’ by Richard E. Nisbett

August 18, 2015


Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking by Richard E. Nisbett (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Scientific and philosophical concepts can change the way we solve problems by helping us to think more effectively about our behavior and our world. Surprisingly, despite their utility, many of these tools remain unknown to most of us.

In Mindware, the world-renowned psychologist Richard E. Nisbett presents these ideas in clear and accessible detail. Nisbett has made a distinguished career of studying and teaching such powerful problem-solving concepts as the law of large numbers, statistical regression, cost-benefit analysis, sunk costs and opportunity costs, and causation and correlation, probing the best methods for teaching others how to use them effectively in their daily lives. In this groundbreaking book, Nisbett shows us how to frame common problems in such a way that these scientific and statistical principles can be applied to them. The result is an enlightening and practical guide to the most essential tools of reasoning ever developed-tools that can easily be used to make better professional, business, and personal decisions.

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