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Kamis, 17 Juli 2008

Emotional Intelligence: The Basics

There's so much talk about emotional intelligence and how it can promote personal and business success. What is it really? What are its basic tenets?

Emotional intelligence is the capacity to recognize, understand, and manage one's emotions and that of others. This "intelligent" concept focuses on the role of emotion in our daily lives and how it affects our perception, reasoning, and behavior.

Emotions are pervasive in our daily existence. From the time we wake up to the time we retire to bed, we experience emotions. We can get excited by the news of economic recovery, or we feel upset when our favorite team loses a championship game.

Moreover, we can get lonely when our friend of many years decides to look for greener pastures and we can feel anxious when our child does not go home on time after class.

So really, emotions happen everywhere and anytime. There is no day that passes by without emotions being involved. We experience emotions when we - win or lose, receive phone calls from long lost friends, greet our children good morning, say hello to our neighbors, prepare meals for our spouses, or ride the subway train.

Emotions are just as normal as the rising of the sun.

However, there are times when our emotions can become overwhelming and can negatively affect our functioning. For instance, anger is normal. However, the inappropriate display of uncontrolled anger can be destructive.

Let me clarify this point with a hypothetical situation. Richard, a relatively nice guy who works as a salesman, is married for 5 years with Cynthia. For the past few years, his sales have plummeted due to some unknown reasons. He used to be mild-mannered but lately he hasn't been the same.

When he gets angry, he just can't control himself. He yells, bangs the door, throws fits, and punches the wall. In addition, he calls his wife names and puts her down. Eventually, he has physically harmed Cynthia. Due to his uncontrollable anger and physically abusive behavior, Cynthia has decided to file a divorce.

In this example, Richard has failed to recognize his ongoing anger and its associated behavioral consequences. Because of his inability to recognize his anger and consequent behavior, he has failed miserably to contain his anger despite signs that his wife doesn't want to put up with it. In addition, he has failed miserably to recognize and understand the feelings of Cynthia. How could he? He can't even recognize his own.

Emotional intelligence can therefore become an important tool at home and at work. By learning its basic tenets of self awareness (knowing one's emotions), self management (controlling one's emotions), social awareness (recognizing the emotions of others), and relationship management (social skills), people can make use of the emotion to advance the positive cause of our families and communities.

By Dr. Michael G. Rayel

Narcissistic Personality Disorder - Who is a Malignant Narcissist?

QUESTION Number 1 - Who is a Narcissist?

Dear Dr. Vaknin,

I read the excerpts you placed on your web site with great interest.

I wanted to ask:

Isn't your definition of malignant narcissism too wide? Having read it, I think that it fits my neighbours, friends, and family to a "t". Everyone seems to be a narcissist to me now!



Yours is an understandable reaction. All of us have narcissistic TRAITS. Some of us even develop a narcissistic PERSONALITY. Moreover, narcissism is a SPECTRUM of behaviours - from the healthy to the utterly pathological (known as the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD).

But the "malignant" narcissist consistently manifests at least 5 of these 9 criteria.

The DSM IV uses this language:

"An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts."

So, what matters is that these characteristics, often found in healthy people, appear:

Jointly and not separately or intermittently

They are all-pervasive (invade, penetrate, and mould every aspect, nook, and cranny of the personality)

That grandiose fantasies are abundantly discernible

That grandiose (often ridiculous) behaviours are present

That there is an over-riding need for admiration and adulation ("narcissistic supply")

That the person lacks empathy (regards other people as two dimensional cartoon figures and abstractions, unable to "stand in their shoes")

That all these phenomena began, at the latest, in early adolescence

That the narcissistic behaviours pervade all the social and emotional interactions of the narcissist.

Here are the 9 criteria. Having 5 of these 9 "qualifies" you as a narcissist...

Feels grandiose and self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion

Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions)

Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation - or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply).

Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special and favourable priority treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations

Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends

Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others

Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her

Arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.

The language in the criteria above is based on or summarized from:

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

By Sam Vaknin

Gender and the Narcissist

In the manifestation of their narcissism, female and male narcissists, inevitably, do tend to differ. They emphasise different things. They transform different elements of their personality and of their life into the cornerstones of their disorder.

Women concentrate on their body (as they do in eating disorders: Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa). They flaunt and exploit their physical charms, their sexuality, their socially and culturally determined "femininity". They secure their Narcissistic Supply through their more traditional gender role: the home, children, suitable careers, their husbands ("the wife of?"), their feminine traits, their role in society, etc.

It is no wonder than narcissists - both men and women - are chauvinistic and conservative. They depend to such an extent on the opinions of people around them - that, with time, they are transformed into ultra-sensitive seismographs of public opinion, barometers of prevailing winds and guardians of conformity. Narcissists cannot afford to seriously alienate those who reflect to them their False Self. The very proper and on-going functioning of their Ego depends on the goodwill and the collaboration of their human environment.

