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Brief thought amidst June Crazy - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Brief thought amidst June Crazy [Jun. 9th, 2011|08:47 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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I saw this article, can't remember where first, about poverty and psychology, about various kinds of decision-making and persistence as finite resources. And not only is it interesting in that context, but it made me wonder extremely about chronic illness and chronic pain problems and how they might also affect control/persistence. A lot of chronic health problems could be described as creating a dearth of energy or other bodily resources in a way that might be worth investigating, whether it had psychologically similar effects to the ones described in the article from having a dearth of economic resources.

Or maybe I've just wandered off and am making no sense because it just doesn't work that way. Willing to hear it if so.
LinkReply

Comments:
From: voidmonster
2011-06-10 02:03 am (UTC)
I got nothing better to say than A) thanks for posting the link and B) holy crap, not a story to read the comments on.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-06-10 02:06 am (UTC)
Oh lordy, I never read comments on news articles these days.
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From: voidmonster
2011-06-10 02:19 am (UTC)
I'd read two of them before I heard the alarm bells in my head.

Serious though, that article (or perhaps more clearly the stuff that article was about) put a Great Many Things into clearer view for me. From things as trivial and prosaic as why I greatly prefer auction sniping software to crunchier things like that point in the story where working on it is just so painful because all the decision I have to make feel. so. damn. important.

Not to mention all the other stuff. Or I guess, only to mention all the other stuff through praeteritio.
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[User Picture]From: txanne
2011-06-10 02:20 am (UTC)
I'm not surprised. There's also this. It's so intuitively true that I'm looking at it askance, wondering where the catch is.
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[User Picture]From: kizmet_42
2011-06-10 03:04 pm (UTC)
Great article - thanks for posting it. It makes one wonder what other things the brain processes in a like manner.
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[User Picture]From: haddayr
2011-06-10 02:36 am (UTC)
Wow. This is a really good point; I think you're onto something.
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[User Picture]From: readingthedark
2011-06-10 02:50 am (UTC)
Wow. Great article and you make crystal clear sense to me on chronic health issues.
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2011-06-10 02:51 am (UTC)
I'll validate it, and not just as someone who has lived in poverty. Any kind of limited resource (health, time, energy) requiring extensive tradeoffs makes other things difficult to do.

And I think we very often fail to give people credit on the sheer force of will it takes just to make it through the day.
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2011-06-10 02:54 am (UTC)
(Though I do resent the "Why Can't More Poor People Escape Poverty" angle. Something about the phrase itself is jarring. As if poverty is a lifestyle choice indicating poor character.)
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[User Picture]From: rosefox
2011-06-10 07:19 am (UTC)
I really dislike the ways that piece refers to "the poor".
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[User Picture]From: minnehaha
2011-06-10 05:42 pm (UTC)
I really disliked the way the article lumps together the poverty of not being able to afford to buy a muffin at the bakery with not being able to provide cooking fuel for your family.

K.
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[User Picture]From: firecat
2011-06-10 06:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it reinforces the notion that poverty is an individual problem rather than a societal problem.

The way to meaningfully change poverty is to make changes at a societal/governmental level, but the article doesn't go there.

It's a bit more compassionate than "poor people deserve what they get," but it's still victim-blaming.
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[User Picture]From: rosefox
2011-06-10 07:21 am (UTC)
I found the link elsewhere and sent it to my father, and he pointed out that there's no mention made of an emotional component to willpower or its lack, which I agree is a fairly significant omission.
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[User Picture]From: intrepida
2011-06-10 01:36 pm (UTC)
This makes a lot of sense. I wonder if there have been any studies on recovery from willpower depletion. I have noticed that over the last six months since finishing PhD applications (which was the last step of several years that required constant negotiation of trade-off decisions and exercise of my willpower) that I have had a very difficult time planning ahead and doing things that require willpower.
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[User Picture]From: adrian_turtle
2011-06-10 04:23 pm (UTC)
I suspect there's a difference in the energy cost of making a hard decision, depending on how confident you are that the decision is right, and depending on the time-scale of being rewarded for the right decision. The study didn't look at those differences at all, but they're important parts of what makes chronic illness harder than health (or acute illness) or poverty harder than economic stability.

It's not just that it takes willpower to save money to buy insulation, when a person is hungry and would rather spend it on food for this week. The uncertainty about whether it's a good investment makes the decision harder (will the insulation be effective? will the price of heating oil go up or down before winter? Will the family move before getting any benefit from the insulation?) and causes exhausting second-guessing. The cost of setting the money aside is immediate, and the cost in emotional energy is both immediate and ongoing. The benefit is months in the future, and for all those months the decision wears down the person's willpower and emotional energy.
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[User Picture]From: prettymuchpeggy
2011-06-10 05:03 pm (UTC)
Personally, I think all types of stress are taxing whether it is chronic or not. I have been reading The Chemistry of Calm (Emmons). He is a pioneer in one of the newest therapies - resilience training.

The premise of resilience is that each person has a tank of reserves coping "elixir" (to go with the metaphor) that they use for daily life and other stresses. {Each person can have a different sized tank and the rate of use and filling the tank also happens at a different rate.} The constant is that once that tank is dry - any person can succumb to stress symptoms - which include chronic pain, depression, anxiety, heart disease, etc.

It makes sense that this concept is now being applied to problems like poverty. Poverty is very much all stress. Sometimes just like in pain it helps to accept that the state is just what is and later, hopefully, it will be different.

I recently listened to a program on NPR regarding Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (http://www.npr.org/search/index.php?searchinput=incognito) in which the author shares that ourself is really a community and who wins the election is based on what part has the biggest say. Based on this I think sometime that chronic conditions may wear down the reserves of our social selves, deferred gratification selves or long term preservation selves against short term relief selves or instant gratification selves.



Edited at 2011-06-10 05:14 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: careswen
2011-06-13 12:20 am (UTC)
I'm glad you mentioned Dr. Emmons. I was fortunate to meet him recently when he spoke at a continuing education workshop. I picked up The Chemistry of Calm and had it signed, though I've not had a chance to read it yet. I'm saving it for when I begin work on my thesis, which will probably look into the connection between stress and chronic health problems. I'd forgot about this book, so I'm glad you mentioned it.
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[User Picture]From: prettymuchpeggy
2011-06-13 04:22 pm (UTC)
A good source book for that is is Why Zebra's Don't Get Ulcers (Sapolski). This is more of the what versus the how of Emmon's book. (I study this field for practical reasons.)

There has been much corralation between heart disease, obesity, sleep disorders, etc.

Edited at 2011-06-13 05:57 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: careswen
2011-06-13 12:25 am (UTC)
You may have just given me something to look at for my thesis. I think you totally have a point.

I've been so frustrated so many times by having to choose between enough sleep (when not having enough can cause a migraine), doing my PT, or getting my homework done -- when there was only time for one of the three. After that kind of frustration, it only follows that someone will occasionally make bad choices. Sometimes, because WHY BOTHER I'M SCREWED ANYWAY.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-06-13 01:17 am (UTC)
Hurrah for things to look at for your thesis! One is glad to be of service.
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