Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Does destiny shape your decisions? Your answer could affect your marriage satisfaction

<p>Married couples make a number of important decisions together, such as where to live, what type of house to buy, how many children to have and how to educate them. And the extent to which a person believes in powerful forces – like fate, luck or destiny – is among the personality characteristics that influence the way these decisions are made.</p> <p> </p> <p>This is known as “<a href="https://izajole.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40172-014-0017-x">locus of control</a>”, a psychological term referring to how much a person thinks they have control over the outcomes of their lives, rather than feeling like their lives are influenced by external forces.</p> <p>For example, having an “internal orientation” means you’d expect you could solve problems on your own. On the other hand, an external orientation means you think luck, fate, destiny, a higher power, or other outside influences will be more important to help resolve issues.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167487018305865">new published research</a>, which crunched survey data from thousands of Australian heterosexual couples, showed those who felt a strong sense of control over their lives (internal locus of control) were far more satisfied in their marriage than those who put a greater emphasis on outside forces (external locus of control).</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/s7A5xLk3hIs?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class="caption">Are you my density? I mean, destiny?</span></p> <h2>Marriage satisfaction</h2> <p>We tested the impact of “locus of control” on marriage satisfaction with a nationally representative group of married couples. Data was taken from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) project, collected from more than 7600 households between 2001 and 2017.</p> <p>And we analysed questions such as whether your own locus of control, or that of your spouse, has a greater impact on how happy you are in your marriage.</p> <p> </p> <p>There were four key findings.</p> <p>First, we found having an internal locus of control and a partner who is also internally oriented is associated with higher marriage satisfaction. In other words, if neither you nor your partner believe in powerful external forces like fate, you’re more likely to be in a happy marriage.</p> <p>We also found that for both men and women, your own locus of control is more important for how happy you are in a marriage, rather than your partner’s locus of control.</p> <p>And spouses sharing a similar level of locus of control is beneficial to a marriage because they’d typically have similar views about how problems can be solved. But having a similar locus of control is still less important for your own marriage satisfaction than you having an internal locus of control.</p> <p>Finally, we found heterosexual couples with a more externally oriented husband experience a greater decline in marriage satisfaction over time, compared with couples where the husband is more internally oriented. We did not find a corresponding effect for wives.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rore790l_sk?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Locus of control is important because it affects couple interactions. It could lead to disagreements and misaligned perceptions regarding how household decisions are made.</p> <p>For example, one variable we looked at was financial decisions. And we found externally oriented husbands married to more internal wives were more likely to report financial decisions were usually made by the wife, and less likely to report financial decisions were shared equally. However, internal wives perceive matters differently and view they aren’t solely making these decisions.</p> <p>Our findings are particularly pertinent for couples considering marriage, because locus of control doesn’t generally change much over time, unless you make an active effort to do so – for example, through couples therapy.</p> <h2>Quiz: what’s your locus of control?</h2> <p>So before deciding to get married, couples could take this test determining your individual locus of control. This will offer a better idea of what to expect, based on the orientation of their partner and their own locus of control.</p> <p> </p> <p>You can answer a few questions to determine your own locus of control. How much do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?</p> <p>It is important to note locus of control is a continuum. Most people lie somewhere between the two extremes.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="tc-infographic-439" class="tc-infographic" height="400px" src="https://cdn.theconversation.com/infographics/439/ca7957e76fe742292e58ae268f4f75639cad97d6/site/index.html" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>Broadly speaking, a score of 13 or lower implies you have an internal orientation, while a score of 21 or higher implies you have an external orientation. A score in-between 14 to 20 implies you have a midlevel orientation.</p> <p>Now get your partner to do the test and have a chat!</p> <p><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/123345/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><em>Written by <span>Wang-Sheng Lee, Associate professor, Deakin University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/quiz-does-destiny-shape-your-decisions-your-answer-could-affect-your-marriage-satisfaction-123345" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Is there such thing as an addictive personality?

<p>Most of us know somebody who tends to get over involved in certain behaviours, and the saying often goes that they must have an “addictive personality”. But is there such a thing?</p> <p>The idea of an addictive personality is more pop-psychology than scientific.</p> <p><strong>What is personality?</strong></p> <p>To understand why the idea of an addictive personality is flawed, it’s important to first understand what psychologists mean when referring to personality.</p> <p>Personality is comprised of broad, measurable, stable, individual traits <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/out-the-ooze/201810/when-do-personality-traits-predict-behavior">that <em>predict</em> behaviour</a>. So by definition, engaging in excessive behaviours cannot be considered a personality trait.</p> <p>Though, there are personality traits that are associated with addiction.</p> <p>Neuroticism is one of the “<a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/basics/big-5-personality-traits">big five</a>” personality dimensions. These are the five core traits that drive behaviour. They include openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion/introversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.</p> <p>People who score high in neuroticism tend to be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4382368/">easily emotionally aroused</a>. They are also more likely to engage in a number of excessive behaviours, including: <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886915300088">over-eating</a>, excessive <a href="https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/cde8/a563a7ccc2f59903cf2d2b27d5a73b8e9318.pdf?_ga=2.23848760.322700603.1564100387-1584552963.1564100387">online gaming</a>, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11469-018-9959-8">social media</a> over-use and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2373294/">substance dependence</a>.</p> <p>People who are highly neurotic might engage in excessive behaviours to help manage their emotions. Neuroticism has also been <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00127-004-0873-y">associated with a range of mental health conditions</a>, which could lead one to wonder whether addiction is caused by mental illness.</p> <p>There is evidence of this for some people. In these cases people’s addictive behaviour <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1820867">reduces negative emotions</a> caused by the mental illness. Though it could also be that certain personality factors such as neuroticism predispose a person to both mental illness and addiction separately.</p> <p><strong>Nature versus nurture</strong></p> <p>There is some evidence that both personality and addictive behaviours have a genetic component.</p> <p>Five key genes have been found to appear to predispose people to experience <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549168/">substance dependence</a> and other <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5745142/">addictive behaviours</a>.</p> <p>One of these genes has also been <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304394009014554">associated with extroversion</a>, another of the big five personality dimensions. <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/basics/extroversion">Extroversion refers to</a> the degree to which people “search for novel experiences and social connections that allow them to interact with other humans as much as possible”.</p> <p>These five genes reduce the functioning of the dopamine, or reward, system of the brain. The brains of people with variants of the genes associated with extroversion and addictive behaviours use dopamine less efficiently. It has been <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02791072.2012.685407">proposed</a> that this leads them to seek out pleasure.</p> <p>Dopamine is often <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/27/17169446/dopamine-pleasure-chemical-neuroscience-reward-motivation">misrepresented as the pleasure neurotransmitter</a>. A more accurate description of dopamine is that it is the motivation neurotransmitter. It motivates people to engage in certain behaviours - particularly those behaviours needed for survival such as eating and sex.</p> <p>It makes sense then that variants of these genes have been found to be associated with “<a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11481-015-9636-7">sensation seeking</a>”, another dimension of personality. <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11481-015-9636-7">Sensation seeking is</a> a “trait defined by the seeking of novel sensations, and the willingness to take physical, social, legal and financial risks for the sake of such experiences”. People with addictive behaviours also score high on this personality dimension.</p> <p>Though to say these are genes for an addictive personality is a bit like saying the genes for height are the basketball genes. While some people who are tall are good at basketball, not all tall people have the opportunity or desire to learn the game.</p> <p>Similarly, not everybody with variants of the dopamine genes associated with excessive behaviours develops problems with substance dependence or other addictive behaviours. Environment is also important.</p> <p>It’s likely that some people whose dopamine system is less efficient due to genetic variations get their dopamine fix through other activities such as car racing, snowboarding, surfing, sky diving and so on. And some people who develop a dependence on alcohol and other drugs do not have this genetic predisposition. They might develop problems due to a range of environmental influences such as <a href="https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/ajp.2006.163.4.652">trauma</a> or <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1446176/pdf/10705852.pdf">social modelling of drug use</a>.</p> <p>So while there are common factors associated with personality that predict addiction, there is no personality type that will cause someone to partake in excessive behaviours. Addiction has multiple causes and just chalking it up to someone’s personality probably isn’t very helpful in dealing with it.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/120988/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Stephen Bright, Senior Lecturer of Addiction, Edith Cowan University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/is-there-such-thing-as-an-addictive-personality-120988" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Why is it so stressful to talk politics with the other side?

