Can psychoanalysis heal depression?

It may not at first and it may worsen it for some time and eventually it will get better, much better. I write about it, because I never knew I had depression and I want to write about it, because many people don’t write or speak about it. That is confusing because according to the World Health Organization almost 238 million people suffer from depression. I will not write about what it is, in fact you can look it up. I recommend looking up different resources too, because different resources will provide different explanations. In a similiar way depression is felt differently and is presented as such too. For example, I never thought I had it, because I was quite smily in public and one of my skill-sets was to cheer people up and to be super fun.

I no longer am that fun and cheer-full and at the same time, I start to no longer feel depressed. Some people may argue that comes at a loss of my joy and increased negativity and I start to counter-argue that it comes with gains; joy and realness. That is the joy, that when I feel joy feels real and not the joy I wish to feel “wish-full thinking” or an image I create to distract myself from the pain or void I actually feel, to keep a distance between what I call my true self and the part of it that would like to be protected, defended, or is not even visible because of how insigificant it or the parts of it can feel.

I decide to write about it and as I write about it, I hope to give you a glimpse and already have of what psychoanalysis can feel like and why it does help me, when it does. In fact, I write about it, which could come at the dismiss of some people such as relatives and lets say at a time in which I am open for employment. One could say writing about it reduces my hiring chance and it adds a negative image onto me. I argue the opposite. I don’t want to work somewhere, where mental health is stigmatized and secondly, I don’t want to hide behind a mask, which is that it has put me into depression primary. In addition, it does not limit me, does not define me. It does the opposite.

What is depression? I don’t know, but what I have learned in psychoanalysis is that one can understand or at least feel it, if what we call our self-defenses are being removed. That is to say to remove what we think we think to keep and maintain the life we have; relationships, things and forms of knowledge we have acquired that can come with other committments in life too; friends and family. Generally, you would not want to change or give up on them, even be critique of them, because they feel as much as “safe” and “certain”. That is where you belong and where over time you have acquired a certain life or status, of which you don’t want to break free off, even if you suffer. You don’t know that you suffer to begin with.

Unconciously, you likely suffer, because “it” might not be something that you really want. You are used to it and you think it is what you want. If you learned to be denied to write from a young age, or not to do the thing you want to, you will do another thing you want less likely and you will also seek out to people who will make you or find ways to make you do the thing you don’t want to too. These may even be the things they want to or deem as right for them for you, whilst that might be a projection of what they want and wished for themselves. Most of us have not studied psychology, or the tricks our mind does, so we wouldn’t even think of something like that keeping us locked in the rabbit hole of unconcious misery; a form of denial of ourselves and who we want(ed) to be. We do it because it is “familiar”, it feels “save and yet it is what makes you feel tired, drained at a job or in a relationship for example. It makes you feel “depressed”.

How do we get out the rabbit hole? In psychoanalysis we are being made aware of it and that is painful. It is as much painful as it begins to free, which is that through awarness of what we might have gotten a bit twisted that we no longer want to stay in the rabbit hole but leave it. For example through dream analysis, we may realize that the dream in which we played soccer with a position in the back left, is not a representation of how we wanted to play socccer, but how we were in fact “left behind”. That we had desires that weren’t heard, because they were perceive(d) as less important, or even wrong, or punishable. Through a slip in a toung we find we don’t like something that we thought we like, which is what we are not aware about (the unconcious speaking to us). In analysis we give it room to surface, what is unspoken, could not be addressed at home or because of other socio-cultural reasons. A bit like saying “I hate my husbands/wife favorite dish, but I eat it to make him/her happy”. Well, what about you? What makes you happy?

Why depression though? We repeat what we claim as safe and what feels familiar. But because it is, it does not mean to be true to us, or who we are. For example, happinness tends to be a reward function, but we tend to wanting to feel it all the time, which is exhausting. Or we may want to try out something different, but in your familiar environment you find phrases like “that’s gonna be difficult, you are probably too old, you shouldn’t do this, this is not what family or work expects form you… “. While these are likely meant well, to keep you from pain, they may lock you in pain, because of how something might be denied that is for you to experience; life and the challenges unique to you. It “pushes you down”, it depresses.

Can Psychoanalysis heal depression? First of all, it is for you to try, I am doing a Freudian psychoanalysis and it made me aware of what I was not aware of, which provided me with the awarness of what makes me feel uncomfortable of which I did not know it does or did. And through the awareness one could say to not “heal” from depression, but to change the narrative so that it may no longer be felt as much or in other words keeps you down, drains you of your energy, whatever it is. [Latin: press down. My interpertation: the thing(s) that keep(s) us down]. And you’re not alone in that.

Cover Image Source: https://www.planstreetinc.com/keep-an-eye-on-your-mental-health-for-a-healthier-life/

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Are you MIsusing the sciences to back up a claim?

As I wrote on my WordPress Blog page, I am using the sciences to back up my claims. I am not the only one and there are further blog formats that also use the sciences to back up their claims. The sciences I relate to scientific papers that are for example peer-reviewed. Now what’s the catch? Nowadays, I am certainly not the only one, you can open Google Scholar and then you type in what you are looking for and when you are lucky, which you likely are because we are saturated on the sciences, you find a scientific article that you are looking for – to confirm what you think and want to convey. Just to give you an example; Sex is awesome, oh suprise an older study confirms it is awesome. My obvservation is valid.

