Posted by & filed under Memory, Neuroscience, Physiology, Research Methods.

Description: If you want to drive for Uber (well drive for yourself through the Uber App) the process to get started will take a couple of weeks (mostly made up of waiting for a background check to be processed). Compare that to what it takes to become a London Taxi driver. To do that you must acquire “The Knowledge” which essentially means you need to become a human GPS in relation to London, UK. How do you do that? Well you get a scooter, because it is inexpensive to operate and will get you through London traffic, and you spend two to four years driving around London committing it to memory. Your memory will be extensively tested before you will be deemed ready to drive one of those classic black London taxis. What you will also do, as part of the process, is grow your hippocampus (the area of the brain thought to be involved in memory processing) to a size significantly larger than that of most other people. Now, doesn’t that sound a bit like the old Phrenology argument that the brain is a kind of mental muscle and if we “work” function-specific parts of it they get bigger. Phrenologists believe these size increases could be read in the external bumps on one’s head and that is what Phrenologists claimed to be able to do. No, they were not really doing that, but that is a whole other story. But, after acquiring “The Knowledge” London taxi driver’s hippocampi ARE larger than they were before they started driving around London on their scooters. So, what is in that larger sized hippocampus? Is it stored knowledge (an atlas of London) or is it superior navigation skills? Think about that and then read through the article linked below that discusses research looking at this question.

Source: GPS in the Brain, Anjan Chatterjee, Brain, Behavior, and Beauty, Psychology Today.

Date: November 6, 2019

Photo Credit: “Bacon’s New Map of London Divided into Half Mile Squares and Circles” by George Washington Bacon, from Wikimedia.

Article Link:

So, people with superior navigation skills, who can pick up map information more quickly than others, do not have larger than average hippocampi. Research on rats suggest that a “map” actually may get stored in the hippocampus as specific nerves seem to fire when the rats are in specific locations. As well Alzheimer’s patients seem to lose the ability to navigate previously familiar environments. So, perhaps the hippocampus IS a sort of neuro-spatial muscle. Work it out, build a map, and navigate more effectively. Interesting, and in need of further study.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does the hippocampus do for us in memory tasks?
  2. How are navigation skills and spatial knowledge likely related in the brain?
  3. What line or lines of further research (looking at London taxi drivers and those wishing to BE London Taxi drivers) would help us to better understand how navigation talent and specific spatial  information are managed in the brain?

References (Read Further):

O’keefe, J., & Nadel, L. (1978). The hippocampus as a cognitive map. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Woollett, K., & Maguire, E. A. (2011). Acquiring “the Knowledge” of London’s layout drives structural brain changes. Current biology, 21(24), 2109-2114.

Weisberg, S. M., Newcombe, N. S., & Chatterjee, A. (2019). Everyday taxi drivers: Do better navigators have larger hippocampi?. Cortex, 115, 280-293.

Knight, R. T. (2007). Neural networks debunk phrenology. Science, 316(5831), 1578-1579.

Friston, K. (2002). Beyond phrenology: what can neuroimaging tell us about distributed circuitry?. Annual review of neuroscience, 25(1), 221-250.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Language-Thought, Legal Ethical Issues, Research Methods, Research Methods in ADA, Research Methods in AP, Research Methods in ChD, Research Methods in CP, Research Methods in SP, Social Psychology.