<p>People disagree all the time, but not all disagreements lead to the same levels of stress.</p> <p>Even though people can be passionate about their favorite sport teams, they can argue about which basketball team is the best without destroying friendships. In the workplace, co-workers can often dispute strategies and approaches without risking a long-term fallout.</p> <p>Political conversations, on the other hand, seem to have become especially challenging in recent years. Stories of <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-bridge-the-political-divide-at-the-holiday-dinner-table-69113">tense dinners</a> and of <a href="https://blogsitestudio.com/unfriending-trump-voting-facebook-friends/">Facebook friends being unfriended</a> have become commonplace.</p> <p><strong>Why does this happen?</strong></p> <p>Our research – and related research in political psychology – suggest two broad answers.</p> <p>First, our work shows that divisive topics – issues that are polarizing, or on which there’s no general societywide consensus – can evoke feelings of anxiety and threat. That is, simply considering these topics appears to put people on guard.</p> <p>Second, <a href="http://lskitka.people.uic.edu/styled-3/index.html">research on moral conviction</a> by psychologist Linda Skitka and her colleagues suggests that attitudes linked to moral values can contribute to social distancing. In other words, if someone considers their position on an issue to be a question of right versus wrong or good versus evil, they’re less likely to want to interact with a person who disagrees on that issue.</p> <p><strong>An automatic trigger of anxiety</strong></p> <p>In our research, we define divisive issues as ones that don’t have a clear consensus.</p> <p>For example, just about everyone supports food safety; but if you bring up issues like abortion or capital punishment, you’ll see people fall into opposing camps.</p> <p>People also like to have a general idea of where someone falls on an issue before they start debating it. If you’re talking with a stranger, you don’t know how to anticipate their position on a divisive topic. This creates an uncertainty that can be uncomfortable.</p> <p>With this framework in mind, behavioral scientist Joseph Simons and I designed <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0093650216644025">a series of studies</a> to explore how this plays out.</p> <p>In our first study, we simply asked individuals to look at a list of 60 social issues (ranging from safe tap water to slavery) and estimated what percentage of people are in favor of that issue. Participants also rated how much they would feel anxious, threatened, interested or relaxed when discussing that issue.</p> <p>As expected, people thought they would feel more anxious and threatened when discussing a topic that was generally considered more divisive. (Under some circumstances – such as when people didn’t hold a strong attitude on the issue themselves – they did feel somewhat more interested in discussing these topics.)</p> <p>In a second study, we investigated the experience of threat at an unconscious level. That is, do divisive topics automatically trigger anxiety?</p> <p>We conducted an experiment that was based on <a href="https://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/07/07/misattribution-of-arousal/">the psychological finding</a> that people don’t always recognize the source of their emotional responses. Feelings that are evoked by one event or object can “carry over” to an unrelated judgment. In this study, we presented participants with a popular topic (for example, supporting veterans), an unpopular topic (high unemployment) or a divisive topic (stem cell research). They then saw a neutral computer-generated picture of a face and had to quickly rate how threatening the face appeared.</p> <p>Participants were more likely to see a neutral face as threatening if they were thinking about a divisive topic. (Unpopular topics showed a similar effect.)</p> <p>A third study replicated these effects using fictitious polling data about direct-to-consumer drug advertising. We told some participants that there was a high public consensus about support for this sort of advertising, and we told others that there was wide disagreement. Specifically, we told them that either 20 percent, 50 percent or 80 percent of the public was in favor of these ads.</p> <p>Participants then imagined discussing the issue and reported how they would feel. As in previous studies, those who were told there was more disagreement tended to feel more threatened or anxious about the prospect of discussing the issue.</p> <p>‘Right and wrong’ adds a layer of complication</p> <p>An additional social obstacle goes beyond mere disagreement. Consider two individuals who oppose the death penalty.</p> <p>One person may think that the death penalty is morally wrong, whereas the other person may believe that the death penalty is ineffective at deterring crime. Although both individuals may strongly support their position, the first person holds this attitude with moral conviction.</p> <p><a href="http://lskitka.people.uic.edu/MCs.pdf">Research by Skitka and her colleagues</a> highlights the social consequences of these “moral mandates.” When it’s a matter of right or wrong, people become less tolerant of others who hold the opposite view. Specifically, individuals with stronger moral convictions tended to not want to associate with those who disagreed with them on certain issues. This social distancing was reflected both in survey responses – “would be happy to be friends with this person” – and even physical distance, like placing a chair farther away from a person with an opposing view.</p> <p>Of course, no one is ever going to agree on every issue. But it’s important for people to learn about where others are coming from in order to reach a compromise.</p> <p>Unfortunately, compromise or consensus is more difficult to come by if people start out the conversation feeling threatened. And if individuals feel that someone who holds an opposite view is simply a bad person, the conversation may never happen at all.</p> <p>In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re talking to a stranger or friends; the <a href="http://lskitka.people.uic.edu//FrimerSkitkaMotyl2017.pdf">possibility of exclusion or avoidance</a> increases when a divisive topic is raised.</p> <p>There’s no easy solution. Sometimes raising these topics may reveal irreconcilable differences. But other times, a willingness to approach <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/the-white-flight-of-derek-black/2016/10/15/ed5f906a-8f3b-11e6-a6a3-d50061aa9fae_story.html">difficult topics calmly</a> – while truly listening to the other side – may help people find common ground or promote change.</p> <p>It might also be helpful to take a step back. A disagreement on a single issue – even a morally charged one – isn’t necessarily grounds for discontinuing a friendship. On the other hand, focusing on other shared bonds and morals can salvage or strengthen the relationship.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/92391/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Melanie Green, Associate Professor of Communication, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/why-is-it-so-stressful-to-talk-politics-with-the-other-side-92391" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Why are some people affected by sleep paralysis?

<p><strong>Why are some people affected by sleep paralysis? – Tess, age 13.</strong></p> <p>Falling asleep is a bit like flicking off a light switch. One moment we are awake, but then the switch is flicked and we fall asleep.</p> <p>That’s how it’s supposed to work, anyway. But sometimes, the switch gets a bit “sticky” and the light flickers between being awake and asleep. This is what happens with sleep paralysis – when you wake up but feel like you can’t move.</p> <p>To answer your question, you’re more likely to experience sleep paralysis if:</p> <ul> <li>someone <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jsr.12282">in your family</a> has it;</li> <li>you don’t get <a href="https://www.dovepress.com/relationships-between-sleep-paralysis-and-sleep-quality-current-insigh-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-NSS">enough sleep</a> or you have changed your regular sleep pattern</li> <li>you are a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4958367/">shift worker</a>;</li> <li>it seems to be more common when you <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4958367/">sleep on your back</a> (but we don’t know why);</li> <li>you are <a href="https://www.dovepress.com/relationships-between-sleep-paralysis-and-sleep-quality-current-insigh-peer-reviewed-article-NSS">stressed</a> or taking <a href="https://n.neurology.org/content/52/6/1194.long">certain medicines</a>;</li> <li>you have a sleep disorder such as <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41582-019-0226-9">narcolepsy</a> (which is where you <a href="https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/Narcolepsy.pdf">fall asleep suddenly and uncontrollably</a> when it’s not really sleep time, like in class).</li> </ul> <p>Many people experience sleep paralysis at some stage, and it’s usually first noticed in teenagers. It can affect men or women.</p> <p>Overall, though, there’s still a lot scientists don’t know about sleep paralysis and why some people are more prone to it than others.</p> <p>Here’s a bit about what we do know.</p> <p><strong>Our brain is half asleep</strong></p> <p>In the olden days, some people called sleep paralysis the “<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_hag">Night Hag</a>” and said it felt like a spooky witch or demon was sitting on your chest. Now we know it is quite a common sleep problem or what doctors call a <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-and-parasomnias">parasomnia</a>, caused by a little brain hiccup. And thankfully, it usually doesn’t last very long.</p> <p>With sleep paralysis, some parts of your brain are awake and still active but other parts are fast asleep.</p> <p>The sleeping part is the section of the brain that <a href="https://www.jneurosci.org/content/32/29/9785.long">tells the muscles to relax while we sleep</a> so we don’t act out our dreams. Evolution probably gave us that trick because acting out dreams can be harmful to yourself or others (although this trick doesn’t always work and some people do <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rem-sleep-behavior-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20352920">act out their dreams</a>).</p> <p>Sleep paralysis can feel pretty strange and scary, at least until you realise what is happening.</p> <p><strong>Sleep paralysis often doesn’t need treatment</strong></p> <p>If you are unable to move or speak for a few seconds or minutes when falling asleep or waking up, then it is likely that you have what doctors call “<a href="http://sleepeducation.org/sleep-disorders-by-category/parasomnias/sleep-paralysis/overview-facts">isolated recurrent sleep paralysis</a>”.</p> <p>If you sometimes experience sleep paralysis, here are some things you can try at home:</p> <ul> <li>make sure you <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/excessive-sleepiness/support/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need">get enough sleep</a></li> <li>try to reduce stress in your life, especially just before bedtime</li> <li>try a different sleeping position (especially if you sleep on your back)</li> </ul> <p>See your doctor if sleep paralysis continually prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep.</p> <p>Your doctor may ask about how you’re feeling, your health history and if your family has had sleep problems. They may tell you to go to a specialist sleep doctor who can investigate further.</p> <p><em>Written by <span>Danny Eckert, Director, Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health, Professor, College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University, Flinders University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/curious-kids-why-are-some-people-affected-by-sleep-paralysis-121125" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Where do phobias come from?

<hr /> <blockquote> <p><strong>Where do phobias come from? – Olivia, age 12, Strathfield, Sydney.</strong></p> </blockquote> <hr /> <p>Phobias are an intense fear of very specific things like objects, places, situations or animals. The most common phobias for children and teens are phobias of specific animals such as dogs, cats or insects.</p> <p>When someone suffers from a phobia, they tend to avoid these places or things at all costs. That can be very hard to do and often leads to a lot of other problems.</p> <p>There are many different factors that might make it more likely for someone to develop a phobia.</p> <p>However, research tells us that to some degree specific phobias are <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15374416.2015.1020543">learned</a>. In addition, factors such as life experiences, your personality, and even how the people around you cope all contribute to developing a phobia or not.</p> <p><strong>How people may develop phobias</strong></p> <p>Specific phobias are very common, especially among children and adolescents. Research tells us that approximately 10% of children will experience a <a href="https://www.childpsych.theclinics.com/article/S1056-4993(05)00054-4/abstract">specific phobia</a>, making this type of anxiety one of the most common anxiety disorders affecting young people.</p> <p>Here are three main learning scenarios that may influence whether or not you develop a phobia.</p> <ol> <li> <p>Seeing other people (such as parents or friends) get really scared in a specific situation, or around a particular object or animal. This is called “modelling”. When you see someone else “model” a fear reaction to certain things, you may learn to be afraid of the same thing.</p> </li> <li> <p>Hearing or reading scary stories about a situation, object or animal. For example, a parent who always tells you, “dogs are dangerous”, “never approach a dog”, “beware of dogs”, teaches you that ALL dogs are dangerous, ALL of the time, which may contribute to you developing a fear or phobia of dogs.</p> </li> <li> <p>Having a frightening experience with a particular object, animal or situation. We call this “direct conditioning”. For example, you may have been growled at or even bitten by a dog; or be swept up in a rip in the ocean; or have had a tree fall on your house in a bad storm. These experiences are often very scary, and some children may then feel afraid whenever they are in that situation again.</p> </li> </ol> <p>It is important to remember, however, that not all children who see, hear or experience bad things develop a specific phobia. There are other things that might contribute. Research suggests phobias often run in families, so there may be a <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/fighting-fear/201209/are-some-phobias-inborn">genetic</a> link. Personality (or what doctors call “temperament”) may even play a <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1999-05267-005">role</a>.</p> <p><strong>The good news</strong></p> <p>The good news is that there are many other factors that might help to protect children or adolescents from developing a phobia, even if you have had a very bad experience. For example, support from family and friends can help and comfort you when something scary <a href="https://capmh.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13034-017-0149-4">happens</a>.</p> <p>Some <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2000-05007-002">research</a> suggests that being optimistic can protect you from fear. Being someone who thinks about the world and themselves in a really positive way – seeing the glass half full instead of half empty – may reduce the impact of or development of anxiety and fears.</p> <p>And finally, the most powerful way to stop a fear turning into a phobia is to <a href="https://www.elsevier.com/books/pediatric-anxiety-disorders/compton/978-0-12-813004-9">face your fears</a> – even when you feel nervous or scared. For example, you might feel really scared about giving a speech. But if you practise and do some public speaking, you might realise it’s not as bad as you imagined!</p> <p>You may learn you are braver and stronger than you know.<a href="http://theconversation.com/curious-kids-why-are-some-people-affected-by-sleep-paralysis-121125"></a></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Lara Farrell, Associate Professor and Clinical Psychologist, Griffith University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/curious-kids-where-do-phobias-come-from-121738" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p> <p><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

