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.”

Continue Reading

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.
Continue Reading


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?

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading


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?

Continue Reading


What Will It Take to Make Depression a Good Cause?

Once a year or so, I’m tempted to shave my head like I’m going through chemo to make my depression visible to others. I’m thinking if I pulled a Sinead O’Connor, people would take the illness seriously.

I saw a commercial the other day for some leukemia association and I was jealous. I know that's not the response the advertising team was looking for. But as someone who is now responsible for fundraising for a
Continue Reading


Your Smartphone May (Or May Not) Detect Changes in Bipolar Mood

Some mainstream media outlets over this past weekend told us "How Your Smartphone Can Detect Bipolar Disorder." Based upon new research, one researcher claims to reliably detect changes in mood in people with bipolar disorder.

This must be some fantastic, robust study in which to generalize from, given how diverse the population of people with bipolar disorder is. Can smartphones really do that reliable a job of detecting mood changes in people with bipolar disorder?

Let's find out.

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Genetic Testing for Psychiatric Drugs: Not There Yet

Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it. Many of us could drive a bicycle on a freeway, but it wouldn't be a wise thing to do. Many of us could pay money for "brain games," but it wouldn't necessarily help our brains' health.

And so it is with genetic testing for psychiatric drugs. While you could pay for such a test to help you better understand how your body might react to certain psychiatric drugs, you're probably better off not. At least not at this point.

Continue Reading


Congress & Policymakers: Stop Scapegoating Mental Illness in Mass Shootings

It's time that the United States Congress and national policymakers stop scapegoating mental illness for mass shootings in America. It's a simplistic -- but entirely wrong -- answer to mass shootings and gun violence in the United States. And it's also time that we hold our representatives in Congress accountable to have them stop shamelessly using another violent shooting to push their own agenda -- and blaming mental illness as the cause.

Mass shootings are generally not committed by people with a mental illness. People who commit violent acts with a gun are far more likely to have no history of mental illness. This includes the nearly-daily mass shootings we've experienced in the past three years.

It's time to have a serious, nuanced conversation about this issue -- and stop the simplistic fear-mongering that politicians and policymakers with their own agendas to push seem to revel in.

Continue Reading


What Does the Lack of Reproducibility in Psychology Research Mean?

Last week, the results of the world's largest effort to reproduce results found in psychology research came in. Brian Nosek's Reproducibility Project took a look at 100 psychology experiments' results published in 2008 from just three major psychology journals. It attempted to reproduce the study to see what kind of results they would get.

In an ideal world, one might think that something on order of 75 or even 80 percent of the studies should have reproduced similar results, right? Because the new studies where simply re-conducted on a different population by researchers who carefully followed the original researchers' methods. In most cases, the researchers also had direct contact and cooperation from the original researchers.

But in a finding spun a dozen different ways since published in last week's Science journal, the Project didn't come anywhere close to 75 percent. Only 36 percent of the replications produced significant results -- compared to 97 percent of the original 100 studies.

What does this mean for psychology?

Continue Reading


Why Gun Laws Targeting ‘Crazy People’ Would Have Little Benefit

Two days ago, according to FBI crime statistics, approximately 38 murders took place in the U.S. Most of these murders were completed with a gun between two or more people who knew one another.

But people are only talking about two of them -- the deaths of TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward by Vester Flanagan (aka Bryce Williams). Flanagan was a disgruntled former worker at the local TV station where the three of them briefly worked at the same time for about 9 months in 2012.

And one of the victims' fathers -- Andy Parker -- has now made it his mission in life to increase common sense gun control laws in the U.S. Targeting "crazy people."

Unfortunately, had his laws been in place, they likely wouldn't have prevented this tragedy -- or most tragedies like this.

Continue Reading


Sharing and Shaming: What Has Social Media Done for You Lately?

We all use social media, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any number of blogging sites. But rarely do we think about how social media leaves us exposed in a way that could hurt us irreparably.

In Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed he studied several people who in recent years have been widely criticized via social media -- some of them for sharing things online they now regret. For instance, Justine Sacco lost her job after she tweeted, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Or Lindsey Stone, who also lost her job after she shared a photo of herself on Facebook which showed her flipping off a sign outside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Before they knew it, they were trending online and a social media hammer had come down on them. Something as simple as posting online made them infamous.

Continue Reading