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Brain and Behavior

Bad Research: Popular Sex Search Terms

People like sex. They like sex so much, they spend a lot of time searching for it online. Go figure. (You can tell I'm about to delve into really highbrow, heady stuff here...)

Researchers Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam recently published a book, A Billion Wicked Thoughts, detailing their analysis of 400 million searches they collected from the Dogpile search engine. Of those 400 million searches, 13 percent (55 million) were for erotic content.

How did those 55 million searches break down? Let's find out... but let's also look at the methodology of these researchers to see if their findings are worth the paper that they are printed on. (If you think not, you're probably right.)

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Brain and Behavior

10 Steps to Conquer Perfectionism


It's the enemy of creativity, productivity, and, well, sanity. In The Artist's Way, author Julia Cameron writes: "Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead. It is a loop -- an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details of what you are writing or painting or making and to lose sight of the whole."

But you don't even have to be creating anything to be crippled by perfectionism. It can also frustrate your efforts as a mom, a wife, a friend, and a human being. Because no one and no thing is perfect in this blemished world of ours.

I tackle this adversary everyday. And although my inner perfectionist clearly has hold of my brain many days, I do think I am handcuffed less often by the fear of messing up than I used to be. Here are 10 techniques I use to break out of the prison of perfectionism in order to live and create as freely as I can in an imperfect world.

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Remembering Those Who Died for Us, 2011

It's hard to repay the debt of a human life. Yet today in the United States, we remember those who died for us, fighting in wars to keep our freedoms safe from those who would take them away from us.

War still rages around us, soldiers still fight today. And every month, soldiers die fighting for us. For our democracy. For our country.

I'm not sure how to repay that debt. All I can do is remember and give thanks to those who fell in battle, because without their sacrifice, I'm not sure I'd be here living in one of the world's greatest democracies.

Memorial Day's roots can be traced back to the Civil War, when people who honor those who fought in that bloody war by decorating the graves of the dead. After WWI, it was expanded to recognize the sacrifices given by those who fight in any war.
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Brain and Behavior

7 Good Reasons to Cry: The Healing Property of Tears

New York Times reporter Benedict Carey referred to tears in a piece as "emotional perspiration." Given that I sweat a lot and hate deodorant, I suppose it makes sense that I weep often. But I'm not going to apologize for that, because after a good cry, I always feel cleansed, like my heart and mind just rubbed each other's backs in a warm bath.

In his intriguing article, "The Miracle of Tears", from which I've borrowed some of the research for this post, author Jerry Bergman writes: "Tears are just one of many miracles which work so well that we taken them for granted every day." Here, then, are seven ways tears and the phenomenon we call "crying" heal us physiologically, psychologically, and spiritually.

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Atypical Antipsychotic Medications Not a Good Choice for Alzheimer’s

People with Alzheimer's disease often suffer not only from the debilitating effects of the disease itself, but also from the secondary psychological effects. Delusions and hallucinations appear in up to 50 percent of those with Alzheimer's, and as many as 70 percent demonstrate aggressive behaviors and agitation. Both caregivers and family members are distressed by these symptoms, and so everyone is motivated to treat the person with Alzheimer's with antipsychotic medications.

The problem?

Antipsychotic medications haven't always been well-researched on older populations, and fewer still on people with a disease like Alzheimer's. And when the research has been done, the results are often underwhelming.

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Brain and Behavior

Helping Others Is Good For Your Health: An Interview with Stephen G. Post, PhD

Mahatma Gandhi once said that "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." I have benefited from that advice, for sure, especially in the months that I was crawling out of a very severe depression.

An expert on the perks that come with helping others is bestselling author Stephen G. Post, author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get us Through Hard Times (Jossey-Bass, 2011). He is Professor of Preventive Medicine, Heard of the Division of Medicine in Society, and Director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook University. Visit him on his website at

I have the privilege of conducting an exclusive interview with him for the readers of Psych Central.

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Brain and Behavior

8 Tips for Teenage Depression

Teenagers are moody. Absolutely. Fluctuations in hormones cause anger outbursts, irritability, emotional hysteria, bursts of anger, defiant behavior, and weepiness. So it’s very difficult to tease apart teenage drama from legitimate depression and other mood disorders. However, it’s worth the effort because depression and other mood disorders that begin in adolescence often become much more serious and difficult to treat as adult disorders.

