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Out of My Skull Reviews

Out of My Skull by James Danckert, John D. Eastwood

Out of My Skull

The Psychology of Boredom

James Danckert, John D. Eastwood

Score pending

1 review

Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 11 May 2020
ISBN: 9780674984677

Usually when we're bored, we try to distract ourselves. But soon enough, boredom returns. James Danckert and John Eastwood argue that we can learn to handle boredom more effectively by recognizing what research shows: boredom indicates unmet psychological needs. Boredom, therefore, can motivate us to change what isn't working in our lives.

4 stars out of 5
Steven Poole
28 May 2020

"(a) highly interesting and suggestive book on the analysis of boredom from a strictly psychological perspective"

People who are more prone to boredom, the authors report, are more likely to be narcissistic or hostile, and “some forms of aggression could be viewed as attempts to redress the lack of meaning that is associated with boredom”. So they identify boredom – in its existential mode as a sense of the meaninglessness of life – as one possible driving force behind tribalism and xenophobia. Did boredom, after all, lead to Brexit? Certainly one plausible hypothesis for why so many people voted for Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, I’d suggest, is that voters were profoundly bored with a world in which nothing very important ever seemed to happen, so why not vote for a leader who would at least be entertaining? The events of this year, of course, illustrate at least one problem with that reasoning.

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