|The Antidote to ISIS – Part I
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|Private Practice Schedule
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|Vets fear insanity defense will grow PTSD stigma
||Among hundreds of thousands of veterans living with PTSD, some openly worry that the insanity defense will reignite PTSD's social stigma.
|Preemies may be more likely to develop psychiatric disorders, study suggests
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|5 Essential Ingredients Of Successful Therapy
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|How to Change People Who Don't Want to Change
||When you’re trying to influence people who need motivation, but not information, don’t offer more information. That’s nagging. Instead, use questions to create a safe environment where they can explore motivations they already have
|“Fifty Shades of Grey” for the Gray-Haired? Believe It!
||Are you getting ready? Valentines’ Day is fast approaching, and the movie ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ opens this weekend. Love and yes, sexual fantasies are in the air…and not only for the twenty-somethings. Don’t look now, or maybe, yes…envision this: Your middle-aged mother, father, aunts, uncles, even grandparents (maybe even...
|Hollywood’s Fascination with Fifty Shades of Grey
||In just a few days, the film adaptation of the wildly popular novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, will hit theaters and I can’t help but take a moment to really appreciate the phenomenon. Not only has the book (and its two sequels) done incredibly well but it seems to have...
|Managing the Fear and Anxiety of the Unknown
||Almost everybody worries about what will happen in the future. Remember that no one can predict the future with 100 percent certainty. Even if the thing that you are afraid of does happen, there are unpredictable circumstances and factors which can be used to your advantage. For instance, let’s say...
|This Valentine's Day - Play!
Valentine’s Day puts a lot of pressure on couples to spice up their relationships. It’s the one time of the year where our culture kind of forces us to take a magnifying glass to our relationships and consider whether they are romantic enough, sexy enough, hot enough…are they enough?
For couples who have been together a long time, the prevailing feelings might be that, although you really love your partner, the novelty and excitement that you felt when you were first together has dwindled a bit. It turns out that this decline in feelings of passion and heat toward your partner are both totally normal, and can be heightened by simply enjoying each other’s company in new and exciting ways.
When we are first in the early stages of love, we are often experiencing what psychologists refer to as passionate love (e.g., Fisher, 1998; Hatfield & Walster, 1978). This type of love is very intense. We are highly motivated to be close to our partners – emotionally and sexually, we are preoccupied with thoughts of our partners, and our moods can be drastically impacted by how we think our partner feels about us. We are euphoric when they love us back, and devastated when we fear they don’t. The early stages of love are also associated with increased activity in areas of the brain that process a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is involved in both motivated behavior and our experience of reward (e.g., Aron et al., 2005). Essentially, we are motivated to pursue the object of our affection and find great reward in doing so.
For better or worse, however, these intense feelings tend to fade over time in a relationship (e.g., Baumeister & Bratslavsky, 1999; Sterberg, 1986) and, to the extent that the relationship successfully continues, can be replaced by a less intense version of love called companionate love. Now, companionate love is a wonderful thing – it’s affectionate and warm, and it’s based on feelings of respect and friendship. However, many individuals in long term relationships at least occasionally long for the days when they felt so passionately about their partner.
As it turns out, researchers have identified an easy way to get a boost in your feelings of passionate for your partner, as well as your satisfaction with your relationship in general, even if you’ve been together a long time. Are you ready for the secret? It’s simple – do things together. But, the key is that not anything will do, you should do things together that are new for both you and get your hearts racing.
Arthur Aron and his colleagues (2000) conducted several studies examining whether specific features of the time couples spend together are associated with increased feelings of satisfaction and passion. They found, on self-report measures, that couples who reported doing new and exciting things together generally were more satisfied in their relationships than couples who did more mundane things together. So, they conducted several experiments to further test this idea. In several studies with participants who had been together anywhere from 2 months to 15 years they found that doing a new activity that was also physiologically arousing – meaning that it got their heart-rate and respiration up a bit, predicted increased relationship satisfaction and increased feelings of passion for the partner compared to couples who completed surveys side by side. How long the couples had been together didn’t change this effect.
