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Introducing new guest blogger: Lawrence M. Schoen

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Lawrence M. Schoen

Hi there, I'm Lawrence M. Schoen, and yes, the title above is in Klingon. It loosely translates as "Today is a good day to write." I mention this because Charlie has generously invited me to post here and now then, and you can expect something from me very soon as part of the shameless publicity plot commonly known as a "blog tour," in which an author with a new book coming out (in my case, that would be December 29th in the US and January 13th in the UK) asks, begs, and pleads friends and colleagues for a chance to tap into their respective audiences, day after day, desperately trying to say something new and fresh at each stop along the social media highway.

So, thanks.

Before you read that first post (well, I suppose this is the first post, but you know what I mean), let me share some biographic info with you so you know where I'm coming from, and can check my credentials via Google or Wikipedia or wherever.

My email sig describes me as an author, a publisher, a psychologist, a hypnotist, and a klingonist. More specifically, I hold a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology. I've been nominated for the Campbell, Hugo, and Nebula awards. I'm considered a world authority on the Klingon language. I operate the small press Paper Golem, And I'm a practicing hypnotherapist specializing in authors' issues.

Much of my previous science fiction consists of light and humorous adventures of a space-faring stage hypnotist and his alien animal companion. My latest work is the novel Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard. This book takes a very different tone, exploring issues of prophecy, intolerance, friendship, conspiracy, and loyalty, and redefines the continua between life and death.

I live near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with my wife, Valerie, and my dog, Gej. Neither of them speak Klingon.

Coming up in that next post: my thoughts on repurposing memory as a form of immortality. I hope you'll check it out.



Welcome Lawrence.


Thanks, DeMarquis. A pleasure to be here.


And I'm a practicing hypnotherapist specializing in authors' issues.

Does this mean you cure writer's block with Bat'Leth fights that the subject then mis-remembers as episodes of ST:NG that no-one else does?

(I'll let you find the area where /glitchinthematrix hits ST:NG. Rich and Fecund it is)


And I'm a practicing hypnotherapist specializing in authors' issues

"issues" like not letting you post on their blogs?



I've had some exposure to performance psychologists, and I'm curious as to whether you see similarities between authors and athletes?


We're all wired in basically the same way, and I suspect that there's no shortage of either authors or athletes who are the root of their issues. The good news is, as Erickson argued, each of us possesses the resources to resolve all of our own problems.


Ah, "focus on the performance and not on the result"... Big fan of thinking healthily about things, me.


We had egg banjoes for lunch; today is a good day to fry!

Ok, I'll get my coat!


Re: '...each of us possesses the resources to resolve all of our own problems.'

That's very optimistic.

Am curious about which historical psychologists' theories that the general population might be familiar with are still considered worthwhile and which theories have been tossed out as seriously flawed? (E.g., I like Wm James, dislike Freud.)

There's fairly regular discussion on Charlie's blog about uplifting of consciousness a la Iain Banks' Culture or Kurzweil's Singularity and what may or may not make such possible. So as a trained/accredited academic/professional psychologist who's also an SF author, my question to you is: Based on the variety and types of psych theories humans have tried/tested to-date, where is psych/neuroscience likely heading in the next 50 years, 100 years, etc.?


Egg banjo, food of the Gods... :)


"...where is psych/neuroscience likely heading in the next 50 years, 100 years, etc.?"

I would say in the nearterm doing some genetic tweaks to minimize the impact of stress, and ratchet up the hedonic treadmill a notch.


Re: '... ratchet up the hedonic treadmill a notch'

Sounds very Russian lit ...


I always read that kind of thing as "make the proles enjoy the shitty life we have permitted them", so you could be right.


Except it seems less attributable to shitty lives than shitty genetics. At this point we usually get the "unhappiness is good" ranters dropping in explaining how the world would be even more shitty if everyone was happy. Tell it to someone who has depression.


It really depends on who gets to choose the new settings and why doesn't it?

For the record I don't think much of pointless misery either.


If neurotypicality wasn't the statistical norm it would be something like "crazed optimism disorder".

Happy people are terrible, terrible planners in consequence. (Just look at the single best indicator of investment success -- forgetting that the investment was there.)

Rather like there's a range of prefered waking times, it looks like one of those individual/group tradeoffs; you might not be happy, but you get the logistics and the planning done, so your social group prospers. (And along with it, genes to which you are closely related.)

Making everybody happy would have terrible consequences.


What's your source for 'Happy people are terrible, terrible planners in consequence.'?

UK study (2006) ...

'A University of Leicester psychologist has produced the first ever 'world map of happiness.'

Adrian White, an analytic social psychologist at the University's School of Psychology, analysed data published by UNESCO, the CIA, the New Economics Foundation, the WHO, the Veenhoven Database, the Latinbarometer, the Afrobarometer, and the UNHDR, to create a global projection of subjective well-being: the first world map of happiness.'


"Further analysis showed that a nation's level of happiness was most closely associated with health levels (correlation of .62), followed by wealth (.52), and then provision of education (.51).

In a US (2007 study), the clergy topped the happiest occupation list, followed by health practitioners and firefighters. So, occupational happiness here is found to be positively linked with being well-regarded by your community. Also, self-reported happiness tended to increase with rank/status.


All that shows is that it feels good to be a winner.


It's usually called "depressive realism".

See, e.g., the high level overviewchewier take. Or look at how markets actually work; people are very good at convincing themselves unlikely statistical events will happen in their favour.


Thanks! For me, this is the meat of that article:

'By introducing new conditions into the experimental paradigm commonly used to study depressive realism, the researchers found that apparent depressive realism may actually come from depressed people not using all the available evidence to judge the facts, relative to nondepressed people.

"This is a very well-conducted piece of research that undermines the evidence that the depressed may in some cases make sounder judgments than the nondepressed," says Brewin. But he notes that the data, while promising, will need further investigation and elaboration as psychologists revise their understanding of depression.'

Basically, different personality types have different biases. That's fine and can be worked around if you're made aware of this and have some neutral way of testing/verifying your immediate reactions.


True, to some extent. Last year I took a shitload of opiates over a several weeks, and then stopped. For the first time in my life I knew what depression felt like. But I also knew why, and knew it was temporary - so no problem.



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This page contains a single entry by Lawrence M. Schoen published on December 27, 2015 1:30 PM.

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