Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Depression, Health Psychology, mental illness, Psychological Disorders, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: Consider the titles of the two articles listed immediately below in the Sources section of this post. They both appeared on the same day in the same online media source and were illustrated by the same photo (see either article). Before going to look at either article think for a minute about how you might reconcile the apparently diametrically opposed statements regarding the need for and use of mental health services by Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the wording of the headlines, would it surprise you to hear that the two articles are actually referring to the same source? Have a read though both articles and see if you can sort out what is going on.

Sources: U.S. Psychologists See Big Spike in Demand for Mental Health Care. Robert Preidt, US News and World Reports and

             Little Change Seen in American’s Use of Mental Health Services During Pandemic, Denise Mann, U.S. News and World Reports.

Date: October 20, 2021

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Article Links: and

So, the explanation for the apparently opposed headlines describing the same study may be a rather simple one. There WAS a huge jump in the need for mental health services among Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic but there was a significant drop in the availability of such services due to both increased demand and pandemic-related supply reductions. It is certainly true that issues related to the availability and accessibility of mental health services during the Covid-19 pandemic ran a not too distant second to issues relating to medical services. This was not just the case in the United States as the Canadian experience highlighted some of the consequences of mental health services not being a routine part of Canada’s universal health care plan. Something to ponder if we get the time and space to do so.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the main point of each of the articles linked above?
  2. What happened with the supply of and demand for mental health services during the Covid-19 pandemic?
  3. How might you re-write one or the other or both of the two article headlines in order to make them more compatible with the data each is reporting upon (or is that even possible)?

References (Read Further):

APA (Oct 19, 2021) Demand for mental health treatment continues to increase, say psychologists. Link

APA (Oct 19, 2021) Worsening mental health crisis pressured psychologist workforce: 2021 Covid-19 Practitioner Survey. Link

Pfefferbaum, B., & North, C. S. (2020). Mental health and the Covid-19 pandemic. New England Journal of Medicine, 383(6), 510-512. Link

Cullen, W., Gulati, G., & Kelly, B. D. (2020). Mental health in the COVID-19 pandemic. QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, 113(5), 311-312. Link

Zajacova, A., Jehn, A., Stackhouse, M., Choi, K. H., Denice, P., Haan, M., & Ramos, H. (2020). Mental health and economic concerns from March to May during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada: Insights from an analysis of repeated cross-sectional surveys. SSM-population health, 12, 100704. Link

Jenkins, E. K., McAuliffe, C., Hirani, S., Richardson, C., Thomson, K. C., McGuinness, L., … & Gadermann, A. (2021). A portrait of the early and differential mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada: findings from the first wave of a nationally representative cross-sectional survey. Preventive Medicine, 145, 106333. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Motivation-Emotion.

Description: Have you heard the term “flow”? It is a concept out of Positive Psychology that tries to capture how a very wide range of people experience a deep focus when doing something that matters to them. The psychologist who crafted the concept and called it flow was Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Mihaly passed away earlier this month. Find out a bit about flow and about the life of the psychologist who researched the concept by reading though the articles linked below and if you find you want to know more about flow you can check out the links in the References/Read Further section further below.

Source: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the Father of ‘Flow,’ Dies at 87, Clay Risen, The New York Times.

Date: October 27, 2021

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Article Link:

Flow can be seen and recognized across the full range of human experience, from athletes to artists to business professionals and entrepreneurs. It is a core concept within Positive Psychology, a newer part of psychology that was started by Mihaly and others such as Martin Seligman intended to involve the study of parts of the psychology of human functioning that were outside of the psychology’s stereotypic focus on mental disorder and dysfunction. In other words, the study of things that could make everyone’s life or experiences better, positive psychology.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is flow?
  2. Can you think of some examples from your own life experience of times or situations in which you experienced flow?
  3. What are some areas of human experience that would potentially benefit from the development of a deeper understanding of what goes on there if examined from within the perspective of positive psychology?

