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Popular Articles

Crazy-Makers: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

When You Have Been Betrayed

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Happiness is An Attitude

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?

Popular Audios

Panic Assistance

Motivational Audios

Mindfulness Training

Rational Thinking

Relaxation for Children

Loving Kindness Meditation

Self-Esteem Exercise

Lies You Were Told

Choosing Happiness

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

All Audio Articles

PsychNotes June 2010
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Clinical and Sport Psychologist

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Index        Next

JUNE 24, 2010

Body Image and Marital Satisfaction

Women's positive body images were found to be associated with greater sexual frequency in their marriage and a higher marital satisfaction rating by both partners. A significant part of the satisfaction in the marriage was due to the woman's feelings of sexual attractiveness and not due to her overall self-esteem, her body mass index, or neuroticism (Meltzer & McNulty, 2010). These researchers suggest that marital issues may be addressed, in part, by improving the wife's body image.

Meltzer, A.L. & McNulty, J.K.(2010). Body image and marital satisfaction: Evidence for the mediating role of sexual frequency and sexual satisfaction. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(2), 156-164.

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JUNE 20, 2010

ADHD: A Problem With Restraint?

A number of cognitive functions have been proposed to be involved with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in adults including:
1) inhibition—the ability to restrain oneself from a behavior or decision;
2) fluency—the ability to verbally identify words while processing certain information such as just saying words that start with a certain letter;
3) planning—the ability to predict and organize;
4) working memory—how much information can be retained for 10-15 seconds; and
5) set shifting—ability to refocus attention between tasks or to another task.

In a study of diagnosed but never medicated adults with ADHD, Boonstra et al (2010) found that the problem areas were inhibition and set shifting. They suggested that ADHD may be have more related to problems with inhibition than to problems with attention as there were no significant differences for fluency, planning, and working memory.

Boonstra, A.M., Kooij, J.J.S., Oosterlaan, J., Sergeant, J.A., Buitelaar, J.K. (2010). To act or not to act, that's the problem: Primarily inhibition difficulties in adult ADHD. Neuropsychology, 24(2), 209-221.

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JUNE 19, 2010

Mindfulness and Flow in the Workplace

The concept of flow in which an individual is fully engaged in an activity with a high level of focus/concentration, intense enjoyment, confidence, and transitions into peak experiences requires a state of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the immediate experience and allowing irrelevant thoughts to diminish.  Researchers Nielsen and Cleal (2010) studied flow in the work environment and found that tasks including planning, problem-solving, and evaluation were more likely to involve a flow state than more stable job demands.

It appears that these tasks may be more likely to involve a creative thinking process which may more naturally elicit a state of flow. However, by practicing mindfulness techniques we may be more able to develop a flow across job characteristics thus increasing enjoyment and productivity in the workplace.

Nielsen, K. Cleal, B. (2010).Predicting flow at work: Investigating the activities and job characteristics that predict flow states at work. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15(2), 180-190.

Read: Why Are Meditative Relaxation and Mindfulness Important?

View Qi Gong Videos

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JUNE 15, 2010

"I Think She Wants Me!" A Study of Sexual Misperception

Researchers Farris et al (2010) showed that men under a moderate influence of alcohol were more likely to misperceive women's friendliness as sexual interest. However, they were able to correctly interpret the meaning associated with conservative or provocative clothing indicating that not all judgment deteriorated only that associated with nonverbal ambiguous cues.

This research may have implications regarding issues such as date-rape in which the man and woman's perception of the event may vary. 

Farris, C., Treat, T.A. & Viken, R.J. (2010). Alcohol alters men's perceptual and decisional processing of women's sexual interest. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 119(2), 427-432.

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JUNE 14, 2010

Violent Video Games Cause Aggression

Whether or not individuals have a difference of opinion regarding violent video games, a statistical review of previous research studies controlling for weaknesses in design demonstrated a causal link between playing violent video games, increased angry thoughts, increased emotional response, and increased aggression. Not only that but a connection was found between violent video games and a reduction in empathy for others and acting in ways that benefit others (Anderson et al, 2010).

Many people disagree that such a connection exists because they don't want to believe that the video games they enjoy can be harmful. They also point out examples of people who play violent games and who are not aggressive. The nature of research must be understood in that individuals who are outside the norm always exist, but for the most part, this research shows that people experience an increase in aggression and decrease in the concern for the welfare of others.
Anderson, C.A., Shibuya, A., Ihori, N., Swing, E.L., Bushman, B.J., Sakamoto, A., Rothstein, H.R., Saleem, M. (2010). Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in Eastern and Western countries: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 136(2), 151-173. 98(3), 405-419.

