Brain and Behavior

The Healing Power of Hugs

One day several years ago, I spontaneously hugged a patient of mine, Gretchen. It was during a moment in which her despair and distress were so intense that it seemed cruel on a human level not to reach out my arms to her, in the event that she might derive some relief or comfort from an embrace. She hugged me for dear life.

Months later, Gretchen reported to me that the hug had changed her. “The motherly embrace you gave me that day,” she said, “lifted the depression I have had all my life.”

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Anxiety and Panic

How Do You ‘Do’ Fear?

We all feel fear at various moments in our lives. But we differ dramatically in how we “do” fear. Here are a few stories that illustrate what I mean:

Jake’s style: “Safety First”


When Jake feels fear, he has a knee-jerk reaction to retreat into safety. His favorite refrains are, “It’s too difficult” and “I can’t.” As you might imagine, his approach to fear has impeded his ability to move forward in his career and in relationships, despite his wanting to do so.
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Caregivers

Separate and Unequal

You have just fallen off your bike. You hit a rock and were thrown over the handlebars onto your back. Ouch.

What do you do now? You go to the doctor. X-rays are taken. Nothing is broken. You get some medicine, you go home.

The next day at work, you are having some trouble with the pain. Your peers ask what’s wrong. You reply that you fell off your bike. They say that's too bad; hope you feel better. Move on. They don’t think too much of it.

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Binge Eating

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Weight Management

Countless people feel unhappy with their bodies. Some have eating disorders, and many others deal with issues surrounding weight management. They may have tried the standard self-help techniques, from exercise and dieting to grueling weight loss programs, without success.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective and widely used therapeutic approach that can be applied to issues including self-esteem, body image, and weight management.

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Disorders

Checkmate

The check. And here you thought I was talking about the dinner bill, didn’t you?

No, for those hearty souls battling obsessive-compulsive disorder, “the check” refers to something different than picking up the restaurant tab. For those afflicted with OCD, the check could mean ritualizing about the pedestrian they may have hit, sprinting to the restroom to scrub cracked hands, or fleeing a dinner date to check whether the garage door is shut.

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Brain and Behavior

The Need to Struggle

Are you tired of struggling? Do you want to reach your goals without having to work so hard? Do you yearn for the glamour without the grit? Achieve! Accomplish! Actualize yourself! Yes, you want to do all those things. But why does it have to be so hard?

It used to be fun. You were excited about stuff. As a kid, you wanted to do everything. You picked...
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Anxiety and Panic

Psychology Around the Net: June 25, 2016


Happy Saturday, Psych Central readers!

Whew, I've had a stressful week. I've been juggling everything from major work deadlines to doctor appointments to preparing our guestroom for entertaining company all weekend, and honestly, the only thing that's helped keep me focused is my to-do list.

That's right. I am a huge advocate of to-do lists. I know some people avoid them, but, not I. I can't even explain the sheer elation I feel each time I mark off a...
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Brain and Behavior

The Joy of Giving

In The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm wrote: “Giving is more joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness.” The more we give, the more we experience the world as the creation of our efforts and as a reflection of our aliveness. In the well-being of individuals that we support, we experience our aliveness. In the growth of communities to which we are genuinely dedicated, we experience our aliveness. The entity that we care for, whether it is a community, a fellow human being, or any living or nonliving form, is the source of our empowerment. In it we see our power; through it we feel alive.

For experimental psychologists, a cause and effect relationship, no matter how plausible and beautiful it sounds, cannot be accepted unless it is confirmed by means of experimentation. To test whether giving contributes to our well-being and whether giving is more joyous than receiving, Elizabeth Dunn and colleagues conducted an experiment at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

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ADHD and ADD

The Connection Between ADHD and Anxiety

Genetic research suggests that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety disorders may share similar genetic makeup. Approximately 30 percent of those diagnosed with ADHD have also been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and that number may be as high as 50 percent in adults.

Adult ADHD that coexists with an anxiety disorder may significantly impair the ability to function in one’s daily life. Anxiety tends to exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD, as it often takes one out of the present moment. By attending to something in the past or anticipating a potential threat in the future, anxiety makes it difficult to organize information in a productive manner and can lead to a lack of environmental awareness.

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Brain and Behavior

Family Constellation Work

For all of us who have experienced family life and its impact, with all of its places of light and darkness, there is a wonderful group process that fosters present-day healing. It is called family constellation work and is a day-long workshop run by a trained facilitator.

Family constellation workshops were started by Dr. Bert Hellinger, a family therapist from Germany, and are now available worldwide. Participants target an area of their present life that needs clarity, resolution, or healing. It does not have to relate to family history, nor are the processes always related to the family of origin.

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General

10 Ways to Get Back to Winning

Winning isn’t everything, but it does feel good. If you’ve been going through a rough patch, losing more than you succeed, you might think this is a permanent situation. It doesn’t have to be, but you do need to be a little proactive to switch things up and make the necessary changes. Here are 10 suggestions for doing just that:

1. You have to want it.

Wishing things were better won’t get it done. No matter what your idea of winning is, you have to want it more than anything in order for it to have any possibility of becoming reality.
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Anger

How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Us

The statistics are alarming. From 2009 to 2014, the number of girls between the ages of 10 and 17 hospitalized for intentionally cutting or poisoning themselves has more than doubled. This isn't the first time I'm reading about this. But it's certainly time to talk about it.

In my work with inherited family trauma, when I see a child who injures herself, I've learned to probe into the family history. The self-injurer could well be reliving aspects of a trauma she inherited from her parents or grandparents, though this is not always the case. Self-injurious behaviors can arise for other reasons as well.

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