A former professor of mine referred to it as scientific “cherry-picking and I am delighted that she taught me about it, because indeed she is right. It is as easy these days to write a blog, possibly policy and investement suggestions and and cherry-pick the foundation for it as easy as it is not to. You could not do so and be honest, while following logical argumentation and analysing “its” meaning but hypothetically, the validity of your own argument is lost for further recognition, making what you write and what is to be read rather invalid, if not even stupid without scientific evidence. Instead we trust the sciences and how we read it, to then make a claim or to confirm the claim we try to make; “We should invest into bitcoin”, because in the future people will like it, according to this study and not carefully delibertion of it; its method and outcome and done for who by who and how. Logically and if we are being honest, it can also be not like that, because the future is too uncertain and more studies would have to be done etc. Some studies or the ability to publish is furthermore exclusive too, making the sciences limited to what I call a bit elitaire and exclusive towards different knowledge.

Now more about the sciences and how they are used, by who and why. You will find that a NGO X is making claims and then tends to use a study or at least parts of it to confirm their claim or to receive funding. In my field, known the field of sustainability something similiar can be found. “A” is sustainable minded and wants that people consume more sustainable and to do so needs money for purpose “B”. A will now look for an article on consumer studies and finds one (favored are studies by business consultencies and market research institutes) to confirm that 60% of consumers of a random sample group want to buy more sustainable. The study confirms what A was looking for, whilst ignoring wishful thinking which is that many people not actually want it and the fact that 40% don’t want to buy more sustainable etc. A yet receives some funding and the investment into for example sustainable apparel flops.

Now this goes further and further, making its way into the sciences itself, which is to research to confirm or to develop something that confirms the hypothesis, or what the client needs. This can happen if the research is steered towards a specific set of expected responses “How much do you like this?” instead of “How do you view this?” (Even if you ask how much do you like this, you make liking the main option). No? Ever been asked how much you dislike something that should be of liking and then rate it? My former professor (thank you at this point) referred to it as being the devils advocate. If you are an honest broker, you research and provide different options and the outcomes could be of choosing for the client. Ideally, you would be a pure scientist, making objective observation or picking objective studies by as much as possible (Pielke Jr, R. A., 2007). The latter tends to receive little funding because it can lead to non desired outcomes, obviously.

Now what is it that I want from you? Have a look at your resources and don’t use them, if you don’t want to and do if you want to. Why? Because its vicious and risks that investements and hopes are placed falsely. Have a look at studies that don’t confirm what you are looking for. It itches, but may give room for different spaces to thrive,for example new ideas, strategies, projects and policies and even not where they should not.

Recommended references:

Evans, A., Sleegers, W., & Mlakar, Ž. (2020). Individual differences in receptivity to scientific bullshit. Judgment and Decision Making15(3), 401.

Pai, M. (2020). How Prestige Journals Remain Elite, Exlusive And Exclusionary. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/madhukarpai/2020/11/30/how-prestige-journals-remain-elite-exclusive-and-exclusionary/?sh=5e90a3254d48

Pielke Jr, R. A. (2007). The honest broker: making sense of science in policy and politics. Cambridge University Press.

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Thank you to my readers, and what is next

Thank you for everyone who has been subscribing to my blogs and of who I have received comments and e-mails. This blog has initially started very unsuccessfully with transportation in Cambodia, followed by how I travelled with my first cat and evolved as I began developing an interest for bamboo. The interest developed after interning at INBAR in China and then later on into more critical writing, when I realized that the moment we are supportive or advocating for one thing, we tend to disregard another, leaving a blind stop to ourselves and presenting others with such too. I am thanking my MSc thesis course on innovation because it was through “Social Practice Theory” and my comperative analysis of bamboo and timber that I realized bamboo isn’t the thing for everyone, but for specific markets and consumers. Apparently, many people want the wood, because it simply feels romantic, and that is so okay.

Now, why do I write this? My job as research associate in Sustainability Sciences has ended on December 2022. To date, I have dedicated many hours in my profession, education and free time towards “it”. It is sustainability and I came to realize that just like with bamboo, if you become too advocating for “it” you develop a blind spot for what it is not. I now came to like Hegels theory in which a thesis co-exists with an antithesis to form a new synthesis (mainly a new theory). Today it made me think of “if something is sustainable, something is not and if something is not sustainable, something is.” If mathemathics is not sustainable, the antithesis is that it is, so the question is what is sustainable mathematics? You may find it is sustainable depending on its use case and maybe not if it is taught with such irrelevance that it comes little to use. After all it is what we use to programm, even the wordpress I am using to write and publish my blogs with.

What does this mean for me and for you? I will no longer write about one thing or the other, one field or the other , be supportive or not supportive of one thing or the other, but instead I want to rather dive into its depth. “What does this actually mean that we talk and fair about? Does this make sense?”. In other means, I have no clue what I will be writing about in particular,but certainly what comes to mind and I hope you can continue to be part of it, or also not if that is what you want.

All the best and I thank you very much,

Ann-Cathrin

P.S. If public policy can be supportive of one thing, it can also mean it can be not. If more sustainable housing lead to displacement of people who can no longer afford it, then it also is not more sustainable housing. So what is sustainable housing? [I guess what comes next will be much like this] 😉

Cover Image Source: https://www.furche.at/images/content/3566046-1280x658c-Hegel.jpg

[If you use cover image sources, always! cite them, thanks to my neighbour, because you can get fines if you don’t and following Hegel’s theory, also not. The guy on the cover image is Hegel. Heres a link towards his philosophy . ]

Should we end the letter of motivation?

