June 14, 2013

…But where, oh where, are the Women?

Åse Fixes Science

Very early on, before the talks at the Solid Psychology Symposium really started, Bobbie Spellman tweeted in a comment on the fact that all the speakers were Men! I had noted that too. (And, I had noted that in the Brussels presentation there was only one woman, Leslie John). I believe Solid Psych when he/she claimed that it was not intentional. In fact, I wanted to place this in a separate post, both because I thought the symposium was great, and the arrangers did a great job, and the speakers were wonderful, so why end with a complaint? But, also because it does deserve its own post and its own discussion

I have been a bit bothered by this, and tried to scrape up the women I know that tweet and blog about changing science. Bobbie is way up there, perhaps not with the blog/tweet activity, but she clearly is…

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June 14, 2013

Making psychology Solid, Robust, perhaps even… Antifragile? Report from The Solid Psychology Symposium.

Åse Fixes Science

I went to another interesting symposium on how to make psychology (perhaps social psychology) stronger and more reliable or valid. Aranged by the Radboud University Nijmegen and Tilburg University. I echo Alan Fiske – thanks Stapel for providing us with this wonderful opportunity! You can read a storify of it here, and go read Rolf Zwaan’s write-up also.

First some of the Social. – I had a nice time hanging out with Daniel Lakens. Met and chatted with Rolf Zwaan, and his wife. Afterwards, at beer (nice, warm outdoors), I had good chats with both Leif Nelson and Travis Proulx, along with other speakers and participants.

But, back to the talks. First up, in the morning, was Uri Simonsohn, talking about how to think about what non-replicating means; Leif Nelson talking about p-hacking and the p-curve, and Joe Simmons on Power. What are the takehomes here? For one, engage…

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June 11, 2013

Taking Occam’s Razor to Bertha Pappenheim’s Cough

Reblogged from http://berthapappenheim.weebly.com/blog.html

When Dr Josef Breuer was called in to examine Bertha Pappenheim in November 1880, her most marked symptom was a severe cough. At some point between then and the end of his treatment in June 1882, the cough stopped. In Studies on Hysteria Breuer describes the origin of the cough as follows:

“She began coughing for the first time when once, as she was sitting at her father’s bedside, she heard the sound of dance music coming from a neighbouring house, felt a sudden wish to be there, and was overcome with self-reproaches. Thereafter, throughout the whole length of her illness she reacted to any markedly rhythmical music with a tussis nervosa.”

He claimed that Bertha had no memory of this incident until she recalled it while in a hypnotic state, after which the cough disappeared.

Cured by the ‘talking cure’ – or is this an example of the post hoc ergo propter hoc kind of reasoning which Breuer may have been guilty of?

By the time Breuer stopped treating Bertha in June 1882 she had become heavily addicted to morphine. When she was admitted to Bellevue Clinic the following month she was taking 100 mg/day. To attain this level of tolerance she must have been taking the drug for some considerable time.

It’s not possible to establish when Bertha started taking morphine. Breuer makes no mention of it in the 1895 report published in Studies on Hysteria. However, in private correspondence with the superintendent of Bellevue Clinic, he reported that in the months before her admission she had been receiving injections of morphine, up to 200 mg/day. A report by clinic staff makes clear that they considered their main task was to wean Bertha from her morphine addiction.

One of the properties of morphine is that it acts as a cough suppressant. This was confirmed by a clinical study* at Hull University in 2007 in a double-blind placebo-controlled experiment with patients suffering from intractable coughs. It came as no surprise to doctors who had already suspected as much and had for a long time been using the drug in cases of chronic coughing.

Bertha’s consumption of morphine has been known since the 1970s when Albrecht Hirschmuller discovered the documents relating to it in Bellevue. It has been referred to by many of the scholars writing about the case since then, with some suggesting that her symptoms could have been partly caused by addiction to morphine and chloral hydrate. What strikes me as strange is that nowhere have I found any suggestion that her cough could have been cured by the morphine she was taking. Yet to me that seems more likely than Breuer’s theory about the ‘talking cure’. It’s simply a matter of applying Occam’s razor.

*   http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070215083144.htm


June 7, 2013

Music, Social Proof, Appeal and Peer-review.

...not that kind of psychologist

A 1982 BBs paper on peer review from Peters & Ceci is making the rounds on Twitter. The gist is that they submitted already published papers, with altered author names, to scientific journals, and received rejections that had nothing to do with the papers being basically plagiarized, but more comments on the quality of the research

This shows that publication/peer review may be a bit of a crap-shoot. Maybe. (I’d rather take my chances with publication than with die-throwing though).
But, it reminds me of a couple of papers I’ve assigned to my students in my market psychology course, both from Salganik and Watts. Instead of peer-reviewing paper, they look at the entertainment market – music. (Both papers linked here, and below)

Let me dolly back a bit. (cue Haitian divorce). My course is based on Cialdini’s “influence”. The core here is that people use a number of cues…

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March 15, 2013

Bertha Pappenheim’s Peculiar Form of Aphasia

“Mrs Pappenheim stopped in the doorway. She saw Bertha’s features crease into fretful petulance, her finger pointing to the untouched breakfast tray lying beside the bed.

