Jump to content
TomBAvoider

Studying "Boredom" - what it is, what it means

Recommended Posts

I came across a pretty amazing (to me) article on the BBC website - I had no idea "boredom" is such a well studied subject. All my life, I've maintained that I never get bored - I think I've even mentioned that on these boards - and it didn't occur to me that this is something to study. Nonetheless apparently boredom is a pretty profound psychological condition:

What the mysterious boredom divide teaches us

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't really relate to "boredom people" either at least when it comes to personal time.  But I can see how many jobs would result in boredom.  My own job lately has been going in that direction, I'm not going to lie, I kind of want to get fired so I can move on, haha, but I like getting a paycheck at the same time and refuse to quit.  There are an endless list of things a person can do, explore, experience, study, create.  Even for someone that doesn't really want to learn or grow or create, there's endless mindless entertainment out there... but everyone also has to make a living, and lets be real, most jobs just aren't all that exciting, and the ones that are can be tough to get or tough to succeed in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I certainly experience boredom occasionally, but 95% of the time I can easily get out of it. I didnt read the article honest! So let me guess, it’s about dopamine/brain stimulus wherein some of us need very little stimulation and others need a lot more. Hence cruise ships, gambling casinos, Disney world, explosive crazy dramatic movies, drugs and  on and on. I consider myself so lucky that simply doing a NYT Crossword, reading a book or a walk in Nature can be an exciting adventure!! Ha Ha!  
 

well Am I right?

Edited by Mike41

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Mike41 said:

well Am I right?

Ah, no. It's mostly about the psychology of boredom. The closest it gets to brain specifics is implicating the "default mode network" in bouts of boredom.

I too never get board, despite living an almost "groundhog day" existence. I really do enjoy living the same day (and eating the exact same meals!) over and over again. My wife can't understand it. It reminds me of Joscha Bach's Lebowski Theorem which (paraphrased) says "No truly intelligent system is going to bother with a task that is harder than hacking its own reward function." He was referring to a superintelligent AI system, but he also applies it to Buddhist monks.

If you've got the time, Bach's interview with Lex Fridman is fascinating. He has an amazing mind:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-2P3MSZrBM

--Dean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the link Dean, I’m planning on listening to it. Wrt the default mode network that’s a meditation or mindfulness target of course. I find boredom  Or that all too human sense of dissatisfaction can be dismantled to a great extent by simply practicing mindfulness or simply catching ourselves and allowing it. Somehow that seems to transform the experience, at least I find that to be the case. Psilocybin is also notorious for its dismantling of the default mode network as well as the ego. It thus allows areas of the brain to arise that are typically supressed, hence its apparent effectiveness for psychological distress.

Both psychedelics and meditation exert profound modulatory effects on consciousness, perception and cognition, but their combined, possibly synergistic effects on neurobiology are unknown. Accordingly, we conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 38 participants following a single administration of the psychedelic psilocybin (315 μg/kg p.o.) during a 5-day mindfulness retreat. Brain dynamics were quantified directly pre- and post-intervention by functional magnetic resonance imaging during the resting state and two meditation forms. The analysis of functional connectivity identified psilocybin-related and mental state–dependent alterations in self-referential processing regions of the default mode network(DMN). Notably, decoupling of medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate cortices, which is thought to mediate sense of self, was associated with the subjective ego dissolution effect during the psilocybin-assisted mindfulness session. The extent of ego dissolution and brain connectivity predicted positive changes in psycho-social functioning of participants 4 months later. Psilocybin, combined with meditation, facilitated neurodynamic modulations in self-referential networks, subserving the process of meditation by acting along the anterior–posterior DMN connection. The study highlights the link between altered self-experience and subsequent behavioral changes. Understanding how interventions facilitate transformative experiences may open novel therapeutic perspectives. Insights into the biology of discrete mental states foster our understanding of non-ordinary forms of human self-consciousness and their concomitant brain substrate

so much for the primitive savages stereotype! It seems, considering the current take and compelling interest, that the shamans were possibly more effective than 20th century psychology!

“Johns Hopkins is deeply committed to exploring innovative treatments for our patients. Our scientists have shown that psychedelics have real potential as medicine, and this new center will help us explore that potential.”
- Paul B. Rothman, M.D., Dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 

Scientists today are entering a new era of studying a truly unique class of pharmacological compounds known as psychedelics. Although research with these compounds was first started in the 1950s and ‘60s, it abruptly ended in the early 1970s in response to unfavorable media coverage, resulting in misperceptions of risk and highly restrictive regulations.

After a decades-long hiatus, in 2000 our research group at Johns Hopkins was the first to obtain regulatory approval in the United States to reinitiate research with psychedelics in healthy volunteers. Our 2006 publication on the safety and enduring positive effects of a single dose of psilocybin is widely considered the landmark study that sparked a renewal of psychedelic research world-wide.

Since that time, we have published further groundbreaking studies in more than 60 peer-reviewed articles in respected scientific journals. This makes Johns Hopkins the leading psychedelic research institution in the U.S., and among the few leading groups worldwide. Our research has demonstrated therapeutic effects in people who suffer a range of challenging conditions including addiction (smoking, alcohol, other drugs of abuse), existential distress caused by life-threatening disease, and treatment-resistant depression. Studying healthy volunteers has also advanced our understanding of the enduring positive effects of psilocybin and provided unique insight into neurophysiological mechanisms of action, with implications for understanding consciousness and optimizing therapeutic and non-therapeutic enduring positive effects.

