joi, 29 mai 2008

Are men really less emotional than women?

Over the past decade or so the effects of emotional expression on health, and the differences between men and women in this regard, have become more widely understood. An increasing body of research shows the importance of emotional expression on emotional well-being and, while the exact mechanism between emotional expression and health is not entirely clear, the link appears to exist. Men are traditionally thought of as being less emotional than women but the evidence points more towards a situation where men tend to show emotions that are bad for them and the people around them. Here is a quick overview of some of the research findings about men, their emotional expressions and their health.

Compared to Women:

-there is substantial evidence to show that men have more difficulty in expressing their emotions and exert greater controls over the expression of emotions.

-men spend more time ruminating over negative emotions.

-men share their emotions with far fewer.

-men express emotions with less intensity.

-men use less emotional language and fewer 'emotion' words.

-behavior seems less affected by expressions of emotion.

-men are more likely to under-report negative feelings.

-men are more willing to express emotions likely to be viewed as demonstrating power or control.

For example, pride, anger and jealousy.

The Differences Explained

Most theorists agree that biological differences between men and women cannot explain differences in emotional expression. In terms of the supposed lack of emotion in men a more plausible explanation is the number and extent of social experiences men encounter from childhood that inhibit emotional expression. It has been pointed out that men and women live in different worlds when it comes to emotional expression. From early childhood most boys are exposed to fewer emotion-oriented conversations and are not encouraged to express emotions verbally. Yet, for example, the expression of rage if personal possessions or status is threatened, is seen not only as typically male, but in some situations encouraged and admired. The point is that men appear to experience exactly the same emotions as women but their expression is often and typically very different.

Men's Health & Emotional Expression
A well known psychologist, James Pennebaker, has demonstrated that emotional expressions can benefit health by the simple device of keeping a diary. The diary provides a outlet for emotional expression and not only appears to have a positive emotional effect but improves immune function as well. In fact written emotional expression has been researched in terms of benefits to physical health, physiological functioning and daily living activities; in each case with positive findings. Could the simple act of keeping a diary be a useful compromise for men and bridge the gap between their inability to transmit, receive and manage emotional messages?

marți, 27 mai 2008

Language as passion

Language is magic.
Every day, we humans use symbols to translate our feelings, to convey information about the past and present, and to apply our designs to the body of creation. We call these symbols words, transmitting them to different locations in the brain (thinking), converting them to sounds and gestures (talking), even arranging them into the marks or bits of an alphabetic media (writing). Language is the essence of human expression and cultural heritage. And it is my truest love.

Language plays music in my head all day long and most of the night, a continuous background dreamy thing. I love the cadence, the inflections, the tones, and most especially the nuances found in both the precision and the imperfection of meaning. (Can there ever be a word that truly expresses riding a bicycle downhill?) I love that this bewitching ability to characterize our perceptions provides a channel for interacting with the substance of the world. We reveal ourselves through language. The world appears to us in the translation.

waxing poetic
Ah, then comes poetry. Poetry is a special language. Poets scramble the words until they are condensed, sensual, and figurative and soon enough imagined worlds, sometimes even counter-realities begin to appear. What happens then is a kind of tickling sensation as the poem starts leaning, pressing toward the portal that leads everywhere "else," places where time is altered in juxtaposing measures of beauty and pleasure, unease and discomfort. Within their fluttering framework poetic meanings are infinite, woven by you and into you and beyond you until wonder reveals what was always there and yet never announced.

Visual Mapping of Poetry
The biggest fear of my lifetime has been that poetry as seen from outside is both a pointless activity as well as a useless commodity. And yet today like every other day, my only real ambition is to listen to the quiet, notice the reflections, and waiting for the implausible, offer myself up as scribe. So I choose to be in the world today as poet and to embody the purpose elucidated by the late American poet Audre Lorde who wrote an essay entitled "Poetry is not a luxury." She defends that proposition thus:

"The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing on the product which we live, and the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. . . . [I]t is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are - until the poem - nameless and formless, . . . but already felt . . .If what we need to dream, to move our spirits most deeply and directly toward and through promise, is discounted as a luxury, then we give up the core - the fountain - of our power, . . . we give up the future of our worlds."

My purpose, at least part of it, is to wobble perception: mine, yours, ours. Your purpose, at least part of it, is to soften your focus and read more than once, each time more slowly. May we all enjoy the conscious plunge into co-creation.

sâmbătă, 24 mai 2008

Strong emotions

Strong emotions are both a cause of, and a result of conflict. People in conflict may have a variety of strong, and often negative emotions--anger, distrust, disappointment, frustration, confusion, worry, or fear. These emotions often mask the substantive issues in dispute. However, the emotions, too, are real and must be dealt with. Techniques for managing emotions include the following. (Many of these are taken from Fisher, Ury, and Patton, 1991, while others come from our own experience.)

