Best of Our Blogs: June 1, 2018

Have you ever felt completely drained and overwhelmed?

Maybe it’s work or your relationships. Maybe you’re finding it impossible to juggle family and your professional life, let alone a social life.

You realize that as each ball drops, you’re not even enjoying any of it. It’s like one obstacle after another without any respite.

If you’re feeling the burn of burn out, you’re not alone. In fact, one study found 54 percent of survey respondents were stressed in 2017.

What’s the cure?

Slowing down. Single-tasking. Simplifying. Silence. Taking a breath and filtering out the important stuff from the things you think are important.

As you’ll read this week, sometimes discovering what relationships, and even TV shows may be worth ending can reconnect you to what truly matters in your life.

Accepting Death
(Polishing the Fragments) – A personal story of death offers an opportunity to invite presence, acceptance, and meaning in all of our lives.

13 Reasons to Move On
(Sex, Text & What’s Next) – Are gore, horror and violence necessary ingredients to capture a young audience? Does it open the door to conversations or desensitize us more?

Here’s What Happens When You Tell Narcissists They’re Narcissists Revisited
(Narcissism Meets Normalcy) – Should you tell a narcissist they’re a narcissist? Read this first.

How to Help Someone with Anxiety (According to Mental Health Experts)
(Reaching Life Goals) – Here’s why addressing your loved one’s anxiety with rational discussion will be unproductive and what you should do instead.

13 Double Standards Emotional Abusers and Controllers Exhibit in Relationships
(Love Matters) – If you feel anxious, hopeless and trapped in the presence of your partner, you might be a victim of emotional abuse.

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Portable Eye-Testing Device May Help Diagnose Schizophrenia

Research has shown that people with schizophrenia exhibit abnormal electrical activity in the retina. Now a new study finds that a portable device commonly used in optometrists’ offices could allow for a faster diagnosis of the disease, predict relapse and assess symptom severity and treatment effectiveness.

The findings are published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

For the study, researchers at Rutgers University used RETeval, a hand-held device developed to record electrical activity from the retina, to replicate and add to previous studies showing that schizophrenia patients have abnormal electrical activity in this area.

The study, which is the first time a portable device has been used for these tests, reveals that the device can accurately identify reduced electrical activity in multiple cell layers in the retina of schizophrenia participants, including in cell types that had not been studied before in this disorder.

“Schizophrenia is a devastating disorder, probably the most disabling disorder long term. Although we know quite a bit about it, it’s still not that well understood,” said Steven Silverstein, professor of psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and director of research at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care (UBHC), who designed the study.

“Our study should help generate further research into developing a test that clinicians — like psychologists, psychiatrists or nurses — can use in their offices to diagnose, treat and monitor the condition of people with schizophrenia.”

Focusing on eye biomarkers as a way to understand psychiatric disorders is a new field of study.

“Since the retina is part of the nervous system, what is happening in the retina is likely reflective of what is occurring in the brain,” Silverstein said. “For example, we know that certain changes in the retina, like thinning tissue [due to cell loss] or weakening electrical activity, occur alongside loss of brain tissue and reduced brain activity in patients with neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. We and other researchers are now investigating whether retinal changes are related to brain structure and function changes in schizophrenia.”

The researchers evaluated 50 participants: 25 with schizophrenia and 25 with no diagnosed psychiatric disorder. During the test, the participants closed one eye and placed the other against the RETeval device, which flashed 10 to 20 white or colored lights of various intensity against a white or colored background.

A tiny electrode was placed on the skin under the eye to record the retina’s electrical activity. The participants underwent the test in both normal lighting and again after sitting in the dark for 10 minutes in order to evaluate activity in different types of retinal cells. Most individual tests were completed within two minutes.

“Since many of our participants were experiencing severe psychiatric symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, we wanted to use a test that was as noninvasive and quick as possible,” Silverstein said.