References (Read Further):

Nakamura, J., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). The concept of flow. In Flow and the foundations of positive psychology (pp. 239-263). Springer, Dordrecht. Link

Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Positive psychology: An introduction. In Flow and the foundations of positive psychology (pp. 279-298). Springer, Dordrecht. Link

Rodríguez-Carvajal, R., Moreno-Jiménez, B., de Rivas-Hermosilla, S., Álvarez-Bejarano, A., & Vergel, A. I. S. (2010). Positive psychology at work: Mutual gains for individuals and organizations. Revista de Psicología del Trabajo y de las Organizaciones, 26(3), 235-253. Link

Lee Duckworth, A., Steen, T. A., & Seligman, M. E. (2005). Positive psychology in clinical practice. Annu. Rev. Clin. Psychol., 1, 629-651. Link

Vallerand, R. J., & Verner-Filion, J. (2013). Making people’s life most worth living: On the importance of passion for positive psychology. Terapia psicológica, 31(1), 35-48. Link

Chen, J. (2007). Flow in games (and everything else). Communications of the ACM, 50(4), 31-34. Link


Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Consciousness, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: Has this ever happened to you, or is happening to you more frequently recently? You wake up at 3 or 4 am and your mind sort of pounces on you and starts to run through all the things you are or have recently been concerned or worried about. It spins you around and around for a bit and while you might try and think of the experience as problem solving you have to admit you are not actually gaining any ground at all on solving your challenges or stressors you are just turning them over and over in your mind, not able to sleep and feeling bad. Sound familiar? Well maybe it is just me, but I don’t think so… before and during Covid, I have been noticing more and ore accounts of people regularly experiencing this sort of encounter with the evil sheep of night worry. Want to find out more of what is with this and, more importantly, about some things you can do about it? Well, read through the article linked below.

Source: Why do we wake around 3 am and dwell on our fears and shortcomings? Greg Murray, The Conversation.

Date: October 12, 2021

Image by Stephanie Ghesquier from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, does the situation described in the linked article sound familiar? There are a few things that are important to pay attention to in order to understand what is going on. First, our systems (sleep, vigilance etc.) have emerged evolutionary and have at least some adaptive value. No, waking and worrying at 3 or 4 am is NOT actually very adaptive but the systems that contribute to that happening ARE. Our circadian system is starting to prepare us for the coming day. When a stressor or worry occurs to at that point, our higher cognitive processes are offline as are the things that might distract us and so, rather than problem solve, we ruminate…. we worry as our vigilance systems grind away. What to do? Well, don’t take it as something you cannot avoid. As the author suggests it may well be a very good example of catastrophizing, something you should avoid doing. What else to do? Get up and read for few minutes, or focus on your breathing (part of mindfulness practice), or stick in an earphone and put on an audio book (quietly … and NOT a scary one). Lastly, do not add to your worry by telling yourself there must be something wrong with you if this is what you are doing. In fact, it may just mean that you are trying to work on figuring out what to do but, at 3 or 4am you are trying to do that without any of the wonderful coping tools you have (or can get) when you are awake, and it is light out. Soo, take some deep breathes other strategies and get back to sleep.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Does waking up in the middle of the night and worrying about things mean that you are not coping well?
  2. What are some things you could do if you find yourself waking up at 3 or 4 AM and worrying?
  3. What sorts of things can you do when you are awake in the daytime to reduce the likelihood that you will awaken and worry late at night (or to prepared to do if you DO wake up worrying)?

References (Read Further):

Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia (2017) Insomnia Management Kit: Stimulus Control Therapy Link

Kyle, Simon (2014) Hypervigilance when falling asleep in insomnia Link

Brewer, Judson Unwinding Anxiety Link

Sleep Foundation (2021) Sleep Guidelines During the COVID-19 Pandemic Link

Carney, C. E., Harris, A. L., Moss, T. G., & Edinger, J. D. (2010). Distinguishing rumination from worry in clinical insomnia. Behaviour research and therapy, 48(6), 540-546. Link

Carney, C. E., Harris, A. L., Falco, A., & Edinger, J. D. (2013). The relation between insomnia symptoms, mood, and rumination about insomnia symptoms. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 9(6), 567-575. Link

Lundh, L. G. (2005). The Role of Acceptance and Mindfulness in the Treatment of Insomnia. Link

Ong, J. C., Ulmer, C. S., & Manber, R. (2012). Improving sleep with mindfulness and acceptance: a metacognitive model of insomnia. Behaviour research and therapy, 50(11), 651-660. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Memory, Neuroscience.