True, besieged and consumed by pernicious guilt feelings - many a narcissist finally seek to be punished. The self-destructive narcissist then plays the role of the "bad guy" (or "bad girl"). But even then it is within the traditional socially allocated roles. To ensure social opprobrium (read: attention), the narcissist exaggerates these roles to a caricature. A woman is likely to self-label herself a "whore" and a male narcissist to self-style himself a "vicious, unrepentant criminal". Yet, these again are traditional social roles. Men are likely to emphasise intellect, power, aggression, money, or social status. Women are likely to emphasise body, looks, charm, sexuality, feminine "traits", homemaking, children and childrearing - even as they seek their masochistic punishment.

Another difference is in the way the genders react to treatment. Women are more likely to resort to therapy because they are more likely to admit to psychological problems. But while men may be less inclined to DISCLOSE or to expose their problems to others (the macho-man factor) - it does not necessarily imply that they are less prone to admit it to themselves. Women are also more likely to ask for help than men.

Yet, the prime rule of narcissism must never be forgotten: the narcissist uses everything around him or her to obtain his (or her) Narcissistic Supply. Children happen to be more available to the female narcissist due to the still prevailing prejudiced structure of our society and to the fact that women are the ones to give birth. It is easier for a woman to think of her children as her extensions because they once indeed were her physical extensions and because her on-going interaction with them is both more intensive and more extensive.

This means that the male narcissist is more likely to regard his children as a nuisance than as a source of rewarding Narcissist Supply - especially as they grow and become autonomous. Devoid of the diversity of alternatives available to men - the narcissistic woman fights to maintain her most reliable Source of Supply: her children. Through insidious indoctrination, guilt formation, emotional sanctions, deprivation and other psychological mechanisms, she tries to induce in them a dependence, which cannot be easily unravelled.

But, there is no psychodynamic difference between children, money, or intellect, as Sources of Narcissistic Supply. So, there is no psychodynamic difference between male and female narcissist. The only difference is in their choices of Sources of Narcissistic Supply.

An interesting side issue relates to transsexuals.

Philosophically, there is little difference between a narcissist who seeks to avoid his True Self (and positively to become his False Self) - and a transsexual who seeks to not be his true gender. But this similarity, though superficially appealing, is questionable.

People sometimes seek sex reassignment because of advantages and opportunities which, they believe, are enjoyed by the other sex. This rather unrealistic (fantastic) view of the other is faintly narcissistic. It includes elements of idealised over-valuation, of self-preoccupation, and of objectification of one's self (THAT which have all the advantages is what we want to become). It demonstrates a deficient ability to empathise and some grandiose sense of entitlement ("I deserve to have the best opportunities/advantages") and omnipotence ("I can be whatever I want to be - despite nature/God").

This feeling of entitlement is especially manifest in some gender dysphoric individuals who aggressively pursue hormonal or surgical treatment. They feel that it is their inalienable right to receive it on demand and without any strictures or restrictions. For instance, they oftentimes refuse to undergo psychological evaluation or treatment as a condition for the hormonal or surgical treatment.

It is interesting to note that both narcissism and gender dysphoria are early childhood phenomena. This could be explained by problematic Primary Objects, dysfunctional families, or a common genetic or biochemical problem. It is too early to say which. As yet, there isn't even an agreed typology of gender identity disorders - let alone an in-depth comprehension of their sources.

There are mental disorders, which afflict a specific sex more often. This has to do with hormonal or other physiological dispositions, with social and cultural conditioning through the socialisation process, and with role assignment through the gender differentiation process. None of these seem to be strongly correlated to the formation of malignant narcissism. The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (as opposed, for instance, to the Borderline or the Histrionic Personality Disorders, which afflict women more than men) seems to conform to social mores and to the prevailing ethos of capitalism. Social thinkers like Lasch speculated that modern American culture - a narcissistic, self-centred one - increases the rate of incidence of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder. To this Kernberg answered, rightly:

"The most I would be willing to say is that society can make serious psychological abnormalities, which already exist in some percentage of the population, seem to be at least superficially appropriate."

Quotes from the Literature

"Specifically, past research suggests that exploitive tendencies and open displays of feelings of entitlement will be less integral to narcissism for females than for males. For females such displays may carry a greater possibility of negative social sanctions because they would violate stereotypical gender-role expectancies for women, who are expected to engage in such positive social behavior as being tender, compassionate, warm, sympathetic, sensitive, and understanding.

In females, Exploitiveness/Entitlement is less well-integrated with the other components of narcissism as measured by the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) - Leadership/Authority, Self-absorption/Self-admiration, and Superiority/Arrogance- than in males - though 'male and female narcissists in general showed striking similarities in the manner in which most of the facets of narcissism were integrated with each other'."

Gender differences in the structure of narcissism: a multi-sample analysis of the narcissistic personality inventory - Brian T. Tschanz, Carolyn C. Morf, Charles W. Turner - Sex Roles: A Journal of Research - Issue: May, 1998

"Women leaders are evaluated negatively if they exercise their authority and are perceived as autocratic."

Eagly, A. H., Makhijani, M. G., & Klonsky, B. G. (1992). Gender and the evaluation of leaders: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 111, 3-22, and ...

Butler, D., & Gels, F. L. (1990). Nonverbal affect responses to male and female leaders: Implications for leadership evaluations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 48-59.

