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Psychology Research...Unraveled


P.I.E. Blog


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Not Accidental Racism...Just Plain 'Ol Racism

Posted on April 12, 2013 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (73)
You have to be kidding me!? Did LL Cool J and Brad Paisley really go there? Did you put your really write and support 'Accidental Racist?'

First, let's start by acknowledging the intention behind the song. You have to give the artists credit for trying to unite people with music. However, this song leaves more questions than it does answers. Below are just a few of the questions.

"To the man that waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main, I hope you understand When I put on that t-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I’m a Skynyrd fan"
Really?! Do you know how many Lynyrd Skynyrd shirts don't have the confederate flag on them? Tons. Deeper question: Do you know what the confederate flag means to people of color?

"The red flag on my chest somehow is like the elephant in the corner of the south"
That's just it. For you it's the elephant in the corner of the south. When people of color see that flag, the elephant is not in the corner. It's taking up the entire room. Do you know or understand the feelings of terror that are invoked when people of color see that flag? They don't know that you're just a "proud southerner." 

"I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done. And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history"
You are correct! We can't write history differently and we shouldn't try. Just like you shouldn't have tried to send the message that you are empathic to people who were victims of the southern regime by writing this ridiculous excuse of a song.

"Our generation didn’t start this nation. We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells, fightin’ over yesterday And caught between southern pride and southern blame"
Isn't it funny how you managed to turn something like slavery into a situation where you are the victim "caught" between the home that you love and the behavior of its people? Weren't Africans the victims here?

"We’re still siftin’ through the rubble after a hundred-fifty years"
And when you say "we..." Exactly who is "we?"

"Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood. What the world is really like when you’re livin’ in the hood"
Interesting that Mr. Cool J started his lyrics so respectfully; just like a Negro should. Where exactly did Mr. Paisley give you the respect of referring to you as "Mr." or "man?"

"If you don’t judge my gold chains; I’ll forget the iron chains"
Oh, uninformed Cool James, don't you know that it is so easy for you to forget the iron chains because you weren't actually in them? How could you suggest that you will forget what your people gave up so that you could even write this song with Brad, a white southerner who enjoys sporting the confederate flag as a sign of his southern pride?

"The past is the past, you feel me"
Sorry, not feeling you. If the past is the past, then what's the need for the confederate flag?

"Let bygones be bygones"
Are you daring to refer to 400 years of enslavement as a "bygone?"

"RIP Robert E. Lee but I’ve gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean"
Rest in peace Robert E. Lee? Huh? Next...thank you to Abraham Lincoln, the president who freed 3.1 million slaves with an executive order on January 1, 1863? Did your history books explain to you that there were 4 million slaves at the time of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which means that 900,000 slaves were still enslaved at that point in history?

By the way, what is an accidental racist? Is it someone who is lacking so much insight that he doesn't know when he has offended someone, let alone a whole group of people, by his words or actions? Isn't that called ignorance?

Last question...which one of you is the accidental racist? When someone writes a song about his pride in the confederate flag and another person supports that pride, there's nothing accidental about that racism.

Psychology IEverywhere!

Will You Have Tattoo Regret?

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 8:09 PM Comments comments (68)
Human beings have the most complex brains on the face of the earth, so it makes sense that creativity and self expression flow naturally from us. We express ourselves in a myriad of ways like singing, dancing, writing poetry, playing an instrument, cooking/baking, drawing, painting...tattooing?

Nowadays everyone is using tattoos to express themselves. It's a way to show the world who you are without saying a word. If you love ladybugs, then you get ladybugs tattooed crawling down your back. If you love Jesus, then you get a cross plastered on your arm. If you love your kids, then you get their names forever painted on your wrists. Tattoos have become an outward expression of what is near and dear to you.

In theory, this makes sense. If something is important to you, then permanently placing it on your body would demonstrate your level of commitment to that person or thing. The only problem with this theory is that as you change, what is near and dear to you changes, and eventually you may just end up with a dreaded case of tattoo regret.

It's not a clinical diagnosis, but it's definitely real. Thousands of older adults (35+ years old) are affected by the passions that they held "back in the day" as younger adults. Interestingly, 18-34 year olds have the uncanny ability to believe that how I feel now is how I will always feel. It's actually a hallmark of their psychological development, and it's been that way since the beginning of time. So people haven't changed. However, our access has changed. Now, ordinary citizens have easy access to tattoo parlors and artists 24 hours-a-day.

Unfortunately, how you feel at 17 is most likely not how you will feel at 37. I know it feels like you will love Sarah forever, even if you break up, but you really won't. Just consider Johnny Depp who got a 'Winona Forever' tattoo. It turns out, she's not forever. As an aside, he has since changed the tattoo to read, 'Wino Forever.'