“While the portable device clearly distinguished people with schizophrenia from those without a psychiatric diagnosis, it’s too soon to call this a diagnostic tool,” said lead author Docia Demmin, a graduate assistant in UBHC’s Division of Schizophrenia Research and a doctoral student in Rutgers Department of Psychology.

“However, since every prior study has found that people with schizophrenia exhibit reduced retinal wave forms and slowed retinal responses, our research shows that we closing in on an accurate test that is faster, less invasive, inexpensive and more accessible to patients.”

Source: Rutgers University

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Why Being Guarded Isn’t Such a Bad Thing

They say the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, when someone says you’re too “guarded” when it comes to letting new people in, it’s kind of hard to believe that it could be true — especially if you’ve been burned before. And while it’s safe to say that to have a full, meaningful relationship you have to open yourself up eventually, it’s also okay (and even wise) to proceed with caution. Let’s face it, building a wall around yourself isn’t always a bad thing.

Look, a guarded heart is a heart punched so many times, it eventually hardens and rarely softens. Those with guarded hearts understand the difficulty in balancing trust and emotions. We don’t want to be cold, yet we don’t want to be taken advantage of either. Having to protect our hearts might as well be a full-time job. Let’s look at some of the reasons having a guarded heart isn’t always such a bad thing, and remember, it’s okay to be you!

You understand that not everyone’s intentions are pure.

Not everyone is on the same level as you. You’re not crazy; there are people who would hurt you and not feel bad about it. Your job is to try and to figure out who those people are before you’ve got three kids, a marriage, and a minivan.

You accept that you don’t have to let EVERYONE in.

Being a completely open book with everyone who shows you a little attention can cause a lot of unnecessary drama. Use your judgement and be discerning of who you let in and you can save yourself a whole lot of headaches. Sometimes, you have to be guarded. It’s just necessary.

Love gurus everywhere will tell you to take a shot at love, to open up, and let someone in, but that’s insanity. It’s a one-way ticket to winding up married to some fool who sucks.

You are discriminating about who your friends are.

As you scroll through your newsfeed you see — mostly girls — post pictures captioned “My Bestie” or “Best friends forever” after just knowing a person for a week or even days. Now, personally, I feel that is ridiculous. What do you know about a person after a few days of hanging out? These friendships that start so great and so quickly usually end shortly.

Don’t get me wrong, some people meet someone and automatically become best friends and it works out. But for guarded hearts, this never happens. If we consider someone our best friend, we have been close with him or her for at least a year and could trust him or her with our lives. We take the term “best friend” very seriously and expect the people in our lives to do the same.

You don’t share every detail about your life.

Everyone has secrets and personal or family issues. Some people air their dirty laundry for everyone to see, but others keep their lives to themselves. My thought process is as follows: everyone has their own problems, so why should I burden them with my own. They don’t need the extra issues to worry about or carry on their shoulders. Even if you are our best friend, you probably don’t know every detail or problem in our lives. On the other hand, if we share something personal with you, know it is rare and means we trust you.

You prefer quality to quantity.

Why have 20 good friends when you can have 5 best friends? Some people constantly need to be a part of a large group of friends, but people who are guarded prefer a smaller group of close friends. A large group means inevitable and unnecessary drama and probably a future split. Surrounding yourself with a smaller group of friends that you can trust to be loyal and there for you always is much more fulfilling.

You are the farthest thing from fake and stay clear of phonies.

Fake people are the worst. Fake smiles, fake laughs, fake friends. You can’t trust fake people with anything more than the latest gossip around campus. Guarded folks are the opposite of this. We are real and will not lie to you. If you want an honest opinion, we are the person you come to. If you need clear, unbiased advice, come on by. But if you are going to pretend to be someone you’re not, stay away and take your fakeness with you. We don’t want you to waste our time, and we most certainly won’t waste yours.

Your emotions are incredibly intense.

Why? Because we rarely follow our feelings. We like to think of ourselves as emotionally intelligent, so we keep them inside which is why when we do show them, they’re more intense than need be. I’m sad can mean I’m dying and sobbing insideI’m frustrated usually means I could punch a hole in that freaking building right now, and that’s insane means I’m judging you…really hard.