According to author Harrington J. chapter in “Total Innovative Excellence” for an employee whose salary is US $60,000it will cost the company anywhere from US $30,000 to US $45,000 to hire and train a replacement. So why not starting it of with the right motivation? And why, with the right motivation, when it is the motivation that is right to begin with? I argue differently and believe that the motivation is often rather imaginary and targeted towards what is wanted as desired motivation. This makes applying and the review of applications more time-consuming for both employees and applicants. To reduce that I argue to deviate from the letter of motivation and reduce it to a 6-7 paragaph e-mail with what “realy does motivate or not”. Following you can find my arguments, with backgrounds drawing from psychoanalytical theory, which is much about what happens “unconciously”;

Unless your bills are paid by themselves, the primary motivation to apply for a paid job is very likely to get paid. Even if it is our dream job, we’d still want it to pay. Now we could mention it in letter(s) of motivation, but somehow it appear(s) unpolite to have a salary as prime motivator. Why? After all we want motivated employees and it seems that salary should not be the key factor for motivation, because the motivation should come from “within”. Ironically, it is also not neither nor. Because the salary is important, does not mean the rest or the motivation is not. Maybe there is no other motivation then the salary, and that may be okay too, if it is what sustains or has one grow in the company. After all, we don’t know.

Now what’s a letter of motivation? It describes the applicants motivation. However, motivation(s) tend to be different and successfull letter(s) of motivation tend to not cater towards that, but towards the motivation that one could imagine as an ideal motivation to land the job. If we were real about this, we would understand that we don’t know what type of motivation a company is expecting, other then what our motivation is so that we find a good match that is as real as it can be.

Even though we slightly know about it, we tend to ignore it and enter the I call it “double-folded application trap”. We know what motivates us most likely and what does not. And something similiar might apply to the employer. Both know, there is no such thing as the super-human. As applicants we pretend for it to be not like that, because we want to get the job and as employers and recuriters we hope the ideal candidate with the ideal motivation is out there too. Now it starts; the ideal letter of motivation begins being targeted as well as waited for to be recieved.

Hours may be spend perfectionising it, because of how little it should lead to rejection. If the letter of motivation was most real, it would probably reject some ideals and illustrate a different motivation to none. It may even lead to self-rejection, because less criteria and a different motivation would be present. While self-rejection could be suitable, it also is less favorable for economic and competative reasons. It means at this point a letter of motivation is submitted, which can run risk to be rather imaginary. What is left is the question of what is real for those who wrote and for those who read it (even worse with story-telling). Are you really okay with working over hours or is this something you want to do out of a heart-break, which means you won’t sustain in that position?

This makes applying as well as recuriting tyring, because one has to first fish through what is real and what is less likely and that for multiple job applications and their reviews. Now, should we end the letter of motivation? I would say yes and reduce it to an e-mail introduction of required 5-7 sentences instead. After all the job appliction has already been read so that when someone is applying it can be assumed that there is “a motivation” and the five liner might illustrate which one it is or not. Maybe someone even has a different motivation that can be suitable too. And what even is ideal, when in the lack of it, new ideals or candidates with different skills and motivations might be found too? Maybe someones real motivation even suprises “I am going to be a mom in a month and want to secure a job before giving birth. I am a quick learner and would like to grow with you. It is only possible if my child can be a part of this. See my CV attached.”

Hope you enjoyed this. Let me know your thoughts in the comments or writing assignments.

Image Source: What it means to be “real” according to psychology by Steven Handel.

Should we remove sustainability from business logic thinking?

It’s been a week since I stopped working as research associate in the field of System Sciences and Sustainable Business Models at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences. Looking back on reading many scientific papers on sustainability sciences, system sciences, sustainable ecologics, ecologogical and basic needs paradigms, it got me thinking whether we should remove notions towards sustainability from primary (business logic) thinking. It’s harsh of me to write so, but it also comes with different realities that are harsh too.

I want to write about it, not because I am against sustainability, but because I believe that what it “envisions” little holds true to the different realities we face today. Let me start with “selling sustainability”. Sustainability cannot be sold; carbon friendliness cannot be sold. It is something that can happen, because of how something primary has been produced and is then sold; A bamboo straw, as example, regrows rapidly. This makes it renewable and suitable as an ecological product; if it is consumed in regards to its regrowth time. However, for such bamboo straw business to be invested into it needs a use-case; for example “drinking something with a straw” because of reason(s) X and Y. It will not be invested into because its’ sustainable by design.

Another example is “selling human right compliance”. It is not something that is sold either, it is a result of something that is sold because it is wanted. For example, the chocolate brand Toney Chocolonely is commonly known as a chocolate producing brand with the intend to produce slave-free chocolate. That is what it is known and likely also bought for. What it is really bought for is the taste of its chocolate offering. The Chocolate Market size was valued at USD 124.03 Billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 165.17 Billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 3.6% from 2020 to 2027. So while Toney Chocolonely certainly brought into varience in product offering, the demand exist(ed) and continues to do. No demand for chocolate = no demand for Toney Chocoloney = no demand for “human right compliance”.

Now this can go on; selling “deforestation free”. You cannot sell deforestation free, but you sell a product as a company. It means you have to look at where you source what type of material how often, how you sell it to what type of customer and how investments return into reliable revenue streams. These aren’t bad. They are important. Being deforestation free can be a part of it, but when you talk to customers, you see the discussions will be more about styles, material features etc. Similiar notions can be found in selling “circularity”. It tends to be nothing that is sold as primary business logic, but it’s part of a service offering. For example the ability of certain Games in the Gaming Industry to be repaired, but you don’t buy games because they are circular but because of their fun, excitment and other factors.