"Competent women must also appear to be sociable and likable in order to influence men - men must only appear to be competent to achieve the same results with both genders."

Carli, L. L., Lafleur, S. J., & Loeber, C. C. (1995). Nonverbal behavior, gender, and influence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 1030-1041.

By Sam Vaknin

Metaphors of the Mind (Part II)

Storytelling has been with us since the days of campfire and besieging wild animals. It served a number of important functions: amelioration of fears, communication of vital information (regarding survival tactics and the characteristics of animals, for instance), the satisfaction of a sense of order (justice), the development of the ability to hypothesize, predict and introduce theories and so on.

We are all endowed with a sense of wonder. The world around us in inexplicable, baffling in its diversity and myriad forms. We experience an urge to organize it, to "explain the wonder away", to order it in order to know what to expect next (predict). These are the essentials of survival. But while we have been successful at imposing our mind's structures on the outside world - we have been much less successful when we tried to cope with our internal universe.

The relationship between the structure and functioning of our (ephemeral) mind, the structure and modes of operation of our (physical) brain and the structure and conduct of the outside world have been the matter of heated debate for millennia. Broadly speaking, there were (and still are) two ways of treating it:

There were those who, for all practical purposes, identified the origin (brain) with its product (mind). Some of them postulated the existence of a lattice of preconceived, born categorical knowledge about the universe - the vessels into which we pour our experience and which mould it. Others have regarded the mind as a black box. While it was possible in principle to know its input and output, it was impossible, again in principle, to understand its internal functioning and management of information. Pavlov coined the word "conditioning", Watson adopted it and invented "behaviourism", Skinner came up with "reinforcement". The school of epiphenomenologists (emergent phenomena) regarded the mind as the by product of the brain's "hardware" and "wiring" complexity. But all ignored the psychophysical question: what IS the mind and HOW is it linked to the brain?

The other camp was more "scientific" and "positivist". It speculated that the mind (whether a physical entity, an epiphenomenon, a non-physical principle of organization, or the result of introspection) - had a structure and a limited set of functions. They argued that a "user's manual" could be composed, replete with engineering and maintenance instructions. The most prominent of these "psychodynamists" was, of course, Freud. Though his disciples (Adler, Horney, the object-relations lot) diverged wildly from his initial theories - they all shared his belief in the need to "scientify" and objectify psychology. Freud - a medical doctor by profession (Neurologist) and Bleuler before him - came with a theory regarding the structure of the mind and its mechanics: (suppressed) energies and (reactive) forces. Flow charts were provided together with a method of analysis, a mathematical physics of the mind.

But this was a mirage. An essential part was missing: the ability to test the hypotheses, which derived from these "theories". They were all very convincing, though, and, surprisingly, had great explanatory power. But - non-verifiable and non-falsifiable as they were - they could not be deemed to possess the redeeming features of a scientific theory.

Deciding between the two camps was and is a crucial matter. Consider the clash - however repressed - between psychiatry and psychology. The former regards "mental disorders" as euphemisms - it acknowledges only the reality of brain dysfunctions (such as biochemical or electric imbalances) and of hereditary factors. The latter (psychology) implicitly assumes that something exists (the "mind", the "psyche") which cannot be reduced to hardware or to wiring diagrams. Talk therapy is aimed at that something and supposedly interacts with it.

But perhaps the distinction is artificial. Perhaps the mind is simply the way we experience our brains. Endowed with the gift (or curse) of introspection, we experience a duality, a split, constantly being both observer and observed. Moreover, talk therapy involves TALKING - which is the transfer of energy from one brain to another through the air. This is directed, specifically formed energy, intended to trigger certain circuits in the recipient brain. It should come as no surprise if it were to be discovered that talk therapy has clear physiological effects upon the brain of the patient (blood volume, electrical activity, discharge and absorption of hormones, etc.).

All this would be doubly true if the mind was, indeed, only an emergent phenomenon of the complex brain - two sides of the same coin.

Psychological theories of the mind are metaphors of the mind. They are fables and myths, narratives, stories, hypotheses, conjunctures. They play (exceedingly) important roles in the psychotherapeutic setting - but not in the laboratory. Their form is artistic, not rigorous, not testable, less structured than theories in the natural sciences. The language used is polyvalent, rich, effusive, and fuzzy - in short, metaphorical. They are suffused with value judgements, preferences, fears, post facto and ad hoc constructions. None of this has methodological, systematic, analytic and predictive merits.

Still, the theories in psychology are powerful instruments, admirable constructs of the mind. As such, they are bound to satisfy some needs. Their very existence proves it.

The attainment of peace of mind is a need, which was neglected by Maslow in his famous rendition. People will sacrifice material wealth and welfare, will forgo temptations, will ignore opportunities, and will put their lives in danger - just to reach this bliss of wholeness and completeness. There is, in other words, a preference of inner equilibrium over homeostasis. It is the fulfilment of this overriding need that psychological theories set out to cater to. In this, they are no different than other collective narratives (myths, for instance).

