General

Podcast: Do Suicides Increase During the Holidays?

In this week’s Psych Central Show, Gabe and Vincent address the persistent and widespread myth that suicides increase during the holiday season. They discuss which seasons see the highest suicide rates, what month has the lowest rate, and what we as a society can do to educate ourselves about, and ultimately prevent, suicide.

Vincent, a former suicide hotline counselor, covers some common warning signs that indicate possible suicidal thoughts and what a person can expect when calling a suicide hotline. The conversation includes a brief history of American automobile safety standards, as well as some surprising statistics about death in in the U.S.

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Brain and Behavior

Facebook’s Flimsy Denial of Fake News & Its Impact

Facebook paints a very dichotomous, contradictory picture of itself. On one side, they claim to be the world's largest social network, impacting the lives of over a billion people each month. On the other side, CEO Mark Zuckerberg -- apparently not using his own social network or perhaps living under a rock this past year? -- claims that Facebook has virtually no influence on national elections.

The disconnect is important, because it shows that Facebook doesn't appear to take a leadership position of responsibility for unleashing and reinforcing the technology that has become a part of billions of people's lives everyday. Is fake news an actual problem on Facebook, and if so, what can be done about it?

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Celebrities

When an Apology Is Not an Apology

Why is apologizing so difficult? Saying “I was wrong, I made a mistake, I’m sorry” is more painful than root canal therapy for some people.

As a psychotherapist, I’ve found that our ability to apologize is directly related to the shame we carry. Burdened with a deeply ingrained sense of being flawed or defective, we mobilize to avoid being flooded by a debilitating shame.

When we recognize that we’ve done or said something offensive or hurtful, we may notice an uncomfortable feeling inside. We realize we’ve broken trust and done some damage.
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Minding the Media

When Hate Takes Hold

There are many places in the world where hate is thriving. In such milieus, people hate others who are different from themselves. They view these “others” as substandard or wicked. Hence, they want them uprooted, removed, even expunged from this earth.

When such a mind-set exists, hate-provoking propaganda is welcome. As the propaganda spreads, a “group think” takes hold that knows no bounds, for everyone you associate with thinks the way you do.
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

How the Media Affects Body Image

Body image is the way we perceive ourselves when we look in the mirror. We imagine ourselves to look and act a certain way, even though we may look and act differently to those around us.

Someone has a positive body image if he or she is attuned to the reality of his or her physical shape and size. This person fully understands his or her weight, the form of his or her body (from curves to wrinkles), and the way his or her body moves and functions.

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Anxiety and Panic

How Media Shapes Our View of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Most people would consider an abuse victim as a person who experienced “trauma.” However people often don’t view them as potentially experiencing “post-traumatic stress disorder.” PTSD is more commonly thought of as a condition affecting combat veterans, but the number of civilians suffering from PTSD is 13 times more than military personnel, according to a release from Drexel University. So what gives? According to researchers at Drexel, the media plays a large role in what the general population and lawmakers associate with PTSD.

The Drexel study reviewed 35 years worth of articles on PTSD published in the New York Times -- from 1980, the year PTSD was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, to 2015. Of 871 articles a little over 50 percent focused on military cases of PTSD. The occurrence of PTSD in veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan is 20 percent. But research shows the condition is far more likely to affect civilians who suffer sexual assault (30-80 percent of survivors), nonsexual assault (23–39 percent), survivors of disasters (30–40 percent), and car crashes (25–33 percent).
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Children and Teens

Are We Losing Touch with Our Sense of Touch?

In a society where digital connections are accepted as the norm, "Skinship," written and directed by London-based filmmaker Nichola Wong, implores us to ask a disconcerting question: are we losing touch with our sense of touch, with human skin-to-skin contact?

"'Skinship' was conceived on an idyllic beach in San Sebastian, where I found myself captivated by a group of 20-something Europeans, whose obsession with their devices rendered them oblivious to the beauty that surrounded them and also one another,” Wong told me via email. “I thought it was a shame, but I thought ‘who was I to judge?’ I'd done the very same on many occasions. It was something that got me thinking about my own relationship with technology, and I had observed at that time in my life that I was feeling very disconnected from myself with the increasing prevalence of technology in my day-to-day life.”

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Brain and Behavior

The Importance of Being Yourself on Social Media


Over the last few months I’ve been sharing my photography on Instagram. It has resulted in a near-constant desire for validation through likes and follows -- I’ll write another article on that soon. The point is, scrolling through the newsfeed, I see copious amounts of photographers who are at the top of their game. Their craft is so refined and their style is so distinct that I can’t help but fawn over the pictures they take.

I decided I wanted my pictures to be like that. I really needed my pictures to be like that. Soon my admiration became a months-long effort to hone and refine my pictures to the point that they’d look exactly like these Instagram-famous photographers' photos.
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Addiction

The Relentless Drum Beats on about Problematic Internet Use aka “Internet Addiction”

Here's how Slate recently positioned yet another study on "Internet addiction:"

“Problematic Internet Use” Is Now Officially a Thing

The original title of the exact same article on The Conversation was little better:

There’s a new addiction on campus: Problematic Internet Use (PIU)

Why are media outlets continuously pushing problematic Internet use on an unsuspecting public?

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Bipolar

Touched With Fire: The Two Faces of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is both a blessing and a curse. Some people who have bipolar disorder swear by the manic or hypomanic state they sometimes experience. Not only do they feel full of energy and capable of doing just about anything, some feel that increased energy in creative ways.

They say some of the greatest artists and writers of the ages suffered from mental illness. It's no wonder -- the creative energy can seem both strong and endless. It's likely many of the world's greatest artists have suffered from bipolar disorder.

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ADHD and ADD

ADHD Overdiagnosis? Most Done After Checklists, Neuropsychological Testing

A lot of people have gotten this idea -- myself included -- that a diagnosis for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is pretty easily obtained. I've been led to believe this by media hype about the "overdiagnosis" of ADHD. Some journalists I've spoken to in the past believed this so insistently, they based their entire story around the premise.

But what if the common wisdom and journalists are wrong?

What if most ADHD diagnoses are made after careful consideration of a child or teenager's actual behaviors, verified through a behavior rating scale or checklist? What if most children who receive an ADHD diagnosis actually go through neuropsychological testing too? What if, before giving an ADHD diagnosis, most parents were also questioned about their child's behavior in different settings too?

Could so many diverse measures and datapoints all be wrong?

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