General Psychology


Mad, sad, bad, glad, scared.  Each emotion contains its own lesson.  Each type of emotion (for example, mad versus sad) points to a particular kind of lesson about self for about our relationship of self to others.  Each type of emotion also points to particular kinds of action that can bring the social world back into balance.

For example, what makes you feel mad or feel hurt?  The lesson built into every instance of anger or hurt brings questions, such as: what do I believe I deserve?  What do I feel about how I should be treated by others?  In what way might I be part of the problem?

When feeling sad, these questions arise: what do I love or admire or desire — what important thing, person, relationship or opportunity have I lost?  What does my love or desire say about who I am?  What do I have that I cannot bear to lose?  What can I do to keep the loss from happening or getting worse?  If it’s too late, how can I mourn and or praise what I’ve lost?

When feeling bad — guilty or ashamed: what is expected of me?  What do I expect of myself?  What are the right ways for me to be and to act?  How do I make things right again with others?

When your are glad: what makes my world better, more complete?  What do I rejoice in?  What does this say about who I am?  How do I praise or celebrate?

When you are afraid: what is dangerous and therefore to be avoided, or approach cautiously?  How do I take care of myself?

From: Bill Plokin’s Nature and the Human Soul

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The new issue of *Canadian Psychology* includes an article: “Chronic
Insomnia: Recent Advances and Innovations in Treatment Developments and
Dissemination.”

The author is Charles M. Morin.

Here’s how the article begins:

[begin excerpt]

Sleep is a vital function, essential to psychological and physical well-
being.

Not surprisingly, sleep disturbances, particularly insomnia, are very
common amongst individuals with psychological or medical problems.

Insomnia is amongst the most prevalent health complaints and the most
common of all sleep disorders in the general population.

Epidemiological estimates indicate that 30% of the adult population
reports insomnia symptoms at least occasionally, while 10% presents an
insomnia disorder (Morin, LeBlanc, Daley, Gregoire, & Merette, 2006;
Ohayon, 2002).
(more…)

The University of California , San Diego, issued the following news release:

Acts of Kindness Spread Surprisingly Easily: Just a Few People Can Make
a Difference

For all those dismayed by scenes of looting in disaster-struck zones,
whether Haiti or Chile or elsewhere, take heart: Good acts — acts of
kindness, generosity and cooperation — spread just as easily as bad.
And it takes only a handful of individuals to really make a difference.

In a study published in the March 8 early online edition of the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the
University of California, San Diego and Harvard provide the first
laboratory evidence that cooperative behavior is contagious and that it
spreads from person to person to person.

When people benefit from kindness they “pay it forward” by helping
others who were not originally involved, and this creates a cascade of
cooperation that influences dozens more in a social network.
(more…)

The new issue of *Archives of Internal Medicine* (Vol. 170, No. 4,
February 22) includes an article: “The Effect of Exercise Training on
Anxiety Symptoms Among Patients: A Systematic Review.”

The authors are Matthew P. Herring, MS, MEd, Patrick J. O’Connor, PhD, & Rodney K. Dishman, PhD.

Here’s how the article starts:

[begin excerpt]

Anxiety, an unpleasant mood characterized by thoughts of worry, is an
adaptive response to perceived threats that can develop into a
maladaptive anxiety disorder if it becomes severe and chronic.1

Anxiety symptoms and disorders are common among individuals with a
chronic illness,2-8  yet health care providers often fail to recognize
or treat anxiety and may consider it to be an unimportant response to a
chronic illness.9

Anxiety symptoms can have a negative impact on treatment outcomes in
part because anxious patients can be less likely to adhere to prescribed
medical treatments.10-11

Personal costs of anxiety among patients include reduced health-related
quality of life12 and increased disability, role impairment,13 and
health care visits.14
(more…)

The National Down Syndrome Society released the following list of “Myths
& Truths About Down Syndrome”:

Myth: Down syndrome is a rare genetic disorder.