No voglio petit-déjeuner. Enleve. Tired. Voglio dormir. Ne dors pas noche. Je veux dormir adesso.

Italian, French, English. Bertha knew all those languages. But why should she want to start speaking them now? And why jumble them all together like this? Mrs Pappenheim clenched her hands and stepped further into the room. ‘Bertha, what’s all this nonsense? Speak German, please.’

I am speaking German,’ Bertha said in English. She closed her eyes.”

From Guises of Desire by Hilda Reilly

“For alongside of the development of the contractures there appeared a deep-going functional disorganization of her speech. It first became noticeable that she was at a loss to find words, and this difficulty gradually increased. Later she lost her command of grammar and syntax; she no longer conjugated verbs, and eventually she used only infinitives, for the most part incorrectly formed from weak past participles. And she omitted both the definite and indefinite article. In the process of time she became almost completely deprived of words. She put them together laboriously out of four or five languages and became almost unintelligible.”

From Studies in Hysteria by Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer

The disruption of Bertha’s speech faculty was undoubtedly complex and it’s perhaps not surprising that Breuer was at a loss to explain it in anything other than psychogenic terms. In addition to the difficulties described above, she went on to lose her command of German completely and for a while could speak only in English.

One of the obstacles to arriving at a neurological interpretation of Bertha’s symptoms may have been the theory of retrograde amnesia formulated around the same time by French neurologist Theodule Ribot. According to this, any damage to memory areas of the brain would result in newer memories being affected before older ones. Extending this to the language function, it was therefore expected that languages learned later in life would be affected before earlier ones and that the mother tongue would be the last to suffer.

However, subsequent cases of multilingual patients affected by strokes and the like have not borne this out. American neuropsychologist Laurence Miller reports that the order in which languages are recovered in such cases is variable, and that individual patients can even exhibit different types of aphasic syndrome in their different languages. Research carried out by neurosurgeon George Ojemann while operating on bilingual patients indicated that, although some brain areas were common to both languages, there were also peripheral areas involving only one of the languages. This kind of anatomical distribution of language function makes it easier to see how language disruption could manifest itself in seemingly aberrant and arbitrary ways.

Perhaps the most fascinating writing on the subject is to be found in the reports of those who have had personal experience of language impairment as it gives insight into what the condition feels like.

In Stroke: A Diary of Recovery, Douglas Ritchie describes it thus:

“I could day-dream……. I could think, actively, without using words, and coming down to earth, I rehearsed speeches silently. But there was the blank wall. The minute I rehearsed speeches with my tongue, even though I kept silent, the words would not come……

It was like starting a motor car. The engine ticked over and speeded up, but the moment one sought to put the car into gear, something went wrong with the clutch, the gear crashed with an ugly sound the engine stopped.”

In Auto-Observation of Aphasia by French doctor Jacques Lordat, written in the 19th century, Lordat describes being at times in a state of what he called paramnesia “a faulty use of known and remembered sounds. Thus when I wanted to ask for a book, I pronounced the word for handkerchief. However, immediately after having uttered this word, I retracted it, feeling that another was indicated.”

Equally intriguing is The Man Who Lost His Language by Sheila Hale in which she writes of the aftermath of her husband’s stroke. John Hale never recovered his power of speech, or at least as the term is generally understood, yet he managed a form of communication based on constant repetition of the syllables da woahs, modulated and infused with emotion as if in normal conversation, apparently believing that the sounds he was uttering were making perfect sense to his listeners.

Works such as these were of more help to me than the case history in getting to the raw feel of what Bertha’s experience must have been like. The personal perspective is invaluable as a complement to the medical one.

Hale, Sheila, The Man Who Lost His Language (Allen Lane, 2002)

Riese, Walter, Auto-Observation of Aphasia, Bulletin of the History of Medicine 28 (1954)

Ritchie, Douglas, Stroke: A Diary of Recovery (Faber and Faber, 1974)

March 15, 2013

On incentives

A longer post on incentives – mostly linking in articles and blogs. But, I thought worth sharing here.

Åse Fixes Science

I wanted to share a bunch of links that I think addresses the problem with the incentive structure in science – at least in psychology (but, I’ll link in Athene Donald too, and she’s in physics).