In some respects, though, there are striking differences:

Psychology is desperately trying to link up to reality and to scientific discipline by employing observation and measurement and by organizing the results and presenting them using the language of mathematics. This does not atone for its primordial sin: that its subject matter is ethereal and inaccessible. Still, it lends an air of credibility and rigorousness to it.

The second difference is that while historical narratives are "blanket" narratives - psychology is "tailored", "customized". A unique narrative is invented for every listener (patient, client) and he is incorporated in it as the main hero (or anti-hero). This flexible "production line" seems to be the result of an age of increasing individualism. True, the "language units" (large chunks of denotates and connotates) are one and the same for every "user". In psychoanalysis, the therapist is likely to always employ the tripartite structure (Id, Ego, Superego). But these are language elements and need not be confused with the plots. Each client, each person, and his own, unique, irreplicable, plot.

To qualify as a "psychological" plot, it must be:

All-inclusive (anamnetic) - It must encompass, integrate and incorporate all the facts known about the protagonist.

Coherent - It must be chronological, structured and causal.

Consistent - Self-consistent (its subplots cannot contradict one another or go against the grain of the main plot) and consistent with the observed phenomena (both those related to the protagonist and those pertaining to the rest of the universe).

Logically compatible - It must not violate the laws of logic both internally (the plot must abide by some internally imposed logic) and externally (the Aristotelian logic which is applicable to the observable world).

Insightful (diagnostic) - It must inspire in the client a sense of awe and astonishment which is the result of seeing something familiar in a new light or the result of seeing a pattern emerging out of a big body of data. The insights must be the logical conclusion of the logic, the language and of the development of the plot.

Aesthetic - The plot must be both plausible and "right", beautiful, not cumbersome, not awkward, not discontinuous, smooth and so on.

Parsimonious - The plot must employ the minimum numbers of assumptions and entities in order to satisfy all the above conditions.

Explanatory - The plot must explain the behaviour of other characters in the plot, the hero's decisions and behaviour, why events developed the way that they did.

Predictive (prognostic) - The plot must possess the ability to predict future events, the future behaviour of the hero and of other meaningful figures and the inner emotional and cognitive dynamics.

Therapeutic - With the power to induce change (whether it is for the better, is a matter of contemporary value judgements and fashions).

Imposing - The plot must be regarded by the client as the preferable organizing principle of his life's events and the torch to guide him in the darkness to come.

Elastic - The plot must possess the intrinsic abilities to self organize, reorganize, give room to emerging order, accommodate new data comfortably, avoid rigidity in its modes of reaction to attacks from within and from without.

In all these respects, a psychological plot is a theory in disguise. Scientific theories should satisfy most of the same conditions. But the equation is flawed. The important elements of testability, verifiability, refutability, falsifiability, and repeatability - are all missing. No experiment could be designed to test the statements within the plot, to establish their truth-value and, thus, to convert them to theorems.

There are four reasons to account for this shortcoming:

Ethical - Experiments would have to be conducted, involving the hero and other humans. To achieve the necessary result, the subjects will have to be ignorant of the reasons for the experiments and their aims. Sometimes even the very performance of an experiment will have to remain a secret (double blind experiments). Some experiments may involve unpleasant experiences. This is ethically unacceptable.

The Psychological Uncertainty Principle - The current position of a human subject can be fully known. But both treatment and experimentation influence the subject and void this knowledge. The very processes of measurement and observation influence the subject and change him.

Uniqueness - Psychological experiments are, therefore, bound to be unique, unrepeatable, cannot be replicated elsewhere and at other times even if they deal with the SAME subjects. The subjects are never the same due to the psychological uncertainty principle. Repeating the experiments with other subjects adversely affects the scientific value of the results.

The undergeneration of testable hypotheses - Psychology does not generate a sufficient number of hypotheses, which can be subjected to scientific testing. This has to do with the fabulous (=storytelling) nature of psychology. In a way, psychology has affinity with some private languages. It is a form of art and, as such, is self-sufficient. If structural, internal constraints and requirements are met - a statement is deemed true even if it does not satisfy external scientific requirements.

So, what are plots good for? They are the instruments used in the procedures, which induce peace of mind (even happiness) in the client. This is done with the help of a few embedded mechanisms:

The Organizing Principle - Psychological plots offer the client an organizing principle, a sense of order and ensuing justice, of an inexorable drive toward well defined (though, perhaps, hidden) goals, the ubiquity of meaning, being part of a whole. It strives to answer the "why's" and "how's". It is dialogic. The client asks: "why am I (here follows a syndrome)". Then, the plot is spun: "you are like this not because the world is whimsically cruel but because your parents mistreated you when you were very young, or because a person important to you died, or was taken away from you when you were still impressionable, or because you were sexually abused and so on". The client is calmed by the very fact that there is an explanation to that which until now monstrously taunted and haunted him, that he is not the plaything of vicious Gods, that there is who to blame (focussing diffused anger is a very important result) and, that, therefore, his belief in order, justice and their administration by some supreme, transcendental principle is restored. This sense of "law and order" is further enhanced when the plot yields predictions which come true (either because they are self-fulfilling or because some real "law" has been discovered).

