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Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994
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Archive for the ‘Psychology’

What does it mean to be a human being in the digital age?

June 13, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Psychology, Technology No Comments →

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Attendees of the Qingdao International Beer Festival taking a selfie with a smartphone, Shandong province, China, August 2015. Ian Berry/Magnum Photos

Virginia Woolf’s serious joke that “on or about December 1910 human character changed” was a hundred years premature. Human character changed on or about December 2010, when everyone, it seemed, started carrying a smartphone. For the first time, practically anyone could be found and intruded upon, not only at some fixed address at home or at work, but everywhere and at all times. Before this, everyone could expect, in the ordinary course of the day, some time at least in which to be left alone, unobserved, unsustained and unburdened by public or familial roles. That era now came to an end.

Many probing and intelligent books have recently helped to make sense of psychological life in the digital age. Some of these analyze the unprecedented levels of surveillance of ordinary citizens, others the unprecedented collective choice of those citizens, especially younger ones, to expose their lives on social media; some explore the moods and emotions performed and observed on social networks, or celebrate the Internet as a vast aesthetic and commercial spectacle, even as a focus of spiritual awe, or decry the sudden expansion and acceleration of bureaucratic control.

Read In the Depths of the Digital Age

The nerd therapist is in.

May 12, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Psychology 40 Comments →

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To recover from a very intense month I am going to my lovely dermatologist Dr Mary Anne Amon at Derma 360 in Rockwell (which is under renovation so I have to go to her clinic at Makati Med) to get my warts zapped. Afterwards I will look like a chocolate chip cookie so I’m taking myself out of human society and declaring quarantine in my library. My wonderful, cluttered, neglected but deeply comforting library. Where would I be without the consolations of literature? And the second season of Better Call Saul.

Are you glum, dispirited, boggled? Do you need to talk? Post your issues in Comments and let’s see what we can do.

Duterte is your walking, talking id.

April 19, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Election News Junkies Support Group, Psychology 5 Comments →

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You wish you could point to the criminal scum and order them to be shot. Someone cuts ahead of you in traffic? Bang! You wish you could make rape jokes. They’re just words, right? Why don’t these wimps get how funny it is to say you want to violate a woman? Your mother, your wife, your sisters, your friends: why don’t they get it?

Clearly, Duterte has struck a vein in the Pinoy psyche. He is the figurehead of a genuine people’s movement. As a social scientist would put it, his rise is based not on a political machine, but on Keynes’s “animal spirits”. That this unpredictable outsider may soon be president of this republic speaks to how well the candidate and his campaign team understand the deepest, most primal fears and needs of the Pinoy.

Duterte’s words are not calculated to impress the voters. He doesn’t have to calculate. He’s just saying the words that are already in your head. He is your walking, talking, preening, strutting id. The id is the part of your personality that contains your most basic instincts. It is where your needs, wants, desires, impulses, sex drives, aggressive drives come from. It is not affected by reality, logic, right or wrong. It only has one master, and that is the pleasure principle. It wants immediate satisfaction, it does not care how.

Read our column at InterAksyon.

If you’ve ever cheated or been cheated on, watch this TED talk on infidelity

January 07, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Psychology, Re-lay-shun-ships No Comments →

Thanks to Ricky for the alert.

Living by your wits: no security, but less stress

October 08, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Money, Psychology, The Workplace No Comments →

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Saffy had dental surgery two weeks ago. We noticed that she’d been swatting her face and snarling, and figured she had a toothache. The excellent vets at Makati Dog and Cat Hospital extracted five rotten teeth (Saffy is 15 and has never brushed her teeth in her life, being a cat). Saffy has recovered completely and is slightly nicer than she was when she was in pain, though she could still be the reincarnation of Josef Stalin. She’s even started eating hard kibble again, after having demanded paté-type cat food for the last year or so.

If we had a “normal” work schedule and went to the office everyday, we might not have noticed that our feline overlord needed medical attention. The great advantage of being freelance, i.e. living by our wits, is that we can decide how we’re going to spend our time. In the 21st century, time is a luxury that even the rich and powerful can barely afford. They’re over-scheduled and have to hoard their holidays. As long as we finish our assignments, we can go to the movies in the middle of the afternoon.

In our observation, people who live by their wits are less stressed than people with high-paying jobs or successful businesses. We don’t have real financial security, and we’re always aware that periods of liquidity can suddenly give way to penury. We’re accustomed to uncertainty and chaos, so we’ve learned to ride out the lean periods. This does not mean we’re lazy. Freelancers who are lazy cannot pay the rent or buy cat food. We toil, but we get to decide when to toil, usually in intense bursts.

Living by your wits isn’t for everybody, but if you know how to improvise and you don’t have ten children to buy braces for, we recommend it.

On uncontrollable urges, Oliver Sacks’s last article

September 05, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Psychology, Science No Comments →

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Royal Library, Windsor Castle. Detail of a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1510–1511

Walter B., an affable, outgoing man of forty-nine, came to see me in 2006. As a teenager, following a head injury, he had developed epileptic seizures—these first took the form of attacks of déjà vu that might occur dozens of times a day. Sometimes he would hear music that no one else could hear. He had no idea what was happening to him and, fearing ridicule or worse, kept his strange experiences to himself.

Read it.