On Low Self-Esteem

People think that it is possible to feed the beast of low self-esteem by accomplishing enough, by stuffing some huge and impressive achievements down its throat.

It doesn’t work this way, though. No matter how much money you make, how popular you become, how many accolades you receive, your low self-esteem will devour all that in a moment. And you will be left feeling small, miserable and worthless, trying to figure out where its next meal will come from.

Low self-esteem does not in any way depend on any external circumstances. Rather, no matter how you organize your reality, it will chew everything that surrounds you down, spit it out, and growl for more.

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Evo Psych Bingo

I haven’t made fun of the adepts of evolutionary psychology for a while. Now seems like a good time to do so. Look at this cool bingo made by somebody who definitely knows what evo psych is all about:

Evo psych is beloved by men who are extremely unattractive and can’t get laid. So they need to convince themselves that paying for sex is not buying a prostitute but, rather, encountering legitimate desire according to the formulations of evolutionary psychology.

Evo psych is equally beloved by women who are completely frigid and want to sell sex but who cringe at the idea that this turns them into prostitutes. So they need to convince themselves that selling sex is not prostitution but, rather, an evolutionary adaptation.

This bingo card is great at showing men’s pay-out from evo psych. Now it would be great to have an equivalent card showing the benefits women get from it. I’ve had a misfortune of hanging out with a group of female adepts of evolutionary psychology for a while, so I picked up a lot of their lingo. On its basis, I created this

Evolutionary Psychology

BINGO

For Women

I’ve heard a version of each of these statements from my female evo psych buddies. They had a lending library of evo psych books and articles to justify every single one of these scary beliefs.

Feel free to use but don’t forget to link back!

A Dedicated Sperm Donor

Reader J. kindly sent in a link to the following article:

A man from the San Francisco Bay area has fathered 14 children in the last five years through free sperm donations to childless couples he meets on the Internet — and is now in trouble with the federal government. Trent Arsenault says he donates sperm out of a sense of service to help people who want to have children but can’t afford conventional sperm banks. The 36-year-old minister’s son has four more children on the way. “I always had known through people praying at church that there’s fertility issues,” Arsenault told The Associated Press on Monday. “I thought it would just be a neat way of service to help the community.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent Arsenault a cease-and-desist letter late last year telling him he must stop because he does not follow the agency’s requirements for getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases within seven days before giving sperm.

Testing for STDs is, of course, crucial. It would also be great if somebody got this guy and the people who use his services into a psych evaluation.

I used to know somebody who donated sperm to a lesbian couple of very close friends. Of course, he was very involved in the boy’s life and the kid always knew that he had two Mommies and a Daddy. This is a normal, healthy situation where nobody suffers.

What is it, though, that the folks who use this man’s services tell their kids? How do they introduce the idea that the child’s father is a guy who donates sperm to all and sundry online? What do they do about all the siblings their kid has? I don’t think they get to know the names and addresses of other beneficiaries of this sperm-donating extravaganza. So how do they ensure that the kid doesn’t meet and sleep with one of his or her siblings? Or several? The man obviously has issues. How about the kid inheriting his psychological problems?

Of course, you can always conceal the truth from the child and hope that s/he will be lucky and never meet the siblings or discover his or her origins. But you have to be a really miserable, nasty human being to do that.

More on Repressing Anger

The level of general ignorance about psychology is daunting, so I will explain further.

Everybody experiences anger. Some people find legitimate ways of releasing it. Others, however, were socialized from early childhood into believing that anger is not something they should ever allow themselves to experience. So they repress and often erect their incapacity to become angry into some kind of a moral badge of honor. In reality, however, all they do is drive themselves into a variety of severe health issues.

How do you recognize a person who represses anger? They nag, criticize, and are very controlling about small things. They are bothered by insignificant details of the actions, speech, clothes, manners, etc. of others. When something bad happens, they keep their emotions under control and act heroically. They repeat the phrase, “I never feel angry” often. When you meet a person like that, you need to know that this is a future stroke patient right there.

If you recognize yourself in this description, I recommend that you try to remember how your family members reacted to your anger when you were a small child. What did they say to you? Were you allowed to experience all of your emotions freely whenever and wherever they came to you? I promise that you will find your answer in those early childhood memories.

