Mass suggestion: A way to save the world? 

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Psychological research has had a tendency to study negative effects of behavior both on the individual and cultural level. But new research however, has started to focus more on the positive aspects of life. I like this shift, as I think it will change how we look at the world . In one TED talk I watched, scientists were studying genetic superhumans. That is, people with genetic ‘flaws’ that has proven to give these people abilities normal people don’t have. By getting more knowledge about these ‘superhumans’ we are also a step closer to knowing what environmental, psychological and biological factors contribute to their genetic make-up.

Mass suggestion 

Humans in a big crowd have an inclination to behave the same way. It is difficult to resist the force of it. This is why people, who ordinarily are sensible, can do things that they regret afterwards . It is also the reason people who are harmless normally can become violent.  

There are thousand different ways we can be affected by mass suggestion, both in a negative and positive sense.

A mass-suggestion experiment

If I could do a study as a researcher, I would want to look at how positive mass-suggestion could affect us . Let’s for fun’s sake call it a social media experiment. If every person shared the research hypothesis I’m about to present with one person, it would be interesting to see what would happen next.

My hypothesis would be something like: Can we by mass-suggestion, make people around the world do the same thing on the same day?

For example I could propose that the 30th of september, every one of us tried to do one random act of kindness. What do you think would happen? Could it affect us all in a positive way?

The date could be set one year in advance to make sure that many get the message, but as information can spread like fire in the right circumstances maybe it would not be necessary to wait that long.

So, would somebody be interested in an experiment like that? What can each and all of us do by simply being kind towards others?

Why not try? We got nothing to lose.


Mass suggestion ideas

Mass suggestion in society


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I am a 29-year-old girl from Norway where I work as a psychologist. On my free time I love to read, travel and experience new things. I also like taking photos and creative activities like scrapbooking and decoupage. My personality? For those of you who know the BIG 5 personality test, I am high on 20130623-181833.jpgOpenness, Conscientiousness, middle on agreeable and on extroversion/introversion. It basically means that I`m a flexible person, work hard, usually don`t make a fuss and love to be with others, while also needing to be alone to think and calm down. I also want to add that I love the Italian language, my family, Haruki Murakami, good music and my friends. I am VERY emotional, but calm when I have to be. Earlier I had a tendency to put other`s needs first, believing that I wasn`t worthy of any attention myself. Luckily I have grown in heart and mind since then, and learnt that being there for others mean taking care of your own needs first.

This blog is a blend of my personal story (called narrative or the sound of..) topics related to psychology and just random things I find interesting. I work daily as a clinical psychologist, and most of my clients have been abused and neglected in heartbreaking ways. Many of my posts will cover subjects related to trauma and dissociation. I am quite open and honest in my posts, because I believe it might make us psychologist less mysterious.

Most of the psychologist I know are kind, intelligent people. Some with their own stories, but all with a genuine wish to help. In this blog I want to share what I know about overcoming challenges and following your dreams.

IMG_0377Since more and more people have started to read this blog, I unfortunately found it necessary to password protect some of my more personal posts. If you want to read them, feel free to contact me at forfreepsychology@gmail.com. I am also on twitter (@ninjafighter), instagram and Facebook. I also have two other blogs that are dedicated to psychology and the “Kindness project” that I started one year ago, You find them here: Free psychology and The kindness project.

In the last blog I post interviews with different people. I ask them questions about good things they do, and my hope is that their answers will inspire others to do be kind towards others. I have also invited guest bloggers to share their stories on “Free psychology”. They are brilliant writers, so feel to explore their story on this blog. I am always open to invite more bloggers who want to write, so feel free to contact me at any time if you`d like to write about topics relevant for the blog. 

I started my blog three years ago, and it has grown so fast I almost can`t believe it. I am really proud of it, and grateful because I have made new friends and found other blogs that I like.

I want to thank all my readers and offer some encouragement to everyone who suffers or have done so in the past. I have been in the deepest valleys myself, and felt emotional pain so intense that I was afraid of it.

I hope this blog might prove that the fight for a better life is worth it.

Thank you.

Protected: Looking at my mirror

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Please Hear What I’m Not Saying

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Please Hear What I’m Not Saying

Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
masks that I’m afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.

Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me,
but don’t be fooled,
for God’s sake don’t be fooled.
I give you the impression that I’m secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water’s calm and I’m in command
and that I need no one,
but don’t believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That’s why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it’s followed by acceptance,
if it’s followed by love.
It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It’s the only thing that will assure me
of what I can’t assure myself,
that I’m really worth something.
But I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare to, I’m afraid to.
I’m afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I’m afraid you’ll think less of me,
that you’ll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
with a facade of assurance without
and a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that’s really nothing,
and nothing of what’s everything,
of what’s crying within me.
So when I’m going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I’m saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I’m not saying,
what I’d like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can’t say.