The art of forgiveness

<p><span>When conflicts and grievances arise, forgiveness is one of the most commonly prescribed solutions – but it is one that’s easier said than done.</span></p> <p><span>When we are at the receiving end of a cruel, hurtful or violent treatment, the idea of forgiving the wrongdoer may not sit well with us. Although it is often described as a way to let go of negative emotions and regain a peace of mind, forgiveness can come across to some as letting people off the hook or setting their feelings aside to avoid further confrontation.</span></p> <p><span>“People often think that forgiveness means saying that it was okay for someone to do something,” psychologist Adam Blanch wrote on <a href="https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2018/09/f-word-forgiveness/"><em>Pro Bono Australia</em></a>. </span></p> <p><span>“Often when people say they have forgiven someone they are lying to themselves. What they have really done is compartmentalise their vulnerable feelings behind contempt and hatred for the other person, disguised as being a ‘bigger person’.”</span></p> <p><strong><span>What is forgiveness?</span></strong></p> <p><span>According to Mary Bonich, principal psychologist at The Feel Good Clinic, forgiveness isn’t about forgoing accountability. </span></p> <p><span>“Forgiveness means consciously and deliberately letting go of resentment or vengeance towards someone else, despite whether they deserve your forgiveness,” she told <em>Over60</em>.</span></p> <p><span>“When you forgive someone, it does not mean forgetting or condoning someone else’s wrongdoing, but rather provides you with peace of mind and frees you from the anger and resentment you are holding onto.”</span></p> <p><span>Bonich emphasises that we do not need to rekindle our relationship with the offending parties to forgive them. “It’s a process for the individual letting go of their anger, and does not necessarily mean you have to reconcile or be friends with the person who caused you harm.”</span></p> <p><strong><span>Is forgiveness always right?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Some people can find themselves in a harrowing situation, where forgiveness seems like an impossibility. However, even though forgiveness may not change the perpetrator’s behaviour, it will help us stop punishing ourselves, Bonich said.</span></p> <p><span>“Of course there are some things we often feel are unforgivable such as murder,” she said. “But in order for us to process our grief, heal and maintain our own psychological wellbeing, we do need to forgive.</span></p> <p><span>“This does not mean we condone the behaviour, or at peace with the behaviour, it just means we choose to let go of our resentment and anger as a way to heal ourselves.”</span></p> <p><span>Alfred Allan and Maria Allan, professors of psychology at Edith Cowan University said our safety should be a priority. “Forgiving others is only beneficial if the advantages exceed the potential costs. We should therefore not forgive others if that might expose us to further abuse or exploitation,” they wrote on <a href="http://theconversation.com/if-someone-hurt-you-this-year-forgiving-them-may-improve-your-health-as-long-as-youre-safe-too-106253"><em>The Conversation</em></a>.</span></p> <p><span>“The stress response we experience to being hurt is protective because it motivates us to stop people from abusing or taking advantage of us.”</span></p> <p><strong><span>How can we begin to forgive?</span></strong></p> <p><span>The process of forgiving someone can take time. Bonich referred to the <a rel="noopener" href="https://learningtoforgive.com/9-steps/" target="_blank">nine steps to forgiveness</a> popularised by Fred Luskin, director of the Stanford Forgiveness Projects. Some of the suggestions included making a commitment to work on feeling better for our own sake and get the accurate perspective on why we are experiencing hurt.</span></p> <p><span>“Understand your thoughts and feelings about why you are hurt and understand that your emotions are what is stopping you from letting go of the hurt, rather than what someone else did,” Bonich said. </span></p> <p><span>“You can use mindfulness techniques and other stress management techniques to self-soothe when you get upset.</span></p> <p><span>“Look for ways for you to meet your needs yourself, and work towards having your best life.”</span></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

The psychology behind why clowns creep us out

<p>Hollywood<span> </span><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095444/?ref_=nv_sr_1">has</a><span> </span><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1156398/?ref_=nv_sr_1">long</a><span> </span><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2900624/?ref_=fn_al_tt_4">exploited</a><span> </span>our deep ambivalence about clowns, and this fall’s film lineup is no different.</p> <p>Stephen King’s evil clown,<span> </span><a href="https://ramirezmedia.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/wpid-clown-pennywise.jpg">Pennywise</a>, will make his second screen appearance in two years in “<a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7349950/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1">It Chapter Two</a>,” while Batman’s demented nemesis The Joker, played by Joaquin Phoenix, will appear as the antihero of his origin story, “<a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7286456/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1">Joker</a>.”</p> <p>How did a mainstay of children’s birthday parties start to become an embodiment of pure evil?</p> <p>In fact,<span> </span><a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7189401.stm">a 2008 study conducted in England</a><span> </span>revealed that very few children actually like clowns. It also concluded that the common practice of decorating children’s wards in hospitals with pictures of clowns may create the exact opposite of a nurturing environment. It’s no wonder<span> </span><a href="http://hotair.com/archives/2011/05/20/mcdonalds-ceo-to-food-police-the-clowns-going-nowhere/">so many people hate Ronald McDonald</a>.</p> <p>But as a psychologist, I’m not just interested in pointing out that clowns give us the creeps; I’m also interested in why we find them so disturbing. In 2016, I published a study entitled “<a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0732118X16300320">On the Nature of Creepiness</a>” with one of my students, Sara Koehnke, in the journal<span> </span><a href="http://www.journals.elsevier.com/new-ideas-in-psychology">New Ideas in Psychology</a>. While the study was not specifically looking at the creepiness of clowns, much of what we discovered can help explain this intriguing phenomenon.</p> <p><strong>The march of the clowns</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-history-and-psychology-of-clowns-being-scary-20394516/?no-ist">Clown-like characters</a><span> </span>have been around for thousands of years. Historically, jesters and clowns have been a vehicle for satire and for poking fun at powerful people. They provided a safety valve for letting off steam and they were granted unique freedom of expression – as long as their value as entertainers outweighed the discomfort they caused the higher-ups.</p> <p>Jesters and others persons of ridicule go back at least to ancient Egypt, and the English word “clown” first appeared sometime in the 1500s, when Shakespeare used the term to describe foolish characters in several of his plays. The now familiar circus clown – with its painted face, wig and oversized clothing – arose in the 19th century and has changed only slightly over the past 150 years.</p> <p>Nor is the trope of the evil clown anything new. In 2016, writer<span> </span><a href="http://benjaminradford.com/">Benjamin Radford</a><span> </span>published “<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Clowns-Benjamin-Radford/dp/0826356664">Bad Clowns</a>,” in which he traces the historical evolution of clowns into unpredictable, menacing creatures.</p> <p>The persona of the creepy clown really came into its own after serial killer<span> </span><a href="http://www.biography.com/people/john-wayne-gacy-10367544">John Wayne Gacy</a><span> </span>was captured. In the 1970s, Gacy appeared at children’s birthday parties as “Pogo the Clown” and also regularly painted pictures of clowns. When the authorities discovered that he had killed at least 33 people, burying most of them in the crawl space of his suburban Chicago home, the connection between clowns and dangerous psychopathic behavior became forever fixed in the collective unconscious of Americans.</p> <p>Then, for several months in 2016,<span> </span><a href="http://www.vocativ.com/356953/creepy-clown-sightings/">creepy clowns terrorized America</a>.</p> <p>Reports emerged from at least 10 different states. In Florida,<span> </span><a href="http://www.sun-sentinel.com/features/gone-viral/sfl-creepy-clowns-lurk-around-florida-as-part-of-dangerous-nationwide-trend-20160927-htmlstory.html">fiendish clowns were spotted lurking by the side of the road</a>. In South Carolina, clowns were reportedly trying to<span> </span><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/31/us/creepy-clown-sightings-in-south-carolina-cause-a-frenzy.html?_r=0">lure women and children into the woods</a>.</p> <p>It isn’t clear which of these incidents were tales of clowning around and which were truly menacing abduction attempts. Nonetheless, the perpetrators seem to be tapping into the primal dread that so many children – and more than a few adults – experience in the presence of clowns.</p> <p><strong>The nature of creepiness</strong></p> <p>Psychology can help explain why clowns – the supposed purveyors of jokes and pranks – often end up sending chills down our spines.</p> <p><a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0732118X16300320">My research</a><span> </span>was the first empirical study of creepiness, and I had a hunch that feeling creeped out might have something to do with ambiguity – about not really being sure how to react to a person or situation.</p> <p>We recruited 1,341 volunteers ranging in age from 18 to 77 to fill out an online survey. In the first section of the survey, our participants rated the likelihood that a hypothetical “creepy person” would exhibit 44 different behaviors, such as unusual patterns of eye contact or physical characteristics like visible tattoos. In the second section of the survey, participants rated the creepiness of 21 different occupations, and in the third section they simply listed two hobbies that they thought were creepy. In the final section, participants noted how much they agreed with 15 statements about the nature of creepy people.</p> <p><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/out-the-ooze/201505/how-we-decide-whos-creepy">The results</a><span> </span>indicated that people we perceive as creepy are much more likely to be males than females, that unpredictability is an important component of creepiness and that unusual patterns of eye contact and other nonverbal behaviors set off our creepiness detectors big time.</p> <p>Unusual or strange physical characteristics such as bulging eyes, a peculiar smile or inordinately long fingers did not, in and of themselves, cause us to perceive someone as creepy. But the presence of weird physical traits can amplify any other creepy tendencies that the person might be exhibiting, such as persistently steering conversations toward peculiar sexual topics or failing to understand the policy about bringing reptiles into the office.</p> <p>When we asked people to rate the creepiness of different occupations, the one that rose to the top of the creep list was – you guessed it – clowns.</p> <p>The results were consistent with my theory that getting “creeped out” is a response to the ambiguity of threat and that it is only when we are confronted with uncertainty about threat that we get the chills.</p> <p>For example, it would be considered rude and strange to run away in the middle of a conversation with someone who is sending out a creepy vibe but is actually harmless; at the same time, it could be perilous to ignore your intuition and engage with that individual if he is, in fact, a threat. The ambivalence leaves you frozen in place, wallowing in discomfort.</p> <p>This reaction could be adaptive, something humans have evolved to feel, with being “creeped out” a way to maintain vigilance during a situation that could be dangerous.</p> <p><strong>Why clowns set off our creep alert</strong></p> <p>In light of our study’s results, it is not at all surprising that we find them to be creepy.</p> <p><a href="http://www.raminader.com/">Rami Nader</a><span> </span>is a Canadian psychologist who studies coulrophobia, the irrational fear of clowns. Nader believes that clown phobias are fueled by the fact that clowns wear makeup and disguises that hide their true identities and feelings.</p> <p>This is perfectly consistent with my hypothesis that it is the inherent ambiguity surrounding clowns that make them creepy. They seem to be happy, but are they really? And they’re mischievous, which puts people constantly on guard. People interacting with a clown during one of his routines never know if they are about to get a pie in the face or be the victim of some other humiliating prank. The highly unusual physical characteristics of the clown – the wig, the red nose, the makeup, the odd clothing – only magnify the uncertainty of what the clown might do next.</p> <p>There are certainly other types of people who creep us out; taxidermists and undertakers made a good showing on the creepy occupation spectrum. But they have their work cut out for them if they aspire to the level of creepiness that we automatically attribute to clowns.</p> <p>In other words, they have big shoes to fill.</p> <p><em>This is an updated version of an article originally published on Sep. 28, 2016</em>. <em>Written by Frank T. McAndrew. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-psychology-behind-why-clowns-creep-us-out-65936">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