Description: What does ESP have to do with science? Well, the typical response to that question is to say that the more tightly controlled experimental tests of Extra Sensory Perception are, the less significant results we find supporting the existence of ESP. Then along came Darrell Bem, a social psychologist/researcher of powerful reputation, who ran a number of studies looking at people’s ability to predict the future. In one study he showed participants a computer image of two screens and explained that there was a picture behind one of the screens and asked participants to predict which screen hid a picture. He also told participants that sometimes the picture would be erotic (pornographic) and sometimes it would not. What happened? Well the published article indicates that when the picture that was to be revealed was erotic, people correctly predicted its location at a rate that was statistically significantly greater than chance. This seemed to suggest that in that condition people were able to read their future minds and correctly predict where the erotic picture was going to appear more often than chance responding would predict (50% on average). WOW. If that finding were “real” would the world seem like a different place to you that it seemed before you heard that finding? I bet it would. BUT before you rush off to start trying to predict pornographic stick prices or whatever wait a minute. The OTHER thing Bem’s article did was precipitate a crisis within Psychology about the replicability of not just his study but of Psychological research in general. Yes, the word crisis was and has continued to be used. You must have heard about replicability in an intro-Psychology class or somewhere. If you try and repeat exactly what another Psychological researcher did in a study, as described carefully in the methods section of their published research article, would you get the same results? Well you would expect to, most of the time, if the original results were statistically significant. Researchers tried that with Bem’s study and guess what? – No significant results. How come? No, Bem did not fake anything. Understanding what happened has important implications for how we things about and particularly how we conduct Psychological research (yup that is the crisis part). So, what is going on? Well, gather your own hypotheses and then go and listen to the podcast that is accessible from the link below and here a very nicely organized, clear discussion of this issue and its implications for Psychological research. It is important.

Source: Psychologists confront impossible finding, triggering a revolution in the field, Alexander B. Kim, Ideas, CBC Radio.

Date: November 1, 2019

Photo Credit: CBC Radio, SolStock/iStock

Article Link:

So, what do you think now? It certainly (should) give one pause in relation to Psychological research and it indicates some very clear things that Psychology researchers ought to be doing to address the issues that were raised by the call to crisis. I do not think this means we give up on Psychology as a science, but it does mean that need to do something many of us have a hard time doing (according to research data) and that is listening more closely to statistics and research methodology.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What did Darrell Bem find in his pre-cognition research?
  2. What concerns have been raised about that research and what are the implications of those concerns for Psychology research methodology?
  3. What should Psychology researchers be doing to address the concerns raised by this crisis of replicability?

References (Read Further):

Bem, D. J. (2011). Feeling the future: experimental evidence for anomalous retroactive influences on cognition and affect. Journal of personality and social psychology, 100(3), 407.

Ritchie, S. J., Wiseman, R., & French, C. C. (2012). Failing the future: Three unsuccessful attempts to replicate Bem’s ‘Retroactive Facilitation of Recall’Effect. PloS one, 7(3), e33423.

Wagenmakers, E. J., Wetzels, R., Borsboom, D., & Van Der Maas, H. L. (2011). Why psychologists must change the way they analyze their data: the case of psi: comment on Bem (2011).

Franklin, M. S., Baumgart, S. L., & Schooler, J. W. (2014). Future directions in precognition research: more research can bridge the gap between skeptics and proponents. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 907.

Real, I. P. (2016). P-Hacker Confessions: Daryl Bem and Me. Skeptical Inquirer.




Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Classification Diagnosis, Clinical Assessment, Clinical Neuropsychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Do we (Psychologists and Psychiatrists) know what caused mental illness? When I teach the Psychological Disorders and Treatments sections on my Introductory Psychology course, after talking about the drugs used in treating the symptoms of various mental disorders (like depression or schizophrenia) I will usually ask if people think that because there are drugs that seem to ameliorate the symptoms of mental illnesses that this means we understand the causes of mental illness and that the drugs represent “cures.” What do you think? It is important to understand and to keep in mind what we DO NOT know about mental illnesses despite all the neuroscience being applied to the topic. A historical perspective on what how our understanding of the causes of mental illness has evolved is very useful in understand where we are REALLY at with regards to understand the causes of mental disorders. If you go to the link below you will find a podcast you can listen to that provide just such an historical overview and, importantly, you will also hear discussion of the need to look more closely at how people are coping and even thriving while dealing with mental disorders beyond (or with) whatever particular treatment regime they are involved with.

Source: What psychiatrists still don’t know about mental illness, Ideas, CBC Radio.

Date: October 28, 2019

Photo Credit: CBC Radio, Shutterstock / SeanidStudio

Article Link:

The meaning of mental illness and of mental health is a complex, multifaceted issue. A neurobiological approach to mental illness is a part of this but it is not all of it. Understanding how humans deal with the entirety of their mental illnesses is a vital part of how we understand, support and help them.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are the drugs used to treat mental disorders like depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder cures?
  2. If you answered No to the previous question, why not?
  3. What sorts of things are left out of a neurologically focused perspective on mental health issues?

