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Comment author: Huluk 26 March 2016 12:55:37AM *  26 points [-]

[Survey Taken Thread]

By ancient tradition, if you take the survey you may comment saying you have done so here, and people will upvote you and you will get karma.

Let's make these comments a reply to this post. That way we continue the tradition, but keep the discussion a bit cleaner.

Comment author: Nick_Roy 09 April 2016 11:53:17AM 13 points [-]

Taken.

In response to comment by SolveIt on Crazy Ideas Thread
Comment author: RowanE 09 July 2015 07:34:55PM 2 points [-]

Me too.

In response to comment by RowanE on Crazy Ideas Thread
Comment author: Nick_Roy 09 July 2015 09:04:14PM 1 point [-]

Me too.

Comment author: riparianx 13 March 2015 01:08:23AM 1 point [-]

Wow. You've been thorough. Note to self: modafinil is probably something I want to avoid if it can exacerbate anxiety that badly.

Comment author: Nick_Roy 13 March 2015 03:39:24AM 0 points [-]

If you do decide to try it, start with a very low dose.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 March 2015 04:02:36PM *  0 points [-]

The difference is that you are doing something like the "take right action without resistance" approach that I've encountered before in Buddhism, which matches up nicely with anhedonia (personally I am a hedonist, so this does not work for me);

That is interesting - you correctly predicted I was exposed to Buddhism (indeed practiced it for years, although this non-forced-action, wu-wei is from my earlier exposure to Taoism.

But it has nothing to do with anhedonia! First of all anhedonia is not enjoying stuff, not not wanting to enjoy stuff. It is not a choice or attitude, it is the illness. If you have or used to have depression you had it too - it is rather part of the definition itself. Second, if anything, the attitude I gleaned from Buddhism was very optimistic about fun and joy, my teacher is almost extremely hedonistic. This has more to do with my parents being blue-collar, and my cultural background is Mitteleuropa - I tried to hint on that with "shut up and soldier on", it is a direct translation from "Maul halten und weiter dienen" (BTW my first language is not German but this saying describes the region rather well). Basically this is what you get from blue-collar parents. Don't like your job? Shut up, you have a family to support. Soldier on. And so on.

Finally, do you think wu-wei prevents hedonism? I think if enjoyment means resting effortlessly in the here and now instead of hoping for or worrying about something in the future, it is more like a precondition for it.

In response to comment by [deleted] on Can we talk about mental illness?
Comment author: Nick_Roy 10 March 2015 08:46:33PM 0 points [-]

Where this chain of reasoning breaks down for me is in the "without resistance" phase of "take right action without resistance". If the resistance, both conscious and unconscious, is too strong, there will be no right action taken, whether I will it or no. So what I do instead is undermine the resistance itself. This is my precondition for taking right action. Do you see what I mean? Wu-wei prevents hedonism if wu-wei is essential to hedonism but there can be no wu-wei.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 March 2015 02:23:15PM 0 points [-]

i think I am inadvertedly doing something like this. Here is what I started recently:

  • stop drinking, the evening reward is only non-alcoholic beer
  • fairly heavy exercise, boxing 3 times a week and 100 pushups on other days
  • instead of feeling like fighting my addiction or laziness, doing the opposite, stopping fighting my better judgement (to work out and to not drink) even when I don't feel like doing so. I don't know how better to explain it. I am reinventing the bicameral mind basically: everything decided rationally is casted into an "upper self" that gives orders, and my normal self can only sigh and follow its orders even when it makes me feel not comfortable, still it is a submission to and not fighting the decisions of the upper self, instead of fighting the urges and instincts of the lower self
  • when having little to do at work, and spend a lot of time on LW or Reddit, schedule the day so that productive work is in the last 1-2 hours so I can go home with some pride and not feeling the day was worthless
  • counter-act the complete lack of socialization during work by listening to vocal music with interesting lyrics in the evening

However I have no idea if I am depressed or not and I strongly suspect that if your upbringing or culture is not exactly optimistic it is not such a clear cut case. I have clear anhedonia, but it does not make me passive or dyfunctional: I am able to do my duty in a "shut up and soldier on, feeling good is not required" way. I think if people don't really expect happiness, it is hard to tell if they are depressed, if they find anhedonia normal and can function in it.

