OCD FYI – WIF Uncontrollable Handbook

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Interesting Facts

and

Misconceptions

About OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is known in popular media as that problem that people who are really, really picky and phobic about cleanliness have. Unfortunately, this is not even close to what OCD actually is. Most people have huge misconceptions about OCD, helped by shows like Monk, which have made them think that being perfectionist, anal-retentive, or overly habitual is what being OCD is all about.

 There are multiple types of OCD, and it is certainly much more complicated and difficult to deal with than TV makes it look. For those who suffer from OCD, watching popular media depicting it is basically just one extended cringe fest. Below we will go over some of the lesser known facts about OCD and bust some of the misconceptions.

10. Adrian Monk From The Hit TV Show Is Not A Good Example Of OCD

The hit TV show Monk is famous for its depiction of a detective with severe OCD. However, the truth is that OCD is probably one of the few disorders that the character actually doesn’t have. Monk is depicted as having phobias of almost everything, which isn’t really what OCD is about at all. And he is also depicted as being very cleanly and overly picky about little things, but that isn’t really OCD either. He is a grab bag of so many different symptoms with so little congruity that it is amazing anyone can claim he has any one particular disorder at all.For many who suffer from OCD, this depiction is hurtful because it makes light of the disease without properly explaining how it works at all. It is described as wacky and he is shown to be anal retentive and extremely hard to please and work with, but this is also not representative of OCD either. While Tony Shaloub is a great actor, and does his best to provide a sensitive performance, the show falls totally flat in terms of any kind of realism.

9. Many Sufferers Of OCD Suffer In Complete Silence

Many people like to think of OCD as a very public disease. Those with OCD will constantly perform little rituals that show how “crazy” and “wacky” they are to everyone around them. These rituals, like touching a doorknob many times, are often played for laughs in popular media – while the person with actual OCD feels great shame at what they are doing. While some who suffer from OCD do things like this, many of them actually don’t. It is often depicted like that because it is easy to show that on TV, but many who suffer from OCD suffer almost entirely in their own heads.

Much of OCD actually stems from persistent bad thoughts that keep occurring, often of a sexual or violent nature and involving friends or loved ones. Normal people would simply feel disgusted by the thought and move on, but those with OCD obsess over it and feel great shame. That means many with OCD will create mental rituals they go over to push the bad thoughts away. For this reason, many who have OCD are completely invisible in their suffering, totally dealing with it within their own heads.

8. Making Light Of OCD Makes It Harder For Sufferers To Get The Help They Need

The constant jokes about OCD may be funny to those who make them, but to those with OCD, it makes it harder to get the help they need, and it can also be very hurtful. People saying “I am so OCD” because they don’t like their vegetables to touch their mashed potatoes – those people are anal-retentive – and others who make light of it by making jokes about touching doorknobs or what have you, are making things much harder for those who truly suffer.

When you are an object of ridicule, especially if you are one who mostly suffers in your own head, then you are unlikely to come out to others as needing help – this is on top of the fact that there is already a stigma behind going to see mental health professionals. Those who joke about OCD should think twice about what they are doing. OCD is a disease marked almost entirely by great feelings of shame, and the mockery only makes those with it feel even more ashamed about what they do. At the very least, if someone is going to joke about OCD, they should get a better understanding first of what it actually is.

7. OCD Is Characterized By Persistent Unwanted Thoughts That Won’t Go Away

Like we mentioned earlier, OCD isn’t really about not wanting your peas to touch your chicken, or being really obsessed with making sure your shirt is tucked in perfectly and not a lock of hair is out of place. There is a disorder for this when it is taken to an extreme, but that is not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterized by extremely disturbing thoughts that pop into people’s heads involving usually things of a sexual or violent nature and often involving friends and family.

While even normal people have weird thoughts like this pop into their heads now and again, the difference is that a normal person just moves on, knowing that they don’t associate with such things. However, someone with OCD feels guilty that they had the thought at all, and starts obsessing that there is something wrong with them because they had the thought. Trying not to think about something makes you think it all the harder, which makes the sufferer feel even more guilt on top of that previous guilt. Those with OCD will then do physical or mental rituals to distract themselves when the thought or thoughts try to intrude again, so they can avoid the guilty and horrible feelings. Some people will get caught up in their physical ticks to the point they hardly think about the thing they are trying to avoid thinking about anymore. Instead, they just feel a vague sense that something horrible will happen if they don’t keep the rituals up – that horrible thing generally being that the thoughts pop back up again. The best way for an OCD person to deal with this is to reassure themselves that they shouldn’t feel guilty, and not try so hard to forcibly push the thoughts away.

