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Compassion: Brain Food for Happiness Did you know that compassion, the act of recognizing someone else’s suffering with the inclination to want to support them, creates important activity shifts in the brain that are associated with resiliency and well-being? I recently attended a talk at a fundraiser where the presenter, Amy McLaren, had conveyed her...
Whitney Houston’s Daughter Bobbi Kristina in Medically Induced Coma Bobbi Kristina, the daughter of singers Bobby Brown and the late Whitney Houston, was found unresponsive in a bathtub in her Georgia home. The news is particularly chilling since it conjures up memories of how her mother died almost three years ago. Police were called to the home on Saturday morning...
So-Called Masochistic Relationships Following Freud, the failure to extricate oneself from painful, punishing relationships has traditionally been attributed to the finding of pleasure in pain—i.e., to masochism. I have found, by contrast, that the perpetuation of painful relationships is most often the product of blaming oneself for their punishing aspects. The developmental basis for this pattern can by found in what Scottish psychoanalyst Ronald Fairbairn famously called the moral defense, which is captured in the aphorism, “Better to be a sinner in a world ruled by God than to be an innocent in a world ruled by the devil.” It is much too terrifying for a young child who is traumatized to perceive the devilish, destructive aspects of a parent, so he/she attributes the traumatization to his/her own badness or defectiveness. Similarly, adults often remain endlessly in unhappy, abusive, or depriving relationships by blaming their suffering on their own shortcomings, their not having “gotten it right” yet: “If I can just get it right, the punishing other will smile upon me.” Such an interpretive pattern can keep someone futilely trying to get it right forever. The breaking of the shackles of such a pattern is grippingly captured in a song, Jar of Hearts, performed by Christina Perri. Have a listen to its emancipatory message: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8v_4O44sfjM Copyright Robert Stolorow   Topics:  Personality Relationships Child Development Stress Trauma Subtitle:  Taking the blame perpetuates punishing relationships. Blog to Post to:  Feeling, Relating, Existing Teaser Text:  People often remain endlessly in unhappy, abusive, or depriving relationships by blaming their suffering on their own shortcomings, their not having “gotten it right” yet. Such an interpretive pattern can keep someone futilely trying to get it right forever. Mature Audiences Only:  Content Topics:  Parenting Ethics and Morality Freudian Psychology Quote
26 Creative & Curious Questions to Deepen Your Connection An important part of building a connection with your partner is knowing their inner life. What are they thinking and feeling? What were their dreams as a child? What are their dreams today? Another important part is knowing how they feel about your relationship (and your partner knowing how you...
Got Issues? It’s All Your Parents’ Fault Everything that’s wrong in your life is the fault of your parents. Whatever your struggles, your mistakes and your pain, you are not to blame. You are an innocent victim of those who raised you. At least that’s the way some folks interpret my definition of Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN)....
How to Avoid the BS So, you’ve decided that to want to change your life for the better. Become happier. Be a better person. Find meaning. Be positive. Gain clarity. Reduce stress. Become more focused. Where do you start? It used to be that the choices were limited. Only a few decades ago, a person would turn to their religion as the sole source of information, but today the world offers a multitude of movements, strategies, and spiritual traditions to choose from, all of them holding the promise of a better future. For example, wisdom traditions like Buddhism, Vedanta, and Taoism offer both a foundation of concepts and principles alongside a set of practices. In particular, meditation practices have become mainstream. In many circles people now include meditative practices in their regimen of nutrition, exercise, and a healthier lifestyle. Such practices and concepts have also become intertwined with modern science, resulting in disciplines like Buddhist Psychology [1], Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy [2], and Positive Psychology [3]. These modern movements adopt ideas from various sources, put them under the microscope of research, and refine them into newer and improved versions. With this type of assortment to choose from, you may find that on the very first steps of your transformative journey, you are already overwhelmed with a confusing portfolio of neuroscience, psychology, medicine, popular self-help, and religion. In my Ride of Your Life Interview with James Pennebaker at UTexas at Austin, I asked him about this challenge of choice. His take on it emphasized the fact that a lot of stuff doesn’t really work, and what works doesn’t work all of the time: “I think most of the self-help work, much of positive psychology, much of all psychology, much like most religions, most of anything, is probably bullshit. It’s all air. Some of