It intruiques me to write more about it, but I decide to stop here. Why do I write about it? I care about sustainability and I am enthusiastic about business and the role of investement; what makes you invest into something. And certainly it can be sustainable, but you also want returns, and often that is the return of the consumer; I don’t want to live in a sustainable house because, but if solar pannels help me reduce the cost of my living than it is something I, as consumer am interested in. And if I can repair my coffee mashine in the next years without feeling annoyed about having to buy a new one again and again, then that’s something I am interested in. But what I really buy is the coffee mashine, the joy of it, the smell, the 5 minute peace in the morning.

Hope you enjoyed this post! I would love to hear from you, your thoughts on sustainability, business models and investements. Drop a message in the comments, also if you want me to closer look at (your) business logic or service offering.

Ann

What about you? Feet, health and 2ndhand shoes – An interview with Prof. Dr. med. Stefan Sesselmann.

To promote a business case as well as more sustainable consumption and production patterns, there is an increase in the resale and consumption of secondhand (shoes). While the business case is growing with an expected networth of 1.27 billion USD by 2027, the resale value in terms of “health promotion” might decrease. That is because of the potential effects of shoe resale on consumer health. For example, the materials of most shoes such as for the inner and outer soles have the tendency not to be adjustable to a new consumer footprint. Because we all have a unique footprint, wearing someone else’s shoes means that our footprint does not fit and that can be problematic. Because I am not an expert in the field, I set up an interview with Prof. Dr. med. Stefan Sesselmann who specializes in orthopaedics. Through the interview I learned that buying secondhand shoes can indeed be disadvantagous because of our different footprints and to my suprise it might be better to buy new shoes instead of secondhand shoes. At the same time, it made me think that buying secondhand shoes could be health promoting too, if they had an integrated design in which the outer and inner sole of a shoe could be exchanged before, during and after resale.

Of course there is much more to it and I am happy to share the full interview with you;

Ann: When I contacted you, I mentioned that I experiment with second hand boots and I got worried about the health of my feet and the feet of my customers. I am not an expert and understand, how little I know about feet and feet health in general. How would you describe a healthy foot?

Prof Dr. Stefan Sesselmann: If you start to define health in general, you find that it cannot be defined that simple. For example, according to the World Health Organization, health is a state of perfect physical, mental and social well-being. And if you think about a foot, you could have a first physical look and find that it doesn’t show any signs of ill-health. To elaborate, you then might consider the skeleton of the foot, how it is positioned, its arche structure, and also the foots’ joints. Then there are also ligaments, tendons and so that all has to work well together, including the foot muscles. They, I would even argue are extremely important. At the same time, purely visually a healthy looking foot can also cause pain that cannot be objectified. And as in the case of spinal complaints, the psychological component can also play a role by perceiving that pain is a result of ill-physiology, when it is caused by a psychological phenomenon instead. For example, back pain has been linked to stress too as oppose to an inconvenient sitting posture only. There are no studies on the foot, but one could transfer this principle in similar ways to the foot.

“Social Sustainability” is often associated to lets say human rights and worker safety. That is important, but it very much also about us individuals and the relation we share with products and our bodies too.

Ann: I was not aware about the potential role of the psyche in relation to perceived (ill)-health of our feet. It makes me think about how little I am connected to my feet and their physiological components. There seem many factors that influence a healthy foot, if it can even be described like that. Would you say there is a shoe that is most suitable for our feet?

Prof Dr. Stefan Sesselmann:  Very general, I would say that shoes can be poison for our feet. The best thing one could be doing is to walk barefoot on a soft floor. To give you an example, when an arm is broken, a cast is placed around it, with the intend to heal it. While it is supportive, it also relieves the muscles. Taking off the cast, one can notice that muscles have become correspondingly thinner, simply because these muscles were not used for a while. A similar principle can be applied to our feet in relation to shoes. Most shoes, unlike the barefoot shoe, relieve most muscles not extremely like a cast, but worn over a longer time it does. Accordingly, shoes can turn our muscles lazy and they degrade. Here many foot problems can be found; Because of a weakened muscle structure, that is no longer competent to support the foot itself.

Ann: Oh, you know, last week I purposely bought a pair of sport sneakers, because I thought it would be the best for my feet. They seem(ed) to be very supportive, kind of tight and light to wear. Is such sneaker bad to wear then?

Prof Dr. Stefan Sesselmann: You cannot conclude something like that. For example, insoles are good for the short term, to relive acute pain, but not in the long-term. There are, for example, sensorimotor insoles, which are deliberately designed to provide stimuli and these stimuli are intended to activate muscles. They actively stabilize the foot. If I take a shoe like that for a run and don’t wear it all day, that’s okay. But again, at home, walking barefoot is definitely better. Across the wide range of shoes, you cannot say they are bad. For example, barefoot shoes activate most foot muscles. But you have to get used to it. And if I notice that my foot does not have the optimal pose, I should train it actively to begin with. Such training can also help to balance out mal positions in the skeleton through an improved muscle structure.

Ann: What exactly are mal positions and why do they occur? To ask a bit biased, do they originate from wearing the wrong shoes?

Prof Dr. Stefan Sesselmann: It means that I may not have the most optimal foot skeleton posture due to certain malalignments. These can be inherent. In addition to that, I may have been wearing shoes for many years that on top of such malalignments relieve my muscles too much. Then I may need specific shoes again to provide that supporting function.  

Ann: I understood that malalignment can be inherent. But again, can it be caused from wearing the wrong shoes too? For example, I had a shoemaker repair the shoe soles of two boots that were worn off. So, I thought if I resell them without a small refurb, the next customer might get problems with their posture and possible backpain.