Description: This may seem like an odd question but what comes to mind when you think about forgetting? I suspect that most of what comes to mind as you ponder on forgetting is negative: things or events you forgot, concerns over loss of memory with age or loss of memory due to accident or illness – all negative – all bad and all understandable concerns.  However, can you think about possible places, ways or situations where forgetting would be a good thing? Of course, being able to forget traumatic events would be high up on a list of good forgetting but what about a possible role for forgetting in day-to-day life? Think about what it would like if you never forgot anything, any experience, any event, and sensory impression? There is a term for that, hyperthymesia (Google it) and while you might have thought that it would help you with exams those few people who seem to have this condition are not completely comfortable or happy with it. Step back from your first thoughts about these questions and think for a minute about everyday places or ways in which some forgetting might actually be adaptive and then go and listen to or see Scott Smal talk about the work that lead to his recently published book on this very topic.

Source: Forgetting: The Benefits of Not Remembering, Scott Small, CBC Quirks and Quarks Podcast.

Date: October 16, 2021

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:  (Featured interview starts at the 34:50 mark). Or see a video interview here:

So, what do you think? Could forgetting have at least some adaptive value? At a sensory level it may be very important as part of how we sort out trees from forests both literally and figuratively. If more of less forgetting at the neuronal level is a sort of continuum it could well play an interesting part in an expanded exploration of what is involved in low to high functioning individuals on the Autism Spectrum (where high functioning used to be a separate category called Asperger’s Syndrome. It might also nudge us further in the direction of a differently abled as opposed to a disable perspective is regards to people on the spectrum by broadening our perspectives on adaptivity. A lot of fascinating stuff to think about!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is forgetting generally viewed as a completely negative thing?
  2. What are some ways in which versions or levels of forgetting might be adaptive?
  3. What might a closer look at the adaptive role of forgetting lead us to in terms of new was to look at Autism?

References (Read Further):

Small, Scott (2021) Forgetting: The Benefits of Not Remembering, Crown.

Potter, M. C. (2012). Conceptual short-term memory in perception and thought. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 113. Link

Potter, M. C., Staub, A., Rado, J., & O’Connor, D. H. (2002). Recognition memory for briefly presented pictures: the time course of rapid forgetting. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 28(5), 1163. Link

Kramer, R. S. (2021). Forgetting faces over a week: investigating self-reported face recognition ability and personality. PeerJ, 9, e11828. Link

Davis, R. L., & Zhong, Y. (2017). The biology of forgetting—a perspective. Neuron, 95(3), 490-503. Link

Poe, G. R. (2017). Sleep is for forgetting. Journal of Neuroscience, 37(3), 464-473. Link

Bowler, D., Gaigg, S., & Lind, S. (2011). Memory in autism: Binding, self and brain. Link

Posted by & filed under Assessment: Intellectual-Cognitive Measures, Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Personality, The Self.

