Psych Central

Brain and Behavior Articles

The Most Important Question You’ll Ever Ask

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

The Most Important Question Question You'll Ever AskWhat’s the most important question you can ask?

You’re already asking it — we all are — but most of us aren’t aware of it. It’s called a “virtual question,” a question that lives outside of our conscious awareness but affects almost all of our behaviors. Our virtual questions shape our experiences and paint the backdrop of our lives, coloring everything. Changing your virtual questions changes your life.

In my therapy practice, I was recently working with a client who is caring for her elderly mother. My client shared with me how she was in terrible pain, emotional pain, watching her mother grow old. She didn’t know what to do to feel better. But after we discovered her virtual question, she experienced great relief.

In Search of Good Explanations for Suffering on the Internet

Monday, March 17th, 2014

In Search of Good Explanations for Suffering on the InternetExplanations of suffering and its remedies have exploded in self-help blogs on the Internet. Tens of millions globally seek relief from painful lives and look for strategies for growth and fulfillment.

Much of this advice giving and receiving centers on how to escape from various forms of suffering:

• Anger, irritation, impatience, and resentment
• Feelings of inadequacy, depression, or grief
• Cynicism and negativity
• Confusion about being stuck

Are Moods & Emotions ‘Contagious’ on Facebook?

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Are Moods & Emotions 'Contagious' on Facebook?Some news outlets are blaring that a new study recently published demonstrates moods are “contagious” on online social networks, like Facebook. Parroting the tone and talking points from the news release on the study, it appears nobody bothered to read the actual study before doing their reporting on it.

However, it doesn’t take an empirical study to understand that our moods impact one another. If you’re depressed and you live with your family, your depressed mood is going to affect your family. If you’re manic and hang out with your friends, chances are some of that manic energy is going to rub off on them.

We would expect that same thing to occur online, wouldn’t we?

5 Easy Ways to Combat Overthinking

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

5 Easy Ways to Combat OverthinkingDo you ever become trapped in an overanalyzing rut?

I tend to think a lot in general, but sometimes, I find myself looking at a subject way too closely and way too much, and the ruminating takes on a life of its own. (It might even revolve around an abstract concept as opposed to an actual event that’s occurring.)

When introspection becomes stressful, there are antidotes. Here are some of my personal suggestions…

The Mother Who Never Was

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

The Mother Who Never WasI don’t write about my mother often. Of all my dysfunctional childhood relationships, my experience with my mother is the most painful.

I believe that small children have a disproportionate need for the feminine nurturing energy. When it’s not available, I think the pain runs deeper.

I am not suggesting that fathers are not needed. They are desperately needed. And their interactions with their children are critical to shaping that child’s future belief systems and relationships.

But for me, the lack of nurturing maternal energy seemed to leave a deeper mark.

How Social Media Affects Our Self-Perception

Friday, March 14th, 2014

How Social Media Affects Our Self-PerceptionNot long ago, a friend of mine deleted her Instagram account. I couldn’t understand why one would ever do such a thing, so I asked and her response caught me off-guard.

She deleted her Instagram because she felt herself becoming depressed by it. The pressure of taking the right picture, with the right filter, wearing the right outfit, at the right place, with the right people was too much pressure.

We are conditioned to project only our best, albeit unrealistic, selves on our social media profiles as a modern way of virtually keeping up with the Joneses.

The Surprising Psychological Value of Human Touch

Monday, March 10th, 2014

The Surprising Psychological Value of Human TouchWhenever I’m overwhelmed or feeling down, I tend to crave touch. A hug, a hand to hold; a connection that can manifest into something that’s tangible. And even on stress-free days, I may seek out the healing components that touch has to offer.

Is the act of human touch an innate need, ingrained within? Not necessarily (in my opinion), but on a superficial level, it very well could be. Research demonstrates that touch contains several health benefits for our physiological and psychological well being.

Co-Parenting with a Partner on the Autism Spectrum

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Co-Parenting with a Partner on the Autism Spectrum

With as many as 1.5 million Americans having some form of autism, including milder variants such as what used to be called Asperger Syndrome, many of those on the autism spectrum are also parents. What are the challenges associated with co-parenting with an ‘Aspie’ partner?

When you have a family member on the Autism Spectrum Disorder, it can be the ordinary things that cause life to grind to a halt. Ordinary things, such as: getting enough sleep; asking your spouse to pick up a child from soccer practice; or having a little family chitchat at the dining table.

Why Ray Kurzweil is Wrong: Computers Won’t Be Smarter Than Us Anytime Soon

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Why Ray Kurzweil is Wrong: Computers Won't Be Smarter Than Us Anytime Soon“When Kurzweil first started talking about the “singularity”, a conceit he borrowed from the science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge, he was dismissed as a fantasist. He has been saying for years that he believes that the Turing test – the moment at which a computer will exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human – will be passed in 2029.”

Sorry, but Ray Kurzweil is wrong. It’s easy to understand why computers are nowhere near close to surpassing humans… And here’s why.

Can People Really Change?

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Can People Really Change?Surely there are things about yourself that you don’t like. So you change them, right? Well, not exactly. It’s more likely that you keep on doing them, even though you say you’d like to change them. So is the old adage, “A leopard can’t change his spots,” true? That people can’t change?

No, people can change.

But you can’t just snap your fingers and say goodbye to well-established patterns, even when those patterns result in bad consequences. Sure, you wish it could be easier. You may be impatient with yourself, giving yourself a good scold: “Just stop it already!” Oh, how I hate the word “just” when it pertains to change. We don’t change “just” because someone (even ourselves) wants us to.

How Stress Affects Mental Health

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

How Stress Affects Mental HealthWhen someone is under chronic stress, it begins to negatively affect his or her physical and mental health. The body’s stress response was not made to be continuously engaged. Many people encounter stress from multiple sources, including work; money, health, and relationship worries; and media overload.

With so many sources of stress, it is difficult to find time to relax and disengage. This is why stress is one of the biggest health problems facing people today.

When Circumstances Are Beyond Your Control

Friday, February 21st, 2014

When Circumstances Are Beyond Your ControlWhen we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
~ Viktor Frankl

In life, some circumstances are beyond the scope of our control. Maybe it’s a debilitating illness, a tumultuous storm, an unstable job market, or a one-sided end to a relationship. All we can do is choose how we respond. What is the narrative that we are telling ourselves? How can we shift our perspective? Only we can decide how to interpret a situation at hand.

A few months ago, I was told that I should have surgery on my thyroid. And as soon as anyone mentions the word, “surgery,” my antennae perk up, and my insides become a tad squeamish.

Recent Comments
  • BB: Monogamy has certainly worked for me and my husband. We’ve been married 32 years and neither of us has ever...
  • Brian: The problem with your argument is that everyone knows that you feel too much effort is being placed on mental...
  • Raging Alcoholic: The expectations Facebook produces is very much like the way Television series protrays life in New...
  • Ken May: Your article was so true. It was as if I wrote it from my life experience (two jobs) but articulated...
  • In Pain 24 / 7: This is great advice, if you have 2 people that can recognize what’s going on. But if one of...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter


Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 12227
Join Us Now!