6. Being Incredibly Cleanly, Germaphobic Or Picky About Food Touching Is Not OCD

As we talked about earlier, being OCD is not the same thing as being really picky and cleanly. Those people are often called “anal-retentive”, but there is also a clinical term for people who take being super cleanly and neat and on the ball to the complete extreme. This disorder is called obsessive compulsive personality disorder, and is quite distinct from OCD. This disease, which is closer to one of the diseases that the character on Monk actually has, is characterized by someone who has to not have their food touching, always has to have perfectly pressed clothes, and combed hair, etc.

Oftentimes this person had a stricter upbringing, or had some event happen that shook their feeling of security. Those who have OCPD (obsessive compulsive personality disorder) are doing what they do to make the world continue to feel right, but their reasons tend to be much different. They aren’t really dealing with bad thoughts or specific feelings of doom if they don’t keep everything just so. Instead, they just have a really strict regime of keeping everything they way they wish, because in general, it gives them a feeling of safety and security. While both fall under anxiety disorders and both have obsession involved, that is as close as they actually get to each other. When many people say OCD, they really mean OCPD.

5. For Many People, OCD Takes On Religious Connotations

There is also a special form of OCD known as scrupulosity, which may or may not involve the trademark intrusive thoughts. Those with this issue deal with a special religious version of OCD. Essentially, they become so obsessed with following the rules of religion to the letter that it makes it very hard for them to properly live their daily lives. One sufferer spoke of how, when studying for her Bat Mitzvah, she was so worried about pork fumes that she was scrubbing her hands constantly red raw. She would say her prayers over if she had to and ignore people to make sure she said them just right.

This is something a lot of OCD sufferers who are religious deal with, and the sad thing is they are more likely to suffer alone because they are so afraid of how people will judge them if they tell them what they are dealing with. These people tend to be very afraid of making any religious mistake and being punished or being in disfavor with their God of choice. Unfortunately this can be a very tricky form of OCD to deal with, because the sufferer can even think that intrusive thoughts are actually being influenced by demons, making the whole thing even more complicated.

4. Those With OCD Are Often Suffering From A Lot Of Guilt About Their Unwanted Thoughts

The truth is that at its heart, OCD is almost entirely about guilt. Whether it is guilt at what you did that you fear a deity will punish you for, guilt about the thoughts you had, or guilt about something you did wrong, or any kind of guilt. Those with OCD have a short circuit in the brain wherein when they feel guilty about something, they will start obsessing over it constantly in order to make themselves feel better and try to reassure themselves. Unfortunately, because their reason they are seeking assurance is because of guilt, and the feeling is strong, they will invariably make themselves feel even guiltier.

Those with OCD will then go to their go to rituals when it all becomes too much, and the obsessing has started to make things worse. Now they will try to push away all thoughts about the thing that is bothering them, in an attempt to improve how they feel. Those with OCD will often also feel guilt at how poorly they manage their own symptoms, which only decreases their sense of self-worth even more. This is why it is so important that people understand what the disease is and don’t make light of it as much. It is already something that tends to wear down and batter those who suffer from it, so mocking them and making light of their suffering only makes it harder for them to cope.

3. People With OCD Are Hyper Aware Of Their Problems And Very Embarrassed By Them

Let’s be clear: while people with OCD are often a laughingstock, especially on TV, it is not funny to them at all. Those who suffer (like this author) are hyper aware of the things that they do. If it is currently a physical ritual, they try to hide the fact that they do it from others, because it is insanely embarrassing when others find out. If it is a mental ritual, it is much easier to hide, but they are still very, very aware that they are doing it, and feel shame even as they are performing their rituals in order to avoid more guilt.

So while it may be often depicted as someone who doesn’t really understand just how “crazy” they are, the truth is that many people who are mentally unhealthy, except for those with delusional disorders, are well aware of their mental problems and how crippling they are. In fact, they are probably much more aware of the issue and how it is affecting them than you, the casual observer, could ever be. The best way to deal with it is sensitivity, like any disorder, and if comedy is to be done, the comedian should at least take the time to properly understand what they are joking about so they can give it a proper treatment. If you want to help someone who you think has OCD, the best thing you can do is be someone they can talk to about anything – be their guilt free zone where you can get them talking and assure them that they don’t need to feel guilty all the time.

