Mindfulness matters, but make no mistake: Corporations are co-opting the idea to disguise the ways they kill us
Yet, individualized mindfulness programs pay virtually no attention to how stress is shaped by a complex set of interacting powerThe 20th Century political scientist Karl Deutsch said, “Power is the ability not to have to learn.”I quote this statement often, because I think it’s one of the most important… More relations, networks of interests, and explanatory narrativesWhen we successfully reframe public discourse, we change the way the public sees the world. We change what counts as common sense. Because language activates frames, new language is required… More. Carl Cederstrom and Andre Spicer argue in “The Wellness Syndrome” that the mindfulness movement exemplifies an ideological shift, which turns an obsessive focus on wellness and happiness into a moral imperative. This “biomorality” urges the individual to find responsibility via the “right” life choices-whether through exercise, food, or meditation-to optimize the self.Corporate mindfulness is bullsh*t: Zen or no Zen, you’re working harder and being paid less | Salon.com
Consider “fundamental attribution errorThe Fundamental Attribution Error is that we overestimate the power of the person and underestimate the power of the situation.Student Culture and Learning: What’s the Connection? Lee Ross defined FAE… More” when evaluating mindset marketingThe marketing of mindsets was everywhere this year: “How to Develop Mindsets for Compassion and Caring in Students.” “Building A Tinkering Mindset In Young Students Through Making.” “6 Must-Haves for… More like mindfulness, grit, growth mindset, etc.
The notion that each of us isn’t entirely the master of his own fate can be awfully hard to accept. It’s quite common to attribute to an individual’s personality or character what is actually a function of the social environment—so common, in fact, that psychologists have dubbed this the Fundamental Attribution Error. It’s a bias that may be particularly prevalent in our society, where individualism is both a descriptive reality and a cherished ideal. We Americans stubbornly resist the possibility that what we do is profoundly shaped by policies, norms, systems, and other structural realities. We prefer to believe that people who commit crimes are morally deficient, that the have-nots in our midst are lazyLaziness does not exist.People do not choose to fail or disappoint. No one wants to feel incapable, apathetic, or ineffective. If you look at a person’s action (or inaction) and… More (or at least insufficiently resourceful), that overweight people simply lack the willpower to stop eating, and so on.81 If only all those folks would just exercise a little personal responsibility, a bit more self-control!
The Fundamental Attribution Error is painfully pervasive when the conversation turns to academic failure. Driving Duckworth and Seligman’s study of student performance was their belief that underachievement isn’t explained by structural factors—social, economic, or even educational. Rather, they insisted, it should be attributed to the students themselves, and specifically to their “failure to exercise self-discipline.” The entire conceptual edifice of grit is constructed on that individualistic premise, one that remains popular for ideological reasons even though it’s been repeatedly debunked by research.
When students are tripped up by challenges, they may respond by tuning out, acting out, or dropping out. Often, however, they do so not because of a defect in their makeup (lack of stick-to-itiveness) but because of structural factors.Kohn, Alfie. The Myth of the Spoiled Child (p. 170). Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.
Lee Ross defined FAE as a tendency for people, when attributing the causes of behavior, “to underestimate the impact of situational factors and to overestimate the role of dispositional factors in controlling behaviour”. That’s very aligned with neurodiversityNeurodiversity is the diversity of human minds, the infinite variation in neurocognitive functioning within our species.NEURODIVERSITY: SOME BASIC TERMS & DEFINITIONS Neurodiversity is a biological fact. It’s not a perspective, an approach, a… More and the social model of disabilityIn the broadest sense, the social model of disability is about nothing more complicated than a clear focus on the economic, environmental and cultural barriers encountered by people who are… More. It’s at the heart of what I go on about with equity literacyEquityA commitment to action: the process of redistributing access and opportunity to be fair and just.A way of being: the state of being free of bias, discrimination, and identity-predictable outcomes… More, structural ideologyEducators with a structural ideology understand that educational outcome disparities are dominantly the result of structural barriers, the logical if not purposeful outcome of inequitable distributions of opportunity and access… More vs. deficit ideologyBriefly, deficit ideology is a worldview that explains and justifies outcome inequalities— standardized test scores or levels of educational attainment, for example—by pointing to supposed deficiencies within disenfranchised individuals and… More, designing for the edges, and changing our framing.
American culture and education are vast engines of FAE. Special EducationThe word “special” is used to sugar-coat segregation and societal exclusion – and its continued use in our language, education systems, media etc serves to maintain those increasingly antiquated “special”… More is a gauntlet of FAE attitudes. Our family gets tired of wading through bad framing.