First up, Tal Yarkoni’s post of five excuses for status-quo, of which he only takes one seriously. Good commentary on that one too. It’s the last one “but it will hurt my career to be overly honest” that has some merit to it. You need to publish, and it needs to be interesting results (supposedly) otherwise no grants, no tenure, no career. And this is a distorting force, one where the pressure to eat the marshmallow may be too tempting for some.

Akira O’connor writes about finding out someone he knows have committed research fraud. In the second to last paragraph, he discusses the incentive structure, and its corrosive effect.

This paper called Reforming…

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March 6, 2013

Big History conference in Amsterdam

Recently I got invited to take part in a Big History conference at the University of Amsterdam, Science Park, The Netherlands, June 13th – 15th.

There are still more participants needed to prepare a 20 min. talk. You are challenged to place your research into the interdisciplinary perspective of Big History. The majority of speakers will be PhD candidates but also MSc students with an interest in scientific research can apply. The deadline for the (draft) abstract is March 17th. Hopefully the conference will lead to new opportunities for collaboration. You will have many opportunities for discussion. Dr. Fred Spier, senior lecturer in Big History at the University of Amsterdam, will be one of the keynote speakers.

If you are interested in taking part, you can leave a response to this post including your email address, but do not fill in your email address in the message field. Or, you can send an email to ambitiouswomen_academicworld@yahoo.com and we will provide you the email address of the person who will be organizing the event, who can provide you some suggestions if you are not exactly sure what to talk about or how to place your research in a Big History perspective.

Of course you can combine the event with a nice bit of sightseeing in Amsterdam.

So, what exactly is Big History? Find out here.


March 2, 2013

Where are you going?

People ask me.

During quite some weekends I have been packing and disassembling and terminating and cleaning, and when all was done, I handed in the key.

After I closed the door forever, I encountered my singing teacher – I have singing lessons once every two weeks – but not that day.

I walked on, through the neighborhood, not anymore an inhabitant. Noone else saw me. The neighborhood remained quiet, the silence was deafening. At the station, the train sighed and started moving.

My singing lessons will continue. My voice will linger forever, while practicing in the bathroom, while standing next to the piano in a practice space in a homelike setting.

Where am I going? Towards temporality with indefinite duration.

Alice Karen is carrying out her PhD in Marine biology.

February 23, 2013

Prosopagnosia and Bertha Pappenheim

“Mamma was coming – Bertha could feel the heat already – and she wasn’t alone; she was talking. Bertha didn’t want to see anyone. She just wanted to get back into her bedroom, on her own. Now they were hugging her, kissing her. A man – it must be a man, he had a beard – and a woman. A confusion of speech. The man’s voice and the woman’s voice. And beside them Mamma. Yes, that was Mamma, because that was where the stream of heat was coming from. But who were the other two? Faces like tailor’s dummies. She thought she recognized the man’s voice. It sounded like Cousin Fritz. And the woman sounded like Mamma, but she couldn’t be Mamma because Mamma was where the heat was coming from. Then she remembered. Cousin Fritz and Aunt Bella had arrived yesterday, and of course Aunt Bella sounded like Mamma because she was Mamma’s sister. Bertha wished they would all stop talking. It was so confusing to hear those familiar voices coming from faces which she didn’t recognize.”

From Guises of Desire by Hilda Reilly


“She complained of not being able to recognize people. Normally, she said, she had been able to recognize faces without having to make any deliberate effort; now she was obliged to do laborious ‘recognizing work’ and had to say to herself ‘this person’s nose is such-and-such, his hair is such-and-such, so he must be so-and-so’. All the people she saw seemed like wax figures without any connection with her.”

From The Case History of Bertha Pappenheim (Anna O.) by Josef Breuer


One of the visual disorders afflicting Bertha Pappenheim for a short period was the inability to recognise faces. Instances of patients suffering from this condition are recorded from the mid-19th century on but there is no indication that Bertha’s own doctor, Josef Breuer, was familiar with it. Indeed, the way he describes her symptom suggests that he considered it rather as an idiosyncrasy unique to Bertha, merely another behavioural oddity which bolstered the diagnosis of hysteria.

The first known account dates from 1844. For a long time it was believed to be part of a more complex visual disorder and it wasn’t until a century later that it was isolated as a condition in its own right and given a name – prosopagnosia.

Prosopagnosia is much more than a matter of not being able to put a name to a face. It involves not being able to recognise the identity of the person owning the face. So, for example, you might meet a former teacher in the street and not remember his name. If you realise that the person used to be your history teacher whose name momentarily escapes you, you are not suffering from prosopagnosia. If, on the other hand, you have no idea who he is until he speaks and you then realise that it’s the same voice which bored you with information about people and events long gone, it’s more likely to be due to prosopagnosia. If the face also strikes you as being an amorphous blob, pretty well indistinguishable from the multitude of other faces in the street, it’s definitely prosopagnosia.