2. Persistent OCD Symptoms Can Lead To Depression And Other Mood Disorders

As you might imagine, having OCD can be very, very frustrating. Sufferers will go through bouts where they are doing better than other times, and sometimes worse. However, overall, it is a chronic problem that can be difficult to manage on an ongoing basis. You can be going well, and then something happens that triggers a thought from a horrible episode and you are doing terrible again. A life event happens that is extremely awful and you can find yourself relapsing when you had made a lot of progress. Constantly feeling guilty about horrible thoughts and trying to repress them is incredibly difficult to deal with on an ongoing basis and so many people who suffer from OCD end up with other mood disorders.

Roughly three out of four people with OCD end up with depression as well, because of how depressing it is to deal with the chronic issue of OCD. It is hard to feel good on an ongoing basis and feel good about yourself when you are constantly either feeling guilty or obsessing about thoughts or actions in an attempt to avoid feeling guilty, or guiltier. The worst part is, the rational part of the OCD sufferers brain knows that their feelings of guilt are completely irrational, but try as they might, they can’t just turn those thoughts off. In a way, the constant feelings of guilt are just as much an obsession as the rituals themselves.

1. People With OCD Can Get Better At Controlling The Problem But There Is No Cure

There are many ways to treat OCD, and to help those who suffer with it, but the truth is that there is no known cure. No one is sure if it has a genetic component or not, but there is some belief that it runs in families. Regardless of how it comes, once it is there, it is there to stay. Those with OCD will never completely cure their dilemma, and will have to deal with the issue to some degree or another for the rest of their lives.

However, this doesn’t mean everything is grim. While it may always be a problem lurking in the background, those with OCD, if they do the right things or seek the right treatment, can ameliorate the symptoms to some extent. Images may still pop into your head, but accepting and acknowledging that they are they, but there is no reason to feel guilty about them, and then practicing taking a breath and moving on, can help the sufferer deal better with their issue. Forcing yourself to break a ritual now and then, and then reminding yourself afterwards that nothing bad happened is another way you can help break yourself of the more debilitating symptoms.

Most of all, it is about practicing letting go instead of obsessing over things and allowing yourself to feel guilt if necessary, but then move on and force yourself to stop worrying about it. Nothing will cure someone with OCD, there is no magic bullet. But with many mental health disorders, with the right treatment, those with OCD can still at least live a relatively happy and normal life.


OCD FYI

– WIF Handbook

A.I.-Proof Vocations – WIF Jobs

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Jobs That

Artificial Intelligence

Can’t Take Away

Let’s face it. Pretty soon, robots will take over the world, and humanity will become a distant memory. The good news is, by the time technology catches up to The Terminator, we will already be dead.

Artificial Intelligence is invading human territory to take our jobs away, but these robots are going to have a hard time getting everything right. Here are 10 jobs that A.I. can’t take away from humans… at least, not yet.

10. Authors

When you think about it, writing is just rearranging words that already exist. So, A.I. should be able to figure out patterns in language to make their own stories. And, they have! Well, sort of. One Game of Thrones fan and professional programmer named Zack Thoutt was sick and tired of waiting for George R.R. Martin to write his next book, The Winds of Winter. So he decided to create an artificial intelligence software to write it for him.

Just to give you a taste of the results, here is a quote:

“This dragon does not say we had four of a band, or no men or rats and two singers, the great pack of men and the winged trees.”

Maybe that story would make sense after a few glasses of wine, but it’s not likely that a robot will publish a New York Times bestseller any time soon.

9. Fashion Designers and Tailors

Unless you’re a fashion designer, most people in the western world don’t bother learning how to sew clothes anymore. The majority of the clothing in the world is made by people living in Third World countries like Bangladesh, where their working conditions are appalling. However, these people need those jobs to survive. Without the clothing industry, there aren’t enough jobs to replace them, so many of these people would starve to death.

So, who would ever want to risk ruining the lives of millions? Well, there’s Dov Charney. In case you weren’t aware, he founded American Apparel. He was kicked out of his own company because multiple employees came forward with sexual harassment accusations. Charney denies this, but the mattress in his office says otherwise.

He decided to start a new company called Los Angeles Apparel, where he is still employing American seamstresses and tailors. However, his loyalty to his employees seems rather shallow, because he would clearly rather be alone counting his money in a factory with a robot invented by Steve Dickerson called “SoftWEAR”. This robot is learning how to sew clothes. The only snag is, robots don’t have a human sense of touch. They are great at sewing straight lines, but they can?t anticipate when fabric moves or wrinkles. For now, Charney’s plot to ruin even more lives has been foiled.

8. Psychologist

One thing that artificial intelligence is truly terrible at is showing empathy. Since it has never been a human, how can it understand our emotions? Chatbots can?t pass the Turing Test, which means they can’t communicate on the same level of a human conversation.