Compulsory, top-down mindfulness (and mindset marketing more generally) is too often used to situate structural problems within individuals while “disguising the ways they kill us.” It contributes to the gauntlet.
This is harm reductionHarm reduction refers to a set of principles and strategies to address the health, social, political, legal, spiritual, and relational impacts of behaviors that are criminalized—substance use, sex, sex work/sex… More theater. Practicing pluralismPluralism refers to people of diverse and conflicting beliefs coexisting peaceably, linked by their adherence to a shared social contract which commits members of different groups to treating others fairly… More, for me, for now, means triage and harm reduction. Harm reduction theater wastes resources and bikesheds deficit ideology instead of embracing equity and structural ideology.
Recognize and prioritize minority stressThe primary aim of the minority stress model is to explain disparities in health between majority and stigmatized minority groups (Meyer 2003). Social stress theory hinges on the idea that… More.
As we come to understand depression in the transgender communityWhat I have always been hoping to accomplish is the creation of community.Community is magic. Community is power. Community is resistance.Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century https://www.amazon.com/Disability-Visibility-First-Person-Stories-Twenty-First-ebook/dp/B082ZQBL98/ https://www.amazon.com/Disability-Visibility-Adapted-Young-Adults-ebook/dp/B08VFT4R9T/… More more accurately, it’s become clear that the major cause is what’s referred to as “minority stress;” that is, “stressors induced by a hostile, homophobic culture, which often results in a lifetime of harassment, maltreatment, discrimination and victimization.”When Worlds Collide – Mental Illness Within the Trans Community – Lionheart
Why are there greater mental health stresses on autisticAutistic ways of being are human neurological variants that can not be understood without the social model of disability.If you are wondering whether you are Autistic, spend time amongst Autistic people, online and offline. If… More people from gender-minority groups? To quote from the research paper,
“The increased rates of mental health problems in these minority populations are often a consequence of the stigma and marginalisation attached to living outside mainstream sociocultural norms (Meyer 2003). This stigma can lead to what Meyer (2003) refers to as ‘minority stress’. This stress could come from external adverse events, which among other forms of victimization could include verbal abuse, acts of violence, sexual assault by a known or unknown person, reduced opportunities for employment and medical careThe activities that constitute care are crucial for human life. We defined care in this way: Care is “a species activity that includes everything that we do to maintain, continue,… More, and harassment from persons in positions of authority (Sandfort et al. 2007).”Ann’s Autism Blog: Autism, Transgender and Avoiding Tragedy
We’re awash in behaviorismUltimately behaviorism provides a simplistic lens that can’t see beyond itself.Why is the doctrine of behaviorism still being used, at all?How can ABA be the gold-standard for autism when it… More and mindset marketing that directs thinking away from systems and toward individuals, individuals who are structurally stressed.
Design is tested at the edges, and you need structural ideology to do something about it.
Corporate and ed-tech mindfulness aren’t structural or equity literate. When you aren’t equity literate, you risk engaging in harm reduction theater. When you aren’t equity literate, you fail at triage and harm reduction.
Investment in universal mindfulness training in the schools is unlikely to yield measurable, socially significant results, but will serve to divert resources from schoolchildren more urgently in need of effective intervention and support.
Mindfulness Nation is another example of delivery of low intensity services to mostly low risk persons to the detriment of those in greatest and most urgent need.
Those many fewer students in need more timely, intensive, and tailored services are left underserved. Their presence is ignored or, worse, invoked to justify the delivery of services to the larger group, with the needy students not benefiting.Unintended effects of mindfulness for children | Mind the Brain
“Instead of treating stress situations as fringe concerns, it’s time we move them to the center of our conversations-to start with our most vulnerable, distracted, and stressed-out users, and then work our way outward. The reasoning is simple: when we make things for people at their worst, they’ll work that much better when people are at their best.“
There is no path to inclusive design that does not involve direct confrontation with injustice. “If a direct confrontation of injustice is missing from our strategies or initiatives or movements, that means we are recreating the conditions we’re pretending to want to destroy.” Structural ideology-an ideology shared by intersectionalityIntersectionality’s raison dêtre is to reveal the systems that organize our society. Intersectionality’s brilliance is that its fundamental contribution to how we view the world seems so common-sense once you… More, the social mode of disability, and design for real life-is necessary to good design.Design is Tested at the Edges: Intersectionality, The Social Model of Disability, and Design for Real Life – Ryan Boren
Education workers, healthcare workers, coworkers, everyone: We need you to check your FAE. We need you to confront injustice. Are you practicing harm reduction theater? Are you contributing to the gauntlet while telling us it’s good for us?
Leave a Reply