The Integrative Principle - The client is offered, through the plot, access to the innermost, hitherto inaccessible, recesses of his mind. He feels that he is being reintegrated, that "things fall into place". In psychodynamic terms, the energy is released to do productive and positive work, rather than to induce distorted and destructive forces.

The Purgatory Principle - In most cases, the client feels sinful, debased, inhuman, decrepit, corrupting, guilty, punishable, hateful, alienated, strange, mocked and so on. The plot offers him absolution. Like the highly symbolic figure of the Saviour before him - the client's sufferings expurgate, cleanse, absolve, and atone for his sins and handicaps. A feeling of hard won achievement accompanies a successful plot. The client sheds layers of functional, adaptive clothing. This is inordinately painful. The client feels dangerously naked, precariously exposed. He then assimilates the plot offered to him, thus enjoying the benefits emanating from the previous two principles and only then does he develop new mechanisms of coping. Therapy is a mental crucifixion and resurrection and atonement for the sins. It is highly religious with the plot in the role of the scriptures from which solace and consolation can be always gleaned.

By Sam Vaknin

I'm Sorry! Blame-Game or Accountability?

A powerful tool for health as we approach the new year can be to focus on giving and/or receiving only real apologies when we want to heal a rift with a family member, friend, or co-worker. We hear apologies all the time, but I don't think many of them are sincere. An apology has to be real to heal.

Trang Lei spent the day helping Martha buy furniture and art for her remodeled living room, but Martha never even offered to buy Trang Lei's lunch and so she felt unappreciated. Later when she told Martha she felt hurt, Martha said, "I'm sorry. I was just so excited about what I was buying that I didn't even think about it." Trang Lei did not feel better. In fact, she felt worse.

What was wrong with Martha's apology?Martha's apology came with a built-in excuse, implying that however she behaved was unintentional-beyond her conscious control. Moreover, Martha has an expectation that Trang Lei will accept the excuse. Thus, Martha perpetuates the original problem by continuing to be more focused on herself than on Trang Lei. I call this kind of apology "Sorry-Excuse."

Even Martha wasn't consciously manipulating, her goal was not to take responsibility but to find a way out of it. In most cases, if you don't accept other people's excuses when they apologize, they will quickly get irrupted at you, blaming you for not being understanding.

When we receive a counterfeit apology we often sense it and so rather than the hurt being healed, it is deepened-as in the old saying, "adding insult to injury." I think almost all of us give such apologies. And we model it for our children.

Guidelines for making real apologies:

One: Identify common formats for apology that are" counterfeit."

If you clearly various types of bogus apologies, it will help you recognize when you give or receive an one. Here are some examples of common phrasing.

Example: "I'm sorry I didn't call-I've been really busy."

Translation: Please be understanding about the fact that other things were more important than you."

"Sorry-Denial of Intent"
Example: "I'm sorry you took it that way. It wasn't what I meant."

Translation: I think it's too bad that you had difficulty understanding me correctly.

Example: "I'm sorry if I offended you."

Translation: I can't think of anything I did wrong, but if you think so, I'd be happy to apologize so I can get back in your good graces.

Example: "I'm sorry I didn't call sooner. Have you been feeling Insecure about our relationship lately?"

Translation: If you are upset about my not calling, the real cause is your own insecurity, not anything I did.

Two: Only say "I'm sorry," when you mean it and can specify exactly what you are apologizing for

When we give what I believe is a "healthy" or authentic apology, we can state clearly what we did that was disrespectful or inconsiderate without:

immediately explaining why we did it,

telling the person that however it looked or sounded, it wasn't our real intention, or,

bringing up some other issue that suggests that the other person contributed to or caused the problem.

For example, instead of focusing on why she didn't buy Trang-Lei's lunch-her excuse, Martha could have taken full responsibility, saying,

"I'm so sorry I hurt you. There is no excuse for me to forget to buy your lunch. Even that would have been a small thank you for how much you helped me. And you spent your only day off doing it."

Here, Martha uses her apology to show her real appreciation as well as her sadness that she didn't do so earlier.

Three: Decline to accept an apology that is not given sincerely.

When you accept an apology, and then walk away knowing it wasn't real, you enter a world of make-believe where you pretend an issue is resolved while harboring resentments. Gently, firmly, without anger, you can decline a hollow apology. For example:

If you believe that I simply misunderstood you, then I would rather not have an apology from you.

Only if you believe you did something hurtful would I want one.

When you refuse to accept an insincere apology, you refuse to surrender to being manipulated or pacified and you hold the other person more accountable-without having to argue or try to force an apology. You are likely to feel greater confidence.

Real Apologies Build Character and Respect

If we can change how we give and receive apologies, we can become less defensive, gain insight, grow wiser, and strengthen all of our relationships. We can also, then, be a strong model for others, including our children, teaching them that real apologies show strength of character, gain the respect of others, and have great healing power.

by Sharon Ellison

Accepting New Ideas

Much of the time when a new idea comes to us, we handle that idea and move on, without ever becoming consciously aware of the process. During the times when we are consciously aware of the process of handling a new idea, we often reject that idea without understanding why we rejected it, or sometimes without even understanding that we did reject it.