Alexa and Siri can’t even understand our search requests half the time. Do we really want them to give us advice about our traumatic childhood memories from the third grade? We certainly don?t think so. Besides, therapists need to pay off their crippling student loan debt somehow, and not everyone can be a weirdly successful radio therapist.

7. Doctors

Artificial Intelligence is beginning to break into the medical field. In the future, we’ll be able to get a simple diagnosis by taking a photo on your smartphone. A.I. will run through a database of photographs and compare with yours to see if there’s a match.

There are already programs that exist that can check for skin cancer on that mole you’ve been meaning to get checked out, and another that will look for diabetic eye disease. Heart monitoring watches already have the ability to check for an irregular heartbeat, as well. As time goes on, more and more medical issues can be diagnosed at home.

However, that doesn’t mean A.I. will be taking the place of real doctors. With robots, there is no such thing as bedside manner. Can you really imagine a world where a soulless chunk of metal tells you that you’re dying in six months, with absolutely no empathy? People will always need a human to communicate with about their body, and there needs to be a sense of accountability, in case something goes wrong. After all, if you’re in surgery and things go awry, you need a surgeon who can improvise, not an oversized computer who lacks any semblance of adaptability.

6. Musicians

Artificial Intelligence has been able to create its own music, from Irish folk songs to marimba, and it’s actually quite good. In Japan, a fictional video game android called Hatsune Miku is so popular that she already sells out her own concerts.

But don’t worry. There?s no way A.I. can kill “Lisztomania”‘, which is the phenomenon fans feel towards their favorite musicians. Robots will probably never replace dreamy photos tacked on bedroom walls of little girls everywhere, which means that pop stars are safe, at least for now.

5. Police Officers

You may have seen security guard robots by Knightscope patrolling malls, but their usefulness is questionable, at best. The inventors compare it to a police car parked on the side of the road. If people know they are being watched, they are more likely to behave. Some may see these walking trash cans and believe that Robocop is the next step in technological law enforcement. In reality, humans truly don’t want artificial intelligence in charge of arresting people.

At Shanghai Jiao Tong University, a program was created that uses facial recognition to determine if someone is a criminal or not. They judge features like scars, facial expression, and even the curve of someone’s lip. If you have ever seen Minority Report, you know that this won?t end well. The program has already received a lot of backlash, because obviously, people can?t help if they were just born with a jacked up face.

4. Judges

The European Court of Human Rights gets so many complaints sent to them on a daily basis, it’s not possible to try all of the cases in court. In 2015, the University College London came up with an algorithm that was able to predict a cases’ outcome correctly 79% of the time, which helped them cut down on human work hours sorting through paperwork to find winning cases.

But that doesn’t mean a robot can sit in place of a judge. Human empathy has a lot to do with the outcome of a case. For example, an impoverished mother stealing a loaf of bread would probably be let off with a lesser sentence than someone robbing a bank. Well, unless Javert is on the case, of course. As we just mentioned in the last entry, A.I. also has a nasty habit of being incredibly biased when it comes to facial recognition. Without a 100% accuracy rate, someone would likely end up in jail when they’re actually innocent. Um, y’know, because that never happens with human judges, of course…

3. Art Teachers

Art is an incredibly important part of human history and culture. Even if you were the type of student who fell asleep during art class and wondered why your tuition dollars were being wasted on information you’ll never need to know in your future career, we think we can all agree that we definitely don’t want art education to fall into the hands of a robot.

Thankfully, robotic arms only have the artistic abilities of a 4-year old, and they’re equally as terrible at identifying the artist of a painting. An A.I. program called Recognition searches an image for colors, composition, and facial recognition. The matches they come up with are interesting, but not exactly accurate, like comparing a photograph of corn to a Jackson Pollock painting.

2. Pro Athletes

The 2018 Winter Olympics featured the world’s first skiing robot competition. Does this spell out doom for human athletes everywhere? Not so much. The owners of these mini robots had to chase down their creations as they crashed through flags and fell over on their way down an incredibly small hill. Which is hilarious, but not really a threat to Mikaela Shiffrin’s career just yet.

Considering how expensive it is to build a robot in the first place, it’s safe to say that developers won’t want to create a million-dollar machine just to push it down the side of a mountain. This means that in the future, robots will leave all the broken bones and sports injuries to us humans.

1. Clergy

Last, and certainly not least: the job that is guaranteed to never be taken by a robot is a member of clergy. Robots only function with evidence based on data and facts, and these soulless buckets of metal have absolutely no concept of faith. In fact, a study conducted by The Future of Employment claims that there is less than a one percent chance that clergymen would lose their jobs to robots in the future.