References (Read Further):

Double, D. (2002). The limits of psychiatry. Bmj, 324(7342), 900-904.

Stastny, P., Lehmann, P., & Aderhold, V. (2007). Alternatives beyond psychiatry. Peter Lehmann Pub.

Murthy, R. S. (2019). Social psychiatry can “Empower” the individuals, families, and communities for mental health. World Social Psychiatry, 1(1), 67.;year=2019;volume=1;issue=1;spage=67;epage=69;aulast=Murthy

Bracken, P., Thomas, P., Timimi, S., Asen, E., Behr, G., Beuster, C., … & Downer, S. (2012). Psychiatry beyond the current paradigm. The British journal of psychiatry, 201(6), 430-434.

Deacon, B. J. (2013). The biomedical model of mental disorder: A critical analysis of its validity, utility, and effects on psychotherapy research. Clinical psychology review, 33(7), 846-861.

Kirmayer, L. J., & Gold, I. (2012). Re-socializing psychiatry. Critical neuroscience, 305-330.


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Neuroscience, Persuasion, Psychological Disorders, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: OK quick, answer this question: can someone become addicted to video gaming? Now, do you mean addicted as in the general use that suggests that many people like many different things a bit too much? Or do you mean addiction as in addicted to heroin or nicotine? And, is this distinction one we need to very clearly maintain? Well, it may not surprise you to hear that both the basic categorical definition of addiction and the rapidly growing understanding of how things that may or may not be “addictions” seem to play out neurologically are being vigorously debated. Catch up on where the domain is at and see some well described examples of the subjective experience of addiction as it relates to video gaming in the article linked below.

Source: Can You Really Be Addicted to Video Games? Ferris Jabr, the New York Times Magazine.

Date: October 27, 2019

Photo Credit: Concept by Pablo Delcan. Photo Illustration by Justin Metz, The New York Times

Article Link:

So, do you have it all sorted out now? Well, there is still a lot of work to be done theoretically, conceptually and in  terms of health care policy in relation  to the question of what is involved in addiction and how broadly does the concept need to be stretched to properly map research reality and make clearer the boundaries between addiction issues, character issues and issues of life-style and choice.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Can video gaming “really” be addictive?
  2. What is going on neurophysiologically within video gaming and how might that be related to addiction?
  3. What sorts of changes might we need to consider to health policy in light of recent theory and research in relation to possible video gaming addiction?

References (Read Further):

WHO International Classification of Diseases: Gaming Disorder

APA Internet Gaming in DSM-5

Bean, A. M., Nielsen, R. K., Van Rooij, A. J., & Ferguson, C. J. (2017). Video game addiction: The push to pathologize video games. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 48(5), 378.,%20PPRP.pdf

Kuss, D. J., Pontes, H. M., & Griffiths, M. D. (2018). Neurobiological correlates in internet gaming disorder: A systematic literature review. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 166.

Yuan, K., Yu, D., Cai, C., Feng, D., Li, Y., Bi, Y., … & Qin, W. (2017). Frontostriatal circuits, resting state functional connectivity and cognitive control in internet gaming disorder. Addiction biology, 22(3), 813-822.

Olds, J., & Milner, P. (1954). Positive reinforcement produced by electrical stimulation of septal area and other regions of rat brain. Journal of comparative and physiological psychology, 47(6), 419.

Volkow, N. D. (2011). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (Vol. 12, No. 4180). DIANE Publishing.

Yau, M. Y. H., & Potenza, M. N. (2015). Gambling disorder and other behavioral addictions: recognition and treatment. Harvard review of psychiatry, 23(2), 134.

Posted by & filed under Cultural Variation, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Human Development.