How can this be?

To understand this, lets briefly review the mechanics of how our minds work. When a new idea comes to us, it comes into our conscious mind. It can be as a result of our own thinking, or it can be from an outside source. Immediately, and sometimes before the new idea is even properly formed, our sub-conscious mind starts to evaluate that idea.

Now this evaluation is happening in our sub-conscious mind. That means that we are not consciously aware of it, but it is happening anyway.

So how does our sub-conscious mind evaluate an idea, sometimes before the idea is complete, and without us being aware that this is going on. To understand this we need to understand a characteristic of our sub-conscious mind.

Our sub-conscious mind has no ability to reason. If that is so, how can it evaluate a new idea? Well one way is to ask itself, does this new idea fit with what I already 'know'. If it does, then the new idea will not be immediately rejected. If it doesn't then the sub-conscious mind will send a message to the conscious mind to say that this new idea doesn't fit. Usually at this point, the conscious mind will believe what the sub-conscious mind is saying to it, and reject the idea.

There are a number of problems with this. What if the information that the sub-conscious mind is evaluating the new idea against, is wrong?

A common example of this is when a new idea comes into our conscious mind, and our sub-conscious mind starts to evaluate it. The sub-conscious mind says, 'I already know that'. Now that 'I already know that' message is sent to the conscious mind, and what happens then?

Often the conscious mind stops considering the new idea at that point, and moves on to something new. But did the sub-conscious mind really know that it knew that? Maybe sometimes, but often the new idea is not even properly formed yet, so how could the sub-conscious mind be sure that it 'knew' that.

Unfortunately when the conscious mind gets the 'I know that' message, it usually stops receiving or processing the new idea, and that means the opportunity to learn something new is lost.

What can we do about this? How can we interrupt our sub-conscious mind so that it does not stop us learning from new ideas, when we are exposed to them. I suggest that there are two easy ways.

Firstly, when we hear our sub-conscious mind saying 'That doesn't fit', or 'That can't be right', or something similar, we can simply say to our sub-conscious mind 'Thank-you for that information'. This means that we have decided not to act on the message that our sub-conscious mind was sending. Our conscious mind is then free to continue considering, reasoning and thinking about the new idea.

The second thing we can do is ask our conscious mind to think about the new idea in a way it may have not done before. Usually our conscious mind thinks 'Is this idea right?', or 'Is this idea wrong?'. Instead of those questions we could ask 'Could this idea change or improve my life in some way?'.

This allows us to look at a new idea in a completely fresh way, without being influenced by all the things that we have learnt before, or that we already 'know'.

It was Will Rogers who said many years ago that "it's not what people don't know that hurts them. It's what they do know that just ain't so."

By Tony McGlinn

HypoManiacs Often Misunderstood

Are you a Hypomaniac? If you are you have some definite advantages over others. Hypomaniacs are often superstars in their fields, but they are often misunderstood by those who work so hard to profile personalities and put individuals into neat little boxes.

Regarding this article which seems to be the present day thought on the Hypomaniac Syndrome: 'Hypomanic' executives often most successful Associated Press 04/26/2002 Washington-

I too have been studying this group of people as I observe the superstars and read the biographies of the most driven individuals. Here are my thoughts on the subject. Perhaps you can assist and shed some light on this subject.

First off the Very good article. But how does an individual know if he has this "Hypomanic" Thing? I submit the hypomaniac person maybe much more complicated than was introduced in this article.

And having those traits myself (many times those who chose the subject of psychology actually have questions about themselves which causes them to go into such subject matter as a profession). I have read 100s of biographies of the greatest leaders, sports figures, inventors, entreprenuers, warriors, scientists, etc. Yet I have a hard time placing many of these people into those categories. So it seems hard to find a correlation to these comments in the article and also difficult to see the downside of such a person for society, it is a plus and allows many of us to live without worry because those hard chargers are protecting the heard so to speak.

Most hypomaniacs would not see the drawbacks. I too do not see them as negative; I do see them as an advantage. This is very interesting indeed. I first must question and wonder about the "risk taking" thing a little, in that I do not believe these people see it as a risk, I know I do not. Challenge yes, risk, not really. Innovation is a necessity of any of these people, and that maybe perceived as out on a limb or a risk. As far a the grandiosity issue I think that too maybe debatable, because nothing is impossible, anything can be achieved it is more a matter of mind and perseverance which I guess a PhD in the psychology field would not be able to readily recognize. Any person like this Hypomanic, constantly has others tell them they cannot do something, yet they do it for spite. Is it really grandiosity of the Hypomaniac or is it misjudgment of the observer? I think it maybe the psychologist are thinking they are so special that they cannot conceive of these people and their reach. For instance many Entrepreneurs and I use this context because the article does (I suppose scientists have other traits if they were hypomaniacs) do poorly after their first big win, in their next big thing or endeavor.

