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Thank you for checking out the Psychology Collective’s blog, brought to you by Psychology News’ writers. This page is updated almost daily with bloggers’ takes on hot topics in psychology and adjacent fields, alongside important notices from Hunter College’s psychology department and the Psychology Collective. Please email us at psychnewshunter@gmail.com with questions, comments, or concerns.

Hunter Psychology Convention

Thank you all to those who attended the 50th Hunter Psychology Convention! If you happened to miss our wonderful speakers and student presentations, you can watch the recordings here: https://huntercollege.zoom.us/rec/share/eiTh5Qo2rQELW8S14LbZ8C5tsHgsJbcRHqQVM-4tOUDIPcpxApPYyhi7hfvAm1J1.vK5lHD3uN58Se9zL

PSi chi Webinar with professor Jason Young

Webinar: The skills you know: Framing your psychology experience into language employers seek

Are Rebound relationships actually as bad as we think? 

A rebound relationship is one in which a person enters a new relationship immediately after a breakup. Many believe that there should be a “recovery” period in between relationships, to allow one to process pain and negative feelings from a breakup. However, there is controversy as to whether this “waiting period” is necessary. Dr. Brumbaugh, the director of the Attachment, Emotion, and Relationships Lab at CUNY Queens College, invited 77 women who had recently ended their relationships to participate in a study. Some of these women had moved on and started a new relationship and others had not. They were all asked to take a survey to rate their self-esteem. 

Results revealed no significant difference between those in a rebound relationship and those who remained single after their breakup, though people who remained single had lower self-esteem than those who immediately entered a new relationship. Brumbaugh explains that rebounds generally distract people from the depression and loneliness that their breakups leave behind. Additionally, social support from one’s rebound partner also helps her to cope with stress. 

This is not to encourage you to immediately enter a new relationship after a breakup just to “heal.” Rather, the point here is to suggest that you should not believe you “will never fall in love again.” You may be hesitant to love again because you do not want your heart shattered again or you are afraid that you’ll repeat the same mistakes. These thoughts are normal because we often catastrophize about our future after we are rejected. However, we should not let our fear stop us from giving love a second chance, for we never know when we’ll end up meeting our true soul mate.

Angie Lee, Writer

Source: Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

LET ME HELP YOU STAY DEMENTIA FREE: Part II (Diet and Exercise)

In an earlier post, I discussed Alzheimer’s disease and introduced groundbreaking research of the past few years. Namely, Alzheimer’s can be detected by doctors 30-40 years before any symptoms show up. In other words, it does not pop up out of nowhere once we are old. It is a progressive disease. In fact, many of you currently reading this could have Alzheimer’s! 

As discussed, genetics do play an important role in this disease, but there are many other factors that can influence a person’s risk. Genetics alone do not cause Alzheimer’s. The factors of most importance are diet, sleep, exercise, stress, cognitive activities, and  environmental factors. Today I will talk about how diet and exercise play a crucial role in this discussion. 

We learn in school that glucose is needed for brain energy. We are told by many doctors and government food agencies to eat plenty of carbs every meal- this provides the brain with more energy, right? Well, the picture is actually a bit more complicated. Though this is not false, recent studies have come out concluding that the brain runs significantly better on fat than on sugar; the brain itself is 60% fat! Why is this important and how does it tie into Alzheimer’s? “Type 3 diabetes.” This phenomenon, dubbed by many doctors, gets its name from the insulin resistance that occurs inside the brain. Insulin resistance leads to increased inflammation, aging and, eventually, brain degradation. The condition is directly linked to Azheimer’s disease;the risk increases by 10-15 times. 

It is thus crucial to keep insulin levels as low as possible. This can be done by avoiding refined sugars and carbohydrates. Your body produces too much insulin in response to a heavy carb load, and this problem becomes worse as time goes by. This can create a vicious cycle, where you become increasingly resistant to carbs, and consequently need more insulin. By eating more carbs, your cravings for them increase. Higher consumption then spikes levels of insulin even higher. In addition, this chain of circumstances slows metabolism, increases belly fat storage, stimulates hunger,and  leads to heart disease, dementia, cancer, high blood pressure, and kidney failure–just to name a few–diseases that are all too familiar in this country and all very common in patients with Alzheimer’s.

So what comprises a brain-healthy diet that produces low insulin levels? One with plenty of plant- and nutrient-dense foods? Research has shown that eating lots of healthy fats and foods with high omega 3 fats is great for cognitive health. This includes fatty fish (but not those loaded with mercury, like tuna), avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Eating plenty of plant based foods and nutrient dense foods is key, especially dark leafy veggies. A diet rich in choline, fiber and B Vitamins is also beneficial (eggs and sardines for instance). Spices are great too, and have been shown to reduce inflammation. Cutting out those starchy foods, sugars, and processed foods as much as possible is crucial. 

Exercise is another important tool that can reduce the risk of dementia and slow aging. Studies have shown that simply walking everyday alone puts the brakes on aging and mitigates the risk of cognitive decline. Patients that exercise several times a week show the most benefits. Exercise improves insulin resistance, reduces hormones that shrink the brain, and stimulates molecules (such as Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor [BDNF]) that grow and regulate the brain. Like improving diet, exercise is a powerful drug that can benefit your health immensely. 

In my experience, applying these changes to your diet and lifestyle will go beyond reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. Eating healthier and getting exercise has helped increase my energy and moods, helped with my stomach problems, and stabilized my mental health. It’s not always easy or cheap to apply such changes, but by doing so we can invest in our future and expect to live longer, younger, and healthier. Next week I will talk about sleep and stress. Take care. 

Sources: CDC; Alzheimers.org; Alzheimer’s & Dementia; The Doctor’s Farmacy Podcast with Mark Hyman, M.D.

“Stop Being So Emotional:” How Harmful Comments Affect our Mental Health 

Harassment has grown exponentially since the creation of the social internet, starting with Facebook in 2004. Apps like Twitter and Instagram don’t explicitly promote online abuse, but they don’t do enough to stop the hate, oftentimes letting it fester. While they bother everyone, harassers disproportionately target women—in particularly cruel ways, including body shaming, malicious ridiculing, and stalking. Women also receive messages threatening bodily harm, including sexual assault and murder, to themselves and their loved ones. And when targeted women speak up about the misogyny and sexism they face on a constant basis, harassers use that against them too; when Taylor Lorenz sat with MSNBC to discuss her personal struggles with online abuse, an out-of-context clip of her crying was the only part that made it onto the news, prompting comments like “women are too emotional” and “toughen up,” exactly the sort of abuse Lorenz was trying to bring to light. 