So, if you want to spice things up this Valentine’s Day, or any time of the year, try doing something new together. Play together! Take dance lessons, or ride a roller coaster – anything that is new to you (thus combatting the boredom of a long term partnership) and exciting (arousal that you can then apply toward your partner) can work. These new and exciting activities don’t have to be extravagant or expensive, they just have to bring you closer to your partner and inject a little passion back into your relationship! Good luck and happy playing!
Aron, A., Fisher, H., Mashek, D. J., Strong, G., Li, H., & Brown, L. L. (2005). Reward, motivation, and emotion systems associated with early-stage intense romantic love. Journal of neurophysiology, 94(1), 327-337.
Aron, A., Norman, C. C., Aron, E. N., McKenna, C., & Heyman, R. E. (2000). Couples' shared participation in novel and arousing activities and experienced relationship quality. Journal of personality and social psychology, 78(2), 273.
Baumeister, R. F., & Bratslavsky, E. (1999). Passion, intimacy, and time: Passionate love as a function of change in intimacy. Personality and social psychology review, 3(1), 49-67.
Fisher HE. Lust, attraction, and attachment in mammalian reproduction. Human Nature 9: 23–52, 1998.
Hatfield, E., & Walster, G. W. (1978). A new look at love. Lantham, MA: University Press of America.
Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological Review, 93, 119-135.
Spice up your relationship by doing new and exciting things together!
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Me, You, & Us
Many people see Valentine's Day as an opportunity to spice up their relationships. It turns out that social psychologists have identified a really easy way to do just that - engage in novel and exciting activities together! about this simple way to inject excitement back into your relationship.
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|Why Couples Need to Play More
||Many people see Valentine's Day as an opportunity to spice up their relationships. It turns out that social psychologists have identified a really easy way to do just that - engage in novel and exciting activities together! about this simple way to inject excitement back into your relationship.
|My Trouble With Mindfulness
||I can’t say I’m not informed about the benefits of mindfulness.
As a writer for Greater Good, I’ve read countless books on mindfulness, and been lucky to interview some of the leading scientists in the world who study it. I’ve written articles about mindfulness improving health and wellbeing for kids, teachers, pregnant women, and parents. And I’ve covered its positive effects on over-eating and sexual dysfunction. I know that it’s a powerful intervention, good for psychological and physical health.
But I still don’t practice it. At least, not in any consistent way. There’s just something—or maybe some things—that seem to get in my way. Part of it may be a matter or priorities and breaking the habit of inertia. But, there are other hindrances to practicing, too—fears about how it may change me in maybe not so positive ways.
But still…all of that science! I decided that it was time for me to face fears by delving (yet again) into the research on mindfulness and talking to with leaders in the field. Here is what I learned about my troubles with mindfulness, and what the experts have to say about them.
Mindfulness will interfere with my engaging in world problems
When I went to a mindfulness meditation course some years ago, I remember this concern came up a lot in the class. People would ask, “Isn’t it a cop out to focus inward when there are so many problems in the world that need attention?” Or, “Won’t mindfulness make me tune out the suffering of others?”
I must admit that concern resonated with me. So, I asked Rick Hanson—neuropsychologist and best-selling author of Buddha’s Brain—what the science says about mindfulness and its impact on engagement with the world.
“First, it’s a really important, legitimate, obvious question,” he says. “But, if you think of examples of this—mindful people disengaging from the world—they are incredibly rare. Actually, as we tune more into ourselves, we become more able to tune into other people.”
Research lends support to this statement. In an experimental study by Paul Condon of Northeastern University and colleagues, participants assigned to an eight-week mindfulness meditation course were surreptitiously tested afterwards on their tendency to help someone in need. While seated in a waiting room with no empty seats, participants observed a woman (actually a confederate working with the researchers) on crutches and in obvious pain come into the room and lean against a wall.
Researchers wanted to see whether or not participants would get up to offer her their seat, even though two people other seated in the room (also confederates) ignored her. What they found was that those participants who’d attended the meditation class got up five times more often than those who were in a wait list control group. In other words, the meditation course made them more likely to take compassionate action.
