Browsing Category Psychology

Information Overload: Overexposure to the News Can Hurt Your Mental Health

Welcome to the information age, where answers to your questions are a click away and borderline instantaneous. Technology has brought civilization to a plane of unprecedented knowledge, leaving scholars wondering about the multidimensional ways in which it continues to impact humanity. As people communicate with one another at the speed of light, one trend you yourself may observe is a sense of information overload.

If you’re reading this, then it’s a safe bet that you’re active on some form of social media, and if you’re on social media, it’s not a stretch to assume that your news feed is perpetually updated with breaking stories and comment threads featuring people at each others’ throats.

Never forget the old saying, “If it bleeds, it leads.” This mantra has offered direction for dominating news outlets in their quest for views and ratings across time, and it isn’t showing any signs of slowing. Skewing public perception towards the most tantalizing headlines, it may seem that trending topics are nothing more than a relentless string of bad news. You’re apt to see an overabundance of horrors plaguing the world before long. There’s no doubt that tragedies occur on-the-regular, but it is important not to forget that so does beneficence.

The good news is the human race has never been as interconnected as it is now. The bad news is the human race has never been as interconnected as it is now.

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What is therapy and is therapy for me? 

Happy woman talking in front of group during psychotherapy group therapy

Therapy is misunderstood. For the uninformed it brings about negative thoughts while others can acknowledge it’s ability to heal and transform. Despite the modernity of our society, many people still believe that “only crazy people go to therapy.” That statements could not be any more false or ancient. The best way to look at it, is as a tool. It  can help people live happy and fulfilling lives but not without the work and effort invested. Therapy does not come in just one mold. There is a spectrum of therapies that can suit a variety of people.

One of the most common types of therapy is counseling.

This is usually for people who are healthy on a day-to-day basis but need help with a crisis, anger, bereavement, or just need help getting through something. Sessions are usually 45 minutes to an hour long.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a great therapy if you want to think more positively and change maladaptive thoughts and behaviors. CBT can be used for all the same things as counseling but it has also been shown to be very helpful in helping anxiety, depression, phobias and more. In psychotherapy, therapists like to look at past influences and relate them to current situations. They do this in order to help you figure out what is causing the problem and how the choices you make influence the present. This type of therapy tends to be helpful for those who have long-term and recurring problems. There’s some evidence that psychotherapy can help depression and some eating disorders.

Relationship counseling or couples therapy can help couples who are going through a difficult time. It is best if both partners attend for best results. Sessions are also about an hour long.

Group therapy is a setting that can be good for someone who thinks they would benefit from additional support of others who can empathize with their problems. In group therapy, up to 12 people with a common problem meet with a therapist and everyone takes a turn in expressing their thoughts.

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How the hustle and bustle of big city living compromises your happiness

city living in Romania

Can cities compromise our happiness?

As someone who was born and raised in a relatively small, quiet town, I was overwhelmed by the noisy, populated vastness of Chicago when I began college. I would jump every time I heard a car honking outside my dorm, and shivers would run down my spine at each wailing ambulance. I would look both ways ten times before crossing a street, and always felt anxious to take public transportation. While I was enthralled to be in a beautiful city, it took time for me to adjust to the hustle and bustle of city living. Three years later, I can say I am well adjusted, but at what cost?

Studies have shown that city living can negatively affect a person psychologically; resulting in increased levels of stress, lower immune systems, and higher rates of mood disorders.

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Oxytocin: What makes pets so awesome, hugs so good and love so magical

Oxytocin, a neuropeptide produced in the brain’s hypothalamus, has gained popularity as the “love hormone.”

But NY Times sheds light upon “The Dark Side of Oxytocin” and Gizmodo calls it “The Most Amazing Molecule in the World”—so it’s apparent that there are many shades of oxytocin. This chemical evidently helps newborns bond with their mothers and is released when snuggling with our partners or pets, but have you heard that it’s responsible for much more of our behavior than once thought? It is natural for emotions to accompany our behaviors, and scientists have found that these emotions activate the release of peptides like oxytocin into our bodies. Thus, our behaviors and emotions are inextricably connected. As Dr. Candice Pert explains, “the chemicals that are running our body and our brain are the same chemicals that are involved in emotion,” so it follows that our actions (a.k.a. “behaviors”) are reinforced by oxytocin, and vice versa. Which means oxytocin is responsible for reinforcing negative behaviors as well positive, like cuddling. So is oxytocin good or bad?