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JUNE 13, 2010

How Do You Handle Rejection?

In an online dating interaction, those lower in self-esteem tended to respond to rejection with negative self-statements, self-blame, and criticism of the rejector. Not only that, but they also experienced the physiological response of increased cortisol reactivity (the stress hormone). Researchers Ford and Collins (2010) indicated that the self-blame characteristic of low self-esteem linked to the increased cortisol reactivity which appeared to increase the negativity toward the online partner. In addition, they question the potential health consequences of rejection given the stress reaction of increased cortisol which has previously been shown to be linked to heart disease.

Ford, M.B. & Collins, N.L. (2010). Self-esteem moderates neuroendocrine and psychological responses to interpersonal rejection. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(3), 405-419.

Read: Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy, and Impact on Relationships

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JUNE 11, 2010

Mindfulness May Prevent Relapse

Substance abuse relapse is strongly connected to depressive symptoms causing cravings. Researchers (Witkiewitz & Bowen, 2010) suggest that the relationship between negative emotion and substance abuse relapse can be modified by using mindfulness-based relapse prevention. The mindfulness practice may provide an alternative method to reduce negative emotions which contribute to cravings.

Witkiewitz, K. & Bowen, S. Depression, craving, and substance use following a randomized trial of mindfulness-based relapse prevention. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(3), 362-374.

Read: Why Are Meditative Relaxation and Mindfulness Important?

View Qi Gong Videos

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JUNE 10, 2010

To Cry or Not to Cry?

In therapy it is generally considered beneficial for clients to express their emotions. However, there appears to be an optimal level of emotional expression that is related to successful therapeutic outcome. In other words, too much or too little emotion during therapy sessions may not be beneficial (Carryer & Greenberg, (2010).

A therapist helps the client navigate the path of expressing emotions. For those who tend to hold in their emotions, it may be necessary to help release the emotions, but too much might be overwhelming when they are not used to it. For those who are too emotionally expressive, they may need cognitive methods to help reduce the intensity of the emotions.

Carryer, J.R & Greenberg, Leslie S. Optimal levels of emotional arousal in experiential therapy of depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(2), 190-199.

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JUNE 9, 2010

Lying Online: Be Careful What You Read

An interesting study by Naquin et al (2010) showed that more people were willing to lie when using e-mail as compared to paper and pen communication even when assured that the lie could not be discovered either way. I wonder if perhaps communication online appears less “real” to people than when having to physically write. Whatever the cause of this phenomena, as users of online communication we need to be cautious when evaluating information particularly when it is anonymous.

Naquin, C.E., Kurtzberg, T.R., Belkin, L.Y. The finer points of lying online: E-mail versus pen and paper. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(2), 387-394.

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JUNE 8, 2010

Fountain of Youth: Exercise Slows Mental Decline

For those over age 50, the amount of exercise in which a person engages can predict two and a half years later the amount of cognitive decline. Those who are inactive were shown by Aichberger et al (2010) to have reduced verbal fluency and recall compared to those who were at least moderately active even when other health factors were examined. The researchers suggest that physical activity may be especially important when other risk factors for mental decline are present such as depression or health conditions.

Aichberger, M.C., Busch, M.A., Reischies, F.M., Ströhle, A., Heinz, A., Rapp, M.A.(2010). Effect of physical inactivity on cognitive performance after 2.5 years of follow-up: Longitudinal results from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement (SHARE). GeroPsych: The Journal of Gerontopsychology and Geriatric Psychiatry, 23(1), 7-15.

Read: Wellness: How to Reduce Illness and Its Effects

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JUNE 7, 2010

Is Rage Worth the Physical Suffering?

Individuals with explosive rage are more likely to suffer the health consequences of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, back/neck pain, ulcers, headaches, and other chronic pain. Researchers McCloskey et al (2010) controlled for other risk factors of these illnesses indicating that smoking, body mass, substance use, past injuries, and major depression did NOT account for the differences in health.

Explosive anger is an out-of-control episode that is extreme. In other words, normal anger is not necessarily associated with these health consequences. However, this research does indicate that for those with explosive anger episodes it may be important for health reasons to learn methods of managing anger. These methods include stress management techniques and cognitive challenging of the irrational angry thinking style.