This may be due to the way mindfulness impacts structures in the brain, according to Hanson. Research has shown that mindfulness builds up brain tissue in the insula, which, in addition to being involved in “interoception”—or the perception of our internal bodily sensations—is also linked to experiencing empathy for other people.
Mindfulness training may also help people to cope better with typical barriers to compassionate action, such as experiencing strong emotions—like fear, sadness, or anger—when confronted with the suffering of others, or when stressed out, says Hanson. Literally hundreds of studies have found that mindfulness meditation training—e.g. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, the program pioneered by Jon Kabat-Zinn—helps reduce stress and improve distress-tolerance.
Of course, we don’t know that this translates directly into engagement in world problems. But, it does seem more likely than not that meditation strengthens rather than weakens our tendency to take action to help others. So much for fear number one.
Mindfulness will make me less productive
When I think of being productive, I don’t think about sitting on a cushion, following my breath. In fact, that seems almost antithetical to getting things done.
But one of the most important aspects of mindfulness training is that it improves focus—your ability to maintain attention on what’s going on both inside of you and in front of you.
According to Daniel Goleman, these attention skills are important for excelling at work, because focus is useful for sticking with problems, navigating relationships with colleagues, understanding your own motivations, avoiding emotional reactivity, and fostering innovation. His book, Focus, made the case for this.
Research bears out the potential benefits of mindfulness in the workplace. In one 2012 study from researchers at the University of Washington, a group of human resource professionals were trained in either mindfulness meditation or relaxation skills over an eight-week period and were tested on how they handled complex multi-tasking. Participants who underwent mindfulness training remained more on task, with less task-switching, and reported better moods, than those who underwent relaxation training or were on a waitlist to receive training. This suggests that mindfulness helps one focus more efficiently on a task.
In a 2013 study by Erik Dane and Bradley Brummel, service workers in the restaurant business were measured on mindfulness levels, engagement at work, and their commitment to staying at their present job, with their job performance independently assessed by managers. The researchers found a positive correlation between workplace mindfulness and job performance that held true even when accounting for worker engagement. They also found support for mindfulness decreasing a worker’s intent to leave their job, although this was not independent of worker engagement.
But, what about those of us whose work requires creative, open thinking?
According to a 2012 randomized control study published in the Public Library of Science, non-meditators who went through an 8 week mindfulness meditation course decreased their cognitive rigidity—the tendency to have difficulty taking in new information to solve problems—when compared to a waitlist group. In another study, participants who received mindfulness training increased the ability to solve insight-related problems better than those who didn’t go through the training. These and other studies suggest that mindfulness can help people with tasks that involve less rigid thinking and more insight—both skills useful in creativity.
Mindfulness meditation would take up too much time
When I think of mindfulness meditation, I picture someone sitting under a tree in an idyllic retreat setting, not someone rushing to get the kids off to school or commuting to work. Who has time for something like that?
This is a question that comes up frequently among novice meditators, according to mindfulness researcher Shauna Shapiro…at least in the West, where we tend to be addicted to speed and getting things accomplished. But, while she and others might argue that our lifestyle needs changing, there is also some good news about my concern with time: even small commitments to practicing mindfulness meditation can make a positive change in your life.
In a 2011 study at the University of Wisconsin, non-meditators were trained in mindful attention meditation over a 5-week period and tested on brain activity patterns using an EEG. Mindful meditators who practiced on average 5-16 minutes a day saw significant, positive changes in their brain patterns—a pattern reflecting a more “positive, approach-oriented emotions”—as compared to those on a waitlist for the training.
In a 2010 study, participants were taught mindful breathing techniques for only twenty minutes over a three-day period and then tested for their pain reactivity to mild and stronger electrical shocks. After the mindfulness training, the participants experienced significantly less anxiety, less suffering from pain, and less reactivity to the pain relative to their baseline levels.
Another 2008 study at Stanford University found that teaching a loving kindness meditation to non-meditators—a practice involving sending out good wishes to oneself, a loved one, and a stranger, often taught in conjunction with mindful breathing practices—can have positive effects on one’s mood and on prosocial evaluations of strangers. And this after only after seven minutes of training!
