General

Making History with The National Museum of Psychology & How You Can Help

The history of psychology is filled with famous and inventive figures, significant discoveries and fascinating research -- everything from Sigmund Freud and talk therapy to the birth (and demise) of dementia praecox to Phil Zimbardo’s prison experiment to Stanley Milgram and the shock heard around the world.

At first glance, these might seem like highly specific subjects only relevant to people in the psychology field. After all, who really needs to know about antiquated illnesses, decades-old experiments and psychology theories?

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

19 Ways You are Emotionally Abusing Yourself

He is a multimillionaire client of mine. Handsome. Accomplished. Respected. Gentle. Reflective. Kind.

And I was examining every angle of why he was allowing a clearly destructive woman (borderline personality disorder) out of his life. He agreed over and over again that she was bad for him, that she felt no remorse, that suddenly abandoning partners was her longtime modus operandi, and yet, he couldn’t let go.

With enough digging, a story emerged.

“I was small as a kid. I was the last guy picked for all the teams. I guess I’m afraid nobody will pick me again if I can’t get her back.”
Continue Reading

Bipolar

Genes and Mental Illness: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

During my long and narrow-eyed search to find information online regarding having a schizophrenic mother, I have often been faced with information which is a complete and utter downer. Something like this:

Hey, you know how your mother is schizophrenic? Well, guess what? That means you have more chance than other people of being schizophrenic yourself! You also have more of a chance of being depressed! And of living in poverty!

I’ve read statistics about how likely the child of a schizophrenic is to develop the same illness. It’s like Death knocking at your door.
Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Understanding the Fascinating World of Dreams

“I was walking down a dark street, whistling and enjoying the darkness. Suddenly, I heard footsteps. Somebody was following me. I tried to run but my legs were cement. I couldn’t budge. I screamed. Nobody heard me. My heart was beating so fast. I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do.”

Maria continued: “I woke up in a cold sweat, shaken by the dream and wondered what it meant. I couldn’t figure it out. I have no enemies. There’s nothing that’s scaring me in real life. So, I kind of just tried to get it out of my mind by telling myself it’s just a dream.”

Dreams are mysterious. We’re both fascinated and perplexed by them. When they frighten us, we try to push them aside, saying “it’s just a dream.” Too bad. We can learn a lot from our dreams once we learn to speak their language.
Continue Reading

Friends

Facebook Fame, Real-Life Shame

“People aren’t posting about their Pinto breaking down on I-80 or their glamorous work trip to Walla Walla,” a friend wryly observed.

No. No, they aren’t. Instead, we are treated to a barrage of adorable baby photos, beaming couples, and far-flung destinations. If Tinder requires every attractive female to proclaim their love of (insert hometown) sports team, Facebook stipulates that every couple proclaim their undying devotion in mushy status updates. Maybe Facebook should sponsor Prozac -- or, at the very minimum, provide every singleton with a complimentary bouquet of flowers.

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

The Making of a Happy Mind

The mind, just like any other entity in nature, follows some specific laws. The mastery of these laws can be immensely helpful in improving mental health and generating happiness.

Long before the discipline of psychology was established, philosophers started providing answers to the question of how to reach happiness. Tested by science, some their claims have been refuted, while others were confirmed, such as the following statement made by Epictetus in The Art of Living:
Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control and some things are not. It is only after you have learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility become possible.
Continue Reading

General

10 Lessons Failure Teaches

No one likes to fail. In fact, most people would do almost anything to avoid failure. They consider the lengths they have to resort to a fair price to pay -- just so they don’t have to go through the experience of failing. But they’re missing something incredibly valuable: They’re losing out on the lessons failure teaches.

You don’t always have to be right.
It may come as a bit of a shock to realize that you don’t always have to be right. In fact, if you think you always have to be right, you’re likely going to experience more than a few disappointments. The beauty of having failed is that it takes away some of the pressure of having to be right. You can forgive yourself for the failure and move on.

Continue Reading

Children and Teens

3 Hard Truths about Your Dream Job You Need to Accept

You’ve been told you can achieve anything you set your mind to, right? That’s the message that’s been ingrained in us since childhood when we imagined becoming astronauts, athletes, and movie stars. Most of us come to realize that we can’t all be LeBron James or Taylor Swift -- and that we don’t want to be, anyway! As we get older, we typically outgrow these fantasies of youth and begin mapping out a career that’s aligned with our personal goals and values.

Yet, in spite of this seemingly straightforward and logical process, many people still have a number of misconceptions about what a “
Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

Mindfulness for Children

My youngest daughter has been having trouble getting to sleep in the last couple of weeks. The bedtime gratitude bodyscan I wrote really helps. It allows her to interrupt her now-habitual thoughts and place her attention on something more soothing and calming -- her body and a feeling of gratitude. It captures her imagination and provides almost instant relief and release. Many parents have told me the gratitude bodyscan is providing transformative relief for their children, too.

Tonight, I started to describe a practice my girls could use during the day, whenever they are feeling sad, angry, frustrated, worried, scared or overwhelmed. It worked well for my youngest at night, too. In fact, as I was speaking, she politely asked me if it would be OK to go to sleep. I said it would be a lovely way to go to sleep, and she promptly did so!

Continue Reading

Addiction

Addicted to Distraction

Is there something you really need to do, yet somehow you just can’t seem to get to it? You tell yourself you’re going to do it, but then something else always gets in the way. If so, it’s likely that you are addicted to distraction.

Here are four questions I want you to ask yourself:

How many times a day do you check or initiate emails and text messages?
How often do you check out compelling headlines on your digital devices?
How much time do you spend game playing?
How much time do you spend on social media?

Continue Reading

Addiction

Treating Trichotillomania

As a hair stylist with over 15 years of experience, I recently had the opportunity to work with a client who suffered from trichotillomania. Also called "hair pulling disorder," trichotillomania is characterized by an obsessive pulling of one's own hair, leading to hair loss and baldness. It's often chronic, difficult to treat, and can lead to high stress and social impairment for the sufferer. The following is an account of our work with this client using my skills as a master stylist.

Our client had gone through years of hiding her pull spots and had become masterful at finding different up-styles to camouflage her problem areas. The idea was to add hair extensions, as the client and her behavioral therapist believed it would help her to stop her compulsive pulling.
Continue Reading

Anger

The Creative Act of Forgiveness

Have you ever found yourself driving down a dark desert highway, losing yourself in the mysterious groove of "Hotel California" by The Eagles? With such a great melody, some of the best lyrics may slip by unnoticed. Especially “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.” There is no one way to interpret a good lyric, but this line elegantly tells you that you are the sole guardian of your emotions.

It’s inevitable that we’ll come across people who don’t treat us exactly the way we’d like. It could be the one who cuts you off in traffic or the one who made a snide comment about how your shoes don’t match your scarf.

On a bad day, it could feel like the whole world is against you. These moments sneak up on you when you least expect it. Then, in that swift second, the rainbow skies you were skipping under suddenly and rapidly turn into dark clouds of a looming thunderstorm.

Continue Reading