1) Recognize and understand your own emotions as well as your opponents'. For instance, is your opponent angry, or just excited? Are you slightly worried, or profoundly afraid?

2) Determine the source of the feelings. Are your (or your opponent's) emotional responses to one issue being caused by your (or their) response to another issue? Is your (or their) anger or distrust caused by a bad experience in the past, rather than something that is occurring now?

3) Talk about feelings-yours and your opponents'. Don't suppress them, or deny them-acknowledge them and deal with them directly.

4) Express your own feelings in a non-confrontational way. This can be done, for example, by using I-messages, where you say "I feel angry because. . ." rather than "You made me angry by. . ." The first approach explains your feelings without accusing anyone else, while the second focuses blame on the opponent who is likely to become hostile or defensive in response.

5) Acknowledge your opponents' feelings as legitimate. Although you may feel differently about a situation, your opponents' feelings are real, and denying their existence or validity is just likely to intensify those feelings. Allowing them to be expressed and recognized helps release those feelings, so that you can move on to deal with the substantive issues in dispute. (Active listening is a good way to do this.)

6) Do not react emotionally to emotional outbursts. You should acknowledge the outburst with active listening (which shows that you understand the strength of the speaker's feelings), but you should not react emotionally yourself, as that will likely escalate the emotions and the conflict as a whole. If you are having trouble staying calm, temporarily leave the room. Ury (1991) suggests "going to the balcony"-a metaphor for stepping out of the room into some actual and psychological "fresh air." By leaving the scene you have a chance to calm down and think. You can then plan an effective response, rather than reacting automatically which often makes the situation worse.

7) Use symbolic gestures. Gestures such as apologies, sympathy notes, shared meals, or even handshakes can be very useful in expressing respect and defusing negative emotions at little cost.

8) For highly emotional conflicts, choose a conflict resolution mechanism that deals with emotions directly. Choices include transformative mediation, analytical problem solving, and dialogue processes, among others.

marți, 20 mai 2008

Ignorance and Stupidity

I am so stupid I amuse myself. - Ashley Papon

A word to the wise ain't necessary, it's the stupid ones who need all the advice. - Bill Cosby

I wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence. There's a knob called 'brightness' but it doesn't work. - Gallagher

Never argue with idiots. They will bring you down to their level, then overwhelm you with their experience. - Dave Johnson

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Ignorants are dying older. - Florin DeRoxas

Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams. - Mary Ellen Kelly

On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. - Charles Babbage

Plus the man of the last 8 years, being himself,again, George W.:

joi, 15 mai 2008


You expected your child to make friends at camp, explore the great outdoors, and fill those long summer days with fun. But within a couple days, your child is calling you on the phone, pleading to come home. What do you do?

It's hard for kids and parents to deal with homesickness. No parent wants to see his or her child unhappy, especially so far away from home. But most parents also know that if given time, the majority of kids do happily adjust. Trying to figure out what's right for your child in this situation can be difficult, so read on for some tips.

When Homesickness Strikes
Homesickness is a type of anxiety that children sometimes experience when they're away from home. It's extremely common: One study found that 83% of children who attended sleepaway camp experienced at least mild homesickness. And it's no wonder - separation from a parent or parents is one of the strongest fears that kids have.

Homesickness occurs in people of all ages and of either gender, but it does tend to lessen with age. As children get older and have more successful stays away from home, they are better able to put their feelings in perspective - and they also learn that missing home doesn't mean they can't enjoy their time away. This type of thinking is much harder for younger children, especially those who are away for the first time. For these children, going to camp or even spending a week with Grandma can be a little more difficult.

Once away, kids who are homesick tend to feel sad and depressed. They may cry, be unwilling to participate in activities, withdraw from others, find it difficult to sleep, or engage in attention-seeking behavior (for example, getting into trouble).

Some kids may also experience physical symptoms, even though there's nothing medically wrong with them. Common complaints include stomachache, sore throat, headache, nausea, minor aches and pains, or flu-like symptoms.

The Camp Experience
For many kids, attending sleepaway camp is their first real experience with leaving home, and they may greet the opportunity with excitement, fear, or a little of both. But other emotional reactions are also common. Younger children, for example, may view being sent to camp as a type of rejection - especially if they weren't included in the decision to go. That's why it's important to understand what your child thinks and feels about the impending separation before it actually occurs. If despite the preparation your child still objects to going to camp, he or she just might not be ready to make this step and you may want to come up with alternate plans.

Helping Your Child Cope
Some of the things you can do to ensure a smooth transition should occur well before your child leaves.