Prof Dr. Stefan Sesselmann: If my foot is bent, the arch flattens out and my leg axis shifts slightly so that my knees tend to bend inwards. As a result, it feels like my knees have to carry a unilateral overload in the lateral portion of the knee. In many cases it can create asymmetry. While such asymmetry is often natural, it creates a functional difference in my leg length but also a slight pelvic obliquity. This may affect the spine and can cause back pain. An asymmetrical shoe could reinforce that. That’s why you should change shoes more often. Buying a new shoe, I can assume it to be completely symmetrical and in a sense health promoting. This might differ with a secondhand shoe, which may do the opposite depending on how long it has been worn by a different pre-owner.

Ann: Can you elaborate that?

Prof Dr. Stefan Sesselmann: For shoes it is typical that they are rather worn off from the inside or outside. It depends on the foot properties of the person who did wear these shoes before. For example, if my foot properties differ and I wear shoes of a different pre-owner, this can cause problems. However, while a worn off outer sole of a shoe is easily visible, more attention should be paid on the shoes’ inside, because there most footprints are (pre)-fixated. Because we all have a unique footprint, wearing someone else’s shoes, means that our footprint does not fit. For shoes this is problematic too, because most are made of materials that are difficult or not possible to adjust to a new foot. This differs to new shoes, that we tend to break in first.

Ann: That makes me think of that most shoes I resell have been worn for around a season and that means I resell a seasonal footprint with multiple wears a day. Could I conclude that this is even harmful, because of how pre-owned shoes counteract our unique physiology?

Prof Dr. Stefan Sesselmann: Perhaps not directly harmful, but not favorable. It is not beneficial to health. If you want to pay more attention to health than ecological sustainability, it could be recommendable to buy a new shoe or a secondhand shoe with a small previous shoe life. Because unlike textiles, the effects of a secondhand sweater on my body are rather small. But the foot, you could say is the foundation of our body. It influences the statics; when we walk, stand, run. Its a different relationship, one could say.

Leather is often known for being a durable product and I also wrote about its use case for re-use. I think its still the case, but not for all product parts. Some need replacing more often. How to design for that?

I think that overall, buying secondhand shoes is not bad, especially if the pre-owned shoe was worn only around 2-3 times. But if the shoe has been worn rather often, it could be rather disadvantageous. So if I would buy such shoe, I would look at it too with a critical lense. How is this shoe made? Does it suit my footprint. And when I think about environmental sustainability specifically, I could also think of whether a recycled shoe, but a new shoe is even more sustainable in terms of my health and the environment as well.

Ann: That makes me think about design for circularity and business models too. For example, there are approaches in which products should be designed to last a life-time. This should incentivize consumers to pay a higher price and products could be produced better. But you are kind of encouraged to wear only a limited pair of shoes, because they last a “life-time”. This goes a bit into the direction of resale, but also to wear the same over and over. What are your views on that? Should we wear less, but better?

Prof Dr. Stefan Sesselmann: There are studies specifically for runners that show that runners are encouraged to change shoes more often. And there are strong effects between two pairs and even a third pair has shown a positive effect. One could consider whether this is also valid for everyday shoes. I suppose that such a change could be beneficial for feet, because of such new stimuli. Different shoes have different structures and because of that stimulate different muscles. Of course the shoe owner has to get used to it. Still, it likely is not as good as to run barefoot on repeatedly uneven ground, but likely better than to always wear the same shoe.

Ann:  So even if I would find the perfect and most “sustainable” shoe that I am eager to invest lets say a couple of hundred Euros in to last a life-time. It wouldn’t be good over time, because it activates only a particular set of muscles. While the environment benefits, I might not. This makes me  question whether a most sustainable shoe can even exist or designed. What do you think?

Prof Dr. Stefan Sesselmann: We humans are very individual and our feet are just as individual. There is no one size or style that fits all. In addition to that, different shoes might be worn in different seasons and for different activities. Some people may even have 30-40 pairs of shoes. The perfect shoe, when specifically looked at from a health perspective is less about design, but it relieves our foot muscles; intrinsic foot muscles (in the foot itself) and extrinsic foot muscles (on the leg itself).  The ideal shoe affects these muscles at least, or even irritates, so that they remain in training. One could even wear a high-heeled or plateau shoe, but the dose makes the poison, as with drugs. If I can wear it once to go out for a few hours it is perfectly okay, it even positively stimulates feet, because different muscles are activated.

I told some of my friends about the interview outcome, which was used to justify shoe shopping. Arrrgh no, it’s all about balance! We don’t need that many new shoes that often, but a change once in a while seems reccommendable.

Ann: I may even call this ambivalent. From an environmental perspective we should overall consume less and I also hear that more consumption in terms of shoe is advantages when it comes to our physical health. Makes me think of new approaches for shoe designs and value sold too; whether health could become a more integrated part in product design for circularity. I liked your mentioning on sensory inlays. Or I might also like a barefoot shoe, if it looked a bit more casual.

Prof Dr. Stefan Sesselmann: Yes, the barefoot shoe is great, but yes, the design is very particular.

Ann: In a small research I did on consumer purchasing interests in relation to their shoes, the aspect of design was mentioned more often, indeed. But yes, I would say that’s a topic for a different interview. Thank you for your time!

Prof Dr. Stefan Sesselmann: You are welcome.

[I hope you enjoyed the interview. Feel free to reach out to me, comment and contact Prof. Dr. Stefan Sesselmann on his LinkedIn for further discussions on the topic]

References

Moorhouse, D., & Moorhouse, D. (2017). Sustainable design: circular economy in fashion and textiles. The Design Journal20(sup1), S1948-S1959.

You can’t collaborate, if you don’t want to.

