Tag Archives: self-knowledge

Family Self-Knowledge = Balanced Emotional well-being

According to recent research at Emory University in Atlanta, children show higher levels of emotional well-being if they know stories about relatives who came before them.Psychologists Robyn Fivush and Marshall Duke reviewed dinner time conversations and other measures of how well families work and found that family stories are a critical part of an adolescent’s emerging identity.

“Family stories provide a sense of identity through time, and help children understand who they are in the world,” the researchers write in the study published in Emory’s online Journal of Family Life.

Researchers developed a “Do You Know” (DYK) scale to measure how much children knew about family history and intergenerational family stories. The 20 yes/no questions ask the child to report if they know such things as how their parents met, or where they grew up and went to school. Teens who knew more stories about their extended family showed “higher levels of emotional well-being, and also higher levels of identity achievement, even when controlling for general level of family functioning.” “There is something powerful about actually knowing these stories,” the study concludes.

via Futurity

The Self Help boom & the Happiness Cult

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Tony Robbins: Motivational Speaker. Captured  from The Century of the Self

In last Sunday’s Observer, journalist Carole Cadwalladr, discussed the increase in the huge profiting market of selling happiness: the world of self-help.  Self help books used to be something my dad talked about in the early 90s that made me think he was a little strange and that it was just a way to fake his real self. Yet in some ways I have become to realise that there is some good in enabling people to self administer happiness much like how self medication has become more and more common with the help of the internet. Whether that actually increases paranoia and hypochondria is another matter.

Creating The FATE Institute, a fictitious personalised futures institute was a comment in some ways on the way we all want to have someone/something/somewhere to believe in and have the answers and know more about us than ourselves. For there to be someway to control and manage the unknown and know how to get what we want out of life using techniques, methods and knowledge from the diverse fields of ancient divination, corporate forecasting and personal genomics & genetic futures.

This Observer article describes how this common feeling we have has created an opportunity for psychologists, counsellors, hypnotherapists and entrepreneurs to use their skills and speak to a wider audience by creating their brand empire with books, weekend courses, DVDs etc and in doing so turn self help into a huge money making genre.

Self help means investing time and money to listen to a 3rd party agency describe our potential risks in the future and then explore ways to control it to essentially make us feel happy in the now. We will join societies, buy memberships, read the horoscope, hire foresight consultancies and futurists, read horizon scanning reports, subscribe to predictive gene testing services, listen to counsellors,

This article also reminded me of Adam Curtis‘s doc, The Century of The Self and the way Edward Bernays applied Sigmund Freud’s understanding of  the subconscious to create the practice of public relations. Finding ways to understand and explore the self and introduce techniques to persuade and  encourage consumption and self obsession.  Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society’s belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man’s ultimate goal.

See also The World of Happiness post

Knowing Me, Myself And I

The study of self-knowledge has tended to focus on how accurate we are at determining our own internal states, such as our emotions, personality, and attitudes. However, (Timothy) Wilson notes that self-knowledge can be broadened to include memory, like recalling how we felt in the past, and prospection, predicting how we will feel in the future. Knowing who we were and who we will be are as important to self-knowledge as knowing who we are in the present.

An interesting article from Science Daily via Psychological Science Association entitled ‘Know Thyself’  by Timothy Wilson suggests some ways that can help us learn more about ourselves  through the eyes of other people and be more aware of findings from psychological science. Wilson concludes, “Most of us pay attention to medical findings that inform us about our bodies and can learn about our psychological selves in the same way.”


  • Would personal genomics be what constitutes Wilson’s understanding of self-knowledge in a psychological way?
  • How would FATE’s microtrend diary be endorsed by Timothy Wilsons views on self-knowledge?
  • What if the next service and product release from FATE was “The Self-Knowledge Kit” would the daily tasks act as a Self Fulfilling Prophecy, a mirror on your current and future self?
  • What if The Delphi Party service was open source and a franchise for all to use? Would this be about crowdsourcing futures?
  • Instruments of Self Knowledge

    Instruments of Self Knowledge

    The Instruments of Self-Knowledge Schematic

    The Instruments of Self-Knowledge Schematic

Scientology goes to court for fraudulent persuasion techniques

  • The Church of Scientology is set to go on trial in France, accused of organised fraud.The case centres on a complaint by a woman who says she was pressured into paying large sums of money after being offered a free personality test.
    The woman at the centre of the case says she was approached by church members in Paris and offered a free personality test, but she ended up spending all her savings on books, medicines and the electronic metre that is part of the paraphernalia of Scientology.

