The mess drives you nuts. It's interesting how different we are. What you're asking isn't unreasonable. If I put it at the top of my list, will you help me not get sidetracked and remind me? I promise not to call you a nag if you do. This way, instead of cudgeling O with a psych term, you are seeing the problem from his/her point of view and acknowledging both the reasonableness of it and your tendency to ignore or avoid the task. By asking him/her to remind you, you instantly turn a potential nagger into a helper and a potential argument into an opportunity for collaboration and growth. The narcissistic personality. The way these professionals are paid puts them into terrible conflicts of interest because they both make the recommendation and benefit from the service, while the client has no expertise or leverage. But stop for a few minutes and try to think about a compensation model that would not involve any conflicts of interest. If you are taking the time to try to come up with such an approach, you most likely agree that it is very hard--if not impossible--to pull off. It is also important to realize that although conflicts of interest cause problems, they sometimes happen for good reason. Take the case of physicians (and dentists) ordering treatments that use equipment they own. Although this is a potentially dangerous practice from the perspective of conflicts of interest, it also has some built-in advantages: professionals are more likely to purchase equipment that they believe in; The bottom line is that it is no easy task to come up with compensation systems that don't inherently involve--and sometimes rely on--conflicts of interest. Even if we could eliminate all conflicts of interest, the cost of doing so in terms of decreased flexibility and increased bureaucracy and oversight might not be worth it--which is why we should not overzealously advocate draconian rules and restrictions (say, that physicians can never talk to pharma reps or own medical equipment). At the same time, I do think it's important for us to realize the extent to which we can all be blinded by our financial motivations. We need to acknowledge that situations involving conflicts of interest have substantial disadvantages and attempt to thoughtfully reduce them when their costs are likely to outweigh their benefits. The system does not easily incorporate groups into the political framework. This lack of a strong collective identity leaves room for identity politics to emerge.

Furthermore, the system gives little direction into what might constitute the good life or the deeper conditions for human flourishing other than individual freedoms constrained by limitations on harm to others. But we forget that our experiment with the individual at the heart of a civic state is barely a few hundred years old. For the vast bulk of human history, we have existed in tribes, usually not larger than fifty or sixty in total. The American journalist Sebastian Junger, in his article Tribe, outlines this number as the largest group still able to be marshalled effectively within a hierarchy and leadership. Army battalions rarely go beyond such a number. Nor do corporate teams answering to a particular manager. In the online world this picture becomes more complicated, as such numerical boundaries blur. When thinking about the nature of groups in our internet mediated world, a relevant concept is the notion of an imagined group. Whatever it is, how can you make it more YOU? Different is cool, remember? Cultural Fears Remember those? We literally just talked about them in article 3, so go back if you don't remember or skipped ahead. Our cultural fears are the ones that respond to our need for love and belonging. In article 3 I talked about how those fears dictate the majority of the choices we make in life--like the job we settle for, the city we live in, and the partner we choose. But this article is about how our cultural fears determine the way we present ourselves to the world in terms of our style and personality. Are you being your most authentic self? Or, are you adapting yourself to your surroundings as a way to fit in and feel accepted? This is probably the most overused and misunderstood of all the concepts imported from psychiatry into common discourse. Freud's definition of narcissism, the libidinal cathexis of the self, makes no sense to anyone outside the profession, and the current textarticle definition of narcissism is far more elaborate than most people realize.

