Life Ain’t For Sissies*

IDEAS FROM PSYCHOLOGY THAT MAKE LIFE BETTER

Most posts are observations, derived from my work as a clinical psychologist, teacher, writer, and aging adult.  Please join the dialogue.

*a nod to Bette Davis, who is reported to have said, “Old age ain’t for sissies.”

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Sex is a Five Letter Word

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It has been stunning to watch the sexual predators fall with the speed of video characters in an online game. To women who have known how entrenched sexual harassment is, the daily outing of sexual predators is astonishing.  Read more at www.survive45.net/blog.

Cartoon Caption Contest

It’s your turn!!!     Survive45.net has been posting weekly Li’l Donnie cartoons. For Thanksgiving, the caption is up to you.

Here’s theIMG_6597 cartoon.IMG_6597

Send your caption to 64survive45@gmail.com and maybe your entry will be the winner. Have fun.

SURVIVING THANKSGIVING AND THE HOLIDAY SEASON

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For tips on sanely and compassionately getting through Thanksgiving and the holidays, read www.survive45.net/blog.

Anti-Social Personality Disorder

There has been speculation in the news these days about whether or not some politicians have anti-social personality disorders. This disorder is also know as psychopath or sociopath, depending on which edition of the manual you are reading. Anyway, here’s a brief description of ASPD. Anti-social personality disorder, ASPD, (approximately 1% of the general population) is marked by persistent rule breaking (not always criminal), reckless behaviors, being egocentric, deceitful, having an anti-authority attitude, and showing a lack of regard for the feelings of others.  Therefore, the motivations that guide many of us – conscience, concern for others, empathy and compassion, respect for authority or rules, guilt, on and on, don’t apply.  As you can imagine, or perhaps you are unlucky enough to have experienced someone with this disorder, this is a major problem for the individual and for those who love or work with him or her.

ASPD is notably unstudied by researchers and, of course, that deficit contributes to professionals having few good ideas for treatment.  The reason for the lack of scientific study is probably because psychologists are pessimistic about the outcome of treatment so they don’t invest their time studying it. ASPD can emerge from some combination of basic temperament and genetic fragility coupled with environmental interactions such as harsh and inconsistent parenting, being brought up in homes with domestic violence, and rejection.

Treatment is unclear. Few individuals seek treatment directly for this disorder; when people come in, they usually want help with other co-existing problems such as depression, substance abuse, or marital discord.  More often, the people who come in to seek help are co-workers who are being treated badly, bosses who are at their wit’s end, and partners who have terrible trouble living with people with ASPD.

If you are a writer interested in learning more about character or personality traits, take a look at my book, The Writer’s Guide To Character Traits.

A new Li’l Donnie cartoon

follow Li’l Donnie at www.survive45.net/blog

 

What does it mean to “Man Up”?

Dr. Martha Christensen provides a  different take on whether mental health plays a role in mass shootings. It’s not the same old, same old rehash of the arguments we already know. Read hedreamstimefree_1365290 question mark manr latest blog post https://www.survive45.net/…/…/06/What-does-it-mean-to-Man-Up.

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Need a break from reality?

A new Li’l Donnie cartoon appears today on www.survive45.net/blog

Perception

You and I may look at the same person or object but see different things.

Here’s what happened….. I walked into the lobby elevator at my downtown office on Friday morning.  A man about my age entered right after me.   The elevator rose to the 8th floor, stopped, the door opened, and a young man lumbered in.  He was huge!  Football player big; blot out the sun, fill the door opening big.  I stared at his back (which was the size of both my daughters in down winter coats).  So did the older guy. The three of us continued up for several more floors and then the young man got out on the 12th floor (not a gym, maybe he just needed eyeglasses). The door slid closed behind him and the older man turned to me and said, “I’d hate to run into him on a football field.”  Startled, I responded honestly with the idea that had been circling my mind, “I was just thinking that I’d hate to have to feed him!”

Resistance is an honorable American tradition

“I shall earnestly and persistantly continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old Revolutionary maxim. Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.”         Susan B. Anthony

Differences between Men and Women in Posttraumatic Growth (PTG)

Yesterday I defined Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) as the positive change as a result of struggles after a life crisis.  A very interesting study tried to figure out whether men and women differ in their ability to weather crises and experience growth.  Remember, in general men and women tend to score similarly on most psychological variables – men and women are more alike than different (in spite of the popular press’s desire to highlight differences).  If you don’t believe me, please read Janet Hyde’s wonderful article, “The Gender Similarities Hypothesis” in the September, 2005, issue of the American Psychologist.

But, I digress.  There does seem to be a difference in men and women’s reporting about growth after a crisis.  Even when the researchers accounted for the types of crises that men and women might not share equally (sexual violence and war are 2 good examples), they found differences. I’ll give you the citation at the end so you can follow this up if you like.  The group of researchers analyzed 70 studies that met their strict criteria.  They had more than 16,000 subjects, so you can see that this is a strong study.

Women reported more growth after crises than men did.  Why?  Backstory:  Women are more than 4X likely to develop PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder), women report more PTSD symptoms, women report greater severity of PTSD symptoms.  So, if they seem to have more reaction to trauma, what allows women to experience greater growth after a trauma?

Women and men both are exposed to trauma and experience bad things.  Women have more symptoms because they perceive situations as more threatening that men do; when threatened, they experience more stress; and feel more loss of control than men do.  Probably, because of these facts, women lives have more upheaval.  They may be forced to face their distress.  Women tend to contemplate and brood more than men but it works for them here.  They brood constructively; they recall their strengths; they rely on their social networks; and they use therapy more often.  These are the ways that people grow and change. The women face their emotions, they do not avoid their feelings.  They “work through” the problems, the feelings, the beliefs connected to the trauma and come out healthier.

Growth after trauma comes from actively struggling with the problem, the aftermath, the mess, the horrible feelings.  You can make sense – emotionally and brain-wise – out of life events.  This is one way that growth happens.

The study referred to is by Tanya Vishnevsky, Arnie Cann, Lawrence G. Calhoun, Richard G. Tedeschi, and George J. Demakis (all from U. of North Carolina at Charlotte).  Gender Differences in Self-Reported Posttraumatic Growth: A Meta-Analysis, 2010, Psychology of Women Quarterly, volume 34, pp. 110-120.

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