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Validation is an important social lubricant

When you think of validation, you might think that it involves simply agreeing with the other person no matter what but..

That would be a misunderstanding of what validation is, when in reality, to validate someone is to acknowledge them (their thoughts, emotions, and behavior) as legitimate and worthy of attention, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. Validation is important because, in any relationship, it’s important to treat the other person as an equal. To treat others as equal involves understanding and valuing them as much as you do yourself. Consequently, invalidation involves not treating a person with the legitimacy and attention they deserve, and to ignore them or otherwise belittle their experience to the point where they feel alienated. Keep in mind that this also applies to one’s own self, as one can self-validate or self-invalidate. One should be aware of the different aspects involved in validation and invalidation, as they aren’t always self-explanatory.

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If you have an average IQ you might be smarter than you think

The concept of emotional intelligence (EI) refers to a person’s ability to not only acknowledge and effectively (or affectively, to be even more appropriate) manage their emotional disposition but to also recognize the emotions being exhibited by others.

It is a mode of intelligence which is often overlooked since academics is primarily focused on fostering more intellectual forms of cognitive prowess. Moods, feelings, and emotions are often regarded as the “soft” side of differences amongst people, but with such a label, it is too common to underestimate their value. Possessing the ability to tune into these cues not only within you but also in others, can offer many advantages in regulating your own behavior and managing interactions with others.

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The Personality Disorders, Part 2

There are many kinds of personalities, a concept that is closely studied in the field of psychology.

One particular subject is very well-known, even among non-psychologists, namely, the personality disorders. Personality disorders are mental problems that cause the afflicted to act in ways that go beyond the societal norm. There are ten agreed-upon personality disorders, split into three clusters based on the similarities of the disorders within each cluster. This segment will deal with the anxious type of personality disorders: avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

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The Personality Disorders, Part 1

In the field of psychology, the study of people’s abnormal behaviors takes up a lot of analysis.

Here then are a few of the personality disorders that are probably the most well-known, but by no means encompass all of the known disorders so far. While the definition of these disorders may be greatly simplified, I try to define the disorder by focusing on the core symptoms as well as the likelihood of how a person with said disorder might react.

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Doctors turn to acting classes to better express empathy

Doctors find themselves in a revered and vital (pun intended) societal position.

They bear a weight that encumbers the possibility of both life and death and it was no easy feat to attain this responsibility. Getting to where they are as medical professionals involves almost a decade (and sometimes longer) of rigorous academics and practical experience but now their curriculum may be expanding to include acting and improv classes to better suit them for interactions with their patients. The nature of the work can be both exhausting and numbing as studies have shown that some doctors exhibit a tendency to become desensitized to the plight of their patients, often being short and blunt with the ones who need a sense of sympathy and comfort the most.

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Why rape victims have fragmented and incomplete memories

“I had no power, I had no voice, I was defenseless. My memory loss would be used against me. My testimony was weak, was incomplete, and I was made to believe that perhaps, I am not enough to win this. That’s so damaging. His attorney constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn’t remember. That helplessness was traumatizing.”

The above statement is from a rape victim in the 2016 People v. Brock Allen Turner case. This young woman attended a party at Stanford University and the next thing she knew, she was waking up on a gurney with scratches on her body and pine needles stuck to her. She was informed that she may have been assaulted behind a dumpster. The victim could not remember any details of the assault.

While the gaps in her memory may have been a product of heavy drinking, it is also a possibility that the severe stress on the brain from the assault may have resulted in memory loss or fragmented memories.

This memory loss in rape victims has been shown to pervade throughout one’s life after an assault; an effect that interestingly stems not only from a psychological cause, but a physical one too. We often associate traumatic experiences with only psychological effects, but the brain is also physically altered during these intense stress episodes. While fear is an embedded component to survival, it has major setbacks to a person’s ability to recall.

Severe trauma or stress on the body can alter the normal functioning on the parts of the brain that is responsible for emotion and memory. In a study done by J. Douglas Bremner, MD, it was found that the hippocampus in the brain is most vulnerable to stress. The hippocampus is an important part of the brain responsible for memory and learning new information. It is also important for recalling specific memories that took place during a certain time, place and location. One of Dr. Bremner’s studies measured the loss of neurons (brain cells) in the hippocampus of childhood victims of sexual or physical abuse.

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