While this is all troubling, it gets worse. According to a 2014 survey conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 1 in 10 women has dealt with online harassment. And according to a poll done by Amnesty International in 2017, 33% of women in the US have been sexually harassed online. Bullying, and specifically sexual harassment, has long-term consequences on victims’ self-esteem, body image, and overall mental health. When young women’s social media posts garner cruel, and often creepy, responses, they may feel like they deserve the negativity, or that they brought it upon themselves, or, worst of all, that the comments are true. This has dire mental health effects: depression, body dysmorphia, paranoia, and anxiety. And as the social internet gets bigger, it gets harder and harder to police nefarious content. 

While this issue may never fully go away, it is still important to address it. If you find yourself the victim of online attacks, there are a few things that can help. To actively mitigate the damage, report the comment and block the user. While the comment may not get taken down, at least you won’t have to see it anymore. More importantly, a support system is key. Often we are so mired in the hate we witness online that we can’t see how senseless it is, and friends are there to put things into perspective. It is sometimes hard to internalize, but your image of yourself should not stem from how others perceive you, it should come from you. Hate feeds on hate, so stopping the negativity cycle and focusing on a healthy response that makes you feel better is important in engendering more positivity in your social media experience. It may not change the world, but if it helps you, that’s enough. 

Etta Feuer 

Source: University of California San Diego

Caffeine Conundrum

Caffeine is an ubiquitous drug, commonly found in drinks such as coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks, that increases the activity of our brains and central nervous systems. We all know that grabbing a cup of coffee and getting our fix of caffeine helps us face our early morning classes, but what else is caffeine doing to our bodily functioning? While most of us are already well aware of the fact that caffeine counteracts tiredness (through inhibiting adenosine) and can improve concentration, research reveals that caffeine has conflicting long-term health impacts. So, let’s discuss the juxtaposing effects of ingesting caffeine. 

Studies conducted throughout the past decade have revealed that caffeine has a plethora of benefits. These benefits include protective effects against liver cancer, reduced risks of death and suicide, boosts in long-term memory, increases in cortisol and adrenaline levels, and protection against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. However, other studies show that consuming over 400 mg of caffeine per day may result in undesirable effects such as increased heartbeat, anxiety, agitation, restlessness, sleeping problems, and tremors. Furthermore, a recent meta-analysis offers evidence that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day may increase the risk of heart attacks in men. 

Consuming caffeine seems to be inevitable as we can find it in almost anything we drink, and even in foods we eat. While caffeine can be quite beneficial after pulling an all-nighter, it is important to keep track of how much you ingest before you negate its benefits and find yourself facing its drawbacks. So, next time you head to Dunkin’ Donuts, order a small coffee instead of a large–save some money and enjoy your dose of caffeine!

– Irene Tussy, Writer 

Sources: Medical News Today and Better Health Channel

THE MAIN REASONS FRIENDSHIPS END

Friends come and go, especially among students. There is good research to give us insight into why someone might cut a friend off or a friendship otherwise not work out. Psychology Today provides four main reasons that friendships end.

Reason #1: Selfishness

Women are more likely than men to end friendships over selfishness. This category includes the lack of trust and reciprocity, especially when not properly discussed between pals. 

Reason #2: Lack of Frequent Interaction

Unlike above, men are more likely than women to say this is how their friendships end. Losing touch and communicating less, even if not on purpose, falls under this category. 

Reason #3: Romantic Involvement

Women are most likely to end a relationship out of jealousy. This occurs most often when a woman feels a friend likes her romantic partner, or the woman’s romantic partner likes her friend.

Reason #4: Perceptions of Friends and Family

Men and women end friendships over their families’ opinions at the same rates. Opinions from family usually weigh on us the most, so it makes sense that their perceptions have the power to end a friendship.

– Juliet Weschke, Writer

Source: Psychology Today

Why are some willing to stay in toxic relationships? 

Have you ever had a friend willing to stay in a toxic relationship? She might say, “I cannot leave him because he will suffer without my help.” Or “I am the only one able to change him and he is just misguided right now; he will change eventually.” Meanwhile, your friend is constantly abused, whether physically or verbally, by her partner. If you have ever had a friend like this, there is a high possibility that she has a savior complex, also called the Messiah complex.

A person with a savior complex sees rescuing people as their purpose and will always sacrifice herself to help a romantic partner, no matter how badly she is treated. Now, helping people is great! But there should be boundaries and limits, or else one will burn out and end up doubting herself. People with a savior complex are typically attracted to partners who have been hurt physically or mentally before. Those partners come in two main types, encapsulated in the casanova complex and big baby complex. 

The casanova complex refers to a person who loves pursuing women without committing to serious relationships. Even though it seems such a person is popular, the “lifesaver,” or person with a savior complex (yes, I know this gets confusing), tends to believe that he is actually lonely and unhappy. The lifesaver will provide the person with the love he is supposedly missing, believing her love will change him. 

A big baby is a person who is dependent, immature, and needy for care and love. Saviors will find their “purpose” in relationships with big babies because they feel needed. Saviors will do anything to provide their babies support. 

Lifesavers often experience only conditional love in their childhood. (Conditional love is love that is only given when its recipient accomplishes something, making the person think she does not deserve love unless she achieves something.) The thinking goes that they are attracted to the aforementioned two types of romantic partners because they see in them their own younger selves suffering from conditional love. The “lifesaver” will sacrifice everything to prevent her partner from experiencing the same fate as she. She will end up in a cycle where she gets harmed repeatedly and starts to blame herself, before entering a similar relationship without acknowledging the pattern, and so the cycle continues. 

If you are a victim of the savior complex, do not panic. Take solace in advice from the book, “Don’t Take Anything Personally:” first, “you are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for yourself.” Second, remember that the person you are helping will never change unless you are willing to change yourself. Last but not least, remember to set boundaries and respect them.   

Angie Lee

Sources: Womany; Psychology Today 

psych student academic advising office: Stress/Anxiety Management Workshop

Hello Psychology Community,

Are you stressed out about school, exams, life?  Are you feeling axious about in the face of so much change and uncertainty?  Are you looking for new ways to manage your anxiety and stress?Then mark the date on your calendar and join us next Wednesday, April 13, 2022 from 1-3pm for the workshop we have prepared specially for you!

We planned a Stress/Anxiety Management Workshop just for you!  In this workshop, we’ll identify and address unhealthy behaviors before they become a barrier to your success. While stress can’t be completely avoided, this workshop will teach you how to reduce stress and anxiety by introducing healthy methods of coping and solid strategies to combat the stress in your daily life.