Prosopagnosia can be either congenital or acquired, in which case it results from damage to the associated, highly specific, part of the brain. In Bertha’s case, such damage could have been caused by seizures of temporal lobe epilepsy, a diagnosis which could equally account for a number of her other symptoms.

People are now much more familiar with prosopagnosia, largely thanks to The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks. It would be interesting to know what Sacks would make of Bertha Pappenheim’s case. I’m sure the account he would be come up with would be very different from that put together by Josef Breuer.

February 16, 2013

A Kafkaesque View of Attempted Romance While on the Tenure Track

Just to warn readers, this post is more about my personal life than professional.  Regarding my professional life there is not much to write about – I do the work and I love it.  I love teaching and meeting interesting people and I love following ideas down paths I could never imagine.  I feel grateful (almost) everyday for my professional life.  The other part of my life has not been as clear to me, however, and the other day I had an epiphany that the qualitative difference in my personal life between my 20s and 30s (now that I am approaching my 40s) seems to be my metamorphosis into this giant, gruesome, academic creature.  Let me explain.

When I was in my 20s I dated nice guys.  Lets call them “Dennis, Todd, Scott, and Alan.”  They pretty much sum up my dating life ages 17-27.  They were all nice, good guys from good families who treated me well and we enjoyed each other’s company.  At the age of 27 I entered graduate school – leaving the squeaky clean good guys behind for several years of pain, agony, and self-loathing.  I am only half-joking.  Sadly, I did not enjoy graduate school as I should have.  I just wanted to be done.  So I crawled into the academic cave and the metamorphosis began.

When I emerged with my doctorate and began a tenure-track job at age 30 I decided I had best try dating again with the objective of finding a husband, lest I become truly bizarre (there are stories of non-married women … you know, with all the cats and such).  The series of relationships I began in my most recent decade of life have been of a wholly different quality than that of my 20s.  Lets call my 30s chaps “Bob, Eric and Chris.”  I attribute this qualitative difference not in the change from nice, good guys to maladjusted jerks and losers (though friends and family may disagree with me on this account), but rather to my own transformation.

I always loved Kafka’s short story about the man who wakes to find himself transformed into a hideous insect-like creature.  He is met with fear and disgust, even from his family, and hides away in his room – even under his bed – until he finally dies … alone.  I didn’t know the story was his interpretation of the psychic life of a writer or an artist until many years after I first read it.  I re-acquainted myself with it some years ago and found some comfort there.  My family has been incredibly supportive of my academic life, even if they don’t really understand it.   I now have a fantastic group of friends who know that I disappear for months at a time, but will emerge at the end of the term and we will have dinners and drinks and catch up, but I have lost many friends along the way.  Friendships were easy in my 20s, but though more difficult, are of much higher quality now.

Those I have counted on for love and support in romantic relationships, however, have not been of the quality of my friendships.  Reactions to my professional life have ranged from unenthused to hostile.  I have tried to understand whether my need for space, alone time, crises over writers block, and stress over getting tenure … along with needing to vent about students’ sense of entitlement, boring faculty meetings, grading, and all the more mundane aspects of the life I love is what has been so off-putting.  I have tried to be honest and very upfront in recent years about how I articulate my needs, handle stress, and so forth, but things have not gone as I would have liked.  I feel like the insect, crawling under my bed in shame of my monstrous being.

When I think of my disappointment in “Bob, Eric and Chris” (as contrasted with my highly romanticized versions of “Dennis, Todd, Scott …”) it really has nothing to do with them.  They did not know I had a hideous, insect-like creature lurking inside me.  And when I think about how stupid I was not to have married kind and smart Todd back in the day, I remember that I wasn’t ready.  I needed to transform and for all its aches and pains and heartaches along the way I am exactly who I want to be.  Part of the metamorphosis is dropping the starry-eyed expectations I once had as a young mid-western girl.  Not everything happens in the order or in the way we anticipate.  I could not have been a good partner to anyone unless I went on this journey of mine.  Like my friendships, I know that the love I have yet to find will be of a higher quality than any of the former loves I would have settled for.  Not having to apologize for the work will be the first clue that someone understands my hideous, insect-like under belly and adores me just the same.


February 8, 2013

Report from the symposium on Moving Beyond Questionable Practices

I wrote a long post summarizing the symposium I attended this Tuesday, and figure you would be interested in it also.

Åse Fixes Science

I’m back from the Moving Beyond questionable practices symposium, and I’ll try to collect my thoughts here. It really was good. More needs to be done.

First up was Jelte Wichert. Go check his page. He lists all the papers he used for this talk (and more). And, as you can see, some of his work is on how researcher do their research.

