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Archive for the ‘Columns’ Category

One of our most persistent psychological myths is that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Abuse and disadvantage in fact have the opposite effect. We are weakened, and in some cases permanently diminished by significant traumas.

But some of us fare better than others in the lottery of endurance and renewal, and employers have recently set their sights on how to train us to be more competitive in the challenge of rolling with life’s punches.

Companies including NAB, BP and Royal Dutch Shell are now offering “resilience training” to their employees, and in line with recent studies of similar programs across a number of companies, it appears to be working.

Like the army, police force and schools, which have been delivering programs to help soldiers and their families accept and adapt to the horrors of war, the trauma of policing and the impact of bullying, corporations are having some impact on their workers’ ability to continue to be productive within a culture of hard knocks.

You can read the rest of this article here at theconversation.com/au

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The story of how psychology framed women for their own assaults began, as so many of psychology’s stories do, with some trapped animals. In the late 1960s, psychologist Martin Seligman conducted a series of behavioural experiments with dogs. He electrically shocked them at random and observed their responses.

After being locked in cages and subjected to pain that was unpredictable and uncontrollable, the dogs eventually gave up their attempts to escape, even when their cage doors were opened. In a now classic case of reframing, Seligman coined the term “learned helplessness” to describe their responses.

This new theory was incredibly attractive. It neatly and conveniently located the problem in the victims of violence, and manipulated their reality-based perceptions of a toxic and life-threatening environment.

Learned helplessness was such a socially palatable label for repeated victimisation that it’s still regularly applied to many victims of social, institutional and interpersonal violence. This includes, most notably, women subjected to domestic violence.

Like the slippery concepts of low self-esteem, Stockholm syndrome, co-dependence or traumatic bonding, learned helplessness has entered our vernacular. It has swallowed up socially accurate explanations for violence, until nothing is left but to blame the victim.

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MY BOYFRIEND is incredibly hot. A manly furnace. A living sunbeam. Stand next to him and he radiates a lovely warmth. Lovely that is, until you’re under the covers with him in January and hoping for sweet, dreamless sleep.

Maybe you know the feeling? Your partner is a toaster oven and you prefer to sleep in a room where you can see your own breath. Maybe they love the night-life and you like to hit the pillow not long after the sun goes down. Maybe they snore, gnash their teeth or speak in tongues in the wee hours. Whatever the source of your bedtime incompatibility, it can really wreak havoc with both your sleeping habits and your relationship.

And if the forecast around parts of Australia tonight is as hot as they predict, lots of us will be having the same problem and the same argument as we toss and turn in the heat.

Let’s face it, sleep is bloody important. Without enough sleep we all eventually turn into snappy sugar-craving monsters. Sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture because it is torture. So if you’re looking for a solution to your couple sleeping woes, make sure you remember this: Sleep must always be king.

Many years ago I had a design all picked out for my forever love bed. It would have four posters and a canopy, lots of small pillows and a bedspread with eyelet lace. It was my friend Lyn’s bed, and when I slept over at her place, after we’d finished dinner and watched The Monkees, I got to share it with her.

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I’M NOT going to mince words here. If celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus is your thing, then the first Christmas after your family separates is likely to be bloody awful.

Whether you’re a gentle lover of tinsel or a full-blown Christmas tragic, the first Yuletide in Splitsville is about as much fun as a tequila hangover. If you’re lucky, you’ll get through it without actually dropping your head in the toilet.

And like a hangover, there really is no escaping the pain. Over the years I’ve watched many people try and fail to dodge the hurt of a newly broken Christmas, and when my turn finally came along, I made my own foolish attempts to escape the ghosts of Christmases past.

I tried the runaway Christmas, flying off to my family overseas and the snowy weather and twinkly lights, only to find that of course someone was still missing, and so we were still sad. I tried the pretend-it’s-not-happening Christmas, and spent a miserable day working tragically hard to imagine that Christmas wasn’t all around, and ended up in tears in a park scaring a small child who was wearing reindeer antlers.