Truth: Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring genetic condition.
One in every 733 live births is a child with Down syndrome, representing
approximately 5,000 births per year in the United States alone. Today,
more than 400,000 people in the United States have Down syndrome.

Myth: People with Down syndrome have a short life span.
(more…)

The journal *Personal Relationships* issued the following news release:

The Importance of Attractiveness Depends on Where You Live

Do good-looking people really benefit from their looks, and in what ways?

A team of researchers from the University of Georgia and the University
of Kansas found that yes; attractive people do tend to have more social
relationships and therefore an increased sense of psychological well-being.

This seems like common sense, and might be why we spend billions of
dollars each year trying to become more attractive.

However, the study, published in this month’s issue of Personal
Relationships, also determines that the importance of attractiveness is
not universal; rather, it is determined by where we live.

The importance of attractiveness in everyday life is not fixed, or
simply a matter of human nature.

Instead, the impact of our attractiveness on our social lives depends on
the social environment where we live.

Attractiveness does matter in more socially mobile, urban areas (and
from a woman’s point of view actually indicates psychological well-
being), but it is far less relevant in rural areas. In urban areas
individuals experience a high level of social choice, and associating
with attractive people is one of those choices.

In other words, in urban areas, a free market of relationships makes
attractiveness more important for securing social connections and
consequently for feeling good. In rural areas, relationships are less
about choice and more about who is already living in the community.

Therefore, attractiveness is less likely to be associated with making
friends and feeling good.

Furthermore, urban women need not have below average looks in order to
experience a diminished sense of well-being and social life. Dr.
Victoria C. Plaut and her team studied women at mid-life in the U.S.
based on data related to their well-being, social connectedness, and
their body attractiveness (assessed with a calculation of their waist-to-
hip ratio).

Plaut points out, “In the field of psychology, research results are
generally seen as having a natural and universal applicability.

This research suggests that this is far from being the case.

Rather, the importance of attractiveness varies with certain
sociocultural environments, and, if you think about it, urban
environments are actually a relatively recent addition to human life.”

Caution and passtion live on opposite ends of block, and live very different lives. One can’t fault either of them, because they come by their lifestyles honestly, and there is a lot to be said for both. And since our human bodies and beings are wired for both caution and passion, we should be respectful. But which end of the block do we want to live on at this point in our finite lives?

Caution tells us: stay put. Things aren’t too bad now. It’s OK. But if you take a risk, who knows what will come out and bite you? Passion says: check things out, go exploring. Things could be even better.  Who knows what opportunities lie around the next corner? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Caution says: If you express yourself brightly, vocally, people might not like you. You might get rejected. You don’t know what you really think anyway; maybe you’ll say something stupid. How awful. Passion says: you have a voice, use it. You feel strongly about something, say so, act on it. Who cares in the end what other people think… what do you think?  If they don’t like it, let them deal with it. There is room for lots of voices in the world, including yours.

Caution says: If you let go of what you have, you might never get it back. You will be worse off than you are now. It says: we live in a world where there is not enough to go around. It is better to have half a meal than none. You can make this job work. You can make this relationship work. You can make this living situation work, you guess. You have to anyway. Things can get pretty chaotic, and at least you know where you are now, you have figured out how to live with it. Who says there is anything better around that corner?  Passion says: what do you really want? Is this your heart’s true desire?  If you listened to yourself, truly, what would you be doing, who would you be doing it with?  It wonders, is this how you want to be spending your precious minutes?  Passion says: life is opportunities, and if you fall and scrape your knee, well, that was to be expected; now pick yourself up and go play some more.

Caution tells us to look at what we actually need, and counsels conservation. Passion tells us that what we want and feel matter too, and it says hopefully that there is lots out there for us, if we go find it. And we can.

Which end of the block are you living on?  How did you get there?

Brian Grady, Ph.D. R. Psych.

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