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Comment author: ScottL 16 December 2015 11:14:08AM *  1 point [-]

It looks to me like it's possible to resist grief, at least to some extent. I think people do it all the time. And I think it's an error to do so.

It is only an error if it continues on too long. Avoidance in most circumstances is a natural and innate part of the process of dealing with grief.

Avoidance is sometimes an adaptive strategy in coping with adversity and sometimes maladaptive. In the case of bereavement, experiential avoidance usually plays a role in facilitating the healing process. The emotional pain associated with new information that a loved one has died is so severe that people need time interspersed with periods of respite in order to be able to fully acknowledge the unwanted reality. Respite can be achieved using cognitive avoidance, and sometimes by also avoiding contact with triggers of emotion. When avoidance is used adaptively, it facilitates processing of the painful information as well as restoration of the capacity for a satisfying ongoing life. As processing and restoration are achieved, the need for avoidance diminishes and the strategy must be relinquished. If it is not, or if avoidance is over-used in the wake of bereavement, the strategy can backfire. Processing difficult information is impeded rather than facilitated and acute grief is prolonged. (Shear, p. 357)


I could instead turn my mind to the pain, and look at it in exquisite detail.

This sounds potentially dangerous to me. You could easily retraumatize yourself or deepen your grief by doing this. It is probably best to try to do this when with someone else and also not too early in the grief process. This does not mean that you should never do this, however, as this is something that has to happen eventually.

The feelings from grief have an undulating or wave like motion. There will be times where you can face your feeling and times when you cannot. This is totally fine. It does, however, become important as more time progresses for you to make sense of the loss and find benefit in it, which fortunately often becomes easier as time progresses:

Those who were able to make sense of their loss typically did so by seeing the death as predictable or as a natural condition of life or by suggesting that the death was comprehensible within the context of their religious or spiritual beliefs. On the other hand, those who were able to find benefit in the experience tended to report that they had learned something important from it, about themselves (e.g., that they had the strength to cope with the adversity), about others (e.g., the value of family and relationships), or about the meaning of life (e.g., learned what is important in life). (Davis, C.G., Nolen-Hoeksema, S., & Larson, J. p.570)


I think the first three so-called "stages of grief"

I don’t think these stages are currently accepted anymore as they are seen to be too rigid. See here for some recent developments on the understanding of grief and bereavement.

It required a choice, every moment, to keep my focus on what hurt rather than on how much it hurt or how unfair things were or any other story that decreased the pain I felt in that moment. And it was tiring to make that decision continuously.

I think the power from this actually comes from the perspective that you are taking on the loss rather than the simple fact that you are thinking about it. For example, I think there was a big benefit from not thinking about how unfair it was.

In summary, I think your post is describing something that should happen in the later stages of the grief process. It might also not be suited for people with avoidant attachment styles. There is no doubt that they are some ways to do it better than others, for example this looks pretty good. My opinion, though, is that if you were trying to find out how to handle grief well, then it would be more important to look at things like what your strategies are: to handle it, to seek help from others for it, to compartmentalise it, to challenge the unhelpful thinking it will induce etc. See here for more.

P.S. can you please add a summary break somewhere in your post.

Comment author: pjeby 28 December 2015 04:01:26AM 0 points [-]

I don’t think these stages are currently accepted anymore as they are seen to be too rigid.

"Stages" was probably never the right word in the first place: they're more like strategies we use to avoid acknowledging unpleasant truths, and therefore have no required order or progression between them.

Comment author: ChristianKl 10 December 2015 11:43:21PM -1 points [-]

Sorry, it's Hamming and not Hemming. (I often say the term and seldom write it)

It's basically getting a few people together to speak through a problem that one person has.

Comment author: pjeby 11 December 2015 05:18:38AM 1 point [-]

Searching for "Hamming circle" yields only information about hamming codes. Do you have a link?

Comment author: ChristianKl 05 December 2015 12:01:57PM -1 points [-]

they might still be more effective than nothing at all.

They might. They are likely less effective than nothing at all. Your advice about "Do not stand out" has the possibility of prevent people from starting blogs and take a public stance for their own values.

The are not good guidelines.

Let's say a person in the EA/rationality space get's publically attacked. What should be their first response?

That's a trick question. Don't do anything public while being in the emotion triggered by the attack.

Seek out to other people in the community that have media experience and contact them privately. Do goal-factoring yourself about what's important in the situation. If you have a specific response in mind check with other people. In addition to EA/rationality people ask outsiders for their opinion.