You know your worth.

You have been burned and won’t let it happen again. This shows an attuned sense of self-awareness. People will say you’re shutting people out, but you’re not. You’re shutting the WRONG people out. You’re a warrior with zero time for nonsense. It’s commendable. No matter what the haters say. You’re a worthy challenge and you know that. You set the stakes high, bolt the gate, and wait for the person who is up to the task.

You are worth it and you know it. You’re not looking for just anything. You’re looking for the thing that makes being open WORTH it to YOU.

You understand how life works.

If you’re guarded, you’re not just damaged or broken or intense. You understand that people are not to be trusted without earning it. You get that for the most part, people are kind of terrible. You can call me a downer all you want. You can say that I have a bleak view of humanity.

I say that you just don’t get it. If you think that people should be automatically given the benefit of the doubt, you probably haven’t had enough life experience to have a clear view of the world. The world is a tough place. It’s cruel.

Remember that being guarded and careful isn’t always wrong, especially when it comes to people who you feel won’t reciprocate your commitment and love. And while closing yourself off completely is definitely the safest bet, it doesn’t always have the best payoff. Eventually you’ll find someone worthy of your vulnerability and when you do, I would encourage you to let them in. But only when your heart is ready.

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Three’s not a crowd: The rise of polyamory

The Weekly Review

“If people are honest about who in their lives matters to them, not just sexuality but in terms of a range of relationships they have, most people would have more than one person who they care about in a profound and significant way,” she says. “Rather than thinking non-monogamy is just some sideline freaky practice … [it’s important to get people] to think about how all of us arrange our intimate lives in complex ways.”

18 5 31

Source: ncsf

Everything Happens for a Reason—And Other Things Not to Say When Tragedy Strikes

“Well, it’s the good kind of cancer. You will be better soon.”

Those are the words Elizabeth Gillette heard from some people when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 21 years old. She would need several rounds of chemotherapy followed by radiation treatment. She was terrified — and shocked to hear anyone refer to her cancer as good.

These “responses effectively closed me off to having any further conversation with them because I knew they didn’t understand how scared I was feeling,” said Gillette, LCSW, now an attachment-focused therapist, who specializes in working with individuals and couples as their families grow.

“You can always try again.”

Those are the words Gillette’s clients have heard from family and friends after sharing they’d suffered a miscarriage.

God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle.”

This is another unhelpful response. It “implies that the person must handle the situation well and if they are having a tough time, it must mean something about them and their abilities,” Gillette said.

At least you have your health,” “At least they’re no longer in pain,” “I know how you feel, I’ve lost ______. Or “I’m dealing with this hard thing too.”

These are other examples of phrases that can be hurtful, according to Laura Torres, LPC, a holistic mental health counselor who loves supporting people in navigating anxiety, stress, self-worth issues, relationship challenges and life transitions.

When something terrible happens to someone, we yearn to be supportive. We yearn to say the right things. But often we just blurt out inappropriate things (like the above) and clichés like “Everything happens for a reason,” or “Of course, it’ll be OK; don’t worry.”

In trying to be helpful, we say things we think will be positive, encouraging and optimistic, but end up coming across as callous. Sometimes, we try to distract the person or shift the focus to ourselves, Torres said. And that doesn’t help either.

Sometimes we don’t say anything at all, she said.

We think that if we acknowledge the pain someone is experiencing, we’ll only make it worse. We also turn to clichés because we’re uncomfortable with pain. “I think our ability to be with someone else’s pain and vulnerability is a direct reflection of our ability to be with our own pain,” Torres said. “If we feel shame around our own tenderness, we are going to try to fix or avoid it in others.”

Whatever our reasons, any time we try to reassure someone, fix the situation or ignore it altogether, “it can feel dismissive and invalidating,” Torres said. We send the message that their pain is not OK. It is “not welcome in the context of this relationship.”