It took me a while to get with the new holiday program.

 

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HAVE you seen the news from Canada lately? It’s all good.

Canadians are currently basking in the glow of the world’s handsomest prime minister, Justin Trudeau, who has just appointed a cabinet we can only dream of.

Here in Australia, our government is made up of a great deal of lawyers.

In Canada, the new minister for transport is an astronaut!

The minister for defence is a Sikh veteran.

The ministers for justice, fisheries, oceans and the coastguard are all indigenous.

Bloody unbelievable.

Imagine, the folks in charge of protecting the land and its people are the original owners. Can you handle it? There’s more. The minister for sport and disabilities is a visually impaired Paralympian. Logic and experience? Please make the acquaintance of politics.

There are also new portfolios in the Canadian government including climate change and refugees.

And the thread of unheard of wonderfulness that runs throughout this raft of excellent progressive changes is that half of the Canadian ministers are women. Half. My stars!

And when Trudeau was asked why 50 per cent women? He answered: “because it’s 2015”. Brilliant.

So despite the fact that I’ve lived here for twenty-five years and not once renewed my Canadian passport, people have started to ask the obvious question. Do I want to go back? Surely I must miss my native land more than ever now. But despite these long dreamt of and fought for changes in my original home and the many, many other wonderful things about the great white north, I am not thinking about going back for a minute. Not one.

 

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As 1962 drew to a close, The Beatles were finishing up what was to be their final residency in Hamburg. On the last of these nights, the club’s stage manager recorded the band in all its amphetamine and beer filled pre-fame glory via a single microphone to a domestic Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder. John Lennon allegedly gave permission for the recording to take place in exchange for a night of free beer for the band.

The Beatles forgot about the tape until news emerged that a ragged, lo-fi double album of their Hamburg days was about to be released. It was now 1977 and the band cried foul and took the record company to court. They claimed that the recording was illegal, that no beer deal had been struck, that the tape was, to quote guitarist George Harrison, ‘the crummiest recording ever made in our name’, and that the release would damage their reputation. They failed in this and a number of subsequent trials to prevent the record’s release. In 1998, The Beatles were finally granted ownership of the tapes and exclusive rights to their use. By that stage the raw and chaotic Live! At the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962 had been available to the public for 21 years.

Last week, we became aware of another contested cultural bootleg, this time created by Germaine Greer in 1976 in the form of a 30,000 word love letter to writer Martin Amis. The letter was among the papers Greer sold to the University of Melbourne in 2013. There are moves afoot to release the letter in full, and Greer now says the letter was never meant for publication and that she is concerned for the privacy of some of those named in the document.

You can read the rest of the article here on the Meanjin Blog

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SEXUAL desire is a fickle beast. You can’t depend on it and you can’t tame it.

There’s no ‘normal’ when it comes to libido, there’s only your normal. So if you want to understand how lust works in your life, you’ll need to find a way to make your wild libido happy. And the best way to begin to do that is to give yourself permission to feel exactly what you’re feeling. No expectations, no pressures and no judgments.

And that may mean accepting that right now, your sexo-meter is set to ‘sloth’.

There are so many reasons why desire doesn’t come to visit. Sometimes the reasons are good, like when your downstairs gadget lets you know a tired relationship has run its course. Or when you’re somewhere on the asexual spectrum like at least 1 per cent of the population. Or when you’ve come to a point in your life where sex is no longer interesting.

These are all situations where your wild libido is letting you know the score. And you need to be brave enough to listen, if you want to avoid the misery that comes from forcing yourself to be someone you’re not into.

And sometimes lust goes on holiday because your partner has been hurtful, betrayed you or offered you so little support that even your gonads are over it. If that’s the case, then give yourself permission not to want sex for now, until you can tackle the issues together that lead to your loss of desire.

 

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