Compare that to telemarketers, who have a 99% chance of being replaced by automated voice messaging systems, and… well, what do you know? Maybe there is a God after all.


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WIF Mind Games – Psychological Phenomena

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Psychological Phenomena

The human brain is a fascinating and complex organ. Beyond its ability to help us reason, function and think, it plays some crazy tricks on us. All throughout history, humans have experienced things called psychological phenomena – mind tricks that sometimes defy explanation but are experienced by most people. Here are 10 of them, with a description of the phenomenon itself (when it has one!) and an example of it in action with a real, live human being.

10. Cryptomnesia

Why did Brian Williams, noted NBC news anchor, say he was in a helicopter that was attacked in Iraq? Was he lying? Or, was there something deeper at work. For that matter, why did George Harrison write “My Sweet Lord” to sound just like the Chiffon’s hit 1962 song, “He’s So Fine?” Did he plagiarize, or did he not notice the similarity between his song and the other? An argument can be made for the latter in both instances, all because of something called cryptomnesia. The term was invented by doctors Alan Brown and Dana Murphy, after conducting three experiments at Southern Methodist University in 1989. They discovered that people will unknowingly “borrow” the ideas of others, rather than thinking of new ideas. Rather than consciously stealing a song, or making up a story out of thin air, the human brain is capable of taking a story, song or idea and transforming it. In the person’s mind, it becomes new. Original. When really, it’s just a memory.

Studies have shown this phenomenon is pretty common, but it’s pretty hard to tell the difference between it and a lie. So, it’s possible that Brian Williams simply thought he was on that helicopter, or he might have been lying. In the case of George Harrison, however, a judge decided that cryptomnesia really was the culprit, and Harrison was charged with “subconscious plagiarism.” It’s scary when you think about it. How many of our ideas are actually our own, and how many are really memories?

9. Deja Vu

Have you ever visited a new place, only to get the feeling that you’d been there before? That’s called a deja vu, and it happens to almost everybody. Art Markman, Ph.D., explains deja vu as a device our brains use to create a sense of familiarity in a particular situation using source memories as context clues. He says that humans are good at remembering objects, so if we see a person wearing the same t-shirt that we saw our friend wear last week, we don’t get confused that the stranger in the same shirt is our friend. However, we are not great at recalling memories based solely on how objects are arranged. So, if you see a stack of those t-shirts in one store, and then years later go to a completely different store in a completely different city, you might not remember that you saw an identical stack of shirts, but instead feel a sense of familiarity, of knowing, and not know why.

In one extreme case, French psychiatrist Francois-Leon Arnaud wrote about a guy named Louis who lived in the 19th century. Louis was a soldier who suffered from amnesia, then headaches, irritability and insomnia. And, he suffered from almost constant deja vu. Everything he experienced felt like something he’d experienced before. At the time, his doctors diagnosed him with “illusion deja vu,” but today it’s suggested that Louis may have had a memory disorder like recollective confabulation, where people routinely think that all new information is familiar. For us, the occasional deja vu is a creepy and otherworldly feeling, so much that some people think it’s really a memory from a past life.

8. Bystander Effect

The Bystander Effect is a psychological phenomenon that is social in nature. It’s characterized by the unlikeliness of a group of people (the bigger the group, the more likely the phenomenon) to help during an emergency. The most famous example of this is the 1964 murder of young Kitty Genovese, when allegedly she was murdered on the streets of New York and the 38 bystanders who witnessed the murder did nothing to help. A great example of the phenomenon, if true. However, Kitty’s brother, Bill, decided to get to the bottom of what really happened to his sister and it turns out that only a few people actually saw the attack, and one actually shouted for the murderer to stop. Two people claimed to have called the police, though there are no phone records. Bill says that regardless of whether or not people tried to help, his sister’s story is an important lesson to those who might do nothing when they see someone in trouble.

Another disturbing example of Bystander Effect is that of Topsy the Elephant. Topsy killed one man, but was accused of being a “serial man killer,” and was therefore sentenced to death. Originally believed to be one in a long streak of electrocutions in that “War of the Currents,” it’s likely that electrocution was chosen for Topsy because it was more humane than the original form execution, which was hanging. The electrocution of Topsy occurred on Coney Island, in front of Luna Park employees, Edison’s employees, and many other witnesses. Nobody lifted a finger. A gruesome account of the atrocity can be found in in Michael Daly’s book, Topsy.  An Edmund Burke quote comes to mind: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

7. Placebo Effect

If you’ve ever participated in a clinical study (or studied science, for that matter), you know what a placebo is. It’s a pill or other treatment that has no physical effect, but can produce a psychological benefit called the Placebo Effect. In essence, if someone takes a placebo and experiences some sort of benefit, there you have this particular psychological phenomenon. One example of this is the case of MK-869, an experimental antidepressant developed by Merck in 2002. The drug tested exceedingly well at first, and Merck had high hopes for domination in the marketplace. Imagine how disappointed shareholders and analysts were, however, when data showed that while those who took MK-869 did feel better, so did the same amount of people who took the placebo.