One skill that doesn't deteriorate with age

<p>When Toni Morrison <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/aug/06/toni-morrison-author-and-pulitzer-winner-dies-aged-88">died on Aug. 5</a>, the world lost one of its most influential literary voices.</p> <p>But Morrison wasn’t a literary wunderkind. <em><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11337.The_Bluest_Eye?ac=1&amp;from_search=true">The Bluest Eye</a></em>, Morrison’s first novel, wasn’t published until she was 39. And her last, <em>God Help the Child</em>, appeared when she was 84. Morrison published four novels, four children’s books, many essays and other works of nonfiction after the age of 70.</p> <p>Morrison isn’t unique in this regard. Numerous writers produce significant work well into their 70s, 80s and even their 90s. Herman Wouk, for example, was 97 when he published his final novel, <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14546758-the-lawgiver?ac=1&amp;from_search=true"><em>The Lawgiver</em></a>.</p> <p>Such literary feats underscore an important point: Age doesn’t seem to diminish our capacity to speak, write and learn new vocabulary. Our eyesight may dim and our recall may falter, but, by comparison, our ability to produce and to comprehend language is well preserved into older adulthood.</p> <p>In our forthcoming book, <em><a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/changing-minds-1">Changing Minds: How Aging Affects Language and How Language Affects Aging</a></em>, my co-author, Richard M. Roberts, and I highlight some of the latest research that has emerged on language and aging. For those who might fear the loss of their language abilities as they grow older, there’s plenty of good news to report.</p> <p><strong>Language mastery is a lifelong journey</strong></p> <p>Some aspects of our language abilities, such as our knowledge of word meanings, actually improve during middle and late adulthood.</p> <p><a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/10862969509547878">One study</a>, for example, found that older adults living in a retirement community near Chicago had an average vocabulary size of over 21,000 words. The researchers also studied a sample of college students and found that their average vocabularies included only about 16,000 words.</p> <p><a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gitit_Kave/publication/271333928_Doubly_Blessed_Older_Adults_Know_More_Vocabulary_and_Know_Better_What_They_Know/links/5665d0f308ae192bbf92726d/Doubly-Blessed-Older-Adults-Know-More-Vocabulary-and-Know-Better-What-They-Know.pdf">In another study</a>, older adult speakers of Hebrew – with an average age of 75 – performed better than younger and middle-aged participants on discerning the meaning of words.</p> <p>On the other hand, our language abilities sometimes function as a canary in the cognitive coal mine: They can be a sign of future mental impairment decades before such issues manifest themselves.</p> <p>In 1996, epidemiologist David Snowdon and a team of researchers <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Susan_Kemper/publication/14593027_Linguistic_Ability_in_Early_Life_and_Cognitive_Function_and_Alzheimer%27s_Disease_in_Late_Life_Findings_From_the_Nun_Study/links/0046351854821c5a35000000.pdf">studied</a> the writing samples of women who had become nuns. They found that the grammatical complexity of essays written by the nuns when they joined their religious order could predict which sisters would develop dementia several decades later. (Hundreds of nuns <a href="https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2010-aug-22-la-na-nuns-brains-20100822-story.html">have donated their brains to science</a>, and this allows for a conclusive diagnosis of dementia.)</p> <p>While Toni Morrison’s writing remained searingly clear and focused as she aged, other authors have not been as fortunate. The prose in Iris Murdoch’s final novel, “<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56089.Jackson_s_Dilemma">Jackson’s Dilemma</a>,” suggests some degree of cognitive impairment. Indeed, <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Iris-Murdoch#ref664797">she died from dementia-related causes</a> four years after its publication.</p> <p><strong>Don’t put down that book</strong></p> <p>Our ability to read and write can be preserved well into older adulthood. Making use of these abilities is important, because reading and writing seem to prevent cognitive decline.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbw076">Keeping a journal</a>, for example, has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of developing various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>Reading fiction, meanwhile, has been associated with a longer lifespan. A <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.07.014">large-scale study</a> conducted by the Yale University School of Public Health found that people who read books for at least 30 minutes a day lived, on average, nearly two years longer than nonreaders. This effect persisted even after controlling for factors like gender, education and health. The researchers suggest that the imaginative work of constructing a fictional universe in our heads helps grease our cognitive wheels.</p> <p>Language is a constant companion during our life journey, so perhaps it’s no surprise that it’s interwoven into our health and our longevity. And researchers continue to make discoveries about the connections between language and aging. For example, <a href="http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=0&amp;sid=c96fe951-c06d-48e4-bf96-eb00c2f8f70e%40sdc-v-sessmgr01">a study published in July 2019</a> found that studying a foreign language in older adulthood improves overall cognitive functioning.</p> <p>A thread seems to run through most of the findings: In order to age well, it helps to keep writing, reading and talking.</p> <p>While few of us possess the gifts of a Toni Morrison, all of us stand to gain by continuing to flex our literary muscles.</p> <p><em>Written by Roger J. Kreuz and Richard M. Roberts. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/one-skill-that-doesnt-deteriorate-with-age-122613" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Mother and daughter team are close to discovering a vaccine for Alzheimer's

<p>A mother and daughter have worked together to start a biotech company that has developed what could be the world’s first Alzheimer’s vaccine.</p> <p>Dr. Chang Yi Wang, Ph.D. is a prolific bio-inventor who teamed up with her daughter Mei Mei Hu and son-in-law Louis Reese to create United Neuroscience four years ago.</p> <p>Mei Mei urged her mother to focus all of her efforts on working on an Alzheimer’s vaccine through the company.</p> <p>In January, 2019, United Neuroscience Inc announced the first promising results from a pilot clinical trial on an Alzheimer’s vaccine called UB-311 in 42 human patients.</p> <p>“We were able to generate some antibodies in all patients, which is unusual for vaccines,” Yi tells <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.wired.co.uk/article/alzheimers-vaccine-united-neuroscience" target="_blank">Wired</a></em>. </p> <p>“We’re talking about almost a 100 percent response rate. So far, we have seen an improvement in three out of three measurements of cognitive performance for patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease.”</p> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5Kx17SfoBQ8"></iframe></div> <p>The vaccine contains synthetic versions of amino acid chains that trigger the antibodies to attack Alzheimer’s protein in the blood.</p> <p>What makes this vaccine different is that it attacks the protein without any side effects.</p> <p>According to Yi’s research team, the vaccine can delay the onset of the disease by five years.</p> <p>“You’d want to see larger numbers, but this looks like a beneficial treatment,” Aston University Research Centre for Healthy Ageing director James Brown was quoted as saying, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://nextshark.com/alzheimers-vaccine-mother-daughter/" target="_blank">NextShark</a></em>. </p> <p>“This looks like a silver bullet that can arrest or improve symptoms and, if it passes the next phase, it could be the best chance we’ve got.”</p> <p><em>Photo credit:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.wired.co.uk/article/alzheimers-vaccine-united-neuroscience" target="_blank">Wired, Benedict Evans</a><span> </span></em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Why having thoughts that aren't yours doesn't make you delusional

