Failure to Launch

John was never the greatest of students but he did manage to graduate from college in six years. Yay! His parents breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, he had accomplished what he set out to do.

Now, three years later, Mom and Dad are feeling increasingly distressed. John is living back home and going nowhere. His motivation to get a job comes and goes. The bulk of his day is spent on social media, video games and getting high.

He shows little interest in becoming an independent, self-sufficient adult. If his parents would get him an apartment, he’d move in a minute. But the idea of working toward that goal is beyond him.

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Adult Children of Divorce: Getting Through the Holidays

Something like 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, but there’s a special group of us whose parents didn’t call it quits until we were adults. And with the holidays approaching, it’s a little different in our homes.

When people like me were in school, everyone else’s parents were getting divorced. We couldn’t wrap our heads around what that was like for them. Blake said his parents are fighting over him. Julie says she doesn’t have a whole room to herself at her mom’s house so she argues not to stay over there. Some kids were even shuffled around between maternal and paternal grandparents on weekends. Sometimes there was fighting. Sometimes there was palpable grief.

But in the end everyone got through it.

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Brain and Behavior

Letting Go: External Changes

“When some girls go through a breakup, they’re inspired to cut or dye their hair,” my professor said in a lecture for his "Psychology of Personality" course.

When experiencing any significant change, whether it’s a breakup or embarking on a new life chapter, we may crave external transformation. It will not resolve the issues at hand; however, it can reflect inner growth and progress. There’s a certain catharsis to physical alterations.

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Pumpkin Fest Madness & the Age of Narcissism

"It's just like a rush. You're revolting from the cops ... It's a blast to do things that you're not supposed to do."
-- Steven French, age 18 [1]

When I first saw the headline -- “Pumpkin Festival Riot” -- I thought it might be a parody, along the lines of spoofs published by The Onion.

But it was all too true: there really was a riot at the “Pumpkin Festival” held Oct. 19th, 2014 in Keene, New Hampshire. What is it about a small-town annual festival that has turned it into a chance to party -- and riot? Does it say something about changing societal norms?

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Children and Teens

In The Wake of a Suicide Epidemic, Inaction Speaks Louder Than Words

"It shouldn’t have happened to her."

"She had so much to live for, she led such a lucky life."

19-year-old Madison Holleran’s death shocked and frustrated her community. These comments I have heard not only signify a grieving community, but speak volumes toward how little is known about suicide.

While I’m not faulting those who spoke them, I am highlighting the necessity of education about suicide and mental health.

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Tips for Transitioning Graduates Into the Real World

As the end of the school year approaches, expectations and anxiety begin to loom in equal measure. Prior to graduation, the notion that "now life really begins" fills people with giddy anticipation.

However, there are several unexpected challenges that can take the young graduate by surprise, dismaying their parents who have been anxiously waiting for their offspring to spring into action on their own two feet.

If you know about the looming pitfalls in advance, you can expect the unexpected and plan ahead, lessening the impact on the student’s relationship with his or herself and the relationship between parent and "child."
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Athletic Focus: How to Make the Right Game-Time Decisions

What did you do when you read the word “focus”? You probably zeroed in on the word and prepared for that big, important lesson that’s about to be thrown at you.

Many of us are wired to listen only when it’s important. Think about it: when you are sitting in class, listening to Coach, or in the middle of your third meeting of the day, all you really care about is how this relates to you.

You probably zone out when you don’t think that it does. But as sport professionals, you need to pay attention to everything. During your team’s performance the highest demands on your attention will be specific performance variables and the decisions you make based on those variables. This requires a highly honed focus.
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Does Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) Exist?

Sluggish cognitive tempo is a long-time component believed to either be a part of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or may be its own stand-alone concern.

Parts of what we now call sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) has been around since the 1960s, but it was in the late 1980s -- long before any attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications existed -- when researchers first demonstrated that SCT symptoms are probably a unique condition or sub-type of ADHD (Lahey et al., 1988; Neeper & Lahey, 1986).

In other words, the scientific foundation for sluggish cognitive tempo has been around for nearly 30 years. It's not new. And it's hardly news. Scientists regularly identify dozens of proposed syndromes or symptom constellations in their research. Only a tiny minority of them ever go on to become a recognized mental disorder or diagnosis.

But does SCT really exist? Is it its own condition or disorder?

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How to Get Over Impostor Syndrome

Impostor syndrome is a sneaking feeling that you’re a fake, according to Melody Wilding, LMSW, a therapist who works with young professionals and business owners.

You dismiss your achievements and successes as the result of timing, luck or anything else that’s beyond your control, she said.

You worry that others will find out you’re a fraud, an impostor, who’s not smart, capable, good, interesting or talented enough. You’re convinced that you’re unworthy of an accomplishment, accolade or position. You fear that any minute all your “faking” will be found out.
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Facing Down a Quarter-Life Crisis

College graduation day: You’ve made it! It's a priceless feeling that you will never forget.

That diploma is still radiating through your fingers, as though it is some sort of golden passport. Before you even look down, to check to see if your name is spelled correctly, you have already booked your flight to the future and are well on your way. You hear the comforting voice of your flight attendant say “We will be taking off momentarily, please stow away any and all college books, research articles, writing assignments, forget about group projects, studying for exams and forget about rushing around campus to make it to class on time. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the flight, we will take care of the rest.”

You are now a college graduate. Congratulations! All of your hard work has paid off.

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Children and Teens

Millennials’ Problem? Depression & Few Skills in Conflict Negotiation

I'll start off by saying I don't think it's fair to any generation to claim you know what's ailing them. I think a generation of people is so large and diverse, it's hard to make generalizations that will apply to anything larger than a subgroup.

But that doesn't stop both journalists and others from speculating about "what's wrong with Millennials."

For good reason -- rates of depression are on the rise amongst older teens and young adults, hitting levels we've never seen before. Recent studies put the rate of depression as high as 44 percent among college students. Suicide remains a leading cause of death in this age group.

So is depression the problem? Helicopter parenting? Something else? Let's find out.

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