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David Porter » Entries tagged with "psychology"

Stress Could Be the Next Key Factor in British Politics

Work patterns changed beyond recognition in a decade, occupational stress the norm, few benefit from technology’s ease: can Britain ever take it easy again? This article first published on Suite 101, 8 November 2011. With the pressure of few shopping days till Christmas, financial worries and frantic lifestyles of expectation, social-media and the ‘now’, all ages feel under stress. In-Deed, an online conveyancing company published a November 2011 survey saying that selling or buying a house ages people by two years. They didn’t find how much stress people suffer who can’t sell their homes. How much is healthy, creative stress and how much is destructive? More of the latter has far-reaching consequences for our legislation, legal/educational/welfare/employment/transport systems. In short, for our whole way of life. Most employed accept some occupational stress. When a … Read entire article »

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The Great British Love and Tolerance of the Eccentric

Eccentrics are ‘off centre’ or ‘beyond the norms’ of others. They can be thought crazy, are unafraid to be different and add to the colour of British life. Eccentricity isn’t confined to the UK, though HistoryUK.com said: ‘England may be a small country but seems to have more true eccentrics than many larger countries’. All nationalities enjoy practical jokes, dress outrageously, behave to shock and have mindsets that see differently. French author David d’Equainville (Manifesto for a Day Put Off) founded International Procrastination Day, to promote ‘positive procrastination’ in the fast-paced, results-driven world. It’s an act of resistance against orders, a ‘defence mechanism’. He accepted some would delay the Day. Creatives are frequently eccentrics, too. Britain’s Official Monster Raving Loony Party manifesto (there’s also a US version), includes such ‘fun’ demands … Read entire article »

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Size Does Matter As People Demand Life’s Very Best Superlatives

Super-scaling has become the era’s hallmark: ‘super’ tankers, bugs and drugs, disasters, wealth, numbers. What will future social historians make of it all? In the early 21st century, size psychology was paramount. People wanted to be best, biggest/smallest, richest, happiest, most successful. The retail sector cottoned on: clothes’ size perception (‘does my backside look big in this?’) drove sales. Male obsession with personal body part size applied equally to their feet; outward indicators of size elsewhere. Business echoed, with its biggest chair, desk, room, building crucial to executive ego. However, history teaches everything is relative. A mega-calamity was only such till the next. The tightest/harshest economic squeeze/breath-taking achievement, the super meal/music/show held the crown while new ultimate thrills arrived. Super Number-Crunching With national debts written in figures so gigantic new descriptors were invented, … Read entire article »

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Black Swan: Just One More Disturbing Portrait in Mind-Game Movies

A study of a disintegrating mind is a growing film genre devoted to the human condition under pressure, where all is not what it seems. Ever. ‘Oh poor perturbed spirit’, as Shakespeare put it. In Black Swan, almost two rivetting hours of senses awakened with superb acting, amazing camerawork, lavish music and wits scared, are hallmarks of a great movie. To spend hours afterwards perturbed, thinking through what was actually seen, is how mind-game movies hook people. Black Swan (2010) is about a young ballet dancer, given the White Swan role in a production of Swan Lake, who gradually lost her grip on reality, as she became like the evil twin sister, the Black Swan. Directed by Darren Aronofsky, Natalie Portman mixed the subtleties/horrors of acting with dancing perfection. The film is about … Read entire article »

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The Dark Side Reflects People in Their Lives, Movies and Arts

Why people are drawn to the dark side and why so many hide dark sides of their own has fascinated philosophers, film makers and artists for centuries. ‘The Devil shouldn’t have all the best tunes’, (commonly attributed to the English evangelist Rowland Hill, 1744–1833), sums up some people’s views of the darker side in others. The 2010 movie Black Swan unleashed fresh soul searching and anguish about how the arts’ appeal to the innate darkness within most people. New York based British writer and critic Tom Shone wrote in the Sunday Times (Jan 2011): ‘Darker=deeper=good is one of our more unbreakable pop-culture shibboleths’. He cited Darth Vader from Star Wars (1977-2005) urging the hero to ‘give yourself to the Dark Side’; the severing of his own arm by the protagonist in 127 … Read entire article »

