Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I Can Haz Insight?

General dictionary definition of insight: the ability to perceive/understand things clearly and/or deeply

Psychological insight: awareness of one's own feelings, attitudes, symptoms, and the motives and reasons behind one's actions

Assessment of insight is a basic part of a standard mental status exam. People diagnosed with mental illnesses can have pretty good insight (for example, many of those with mood or anxiety disorders). They know they have a disorder, and they understand that some of their behaviors are unusual, harmful, or sabotaging. People who have schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, as well as individuals with severe personality disorders, often have relatively poor insight. They don't necessarily recognize they have a problem at all. Often they believe the problem is other people.

Sometimes, as I sit by the sidelines and watch yet another drama unfold, I think about insight.

Insight isn't an all-or-nothing thing. Many treatments focus on helping a client develop some insight into his/her problems. You can't force insight on someone. It can't be done with logical explanations or rational argument or razor-edged criticism.

Like talking to a brick wall.
The interventions designed to cultivate insight don't focus on explanation or confrontation. They focus on creating a space in which the person has the appropriate information and the sense of safety that allows him/her to recognize what's really going on.

 Lack of insight causes a lot of frustration on all sides. It's difficult to comprehend how someone can't understand something that seems obvious to most other people.

Having insight doesn't necessarily make you feel better. Ever heard of depressive realism? Sometimes reality is kind of a downer. However, if you want to function well in this world, reality is often something you just have to deal with.

Anyway, lack of insight into one's own behavior isn't always the cause of the dramaz on the internets, but sometimes, especially in cases where one person is the clear aggressor/complainant and the rest of the avatars stand around shaking their heads at the outlandishness ... I think it has a lot to do with it.

Do you think lack of insight sometimes contributes to internet blow-ups? Can you think of an example from your electronic or real life?

12 comments:

  1. I'm not sure about internet blow-ups, and I can't even begin to explain trolls -- who blow things up on purpose. I'll venture out on a shaky limb to say that I think "lack of insight into one's own behavior" explains why some people use religion as a baseball bat to attack other people and their choices.

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  2. This is interesting. I think the hardest thing for most people to do is look in the mirror and ask, "Could I be wrong?" Justifying your own bad behavior seems to be the norm now.

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  3. I guess Im a believer in the old saying 'hindsight is 20/20'. Sometime's it's hard to have immediate insight. Pair that with poor impulse control and you've got an explosion waiting to happen:)

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  4. I've seen this happen in real life, and that person is still clueless she's was wrong even though others have pointed out her behavior is inappropriate. She perceives herself as being God and that she can do as she wants. Her insights are definitely broken.

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  5. Are you sending me down the rabbit hole again? There goes my day. :)

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  6. Okay, I'm back. So, I'm not going to mention anything specific about where you led me, because that's not the point of this post, but I do have to say: wow.

    As to insight, I've always thought of it as being even more perceptive than average. As in, if you're insightful, you figure things out sooner than most people, but I suppose that in general, insight is something that most people have, regardless of whether they figure things out quickly or not.

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  7. I like to think people wouldn't lose control as easily if they were face to face with the situation, as opposed to sitting at a computer far distant from the original commenter. Now, I suppose they would need insight to recognize that factor...

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  8. LOL! Reality can definitely be a downer. Well said.

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  9. I feel that those who lack the insight to figure out who they are...and why they act the way they do...are constantly in conflict with those around them because they have no other way to find their edges. :)

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  10. YES. To both those questions at the end. Most examples I'm thinking of are about people being total a-holes--and then not seeing it/understanding when they upset other people. Which makes me think about the connection between insight and empathy. I bet there's a strong one.

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  11. I think some people just post something to get a reaction...good or bad. I know someone who keeps posting that they are schizophrenic. I don't think they are, I think it has something to do with choices they make each day. Thanks for this post, Sarah.

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  12. I think that sometimes the insight comes too late. It's all but too easy to hit the "send" button or "publish" button when sometimes it takes hours for the insight to catch up with what's going on.

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