<p>Any thought that occurs within our minds is undoubtedly our own thought – and when we say, “I think”, there will be absolutely <a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/2024121">no mistake about the “I”</a> to which we refer. In fact, only very few of us would even question whether we are thinking our own thoughts, and those who do are most likely pursuing a philosophical enquiry rather than physically questioning the nature of one’s thinking. Isn’t “I think, therefore I am” the most basic of all prerequisites for one’s existence?</p> <p>For a small minority, however, being able to think one’s own thoughts is not always a given condition or even applicable to this “I”. Some report having thoughts being put into their heads by another person, or simply “receiving” external thoughts originating from an outside source – an experience which, unsurprisingly perhaps, can be extremely frightening.</p> <p>How is something like this even remotely possible? The answer is, it isn’t. At least not with our current understanding of the laws of physics. As a result, this experience of severe interference is <a href="http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/182/4/293.short">termed “thought insertion”</a>, and is defined as one of the key delusions – <a href="http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=490920">a “first-rank symptom”</a> – indicative of a schizophrenic illness. Compared with some delusions that might just carry a hint of reality (such as believing neighbours are spreading rumours about you), thought insertion seems to be the most bizarre of them all.</p> <p><strong>Delusions as beliefs</strong></p> <p>Current psychiatric diagnostic systems view delusions as beliefs. For a certain idea to be delusional, someone must first believe in this idea, often with absolute conviction, even when faced with evidence to the contrary. In my view, however, thought insertions don’t always fit in with this definition, and <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/cns/2/3/291/">so don’t qualify as delusions</a>.</p> <p>If one investigates the actual subjective experience of thought insertion – beyond what is written in clinical files and medical textbooks –- the richness and even reality of the experience begins to emerge. Orthodox definitions of delusion are being <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01612840.2016.1180725?journalCode=imhn20#.V1xyXaK1ivc">increasingly challenged</a> by <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17522439.2015.1100670#.V3AefZMrLBJ">philosophically-minded researchers</a>; psychotic or not, individuals experiencing external thoughts often find it extremely difficult to put into words “what it is like” to have such thoughts. Some of them report these thoughts as sensory, even auditory (but still claim they are thoughts and not voices); others can quite literally feel the “point of entry” to a certain locality inside their minds.</p> <p>In fact, the boundary between <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17522439.2016.1162839#.V1xyKaK1ivchttp://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17522439.2016.1162839">thinking and perception is so blurred</a> that one person used the term <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/szb/26/1/243/">“thought-voices” to describe her experiences</a>.</p> <p>Then what is thought insertion, if it is not always a delusion? I argue that <a href="http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13164-015-0232-9">thought insertion is a duplex phenomenon</a> which may or may not be a delusion.</p> <p>The delusion may be created by having thoughts in which someone has lost their sense of agency (the feeling that a given thought is generated by one’s self), and ownership, (the endorsement that this thought belongs to one’s self). But <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810007000268">agency and ownership are not all or nothing concepts</a>, neither do they always come hand-in-hand – you can, for example, feel like you generated a thought but that it isn’t yours, so though you have agency, there is no ownership.</p> <p>Depending on how much of one’s sense of agency and ownership is lost or damaged in relation to a given thought, it may feel unfamiliar or even alien. But it is only when an external attribution to another agent occurs, for example, “this thought is given to me by Chris”, can we call it a delusion.</p> <p>In other words, simply having a foreign thought is not a delusion in itself, even though it may very often lead to a delusional explanation.</p> <p>The experience of thought insertion can be sensory, perceptual or physical. So, to me, it is more appropriate to say “delusions in thought insertion” rather than “delusions of thought insertion”, and I am not just playing a game of lexicon. It is crucial to differentiate the processes that produce these acts of thinking and the thoughts that ensue, no matter how much such notions challenge our common sense.</p> <p>Some of us may argue there is nothing about a delusion that is worth listening to, let alone explain, because the implausibility and apparent meaninglessness is beyond what a “rational” person could ever understand. But by acknowledging the complexity and mystery of thought insertion, clinicians might just be a little more understanding towards their patients’ subjective experiences. By removing the assumption that all thought interference is delusional by nature, we close the gap between “us normal people” and “those mad people”.</p> <p>Even in cases where delusions are present, they still carry <a href="http://schizophreniabulletin.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/04/19/schbul.sbr075.short">important meanings about the individual</a>. Before we make assumptions and call someone delusional, perhaps we should question our own “reality” as well.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/60864/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Clara Humpston, PhD Researcher, Cardiff University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/why-having-thoughts-that-arent-yours-doesnt-make-you-delusional-60864" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Can you eat your way out of Alzheimer's disease?

<p>With the rise of fad diets, “superfoods”, and a growing range of dietary supplement choices, it’s sometimes hard to know what to eat.</p> <p>This can be particularly relevant as we grow older, and are trying to make the best choices to minimise the risk of health problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart (cardiovascular) problems.</p> <p>We now have evidence these health problems <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25142458">also all affect brain function</a>: they increase nerve degeneration in the brain, leading to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain conditions including vascular dementia and Parkinson’s disease.</p> <p>We know a healthy diet can protect against conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Fortunately, evidence shows that what’s good for the body is <a href="https://yourbrainmatters.org.au/diet-the-evidence-base">generally also good for the brain</a>.</p> <p><strong>Oxidative stress</strong></p> <p>As we age, our metabolism becomes less efficient, and is less able to get rid of compounds generated from what’s called “oxidative stress”.</p> <p>The body’s normal chemical reactions can sometimes cause chemical damage, or generate side-products known as free radicals – which in turn cause damage to other chemicals in the body.</p> <p>To neutralise these free radicals, our bodies draw on protective mechanisms, in the form of antioxidants or specific proteins. But as we get older, these systems become less efficient. When your body can no longer neutralise the free radical damage, it’s under oxidative stress.</p> <p>The toxic compounds generated by oxidative stress steadily build up, slowly damaging the brain and eventually leading to symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>To reduce your risk, you need to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26682690">reduce oxidative stress</a> and the long-term inflammation it can cause.</p> <p>Increasing physical activity is important. But here we are focusing on diet, which is our major source of antioxidants.</p> <p><strong>Foods to add</strong></p> <p>There are plenty of foods you can include in your diet that will positively influence brain health. These include fresh fruits, seafood, green leafy vegetables, pulses (including beans, lentils and peas), as well as nuts and healthy oils.</p> <p><strong>Fish</strong></p> <p>Fish is a good source of complete protein. Importantly, oily fish in particular is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.</p> <p>Laboratory studies have shown omega-3 fatty acids <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6236236/">protect against oxidative stress</a>, and they’ve been found to be lacking in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>They are essential for memory, learning and cognitive processes, and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30205543">improve the gut microbiota and function</a>.</p> <p>Low dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids, meanwhile, is linked to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28466678">faster cognitive decline</a>, and the development of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (changes in the brain that can be seen several years before for onset of symptoms such as memory loss).</p> <p>Omega-3 fatty acids are generally lacking in western diets, and this has been linked to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27825512">reduced brain cell health and function</a>.</p> <p>Fish also provides vitamin D. This is important because a lack of vitamin D <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23042216">has been linked</a> to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and vascular dementia (a common form of dementia caused by reduced blood supply to the brain as a result of a series of small strokes).</p> <p><strong>Berries</strong></p> <p>Berries are especially high in the antioxidants vitamin C (strawberries), anthocyanins (blueberries, raspberries and blackberries) and resveratrol (blueberries).</p> <p>In research conducted on mouse brain cells, anthocyanins have been associated with lower toxic Alzheimer’s disease-related protein changes, and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28931353">reduced signs of oxidative stress and inflammation</a> specifically related to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29401686">brain cell (neuron) damage</a>. Human studies have shown <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28249119">improvements in brain function and blood flow</a>, and signs of reduced brain inflammation.</p> <p><strong>Red and purple sweet potato</strong></p> <p>Longevity has been associated with a small number of traditional diets, and one of these is the diet of the Okinawan people of Japan. The starchy staple of their diet is the purple sweet potato – rich in anthocyanin antioxidants.</p> <p>Studies in mice have shown this potato’s anthocyanins protect against the effects of obesity on blood sugar regulation and cognitive function, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29344660">and can reduce obesity-induced brain inflammation</a>.</p> <p><strong>Green vegetables and herbs</strong></p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29555333">traditional Mediterranean diet</a> has also been studied for its links to longevity and lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>Green vegetables and herbs feature prominently in this diet. They are rich sources of antioxidants including vitamins A and C, folate, polyphenols such as apigenin, and the carotenoid xanthophylls (especially if raw). A carotenoid is an orange or red pigment commonly found in carrots.</p> <p>The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory chemicals in the vegetables are believed to be responsible for <a href="https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-food-030216-030125">slowing Alzheimer’s pathology development</a>, the build up of specific proteins which are toxic to brain cells.</p> <p>Parsley is rich in apigenin, a powerful antioxidant. It readily crosses the barrier between the blood and the brain (unlike many drugs), <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28237914">where it reduces inflammation and oxidative stress</a>, and helps <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6304859/">brain tissue recovery</a> after injury.</p> <p><strong>Beetroot</strong></p> <p>Beetroot is a rich source of folate and polyphenol antioxidants, as well as copper and manganese. In particular, beetroot is <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/10715762.2011.641157">rich in betalain pigments</a>, which reduce oxidative stress and have anti-inflammatory properties.</p> <p>Due to its nitrate content, beetroot can also boost the body’s nitric oxide levels. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels resulting in lowered blood pressure, a benefit which has <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30400267">been associated</a> with drinking beetroot juice.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29077028">recent review of clinical studies</a> in older adults also indicated clear benefits of nitrate-rich beetroot juice on the health of our hearts and blood vessels.</p> <p><strong>Foods to reduce</strong></p> <p>Equally as important as adding good sources of antioxidants to your diet is minimising foods that are unhealthy: some foods contain damaged fats and proteins, which are major sources of oxidative stress and inflammation.</p> <p>A high intake of “junk foods” including sweets, soft drinks, refined carbohydrates, processed meats and deep fried foods <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/oby.2001.122">has been linked</a> to obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.</p> <p>Where these conditions are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31062323">are all risk factors</a> for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, they should be kept to a minimum to reduce health risks and improve longevity.</p> <p><em>Written by <span>Ralph Martins, Chair in Ageing and Alzheimer’s Disease, Edith Cowan University; Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Macquarie University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/are-there-certain-foods-you-can-eat-to-reduce-your-risk-of-alzheimers-disease-117096" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Why are people religious?

