Peter Chang

Posts

Sorted by New

Wiki Contributions

Comments

Covid 8/20: A Little Progress

While I agree that the recommendation to not wear a mask in public places due to the "astonishingly weak" evidence about the effectiveness of masks is very misguided at best, your analogies do not seem appropriate.

This is telling us it is dangerous and wrong to tell anyone to wear a seat belt, because they might think they then can’t be hurt in an accident.

Not quite. This analogy would make sense if: (1) people are more incentivized to drive more dangerously when wearing their seatbelts AND (2) driving accidents are somehow contagious beyond the entities involved in the accident.

My personal experience, and I am sure the majority of people would agree, has been that wearing a seatbelt psychologically works simply as a safety net in case something goes wrong, and it's never encouraged me to engage in driving behaviors that I would otherwise would not have engaged. I think this is due to a couple factors: (1) even if you wear a seatbelt, in the case of an accident, it is highly likely you will get injured, oftentimes in a non-trivial manner. Even if you are not physically injured, your car will be damaged, and the financial risk is often enough for people to avoid reckless behavior. (2) Driving with your seatbelt on has become such a norm that it has become just one of those things you do before you drive, and you are not even familiar with the feeling of driving without wearing a seatbelt.

Wearing a face mask for COVID-19 is a different situation altogether.

First, people ARE more incentivized to engage in more dangerous behaviors when wearing a mask. Even after a few months, social distancing is still not the norm of comfort-zone for most people, and there is strong inertial force for someone to find an excuse to return to the pre-COVID norm of public activities. The psychological comfort of wearing a face mask certainly provides one. Furthermore, the "damage" done by contracting COVID-19 is still hazy at best, and definitely not as clear-cut as fatal injury due to a car crash, for example. Most younger people do not seriously believe they will die from the virus, and are willing to take more risks; with this attitude, any unproven methods that provide psychological comfort will lead to some proportion of them taking risks that they would not have done otherwise (see pictures of protests).

Second, we are dealing with a contagious virus. Even if one misguidedly believes that wearing a seat belt may lead them to engage in reckless behavior as with the case of face masks and COVID, the moral argument to caution mask-wearers is significantly stronger as each "accident" is not isolated as is the case with car accidents.

This is telling us it is dangerous and wrong to tell anyone to wear a shirt, because they might not realize they also have to wear pants, and we wouldn’t want anyone walking around without any pants.

Needless to say, my objections apply even more strongly to these analogies as well as the parachuting one.

On Creativity - The joys of 5 minute timers

Good, concise post! Though I think it'd be helpful to differentiate the different types of creativity - e.g.) creativity required to solve a difficult math question for which a solution necessarily exists may be a different type of creativity required to approach a problem for which you are not even sure the solution exists in the first place. For me, this technique is more helpful when approaching the latter-type problem than the former: for already-solved math problems, for example, I find it helpful to fully try out one approach until I hit a dead-end and then apply the insights I learned from that approach to come up with another approach that I feel may work better. I personally never found coming up with a bunch of approaches before trying out each one particularly helpful in this case.

I’m a massive perfectionist, and I find it easy to slip into the failure mode of generating the perfect idea. This is incredibly unhelpful, because this is paralysing in practice, and means I struggle to come up with anything. Any weak and half-formed ideas are discarded before they can be fleshed out into something worthwhile

Hold Off On Proposing Solutions does a great job elucidating what you've described here!

Building up to an Internal Family Systems model

Thank you so much for your detailed response!

That makes a lot of sense. I think I need to focus on working with my "impatience" part before I can truly get into the kind of patient and tolerant Self that you are describing.

I think I might have gotten a bit derailed due to my experience training for memory competitions. I had to come up with 2700+ very specific visual images of characters each corresponding to a pair of playing cards, and so I've developed this sometimes-annoying habit of quickly making a tenuous association between any information I process and some figure familiar to me.

Paying careful attention to the relatively-reliable physical sensations that are triggered with particular trailheads and starting from there sounds like a great idea.

Thanks again!

Building up to an Internal Family Systems model

I'm a little late to the party, but I just read through and did the exercises of The Self Therapy last week and feeling very excited about how many components of the model "clicked" with me. Reading this post gave me insights into why those components resonated with me, so thank you very much for taking the time to write up this supremely helpful post!

The one aspect of the model that I've been having a lot of trouble with, which I view as problematic since the entire model essentially hinges on this practice, is to have an "organic" conversation with different parts. After identifying a part that I want to work with, I immediately intellectualize that part and build a predictive model of what the part may possibly respond to some inquiries that I have in mind.

As a result, I don't often have the sort of emotional catharsis that I observe in the myriad transcripts of how Jay Earley uses this model with his patients in the book. More often, the process goes like this for me: I identify some part A and try my best to personify it. I know the basic questions I will ask him, and I will think of his/her possible responses. Since part A isn't an "organic" character that is independent of my thought process, I can't spontaneously produce the "other side" of the conversation, and hence it feels more like I'm talking to myself than with another person. Thus, I am uncertain whether I will be able to uncover some deep, sub-conscious trauma through this process since I am heavily intellectualizing the process.

For example, the thought process behind trying to address the trailhead of procrastination goes as follows:

  • Is Procrastination its own part? Maybe so. I'll give him a character. I had a roommate ("John") who had a lot of issues with procrastination, so his visual image feels appropriate.
  • I'll try talking with John. "Hey John, what are you afraid will happen if you stop procrastinating?"
  • No response.
  • Of course, there is no response; John only exists in my imagination! It's foolish to expect a spontaneous response from a part of myself.
  • Let's see. What would John possibly respond to a question like that? Why do I procrastinate?
  • I think I procrastinate because I am scared of commitments. If I am distracted and explore different topics on LessWrong, I will be able to avoid commitments. Okay, that seems like a reasonable response that John may have.
  • John: "I am afraid if I don't protect you, you will commit to a career that you will end up resenting."
  • Okay, good. Now I have to learn about the exile that John is protecting.
  • "Fair enough. I hear your concern. Would it be okay for you to step aside for a few minutes so I can get to know the exile that you are protecting?"
  • How would John respond? I don't get any spontaneous reaction to the question, so I'll think about this. Hopefully he will say yes. Since I want to help myself get better, John being an extension of myself, would also want to help myself get better.
  • John: "Yes, I'll step aside."
  • I visualize John getting up from his couch and walking away. Now, where would the exile be? Probably under the cushion that he was lying on. I lift up the cushion.
  • No spontaneous "discovery" of an exile hiding under the cushion.
  • Who could reasonably be hiding under the protection of procrastination? Maybe I had a childhood trauma where I felt a lot of anxiety over having to commit to a particular choice. Let's see. My dad had to leave the country for a year when I was six years old, and I had to decide whether I wanted to stay with my mom or my dad. That was probably a traumatic experience. So, the exile is probably my six-year-old self. Okay.
  • I imagine a six-year-old Peter hiding underneath the cushion.
  • "Hey, Peter!"
  • No spontaneous response.
  • How would a six-year-old wounded child respond to this? Let's think....

And so on... If anyone who's been benefitting from IFT, I'd really appreciate a tip for me!

Even without the organic discovery of trauma and experiencing a spontaneous catharsis, it's been very helpful to try to fit my experience into the IFS framework, but I would love to see if I'm doing anything wrong and if I can implement IFS better as I continue practicing it! Thank you.