Often collaboration has many benefits and if you don’t want to or someone else does not want to, there are several guidelines on how to do it or how to improve collaboration (1). The premise is to make collaboration desirable and also managable. As a result the option of whether collaboration is not wanted or should not happen is often not mentioned. Instead the benefits are mentioned, which on the other hand could be a form of gaslighting if it is not actually wanted. That is the manipulation of ones own reality towards a different one (2). For example, being convinced that a particular collaboration is suitable for a particular reason, whilst it might not be.

What is bad about convincing yourself in wanting to collaborate?

Often times it might not work out in the long term. An easy to understand example is going on a first date. The chemistry does not fit, but for the sakes of dating and the idea(l) of having a relationship (such as in most goals actively looked for in collaborations), one might start to think of benefits for this relationship to work, a bit like cherry-picking. As a result, one may twist themselves to appear more suitable and starts to accept and appreciate differences. This might go well for a bit, but after some time it won’t, because it is not true. The ending of the honey moon phase and the reality then presented is a good example. “Oh you don’t actually like this?” “yeah..sorry, I did that for you kind of.”

Why would anyone want to collaborate, while not actually wanting it?

There are different reasons, some may be concious and some may be unconcious. Let’s explore different thought processes and how they play out in practice.

  1. Modification of an object

Someone might not like the idea of collaboration firstly, which shows as a tiny thought, but then actively point out (sudden) collaborative benefits. However, unconciously a different thought process might happen, in which collaboration is continuesly not wanted. In psyche one of such mechanisms is referred to modification of an object (3). It is a mechanism that turns something not of liking into something of liking. The purpose of this mechansim in infants for example is protection of the self such as from harm or neglect. For example, if a caretaker is neglecting a baby, it would naturally dislike them and leave. Because it cannot do so it turns such disliking into liking.

In adults or in workplace cooperation this might look like needing to cooperate because it is essential for company survival or for example also an individual position. As a result – of modification of object – and present in concious argumentation one might find benefits in collaboration and believe so “oh this company is greatly positioned, this sounds like a cool vision, this person seems fantastic to work with. I like it, lets do it.” On the other hand one might unconciously think “I would not spend a dime on this.”

2. Sugar-coated belief system

At the same time you might have read and learned about all sorts of unconcious biases such as on racism and feel ready to avoid them. For example, you may believe that you actively share no racist trades, but when it comes to collaboration with a partner of a different skin color or accent, you may find yourself naming different reasons why the collaboration does not work. For example research (4) conducted on neuropolitics by Liya Yu, found that although “white people” claimed to be actively not racist, their brain regions showed signs of fear when seeing “black people.”As a result you may choose to collaborate with someone different, less suitable or you may choose to still collaborate, whilst you unconciously don’t want to and that shows for example by being or becoming avoident. Here it might be interesting to explore a few “Whys’?” Why being avoidant? What’s that feeling of discomfort telling me? And whatever it is, it’s okay. It is okay in that sense, that it can be be explored further.

Why is there a discrepancy between conciousness and unconciousness?

There are different reasons. Our brain develops bottom up and lays an unconcious foundation for our own survival; How to relate to another, what feels safe and unsafe. Depending on the latter, these traits become part of our unconciousness. For example there is no need to be concious about how to move your finger tips, when eating. And similiar patterns likely apply to our psyche and thereby our notions of survival. For example, if you grew up in a solely x-skin colored family environment, then this is what likely feels safe to you “your tribe with its habits and belief system”(5). However, suddenly you may find yourself with different people of different backgrounds (habits, skin color, religions, accents etc) and it does less. And I believe the larger the discrepancy from what you are used to; feel save with, the more likely your “concisouness” will shut down, and your primal instincts including what is unconcious but feels safe will be present or to some extend guide you, while not being aware of.

What does this say about effective collaboration?

Collaboration is great and it does hold many benefits if collaboration is true. For example, again if you go on a first date and the chemistry fits; values, or certain values shared align with each other, you truthfully complement each other, you don’t twist yourself to make yourself fit to the other, you can be honest, you lay out your cards. Whatever it is, I mean complementation can work so different, it fits and that’s okay. That’s great actually. For example, it’s okay wanting to collaborate with someone from your hometown, or the same cultrual background if that makes you feel safe and the collaboration too.

What if I don’t want to collaborate, but you know, I have to?

I believe you should not twist yourself for anyone or let anyone twist you. Secondly, in business model research, different business models are suitable for different market segments. I believe a similiar approach can be used for collaboration. If partner x is not suitable for project b, a different one can be found. At the same time, becoming aware about certain bias might help you to actively avoid collaboration, but at the same time it also gives you the chance to work on understanding them with the intent to encourage collaboration; Why do I hold certain bias? Where do they come form? What do I fear? as oppose to: I am aware of my bias or ignore it, let’s get it on with.

More to it? Let me know in the comments.

References

(1) Nevins, M. (2018). How to Collaborate with People You Don’t Like. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2018/12/how-to-collaborate-with-people-you-dont-like

(2) Thomas, L. (2018). “Gaslight and gaslighting”The Lancet. Psychiatry5 (2): 117–118. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30024-5PMID 29413137.

(3) Training Material from the International Society of Applied Psychoanalysis (Modification of Object)

(4) Yu, L. (2022). Vulnerable Minds: The Neuropolitics of Divided Societies. Columbia University Press.

(5) Van Vugt, M., & Schaller, M. (2008). Evolutionary approaches to group dynamics: An introductionGroup Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice12(1), 1.

Can we predict the future?