Still, before you get too excited, you should know that research on this is still in its infancy. In fact, research generally supports a dose-response to mindfulness meditation—the more, the better. But, some meditation may be better than none.
For people like me who may have trouble getting over the time commitment thing, Shapiro suggests you get in touch with your motivation for doing meditation, and to commit to a certain time of day to practice. Like other skills, mindfulness will get stronger with practice.
“Research shows that our repeated behaviors shape our brain,” says Shapiro. “Mindfulness can become one of our repeated ‘habits’ strengthening pathways that lead to greater awareness, happiness and freedom.”
You can also pick a practice that suits you, she adds—maybe a body scan practice if you have trouble connecting with your body, a loving kindness meditation if you are suffering from a lot of negative thoughts, or a simple breath meditation if you are looking for calming stillness or a greater understanding of how your mind works. Starting with a practice that matches your needs may have the added benefit of motivating you to do more of it.
Hanson suggests that mindfulness need not be limited to the cushion, either. Once you’ve developed mindfulness skills through meditation, you can integrate mindfulness more into your daily life. “We can be mindful of the cars driving next to us, or mindful of the expression on a loved one’s face. Mindfulness is present while we raise children, while we do cognitive therapy. It’s not just about sitting,” he says.
Mindfulness is only for New Age types, and that’s not me
Recently, a friend and I were talking about meditation and why we haven’t really gotten into it. We know it’s good for us; we’ve seen the research. But, even so, we still have one nagging concern: we don’t want to become New Age stereotypes. You know what I mean—“hippy dippy, touchy feely, follow your bliss” types that others may dismiss.
But, according to a recent article in the New York Times Style Magazine by reporter Tim Wu, mindfulness practices seem to be going mainstream. Wu writes, “Over the last decade, without much fanfare, the core tenets of Buddhism have migrated from the spiritual fringe to become widely accepted techniques for dealing with the challenges of daily life.”
In fact, though practicing mindfulness may indeed bring some people bliss, it can no longer be construed as a New Age fad. Search “mindfulness research” under Google Scholar, and you get over 78,000 hits—over 21,000 from just the last four years. Mindfulness has been studied from Harvard to UCLA, from the University of Texas to the University of Wisconsin, to see if it helps with pain, immune response function, over-eating, drug addiction, pregnancy, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder. You name it, mindfulness has been tried, either to augment standard treatments or to replace them.
According to Hanson, mindfulness teachings have infiltrated settings as diverse as prisons, marine boot camps, and Fortune 500 companies. “Whether it’s astronauts or professional athletes, more and more elite performers are appreciating the power of mindfulness and meditation training,” he says.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. In fact, Hanson claims that, although there may be a lot of “hoo-ha” around mindfulness, it can be downright challenging.
“To be really open to your feelings and to look under the rocks of your own mind, you need guts,” he argues. “I would challenge people who think they are tough or strong to follow 10 breaths in a row, or to spend half an hour quietly coming back again and again to what living is like right now, and then tell me this is only for New Age wussies.”
In other words, one can safely assume mindfulness is not a New Age fad. And, if I decided to meditate, I would be in good company…lots of it. Mindfulness has even hit the halls of Congress, with Tim Ryan, the Congressman from Ohio, being a staunch supporter of the practice.
So, far from being a stereotype, it appears that I’d be joining a movement that’s only growing and gaining wider acceptance. And, I may become more productive, creative, and effective in the process…not to mention, less stressed and happier.
I guess my fears of mindfulness are just that—fears. Perhaps it’s time to begin that long-overdue mindfulness practice and start seeing what this “hoo-ha” is all about!
|Be More Successful in Online Dating – Use Humour
If you ask someone to list the characteristics they require in a potential dating partner, it is likely that they would say they want someone with a good sense of humour. In online dating, this even has its own abbreviation (GSOH). Humour may be especially important in online interactions because after the initial impression given by a person’s profile picture, it is what a person says and how they describe themselves which takes over and becomes more salient. So why is sense of humour important here?
