Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, January 18, 2021

Which you are you?

The average person has a gameface s/he wears at the office, which is shed once office hours end. But consider: If you live a third of your life in that workplace mode, why isn’t it as integral a part of your self as anything else?

What replaces the work persona outside the office is supposed to be more of the “real” person, unfettered by professional duties. But if one goes to a bar to relax, the social instinct calls for the wearing of another guise (if more enjoyable). Even if one opts to unwind in the comforts of home, that relaxed and unguarded state is yet another mask — one that seems “natural”, but really, has no more primacy than any other daily state of mind.

On top of that, interactions with certain situations, certain people, certain relationships that dictate how a personality functions. The face seen by a friend isn’t the same one seen by a lover.

So, which you is the real you?

It’s hard to pin down, probably because we all have the impulse to create and maintain alter egos, often in secret and often to extremes.

But psychologists say that most normal adults are well equipped to start a secret life, if not to sustain it. The ability to hold a secret is fundamental to healthy social development, they say, and the desire to sample other identities - to reinvent oneself, to pretend - can last well into adulthood. And in recent years researchers have found that some of the same psychological skills that help many people avoid mental distress can also put them at heightened risk for prolonging covert activities.

“In a very deep sense, you don’t have a self unless you have a secret, and we all have moments throughout our lives when we feel we’re losing ourselves in our social group, or work or marriage, and it feels good to grab for a secret, or some subterfuge, to reassert our identity as somebody apart,” said Dr. Daniel M. Wegner, a professor of psychology at Harvard. He added, “And we are now learning that some people are better at doing this than others.”

Although the best-known covert lives are the most spectacular - the architect Louis Kahn had three lives; Charles Lindbergh reportedly had two - these are exaggerated examples of a far more common and various behavior, psychologists say. Some people gamble on the sly, or sample drugs. Others try music lessons. Still others join a religious group. They keep mum for different reasons.

I think this manifests itself every day for most people, and not strictly in the work/leisure dichonomy. Putting on a new outfit, getting a haircut/hairdo, visiting a new store or restaurant — all these are little steps in testing out facets of new identities.

More broadly, the appeal of masquerade parties and Halloween celebrations speak to this desire to shed your everyday personality and don a new sense of being. Even things like superhero stories provide an outlet for this personality projection.

In both these cases, the change is mostly cosmetic and strictly surface, without much deeper meaning. It feeds a need.

But there is a dark side when the secret takes on a life of its own:

When exposure of a secret life will destroy or forever poison the public one, people must either come clean and choose, or risk mental breakdown, many therapists say.

Dr. Seth M. Aronson, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, has treated a pediatrician with a small child and a wife at home who was sneaking off at night to bars, visiting prostitutes and even fighting with some of the women’s pimps.

At one session, the man was so drunk he passed out; at another, he brought a prostitute with him. “It was one of those classic splits, where the wife was perfect and wonderful but he was demeaning these other women,” and the two lives could not coexist for long, Dr. Aronson said.

In a famous paper on the subject of double lives, published in 1960, the English analyst Dr. Donald W. Winnicott argued that a false self emerged in particular households where children are raised to be so exquisitely tuned to the expectations of others that they become deaf to their own longings and needs.

“In effect, they bury a part of themselves alive,” said Dr. Kwawer of the White Institute.

The pediatrician treated by Dr. Aronson, for example, grew up in a fundamentalist Christian household in which his mother frequently and disapprovingly compared him to his uncle, who was a rogue and a drinker. Dr. Kwawer’s patient, the real estate developer, had parents who frowned on almost any expression of appetite, and imprinted their son with a strong sense of upholding the family image. He married young, in part to please his parents.

It seems the key to holding onto a stable sense of self is to keep things in balance. An overactive secret identity can overtake you, even as its manifestation fulfills something missing.

So, which you are you? For that matter, how many “you’s” are you capable of sustaining? Once a personality’s split, there’s no reason to stop at a mere two. The possibilities, indeed, are endless.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/18/2005 11:47pm
Category: Society
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At core, sports is numbers.

I mean, yeah, there’s the effort on the field, the rush of adrenaline, the thrill of victory, and all that. But let’s face it, all that wouldn’t mean anything if it wasn’t distilled into quantitative measurements that, somehow, make it all (seem) more real.

That goes for everyone involved in the sporting experience. Teams play for the scores and the standings; players strive for the individual stats; owners make their moves for the maximum revenue opportunities; and fans indulge themselves in examination and debate of a combination of all of the above, and then some. No doubt about it: In sports, numbers rule.