<p>The quick and easy answer to why people are religious is that God – in whichever form you believe he/she/they take(s) – is real and people believe because they communicate with it and perceive evidence of its involvement in the world. Only <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/05/christians-remain-worlds-largest-religious-group-but-they-are-declining-in-europe/">16 per cent of people worldwide</a> are not religious, but this still equates to approximately 1.2 billion individuals who find it difficult to reconcile the ideas of religion with what they know about the world.</p> <p>Why people believe is a question that has plagued great thinkers for many centuries. Karl Marx, for example, called religion the “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/jun/26/religion-philosophy">opium of the people</a>”. Sigmund Freud felt that god was an illusion and worshippers were reverting to the childhood needs of security and forgiveness.</p> <p>A more recent psychological explanation is the idea that our evolution has created a “<a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23631561-000-effortless-thinking-the-godshaped-hole-in-your-brain/">god-shaped hole</a>” or has given us a metaphorical “<a href="https://www.csicop.org/si/show/the_god_engine">god engine</a>” which can drive us to believe in a deity. Essentially this hypothesis is that religion is a by-product of a number of cognitive and social adaptations which have been extremely important in human development.</p> <p><strong>Adapted for faith</strong></p> <p>We are social creatures who interact and communicate with each other in a co-operative and supportive way. In doing so we inevitably have stronger attachments to some individuals more than others. British psychologist John Bowlby demonstrated <a href="https://www.learning-theories.com/attachment-theory-bowlby.html">this influence of attachments</a> on children’s emotional and social development, and showed how these can suffer when they are threatened through separation or abuse. We continue to rely on these attachments in later life, when falling in love and making friends, and can even form strong attachments to non-human animals and inanimate objects. It is easy to see that <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10508619.2012.679556">these strong attachments could transfer</a> to religious deities and their messengers.</p> <p>Our relationships depend on being able to predict how others will behave across situations and time. But the things that we form attachments to don’t necessarily need to be in front of us to predict their actions. We can imagine what they would do or say. This ability – known as <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&amp;lr=&amp;id=R5c4AAAAIAAJ&amp;oi=fnd&amp;pg=PR9&amp;dq=decoupled+cognition+development&amp;ots=EguvU5WaPt&amp;sig=vFzsPLOgvR-DVKo45otxPToTL-s#v=onepage&amp;q=decoupled%20cognition%20development&amp;f=false">cognitive decoupling</a> – originates in childhood through pretend play. It is a small leap from being able to imagine the mind of someone we know to imagining an <a href="http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/271772">omnipotent, omniscient, human-like mind</a> – especially if we have religious texts which tell of their past actions.</p> <p>Another key adaptation that may help religious belief derives from our ability to to anthropomorphise objects. Have you ever seen the outline of a person only to realise that it is actually a coat hung on the door? This capacity to attribute human forms and behaviours to non-human things shows we also readily endow non-human entities, such as gods, with the same qualities that we possess and, as such, make it easier to connect with them.</p> <p><strong>Behavioural benefits</strong></p> <p>In addition to these psychological aspects, the ritual behaviour seen in collective worship makes us enjoy and want to repeat the experience. Dancing, singing and achieving trance-like states were prominent in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4958132/">many ancestral societies</a> and are still exhibited by some today – including the <a href="https://www.survivalinternational.org/tribes/sentinelese">Sentinelese people</a>, and <a href="https://www.aboriginal-art-australia.com/aboriginal-art-library/aboriginal-ceremonial-dancing/">Australian aborigines</a>. As well as being acts of social unity, even more formal rituals also <a href="https://www.salon.com/2014/01/04/this_is_your_brain_on_religion_uncovering_the_science_of_belief/">alter brain chemistry</a>. They increase levels of serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin in the brain – chemicals that make us feel good, want to do things again and provide a closeness to others.</p> <p>These cognitive adaptations are facilitated by educational and household norms which don’t tend to dispute religious ideas. While we are encouraged to challenge other ideas presented to us early in childhood that may not have a strong evidence base – such as Father Christmas or the Tooth Fairy – this is not the case with religion. These challenges are often discouraged in religious teachings and <a href="https://www.christianpost.com/news/billy-graham-its-sin-in-the-eyes-of-god-to-criticize-your-pastor.html">sometimes regarded as sinful</a>.</p> <p>Regardless of your point of view, the impact of religion and religious thinking on human functioning and evolution is a captivating intellectual debate that shows no sign of ending. Of course, one might argue that god creates everything outlined above but then this leads us onto another, bigger question: what is the evidence for god?<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/108647/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Nick Perham, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Cardiff Metropolitan University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/why-are-people-religious-a-cognitive-perspective-108647" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

“I didn’t feel I was worthy”: AFL coach Danny Frawley on his mental health struggle

<p>Ten months before his death, Danny Frawley opened up about his mental health struggles.</p> <p>On an episode of his <em>No Man Should Ever Walk Alone</em> podcast, the AFL star detailed his battle with depression to psychologist Peter Zarris.</p> <p>“Dramatic changes in mood and behaviour, that was me … isolation, I actually craved it when I was going through my worst,” he said.</p> <p>“Guys would text me, say they’d come around, because they knew I was battling a bit. I’d text them ‘come around’ and I’d actually pull the shutters down on the blinds … for some reason I didn’t feel I was worthy enough.”</p> <p>Frawley recalled how the people around him brushed off his coaching failures by citing his achievement as a player.</p> <p>“‘Danny, the coaching didn’t go that well but boy are you doing a great job in the media. You were a captain for nine years out at St Kilda that must have been absolutely outstanding’,” he quoted.</p> <p>“I can remember going to functions and not even having conversations with people – I don’t know whether I was just walking around like a peacock – but it was all about what people thought of me. But at the end of the day, it was what I thought about me.”</p> <p>The former St Kilda captain and Richmond coach said he coped with his mental health issues and lack of sleep by turning to alcohol and training.</p> <p>“That was what I was taught in the past, if you’ve got an issue work it off,” he said. “So I actually did 10 things at once.”</p> <p>He said at one point his wife Anita told him he was no longer the man she married, and insisted he should see a doctor.</p> <p>“A lot of comedians have depression – and that was me,” Frawley said.</p> <p>“Acting the goat in the media, my wife would say ‘gee, you’re so vivacious in front of a group, in front of the media and you come home Danny, and you’re a different bloke to the one I married’. I’m sure if I didn’t go through what I went through, my wife was going to leave me.”</p> <p>Frawley said while perception of mental illness had changed since he began playing football more than three decades ago, it still had a long way to go.</p> <p>“We’re still in this zone of we better hide in the corner, put our head in our hands and think ‘oh gee, I hope no one finds out I’ve got a mental health issue’. The glass ceiling has been cracked but we need to smash it open.”</p> <p>“The fact that it [suicide] is preventable is the most tragic thing,” Zarris responded. “I can’t emphasise enough, depression isn’t like having a permanent disability – you can move past it.”</p> <p>Frawley died on Monday at 56 in a car crash near Ballarat, Victoria. Calls for more resources and discussions around men’s mental health have been renewed as <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/afl/i-didnt-feel-i-was-worthy-enough-danny-frawley-on-life-death/news-story/70982a3377bc18176b917cd9de3945a1?from=htc_rss" target="_blank">a coroner is investigating Frawley’s death</a>.</p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

"We were worried": MasterChef’s Gary Mehigan’s stark admission about George Calombaris

<p><em>MasterChef</em> judge Gary Mehigan has made a stark admission about his former co-star George Calombaris’ well-being after he was sacked from his gig on Channel 10 in June. </p> <p>The 52-year-old told <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/we-feared-for-george-calombariss-mental-health-dumped-masterchef-judge-gary-mehigan/news-story/e975d85d4da41c332e121b077d6c5edd" target="_blank"><em>The Daily Telegraph</em> </a>on Monday that he had broken down in tears over the judge shake-up, especially in light of George’s high-profile underpayment scandal. </p> <p>"We were worried about his mental health - I just thought no human can go through all this and come out in one piece at the end of it,” he explained. </p> <p>His exit from <em>MasterChef</em> was part of an even bigger slew of issues for George, who had been fined for underpaying his restaurant staff by nearly $8 million, just days before. </p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bz9vOqhFtmb/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bz9vOqhFtmb/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by George Calombaris (@gcalombaris)</a> on Jul 15, 2019 at 9:43pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The 40-year-old was given a penalty of $200,000 for underpaying 515 of his staff members between 2011 and 2017 and will also have his business’ audited for the next three years. </p> <p>George made headlines for this high-profile case and went on to break down in tears during an interview with ABC’s <em>7.30</em>, in which he issued an apology to his employees and took full responsibility for not correctly paying his staff. </p> <p>Gary assured concerned fans that his former co-host is “in a much better place now.''</p> <p>“He's focused entirely on the business and leaving <em>MasterChef</em> is good for him at the moment,” he said.</p> <p>In July, it was reported all three <em>MasterChef</em> judges, George, Gary and Matt Preston, had abruptly quit the show following an ongoing pay dispute. </p> <p>The network’s CEO Paul Anderson said in a statement: “Despite months of negotiations, Ten has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George.</p> <p>“We would like to thank Gary, George and Matt for their contribution over the past 11 years”.</p> <p>Anderson confirmed in his statement there will be a twelfth season of <em>MasterChef</em> with new judges airing in 2020. </p> <p><em>For confidential support in Australia, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit <a rel="noopener" href="http://www.lifeline.org.au/" target="_blank">www.lifeline.org.au</a>.</em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