This workshop is open to all doctoral, MA and Undergraduate students!  Please see below the ZOOM link to the event, place it in your calendar, register and join us then!  We are looking forward to seeing you then:

You are invited to a Zoom meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMkcOmrqj0rHNLmulHHnFtatTWLaNcKlC45

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Great Relief Comes in Small Doses

Psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin-filled mushrooms, and ayahuasca have been in and out of popularity since the 1960s, but a new phenomenon—microdosing—has brought them back to the forefront. A microdose is usually around 5 to 10% of the typical dose of the hallucinogenic drug in question. Though, because there is no standard measurement in microdosing psychedelics, it is hard to know how much people are really using. Some estimates say almost half a full dose, because people use the drugs based on how they feel, rather than what is safe—possibly because it is hard to research what is safe given that psychedelics are illegal. It helps alleviate depression and anxiety without the side effects common in higher doses of mind-altering drugs, like distorted vision and hallucinations. 

When people feel that commonly prescribed drugs for mental disorders like anxiety and depression are failing them, some turn to microdosing psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms to find relief. Microdosers have reported feeling more relaxed, positive, and grounded on psychedelics than prescription drugs. Many with social anxiety have said that it is easier to form and keep healthy relationships because of a new sense of calm from these drugs. The problem is, those stories are basically the only evidence that microdosing works. 

Randomized participants in a blind study of 200 microdosers at Imperial College London were given a placebo instead of their usual psychedelic, and both they and a group of participants who took psychedelics as usual reported positive psychological outcomes after a month. There don’t seem to be any health risks in microdosing, but other than those from the placebo effect, this study shows there don’t seem to be many substantial, long-lasting benefits either. With mainly only anecdotal evidence substantiating microdosing, doctors and scientists are wary to endorse it. But, those who find comfort in microdosing disagree with experts’ caution. They believe it is worthwhile, no matter the scientific findings. As long as the risks stay minimal to none, to them, anything to mitigate pain and boost serotonin is justifiable. While their desperation is understandable, putting one’s faith in illegal and often harmful substances can be dangerous, even if taking a smaller dose. The fear is, like many other seemingly revolutionary psychedelic trends (for example, Octavio Rettig and toad medicine), microdosing can turn unhealthy, or worse, deadly. There can be long term side-effects associated with regular doses that are not yet known in microdosing, like flashbacks, images from a user’s hallucinations while on LSD. And overdosing is still possible if one is not careful with how much they are taking. All new medicine and health practices take time and research for experts to deem safe and helpful. That is true in this case too; it is just too early to know the full ramifications of microdosing.

Etta Feuer, Writer

Source: University of California San Diego

Let me help you stay dementia free: part 1

Alzheimer’s is a scary disease that has always freaked me out. I am grateful that none of my loved ones has experienced dementia, but I have heard many stories. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, with over 6 million Americans living with the disease. Alzheimer’s gradually shrinks the brain, harming important mental functions. In early stages, patients experience difficulty remembering recent conversations, events and names. Later symptoms include impaired communication, disorientation, confusion, and ultimately difficulty swallowing and speaking. Worldwide rates of dementia are estimated to triple to 152 million by 2050, and. These are frightening statistics, especially given that we still know little about this disease and how to treat it. What I have been told all my life is that, in a game of chance, genes essentially dictate my fate, which will be revealed once I get older. 

A few months ago my mother took a DNA genetic test revealing she had an elevated risk for dementia. This triggered in me a period of rigorous research through podcasts, articles, and seminars for a way to reduce the risk. I was not particularly optimistic about the treatments available and potential cures. Upon doing research on available drugs, I learned that over four billion dollars have already been spent on research and development with no real success. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing we could do other than hope for the best. But I have come to understand  that is far from the truth. There are direct actions we can all take to reduce the risk of getting Alheimer’s.

A doctor can measure a patient’s risk of Alzheimers in several ways. There are bio-markers that show up as the brain changes and deteriorates in dementia. Through brain scans and early diagnosis, doctors can actually detect changes in the brain 30-40 years before a patient first experiences any symptoms. Researchers can now track patient’s brain health and inflammation as they go through life. Consider that when a patient is in a highly stressful state, marked by excessive amounts of cortisol, the hippocampus (a crucial part of the brain that mediates memory) visibly shrinks. Doctor’s can observe a decrease in brain inflammation and insulin resistance when sugars and carbohydrates are reduced. What interests me the most, though, is how this disease can be traced back 30-40 years. This completely contradicts my original belief that Alzheimer’s and dementia just come out of the blue. In fact, they make their first appearance in our 20s, and progressively ravage the brain until symptoms start showing up. In fact, researchers have concluded this is an absolutely critical time for risk reduction, perhaps more important than any other time in your life. 

This is not a topic reserved for old people. This information is relevant to anyone, indeed especially a person in their youth. In the next post, I will break down how exercise and diet, two of the five pillars of risk reduction for Alzheimer’s (the others of which are sleep, stress, and environmental factors) play a major role in this disease, and offer examples of some of the changes that can be made.

Emile Beniflah

Sources: CDC; Alzheimers.org; Alzheimer’s & Dementia; The Doctor’s Farmacy Podcast with Mark Hyman, M.D.

Guilty of Procrastination? Here’s Your Solution.

Sometimes that new Netflix series that just dropped is way too tempting to avoid watching. So, I guess that means we can give in to the temptation and finish our homework later… right? We can all recall a time when we’ve caught ourselves procrastinating, but let’s be honest, is it really in our best interest? Putting off work, time and time again, builds a habit of waiting until the last minute to address urgent tasks. Do you find yourself procrastinating often? Need guidance to break this habit? If so, allow me to tell you how to minimize your procrastination. 

Research has shown evidence of a link between mindfulness and rates of procrastination. According to Psychology Today, “mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present. This state is described as observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad.” In engaging in this state of active and open attention, mindfulness allows one to gain perspective on her consciousness. As a result, she harnesses a sense of serenity, both mentally and relationally. 

Studies prove that mindfulness meditation, in particular, can be used to intervene on procrastination. Mindfulness meditation allows us to “quiet the mind or achieve a higher level of consciousness, one of which is mindfulness.” Joseph Goldstein, meditation teacher and co-founder of Insight Meditation Society, highlights the importance of one key phrase in practicing mindfulness meditation: “simply begin again.” Goldstein explains that, by reminding ourselves of this aphorism, “we can actually delight in that moment of awareness rather than judge ourselves for having been lost [in our thoughts]. It’s in this moment that we renew our focus and ‘simply begin again.” 