Description: Think about this question: What does it mean to say that a trait or a behavioral tendency is genetic and what does it mean to say that particular trait or behavior is acquired through observation, teaching, or learning. Now with your answers to the various parts of that question in mind consider this research situation. Researchers took a bunch of mice who like almonds and taught them to fear the smell of almonds using conditioning when gave the mice electric shocks while they were able to smell almonds.  The trained (educated) mice quickly developed a fear of the smell of almonds. Now it gets odd because to everyone’s surprise, the children and grandchildren of those trained to be almond smell averse mice ALSO were fearful of the smell of almonds. What is up? Learning that is passed along genetically? Genetic evolution instantly in one generation? Telepathy in mice (nope)? Now think about this. What is culture? The different flavors we bring to the human experience based on local learning and practices, right? And THAT means that culture is uniquely human right? Well, what if it NOT? What if animal species get caught up in “fads” like a pod of killer whales all swimming around for a few weeks with a salmon sticking out of their mouths like toothpick and then stopping even when one of their pod tries to keep it going. What does this all mean? Epigenesis, the blending of genetics, cultural learning, and developmental adaptation is trending as a concept and theory and potentially putting a significant challenge before our comfort with current theories and principles of genetics and evolution. BIG revolutionary, paradigmatic, changes? Maybe yes maybe know but fascinating to consider. Dive into the linked article (with the killer whales) and see where this all may be going.

Source: Evolution Unleashed, Kevin Laland, Aeon

Date: November 3, 2019

Photo Credit: Mike Korostelev / Getty Images

Article Link:

I have to say that I am still working at getting my own head around this stuff, but several parts of the debate jump out clearly to me. First, the back seat to which Psychology has assigned culture in a theoretic vehicle driven by evolution, genetics, and sociobiology has been seriously challenged in recent years. The idea that evolutionary change is slow and cultural adaptation is local and passing and neither are linked to the other makes it harder to see individual or local development as the profoundly flexible adaptation that is can be AND that can be carried forward somehow by “culture” or by epigenesis or what? The concise discussion of Popper’s notion of falsifiability and Kuhn’s notions of paradigm shifts in light of how science “typically” proceeds is very smoothly laid out and potentially opens ground for discussions of epigenesis and adaptation to take rot and grow. Do we need a revolution in evolutionary theory? I have no idea but oh my there is lot of intriguing new views here to try and wrap one’s brain around. Stay tuned in, it is going to be an interesting ride!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are evolution (genetics) and culture distinct for one another (or how have been viewed as distinct until recently)?
  2. What does the existence of fads in animal groups suggest and why is that interesting?
  3. So, do we need a revolution in evolutionary theory?

References (Read Further):

Extended Evolutionary Synthesis

Rechavi, O., Minevich, G., & Hobert, O. (2011). Transgenerational inheritance of an acquired small RNA-based antiviral response in C. elegans. Cell, 147(6), 1248-1256.

Jablonka, E. (2017). The evolutionary implications of epigenetic inheritance. Interface focus, 7(5), 20160135.

Whiten, A., Ayala, F. J., Feldman, M. W., & Laland, K. N. (2017). The extension of biology through culture. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(30), 7775-7781.

Laland, K. N., Odling-Smee, J., & Myles, S. (2010). How culture shaped the human genome: bringing genetics and the human sciences together. Nature Reviews Genetics, 11(2), 137.

Laland, K. N. (2018). Darwin’s unfinished symphony: how culture made the human mind. Princeton University Press.

Badcock, P. B., Constant, A., & Ramsteade, M. J. D. (2016) Tinkering with cognitive gadgets: Cultural evolutionary psychology meets active inference.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, General Psychology, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Memory, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Even if you have not taken a single Psychology course you certainly have heard of Freudian slips. A Freudian slip is where someone misspeaks, and the “error” actually exposes a deeper meaning or intention buried somewhere in the speaker’s unconscious that they themselves may be trying to remain unaware of. For example, if you bump into your workplace manager who you seriously dislike, while out on the weekend and, somewhat startled say something like “So sad (glad) to see you”.  Now, if you HAVE had a psychology course you likely recall seeing or hearing some version of a statement to the effect that Freud’s view of the unconscious has no empirical support which may have included or implied the conclusion that Freudian slips are like Freud’s general theory, without empirical support. All well and good except that Parapraxis is still discussed today in reference to situations where intensely emotional events in someone’s past can give rise to errors or slips in speech or to selective memory loss. After all, while we do not see Freud as a contemporary theorist, we do remain interested in motivated forgetting, Fugue states and memory processing issues in cases of PTSD. If you are interested in hearing an analysis of why it might have been that Elvis Presley, in the latter part of his career had significant difficulty with the words in the spoken bridge in his hits song Are You Lonesome Tonight listen to the podcast (by Malcom Gladwell) that can be found at the link below. It is fascinating stuff.