How to choose the best psychologist for you

<p>In any year, <a href="https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/default-source/factsheets/facts_figures.pdf?sfvrsn=8">one in five Australians</a> will experience symptoms of a mental illness.</p> <p>While drug treatments are widely used and can be effective, they sometimes come with troubling <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/antidepressants/art-20049305">side-effects</a> such as weight gain, headaches, and fatigue.</p> <p>Talking therapies can be <a href="https://www.psychology.org.au/getmedia/23c6a11b-2600-4e19-9a1d-6ff9c2f26fae/Evidence-based-psych-interventions.pdf">just as effective</a> for a number of mental health conditions including anxiety and depression, or can be a good add-on therapy for those who are finding success with medications.</p> <p>And they have the added benefit of tackling any underlying reasons why the problem arose in the first place.</p> <p>So, what are the options for treatment and how do they work?</p> <p><strong>First, find a psychologist you click with</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-cognitive-behaviour-therapist/article/whats-therapeutic-about-the-therapeutic-relationship-a-hypothesis-for-practice-informed-by-perceptual-control-theory/98CF8D06E5A621F162361D3C2D1AEDBD">One of the most important aspects</a> of psychological treatment is having an engaging relationship with your psychologist.</p> <p>If you don’t “click” within the first few sessions, treatment is unlikely to be effective.</p> <p>This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you or your psychologist. It’s just that this particular relationship isn’t going to be useful – and you should seek out someone you <em>can</em> connect with.</p> <p>It’s also important to find the method of therapy that suits you best.</p> <p>Some people, for example, like to get clear instructions and advice, while others prefer to take time to discover their own solutions. Each of these people will connect with different types of therapy and different psychologists.</p> <p>So what are the key types of therapy psychologists offer and who are they best suited to?</p> <p><strong>Cognitive behaviour therapy</strong></p> <p>Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279297/">one of the most widely used</a> and well-known talking therapies.</p> <p>CBT refers to a range of different structured approaches that are based on the assumption that the way a person feels is closely related to the way a person thinks and the way they behave.</p> <p>The treatment then uses activities to target both the things people think (their cognitions) and the things they do (their behaviours).</p> <p>To change a person’s feelings, a psychologist providing CBT will help that person engage in different activities that can help to change thinking and behaviour patterns.</p> <p>A CBT psychologist might encourage a person to keep a diary, for example, of the kinds of things they think through the day. Thought diaries often follow an ABC format:</p> <ul> <li>A, the activating event – the thing that made the thought happen</li> <li>B, the belief – the actual thought itself</li> <li>C, the consequence – how thinking that thought made the person feel.</li> </ul> <p>Sometimes D and E are added:</p> <ul> <li>D, some disputing the person could do – what could they think instead</li> <li>E, the end result – reflecting on how this alternative way of thinking makes the person feel.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Acceptance and commitment therapy</strong></p> <p>Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is another popular treatment that can be effective across a wide range of situations and problems.</p> <p>ACT <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28271287">specifically targets</a> the person’s tendency to avoid things and helps them develop greater psychological flexibility so they can pursue areas of value and live meaningful lives.</p> <p>While CBT tries to change thinking and behaviour, ACT introduces the intriguing idea of people <em>not</em> changing their thoughts and behaviours but, rather, achieving a state of mind where they’re able to notice the problematic thoughts, images, feelings, or behaviours but not be overwhelmed or consumed by them. That’s the “acceptance” part.</p> <p>ACT also encourages people to identify values that are important to them and figure out ways their day-to-day life can reflect these values. That’s the commitment part.</p> <p>ACT psychologists have a range of novel and engaging activities at their disposal. An ACT psychologist might help a person visualise placing their thoughts on leaves floating down a stream. They can then watch their thoughts float by and disappear down the stream.</p> <p><strong>Behavioural activation</strong></p> <p>Behavioural activation was initially developed for the treatment of depression but has since been used more widely. It involves <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22679240">identifying and scheduling activities</a> that promote enjoyment or reduce stress.</p> <p>Behavioural activation helps people identify things in their environment that are contributing to the problem, and the things that could really help, along with the behaviours that are associated with each of those things.</p> <p>The focus of behavioural activation is on helping people develop specific goals and achievable plans that activate rewarding behaviours.</p> <p>Behavioural activation can involve similar activities to CBT, with more of an emphasis on the behaviours than the thoughts. Someone engaging with a behavioural activation psychologist, for example, might spend time monitoring the activities they do throughout the day and rating each in terms of the impact it has on their mood.</p> <p><strong>Method of levels</strong></p> <p><a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fpro0000132">Method of levels</a> is a newer and less well-known treatment but is gaining increasing interest. It focuses on the control that a person has in their life, how it was interrupted, and how it can be restored.</p> <p>Method of levels has similarities with each of the other therapies but uses the conversation that develops in therapy, based on the indivdual’s perspective of their problems, as the main “technique”.</p> <p>This type of therapy responds to how a person is functioning “right now” in the session as they’re talking to the psychologist.</p> <p>The topic of any session is determined by the person with the problem. The psychologist focuses on the distress associated with any particular pattern of symptoms rather than the symptoms themselves.</p> <p>If a person reported, for example, being highly anxious in social situations and constantly worrying about what other people were thinking of them, the psychologist would be interested in exploring what bothered the person about feeling that way, what it was interfering with, and what it was stopping them from doing.</p> <p>Through these conversations, the psychologist helps people generate their own solutions to their problems rather than providing advice and guidance from their perspective.</p> <p>Method of levels recognises the variability in how long it takes for people to resolve psychological and social problems and that psychological change often follows a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25601435">nonlinear, unpredictable course</a>, so it uses a patient-led approach to appointment scheduling rather than <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25601435">neat schedules</a>.</p> <p><strong>What if it’s not working?</strong></p> <p>There are many more treatments available than those listed above, and many psychologists will be skilled in more than one treatment or may even combine different treatment types.</p> <p>If you can find someone you relate to, who is interested in monitoring your progress on a regular basis, and who can work flexibly and responsively with you about the things you’re troubled by, it’s likely you’ll find the relief you are looking for.</p> <p>But there are no guarantees. A treatment is simply a resource which people can use to help make sense of things that previously seemed senseless and to restore contentment, satisfaction, and feeling that you’re living a valued life. It’s the <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1098214018824040">people who make</a> treatments work.</p> <p>If you don’t seem to be getting the results you want, it could be time to consider seeing someone else or trying a different type of therapy.</p> <p><em>Written by <span>Timothy Carey, Professor, Director of the Centre for Remote Health, Flinders University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/thinking-of-seeing-a-psychologist-heres-how-to-choose-the-therapy-best-for-you-114294" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Why do people believe in curses?

<p><em>Strictly Come Dancing</em>, the TV show which pairs celebrities with professional dancers to compete in a ballroom dancing competition, has apparently been the cause of a number of divorces, break-ups, and scandals. This “<a href="https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2019-08-19/strictly-come-dancing-strictly-curse-affairs-break-ups/"><em>Strictly</em> curse</a>” is not helped by the show’s demanding schedule, long practice hours, and intimate dancing.</p> <p><em>Strictly</em> is not the only modern curse featured in the media of late. The <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-49125467">curse of the Tour de France</a> returned, with the failure of a French rider to win the <a href="https://usimmigrationupdate.com/french-cyclists-hit-again-by-curse-of-tour-de-france-bbc-news/">cycling race</a>. Hopes that Julian Alaphillippe would this year end the 34-year drought were dashed.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the rapper Drake has been linked to a series of <a href="https://www.nme.com/blogs/nme-blogs/the-drake-curse-best-times-it-struck-down-sports-teams-athletes-2487702">sporting failures</a> over the years. The Drake curse <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-47947155">was broken</a>, however, when his team (the Raptors) won their first basketball championship earlier this summer. Other popular culture “curses” around James Dean’s <a href="https://sg.news.yahoo.com/curse-james-dean-porsche-550-010003800.html?guccounter=1&amp;guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&amp;guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAF2ZVBzvFXEOzvnoMUgY8skG7UrCeRorWZqdpvaG_S4strong5uBQpsuPmuhd4IF81thP1olYYRZm2M4UM9fnKeCgNd8_vW2c4TpA8cF8uNnsXs6roX4sjdbWZXpXeiVeqN9uKxf8ToZc2suFf0VKmK7OMf6gKX2xIJWf5xKupt25V5l">car</a> and the next <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/jun/07/james-bond-25-film-cursed">James Bond</a> film, have also circulated of late.</p> <p>What’s this all about? Most people these days surely don’t believe in supernatural curses. But their prevalence in the media suggests that they still have a hold on psyches, and that a good amount of people still pay credence to them.</p> <p><strong>Rational explanations</strong></p> <p>From a scientific perspective, curses have rational explanations. These clarify why people directly ascribe supernatural powers to negative events.</p> <p>For instance, belief in curses can arise from thinking style. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman has <a href="http://reflectd.co/2016/02/24/thinking-styles/">proposed</a> that there are two distinct modes of decision making. System 1 is automatic, rapid and largely unconscious. Subsequently, this system is intuitive and prone to biases and systematic errors. In contrast, System 2 is controlled, slow, effortful, and produces rational thought. So, perhaps people believe in curses because their spontaneous, subjective, System 1 thinking predominates.</p> <p>Endorsement of curses may also stem from the desire to make sense of the world; ascribe meaning to chaos. Why do people sometimes see faces in clouds or Jesus in their toast? We have a tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise: which some call <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/reality-play/201207/being-amused-apophenia">apophenia</a> and others <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/patternicity-finding-meaningful-patterns/">patternicity</a>. In the case of curses, this can cause people to see links between random events and wrongly attribute misfortune and bad luck to a magical hex rather than factors such as chance and human error.</p> <p>Those who believe in curses may also be susceptible to the <a href="http://www.howtogetyourownway.com/effects/barnum_effect.html">Barnum</a> or Forer Effect. This is where people wrongly infer that general information has specific personal relevance. In the context of curses, this might explain the tendency to associate general misfortune with particular, personally significant jinxes.</p> <p><strong>Psychological influences</strong></p> <p>A belief in curses, once it exists, is often reinforced by other psychological tendencies.</p> <p>Believers in curses may look for affirming evidence, such as potentially related bad luck, and discount contradictory data. This confirmatory bias produces coherent, but logically inconsistent narratives supporting the presumption of supernatural forces.</p> <p>This was true of the curse of Tutankhamun, for example. This derived from the general notion that a curse would befall anyone who broke into a pharaoh’s burial site. At the time of the excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb, the archaeologists suffered no misfortune. But as a result of press coverage about “the pharaoh’s curse”, subsequent deaths and misfortunes of the archaeology team became associated with the curse. Similarly, the movies Poltergeist and The Omen have over time acquired a reputation <a href="https://www.historytoday.com/archive/months-past/tutankhamuns-curse">as cursed</a>.</p> <p>The power of curses to influence people stems from belief in their veracity. This often arises from an external locus of control, where people feel unable to influence events. In the absence of perceived control, people become more accepting of mysterious, external forces. Psychologists refer to this as <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/moments-matter/201708/locus-control">magical thinking</a>.</p> <p>In addition, belief in curses is associated with certain personality characteristics. Particularly, tolerance of ambiguity and neuroticism. Tolerance of ambiguity describes the degree to which an individual can <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/anger-in-the-age-entitlement/200902/uncertainty-is-your-friend-part-i">cope with uncertainty</a>. People with low tolerance of ambiguity tend to look for closure. This manifests as the failure to critically consider evidence and to jump to conclusions. These factors can lead to indiscriminate, premature acceptance of material. Neuroticism, meanwhile, can facilitate worry, concern and rumination about curses.</p> <p>In extreme cases, belief in curses can undermine confidence in oneself and one’s future success. Psychologists refer to this as self-fulfilling prophecy. This is where belief in a curse produces the perception of inevitable misfortune. Indeed, the mere suggestion of bad luck can produce negative outcomes. Researchers call this the <a href="https://www.brainblogger.com/2009/07/15/the-curse-of-the-nocebo-effect">Nocebo Effect</a>.</p> <p><strong>Social factors</strong></p> <p>The influence of curses also originates from their grounding in culture. Specifically, through education and social narratives, the notion of curses perpetuates over time. Consequently, they become culturally acceptable and in some instances plausible. For example, the <a href="http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20180216-the-strange-power-of-the-evil-eye">evil eye</a> has a long tradition around the world. This derives from the belief that someone who achieves great success also attracts the envy of those around them, manifesting itself as a curse that will undo their good fortune.</p> <p>Socially, media coverage can induce the notion that curses exist. A recent example is the <a href="https://www.nme.com/blogs/what-is-momo-your-guide-to-the-horrifying-meme-billed-as-the-new-slenderman-2364215">Momo Challenge</a>. This spread via WhatsApp and involved the appearance of a creepy, Japanese sculpture accompanied by instructions to perform dangerous tasks. The communication also predicted unfortunate consequences if the receiver failed to follow instructions, or pass on the message. This story went viral and caused children and parents great anxiety.</p> <p>Although there is of course no scientific evidence to support the supernatural basis of curses, they can still have a powerful psychological influence on people. Believing in curses can undermine decision making, well-being and self confidence. In extreme cases, they can also facilitate unusual ideas, undermine critical thinking and produce <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/football/2012/apr/25/the-knowledge-football-curses">odd behaviours</a>.</p> <p>Despite evidence to the contrary, some curses are compelling. So it will be interesting to see whether forthcoming contestants in <em>Strictly Come Dancing</em> avoid the bad luck associated with previous series.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/121385/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Ken Drinkwater, Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Cognitive and Parapsychology, Manchester Metropolitan University and Neil Dagnall, Reader in Applied Cognitive Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-people-believe-in-curses-121385" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Why do I dwell on the past?