McCloskey, M.S., Kleabir, K., Berman, M.E., Chen, E.Y., Coccaro, E.F. (2010) Unhealthy aggression: Intermittent explosive disorder and adverse physical health outcomes. Health Psychology, 29(3), 324-332.

Download Relaxation Audio

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JUNE 6, 2010

Is Mindfulness-Based Therapy Effective?

An examination of 39 research studies which included a variety of medical and psychiatric conditions showed that mindfulness-based therapy is an effective and promising approach to treating anxiety and depression in various populations including cancer patients and those with anxiety and/or depressive disorders (Hofmann et al, 2010).

Mindfulness practices can easily be incorporated into your life to help improve mood and reduce stress.  Numerous methods are available so that each individual is likely to find one that fits his/her personality style.

Hofmann, SG., Sawyer, A.T., Witt, A.A. Oh, D. The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(2), 169-183.

Read:  Why Are Meditative Relaxation and Mindfulness Important?

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JUNE 5, 2010

Security in Relationships Related to Less Dishonesty

In a series of studies, Gillith et al (2010) showed that insecurity in a relationship was related to increased lying and cheating. In fact, increasing the sense of security was more effective in reducing dishonesty than improving mood.

Gillath, O., Sesko, A.K., Shaver, P.R., Chun, D.S. (2010). Attachment, authenticity, and honesty: Dispositional and experimentally induced security can reduce self- and other-deception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(5), 841-855.

Read:  When You Have Been Betrayed

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JUNE 4, 2010

Lunch Break or Stress Break?

To determine the most effective method to reduce stress at work, researchers Krajewski et al (2010) assigned call center agents to either a 20 minute progressive muscle relaxation group or a small-talk group. The results indicated that only the relaxation reduced afternoon strain.

Often we think we are relaxing when we take a break such as talking to co-workers, but only by achieving a deeper state of relaxation are we able to minimize stress over a longer period of time.

Krajewski, J. Wieland, R. Sauerland, M. Regulating strain states by using the recovery potential of lunch breaks. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15(2),  131-139.

Download Relaxation Audio

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JUNE 3, 2010

Stress Management Treatment for Insomnia

Although both depression and stress may be related to increased problems with insomnia, negative sleep-related thoughts that lead to a cycle of insomnia tend to occur with stress but not as much with depression. Therefore, Brand et al (2010) suggest stress management as an important treatment for insomnia.

In particular, stress management needs to address not only relaxation methods but the negative thoughts. Such cognitions may include worries about not being able to sleep and the effect it will have the next day resulting in less ability to sleep.

Brand, S. Gerber, M, Pühse, U., Holsboer-Trachsler, E. (2010). Depression, hypomania, and dysfunctional sleep-related cognitions as mediators between stress and insomnia: The best advice is not always found on the pillow! International Journal of Stress Management, 17(2),  114-134.

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JUNE 2, 2010

Forgiveness Isn't Always the Best Policy

When the perpetrator of an offense does not make amends indicating that the victim will be safe and valued, forgiveness may have the negative effect of decreasing the victim's self-respect and positive sense of self (Luchies et al, 2010). 

Many times I have worked with individuals unable to forgive infidelity although they had decided to remain married.  Typically, the unfaithful spouse is encouraging their partner to "forgive and forget" due to the discomfort of facing the consequences of their behavior.  A better attidude may be that when a spouse causes harm, he or she must make amends for the transgression before forgiveness can be obtained which may mean listening to the pain, comforting the grief, and reassuring the spouse.

Luchies, L.B., Finkel, E.J., McNulty, J.K.,Kumashiro, M. (2010). The doormat effect: When forgiving erodes self-respect and self-concept clarity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 98(5), 734-749.

Read:  When You Have Been Betrayed

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JUNE 1, 2010

Qi Gong Exercise Shown to Improve Mood

Similar to other forms of exercise, Qi Gong exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue.  Although these effects may not be unique to Qi Gong, the research by Johansson et al (2008) shows that gentle movements can be effective for improving mood just as aerobic exercise and other mind-body therapies.

Johansson, M., Hassmen, P., Jouper, J. (2008). Acute effects of qigong exercise on mood and anxiety. International Journal of Stress Management, Vol 15(2), 199-207.

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