We cannot predict the future with certainty, but we can create possible scenarios. In sustainability one looks at trends such as in the ecology, economy and society to form possible images or scenarios of the future. For example one can see increasing policies supporting sustainable development, more companies to engage in sustainable production processes or at least ESG and also increasing consumer interests in such. Therefore, one could imagine that in 2050 earth will be quite sustainable, whatever that means exactly.

Can the future be predicted accuratly?

There is certain bias to it because we find daily changes, but also unexpected events that may drastically influence our imagined scenario. Such an example is Covid-19 or the Ukraine Russian war that hugely impacted and still does in terms of efforts towards sustainable development; energy transition, cooperation, peace building opportunities and unexpected emissions such as from war, also the fact that while people care, some do not and some may do differently.

Can unexpected events be accounted for?

To take these unexpected events into account wild cards can be used. Wildcards can relate to any event that can have a major impact, for example a terrorist attack, an earthquake, a pandemic, or more individual an unplanned pregnancy, a Sexual Transmitted Disease or other illnesses not accounted for etc. . These are important to take into account because as seen in the examples before, they can hugely disrupt predictions. [Can you think of more?]

Why are wildcards important?

Wildcards are important because the future is too uncertain to predict it fully, so wildcards help to think about what other scenarios could occur and how to prevent them or what could be done in the case of their occurrance. Often these can help in minimizing possible risks. One of such examples is intelligence analysis, in which possible scenarios are quickly predicted to, for example, prevent fatalities or economic shocks. However, they may and they may not include wildcards or they may be based on them.

“This is likely to happen, lets therefore implement a policy here or increase security there or pay attention to there.”

Can scenario analysis be biased?

Yes, this can happen by taking into account narrowed views, biased sources or limited expertise. This can happen because of personal and collective bias or because of limited or biased information used to predict the future. For example the scenario of the sustainable earth I described at the beginning is purposely very one sided, focusing only on “positive” developments; whereby likely many companies may not care or cannot care about sustainability. The same can account for people and different countries too. So the future of earth may as much be sustainable as much as it won’t or a mix of it. This is imporant to be aware of to understand possible bottlenecks such as the impact of poverty or inequalities that can serve as barrier for interests in sustainability as a whole.

Can bias be avoided?

I believe that bias cannot be avoided fully, because there most often is personal and collective bias, but bias can be reduced such as by fact-checking news- sources; by looking carefully validating and evaluating information (cross-referencing) as well as by checking into different developments. Of course one should do so in a particular lign of interest and boundaries (time/space/directions).

Can bias be encouraged?

One may also go with imagining any future such as done most often in science-fiction and here work fully with possible bias and hence, imaginary. Yet, the reality of how to get there, might be a bit vague, a bit too much of phantasma so that future predictions becomes quit difficult to predict with certainty or possibly unrealistic.

Questions? Let me know and also if you want more on that topic. Below you can find my summaries.

Recommended Resources:

Walsh, P. (2011). Intelligence and intelligence analysis. Willan.

Investopedia (2022). Forecasting. Retrievable here.

Why sustainability fails?

Deep sustainability focuses on a basic need centred approach; that is for example to consume what we need and in doing so living within the means of our environment; so that ideally humans can interact with and within the natural system without harm. That is an ideal, almost as ideal as Garden Eden. Garden Eden represents the perfect state of being; everything is there that is desired, at a continuous quantity and the interaction be that between Adam and Eve or Adam and Eve and various other species is harmonic; a symbol of ultimate perfection and homeostasis.

In sustainability these idealized views and to some extend fantasies represented in Garden Even are increasingly reflected. The ideal is that carbon and other natural cycles circle perfectly. Meanwhile human and other species live at a constant state of harmony together. If a fish was eaten, the natural balance would as easily be restored, because there is always a surplus of it. Furthermore, there is no conflict, because conflict would impede such harmony. This concept does not only apply to our local communities, but it also applies to our global society, where we all live in peace together, cooperate and everyone is keen on protecting social and environmental well-being. We thrive as global society within our means. Like Garden Eden, this ideal appeals.

This ideal appeals so much, that through the support of regulations and business models for sustainability it must be achieved. It little does so though, because it would require that the very human nature of ego and thereby notions of greed and desire for more would have to be diminished. Greed would have to be diminished because it is through greed that inequalities such as more and less access to resources or their exploitation, likely continue and it is desire for more, that basic needs; producing and consuming what one possibly needs, little exist. Yet, the latter is almost the premise for such idealized homeostatic state of a sustainable society.

Homeostasis does not exist as a constant state of being, because there are constant factors that influence such state. Often times, we think it does, and that is how we live and possibly create for it. Thinking “it” can be maintained and aimed for like love in relationships for example. It cannot. It cannot because loss, including destruction is part of life and the natural world as part of it.

Of course, there is not all bad, and there are for example business models that aim at creating a more sustainable future. But so often, they idealize too. For example the premise is that products will be produced better and although their price will increase the assumption is that people voluntarily pay for it. This assumption has a classist notion to sustainabiliy, because many people still live below the financial poverty line and even if they did not such as many people on a “normal” or “high” income , they might have many different financial priorities so that most sustainable products are not financially feasible or interesting for them, even if they wanted to.

Sometimes people may not simply care either. That is not because they don’t want to, but because they struggle with their own means of survival or look at maintaining an individual livelihood. For example, using public transportation or the e-bike sounds fantastic, but in many cities, peri urban up to urban regions, the infrastructure does not exist, or lacks so that owning a car does not only appeal, but simply makes life easier. Think about a parent who saves 1.5h by using a car packed with groceries going from work to kindergarden or any other person who could spend that time differently. The same principle can apply for circular systems too, with the expectations that people care for their products always and are geniously interested to return build up furniture for a small discount to a store. Often a certain lifestyle or the effort put into it, might outweight financial benefits, so the ideal set is too high. So, how to design for covenience?