Respond publically only after you checked with other people and are in a state to think clearly about the issue. Do not think that you can handle the situation optimally yourself without outside input by reading a list with ten rules or even reading the full Art of War.

Use Goal-factoring and Hemming circle's. Basic rationality techniques.

Comment author: pjeby 10 December 2015 06:00:21PM 0 points [-]

Use Goal-factoring and Hemming circle's. Basic rationality techniques.

I've at least heard of goal-factoring. What is/are "Hemming circle's"? Google only turns up articles about sewing.

Comment author: Lumifer 30 October 2015 05:07:59PM *  1 point [-]

most of my water consumption is forced, in the sense that I'm drinking without any sensation of thirst. That's the problem: I have little sensation of thirst

I am keeping in mind the Typical Body Fallacy, but this seems entirely normal to me, at least for a city person with a desk job. I don't have and don't expect to have a sensation of thirst during a typical day. I wouldn't say that I'm forcing myself to drink, I just sip and drink intermittently throughout the day basically because I recognize that otherwise I will get dehydrated (thought still no actual thirst) by the end of the day.

because my body doesn't seem to store the water for later demand

Given how you were talking about pains, it seems to be a noticeable issue for you -- so maybe set up some recurring timers to, I don't know, sip 50ml every half an hour or something?

Comment author: pjeby 30 October 2015 05:41:30PM *  0 points [-]

Given how you were talking about pains, it seems to be a noticeable issue for you

Yes -- it happens a few times a week, depending on circumstances.

Your advice would totally make sense if the baseline issue were that I'm not consuming enough water. But on a baseline day I consume between 1 and 1.5 gallons of water alone, not counting any water in the food I eat, or any other beverages such as almond milk. (I don't consume sodas, fruit juice, coffee, tea, alcohol, or really anything else.)

The problem is that sometimes, that 1-1.5 gallons isn't enough, and there are occasionally days where it's been not enough for a few days in a row, such that I end up running "a few quarts low". (I actually use my scale as another clue: if I've lost a pound or two from one day to the next, and my fat % is higher, then I know I'm dehydrating. But an hour or so difference in time spent sleeping can do the same thing to my weight, so it's not a very precise measurement.)

I don't know, sip 50ml every half an hour or something?

What makes you think I'm not doing that now? As pointed out elsewhere in this thread, my rate of water need is not constant. If I have a couple of days in a row where I underestimate how much I need to raise my intake to compensate for losses like having more conversations or physical exertion than usual (or the air conditioner running more to maintain the temperature inside!), then I will fall behind and experience dehydration symptoms. But if I try to consume more water as a matter of course, then that also disrupts my digestion, makes me feel cold, keeps me running to the bathroom, and so forth.

So, if you don't have some method for actually changing my body's regulation of water, I'm not interested. AFAICT I'm already doing everything that is doable with respect to changing my behavior around water consumption, given the lack of any reliable means for determining my precise water need, in a situation where both under- and over-consumption create health problems.

I'm going to tap out of this discussion now, as my original post was not a request for advice; it was an expression of curiosity about someone saying they experienced headache relief from both placebos and painkillers, making me wonder if it was water-related (since I have some experience of that).

Comment author: Tem42 29 October 2015 10:59:42PM 0 points [-]

You may have a bad mental model of hydration -- you should probably not visualize it as being "I need 100 ml of water an hour to be perfectly hydrated". Your body can easily handle an extra cup of water without trouble, and has multiple buffer systems. If you are thirsty enough to gain any pleasure from drinking, drink. (Warning, this advice does not apply to alcohol and soda).

It is possibly relevant that blood pressure is related to hydration -- when your blood pressure goes up, your body reduces blood volume by removing some water from your bloodstream. If you find talks stressful and this raises your blood pressure, you may become slightly more dehydrated, and following this, when your blood pressure decreases, you will be "underblooded" -- which is to say, your body will have to get some water from somewhere to increase blood volume, or you will have less than ideal blood pressure. (This is a simplification). If this is a significant cause of your headaches, you might notice a correlation between having to pee (water is removed from the bloodstream into the bladder) and having a headache. However, it would be hard to test this correlation in an unbiased fashion.

Comment author: pjeby 30 October 2015 04:04:35PM 1 point [-]

Your body can easily handle an extra cup of water without trouble ... If you are thirsty enough to gain any pleasure from drinking, drink.

Beware the Typical Bladder Fallacy. ;-) (Or just the typical body fallacy.)