You may be thinking, but I will always love Jesus, so tattoo regret doesn't apply to me. Actually, you are only partially right. You may always love Jesus. However, by the time that you reach 50 years old you just might have learned that having a tattoo of a cross doesn't make you any more of a Christian than someone who doesn't have one. Furthermore, you may have read more of the Bible by 50 and know that God has actually addressed the issue of tattoos in the Old Testament. Leviticus 19:28 says, "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord." 

Let's hope that you always love your children. However, getting a tattoo isn't going to make your children feel loved by you. Memorializing a loved one with a tattoo isn't going to keep that person's memory alive. If you want to show someone that you love him/her, why not love deeply, forgive quickly and surprise often? Tattoos can't do any of these things.

It makes sense that young adults want to shout to the world, "I'm here and this is what I believe in." Every generation has done so. Young American women in the 40's went to work to support their families while their husbands were at war, an unprecedented move. Young blacks staged sit-ins in an effort to combat racial discrimination in the 60's, which ultimately changed the trajectory of our country. And, young women of the 70's burned their bras to protest the social inequity between genders. 

Expressing yourself is a natural part of the psychological growth process. However, as you change psychologically, your priorities change...but tattoos don't. Also, your ability to deal with pain may decrease as you get older, so getting tattoos removed may cost you more than they were actually worth.

Psychology IEverywhere!

New Option For Unwanted Pregnancies

Posted on April 10, 2013 at 9:33 PM Comments comments (24)
Within several weeks you could go to Walgreens to get some cough medicine, vitamins, bandages...and emergency contraception?! Yup! Late last week a judge ruled in favor of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowing the Plan B pill, also known as the Morning After Pill, to be sold over-the-counter (OTC). As it is now, young women who are under 17 years old need to get a prescription for the drug, while women 17 and older can get the drug simply by requesting it from the pharmacy and showing their ID.

Plan B One-Step, which is sold as an emergency contraceptive and has very few side effects according to the FDA, stops a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterine wall, which ultimately boils down to no pregnancy. The theory behind using the pill is that, when primary contraception fails (i.e., a condom breaks), a woman still has an option of preventing pregnancy. The catch is that you must take the pill within 72 hours of having unprotected sex.

Psychologically speaking, this is a triumph and a problem. As a psychologist who treats a lot of women with trauma histories (particularly rape and incest), I see the devastation that sexual violations bring. It is even more terrifying to think that your rape experience could result in a pregnancy. In this vein, the Plan B pill might offer some relief to women who are already traumatized.

Additionally, the drug offers an option to teenagers who have been sexually violated by male figures who still live in the home. As it stands, if Sandy's father rapes her and she becomes pregnant, she would have to get her mother or her father's permission to get access to this drug. While it would be a good thing to report this abuse, it means that she has to deal with the repercussions of her disclosure. 

Interestingly, a lot of concerns prohibit children from reporting their sexual abuse. Survivors of childhood sexual trauma have discussed fears like nobody will believe me (not even my mother) or the threats that dad made will come to fruition (i.e., "I will kill you if you tell."). Other concerns include worrying that others will blame them, fearing that dad will go to jail (often survivors of abuse love their abusers, but want the abuse to stop) or worrying that the family will be broken up.

However, there are some downsides to making this drug so readily available. People tend to change their behavior when they realize that things can be reversed. One concern is that women who know that they have this option will be more careless (or carefree) when it comes to having protected sex. In other words, is this pill going to become the new abortion? After all, there are some women who use abortion as a method of contraception.

Another concern is that women will miss the allotted time period (72 hours) and take the drug after the fertilized egg has already implanted. What this drug does to an unborn child has yet to be determined?

These are only questions that will be answered with time. In the meantime, we can celebrate for triumph for survivors of rape and incest and hold our breath for the drawbacks of this issue.

Psychology IEverywhere!

If You Have Mental Illness, You Can't Apply!

