Space Madness and the Anthropology of Aliens?

Over at the Mindhacks  blog, the authors have a great post on the Rise and Fall of Space Madness. The post discusses how during the 1950’s the popular belief regarding space travel was that it would have a negative affect on the mental health of astronauts. It was thought that long stretches of time, along with space stress and loneliness would inevitably traumatize the mind. What NASA scientists found was the opposite and what seems to be even more interesting (at least to me) is how Hollywood was able to profit on a culturally created “space madness disease”  that in actuality-never happened. What’s even more clear is that this perceived madness is still popular today.

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Study habit(us)

In both my anthropology classes, I’ve been getting a great introduction to classic and modern anthropological theory. Just recently we had a couple of readings that had to do with embodiment. In many of these readings, the anthropologist Pierre Bourdieu and his concept of ‘habitus‘ were referenced. Habitus as defined by Bourdieu (1990) is a principle that consists of objects of knowledge,  a system of structured and structuring dispositions; it is a system of interacting elements or as Smith (2003) calls it, an attribute of individuals.

It’s this idea of habitus that Bourdieu places great importance on the body and action. Central to his concept is that habitus occurs through embodiment. When I read  Mindhack’s article on Study Habits that discussed inherent studying habits that have been occurring since education and teaching have existed,  I was intrigued with the possible notion of how we embody learning habits and how we can embody better study habits that move us (as students) from a passive role to active role. So instead of simply ingesting a lecture, we are now creating a dialogue with it; transforming the objective into subjective (from spectator to participant). It’s interesting to see that by thinking ‘deeply’, we can purposely affect our memory and what our minds are correlating.

Stressed? Who isn’t?

Feeling very exhausted this morning. I didn’t get to bed until 5am. It’s interesting how sleep and stress are directly related. I’d like to think that stress is some alien emotion that has nothing to do with the realm of sleep, but there it goes, intruding with creeping thoughts and sticky fingers. Yikes!

Last week was the culmination of a variety of stressors; it was tax week, graduate application  deadlines week, not to mention the annual performance-review-at-work week. All these events in one week doesn’t bode well for a luxurious sleep.

So it was with great timing that I stumbled upon a related blog post at NeuroAnthropology discussing just this problem: Worry and Stress.

The writer along with his colleagues hope to explore the different facets of “insecurity, stress, and mental and behavioral health in their long-term fieldsite in Costa Rica.”

They’ve listed a great bibliography that makes a librarian like me happy and well less stressed. The bibliography links out to various abstracts and studies occurring in the realm of stress and psychology. Some highlights from their list:

Boutain, D.M
2001 Managing worry, stress and high blood pressure: African-American women holding it together through ‘family’. Ethnicity & Disease 11(4):773.

Nolen-Hoeksema, S., B. E. Wisco, and S. Lyubomirsky
2008 Rethinking rumination. Perspectives on Psychological Science 3(5):400-424.

Schoenberg, N. E., et al.
2005 Situating stress: Lessons from lay discourses on diabetes. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 19(2):171-193.

Wells, A., and C. Papageorgiou
1995 Worry and the incubation of intrusive images following stress. Behaviour Research and Therapy 33(5):579-583.

For the entire blog post over at NeuroAnthropology, click here.