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Watch the Webcast of the 2012 Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy

Tomorrow I head down to Atlanta to attend the 28th Annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy at The Carter Center. This year's meeting will bring together more than 200 mental health leaders, stakeholders, and providers to discuss moving beyond stigma and prejudice, and how we can take steps to build social inclusion of people living with mental illnesses.

While it's a closed event, they do a live webcast of the event throughout the day, allowing anyone to gain from its presentations.

The stigma and prejudice surrounding mental diagnoses and mental health care remain a huge issue in the U.S. and throughout the world. In the U.S. alone, it's estimated to cost over $300 billion because of untreated mental illness.

The Carter Center's Mental Health Program works tirelessly to try and reverse this trend.

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Doing What Doesn’t Come Naturally

When you’re feeling miserable, it’s the most natural thing in the world to want to wallow in your misery. Angry people do it by obsessing about what others have done to them. Sad people do it by summoning up their disappointments. Worried people do it by anguishing about the "what ifs" of life. Frustrated people do it by giving up their goals as soon as the going gets tough.

Though there is something to be said for feeling miserable from time to time (how else would you appreciate feeling great?), many people hold on to negative emotions for way too long.

They don’t just feel their emotions, they embrace them, defend them, indulge them -- until these feelings morph into an identity.

The upshot? They no longer just feel angry, sad, worried or frustrated. They become people with a chip on their shoulder, despair in their heart, fear in their soul, and failure on their mind.

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Children and Teens

Why Some People Love Horror Movies While Others Hate Them

Some people can’t get enough of scary movies. They’ve seen scores of scary films – over and over. They catch horror flicks on opening night. They have DVD collections at home.

Personally, I wouldn’t be caught dead watching a scary movie. They freak me out, leaving me unsettled for days -- the images a record player in my mind. In fact, I have a hard enough time sitting through the scarier scenes of “Sons of Anarchy.” (I watch it with my boyfriend, and sometimes need to leave the room.)

With Halloween upon us -- the prime season for horror films -- I was curious to find out why some people savor scary movies. And others, like me, can’t stand them.

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Do You Have the Compulsion to Take Notes?

One of my Secrets of Adulthood is: People are more alike than we think, and we’re less alike than we think.

For instance, for years, I thought that my habit of constant note-taking was quite peculiar. But since I’ve written about my love of note-taking I’ve discovered that many people share this passion.

In her essay “On Keeping a Notebook,” in Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion describes this drive:

The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself.

She’s right to use the word “compulsion.” I don’t have to push myself to take notes... I have to stop myself from taking too many notes.

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Are You or Someone You Know Almost Addicted to Drugs?

Just because someone doesn’t meet diagnostic criteria for substance abuse or dependence doesn’t mean drugs aren’t damaging their world.

There’s a space between normal behavior and an official diagnosis called “almost addicted” that has serious consequences, according to Dr. J. Wesley Boyd, MD, Ph.D, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and author of the book Almost Addicted: Is My (or My Loved One’s) Drug Use a Problem?

People who are almost addicted still struggle because of their drug use. They may have problems in their personal or professional lives. They also might meet criteria for drug abuse or dependence in the future -- at which point it becomes tougher to treat. Intervening now can lead to healthy changes and prevent a full-blown crisis, said Dr. Boyd, also a staff psychiatrist at Cambridge Health Alliance.

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Best of Our Blogs: October 30, 2012

How did we let our external situations get so intertwined with the way we perceive our self? The belief that what we create, for example, is equated with our self-worth or the way we look is linked with self-love. Instead of celebrating our uniqueness, we're more likely to use our quirks as justification for self-hate or bullying.

On a logical level we all know that what we look like, how much money we have or our social status has nothing to do with our worth. But it's difficult to convince our vulnerable selves of this fact. When people tease us, point out our imperfections, or when we don't get the validation we need, the repercussions can be devastating. Low self-esteem, insecurity and even depression will not only prevent us from living the life we were meant to live, but it can sabotage our happiness. As we get older, we might lose our individual qualities because we desire acceptance or fear being judged. We may cover it up by being something we're not, by making fun of ourselves to hide our insecurities, or by being overly critical toward others or ourselves.