One of the reasons why both males and females are attracted to a good sense of humour is because humour puts people in a good and positive mood. In an initial encounter with someone, our mood is a crucial factor in determining attraction. If we experience positive feelings, this subsequently leads to a positive evaluation of the other person. Conversely if we experience negative feelings this leads to negative evaluations. Furthermore, the people with whom we are interacting when we experience positive or negative emotions tends to be associated with these feelings and become treated in either a positive or negative way too. The fact that we are attracted to those who make us laugh and induce a positive mood can be explained in terms of a basic learning paradigm known as classical conditioning. After successive pairings of a particular person with a happy mood state, the presence of the person alone should elicit the same happy mood.
So having established that most of us desire someone with a good sense of humour, we now need to explore in more detail precisely what we mean by this. In a study by Bressler, Martin & Balshine, 2006, participants were asked to think of the following. Imagine a situation where you are choosing between two potential dating partners. They are equally physically attractive, intelligent, interesting, friendly and compassionate. The only difference between them is in the following.
One is great at making you laugh and you think they are very funny. However, they don’t laugh all that much when you make jokes. They listen to you, but when you make jokes you rarely get more than a smile from them.
The other laughs at all your jokes and think you are a very funny person, but you don’t find their jokes very funny. You understand their jokes and don’t find them offensive, but they rarely make you laugh.
Therefore, as we can see, the term 'good sense of humour' can mean either producing humorous material, or being receptive to the humour produced by others. Which person do you choose, the person who makes you laugh, or the person who laughs at your jokes? Bressler et al (2006) reported that males prefer females who are receptive to their humour and laugh at their jokes, whereas females value humour production in a relationship partner.
Why do males like females who laugh at their jokes?
It has been found that when females and males are engaged in conversation, it is the amount of laughter produced by the female and not the amount of laughter produced by the male, which predicts sexual interest (Grammer & Eibl-Eibesfeldt (1990). This finding suggests that males should prefer females who appreciate their humour and laugh at their jokes because this may signal sexual interest. Therefore, even though males and females report that they find sense of humour in a dating partner desirable, for males at least, this means preferring a female who appreciates their humour, rather than being attracted to one who makes jokes herself. It is also the case that males tend to use humour more than females, and also use it more than females in intersexual advertising to attract females (Simpson, Gangestad, Christensen, & Leck (1999).
Why do females like males who can make them laugh?
Males who can produce humour and make people laugh may be more creatively intelligent than males who do not produce humour. Therefore being able to produce humour is an indication of intelligence in males, and as such these males may possess better genes at least as far as intelligence is concerned. Hence females prefer males who can make them laugh, because humorous males may be able to give their offspring superior genetic benefits in terms of intelligence (Miller, 2001). Additionally, the ability to make someone laugh requires a certain level of social intelligence in terms of appreciating and understanding what someone else does and does not find funny.
However, Bressler et al (2006) found that females still chose males who could produce humour over those who could not, even if their humour was unsophisticated, which would not be an indication of intelligence. In this study however, humorous males were judged as being more socially skilled, and indeed, generating humour takes a degree of self-confidence and poise, characteristics females consistently rate in males. For example, physically attractive males who used self-deprecating humour were rated as more desireable than physically attractive males who did not use this type of humour. Using self-deprecating humour requires a degree of confidence, and presumably the former group were rated as more attractive because they were perceived as possessing this quality (Lundy, Tan & Cunningham, 1998).
The Additional Impact of a Sense of Humour
A partner’s sense of humour also has an effect in established relationships. Females in relationships with more humorous partners rated them as being more creative and intelligent, and also as being more popular and better leaders. In terms of their sexual relationships, females with more humorous partners, said that they had more sex generally, initiated sex more often, and generally felt more committed to their partner (Gallup, Ampel, Wedberg & Pogosjan, 2014).