Description: You probably already know a bit about how the typical dimensions that make up our big theories of personality were derived. Basically, they are reflections of the dimensions that people have created in their own minds based upon their observations of their own and other social behaviors. Those dimensions make up our Implicit Theories of personality and personality researchers have produced their models by tapping into and mapping out the dimensions that we use but about which we are not fully aware. This means that our current theories on personality are essentially descriptive in that they aim to answer the general question of “What are the ways in which people seem to vary in their social interactions?” (e.g., the core of Individual Difference Psychology). But there is another, larger and more difficult question that involves asking “Why is it that people have the personality profiles that they do?” This second question is not addressed by descriptive models so what to do? Some of the biggest theories in Psychology from Freud through the Behaviorists and beyond are essentially shots at this Why question. One approach has been to suggest that adult personality arises out of infant temperament which seems to be an inherent part of the individual and assessable in very young infants. However, that moves the search but remains focused on externally observable behavior. The theory of temperament, however, goes further in that is speculates that early temperament differences likely have their roots in individual differences in peoples’ brains (neurons etc.). Just as we are trying to find ways to ground our descriptions of mental disorders in brain functioning, there are some fascinating steps being taken to do something similar with our approaches to personality. Think about this; might there be a “personality” dimension anchored at one end by sociopathy/psychopathy and at the other by people-pleasing propensities? How does that dimension feel to you? What if there was research that seems to be linking such a dimension to rather specific neurotransmitter systems in the brain and which is showing that aspects of the social behaviors linked to this dimension can be manipulated in animal studies my manipulating neurotransmitter systems? Have a read through the sat5rticvle linked below to see what some of this research is suggesting!

Source: Are People-Pleasing and Sociopathy Opposite Ends of the Same Spectrum? Claire Wilcox, Healthy Brain, Happy Life, Psychology Today.

Date: October 22, 2021

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, people/pleasing and sociopathy can suggestively be seen to possibly anchor the opposite ends of a dimension and it may well be that functioning along this dimension is linked to functioning in the type 2 dopamine system. This suggests some fascinating possibilities though, of course, before we go there much much more research is needed. It IS an interesting addition to the Why line of inquiry in relation to personality though!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the difference between What and Why questions about human personality?
  2. How would you describe the person-pleasing/sociopathy dimension discussed in the linked article?
  3. What are the next research steps needed in this area and what might be some of the downstream applications of this line of research?

References (Read Further):

Yamaguchi, Y., Lee, Y. A., Kato, A., & Goto, Y. (2017). The roles of dopamine D1 receptor on the social hierarchy of rodents and nonhuman primates. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 20(4), 324-335. Link

Yamaguchi, Y., Lee, Y. A., Kato, A., Jas, E., & Goto, Y. (2017). The roles of dopamine D2 receptor in the social hierarchy of rodents and primates. Scientific reports, 7(1), 1-10. Link

Morgan, D., Grant, K. A., Gage, H. D., Mach, R. H., Kaplan, J. R., Prioleau, O., … & Nader, M. A. (2002). Social dominance in monkeys: dopamine D 2 receptors and cocaine self-administration. Nature neuroscience, 5(2), 169-174. Link

Volkow, N. D., Fowler, J. S., Wang, G. J., Baler, R., & Telang, F. (2009). Imaging dopamine’s role in drug abuse and addiction. Neuropharmacology, 56, 3-8. Link

Reniers, R. L., Corcoran, R., Völlm, B. A., Mashru, A., Howard, R., & Liddle, P. F. (2012). Moral decision-making, ToM, empathy and the default mode network. Biological psychology, 90(3), 202-210. Link

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Depression, Emerging Adulthood, Health Psychology, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: Is statement this true? Teenagers are struggling with a significant increase in mental health issues due to the social impacts of the Covid pandemic. You have heard this more than once or twice, haven’t you? Have you taken a closer look to see if there is actually any data supporting this statement? Think for a minute about what might be going on if the statement is NOT true and then read through the article linked below to see BOTH what some data (less of which is available on this question than you might think) has to say on this question and to see what else might be going on.

Source: Teen mental health in Covid-19 may not be as bad as we think, Kelly Dean Schwartz, The Globe and Mail and The Conversation.

