Dancing with Psychologists: Observer Effect

“But if it is true that the act of observing changes the thing which is observed, it’s even more true that it changes the observer.”
— Terry Pratchett, Soul Music

Right now the mind-map of the analysis of my psyche, bipolar, and PTSD resembles a 4-dimensional game of pickup sticks someone’s just dumped several extra sets into. When you try to move and adjust one stick, you end up affecting a ton of others, usually for ill.

Or maybe it’s more like, as I described to my bartender, standing on a pedestal. Work is what I’m doing on top of the pedestal, and it has nothing to do with the beast that’s gnawing on the leg of the pedestal. But when the pedestal gets wobbly, it makes disturbances above even worse.

This is problematic.

One of my biggest problems is learning how to tell when my judgement is affected enough that I need take an unpaid FMLA day rather than cause harm to projects and schedules, versus causing too many false positives where I didn’t need to stay at home at all. The worst thing about telling if your judgment is impaired is that your judgment is impaired. And for the time being, at least, that means my subjective measures of my state of mind are at times unreliable.

So I’m trying to come up with empirical measurements and alarm thresholds. This is actually an adaptation of something from work, where every system has multiple values (often in the hundreds) that are monitored with automatic alarms. Our site and its processing has to run 24/7. And we don’t like false positives: we strive for accurate alarms. Our best monitoring is based on thresholds automatically generated by predictive algorithms run on historical data from yesterday, from a week ago, a month ago, years ago.

Monitoring thus gives you visibility into a system.

Visibility into my own internal rhythms is what I dearly need: from the day-to-day trends (bipolar), to year-to-year trends (holidays).

Once you have visibility, you can take proactive measures before a problem becomes too much of one, or even before it becomes a problem.

Given my performance over the last few weeks, this would be a good methodology to have in place. It’s not so much cognitive therapy as it is monitoring therapy.

And I must admit: it makes the sysadmin in me smile.

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2 thoughts on “Dancing with Psychologists: Observer Effect

  1. on a tangential note, i suspect “fmla” is something like “family and medical leave act”, but my brain keeps expanding it as “fuck my life, aaaaagh”.

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