Posted on April 10, 2013 at 12:32 PM Comments comments (16)
Senator Mitch McConnell, a republican from Kentucky, is in the news this morning for being a "victim" of an unauthorized recording in his private strategy room. Mother Jones, a news outlet that features “investigative, political, and social justice reporting,” released audio tapes of Senator McConnell’s attack against Ashley Judd, a prospective challenger for his senate seat in the next Kentucky State election.
The senator’s plan was simple—expose Ashley Judd, a Hollywood actress, feminist and humanitarian, for being emotionally unbalanced and erratic. The tapes feature his staff talking about her admitted mental illness as a viable strategy for proving this point. The topic of discussion heard on the tapes extends from her 6-week stay in a hospital because of psychological issues in the 90’s to her religious beliefs.
Whatever plans Senator McConnell made have been foiled thanks to these tapes. While the senator, who has served in the U.S. Senate for the last 29 years, is concerned about who made the tapes, you have to wonder about the integrity of a man who believes that someone’s mental history is fair political game. Does Senator McConnell know that over 17 million Americans deal with depression every day? Does the senator know that women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men, which makes his political tactics not only grimy, but sexist?
One of the goals of is to decrease the stigma associated with mental illness and raise awareness for mental health issues. Senator McConnell’s plan is in direct conflict with those goals. Might I add that shares these goals with some very important mental health organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), American Psychological Association (APA), Mental Health America (MHA), American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA). All of these organizations have thousands of members, thus some considerable political power.  
What makes Ashley Judd, a woman stable enough to star in 20 Hollywood films, several television shows and two Broadway shows, unfit to run against Senator McConnell? Is it the thousands of fans that she has throughout the state of Kentucky that may actually vote for her? Is it her down to earth quality that makes others relate to her?
I have to wonder if the Senator has ever considered that, with so many Americans struggling with mental illness (over 60 million), isn’t it highly possible that our Congress is made up of mentally-ill people? You can’t tell me that, out of the 535 elected officials (100 senators and 435 representatives), American citizens have managed to vote for the most psychologically-healthy people we could find.
From the senator’s poor, little, slanted view, he is the victim. However, in the psychology world, he is a scared bully who is grabbing at straws to save his political career. Even though Judd decided not to run, it looks like she stayed in the race just long enough to unveil the heart of McConnell.
I wonder if he has started a campaign to have segegrated water fountains at Capitol Hill..."For Mentally-Healthy Only."

Psychology IEverywhere!

You Could Get Fired For This

Posted on April 9, 2013 at 10:22 PM Comments comments (11)
This may come as a surprise, so hold onto your seats. Hooters, the restaurant, may be slightly superficial in their hiring practices. It’s quite possible that you are blown away by that news so, if you are, don’t read the rest of this story.   

Sandra Lupo, who worked at Hooters as a Hooters girl, was putting herself through nursing school when she was pushed out of a job. The 27 year-old is suing her former employer, Hooters, which boasts over 430 restaurants in 28 different countries, reduced her hours to nearly nothing after she returned to work from brain surgery. According to Lupo, the surgery to remove a mass on her brain left her head shaved and a scar that would have been agitated by wearing a wig.   

This incident is an obvious unfortunate one at multiple levels. We are talking brain surgery here! This is major surgery that involves a lot of prep and post work and probably an intense amount of psychological stress on the part of the patient and her family. Additionally, it may have been difficult for Lupo to go back to a job where part of the experience is looking at attractive women who are barely clothed. Of course, all of this is complicated when your regional manager asks you to engage in any behavior that doesn’t support the healing process of your wound, even if it is just wearing a wig.   

Presumably, the most hurtful part of the experience is that she had a relationship with this company and her co-workers. She wasn’t a new employee her even someone who had been employed for a few months. Lupo and been working at Hooters, a business that supports activities associated with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, for the last eight years! Most people would expect loyalty from their place of employment.   

We can’t overlook that THIS IS HOOTERS we are talking about here. This is a company that provides hair and make-up tips for future Hooters girls on their website. This is a company that has a Miss Hooters International Pageant every year. Despite having raised over $2 million for cancer research in the name of a Hooters girl who passed away from the disease in 2006, this company parades women around with their rear ends peeking out of the bottom of their shorts and their boobs hiked up and pushed together.   

Did we really think that they would take the moral high ground and realize that there were bigger issues in the world besides “wear[ing] the right hair color for your skin tone” because “not everyone should be a blonde?” Unfortunately, the only surprising thing about this story is that Lupo expected more. It is totally unsurprising that, instead of rising to the occasion and supporting a long-time employee, Hooters sunk to a new low.    

Psychology IEverywhere!