Entrepreneurs rarely have multiple wins in different industries, except people like Branson, Gates, Fred Smith (Fed EX), Wayne Hiezinga. The reason for these is they carried their same work ethic into the next battle, and they are not done yet, they want more. I see one of the traits at Harvard use to be hard work ethic, yet do not see it in these people anymore. Enron debacle was stupid, they had the world by the balls, but leadership slacked off, right when they should have been really turning on the juice. They needed a visionary, no prisoners leader, like the previously mentioned, too bad, because it hurt America. The reasoning being that commoditizing additional things that are omnipotent for our society is of value. I think also if the idea that Gates also has savant tendencies and you add Bi-Polar to it, then you have to go back to the drawing board and cannot relate his success or hard work ethic with that of the others.

Anyone out there is doing research on this Hypomanic personality trait should post their comments after this discussion. When studying great people such as, Gates "The Road Ahead" (And the Inner Circle Magazine), Turner "It Ain't As Easy as It Looks", Ellison "The Difference Between god and", Richard Branson book "Virginity," and Guzietta from Coke A Cola "I Want the World to Buy a Coke". All seem to have many of these traits. I think the anger in stupidity, bureaucracy, and slow moving brain dead people, causes them to work harder, all seem to mention this in their autobiographical works. Perhaps they are trading the maniac mild depression into anger and steam and using it to heat up the soft tissue in the back of the head to drive their stick-to-it-ness back to the home front battle. I sometimes think that the anger of the brick walls in the way force these individuals to go crazy forcing them into thier work. How can anyone be depressed if they are doing what they love to do? They love to win.

A hypomaniac which does not like what they are doing might be different. Tesla the famous AC inventor had many of these traits and yet loved his work. There maybe cases to prove this point wrong. Maybe these off the chart Hypomaniacs have other sides to them, but this mild maniac depression seems a little unlikely. If people have witnessed these traits in these people, I would say they mistook the depletion of vitamins due to the self inficted stress of the their own inner personal battle with the "human factor" resistence put in their way to get to where they are going to be. It is possible to go without eating and sleeping and then all of a sudden it hits you. Maybe these people if witneesed in a depression like state, just need some more Chormium Picolinate or protien for their brains. This particular article may have missed a couple other benefits, although obviously cannot be a whole book because it is just an article;

1. When people cannot put you in their frame of reference they mis judge your motivations and needs in negotiations and therefore give you the upper hand;

2. Also a person moving that fast cannot have too many friends due to time. Therefore does not get too caught up in "Familiarity Breeds Contempt" traps;

2.5 Competition cannot keep up, because if they copy them, they are already several more steps ahead and back around to flank them. They never know what hit them and then it is too late;

3. Misdirection and miss information techniques are easier to emloy because no body can figure out where you are going or coming from;

4. When they are moving that fast and have faith in future moves they do not need to worry, they will find a way. This looks dangerous to others, and it gives them an advantage because no one will dare follow;

5. A moving target is harder to hit and almost impossible to follow;

6. Their very existence intimidates people, which can also help you. People are afraid of you;

7. Their energy radiates out word and causes things to line up your way by your sheer will.

Now on the drawbacks side of things the articles fails to mention the following; Draw Backs:

1. They burn people out;

2. Others that emulate them often fail, it requires too much knowledge and skill to work at this level;

3. People question their judgment because they do not realize the multiple affect. ie... Ted Turner over paying in a merger so he had the movie classic content for his future project;

4. They have problems relating with people who cannot reason or do complex thoughts;

5. They do not do good at parties which are wasting your time. Although you can be the life of the party quite easily;

6. They are still stuck in linear time and therefore cannot do everything you want to;

7. They have to be careful not to run right over someone or through them, it is very easy to do;

8. They have no peers, this may actually be a benefit up for discussion.

Regarding the downer side of this hypomaniac title or labeling, I cannot see the mellow downer side of it. I do not see that maniac depression state? Perhaps that was put in there to capture the "Bi-Polar" thing to loop the story in a full circle, readers believe in all that Bi-Polar, lithium and Prozac ( a good book on this subject is "Living With Prozac" (scary book if you think of what this can do to our soicety) stuff. After all readers will not buy the superman idea without the kryptonite? Is the author sure that, that was not put in just to appease readers and make them not feel so little against these people?

There may be brief times where you have to think a lot, to get them out of a jam they got into by hitting the wrong turn in the maze or running through the wrong door of opportunity. But then again that is only a short time frame, then you usually just find a way to use all the mistakes as advantages. This article now makes me remember, of a guy who crashed into his new house in his new Beechcraft Baron? He may have had a moment such as this depression thing, but killing one's self is giving up and a person with unlimited energy and a brain to match would never give up. Now if you need a down side maybe it would be the "burn out affect" or something else, although that does not seem to work either, judging by history and the referenced biographies above. Of course if one does not eat right or take care of themselves this type of person will write checks that it's body cannot cash, causing health issues, I suppose.

In this article are the PhDs or author really specialists in Bi Polar disorders? I once had a gentleman who worked for me who was Bi-Polar, he had his life really screwed up, nice guy and needed help. I had to cut him lose due to performance issues, we needed more output. Some days he was terrific and other not at all. I was wondering what type of job a person like this might be best suited for. He was not good at a sales, although everyone seemed to like him. My theory was that his displacement caused feelings of superiority in others around him and make him appear to have Charisma and be approachable and non-intimidating. He was on Litium. What does lithium do to people, well it seems wrong to give to people, does it have after side affects?

