Brain and Behavior

Psychology Around the Net: June 11, 2016


Earlier this week, I experienced an episode of sleep paralysis. It wasn't my first time (though I've experienced it only a handful of times at most), but it was definitely the most terrifying time. I was exhausted and decided to take a quick midday nap...only, when I tried to wake up, not only could I not move, but I couldn't keep my eyes open for longer than a second.

During that second I could keep them open? I hallucinated a creepy, hunchbacked old man pilfering around my living room and sheer panic took over.

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Anxiety and Panic

How Media Shapes Our View of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Most people would consider an abuse victim as a person who experienced “trauma.” However people often don’t view them as potentially experiencing “post-traumatic stress disorder.” PTSD is more commonly thought of as a condition affecting combat veterans, but the number of civilians suffering from PTSD is 13 times more than military personnel, according to a release from Drexel University. So what gives? According to researchers at Drexel, the media plays a large role in what the general population and lawmakers associate with PTSD.

The Drexel study reviewed 35 years worth of articles on PTSD published in the New York Times -- from 1980, the year PTSD was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, to 2015. Of 871 articles a little over 50 percent focused on military cases of PTSD. The occurrence of PTSD in veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan is 20 percent. But research shows the condition is far more likely to affect civilians who suffer sexual assault (30-80 percent of survivors), nonsexual assault (23–39 percent), survivors of disasters (30–40 percent), and car crashes (25–33 percent).
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Brain and Behavior

Psychology Around the Net: June 4, 2016


Last Friday, I went to another Dave Matthews Band concert. I know what you're thinking: "Three DMB concerts in one month?!" Well, considering they're my favorite band and they're going on a break next summer, I have to get it while the gettin's good, right?

However, last Friday's trip wasn't planned; it was completely spontaneous. While I was finishing up some work, I received a message from a friend who couldn't make the show and had two free tickets for me if I wanted them.

The show was almost five hours away, meaning I had about an hour to get ready, get packed, and get on the road.

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Bipolar

Bipolar Disorder & Violence: Is There a Relationship?

As long-time World of Psychology readers already know, a researcher has a lot of latitude in how they design a study to "encourage" a predetermined outcome. Researchers generally don't recognize this as an inherent bias problem, because virtually all researchers do it to one degree or another (or have done it at one time or another in their career).

The relationship between mental illness and violence is one area of contention among researchers, with most research showing only the smallest of correlations between the two. The real risk factor for violence remains -- and has always been -- substance abuse, not mental illness.

Recently it was suggested that those with bipolar disorder are at greater risk for committing violence. So we took a look at some of the research to see how good the studies are that suggest such a connection.

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Addiction

Are You Sabotaging Your Brain?

It does not take much to rob your brain of its essential vitality. Dr. Daniel Amen, a renowned psychiatrist, has spent his entire career trying to understand the ways we can preserve or sabotage our brain health.

In his book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, Dr. Amen explores the root of these essential brain robbers. The good news is that because the brain is highly plastic, any good habit that forms over time can replace short-term damage.

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General

The Beauty of Intentional Forgetting

We store memories using a variety of contexts -- sights, sounds, smells, who was there, the weather, etc. Context helps us retrieve these memories later. For instance, my husband recently made roast chicken and collard greens. It was a normal Sunday night, then the collards hit the iron skillet and I was transported back to 1994. It smelled just like Tuesday night dinner at my Maw-Maw’s house. Walking into the kitchen, I fully expected her to be there at the stove stirring a pot of red beans with ham hocks.

The next morning my home still smelled like it, and it was like she was with me while I showered and got dressed. It was comforting. Of course it was, I love my grandmother very much. But what about the memories you don’t love? What about the times you’ve stuck your foot in your mouth? What about the time you were tyrannically insistent about something and turned out to be wrong? What about the time you cheated on your significant other? What about the time you were dumped?
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Creativity

The Joy of No Sex

Full disclosure: I work in advertising. It's an industry where husky-voiced, hair-flicking women smolder in ads selling cat food and sneakers, and where shirtless hunks flex fuzz-free pecs to sell salad dressing and synthetic butter.

The following viewpoint will therefore get me into trouble, which I’m familiar with.

Here are two commonsense truisms:

While great sex is joyful, lousy sex is not
Happiness is possible without a daily grind (I’m not talking coffee)

Yet for reasons such as the availability heuristic -- a cognitive shortcut that encourages us to think of commonplace examples in our everyday environment when making decisions -- we often overestimate the importance to our well-being of having regular sex. When we pause to think of the world around us, we more often remember non-nude pretzel-like scenarios in which we were happy.
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Brain and Behavior

Could There Be One Cure for All Mental Illness?


"One treatment to cure them all, one technique to find them, one network to bring them all and in the heterogeneity bind them."

Imagine: A cure all for ALL mental illnesses... sounds illogical, perhaps impossible, something straight out of fantasy, no? Well, at the SharpBrains Virtual Summit, Monitoring & Enhancing Brain Health in the Pervasive Neuroscience Era, where presenting cutting-edge innovative research was the norm, I was lucky to be witness to a truly tantalizing talk by psychologist Dr. Madeleine Goodkind that will likely change your perspective.

The current problem with finding a treatment that works for everyone is that each person’s presentation of mental illnesses is different, no one’s full set of symptoms and experiences are the same. And neither are their responses to treatment.
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Books

Psychology Around the Net: May 21, 2016


They're at the tailend of the U.K.'s Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) across the pond!

Similar to October's Mental Illness Awareness Week here in the U.S., the U.K.'s MHAW, supported by the Mental Health Foundation, is all about educating people about mental health and helping people learn the importance of taking care of their mental health.

Thus, you'll see some U.K.-related information in this week's post, including news about the royal's latest mental health campaign and new information about psychedelics and depression. Also catch up on the latest about relationships and mental health, strategies for better sleep, and the importance of doing things by yourself.

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Anxiety and Panic

Recent Research Links Anxiety with Higher IQ


"Ignorance is bliss" is a saying that has been around for years.

What it really means is that when people are unaware of things -- situations, events, circumstances -- they have nothing to cause them worry and anxiety. But new research seems to indicate that these individuals may just have a lower intelligence quotient, as shown by IQ testing. Those people who have anxiety, even chronic worry, tend to score higher on IQ tests.

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