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Scott Soloff
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To be perfectly honest, I have not been nervous going on stage since I was fifteen (tell you that story over drinks).

But, in all seriousness, I often ask myself prior to a performance if I'm in my right mind. That question isn't answered until after the show.

Best wishes,

Scott
'Curiouser and curiouser."
Engali
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Quote:
On Jul 31, 2014, mastermindreader wrote:
That's a well thought out post Engali, but I wonder why people who are paralyzed by fear of failure in front of an audience would want to be in show business in the first place.

There is one compromise I would agree with, though. If you really need to find out that failure isn't the end of the world, just intentionally miss on one or two things in the act and learn that it doesn't affect your credibility at all. In fact it could enhance it.

But don't intentionally screw up an entire set just to prove to yourself that it doesn't matter.

And, yes, a performer owes something to every audience. Even in a free show that audience is giving you their time. You should really try to give them something in return.


That's fair. I would argue that there are people who love mentalism (or whatever performance craft) and that their love for it may be very independent of their anxiety surrounding performance. I mean, this internal struggle is so common that it's cliche. The fact that you see this issue play out in literature, movies, and other media throughout time suggests that, far from being abberant, it's actually a pretty common occurence that makes up part of the human condition. This is especially true if we are to expand the conceptualization to what it really is: a struggle between desperately wanting to engage in some activity and the fear induced from the idea of performing of that activity. Sometimes this can speak to how *much* someone actually cares about something; there is plenty of psychological literature on the phenomenon colloquially known as "choking", where the overwhelming desire to perform well impedes performance of that very act (due to induced stress and the futile attempt at consciously controlling processes that have been "overtrained" or automaticized and should have stayed as such) or even to initiate it. So the *want* of being in show business does not necessarily have any relationship to fear about performing and, in some cases, the former can induce the latter.

Again, I don't think the point is to prove "it doesn't matter"--that is, mentalism or performance in general doesn't matter. The point is to demonstrate to oneself beyond a shadow of a doubt that the worse that can happen will not lead to the catastrophic consequences that are likely playing out in their minds as predictions of what will happen if they fail. Additionally, desenitization is one of, if not the most important aspect of cognitive-behavioral therapy as applied to anixiety disorders--making the failure a deliberate act is just an especially expedient form of it, which I would surmise is not only especially beneficial to, but perhaps even required for "hard cases". In my opinion, we can have some compassion for these people and give them the opportunity to fail, even if intentionally, so that they can *ultimately* contribute to their respective crafts once they get going...or we can hold them to the very standards that keep them immoblized and essentially condemn them to give up on their dreams. To me, the answer is obvious and if one set of audience members need to watch one crappy performance so that an otherwise earnest performer can get their footing and wow dozens more, then thems the breaks for that audience.
Rolyan
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Nope, still not buying it. If you need to desensitise, then do it in the right place, Which is NOT in front of your audience. Regarding your last sentence,then no, that's NOT the breaks for the audience, unless you are so self centred that you've completely lost the plot.
Scott Soloff
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Quote:
On Jul 31, 2014, Engali wrote:
Additionally, desenitization is one of, if not the most important aspect of cognitive-behavioral therapy as applied to anixiety disorders--making the failure a deliberate act is just an especially expedient form of it, which I would surmise is not only especially beneficial to, but perhaps even required for "hard cases".


Desensitization (cognitive-behavioral therapy), in my opinion, is NOT an effective treatment for anxiety problems. It's based on ignorance of causation and effective treatment.

Best wishes,


Scott
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Engali
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On Jul 31, 2014, Rolyan wrote:
Nope, still not buying it. If you need to desensitise, then do it in the right place, Which is NOT in front of your audience. Regarding your last sentence,then no, that's NOT the breaks for the audience, unless you are so self centred that you've completely lost the plot.


Where would the "right place" be? The only sensible answer from a practical standpoint is actually in front of an audience, assuming you want the intervention to be effective. That is the stimuli that is triggering the state--how else do you expect to desensitize? Visual imagery is only the first step and it seems that it only helps in bridging to actually confronting fears in the real world directly.

