Memory and Perception Articles

The Self-Blame Game: An Obstacle to Change

Friday, October 25th, 2013

The Self-Blame Game: An Obstacle to ChangeIn my 20 years as a psychologist, I have seen that self-blame is a major obstacle to change. It’s paralyzing and damaging and the enemy of growth.

Often, before I can help a patient address a problem, we have to first climb this mountain of self-blame, and then find our way down to the other side.

I have seen that the people most prone to self-blame are people who grew up with childhood emotional neglect (CEN). This is because CEN is invisible and unmemorable, yet leaves people with significant struggles in adulthood.

What is Behind the Hype of Autumn? Pumpkin Spice Latte?

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

What is Behind the Hype of Autumn? Pumpkin Spice Latte?So many of us gravitate toward autumn’s pull; we fall under its magic spell — and it’s understandable. We can immerse ourselves in beautiful apple orchards and pumpkin patches during the day, and bake delicious pies at night. We can curl up on the couch with a book when it’s stormy and absorb all that’s cozy, with a capital C. We can walk outside and feel awake, pining over nature’s eye-candy and the red and orange trees that sparkle in the sunlight.

And while we relish these lovely scenes, what’s under the surface?

Why does the fall season generate so much, well, hype?

I Forgot What? Healing Through Memories

Friday, October 18th, 2013

I Forgot What? Healing Through MemoriesA couple of weeks ago, my external life took a back seat to my internal life. Although my external life is pretty good these days, my internal life is pretty ugly. It is a series of traumatic experiences with emotions to match.

When it is time to pay attention to the internal life, it means my childhood memories are coming back.

And I had better pay attention. I had better be ready for some depression, some sadness, some anger that rivals a toddler’s tantrums, some anxiety and some intense exhaustion. Needless to say, the external life starts to slow down a bit.

Mommy Not-So-Dearest: My Evil Mom

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Mommy Not-So-Dearest: My Evil MomWho would believe my 92-year-old mother would like nothing better than to outlive me? That four years ago, at 88, she tried to turn me into roadkill?

I’d heard the hiss of brakes as I got out of the car in front of the post office. There she was, behind the wheel of her custom-made Cadillac — so close, her eyes alive with hate.

When we saw that look as kids, we tried to will ourselves to stop breathing — so terribly ashamed we had been born. This time she told me if she had hit me, she would not have been held responsible because I’d opened my door into traffic. This was confirmed by my lawyer cousin. “She may be creepy,” he said, “but she’s got her facts straight.”

Not even our extended family can wrap their minds around just how creepy she is, at least not all of the time. It was also my plan at the time to pretend this never happened. But then a bit later my mother said, “You know, Jane, if I really want to run you over, I won’t miss.”

The Mysteries of Sleep Explained

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

The Mysteries of Sleep ExplainedWe know we need it. If we don’t get it, we’re cranky, have trouble concentrating, tend to overeat and are more likely to make mistakes.  Yet, with the crush of demanding schedules, bad habits, or sleep disturbances, we don’t always get enough.

So what is happening during those precious hours when we’re asleep?  Is it really a time of restoration for our brains?  And is it possible that it’s more than that?

What happens in our brains while we’re asleep is a question neuroscientist Penelope Lewis is trying to answer.

3 Common Study Habits that Surprisingly Don’t Work

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

3 Common Study Habits that Surprisingly Don't WorkThe funny thing about school is that everyone expects you to study, but you never take a class called, “How to Study Effectively.” You’re just expected to pick this important skill up on your own.

It’s no wonder that so many students — whether in high school, college or even graduate school — have such lousy study habits. They also do a lot of things that common wisdom suggests are effective. But research suggests otherwise.

There are three common study habits in particular that a lot of students do, but which may not be particularly effective for most of the people who use them.

Why don’t these three study habits work very well for most people who employ them?

Dear Diary: Who Am I?

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Dear Diary: Who Am I?“What do you wish you could tell your 13-year-old self?”

This is a common parlor-game sort of question, leading to warm and fuzzy discussions about how difficult adolescence is and how we wouldn’t want to be teenagers again. Pink has even turned it into a song, “Conversations With My Thirteen Year Old Self.”

But in a twist on that, I am finding that my 13-year-old self has some things to tell me.

Have Trauma, Will Hover: The Dentist

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Have Trauma, Will Hover: The DentistWe went to the dentist yesterday. This wasn’t the kind of dentist appointment with a cleaning and a sticker. This was the kind of dentist appointment with sedatives and drills.

Unfortunately, my daughter was blessed with my tooth genes, and that means she will be forever traumatized by the world of floss and fluoride. As a parent, there is nothing worse than knowingly putting your child in a position where she will feel pain, and not having a choice.

Until now, I have always been in the room when a doctor was with my children. It never occurred to me there would be another alternative.

Grieving My Lost Childhood

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Grieving My Lost ChildhoodI have been in recovery for a while now. Most days, I feel pretty good. Most days, I can keep my anxiety from paralyzing me. Most days, I function well.

However, I don’t have to look far to see my pain. All I have to do is think about my parents.

Last night, I was watching a TV show, and a woman was grieving the loss of her mother to cancer. It had been about nine months since her death, but since the woman was planning her wedding, she was particularly upset. I could feel the intolerance building up inside of me. I may have even rolled my eyes.

I thought to myself, “at least you had a mother.” This doesn’t happen every time. My compassion has come a long way. But last night, the feelings were there.

7th Canadian Conference on Dementia

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

7th Canadian Conference on DementiaDementia, a term used to describe declines in mental ability, such as memory and thinking, that interfere with daily life, affects millions of people in the U.S. and Canada. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are just two of the debilitating diseases encompassed by the term dementia.

From October 3-5, 2013, a world-renowned faculty of national and international speakers will gather at the 7th Canadian Conference on Dementia in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The conference offers a wide range of topics related to dementia. There will be opportunities for stimulating debate, interactive workshops and exposure to the latest research via oral and poster presentations.

The Anchoring Effect: How it Impacts Your Everyday Life

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

The Anchoring Effect: How it Impacts Your Everyday LifeYour teen is in desperate need of a new wardrobe. You set a day for a shopping trip. Lucky you. It’s not long until your daughter finds the perfect pair of jeans. Great, you tell her — until you check the price tag: $149.95.

“Sorry honey, no deal. Too expensive. I’m sure you can find another pair of nice jeans that’s less expensive.”

“No, I love this one; I have to have it.” Her voice has become a screech when a saleswoman approaches. “Do you know that these jeans are on sale, this week only, marked down 25 percent?”

“Mom, that’s perfect. If we get four pairs of jeans, that’s like getting one free.”

Daughter’s delighted. Mom feels conned. What’s happening here? Ah, the anchoring effect in action.

I’m a Helicopter Parent: Have Trauma, Will Hover

Monday, July 15th, 2013

I'm a Helicopter Parent: Have Trauma, Will HoverParenting is hard. Single parenting is extremely difficult. Single parenting with family-based trauma is borderline impossible.

There are so many times I have wanted to stop a parenting moment in mid-stream, so I could research possible approaches on the Internet. I don’t know what I would have done without the countless books, articles and Google searches that have taught me how to be a parent.

I have come a long way in the past seven years. I’m much more patient. I am willing to apologize and admit when I am wrong (sometimes). I don’t spank. I yell significantly less. My children are not exposed to my dangerous biological family. They live a safe life.

So safe that it might be too safe.

Yes, I am one of those helicopter parents.

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