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Why Creative People Are Eccentric (Scientific American)

18 Apr

Last month, I wrote a bit about my long-standing opinion that all writers are mildly schizophrenic. And last year, I mentioned how much I love it when research backs up something I’ve always known (or at least believed). Here we go again!

The new Scientific American has an article titled “The Unleashed Mind: Why Creative People Are Eccentric“. It’s an interesting read if you’re interested in psychology, creativity, and/or why your neighbor wears polka dots exclusively and talks to his pet duck in Chinese; and it looks like the entire text is available online. So rather than discuss the article in detail here, I’d rather drive some traffic their way and have you go read the article for yourself.

But I will point out one of the conclusions drawn from the research discussed:

Harvard researcher Dennis Kinney and his team … suggested that schizotypal individuals may inherit the unconventional modes of thinking and perceiving associated with schizophrenia without inheriting the disease itself. … They found that the adopted offspring of schizophrenic individuals who themselves displayed signs of schizotypal personality had higher scores for creativity than the control subjects. The Kinney group also made a new discovery: some of their control subjects who did not have a family history of schizophrenia met the profile for schizotypal personality—and they too scored higher for creativity than other control subjects.

In other (over-simplified) words: highly creative people are, quite frequently, mildly schizophrenic. Or at least exhibit similar thinking styles.

Where have I heard that before…?

Are the voices in my head bothering you?

4 Mar

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” ~ E. L. Doctorow

I’ve long (semi-jokingly) maintained that all writers are at least mildly schizophrenic.

Let’s get the definition out of the way. Contrary to the confusion caused by many films and television, schizophrenia is not synonymous with Multiple Personality Disorder (or is it Dissociative Identity Disorder now? I’ve lost track). According to MayoClinic.com, schizophrenics “interpret reality abnormally” and may suffer “some combination of hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking and behavior.” Some theorize that the reason Van Gogh famously cut off his ear was in an attempt to stop auditory hallucinations.

Beyond blogging, I haven’t done much of my own writing in quite a long time, but I can say with a straight face that the protagonist of my intended Young Adult book is still in the back of my mind, whispering to me. Continue reading

When dreams and the waking world collide

1 Mar

One of the many interesting things about dreams is that we can, in our imagination, be miles or even galaxies or decades away from our beds, yet still have our external environment mess with things. We’re aware of our surroundings even as we’re fully absorbed in the story our unconscious has concocted.

The other night, I had an anxious dream just before waking. While working in some nondescript office, I was trying like mad to get the many printers and faxes working properly. Just as I thought I had one cleared of its imaginary jam (just as often happens in real life, the machine insisted there was a fault despite my inability to find it), another would start beeping annoyingly. So there I was, racing from machine to machine, trying to stop the noise.

Immediately upon waking, I realized there was a very easy way to stop the beeps. All I had to do was hit the snooze button on my cell phone’s alarm! The beeping ringtone the alarm clock app had chosen for its sound was the selfsame beep the machines in my dream were making.

When you think about it, this astounding ability to keep track of our surroundings even while asleep makes sense in evolutionary terms. If a predator could sneak up and devour us while we lay dreaming, completely oblivious to the outer world, we wouldn’t have lasted long as a species.

But mostly, the alarm clock so cleverly disguising itself in my unconscious as the complaints of malfunctioning office equipment just amused me. If you have a similar story of the real world invading a dream, I’d love to hear it in the comments! Continue reading

“Paranormality” news

28 Feb

Following on from my previous blog post spurred by Richard Wiseman’s upcoming latest book, thought I’d share the news I just received from Amazon.co.uk.

Paranormality has been named a “Deal of the Week” on the UK Amazon site, dropping the price to £5.84 (about $9.42), 55% off the cover price (known on Amazon UK as “RRP”)! So adding in shipping to the States, it’s now the same price as if you (if you’re American) ordered from the US site and didn’t have to pay shipping.

If you’re in the UK or a weird Yank like me, you’ll want to get on this, as I assume the price is only good this week.

Would You Stop Acting Your Age? (via Health and Humor)

27 Feb

Reblogging an awesome post that reflects a lot of my own thoughts as a 32-year-old woman who unapologetically loves Disneyland, watches cartoons, and plays with my 11-year-old nephew.

Also put me in mind of the research conducted by psychologist Ellen Langer where she put a group of elderly men in an isolated house decorated in a style from twenty years earlier. The men were instructed to act as though the date was that time, twenty years ago. As described here, the men’s health – both physical and mental – markedly improved after only a week!

“You’re only as old as you feel.”  That saying has been around a lot longer than any of us.  It’s a statement of rebellion against time and the effect it has on us all.  It’s a refusal to give in.  It’s an excuse for not acting our age.  And why should we?  After all, age is just a number – does it have to be a state of mind? A few days ago my grandson was being pretty silly, making noises and just generally acting up.  I finally looked at him an … Read More

via Health and Humor

Edited to add: This is a fantastic quote!:

Dreams: Perplexing, powerful…precognitive?

