A reader kindly sent me this article.
I don’t agree with its analysis, but it has some interesting points about using what vs why can have a significantly different effect.
During my stint in psychiatry, I learnt perhaps the most helpful question: what makes you say that? Notably, not a why question even though it asks about the same thing.
I also remember a brilliant psychiatrist giving a patient advice. The patient had a personality disorder and started reading about them to understand why she has it. He told her that at that point reading that could make it worse – and that interventions such as mindfulness and therapy were superior.
As for my disagreement. The article suggests introspective people are unhappy. It assumes and, with a very simple experiment, shows that asking why causes people to be sad. I think that introspective people aren’t sad because they are introspective, but sad and poorly self-aware people turn to introspection. And Negative Capability is still a thing.