For one thing, make sure that your child actually wants to go. Don't send your child just because you think it will be a good way to overcome shyness or because everyone else in the family went to camp at that age. Remember, there's no right age to begin camp (if a child goes at all), and what's right for one child isn't necessarily right for another.

Once you determine that your child is ready for camp, there are some steps you can take to help head off homesickness. The American Camping Association (ACA) offers the following suggestions:

Include your child in the decision of what camp to choose. Look at the brochures together, visit if possible, and talk or meet with other children who have gone there. Children who have input in the decision are more likely to feel a sense of ownership over it and to be happier with its outcome. Plus, you'll be able to see what your child likes about one camp over another.
Discuss your expectations for the separation, as well as your child's - including why he or she is going and what you hope your child will gain from the experience. Prepare your child for any uncertainties he or she might feel and acknowledge those concerns, but don't focus on the negatives. Always express confidence that your child will do just fine.
Encourage your child's independence and have practice separations. These can include spending one night at a friend's house or going to day camp before sleepaway camp. These mini-separations will boost your child's confidence and help ease the transition to being away from home.
Discuss topics like set times to call or how often you'll write. Remember that many camps have policies - like no phone calls for the first week - to allow campers the time they need to adjust. Know what procedures are in place and discuss them so your child knows what to expect.
Together, visit the place your child will be staying. Children fear the unknown, especially when it comes to a change in their routine. Kids may wonder, Where will I sleep? Where will I eat? Where will I go to the bathroom? Visiting will let your child become at least a little familiar with the setting and will show that you're comfortable with it, too.
Communicate with the camp. If you think your child may get homesick, let the camp counselors know ahead of time. Most are trained to handle this problem and are ready to give extra TLC to an unhappy camper.
Involve your child in the packing. Let your son or daughter bring a favorite T-shirt or a special stuffed animal. Familiar items will help make your child more comfortable in the new surroundings.
Make departure time cheerful. Set the right tone by talking about the fun your child will have and expressing your confidence in him or her.
Don't bribe or make promises to bring your child home early if he or she doesn't like it. This could send the message that you don't think your child will be able to handle the separation.
Have a care package or note already waiting for your child on the first day, if the camp allows this. This will reassure your child that you care and you're thinking of him or her.
Write often, focusing on the positives (the friends your child is making, the things he or she is learning, etc.). Avoid dwelling on how much you miss your child or rattling off a list of things he or she is missing at home. This could make the separation even harder.
Put together a calendar that shows the days at camp, the days you plan to visit or call, and when your child will return home. A calendar will give your child a more tangible sense of time.
If You Get a "Rescue Call"
Be aware that despite this preparation, your child may still become homesick - at least for the first couple days. If you get a teary "rescue call," try not to overreact or feel guilty. Be reassuring and encourage your child to participate - say how excited you are to hear about all the new things your child is doing. Most important, stay calm and upbeat because children take their cues from the people they look up to most.

Though it may be difficult, resist the urge to take your child home immediately, especially if there are no physical symptoms. Homesickness may worsen when a child has downtime - during early morning, rest hour, and just before bed, for example - and it can be contagious. That's why most camps pack a child's day with activities - they know that children who engage in distracting activities and seek social support are generally less homesick. Most cases of homesickness resolve once a child makes a new friend or finds an enjoyable activity, so give it a little time.

You might also want to talk with a counselor to find out how your child is doing. Camp counselors are used to dealing with homesick children and their worried parents, and checking in with them can probably put your mind at ease.

When to Cut the Separation Short
For the majority of kids, bouts of homesickness are normal occurrences that eventually pass. However, for a small percentage of kids, homesickness may be severe, causing symptoms of panic and depression. If you find that your child has not been eating or sleeping for an extended period of time, or the homesickness interferes with daily activities, you may need to talk about some things that the camp or the counselors can do to help your child. Familiar routines can alleviate anxiety, so see if the counselors can provide some foods that your child likes or discuss your child's bedtime routine so that the counselors can provide something similar.

If the problems persist and there's talk of sending your child home, you may want to visit your child first. If the visit helps, consider promising your child to visit again. If visiting isn't possible or doesn't help, you may want to bring your child home. When eating, sleeping, and daily activities are significantly disrupted, your child is not benefiting from the experience and it's wise to just call it a day. No one knows your child as well as you, so always trust your instincts.

If you bring your child home early, be sure not to make him or her feel like a failure. Instead, acknowledge your child's good attempt and say that there may be future camp opportunities. For these kids, day camp might be an appropriate stepping-stone until they're more ready for sleepaway camp.

Homesickness can be tough to deal with, but once those early days are past, your child may find there's a world of adventures to be discovered. Who knows, camp could be so much fun that your child won't want to leave!

Reviewed by: W. Douglas Tynan, PhD
Date reviewed: December 2005
Originally reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD