Source: Kelly Bulkeley A man is existentially transformed by a series of terrifying nightmares and supernatural visitations. That is the basic plot of Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol, first published on December 19, 1843. Today, Dickens’ classic work is more often parodied for its sentimentality than read carefully for its deep psychological insights. Yet at its core, A Christmas Carol is a metaphysical horror story, a vividly rendered account of a life-changing dream journey. It’s a seasonal parable of oneiric possibility and spiritual growth. The folksy humor and scenes of tender domesticity, characteristic of Dickens’ many other great novels, are woven together here with horrific visions of suffering, death, and eternal doom. The arrogant miser Ebenezer Scrooge is thrust into a realm where time and space lose all logical coherence, where his most painful memories spring back to agonizing life, where he has no volition or control and finds … [Read more...] about The Wise Nightmares of “A Christmas Carol”
Christmas figures around the world
Talk to many bosses of younger employees, from 18 to just under 40 (which takes in Generation Y and Z workers as well) and you will hear many of the same complaints about them being chronically late; uninspired to do work that isn't always exciting; more effective when working in teams than when working alone; attention, reward, and praise-seeking; and always looking for technology solutions (the next killer app) when the answer is to apply more elbow grease to the project. Why, if we narrow the lens of criticism of the below 30-crowd in particular, do we hear so many complaints beyond just managers and supervisors but from other certified, credentialed, experienced professionals, who feel they are second-guessed, argued with, ignored, discounted for "being old," or challenged for their expertise by people who have none of their own. Physicians now post signs in their exam rooms that declare, "Please don't confuse your Google search with my medical degree." Few … [Read more...] about Why Do So Many Young People Doubt Real Authority Figures?
Source: Canterbury/CreativeCommons The expression “low man on the totem pole”—a colloquial expression signifying someone of little importance—is actually irrelevant in First Nations culture. I argue it should become irrelevant to our thinking as well. Figures on any totem are not arranged in a specific hierarchy and the most important figure can sometimes be the lowest one. One thing I have learned is that we ought to be unwilling to easily accept things for what they appear to be. Let’s investigate another metaphor. One might hear the adage, “canary in a coal mine” to signify the unlucky plight of what is arguably one of nature’s most charming birds. Canaries are acutely sensitive to gases such as carbon monoxide and methane that harbor in coalmines. “Canary in a coal mine” is not simply a figure of speech. In days gone by, canaries were actually used to detect gas breeches in various coal mines. If the canary … [Read more...] about That Time I Almost Wrecked My Personal Purpose
The Pilgrim by René Magritte (1966) Source: René Magritte Museum/Used with permission Like many writers, I let my curiosity lead me to my next subject of exploration, and lately, I’ve been mighty curious about what’s commonly called "impostor syndrome." Leaving aside those afflicted with malignant narcissism, who doesn’t have moments when they feel like a fake? First described by psychologists Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in the 1970s, impostor syndrome refers to those who are unable to internalize and accept their success. Rather than owning their ability to achieve, they believe their success is due to luck or some other external factor, and fear they will be unmasked as a fraud. Men and women suffer equally from this debilitating condition. Minority groups, those raised in families that expect high achievement, and perfectionists are more at risk. But let’s look beyond psychological origins and feel inside the experience itself. 1. … [Read more...] about The Imposter Syndrome and Your Hidden Self
This college scandal involving celebrities and super wealthy families is all over the news and is shocking. As a mom with two teenage boys heading towards college applications and as a psychologist who does evaluations for kids with learning difficulties (who often need accommodations for testing/college), I have been thinking a lot about the situation. Parents cheating the system for their kids to get into a certain college, though, should not be too much of a surprise as many of us think it is our job as parents to do whatever we need to do to make sure our kids have the best opportunities possible. However, most of us also know that the “do anything” approach also has limits and we want our kids to think and do for themselves. As a psychologist, I think it is also important to consider this scandal in the context of the stress and pressure teenagers are under today. I think about the kids in the scandal who did not know what was being done and what the … [Read more...] about What Do I Say to My Sons About the College Scandal?