Do You feel Lucky?

I gave a talk yesterday and listened to one by a psychologist – an engaging one, but one who still left me with most of the questions I end up carrying after listening to a psychologist. There are two that tend to recur.
      First of all, although she took pains to explain what she saw as the events which had inspired here work (her family history, her personal relationship to the subject she was discussing) I found myself wondering what her enthusiasm left her impatient of, or intolerant of, and why her passionate perspective felt more like an advertisement for looking on the bright side than an exploration of the unknown.
      Secondly, thinking about the unknown (which I’d hope anyone wanting to understand something about life would engage with, as I believe there’s a much of life that can’t be known) I think it helps to have read not just the apparently evidence-based literature deriving from psychological studies, but all of the kinds of of writing that explore how people live, from psychoanalysts like Freud to novelists like Jackie Collins. I imagine there’s more of an evidence base for Lucky, or at least more of one that I’d trust, than for most of the psychological studies I’ve read.
      Or, put another way, I’d trust Jackie Collins as a guide to how and why we do things than Stanley Milgram.
      Literature, all kinds of it, gives me a feeling for life that can never be measured but which I trust deeply. Psychology usually just gives me another study to read; and of course I often read them, but I’m usually left thinking someone else said it far better, perhaps because they simply wrote about the things they saw happening rather than trying to make them happen.
     If there’s a hierarchy of places I go to help me think about how people live psychological studies probably sit somewhere near focus group reports, vicars’ sermons, Guardian editorials and songs by bands like The Eagles.

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