Psychological research has had a tendency to study negative effects of behavior both on the individual and cultural level. But new research has started to focus more on the positive aspects of behavior. I like this shift, as I think it will change how we interact with 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 which environmental, psychological and biological factors contribute to their genetic make-up.
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 normally are harmless 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.
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 Openness, 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.
Since 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- What Are the Different Types of Psychologists and What Do They Do? (psychology.about.com)
The past year has been challenging for many of us. More than ever we need new ideas, hope and willingness to change. What would you do to make the world better? And what needs to change ?
Becoming a mother is hard to describe. Emotions you didn’t even know about, come forward like surprising gifts you didn’t even know you wanted. My son has been my blessing. A lot of mothers probably feel the same, and I’m so happy to be one of them. It’s been a journey, seeing the world from a child’s point of view. Everything we take for granted they discover for the first time, making me appreciate the small things.
Finding good memoirs describing multiple personalities is rare. This managed to portray accurately how it is to live with dissociative identity disorder, and the therapy that helped.
Annora’s intensifying bouts of amnesia caused her husband to seek marital counseling for them; whereupon, the therapist observed even more abnormal behaviors in Annora. She was subsequently diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), also known as Multiple Personality Disorder. Buried inner conflicts began to morph into external trouble and at first these troubles seemed to lack sense and organization. With the help of her therapist, Annora battled her disorder and the pieces of the puzzle came together to reveal a carefully hidden secret so devastating, that even Annora was not aware of it. We Are Annora will rivet readers as the story unravels clues which climax into a surprise ending.
Marrow’s choice of first-person narrative successfully pulls the reader into this page-turning true story which so richly demonstrates the human will to survive amidst a crippling disorder that is still so misunderstood. Throughout the pages of this book, struggles of fear and hope, love and hate, confusion, and utter clarity give the reader an “insider” perspective of the challenges faced by traumatized people with DID. Hence, the reader acquires a better understanding of the difficulties suffered by multiples and the potential for true healing.
From the Back Cover
Annora grew up in an orphanage and so the preservation of her precious family was her number one commitment. But that commitment was threatened when, during marital counseling, Annora’s therapist began to recognize unusual and abnormal behaviors in her. Annora was subsequently diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as Multiple Personality Disorder. But that wouldn’t stop Annora from declaring her sanity to her husband and begging him to find them a new therapist.
Annora reveals the complex issues of her experience in this easy-to-read story that begins with a car accident and travels through a world of horrifying challenges laced with enough hope and vision to pull her through. It seems that survival is in Annora’s genes and she is anything but a coward, though she accuses herself of just that. “Maybe having alters is just a coward’s way of putting my memories and emotions some place outside of me so that I don’t have to feel their pain.”
Perhaps, in some way, she was right.
Reading the book was hard, but I was so glad I did. I understood better how it must be to live life shattered after trauma, and how the dissociated parts can find their way to healing, understanding they no longer need to be afraid. Annora was truly an inspirational woman, and sharing her story takes courage. It might finally reduce some sigma and explain the condition in a way people can understand.
More about it on goodreads
The white mattress lies right in front of me, leaning into the wall. Small buttons run parallel along its surface, creating creases looking like small valleys. The soft white color soothes my mind. My son is nursing, and I am filled with gratitude. I can see his small hand milking an imaginary breast. His fingers are tiny, his thumb the shape of a triangle. Looking at his hand, I remember how his soft and warm skin feels when it closes around my finger when he is afraid and needs comfort.
Sometimes I stress. There is so much to do and too little time. I constantly crave stimulation, feeling bored without it. And then. Moments like these. When I remember what life is all about. When sensations arrive one at a time, making it possible to take them in. It makes all the difference, because focusing intently on one thing makes it easier for emotions to come forward and the body to react. Too much stimulation leaves no space for the unconscious. Like an overcrowded stadium of people, feelings drown in noise and slip away.
When I remember my past, the memories coming forward are all rich with details. Without sensations, I would probably never have remembered the events. I don´t have many memories, maybe because I spent so much time inside my head instead of looking around.
Living my life today, I try to use my senses more. When old, I want to feel I have lived my life to the fullest, and that means being present.
My son reminds me all the time of the importance of being in the now. His fascination of what he sees and touches makes me interested too. That brings a whole new level to everyday life, a true antidote to depression and negative feelings.
I want to write about covid-19 for the simple reason that it effects all of us. We are in an unique situation that brings uncertainty and fear to many, problems we thought were big before are for some lessened, as we slowly realize what a crisis can be. People loose their job, their security and are isolated, and that is really hard for lonely people. My sister had to be collected by our mum because she sat alone at home and struggled with not seeing anyone for so many days. What with all that where struggling before the society as we know it is changing. I am wondering how people are around the globe! Are they afraid? Will life become even harder in the aftermath? What will it do to us? I hope people are safe and have people to talk to if need be. Never be afraid of reaching out to those who are willing to help, because luckily many still want to be there for other, even if it’s harder to be there physical there still is talking over the phone or find support on the internet.
