General

Mental Health Courts: Does Coercion Add Anything of Value to Treatment?

Mental health courts are America's sad, broken way of dealing with people who have mental illness -- who also happen to have committed a crime. Even something as small as a misdemeanor. I mean, what better way to treat a person's mental illness than to send them to a court tailored for their mental health needs?

The truth is that if a person is receiving adequate care in the community through the public mental health system, there'd likely be far fewer people who get involved in criminal justice system to begin with. People with mental illness get involved in the court system for a wide variety of reasons (psychosis, drugs, mania, etc.). Such involvement is usually just a side effect of a person who isn't getting any kind of decent treatment.

So do mental health courts work? Or could you offer the same services to people without the coercion and get similar results? The long-term data is in.

Continue Reading

Addiction

Psychology Around the Net: April 16, 2016


Good morning (or afternoon, evening, or night?) lovely readers!

If you checked in with me last week, you know I was dreading a weekend of snow; well, Mother Nature smiled on my little neck of the woods and gave us a few inches only on Sunday.

All in all, not a raw deal.

Anyway, I'm probably working this weekend (boo!), but I have some great tips, resources, and other updates from the mental health community to share with you first. Read on to get the latest on tips for anger management, find out which of your seemingly harmless common daily habits could actually hurt your health, why sarcasm could be good for creative thinking, and more!

Continue Reading

Family

Child Abuse Survivors, Victims Need You to Talk About It

How do you recover from childhood abuse? Is healing possible? Will the shame ever go away? Will I always struggle with depression or anxiety?

These are important questions as we enter April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month. While the answers to these questions are different for everyone, sharing our stories can inspire hope and help other survivors heal.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” - Nelson Mandela
Continue Reading

Anger

The Myth of Negative Emotions

Emotions that provide us with unpleasant feelings have traditionally (and unfairly) been labelled “negative emotions.” People tend to want to avoid them, force them away, or silence them as soon as they emerge. They are the Rodney Dangerfield of emotions: they get no respect.

The truth is, there is no such thing as a negative emotion, since each emotion has its own role and purpose. In fact, in the book, The Upside of Your Dark Side, authors Todd Kashdan, Ph.D., and Robert Biswas-Diener argue that in order to attain happiness, one has to welcome every emotion (pleasant or unpleasant) and learn how to make the best of them. It is not the emotion that is problematic but rather the way we deal with them that can be. Instead of pushing these emotions away, we should learn to welcome and listen to the important messages these feelings are trying to communicate to us.
Continue Reading

Anger

Re-Visioning Strength: What It Really Means to Be Strong and Why It’s Important


In this year’s election cycle, there is understandable anxiety about terrorism. Political candidates are competing to reassure voters that they are the strongest candidate and have the best plan for keeping us safe.

This raises some interesting psychological issues. How do we react when our sense of safety and well-being are threatened? What does it mean to be strong in the face of danger? What is a wise response to a difficult or scary situation?

Continue Reading

General

4 Tips to Feel Safer in a World of Terrifying Violence


You have more control than you think

Even before the shooting in San Bernadino and terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and Kenya, were you wondering how to keep yourself and your family safe? It’s often something we ask others -- usually politicians -- to take care of for us, which can, in turn, actually magnify our sense of powerlessness. It’s as if we think personal safety is outside our control.

While some things are beyond our influence, feeling safe begins from within. Appropriate fear is wired into our systems, inherited from our ancestors who had large animals of prey stalking them as food.
Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

The Psychology of Terrorism: Things Not to Be Afraid Of

I feel sorry for people who wake up every morning being afraid. I'm not talking about individuals who suffer from serious anxiety disorders or agoraphobia. Rather, I'm thinking of those who believe that terrorism is a legitimate fear that can actually be addressed by closing our borders and further restricting our rights.

It's difficult to address terrorism because it appeals to our emotional mind. It is, by its very definition, unpredictable. Trying to stop, or even reduce, something that is so unpredictable means expending a lot of resources -- and freedoms. And even then, you may have little to show for it.

Continue Reading

Bullying

I Won’t Make the Same Mistakes My Parents Made

“I will not make the same mistakes my parents made.” It may be one of the most common sentiments in the world of parenting. But when we express this desire, it is often met with rolled eyes or some other doubtful response. Why is that? Deep down inside, I think we all sense it is much more complicated than we are willing to acknowledge.

Changing our parenting approach from the way we were raised is extremely difficult. The only easy solution is to swing the parenting pendulum to the opposite extreme, which does very little to improve the situation.

It is as though we are hardwired to behave in the same manner. In reality, that may be the truth. Our brain has been wired to perceive reality in a certain way.

Continue Reading

General

Congress & Policymakers: Stop Scapegoating Mental Illness in Mass Shootings

It's time that the United States Congress and national policymakers stop scapegoating mental illness for mass shootings in America. It's a simplistic -- but entirely wrong -- answer to mass shootings and gun violence in the United States. And it's also time that we hold our representatives in Congress accountable to have them stop shamelessly using another violent shooting to push their own agenda -- and blaming mental illness as the cause.

Mass shootings are generally not committed by people with a mental illness. People who commit violent acts with a gun are far more likely to have no history of mental illness. This includes the nearly-daily mass shootings we've experienced in the past three years.

It's time to have a serious, nuanced conversation about this issue -- and stop the simplistic fear-mongering that politicians and policymakers with their own agendas to push seem to revel in.

Continue Reading

Anger

Brainwashing in Abusive Relationships

Being in an abusive relationship often feels like torture. Sometimes that's because your partner's behavior feels like the torture techniques used by mortal enemies instead.

Brainwashing is defined in the Psychology Dictionary as that which “manipulates and modifies a person’s emotions, attitudes, and beliefs.” It reduces a person’s ability to mentally defend themselves and makes it easier for another person to control them.

Continue Reading

General

Why Gun Laws Targeting ‘Crazy People’ Would Have Little Benefit

Two days ago, according to FBI crime statistics, approximately 38 murders took place in the U.S. Most of these murders were completed with a gun between two or more people who knew one another.

But people are only talking about two of them -- the deaths of TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward by Vester Flanagan (aka Bryce Williams). Flanagan was a disgruntled former worker at the local TV station where the three of them briefly worked at the same time for about 9 months in 2012.

And one of the victims' fathers -- Andy Parker -- has now made it his mission in life to increase common sense gun control laws in the U.S. Targeting "crazy people."

Unfortunately, had his laws been in place, they likely wouldn't have prevented this tragedy -- or most tragedies like this.

Continue Reading