Again, given the boundary conditions I have set forth (i.e., non-paying audience, open mic night, first time, etc.) it seems compeltely reasonable to have someone fail big to help that person with issues to get to a place where they can learn get on the path to mastering a craft they love. I mean, if they didn't care about it, why would they be willing to confront one of their greatest fears in the first place to be able to do it? Your commitment to the audience is admirable to a degree, but it seems misplaced given the fairly exceptional circumstances I have used to qualify the act of failing on purpose.
Engali
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Quote:
On Jul 31, 2014, Scott Soloff wrote:
Quote:
On Jul 31, 2014, Engali wrote:
Additionally, desenitization is one of, if not the most important aspect of cognitive-behavioral therapy as applied to anixiety disorders--making the failure a deliberate act is just an especially expedient form of it, which I would surmise is not only especially beneficial to, but perhaps even required for "hard cases".


Desensitization (cognitive-behavioral therapy), in my opinion, is NOT an effective treatment for anxiety problems. It's based on ignorance of causation and effective treatment.

Best wishes,


Scott


Would you care to cite sources? To date CBT is the most scientifically supported therapy available. That is not a matter of opinion, but of fact based on empirical studies. With all due respect, your opinion matters little to the theory and practice of science.
Scott Soloff
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On Jul 31, 2014, Engali wrote:

Would you care to cite sources? To date CBT is the most scientifically supported therapy available. That is not a matter of opinion, but of fact based on empirical studies. With all due respect, your opinion matters little to the theory and practice of science.


Engali,

I going to do something that I try to avoid like the plague - behave like an arse!

I couldn't disagree more. Empirical studies don't mean s@%*! I've been around for over six decades. In that time I've seen scientific thinking change time and time again. Merely because there are studies and consensus doesn't mean that something is written in stone.

And, I'm going to say it again just in case you missed it the first time:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the psychiatric community admitting that they are ignorant of cause and do not have a genuine treatment that deals with root causes.

Believe what you will, but any science is an ever evolving field. As such, what is true today becomes obsolete tomorrow.

My opinion matters a great deal. My experience is extensive and base my thinking and conclusions on that.

It is that simple...

Scott
p.s. And, that is all I'm going to say about that. I'm going back to being polite.
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Engali
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Quote:
On Jul 31, 2014, Scott Soloff wrote:
Quote:
On Jul 31, 2014, Engali wrote:

Would you care to cite sources? To date CBT is the most scientifically supported therapy available. That is not a matter of opinion, but of fact based on empirical studies. With all due respect, your opinion matters little to the theory and practice of science.


Engali,

I going to do something that I try to avoid like the plague - behave like an arse!

I couldn't disagree more. Empirical studies don't mean s@%*! I've been around for over six decades. In that time I've seen scientific thinking change time and time again. Merely because there are studies and consensus doesn't mean that something is written in stone.

And, I'm going to say it again just in case you missed it the first time:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the psychiatric community admitting that they are ignorant of cause and do not have a genuine treatment that deals with root causes.

Believe what you will, but any science is an ever evolving field. As such, what is true today becomes obsolete tomorrow.

My opinion matters a great deal. My experience is extensive and base my thinking and conclusions on that.

It is that simple...

Scott
p.s. And, that is all I'm going to say about that. I'm going back to being polite.


Science has been around a lot longer. I agree that it is ever evolving--that is one of the consequences of the scientific method. It just seems to me to be very unscientific to use bold assertions without any explication, evidence, or even rationale to critique a therapy that has helped a lot of people. I never said it was perfect or set in stone; it shouldn't be if it is to be scientific. My issue is that you provide no alternative, you don't reveal any of your logic, you don't even posit an explanation for why CBT misses the mark. And so you conveniently leave yourself safe from any critique or examination of your belief system regarding this issue. It's easy to cut things down and easier still when you refuse to explain your reasoning. I didn't miss your statement; I missed any actual theory about what is the "root cause" of anxiety order or any evidence to back it up.

Empirical studies in isolation do mean little, but in sum they provide evidence for the veracity or at least utility of certain treatments, laws, etc. Just because science continues to advance our knowledge doesn't mean it's all "s@%*", as you put it. It just means science is open to the possibility that there are better treatments and methods and seeks it out in a way that provides some amount of support for certain theories. Is it perfect? Again, no. But at least it's trying to reveal truth with increasing levels of evidence. I would wager on that being more likely to be the truth than something else grounded in...non-evidence. Btw, CBT did not grow out of the psychiatric community. Psychiatry and psychology are different disciplines with different emphases on addressing mental disorders and, more recently, helping people develop strengths.