How I Lowered My Blood Pressure

I want to preface this post by saying that I am not a medical professional and I do not dispense medical advice. All I’m doing in this post is sharing my own experiences. If you suffer from high blood pressure, please consult your doctor. Once again, I’m not trying to cure anybody because I’m not qualified to do so. I’m simply recording my experiences in my personal diary which is what this blog is.

I had my first spike in blood pressure when I was 24. I had no idea what was happening to me but it was really bad. It felt like I had an elephant sitting on the nape of my neck. Blood was pounding in my ears, I had trouble breathing, and my vision got impaired. My sister took me to the emergency room. This was in Montreal, so, as you can imagine, I had to wait in line for 6 hours to be attended, after which a sleepy nurse told me to go home and take a Tylenol.

Since then, I have, of course, figured out what the problem was. High blood pressure is hereditary in my family. Both of my grandparents on my mother’s side died from it at an early age. Both of my parents suffer from it right now. If you’ve read my recent post on salo, you probably realize how our traditional Ukrainian diet contributes to the high rates of BP problems in our country.

My BP was high all the time but not to the point where it would interfere with my life. Several times a year, however, there would be a spike in my BP and then I’d be rendered useless for as long as it stayed high. A moment came when I was practically immobilized by high BP for almost six weeks. It was a full-blown and protracted hypertensive episode. That was when I realized that if I didn’t want to become an invalid at such a young age, I needed to do something.

As you probably know, I’m very anti-drug. (Again, I, me, myself. Not other people, just me). I refuse to be on any kind of medication that I’d have to take on a permanent basis. So I used the non-medicinal means at my disposal and am happy to report that my BP has been at around 120/80 for over a year now. (I have a monitor at home and recommend that every BP sufferer get one.)

The most basic things you can do are changing your diet and lifestyle. Here is just a small list of what one can do (feel free to add your own suggestions):

1. The best forms of exercise for a BP sufferer are walking and swimming. Running and cardio can be very dangerous. People have had strokes while running, so this is something that should be approached very carefully and in consultation with a doctor. I recommend walking 10,000 steps a day. Buy a pedometer. I recommend this one because it is the most precise of all I have ever tried. Create a table and record how many steps you walked every day. Here is a random excerpt from my steps log, for example:

2. For breakfast, it is a great idea to eat steel-cut oatmeal. I mean the one you cook for 40 minutes, not the one that you get from a package and make by pouring hot water on top of it. I add flax seed, wheat germ and raisins to my oatmeal. It tastes horrible but I feel a lot better after every portion. Even a small portion of this oatmeal a few times a week makes a huge difference.

3. A small piece of very dark chocolate should always be at hand because it lowers high BP. Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds (unsalted, of course) are also great. So is pomegranate juice. Fish, nuts, a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. Drink as much water as you can.

All of these measures, however, are purely cosmetic. They will work for a while but then your body will get used to them and the BP will start rising once again. I believe that there is no way you can deal with high BP productively and long-term if you don’t address the psychological cause of it. If you disagree with this statement, that’s fine. Go pop some beta-blockers, or whatever. This post is written for those who are interested in how I reduced my BP dramatically without taking any kind of medication even once.

The psychological cause of high BP is repressed anger (aggression, rage). In order to lower the BP, you need to learn to stop repressing and let the anger out in a way that will not, of course, harm anybody. Here are several suggestions on how to do that:

1. Create a phrase that expresses your anger and is meaningful to you. For example, “I hate you, you vile jerks and nasty pedophiles.” The goal is to yell it at the top of your lungs for as long as you need to feel exhausted. (This is not to be done in public, of course.) It will be hard because, remember, you are repressing the rage. So if yelling doesn’t just happen, start slow. Say this phrase in your mind. Then, whisper it. Then try to say it in a regular conversational voice. Then go louder, etc.

2. You’ll need to find a punching object. I recommend a pillow. Beat it until you are completely exhausted. Beat it and yell your phrase about the vile jerks or whatever. N. had his first and only spike in BP a while ago. He was under extreme stress because of something related to his visa and unemployment. I taught him this strategy of beating objects and yelling. He destroyed his keyboard, just trashed it completely. And his BP dropped immediately to a normal level.