Of course one can go further, more systemic with the younger generation demanding idealisitc system change too, but then possibly finding it a bit odds when it comes to real action and behavior change, whilst more pleasure can be found in TikToks and other urban funs’. Meanwhile, the news and even policies for a “sustainable future” preach for such sustainable ideals, but looking outside of these ideals, one can find needs for continous self-actualization; i.e. building or having a paying career as a means of survival; often that comes through jobs and even if the job is not liked or pretended to be liked, it yet pursued because there are little means to pay for life otherwise. For example, if we were to honestly consult businesses on sustainability, we would in many cases have to say; Its best not to have the business or in the case of the individual “not to pursue this career.” It gives little room to be, so that sustainability, or the idealist homeostatic lifestyle that can be found in the Myth of “Garden Eden” instead sounds too ideal to be real.

A sustainable society, would require more interaction in real life, but the interest shifts towards digital interaction. At the same time we see levels of loneliness increasing; digital disconnect.

As a consequene of such “societal lock-in”, one can likely feel the opposite of sustainability too; increases in consumption or various forms of addictions or other forms of mental ill, to cope with such “lock-in”. And at the same time possible growing disparities between personal demands on sustainable behavior and the inability or disinterest to live up to it, because of socio-economic conditions; or because the ideals are simply set too high. This can be found on a personal and even company, supply-chains and any other industry level.

The question that hereby remains could be how to set objectives or sorts of standards for something that is sustainable, but not setting sustainability, including CO2 neutrality as the idealized globalized standards for everything and everyone. Supposingly, sustainabiltiy even idealizes for everything to stay for ever “to sustain”, while in nature not all sustains. However, we treat most notions on sustainability like that too.

Resources

Inspiration from Psychoanalytical Theory focusing on fantasy and ideals and further literature on business model short-commings as well as conversations with people of different socio-economic backgrounds.

I don’t want to bake more cookies- Rethinking life towards and after retirement

Some of my acquintances retire and I hear them talking about the things they will do or not after their jobs end, or already do or don’t. Some are happy and some seem dissatsified. “How is your retirement? ” I ask someone and he’d reply that well the notion is most elderlies go on hikes, I did too once, but now I want to go on about my day and life. I actually miss working because it gave me a sort of purpose. Not that I liked it, but hm oh well. I’ll find something to do.”

This and further conversations, made me think about what life I want to live, if when I set a seemingly “psychic end” to work life already, or center my thoughts on life after retirement, for which I don’t know how it will be like anyways, if the life I live is pursued because of generiousity to myself, or because of my imagined after-worklife retirement. If for the latter, does this result in me working too much, a job I possibly dislike or follow because of its financial incentives? I write so, because so often I hear” I can’t wait for retirement, finally to do the things I enjoy.” I feel it should be “I am looking forward to life itself “.

Retiremenet often seems to be perceived as the end of life phase. A start of a new life, which in retrospect is a continuity of life as whole. If someone has experiernced furstration before, they will continue to experience it after.

Yet in the retirement phase, I feel that increasing levels of loneliness or dissatisfactions suddenly originate too. In one way not doing anymore what one possibly did not like, let’s say the factory work and therefore prone to experience an increasing emptiness “How to fill such lack of work now with what type of meaning?” And in other ways not being able to continue to do what one has previously liked “industrial design,” for example because one is now the retired.

It made me think about notions to the end of life; whether a career or profession could be sustained that creates a particular meaning in the “retirmenet phase”, a form of continuity. And at the same time what form of activities could possibly be pursued so that one who experiences such a huge loss of work, even if it didn’t pleasure, can fill their time with a different form of meaning and pleasure that not necessarily relates to hiking and playing Bingo only.

Why does this worry me?

I began thinking about the retirment phases of my grandmother(s), and other elderlies in elderly homes or different forms of care; some that still lived through WW2 or the aftermaths. Some that simply lived. Some who complained at me that they didn’t want to be read out children stories or bake cookies all the time, but how much they still want to feel alive in other notions too; to design, to engineer, to teach. I guess they could, but yet they aren’t often offered the opportunity, even to fall in love again at 80 or to start a new business, if they wanted to.

Why can’t we be more engaging with the elderlies? someone could ask and the reply would be “dementia” or other symptoms of aging. But I’d say that between those moments of amnesia, there is some depth of joy that can be experienced, even if forgotten after. Though parts of it, the joy felt, the emotions, stored in the lower brain regions, they likely won’t be forgotten that easy.

Why does this matter, why does this relate to sustainability?

Just like babies, our brains still want to be stimulated. And possibly similiar to babies and brain growth; if such stimulation little exist, then brain is more likely to experience detoriation. And when we talk about detoriation of the brain, we can also talk about increases in somatic and other forms of illnesses. Furthermore, loneliness and lack of engagment turn into a major public health concern. In fact, it already is.

What can be done about it?

While these problems are known about, expenses for health care are quit high, leaving elderly care often at a minimum of care. To circumvent that the Netherlands has piloted a project in the city of Deventer in which students rooms are rented out for a discount in an elderly home in exchange for one hour volunteer work. Often students end up doing more hours for the community, then they actually have to. In another example, UK primary school merges generations by inviting elderly to work with them, a concept that originated in Japan.

And then of course there is you, us; how can we live as society, but also as individuals that the life lived is worth to be pursued as a whole and less as to be seperated stages?