Source: Analysis, Parapraxis, Elvis, Revisionist History Season 3, Episode 10, Malcolm Gladwell.

Date: Nov 2, 2019

Photo Credit:

Article Link:

There are many areas where Psychology is developing deeper understanding of the role of emotions in cognition and memory processing. Emotionally charged life events can lead both to flashbulb memories (that we feel like we will never forget – though our memories there may not be as veridical as we believe – see the second Gladwell podcast linked in the reference section below) and to trauma induced forgetting. There WAS a lot going on in Elvis` life but the analytic hypothesis about his consistent difficulties with the spoken portion of Are You Lonesome Tonight seems to clearly point to the impact of strongly felt emotions on memory.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is Parapraxis?
  2. How might the concept of Parapraxis make sense out of the consistent errors Elvis made when performing Are You Lonesome Tonight?
  3. Can you think of any other ‘old’ psychological concepts that still bear investigation today even if their original theoretic contexts are disproved or otherwise out of favor?

References (Read Further):

Malcolm Gladwell, Free Brian Williams, Revisionist History Podcast Season 3 #4

Elms, A. C., & Heller, B. (2005). Twelve Ways to Say” Lonesome”: Assessing Error and Control in the Music of Elvis Presley.

Steven Wright (2012) A short violent history of parapraxis, Overland,

Anderson, M. C., & Hanslmayr, S. (2014). Neural mechanisms of motivated forgetting. Trends in cognitive sciences, 18(6), 279-292.

Anderson, M. C., & Huddleston, E. (2012). Towards a cognitive and neurobiological model of motivated forgetting. In True and false recovered memories (pp. 53-120). Springer, New York, NY.

Nijdam, M. J., Martens, I. J., Reitsma, J. B., Gersons, B. P., & Olff, M. (2018). Neurocognitive functioning over the course of trauma‐focused psychotherapy for PTSD: Changes in verbal memory and executive functioning. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57(4), 436-452.

Rubin, D. C. (2005). A basic-systems approach to autobiographical memory. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(2), 79-83.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Cultural Variation, Health Psychology, Indigenous Psychology, Social Influence, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: One of the challenges involved in trying to Indigenize Psychology is tied to fact that western Psychology is rather deeply grounded in the same a-cultural, individualistic perspective that defines the western or settler perspective. What this can mean is that while Psychology as a discipline CAN consider issues of culture, stigma and social stereotypes and prejudice, these are secondary and not typically seen as constitutive of what it means to be a person of a non-mainstream cultural heritage. Matters of truth and reconciliation tend to be discussed at “peoples” or national perspective levels. While critically important, these sorts of discussions do not easily get us down to the individual levels where Psychology is largely conceptualized. What to do? Well, one potentially informative line of enquiry would be to ask indigenous persons about their personal lived experiences. The article linked below describes a research enterprise that utilized a range of qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate and articulate the racism experiences urban indigenous women in their day to day lives and in circumstances where they sought housing or health care. In provides a rich starting place for us to begin to build an understanding of how racism and a lack of cultural safety infects the psychological functioning wellbeing and development of urban aboriginal women.

Source: Benoit, A., Cotnam, J., O’Brien-Teengs, D., Greene, S., Beaver, K., Zoccole, A., & Loutfy, M. (2019). Racism Experiences of Urban Indigenous Women in Ontario, Canada:“We All Have That Story That Will Break Your Heart”. International Indigenous Policy Journal, 10(2), 1-27

Date: October 27, 2019

Photo Credit:

Article Link:

There is a wealth of take-aways available in the above linked article, informative of how racism impacts health and access to and experience within services by urban Indigenous women. The Mi’kmaq principle of Two-Eyed seeing is a particularly powerful way to begin to consider individual experiences from culturally informed psychological perspectives. A good starting point for Indigenizing Psychology.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might it be useful to pay close attention to the experiences of urban Indigenous women with racism and a lack of cultural safety, especially in relation to the health care system?
  2. What is “Two Eyed seeing” and how could it help in developing a more culturally informed Indigenous Psychology?
  3. What role might a more Indigenously informed Psychology play in the development culturally safe policies (and in moving Truth and Reconciliation forward)?

