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15th June 2014

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The backstage language of human behaviour

Throughout Western society there tends to be one informal or backstage language of behaviour, and another language of behaviour for occasions when a performance is being presented. The backstage language consists of reciprocal first-naming, cooperative decision-making, profanity, open sexual remarks, elaborate griping, smoking, rough informal dress, ‘sloppy’ sitting and standing posture, use of dialect or sub-standard speech, mumbling and shouting, playful aggressivity and ‘kidding’, inconsiderateness for the other in minor but potentially symbolic acts, minor physical self-involvements such as humming, whistling, chewing, belching, and flatulence. The frontstage behaviour language can be taken as the absence (and in some sense the opposite) of this.

Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959)

Tagged: sociologybehaviourlanguagesocietypsychologyethologyErving Goffman

7th June 2014

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Self-consciousness of the causes and limits of one’s own culture seems to threaten the ego structure and is, therefore, avoided.
— Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media

Tagged: philosophypsychologycultureanthropologysociologyMarshall McLuhan

25th April 2014

Post with 1 note

An epidemic of laughter

Before finally abating two and a half years later, in June 1964, this plague of laughter spread through villages “like a prairie fire,” forcing the temporary closing of more than 14 schools and afflicting about 1,000 people in tribes bordering Lake Victoria in Tanganyika and Uganda. Quarantine of infected villages was the only means of blocking the epidemic’s advance.

Robert Provine, Laughter: A Scientific Investigation (2000)

Tagged: bookslaughterpsychologyscienceAfricacontagionodditiesbiologyRobert Provine

1st April 2014

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Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.
— James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Tagged: bookslovepsychologyJames Baldwin

25th March 2014

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In love is hidden an infinity of egoism, vanity and selfishness. Love is the potent force that tears off all masks, and men who run away from love do so in order that they may preserve their masks.
— P. D. Ouspensky, Tertium Organum (1922)

Tagged: lovepsychologyphilosophyouspensky

30th January 2014

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The length of mourning

Continued incapacitating grief is the commonest variation of the usual pattern of mourning. There is evidence that the people who at first do not demonstrate their grief may later show this troubled, chronic state. To recognize a state of grief as being unduly prolonged, however, infers that there is a generally accepted length of mourning. In fact the duration of sorrow varies enormously.

John Hinton, Dying (1967)

Tagged: booksdeathdyinggriefmourningJohn Hintonpsychologyloss

25th January 2014

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Only saints have diabolical visions

[T]here is no position without its negation. Where there is faith, there is doubt; where there is doubt, there is credulity; where there is morality, there is temptation. Only saints have diabolical visions, and tyrants are the slaves of their own valets de chambre. If we carefully scrutinize our own character we shall inevitably find that, as Lao-tzu says, “high stands on low,” which means that the opposites condition one another, that they are really one and the same thing. This can easily be seen in persons with an inferiority complex: they foment a little megalomania somewhere. The fact that the opposites appear as gods comes from the simple recognition that they are exceedingly powerful. Chinese philosophy therefore declared them to be cosmic principles, and named them yang and yin. Their power increases the more one tries to separate them. “When a tree grows up to heaven its roots reach down to hell,” says Nietzsche. Yet, above as below, it is the same tree. It is characteristic of our Western mentality that we should separate the two aspects into antagonistic personifications: God and the Devil.

Carl Jung, Psychology and the East

Tagged: psychologyphilosophybooksCarl JungNietzscheLao-tzuEastern philosophyyin and yangreligion

6th May 2013

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For certain fortunate people

For certain fortunate people there is something which transcends all classifications of behaviour, and that is awareness; something which rises above the programming of the past, and that is spontaneity; and something that is more rewarding than games, and that is intimacy. But all three of these may be frightening and even perilous to the unprepared. Perhaps they are better off as they are, seeking their solutions in popular techniques of social action, such as ‘togetherness’. This may mean that there is no hope for the human race, but there is hope for individual members of it.

Eric Berne, Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships (1964)

Tagged: psychologybooksreadingsociologybehaviourpsychoanalysisEric Berne

24th April 2013

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Erich Fromm has convincingly listed man’s needs as an object of devotion, an ability to relate, a desire for unity and rootedness, the wish to be effective, and the need for stimulation. Every one of these needs may be answered in a positive or a negative way. The object of devotion may be God, love, and truth; or it may be diverted into veneration of perverse idols. The need for relatedness may be satisfied by kindness and altruism; or by dependence and destructiveness. One may find rootedness and unity in brotherly co-operation and mystical experience; or one may find it in drunkenness, drug addiction, and depersonalisation.

Brian Masters, The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer

Tagged: bookspsychologyethics

19th March 2013

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Did You Used to be R.D. Laing?

Tagged: videodocumentarypsychiatrypsychoanalysispsychotherapypsychologyR D Laingmental healthdepression