Psychology

Psychology studies the individual, and sociology studies the group. Social psychology studies the relation between the individual and the group, and for me that’s where all the action is. I study perception and the subjective organization of meaning ...

In the mid-twentieth century, a social psychologist by the name of Harold Garfinkle (1965) wrote an article titled “Conditions of Successful Degradation Ceremonies.” This became one of those articles – one of those stand-out pieces that becomes a signpost for a way of looking at the world. Now largely subsumed under the rubric of Social Identity Theory in psychology, there is a sizeable literature of twentieth century social psychology that issued forth from peculiarly sociological camps.

This election season, people have been blocking and un-friending those on “the other side”, families have been arguing, it's been a lot of stress. Tonight, one side may feel the stress associated with the loss and Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a New York City-based licensed clinical psychologist and teaching faculty member at Columbia University Teacher’s College has a term for it - Post Election Stress Disorder.

And some thoughts on the signs of such Post Election Stress Disorder and what to do about it. 

1. Upset stomach

Using a person's spoken or written words, new computer tools can identify with great accuracy whether that person is suicidal, mentally ill but not suicidal, or neither. Machine learning is up to 93 percent accurate in correctly classifying a suicidal person and 85 percent accurate in identifying a person who is suicidal, has a mental illness but is not suicidal, or neither. These results provide strong evidence for using advanced technology as a decision-support tool to help clinicians and caregivers identify and prevent suicidal behavior, says John Pestian, PhD, professor in the divisions of Biomedical Informatics and Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the study's lead author.

Europe has a rabid distrust of science and medicine and a corresponding higher level of belief in in naturopathy, homeopathy and various other alternative techniques.

Given that, it is little surprise that psychosomatic medicine has taken off in Europe. and especially in Germany. Psychosomatic issues - "it's all in your head" - have a long history but it was popularized by German psychiatrist Dr. Sigmund Freud in the early part of the 20th century. Today, psychiatrists officially disavow treatment for people who might be making it up but others have pursued mind-body relations.

All the life has been sucked out of our economy in the last few decades, and somehow we do not know what to do about it. Maybe that is because we are socialized into accepting our lives in modern society as an endless series of over-controlled disasters. By the time you get to the end of the day, you are so stressed out and tired that you have no energy for changing the world.

As Hurricane Matthew dissipated and we all realized it was not as bad as predicted, we were relieved. Did we feel anger at the governor and the press for over-predicting the storm? No – how could we? It is a blessing to live in a modern technocratic society where you get immediate warnings and helpful advice – none of our ancestors had that kind of privilege. Next time a storm comes, will we decide not to worry because the media and politicians might be over-hyping it? No – we will not take any chances if at all possible. 

The recent appearance of Hurricane Matthew prompted some harsh memories of hurricanes past. I went through Hurricane Andrew. I was living in Ft. Lauderdale with my youngest daughter, Lydia, and I will never forget going three weeks without electricity. The storm was bad enough – having two days of wind and rain shaking the walls of your home was scary, but surviving for three weeks with no electricity was a life-changing experience.

The premise of this two-part blog post is that this presidential campaign has outdone every other. This time, the altered reality has already transpired and the election itself will be an anti-climax of sorts. Last time we discussed the already-accomplished apotheosis of Hillary Clinton. Believe it or not, today we investigate the strangest secret of contemporary presidential politics: the serial resurrection of one Donald J. Trump.

In the dome of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., there is a painting called The Apotheosis of George Washington. The significance of this work of art cannot be underestimated. At the very least it represents a tribute to Washington for denying himself the crown and opting instead to become a chief executive officer of our newly incorporated USA. He would be the President, and he would serve a restricted term, to be replaced in an institutionalized election that ensured a continually revolving wheel of democratic and republican virtue. After all, a true republic is at its heart a democratic institution.