We essentially tell the person: “I don’t want to hear that you’re sad right now; let’s focus on something happier, because this is making me uncomfortable,” Gillette said. We essentially tell them that we don’t want to have a real conversation about their experience, she said.

We also send another damaging message: You better hold it together. Which is exactly what people try to do. They try to deal with their pain and heartache on their own. They try to push through. They do this so the people around them can feel more comfortable, Torres said. “As you can imagine, this can add layers of emotion, [such as] resentment, sadness, frustration, guilt on top of the initial pain, which is why I think we often don’t reach out for support.”

Offering genuine support doesn’t have to be complicated. These tips can help.

Just listen. “When we are struggling, what we really need is to feel seen, heard, and know that we are not alone,” Torres said. “We need someone to just sit there and be with us in our pain rather than trying to make it go away.”

In fact, being present with a person’s pain is the most loving thing we can do, Gillette said.

Torres shared this poignant quote from Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton, which speaks to this: “We think our job as humans is to avoid pain, our job as parents is to protect our children from pain, and our job as friends is to fix each other’s pain…people who are hurting don’t need Avoiders, Protectors, or Fixers. What we need are patient, loving witnesses. People to sit quietly and hold space for us. People to stand in helpless vigil to our pain.”

Honor their experience. According to Gillette, you might say something like: “I am so sorry you are experiencing this. I want you to know I am here and will continue to be here. I will check on you in a couple of days to see how you’re doing.” She noted that this honors the person’s experience, instead of dismissing it or trying to change it.

Anticipate their needs. Asking someone what they need might make them even more overwhelmed, so it’s important to try to anticipate their needs, and meet them. For instance, when tragedy strikes, people usually aren’t thinking about day-to-day needs, such as grocery shopping or dinner or laundry or who’s taking the kids to school.

According to Gillette, you might say: “I would love to cook dinner for your family. Would it be better to come by on Saturday or Sunday to drop it off on the porch for you?”

Seek out additional resources. If you’d like to read more on this topic, Gillette loves the book There Is No Good Card for This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell.

When tragedy strikes, it’s understandable that we don’t know what to say. Even therapists get tongue-tied. “I know that I have held back or turned to clichés when I’m stuck in trying to say the right or perfect thing to support someone,” Torres said. And that’s OK.

The individuals who made unhelpful comments to Gillette weren’t trying to hurt her. It had nothing to do with them not caring. They also were shocked and scared, and in their distress insensitive words stumbled out. Which Gillette now understands.

“There is no perfect thing to say that will make things better,” Torres said. “All we have to do is show up and be there with our love and tenderness.”

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Lasting Regrets May Come From Not Living Up to ‘Ideal Self’

Regrets may be bred of forsaken dreams, romance not pursued, or taking a job near home rather than an adventurous position overseas. But the most enduring regrets are the ones that stem from our failure to live up to our ideal selves, according to new Cornell University research.

In a new study, researchers found people are haunted more by regrets about failing to fulfill their hopes, goals and aspirations than by regrets about failing to fulfill their duties, obligations and responsibilities.

Psychologist Dr. Tom Gilovich and former Cornell graduate student Dr. Shai Davidai, discuss their findings in an article “The Ideal Road Not Taken,” which appears in the journal Emotion.

The research builds on the idea that three elements make up a person’s sense of self: the actual, ideal and the ought selves.

The actual self is made up of the attributes a person believes they possess. The ideal self is the attributes they would ideally like to possess, such as hopes, goals, aspirations or wishes. The ought self is the person they feel they should have been based on duties, obligations and responsibilities.

Gilovich and Davidai surveyed hundreds of participants through the course of six studies, describing the differences between the ought and ideal selves, and asking them to list and categorize their regrets based on these descriptions.

Interestingly, study participants said they experienced regrets about their ideal self far more often (72 percent versus 28 percent) than the other perspectives. More than half mentioned more ideal-self regrets than ought-self regrets when asked to list their regrets in life so far.