We can apply the mindset embodied by Goldstein’s phrase to procrastination. When we find ourselves distracted and beginning to procrastinate, we can acknowledge our lack of commitment to our intended tasks without judgment, and simply begin again. Mindfulness is used in a plethora of ways, as in the reduction of stress, anxiety, and pain, and allows us to relax. Furthermore, mindfulness may help us eliminate habits like smoking and overeating. 

Before you judge yourself for procrastinating and getting caught up in the hectic nature of your day-to-day life, become mindful and simply begin again.

– Irene Tussy, Writer 

Source: Psychology Today

Did you know that big cats like perfume, too?!

During my animal behavior class, my professor showed us a video where a cheetah rubbed its face, paws, and body on a stick for a few minutes. Our professor then asked us to guess what was on the stick that made the cheetah so obsessed with it. Some responded “mint.” Others said “meat.” But none of us was right. The answer was perfume. 

Cats rub their cheek on surfaces around them either to mark their scent or collect a scent from other cheetahs. Experimenters explain that cats love investigating smells, particularly those they wouldn’t usually find in their natural environments, perhaps surprisingly given their evolutionary aims in interacting with those smells.  Studies have shown that some big cat species, like tigers and cheetahs, have a strong interest in perfumed scents–but not every one. Researchers indicated that cheap colognes do not work; only the famous brands do! An investigation conducted at Bronx Zoo showed that the two cheetahs in the zoo have the strongest preference for Calvin Klein Cologne. 

Cheetahs are of particular interest to researchers studying the phenomenon. It is extremely hard to take a close look at cheetahs in the wild because they run very fast and they are often good at hiding. Researchers are attracted to Bronx Zoo to study their behavior in more research-friendly conditions. 

As soon as I got home from my aforementioned class, I grabbed a bottle of Victoria’s Secret perfume and sprayed it on the couch to see my cat’s reaction. She slowly approached the spot and sniffed it. She then quickly ran away. Alas, maybe it only works on big cats. Either way, this is an interesting phenomenon worth further exploration. Maybe consider going to Bronx Zoo to investigate yourself. On second thought, maybe don’t.

Angie Lee

Source: National Geographic

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THE REGISTRATION LINK CAN BE FOUND HERE


5 WAYS TO BETTER YOURSELF THIS SPRING

Spring is here and it’s finally warming up outside. New seasons bring all kinds of changes like wardrobe makeovers and new sleep schedules, due to changing our clocks. Spring is seen as a rebirth and renewal in many cultures, and for many reasons this is accurate: being able to spend more time outside in warmer weather can feel like a new beginning, and the winter months help us appreciate this so much more. Psychology Today suggests five ways we can boost our mental health this spring.

  1. Learn to prioritize your sleep again.

Being a college student doesn’t always nurture a healthy sleep schedule. Almost every student I know sleeps inconsistently, and their days are filled with naps to try to make up for sleep deficits. It is hard to get to sleep at a reasonable hour and wake up early, but prioritizing sleep is very important for an array of reasons. Putting your phone away before bed can be a start to getting yourself an extra hour of shut eye, and restraining yourself from picking it up first thing in the morning will do the same. 

  1. Make changes to your space.

If you are the type of person who often makes aesthetic changes to your living space, it may not be a surprise that changing your environment boosts your mental health. If spring is a rebirth, use that as an excuse to rebirth your wardrobe, paint your bedroom, or re-arrange your furniture. 

  1. Reconnect with the outside world.

The pandemic gave us time to isolate ourselves from the outside world and social situations. Use this spring as an opportunity to reconnect with trusted friends to increase your well-being profoundly. It must be noted that if you haven’t socialized with others in a while, it can be anxiety-inducing to re-enter society fast, so take it slow and steady.

  1. Adopt a plant.

Spring is a great time for greenery like flowers and veggies. Nurturing a small plant of your own can be very rewarding and give you a sense of responsibility without much stress. In fact, houseplants are associated with decreased anxiety, and can therefore be therapeutic! A great low-maintenance option is succulents, because they need little attention, but if you decide to grow veggies from seed, you’ll find it can be very exciting to make something from seemingly nothing.

  1. Identify one creative goal.

Setting goals is always important, and not all of them should be long-term. Set a goal for yourself this spring to try something you are interested in but have never found the time to explore. Cultivating random skills like painting, knitting, or gardening could prove very useful at times. Alternatively set a goal to finish a project you didn’t get to complete before the pandemic. 

– Juliet Weschke, Writer

Source: Psychology Today

WHY YOU MISUNDERSTAND YOUR PARTNER

If you have or have had a partner, you probably have experienced misunderstanding in your relationship at one point or another. Research shows that when we fail to check our assumptions in a relationship, we often feel disappointed in our partners when, in reality, we are disappointing ourselves. According to Psychology Today, three assumptions tend to cause the most relationship issues.

The first is that you should dismiss your partner’s past because your relationship is a “new beginning.” It is fair to not want to go into the details of your partner’s past relationships, but you must have a firm grasp on their childhood at the very least. This will help you gain a better understanding of your partner, and even if you don’t want to know anything at all about your partner’s past relationships, asking him or her to describe them might be essential to fully understanding your partner. Knowing what problems they have had in past relationships might help you find patterns so that you can encourage positive behaviors and work through negative ones effectively. 

For example, if your partner does not talk about his or her emotions, and has told you that a previous partner of his or hers asked your partner to stop being emotional, you can reassure him or her that it’s okay to be open with you and remind them that your relationship is not like the previous. Not knowing this piece of your partner’s past might lead you to become angry and confused rather than sympathetic. Moreover, childhood is a huge factor in a person’s life and you must ask questions about how they were raised to understand them today.

The second assumption that you might hold in your relationships is that you know your partner’s needs and wants. At the beginning of a romantic relationship, there is an emphasis on accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative. This means you probably (without realizing) disclosed only things you thought your partner would like to hear when getting to know them, and they most likely did the same. Psychology Today posits that we have a “paramount motivation” that typically drives us to “present an idealized version of ourselves,” one which can’t be maintained indefinitely. With time, you might see more unappealing attributes of your partner that you did not see at the beginning of your relationship, so it is important to understand that the needs and wants you thought they had could be entirely different when they start to truly open up to you.

The last and most common assumption is that our partners will behave and react the same way we would under the same circumstances. Because we think we know our partners so well, we often delude ourselves and interpret our partner’s behaviors through the lens of our own psyche. We project onto them motives for their behavior that reflect our predilections and habits. So, if you are upset with your partner for their actions, it is not wise to suggest that those actions were “out of character” or that you know them better than they know themselves. Playing the role of a mental health professional and telling your partner their behaviors are unacceptable based on your own beliefs is damaging. When your partner behaves in a way that you don’t like, ask him or her how they interpret their behavior instead of interpreting it for them. For example, interpreting your partner’s saying something hurtful as purposeful will create a negative bias towards them when, in reality, they might just be having a bad day.