We have seen that humour production appears to indicate both greater intelligence and superior genetic potential or social skills superiority, each of which females find desirable in a male, whereas humour receptivity indicates female sexual interest in a male. In our ancestoral past, this meant that females who responded positively to humour producers would have benefited by being able to reproduce with these males. Similarly males who learned to attend more to females, who appreciated their humour and signalling sexual interest, would also have benefited reproductively.
Applying this evolutionary psychology approach to the context of online dating, it can be seen that males who construct humorous profiles and engage in online messaging using humour might attract more females. Females on the other hand might attract desirable males by being receptive to humorous profile descriptions or humorous messages. Even on a basic level, having a good sense of humour (whatever that means) suggests that we can interact easily with others and that we possess a relaxed and fun-loving personality, all of which make us more attractive.
Bressler, E. R., Martin, R. A., & Balshine, S. (2006) ‘Production and appreciation of humour as sexually selected traits’ Evolution and Human Behavior, 27, 121–130.
Gallup, G. G., Ampel, B. C., Wedberg, N., & Pogosjan, A. (2014) Do orgasms give women feedback about mate choice? Evolutionary Psychology, 12(5), 958-978.
Grammer, K., & Eibl-Eibesfeldt, I. (1990). The ritualisation of laughter. In W. Koch (Ed.), Naturalichkeit der sprache un der kulture: Acta colloquii, (pp. 192–214). Bochum7 Brockmeyer.
Lundy, D. E., Tan, J., & Cunningham, M. R. (1998). Heterosexual romantic preferences: The importance of humour and physical attractiveness for different types of relationships. Personal Relationships, 5, 311–325.
Miller, G. F. (2001). Aesthetic fitness: How sexual selection shaped artistic virtuosity as a fitness indicator and aesthetic preferences as mate choice criteria. Bulletin of Psychology and the Arts, 2, 20–25.
Simpson, J. A., Gangestad, S. W., Christensen, P. N., & Leck, K. (1999). Fluctuating asymmetry, sociosexuality, and intrasexual competitive tactics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 159–172.
Using Humour Online
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Females with more humorous partners have more sex and also initiate sex more often.
Females prefer males who can make them laugh, because humorous males may be able to give their offspring superior genetic benefits.
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|The Many Definitions of Love
Klearchos Kapoutsis / Flickr Creative Commons
L'amour. Liebe. Sarang. Ai. Hubb. Love.
There may be just one word for love in every language, but there are myriad meanings. It just depends on who you ask. See below for some of the most interesting definitions I've found.
Love is not "falling in love."
"Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct. I need to be loved by someone who chooses to love me, who sees in me something worth loving.
That kind of love requires effort and discipline. It is the choice to expend energy in an effort to benefit the other person, knowing that if his or her life is enriched by your effort, you too will find a sense of satisfaction -- the satisfaction of having genuinely loved another. it does not require the euphoria of the in-love experience. In fact, true love cannot begin until the in-love experience has run its course."
- Gary D. Chapman, The Five Love Languages
Love is not happiness.
"If you take your happiness and put it in someone's hands, sooner or later, she is going to break it. If you give your happiness to someone else, she can always take it away. Then if happiness can only come from inside of you and is the result of your love, you are responsible for your happiness. We can never make anyone responsible for our happiness..."
- Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love
Love is your dog.
"You know, it's easy to love your dog because your dog doesn't have opinions about you. The dog loves you unconditionally. This is important. Then if your partner loves you just the way you are, it is jut like the dog loves you. You can be yourself with your partner; you can be a man, or you can be a woman, just the way the dog can be a dog with you."
- Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love
Love is not actually you think it is.
"What we call love -- someone who needs me, someone who cares about me -- isn't love; it is selfishness. How can that work? Selfishness doesn't work because there is no love there. Both people are starving for love. In the sex they have, they taste a little love and it becomes addictive because they are starving for love. But then all the judgments are there. All the fear. All the blame. All the drama."
- Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love
Love is a mirror for who we want to be.