26 Feb

To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil
Must give us pause…
(Sorry; on this blog, quoting Hamlet is required.)

Richard Wiseman has a new book coming out next month: Paranormality: Why we see what isn’t there, which – like all intriguing books from UK authors – has me in the “where to buy it?” quandary, due to a weird disparity in pricing where books on Amazon UK are often cheaper (even after accounting for currency exchange) than the same book on Amazon US (which will likely have Americanized spellings, boo! Yes, this is the sort of thing I think about and deem important. If the author is English, why change his spellings? And then there’s the issue of some Americanized books being censored…), but might take longer to get here. I could get around that via Kindle, if I could shop from the UK Kindle store. Actually, since I haven’t read his LAST book yet, I’m not sure why I care about the shipping time…!

When Wiseman’s last book came out, I was about to visit the UK, and the book wasn’t going to be out in the States until two months after my trip; so I asked Leda to pick me up a copy and she hand-delivered it to me. Take that, artificial international distribution walls! [insert your own side rant about DVD Regions here]

But I digress.

The Guardian recently ran a lengthy excerpt from Paranormality in which Wiseman debunks the idea of precognitive dreams. Now, I’ll put out the caveat that I’m a natural-born skeptic, someone who’s never really believed in things like precognition, before I say that everything he says makes sense: the Law of Large Numbers, the human penchant for seeing patterns where there aren’t necessarily any (especially when we’re looking for a pattern), etc. One thing he doesn’t directly mention (though he hints at it when discussing having three dreams and only remembering the one that seems to predict a later event) is our ability (tendency?) to ignore evidence that doesn’t fit our theory/expectations: confirmation bias.

Continue reading

What’s your New Year’s resolution?

8 Dec

I don’t really “do” New Year’s resolutions; there’s too much going on in December and January for me to think about adding yet another goal to my “to do” list. I’m more likely to resolve to make a change or learn a new skill sometime in the middle of the year. But regardless of when the resolution is made, you need determination and willpower to keep working on your goal after the first over-enthusiastic blush has faded.

Hypnosis is a powerful tool for all sorts of change, because it works with your instincts to affect how you feel about the change. You know when it’s the middle of January and you’re mentally arguing with yourself about whether or not to eat that last slice of holiday pie? Just two weeks ago, you resolved this would be the year you finally lost weight, but it’s been a long day, the kids got on your last nerve, or you’re celebrating dealing with the last of the unwanted Christmas gift returns. This is all happening consciously, in your thinking brain.

When you hypnotically change the way you feel about gaining better health and slimness (as well as how you feel about the idea of sugar as a comfort or reward), you don’t have to try so hard to “be good”. It just happens; it feels right and natural to do so.

This year, Uncommon Knowledge (the masters in hypnosis downloads and helping people reach their goals) are giving away a bundle of hypnosis MP3s specially tailored to one lucky person’s New Year’s resolution (be it weight loss, stopping smoking, making more effort in your relationship, or whatever). All you have to do is fill out this two question survey. They’re also still offering a free download to new fans of their Facebook page, so get over there and hit that “Like” button, then the “free download” tab, to give their work a free trial.

Good luck!

Hypnosis In & Under Research

2 Oct

The Guardian website recently posted one of the better pieces on hypnosis I’ve read in the “mainstream” in recent years. After a fascinating discussion of hypnosis being used in research to reverse synaesthesia, the author goes on to talk about other recent research into hypnosis or using hypnosis. Several of his comments made me smile and inwardly go, “Yes! Someone spreading accurate info about hypnosis in the mainstream!” This was less surprising when, later in the blog/article, the author self-identified as a researcher studying hypnosis!

As I’ve said before, it’s a wonderful feeling when research backs up what you already knew. Or, in the case of a lot of the recent hypnosis research, what hypnotists and hypnotherapists (and their subjects) have known for centuries. Continue reading

Charity Hypnosis: Breastfeeding Relaxation

6 Jul

The wonderful folks at Uncommon Knowledge are at it again. After donating $200 to celiac research, they are now offering their Breastfeeding Relaxation program free to mums through the end of International Breastfeeding Week (August 7). And when you pay for it ($12.95, 90-day money back guarantee), the proceeds go to international breastfeeding charity La Leche League.

(As an aside, I still remember the blog entry when this particular program came out almost two years ago. Written by Lyndsay Elliott, wife of HypnosisDownloads.com/Uncommon Knowledge co-founder Roger, it has always made me giggle and think.)

The 5 Stages of Temp Contract Cancellation

8 Jun

A major drawback of doing temp work is that you can be “let go” without warning. Last Friday, my two officemates and I were cheerfully doing our work, chatting a bit, when we received a surprise visit from two of our superiors.

“Hi guys. We, um, have some bad news…” Cue the stomach drop.

Continue reading

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