This American Life

Adam Blatner adam at blatner.com
Sun Apr 2 15:44:15 PDT 2017


   1. About a year ago... I'm cleaning up old emails... and the point I'll
   make is that psychological-minded-ness is moving out of the formal
   patient-doctor context into public health, into preventive medicine. Daniel
   Jones is ?a school psychologist who sent a transcript of how someone is
   "personifying" neurosis and working with that. Several people responded.

    It's psychodramatic insofar as giving life to a caricature, a
one-function caricature: "Maybe you should feel bad about this." Realizing
that many people are somewhat sensitive to doubts, this helps such people
to question themselves.
   Speaking from experience, being on that side of the bell-shaped curve,
it never occurred to me that there are many other people with perhaps
insufficient doubting, such as our present president. They're so sure it
seems to more doubtful people that they really know.
    But over my lifetime I've learned that such people do not know, but
their innate doubting is temperamentally dampened. I didn't even know that
was possible when I was younger. I figured they really knew.
    There's a bell-shaped curve, and those on the extremes are the serious
doubters---bordering on or into Obsessive Compulsive Disorders---, and on
the other extreme, the overly confident, bordering on psychopathic. Most of
us are toward the middle. In the long run the doubters need to check
reality and encourage themselves and the overly confident need to do like
good scientists and doubt a bit more, double check.
       Enough for now. Warmly, Adam

On Sun, Jan 3, 2016 at 9:01 AM, Rebecca Walters <hvpi at hvpi.net> wrote:

> I remember when Narrative Therapy first became big. We had young social
> workers come to Four Winds Hospital and speak as if the idea of
> externalizing the problem was a new idea. Ha!!!
> Sometimes I think that every new thing that comes out in the field of
> therapy was first discovered or developed by Moreno.  Eric Berne (1970, p.
> 164), in a book review of Gestalt Therapy Verbatim, wrote that Fritz Perls
> along with other active psychotherapists were faced with a dilemma because
> of him. He called it the “Moreno problem: the fact that nearly all known
> ‘active’ techniques were first tried out by Moreno in psychodrama, so that
> it is difficult to come up with an original idea in this regard.”
>
> Rebecca Walters
> Hudson Valley Psychodrama Institute
> 156 Bellevue Road
> Highland, NY 12528
> 845/255-7502
> Please note new email address: hvpi at hvpi.net
> Visit our website at:  www.hvpi.net
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: List [mailto:list-bounces at grouptalkweb.org] On Behalf Of Jones
> Daniel
> (02M615)
> Sent: Saturday, January 02, 2016 4:13 PM
> To: List at grouptalkweb.org
> Subject: This American Life
>
> The Kat story in episode 545 (available for streaming on TAL website)
> follows below in transcript. The interviewer discusses a computer program a
> man wrote to email him messages from his own anxieties. Having them outside
> his head allowed him to see they weren't as bad as he thought and allowed
> him to respond to his anxieties. Sounds an awful lot like intrapsychic
> psychodramatic work and makes me wonder is anyone working with coders along
> similar lines.
>
> Happy New Year to all
>
> Act Four. Mailer Demon.
> Expand
> Ira Glass
> Well, this hour, we've been hearing stories of people getting insulted and
> harassed in various ways on the internet. But can internet hate ever be
> helpful to a person? There's a new podcast called Reply All that spends a
> lot of time living among the haters and the liars and the dirty, dirty
> cheats of the world on the internet. And one of the hosts of the podcast
> Reply All, PJ Vogt, has this story.
>
> Pj Vogt
> Paul Ford is an anxious person. There's a voice in his head, a chittering
> little gremlin that's constantly telling him, hey, ignore whatever good
> things seem to be going on in your life. You're lousy. You're an impostor.
> And everybody in your life knows it.
>
> Paul Ford
> I mean, it's the same little voice all of the time. This little guy just
> sitting there going, like, god, you're garbage. You're garbage. You're
> garbage. I don't know why he sounds like a Brooklyn construction worker,
> but
> he does right now today.
>
> Pj Vogt
> That voice told Paul that his life, which looked, from the outside, pretty
> normal, was teetering on the edge of a huge disaster.
>
> Paul Ford
> Actually, I had two little children screaming at home. And they were making
> me worried in just all the regular ways that kids make you worried. And I
> was not finishing a bunch of projects. I was feeling really at loose end.
>
> And I was stressed. And I was anxious and overweight and terrified. And I
> was just like, holy [BLEEP]-- kind of like, I got to do better. And then
> the
> anxiety would be like, oh, hey, wow, I'm dying. No, wait, I'm covered with
> worms. No, I'm never going to get anything done. I'm a bad person. I'm a
> failure.
>
> Pj Vogt
> Paul programs software. And so he decided what he needed to do about his
> anxiety was to treat it like an IT problem that needed troubleshooting.
>
> Paul Ford
> For me, it was just like, what is this weird force that is now running a
> chunk of my life and making me feel weird and bad all of the time? And so I
> went off, and I made this thing called AnxietyBox.
>
> Pj Vogt
> AnxietyBox, it's a website-- Paul's technological solution to the
> self-doubting criticisms swirling around in his head.
>
> Paul Ford
> So the way it works, if we look at the website, you go to the website and
> you put in your name and your email, and then you put in what your anxiety
> is. So it's like, I'm really anxious about finishing my book. I'm really
> anxious about losing weight. And you can keep adding anxieties. And it
> saves
> all of that to a database. And then like 12 times a day, but kind of
> random,
> it just sends you these emails from your anxiety.
>
> Pj Vogt
> Not emails soothing you about your anxiety, emails that were actually sent
> from a personified version of your anxiety that lived on a website. Paul
> coded in all of these tiny sentence fragments that the website could use to
> automatically construct emails.
>
> Paul Ford
> All of these various pseudo parts of speech like, the upshot is, tell me,
> drop a line, keep me in the loop, I don't want to doubt you but, or I doubt
> it can ever work.
>
> Pj Vogt
> Those sentence fragments were meant to give his robot the perfect voice--
> the voice of a ruthlessly cheerful underminer-- an underminder who knew his
> specific anxieties, the work deadlines he was blowing, the weight he
> couldn't seem to lose, and could taunt him about them.
>
> Paul Ford
> So let's imagine that I'm standing on the train. I'm about to go down into
> the train platform. And I look at my phone, and I have an email. And it's
> from my anxiety.
>
> I mean, here's an email from June 2 in the afternoon. Now here's the
> subject-- history will forget you because history forgets people who are
> unable to finish anything. "Dear Paul, so you're probably used to being at
> the front of the class, and this is a wake-up call that you're not even in
> the middle. Inform me, are you ready? Sincerely, Your Anxiety."
>
> Pj Vogt
> Remember, Paul set it up so that he'd get these messages on average 12
> times
> a day. 12 times a day, his phone would ping, and there'd be a new attack
> waiting. While he was eating breakfast, ping.
>
> Paul Ford
> The simple reason you're not happy is that you're unworthy of saving.
>
> Pj Vogt
> When he was at work, ping.
>
> Paul Ford
> I respect that you just live your life and don't care if people think you
> are childish and disgusting.
>
> Pj Vogt
> While he was watching his kids, ping.
>
> Paul Ford
> Your mom and dad would never say anything, but they so want to know why you
> would choose to be unlovable and not smart.
>
> Pj Vogt
> When he was getting ready for bed, ping.
>
> Paul Ford
> People on Facebook look at your picture and think, in possession of a weird
> nose.
>
> Pj Vogt
> And you made this to make yourself feel less anxious and better?
>
> Paul Ford
> Well, that's the thing. So the thing I'm trying to do here is externalize
> the anxiety and actually simulate it.
>
> Pj Vogt
> So what do you mean?
>
> Paul Ford
> Well, anxiety, it turns out, like building this little emulator, this
> anxiety simulator, made me go, oh, this part of me is incredibly stupid. It
> says the same things over and over again. And it really is like that is
> what
> my anxiety looks like. It's not smart. At some level, it's like a little
> robot that just screams. What this let me do is look at the robot.
>
> Pj Vogt
> Seeing the voice in his head, seeing its opinion of him actually written
> out, it seemed crazy that he'd ever believe that what it was saying about
> him was true.
>
> Paul Ford
> It was immediately effective. And seeing it actually externalized as 20
> messages in a Gmail inbox, it was so much like what my brain was producing.
> Seeing it was really funny. It turns your entire emotional freak-out into
> this relentless form of comedy.
>
> Pj Vogt
> Right.
>
> Paul Ford
> Yeah, it turns out that you're not as important as you think you are,
> nowhere near as terrible as you think you are, and actually fairly
> ridiculous. It's just so ridiculous to scream at yourself all day long, and
> yet there it was. There was the evidence of it. And so it was like, oh my
> god, I've been wasting a lot of time with this little son of a bitch.
>
> Pj Vogt
> I feel like something about having it in an email let's you fight back
> against it.
>
> Paul Ford
> You can actually reply, right? I would reply and be like, go fuck yourself,
> over and over again. So the ability to actually yell back at something,
> which I think is something that we usually associate with being terrible on
> the internet, in this case, it's wonderful, because you can yell at the
> robot and tell it to shut the fuck up.
>
> Pj Vogt
> The notion that you can cure your anxiety without therapy, without drugs,
> just by trolling yourself, who would've thought?
>
> Paul Ford
> I think it doesn't necessarily get solved. You just get more aware of it.
> It's still there. It's still moving. It's still part of me. I'm sure it'll
> be there until I die. But it doesn't have as much control.
>
> Pj Vogt
> Paul found that when he took the nasty voices inside of his head and gave
> them a home outside of it, a home on the internet where tens of millions of
> other nasty voices live, they couldn't hurt him anymore.
>
> (HOST) IRA GLASS: PJ Vogt is one of the hosts of the podcast Reply All. If
> you are ready to make it your new favorite podcast, you can get it for free
> wherever it is you get your podcasts.
>
> [MUSIC - "GIVE A HATER A HUG" BY WATSKY FT. WAX"
>
>
> Daniel Jones
> School Social Worker
> M-T-W Chelsea HS Campus
> 212-625-4800, ext 2060
> Thursday HS of Economics Finance
> 212-346-0708, ext. 1906
> Friday Leadership and Public Service HS
> 212-346-0007, School Based Support Team
>
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