I don’t like hiding.
I don’t like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you’ve got to help me.
You’ve got to hold out your hand
even when that’s the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you’re kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings–
very small wings,
very feeble wings,
but wings!

With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator–an honest-to-God creator–
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.

Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me the blinder I may strike back.
It’s irrational, but despite what the books say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.

Charles C. Finn
September 1966

You can read a collection of stories about the poem’s impact in Please Hear What I’m Not Saying: a Poem’s Reach around the World

Meditation Reduces Emotional Pain by 44%: Study

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Meditation Reduces Emotional Pain by 44%: Study

a young woman meditating
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According to a new study, mindfulness meditation exhibited even stronger physical pain reductions than morphine, says the study’s lead investigator

Dr. Fadel Zeidan, assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, has studied mindfulness for 15 years and has observed improved health outcomes as a result. “But what if this is all just a placebo?” he wondered. “What if people are reporting improvements in health and reductions in pain just because of meditation’s reputation as a health-promoting practice?” He wanted to find out, so he designed a trials that included a placebo group.

Zeidan recruited 75 healthy, pain-free people and scanned their brains using an MRI while they experienced painful heat with a 120-degree thermal probe. Then, the researchers sorted them into four groups and gave them four days of training. Everyone thought they were getting the real intervention, but most of them were getting a sham treatment.

“I want to be restrained about the efficacy of mindfulness, and the way to be restrained about it is by making it harder and harder to demonstrate its effectiveness,” Zeidan says.

First, there was a placebo cream group that participants were told reduces pain over time, Zeidan says (it was really just petroleum jelly). For four days, they rubbed it on the back of their leg and tested it against that painfully hot thermal probe. Little did they know, the researchers cranked down the heat each day; the participants thought the cream was working.

Another group was taught a kind of fake mindfulness meditation—they were told to breathe deeply for 20 minutes but were given no instructions on how to do it mindfully. The control group was subjected to 20 minutes of a very boring book on tape: The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne.

For the real intervention, people sat for 20 minutes with straight posture, closed their eyes and listened to specific instructions about where to focus one’s attention and how to let thoughts and emotions pass without judgment. “Our subjects are taught to focus on the changing sensations of breath and to follow the breath with the mind’s eye as it goes down the chest and abdomen,” Zeidan says.

After four days, everyone re-entered the MRI machine and endured the same pain from the 120-degree probe. They were told to use their training—breathing deeply, mindfully meditating or the cream. They used a lever to indicate the physical intensity and emotional unpleasantness of the pain.

They found that people in all of the groups had greater pain reductions than the control group. The placebo cream reduced the sensation of pain by an average of 11% and emotional unpleasantness of pain by 13%. For the sham mindfulness group, those numbers were 9% and 24% respectively. But mindfulness meditation outperformed them all. In this group, pain intensity was cut by 27% and emotional pain reduced by 44%.

That shocked Zeidan. Past research has indicated that the opioid morphine reduces physical pain by 22%—and mindfulness had surpassed even that. But the MRI results, which showed how pain was registering in their brains, surprised him even more. People who had practiced mindfulness meditation seemed to be using different brain regions than the other groups to reduce pain.

“There was something more active, we believe, going on with the genuine mindfulness meditation group,” Zeidan says. This group had increased activation in higher-order brain regions associated with attention control and enhanced cognitive control, he says, while exhibiting a deactivation of the thalamus—a structure that acts as the gatekeeper for pain to enter the brain, he explains. “We haven’t seen that with any other technique before.”

It’s an important preliminary study, Zeidan says, but exactly who will benefit from meditation’s impact on pain is still unknown. “We’re now at the stage, at least in my lab, where we have enough evidence that meditation reduces pain and it does it in a really unique fashion, different from any other technique we’ve seen,” he says.

And as for the questions left unanswered? “We don’t have the studies yet,” he says, “but we’re getting there.”

The sound of shaking it off

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When changes are coming, my need to write blossoms like a seed in the ground. It has been there, all the time, but waiting. I don`t always like this waiting period. The days that just go on and on, with nothing new in them. I have never been good with routine, even when I need to feel safe.

Today I was on my second job interview. This interview was for a job I wanted even more than the last one, since it is in a part of Norway I have better vibes towards. I think the interview went well, since I actually got to say the things I wanted to tell them about. My burning desire to do something for people, my interest in holding lectures (that would be a huge part of the job) and my belief in preventive work.