He started out with the dichotomy of the two virtual scientists – Dr. good and Dr. Evil. Our dichotomous minds so easily want to classify like that. Stapel and Hauser were Dr Evils, and the rest… well. But, of course, it is never that easy. Jelte cited a former professor (guess who), about how he got really good at making ugly results more pretty, like those he saw published. And, then, well, we’re slip slip sliding along into sheer fabrication. Could it happen to anyone? Well…

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February 1, 2013

A few more things Stapel and Levelt report

Just a little bit more on Stapel, and surrounding commentary.

Åse Fixes Science

The Psychologist published a last rejoinder from the authors of the Levelt Report.  Mainly, addressing what has made social psychologists most upset – the notion that this would be peculiar to Social Psychology.  And, in this vein, Times Higher education also has an article entitled this is bigger than Social Psychology. Of course it is. Now, as they mention in the levelt letter, this does not leave Social Psychology off the hook, which, I think, most of us are in the clear about.  In fact, Brian Nosek is one of the people who will speak at the “moving beyond questionable practices“symposium next week. I’m going. Yay!

Brian Nosek also linked in this the Chronicle article, the Power of Suggestion. It has an interview with Bargh (who has felt particularly under pressure recently), talks with Dijksterhuis, who basically has abandoned the area. (He visited here a…

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January 25, 2013

The Pleasure of Researching Historical Fiction

Reblogged from http://www.berthapappenheim.weebly.com

Researching a historical novel is a wonderful learning experience, far more so than the cramming of facts, theories and ideas for an exam.

While researching Guises of Desire I needed to explore the kind of literature which could have contributed to the formation of Bertha Pappenheim’s cultural mindset. I knew from Breuer’s case history that she had studied Shakespeare and was familiar with the fairy tales of Andersen and the Grimms. But what of adult German literature? I had never read anything earlier than Thomas Mann and had always felt that it would be turgid and hard work.

I started with Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, an epistolary novel about a young man driven to suicide by unrequited love. I found it a strange piece of writing – emotionally self-indulgent, the style rambling and the hero unlikeable. Its astonishing success only made me feel that readers at the time (late 18th century) must have been a different species from what they are now.

Goethe’s second novel, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship was more readable, a bildungsroman which provided some interesting ideas for me to incorporate into Bertha’s thinking and for her conversations with Dr Breuer.

I then tried Indian Summer by Adalbert Stifter, published in 1857, another bildungsroman. Its excessive wordiness made me sympathise with writer Friedrich Hebbel, a contemporary of Stifter, who apparently offered the crown of Poland to anyone who could finish it. I couldn’t finish it. Yet here too I found material of relevance to Bertha.

In a letter which she writes to her cousin Anna while doing voluntary work with the poor I have her write:

Since I started this work I have been giving much thought to something which Heinrich’s father said to him in Indian Summer. He believed that man was not on Earth primarily for society, but for himself. This may seem at first glance a selfish idea but he goes on to say that if a person were here for himself in the best way possible, then it follows that he would also be here in the best way possible for society. If a person is born with a talent and a desire to paint, for example, he will be rendering best service to society by becoming a painter, rather than a barrister or a doctor or any other profession. He believed also that we each have an inner impulse which leads us in the direction of this innate calling. Do you believe that this is so, Anna? Did you feel this impulse when you decided to take up the teaching of literature? Do you think Rebekka felt it when she joined the Elisabethverein?

The other day I came across the following quote by psychologist Abraham Maslow on Pinterest:

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. What one can be, one must be. This need we may call self-actualization.

It struck me that this was exactly what Stifter had said a century earlier.

This serendipitous discovery alone has made my dip into classical German literature worthwhile. For the rest, while I can’t say I enjoyed the reading experience, I still feel the better for having explored it.

Hilda Reilly,  author of Guises of Desire, a biographical novel about the life of Bertha Pappenheim, aka Anna O

January 18, 2013

12 Habits of Highly Effective People: what I have learned from my children – II

(Originally published in Olga Degtyareva’s blog Productivity for Scientists in Nov 2011)

12 Habits of Highly Effective Children: What I Have Learned From My Children, Part 2 from Olga Degtyareva's Blog Productivity for ScientistsIn December I started sharing with you productivity techniques I have distilled from years of being with my children and observing how they go about their day. Those techniques have been making real difference to my effectiveness at work as well as life in general.

The habits I listed as the first six are 1) being present in the moment, 2) imperfection rocks, 3) being patient and persistent,  4) practicing complete focus, 5) letting go of fear and 6) accepting what is. Today I present another six.

