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'Sooner or Later, Someone Needed to Write a Manual for Self-management'

Anton Zainiev and Daria Varlamova, recent HSE graduates, have written a popular science book This is Crazy! A guidebook of psychological disorders for a big city resident. The authors told us why an urban resident needs to understand how their head works, how journalism can be turned into a non-fiction book, and why bipolar disorder seems fashionable. Anton and Daria also told us how and why they decided to write the book.

Anton Zainiev graduated from the School of Business and Political Journalism (today it’s the Faculty of Communications, Media, and Design) and worked as a journalist for three years. Then he entered a master’s programme in management.

Daria Varlamova worked for Izvestia newspaper after graduating from HSE, and now she is working with www.slon.ru and studying at the Moscow School of Cinema.

‘It was very useful that at HSE we were taught to convert information into comprehensible words, which would then go not to a dissertation, but rather could be understood by everyone’, Anton said.

Daria Varlamova continued Anton’s thought: ‘The HSE community also played a role in the fact that we decided to start this book project. We studied with interesting people. When I’m asked: what did you get at HSE?, I answer that people are the main thing. Knowledge is something you can get on your own, but you can’t download people from the internet.

I wrote a lot on psychology and neurobiology for the Theory and Practice website as an editor there, talked to HSE psychologists a lot, and even wanted to take a master’s course with Vasily Klucharev, but was afraid, since my background was in the humanities. These topics are like a detective story for me, since it’s so thrilling to see how everyday processes in our brain influence our behavior and beliefs.

Not to do too much soul-searching, but to really understand how it works inside you – this is important. Sooner or later, someone needed to write a manual for self-management. I wish a generation of people could evolve who would be knowledgeable about their mentality, prevent disorders, regulate their behavior, and communicate more effectively in society. If the topic of brain research could be popularized today, even through novels, it would advance the psychology-related areas of research, and lead to new discoveries.’

What’s in the book

The authors focus on the disorders that don’t make people crazy at first glance, but make them suffer while other people near them might not even notice. For each of the disorders, they chose a story, a real person with the disorder. They used these examples to tell us how a person feels, what problems they face, and what treatment they use.

They also tell how these disorders used to be treated in the past, and give some examples using well-known people.

‘The stories that we tell are not some tales from the asylum, but from our everyday life. We wanted to start talking about the problem, since it seems strange to be silent about something that involves everyone’, Anton said, ‘There is sometimes an impression that it’s fashionable at the moment, and this is not because people just want to have a romantic bipolar disorder, but because people who have it are no longer afraid to talk about it. In the past, they used to think that they were freaks or crazy.’

The book has become very popular, and a recent talk with the authors attracted over 250 guests. The co-authors are engaged in different projects today. Anton is a business analyst, and Daria is working together with her husband on a project with the Samokat publishing house about future professions for children.

‘We are making a book for children that will help them with career guidance,’ Daria said, ‘taking into account the rapid changes in trends and technologies. It could help them to be ready to succeed in the digital future and not to be lawyers in a dying firm, when all the processes are automated.

I like to work on socially important projects, since it makes your life meaningful and allows you to feel part of something bigger than your personal interests. And I feel most comfortable in the field of knowledge distribution’.

See also:

HSE Opens New Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience

The new institute is headed by Vasily Klucharev, a professor at the Higher School of Economics, who previously worked as Head of the School of Psychology. Vasily Klucharev told the HSE news team about what the School managed to achieve in four years, what the new institute will do and how attitudes towards psychology and neuroscience are changing.

Freedom, Not Coercion

A feeling of freedom and a sense of responsibility are directly related to one another. Scientists from HSE’s International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation, the University of Missouri and Omsk State University have become the first to prove this link in a study involving both Russian and American participants.

How Neurotechnologies Impact Risk Appetite

Researchers from the Higher School of Economics have shown that by stimulating the frontal cortex, a person’s financial risk appetite can be increased temporarily. Their article on the cognitive mechanisms of risky decision-making was published in eNeuro, an international peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Society for Neuroscience.

Experiencing Culture Shock

Conscious decision-making and internalized intentions, as opposed to extrinsic influencing factors, are the key to a student’s successful adaption to life in a foreign country. This was confirmed by research carried out by a group of scientists which included Ken Sheldon, Academic Supervisor and Head of the International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation at the Higher School of Economics.

Visual Perception of Summary Statistics Not Following Mathematical Rules

Cognitive psychologists of the Higher School of Economics have experimentally demonstrated that people are capable of estimating the mean size of visible objects and their approximate number simultaneously, showing for the first time that these two cognitive processes are independent of each other and do not follow the rules of mathematical statistics. The results of this experiment, published in PLOS One, can inform new approaches to statistical data visualisation and statistical education.

How Spatial Navigation Correlates with Language

Cognitive neuroscientists from the Higher School of Economics and Aarhus University experimentally demonstrate how spatial navigation impacts language comprehension. The results of the study have been published in NeuroImage.

Immeasurable Hardiness of Character

The Grit Scale questionnaire has gained popularity over the past decade, not only in research but also in practical psychology and in employee selection. The questionnaire is used to measure 'grit' – a personality trait which combines perseverance in reaching one's goals, on one hand, and consistency of one's interests over time, on the other. HSE researchers have found a way to prove that 'grit' is not a single personality trait and the Grit Scale measures two independent constructs.

Researchers Learn More about Maximizing Brain Use

Neuroscientists from Higher School of Economics and Charité University Clinic in Berlin have come up with a new multivariate method for predicting behavioural response to a stimulus using information about the phase of preceding neuronal oscillations recorded with EEG. The method may eventually find practical application in fields such as competitive sports, education and patient treatment. The study's findings are published in the paper ‘On optimal spatial filtering for the detection of phase coupling in multivariate neural recordings’.

Admission to HSE Was a Key Event in My Life

Ekaterina Vasilevskaya is a second year student on the full-time advanced doctoral programme, and also a visiting lecturer at HSE. Since 2016, she has participated in the 'Health Literacy and Its Impact on Weight-Related Behaviors in College Students’ research project at Florida International University, USA. In her interview for the Doctoral School of Psychology, Ekaterina spoke about being admitted to the HSE doctoral programme, and her studies.

HSE School of Psychology Moves to Centre of Moscow

The School of Psychology has moved to Armyansky Pereulok, which was a long-awaited event for HSE psychology students. The school was previously located at one of the university’s more remote campuses on Volgogradsky Prospekt. The HSE Centre for Cognition & Decision Making also made an important move recently, this time into the university’s building on Krivokolenny Pereulok. Below we show and discuss where and how HSE students will be learning starting this September.