Thursday, December 9, 2004

Manic Depression and Communication Ecology

Time is the independent variable.
Job one is to get a story for time.
A story for time gives the sense of power.
It is only a sense because you can't control the end of your time.

But you can control time while you are alive.
You can make more time.
You can take yourself out of time.
The trick is the balance between the two.

Time is a thought construct to describe when events happen.
If more events happen, it seems like time slows down.
If less events happen, it seems like time slows down.
To earn a living or just stay alive, you have to invest your time.

The manic slows time by making a lot of events happen.
The depressive slows time by making no events happen.
The healthier person doesn't think that much about time.
The do stuff, and time takes care of itself.

If you work in a mass market activity space, you sell blocks of 8 hours.
If you have power to control time on the job, you tend to be happy.
If you don't have power to control time on the job, you tend to be unhappy.
Having the power to control time tends to make people happy.

Some children grow up in a safe predictable family activity space.
Some children grow up in unsafe, unpredictable family activity space.
In either case, they innovate behavior to feel power and control of time.
Sometimes their innovation works for the rest of the lives.
Sometimes not so much.

If you work in a GoogleMart activity space, you sell little chunks of time.
You control when and how much time you are going to sell.
That leaves a lot more time to control for other things.
The downside is that there are alot more decisions to make about investing time.

Making decisions produces stress.
In an unpredictable world, the chances of doing the wrong thing is scary.
The more predictable the world, the less fear.
The less fear, the easier to do stuff with a minimum collateral damage.

So . . .
Has anyone ever done a study of manic depression focusing on their sense of time?
Has anyone ever done a study of manic depression focusing on their sense of power?
Has anyone ever done a study of manic depression focusing on their sense of fear?

Then . . .
To manage manic depression articulate their sense of long term time
To manage manic depression articulate their sense of real power.
To manage manic depression mitigate what is making them afraid.

Here's what Jimi Hendrix said about it:

The lyrics:
Manic depression is touching my soul
I know what I want but I just dont know
How to, go about gettin it
Feeling sweet feeling,
Drops from my fingers, fingers
Manic depression is catchin my soul

Woman so weary, the sweet cause in vain
You make love, you break love
Its all the same
When its, when its over, mama
Music, sweet music
I wish I could caress, caress, caress
Manic depression is a frustrating mess

Well, I think Ill go turn myself off,
And go on down
All the way down
Really aint no use in me hanging around
In your kinda scene

Music, sweet music
I wish I could caress, caress, caress
Manic depression is a frustrating mess

Here's another take 2008:

Notice the similarity to this one:

Information Overload, with no time to process


  1. I recall a recent NPR interview with a woman who recently wrote a book on her experience as head of Bellevue's intake center.

    Her comments made me wonder whether -- in addition to the time/power dimensions you mention -- there may also be an issue regarding what is included (or not included) in the boundary of the "extended self."

    Manic patients, she said, seemed to enlarge their boundary of the self to presume that others as being wired into their emotions and thoughts. This might be the source of feelings of elation and grandiosity.

    Schizophrenics, on the other hand, in her experience were focused on the intrusions (inclusions?) of other's extended selves through their own self's boundaries. This could acccount for the sense of fear.

    I don't think she referred specifically to Depressives - but my guess is that such episodes come from a withdrawal from the give and take of (normal) exchanges with others.

    As for a path forward, my guess is that seeing life as an opportunity to interact with others to propagate admired qualities of spirit - "lumines" - offers a way forward. Doing so shifts focus from the bumping with others in competitions to sow genes and memes. Instead, a new realm of opportunities opens to discover, contribute, and recombine qualities of spirit with others, resulting in luminetic offspring - included in one's extended self - that live on.



  2. I think what is sometimes underappreciated is the risk of entanglement. Every exchange has an element of risk in the broadest sense of "wasting time" but much more dangerous for the depressive (of which I have extensive personal experience) is the going forward entanglements of the exchange.

    If I express interest and engage in normal social settings, that means I am "obligated" to continue the interaction. Which then implies there is another interaction and another and another.

    My take is that it is the going forward potential restrictions on my control of time that is implied in the simple hello. I think this is the outlier experience. But points to an underlying base line of info exchange.

    The problem is not engaging, but how to disengage . All of us grow with a natural language (which I take as a surrogate for a "focusing lens" that sheds light on some data while leaving others in the shadows. My natural language is that of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, post 1945.

    At any rate the fragility of civilization has always been central to the natural language I learned from birth.

    The story I tell myself is that the clarifying dimension is the time horizon. Given that traumatic nature of the events of 1939 to 1945 I grew with an inappropriately long time backward time horizon. It's just common sense for me to take that same time horizon lens and feel every exchange in the context of it's long term possible consequences.

    My experience resonates with your "guess - is that such episodes come from a withdrawal from the give and take of (normal) exchanges with others."

    What i think I learned from my epxerience is the centrality of fear avoidance based on a cognitive error. I remember saying " If you could see what I see, you would feel what I feel." The turning point for me was to understand in a deep way, that what I thought I saw was wrong. It sounds easy. Turns out that in some cases, it's very, very hard

  3. Appreciate these insights - and agree on the value of clarity re disengagement and/or what Clay Shirky calls "soft forks." Yasuhiko Genku Kimura's "Alignment Beyond Agreement" is (4me) a big clarifier - would be very interested in your thoughts on it. I'd love to see this among possible Youtube microcontests for kids caught in zero-sum settings to engage with too!

  4. Thank you for ALignment Beyond Agreement. Very helpful clarification(4me). It elegantly captures the reality of project teams and team based learning.

    As trust is based on movement to a goal, it gives the space for a conversation that has a very low risk of going forward entanglement.

    Having been involved as a manager of a couple of geek teams - both designers and engineers - the freedom of speaking natural language without fear of offending someone takes a lot of the friction out of the process.

    If you've never had the experience, telling someone clearly that they are wrong is wonderful. In the world of design the code usually used is "that's cheesy or lame." It's amazing how much dancing around the elephant in the room it eliminates.

    Counter intuitively design students have repeatedly told me it's exactly that kind of straight talk they crave. usually they are served up with "that's interesting, but you might consider going in this direction."

    The concept of alignment may also have applicability to "scale independent" thinking tools. Enzymes entangle when they are physically aligned. Countries get to peaceful resaolutions when their interests are aligned. Very interesting.

    It also speaks to the problem of an education that does not have "an intention" or a defined problem to be solved.

    I'll have to let the ideas rumble around a bit, but I think it's a big deal.