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eugman comments on Ugh fields - Less Wrong

153 [deleted] 12 April 2010 05:06PM

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Comment author: eugman 14 April 2010 05:26:10PM 6 points [-]

I have to say, this and the previous post have significantly improved my life. I am really looking forward to any more posts along these lines.

Comment author: jhuffman 15 April 2010 09:09:27PM 4 points [-]

You are ready to report significant life improvement only two days after this is posted?

Sorry, but there is just something infomercial about this. Ugh, infomercials!

Comment author: eugman 16 April 2010 12:15:07AM *  1 point [-]

Well a large part of it was perfect timing. Those two posts have acted as mental condensation nuclei; they provided something for everything else to coalesce around. I am definitely not suggesting anyone else will have similar results. I'll write in detail this week how they have been useful.

Comment author: JenniferRM 19 April 2010 06:58:45AM *  6 points [-]

Just to play devil's advocate for a bit...

Patterns of "treatment -> cure" are notorious for being able to trick a percentage of people into believing in treatments via confirmation bias and the fact that many problems seem to have background rates of natural remission.

I see from your longer "testimony" that you've been dealing with depression for a while and then more recently became romantically with someone. Depression is one of those things that frequently has "natural remissions" and improved social circumstances would be expected to go along with this based on some ev-psych theories of depression.

This is not to say that the theories didn't really help, just to point out that there may be other explanations worth keeping in mind as well. Can you any way to test whether the theories from lesswrong truly were causal factors in the recovery from depression?

Comment author: eugman 19 April 2010 11:00:21AM *  1 point [-]

Yes and no. I still have to actively apply them, or some of the more general concepts, in order to keep the old feelings at bay. It literally feels as if there are two modes of thought available to me now and the old one caused my problems. However, I can't think of a specific way to test them.

Also, I'm aware that my relationship has produced much of the change. Much of my depression was caused by low self-esteem and using grades as a metric of personal value. However, it had felt as if there has been a plateau. I was feeling a lot better, and more motivated to fight my feelings of depression but it wasn't working.

The problem was that I was attacking the symptoms directly. If I had irrational thoughts, I would try to counter them directly, instead of the cause. That's why I said that these articles acted as catalysts. They were not sufficient, but they were necessary.

Comment deleted 14 April 2010 05:59:54PM [-]
Comment author: eugman 14 April 2010 08:32:08PM *  2 points [-]

Sorry for not specifying. The one referenced at the end of this article: Pain and gain motivation

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 15 April 2010 07:35:55PM 2 points [-]

Out of curiosity, how have they improved your life?

Comment author: eugman 16 April 2010 11:13:27AM *  6 points [-]

So, a few important pieces of background information. I have depression or something similar. I don't know because I am self diagnosed. I've recently entered into my first relationship which has had two effects: there is now a strong motivation to cure my depression, and there is a strong motivation to understand my own thought processes. I have some uncommon thought patterns, and if I can understand them and explain them, it makes everything much easier.

So, essentially, I've been heavily introspective recently and desperate to try anything that might improve my situation. I read about pain and gain motivation and it all clicks. Quite possibly my biggest problem is that most of my motivation has been negative, which does not work when you are taking heavy course loads. So I applied the irresistible motivation technique. It was somewhat useful at first, but I've been able to start replacing a lot of the negative motivation with positive and that has been some critical threshold. I've reach a point of sustained happiness I haven't seen in years.

This post has also been useful, but not as much. I've very commonly run into Ugh fields with simple tasks such as checking email or updating my website. It's been a chronic problem and I had assumed that there was nothing I could do about it, or the solution was to set a self imposed rule to check my email everyday, etc. What I needed was a formalization of the concept and an idea of what to do about it. Now I see I was attacking a symptom and not a cause. I've been able to dismantle a number of Ugh fields and expect more improvement.

One of the reasons I read Overcoming Bias and continue to read Less Wrong is that they often provided a formalization of concepts I already know intuitively. Reading these kinds of articles gives me something to work off of.