References (Read Further):

Benoit, A., Cotnam, J., O’Brien-Teengs, D., Greene, S., Beaver, K., Zoccole, A., & Loutfy, M. (2019). Racism Experiences of Urban Indigenous Women in Ontario, Canada:“We All Have That Story That Will Break Your Heart”. International Indigenous Policy Journal, 10(2), 1-27. (link above)

Allan, B., & Smylie, J. (2015). First Peoples, second class treatment: The role of racism in the health and well-being of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Retrieved from

Duckitt, J. (2001). Reducing prejudice: An historical and multi-level approach. In M. Augoustinos & K. J. Reynolds (Eds.), Understanding the psychology of prejudice and racism

(pp. 253-271). Beverley Hills, CA: Sage. doi:

Martin, D. H. (2012). Two-Eyed Seeing: A framework for understanding Indigenous and non-Indigenous approaches to Indigenous health research. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research

Archive, 44 (2), 20-42. Retrieved from

Goodman, A., Fleming, K., Markwick, N., Morrison, T., Lagimodiere, L., Kerr, T., & Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society (2017). “They treated me like crap and I know it was because I was Native”: The healthcare experiences of Aboriginal peoples living in Vancouver’s inner city. Social Science & Medicine, 178, 87-94.

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Group Processes, Intergroup Relations, Language-Thought, Personality, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: Think about American politics; no not about THAT guy for once but just about the differences between Democrats and Republicans. If you met an American, what sorts of things might they say that would lead you to product that they are likely to identify as a Republican or a Democrat?  What might be the shortest thing they could say that would allow you to make a confident prediction as to their politics? What about one word (no, NOT Trump)? Think about single words that when said (hint: HOW said) could support valid predictions of political allegiance and then read the article linked below to see what research has found. Oh and maybe think about what measurable Psychological (attitudinal) dimensions might help explain why such one spoken word predictions might work.

Source: Your political views can predict how you pronounce certain words, Zachary Jaggers, The Conversation.

Date: October 21, 2019

Photo Credit: Linda Staf/

Article Link:

So, the pronunciation of one of 5 single words predicts stated part affiliation through the mediating variable of the degree of ardent nationalism. To find out more about this notion of political accents have a look at some of the other articles linked within the article linked above.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might word pronunciation be related to someone’s degree of ardent nationalism?
  2. How might cultural awareness be related to the pronunciation of particular words?
  3. From a Psychological perspective, how might you go about changing how people pronounce the 5 words examined in the linked research study?

References (Read Further):

Zack Jaggers (2018) A political ideology with and accent

Babel, M. (2010). Dialect divergence and convergence in New Zealand English. Language in Society, 39(4), 437-456.

Brock, G., & Atkinson, Q. D. (2008). What can examining the psychology of nationalism tell us about our prospects for aiming at the cosmopolitan vision?. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 11(2), 165-179.

Dekker, H., Malova, D., & Hoogendoorn, S. (2003). Nationalism and its explanations. Political Psychology, 24(2), 345-376.

Bonikowski, B., & DiMaggio, P. (2016). Varieties of American popular nationalism. American Sociological Review, 81(5), 949-980.

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20% of North Americans suffer from some form of anxiety disorder that impacts their relationships, their schoolwork and/or their jobs. There are many things Psychology can suggest that people do or try in order to cope with their feelings of anxiety but what if there was an “underlying disease mechanism” that was linked to feelings of anxiety and which could be addressed – treated? Read the article linked below to see what this mechanism might involve and what a route to new treatments for acute anxiety issues might look like.

Source: Scientists may have found the root of anxiety, opening a door to treatment, Emma Betuel,

Date: October 25, 2019

Photo Credit: Dimitri Traenker/Shutterstock,

Article Link:

What might it mean if a slight hormonal adjustment could virtually eliminate anxiety disorder related issues among females? And, are we in a position to ask such questions yet, given that the research in question is still in the “mouse” stage? Of course, more research is  needed but a better understanding of the neural mechanisms that drive anxiety would be a very good start!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What neuro-hormonal processes do the researchers who conducted the research described in the linked article?
  2. How might this research be described as potentially leading to new anxiety treatments?
  3. Would the anxiety treatments that could follow from this research make current Psychological approaches to understanding and dealing (intervening) with anxiety obsolete? Why or Why not?

