Parental Expectations, Perfectionism and Spirituality

A fascinating study from the University of Michigan has recently revealed a correlation between perfectionism, spirituality and parental expectations.

Chang et al examined the relationships between perfectionism and spirituality in a sample of college students. They found that students who exhibited perfectionist behaviours, such as maintaining excessively high personal standards and organisational skills, also scored highly on a spirituality scale.

100_0556.JPGUpon conducting regression analyses, the team found that dimensions of perfectionism were also unique predictors of different dimensions of spirituality, and that parental expectations were a positive predictor for all three dimensions of spirituality being studied.

Interestingly, maladaptive dimensions of perfectionism, such as concern about making mistakes or parental criticism, were negatively associated with spirituality.

Personally, I would be interested in seeing an extension of this study in which the religious beliefs of the adult students were charted against those of their parents, in particular looking at those who had converted to a different religious faith upon growing up. Presumably Chang et al‘s results indicated that the level of spirituality remains the same regardless of the beliefs themselves, but I believe it would be interesting to look into conversion rates, compared with the general population, and any potential differences in fervency of belief between those who had converted to a different spiritual belief system and those who had remained with the beliefs of their parents.

The full study can be found in volume 79 of Personality and Individual Differences.

photo credit: 100_0556.JPG via photopin (license)


Notebook Scribblings – Part Two

The other day, my computer broke and I had to find the receipt to check whether it was still in warranty (it wasn’t). This led to a frantic scrambling through the drawers in my office, where I found several cardboard boxes marked ‘receipts’. When I opened one of them, out fell a load of pieces of paper that definitely weren’t receipts, which turned out to be notes I made on scraplets of paper between the ages of about 17-21.

I don’t know what I meant by some of them, but perhaps typing them up will jog something in my memory and I’ll end up solving the Riemann hypothesis. More likely, I’ll never work out what most of them meant and will remain as confused as I no doubt was when I wrote them.

Anyway. Here goes.

Did they need their solitude? Wise women and cunning folk in pre-Christian society. Set apart because “wisdom” (of their sort) springs partly from solitude, but everyone knew who they were. When Christianity came along, it was all about the community becoming a homogenous mass of belief; anyone on the outskirts was immediately and automatically viewed with suspicion?

Role of imagination in forming the world. Strong desire. Will.

The overcoming of matter

JpegInterior glasses through which knowledge passes
Falling into the traps of the antinomies

(No, surprisingly, I wasn’t on drugs. Just weird.)

Perhaps I wore a hairnet of the mind,
To stop trailing tendrils
Across my thoughts.

(Still not on drugs. Somehow.)

Why is it that the very successful always have to break out of the cycle? If the cycle were really that great, wouldn’t the most successful be the ones who stayed in it?

JpegIs this the bread? I think it is. But maybe that’s just because we’re observing it; maybe it’s not really there at all. And maybe we’re not really going to eat it. And maybe the universe is fractal and Einstein was wrong. But right now it’s 4.00 in the morning and I don’t really care.

It’s all about definitions. Once you know the word, you know the thing.

Is there a universal linguistic form?

Correlation between subjects chosen to study at A-level and personality type/susceptibility to certain types of mental illness

To cut a long story short: An essay on contemporary culture

Why is human life so full of grotesque irony?

Disappear in a puff of logic

Ayez donc le coeur si plein, que la vengeance ne peut y trouver place.

Boethius – simultaneous observation
Existence as a temporal concept

Can you predict that which is undetermined?
Is Jung talking?

Can potentiality have a history?


To make a promise is to vouch for oneself as future. Such is the long history of the origin of responsibility. Responsibility without promises?

Pregnant with the future

Without causation, would life be suspended?

“Some things are so important that they cannot be communicated directly.” – Søren Kierkegaard

If we project words onto god, how do we know we’re hitting our target? Couldn’t we equally be projecting god onto words? The priority is god’s speech about godself, and everything else flows from that.

“Deus est circulus cuius centrum est ubique, cuius circumferentia vero nusquam.”

Is Jung talking about god, or about an aspect of the self that he’s calling god? Is there an aspect of the self with which we can know the reality of god? Or is this god?

God transcends the categories that the human mind can use, but the knowledge of god is caused by “psychical collision”. With what?

