Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

Smiling instructions…

December 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Note: In honor of Christmas day, I’m not blogging. Or, maybe I’m just lazy. Either way, here’s something I wrote a while back that seems to fit pretty well into a blog about the mind. Enjoy. And, happy holidays!

Wikihow has a whole page full of smiling instructions, to whit: Begin your smile with your eyes. If you find that every time you try to smile with your mouth, you look like you’re faking it or, worse, like you’re in pain, you may find it useful to look in a mirror and smile only with your eyes. Once your eyes are smiling, they tend to pull your whole face (including your mouth) into a natural, beautiful smile.

Hmm. Good advice, I guess, but I’ve got better. Here’s what you do. Close your eyes. Feel your feet on the ground. Realize that you’re connected to everything else on the surface of the planet by dust and rock and old bone and ancient water, plants long dead, pipes, tunnels, veins of sweet precious ore, the cookie someone dropped.
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Hey parents! You’re not talking about sex nearly enough!

December 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Time magazine brings us news of a study published in the journal Pediatrics, and the news is that we parents are not breaking the icky news about sex to our kids early enough. And, even when we think we are, we’re not:

That difference highlights a primary problem in the parent-child dialogue about sex. “A lot of parents think they had a conversation, and the kids don’t remember it at all,” says Dr. Karen Soren, director of adolescent medicine at New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. “Parents sometimes say things more vaguely because they are uncomfortable and they think they’ve addressed something, but the kids don’t hear the topic at all.”

Sound familiar, parents?

Why do we give? Well, it’s complicated…

December 24, 2009 Leave a comment

‘Tis the season, as they say, and at this time of year there is much focus on both giving and receiving.

The New York Post offers an article chock full of the positive reasons we give:

Empathy-driven goodwill is the core of kindness. And it feels good to exercise it. When we help each other, it not only alleviates some measure of suffering in others, it reduces the fear that we are ultimately alone in the world. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the most powerful charities are those whose works are visible, meaningful and effective.

The article goes on to explain that charity involves a “leap of faith,” and says that we are shaken to our very core when a charity is fraudulent.

Brandenberger says teenagers are particularly susceptible to feelings of anger or shame. They recognize they’re less advantaged than those doing the giving. They can also detect messages suggesting the charity is due to a deficit in themselves.

“If you come to save the other person, it implies they can’t save themselves, which is a pretty big critique.

“No one wants to discourage giving at Christmas time. But giving could be complex for the receiver, and a knowledge of that would be a good thing to add to the situation.

As one of the psychologists in the Star article says, “We should come at it with the idea that we’re all in this together.”

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Reefer Madness: Pot music causes pot smoking?

December 23, 2009 Leave a comment

A study in the new issue of the journal Addiction aims to support “an independent association between exposure to cannabis in popular music and early cannabis use among urban American adolescents.”  The researchers found that 9th graders who listened to music with pot lyrics smoked more pot.

Stunning! Students in the highest third of pot-music exposure were more than twice as likely to be puffing the chronic as were students in the lowest third.

Other, less-peer-reviewed independent research has concluded that marijuana-leaf belt buckles cause pot-smoking, as does coming into possession of rolling papers and downloading old Cheech and Chong movies.

Stories about duck sex kinda write themselves

December 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Many a callow 9th-grader has heard the rhyming tale of Dan McGlock, the only man with the corkscrew… uh, you know.

Now comes word from Yale, of all places, that female ducks have evolved a way to reduce the amount of forced copulation by undesirably aggressive male ducks — and the result is reminiscent of poor Dan McGlock. Dan met his demise after he discovered that the target of his affections “had a left-hand thread.”

Can’t get much more lowbrow than that, YALE. Here, go read for yourselves.

Generics vs. Brand-Name Drugs: Not the same after all?

December 23, 2009 Leave a comment

There is growing concern (and continuing controversy) about whether generic drugs are truly equivalent in all cases.

With psych drugs like Lamictal costing a few hundred dollars per month, and the generic equivalent priced at ten bucks, it’s easy to see why this is an important question to answer.

In many cases, U.S. pharmacists are not required to tell you when they’ve switched you to a generic. And there are reports of patients experiencing different side effects and increased symptoms when switched from one generic to another, or from a brand name drug to a generic.

The insurance companies, on the other hand, beg to differ.

Photo credit: Francesco Marino