References (Read Further):

Tränkner, D., Boulet, A., Peden, E., Focht, R., Van Deren, D., & Capecchi, M. (2019). A Microglia Sublineage Protects from Sex-Linked Anxiety Symptoms and Obsessive Compulsion. Cell Reports, 29(4), 791-799.

Evans, S., Ferrando, S., Findler, M., Stowell, C., Smart, C., & Haglin, D. (2008). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for generalized anxiety disorder. Journal of anxiety disorders, 22(4), 716-721.

Caouette, J. D., & Guyer, A. E. (2014). Gaining insight into adolescent vulnerability for social anxiety from developmental cognitive neuroscience. Developmental cognitive neuroscience, 8, 65-76.

Blair, K. S., & Blair, R. J. R. (2012). A cognitive neuroscience approach to generalized anxiety disorder and social phobia. Emotion Review, 4(2), 133-138.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Group Processes, Human Development, Indigenous Psychology, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: This past week I ran a workshop for an agency I have worked with over the past two decades (Metis Calgary Family Services). The agency provides supports, services and cultural and community connections for urban Aboriginal and Metis children, youth, adults and families. The workshop was focused on the issue of suicide and the hugely variable rates of suicide among First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people and communities. I am not going to reproduce the workshop here for a number of practical and ethical reasons, but I thought it would be helpful in terms of understandings of what indigenizing Psychology might (could and should) involve to have you consider a couple of issues and concepts that were part of the workshop. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been a 60% increase in the rates of suicide world-wide over the past 45 years. So, in addition to the vital urgency of addressing the fact the suicides rates among many indigenous communities are among the highest on the planet we have this other global concern. The WHO strategy (links below) begins by taking on the stigma and myths associated with suicide that makes it something that people (everyone as well as those having suicidal thoughts) do not talk about. The WHO suggests that a big part of national strategies to deal with suicide is to educate as many people as possible of the individual risks and warning signs of suicidal thoughts and planning. The education should, according to the WHO, include information and practice in how to connect and engage with people who may be suicidal and assist them in accessing supports and services that can help them turn away from their suicidal thoughts and plans. The positive impact of such initiatives in relation to general populations has been documented in research (see References section below). However, this sort of positive impact has NOT been demonstrated among indigenous people and communities and there is even some evidence that participation in this sort of training may contribute to increases in suicidal ideation among Indigenous participants.

If you look at some of the other posts I have made on issues and urgencies involved in indigenizing Psychology (Links in the References Section below) you will see that part of the issue here is the individual, a-cultural perspective that informs much of mainstream western psychology. When considering suicidal ideation this leads to a search for individual risks that are predictive of increased likelihood of suicidal behavior. How does this work in the risk-target rich environments of indigenous communities? Not so well. Consider the following tables. The first is a list of individual risk factors that were found to be associated with suicide among aboriginal youth.

The second table lists protective factors or things that Psychological research tells us reduce the rate of suicide among individual indigenous youth that they are true or apply to.

Now look at the list of protective factors and then look up at the list of risk factors and try and match each protective factor to a risk factor that it would directly address. Did you notice how the protective factors most map, or map best, onto the risks in the right-hand column and not so well, if at all on the risk in the left-hand column? In some of my previous posts on indigenizing Psychology I talked about the concept of cultural continuity and the vital role it can play in things like wellbeing and rates of suicide within Indigenous communities.

Now consider the following quote:

“We’ve listened to First nations youth across the country who’ve said that the conversation on suicide prevention that’s focused on death and dying is not helpful to them. They want to focus on how to live life. We’ve taken a community-based approach because community is what facilitates wellness and supports life.”

(Carol Hopkins, ).

You can find out more about what this might mean for Psychology and for addressing the issue of indigenous youth suicide in culturally respectful ways by visiting the Wise Practices site linked above and below. The First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework described there has much that can help all (and Psychology in particular) come to more culturally respectful understandings of risks, protective factors, culturally safe AND cultural-enhancing practices in relation to suicide. Have a look at the site and at some of the initiatives it describes to get a look at how this is working and, if you think about it, how it could work more broadly.