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Charity and Compassion Fatigue Is Wearing Down Fundraising

They say that ‘charity begins at home’, but people give generously all over the world and always have done. In times of hardship, will they stop giving? According to Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project, caregivers experience high levels of compassion fatigue. They meet daily ‘heart wrenching, emotional challenges,’ with chronic stress tolls taken on all carers, from full time employees to part time volunteers. “Eventually, negative attitudes prevail.” These people have a strong identification with helpless, suffering/traumatized people or animals or some aspect of the environment. In the extreme, carers can exhibit symptoms from neglect to abuse of their charges, simply because they’ve become worn out with caring and emoting. With the economic difficulties of the early 21st century, some people may find their compassion fatigue extended to weariness with charities. As some people … Read entire article »

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Creatives, Mavericks and Non-Conformists in the Movies

Movie plots need conflicts and tensions. Readily available is the solo fight against society, the system, big business or baddie(s). Atticus Finch opposing racial prejudice in small town America in To Kill A Mocking Bird (1962) is the beating heart of the story: it rings true. Rebel Without a Cause (1955) made James Dean the maverick star. Lynch-mob mentality of hysterical masses clamouring for somebody’s blood makes a perfect protagonist. The voice in the wilderness, the lone person of conscience/courage within the crowd, is the stuff of inspiration. Those who refuse to toe the (unjust) line are often regarded as heroes, but not till later. Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke (1729 -1797) is attributed with: ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’. The truth … Read entire article »

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Queueing is Not Rocket Science, But Formulae and Theories Abound

As patience gets shorter, life busier, queues longer, first-come-first-served may be reduced to a formula or theory. But what of human behaviour? Science and technologyworking with the arts makes sense; even mathematics and the arts, is not totally unlikely. But it seems there are maths/scientific formulae or theories for everything, even the phenomenon of queueing. Queueing is not as strong as ‘waiting’, but is a recognised phenomenon. Comedian George Mikes said, ‘An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one.’ No longer, though, are the Brits/English the world’s best at queueing. The habit, often met with bemusement by nationalities with no concept of standing in line, evolved during World War 2 through food rationing. It became a hallmark of British civility: wait in orderly fashion in shops, bus … Read entire article »

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Love-Hate Relationships are Normal, Understandable and Common

Most people have ambivalent, contradictory feelings ranging from love to hate about other people, things, places, sounds and smells. It’s part of life. Some psychologists believe a love-hate relationship between couples, where conflict is used to strengthen love, is better than a straightforward one. Neil Warner, author of Turning Conflicts Into True love argues that people change, as ‘conflict is to help you learn the basic truth about how to deal with each other. It takes two to dispute, but only one to repair a relationship’. The range of people’s love-hate relationships cover all aspects of life. For example, blogger Karen Fredricks has one with Amazon, not for books, but how it reviews non-book products. Love-Hate Shopping and Style Anna North, writes on Jezebel, a women’s opinion blog about keeping women from hating their … Read entire article »

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Signs, Omens, Superstitions and Old Wives’ Tales

They’re part of the cultural fabric of folk memory, but do good luck charms and a myriad of superstitions actually make any difference to what happens? Most people know about touching wood (UK) or knocking on wood (US), not walking under ladders, not letting two people pour from the same teapot at the same meal for fear of the second one ’having ginger twins’ . Many heed the old adage, ‘be careful what you wish for…’ In other words, what people want could be disastrous. The Romans invented ‘superstition’ as credulous belief, not based on reason. Early Christians dismissed anything outside their views as the tales of silly old pagan women. In violent times of uncertain acts of nature, disease and the constant … Read entire article »

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