In response to comment by [deleted] on Can we talk about mental illness?
Comment author: Nick_Roy 10 March 2015 03:12:27PM 0 points [-]

The similarity between our approaches is as you say: the realization that akrasia defeats frontal assaults with heavy casualties. The difference is that you are doing something like the "take right action without resistance" approach that I've encountered before in Buddhism, which matches up nicely with anhedonia (personally I am a hedonist, so this does not work for me); while I am attempting to root out the basic causes of my akrasia, down to the very sources, to change the way I feel in the first place. Both approaches have their merits, and I agree that proper choice of approach relative to the individual depends on factors like personality and culture. Have you encountered any other indirect approaches to defeating akrasia, as we are attempting at present?

Comment author: riparianx 10 March 2015 12:13:59AM 1 point [-]

This is exactly what I was doing- constantly looking for the system that would let me be successful while ignoring the root problems. I only accepted the anxiety when it got too bad to ignore. Can I ask what you've been doing that's been so effective?

Comment author: Nick_Roy 10 March 2015 01:58:12PM *  2 points [-]

Two Disclaimers: First, I am not a doctor. Second, beware of other-optimizing. This advice is working well for me, but it may not work well for others.

The depression became obvious and major enough that I was forced to take action to stop it. The rationalizations had run dry, so I fully realized in both System 1 and System 2 that I was not "unmotivated", I was mentally ill. Years of life hacks and half-assed lifestyle interventions had accomplished some, but not enough, so it was time for medications, which I had previously feared due to bad experiences with bupropion years earlier.

The constraints in my investigation: something effective for major depressive disorder in both the short-term to fight what I was then feeling and in the long-term to prevent relapse, non-serious side effects, anxiolytic properties, as there is comorbid OCD and social anxiety disorder (SA, also this is why I chose medications before psychotherapy), and a reasonable price. Tianeptine met these constraints, with the nice bonus of plausibly being a cognitive enhancer.

Within six weeks of use, the tianeptine decreased the depression such that it was time to focus on the next most serious drag on my productivity and happiness: OCD. Not being majorly depressed allowed me to develop exercise and meditation habits that reduced the OCD down to a similarly manageable level. The anxiolytic effects of the tianeptine and the reduced stress of not being seriously depressed probably also helped.

The depression and OCD were still there and still a nuisance, but they had become minor enough that it was time to continue prioritizing elsewhere. By then tianeptine's anxiolytic properties had faded to mildness due to tolerance, though it has continued to be effective as an antidepressant that at least does not increase anxiety, which was my primary issue with bupropion.

Next on the list was either SA or an uncontrollable sleep cycle, both being about equally problematic. I chose to address the sleep cycle first because modafinil immediately came to mind as a plausible treatment, plus we've all heard of its reputation as an anti-akratic. In hindsight, I should have thought about this more thoroughly before leaping into it. Availability bias at work. Anxiety is an uncommon side effect, but I decided to take the risk. In hindsight, I ought to have realized that for people already dealing with multiple anxiety disorders, that anxiety side effect probably becomes a lot more more common. A statistics fail on my part.

So, I tried modafinil to control my sleep cycle and reduce akrasia, and instead I produced the unshakable certainty that unnamed, unseen monsters were out to get me. Whoops. Looks like my suspicion was correct that I have subclinical generalized anxiety disorder, because the modafinil had exacerbated it to unacceptable levels. The stress of experiencing this also triggered a depression relapse, so I then took myself off the modafinil. Soon enough I recovered to where I had been before trying it.

This leads me to the present. Now I am faced again with the choice of confronting either the sleep cycle problem, SA, or both. My System 1 is wary of fighting the sleep cycle again just yet after being burned last time, so SA it is. I have already taken the edge off, because of social skills training I started months ago and because of the interventions I've taken against OCD, but it is still serious enough to pursue a pharmacological solution.

First on my To Be Scrutinized list is kratom, as I have already been taking theanine for years now. I will investigate effectiveness, safety, cost, and personal fit. Whatever I try, I will also attempt exposure therapy alongside the anxiolytic effects of a medication. If I am successful, I will next have another go at fixing the sleep cycle, then I will either consider my options regarding the notoriously untreatable fact that I am on the autistic spectrum, or else move on to address the much decreased but still niggling depression and OCD.

Comment author: riparianx 08 March 2015 04:55:44PM 4 points [-]

Exactly. LessWrongians focus so hard on akrasia that I think they often fall into the trap of ignoring some of the causes of akrasia. If akrasia is your only serious problem, it's really easy to find ways to help. If you have akrasia because the idea of doing your work is terrifying, LessWrong isn't much help. So people like us get left shafted- too on the fringe for the majority of help to help, too in the middle for the rest to help.