Moreover, when asked to name their single biggest regret in life, 76 percent of participants mentioned a regret about not fulfilling their ideal self.

Why do ideal-self failures spark such enduring regret?

The expectations of the ought self are usually more concrete and involve specific rules — such as how to behave at a funeral — and so are easier to fulfill. But ideal-related regrets tend to be more general: Be a good parent, be a good mentor.

“Well, what does that mean, really?” Gilovich said. “There aren’t clear guideposts. And you can always do more.”

The research has practical implications, he said. First, we often assume we first need inspiration before we can strive to achieve our ideals. But a significant amount of psychological research shows that’s not true, Gilovich said.

“As the Nike slogan says: ‘Just do it,’” he said. “Don’t wait around for inspiration, just plunge in. Waiting around for inspiration is an excuse. Inspiration arises from engaging in the activity.”

And people often fail to achieve their ideal goals because they’re worried about how it will look to others. For example, a person might want to learn how to sing but feel they could never let others hear how bad they are.

Again, Gilovich says, just do it.

“People are more charitable than we think and also don’t notice us nearly as much as we think,” he said. “If that’s what holding you back — the fear of what other people will think and notice — then think a little more about just doing it.”

Source: Cornell University

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Placenta May Play Key Role in Schizophrenia

A new study suggests that the placenta may factor into the risk for schizophrenia, as well as other neurodevelopmental disorders including ADHD, autism and Tourette syndrome.

The new findings, published in the journal Nature Medicine, reveal that schizophrenia genes appear to be “turned on” during complicated pregnancies, and the more these genes are turned on, the more the placenta shows other signs of stress such as inflammation.

This new discovery would allow scientists to more accurately predict mental illness and to develop strategies to prevent or reduce its occurrence by improving the health and resiliency of the placenta.

“For the first time, we have found an explanation for the connection between early life complications, genetic risk, and their impact on mental illness, and it all converges on the placenta,” said Dr. Daniel R. Weinberger, who led the team of investigators on the study and is CEO of the Lieber Institute for Brain Development (LIBD) in Baltimore, Md.

In contrast to previous research that focused on how genes tied to behavioral disorders directly alter prenatal brain development, the new study found that many genes associated with risk for schizophrenia appear to alter early brain development indirectly, by affecting the health of the placenta.

The placenta has been the subject of myth and ritual in many cultures, and yet it remains a widely neglected human organ in science, despite its essential role in supplying critical nutrients and chemicals for normal prenatal development. In fact, the placenta is the only organ removed from the body that is not routinely sent to the laboratory for examination.

For more than two decades, brain development during pregnancy and shortly after birth has remained central to a hypothesis that schizophrenia is a neurodevelopment disorder. But the biological mechanisms involved were poorly understood.

Prior research has found that genetic variants alone increase the odds of developing schizophrenia by only a fraction, while early life complications during pregnancy and labor can increase risk up to twofold.

For the new study, the researchers analyzed over 2,800 adult individuals, 2,038 of whom had schizophrenia, of various ethnic backgrounds from four countries, including the U.S., Europe and Asia. All had undergone genetic testing and were surveyed for obstetrical history information.

Researchers found a significant link between genes associated with risk for schizophrenia and a history of a potentially serious pregnancy complication. People with a high genetic risk and serious early life complications have at least a fivefold greater likelihood of developing schizophrenia compared to those with similarly high genetic risk but no history of serious obstetrical complications.

This information led to a series of analyses of gene expression in several placenta tissue samples, including samples of placenta from complicated pregnancies that include preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction. The findings reveal a striking and consistent turning on of the schizophrenia genes in these placentae.

One of the many mysteries of such developmental behavioral disorders is why their incidence is two to four times greater in males than in females.

The new findings may shed light on this mystery. They show that the schizophrenia genes turned on in the placenta from complicated pregnancies were significantly more common in placentas from male compared with female children. The placenta appears to be at least part of the explanation for the sex bias associated with these disorders.

