Friday, April 30, 2010

"Hurry Up and Wait"

4/30/10. Clive Thompson reviews Albert-Laszlo Barabasi's "Bursts."

"It turns out that this pattern—explosions of activity, followed by quiet—are not just a personal quirk of mine. Odds are, you deal with your email in much the same way. According to Albert-László Barabási's "Bursts," this "bursty" pattern governs almost everything we do and even much of what happens in the natural world."

"Humor in Hopelessness"

4/30/10. Joseph Epstein reviews "Zeno's Conscience," by Ettore Schmitz a.k.a. Italo Svevo.

Epstein writes, "Svevo's subject is the weakness of the will, or abulia, and how a dreamy nature has little chance up against the temptations set out by the amazing and obdurate reality of life. In "Zeno's Conscience," Zeno Cosini, an unexceptional Trieste businessman, pits his will against the enslaving habit of smoking, the complexities of courtship, the delights of philandery, the discipline required by business, and loses every time, yet cannot quite be said to go down in defeat."

Monday, April 26, 2010


4/26/10. What do the scientists --- especially the experts on the psychology of decision-making --- have to say about the ash cloud?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Michigan Psychological Association, Distinguished Psychologist Award, 2010

4/18/10. Recognition from my peers - How sweet it is.

I am grateful to MPA for this honor and the opportunities I’ve had to serve Michigan psychologists. To teach is to learn twice. And, to serve MPA is to never stop learning. And I have learned so much meeting psychologists from around the state and across the country. I have made some good friends.

I thank the MPA President, Dr. Bill Bloom, the MPA Board, and our Executive Director, Dr. Judith Kovach, and the President of MPF, Richard Lobenthal. Congratulations to Dr. Carol Ellstein on receiving the Beth Clark Award, and Dr. Jeff Andert for receiving the Past President award. Without these people --- and you, my work could not have been carried out.

I especially want to thank my friend and colleague, Dr. Jack Haynes. We have worked together on behalf of MPA for many years. And now it is time to reveal a secret: Jack and I are identical twins, separated at birth and reared apart, and were reunited through the Minnesota twin studies.

Whenever I think about awards, I remember what the comedian Jack Benny said when he received an award. Jack Benny said, “I don’t deserve this award --- but I have arthritis, and I don’t deserve that either.”

I have been a lucky guy. I had two parents who stayed together and raised 5 kids. I had a wise, child amusing father and have a resilient, caring mother who turns 90 next January. My brothers and sister and I have spent many good times together.

And I am grateful for every hour I spent fishing with my brothers and dad, seriously pursuing so much silliness. There are many life lessons that fishing teaches.

Unless you go into a field such as psychology you may forget to count your blessings. You don’t know how many people are secretly unhappy; you don’t know how few adults there are in the world; you don’t know how many people come from ruptured, troubled families; and you don’t know how many people have so little to draw on from their memory banks of good times; and you don’t know how to explain so much resilience to life’s struggles from many seemingly ordinary people.

And I have been lucky in love. I have been addicted to one woman for 37 years and I have no plans to attend rehab. I could not have gotten distinguished without here. And we are both proud of our two daughters Barb and Sharon and son-in-law Dan who is a newly minted psychologist. Patty is in New York this weekend with her high school theater group performing plays on violence prevention.

My brother and his wife, Mike and Paula Ceresnie are here and I’m glad they could come. They have always been by my side during many terrific times and some rough patches.

I have also been lucky in teachers. I have been meeting with Dr. Joseph Fischhoff for many years, a now retired child psychiatrist from Children’s Hospital in Detroit. I first met Joe when he was a consultant to a Federally Funded Grant on Child Abuse that was part of my dissertation. I once asked Joe when I should raise my prices, his reply captures the definition of a distinguished psychologist: “When you get gray hair and hemorrhoids. Gray hair is for wisdom. Hemorrhoids are for the look of concern.”

I cannot overestimate the influence of my Uncle George Horwich, a Professor of Economics at Purdue for 50 years. We talked at least once a week for many years. His recent death leaves a huge hole in my life and the life of my siblings and mother. In one tribute to George a colleague said, ”He was an intellectual in the truest and most fundamental sense of that word. He never stopped trying to solve economic problems and make the world a better place”.

As you know, this is an exciting time to be a psychologist. Dr. Erdberg and this conference on “Personality Disorders” is a fine example of that excitement and knowledge.

Our romance with ingenious grand theories of how the mind works are giving way to an empirical approach to mental health assessments and treatments. We are turning to the new findings generated by such developing fields as neuroscience, cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, neuroimaging and behavioral genetics, to name but a few.

Despite our growing knowledge base, we still don’t understand the mystery of how the brain creates the mind and generates self-consciousness, the basic experience of humans on which our social and personal relationships rest. We do not understand how consciousness is produced, nor do we understand its full potential.

We still have such little science to guide us in understanding, and helping patients --- not to mention offering scientific explanations for their vulnerabilities, sufferings and resilience.

We all have so many questions, and our answers often take the form of myths, beliefs, religions and stories to tell us the “truth.”

One truth is that we can’t control the length of our life…but we can control the width. My experiences over many years with MPA have certainly contributed to widening my life. For this I am grateful. Thank you for this award.

Steven J. Ceresnie, Ph.D.
Distinguished Psychologist 2010
Michigan Psychological Association
Lansing, MI
April 16, 2010

My 9 minutes and 12 seconds of fame on youtube.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Remembering Rodney Dangerfield

4/1/10. Rodney Dangerfield died on October 5, 2004, in Los Angeles. He was eighty-two years old.

"I was an ugly kid. I worked in a pet store.
People kept asking how big I get."

"With my wife, I got no sex life. She cut me
down to once a month. Hey, I'm lucky ---
two guys I know she cut out completely."

"When I was a kid I worked tough places --- places like
Fonzo's Knuckle Room,Aldo's formerly Vito's, formerly Nunzio's.
That was a tough one, Nunzio's. I sat down to eat. On the
Menu, they had broken leg of lamb."

"I live in a tough neighborhood. When I plan my
budget, I allow for holdup money."

"With girls, I don't get no respect. I went out with a
belly dancer. She told me I turned her stomach."

"When I was a kid, I got no respect. I was
kidnapped. They sent my parents a piece of my
finger. My old man said he wanted more proof."

"The other night, I had a date with a manicurist. We went to a nightclub.
We started to hold hands. And while she was holding my hand,
she took my other hand and put it in my drink."

"I told my doctor I broke my arm in two places.
He told me to keep out of those places."

"We were poor. We were so poor, in my neighborhood, the rainbow was in
black-and white."