When Will This Be Over? Understanding Suicide

Posted on April 8, 2013 at 5:49 PM Comments comments (11)
This weekend we learned of sad news for Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California and author of The Purpose Driven Life. His son, Matthew Warren, committed suicide on Friday, April 5, 2013. Pastor Warren, who provided the opening prayer at President Barak Obama's first inaugration, sent a message to his congregation and staff asking for prayers.
The Saddleback Church, which has several church locations in southern California including the main location in Lake Forest, will deal with this tragedy "as a church family," according to Tom Holladay, teaching pastor at the church. Twenty-seven year old Matthew, who was the youngest of his three siblings, had been out with his parents just prior to shooting himself at home. According to his father, he had been battling depression for years and had been unsuccessfully treated.
Psychologists' hearts ache when someone commits suicide, even when we don't know the person. It is even more disheartening to hear people say things like, "The most selfish thing that you can do is commit suicide." Take it from someone who has treated murderers, drug users and dealers, and sex abusers, suicide is not the most selfish act that you can do.
Most people have never felt what it's like to wake up and realize that you may feel unbearable hopelessness and helplessness for the next 50 years. We're not talking about the person commits suicide to evade legal responsibility. We're talking about people who are plagued with questions like:
When will this end?
Why can't I experience the true happiness that others feel?
When is the cloud that is perpetually hanging over my head going to find another home?
Where are my sunny days?
Think about the level of despair that you would feel if you didn't enjoy anything. What would it be like to be in such emotional and physical pain (yes, a symptom of depression is physical pain) that all you could focus on was the day that it was over?
Fortunately, I have never felt these feelings for an extended period of time, but I have felt them. I experienced depressive symptoms during each of my three pregnancies in the first trimester, not after having my children (known as Post-partum Depression). For a lot of women, the drastic hormonal changes in your body during the first trimester can feel a lot like depression. I remember feeling unmovitated, indecisive, unhappy and drained. And, the scariest part of all was that I thought that those feelings would last throughout my pregnancy. Thank God I had a mentor who explained that those symptoms would probably lift when I got to my second trimester, and thank God she was right!
There was one big difference between the depressive symptoms that I felt when I was pregnant and Major Depressive Disorder. The difference was that I had the answers to those questions; Matthew probably didn't.
When will this end? When your second trimester starts
Why can't I experience the true happiness that others feel? Because you are pregnant...wait it out.
When is the cloud that is perpetually hanging over my head going to find another home? When your second trimester starts
Where are my sunny days? They are coming soon...just ___ more weeks.
For Matthew and millions of other people, the sunny days just can't come soon enough. And, it's hard to navigate in a sea of depression where you just can't seem to get your legs under you. Adding judgment to the mix, instead of empathy and compassion, doesn't help.
The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy. ~ Meryl Streep
Psychology IEverywhere!

Are You Burnt Out at Work?

Posted on April 8, 2013 at 3:09 PM Comments comments (13)

You might think that you are depressed or just a pessimistic person, but you may actually be burnt out. Every year millions of people are burnt out at work and don't know it. Most people think burn out is only related to your occupation; however, you can be burnt out at school or even in a relationship.   Check out information on article on burn out and measure yourself up.

Also, consider the other parts of your life where you may be burnt out. Taking care of yourself is the best gif that you can give the ones who love you.

Based on your occupation, where would you say you are on the burn out meter?
I'm off the charts.0%
I'm at the top...I can't take any more.0%
I'm quickly approaching the top...and I need to slow down.0%
I'm no where near burnt out.0%

Psychology Is Everywhere!

Is Amanda Bynes Going Crazy?

Posted on April 5, 2013 at 11:07 PM Comments comments (21)
Geez, you have to feel sorry for Amanda Bynes these days. If you tune into her musings on Twitter, she seems to be in a lot of emotional turmoil lately.

The 26 year-old actress, who has been "working" in television since she was 7 and starred in her own Nickelodeon show for three years, has been pretty outspoken about her disdain for bloggers and tabloids. Aside from her request that "@drake...murder my vagina,” she has been talking about her struggles with healthy eating.

She indicated that she is pursuing legal action against "...certain blogs and magazines [for] saying I have a mental illness!...I have an eating disorder so I have a hard time staying thin." Instead of being concerned about her invasion of privacy, she is more concerned with being labeled as "crazy." 

Poor girl. It would be helpful if a professional explained to her that an eating disorder is considered mental illness. There are three different eating disorders currently recognized by the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association

Bulimia Nervosa, which is a mental illness that involves binging on high calorie foods in a short amount of time and then purging that food somehow, is one ED. Purging behaviors include vomiting food after it is consumed, excessively exercising after eating or taking laxatives to name a few.  

Anorexia Nervosa is another eating disorder. Symptoms of this mental illness include restricting caloric intake so much that there is a failure to maintain at least 85% of your appropriate body weight.

Lastly, Binge Eating Disorder (BED) includes all of the symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa without the purging. Therefore, people with this disorder binge on food, but don't use any elimination tactics to rid their bodies of the food.