the right work I think is air. You try it and afterwards — are you objectively better? Very often — not, but you have done all you can to convince yourself…I get so pissed off by all of these movements, where there is this guru belief that this method is right, this method is truth — that is false. Sometimes, it’s right, sometimes it’s not.” And of course, Pennebaker is right. There’s tons of BS out there, but perhaps more importantly, even the good stuff doesn’t work for everyone, and definitely not all the time. The optimal thing to do is different depending on the situation and context one is in. Take mindfulness as an example. In past years we are repeatedly told that it’s good to focus on the present moment [5]. A range of books, training programs, TV shows, and digital mindfulness meditation programs (some developed by yours truly [5]), provide us with the means to “bring ourselves back” when our mind wanders. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) [6] has been around for 36 years now. Mindfulness has been studied inside and out. It is definitely good for you, but there’s a *but*: It may not be best to focus on the present moment when you’re working on a product roadmap, reminiscing on your wedding day, or imagining your best possible future [7]. In these contexts, you probably want to move away from the distractions of the present moment as much as possible, so you can plan/remember/imagine. It’s all a matter of balance. When I asked Sonja Lyubomirsky of UCR about mindfulness in our Ride of Your Life Interview, she reinforced the need to have balanced time perspectives: “There has to be a balance. The problem with the way most people live their lives today is that they are preoccupied with worry about the future and obsess too much about the past, so they need a “higher dosage of present” in their lives.” Related to mindfulness research is the issue of mind-wandering [8]. In general, a wandering mind most definitely makes you unhappy (which we now know thanks to Killingsworth and Gilbert’s pioneering experience-sampling studies). Yet when you’re trying to be creative and come up with new ideas, it may be good to let your mind go where it wants [9]. Let it wander. Context is king. In the words of Phil Zimbardo: “Of course, the people are the actors on the stage of life, but — you're never alone. There are always other actors, it depends on how you dress, it depends on what role you are playing, it depends on who's doing the stagecraft, it depends on the props” The bible tells us that “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1(, and there’s something to be said about doing the right thing at the right time. To simply ask yourself:  “What is the most useful thing to say or to do right now?” “Is there a future, better context, in which what I am planning to say/do is better?” “and if it is not good for now and not good for later, is it possible that it is utter bullshit?” References: [1] Kalupahana, David J. The principles of Buddhist psychology. State University of New York Press, 1987. [2] Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G., & Teasdale, J. D. (2012). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression. Guilford Press. [3] Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction (Vol. 55, No. 1, p. 5). American Psychological Association. [4] Davis, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. (2011). What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research. Psychotherapy, 48(2), 198. [5] Parks, A. C., Della Porta, M. D., Pierce, R. S., Zilca, R., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2012). Pursuing happiness in everyday life: The characteristics and behaviors of online happiness seekers. Emotion, 12(6), 1222. [6] Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis. Journal of psychosomatic research, 57(1), 35-43. [7] Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(2), 73-82. [8] Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, 330(6006), 932-932. [9] Carson, S. H., Peterson, J. B., & Higgins, D. M. (2003). Decreased latent inhibition is associated with increased creative achievement in high-functioning individuals. Journal of personality and social psychology, 85(3), 499. Topics:  Happiness Philosophy Subtitle:  Where do you start your journey to a better you? Blog to Post to:  Confessions of a Techie Teaser Text:  There’s something to be said about doing the right thing at the right time. To simply ask yourself: “What is the most useful thing to say or to do right now?” “Is there a future, better context, in which what I am planning to say/do is better?” “and if it is not good for now and not good for later, is it possible that it is utter bullshit?” Teaser Image:  Mature Audiences Only:  Images:  Content Topics:  Positive Psychology Therapy Neuroscience Mindfulness Personality Depression Meditation Gratitude Self-Help Cognition Spirituality Diet Happiness Religion Wisdom Health Stress Quote
The Funny Thing About Self-Care Lately, I’ve been realizing that sometimes self-care doesn’t look very much like self-care. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like self-care in the moment. That is, it doesn’t feel blissful or calming or rejuvenating. It wouldn’t be described as softening or unwinding or taking a break. Sometimes, self-care looks a lot like...