Comment author: Nick_Roy 09 March 2015 12:55:39AM *  3 points [-]

Agreed. Personal anecdote: once I redefined my "motivation problem" as a "depression and anxiety problem" a number of months ago, and began treating this depression and anxiety instead of wearily trying out yet another willpower hack, I have made more progress in being motivated in months than I had in the previous years.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 02 March 2015 12:14:11AM 2 points [-]

As a move that Harry can devise, this requires a description of the thinking that makes it possible. He's not told the full prophecy and doesn't know which prophecy Voldemort is talking about. I didn't realize he could piece it together sufficiently, but in Ch. 21 he hears the beginning of the first prophecy (THE ONE WHO WILL TEAR APART THE VERY S...); in Ch. 86 Quirrell discusses it with him, pointing out that Harry or Quirrel are likely ones with the power to enact or prevent the event that the prophecy is concerned with; and in Ch. 101 the centaur implies that there is a prediction that "soon the skies will be empty" with Harry responsible yet somehow "innocent" in an unclear sense.

Comment author: Nick_Roy 03 March 2015 01:33:40AM 1 point [-]

Your point on a description of Harry's thinking is well-taken. I just had my brother submit this as a review, to err on the side of caution:

"With NickRoy's permission, I am submitting his solution, which I agree with, with additional evidence appended, just in case that is necessary; so consider this as superseding NickRoy's submission:

[the relevant text is here in the submission, but I don't need to repeat it in this comment]

Appended:

Harry does not know the full prophecy for certain, but he can guess it, based on: Harry's thought on star lifting in response to this prophecy in Ch. 21, Harry noticing Quirrelmort's interest in the same prophecy in Ch. 86, Quirrelmort's talk of the stars' vulnerability to "sufficiently intelligent idiocy" in Ch. 95, Firenze's comment on the stars and Harry's innocence in Ch. 101, Voldemort's "while the stars yet live" remark in Ch. 111, Voldemort's more explicit talk on the prophecy and his great fear of it in the next chapter, and how the Unbreakable Vow is framed in the most recent chapter. If Harry connects these dots, he'll have a good idea of what the full prophecy says.

As for how Harry connects these dots: he runs with the hypothesis (quickly, as he did in Ch. 104): "I am to destroy the world [I don't have to explain why this idea stands out to him] in some way that is not actually bad", since if he were to destroy the world in a way that really is bad, but this may be preventable, he probably should die immediately instead! My first thought on this line of thinking (since "Harry is allowed to solve this problem the way I would solve it") is: "well, someday Earth ought to be converted into computronium for hedonium purposes, though the Sun is much more massive, and then we have the nearby stars... Oh".

Also, on Voldemort's response: Voldemort would be skeptical, but he would also be interested, because "It is impossible to tell lies in Parseltongue" and because all this persuasion has to do is raise the risk enough that it makes more sense to stop and gather more information before killing Harry, thus it "allows Harry to evade immediate death"."

Comment author: MathMage 02 March 2015 10:57:30PM 1 point [-]

Although it sounds persuasive to us, to Voldemort this would sound like exactly the sort of 'intelligent idiocy' that would only solidify his belief that Harry has to be killed right away.

Comment author: Nick_Roy 03 March 2015 12:33:44AM 0 points [-]

Voldemort would be skeptical, yes, but he would also be interested, because "6. It is impossible to tell lies in Parseltongue" and because all this speech has to do is raise the risk enough that it makes more sense to stop and gather more information before killing Harry, thus it "allow[s] Harry to evade immediate death". What do you think would improve the believability?

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 01 March 2015 10:46:28PM 6 points [-]

Harry doesn't know the actual prophecy, so I'd start it with,

~~~

"Is prophesy essentially..."

"Powers, not excuses."

"Vow compels to raise this point. More important than powers."

Voldemort paused. "Proceed."

"Is prophesy essentially same as Centaur prophesy? Stars go dark?"

"Essentially."

Comment author: Nick_Roy 01 March 2015 11:46:41PM 3 points [-]

Sure. Along with the centaur evidence, there's: Harry's thought on star lifting in response to this prophecy in Ch. 21, Harry noticing Quirrelmort's interest in the same prophecy in Ch. 86, Quirrelmort's talk of the stars' vulnerability to "sufficiently intelligent idiocy" in Ch. 95, Voldemort's "while the stars yet live" remark in Ch. 111, Voldemort's more explicit talk on the prophecy and his great fear of it in the next chapter, and how the Unbreakable Vow is framed in the most recent chapter. If Harry connects these dots, he'll have a good idea of what the full prophecy says.

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