At the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, researchers will focus on how psychedelics affect behavior, mood, cognition, brain function, and biological markers of health. Upcoming studies will determine the effectiveness of psilocybin as a new therapy for opioid addiction, Alzheimer's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (formerly known as chronic Lyme disease), anorexia nervosa and alcohol use in people with major depression. The researchers hope to create precision medicine treatments tailored to the specific needs of individual patients

 

Edited by Mike41

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really don't even know when the last time I've felt bored... It was probably when I was a child or teenager. I always find something interesting to read about, watch, play, or do. I like simple things, a simple life and no drama. I don't need to go out all the time to keep my mind stimulated. In fact, I've been shielded and living at home with the parents for months now and I've actually not left the house. I too eat the same thing every day and never get bored of it. In fact, I REALLY look forward to my food, especially what I eat for breakfast. 

People are like: "do you ever get bored of eating the same thing every day?" And like Dean and probably some others here, I don't.

I noticed how a lot of my old friends from my previous job would complain about boredem a lot on Facebook. The same people who'd criticize me for not going out and getting drunk with them all the time (I don't drink).

Which I thought was kinda funny...

I just have so many things that interest me... But I can even sit still in the garden and be totally fine as well.

I haven't been bored in a really long time.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I realized that my stimulation/distraction needs are different from other people's is when I had a very serious motorcycle accident in 1997. I underwent several surgeries at UCLA and then I was discharged into a convalescence home for several months to recover. Both my hips and my arms were broken, and so all I could do is lie in bed, couldn't sit up, obviously, or hold anything (and all my fingers were broken!), so I was pretty much immobile. The center was full of recovering patients, but also those in terminal palliative care. Everyone had their own room. 

The number one concern of patients was the TV in their room - operating it, changing channels, controlling volume and so on. I was the only person, other than those in a vegetative state, who did not have a TV in my room - I didn't want one. Nurses, visitors, doctors were always asking about the TV - that I'll get one assigned "oh, you don't want one??" - "no", "really??", "what will you do all day long??", since I can't read or hold books or operate the radio... but I was completely content to lie in my bed for weeks and months and just exist in my own head. I still wasn't bored - ever. This was a constant question from my visitors - everyone was very concerned that I'll be bored just lying in bed. But boredom never was an issue for me. 

When I was a teenager, I was fascinated by the question of space travel and the problem of an astronaut who might have to spend decades onboard, perhaps completely alone, with little or no communication. The idea was that this would be an unbearable psychological barrier for space travel. In contrast, I always thought - that is completely doable! 

Same when I read about the unbearable cruelty and unsustainability of solitary confinement and how that's an ultimate punishment in prison. Funny, because I always thought that if for whatever reason I somehow ended up in prison, I'd like to do my sentence in complete solitary confinement - to me, it seems like a luxury, not having to deal with dangerous and irrational prisoners. I'm happy to be alone, thank you.

I think - possibly - there might be a connection between feelings of loneliness/isolation and boredom. Because here's another thing - I never, ever felt "lonely". This doesn't mean I am some kind of shut-in or introvert. Actually, if I'm at a party, I'm quite forward in conversation, interaction and generally being fairly extroverted. But I also feel very comfortable living or traveling alone - which I did for quite some time when I was young; I had no issues living abroad in a country where I was a complete stranger and knew no one. To me the idea of lonely expats huddling together is absurd. I am absolutely fine with human contact, but it's not an issue if I'm isolated for whatever reason.

But I'm married and have been married for 21 years now. No kids. That put me in a different psychological environment. At a certain point years ago, due to my work, I had to live in a single with my wife - we were together pretty much 24/7 for months. How would I handle it? No issues whatsoever! Friends would marvel - don't you feel you need "alone time"? For me, the answer is "no" insofar as I don't find it difficult to live in my own thoughts, regardless of who is around me. I am fortunate in that my wife is very easygoing, and she doesn't put stress into the relationship - perhaps if I was around someone who constantly demanded, nagged, yelled, fought and so on, it would be unbearable to be around them 24/7, but as luck would have it, I'm not in that situation.

So, I think it a lot of these things are connected - boredom is a psychogical state that extends and connects with other states, such as degree of extroversion/introversion, loneliness, need for company, tolerance of other people and personal space and so on. Science has only scratched the surface of all it means to be a human and the spectrum of human psychology.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Btw. interacting online seems a great invention to me - I can communicate with folks over huge distances, just by writing on a message board. I find this completely satisfying and don't feel the need for in-the-flesh contact. 

Edited by TomBAvoider

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, TomBAvoider said:

So, I think it a lot of these things are connected - boredom is a psychogical state that extends and connects with other states, such as degree of extroversion/introversion, loneliness, need for company, tolerance of other people and personal space and so on. Science has only scratched the surface of all it means to be a human and the spectrum of human psychology.

 

21 hours ago, TomBAvoider said:

Btw. interacting online seems a great invention to me - I can communicate with folks over huge distances, just by writing on a message board. I find this completely satisfying and don't feel the need for in-the-flesh contact. 

I can agree with both of these statements, except for the "don't feel the need for in-the-flesh contact."  I feel that in-person contact is also important with close friends, as the dynamics of interactions are different.

But I also like being online because it provides a much wider field of topics of interest to me than I can find within my own circle of friends -- CR is one example 🙂  My interests change over time, sometimes as the result of something I found online, so it's amazing that we can follow threads of thought and knowledge from our personal screens.  When I was a kid I had a similar experience reading an encyclopedia, one topic leading to another and then to another, but if that was a galaxy, the web is a universe.

I know that much, if not the majority of the available information is "fake" to one extent or another, including many of the studies appearing in the myriad online journals which effectively allow anyone to publish anything.  But even this is good, in the long run, because it allows for new ideas which may have had trouble emerging in times past, but now can fight their way in the marketplace of knowledge and if meritorious, eventually become accepted. 

This is why the trend toward online censorship is very worrying, as is the spaces of discourse are increasingly consolidating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×