“The movement towards god is through interiority.”

Dieu est lieu?

Does god lie on the outside of the limits of what our reason can handle?

The inner reality of selfhood; how do you know that ‘the god’ encountered in the self is really distinct from the self?

Is religion what you do with your solitude?

Prayer is a ritual whose point lies in itself

JpegStrange, isn’t it, how  you can suddenly wake up and see the world through a haze, as if it isn’t really there. Or perhaps it is there, and you’re not.

Is movement any more than imagination?

“‘If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, is there a sound?’ Forget the sound, is there a tree?” – Peter Gallagher

What is life a tangent from?

“It is in mathematics that our thinking processes have their purest form.” – Penrose, Shadows of the Mind. Looking at his views re. Goedel’s theorem, does this mean that thought, in its purest form, is not sound? 😉

Might the cosmos not exist without our understanding? And might that not be true of ouselves? “Things are the way they are because we understand them.”

Can an actual infinite ever ‘exist at a particular time’?Jpeg
What if paradox IS the answer? pcq souvent on y arrive !

Do there have to be words about god for human beings to know god?

…reach the final point, where self-consciousness is conscious of itself.

What is it like to be, and to know non-being as my horizon?

Could we apply the notions of nonbeing and non-existence discussed in the introduction to Plato’s Sophist in a direct relationship with the concept of nothing in philosophy of mathematics?

There are several more, but I’ll leave it there for now. I do enjoy ploughing through old notebooks, though. It allows me to reknow myself as I was several years ago. And in some ways, I strive to recapture the time when everything was philosophy. I’ve lost some of that, in going to work all day and doing jobs that require my mind to be turned to them. When I was at university, I was working in a shoe shop, which meant that I could spend all day thinking about philosophy and no one was any the wiser (pun unintended…). Now, however, my mind is taken up by spreadsheets and clients and to-do lists, and I’d like to get back to a stage where that isn’t entirely the case.

But, you know, philosophy’s not such a feasible career option these days, and a girl’s gotta make rent.

Your challenge for today: I dare you to find an old diary, notebook or blog, reread it and remember fondly the parts of yourself that have been swallowed up since you had to become a Responsible Adult.

Paper Planning for 2015

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since September. The final part of 2014 went by really quickly and most of it was spent travelling around doing all my other jobs, so despite having a couple of other papers to write I didn’t get around to looking at them at the end of the year. This means I now have to plan my papers for 2015 and probably have a bit more work to do than I’d anticipated. But that’s not exactly something I’m unused to.

There are three main papers planned this year:

1. A study of atheists travelling the Santiago pilgrimage. We met quite a lot of them along the way and conducted some interesting interviews. We have a paper already written, but it needs to be expanded with a bit more of a literature review, and maybe made into something a bit more involved than just a research note.

2. A study of the psychological impact of investigating crimes against children online, and the different methods people use to deal with this. I still need to start reading the literature on this; I’ve read a lot about the investigative methods themselves, but not so much about the psychology behind the investigators’ motives for doing these jobs and their coping methods, so that’s step one for this project. And funding, I need to find funding. That’s always the exciting part…

3. And if those two get under way properly and aren’t too time-taxing, I’m also thinking about doing a study into the psychology of terrorism and its similarities with fringe religious cults. Specifically, looking at the ways in which counter-terror deprogramming methods parallel the steps taken to deal with people who have been brainwashed by religious indoctrination.

Studies #2 and #3 are quite ambitious projects, I think, which will take a lot of time and involvement, but I’m hoping I can get at least one of them started this year. Plus, the bulk of the actual work for #1 has already been done, I just need to write the literature review and add in a few more statistical bits, so I’m sure it will be fine. Or that’s what I’m telling myself.

What about you? What are your research plans for the year?

Notebook Scribblings – Part One

Scribblings from my notebooks over the past few weeks

In his book The Shadow of the Sun, Ryszard Kapuscinski discusses teletypists in Dar es Salaam, who are taught to copy not words or sentences, but letter after letter, meaning that they can transcribe into any language with great speed and accuracy. “So far as we’re concerned,” they said, “we are not sending meanings, but marks”.

I couldn’t help but see a correlation with Searle’s Chinese room. Implications for AI? Perhaps.

