Is Depression an Emotional Mush?
I have a vivid memory of dropping my oldest son off at college, the first day of his freshman year, many years ago. He stood outside his dorm, waving as I drove away, and I was overcome by a complex mix of emotions. I was unquestionably sad—the tears testified to that—but I wasn’t morose or agitated, and I kind of knew that this sadness would pass. In fact, I was in the same moment keenly aware of a range of powerful and positive emotions—pride that my son had earned his way into a fine university, relief that he seemed well-adjusted and untroubled, and had solid friends. He seemed to be landing okay, and the moment was bittersweet. Bittersweet.
Jumpstarting the Talking Cure
The “talking cure” originally referred to psychoanalysis, the brand of therapy made famous by Sigmund Freud and his followers. Today the phrase describes a very wide range of psychotherapeutic approaches, including psychoanalysis, that begin with clients, well, talking about themselves—their experiences, relationships, thoughts and feelings. Frank disclosure is considered the cornerstone of a trusting therapeutic alliance—and thus key to psychological healing and well-being. But people don’t always want to disclose their inner lives, even when they seek help, and one of a therapist’s most difficult challenges is to nudge clients who are guarding their privacy.
The Shame of the Alcoholic
This month in Cleveland, a woman was caught swerving her car onto a sidewalk, illegally passing a school bus full of children. A judge sentenced her to stand on the street corner wearing a sign that read: “Only an idiot would drive around a school bus.” In Arlington, Texas, a billboard features mug shots of suspected johns, with the words: “This could be you.” Arlington is one of many American communities going out of their way to publicly humiliate men who buy sex, while other towns are similarly targeting shoplifters and drunk drivers. And it’s not just judges: Parents around the country are also forcing their kids to wear signs—like “I am a thief”—to shame them into moral action.
Hot hands and hoops: Irrational belief in the NBA
Professional basketball begins again next week, and dedicated fans will be happy to put last year’s labor disputes and lockout behind them. But many will also remember 2011-2012 as a magical season. It was the season of Jeremy Lin, a New York Knicks point guard who, for a few weeks last winter, captured the country’s imagination. Lin was an unheralded and undrafted bench player from Harvard, one of the few Asian Americans in the NBA, whose unlikely hot streak landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated—twice, back to back. He made headlines beyond the sporting press as well, from Time to the Associated Press, and was the subject of seven instant books.
Is juvenile delinquency a failure of imagination?
The 1955 movie Blackboard Jungle was not great filmmaking, but it does endure as a historical curiosity. Even before a word of dialogue is spoken, the movie’s scrolling introduction makes clear that this is not just storytelling, but an earnest public service announcement: “Today we are concerned with juvenile delinquency,” it declares, “—its causes—and its effects.” And indeed the nation was concerned with juvenile delinquency in the 50s. Obsessed, really. Blackboard Jungle captured society’s fear of an entire generation of post-World War II teenagers, who were perceived as disrespectful, alienated, reckless, and most of all dangerous. It’s the same obsession that motivated Sen.
Extremist politics: Debating the nuts & bolts
Starting next week and through October, President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney will face off in a series of four televised debates, designed to clarify the candidates’ positions on the most pressing public policy issues confronting the nation today. In place of the ideals and elegant rhetoric of the campaign trail, the leaders of the two major parties will have an opportunity to describe the nitty-gritty of governing—how they will deal with complex matters like affordable health care, foreign policy in the Middle East, job creation, equitable taxation, and more. But the unfortunate reality is that Americans won’t get much in the way of detail and explanation.