After all Bi-polar is interesting since the Cerebellum if unfolded is 1128 cu centimeters the size of a record album cover which is bigger than either of the left or right side of the brain. Even together the cerebral cortex including both halves is 1900 cubic centimeters. So those who use it well are able to do more faster. We know from those who have brain injuries that their brain uses the cerebellum as RAM memory and lights up on the computer screens with activity when the damaged part of either the left or right side cannot be used. There are more cells and neurons in the cerebellum than the rest of the brain, much more capacity. So when some is using it they can do more faster and process more data and crutch more numbers so to speak. You may wish to check up on Nueroantomist Santiago Ramon y Cajal.

Sharks have also huge cerebellums and they have 400 million years of evolution on the modern man no matter what you believe as far as 160,000 years, 40,000 years since Neanderthal or 10,000 years of Chinese recorded written history. The problem I see with the article is that everyone is a Doctor of something and they are the same people giving kids under age 6 Prozac and screwing up their brains before full development. Perhaps the Hypomaniac is a positive label although to try to narrowly title a behavior is unhealthy and can cause risks of mislabeling. People who appear to be different for whatever reason all share another familiar advantage in sports, war, business, game or politics. Their opponents and followers, who do not understand them, once they realize that they do not understand, often fear them. From a Machiavellian standpoint one could say this is good if you are in a leadership capacity and especially good in the unforgiving battle in politics. It's best if your opponents think you are crazy and unpredictable, because that incites fear and hesitation, the edge needed in surprise attack or reciprocal response. If your followers do not understand your methods but understand your strength in intelligence they will follow you and not try to topple you out of fear and admiration. This too would be considered a positive attribute if this article Bi-Polar theory holds true from the Hypomaniac executive model.

Remember Patton use to say that if stood on his jeep to make a speech he had everyone's ear, his troops knew he knew how to win, the media made him sound crazy beating up on hospital wounded or panic attacked soldiers and no one could figure him out and therefore to his advantage, he was able to fly by the seat of his pants into victorious battle. Hitler talked in mesmerizing cadence and put people in a beta state of mind. While also having the ups and downs of Bi-Polar tendencies. Vince Lombardi said to be one of the greatest sports leaders in history also had mood swings to the low, they say. Steve Jobs is a good example of bi-polarality in this article context from what I have read. Perhaps a bi-polar type tendency and a trend towards hard charging never give up individuals and hypomaniac label may actually be a strength of character to be addressed and watched for positive advantages and to keep from turning evil?

The premise that there is only room for one visionary at a time is false. Visionaries always seek out like-minded visionaries to vision with. If one is the absolute boss, then there is a problem but it is not like household pets where the first pet is the boss. Visionaries often work well together and two minds are better than one providing the fundamental issues are equal (Belief System Theory-Equally yoked principle). Now then people like Mr. Lear, Edison, Tesla, Copernicus, Leonardo de Vinci, etc. may actually be loners and work better that way, although they all had companions and understood they needed help to get out their message and inventions and bring things to market.

There can be other experiments to determine if these hypomaniacs really exist to the degree mentioned in the article. By using naturalistic observations and a limited control group of other over achievers and we will have created a random assignment. I question the validity of subjects like Gates and Jobs as proof that the Bi-Polar theory holds true to the Hypomaniac hypothesis. The correlation in such limited data set along with the PR bull that their companies and books promote make it difficult to know the truth of any of this. I mean, the theory still may have some validity, and it cannot be proven either way unless we can have them at our disposal for a week or two which is impossible based on the justice departments needs of gate's time when he should be working on R and D projects and Jobs incredible schedule and interview rounds with his latest new product rollout. And if these subjects were taken away from their artificial lives compared with that of normal folks we could lose the whole project. For instance if we took all these people and put them on a track with go carts and watched their behavior we might see some interesting things similar to all, but we may also find none to that of the HS Athlete, full of piss and vinegar wanting to conquer their world. Does this make sense? If the article and theories hold true and we cannot have off the chart in one direction without off the chart in another, which I believe too, then the Bi-Polarity between Major Depression and Mania maybe a good answer for things. And if this is so then we should not condemn those who are too far off the end on one side, because they have so much to offer the world on the other. Interesting.

This subject matter is fascinating as we try to understand the human spirit and will of top performing individuals, what on Earth makes them tick? The examples presented are interesting indeed and we need to take a real look into the theory, which seems to be too simply defined in the article and there has to be more to this. Although the article hits home for me, thus I find this subject matter of value, it appears we might all learn from such hard charging super stars like Gates and Jobs. I think I still have to question trying to pigeon hole any individual as people are complex and are an accumulation of all their observations, experiences, genetics and achievements are unique and therefore such simple classifications may be highly invalid, why don't we simply ask them? If any one has any data on Hypomaniac Syndromes, please post them below so that other Think Tank members can review this as many over achiever tend to also join think tanks to make a difference.

By Lance Winslow

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