Anxiety and Panic

Psychology Around the Net: January 23, 2016


Happy Saturday, Psych Central readers!

I've been snowed in for the past few days and I have to admit, the extra time to really dive in and reflect gave me a hard time choosing from so many new and interesting psychology-related topics this week!

However, I managed, so now you can dive in and learn more about tackling mental illness stigma with social media, how a father's depression can affect premature birth, why learning how to properly feel emotions...
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Ethics & Morality

Buddhism, Spirituality & Dependency

Recently I attended a six-day Zen meditation retreat (sesshin in Japanese) which included the celebration of Rohatsu on December 8. Rohatsu is said to be the day that Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, came to his great enlightenment.

As a couples therapist and student of attachment theory, I cannot deny what seem to be inherent contradictions of this spiritual path and current research on healthy dependency. First, Siddhartha left his home, his wife, his newborn, his parents, and his duties as a prince to go alone on a spiritual quest. Accounts also say that he left at night and did not say goodbye to his wife or see his newborn son.

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Addiction

Psychology Around the Net: January 16, 2016


Hey, Psych Central readers!

So, a lot of stuff happened this week. Some of it, pretty exciting (we finally got a few Powerball winners!); some of it, downright heart-wrenching (rest in peace, Alan Rickman and David Bowie).

For our purposes (which I have to admit, was a nice distraction from losing Professor Snape and Ziggy Stardust in one week), I've dug up some pretty interesting little psychology bits for you to feast on this morning.

Keep reading for information on how winning the lottery probably won't make you happier, working long hours doesn't always negatively affect relationships, the ways in which dogs recognize human emotions, and more!

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Family

Want to Be Close to Someone? Ask These 36 Questions

Can you create a sense of closeness or intimacy with a complete stranger? Psychology research says, yes, you can.

Nearly 20 years ago, a team of psychology researchers led by Arthur Aron (1997) conducted an experiment that demonstrated that you can create a sense of closeness or intimacy with another person simply by asking and answering a set of 36 questions together.

But was the closeness produced in the experimental condition the same as the real closeness we feel with long-time partners and friends?

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Brain and Behavior

Lumosity Pays Millions in Fines, ‘Deceived Consumers’

I haven't seen a Lumosity television commercial for awhile. I wondered why that was, and now I know.

As I pointed out nearly four years ago, Lumosity was apparently selling the equivalent of snake oil to unsuspecting folks. The company simply didn't have the research to back up its grand claims -- "improve [your] brain health and performance" -- from the company's inception through early 2015.

The U.S. federal government's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finally caught on to the scam, announcing an enormous settlement with the company yesterday.

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Creativity

New Study Connects Distraction to Creative Genius

We knew it.

It seems as if everyone you know does some of their best work while sitting in their local coffee shop, but you don't even bother bringing your laptop when you're killing time at Starbucks. You know that every customer order shouted out or every whirl of the espresso maker will derail you from whatever project you attempt to work on. You've tried to block it all out but have failed every time.

But there's good news if this always happens to you.

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Family

New Year’s & Coping with Loss

As soon as the Christmas rush subsides and the wrapping paper is thrown away, we start to think about how we will ring in the new year. Images of smiling faces, popping champagne corks, and fireworks tell us how we might be behaving, thinking or even feeling. Yet for many, the persistent feelings of loss and sadness about a person, a relationship or life once lived limit the awareness that a new year is truly a new start.

The spotlight that is placed on our lives at New Year's creates a make-believe time where we imagine that the thoughts we engage with can assist us in navigating the year ahead. While the powers of intentional thoughts have their place in our emotional well-being, for many facing lost loved ones or relationships, their desires can be beyond their grasp.

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Brain and Behavior

What is Affluenza? Is it Real?

Affluenza is a term describing a "metaphorical illness" whereby children or teens who grow up in a privileged lifestyle, largely isolated emotionally and developmentally from their working parents, feel excessive pressure to achieve in both academic and extracurricular activities. This can make children feel more isolated than their friends, while at the same time feeling an increase in pressure to perform. The result? Greater depression, anxiety and substance or alcohol abuse compared to their friends.

Researchers don't generally refer to this as affluenza, but rather as problems growing up in a culture of affluence. There is no official diagnosis of "affluenza," and research into this phenomenon is fairly scarce.

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Is Your Microbiome Making You Crazy?

Anxiety, depression, brain fog, mood disorders, mood swings or just feeling out of sorts? It’s possible that the answers may lie in the health of the trillions of bacteria living in the intestine called the gut microbiome.

There is a profound connection between gut flora composition and mood. Depending on the different types and quantities that are prevalent, these bacteria can influence everything from the immune system, digestion, DNA expression, inflammation and brain function -- for better or worse. Bacteria are even known to play a role in serious conditions like autism and schizophrenia. Put simply, a balanced microbiome equals good health, but the opposite is true as well.

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