Inventing the Self


December 4th, 2013 · Comments Off on connection

Even when you’re overdoing a good thing, it will become bad eventually.

In God Jr,  Jim, the father, was searching for meaning and healing in the wake of his son’s death, which he felt responsible for. He tried to make memories with his dead son through video games and attempted to get to know his son. In the third section, “The Children Scraw”, Jim took the Bear from the game as his role, the game’s hero. The interaction between other characters from the game and him reveals his feeling of being the killer of his son and also built the bridge between father and son, hero and supporting characters. The process of the game, such as levels, quests and monsters, is like a spiritual treatment for the father. Game, here, is a tool.
Game can be other tools, as Ito and Brittani describe in their articles. “It is largely a form of friendship-driven sociability; while gaming is certainly important, it is not the central focus (p.206).” And, it could seize the mobilizing and even be a professional pursuit. Making a game is like promoting a brand, which is about public communication. It is not the age that the producers tell the users what to play and what to like any more. Consumers choose games that they think can represent and satisfy them (in terms of identity, life-style, social needs) the most.

When I was young, the first game my dad and I played together was Virtual Cop. It was violent, associated with guns, and quite masculine. Like Ito and Brittani said, some games are not made for girls, so my dad bought me SimCity later. Then I gained interests in decoration, construction plans, and when I started playing the Sims, the only interesting part for me was to build the house. Once I got the chance to pick up my own games, I played many RPG games. Ito and Brittani note that game can be the media to establish friendship and I was on that route to make my male friends. Plus, most of my pre and post Three-Kingdom knowledge was from games based on historical events.

According to my dad, he was worried about me at that time, but he realized I was not so bad after he heard some other kids who skipped classes and went to game shops to play games. This is the common thinking when people talk about game and game addiction Parents get terrified when their children start playing them frequently. Moreover, according to ito and Brittani, “in line with recent research in this area, we also believe that lack of access to game-centered sociability is of greater concern than the fears about game addiction (p. 240).” However, instead of this, shouldn’t we worry they don’t have other ways to socialize?

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November 13th, 2013 · 1 Comment

McCarthy and Wright’s intent for the book was not to develop a theory of experience with technology. They suggested that the experience can interact with sensual, emotional, volitional and imaginative aspects. People should be able to understand the felt experience with technology. This theory is hard for me to understand, but case studies or examples from the MIT technology review and the Quantified Self organization made me understand a lot more about it.

I track data daily to record my sleep quality, skin condition, and expenses, as Wolf does, just I don’t bother tracking my food calories because I feel that it is too painful. My grandma recommended my mom to record her blood pressure every week before, and my grandpa carries a heart tracker to record the number of heartbeats. I never thought it could be a way to the understand self in a fashion similar to windows or mirrors. After Wolf’s talk, which is like a knock of head, I realize it is very related to self-knowledge and self-improvement. I feel like decisions I am not intended to make for self-improvement for social life actually help with it.
Similar to Wolf, Joans’s experience with how to manage stress also advocates that we use information to be more aware of the self and use the data to improve the self. By knowing our own condition, we have a sense of control and power to do things about it. Knowing what we are doing and what is good for the self is a different approach to understand the self. Joans also provides a good example about Damasio’s mind, brain and body: we feel stress, stress affects the brain, the brain increases the heart rate, and we will feel tired eventually. However, since we are so used to release stress (like Joans) and fall asleep (the MIT technology review) by using these technological tools, will this make us lose the ability to do self-adjustment?

I believe different people will choose different things to track, such as Kitty Ireland’s grandma (one video from the QS website) who made a daily about boys she had crash on or relationship with. We record or keep track on things we which feel are important. I think, for things that we don’t record, we either don’t care or feel more private so as not to write them down. Data represents pieces from our life, and it could conduct us through a lifetime. When the lifetime turns into a story, it may help to play out an autobiography—a way to understand self. Facebook, the social technology product, can also be considered a record of life. These details, indeed, make up life.

McCarthy and Wright used an example in chapter one regarding high student and text messaging, which makes me think which way we express the self is more real: words or voices. We often say, “You sound like you are not okay today, what happened?” Emotion leaks through voices. Many arguments happen by incautious usage of words because sometimes people speak words without having second thoughts and they may not express themselves correctly. This could be avoided by sending text messages, which will allow people have time to rethink words they want to use to represent themselves. However, the voice truly represents how we actually feel under that certain moment.

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Sorry about the late post

November 1st, 2013 · Comments Off on Sorry about the late post

A few months ago, I was taking train 1 and seated opposite a woman with her headphones connected to her iPod, which was presumably playing music, whilst her mouth formed words that could not be recognized. Her voice modulated up and down, sometimes she screamed. I watched her for almost five stops, then I got off. During the five stops, I was wondering if someone was going to do something to her, and, in fact, no one did.

Some people laughed at her, two young college students secretly glanced at her her and whispered to each other. She was seated on the train, and people sitting next to her did not stand up and leave. At that time, I thought she must have a mental disorder, even though I barely knew what that meant at that time. It is only now that I realize that she may be able to hear voices inside her head.

I like the way Hornstein validates her research. She has a strong point to sell, which is that patients problem hearing voice should be treated in the way of helping and guiding by creating a safe space for them to communicate with normal people or others who face similar problems, instead of putting them in the therapy sessions that makes them ‘confront’ themselves. For some people, the fact of hearing voices could be twisted into inspiration to do creative work— for instance Virginia Woof and Carl Jung. These two individuals are well-known authors, and they took the voices they heard and turned them into characters in their books. Either they were being helped out by others or had overcome the problem themselves – people surrounding them, such as friends or family members, must have not treated them as psychopaths. She criticizes some institutions nowadays which force patients diagnosed as schizophrenics to have medication administered, forced to do CBT and be kept thinking that being able to hear voices is abnormal.