Dr Matthew Whalley, clinical psychologist
Dr Hardeep Kaur
Our world is changing rapidly at the moment. Given some of the news coverage it is difficult not to worry about what it all means for yourself, and for those you love.
We have put together this free guide Living with worry and anxiety amidst global uncertainty.
We have included a mixture of psychoeducation about normal and excessive worry, lots of normalization, and a selection of practical exercises that you, your clients, or anyone can use to manage worry and maintain well-being in these uncertain times. Please feel free to share this widely.
Wishing you well,
Dr Matthew Whalley & Dr Hardeep Kaur
Download (UK English): Living with worry and anxiety amidst global uncertainty (UK English version)
Download (US English): Living with worry and anxiety amidst global uncertainty (US English version)
2020-03-22: We have had a number of kind offers to translate the guide. If you would like to contribute a version in your language please download the template below, and drop us a quick email (email@example.com) so that we can let you know if someone else has already begun a translation in your language (if they have, we can put you in touch so that the effort can be shared).
Download: Translation template
- German – proofing completed, waiting for final amends.
- Bulgarian – in progress.
- Russian – in progress.
- Spanish (South American) – in progress.
I am scared. I’m scared by right-wing leaders and political parties who are popping up in Europe in like viruses. For that reason, the psychology behind inequality must be talked about. This is a reblog from an article on psychlogytoday.
Economic inequality is at an all-time high in the United States. Some claim that decades of systematic legislation have resulted in the wealthiest three families owning more wealth than the bottom half of the country.
This trend is not reflected in other countries with developed economies: Out of all 36 countries with comparable economics, the US ranks last in equal income distribution. As a result, we have returned to Great Depression levels of income inequality, and for the first time in American history, the working class pay a higher effective tax rate than billionaires.
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The adverse effects of economic inequality are well documented. Across societies, higher rates of inequality are associated with a myriad of health and social problems including obesity, mental illness, decreased life expectancy, and higher crime rates. The World Economic Forum ranked income inequality as one of the most important trends driving global risks such as social instability and unemployment. And yet a recent poll shows that less than half of Americans view income inequality as a serious problem. Why don’t people care?
Political scientists, economists, and philosophers have wrestled with this paradox for decades. The answer to this question—at least in part—can be explained by understanding how people experience inequality in their daily lives. Here, we offer one slice of the explanation: the psychology behind inequality perpetuates an unequal system.
People disproportionally care about local inequality
In an age where we are spending more and more time online, it is easy to compare ourselves to others. Yet not all comparisons are created equal (pun intended).
I may care less about a celebrity buying a multimillion-dollar house than my neighbors posting pictures about their luxurious vacation in the Bahamas. This is because social comparisons are particularly salient when made to others in your community. In comparisons with similar people, inequality can drastically shift our behaviors.
In one particularly creative study, researchers examined how a neighbor winning the lottery shaped others’ financial behavior. They pulled data from the Dutch Postcode Lottery, a system that randomly selects a postal code and distributes new BMWs to all lottery participants in that area.
This creates a unique situation where nonparticipants (who did not buy a lottery ticket) are faced with upwards social comparisons to neighbors who just won a new BMW. The feeling of “keeping up with the Joneses” can be potent: Nonparticipants who lived next to winners were far more likely to buy a new car in the six months after the lottery, compared to those who lived in non-winning districts.
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Visible inequality perpetuates adverse effects
Recent work also reveals that concealing inequality (e.g., not knowing how much your colleagues make) allows cooperation to blossom. And yet we live in a world rife with obvious and blatant inequalities.
To explore how visible inequality changes people’s behavior, researchers at Yale University created mini-societies of individuals with varying degrees of economic inequality and wealth visibility. When rich participants knew their neighbors were poor, they became less likely to cooperate with them. Wealthy individuals chose to selectively play with rich partners, resulting in a “rich get richer” and “poor get poorer” scenario. In contrast, when wealth was invisible (and thus inequality was unknown), cooperation flourished.
These experiments reveal a contradiction of sorts. Instead of rebalancing the scales, wealthier individuals use the knowledge that others have less than themselves to perpetuate inequality—perhaps in part because those who are poor are believed to be less deserving.
Inequality increases risky behavior
Although social comparisons with others in your community are particularly influential in shaping how we act as consumers (e.g., buying fancy cars), these comparisons can also drive detrimental, risky behaviors.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill wondered how constantly comparing oneself to top earners influenced people’s decision-making abilities. In one experiment, they asked their subjects to gamble, but each gamble differed in value and risk (e.g., 90% chance to win 28 cents or 5% chance to win $5).