"I have stressed the fact that the beloved person is a substitute for the ideal ego. Two people who love each other are interchanging their ego-ideals. That they love each other means they love the ideal of themselves in the other one. There would be no love on earth if this phantom were not there. We fall in love because we cannot attain the image that is our better self and the best of our self. From this concept it is obvious that love itself is only possible on a certain cultural level or after a certain phase in the development of the personality has been reached. The creation of an ego-ideal itself marks human progress. When people are entirely satisfied with their actual selves, love is impossible. The transfer of the ego-ideal to a person is the most characteristic trait of love.
- Theodor Reik, Of Love and Lust
Love is insanity.
"Falling in love automatically tends toward madness. Let to itself, it goes to utter extremes. This is well known by the 'conquistadors' of both sexes. Once a woman's attention is fixed upon a man, it is very easy for him to dominant her thoughts completely. A simple game of blowing hot and cold, of solicitousness and disdain, of presence and absence is all that is required. The rhythm of that technique acts upon a woman's attention like a pneumatic machine and ends by emptying her of all the rest of the world. How well our people put it: 'to suck one's sense'!"
- José Ortega y Gasset, On Love: Aspects of a Single Theme
Love is a more powerful than sex.
"I think it's more powerful than the sex drive. You know, if you ask somebody to go to bed with you, and they say, 'No, thank you,' you certainly don't kill yourself or slip into a clinical depression. But certainly, around the world, people who are rejected in love will kill for it. People live for love. They kill for love. They die for love. They have songs, poems, novels, sculptures, paintings, myths, legends. In over 175 societies, people have left their evidence of this powerful brain system. I have come to think it's one of the most powerful brain systems on earth for both great joy and great sorrow."
- Dr. Helen Fisher, TED Talk
Love is the foundation of our existence.
"The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. It results from the profound interdependence we all share with one another. However capable and skillful an individual may be, left alone, he or she will not survive. However vigorous and independent one may feel during the most prosperous periods of life, when one is sick or very young or very old, one must depend on the support of others."
- Dalai Lama
Even Russian President Vladimir Putin agrees.
Love isn't passion.
"We may love our partners deeply, idolize them, and even be willing to die for them, but these feelings rarely translate into long-term passion. And studies show that in long-term relationships, women are more likely than men to lose interest in sex, and to lose it sooner. Why? Because women’s idea of passionate sex depends far more centrally on novelty than does men’s."
- Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology at University of California, Riverside
What's your take on love?
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What is and isn't love, according to the relationship experts.
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There are many definitions of love. Here are a few of what is and isn't love, according to the the relationship experts.
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|Becoming a New Parent
Couples making the transition to parenthood often describe it being one of the most joyous, exhausting, life-changing experiences of their lives.
Still, becoming a first-time parent can have a dramatic impact on many people, both in terms of the stress they experience and the impact that it has on marital satisfaction and emotional well-being. New parents can report considerable stress for different reasons. Along with the added financial burden of a new child, new mothers and fathers often experience significant conflict between work and family life along with realizing that becoming a parent means taking on a lifelong responsibility.
One of the most exhausting new challenges that goes with becoming a parent deals with agreeing on childcare duties. This includes daytime and nighttime feedings, diaper changing, and all the other tasks that go along with a new infant. Though new parents may have some previous exposure to these chores, whether through prenatal courses or experience with infants in their families, men and women often vary in terms of how willing they are to divide these childcare responsibilities evenly.
According to attachment theory, infants need to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver who is usually (but not always) the mother. This early attachment can shape how infants form social relationships later in life. While most research has focused on new mothers and how well they make the transition to becoming a parent, they have largely ignoring how fathers are being affected. More recent studies have begun looking at both mother and fathers and how their adjustment to becoming a parent affects their relationship with their children and each other.
While caring for newborn children has traditionally been left up to mothers and other female relatives, fathers are now taking up a greater share of these childcare tasks. That also means that the emotional burden of handling this kind of life transition is being shared more equally these days. But how important are individual difference factors such as personality and attitudes relating to childcare in shaping how well mothers and fathers handle this new responsibility?
