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General

The Sports Illustrated Jinx Exposed

Does being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated cause future decrements in performance?

Many coaches, athletes, sports fans and sports commentators seem to think so.  It's common to hear talk of a so-called "Sports Illustrated Jinx," that is, the notion that being featured on the cover leads to bad-luck that negatively affects future performance.

Examples of the Sports Illustrated Jinx (Wikipedia excerpts):

“May 26, 1958: Race car driver Pat O’Connor appears on the cover of the magazine. He dies four days later on the first lap of the Indianapolis 500.

August 7, 1978: Pete Rose appears on the cover the same week that his 44-game hitting streak ended.

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General

Design Psychology: Beyond Pretty Properties and Nice Knickknacks

Design psychology goes beyond aesthetics, and beyond art and decor books to find something more -- it seeks to uncover your very emotions and thoughts about settings. Design psychology seeks to connect you to the types of places, spaces and items that evoke the most pleasant memories.

Design psychology is about discovering your personal style and finding a place that truly fulfills you and feels like home.

Here’s an excerpt from a Los Angeles Times article on how design psychology works...

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Brain and Behavior

The Illusion of Confidence

We often overestimate our abilities, and overestimate the abilities of others who exude confidence.  Are we correct in thinking the athlete who radiates confidence must be competent in her/his sport?  The salesman who speaks with extensive knowledge and confidence must know what they are talking about, right?

These scenarios are often manifestations of the illusion of confidence.

Confidence is often considered a "true" signal of the extent of one’s memory, knowledge, skill, and ability.  However, confidence is often misleading and not congruent with ability.  This type of unwarranted confidence leads to "epistemic irrationality," or more commonly known as simply delusion and self-deception.

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Disorders

Families Affected by Mental Illness Feel Little Support From Churches

A new study conducted at Baylor University indicated that families with a mentally ill member would like their congregation to offer more assistance. The study, published in the journal "Mental Health, Religion and Culture," was the first to look at how mental illness of a family member influences an individual's relationship with the church.

"Families with mental illness stand to benefit from their involvement with a congregation, but our findings suggest that faith communities fail to adequately engage these families because they lack awareness of the issues and understanding of the important ways that they can help,” said Diana Garland, Ph.D., dean of Baylor’s School of Social Work and co-author of the Baylor study.

The study surveyed nearly 6,000 participants in 24 churches representing four Protestant denominations about their family's stresses, strengths, faith practices and desires for congregational assistance. Families with mental illness ranked help from the church as a second priority; however, families without mental illness ranked it 42nd on their list of requests from churches.

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Depression

An Epidemic of Bad Infographics: Depression

In an effort to keep trying to get people's attention in an increasingly attention-deficit world, we get a lot of inquiries for links to websites promoting education programs and other affiliate websites. The latest effort is focused around "infographics," those graphics made popular by the USA Today newspaper that combines an interesting graphical element with hard data. A well done infographic ostensibly makes data more engaging. A fantastic infographic puts data into proper perspective and gives it valuable context.

What these marketing firms send me, however, are not fantastic or even well-done. So in the interests of demonstrating that any infographic can be worse than no infographic, I'm going to critique one of the latest ones to have come across my desk. It's about depression, one of the most common and serious mental disorders.

This is going to be fun.

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General

10 Myths about Happiness

I'm leaving my desk for a few days, so in my absence, thought I'd re-post one of my favorite round-up pieces, about ten widespread myths about happiness.

A while back, each day for two weeks, I posted about Ten Happiness Myths. Here they are, for your reading convenience. (Click on each myth to read a longer explanation of it.)

1. Happy people are annoying and stupid.

Wrong. Actually, studies show that people find happy people much more likable than their less-happy peers. Happy people are viewed as friendlier, smarter, warmer, less selfish, more self-confident, and more socially skilled -- even more physically attractive.

2. Nothing changes a person’s happiness level much.

It’s true that there’s a powerful genetic link to happiness -- usually it’s estimated to be about forty to fifty percent. Some people are born more Tigger-ish, and others are born more Eeyore-ish. And it’s also true that people are amazingly adaptive, both to good and bad fortune. Human resilience is extraordinary.

However, adaptation has its limits.

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Borderline Personality

Marsha Linehan: What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)?

Last week the New York Times ran a fascinating piece on Marsha Linehan, Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington and the original developer of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), a modification of standard cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but including elements of acceptance and mindfulness. Her work has been designed specifically for people who harm themselves, for those diagnosed with borderline personality (BPT), and those who suffer from pervasive suicidal thoughts and/or attempts.

For the first time in her life, the mental health expert disclosed her own story (that we also discussed on the blog yesterday), which involved hospitalization at the age of 17 that lasted longer than two years.