A 1996 study by the National Institute of Mental Health estimated that more than 6 percent of adolescents, between the ages of 9 and 18 years old, suffered from depression during the six-month period of the study, and almost five percent suffered from major depressive disorder. Moreover, many of the 20 percent of people who suffer from depression at some point in their lives have experienced depression as teenager.

I am part of that statistic, as my symptoms emerged in my adolescent years, and, had I been treated for depression at that time, I may not have developed such a severe mood disorder in my adult life. So, then, here are a few ways teenagers might manage their depression.

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Best of Our Blogs: May 27, 2011

I remember the first time I ever felt in control of my life. I was about 8 or 9 years old at the time and had a reoccurring nightmare about two kids chasing me down the street. When I told my dad about it he said, "You know you can control your dreams right?"

He told me all I had to do was visualize what I wanted to happen in the dream before I went to sleep. Because I had the kind of faith in magic and pure wonder that only occurs in childhood, I wholeheartedly believed him. The next morning I woke up with a smile on my face. In my dream, the two kids that were chasing me finally caught up. But in their hands were melting ice-cream cones they had been trying to give me.

That dream was years ago, but I will never forget it.

More than teaching me how to control my dreams, it taught me how to control my life. When scared or anxious about the unknown, I often remember that my perspective can change the outcome. Sometimes being open to seemingly scary experiences can help us receive the ice-creams in our own life.

We're wrapping up another week with our top posts. Hope you enjoy them and your weekend!

How Positive Writing Can Increase Life-Satisfaction

(Adventures in Positive Psychology) - Another way to gain a greater sense of control over your life is through writing. This top post provides a wealth of information to help you heal and gain a deeper sense of satisfaction, happiness and optimism in your life through positive writing.

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Do You Fall Into the Trap of Overthinking?

I was looking up something in Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky's excellent book, The How of Happiness, and I came across an interesting passage. (I'd marked it, so clearly I'd read it before, but I didn't remember it well.)
Many of us believe that when we feel down, we should try to focus inwardly and evaluate our feelings and our situation in order to attain self-insight and find solutions that might ultimately resolve our problems and relieve unhappiness. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, I, and others have compiled a great deal of evidence challenging this assumption. Numerous studies over the past two decades have shown that to the contrary, overthinking ushers in a host of adverse consequences: It sustains or worsens sadness, fosters negatively biased thinking, impairs a person’s ability to solve problems, saps motivation, and interferes with concentration and initiative. Moreover, although people have a strong sense that they are gaining insight into themselves and their problems during their ruminations, this is rarely the case. What they do gain is a distorted, pessimistic perspective on their lives.
One of the tensions within happiness -- at least for me -- is the tension between constructive attempts at greater self-knowledge and pointless rumination.

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Sexual Chemistry and Keeping Your Relationship Alive

Our partner,, recently completed a scientific survey of over 20,000 people with their partner sites, MSN's lifestyle website and, on sexual chemistry and what keeps a relationship alive and growing.

The effort was overseen by a leading biological anthropologist and relationship expert, Dr. Helen Fisher, who also analyzed the results.

Some of their findings might just surprise you, including the finding that 90 percent of men and women believe that dwindling attraction in a relationship can be rekindled.

Their findings are detailed below.

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When Mental Illness Stigma Turns Inward

It's said that people with mental illness face a double-edged sword.

Not only do they have to contend with serious, disruptive symptoms, they still have to deal with rampant stigma. Sadly, mental illness is still largely shrouded in stereotypes and misunderstanding.

Stigma also can lead to discrimination. Yes, even in this enlightened day and age, it doesn’t appear as though prejudice and discrimination against individuals with mental illness are decreasing. (This study shows in some cases, it might even be increasing.)

We see stigma everywhere. Every time violence is automatically connected to mental illness in an article or news report, we see it.*

We see it in movies and other forms of media. We see it at work where stereotypes might be perpetuated, where employees are afraid to “come out” with their diagnosis.

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What Little Awesome Things Make You Happy?

One of my friends from blogland is Neil Pasricha, who has the wonderful site 1000 Awesome Things, where he lists, yes, awesome things! It always makes me happy to visit there. For example, some awesome things include:

The Kids' Table

The smooth feeling on your teeth when you get your braces off

Pulling a weed and getting all the roots with it

That moment in the shower when you decide to make it a really long shower

Letting go of the gas pump perfectly so you end on a round number

Sneaking cheaper candy into the movie theater

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