You seem to be assuming that I don't already force myself to drink water to this extent. I do. The problem is that there is no sensation that tells me I am "thirsty enough", most of the time. Or more precisely, there is very little correlation between my sensation of thirst and my level of dehydration. I can be thirsty and not dehydrated, but I can also be dehydrated and not thirsty, and slip from one state to the other without noticing. This means I have to use a drinking habit as a workaround, and also check for symptoms like nasal congestion.

If you find talks stressful and this raises your blood pressure

It doesn't matter what the subject matter is, or whom I'm speaking with; what matters is the total time I spend with my mouth open; I salivate profusely and presumably lose quite a bit to evaporation. Likewise, I sweat profusely from almost any amount of physical exertion. In general. In general, my body always acts as if it thinks it has plenty of water and should get rid of it ASAP, at least with respect to those systems that acquire or eliminate water.

Water conservation systems, on the other hand (like my nasal mucus and digestive tract) do seem to notice that I am dehydrating and act to conserve water!

So in general, I notice that my body is confused. ;-) Unfortunately, I'm not yet aware of any means by which I may resolve its confusions about water.

Comment author: Lumifer 29 October 2015 02:58:23PM 2 points [-]

Unless you have kidney problems, the downsides of overdrinking seem to be very minor. The consequences of missing the right amount to drink seem to be strongly asymmetrical, given that don't you want to err on the side of more water?

Comment author: pjeby 30 October 2015 03:45:43PM 0 points [-]

don't you want to err on the side of more water?

Of course I do. In fact, most of my water consumption is forced, in the sense that I'm drinking without any sensation of thirst. That's the problem: I have little sensation of thirst, unless I'm already drinking. While I'm drinking water I can notice I'm thirsty, or at any rate, that drinking the water is pleasurable. But the rest of the time, I drink by forcing myself to notice that there's water in the 32-ounce glass on my desk and that I should drink it, or that the glass is empty and I should refill it.

But this doesn't help as much as you'd think, because my body doesn't seem to store the water for later demand, and just prompts me to get rid of it instead... then quickly becomes dehydrated again... all with no sensation of thirst except in certain extreme cases. But I can also get too dehydrated to function, without any sensation of thirst.

Comment author: Lumifer 28 October 2015 06:38:37PM 1 point [-]

I find that water reduces a great many pains for me

Have you tried just drinking more on a regular basis? If you find yourself constantly dehydrated, just fix it preemptively.

Comment author: pjeby 28 October 2015 09:14:07PM 0 points [-]

Have you tried just drinking more on a regular basis?

Yes, but since the presence of such pains is the main thing that tells me I've not had enough, it doesn't help too much. An amount that seems sufficient can be easily overwhelmed by say, some hard work and sweating, and/or the use of the car air conditioner to recover from said hard work. Giving a talk or just having a talk with someone can do it, too. So unless I over-drink some of the time, there will always be situations where I end up under-drinking, in the absence of some finer-gauge way to tell my hydration state. I do at least know now to start chugging after I give a workshop, for example. Before I figured out the hydration link, I used to spend many painful hours recovering after each talk I gave.

Comment author: Tem42 19 October 2015 09:49:35PM 3 points [-]

I have. I have no evidence that either pain killers or placebos work in any sort of medical sense; I have clear evidence that swallowing a pill causes me to relax, resulting in a immediate reduction in pain. This is stupid, and I am working on eliminating the pill, but still, if this is what works, I will continue to use it frequently until I find something better.

I think one of the major reasons that people dislike the idea of placebos is because they think that they are being medicine. This has not been my experience. Placebos are better than medicine, because they work directly on your mind, and your mind (my mind, anyway) is sometimes too stupid to pay attention to medicine. I would have been better off, and a bit wealthier, if a doctor had realized this before trying the medical route.

Comment author: pjeby 28 October 2015 06:12:29PM 0 points [-]

I have. I have no evidence that either pain killers or placebos work in any sort of medical sense; I have clear evidence that swallowing a pill causes me to relax, resulting in a immediate reduction in pain.

Do you take the pills with water, and if so, have you tried just drinking the water? I find that water reduces a great many pains for me, including headaches, muscle cramps, and digestive difficulties, so it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the effects you're observing are from water taken with both the pain killer and placebo.

Comment author: pjeby 05 September 2015 02:21:26AM 5 points [-]

The big reason? Construal theory, or as I like to call it, action is not an abstraction. Abstract construal doesn't prime action; concrete construal does.

