Author Archive

Mind Matters: Empathy

The word empathy gets bandied about a lot these days, becoming yet another platitude. If we slap the word in a “PR” paragraph, it must mean a corporation cares. If we use it in conversation, it must mean we really own it. Well, no, on both counts. True empathy is the unsung hero of the quotidian lives we live. What is empathy anyway? It is not to be confused with its ...

 
 

Mind Matters: Help with holidays

Sure, sure, sure, I have written about holiday stressors many times before. However, just as holidays return every year, it can’t hurt to revisit some of the stresses they conjure and also what might help to allay those stresses. It’s sort of like old recipes — we know them, but we forget them and so we need to go back to the cookbook or the spilled-on index card ...

 

Mind Matters: Recent psychological observations

From family dinners to telecommuting, psychologists have done their homework, according to research summarized in the October, 2019, issue of the APA Monitor on Psychology. According to family therapist Anne Fishel, research on the importance of family meals notes that “regular family dinners are associated with less depression and anxiety, lower rates of substance ...

 

Mind Matters: Addressing teen suicide

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15 to 24. “Beneath the Surface: A Teen’s Guide to Reaching Out When You or a Friend Is in Crisis,” by Kristi Hugstad, offers a prescriptive for averting teen suicide. After her husband completed suicide, Hugstad wanted to find effective ways to help others on the same path. While the highest ...

 

Mind Matters: Persistence, messengers and more

Every hero and heroine in every fairy tale is beset with obstacles. In meeting challenges with persistence, the protagonist of the story achieves a happy end. And so it is with real life people too. A recent study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology describes how goal persistence “and a positive approach to challenges was … associated with lower rates of ...

 

Mind Matters: Do you fear others?

Ever get on a subway? Or any mode of public transit, especially in a city? Recently, I rode the T, the subway system of Boston and wondered about how we conjure up the “fear of others.” Encapsulated in a tunneled tube, people mostly are respectful of this anonymous intimacy of bodies without intrusion into another’s tiny piece of personal space. Jostled next to one ...

 

Mind Matters: Parenting and beyond

There is no topic that hasn’t a psychological component. The recent issue of the American Psychological Association Monitor is full of reports that attest to this fact. Recently, the Monitor notes, the APA publicly debunked the physical discipline of children citing the solid longitudinal research that finds that such discipline does not improve behavior and, in ...

 

Mind Matters: Aging when LGBT

For more than 10 years, I served as a psychologist consultant at a retirement community. In all those years, I never met anyone who had “come out” as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender—LGBT. It certainly isn’t because LGBT is new, but it might be because the LGBT community avoids residing in such places for fear of discrimination or because when someone from the ...

 

Mind Matters: Panic no more

Tom Bunn, the author of “Panic Free,” started out as a pilot. In that capacity, he tried for years to help people who feared flying. Then, eureka — a solution — which, he says, not only quells the fear of flying, but also manages panic states encountered on the ground as well. After years of study, he learned that the real issue of panic is the “inability to regulate ...

 

Mind Matters: Humans need nature

Go take a hike! We talk about “human nature” a lot, but it turns out humans themselves need nature. Researchers are finding that, all across the life span, being outside in natural settings, walking, playing, just sitting, helps both brain and body functions. The response by some to these findings may be “Well, duh!” It may be common sense and intuitive to know that ...

 

Mind Matters: Psychological tidbits

How are you at reading the emotions of others or assessing your own personality? These are among the topics briefly covered in a recent (April 2019) publication of Monitor On Psychology. When researchers asked participants in a study to note the “happiness levels of both black and non-black people photographed with either ‘real’ smiles (which involve movement of ...