A new research study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology examines first-time parents in terms of individual differences and how well they react to becoming parents. A team of researchers led by Jennifer Fillo, now at the University of Houston, followed 192 couples over a two-year period. These couples were recruited through prenatal classes and fliers distributed at hospitals in a southwestern U.S. cities. The participating couples were then asked to complete self-report questionnaires on five different occasions beginning six months before the baby was born and continuing to a final session two years later . The questionnaires focused on:
Division of childcare responsibilities - each partner was asked to report the percentage of time they spent, relative to their partners, on thirteen different childcare tasks including diaper changing, playing with the baby, feeding the baby, etc. For the first session before the baby was born, they were asked to imagine how active they would be in childcare.
Attachment avoidance - According to researcher John Bowlby, people who are high in attachment avoidance are "are deeply distrustful of close relationships and terrified of allowing themselves to rely on anyone else, in some cases in order to avoid the pain of being rejected and in others to avoid being subjected to pressure to become someone else’s caretaker." For new parents who problems with forming attachments, the stress involved in making the transition to being a parent is especially high. They usually have a history of poor relationships and are often loners who have difficulty asking others for help. Since they are uncomfortable acting as caregivers, taking care of an infant is particularly difficult for them. They also get less satisfaction from their children than most new parents and are more likely to focus on their work while leaving most of the childcare duties to their partners. Since gender differences play a strong role in how attachments are formed, men are more likely to avoid attachments than women.
Childcare self-efficacy- Self-efficacy is defined as the strength of a person's belief in his or her ability to accomplish tasks. Many parents dealing with caring for an infant for the first time in their lives may have strong doubts about their ability to handle these new responsibilities. Their perceived childcare self-efficacy was measured using a 12-item self-report scale asking questions about how much confidence the new parent had in doing different tasks.
Work-family conflict - Some test items dealt with the kind of interference that new parents often encountered between work and family responsibilities. Though traditionally more of an issue for women than men, the trend towards greater sharing of childcare responsibilities between men and women has meant that men are encountering childcare pressures at work as well.
Relationship satisfaction- People participating in the study also completed questionnaires measuring how satisfied they were with their relationships since becoming a new parent. Some of the survey items included "How often do you and your partner quarrel?" and "In general, how often do you think that things between you and your partner/spouse are going well?
The results showed that, in general, women report contributing twice as much to the division of childcare than their male partners and that women seemed to handle to transition to becoming a parent much better than most men. For men, there appears to be a strong link between childcare responsibilities and declining relationship satisfaction over the two years that they were followed in the study. Women were also more likely to experience guilt if they saw themselves as making fewer contributions to childcare than their male partners, while men appeared to have few problems with doing less than their female partners.
As expected, people who were high in attachment avoidance were also more likely to report problems with relationship satisfaction, childcare self-efficacy and having conflicts with work. They were also more likely to see their new childcare duties as causing them to become less independent and less happy overall. There were strong gender differences since women high in attachment avoidance were better able to handle problems linked to childcare responsibilities than avoidant men.
According to Jennifer Fillo and her fellow authors, the results of this study may identify those new parents who are most vulnerable to developing problems linked to childcare responsibilities. Though most previous research studies have only focused on women or looked at men and women in general, this study is one of the first to look at new parents during the entire two-year period following the birth of their child. It also looked at individual differences between men and women to understand those factors that can undermine a new parent's ability to cope.
So what kind of lessons can be learned from this study? Even though childcare duties are still unevenly divided between men and women, fathers are taking a stronger role in caring for their infants than ever before. For that reason, it is more important than ever to understand the pressures that men face that can make them less able to handle their new role as parents and avoid the kind of emotional and relationship problems that might develop.
Through prenatal training focusing on the kind of problems that can develop, both men and women can become better able to handle these new pressures and prevent what should be joyous time from undermining their emotional well-being, not to mention the emotional well-being of their partners and their children. Learning to become a better parent is something that needs to begin as soon as possible. For everybody's sake.
How can new parents learn to handle the pressures that come with infant care?
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Becoming a first-time parent can have a dramatic impact on many people, both in terms of the stress they experience and the impact that it has on marital satisfaction and emotional well-being. New parents can report considerable stress for different reasons. A new study investigates different factors than may undermine a parent's ability to handle this life transition.
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