Hornstein, in the reading, interviewed two groups: HVN and the psychiatrist Marius Romme. Both of them use very ‘soft’ ways to approach schizophrenia patients by using no drugs, commutations, and reinforcing the message that hearing voices is not a horrible thing. This is one thing I found interesting in the chapters that hearing voices is actually a normal situation that everyone will meet—

“In an earlier period human history, everyone heard voices….For the first time, her own mental life didn’t seem so bizarre; at least at one time, voice hearing had been a common phenomenon (p. 31, Agnes’s Jack).”

There are several points to make a good “therapy method” to treat mental illness in Hornstein’s search by observing how HVN and Dr. Romme treat their members and patients. Most patients have experienced some form of trauma before they start hearing voices. The institution and doctors should create a safe space for patients to express their feelings. Helping them to find roles for themselves in the community is important as well.Instead of questioning them on how they hear voices, doctors need to show respect for “different belief systems” and a diversity of viewpoints. These rules also apply to people who join the safe space.

Hornstein also mentions when she first time attended HVN conferences, people there said the model to diagnose the level of voice hearing is 100% precise. This point is fully raised in McCarthy-Jones’s Chapter 8. He discusses many experiment and methods currently used in treating or identifying voice-hearing brain. However, none of them are prefect, even the most common used one; all of them have limitations or errors. Some of them are not reliable reference due to the insignificant quantities of sample size. And sometimes hearing voice is not totally equal to psychiatric patient.


When I got off the train, I told the friend I was going to meet about the woman on train, he told me not to worry because there were so many wired people in New York.

“So they are just out there?” I asked.

“Well, no one could actually do anything to them, they are not hurting people.” He said, seeming not care at all.

The conversation later on shifted to which train may have fewer weird people and where to eat. And I almost forgot about her. I do not know the reason that woman on the train was not questioned by other people orally is because New York does have many people like her, making sounds that are indistinguishable, and people are used to it. Or simply because people in New York are peaceful, so that if those strange people don’t cause damage, they just let them be whatever they are. Either of the two, I think, it is better than seeing them and overacting. Apparently, that woman was well taken care of: her clothes were nice and clean, plus her iPod was kind of new. I hope her situation would be one where someone in her family knows her problem and still loves her and understands her like nice people Hornstein describes in HVN.

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Fun Home and Carter

October 9th, 2013 · 3 Comments

Instead of reading a fully fleshed out theoretical argument such as those we have been reading over the previous few weeks, this week I feel as if I’m reading a psychological test, and the wheel that is supposed to help me understand my personality is likely to be the birth chart that tells me how the horoscopes are aligned for my birthday. This may sound not serious, but Carter states her points in a very easy way for me to understand. Daily life examples that she addresses in the Personality Wheel pictures ideas such as major-minor and double major in my mind. Like what McAdams said, a person’s character is ever-changing during his or her lifetime, in terms such as those of personalities and social roles. Multi-personalities can exist in one body and one mind due to the different roles that one is taking in that moment of time and space.

In Fun Home, the father plays multiple roles: that of the father, the English teacher, the funeral home’s director, the husband, and the closet homosexual. Probably the mother is embodies two roles: she is the mother and also the invisible supporting role. The strong identification of characters in the comic is expressed through the combination of strokes of lines and images.  The whole autobiography is a way to construct a personal story and confront identity in lives.
Alison comes to understand herself better by her father’s death and discovery of her father’s sexuality. Both of them are playing Major-Minor multiple personalities. We can see even though there are still conflicting images existing in the father, as his character matures with the progression of the story line we can see that he works very hard to create balance between his multiple roles.

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The Dialogue

September 24th, 2013 · 3 Comments

Q: How will you response to Henry Molasion?

Noe: Even though part of the brain is removed, such a person could still act consciously like other normal people. Consciousness is not in the brain; it requires the connections with the body for its nourishment and for its connection with the environment. We need brain to create consciousness, even if only with just part of it.
Damasio: Agreed, the brain is not the only part that produces consciousness; there is a mechanical process of connection between the brain and the body, that is, the body-mapping structures of brain.  The brain needs to be structured in order for the conscious mind to generate. This is within the organism. And beyond that, there is an interaction between organism and an object, where images of objects and the organism are linked in a coherent pattern. However, I don’t think Molasion could fully fill my requirements for being totally self-conscious.  He missed the last stage of my process: the extended self. He couldn’t remember the past for long!
Noe: First of all, consciousness is not something the brain produces, it is something we do.
Damasio: But you still need the brain to do it.
Noe: Yes, I mean, I’m emphasizing the importance of the whole organism, not just the brain. For example, what do you think is the main thing that drives your car?
Damasio: The engine?
 Noe: What about the wheels?
Damasio: Okay, they are also important.
Noe: Actually the whole mechanical system drives the car; and furthermore, you still need fuel for it to run. My point is the brain may be part of, but IS THE core part in this system. Consciousness is not strictly a brain phenomenon but an organism phenomenon. The substrate of consciousness includes features of the organism, the whole thing, and shouldn’t be limited to the brain. Besides, consciousness to me is not internal state or representation of external behavior; it is what enables an exchange between the person or animal and the world. He can still speak/ interact with the environment or the world, he is conscious.
Damasion: Well then, at least we both think that consciousness is embodied, not embrained.
but what is actually going on in my head is like this:
Damasion: what a poor guy.
Noe: Yes, his brain was sliced and broadcasted to the whole world, do you know how many hit we got?
Damasion: How many?
Noe: over 3 million.
Damasion: What the….Sorry I’m a well-educated gentleman, so WHAT A SURPRISE!

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