Most people (including many professionals who should know better) use narcissism as a fancy put-down, a dis, a big word that means selfish. In fact, there aren't that many true narcissists, thank goodness, as these people are locked in an emotional prison, unable to give or receive love. However, just about all of us can seem selfish now and then. We devote the next article to discussing this concept and how it can be dangerously misunderstood. The real culprits in the D and O conflict are not some psychiatric diagnoses but the enormous organizational demands of modern life, the vast number of obligations and opportunities we each face every day, the alluring and ubiquitous forces of distraction that surround us, and the speed at which we are all expected to deal with what's coming at us. The D and O roles have emerged more clearly in couples these days because the forces that create them are more powerful than ever. The roles do not represent conscious choices, but natural tendencies. It is crucial to understand the involuntary nature of these roles because until you do understand it, you will tend to blame the other person for not being the way you want him/her to be. As you might expect, there are many straightforward instances where conflicts of interest should simply be eliminated. For example, the conflicts for financial advisers who receive side payments, auditors who serve as consultants to the same firms, financial professionals who are paid handsome bonuses when their clients make money but lose nothing when their clients lose their shirts, rating agencies that are paid by the companies they rate, and politicians who accept money and favors from corporations and lobbyists in exchange for their votes; You're probably skeptical that regulation of this sort could ever happen. When regulation by the government or by professional organizations does not materialize, we as consumers should recognize the danger that conflicts of interest bring with them and do our best to seek service providers who have fewer conflicts of interest (or, if possible, none). Through the power of our wallets we can push service providers to meet a demand for reduced conflicts of interest. Finally, when we face serious decisions in which we realize that the person giving us advice may be biased--such as when a physician offers to tattoo our faces--we should spend just a little extra time and energy to seek a second opinion from a party that has no financial stake in the decision at hand. Why We Blow It When We're Tired Imagine yourself at the end of a really long, hard day. Let's say it's the most exhausting of days: moving day. You're completely exhausted. The term originated from a paper about nationalism written by Irish political scientist Benedict Anderson. He argued that nations depended upon our ties to an imagined community, given we didn't know the vast bulk of other citizens:

It is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings. Anderson cites the common language that media like newspapers create within countries as critical in forming such an arrangement, a trend less likely at a time of media fragmentation. Imagined community is not a mental health concept and nor am I a sociologist. I am usually assessing patients individually. But imagined groups strike a chord as to how so many patients are trapped in their minds, fretting and avoiding some notion of the group that they would both like to be a part of but are also terrified of rejection. The fear relates back to one of the theories of social anxiety - that such individuals are attuned to cues and signs of dominance at the expense of attunement to signals of affiliation. They avoid undertaking actions that might be seen as trying to compete for approval or status within their notion of an imagined group. Their mental habits have predisposed them to anticipating negative scrutiny. I was able to learn early about the importance of self, cultivate a community around my vision, and go on to build an entire career on these foundations. If you're in the market for professional advice on how to find your own voice and completely own it, you've come to the right place. Let the slaying begin! Your Authentic Self Do you notice that you act or feel differently when you surround yourself with different groups of people? Some people just bring out the worst in me. I notice that when I'm around them my attitude changes, I go from happy, optimistic, and uplifting to pissed and entitled. And I hate that feeling. I know for sure that's not me. At least, it is not the best part of me. You will tend to take personally the other's tendencies and believe that everything could change for the better if only the other person would try harder. While trying harder helps just about any problem, this problem will not yield to effort alone.

You can't overpower the problem. You need to understand it. You need to see the other person not as your adversary or as a slacker but as a person whose natural inclinations and modus operandi in life differ from yours. It is not better to be an O than a D or vice versa. But for the two to get along in any close relationship, it is best to begin by understanding the other person's natural way, be it O or D. Then you can start to create a plan that will actually work. For example, in our marriage, I, Ned, am usually the D, and Sue is the O. I say usually because, as often happens, in some situations, such as in airports or in dealing with telemarketers, I am more the O. Even your hair feels tired. Cooking is certainly out of the question. You don't even have the energy to locate a pan, plate, and fork, much less put them to use. Clearly it's going to be a take-out night. Within a block of your new place are three restaurants. One is a little bistro with fresh salads and paninis. Another is a Chinese place; There's also a cute mom-and-pop pizzeria where the locals enjoy cheesy slices twice the size of their faces. To which restaurant do you drag your tired, aching body? Which kind of cuisine would you prefer to enjoy on your new floor? This is a trait of living in the privatised, urban suburbia. A good example of imagined groups is when we think of the problem of terrorism, especially the lone wolf variety.