“The surprising results of this study make the placenta the centerpiece of a new realm of biological investigation related to how genes and the environment interact to alter the trajectory of human brain development,” said Weinberger.

Source: The Lieber Institute for Brain Development

 

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Podcast: From Tragedy to Transformation – How a Psychologist is Born

Linda Meyers was twenty-eight and the mother of three young boys when her mother, after a lifetime of threats, died by suicide. Staggered by conflicting feelings of relief and remorse, she believed that the best way to give meaning to her mother’s death was to make changes to her own life. Bolstered by the women’s movement of the seventies, she left her marriage, went to college, started a successful family acting business, and established a fulfilling career. She recounts all of this in a memoir titled The Tell, and speaks candidly with our hosts to share her fascinating and inspiring story.

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Linda Meyers Show Highlights:

“It was a very very special time, because I had the support of Betty Friedan, of Gloria Steinem, of the whole women’s movement.” ~ Linda Meyers

[1:45]   What was it like for a woman in college in the 70s?

[2:55]   The impact of her mother’s suicide.

[9:10]   Being a psychologist as a kid.

[11:25] Was there discrimination in the classroom?

[13:44] The boy who became Ralph Lauren.

[15:24] The family acting business.

 

 

About Our Guest

Linda I. Meyers is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in New York City and Princeton, N.J., who has been published in professional and academic journals. Two chapters from her debut memoir were published in 2016 — “The Flowers,” a top-five finalist in Alligator Juniper’s annual contest in creative nonfiction, and “The Spring Line” in Post Road.

The Tell: A Memoir

 

About The Psych Central Show Hosts

Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar and anxiety disorders. In addition to hosting The Psych Central Show, Gabe is an associate editor for PsychCentral.com. He also runs an online Facebook community, The Positive Depression/Bipolar Happy Place, and invites you to join. To work with Gabe, please visit his website, gabehoward.com.

 

 

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Vincent M. Wales is a former suicide prevention counselor who lives with persistent depressive disorder. In addition to co-hosting The Psych Central Show, Vincent is the author of several award-winning novels and the creator of costumed hero Dynamistress. Visit his websites at www.vincentmwales.com and www.dynamistress.com.

 

 

 

 

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Eysenck’s Personality Inventory (EPI) (Extroversion/Introversion)

The Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI) measures two pervasive, independent dimensions of personality, Extraversion-Introversion and Neuroticism-Stability, which account for most of the variance in the personality domain. Each form contains 57 “Yes-No” items with no repetition of items. The inclusion of a falsification scale provides for the detection of response distortion. The traits measured are Extraversion-Introversion and Neuroticism. When you fill out Eysenck’s Personality Inventory (EPI) you get three scores.

  • The ‘lie score’ is out of 9. It measures how socially desirable you are trying to be in your answers.Those who score 5 or more on this scale are probably trying to make themselves look good and are not being totally honest in their responses.
  • The ‘E score’ is out of 24 and measures how much of an extrovert you are.
  • The ‘N score’ is out of 24 and measures how neurotic you are.

To interpret the scores, your E score and your N score are plotted on a graph from which you can read your personality characteristics. The nearer the outside of the circle you are, the more marked are the personality traits. Please note that the EPI is a very simplistic type of personality measurement scale, so if you have come out as a personality that does not match what you thought before you took the test, you are probably right and the test is probably wrong!

EPI scales

Instructions

Here are some questions regarding the way you behave, feel and act. Each question has radio buttons to answer YES or NO. Try to decide whether YES or NO represents your usual way of acting or feeling. Then check those radio named YES or NO. Work quickly, and don’t spend too much time over any question, we want your first reaction, not a long drawn-out thought process. The whole questionnaire shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Be sure not to omit any questions. Start now, work quickly and remember to answer every question. There are no right or wrong answers, and this isn’t a test of intelligence or ability, but simply a measure of the way you behave.

This test is a demonstration of psychological tests plugin.

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