This is a pretty common occurrence in the world of pharmaceuticals. In fact, about 50% of developing drugs fail in the trial stage because it’s found that the placebo is just as effective. Some medical professionals even claim that some people react well even when they know they are receiving a placebo. That the ritual of taking medicine or doing something healthy can make the brain think that the body is healing. Maybe there is something to the old adage, “Heal thyself.”

6. McGurk Effect

The McGurk Effect, a crazy psychological phenomenon that has to do with your eyes and your ears (and how they get confused) when perceiving speech. It happens when your brain associates the hearing part of one sound and pairs it with the visual appearance of another sound being spoken, which leads to the brain perceiving a nonexistent third sound. Whoa, right?

It happens especially when you can’t hear the sound that well (like in a crowded room, or when a person is speaking very softly) but you can see the lips move, making you think you “hear” something else. Think about that kid in class who mouthed “elephant shoe” at you. The phenomenon was first explained in 1976 by, not surprisingly, a guy named McGurk who studied how infants perceive language as they develop. It’s best described in video format, and there are a lot of examples out there. Like this one or, obviously, the one embedded above.

 5. Baader-Meinhof

You just heard about a new director from your film nerd friend. Later that day, you look up a movie with your favorite actor in it on IMDd and BAM, it’s that director. Then, you pick up the newspaper and there’s a profile on the same director – the one you had never heard of before. All of a sudden, this guy is everywhere. Is he the next Scorsese, or did your film buff friend plant all these references for you? Neither! You’re experiencing the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

Arnold Swicky, a linguistics professor at Stanford, named this phenomenon Frequency Illusion in 2006, because it was easier than calling it the “When you hear something one time and all of the sudden it’s everywhere syndrome.” He explained that it is caused by two psychological processes. In one, you learn a thing and then, without knowing it, you look for it other places. In the other, confirmation bias tells you that the thing is everywhere overnight, simply because you never noticed it before. The term Baader-Meinhof came about earlier than 2006, on a St. Paul Pioneer Press online forum, where a participant heard the name of the notorious terrorist group two times in the same day. The phrase got meme-ified and later Swicky gave it a medical name.

4. Cognitive Dissonance

You know that getting sunburned can cause skin cancer, but you skip the sunscreen anyway. Or you smoke, even when you know that smoking causes cancer. You’ve got yourself a great example of cognitive dissonance, a phenomenon that occurs when you experience a conflict of attitude, behavior, or belief. Your behavior (skipping the sunscreen) belies your cognition (the fact that you know that you could get skin cancer), creating a state of cognitive dissonance.

This was first studied by Leon Festinger in 1957, when a doomsday cult that believed a flood was going to end the world… well, they didn’t get destroyed by a flood (and neither did the world). He found that people who were on the fence about the flood felt pretty dumb for giving up their houses and jobs and chalked it up to a learning experience, while the devout cult members decided that it was their great faith and sacrifice that saved the world. There are also fun ways to explore this phenomenon, like this Prezi about the cognitive dissonance in Mean Girls.

3. Online Disinhibition Effect

Unless you avoid the internet altogether (and judging by the fact you’re reading this, that’s pretty definitively not the case), you’ve seen the Online Disinhibition Effect in action. It’s your sweet former teacher that turns into a hate-filled rage ball on a Facebook thread. It’s Roseanne tweeting herself into unemployment. It’s the internet user’s tendency to say (or type) things they wouldn’t usually say in real life. This is caused by a number of personality variables that cause a person to deviate from their “normal” behavior. Just like people who feel less shy when online, some people lose a lot more than shyness when they feel a sense of anonymity.

Even on social media, where your name and photo are attached to your profile, it’s possible to minimize authority, loosen your self-boundaries and pretend it’s all a game when nobody is responding to you in person. If only people could just do what we do and pretend their mother can see everything they post online. Hey, if it works, it works!

