A look at culture through Greek mythology.

As part of the Coursera course I’m taking on Greek & Roman Mythology, I had to read Homer’s The Odyssey and Hesiod’s Theogony. I would really recommend that people read these, just to understand a bit more about the lives of humans millennia ago, and how some things haven’t actually changed. However, I would recommend reading with a group or doing a course like Coursera so that you can really get into the story and understand the different elements.

Anyway, I’d just like to briefly talk about a few thoughts that came to me through reading The Odyssey.

An appreciation of cultural differences

Odysseus is part of a culture that has certain beliefs and practices, including xenia, which is the practice of extreme hospitality. Through his journeys, he encounters other cultures, some of which are similar to his own, while some are very different (practicing cannibalism, for instance). However, he expects everyone to act like him when he encounters them. I’m sure that these people he met also expected him to act the same way as they did. Through Odysseus’ (and Homer’s) eyes, these differences make these people lesser.

Relating to the modern, globalised world we live in now, these kinds of expectations are still prevalent  though they really shouldn’t be. Ideally, people would tolerate each other’s differences, even welcome them (aside from cannibalism and anything else of the sort though). I, as an occupational therapist, can’t really expect someone from, say, a Catholic family to have the same values and behaviour as myself. In fact, I cannot expect an atheist British person (yes, this still embodies a number of different populations, but bear with me) to act like myself. It is simply not logical or moral to think – or worse, treat – someone as lesser because they don’t come from the same culture as you do.

Some things simply don’t change

One thing that I can’t really say too much on critically, but that amused me, was that even back then, mellenia ago, the ‘common’ people gossiped about the ‘nobles’. There are several instances in The Odyssey where nobles were afraid of what the “meaner” people would say about them. This lead me to thinking that, yes, this was written a long time ago, and we tend to think that we’ve changed so much over the ages, that we’ve evolved and developed. But this and other scenarios made me realise that, actually, we’re not that different from the people who lived thousands of years ago. Our technologies have developed and we’ve made incredible advances in science and knowledge, but we, as human beings, have not actually, fundamentally, changed all that much. People still talk about the royal family and celebrities today.

So there are my two little thoughts. I hope they spark some interesting introspection, and I repeat my recommendation to delve into some ancient literature!

End, Middle, Beginning.

End.

I had my final exam on Thursday. If you recall, I had ten days to prepare four case studies, and two case studies would be in the exam. The case studies were mild/moderate learning disabilities, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia and traumatic brain injury. I was hoping to get the LD and TBI case studies, but alas, neither were on the exam. I’m sure I passed, but I would have felt more confident answering the questions if I could relate to my experience working with brain injuries. Having never worked with someone with a learning disability, I don’t know why I wanted that case study, but then I’ve never encountered RA, nor have I really worked with someone with schizophrenia.

Middle.

The next few days involved trying to reestablish occupational balance. I started reading for pleasure again. I decided to try catching up with some of my TV shows. I played a strategy computer game with Flan and my brother to exercise my brain in a different way. My face is already starting to look clearer from the drop in my stress levels.

Then today I started working – temporarily – at a school in Newbury. I loved it! It’s too bad that I have to drive all the way there and back, and that it’s temporary.

Beginning.

I have to really start looking for an OT job and figuring out the magic formula to get to the interview stage. I think I’ve found one just inside the M25 down the M40, so I could commute (yeah, I hate driving, but I love Oxford). It’s a paediatric centre, and they need a Band 5. I think I have a better chance getting an interview for this one than I have most jobs on offer, as I have absolutely no acute experience, nor orthopaedic, nor stroke, nor community. On the other hand, I did my dissertation on using video games with children with cerebral palsy, I had an adolescent mental placement, I had my final placement in a school for children with dyspraxia and I am now working in another school. I think paediatrics is the way to go! Plus, I might get to venture a bit into assistive technology, hopefully!

‘Feeling Good: The new mood therapy’ – some notes

Just so you know, I’ve scheduled this post for the morning, but I’m writing this at 23:30 on the 22nd.

I’m reading ‘Feeling Good’ by David Burns (1999), a self-help book teaching cognitive therapy. In the book, Burns cites research that his book is as good as medication in treating depression, and if I weren’t writing this on my phone, I’d elaborate.

I’m reading it because it was recommended by users of the the popular website Reddit as one of the best self-help books around. My boyfriend bought it for me, thinking I’d find it interesting…he is so much better at buying gifts than I am!

On the first page of chapter one, Burns says that depression is an illness that can be overcome, which sounds to me like you can get rid of it if you can find the right treatment. Now, this is at odds with a lot that I’ve heard. I thought depression was something you can work to control so that it doesn’t control you, but it will always be there (depending on your personal version of depression).

Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m curious now. This may be something to check in the morning when I’m at a computer.