When I drove home, I felt something growing inside me. The little seed, that has been sleeping the last weeks, got water and started to flourish. Right now I am working at a psychiatric ward, and there has been far too little to do there this last week. Mostly because we are many therapists, but also because doctors focus more on medication than just “talking”. Some days are really good, but it is not the same as where I worked before, at a unit where I had 5-6 patients a day, finding every conversation invigorating. Now there is meeting after meeting, and too few therapeutic processes. That`s why it felt so good to feel that soon I might do something I love again. A new chance to live and breathe psychology, and a new place to do it. The city I work in now, is filled with bad memories from my previous relationship, and I need a fresh start. I need to be me again.

huh-you-want-me-to-be-a-social-media-ambassador-24-638When I came home, I met my little brother. We decided we`d watch some episodes of “how I met your mother”, and made carrots with dip and pop-corn. He sat close to me, and we talked in between the episodes. He started to talk about school. that there was so much to do. A lot of homework, and that meant he had less time to do other things. He is really talented in many aspects, like drawing. Two years ago (he is now 16) I saw his first portrait. He had drawn a girl in his class, and I was shocked to discover that I could actually see the person he had been drawing. I asked him: “How did you do that?” And he answered: “I don`t know. I just did!”. I looked into his eyes, and told him to not use all his time on homework to get good grades, that what I regretted most from my years at school, was the unnecessary hours where I read and repeated something I forgot a week after the exam. That I rather should have used more time on my interests, or being social. Because life is not a rehearsal for something that might be better, it is all about the things you love doing here and now. So, now I feel like I found back to that piece of me that follows my heart, being the flower I prefer, not just someone else`s wallflower.

So, I will shake off my old self and start walking on a new path in my life. And I really look forward to it.

Job interview 

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Last week I got the phone call. Would I be interested to come to a job interview? The job is in a little city 3 hours away from here, as a community psychologist. The job description is working with youngsters from 7-18 years old, and it will entail education of health personnel who work with children and families with problems. I really want this job, so am quite nervous before the interview. I practiced together with my supervision last week, and found I lost my words quite often. What are my worst qualities? How will I contribute to the well-being of the children? How will I react when I have to go against the parents wishes because they don’t see the problem? Some questions are hard to answer because I don’t always have a firm opinion about what they want to know. What is most important, though, is to get my enthusiasm out there. I want to help others, and the reason for really wanting this job is that it will be all about early stage treatment. I will have the chance to focus on prevention and not just healing after people have suffered for years. I also like the fact that I’ll have the chance to work together with people from different occupations, like nurses, teachers and politicians. I will be able to contribute with what I know about psychology on a community level, and this has truly been a dream for me. So cross your fingers for me! 


Kay Redfield Jamison, William Styron and the True Stories of Mental Illness

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Book recommendations about
Mental illness

Originally posted on Longreads Blog:

Journalist Mary Pilon is a former reporter for The New York Times and Wall Street Journal and the author of 2015’s The Monopolists, the best-selling book about the origins of the board game Monopoly . She’s just announced her next book, The Kevin Show (Bloomsbury, publish date TBD), about a manic depressive Olympic sailor who believes he is the star of ‘The Kevin Show’—hearing and speaking to the voice of the Director, who tells him what to do in the ongoing TV movie of his life. Given her latest project, we’ve asked her to share some of her early book research and recommendations on mental health.

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Protected: The sound of difference

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15 years ago 

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15 years ago my best friend died after a car hit her. She was on her way to school, probably walking while dreaming about her future. About the things she wanted to do, the day coming up. Off course, I don’t know this. But I knew her. I know she lived her life everyday, without fear. She had just had her 16th birthday, one week before she died. Almost an adult, but with so many years in front of her. 

People say that often the best people die first. I know this is a cliche, and that sometimes we forget the negative after someone dies. But I know the reality of what we experienced together. How she made me laugh about anything. Forgetting the people around us, making me feel so happy. I remember her smile, her wisdom beyond her years.

I never forgot her. I also couldn’t stop the pain of feeling torn in two. The tears that never stopped, the funeral where I sang for her. Where I went to the front of the church to tell her how much she meant to me. The way I couldn’t cope with others smiling, laughing together. How dark the world got, my nightmares. 

Today she is still there. The guilt over me surviving when she didn’t. And her voice, telling me not to be stupid. That she wants me to live life to the fullest. That I owe her to experience the things I couldn’t.

I will never forget you. And I’m glad. I’m glad for every second we spent together. 

Protected: The sound of driving back and forth

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Protected: The narcissistic psychologist

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