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Misery, relatively


alexjuice

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One of my favorite psychology ideas comes from the poker literature – specifically Mike Caro’s “threshold of misery”. Mike’s point, paraphrased, is that there’s a difference between how bad a situation is objectively and how bad people feel about their miserable circumstances. Sure, as a situation gets worse, we feel worse. But eventually we hit a point where they feel about as sh*tty as is possible. Analytically speaking the situation can get worse, but there’s only so bad you can feel about it. That boundary is the threshold of misery.

 

... elaborating ...

 

Mike’s point was that people make stupid decisions around the threshold because the psychological risk/reward ratio is different from the real one. If your dog just died, you don’t really care if you get a traffic ticket on the way home from the vet. The dog’s still dead. But rationally speaking you should care – that ticket will still cost you $237 or whatever. In poker the manifestation was that players who had just taken a huge loss would subsequently make stupid bets in an ill-fated chance to get even. This was of course totally destructive from a monetary point of view, but actually “correct” psychologically – if they won and got back to even, they felt better. If they lost, they couldn’t feel any worse.

 

It's important that I remember that things can always get better or worse ... no matter how bad I feel they are.

"Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast
I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me.

Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there
Everybody's got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now."

- Zimmerman

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This is interesting.

 

This must be why when my husbands tells me he's seen improvement in me....I look at him like he's got two heads.

 

My perception is so distorted about my progress sometimes. Does not mean I'm not getting better though. Hmmmmmm.

Started Fluoxetine Jan. 2010

Tried to go off of it in Sept. 2010

Weaned too fast and was back on it by Nov. 2010

Didn't work as good the second time around.

Started to wean again in Nov. 2011 and was off for good by April? 2012

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  • 1 month later...

Well, I've come to think that most people eventually are humbled by a health problem for which there is no quick, conventional cure. One advantage of having survived thus far my ordeal is that I've come to think this and after gaining this knowledge I can never be so traumatically uprooted again.

 

It's somewhat relieving for me to think that there's more for improvement than there is for worsening. So while things can only get worse, I'm at the point where my life already feels about as bad as its gonna feel.

 

I guess that's the advantage. At this point, getting worse is not as scary to me as getting sick might be to self-deluding healthy person. My acceptance is much improved.

"Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast
I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me.

Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there
Everybody's got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now."

- Zimmerman

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