Healthy communication and open-mindedness are key in a relationship. It may be hard to accept that your partner has a past and that you don’t know them inside and out. Not knowing them perfectly is what makes communication so important, and you should always feel safe to open up to your partner if you feel misunderstood. 

– Juliet Weschke, Writer

Source: Psychology Today

Let me help you improve your brain health

The brain is our body’s most complex system. It is involved in everything we do. When the brain works right, we work right. When it doesn’t, trouble ensues. An unhealthy brain leads to lower cognitive and physical functioning, an increase in depression, and a worsened memory. People with unhealthy brains are generally sadder, sicker, less intelligent, less motivated, and less successful. Today’s post will explore the ways one can support their brain health. 

Let’s begin by discussing what causes your brain the most harm. Brain injuries are some of the more well-known ways you can mess it up. Playing football, combat sports, or hitting a soccer ball with your head can cause severe damage (often long-term), so consider picking up a new sport. In addition, what we put in our bodies will either benefit us, or harm us with toxins. A highly inflammatory diet with lots of sugars, processed foods, and trans fats (which is unfortunately what most Americans eat everyday) is detrimental to your brain and body alike. Obesity has been shown to damage brain function, and studies have concluded that as weight goes up, the physical size and function of the brain go down! So, another great incentive to stay in shape. Drugs, alcohol and smoking are not good either; alcohol is toxic to brain function, and smoking constricts blood flow to the brain. Stress and constant negative thinking, too, should be avoided whenever possible. The brain will become accustomed to this line of thinking, and will physically change as a result. Finally, a few other factors worth mentioning are environmental toxins, diabetes, high blood pressure, and lack of sleep- all detrimental to overall health. 

In order to promote brain health, here are things that can actively be done to change its structure and function: the first is to improve your social connections. I like to call three people a day and get involved in local communities and clubs. I set such commitments to create consistency around connection. Not only has this made my life significantly more fulfilling, but research shows it also improves brain health. Continuously educating oneself and learning new skills have also shown to be beneficial. When not in school, focusing and getting better at learning a language, playing chess, working on your jump shot (without having the basketball fall on your head) or working the cross word puzzle are all great ways to stimulate the mind. Academic literature has also linked meditation and gratitude practices to healthy brains. Writing a daily gratitude list has been a game changer in my life, and I highly recommend adding this practice to your daily routine. I often need to get out of my own head and remind myself that I have a good life (I forget it all the time). It helps combat the negative self talk mentioned in the previous paragraph. Meditation, in turn, will help with stress. Finally, removing nasty habits mentioned in the last paragraph, and creating a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and sleep is crucial to the brain and body.

I find it both frightening and empowering that I have so much control over my brain health. But it makes sense. Just like a muscle, the brain over time can get stronger or weaker depending on our actions and environment. Changing habits can be hard and intimidating– it still is for me. But getting rid of (or adding) certain habits from my routine, little by little, has created bigger changes in the long term. Even if you decide to commit to meditating every day for only 30 seconds, you are telling your body and your brain that you care and are making an effort. And as you continue, your brain will become accustomed to that effort and way of thinking, and make it progressively more manageable for you. I hope this helps. See you next time. 

Emile Beniflah

Sources:

Amen, D. “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.” TED, Jun. 8 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLKj1puoWCg

Nall, Rachel. “Brain Damage: Types, Causes, and Symptoms.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 14 Dec. 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/brain-damage. 

Sui, Sophia X, and Julie A Pasco. “Obesity and Brain Function: The Brain-Body Crosstalk.” Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania) vol. 56,10 499. 24 Sep. 2020, doi:10.3390/medicina56100499

Gym Rat? Physical Activity Helps You Think

When is the last time you went to the gym or engaged in any physical activity? Some of us are total gym rats, but others of us don’t even remember the last time we saw a treadmill. We are all taught from a young age that exercising is of the utmost importance in maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle. It’s time we look past the physical payoff and focus on how physical activity (PA) can impact our mental well-being! 

A new study co-authored by Talia Robinson, Kharine Jean, and Stephen Miller from the University of Georgia’s Department of Psychology, highlighted the fact that physical activity aids in protecting your cognitive abilities as you age and keeps your brain healthy. Our brains are made up of groups of individual networks that communicate information to one another. Different parts of the brain are active at varying times. For instance, “The network that is active when the body is at rest… flips off when a person starts trying to complete a task. At that time, another network kicks on.” All of these networks play crucial roles in our daily lives, but as people age, tasks become arduous. 

The UGA study analyzed the impact of PA on the “association between executive function and the strength of anti-correlated brain networks in community-dwelling older adults.” In order to successfully conduct their study, the researchers selected participants that were at least 51 years old who underwent “neuropsychological testing, physical activity and fitness measurements, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).” 

To produce their results, the researchers took into account the number of steps, intensity, and distance traveled during participants’ PA. The authors concluded that increased levels of physical activity do in fact advocate “protective factors for the aging brain.”

What does this mean for us now? First, you should offer this advice to your parents or grandparents. But for you personally, it’s time to start building the habit of physical activity. Whether it’s getting a gym membership or enrolling in a yoga class, cultivating this habit now will allow you to maintain it later in life. In doing so, not only will you look good and feel good, but you’ll be protecting your cognitive abilities too!

-Irene Tussy, Writer

Sources: Science Daily and Research Gate

LET ME HELP YOU IDENTIFY AND STAY AWAY FROM EMOTIONAL VAMPIRES: PART II

In last week’s post I discussed emotion vampires (EV), people who have traits associated with personality disorders, but who do not necessarily have severe enough cases to warrant a diagnosis. I talked about the basic characteristics they all share and their lack of maturity. As a follow up to that post, today I want to talk about the five types of emotional vampires: antisocial vampires, histrionic vampires, narcissistic vampires, obsessive-compulsive vampires, and paranoid vampires— and how to protect yourself from them.

First and most importantly, we have antisocial vampires (associated with antisocial personality disorder traits). These are people who are daredevils, addicted to excitement. Their primary purpose in life is to have a good time and experience immediate gratification. Though such people can be very charismatic, desirable, and fun to be around, they will easily use and abandon you in the blink of an eye. Think of the dad who is fun and full of promises one day, only to disappear the next. Or the charming boyfriend who regularly cheats on his girlfriend and has all the explanations for why it’s okay. These are people who will argue with someone when in the wrong, and make the other person feel like she is the problem. The way to protect yourself from antisocial vampires is to identify them and know their history and intentions. Remembering who they are and not giving into their charm and empty promises is key. It is critical to set boundaries with all vampires, especially with this type. Ignore their tantrums and emotional outbursts when they don’t get their way; like with infants, this is the best way to get them to stop.

