THURSDAY, October 18th
LEE DANIEL KRAVETZ
Best-selling Author, MFTi Psychotherapist
In 2009, tragedy struck the town of Palo Alto: A student from the local high school died by suicide by stepping in front of an oncoming train. Grief-stricken, the community mourned what they thought was an isolated loss. Until, a few weeks later, it happened again. And again. And again. In six months, the high school lost five students to suicide at those train tracks. A recent transplant to the community and a new father himself, Lee Daniel Kravetz’s experience as a science journalist kicked in: what was causing this tragedy? More importantly, how was it possible that a suicide cluster could develop in a community of concerned, aware, hyper-vigilant adults?
The answer? Social contagions. We know that ideas, emotions, and actions are communicable—from mirroring someone’s posture to mimicking their speech patterns, we are all driven by unconscious motivations triggered by our environment. But when just the right physiological, psychological, and social factors come together, we get what Kravetz calls a “strange contagion”, a perfect storm of highly common social viruses that, combined, form a highly volatile condition. Our keynote presents both a moving account of one community’s tragedy and a rigorous investigation of social phenomenon, as Kravetz draws on research and insights from experts worldwide to unlock the mystery of how ideas spread, why they take hold, and offer thoughts on our responsibility to one another as citizens of a globally and perpetually connected world.
Lee Daniel Kravetz is the author of the international bestsellers Strange Contagion and Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering & Success. He holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri – Columbia, and a M.A. in psychology from Santa Clara University and a post-graduate fellowship from Stanford University. He has written for print and television, including The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Atlantic, Psychology Today, The Daily Beast, The San Francisco Chronicle,/i> and PBS’s Frontline and Sesame Street. His work has been translated in ten languages. He has been featured in Time Magazine, The Harvard Business Review, and Fast Company, and is a founding board member of the Lit Camp Writers Conference. www.leedanielkravetz.com