[Link] How I Escaped The Darkness of Mental Illness

by Gleb_Tsipursky1 min read4th Feb 201610 comments


Personal Blog
A deeply personal account by aspiring rationalist Agnes Vishnevkin, who shares the broad overview of how she used rationality-informed strategies to recover from mental illness. She will also appear on the Unbelievers Radio podcast today live at 10:30 PM EST (-5 UTC), together with JT Eberhard, to speak about mental illness and recovery.

**EDIT** Based on feedback from gjm below, I want to clarify that Agnes is my wife and fellow co-founder of Intentional Insights.

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It seems kinda strange to post this without mentioning that "aspiring rationalist Agnes Vishnevkin" is in fact your wife.

This was referenced in the article itself, so I didn't feel a need to highlight it in the post - unnecessary information and all that. I also didn't speak of her being the Intentional Insights co-founder and Vice President, for example, as this was also discussed in the article. Thanks for pointing this out, as since a number of people upvoted your comment, it seems like salient information that's helpful for other Less Wrongers :-)

Linking to something written by your wife without saying that's what you're doing pattern-matches to the following more general template: recommending something being offered by a close associate, without declaring that association. And this makes people twitchy because it resembles two other things that do. First: encouraging people to do something that benefits you or your associates, without declaring your own interest. It should be obvious why that makes people twitchy: you're saying "do X, you'll like it" when you have another reason for wanting people to do X. Second: recommending something that you have specific personal reasons for liking, without mentioning those reasons. It should be obvious why that makes people twitchy, too: you're suggesting that other people will like X, but perhaps you only like it for your own personal reasons.

Now, perhaps in fact you think your wife's article is interesting for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with her being your wife, and perhaps neither she nor you stands to gain in any way from directing people's attention to the article (though in fact the article just happens to speak highly of you, recommend Intentional Insights, etc., etc.). But as a general rule recommending things in which you have any sort of personal interest, without declaring that interest, is going to strike some people as dishonest, or at least a little bit sketchy.

Ok, I see your point. Thanks for helping me update. As I said, I had previously thought it was obvious from the content of the blog, but after your comment, I see that I should have put it in the description itself. I'll edit the post to reflect that. Appreciate the help!

The point is not so much that it's helpful information but that the social signal that get's send by witholding that information. Including the information sends a signal of cooperation, witholding sends a signal of defecting.

In general it's useful to frequently do things in writing that appear like signals of cooperation or otherwise your writing will feel like it's manipulative even if you don't really intend to manipulate.

Ah, I see. I will keep that in mind, and am updating on that now. Thanks!

Why did she decide to use purely cognitive methods rather than including medication?

I'm not saying that including medication would have been a better choice, but it would have been a plausible one.

She'll talk about this in later blog posts, so I don't want to give away the answer. If you're curious and are comfortable with spoilers, PM me. This goes for anyone else besides Nancy, too.

McAfee raises warning about following this link. Any idea what might be up with that?

Ugh, thanks for letting me know. We bought this domain for the nonprofit Intentional Insights, and apparently, it was used previously by someone who sent spam from it, so McAfee sends a warning. We appealed to McAfee to reverse it six months ago, guess they didn't do so yet. I'll check with them again.