Next up are histrionic vampires (linked to histrionic personality disorder), individuals who live for attention and approval. They too can be charming and present themselves charismatically, but what you see is certainly not what you get. They are experts at hiding their true motivations from themselves, and actually believe they are just nice people trying to help. This type of vampire can come in many different forms including a passive aggressive type, an overly dramatic type, or a ‘gossipy’ type. All histrionic vampires get lost in the roles they play, and become desperate when people stop paying attention. They believe they are living in a dramatic soap opera, so if you’re friends with them, enjoy the show, but avoid getting written into their script. 

Narcissistic vampires (think of narcissistic personality disorder) live their own fantasy as the smartest, most brilliant, good looking, and successful people in the world. They are some of the most famous emotional vampires, and the most hated. They are overly competitive (only in things they know they will win), and have a sense of grandiosity and entitlement. They will often appear visibly bored if a conversation does not revolve around them. They believe that what is good for them is all that exists. What is most important to understand and accept if trying to protect yourself from, say, that one narcissistic boss or family member is: they are not concerned about or thinking of you at all. Pick your battles and choose your words carefully, ignore their tantrums, and know your own limits when dealing with them.

Obsessive-compulsive vampires (corresponding to OCD) are fixated on having a sense of safety. They believe they can achieve this through meticulous attention to detail, and control over everything. These people are not inherently out to hurt you, but they will if you threaten their sense of control. Do not get lost in their dark world of obsessive detail, and keep your mind on the big picture when working with or talking to them. 

Finally we have the paranoid vampires (from paranoid personality disorder). These vampires live in delusions of persecution. They live by concrete rules, and are constantly on the lookout for evidence of deviation, which they typically find. You may feel safe and secure around them, until you become a suspect. The problem is that their paranoid behavior is often what makes other people go after them. Your best bet is to tell the plain, honest truth, thus avoiding cross-examination. That’s easier said than done, though. Like all previous vampire types, it is important to know your limits and set boundaries with such people. 
There are many theories in the world of psychology on the causes of personality disorders and the roots of the vampires discussed above. What Bernstein emphasized in his book is that understanding a problem is not the same as trying to solve it, a distinction which many of us get hung up on. Sometimes it is far more important to comprehend the mechanics of human problems (how they operate and what to do about them) than to speculate on what causes them, the former of which was the goal of this week’s post. 

ALL ANIMALS ARE THERAPEUTIC- NOT JUST PETS

It is no secret that animals have a tremendously positive effect on the body and mind. Indeed my colleague, Irene Tussy, wrote about this effect a few days back (see “The Pet Effect”). Whether you have a house pet or a support animal, or prefer to view animals in nature, all forms of animal interaction are healing to the soul. Family pets provide the most common form of human-animal interaction. There is nothing better than your dogs running to the door when you come home, or your cats waiting to be scratched on the sofa. Even as a bird owner, I myself sense the relief my pet feels when I get back from school. As I indicated before, emotional support animals are also a hot topic and one that has been touched on in Irene Tussy’s aforementioned post. 

There is one form of interaction that isn’t as common but at least as beneficial: caring for farm animals. New York City is not the best place for a pasture, but “the British National Health Service is establishing ‘care farms’ as part of mental health treatment, following a trend established in Europe” (Psychology Today). These therapeutic farms see patients participate in agricultural tasks that unite nature, animals, and humans as one. Also an increasing number of people are taking on farm animals such as pigs, goats, and ducks as household pets.  

If you prefer watching the animal kingdom from a distance, a great option would be to invest in a bird feeder/fountain for your home. They are easy to make; I made one with a halved coconut as a birdseed holder when I was young. You might notice how calming it is to watch birds of all kinds interact, and discover the animal lover in you.

Fortunately, Psych News is hosting a meet and greet with some furry friends in the near future. Don’t miss it! (Psych News and the Psych Collective will host therapy dogs on April 1st from 4-5 p.m. in Thomas Hunter 105. More details to follow.)

– Juliet Weschke, Writer

Is the News Depressing You Too?

The world has been in crisis mode over the past few years with tragedies compounding tragedies. And now, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we’ve added war to the fold. War obviously takes a tremendous toll on its victims, but hearing of, reading about, and watching it, even from the comfort of NYC, affects our mental health too. While our suffering is incomparable to that of direct victims, it is still real and worth discussing. 

Most importantly, it is ok to feel anxious or stressed even if you are not directly affected by the war in Ukraine, or by any other piece of news that is getting you down. Denying our feelings does not get rid of them; it only blocks us from properly dealing with them. Think of your emotions like facts. Even if you deny them, they still exist. And even more so, denying them can make the effects worse. Take climate change: denying its effect on the world prevents us from fixing it, so it is actively getting worse by believing or acting like it does not exist. Same with your emotions. They are active in every thought and interaction you have, and validating those negative feelings can actually mitigate them and make dealing with the constant barrage of negativity easier. 

After that, there are small things we can do to feel better. Talking about your negative thoughts with others is a good next step. It does not have to be to a therapist, though that is definitely ideal. Even just discussing your anxieties with someone you trust can alleviate some of the burden. You might find that others feel similarly, and just knowing you are not alone, and feeling supported by others, is beneficial. It can also be useful to turn off your phone for a bit. We are constantly inundated with information, most of it discouraging. Just on Tuesday, my NYT notifications read: “President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for help…” “A powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck near Japan’s Fukushima…” “The case that killed #MeToo in Sweden…” “Global [covid] cases are rising again…” and it goes on. If it gets to be too much, as it often does, it can be healthy to just shut off notifications, or at least have them delivered silently so they are not constantly disrupting you. And now that the weather is getting warmer, taking walks or doing other activities that make you content can take your mind off of the distressing state of the world and keep you present. 

Even after all of this, though, it is ok to not feel ok. It is a difficult time right now and if quick fixes aren’t enough, that makes sense. Giving yourself the time and space to not feel ok can be useful too. There is no foolproof way to get through disaster—or life in general—and it does not mean you are not doing enough or that you are a lost cause if these few weeks, months, or years have hit you extra hard.

I hope we can all find a little piece of stability this week in this crazy world. 

–  Etta Feuer

Sources: NPR; Walden University

A note from the Psychology Student academic advising office on exciting virtual workshops

Hello Psychology Students,

Hope that you enjoyed a nice weekend!

