Psychoenergonomics

12 March 2008 at 12:49 am Leave a comment

The March/April 2008 issue of Psychology Today had a number of stimulating articles, many of which might fall under this sub-category of energonomics I’m calling “psychoenergonomics.” (See my previous posts on this meme under a new tag by the same name). One titled “Second Nature” is about how we can change habits of personality (i.e. manage the energy in our brains) to make us more optimistic, passionate, joyful and courageous. I recently posted on this emergent field of “Eudaimonics.” There is the act of what Loyola University psychologist Fred Bryant calls in his new book (Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience) “savoring”: “the art of managing positive feelings. Whereas coping well means dealing successfully with problems and setbacks, savoring–glorying in what goes right–is an equally crucial emotional competence” (78).

A different article, titled “The Making of a Perfectionist,” is about how the way children are praised can affect their emotional stability, their ability to be satisfied. As a reformed perfectionist (haven’t quite got the reform part down perfectly just yet, though…), I recognize myself in this article and the kind of familial dynamics that produces a perfectionist. We have to learn how to be parents, learn what to say and how to say to our children, to avoid causing major problems in the way energy flows through their brains.

A third article, titled “Consuming Passions,” is also about managing mental energy–the evolutionary tendency to overeat and binge. The ultimate form of energonomics for each of us is managing caloric intake–how much energy do we take into our bodies? Is there a balance between what we take in and what we burn off? Evolution has also pre-disposed us to enjoy and reward gluttonous behavior with the use of dopamine such that “obesity, eating disorders, and even the ordinary urges of appetite might resemble addiction” (100).  In fact, “brain hunger” (when we want food but don’t need food) has some of the same neural pathways as orgasm!  One doctor says, “Now we’re not just talking about energy balance… We’re talking about human psychology” (100).

So the ultimate point here is that personal energonomics becomes psychoenergonomics:  in order to manage the influx of calories, we have to learn how to manage the energy in our minds.

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Entry filed under: books, energonomics, neuroscience, psychoenergonomics, psychology.

The Energonomics of Leadership The Energonomics of Memes

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