2. Reverse Psychology

If you’re a parent, you’ve likely used reverse psychology to get your kids to do what you want. For instance, if they don’t want to eat their dinner, and then you tell them they’re not allowed to eat dinner, odds are they will. Reverse psychology relies on reactance, where a person responds negatively to persuasion, and instead responds to the thing that they’re persuaded not to do. Even if you’re not a parent, you’ve likely used it on family members, partners, or coworkers.

Reverse psychology dates back as far as human behavior, with a notable example in the 1700s. Apparently, Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, while imprisoned during the Seven Years’ War, ate a whole lot of potatoes. In France, potatoes were frowned on, and only fed to animals. French Parliament even outlawed potatoes in 1748, because they thought that they caused leprosy. When Antoine-Augustin got back to France in 1763 he started thinking about overcoming the bias against potatoes, because he knew they were very nutritious. One story says that he planted a potato patch and hired a guard to protect it, spreading the rumor that he was growing something special in there. Of course, people snuck in to steal the potatoes, and they decided they were a-ok.

1. Overview Effect

The last entry on our list is a psychological phenomenon most of us won’t experience. It’s the Overview Effect – the sensation that astronauts feel when they see the Earth as a whole. Six astronauts were interviewed by Inverse, and the experience of seeing Earth from space made them change how they saw their planet, and their relationship to it. The term Overview Effect was created by Frank White to describe the experience of seeing the Earth as part of something bigger. Makes sense, since when we live on the Earth the Earth is plenty big for us to consider. What would the world be like if everyone could look at the universe in a different way? Read those testimonials from the six astronauts interviewed and you’ll get an idea.

Our brains are strange and wonderful places, capable of greatness and atrocity. An understanding of how the brain works might help us avoid the latter, but it will surely help us strive to the former.


WIF Mind Games –

Psychological Phenomena

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 75

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 75

…you are supposed to be dead, that is what Mastadon and most of Chicago is lead to believe…

“He wanted to come, seemed to recognize his surroundings, he pointed the way,” Fanny explains her actions.

Once inside the door, Libby just about leapt from his seat screaming and pointing at the wall of books, “Bell, bell!”

“That is what Doctor Steinberg told me he was saying…. Bell, do you mean one of these?”

“Bell!”

Constance goes to the wall, while Martin tries to cajole his friend. Alexander Graham Bell is there, as is the Liberty Bell, no bell peppers, but she makes her way to the Hemingway collection, pulling out For Whom the Bell Tolls, thereby exposing a legal sized manila folder to the light of day. Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises must also come away in order to get the bulky unlabeled envelope out.

Martin sees what she is doing and gallops to her side. Fanny tries to calm the frantic Libby, but cannot, as he leaves the wheelchair on his own, though his atrophied leg muscles fail to hold his weight. Bedlam has broken out with no notice.

“My paper…!” Willard Libby beckons like a shepherd finding that one stray sheep.

“Willard, are you… do you… I mean is that really you, back with us?” Martin is beside himself.

All he can do is cry tears of joy from the kneeling position, holding his face in his hands.

“It must be like coming back from the dead,” Constance is thrilled.

“How about being buried alive?” captive Libby adds to the subject himself. “I was screaming out to you at Steinberg’s House of Pain.”

“I don’t know how much you’ve understood about our conversations, but you are supposed to be dead, that is what Mastadon and most of Chicago is lead to believe, the rest of the world that cares thinks you are still missing. Either way we must keep you under wraps until we can know how to proceed from this point forward.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 71

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 74

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 74

…the CCPI gang needs a safe place to stash the latest discombobulated version  of Libby…

Whacked-out Willy (his new nickname) had called his office sanctuary ‘the best kept secret’ around and is proud of it.

But someone had found it about three weeks ago, as CCPI discovered, but nothing seemed to be missing and theSafehouse ensuing mess was restored to its previous disorder by Martin. The entire remote wing of the university had been since sealed from regular access. To this very moment, no one knows who broke in.

When it came to finding a safe place to stash the latest discombobulated version of Libby, they need not look any further than his office, a three room suite with its own bathroom. The biggest room by square footage is the 15 x 15 front room, serving as place of work, kitchenette and the den; a windowless covey hole is filled by books from top to bottom, end to end.

Most of those books would be classified as reference, a good number of which are historical in nature, the Civil War in particular. In the fiction section, the complete works of Ernest Hemingway dominate several shelves from the earliest days working for The Kansas City Star to his final days in Idaho; reporter notes in Kansas to The Dangerous Summer in Life Magazine. You get two guesses at who is Libby’s favorite writer, the first one doesn’t count.