Date: October 15, 2021

Image by Dim Hou from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, maybe the kids are alright (The Who, 1966)! In the article Kelly Dean Schwartz first points to a general lack of good data on this question. He then points out that according to what good data there seems to be it seems likely that Covid has NOT really made things worse for teenagers. Finally, he goes on to point out that much of the discussion and hand wringing in the media over teenage mental health has been playing rather fast and lose with the clinical meaning of terms like anxious stressed and depressed, in whys that threaten to drive up issues of stigma that we have been trying to deal with and reduce in recent years. So, yes, there are teenagers who need genuine support and assistance and yes, there have been socially driven Covid impacts beyond the fear of Covid itself among teenagers BUT the response of teenagers to Covid related issues, maybe, has been more normal, healthy and resilient than it has been an emerging mental health train wreck. Maybe we need to get back to work on issues of stigma and on the broader delivery of good mental health services and supports where needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are teenagers worse off today (at the end, we hope, of the Covid pandemic) in terms of their mental health than they were before Covid?
  2. How do issues of stigma in relation to coping and mental health factor into this question?
  3. What should we be doing, or trying to do, in relation to teenagers and their mental health right now?

References (Read Further):

Offord, D. R., Boyle, M. H., Szatmari, P., Rae-Grant, N. I., Links, P. S., Cadman, D. T., … & Woodward, C. A. (1987). Ontario Child Health Study: II. Six-month prevalence of disorder and rates of service utilization. Archives of general psychiatry, 44(9), 832-836. Abstract Link

Waddell, C., Georgiades, K., Duncan, L., Comeau, J., Reid, G. J., O’Briain, W., … & 2014 Ontario Child Health Study Team. (2019). 2014 Ontario child health study findings: policy implications for Canada. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 64(4), 227-231. Link

Vaillancourt, T., Szatmari, P., Georgiades, K., & Krygsman, A. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of Canadian children and youth. Link

Bresgi, Adina Advocates sound alarm about ‘life and death’ stakes of youth mental health crisis Link

Bélanger, R. E., Patte, K. A., Leatherdale, S. T., Gansaonré, R. J., & Haddad, S. (2021). An Impact Analysis of the Early Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health in a Prospective Cohort of Canadian Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health. Link

Watkins-Martin, K., Orri, M., Pennestri, M. H., Castellanos-Ryan, N., Larose, S., Gouin, J. P., … & Geoffroy, M. C. (2021). Depression and anxiety symptoms in young adults before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: evidence from a Canadian population-based cohort. Annals of general psychiatry, 20(1), 1-12. Link

Schwartz, Kelly, et al., (2021) Covid-19 and Student Wellbeing Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Consciousness, Cultural Variation, Disorders of Childhood, Disorders of Childhood, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Somatic Symptoms Dissociative Disorders.

Description: A group of high school students in the same class all start to show similar symptoms or anxiety and nausea. The school they attend is temporarily closed and a search is undertaken for pollutants or contaminants that could have caused the reported symptoms. None are found though over the week the school is closed another 8 students now at home, report similar symptoms. After a week of investigation with no chemical or other agents found the school slowly returns to normal though there is some secretive discussion about what was “really” wrong with the students and the most common hypothesis is that the illness was psychosomatic or, as some older locals suggested hysterical (an old Freudian term). Now, this case is hypothetical but versions of it HAVE occurred. Think about any thoughts that occurred to you as you read the case description. What comes to mind when you hear something described as psychosomatic? Are psychosomatic symptoms or illnesses real? How should we think of them? And how should be think about and assist or otherwise deal with the individuals who seems to be struggling with psychosomatic symptoms? How common are such cases? Well, think about your answers to these questions and then read the review linked below of a book length account of a number of cases possibly involving psychosomatic symptoms. I am sure you have already heard of at least one or two of the cases discussed in the book and mentioned in the review.

Source: Can a Coma be Contagious? Emily Eakin, The New York Times, Book Review.

