How can we spend so much of our ever-diminishing sense of available time looking at what people are eating for breakfast? Why do so many people want to know which cake best represents their life? What is it about the internet that gets to us? When you consider that amount of time you lose when you are on the internet, it is not hard to imagine how some people might fall completely for its Pokemon-hunting, stock-trading and hilarious-cat-video charms.
In short, researchers are starting to believe that it’s novelty that keeps us clicking. Scientists believe that humans have an important primitive drive to seek out new things – new foods, new people and new adventures. Our dopamine-fueled reward circuit in our brain affects much of what we do. Primitively, it would drive us to seek out food, bonding, and mates for reproduction. These drives are especially strong in teenagers and young adults. New or novel foods and new possible mates are healthier for our species. The internet provides many more novel experiences than any previous generation of humans have been exposed to in a lifetime and so appeals to out primitive brains very effectively. We just seem driven to keep clicking through all the internet has to offer.
Wouldn’t it be handy if you could go and get some confidence in a jar?
I don’t think confidence is available in jar form as yet. I’m also not entirely sure that confidence necessarily comes from a “certificate of participation, either, but I can see where people are coming from when they try this. I think they just need to think a little more about the concept and perhaps understand the psychological science behind it so that they can modify the “Certificate of Participation” scheme they plan so that it actually assists in building confidence.
What secrets do you keep about yourself? What are you ashamed about?
Shame is the feeling that arises when we think about ourselves as being “bad”, or “wrong”, or “broken”. Shame is a negative evaluation of the self – different from guilt which is a negative evaluation of our actions or behaviour. Guilt is where we wish we hadn’t done something. Shame is much more about an attack on our “selves” rather than a regret about our behaviour. Shame is much more closely linked to being self-critical.
For a long time now we have known that people need people.
In the 1930’s, Harry Harlow conducted studies with baby rhesus monkeys. He made surrogate monkey mothers out of wire and wood and some he covered with cloth. The babies had a preference for the soft covered monkeys, even if the wire monkeys held the bottle of food. The babies clung to the cloth mother. Babies raised with just a wire mother had troubles with digesting their food and frequently suffered diarrhoea. Baby monkeys were braver in the presence of a surrogate and would huddle in fear without them. Harlow concluded that contact comfort was essential to the development of psychological and physical health and lack of contact can be psychologically distressing.
The human brain is a very complex piece of living “equipment”. The brain is constantly working, changing and updating. It’s potential is truly amazing and if you have watched and delighted in how children grow and become more clever over time, then you will know exactly what I mean.
The brain develops from a mass of very special interconnected cells, to an amazing organised network of information, sensory, emotional superhighways, but this doesn’t happen overnight. As a child grows, the networks in the brain are developing. Networks that are not used get pruned off. With pruning comes efficiency, information pathways don’t have as many options when unused sections of highway are pruned so thinking and processing information becomes more streamlined. Everything becomes less of an effort as things begin to become disentangled. With fewer pathways to choose from, messages can flow more smoothly and our brains can become much more efficient.
Worries are those thoughts we have where we predict the future – but not in a good way. We predict that something bad is going to happen and because our brain is thinking about something bad or threatening, the rest of our body can get worked up, too. So, we can start to feel quite ill and uptight as our body changes from a relaxed position, with all its parts working steadily in combination, to a position where it is ready for battle danger– tense, not digesting, breathing rapidly, heart beat rising and our brain not thinking clearly.
Indeed, some people do get “worried sick”.
How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?
One, but the light bulb has got to want to change!
Have you ever wondered why we eat the food that we eat? In an age where, despite knowing the health risk, we still have large proportions of us who are overweight and, sadly, a large number of children who are overweight, too.
Usually, humans eat for three main reasons:
At various times in our lives, for a variety of reasons, we can get too busy, too sick, too tired, too sore, too “I-can’t-be-bothered” or even, concerningly, too depressed to do the day to day pleasant things that are ever-so-important to a happy mood.
When people stop doing the things that they normally do – perhaps because they are re unwell, because they’ve had a big fright, or perhaps they are not getting along well with others – it can be quite easy for them to withdraw from the people and responsibilities around them.
When people casually enquire into what you do for a living and I tell them I’m a Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, I get a range of responses. I’m proud of my title and my profession. It represents a lot of hard work. However, telling people what I do can, sometimes, change the mood of a conversation.
There are a range of questions that I’ve come to expect that can follow and I think the questions that people ask me when they meet me at functions, formal and informal, are important for everybody to know. Without proper answers to some of these questions, people may perceive barriers that may prevent them from seeking help from a psychologist if they or one of their family members ever needed help.