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Best of Our Blogs: June 28, 2011

Sometimes when I'm in need of a little inspiration, I head out for a short walk. Today, as I meandered through the tree lined path of my apartment complex, I found it.

I kept ending up in the direction of a beautiful fountain. The sound of the water as it sprung up in the air like fireworks and then gently falling as it lapped softly against the rocks was soothing. I thought about what the water represented, that regardless of whether it was thrust up in the air or moved gracefully to the bottom, it was the same unchanged substance. I realized that no matter what you did to it, the water was still water flowing in a fountain.

The same could be said about you. You may have emotions that carry you from the highest mountain peaks to the valley lows, but you are at the core that unchangeable you. If you can find the peace and stability in what makes you you, then you can watch the burst of energy that fuels drama on one hand and boredom on the other as simply water taking its course. By detaching from the moment, you might even be able to experience that soothing middle ground, where nothing can touch you.

Try thinking about that this week. Try being the water. Regardless of what's going on outside of you, come back to that serene center like water taking its natural course. Try it and see if it soothes, calms and centers you.

Normal and Abnormal: Not So Black & White

(Anxiety and OCD Exposed) - Catch yourself comparing your kids to other kids? Find yourself obsessing over their normalcy or your own? This post will put less pressure on you to be perfect as a parent and take away that pressure to have normal, problem-free kids.

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Bipolar

Dare To Be Happy

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
~ Frederick Douglass

Let’s get this out in the open: I am bipolar II. That means the mania is really low-key and infrequent and the depression, at least in my case, for most of my life, has been pretty much nonstop.

There are degrees of depression, of course. Mine gets severe relatively quickly and stays that way a relatively long time. Yes, I have been an inpatient at psychiatric hospitals. Yes, I have self-harmed. Yes, I have been on every psychotropic medication known to man, and failed most of them. The two that I’m on right now combine for one really annoying side effect.

I have even, since about New Year’s, been undergoing a course of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). My memory is shot, along with many other things, but the suggestion to do it came up in month 6 of an unrelenting depressive episode. Nothing else was working.

Despite all this, I’ve managed to push through as best I can. I’ve found work, and a work schedule, that works for me, as well as a compassionate employer.

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Borderline Personality

Marsha Linehan Acknowledges Her Own Struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder

Dr. Marsha Linehan, long best known for her ground-breaking work with a new form of psychotherapy called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), has let out her own personal secret -- she has suffered from borderline personality disorder. In order to help reduce the prejudice surrounding this particular disorder -- people labeled as borderline often are seen as attention-getting and always in crisis -- Dr. Linehan told her story in public for the first time last week before an audience of friends, family and doctors at the Institute of Living, the Hartford clinic where she was first treated for extreme social withdrawal at age 17, according to The New York Times.

At 17 in 1961, Linehan detailed how when she came to the clinic, she attacked herself habitually, cut her arms legs and stomach, and burner her wrists with cigarettes. She was kept in a seclusion room in the clinic because of never-ending urge to cut herself and to die.

Since borderline personality disorder was not discovered yet, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and medicated heavily with Thorazine and Librium, as well as strapped down for forced electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Nothing worked.

So how did she overcome this tragic beginning?

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Books

Don’t Have Enough Time? 7 Practical Steps to Try

Some mornings Theresa Daytner spends hours hiking. She also goes on trail rides, used to weight-lift twice a week with a trainer, reads nightly, watches her favorite TV show, enjoys massages, gets her hair done and planned a huge surprise birthday party for her husband, with people arriving from all over the country. And she sleeps at least seven hours a night.

Oh, and as journalist Laura Vanderkam writes in her book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, Daytner is busier than most. She’s the owner of a seven-figure revenue company and the mother of six children, including twins! She also coaches soccer and regularly attends her kids’ games, is helping her 21-year-old plan a wedding and is expanding her business.

I barely have time to clean my room, do one load of laundry, cook a meal, wash the dishes and complete my to-do list. And I work from home and don’t have a spouse or children.

So what’s Daytner’s secret?

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Celebrities

Why Celebrities Like Katy Perry Don’t Want People to Make Eye Contact

A few weekends ago, I was intrigued to see this story in the New York Post: "The ultimate star perk is forbidding eye contact." According to the Smoking Gun, singer Katy Perry’s contract covering her driver provides that the driver isn’t supposed to “stair” (sic) at her in the rear-view mirror.

The piece notes that there have been many similar rumors over the years — that people were prohibited from making eye contact with Luke Perry, Tori Spelling, Sylvester Stallone, and others.

When I read this story, I had a huge rush of intellectual pleasure. Because I think I've figured this out! Darshan.

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