While eating disorders definitely have a medical component, they are certainly listed among the 400+ disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition-Text Revision). Bynes doesn't go into detail about which eating disorder she has; however, it is clear that she is concerned about being seen as mentally ill. The irony here is that her Twitter rants make her look more psychotic than having an eating disorder does. By the way, eating disorders don't have anything to do with having a hard time "staying thin." The issues at the heart of eating disorders include control, an unattainable quest for perfection and a poor self image.

Amanda, sweetheart, don't worry about what others think of you. It's really none of your business. Just work on getting well. Anorexia has the highest rate of mortality of all of the psychiatric disorders (around 20%). This means that more people die from this psychiatric disorder than any other mental illness. Lastly, use an actual journal to journal your reactions to the media so that it really doesn't look like you have lost your mind.

First Lady Michelle Obama...A Single Mom?

Posted on April 5, 2013 at 4:47 PM Comments comments (138)
It's official. If you didn't know that First Lady Michelle Obama was just like you and me, her interview with CBS News confirmed it. The First Lady "accidentally" called herself a single mom while she was talking about the daily struggles of balancing family and work responsibilities.

This "accidental" phrase, by the way, is called a Freudian slip in the psychology world. A Freudian slip is when a word or phrase slips out of your mouth that you didn't mean...consciously. The kicker with Freudian slips is that, according to Sigmund Freud, they actually indicate how you feel unconsciously. Therefore, some psychologists would say that Mrs. Obama feels like a single parent at times, which makes sense given the schedule of her husband, President Barak Obama

Ladies, if your romantic partner has every referred to you as "mom," that's a Freudian slip. One famous Freudian slip occurred when former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice referred to President George W. Bush as her husband

With style and grace, Mrs. Obama recovered nicely. However, this verbal faux pas describes an experience that a lot of married, working women probably have. I know I did.

When you are married to a man who travels for business, it can feel like you are a single mother while he is away. I remember when my husband started the HBCU Digest, an online publication featuring achievements, news and commentary on our nation's historically black colleges and universities, it required (and still does) a good amount of travel to institutions of higher learning throughout the country. During these trips, I would refer to myself as a single-parent, and one day he frustratedly asked, "Why do you say that?" 

I explained that when he was out of town everything defaulted to me, which could get overwhelming, particularly when I was pregnant with our boys. He pointed out that the term offended him because it lumped him in the category of men who start marriages and don't work on them; the same classification as men who create children and don't stick around to raise them. Of course, he is very physically, emotionally and financially present in our lives, so my single parent term rubbed him the wrong way. Additionally, he pointed out that I didn't have the struggles that lots of single parents faced, if for no other reason than because I knew my husband would return home eventually. 

I tried to point out that I was being very literal when I used the term and that I only used it when he was out of town. When I said it, I literally meant that I was the sole person responsible for picking up our boys, cooking dinner and getting them ready for bed, all tasks that we would share if he was home. Additionally, I pointed out that when I am out of town, which is only about twice per year, I see him as a single parent.

Nevertheless, I eventually conceded the point because he did make some good arguments and the term sincerely offended him. But, I do think that it's quite interesting that Mrs. Obama has a similar experience. Wonder what Mr. President thought about her slip?

Look! This Man Just Won Two Women!

Posted on April 5, 2013 at 2:52 PM Comments comments (19)
A cyclist from Belgium got some heat for his tasteless and crude gesture over the weekend at the Tour of Flanders in Belgium. By the look of things, Peter Sagan is a loser in more ways than one. 

As Fabian Cancellara stands on the winners podium in first place with women on each side of him, Sagan is caught squeezing the derrière of the woman to his left. Evidently, he isn't the best cyclist or the best at understanding that you can't touch other people's bodies without permission. 

Aside from this display of immaturity at its best, a deeper concern is why these women put themselves in the position to be seen as prizes to be won. Come on, if the two men in the picture weren't in typical cycling attire, you would think that the winner won the two women, not a sporting event.

So, the question is 'why do women allow themselves to be used in this way?' It's one thing to have a job where your body is an expression of your art. For example, fashion models use their bodies to display designer's clothes. Singers use their bodies to physically express their song lyrics and actresses use their bodies to convey emotion without words. That's all par for the course. But what are the women in the picture using their bodies for? 

It's quite possible that these women are educated, smart, sophisticated, innovative women who run multi-million dollar companies, so why do they send the message that their greatest talent is their curves (or lack thereof depending on your culture)? Psychologically speaking, where do the self esteem levels lie of the nameless women who sign up for this?

The psychology of women is a huge aspect of psychology that bears its own website; however, one argument is that these women buy into the notion that their greatest asset is their perfectly-shaped bottom (the play on words here is way too obvious). 

Women should definitely buy into the idea that "if you have it, flaunt it." The question is, "What is it?" 

Psychology IEverywhere!