Letter to Daniel Gilbert, Harvard Psychologist

Dear Mr. Gilbert,

My name is Meitar Moscovitz, and I am hoping that this letter serves two purposes. First, I want to express to you an enormous degree of thanks that, no matter how I try to codify it in writing this letter, seems to defy explanation. In part, this is because I have yet to understand just what sort of impact learning about you and your work is going to have on me. My (as yet admittedly slim) exposure to your work came first about two years ago when I saw your presentation appear on the TEDTalks video blog.

It was informative at the time, but I failed to make the information personally applicable to me then. Today, however, I am finding myself in a situation that is, for want of a better explanation with the ability to include copious back-story, at the point before a major turning point in my life in three major ways. (I am moving to Australia from New York City, where I have lived all of my life, with a girlfriend with whom my relationship is “complicated.”) As I’m sure many other people have done when presented with such a life-changing event, I am asking myself why I’ve never been able to “be happy” before, and whether such drastic change is really going to help.

A part of my story, and the second reason why I’m writing you, is that at the age of twelve I was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. That diagnosis became an explanation for others to explain my dissatisfaction with my life, yet it’s an explanation I have always felt lacked real substance, even if it did put at least one more piece of the puzzle together. As far back as I can remember, I have always been wanting, rarely able to work joyfully, rarely able to love without fear.

Today, when I watched your talk on the TEDTalks video blog again, a lot of things you said became instantly pertinent in ways it had not been two years prior the first time I saw it. Suddenly, thanks to many other “pieces of the puzzle” beginning to fall into place, especially those that began to explain hardships in concrete ways (my various relationship struggles not least of them), I was able to understand how and why I might differ in regards to my seeming inability to achieve lasting happiness, in contrast with certain friends and, indeed, my girlfriend, who seems remarkably capable in this department.

Due to all of these things, I am now finding myself very interested to learn specifically about how and in what ways the concepts of neurodiversity, and specifically as it relates to “mental illnesses” such as bipolar disorder, correlate with your findings on synthetic happiness. Are people diagnosed with mental illness, such as I am, routinely less able to manufacture synthetic happiness than people who are not? If so, why, and in what ways?

I’ve spent a significant chunk of today searching the Internet for anything that might relate to the intersection of these two psychological and psychiatric disciplines, but have not turned much up. I would be greatly appreciative of any further information you might have on the topic, or pointers to where I might find such material. Either way, I’ll just keep looking anyways. :)

Thanks again for a marvelously inspiring and informative presentation.

-Meitar Moscovitz

Professional homepage: http://meitarmoscovitz.com/
Personal homepage: http://maymay.net/

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