So it makes sense that player uniform numbers should loom large in the sporting landscape.

Uniform numbers are as much a part of the sports world as ball, puck or performance-enhancement supplements (just kidding on that last one — mostly). They may be the only section of the scoresheet not calculated into the final results, but they’re vital nonetheless.

Even though it doesn’t mean quite as much as it used to, now that most players have their names stitched on their backs, an athlete’s uniform number is still an important identifier. The greats of their games become indelibly associated with their number; it becomes a part of their sports identity, and a shorthand for their entire careers.

So, because every sports fan invites a debate, the St. Petersburg Times’ Tom Jones presents an all-sports all-time greatest sports uniform numbers list of all time, from double-zero to 99.

Some of the notables:

11 - Mark Messier:
Isiah Thomas could play, but Messier could play, too, and he might be the greatest leader in sports history.

12 - Joe Namath:
Steelers Nation has a right to be ticked. Terry Bradshaw has more rings than any No. 12. And there are Super Bowl veterans Roger Staubach and Jim Kelly. But can’t you still see the back of Broadway Joe and that No. 12 waving “We’re No. 1″ as he leaves Super Bowl III?…

42 - Jackie Robinson:
Ronnie Lott, Mariano Rivera, James Worthy and Paul Warfield are all solid picks, but c’mon, even Major League Baseball (not just one team) retired this number.

43 - Richard Petty:
Only name even worth throwing next to the King is Dennis Eckersley.

44 - Hank Aaron:
This was not a no-brainer, not with 44s such as Pistol Pete, Reggie Jackson and Jerry West…

50 - David Robinson:
We know Bears fans would take Mike Singletary, but we go with a guy who was an MVP, scoring, rebounding and blocked shots champ and won an NBA title. Those who love Bears linebackers, look at the next number.

51 - Dick Butkus:
Not even close even though Ichiro and Randy Johnson are two of baseball’s superstars. In fact, Butkus is so synonymous with 51 we should say . . . 48, 49, 50, Butkus, 52 . . . you get the idea.

The list is partly tongue-in-cheek, and definitely intended to spark debate. In particular, the pick for jersey No. 9 should raise some eyebrows:

9 - Mia Hamm:
Let the hate mail begin. There’s Gordie Howe, Rocket Richard and Bobby Hull. And how can we be so stupid to NOT select Ted Williams? Simple, Hamm has done more to advance women’s sports than anyone. If she’s good enough to take a women’s sport that few in this country watch on television and become a national face pitching Gatorade and Nike, then she’s good enough for us.

Interesting methodology: It seems to be touting Hamm’s transcension from purely an athlete to a recognizable merchandising face as reason for being the definitive No. 9. Which, admittedly, is as valid a reason for making a pick on this list as any other.

As with any list, it’s as meaningful as you make it. But the point is to have fun and riff on it yourself.

There’s a third part of this list package that didn’t make it online from the print version. It’s mostly an addendum of by-the-way facts, including a lot of chiefly Tampa Bay-specific sports trivia. But there are a couple of interesting tidbits worth my typing in and including here:

[When athletes do have the luxury of selecting their number,] some do it to honor their country. Czech hockey star Jaromir Jagr picked 68 in honor of those who died during the Soviet invasion of then-Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Speaking of hockey, there’s the story of No. 9:

Gordie Howe wore 9 and was once considered the greatest player in hockey. When Wayne Gretzky came along, he chose 99 in honor of Howe.

Mario Lemieux was the next great superstar and he decided to turn the 9s upside down, taking 66. Finally, Eric Lindros came into the league as the “Next One” after Gretzky and Lemieux. Looking to carve out his own legend like Gretzky and Lemieux, he selected No. 88.

But it’s kind of like the Six Degrees of Separation thing. If Howe wasn’t No. 9, Lindros might not have worn 88. It doesn’t make sense unless you follow the history.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/18/2005 11:27pm
Category: Sports
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Who knew brie the cheese was made anywhere but in the Brie region of France? What’s more, who knew it was made in, of all places, Canada?

I sure didn’t, until I found some of this north-of-the-border fromage today. It was cheap, looked okay, and I figured I could guinea-pig myself with it — in the form of a light dinner tonight — before serving it to company.

It’s not half-bad. It’s called “Mon Desir Brie”, and although it doesn’t say exactly where in Canada it’s from, I’m guessing it’s a Quebecois original. I’d get it again, despite the admonitions of the gourmets.

Still, I wonder: Is the stigma of faux brie on the same level as that for sparkling wine masquerading as champagne?

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/18/2005 09:59pm
Category: Food
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