Friday, July 31, 2015

Brain and Narcissism, 4

What can you do when confronted by a person exhibiting narcissistic behaviors? First, recognize that it involves their self-absorption, inability to manage anger, low levels of self-esteem and Emotional Intelligence, failure to be empathetic, tendency to blame others, learned styles of coping (or not coping) with the ups and downs of life, low motivation for improvement, and so on. Refuse to accept blame or responsibility when it isn’t yours. When I encounter narcissistic behaviors I ask myself: will this matter in 12 months? If the answer is no, I simply get through that one encounter as soon as possible and find something for which to be grateful. If the answer is yes, then I address the issue functionally. Meaning, I set and implement appropriate boundaries to protect myself. When the narcissist is an adult family member, you can still choose to limit your exposure, set and implement appropriate protective boundaries, and avoid taking their narcissistic behaviors personally. You cannot change their behaviors but you can choose yours.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Brain and Narcissism, 3

The still-in-process teenage brain is rather narcissistic in its approach to life and living. The process of maturing the teenage brain is designed to move it away from narcissistic behavior to more balanced behaviors. This involves a learning process and the teenage brain either learns it or not. If the teenagers fail to mature and move to more balanced behaviors, they tend to become narcissistic adults. While narcissists are able to feel most emotions as strongly as do others, they seem to lack the essential ability to perceive or understand the feelings of others. As Martha Stout PhD has put it, narcissism is a failure not of conscience but of empathy. Emotionally speaking, narcissists don’t seem to see past their own nose, sometimes flying into narcissistic rages and then lacking the skills to get back on the good side of people they love. That’s exactly what had happened in the interactions between this mother and her adult son. He had flown into a narcissistic rage when things has not turned out exactly as he expected or wanted, which had fractured the mother-son relationship, yet again. What to do? A last comment tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Brain and Narcissism, 2

An over-riding characteristic of narcissism may be a seriously over-inflated conviction of the individual’s own personal importance. In one sense, every person is important simply because he or she exists. In another sense, every person is simply part of the global village, and while each has membership importance this does not necessarily indicate dictatorship or royalty rights. Nor does the universe revolve around him or her (unless an unwise adult has indicated that it does in the immediate family system). Narcissistic people tend to have a compromised sense of self-worth. In order to feel adequate they must find others incompetent and put them down (e.g., complain, criticize, gossip, show contempt). Because they tend not to recognize their own mistakes, they lack compassion for others and often do everything in their power to avoid being held accountable for their own behaviors. Highly insecure and never having learned how to fail, they try to be successful at all times and at whatever the cost (e.g., may lie, exhibit addictive behaviors, throw you “under the bus” in order for them to look good, or blame and try to make it all your fault). Does that sound like some teenage brains you’ve met? More tomorrow.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Brain and Narcissism

Several times I’ve been asked to speak on the topic of “Impossible Brains—Toxic Behaviors.” The goal, of course, is to help people recognize some specific undesirable behaviors quickly. If it involves their own behaviors, they can choose to course correct. If it involve the behaviors of others, they can self-select strategies to protect themselves from at least some of the negative consequences. Since then, a number of individuals have contacted me. One caller cataloged emotional pain triggered by a recent visit from his adult son. What the father described, definitely fell into the category of narcissistic behaviors and they weren't pretty. The son stated, among other things, "I do not have a happy life and it is all your fault. After all, you had me!" According to recent statistics, narcissistic behaviors are more commonly identified in males than in females, by a ratio of something like 4 to 1. Narcissism is relatively common, as well, with an estimated prevalence of 6.2% of the population. Since that’s close to one in every 18 people, the likelihood you know a narcissist is high. It can be really tough when the narcissist you know is a member of your own family. Part Two tomorrow.

Obesity and the Brain

It was rather frightening to read the results of a study by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. According to Dr. Lin Yang, “This generation of Americans is the first that will have a shorter life expectancy than the previous generation, and obesity is one of the biggest contributors to this shortened life expectancy because it is driving a lot of chronic health conditions.” Based on the data evaluated, estimates are that more than 36 million men and nearly 29 million women in the United States are currently overweight, and about 32 million men and 36 million women are obese. If you fall into the overweight or obese category, you might want to get a copy of my latest book “Longevity Lifestyle Matters—Keeping Your Brain, Body, and Weight in the Game . . .” and stay in the game! It’s worth the effort. Remember: everything starts and ends in your brain and when it comes to staying in the game, mindset is critically important.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Meridian Monument

In an attempt to measure how flattened the earth is at its poles, Struve (a Russian astronomer and geodesist( reportedly took measurements for 39 years in 10 different countries, measuring latitude at 13 stations spread along what is known as The Struve Geodetic Arc. (Reportedly, much of the actual field work was done by two military officers, Klouman and Lundh.) One of those 13 stations was in Hammerfest Norway, where stands the Meridian Monument to Struve’s work. The IUGG (International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics), fully active to this day under the general umbrella of the United Stations, is said to have emerged from Struve’s original work. The bottom line? The radius of curvature at the equator is shorter than at the poles. According to The Struve Geodetic Arc, one degree of latitude is 359 meters shorter on the Black Sea than on the coast of the Norwegian Sea. The Struve Geodetic Arc (or Meridian Monument) was the first technical and scientific object to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Struve Geodetic Arc

The earth is definitely not flat but it is not perfectly round, either. The radius of curvature at the equator of our planet is shorter than at the poles, although that is a relatively recent discovery. The idea that the earth was round reportedly was propounded in some circles as long ago as 500 B.C. In the 1600's A.D. Sir Isaac Newton suggested that the earth is not exactly spherical but somewhat flattened at its poles. In the 18th and 19th centuries the question of how much the earth flattens at its poles came into focus. But how to measure that, because there was no GPS. Enter the Russian astronomer and geodesist* Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve (1793-1864). He decided to take this on as a project and the Struve Geodetic Arc in Hammerfest, Norway commemorates his work. 

*Geodesy is the science of the figure and the size of planet earth; a Geodesist is a practitioner of that science.