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Read the passage and write an essay responding to the ideas it presents. In your essay, summarize the passage in your own words, stating the author’s most important ideas. Develop your essay by identifying one idea in the passage that you feel is especially significant, and explain its significance. Support your claims with evidence or examples drawn from what you have read, learned in school, and/or personally experienced.
Remember to review your essay and make any changes or corrections that are needed to help your reader follow your thinking. You will have 3 hours minutes to complete your essay.
Self-Distancing and Aspirin to Get Over a Break Up
adapted from an article by Ian Sample in The Guardian, September 24, 2014
It’s widely believed that talking about heartbreak can heal the pain of a break up and make us feel better. We go to therapists and counselors to talk about our pain and process our grief. But Walter Mischel, a psychologist at Stanford University, claims that talking about a failed relationship can make the pain even worse. Instead of brooding over broken relationships, Walter Mischel recommends a couple of aspirin to take the edge off the pain. He also encourages people to distance themselves from the event to improve their perspective. “Ruminating on bad experiences can send people into a downward spiral,” said Mischel.
“Common wisdom suggests that if we thoroughly revisit our negative experiences to try to understand why they happened, we’ll eventually be able to move on. However, new research is showing that some people only get worse by continuing to brood and ruminate,” Mischel said. “Each time they recount the experience to themselves, their friends or their therapist, they only become more depressed. Self-distancing, in contrast, allows them to get a more objective view, without reactivating their pain, and helps them get past the experience.”
One way to self-distance, according to Professor Mischel, is to write an account of the bad experience in the third person (he, she, they) instead of writing the story from the point of view of “I.” By distancing ourselves from the painful event as we write about it, we can be more thoughtful about what happened without being self-pitying and self-destructive. Turning the experience into a story gives us control over it. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by emotion, we can process the event in a more creative way and see the event more objectively.
Mischel’s advice on relationship trouble comes from research he brought together for his book on self-control, The Marshmallow Test. In the book, among other studies, he describes a study that found taking aspirin helped reduce the pain of heartbreak.
“When we speak about rejection experiences in terms of physical pain, it is not just a metaphor: the broken heart and emotional pain really do hurt in a physical way. ‘Take two aspirins and call me in the morning’ would be a cold-hearted response to a friend’s late-night report of fresh heartbreak, but it has a solid basis in the research,” he said.