3. Blogging does wonders for high BP. You have to write passionately, though. Writing many sincere, passionate, angry posts will help you with your BP and will also attract many readers. I should know, I’ve been doing that for 2,5 years.

4. Profanity is very good and helpful, too. (Once again, this is not to be done in public.) I’m lucky in that I can swear very inventively in a variety of languages, so when I do that in my office during times of stress, nobody understands what I’m saying and nobody has to suffer as a result.

5. Remember, this is something you are doing for your health, so there should be no shame attached to these practices. If you need to wriggle on the floor in a paroxysm of anger, yelling and beating your punching pillow (while being alone, of course), then just do it. Of course, if you feel like doing it around other people, this means you are not trying to solve your health issues but, rather, are being manipulative and abusive to others.

The most important strategy, of course, is to identify the source of your rage. This kind of anger takes years and decades to accumulate. Why do you repress anger so much? When and where did you learn to keep it inside instead of releasing it in legitimate ways? What pushed you to control your aggression so much?

Answering these questions is crucial for anybody who wants to lower their BP permanently.

I’m sorry that the post is so long. I just wanted to have all this information in one place so that people who need it can find it easily.

Nepotism: A Scourge of Higher Education

Nepotism is a huge problem in Spanish universities. Everything is about being connected to the right people, kissing ass, networking, and placing your relatives and friends in key positions. The damage this does to the system of higher education is enormous.

Italy, it seems, has the same problem:

One reason for the poor performance of Italian institutions in world league tables may be nepotism, it has been suggested. The practice has been blamed for a “brain drain” that has seen many of the country’s best researchers move to the US or the UK after failing to progress at home because of their lack of connections.

This is an open secret in Italy. The news magazine l’Espresso and newspaper La Repubblica have reported that in Rome’s La Sapienza University, a third of teaching staff are closely related. Questions were raised after the wife, son and daughter of Luigi Frati, La Sapienza’s chancellor, were hired by its medical faculty. At the University of Bari in the southern region of Puglia, Lanfranco Massari, a professor of economics, has three sons and five grandchildren who are colleagues in the same department. And at the University of Palermo, Angelo Milone, a professor in the architectural faculty, works alongside his brother, son and daughter.

Of course, a system of higher education that is structured this way will never produce valuable research or good teaching.

Efforts are being made to infect the American academia with the same kind of nepotistic practices. The system of “spousal hiring” destroys entire departments. The most offensive thing about this kind of unfair hiring practices is that nobody even thinks of informing the students that some of their professors did not get hired competitively and are only there because they happen to sleep with the right person.

The only thing that stands between us and nepotism is our own personal integrity. This year, for example, I chaired a panel that reviewed research proposals and decided which ones to fund. One of the proposals was by a person I really adore. Nobody at the panel knew about my feelings, so I could have easily done something nice for my friend and gotten their proposal funded. However, I couldn’t act in this dishonest manner. Which is why I declared my conflict of interest to the panel members and removed myself from the discussions of my friend’s proposal.

I’ve seen what nepotism does to individuals, departments, and universities, and I’ll be damned if I ever get tempted to become part of a nepotistic culture.

Salo

A customs officer stops a Ukrainian at the border.

“Are you carrying any drugs?”

“Yes.”

“Let me see them. Wait this isn’t drugs. This is salo.”

“Yes, it makes me high,” says the Ukrainian with a beatific smile.

I shared this joke so that people understand how important salo is to Ukrainian people. So if you feel like saying, “Ewww, gross!”, please remember that you are hurting the feelings of a Ukrainian person.

Salo is the most traditional Ukrainian foodstuff. It is salted pork fat, which scares most non-Ukrainian people. For Ukrainians, though, it’s sacred. Many people use it to cook (fried potatoes, borscht, all kinds of soups.) The best way to eat it, however, is frozen and cut into very thin strips.

I hadn’t had a chance to eat salo for over 10 years until we discovered it at a Global Foods store in St. Louis. N. says that he finds seeing me eat salo disturbing because I look like I’m participating in some kind of an erotic activity when I do it.