Date: September 23, 2021

Image by Indra Irawan from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, admit it if you have some trouble separating psychosomatic symptoms from faking as you think about the cases des cribbed in the review. What do you make of such cases? As was noted in passing in the review psychology and psychiatry have, for years, used a version a biopsychosocial model to sort out and talk about the array of factors that influence the presentation of and the severity of physical and mental illnesses. We rather easily put most weight on the bio or biological part of that term. That feels like the important part, the part that makes disorders real. But what about the psych or psychological part? Certainly, we know that how people think about their symptoms can play a role in the severity of their conditions. What about the social part? While we struggle a bit taking the psychological part into account and feel better if there IS a biological part that the psychological interacts with, we really struggle when we try to seriously consider the social part of the biopsychosocial model. There ARE ways to bring it in. For example, the offering of cognitive behavioural therapy to depressed adults in the largely Asian suburb of Richmond outside of Vancouver was a non-starter when it was linked to depression due to the stigma associated with a perceived lack of self-control if one admitted struggling with depression. However, when it was offered as a course on how to train your brain to improve your cognitive functioning, clarity and speed with no mention of depression the program was a resounding success (and significantly reduce the number of cases of depression in the community). Was that sneaky treatment of culturally respectful clinical engagement? In her book, Suzanne O’Sullivan draws us into a number of cases where a social-cultural perspective offers more clarity of understanding of the situation than do explanations without that perspective. How else can we account for an exponential jump in the number of cases of multiple personality disorder encountered by therapists after the publication of the book Sybil or release of the movie The Three Faces of Eve? What about resignation syndrome? Or the Havanna Syndrome? Puzzling to say the least. Maybe we need to broaden our assumed explanatory parameters?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are psychosomatic illnesses?
  2. Are Psychosomatic illnesses and symptoms real?
  3. What should we do in relation to the social-cultural part of the biopsychosocial model of mental illness and mental wellness?

References (Read Further):

O’Sullivam, Suzanne (2021) The Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories of Mysterious Illness, Pantheon

Sallin, K., Lagercrantz, H., Evers, K., Engström, I., Hjern, A., & Petrovic, P. (2016). Resignation syndrome: catatonia? Culture-bound?. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 10, 7. Link

von Knorring, A. L., & Hultcrantz, E. (2020). Asylum-seeking children with resignation syndrome: catatonia or traumatic withdrawal syndrome?. European child & adolescent psychiatry, 29(8), 1103-1109. Link

Wise, T. N. (2014). Psychosomatics: past, present and future. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 83(2), 65-69. Link

Borch-Jacobsen, M. (1997). Sybil: The making of a disease. The New York Review of Books, XLIV, 61-64. Link

Lynn, S. J., & Deming, A. (2010). The “Sybil Tapes”: Exposing the Myth of Dissociative Identity Disorder: ROBERT W. RIEBER, The Bifurcation of the Self: The History and Theory of Dissociation and Its Disorders. New York: Springer, 2006. 304 pp. ISBN 9780387274133 (hbk). Theory & Psychology, 20(2), 289-291. Link

Borrell-Carrió, F., Suchman, A. L., & Epstein, R. M. (2004). The biopsychosocial model 25 years later: principles, practice, and scientific inquiry. The Annals of Family Medicine, 2(6), 576-582. Link

Hamid, Sarah (2000) Culture-specific syndromes: Its all relative, Visions: BC’s Mental Health Journal. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Memory, Neuroscience.

Description: What is trauma, do you have a working definition? It is a possible consequence of having experienced a traumatic event which could be almost anything from a car crash to being in a military conflict zone. It can lead to symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). So, yes, I bet you have a working definition of trauma. What about treatments for trauma, what do you know of those? Less, I would bet. Therapy? Companion animals or therapy dogs? How about Tetris? Yes Tetris, that old video game in which you work to stack different shaped blocks effectively and efficiently into solid rows. What could playing Tetris have to do with treating traumatic memories? Might hypnosis help? What about EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) which involves recalling traumatic events while moving your eyes from side to side. Sounds like magic, doesn’t it? Focus on Tetris and see if you can come up with the theory as to why it might help deal with traumatic memories and then read the article linked below to see for all of this approach might, or might not tie together.

Source: How Playing Tetris Tames the Trauma of a Car Crash, Bret Stteka, NPR, Health News.