To some of you these might seem a bit controversial, some of them might appear opposite to what you’ve been told! Nevertheless they have been working wonderfully for generations of young children, so why not try and apply some of them in our busy adult lives. Especially if everything else has failed…

7)      Love and accept yourself. Have you seen a baby that is unsatisfied with herself?

Young children are so happy with who they are, they are full of love, delighted and thrilled about themselves.

The negative thoughts about ourselves, the criticism and beating ourselves up get in the way to being our best, attracting the greatest outcomes and achieving our goals.

A good start is to look into the mirror and say: “I love you” (watch this for inspiration). It might bring stuff up so use it to learn about you and what is in the way to loving yourself. This is the first step to truly loving others and serving them in the best and biggest way possible.

8)      Forgive and forget. Young children are so resilient and amazing at forgiving. When you (accidentally) get angry and yell at them, do you notice how quickly they forget it and in a few moments talk to you as if nothing ever happened. It makes them vulnerable but at the same time so effective at communicating.

Imagine talking to a person be that your colleague or your relative as if nothing bad ever happened between you two. Communicating with openness and kindness you show respect to the person you are talking to as well as to yourself. Drop your story of what has happened between you and the person you are talking to, let them BE (and don’t take things personally ;-) ). Feel how much more effective your communication becomes.

9)      Know your preferences. I am amazed how my children always know exactly what they want and have strong opinions about everything. I believe this is because young children are in touch with their desires and with themselves.

We are so scattered and splattered during our busy working day, so disconnected with ourselves that often we make decisions in a reactive state choosing something we don’t really want or like. Getting in touch with yourself and with your desires and priorities will make it easy for you to say Yes to things you like and No to the things you don’t want in your life.

10)      Start each day like it’s your birthday… or Christmas, or Easter. When we boil eggs for breakfast boys often colour them before eating them. Just because! When we bake a cake the boys usually insist on blowing candles and singing songs – why not? Every day is so precious and I am thrilled to see the boys choose to celebrate each one of them.

Start you day by doing something for yourself, be that reading a book, listening to an audio book or having the best breakfast you can possibly have. During the day do something you LOVE, that makes your heart sing. Do what you love more often and do less of what you don’t like. It makes for a happier working environment as well as for a balanced life! Also, this way being productive becomes more effortless.

11)      If you can dream it, you can do it. It was an early morning and the boys demanded to build a lighthouse. “Oh, no”, I said, “it’s too difficult” (forgive me, it WAS an early morning). The boys insisted, they wanted a lighthouse, they dreamed it. They listed every little detail the lighthouse will have. It took some time and efforts, but we got a pipe, a flashlight, a rope, and some bed sheets and with some twiddling it all made a lovely lighthouse. The boys were overjoyed.

Start by re-visiting your dream and spending your leisure moments on thinking about tiny details that will constitute your creation. Be open to opportunities, and take them once they arise. You CAN do it ;-)

12)      Reach out for support. “Mommy, help!” “Daddy, help!” I hear it all the time. The boys are totally fine asking for help, they are not ashamed of this, neither afraid to look like wimps. They KNOW who to ask if they need help.

Adults are often ashamed to reach out for support in very important instances or simply don’t know where to seek help. I am so appreciative I have a mentor, Elaine Bailey, who is there to support me in my ups and downs, share her wisdom and experience and encourage me on my path. I am also grateful that many of my readers trusted me enough to go through my mentoring programs and some continued with receiving personal coaching from me.

It’s OK to reach our for support, it’s not embarrassing, it means you honour yourself and are ready for growth! You can always start today HERE.

Olga Degtyareva is a Productivity Mentor for Scientists who is helping scientists around the world to overcome overwhelm, become more productive, get in charge of their day while feeling happier in their lives. Start your journey to a more productive working day and a more balanced life by visiting http://olgadegtyareva.com and checking out her blog articles and free downloadable resources.

January 15, 2013

New Contributing Author – Meet Kayla

Me, out-standing in my field.

 Hey there! For my first post, I just thought I’d do a little fake interview with myself so you could get to know a little bit more about me and where I’m coming from!