The answer is to remember who we are and have compassion for our self, (worry)warts and all. As you'll read below, it's only when we learn self-kindness, self-compassion and positive self-talk, that we can begin to heal. In listening to what our bloggers say, you will begin to peel away at those erroneously beliefs that tell you you're not worthy of love, success, and happiness. You will find that you are fine just the way you are. And those people that tell you otherwise? As author Martha Beck once said, "How others judge me is none of my business."
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Children and Teens

Hidden Meanings in Children’s Fairy Tales

Cinderella is mistreated by her wicked stepfamily, which gives her an awfully hard time about going to the ball and meeting her Prince Charming. Dorothy finds herself following a yellow brick road as she journeys to Oz and encounters evil along the way. Alice falls down a rabbit hole into Wonderland, a completely mystical world.

Classic fairy tales are actually not as child-like as we may presume.

While some may take the stories at face value, for the sole purpose of entertainment, other researchers tell us that these are wise stories infused with meaning and symbols.

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Introducing Why Do I Do That?

One of the primary reasons Intro to Psychology classes are so popular in college is because students are trying to figure themselves out. They believe that by taking the class, they might be able to shed some insight into their own behaviors and emotions.

Unfortunately, most Intro to Psych classes cover such a wide breadth of material, they're practically useless in answering this question.

But many people gain a spark during those classes, and go on to do more research into their own psyche, habits, and underlying motivations.

A big part of how we act and react in our world is captured in the psychodynamic theory of defense mechanisms. Now there's a new book to help you better understand these mechanisms, by our own blogger Joseph Burgo, Ph.D., called Why Do I Do That?

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Preparing for Hurricane Sandy Emotionally, Psychologically

While most people who are likely to bear the brunt of Hurricane Sandy have already bought all of their bottled water and batteries, you can't purchase peace of mind at Walmart (well, maybe you can, I haven't checked lately).

So what can you do to prepare yourself for Hurricane Sandy from an emotional and psychological standpoint? How can you ensure you keep your calm and wits about you -- especially if others are depending on you?

Here are some tips from our past combined articles on coping (mostly) emotionally and psychologically with a hurricane.

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Finding Mr. Right Makes All the Mr. Wrongs Make Sense

This guest article from YourTango was written by Amy Johnson.

"Someday, someone will walk into your life and make you realize why it never worked out with anyone else." — Anonymous

As a relationship coach, I talk to a lot of single women. It's pretty rare to find one who wants to be in a relationship, isn't in one and is perfectly relaxed about it. There is usually some fear lurking under the surface.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that single women are living in fear ; most are not. They have busy, happy lives just like coupled people.

But when many of these successful, self-assured, independent single women let their guard down, most of them admit that they are afraid that maybe they will never meet "him."

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The Endless, Irrational Political Campaign

Sometimes I'm not so sure what the point of democratic elections are.

After living in one of the largest democracies in the world all my life, I get more and more disillusioned with each passing year.

Why? Because each year the same pattern repeats itself. Endlessly.

This is especially true every four years when we go to the polls to elect our next President. Presidential candidates regularly make promises and pledges about what they can do to "fix" every problem afflicting us today.

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How to Handle Hyperactivity in Kids with ADHD

Hyperactive kids with ADHD are always on the go, according to Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. It’s like they have a motor winding them up. “Words like ‘Energizer Bunny,’ ‘Speedy Gonzalez’ and the ‘Roadrunner’ are common nicknames to describe the never-ending vessel of energy ADHD kids exhibit,” he said.

For instance, rather than sitting at their desk, they might jump up several times to sharpen their pencil, said Ari Tuckman, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and author of Understand Your Brain, Get More Done: The ADHD Executive Functions Workbook. Rather than sitting at the dinner table, they might walk around it -- or go and play with the pet, he said.

Physical hyperactivity isn’t the only concern. Hyperactive kids also experience racing -- and “rarely singular or linear” -- thoughts, Olivardia said. “The idea of ‘shutting their minds off’ is a foreign concept to someone who is hyperactive.”

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