You seem agitated over what I was enjoying as a lively, good-natured debate.
sandsjr
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Engali, I enjoy a good debate too.

My guess is intentionally failing won't recreate the same physiological/psychological response as failing when you have something on the line and you're not expecting it.

In fact, I think the act of failing intentionally could have the unintended consequence of making your more fearful in the future of failing for real.

That said, there's one really fast way to find out...

Try it! Smile

If anyone DOES try it. Be sure and report back. I'd be curious to know how it worked out.
mastermindreader
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That's true Bobby. The real benefit to be derived from failure is discovering whether or not you are able to handle it by successfully ad libbing or improvising your way out of it. Being prepared to do that goes a long way to settle ones nerves.

As you mentioned earlier, it's very important to try to think of everything that could possibly go wrong in an act and how you would handle it when it does.

Just failing on purpose, to prove to yourself that the world won't end, seems pretty short sighted to me because it doesn't really resolve the problem of not being prepared to deal with failure when it occurs.
sandsjr
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On Jul 31, 2014, mastermindreader wrote:
The real benefit to be derived from failure is discovering whether or not you are able to handle it by successfully ad libbing or improvising your way out of it. Being prepared to do that goes a long way to settle ones nerves.


Exactly. I believe in most cases you can only gain "real" confidence through experience and hard work.
mastermindreader
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Remember the Boy Scout Motto. "Be Prepared."
Engali
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Good points. I do think I already addressed this earlier, though. You see, sometimes the issue doesn't revolve around whether or not the person is equipped to handle failure. As you and Bob have pointed out, not being prepared to handle failure is foolhardy and I do agree that being prepared can go a long way to settle nerves for some people (I said as much in my first post). However, you cannot prepare for every contingency--that's simply impossible. Much of that ad-libbing is actually borne out of repeatedly running into the same snafu or mistake and systematically converging on the most appropriate response to that situation. In other words, you plan as much as you can and then you go out and learn by doing. You analyze yourself after each performance, try to learn from your mistakes, and further plan to respond in the best way the next time the situation arises. Even then, knowing what to say and being able to do so are two different things. The latter needs in-world practice and experience.

Some people are petrified of failure or it causes them severe anxiety such that they cope through experiential/emotional avoidance. In doing so, they prevent the overwhelming anxiety, but they also never actually engage in the activity or give it a couple of half-hearted attempts before giving up. Every mistake seems like a failure and they are made to feel ashamed--made bad--as a result of that mistake. Perfectionism, a performance-orientation instead of a learning-orientation arising from an entity theory mindset, whatever the reason, mistakes are perceived as threats to their sense of self instead of feedback about a skill set they are developing. In that frame of mind, failing when they put everything on the line would be likely devastating and counterproductive. That is why I wouldn't advocate for that nor would many who have severe anxiety be able to do so. It's for that very reason why failing on purpose can help them get over the hump of *starting*. Again, not saying this should be a regular practice, but as a way to get someone *started* on the road to mastering a skill set it is, imho, fair game. It may be difficult to understand from your mindset or Bob's mindset, but for others that view failure as a black mark on their character, indicative of not only their current skill but actually their potential to even learn, what would you have them do?

And as for your request for someone to go out, fail on purpose, and report back what happened: that's already happened. Chaz explaining how he did this is how this debate started. Clearly, it worked for him. Mind you, I don't want you or anyone assuming that everything I said applied to Chaz. I was merely using him as a conversational foil to make a point about why, under certain circumstances, failing on purpose may be justifiable.

And Bob, it seems equally short-sighted to me to say that it is never ok for an audience to sit through 5 minutes of a bad performance so someone can get over their fears and perhaps entertain and inspire many, many more audiences.
mastermindreader
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It's not at all short-sighted. I just feel that a mentalist owes EVERY audience his or her best. If you want to fail at something onstage why not go to a comedy club open mic night and do something you've never done before that you have no talent for whatever. Like playing a violin (If you've never played one before.) The audience might even think it's funny and you'll find that the world didn't end because you didn't know what you were doing.) Or just get up and tell bad jokes with no punch lines until you're booed off the stage.