Date: October 17, 2021

Image by Tobias Kozlowski from Pixabay

Article Link:

The key is memory consolidation or reconsolidation of recalled memories. The force of traumatic memories is grounded in our sensory experience and so, maybe, loading up the sensory system while re-living, thorough recall, a previous, traumatic, sensory experience might mess with the re-consolidation of those memories and reduce or eliminate trimitic memories. Sound like magic? Maybe, but the data is rather compelling, and it is the data that will help us sort out magic from viable clinical tools. As well, if you look though some of the article in the Further Reading section you will be surprised and the reach and usage of Tetris, clinically in this area!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is EMDR?
  2. Can hypnosis help in the treatment of trauma, if not why not?
  3. How might things like Tetris help in the treatment of trauma?

References (Read Further):

Iyadurai, L., Blackwell, S. E., Meiser-Stedman, R., Watson, P. C., Bonsall, M. B., Geddes, J. R., … & Holmes, E. A. (2018). Preventing intrusive memories after trauma via a brief intervention involving Tetris computer game play in the emergency department: a proof-of-concept randomized controlled trial. Molecular psychiatry, 23(3), 674-682. Link

What is EMDR? Link

Sessa, B. (2011). Could MDMA be useful in the treatment of post‐traumatic stress disorder?. Link

Sessa, B., & Nutt, D. (2015). Making a medicine out of MDMA. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 206(1), 4-6. Link

Shapiro, E. (2009). EMDR treatment of recent trauma. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 3(3), 141-151. Link

Shapiro, E. (2012). EMDR and early psychological intervention following trauma. European Review of Applied Psychology, 62(4), 241-251. Link

Holmes, E. A., James, E. L., Coode-Bate, T., & Deeprose, C. (2009). Can playing the computer game “Tetris” reduce the build-up of flashbacks for trauma? A proposal from cognitive science. PloS one, 4(1), e4153. Link

Holmes, E. A., James, E. L., Kilford, E. J., & Deeprose, C. (2010). Key steps in developing a cognitive vaccine against traumatic flashbacks: Visuospatial Tetris versus verbal Pub Quiz. PloS one, 5(11), e13706. Link

Butler, O., Herr, K., Willmund, G., Gallinat, J., Kühn, S., & Zimmermann, P. (2020). Trauma, treatment and Tetris: video gaming increases hippocampal volume in male patients with combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience: JPN, 45(4), 279. Link

Brühl, A., Heinrichs, N., Bernstein, E. E., & McNally, R. J. (2019). Preventive efforts in the aftermath of analogue trauma: The effects of Tetris and exercise on intrusive images. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry, 64, 31-35. Link

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Consciousness, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Intergroup Relations, Motivation-Emotion.

Description: Remember traveling? Or being able to travel? If you are contemplating or perhaps (lucky you) planning to travel (other than for personal business or business business) think about what you are thinking or hoping you will get from your experience of the trip. Assuming you are not going to just go to an all-inclusive beach resort for a “break” or one of those many-emerging-adults beach festivals with alcohol tours (sorry but I have opinions about such things) then perhaps you are looking for a broadening, perspective expanding, or transformative experience. But what might THAT involve? Why has travel held the possibility of individual transformation? Visiting and engaging in diverse and new-to-us people and cultures, seeing and different ways of being, can provide us with perspective and identity expanding experiences and opportunities. So, what kind of travel are you thinking about? What might or could it do for you? Think about how it might broaden your perspective, think about how it might spur your identity development and then think about what it might involve. Once you have done that, read the article linked below for an interesting (psychological from outside of psychology) perspective.

Source: Looking for transformative travel? Keep these six stages in mind, Jacob J. Hammon, The Conversation.

Date: September 28, 2021

Image by D Mz from Pixabay

Article Link:

If traveling is just going places to see pretty things, then there is little difference between it and watching a television travel show. If, however, travel is undertaken to test and to broaden our horizons then we must go and we must go with our powers of self-reflection and social awareness tuned up and running well. The author of the linked article approaches this question from a spiritual perspective, but it could similarly be approached from an Identity development perspective. Being open to social and cultural perspectives that are different than our own or being open to the possibility that we may not even be able to see some differences initially can turn travel into a truly transformative experience. So, go with you eyes, ears and mind open and with your assumptions available for review and the results may be powerful, positive and surprising! Thoughtfully surrender, meet and care and grow!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might travel to a destination all-inclusive resort or tour with friends be different than travel to a foreign town or village on your own or with just one or two friends?
  2. How might the second type of travel noted in the previous question influence individual growth and development?
  3. What sort of travel are you hoping to do over the next few years and did the article cuse you consider a slightly different approach?

References (Read Further):

Elliot, A. J., & Reis, H. T. (2003). Attachment and exploration in adulthood. Journal of personality and social psychology, 85(2), 317. Link

Ahn, J. C., Cho, S. P., & Jeong, S. K. (2013). Virtual reality to help relieve travel anxiety. KSII Transactions on Internet and Information Systems (TIIS), 7(6), 1433-1448. Link

Freimann, A., & Mayseless, O. (2020). Surrender to Another Person: The Case of a Spiritual Master. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 0022167820975636. Link

Tse, W. T. S., & Tung, V. W. S. (2020). Assessing explicit and implicit stereotypes in tourism: Self-reports and implicit association test. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 1-24. Link

Tervalon, M., & Murray-Garcia, J. (1998). Cultural humility versus cultural competence: A critical distinction in defining physician training outcomes in multicultural education. Journal of health care for the poor and underserved, 9(2), 117-125. Link

Lean, G. L. (2012). Transformative travel: A mobilities perspective. Tourist Studies, 12(2), 151-172. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Language-Thought, Neuroscience.

Description: Think of a time when you were doing something really boring (perhaps in a  lecture or at a family gathering) and see if you can think about a time in one of those situations where your mind wandered and you lost track of what was going on around you, perhaps to the extent that your teacher/professor or relative asked you a question and unexpectedly brought you back to the there and then. While your mind was wandering what was going on? As well, when you were brought back to the there and then it was rather like you were woken up, right? So, what is the relationship between a wandering mind and a sleeping mind and how would you investigate these questions (now THAT is a hard question). After you have given it a bit of thought, have a read through the linked article that looks at what some Neuro-psychologists came up with in their investigation into these questions.

Source: The Link Between Wandering and Sleeping Minds, Annie Melchor, The Scientist.

Date: October 1, 2021

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, does it make sense, or does it surprise you that parts of your brain could go to sleep while others stay awake? Fascinating and perhaps a bit scary too, especially if one is bored while driving. As well, given that our minds seem to dec ide when to wander (and when to sleep) it is very difficult to study such individual processes. Finally, because our minds do this (doze off or wander) perhaps as dangerous as that can be, it may be that there are advantages in our being able to do that, say in boring task situations. A research challenge to be sure!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might our minds wander?
  2. When might such wandering be a good thing? Be a bad thing?
  3. How might mind wander and sleep be related?

References (Read Further):

Andrillon, T., Burns, A., MacKay, T., Windt, J., & Tsuchiya, N. (2021). Predicting lapses of attention with sleep-like slow waves. bioRxiv, 2020-06. Link

Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, 330(6006), 932-932. Link

Christoff, K., Irving, Z. C., Fox, K. C., Spreng, R. N., & Andrews-Hanna, J. R. (2016). Mind-wandering as spontaneous thought: a dynamic framework. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 17(11), 718-731. Link

Mooneyham, B. W., & Schooler, J. W. (2013). The costs and benefits of mind-wandering: a review. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue canadienne de psychologie expérimentale, 67(1), 11. Link

Smallwood, J., & Schooler, J. W. (2015). The science of mind wandering: empirically navigating the stream of consciousness. Annual review of psychology, 66, 487-518. Link

Feng, S., D’Mello, S., & Graesser, A. C. (2013). Mind wandering while reading easy and difficult texts. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 20(3), 586-592. Link

Mrazek, M. D., Smallwood, J., & Schooler, J. W. (2012). Mindfulness and mind-wandering: finding convergence through opposing constructs. Emotion, 12(3), 442. Link