Please see below the list of exciting virtual workshops we carefully prepared for you!  We have a week packed of them, so please mark on your calendar and plan to attend them.  We are looking forward to seeing you then!:

1) Psychology Undergraduate Workshop Series: How to Find an Internship/Research Lab in Psychology: Featuring Prof. Amber Alliger and Prof. Stefan Schlussman

 Wednesday, March 16, 2022 from 1:30-3pm

You are invited to a Zoom meeting: Psychology Undergraduate Workshop Series – How to Find a Research Lab/Internship in Psychology
When: Mar 16, 2022 01:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87015328026?pwd=ODVLbEpGZTQ1Tk93S2o0Rnp0clUwUT09
Meeting ID: 870 1532 8026
Passcode: 854928

2) Resume Writing Clinic for Psychology Students:

Thursday, March 17, 2022 from 1-3pm

You are invited to a Zoom Meeting:  Resume Writing Clinic for psychology Students
When: Mar 17, 2022 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 
Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcldeyvqjkiGdJ44wXl0mA31tEaIosotVi8 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
 

3) Get to Know your Psychology Major:

Friday, March 18, 2022, from 1-2pm

You are invited to a Zoom meeting: Get to Know Your Psychology Major 

When: Mar 18, 2022 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIpcOmuqTsuE9zsTbd22hv5ju7IM5tJR8Hf 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
 

We are looking forward to seeing you then!

This message is brought to you by your Student Academic Advising in Psychology Office: Celebrating Women’s Month!

The importance of shared reality

Have you ever wondered what makes the difference between an acquaintance and a stranger? Or what makes two lovers connect with one another? According to Dr. Maya Rossignac-Milon, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia Business School, a close relationship often ensues when two people share the same feelings. Similarly, a shared reality exists between two people who share an understanding of the world, including, for example, in their senses of humor, opinions, and interests. Per Rossignac-Milon, there are four sequential phases of shared reality: feelings, practices, coordination, and identity. Once two people complete the first phase, they will typically proceed to the next. And so on and so forth. 

If during any of the four phases one of the two partners in a relationship neglects their shared reality, the relationship is likely to suffer (potentially irrevocable) damage. The shared reality theory is helpful in understanding breakup-induced heartache, because partners not only lose the physical presence of their loved one, but also a shared understanding of the world.

Angie Lee

Source: Maya Rossignac-Milon and E Tory Higgins. “Epistemic companions: shared reality development in close relationships.”

your attention please: AAPI WANTS YOU TO BE MENTALLY HEALTHY. TAKE A LOOK AT THESE EVENTS!

Has THE PANDEMIC MADE US STRONGER?

You may be asking yourself: how could this pandemic be making us stronger? Resilience may be the answer. 

For the past two years, our lives have all been centered around COVID-19. It is almost impossible to escape reminders of the disease’s persistence. On the subway, most advertisements are about how to properly wear your mask, and all you hear about anymore is the latest person to test positive in your social circle. 

Psychologists have looked at the effects on mental health from events such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks, and found they have extreme consequences; After 9/11, “10 percent of the population of New York City showed signs of clinical depression and almost 25 percent reported unusually high levels of alcohol intake” (Psychology Today). What researchers know so far is that the pandemic has hit us harder than any storm or terrorist attack to date. But we humans are incredibly resilient–as a species and as individuals.

To feel better, I always repeat to myself that I am living in a time that will never be forgotten, and will be studied for decades, if not longer. The pandemic has confirmed for psychologists how remarkably adaptive humans are. As I mentioned in my last blog post, “Seasonal Depression: Is it Real?” we are extraordinary at adapting to adverse environments, such as experienced in a pandemic. 

As we worry about infection and social distancing, we also worry about related, downstream issues such as, “unemployment, economic uncertainty, and feelings of helplessness.” Especially telling is the effect COVID has had on our school work. With a large majority of classes switched to online, it is increasingly hard to communicate in classes and get to know our classmates and professors.

Some questions psychologists are thinking about now are: “Have people been able to sustain their resilience, or are we slowly running out of our resilience reserves? Has the shifting nature of the pandemic introduced new risk factors that have been previously overlooked?” While these questions remain unanswered, all we can do is remain diligent, distract ourselves, and keep using our special adaptive powers.

– Juliet Weschke, Writer

Source: Psychology Today

Let me help you identify and stay away from emotional vampires: Part I

I first learned of “emotional vampires” two years ago after being gifted a copy of Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry by Dr. Albert Bernstein. Though at first I rolled my eyes at the dramatic name, after reading the book I thought the term brilliantly described the types of people I will be discussing today. Dr. Bernstein coined the term after raising an interesting point that is often overlooked in society. An individual qualifies for an official mental illness diagnosis when they experience certain symptoms and act in ways that correspond to a disorder contained in the DSM. However, each individual’s health exists on a continuum, and can range from severe enough to require hospitalization to fairly normal, at least until subjected to enough stress. Emotion vampires (EV) are people who have traits associated with personality disorders, but do not necessarily have severe enough cases to warrant a diagnosis. (In Bernstein’s words, a  mental disorder consists in driving oneself crazy. A personality disorder entails a person driving others crazy.) These are people who view the world differently than others. They want everyone’s undivided attention. They want love that demands nothing back. They are those friends who just love having fun and excitement, expecting others to clean up the mess and take care of anything difficult or boring. Or your boss who takes advantage of you, knowing well you have a hard time saying no. 

There are five types of ‘vampires’ that are associated with a specific personality disorder: antisocial vampires, histrionic vampires, narcissistic vampires, obsessive-compulsive vampires, and paranoid vampires. Today I will discuss the common characteristics all EVs have, including a lack of maturity and social norms.

 A lack of basic maturity is an easy way to identify emotional vampires. Bernstein argues that maturity and mental health are the same thing, and are made up of three components: First, the perception of control, or the notion that over time we learn from our mistakes and our choices get better. We develop a feeling that we have some sort of control over our fate that life’s not out to get us. Second, a sense of connection and commitment, such that human connection gives meaning to our lives. As we grow up, we come to understand some basic social rules such as people have the right to deny you, you are not on a superior plane than others, what’s fair is fair, to mention a few. We learn to develop empathy and trust. Without a sense of connection, all we have is ourselves and our needs, which is a very limited and empty place. Third and finally, the Pursuit of Challenge: in order to grow we must face our fears and do things that are sometimes difficult. EVs lack all three of these parts.