Or better yet, play the violin AND tell bad jokes. Who knows, you might be the next Henny Youngman. Smile

But Chaz DID NOT state in his first post that he went out and failed on purpose. In his case it was NOT intentional.
sandsjr
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Much of that ad-libbing is actually borne out of repeatedly running into the same snafu or mistake and systematically converging on the most appropriate response to that situation


#1 It wouldn't be ad-libbing in that case unless you're an idiot (or lazy). You'd prepare (I hope) for the next time by learning what to say or do. Then you'd be saying the same thing for the same snafu, that's not ad-libbing. However, you would gain some "ad-libbing" experience in having to do so the first time you ran into the snafu.

#2 You gain confidence in your ability to ad-lib only by having successfully ad-libbed. Your brain acquires through experience, a matrix of responses with which you can use to dead reckon out an appropriate response in a random situation.

Engali your whole second paragraph was a longwinded way of disagreeing with what you called good points in your first paragraph. ???

If someone is that incapacitated by fear, show business is probably a bad choice. There are too many very talented people who love mentalism or performing in any capacity for that matter, that aren't strapped by these issues. Who says you have to be a mentalist or a comedian or a public speaker? Find something you love that doesn't take 10 years off your life every time you go out to do it. Why torture yourself?

Now that said, if performing mentalism is something you absolutely can't live without, then go for it. Overcome your fears.

Right. I don't remember Chaz saying he failed intentionally. He liked the liberating feeling he experienced when he failed and lived. Smile Then he came up with that idea.
Engali
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On Jul 31, 2014, mastermindreader wrote:
It's not at all short-sighted. I just feel that a mentalist owes EVERY audience his or her best. If you want to fail at something onstage why not go to a comedy club open mic night and do something you've never done before that you have no talent for whatever. Like playing a violin (If you've never played one before.) The audience might even think it's funny and you'll find that the world didn't end because you didn't know what you were doing.) Or just get up and tell bad jokes with no punch lines until you're booed off the stage.

Or better yet, play the violin AND tell bad jokes. Who knows, you might be the next Henny Youngman. Smile

But Chaz DID NOT state in his first post that he went out and failed on purpose. In his case it was NOT intentional.


You are correct about Chaz. I had to go back and check and indeed he did not intentionally fail. Regardless, as I said before I used him as a foil to open up a discussion about how it may be justifiable to fail on purpose to get over one's fears.

Can you explain to me why it would be okay for someone to tell bad jokes or to play the violin poorly, but not to perform mentalism poorly on purpose to get over their fear?
mastermindreader
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Because I was joking. I thought the Henny Youngman reference established that.

But seriously (sort of), an intentionally bad comedy act actually has a chance of succeeding if it is well and truly bad. Imagine the boost your patient would get when he tried to fail but they liked him anyway. And if not, no harm done as he would have at least succeeded in failing.
Engali
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On Jul 31, 2014, sandsjr wrote:
Quote:
Much of that ad-libbing is actually borne out of repeatedly running into the same snafu or mistake and systematically converging on the most appropriate response to that situation


#1 It wouldn't be ad-libbing in that case unless you're an idiot (or lazy). You'd prepare (I hope) for the next time by learning what to say or do. Then you'd be saying the same thing for the same snafu, that's not ad-libbing. However, you would gain some "ad-libbing" experience in having to do so the first time you ran into the snafu.

#2 You gain confidence in your ability to ad-lib only by having successfully ad-libbed. Your brain acquires through experience, a matrix of responses with which you can use to dead reckon out an appropriate response in a random situation.

Engali your whole second paragraph was a longwinded way of disagreeing with what you called good points in your first paragraph. ???

If someone is that incapacitated by fear, show business is probably a bad choice. There are too many very talented people who love mentalism or performing in any capacity for that matter, that aren't strapped by these issues. Who says you have to be a mentalist or a comedian or a public speaker? Find something you love that doesn't take 10 years off your life every time you go out to do it. Why torture yourself?

Now that said, if performing mentalism is something you absolutely can't live without, then go for it. Overcome your fears.

Right. I don't remember Chaz saying he failed intentionally. He liked the liberating feeling he experienced when he failed and lived. Smile Then he came up with that idea.