Notes from The Logical Syntax of Language by Carnap:

We may aim at discovering a definite criterion of validity – that is to say, a criterion of a kind such that the question of its non-fulfilment could in every individual instance be decided in a finite number of steps by means of a strictly established method. If a criterion of this kind were discovered we should then possess a method of solution for mathematical problems; we could, so to speak, calculate the truth or falsehood of every given sentence, for example, of the celebrated Theorem of Fermat.

Pure syntax, of course, cannot speak of individual sentences as physical things, but only of designs and forms.

Syntax, pure and descriptive, is nothing more than the mathematics and physics of language.

Notes from Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology by Dennett:

It used to be popular to say “A computer can’t really think, of course; all it can do is add, subtract, multiply and divide.” That leaves the way open to saying, “A computer can’t really multiply, of course; all it can do is add numbers together very, very fast,” and that must lead to the admission: “A computer cannot really add numbers, of course; all it can do is control the opening and closing of hundreds of tiny switches,” which leads to: “A computer can’t really control its switches, of course: it’s simply at the mercy of the electrical currents pulsing through it.” What this chain of claims adds up to “prove”, obviously, is that computers are really pretty dull lumps of stuff – they can’t do anything interesting at all. They can’t really guide rockets to the moon, or make out paychecks, or beat human beings at chess, but of course they can do all that and more.

Notes from Star Trek:

I object to intellect without discipline. I object to power without constructive purpose. – Spock

General notes & thoughts:

“Feels” etc. – internet language – and the international nature of the internet; its effects on communication.

Quotes – The Analysis of Mind

Bertrand Russell was one of my favourite authors when I first became interested in philosophy, and he’s still someone whose work I refer to often. Here are some quotes from The Analysis of Mind, an excellent introductory text to the philosophy of mind.

‘A consistent fairytale is a different thing from truth, however elaborate it may be.’

‘A recollection is aroused by something which is happening now, but is different from the effect which the present occurrence would have produced if the recollected event had not occurred.’

‘All our data, both in physics and psychology, are subject to psychological causal laws; but physical causal laws, at least in traditional physics, can only be stated in terms of matter, which is both inferred and constricted, never a datum. In this respect psychology is nearer to what actually exists.’

‘Moral considerations are the worst enemies of the scientific spirit and we must dismiss them from our minds if we wish to arrive at truth.’

‘The primitive non-cognitive element in desire seems to be a push, not a pull, an impulsion away from the actual, rather than an attraction towards the ideal.’

The Pilgrimage Project Photo Diary

Around the fire at the Stonehenge winter solstice.
Around the fire at the Stonehenge winter solstice.
The morning ceremony at Stonehenge in December was not warm.
The morning ceremony at Stonehenge in December was not warm.
Being mature academic researchers, we made faces in our salads.
Being mature academic researchers, we made faces in our salads.
The restaurant where we ate dinner had pet cats.
The restaurant where we ate dinner had pet cats.
Wandering around Glastonbury was a necessary part of the project, of course.
What's a research project without a selfie?
What’s a research project without a selfie?
The view from the Tor.
The view from the Tor.
The Goddess weekend opening ceremony.
The Goddess weekend opening ceremony.
A procession of Pagan pilgrims through Glastonbury.
A procession of Pagan pilgrims through Glastonbury.
Ritual at the Chalice Well.
Ritual at the Chalice Well.
A Pagan procession.
A Pagan procession.

Child Maltreatment Victims – Attitudes In Court

In a study released recently in the Children and Youth Services Review, researchers investigated the attitudes of maltreated children involved in court hearings.

Specifically, the research examined whether the type of abuse (sexual vs. physical vs. neglect), the type of court (dependency vs. criminal), and child and abuse characteristics predicted child victims’ feelings about seeing defendants in court and answering questions in the courtroom.

Data were collected from interviews with the children and from their court files. Results indicated that girls testifying about sexual abuse felt the strongest levels of negativity about seeing defendants in the courtroom, whereas the smallest levels of negativity were shown when the abuse was physical and the victims were appearing in dependency court.

The more severe the maltreatment, and the older the children were at the time of the court hearing, the greater the negative feelings were.

The full paper can be accessed via ScienceDirect.