Don’t ask why?…

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.

4 thoughts on “Don’t ask why?…”

  1. “…sad and poorly self-aware people turn to introspection.”

    Very true.

    Excessive introspection is, with regards to men, a very unattractive trait (especially to women). He should know want he wants and then pursue that thing with relentless passion and courage.


  2. I only skimmed the article and plan to read it in more depth later, but based on your comments and my skim, it seems like this is another problem of what I’ve come to call dichotomizing. It’s basically black and white thinking, though perhaps a softer version of it that doesn’t lead to “good vs. evil” but still to “superior vs. inferior.”

    Unfortunately for bloggers trying to write short posts and for people seeking simple answers, the real truth is always complex. Some people have done no introspection and, therefore, their “what” questions are less likely to address their real problems. Some people find introspection so valuable at first that they fail to realize when they’ve exhausted its usefulness and are ready to move on. The answer that’s right depends on the individual — and can change over the course of time, too.

    I’ve found introspection very useful over the past year or two, and have also come to recognize that it’s time to turn from the internal world to the external world, because I’ve gotten the internal world more or less sorted out (or at least enough to go forward externally). For introverted types is that this can be tough to do — inertia and all! But that doesn’t mean that introspection didn’t do them any good.

    If the article covers this or raises any other good points, I’ll come back to update this later. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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