1) I said converging on the most appropriate response; I didn't say necessarily the same exact words each time. You build up mental schema from experience on *how* to respond in those situations so, while the words may vary, the form and function/intention of the response can be quite similar. And Robin Williams, many of whom consider to be one of the best improvisers of all time, admitted that he was that good *because* he wasn't really ad-libbing. He had imagined so many scenarios in his mind to respond to so many different situations that he always had something in his back pocket no matter what the situation. The rest was skill in delivery and repetition through experience.

2) You said in your point 1:

"It wouldn't be ad-libbing in that case unless you're an idiot (or lazy). You'd prepare (I hope) for the next time by learning what to say or do. Then you'd be saying the same thing for the same snafu, that's not ad-libbing. However, you would gain some "ad-libbing" experience in having to do so the first time you ran into the snafu."

How would preparing a response to a common occurrence be idiotic or lazy? I thought you were all about preparation?

"#2 You gain confidence in your ability to ad-lib only by having successfully ad-libbed. Your brain acquires through experience, a matrix of responses with which you can use to dead reckon out an appropriate response in a random situation. "

Right, you build up a schema of how to respond to a situation. That's great if you can get started in the first place. That is what you're repeatedly missing: some people can't "just" perform the first time around. By definition, the people I am talking about can't. These people exist and it's fairly common. If it were as easy as "well, just go do it", they would have done it by now and the whole discussion would be moot. Gaining confidence is great IF you can start on the path TO gain that confidence. There are people who find the endeavor very challenging, yet still want to live life, overcoming their mental blocks and growing in the process.


You wrote:
"Engali your whole second paragraph was a longwinded way of disagreeing with what you called good points in your first paragraph. ???"

Is this a question or a statement??? It's called seeing arguments from all angles and giving each stance a fair shake. The point you missed for the second paragraph, which you missed again, is that preparation doesn't solve anxiety in all cases and specifically not in the ones I am talking about. The point is that I already addressed what you said. The point is that "Just doing it" can seem insurmountable. The point of that second paragraph is that there are sincere people out there who want to do stuff in their lives and they may not think like you nor you them. The point is that you don't understand what it may be like to be in their shoes and helping you consider someone else's point of view may open your eyes to seeing things in new ways, ways that are very relevant to our discussion.

If someone is paralyzed by fear, yet they are willing to do what it takes to overcome it for the sake of something they love, then they should do it. Those are people I am talking about and those are the people I believe should be able to fail on purpose if they need to so that they can get moving. And frankly, those people probably don't want or need your career advice if they're willing to suffer through all of this to get to where they want to be.

I was incorrect about Chaz. I misremembered, but the points still stand.
mastermindreader
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The bottom line, though, is that most people aren't cut out for show business in the first place, and I'd recommend that someone with the extreme issues you speak of should consider another career that's not so much in the public eye.

Have you considered that someone following your advice may actually be devastated if the audience starts to heckle derisively? If he had self-esteem issues to begin with, throwing him into the frying pan may not be the wisest course of action

Mentalism is not, despite what the ads tell us, something that anyone can do well.
sandsjr
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Engali:

let's revisit

#1 You're either foolish or lazy if you don't take the time to set up an out, or something to say, once you find a vulnerability in your routine. So, the second time you have a mishap at that same place, you're prepared with something. You don't want to ad-lib AGAIN.

#2 You ask if . ??? is a question or a statement. I could have been more clear. I was wondering why you thought the points I made were "good" points and then proceeded to describe why they were not in the second paragraph. I presume what you called good points were these...

Quote:
"My guess is intentionally failing won't recreate the same physiological/psychological response as failing when you have something on the line and you're not expecting it. In fact, I think the act of failing intentionally could have the unintended consequence of making your more fearful in the future of failing for real."

But then went on to recommend they do it anyway. I didn't understand the reasoning.


This is fun to talk about but is getting convoluted with all the back and forth and paragraphs of text. Too bad we can't all talk instead of having to type into these scrolling rectangles. Smile

I'm an optimist and believe anything is possible. If you have hangups of the type we talk about here yet are willing to do whatever it takes to surmount them, I wish you all the best! I say go for it!

But I remain a realist as well. Art should flow freely. Presuming your aim is to be competitive and earn your living doing it... If you are starting out having to set up artificial situations out of the gate plus having to tread lightly for fear of what lurks around the corner, you are at an extreme disadvantage and your time here on the big rock might be better served doing something else.
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