Source: Wise Practices for Life Promotion: Indigenous Leadership for Living Life Well.

Date: October 20, 2019

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Article Link:

Now here is a bit of a plot twist. If you use the search function on this site to search “Twenge” Jean Twenge is a Psychologist who looks at population level data and trends and, in her book (see the Reference section below), she points out that, among young people (and especially among females) born since 1994 (in the United States but we are seeing the same trends in Canada and elsewhere) there has been alarming increases in hospitalizations for self-harm (up nearly 100%) and the suicide rate among 15 to 19 year-olds (up around 40%). Why? Well Twenge points out that these trends are powerfully correlated with the fact that this generation is the very first to have had access to smartphones and the internet (social media etc.) over the entirety of their development. The debate over the role of “screen time” in these trends is raging (see the posts that resulted from your Twenge search) and, as I have stated, of course, more research is needed. But, what sorts of things might an indigenized Psychology suggest should be prominent part of that more research? Here is a thought; maybe we should be looking broadly at the impacts of smart phones and social media, but also of climate change, globalization, huge jumps in the uncertainly of possible career paths on the cultural and community continuities (well, the LACK thereof) on the wellbeing and identity development and of mainstream, non-indigenous youth and young adults. Maybe it is just me, but I think there might be a LOT there and a lot of stuff that would be very helpful to emerging adults both indigenous and non-indigenous as they move out into their worlds.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might a focus on risk factors as guides to intervention not be as useful as we might hope either when the events we are trying to predict (the individuals we are trying to find) are rare OR when the factors are culturally or community-wide?
  2. What might a protective-factor as opposed to a risk-factor focus on addressing youth suicide look like?
  3. What might and indigenized approach to the jumps in self-harm and suicide among members of I-Gen (those born since 1994) involve?

References (Read Further):

Previous Posts on Indigenizing Psychology:

Chandler, M. & Lalonde, C. (1998). Cultural continuity as a hedge against suicide in Canada’s First Nations. Transcultural Psychiatry, 35(2), 191-219.

Chandler, M. & Proulx, T. (2006). Changing selves in changing worlds: Youth suicide on the fault-lines of colliding cultures. Archives of Suicide Research, 10(2), 125-140.

Elliot -Groves, E. (2017). Insights from Cowichan: A hybrid approach to understanding suicide in one First Nations’ collective. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviour, (epublication), 1-12. Retrieved from

Gone, J. (2013). Redressing First Nations historical trauma: Theorizing mechanisms for indigenous culture as mental health treatment. Transcultural Psychiatry, 50(5), 683-706.

Wexler, L. & Gone, J. (2012). Culturally responsive suicide prevention in Indigenous communities: Unexamined assumptions and new possibilities. American Journal of Public Health, 102(5), 800-806.

White, J. & Mushquash, C. (2016). We belong: Life promotion to address indigenous suicide discussion paper. Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, December, 2016

Isaac, M., Elias, B., Katz, L. Y., Belik, S. L., Deane, F. P., Enns, M. W., … & Swampy Cree Suicide Prevention Team (12 members) 8. (2009). Gatekeeper training as a preventative intervention for suicide: a systematic review. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54(4), 260-268.,5&scillfp=10160622568762727549&oi=lle

Bolton, S. L., Elias, B., Enns, M. W., Sareen, J., Beals, J., Novins, D. K., … & AI-SUPERPFP Team. (2014). A comparison of the prevalence and risk factors of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in two American Indian population samples and in a general population sample. Transcultural psychiatry, 51(1), 3-22.

Twenge, J. M. (2013). The evidence for generation me and against generation we. Emerging Adulthood, 1(1), 11-16.,5&scillfp=11348235828899778555&oi=lle

Twenge, J. M. (2017). IGen: Why today’s super-connected kids are growing up less rebellious, more tolerant, less happy–and completely unprepared for adulthood–and what that means for the rest of us. Simon and Schuster.

(NOTE: Search Twenge in the search bar of this site for a n umber of posts related to her work and to the issue of screen time in the lives of young people born since 1994).