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Tag Archives: psychology

People of the United States and likely elsewhere across the world put shame upon the People’s Republic of China when it was discovered the young girl who appeared to be singing for the opening ceremony had only been lip syncing. The girl who was actually singing had been deemed not beautiful enough to represent the country. One became a heroine, the other became a “role model” for proper Chinese conduct. A similar shame should be relinquished to the United States. Students in China may sometimes blindly praise Mao Zedong (River Town by Peter Hessler), but in the U.S. students are taught to blindly believe in the goodness of past presidents. George Washington went from “chopping down a cherry tree” to perfect leader. There are other examples of false perceptions in the U.S. as well. Martin Luther King Jr. is appraised qualities of sainthood by the education system. Indeed his feats were great, but he also struggled at times too. In fact, the NAACP felt so strongly about perceptions that it determined who the heroine of the Civil Rights movement would be. Before Rosa Parks took a stand (or more literally, a seat) against racism, another woman took a similar action. The NAACP considered a legal challenge, but one problem arose: the woman was unmarried and pregnant (Soul of a Citizen by Paul Rogat Loeb).

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In his book Soul of a Citizen, Paul Rogat Loeb, points out that many developmental psychologists believe individual growth is possible only through the interaction with the human and natural world, and through experiences that challenge us. A number of Chinese philosophers suggest an alternative. The state of Wu Shin (or Mu Shin no Shin) is a state of natural thinking without the presence of ego. More literally, no-mindedness. This concept is paired with Wu Wei, a sort of instinctual action. Bruce Lee was an avid follower of these ancient concepts. Essentially, Wu Shin suggests an ability to improve yourself without anything or the presence of higher thought commanding you to. To understand this better I suggest reading passages by Bruce Lee.

Another example that pits psychology against Chinese philosophy: M. Scott Peck says spiritual healing is “an ongoing process of becoming increasingly conscious.” Ancient Chinese philosophy tends to put more emphasis on simplicity. Again, the concepts of Wu Shin and Wu Wei are important in this way of thinking. Also, the idea of Yin and Yang —a sort of oneness of the world. The most famous of these philosophers is of course Confucius (Kongzi). Others include one of the followers of his ideals, Mencius (Mengzi).

I picked up an intriguing book while browsing Barnes & Nobles entitled Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Tells us About Living in the West. Recently I have found myself addicted to Chinese philosophy and so the name of Confucius drew my attention. Then I read the back. It is a book about living in East Asia mostly from the perspective of living in Japan. Yes, Japan is in East Asia, but Confucius was not Japanese so the title was misleading. Okay, that’s fine, the book the still seems like it might be a good read. However, using Japan to generalize the lifestyle of East Asia is like using Germany to generalize the lifestyle of Western Europe. There are many similiarities to the way they think and conduct everyday life amongst the different countries, but also many, many differences. Perhaps the book should be entitled A Samurai Lives Next Door because Japanese thought is far more influenced by Samurai customs than by Confucius (or Kongzi). A most important difference between the most identifiable nations in East Asia, Japan and China, is that Japan has been much more influenced by western customs than has China. This is very significant when an author tries to write about a region. Perhaps the book is good, and perhaps the author does take these ideas into account – I have yet to read the book and may soon do so.

What I Learned From My First Reading Session about Seizures

  • More than 2 million people in the U.S. have had seizures and/or been diagnosed with epilepsy
  • The term seizure is a symptom
  • If a seizure is not epileptic, or if a diagnosis is uncertain, it should be described as paroxysmal
  • There are about 32 types of seizures
  • aprox. 50% of seizures never have an identified cause; the other 50% are usually due to underlying diseases or injury of the brain
  • Seizures limited to one portion of the brain are called partial seizures
  • Most seizures last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes

For a fairly common ‘symptom’ very little is known about seizures. Understanding seizures better could improve the lifestyle of thousands of people. Equally important, it could decrease the amount of fear in people who suffer a seizure and are unsure of why it happened, if it will happen again, or when it could happen. Tests to search for underlying causes can also be quite time consuming and expensive, often including an EEG, CT scan, and an MRI. Each test can be very important in indentifying problems, but the quality of the tests do not seem to meet the needs of epilepsy/seizure patients since only 50% of the time a cause is identified.