  • Who are you and how are you affiliated with academia?
    • My name is Kayla and I’m a second year graduate student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, USA.  I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Microbiology and currently I’m working on my Ph.D. in the Evolution, Ecology and Behavior program studying Microbial Ecology, or how microbes interact with their environment. After I graduate, I hope to continue working in academia by conducting research and teaching. 
  • What started you on your path to academia?
    • While I loved being outside in nature and exploring, it wasn’t until High School when I really thought about science as a career. Actually, it was the first time that I considered that science COULD be a career! But at that point, I still wasn’t sure what type of science I wanted to focus on. During my undergraduate career I bounced around from Meteorology to Environmental Science to Geographic Information Science (GIS) to Botany to Microbiology and even a little Ecology at the end. I don’t really remember making the decision to go to grad school either – it was just the unspoken path of continuing my education. I loved science, I loved education, and I loved learning. It was a no brainer and I was on that path from the start of my undergrad career.
  • What motivates you?
    • I really just have a passion for learning, exploring, and problem solving. Coming up with a really good question and figuring out a way to answer it is a lot of fun! On a related note, education is something I’m also really passionate about. I was so fortunate to have an extremely positive experience in public education, but I believe our (US) system is failing our kids, specifically in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. We need to get them excited about learning again – and then we won’t need to force the material. Don’t worry, I know I’m probably on the wrong career path to make a huge difference here, but trust me, you don’t want me teaching the younger generations. I’m hoping that I can still make a difference in higher education, at least. 
  • Entering a STEM field, have you ever had an issue with being a woman?

    • Short answer, none that I know of, but I recognize that I’ve had a pretty fortunate life. First of all, I grew up in a household which never forced me to fit any type of stereotype or life plan. Sure I was a “tom-boy” but I also loved cooking, wanted a pony, and was even known to play with Barbies. I had a very supportive home and learning environment; I’m so thankful to my parents for bringing me up that way. In high school, there was definitely no culture of “women can’t do science or math.” In fact, all of my math teachers were women. Again, I grew up in a white, middle class neighborhood, but it never crossed my mind that girls shouldn’t be doing math/science. I’ve still never been told or believed otherwise.  (I worded this question poorly, but I wanted to get this viewpoint out there)
  • What is something you want to tell young women?
    • Be confident about yourself and your abilities. Don’t ever let someone talk you down and don’t ever be afraid to speak up and fight for what you want or what you believe in. Do everything you can to follow your dreams; challenge any obstacles and don’t back down.
  • What do you do when you’re not working?
    • Hanging out and commiserating with fellow graduate student friends, reading, cooking, napping, trying to keep up on blogging, hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, and Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead watching.
  • What do you hope to contribute to the Ambitious Women blog?
    • Just my opinion and perspective on things I find important and interesting in the world. Obviously I’m a big fan of science, but I also have a strong interests in education and gender issues in STEM fields. And I’ll provide my viewpoint as young, female, science graduate student from Indiana, USA. : )

If you have any other questions about me or my background, feel free to ask!

January 8, 2013

Honest Methods, overly so

Since yesterday #overlyhonestmethods on twitter has caused plenty of us scientists to chuckle – sometimes in recognition.  Here is a storify of them.

January 5, 2013

Boorsboim and Wagenmakers reviews Stapels Derailed.

Boordsboim and Wagematers reviewed Stapels Autobiography of the fraud. Worth reading. Plus, then I muse some on fraud and fraudsters and non-frauds…

Åse Fixes Science

Well, Stapel’s autobiography has been reviewed, by Denny Borsboom and Erik-Jan Wagenmakers. I appreciate them taking the bullet for the rest of us – kind of necessary since it is only in Dutch. I won’t be reading it, even if they would translate it. I have an abhorrence for train-wrecks (reality TV induces a particular odd nausea in me, a mix of the feeling of sucking on a long since sucked ice-cream stick, and extreme fardo). Some Social Psychologist I am.

Of course, as others have pointed out (we are, after all, all psychologists), you have to take the self-disclosure account with a grain of salt, with all the self-presentation issues that exists.

Interesting though, with him actually writing about his experience (apart from the completely angry cynical gut response I have – shared with others – that it is his attempt again to get into the spotlight, which…

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January 3, 2013

On Historical Validity

Reblogged from www.berthapappenheim.weebly.com

“Dear Hilda R., I`m sorry but I just can`t stand biographical novels. For the historian, they are a pollution, plain and simple. So I do not see I can be of any help to you. Sincerely, Peter Swales” 

I received the above email from Freud historian Peter Swales in response to a request I had made for help with my research. Interestingly, it homed straight in on the essence of my project. When I set out to write a biographical novel about the illness of Bertha Pappenheim, the ‘founding patient’ of psychoanalysis, my aim was as much investigatory as creative. I wanted to find out what kind of picture would emerge if the account provided by her doctor, Josef Breuer, was brought to life. I was also curious to see if this picture would be credibly consistent with the ideas which Breuer and his friend Sigmund Freud developed on the basis of that account. In the event, I found that the process of narrativisation turned out to be a research tool in itself.

My primary sources were two case histories written by Breuer:

  • the 1882 Case History, addressed to the director of the clinic where Bertha was hospitalised after Breuer stopped treating her
  • the 1895 Case History, which appeared in Studies on Hysteria, published jointly by Breuer and Freud.

