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Verging on the Unproductive

Permanent Linkby Ada on Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:17 pm

I've been over at Wild Minds reading about Maladaptive Daydreaming. I'm undecided about the maladaptiveness of my daydreams, since yes, it feels a lot like an addiction, but it also calms me, energises me, inspires me and lets me reason through the general oddness of life. Oh, and doesn't cause cancer. Put that way, it doesn't seem even slightly 'mal', but like all order/disorders, it's a question of degree. That's a topic for another day.

One poster there wrote:

"I worry that I am being hugely unproductive, and that I could achieve so much more if I didn't let myself slip into fantasy. However it is *such* an enjoyable experience that I don't want to try to stop. I have a successful job, partner, life etc, but feel that I should be doing more."

I've had that "unproductive" thought myself many times. And I am increasingly convinced it's untrue. Some years ago I stopped daydreaming for three weeks. I read something that just put it (or rather, me) in a new, unflattering light, and I went cold turkey. For a few days the urge was non-existent, and then for the rest of the time it was something I could resist by diverting my thoughts. In that time, I didn't exercise more or read more. I didn't feel like I had additional reserves of physical or mental energy for any activity. I was just me, minus daydreaming. The 4-8 hours a day I had spent doing it went on other, equally "unproductive" pastimes, mostly hanging around online. Then fantasy crept back in and I've been doing it routinely ever since, though still not without angst and self-scrutiny.

Wherever the drive to be "more productive" comes from, it doesn't take into account the fact that people need downtime. More or less of it, depending on one's mental constitution, but always important. The trick is, perhaps, that a minority use their downtime in ways that others still value as productive, which makes the majority unproductive by comparison. Thanks, minority. Nice one.

I'm ranting rather than thinking, now. I'll end with some extra reading if anyone's interested: a short story by W. Somerset Maugham. It's called "The Verger" and has a nicely relevant punchline.

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The weekend's reading

Permanent Linkby Ada on Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:22 pm

Quotes from an interview with psychoanalyst and writer, Adam Phillips:

"I'm not on the side of frustration exactly, so much as the idea that one has to be able to bear frustration in order for satisfaction to be realistic. I'm interested in how the culture of consumer capitalism depends on the idea that we can't bear frustration, so that every time we feel a bit restless or bored or irritable, we eat, say, or we shop.

"It's only in an initial state of privation that you can begin to have thoughts about what it is you might want, to really imagine or picture it. It's very difficult to know what we're frustrated by. In making the case for frustration I want to make it more interesting, such that people can talk or think about it in different ways."

For him, psychoanalysis is a set of stories that we tell ourselves and each other, a way of redescribing our experiences. "To begin with, one needs to understand," he says, "but I think the final project is to relieve oneself of the need for self-knowledge. It's not that it's useless – in some areas of life it's very useful – but there are lots of areas in which it isn't, and in some areas it's actually pre-emptive and defensive, and this is where psychoanalysis potentially fails people, by assuming there is an infinite project and that the best thing you can do in life is to know yourself. Well, I don't think that's true."


"I believe in what you see being most of what there is… and that life's passed on to us empty. So, while significance weighs heavy, that's the most it does. Hidden meaning is all but absent."
:: Richard Ford (from the novel 'Canada'.)

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Bored yet?

Permanent Linkby Ada on Fri Jun 01, 2012 10:31 pm

According to Wikipedia:

"There are three types of boredom, all of which involve problems of engagement of attention. These include times when we are prevented from engaging in some wanted activity, when we are forced to engage in some unwanted activity, or when we are simply unable, for no apparent reason, to maintain engagement in any activity or spectacle."

I hardly ever feel bored by being prevented from doing something or maintaining engagement; if something is dull, I switch to daydreaming, rather than waiting to feel boredom. The only boredom I periodically suffer is from the unwanted activities, the ones that don't allow my brain to disengage. I feel like there ought to be another word for that, as it's an active state, not a passive one. I'm annoyed about having to do whatever it is (today it was putting together a steering group meeting agenda, and no, that sounds a lot like work, but it's regrettably unpaid.) I'm almost angry, when these things come up, that I have to either choose to do something hateful or else deal with the consequences of not doing it.

So, yes, active boredom is bad. Waiting in queues, time spent travelling, miscellaneous sitting around, having 'nothing to do' is no problem.

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On tying a label to my toe

Permanent Linkby Ada on Tue May 29, 2012 9:04 am

I'm not asexual, but this is a very useful summary of how to successfully use a label.

"Asexuality is like any other identity- at its core, it’s just a word that people use to help figure themselves out. If at any point someone finds the word asexual useful to describe themselves, we encourage them to use it for as long as it makes sense to do so."


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Self-diagnosed Schizoid Personality - whew!

Permanent Linkby Ada on Mon May 28, 2012 10:20 pm

Even though I have no intention of disclosing the 'label' to anyone in real life, it's very, very helpful to have it. So, everything's not just me being weird. Or, it is. But I'm weird in ways that other people are too. And none of these traits are something I have to fix, unless I want to.

Also, this is the most reassuring read on the subject, gratitudes to WichitaLineman for posting it in the SPD Resources section: (yes, but WHY is BBCode off?)

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