Second big reason: the affect (yes, I do mean affect) of being precise, is very much negative. Focusing your attention on flaws and potential problems leads to pessimism, not optimism. But optimism is correlated with success, pessimism is not.

Sure, pessimism has some benefits in a technical career, in terms of being good at what you do. But it's in conflict with other things you need for a successful career. TV's Dr. House is an extreme example, but most real people are not as good at the technical part of their job as House nor are the quality of their results usually as important.

Both of these things combine to create the next major problem: a disposition to non-co-operative behavior, aka the "why can't our kind get along?" problem.

Yes, not everyone has these issues, diverse community, etc. But, as a stereotypical and somewhat flippant summary, the issue is that simply by the nature of valuing truth -- precise truth, rather then the mere idea of truth -- one is treating it as being more important than other goals. That means it's rather unlikely that a person interested in it will be sufficiently interested in other goals to make progress there. I would expect it more likely that a person who is not naturally inclined towards rationalism would be able to put it to good use, than someone who's just intellectually interested in rationalism as a conversation topic or as an ideal to aspire to.

To put it another way, if you already have "something to protect", such that rationality is a means towards that end, then rationality can be of some value. If you value rationality for its own sake, well, then that is your goal, and so you can perhaps be called "successful" in relation to it, but it's not likely that anyone who doesn't value rationality for its own sake will consider your accomplishments impressive.

So, the truth value of "rationalists don't win" depends on your definition of "win". Is it "win at achieving their own, perhaps less-than-socially-valued goals? Or "win at things that are impressive to non-rationalists"? I think the latter category is far less likely to occur for those whose terminal values are aimed somewhere near rationality or truth for its own sake.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 July 2015 07:47:41AM *  0 points [-]

For such outcomes, I suggest the methods used by Allen Carr: essentially they work by systematically eliminating all the perceived benefits of the activity you wish to cease.

I have read Allen Carr's Easy Way To Stop Drinking Alcohol. I got the impression he is playing on the reader's pride basically. He did not deny alcohol numbs in the brain whatever bothers you, he said the price is that it numbs everything else to. So basically he was playing a "you don't value the everything else in you?" game and maybe it is just a quirk of mine, I don't know, but whenever people try to play my pride I charge head-in, such as "Yes, I am absolutely worthless.Now what? Your move." I don't really know why I do this. Partially sometimes really feeling like this but partially really not liking the pride play as a method... I just think building anything on people's self-worth is really fragile, right?

The trick to this kind of issue is realizing that your brain is using the wrong baseline for measurement of gain/loss. The correct baseline to use in such a scenario is not how things are now, but how they would be if you didn't have the job.

Is this related to the old saying "learn to desire what you have" or "count your blessings" or the Stoic technique of negative visualization i.e. how much it would suck to lose what you have? Visualize not having it, then having it, pass a mmm-test, that sort of thing?

The optimum use seems to be for situations that trigger an immediate and visceral conditioned response that interferes with your ability to think clearly.

I see - this is why the examples are like foods one dislikes or social anxiety for speaking or I assume approach anxiety at dating etc. I will try it with physical challenges, I remember feeling inferior when I was a child when I was clumsy at things like climbing up ropes and it is possible it is keeping me away from trying such sports.

In contrast to the feeling elimination technique, most everything I teach these days can be considered -- in one way or another -- a Ritual For Changing One's Mind.

Do you write about this i.e. new websites as TTD or DS are not maintained much lately?

In response to comment by [deleted] on Pain and gain motivation
Comment author: pjeby 03 July 2015 05:54:11PM 4 points [-]

I don't really know why I do this.

Any self-help technique can be trivially defeated by arguing with it. And anything can be argued with, because the whole point (evolutionarily speaking) of our critical faculties is to find things we can attack in that which we have defined as our enemy. The truth, relevance, or usefulness of the argument is beside the point.

When I read that book I didn't even notice anything about pride or self-worth, honestly. I wasn't reading it because I drink (I don't), but as research into his approach. I found it fascinating because the various arguments I noticed seemed pretty universal to almost anything one might want to quit.

Anyway, I wasn't looking for things to argue with, so I didn't find any. In general, it's not useful to read a self-help book looking for things to argue with: skim over those, and look for things you agree with, or at least things you can consider with an open mind. Carr's books explicitly point out the need for this consideration at the beginning, and you will get more value out of them if you heed that advice.

Do you write about this i.e. new websites as TTD or DS are not maintained much lately?

Mostly I do online workshops with my paying subscribers, and the occasional tweet about things I'm noticing or realizing as they come up.

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