I decided to focus primarily on the 1882 history as the 1895 one was produced more than ten years after the events. Moreover, appearing in the public domain, it would have avoided any features which might identify the patient. A third consideration was that, consciously or unconsciously, it may have been massaged to fit the theories being developed by Freud and Breuer.

My first obstacle was the style of the 1882 history. I found it garbled and rambling, and the terminology imprecise. Although it is true that the case history as a genre was still undeveloped in the 19th century, I have read a number of medical articles from the period from journals such as Brain, The Lancet and The British Medical Journal without encountering any of those problems.

At a more practical level I found that the work of dramatising the case history forced me to examine it from a perspective which had possibly never been brought to it before. The following are just a few examples:

  • Breuer (1882) refers to his observations of Bertha’s behaviour during the Hannukah festival of 1880. Because I needed to incorporate details of Jewish daily life in my narrative, I consulted a Jewish calendar for the years in question. In doing so I found that Hannukah, which is a moveable festival, occurred in November of 1880, before Breuer’s treatment of Bertha was underway.
  • At times Bertha spoke only in English. Breuer (1895) claimed to have communicated with her in this language, and described her English as ‘admirable’ and ‘excellent’. Yet there is no evidence from Breuer’s educational records, listed in detail by Albrecht Hirschmuller, of his ever having learned English although his study of other languages is noted.
  • The presenting symptom was a severe cough, one which lasted during Bertha’s illness until the original problem (hearing dance music while she was caring for her sick father) was discovered. This cough, diagnosed as hysterical, was reportedly triggered every time Bertha heard rhythmic music. But given that Bertha was housebound for much of this period, in a pre-gramophone/radio era, it is difficult to see how she could have been exposed to the sound of music, apart perhaps from the occasional barrel organ in the street. How, I wondered, could the cough have occurred with such frequency in these circumstances that it was judged severe and requiring medical attention?
  • Bertha apparently reported 15 instances of deafness brought on by shaking. Breuer claimed it stemmed from her being shaken by her brother on one occasion when she was listening at the door of her father’s sickroom. Again it is difficult to see how she could have had the experience of being shaken at all subsequently when she was ill and housebound.

It is interesting to consider those findings in light of the view expressed by Swales. It would suggest that, in the case of Bertha Pappenheim at least, the ‘historical’ version has no right to claim the veridical high ground.

David Lodge, in The Practice of Writing, discusses the novelist’s struggle between ‘a desire to claim an imaginative and representative truth for their stories’ and ‘a conviction that the best way to secure and guarantee that truthfulness is by a scrupulous respect for empirical fact’. I have adopted those as my two guiding principles.

Hilda Reilly,  author of Guises of Desire, a biographical novel about the life of Bertha Pappenheim


Breuer, Josef, ‘The Case History of Bertha Pappenheim (Anna O.)’, in Albrecht Hirschmuller, The Life and Work of Josef Breuer: Physiology and Psychoanalysis (New York: New York University Press, 1989), pp. 276-292

Breuer, Josef, ‘Fraulein Anna O’ in Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud, Studies on Hysteria, trans. James and Alix Strachey (London, Pelican 1974), pp. 73-102

Breuer, Josef and Sigmund Freud, Studies on Hysteria, trans. James and Alix Strachey (London, Pelican 1974)

Hirschmuller, Albrecht, The Life and Work of Josef Breuer: Physiology and Psychoanalysis (New York: New York University Press, 1989)

Lodge, David, The Practice of Writing (London: Penguin, 1996)

December 31, 2012

2012, Summary

So, Alice inspired me. What I did 2012.

...not that kind of psychologist

Last day of 2012 (already tomorrow in Australia of course).  Alice wrote what she has accomplished on the joint blog she started (and that I’m pleased to be part of).  I usually feel like I have accomplished nothing, because nothing got into print.  Pessimists r us.  Then again, maybe I should try to list what I have done. A month ago, I made an impromptu to-do list on my iphone, and rushed through tasks, and as I sat down and though I had gotten nothing done, again, I looked at what I had crossed off.  Hmmm.  Something got done.

So, what did I do, 2012?

I started with having a masters student successfully defending his paper (or whatever it is called, it was done, and he got his degree, and is now about to become a licenced psychologist). Interesting research done in Thailand. No real results. Until, um, I discovered…

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December 31, 2012

What did I do in 2012?

What did I do in 2012?

I went to Norway for my final MSc research project.

I started a Facebook group for highly intelligent people.

I graduated cum laude (with highest distinction).

I got a PhD position.

I moved within the Netherlands.

I started an international group blog for ambitious women in the academic world.

I submitted my first scientific article.

I lost my last grandmother.

And then I very much needed some time off to recharge for 2013.

And what did you do?

Alice Karen is carrying out her PhD in Marine biology.

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