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The researchers split participants into two groups. One group was told that past participants earned an average of 51 cents and the spread of earnings was relatively equal, while the other group was told that past participants earned on average 51 cents, but the spread of earnings was highly unequal.
When the distribution of earnings for past participants was very unequal, current participants took greater risks, presumably to try to achieve higher monetary outcomes. This relationship between inequality and risk taking is mirrored in the real world as well. People who live in states with greater income inequality exhibit greater risky behavior (e.g., greater participation in lottery gambles and payday loans).
Rising inequality causes people to take risker endeavors as they attempt to reach the top, but this may ultimately contribute to maintaining an unequal system. By examining the psychological impact of inequality, we can begin to understand the deeper mechanisms that contribute to the perpetuation of economic inequality. The question becomes, then, will we manage to do anything about it?
About the Author
Oriel FeldmanHall, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences at Brown University.
Norway is a world-leader in terms of engagement in voluntary work, with half the Norwegian population contributing in some way. These efforts benefit both individuals and society in general. It might seem strange that one of the riches countries in the world also has such high numbers when it comes to volunteering, but I find it logical. When you have met the most basic needs, for food, shelter and protection, first then you have the energy or possibility to devote time to other things. In Norway we have manageable working hours, earning enough to live a comfortable life. Off course we have poor people here to, but our social system protects those who cannot work for different reasons. Being a volunteer is good both for others, but also for yourself. I have been a volunteer several times myself, and there really is no feeling like doing something for others without expecting anything in return. Even if I help others in my job, that’s payed work, so It doesn’t always make me feel like I have contributed enough. Volunteering, on the other hand, I do at the cost of my own time that I could have used for recreation.
My son is soon one year, and I plan to take him with me doing volunteer work. In that way he will see the value of doing something for others and experience how that feels. We are so privileged to live here in Norway, so we should appreciate that and do what we can for those who need it.
I have not worked a lot with eating disorder, but I have encountered it. Eating disorders in males is often overlooked, and more knowledge about it is needed. BBC has now made a documentary focusing on eating disorders in men.
In a new BBC documentary Cricketer, Andrew Flintoff MBE will seek to understand the causes and impact of bulimia on his life, and why eating disorders in general are so hidden in men.He will meet experts and male sufferers and aim to return home with a new understanding of what it means to be a man with an eating disorder. Freddie is the cricket all-rounder who became one of Britain’s best-loved sporting heroes before forging an equally successful career on screen, most notably as a presenter of Top Gear. But Freddie hasn’t always coped well with the demands of life in the public eye.
As a new recruit to the England side in 2001, under constant scrutiny from fans, the press and his colleagues, Flintoff felt pressure to keep his weight down. It was an obsession that soon evolved into full-blown bulimia as he tried to keep up with his slimmer, fitter teammates. What started as a quick fix solution soon spiralled into something he battled with through his entire career and which he hasn’t fully dealt with to this day.
Up to one in four people living with bulimia are men. Their numbers have more than doubled in the last decade – but it is estimated that only 10% seek professional help for this devastating illness.
Freddie says: “If this resonates with one person watching, or through this we can show someone that there is help out there, then this is worth doing.”
Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, says: “I would like to thank Freddie for opening up about his struggle with bulimia in this very personal film for BBC One. I hope this film will raise awareness about a subject that is all too often a taboo and make a difference to the way men talk about mental health.”
The documentary is part of the BBC’s ongoing commitment to mental health.
Finally, after one hour of breastfeeding and singing, my son fell asleep. I was ready to do the same, but by now I was too awake to fall into the Land of dreaming myself. So, I put on an audiobook, as I often do when I have the opportunity and continued listening to a biography about Anne Grete Solberg. It is fascinating reading. Solberg was shot by her ex-husband and lost her arm and almost died. She was also shot in her hip, but did fortunately not loose her foot. At the beginning of her stay in hospital she felt terrible, like her life was over. But, she had worked as a couch for many years and decided to apply the principles to herself. She wanted to set a goal that would make sense to here, and landed on becoming the coolest woman in Norway with one hand.
This goal became her motivator and savior. Every time she felt sorry for herself, she remembered how a cool woman would handle the situation and got herself together. With that goal in sight she gradually built herself up again; She learned to eat with one hand, decided to eat healthy, took a shower as soon as possible, even if that meant wrapping herself in a ‘suit’ so that water wouldn’t touch her wounds, and started to exercise. Ultimately, she also decided to participate in a marathon, a goal that seemed impossible until she did it.
Solberg is an example of how far we can come, no matter our circumstances. She used her thoughts and visualization technique to cheer herself on, and allied herself with people who wanted to fight with her, to achieve her goals. She felt all kinds of emotions, but did not dwell on them until she became depressed, she acknowledged them but then moved on.
Trauma can happen to all of us. Life will throw challenges on us all, I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t suffered some loss. Building yourself up again is never easy, but it was good to listen to a story about somebody who did it.