  • The latest case centres on a complaint made in 1998 by a 33-year-old woman who said she was approached by a group of people outside a Paris metro station who offered her a free personality test and a later meeting to interpret the results. Over the following months, she said she paid 140,000 francs (£17,000) to the Scientologists for courses, books, medication, and “purification packs”.

The old FATE machines at Carters Steam Fair




What you dont know makes you nervous!

“That’s because people feel worse when something bad might occur than when something bad will occur. Most of us aren’t losing sleep and sucking down Marlboros because the Dow is going to fall another thousand points, but because we don’t know whether it will fall or not — and human beings find uncertainty more painful than the things they’re uncertain about.

Why would we prefer to know the worst than to suspect it? Because when we get bad news we weep for a while, and then get busy making the best of it. We change our behavior, we change our attitudes. We raise our consciousness and lower our standards. We find our bootstraps and tug. But we can’t come to terms with circumstances whose terms we don’t yet know. An uncertain future leaves us stranded in an unhappy present with nothing to do but wait.”

Daniel Gilbert in NYT Opinion

Other happiness related posts

My ‘Post RCA Adventures’ Presentation

The Jessica Post RCA Adventure Happiness Diagram

The Jessica Post RCA Adventure Happiness Diagram

A presentation given to the 1st and 2nd years of MA Design Interactions at the RCA about my Post RCA adventures since 2007. A great opportunity for reflecting on my past and deciding on my future. Quite a weird feeling going back to college but was nice to meet with the students especially to also be sharing my presentation time with Anab Jain and Susanna Soares. There was an overall optimistic feeling especially as these students will be graduating  smack bang in the middle of credit crunch. There was a group wave of joy as we all decided that these students wil be changing the face of recession and by their very enthusiasm and forward critical thinking approaches they will be creating the new design economy. Design is kicking ass at last!

The Quantified Self


http://www.quantifiedself.com/ is a blog on self-tracking/personal data/life-logging projects that the participants are ‘socially prototyping’. Run by Kevin Kelly who also contributes to the Long Now Foudnation blog, it is an interesting illlustration of the increase in self-knowledge opportunities that digital and bio tech (eg Predictive Gene Testing)tools have offered as they have entered the mass market world. Its Show and Tell Meetups are based in San Francisco but perhaps this will migrate to the UK…watch this space.

Human genes become commodities & DNA dating

From New Scientist: Review of the Year

“This was the year genomes became commodities. High-profile people including Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, and psychologist Steven Pinker had their genomes analysed. One genome-scanning company, 23andMe of Mountain View, California, gave out free test kits to world leaders at the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, and the media reported tales of celebrity “spit parties” where the glitterati meet to deliver saliva samples for analysis. But for as little as $399, you don’t have to be rich and famous to get your genome “done”.”

From New Scientist: DNA Dating

“Chances are good that you really enjoy Nic’s natural body fragrance, you enjoy a satisfying sex life with him, that the two of you would enjoy a high degree of fertility with each other and that you’d have healthy children together,” says Eric Holzle of ScientificMatch, although he says he wouldn’t match us through his dating site unless we were 100 per cent dissimilar. “There’s also about a 17 per cent chance that you would cheat on Nic at some point during your exclusive relationship together,” he adds. Unperturbed, I turn to GenePartner’s analysis: “This genetic combination is typical of very satisfying relationships,” the report says. “The chances are high that [your] intimacy won’t diminish over time.”

School of Life : self-help and self-knowledge go hand in hand



The School of Life is a new cultural enterprise based in central London offering good ideas about everyday living.They offer evening and weekend courses, holidays to unexpected locations, stigma-free psychotherapy, secular sermons, conversation meals, a floating faculty of experts and a new kind of literary consultancy service called bibliotherapy. They also offer daily aphorisms

Film link

Super cool identity by Susanna Edwards