The People We Used to Be

by Griffin Hansbury on December 6, 2018

“I think we are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.”

–Joan Didion


The Non-Binary Nature of Sex

by Griffin Hansbury on October 26, 2018

Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling, professor of biology and gender studies, has been writing about the non-binary nature of sex for a long time. Now is a good time to revisit her work. She writes about it this week in the New York Times:

“Two sexes have never been enough to describe human variety. Not in biblical times and not now.”


On the Value of Discomfort

by Griffin Hansbury on February 4, 2018

“Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.” Psychologist Susan David on the value of so-called “negative” emotions.


Trauma, Self Blame, Power, & Depression

by Griffin Hansbury on January 28, 2018

This conundrum is often the log jam that gets in the way of emotional healing:

“When you’re a child, you have very little power to change your environment. You can’t move away, or force somebody to stop hurting you. So, you have two choices. You can admit to yourself that you are powerless ― that at any moment, you could be badly hurt, and there’s simply nothing you can do about it. Or you can tell yourself it’s your fault. If you do that, you actually gain some power ― at least in your own mind. If it’s your fault, then there’s something you can do that might make it different. You aren’t a pinball being smacked around a pinball machine. You’re the person controlling the machine. You have your hands on the dangerous levers. In this way…blaming yourself for your childhood traumas protects you from seeing how vulnerable you were and are. You can become the powerful one. If it’s your fault, it’s ― at some strange level ― under your control.”

But that comes at a cost. If you were responsible for being hurt, then at some level, you have to think you deserved it. A person who thinks they deserved to be injured as a child isn’t going to think they deserve much as an adult, either. This is no way to live. But it’s a misfiring of the thing that made it possible for you to survive at an earlier point in your life.”

Read the whole article by Johann Hari here. The author will be speaking about his book “Lost Connections” on January 30 in New York City.


The Dark Side of Positivity

by Griffin Hansbury on March 5, 2017

In our culture of mandatory happiness, wise words from Svend Brinkmann, author of the Danish bestseller Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze:

“I believe our thoughts and emotions should mirror the world. When something bad happens, we should be allowed to have negative thoughts and feelings about it because that’s how we understand the world.”


“Life is wonderful from time to time, but it’s also tragic. People die in our lives, we lose them, if we have only been accustomed to being allowed to have positive thoughts, then these realities can strike us even more intensely when they happen—and they will happen.”

Click here to read the full article.

And here’s some advice from the author on how stand firm.