“This place is not big enough to care for someone in Willard’s present condition,” Constance interjects, with full knowledge of the Kimbark house being off-limits as well.

“I know some people over at the Hospital, maybe we can get him into a private room psycho_wardon the fifth floor?” Martin proposes.

“Why the 5th floor?”

“That’s the psycho ward.”

“Tell them he’s your brother or something, just make sure that the doctor in charge is someone you can trust.” Connie wants to make sure the scientist is not nabbed again.

At that point Fanny enters Willard’s office suite, pushing none other than Willard in his wheelchair.

“Fanny!?” Her friend had been tending to Libby down the hall.

“He wanted to come, seemed to recognize his surroundings, he pointed the way.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 70

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 72

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 72

… Eddie’s dream Part 2…

His dream of grandeur is interrupted by murkily black figure presenting him with a pointed proposition, “You can have all of this Eddie, the fame, the adoration of your cousins, you’ll never have to pay for another beer the rest of your life,” his arms extend out for yards revealing a collage of enticing scenes, all for the gratification of a deficient human being.

“What do you ask in return for all these things?” There must be a price to pay, right?

“You will be transported back in time, before the end of the war,” one of Pentateuch’s beloved achievements (Adolf Hitler), “where you will live out a hero’s existence. All of the present day will not happen, no taxi driving around rude people, and no need of bragging or telling tales, no nagging feelings of inferiority.”

Then the other shoe drops.

“But I do require one thing… the mortal soul that you have been given.”

“My soul,” Eddie shivers in the presence of one so powerful.

“Yes, your soul, handed over for my keeping. I NEED TO KNOW NOW, Eddie Dombroski, are you with me or against me!?”

Before he is able to answer that weighty pronouncement, Eddie is violently shaken by his Mrs. Dombroski (Edie), who was wondering why her husband is wandering around the house sleepwalking.

In an instant, he remembers what he had been dreaming and it is disconcerting. He feels like he has been snatched from the jaws of a hungry predator, just short of becoming a meal.

“I must have been hungry,” he replies, knowing that he won’t be sharing this apparition any time, with any one soon.

***REMEMBER THIS WAS A DREAM SEQUENCE***

On the way back to the U of C, the CCPI band of characters…

  1.  lead vocalist Constance Caraway
  2. drummer Fanny Renwick
  3. featuring Martin Kamen on sax
  4. Willard Libby on radiocarbon base
  5. & Eddie Dombroski as the  wacky dee-jay

… make an unscheduled stop on their tour. Perhaps a stop at Argonne will give Libby a jump start.

O contraire. It turns out to be the trigger mechanism for his stillness, causing the incapacitated man to shrink even further into reclusion. Some memories must be too traumatic to overcome.

Just how much of the ordeal does he recall, or when/where is the moment of his last mental connection to the real world? He definitely has a story to tell, merely lacking the mechanism to deliver it. He has no words to put together either oral or written, to expose that 2 ton elephant in the room.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 68 (end Ch. 6)

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 69

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 69

…Constance’s tolerance level for Eddie’s tales is shrinking…

Ear-Ringing

“Eddie!”

Constance calls out mockingly, with their newest jaunt back out to Elgin in mind. Of course he cannot hear, but his ears must be ringing in anticipation of when and where he will be going.

Having returned to the city in daylight last time will make this trip less contentious, though he hasn’t lost his flare for humor, “I charge extra for more people, plus if he needs a wheel chair… you must think I’m a handicap transport?”

“Would you like to join the ranks of the disabled Eddie?” Fanny has a knack for keeping him in line.

Eddie's Cousins-001“Easy Fan,” here he goes, “I’ll have you know that my Cousin Johnnie’s boy has polio and when he has go to Cook County Hospital for his treatments, good ol’ Eddie and his Checker are ‘Johnny on the spot’! That trunk can hold two wheelchairs, patients and all. I remember one day, I think it was January too, the snowdrifts were higher than the roof of my garage and my nephew went into some spaz-attack……….”

“Eddie!”

Constance’s tolerance level for Eddie’s tales is shrinking.

And so they go, on to retrieve Willard Libby from his own personal hell, never mind that the mental health professionals working with him were well-intentioned.

When the Forever Mastadon confederation hatched their scheme of snatch and dump, they counted on Libby being declared hopeless, helpless, any-the-less locked in a padded room for the rest of his days.

They did not want his blood on their hands, so his life was to be spared; not an act of compassion, rather a result of their leader’s eternal guilt. Eternal guilt is akin to eternal regret, the fate that awaits those who do not subscribe to the lordship of that carpenter’s son from Judah (Jesus)

Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 65