Brain and Behavior

Learning to Accept Our Emotions: Lessons from Disney’s ‘Inside Out’

I recently had the opportunity to see Disney Pixar’s latest animated feature, "Inside Out." I didn’t need much prompting: it's a movie about feelings, and I'm a psychologist. It did not disappoint.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the film’s premise (spoiler alert): An 11-year-old girl named Riley moves cross-country with her family. A move is a huge transition, especially at such an impressionable age, and she experiences a gamut of emotions as she leaves her home, friends, and hockey league behind. Riley's feelings -- the main characters of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust -- provide a glimpse into the workings of Riley’s mind as she navigates this life-changing experience.

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General

We All Agree: Don’t Put a Mental Hospital In My Backyard

Sadly, in many communities across America, people still feel it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate against people with a mental illness.

Now in a small town north of San Luis Obispo, California called Templeton, residents there are saying no to a voluntary inpatient psychiatric hospital that a company would like to build -- adding to the town's tax rolls and job base.

Would they be equally likely to say no to a regular, medical hospital? Or is there something specific about a psychiatric inpatient hospital that the residents of Templeton object to?

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Brain and Behavior

3 Lessons about Psychological Well-Being from a Social Media Tsunami: Professor Holding a Baby

In the past few weeks I have been swept up in a social media tsunami. A photograph of me holding a baby while lecturing, taken without my knowledge in one of my lectures, went viral.

For those knowledgeable about these things, apparently being number one on BuzzFeed Trending and Facebook Trending is “huge.” The frenzy included mainstream media with articles and interviews appearing in the Washington Post, The Guardian and The Independent, as well as on CNN, Canadian television, BBC Radio 5, South African radio and the list goes on and on. On one site alone the photo received more than one million likes.

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Anger

Anger Is an Appropriate Response to Stigma

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines the word “snap” as:

to grasp at something eagerly; make a pounce or snatch
to bark out irritable or peevish retorts
to undergo a sudden and rapid change

I wanted to make sure that is, in fact, what happened yesterday toward the end of my run at the Naval Academy.

My husband and I were talking about my giving up the role of playing a “political correctness” cop on the online depression community I host. Someone wrote...
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Anxiety and Panic

9 Tips for Self-Care

Living with depression, anxiety, trauma, and other mental illnesses takes a toll, often in more ways than we realize. Our wounds leave us fragile and sensitive to the suffering of others. It is not uncommon for those with mental illness to find it difficult to read about certain subjects, view movies with disturbing themes, or even to read the news. This is referred to as being triggered, because witnessing or learning about the suffering of others may trigger the reopening of our own wounds.

While mental illness leaves us vulnerable and sensitive to others' suffering, it also has a way of increasing our interest in those stories that feel familiar. We have been through a lot, and we can easily identify with how others feel. We don’t want to shut the world out as a result of our reactivation.

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Depression

The Connection Between Depression & Parkinson’s Disease

A Swedish population study was recently published in the journal Neurology suggesting that people who experienced depression at one point in their lifetime were at greater risk for also developing Parkinson's disease.

Of the 140,688 patients in Sweden with depression over a period of 25 years, 1.1 percent developed Parkinson's -- compared to a rate of 0.4 percent risk factor in the control group. That's an increased risk factor of nearly 3 times.

If you have depression, should you be concerned?

I'd argue -- not much. Here's why.

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General

Surprise: Facebook Says that Facebook A-Okay for News!

A study was published last week in the journal Science that shows that Facebook's algorithm isn't the cause of a hypothetical "filter bubble" -- where people see only news stories that align with their political leanings on a social network.

The only problem? It's a Facebook study conducted by people who are employed by Facebook.

Should we really be all that surprised that Facebook's own researchers minimize the impact of their company's manipulations of people's news feeds?

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Brain and Behavior

Am I a Psychopath?

If you’ve tuned in to any one of the many prime-time television shows in the last five years, you’ve likely come across a suspenseful crime drama replete with personality-disordered characters. Many of us find ourselves plotting the crime better than the criminal, solving the case quicker than the "good guys," or discovering the hidden agenda halfway through the episode. I wager that many of you even empathize with the charismatic antagonist, at times, over the logical hero.

We are all quick to judge, analyze, question, and shame characters on the screen, all while making general comparisons to ourselves or our lives. What happens if there are strong similarities? What if you could plot a murder better than the serial killer? Did you root for the killer to escape from his or her consequential justice? If you said yes to any of these questions, does that make you a psychopath, too?

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Anxiety and Panic

5 Strategies for Watching the News When You’re Depressed


It doesn’t take much these days to arrive at a panicked state. Not if you stay abreast of news headlines.

Nine years ago, when I had my first mental health breakdown, I realized that my psyche was way too fragile to absorb detailed updates about the turmoil in Gaza or the whereabouts of bin Laden. I didn’t want to be completely ignorant of what was going on around the world, but I needed to find a way to inform myself of the big-picture stuff without losing my heart in minutiae.
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Aging

Remembering ‘Parenthood’

The TV show "Parenthood" recently ended after six seasons and viewers bid goodbye to the Braverman family. From the very first episode to the last, the NBC show's story lines were undeniably emotional, poignant and moving.

The Bravermans authentically capture human experience, bringing the narratives and characters to life.

Here are some of the pertinent themes (my personal favorites) that this wonderful series covered during its run.

Raising a child with Asperger's.

In season one, Adam and Kristina...
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Bipolar

Tom Sullivan Tries to Backtrack on His Comments, But Still Gets it Wrong

Tom Sullivan, the Fox News Radio show host who claimed that the bipolar disorder diagnosis was simply a "fad," has tried to backtrack on his disparaging and thoughtless remarks. In a Facebook posting, he claims the comments were taken out of context from a lengthy, two-hour discussion about the Social Security Disability (SSD) Fund being projected to run out of money at the end of 2016.

Sullivan suggests the reason the fund is running out of money so fast is because of the increase in disability awards made for people diagnosed with a mental illness.

But a review of the annual report issued by the U.S. government's Social Security agency demonstrates that even this claim is simply false.

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