<p>Many of us enjoy writing in a diary, reading autobiographies or nostalgically reflecting with others about past times.</p> <p>Why is remembering our past so important? Are there downsides? And what can we do if dwelling on the past bothers us?</p> <p><strong>Memories make us human</strong></p> <p>Over several decades, researchers have shown remembering your past is fundamental to being human, and has <a href="http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.545.5603&amp;rep=rep1&amp;type=pdf">four important roles</a>.</p> <p><strong>1. Memories help form our identity</strong></p> <p>Our personal memories give us a sense of continuity — the same person (or sense of self) moving through time. They provide important details of who we are and who we would like to be.</p> <p><strong>2. Memories help us solve problems</strong></p> <p>Memories offer us potential solutions to current problems and help guide and direct us when solving them.</p> <p><strong>3. Memories make us social</strong></p> <p>Personal memories are essential for social interactions. Being able to recall personal memories provides important material when making new friends, forming relationships and maintaining ones we already have.</p> <p><strong>4. Memories help us regulate our emotions</strong></p> <p>Our memories provide examples of similar situations we’ve been in before. This allows us to reflect on how we managed that emotion before and what we can learn from that experience.</p> <p>Such memories can also help us manage strong negative emotions. For example, when someone is feeling sad they can take time to dwell on a positive memory <a href="http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.545.5603&amp;rep=rep1&amp;type=pdf">to improve their mood</a>.</p> <p><strong>Memories help us function in our wider society</strong></p> <p>Dwelling on our personal memories not only helps us as individuals. It also allows us to operate in our socio-cultural context; society and culture influence the way we remember our past.</p> <p>For instance, in Western individualistic cultures people tend to recall memories that are long, specific, detailed and focus on the individual.</p> <p>In contrast, in East Asian cultures people tend to recall more general memories focusing on social interactions and significant others. Researchers have seen these differences in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15335332">children and adults</a>.</p> <p>Indeed, the way parents discuss past events with their children <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1745691610375555">differs culturally</a>.</p> <p>Parents from Western cultures focus more on the child and the child’s thoughts and emotions than East Asian parents. So, there are even cultural differences in the ways we teach our children to dwell on the past.</p> <p>People from Western individualistic cultures tend to recollect specific unique memories that reaffirm someone’s uniqueness, a value emphasised in Western cultures. <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247780766_Why_We_Remember_and_What_We_Remember">In contrast</a>, in East Asian cultures memories function to assist with relatedness and social connection, a value emphasised in East Asian cultures.</p> <p><strong>Memories and ill health</strong></p> <p>As dwelling on the past plays such a crucial role in how we function as humans, it is unsurprising that disruptions in how we remember arise in several psychological disorders.</p> <p>People with depression, for instance, tend to remember <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bjc.12181">more negative personal memories</a> and fewer positive personal memories than those without depression. For example, someone with depression may remember failing an exam rather than remembering their academic successes.</p> <p>People with depression also <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2834574/">have great difficulty</a> remembering something from a specific time and place, for instance “I really enjoyed going to Sam’s party last Thursday”. Instead they provide memories of general experiences, for instance, “I like going to parties”.</p> <p>We have found people with depression also tend to structure their life story <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bjc.12181">differently</a> and report more negative life stories. They also tend to remember periods of their life, such as going to university, as either distinctly positive or negative (rather than a combination of both).</p> <p>Disturbances in memory are also <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21219190">the hallmarks of</a> post-traumatic stress disorder. This is when unwanted, distressing personal memories of the trauma spontaneously pop into the mind.</p> <p>People with anxiety disorders also tend to have <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272735809001846">biases</a> when remembering their personal past. For instance, all of us, unfortunately, experience social blunders from time to time, such as tripping getting onto a bus or spilling a drink at a party. However, people with social anxiety are more likely to be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3260374/">consumed with feelings of embarrassment and shame</a> when remembering these experiences.</p> <p>Finally, an excessive, repetitive dwelling on your past, without generating solutions, can be unhelpful. It can result in emotional distress and in extreme instances, emotional disorders, such as <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2000-05424-015?doi=1">depression, anxiety</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17041914">post-traumatic stress disorder</a>.</p> <p><strong>I don’t want to dwell on the past. What can I do?</strong></p> <p>If dwelling on the past bothers you, these practical tips can help.</p> <ul> <li>Set aside a certain time of the day for your memories. You could write in a diary or write down your worries. <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/(SICI)1097-4679(199910)55:10%3C1243::AID-JCLP6%3E3.0.CO;2-N">Writing</a> about important personal experiences in an emotional way for as little as 15 minutes a day can improve your mental and physical health.</li> <li>Practice remembering specific positive memories from your past. This can allow you to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-018-0504-3">engage differently</a> with your memories and gain a new perspective on your memories.</li> <li>Learn and practise <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-dont-yet-fully-understand-what-mindfulness-is-but-this-is-what-its-not-110698">mindfulness strategies</a>. Instead of dwelling on painful memories, a focus on the present moment (such as attending to your breath, focusing on what you can currently see, smell or hear) can help break a negative cycle</li> <li>When dwelling on past memories try being proactive and generate ideas to solve problems rather than just being passive.</li> <li>See your GP or health practitioner if you’re distressed about dwelling on your past.</li> </ul> <p><em>If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/121630/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Laura Jobson, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, Monash University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-i-dwell-on-the-past-121630" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Should I get my DNA tested?

<p>With the advent of online ancestry DNA testing, and advancements in genetic screening for various medical aliments, we’re able to know more than ever about the genes that make us who we are.</p> <p>But is there a point to knowing we’re 25 per cent Irish? And is there a point to knowing we could one day be struck down with a disease we’re unable to prevent?</p> <p>We asked five experts if we should consider a DNA test.</p> <p><strong>Four out of five experts said yes</strong></p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/259889/original/file-20190220-148520-121cdzg.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption"></span></p> <p>Here are their detailed responses:</p> <p><iframe id="tc-infographic-427" class="tc-infographic" height="400px" src="https://cdn.theconversation.com/infographics/427/45901c723a843d0a712aa7bdf2ed8f27399293a3/site/index.html" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p> </p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/210303/original/file-20180314-113452-h7un11.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption"></span></p> <p><em>None of the authors have any interests or affiliations to declare.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/120664/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><em>Written by Alexandra Hansen, Chief of Staff, The Conversation. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/should-i-get-my-dna-tested-we-asked-five-experts-120664" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></span></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

New study debunks ‘crazy cat lady’ myth

<p><span>Cat owners have long been stereotyped as depressed, anxious, and solitary, preferring the company of animals to humans – however, a new <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.181555">study</a> published in the <em>Royal Society Open Science</em> discovered that the stereotypical “crazy cat lady” simply does not exist.</span></p> <p><span>Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) analysed more than 500 people and found that cat owners have the same levels of loneliness, depression and anxiety as everyone else, including dog owners and those who have no pets.</span></p> <p><span>“We found no evidence to support the ‘cat lady’ stereotype: cat-owners did not differ from others on self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety or their experiences in close relationships,” the study said.</span></p> <p><span>Pet owners were also more likely to be distressed by a cat’s meow or a dog’s whimper. In particular, the researchers found that a crying dog’s effect on the people surveyed was nearly identical to that of a crying human baby.</span></p> <p><span>“These sounds are very effective at capturing our attention. If you find yourself responding very strongly, that’s natural,” Christine Parsons, a co-author of the study and associate professor of the Interacting Minds Center at Aarhus University in Denmark told <a href="https://www.insider.com/crazy-cat-lady-stereotype-myth-according-to-science-2019-8"><em>Insider</em></a><em>.</em></span></p> <p><span>“They have a really evocative signal and that makes sense. Cats will be OK without humans, but domesticated dogs absolutely rely on us for everything — they need us for survival.”</span></p>

Mind

Placeholder Content Image

Mother travelling with autistic child touched by airline’s moving gesture

<p>A mother with an autistic son has thanked her fellow United Airline passengers for their empathy and compassion as her four-year-old Braysen had a meltdown mid-flight.</p> <p>Mum Lori Gabriel took to Facebook to share her experience on the three-and-a-half-hour service from San Diego to Magnolia.</p> <p>"So my little flyer (he's autistic but normally loves to fly) didn't have such a good flight home," she wrote on Facebook.</p> <p>"Trying to get him to stay seated was impossible he wanted to sit on the floor in the hall and in first class."</p> <p>Gabriel told<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/mom-of-boy-with-autism-says-airline-touched-our-hearts-during-sons-meltdown-185043597.html" target="_blank">Yahoo</a></em><span> </span>that she didn’t think it would end this way.</p> <p>“I figured he would sleep on the plane,” Lori explained.</p> <p>“I didn’t think it would turn out this way.”</p> <p>It was a battle to keep Braysen seated, as he was in the middle of a meltdown.</p> <p>“He was screaming, hitting and kicking me, and pulling my hair. I thought, ‘Everyone must hate us,” Lori said.</p> <p>This turned out to be false.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Flori.gabriel.77%2Fposts%2F3478719012141863&amp;width=500" width="500" height="789" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe></p> <p>There was an unexpected amount of support that came from unlikely places, including fellow passengers and crew members who were highly accommodating.</p> <p>"To the man in first class seat 6C you rock thanks for playing with Braysen and not minding him kicking your seat or messing with you! He loved your high fives!" Lori shared in a Facebook post.</p> <p>However, it was a note from an off-duty airline staff member that meant the most to the Gabriel family, which she included in the Facebook post.</p> <p>"Do not<span> </span><u>EVER</u> let anyone make you feel as though you are an inconvenience or a burden. He is a blessing. God bless your patience, you love, your support, and your strength. Continue to be super woman. And know you and your family are loved and supported."</p> <p>The note is signed: "United Family".</p>

Mind