Archive for the 'quote of the day' Category

Quote of the day: FEATHERS

September 22, 2017

FEATHERS

“Have you ever examined the feather of a bird?” Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-founder of evolutionary theory, once wrote. “No man in the world could make such a thing.” Feathers are even harder to fake than fur, their structure being vastly more complex and varied. Falcon feathers are stiff, like jet-fighter wings, for stability at high altitudes; owl feathers are soft and barbed, to muffle their descent on prey; sandgrouse feathers soak up water, so their chicks can sip them in the desert. The range of designs would put any wilderness outfitter to shame. Bald-eagle feathers zip up to keep out moisture; mourning-dove feathers rotate individually to control flight; golden-crowned-kinglet feathers keep the bird’s body so insulated that it may be a hundred and forty degrees warmer than the air. “If human hair were similarly diverse,” Thor Hanson writes, “a person might combine a neatly trimmed Van Dyke beard with a teased hairdo taller than the Statue of Liberty.”

Yet none of this compares to the complexity of bird color. The leaf green of a quetzal’s tail, the cerulean blue of a tree swallow’s back, the golden-eyed wings of a great argus are the work of an infinitely patient genetic process—mutation upon mutation, like paint layered on canvas. Some feathers are pigmented. Others have structural color: nanoscopic bubbles, lattices, and granules that scatter and refract light. Still others have both, the ornithologist Richard Prum, a professor at Yale, told me. The green broadbill of Sumatra and Borneo, for instance, has feathers that blend prismatic blue with pigmentatious yellow. Add to this the ultraviolet hues that birds can see and we can’t, and you can start to imagine how bedazzling a Himalayan monal truly is—how nearly hallucinatory to the female watching him dance. “All the beauty is in the feathers,” Wallace wrote. “I almost think a feather is the masterpiece of nature.”

–Burkhard Bilger, “Feathered Glory,” The New Yorker

Quote of the day: VALUE

September 12, 2017

VALUE

Human beings are prone to learn early in life to associate vulnerability with powerlessness and to associate the adrenalin rush of anger with personal power. The problem is that states of vulnerability are more often triggered by the diminishment of self-value rather than by the loss of power. When people feel devalued, they try to feel superior by exerting power over others overtly through aggression or by mentally devaluing them. Naturally, this tendency backfires: most of the emotional distress that clients suffer—indeed, much of the psychological dysfunction in the world in general—comes from substituting power for value. Temporarily feeling more powerful by driving aggressively or shouting at your spouse is unlikely to make you feel more valuable. In fact, it usually does the opposite. It subverts the motivational function of devalued states, which is to get us to enhance the value of our experience. Substituting power for value is like eating when your body tells you to urinate, sleeping when it tells you to eat, or taking an amphetamine when it tells you to sleep.

Steven Stosny, Psychotherapy Networker

Quote of the day: IDENTITY

August 21, 2017

IDENTITY

AFRICAN
I am rooted.
Ask the land.
I am lyric.
Ask the sea.

SLAVE
America is where
I became an animal.
American is where
I became a nigger.

NEGRO
Trapped here
in Segregation.
Trapped here
in Integration.

COLORED
I am weary of working
to prove myself equal.
I will use education
to make my children superior.

BLACK
My heart is a fist.
I fix Blackness.
My fist is a heart.
I beat Whiteness.

AFRICAN AMERICAN
Before I was born,
I absorbed struggle.
Just looking
at history hurts.

–Thomas Sayers Ellis, “The Identity Repairman”

Quote of the day: BUDDHISM

August 15, 2017

BUDDHISM

Gotama is interested in what people can do, not with what they are. The task he proposes entails distinguishing between what is to be accepted as the natural condition of life itself (the unfolding of experience) and what is to be let go of (reactivity). We may have no control over the rush of fear prompted by finding a snake under our bed, but we do have the ability to respond to the situation in a way that is not determined by that fear.

–Stephen Batchelor, After Buddhism

Quote of the day: TEENAGERS

August 3, 2017

TEENAGERS

In your work, you mention seven transitions teenage girls need to make as they enter adulthood. What are they?
I’ve boiled it down to parting with childhood, joining a new tribe, harnessing emotions, contending with adult authority, planning for the future, entering the romantic world, and caring for herself.

How did you come up with these?
I supervise the adolescent cases for graduate students in the psychodynamic course at Case Western Reserve University, and often very green graduate students are required to take on vastly more chaotic and underresourced kids than I see in my cozy little private practice. Because the cases were so overwhelming for them, I started to create a checklist of the challenges teenagers are likely to face in their development. The checklist became a way to organize myself to help the graduate students, and for the graduate students to orient themselves to the work.

How did you and your grad students use this tool?
As a student presented a case, we might say, “This kid has parted with childhood: she has friends—a tribe—but she has no affect regulation, so harnessing emotions is one thing we’ll work on. She gets along okay with adults, but has no plans for the future and is making no progress toward achievement in school. We’re hearing nothing about a romantic life, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem area either. And she’s taking decent care of herself.” This evaluation of those major transitions leads the therapist to focus on the areas of affect regulation and planning for the future. Viewing these cases through a clear model helps the therapist not to get overwhelmed while also helping the parents make sense of the chaos that’s often just normal development.

–Lisa Damour, interviewed by Ryan Howes for Psychotherapy Networker

%d bloggers like this: