What is Catharsis in Psychology?

Catharsis

The meaning of catharsis in psychology continues to evolve. Originally, it was viewed as the conscious expression of feelings repressed due to a traumatic incident. Later, it was seen as an outburst of emotion that leads to a sense of profound enlightenment. In modern psychology however, catharsis can be defined as any form of expression…

Personality Disorders and Trauma: Is There a Link?

personality disorders and trauma

My new patient, a middle-aged man, sat in the chair opposite mine and stated in a somewhat aggrieved tone: “Hey doc, I hear you specialize in treating personality disorders. My partner looked on the internet and said that I am a narcissist and that there is not much hope for me. What do you think?”…

What is a Type C Personality?

Type C Personality

We’ve all heard of Type A personalities; those whose characteristics include: competitiveness, neurotic, perfectionism, strict organization, ambitiousness, aggressiveness, impatience, and meticulousness. People who have Type A personalities generally have jobs where they are in charge and directing others because of their dedication to completing tasks and their strong opinions on the best way to do…

How to Deal with Enochlophobia (Fear of Crowds)

fear of crowds

Imagine you walk into an empty elevator to reach the 30th floor of your office building. The elevator goes up a few floors, and two people get in. Although it’s not that crowded, you start to feel uneasy. Your palms are beginning to sweat, you’re feeling somewhat lightheaded, and there’s this strange sense of discomfort…

Tips to Control Too Many Intrusive Thoughts

tips to control intrusive thoughts

Dr. Abraham Low’s ground-breaking book, Mental Health Through Will Training (Willett, 1984), taught readers that thinking too much about a given problem is called “processing.” It’s a matter of overthinking rather than taking action. We might call them “wandering thoughts,” or “intrusive thoughts,” but they aren’t. They’re intentional, and we cause them by using the…

6 Signs You Have Lost Your Identity

loss of identity

A common goal in life as we age and grow involves beginning to develop a solid sense of self; this is the development of identity, values, and self-worth that become stable over time. It is not something that is inherently developed, but often takes time and involves a process of learning and accepting yourself by…

What Is the Grey Rock Method?

grey rock

A narcissist is a person who shows a disproportionate interest in themselves. They have a strong desire to be admired by others, strive for attention, and have difficulty enduring criticism or setbacks. Narcissists tend to be grandiose, suspicious, and cynical. They are commonly conceited, scheming, and controlling of others. Being related to, working for, or…

What Is the Difference Between a Therapist and a Psychologist?

psychologist vs therapist

When seeking mental health services, it’s important to be informed. While the titles therapist and psychologist both refer to mental health professionals who are dedicated to improving the emotional and mental well-being of their patients, they do not exactly mean the same thing. Knowing some of these differences can help guide you in your search…

What Is the Difference Between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?

Psychiatric pills

In the world of mental health, it’s crucial to distinguish between the various types of mental health professionals and the roles they play. In the same way that medical doctors have their specialties, so do mental health practitioners. You might see a family doctor for a common cold, but if you suffered from foot pain,…

Do You Know a Female Psychopath?

Female Psychopath

People tend to associate the term “psychopath” with an evil criminal or serial killer. We have books, television, and movies to thank for that distorted perception. In reality, though, a psychopath is not necessarily evil. Psychopathy typically refers to those with antisocial personality disorder (ASD), where a person exhibits signs of manipulative and anti-social behavior….

The Myers-Briggs Personality Test: An Overview

personality test

Personality has always been a hot topic for psychologists and mental health professionals that wanted to shed light on the human mind’s vast complexity. When Psychoanalyst Carl Jung developed his theories on the subject, they were considered groundbreaking, and paved the way for the creation of one of the most popular personality assessment tools, the Myers-Briggs…

What is Selective Memory?

old photos

Simply put, selective memory is a person’s ability to remember certain information and not remember other information. It can be the punch line of many jokes, like when a spouse gets upset with their partner about forgetting to take out the trash. They might indignantly say something like, “I always take out the trash” which…

What is Hebephilia?

What is Hebephilia

Hebephilia refers to the primary or exclusive adult sexual interest in pubescent individuals ranging from age 11-14. Hebephilia is differentiated from pedophilia, which involves exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children (up to age 13 according to diagnostic criteria). Both of these conditions are noted as types of chronophilia, sexual preference for a specific physiological appearance related…

Somnophilia: Sexual Attraction to the Unconscious

Somnophilia arousal to the unconscious

Somnophilia is a type of paraphilia, which is the occurrence of sexual arousal to uncommon objects, people, or situations. An individual with somnophilia experiences sexual arousal by someone who is unconscious. Somnophilia derives from the Latin word “somnus,” meaning sleep, and the Greek word “philia,” meaning love. Somnophilia is also known as the “sleeping beauty…

Scared of Clowns? Coulrophobia Is More Common Than You Think

scared of clowns

A phobia is the irrational fear or hatred of something. Phobias tend to involve such an intense fear that they lead the individual to avoid certain situations in which they may encounter the things they fear. It even has the potential to heavily impact a person’s overall quality of life, especially if the person begins…

Anhedonia: What Is It? How Can It Be Treated?

living with anhedonia

Most of us have certain interests and hobbies that we enjoy, whether it’s playing the guitar, reading a book, or hiking a trail. We are motivated to engage in these activities, as they make us feel good and bring us pleasure and happiness. Even when we are having a bad day, planting flowers in the…

What is Stendhal Syndrome?

What is Stendhal Syndrome?

If you’ve ever been to a world-class art museum, you likely saw some pieces of art that you found to be truly awe-inspiring. But, while viewing these masterpieces, did you experience the following symptoms: rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion, or hallucinations? If so, you may have experienced what’s known as Stendhal syndrome, a very rarely…

What is Triangulation Psychology?

triangulation psychology

Triangulation is a tactic used to manipulate an interaction between two people who are not communicating directly with one another. It is problematic because a third person becomes involved in a situation that should be between the two individuals involved in the conflict. This is a strategy that emotionally unstable people can use to manipulate a…

What is Apophenia?

apophenia

Identifying patterns is a part of the cognitive process. On an evolutionary and biological level, recognizing patterns helps people survive. On a relational level, it helps individuals connect and relate to one another. However, this this mental process can also malfunction. Apophenia refers to the tendency to make connections between seemingly unrelated things. It happens…

Understanding a Conditioned Stimulus and Its Role in Psychology

Pavlov's Dog and Conditioned Stimulus

Most people have at some point heard of Pavlov’s famous dog. Ivan Pavlov was a Russian psychologist famous for study on conditioned stimuli. He took dog food (the natural stimulus) and paired it with a bell (the neutral stimulus). The bell would be rung and the dog would be given food. After repeating this procedure…

Social Isolation and Seeking Help

Social Isolation

Human beings have an innate need to connect with others. Psychological research has consistently demonstrated that there is a close correlation between the quality and quantity of close relationships people have, and their physical and emotional health. Emotional support and friendship act as important buffers to stress and have a direct impact on self-esteem and feelings of…

How Does Trauma Therapy Work?

Trauma Therapy

Trauma can encompass many different situations including abuse, neglect, accident, loss, or natural events. One’s reaction to trauma is subjective and based largely on personal experience. What might be traumatic to one person may not be at all distressing to another. This has to do largely with an individual’s unique experiences, personalities, and mechanisms for coping. A…

Petrified of Needles? You Have Trypanophobia

fear of needles

It is no secret that many peoples are not fond of needles. Nobody likes their arm to be wrapped in a tight tourniquet, only to be poked and prodded until blood is drawn. Unfortunately, needles are a necessary evil, as they are utilized for vaccinations and to assess a person’s general state of health. Children…

What is Parsimony Psychology? Could It Be For Me?

parsimony-psychology

Psychology can feel abstract and intangible for some to understand. Brain functioning is complex and much of it still remains a mystery. Scientists are committed to simplifying the study of psychology and human behavior to close this gap of understanding. Psychologists have simplified their research design, theories, hypotheses, diagnoses, and interventions. Scientists in varying disciplines have…

How to Gain a Strong Sense of Self

Strong Sense of Self

Life is extremely unpredictable. From flat tires on the way to work and unexpected bills in the mail to a call into our boss’ office, things happen every day that throw us off course. Usually, when we least expect it, we are faced with a new set of challenges and surprises that fill us with…

What Is a Midlife Crisis and Can I Resolve It?

man driving car

Midlife crises happen to people who want to feel confident that they made satisfying choices in life. The fact that the uncertainty of feeling satisfied bothers the crisis-stricken person says much about their transition into being over 40. Midlife crises can strike at almost any adult age, though. A sense of facing end-of-life issues, regret…

Knowing When It’s Time to Seek Therapy

Time to Seek Therapy

Mental health conditions have long been stigmatized in our society. Individuals have been unfairly blamed for their symptoms, belittled, demeaned, and discriminated against. Ignorant and uneducated people have wrongly assumed that symptoms of mental health could be controlled better if the person only tried. Symptoms have been minimized and erroneously assumed to be insignificant or part…

What is the Definition of Sociopath?

sociopath

Thanks to media portrayal and pop culture, the term sociopath conjures up the image of a murderer, convict, or serial killer. But what does it actually mean to be a sociopath? Surprisingly, sociopath is a layman’s term that is never utilized in a formal psychiatric or mental health diagnosis, though it is connected to a…

How to Spot “Quiet” Borderline Personality Disorder

Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder

To understand “quiet” borderline personality disorder, it is helpful to understand the general diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD is a disorder marked by intense emotional reactivity. Individuals with BPD are typically manipulative and explosive in their relationships. They experience a tension between desiring connection with others and wanting to push them away. People…

PTSD Service Dogs: What They Do, How They Help

PTSD Service Dogs

Post traumatic stress disorder may result from a single encounter with trauma or from a series of traumatic episodes. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can greatly impact a person’s quality of life and ability to function. Symptoms of PTSD can include nightmares, flashbacks, and avoidance of triggering memories. Other symptoms may include agitation, irritability, anxiety, or isolating…

Is Social Learning Theory Good News?

Social Learning

Social media and technology have transformed the landscape of this generation. Children are growing up in the age of computers, cell phones, and social media. Long gone are the days where kids played outside and ventured home only when the street lights came on. Nowadays, children and teenagers spend a significant amount of their time…

How To Be Better Not Bitter

better not bitter

In life, particularly as you age and endure more life experiences, it can be easy to succumb to bitter feelings. Bitterness about not getting that job you really wanted. Bitterness about the one that got away. Bitterness that you make less money than your coworker who doesn’t work as hard as you. Bitterness about that…

Differentiating Between the Sociopath and the Psychopath

Sociopath vs. Psychopath

People often use the terms “sociopath” and “psychopath” interchangeably as if they both mean the same thing, when in fact, they do not. People with sociopathic and psychopathic diagnoses have commonality as problematic people and often have antisocial personality disorder. Clinically speaking, there is currently no classification of sociopathy or psychopathy listed in the most  recent…

7 Foods That Make You Happy

food happy

1.  Banana We all know that bananas are full of potassium, which is good for counteracting the effects of sodium in the body and balancing blood pressure. But did you know that banana can literally make you happier? That’s right! Bananas contain a substance called tryptophan, which is an amino acid. The body converts this…

Is Smiling the Best Medicine?

smile

Think about it, have you ever had one of those days, just everything seems to be going wrong and you’re really in a slump? Then suddenly, there’s a little smile. Maybe your coffee barista dazzled you with a smile, or you passed someone walking a dog that you just had to pet, and a little…

Finding the Work, Life Balance with ADHD

adhd work

Work-life balance can be a complex and intricate juggling act.  If you drop one ball, you risk dropping them all.  A person needs to figure out how to keep balls pertaining to work deadlines, household responsibilities, parenting, socialization, financial responsibilities, and self care all suspended in the air at the same time.  This can be…

Skin Picking Dermatillomania, Is It a Disorder?

skin picking

Dermatillomania, also known as skin picking disorder, is classified as an impulse control disorder and pertains to continuous and compulsive picking of the skin.  Dermatillomania is classified in the DSM-5 under the category of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related disorders and is a body-focused repetitive behavior.  Skin picking disorder tends to have an onset in adolescence, but…

Can Binaural Beats Help Your Quality of Sleep?

binaural

In today’s fast paced society, sometimes getting to sleep can be a bit of a challenge. Worries and restlessness have a tendency to intermingle with sounds and noises, making sleep somewhat elusive for part of the population. For others, sleep may come easily, but can be of poor quality.  These are the people who sleep all…

My Therapist Left Town, What Can I Do to Keep it Together?

alone

Hollywood movies have reaped big incomes from topics such as this, but let’s deal with reality: Losing your therapist is not amusing. Let’s look at how you can keep yourself together and come out smiling. The first thing to do is to face your pain. Stare it down, acknowledging every aspect of it. You might…

Link Between Learned Helplessness and Mental Illness

feeling helpless

Some of the best scientific discoveries seem to happen by accident.  Penicillin, the microwave, and the inkjet printer are examples of some serendipitous discoveries.  The psychological concept of learned helplessness was another accidental discovery.  Psychologists, Martin Seligman and Steven Maier, were originally studying the relationship between classical conditioning and animal behavior when they accidentally discovered…

What is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy?

mbct

People work through personal struggles all the time. Some find different types of treatment helpful anywhere from medication, to therapy, to accountability through friendships. At a certain point, the treatment and the effort people put into change comes to fruition. They find themselves where they want to be. While there is relief in progress and…

What is the Locus of Control?

locus of control

Locus of control is a person’s perceived amount of control they possess in their daily life. There are two types of control people have: internal and external. Internal locus of control focuses on each individual having control over their own life. External focus of control focuses on outside influences and factors that could have control…

Can Culinary Therapy Really Help?

culinary therapy

The word “food” can mean many different things to a person, depending on their relationship with it. For some, food is comforting. For others, food is stressful. Similarly, the art of cooking food can be positive or negative experiences for someone, depending on who you ask. Cooking and preparing food are tasks that requires a…

The Benefits of Crying

crying

Contrary to the beliefs of some, crying is an important component of mental health and wellness. The benefits of crying are often unrecognized, overlooked and under- appreciated, as it can be good for us both psychologically and physiologically. Those who consider it a sign of weakness may want to challenge this assumption and belief pattern….

Color Psychology: What Does Your Favorite Color Say About You?

color therapy

Psychologists and other researchers have long studied the impact that colors make on human life; color has been found to influence people’s ideas, perceptions, and preferences for things both obvious and discreet. Color is used in marketing and advertising to entice people to purchase products and can influence a person’s emotional state and mood. Understanding…

Does Hot Weather Make People Aggressive?

heatwave

We all know that weather can affect our mood; depending on the climate in which you live, a person may have a personal preference for a particular kind of weather. If you get a lot of rain, you may really enjoy brief moments of sunshine, and if you live in a predominantly hot, sunny place,…

Kleptomania and Why it is Complicated

kleptomania

Kleptomania is a relatively rare mental health disorder characterized by the recurring inability to resist stealing. People with this condition have experienced repeated, unsuccessful attempts to quit stealing. The urges and actions taken are not based on financial or monetary need. In other words, items that are stolen are not needed, have no monetary value…

What Are Nightmares and Can You Prevent Them?

nightmares

Nightmares are very realistic and distressing dreams that wake you from sleeping. Nightmares occur more frequently during REM sleep which is the deepest part of sleep and where most dreaming takes place. Dreams in general can be different for each individual. There are certain recurring dreams or nightmares that people have in common including falling…

The Benefits of Smiling

smiling

As I’ve indicated in past articles on this page, smiling is good for physical and mental health. It causes a cascade of supportive chemicals to fill the human body. They include neurotransmitters, messengers traveling between your brain and body parts, called endorphins. They’re the happiness chemical and the reason that you feel relief after a…

The Benefits of DBT for Those with Eating Disorders

dbt eating disorder

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is utilized to help individuals identify, understand, and manage difficult emotions. The major areas of focus in DBT include: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. The purpose of DBT is to help people become more mindful and present with their emotions, manage difficult or even painful emotions, regulate how…

Onychophagia AKA Nail Biting: Is It Pathological?

nail biting

Onychophagia is a nail biting habit on more of an extreme level. Some nail biting habits are temporary or not very damaging. However, onychophagia is a long term and destructive habit that involves serious nail biting that is that is damaging to the nails and surrounding tissue. It is considered a pathological behavior and labeled…

5 Important Tips for Supporting Someone with PTSD

ptsd help

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) involves the mental and emotional stress a person experiences after going through some sort of trauma. Trauma can occur in one major event (like war or sexual assault) or events over the course of time (like chronic abuse). For many people, the trauma experienced leaves them struggling to manage high anxiety,…

Do We Really Repress Painful Memories?

repressed memories

The quick answer is yes, we really do repress painful memories. Not all bad memories are repressed. People still remember things like someone close to them passing away or abuse during childhood. However, there are certain painful memories our brains allow us to forget on a conscious level. It is our body’s way of protecting…

What is a Choleric Temperament?

choleric

Hippocrates, a Greek physician that lived from 460-370 BC, had a theory that connected the inner workings of the body to a person’s personality and behavior and lead to the development of the Four Temperament Theory. He theorized that human feelings and behaviors were connected to an overload or depletion of body fluids that he…

Pessimism– How to work to change it

pessimist

You probably know pessimistic people and you might even be one yourself. Let’s skip past the consequences of choosing a pessimistic attitude that you probably know all about: Attracting toxic friends and love interests, Missing out on opportunities that you envy when other people enjoy them, Losing jobs, friends, stuff, happiness, a sense that life…

What is “Shadow Psychology”?

shadow psychology

Carl Jung was one of the most famous psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, and founders of psychology as we know it today. He developed theories about why we think and feel the way we do and  had many philosophies that influenced the field of psychology; a major one involving the unconscious parts of human personality and why they…

What is Aphantasia & Do You Have It?

poor memory

Aphantasia describes a condition where a person is unable to recall images in their mind. If you were to be given a prompt like, “Think of a red apple sitting on a window sill,” most people can picture what that looks like in their mind. Even when prompted, someone with aphantasia is not able to…

Why Do I Cry When I Get Angry?

cry angry

While people generally experience the same emotions, the way they express them can be rapidly different from person to person. Some may have more muted reactions to their emotions, while others may be very expressive. These differences are accounted for by many things, in particular the way a person’s genetic make-up connects their emotions and…

The Difference between Empathy & Sympathy

empathy sympathy

Empathy and sympathy or often used as if they are interchangeable. In reality, they mean very different things. While some might read the slight differences in the definitions as just semantics, there are important distinctions between the two words. More importantly, these two words elicit different emotions and different responses. The person providing empathy or…

6 Principles of ACT

ACT

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) utilizes behavioral changes and pairs them with acceptance and mindfulness strategies. Mindfulness is a practice where individuals have the ability to know and understand what they are thinking and feeling in the moment. It is a strategy that prevents people from moving towards avoidance, distraction, or ignorance when it comes…

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Your Motivation

maslow

Everyone has needs of some sort. If you are around a newborn or a young child even for a few minutes, you understand the importance of meeting needs. When a baby cries, they usually need something whether it is food, comfort, or even a diaper change. As people age, some of their needs evolve while…

What is Sanguine Temperament?

sanguine temperament

Many theories about personality and general psychology come from theories developed long ago that still hold true today. Theorists like Freud and Jung often are credited for a lot of the ways that current psychologists conceptualize the symptoms they notice in human thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how to treat what ails them. Sometimes, a…

Petrified of Snakes? Ophidiophobia is a Thing

fear of snakes

Ophidiophobia refers to an atypical and illogical fear of snakes that falls under the larger category of herpetophobia, or the fear of reptiles.  Ophidiophobia is fairly common and can range in severity, as some individuals may only be mildly afraid, while others may possess a severe and incapacitating fear.  A minor phobia might encompass a…

What is the Connection Between Emotional Intelligence and Mental Health

emotional intelligence

Most people know what an intelligence quotient (IQ) is: the score that averages a person’s overall intelligence with their peers based on a variety of standardized tests. What many may not know much about, however, is a newer term coined emotional intelligence (EI). Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to understand and differentiate between…

Anger Management: What is it, and What Kind of Therapist Can Help

anger management

If I were to ask you when was the last time you felt anger, my guess is that it would not take you long to identify a time relatively recently that you’ve felt that emotion. It have been related to some small trigger or could have been a major even that caused your anger, but…

Dentophobia: Why are You Scared of Dentists?

dentophobia

Most people likely do not enjoy going to the doctor or the dentist. At best, it is inconvenient and simply disrupts your day. At worst, it can be completely unsettling and even terrifying for some people. Even if you have a clean bill of health every time you go and you have never had a…

Semantic Memory: What is it and Why is it Important?

semantic memory

Researchers have long studied the way human memory works to determine how memories are stored both short and long term and the functions and purpose of memory storage. When people think about memory, it is common for them to first think about how their own experiences in life get stored in their brains and how…

What is Déjà Vu and Why Do We Feel It?

deja vu

Perhaps as you are reading this, you are overcome with the odd feeling that you have read this article before. It is strangely familiar, but for the life of you, you cannot quite put your finger on where or when you have read it in the past. Then, your eye catches the date and you…

What is Proximity Psychology?

proximity psychology

The idea of proximity psychology is the tendency to develop close relationships with those who are geographically near us. Relationships take time to build. We are going to have better and easier opportunities to develop relationships with people we see on a regular basis. The more contact we have with someone, the easier it is…

Live Your Life

live life

DO YOU. There has been recent attention drawn to this expression, reflecting the message to be yourself.  Being you and doing you starts with knowing yourself. In one of his last appearances, Steve Jobs shared this profound message: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma…

Why Am I So Paranoid and What Can I Do To Make Myself Feel Better?

paranoia

In horror movies and thrillers, the main characters are often seen running through dark woods or carefully navigating dimly lit corridors.  As they stealthily creep through the shadows, paranoia sets in and they vehemently look in all directions for signs of danger.  In nearly every film, the main character has good reason for their paranoia,…

What are Gestalt Therapy Techniques?

gestalt

When providing therapy, there are various theories a professional can utilize to inform treatment. The theory of choice is dependent on the educational background of the therapist. It is similar to how certain cultures greet one another. In some cultures, it is a handshake whereas in other cultures, it is a kiss on the cheek….