The Age At Which Sleep Matters Most For a Good Memory The age at which sleep has the greatest influence on cognitive function. Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick" Advertisement6 Foods That Fight Belly Fat Brought On By Yo-Yo Dieting. Related articles:You Can Learn a New Language While You Sleep, Study Finds A Strange Cure for Lack of Sleep Study Finds Memory Has a Fascinating Effect On Sleep Why Some People Only Need Five Hours’ Sleep a Night Poor Sleep Can Lead to False Memories
A refocus of military influence The British media has been covering the creation of 77th Brigade, or ‘Chindits’ in the UK Army which they’ve wrongly described as PsyOps ‘Twitter troops’. The renaming is new but the plan for a significant restructuring and expansion of the UK military’s influence operations is not. The change in focus has been prompted by a […]
Always Err on the Side of Compassion The best piece of marital advice I’ve ever heard came from an ex-priest, a kind and gentle man who has been married to his bride for longer than I’ve been alive. “Always err on the side of compassion,” he told me when I called him up all upset one afternoon...
Pushing Beyond Hope – Keeping Commitments When Hope Is It is always very easy to pursue a goal when equipped with faith and hope. But hope isn’t naturally bestowed upon us. Sometimes we run out of faith, hope evades us, and we are surrounded by darkness. It is then – that the proverbial light at the end of the...
Let Me Go, I Don’t Want To Be Your I love this video and song. I see the faces of my two boys and all the men I have cared about in it. Please listen and watch. Here are some lyrics  from it: Let me go, I don’t want to be your hero… Everyone deserves a chance, to walk...
Researchers identify brain circuit that regulates thirst Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientists have identified a circuit in the brains of mice that regulates thirst. When a subset of cells in the circuit is switched on, mice immediately begin drinking water, even if they are fully hydrated. A second set of cells suppresses the urge to drink. The thirst-regulating circuit is located in [...]The post Researchers identify brain circuit that regulates thirst appeared first on PsyPost.
When the price just feels right: Do rounded numbers appeal to our emotions? Consumers usually look for the lowest price when shopping for a product. But can prices sometimes just feel right? According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, consumers are drawn to prices with rounded numbers when a purchase is motivated by feelings. “A rounded price ($100.00) encourages consumers to rely on feelings [...]The post When the price just feels right: Do rounded numbers appeal to our emotions? appeared first on PsyPost.
Love and intimacy in later life — new study reveals active sex lives of the over 70s Older people are continuing to enjoy active sex lives well into their seventies and eighties, according to new research from The University of Manchester and NatCen Social Research. More than half (54%) of men and almost a third (31%) of women over the age of 70 reported they were still sexually active, with a third [...]The post Love and intimacy in later life — new study reveals active sex lives of the over 70s appeared first on PsyPost.
Diet and nutrition essential for mental health Evidence is rapidly growing showing vital relationships between both diet quality and potential nutritional deficiencies and mental health, a new international collaboration led by the University of Melbourne and Deakin University has revealed. Published in The Lancet Psychiatry today, leading academics state that as with a range of medical conditions, psychiatry and public health should [...]The post Diet and nutrition essential for mental health appeared first on PsyPost.
Gender roles: Men and women are not so different after all Gender is a large part of our identity that is often defined by our psychological differences as men and women. Not surprisingly, those differences are reflected in many gender stereotypes – men rarely share their feelings, while women are more emotional – but an Iowa State University researcher says in reality men and women are [...]The post Gender roles: Men and women are not so different after all appeared first on PsyPost.
‘Nudge’ psychology is not based on robust evidence — conscious decision-making is more effective A new study says that the kind of instinctive decision-making advocated in best-selling popular psychology books like ‘Nudge’, ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ and ‘Blink’ is not backed up by reliable evidence. The research by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) psychologist Dr Magda Osman found that, contrary to the position taken by high-profile authors that [...]The post ‘Nudge’ psychology is not based on robust evidence — conscious decision-making is more effective appeared first on PsyPost.
No One Knows It Hurts I hurt my leg this week. Don’t ask how because I am not really sure. All I know is I slept on the couch and woke up in the morning with a sore neck and hurt leg – knee mostly. I think it has to do with getting out of...
Keys to Creativity: Use rituals for creative focus and The trap of myths The realm of creativity continues to maintain an aura of mystery mostly due to the abundance of myths surrounding it. Myths are sometimes beautiful stories meant to provide some sort of explanations about the things we know little or nothing about. They help us believe that...