By turn hilarious and haunting, poet Shane Koyczan puts his finger on the pulse of what it’s like to be young and …different.
"In this new, highly anticipated update of her pioneering Killing Us Softly series, the first in more than a decade, Jean Kilbourne takes a fresh look at how advertising traffics in distorted and destructive ideals of femininity. The film marshals a range of new print and television advertisements to lay bare a stunning pattern of damaging gender stereotypes — images and messages that too often reinforce unrealistic, and unhealthy, perceptions of beauty, perfection, and sexuality. By bringing Kilbourne’s groundbreaking analysis up to date, Killing Us Softly 4 stands to challenge a new generation of students to take advertising seriously, and to think critically about popular culture and its relationship to sexism, eating disorders, and gender violence."
Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks brings our attention to Charles Bonnet syndrome — when visually impaired people experience lucid hallucinations. He describes the experiences of his patients in heartwarming detail and walks us through the biology of this under-reported phenomenon.
Stanford neuroscientists host the world’s first love competition, asking contestants between the ages of 10 and 75 to spend 5 minutes in an fMRI machine thinking deeply about the person they love. The results are certain to bring a tear to your eye.
Complementary reading: 5 essential books on the psychology of love.
This looks great and it’s one of the most important health issues in our country. Glad to see there is more attention being given to why our cities and economy were designed to make health so hard.
A provocative new 4-hour series soon to air on public television, Designing Healthy Communities, examines the impact of our built environment on key public health indices, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, cancer and depression. The series documents the connection between bad community design and burgeoning health consequences, and discusses the remedies available to fix what has become an urgent crisis.
Last night I went to see Take Shelter, an intensive psychological thriller starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. This is a film that compassionately explores the emotional and relational burden of suffering from mental distress. I think Andrew O’Hehir says it best:
What makes this gripping and compact tale of marriage, faith, madness and possible apocalypse so unusual is the fact that it works so well on all levels. Nichols and cinematographer Adam Stone capture the undramatic Ohio landscape and wide Midwestern sky in almost lyrical compositions, and the rituals of Curtis and Samantha’s days and nights are captured with no hint of anthropological condescension. Yet as Curtis’ visions become more pronounced and more troubling — they almost always begin with eerie and unexpected storms, involve unseen but dangerous intruders, and often end with someone he loves or trusts turning against him violently — the sense that something shocking lies just below the film’s everyday realism becomes almost unbearable. And with no more than a few deft allusions, Nichols makes the point that the pressure on Curtis and Samantha is coming from all directions, and is not purely psychological: Extreme weather and climate change, bad economic news, vanishing healthcare and the prospect of unemployment and bankruptcy are all very real threats for this family and millions of others. (Even the painfully inadequate mental-health services available to someone in Curtis’ position play an agonizing role in the story.)My favorite scenes in this film are the ones that give voice to an empathic and validating response to mental illness, a response recognizing the tortured person instead of an uncomfortable eccentricity.
Last week I saw Drive and I haven’t been able to get this song by Desire out of my head. My favorite movie reviewer, Stephanie Zacharek, gives a bit of a hint as to why:
If you’re thinking Driver is the quintessential laid-back selfless hero, cool as cool can be in the Steve McQueen mode, the kind of guy you’ve seen hundreds of times in good movies and in bad ones — you’re right. In fact, if you’ve watched any movies made in the past 40 years, you’ll see and hear lots of familiar elements in Drive: The slightly grainy, low-lit look of ’70s cheapies; the new-wave neon-pink script used in the credit sequences; the at-first jarring but later sublimely perfect ’80s-style synth score. I’ve already talked to some critics who have dismissed the film, saying they’ve seen it all before. But that’s precisely the point. [Director] Refn doesn’t pretend to have invented any of this stuff; his movie is 90 percent unapologetic homage, and he knows how to recombine familiar elements in a way that feels fresh and exciting.
What Does It Mean to Be You?
Character is something we tend to think of as a static, enduring quality, and yet we glorify stories of personal transformation. In reality, our essence oscillates between a set of hard-wired patterns and a fluid spectrum of tendencies that shift over time and in reaction to circumstances. This is exactly what journalist Julian Baggini, co-founder of The Philosopher’s Magazine, tries to reconcile in The Ego Trick: In Search of the Self.
Can you build meaning and purpose in life? According to Seligman, the answer is yes. Well-being, engagement, and accomplishment are all the by-products of self-discipline and resiliency. As a therapist-in-training, I recognize that those qualities are not always promoted in children nor easily accessible in adults. With initiatives like the Harlem Children’s Zone and GreatSchools.org’s College Bound, the importance of involved parenting in the educational outcomes of future generations is a growing persuasion. But what about the youth and adults of today?
Martin Seligman, father of the positive psychology movement, shares insights from his new book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. Seligman identifies five endeavors crucial to human flourishing — positive emotion, engagement, good relationships, meaning and purpose in life, and accomplishment — and examines each in detail, while proposing that public policy have flourishing as its national goal.
Soon I will be sitting with clients and I aim to be an ally to their intrinsic motivations, working together to restore and strengthen those unsung qualities that can lead to satisfying and flourishing lives.
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