 In addition to discussing some of the social rules most people in society abide by, Bernstein came up with social rules that emotional vampires follow:

  • My needs are more important than yours: A person may be a fantastic coworker and friend up until your needs come in conflict with theirs.
  • The rules apply to others, not me (entitlement): EVs realize how much easier life is when they are the only ones not following the rules other people follow.
  • It’s not my fault, ever: This references EVs significant lack of responsibility, and the perception that the world is out to get them.
  • I want it now: The persistent need for immediate gratification. If you cannot provide them with what they want, when they want it, they will come at you.
  • If I don’t get my way, I throw a tantrum: As a followup to the previous point, if they don’t get their way,  misery will follow.

These are just a few of the basic characteristics all EVs share. To avoid being emotionally drained by them, being aware of their differences from the rest of society is important. Next week I will be discussing the five types of emotional vampires- antisocial vampires, histrionic vampires, narcissistic vampires, obsessive-compulsive vampires, and paranoid vampires- and how to protect yourself from them.

– Emile Beniflah


Source: Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry by Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D

Childhood Deferred

There are many victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but affected most severely are the children: Russian and Ukrainian. As Chevi Ilina, a Belarusian 17-year-old, said in my interview with her, “what is worse than a spoiled childhood?”

Children need stability, but instead, Ukrainian children have been forced into high-stress, traumatic situations while barely understanding what is going on. All they know is that their day-to-day life has been supplanted by gunshots, bombs, and dread. And their most steady source of security—their parents—are unable to provide the comfort that they rely on, thus threatening a normal development. 

When children start to see they can’t control their current situation, and that their worries are going unanswered, it can lead to low self-esteem, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, and even depression and suicidal thoughts. Because there is no structure from school, no security at home, and no idea of what is to come, children can find it hard to regulate their emotions or form secure relationships. Chevi fears for Ukrainian children, especially because her aunt, who just made it safely to Germany from their home in Ukraine, has two young kids, aged 6 and 11. The 6-year-old boy hasn’t stopped crying for his father while the 11-year-old girl has remained silent from shock. The children know their mother’s face has changed but don’t understand why. “They are agitated, you know it’s scary, it’s just indescribable. One day someone just invades your home and starts bombing you for no reason. They see their parents crying, they sit in basements, they hide from bombings, they feel terrified,” Chevi says. Right now, as thousands of families flood railway stations in Ukraine to flee, children are getting lost in the crowd and when volunteers ask them their names or their parent’s names, to help reunite them, the children are unable to respond, as if they forgot who they are. As Chevi explains, “it’s a darkness and it takes a lot of time [to process].” 

Like post-World War II children, who, in their old age, talk about the terrifying images they witnessed in their past, Ukrainian kids of all ages will never forget. In experiencing extreme brutality while their brains are first learning to understand the world, many will develop PTSD, and learn unhealthy habits. Some may develop a propensity for violence while others disassociate, never to learn how to express themselves. 

Even before Putin’s latest escalation, Ukrainian children had lived in tension for eight years, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The full-scale war, now two weeks old, brings this especially vulnerable part of the population only more pain and further setbacks that will last no matter the outcome of the war. 

– Etta Feuer

Sources: Post-Traumatic Stress in Children | Pediatric Research 

application for PSYCH 306 (seminar in psychological services) now open!

Are you interested in a course in which you apply your learning and experience to find out what it’s like to work with clients in a mental health-related setting?

Seminar in Psychological Services I (PSYCH 30600) will be offered in FALL 2022. The course includes a 1-hour, 15 minute seminar once weekly at Hunter and 6-8 additional hours weekly in a field experience to be arranged as well as academic work.  The course earns 4 credits.

  • Field experiences, based on referral by the instructor and interview by agency supervisors, are in settings like transitional facilities for former patients, inpatient psychiatric units, or therapeutic nurseries for children with pervasive developmental disorders, and multiservice programs for at-risk youth.
  • PSYC 30600 has the following prerequisites: PSYCH  22300; and 25000; and permission of the instructor, based on an online interview. 
  • Additional important information:
    • No exceptions are made to the prerequisites. 
    • For field experience, you must have a minimum of 8 weekday or weekend hours available (includes travel): from 8am to 6pm.
    • Interviewing is for a limited time, so if interested, now is the time to schedule an interview.  I will be scheduling interviews on line and in person  starting 4/1 and they will continue through 4/8. Please apply by completing the following survey by 3/25 to be considered for an interview (link below) and attaching both your resume and unofficial transcript. Thank you.

APPLY HERE

ALL COVID victims ARE NOT EQUAL

COVID-19, the subject of previous blog posts on this website and elsewhere, has been tough on us all. Refugees and immigrants, however, have perhaps borne the brunt of it. This makes sense: after all, political fault lines often come to the forefront during moments of crisis, and natural catastrophes are no different. Stress, PTSD, and other facets of mental illness are amplified in immigrants and refugees, and the effects of these burdens, and of COVID-19 itself, seem to get buried under legal and demographical discussions around the people themselves–and not the problems that plague them. 

Of particular concern, these individuals are “less likely to seek out or be referred to mental health services compared to the general population,” which is likely a direct result of cultural and language barriers. Immigrants of lower economic status are affected most. Their low access to preventive psychiatric services, coupled with chronic stress and disease, puts them at a greater risk of COVID-19 complications.

Methods employed to ease the burden of the pandemic have themselves contributed to the challenges that immigrants and refugees have faced. Social distancing, a primary means of combatting the pandemic, has had particularly negative implications on those people. These individuals tend to have weak social support, increasing their risk of loneliness–which has serious health implications. (One way to address this is for healthcare individuals to screen for loneliness and explore creative approaches to gaining social support with marginalized populations. 

As invisible as immigrants and refugees are generally with respect to the pandemic and its effects, they are almost entirely forgotten about when it comes to domestic violence. As has been true for everyone, higher family tensions have increased the risk of violence. But unfavorable social conditions and tight living quarters, in decrepit homes, are additional risk factors that disproportionately impact marginalized groups like immigrants and refugees. 

Most of us are relieved that the pandemic finally seems to be coming to an end, and the lifting of mask mandates and other ways in which we are returning to normal are welcome (if a bit anxiety-provoking). But these changes will be particularly good news for the millions of immigrants and refugees who have endured a particularly rough two years since the beginning of the pandemic–too often silently. 

Maikel Angeles

Memory Formation and Youth Development

Have you ever tried thinking about your childhood memories but only grasp certain flashbacks? Neuropsychologists have identified two pivotal brain areas responsible for long lasting memory formation! Published by Northeastern University, the study explains “how memory develops, not just that it develops” said coauthor Lisa Johnson. Traditionally, scientists have been limited in memory formation understanding partly due to lack of high-resolution data from brain scans. Pediatric patients were examined by incorporating intracranial electroencephalograms (or iEEG) to measure brain development and its relation to supporting memory development.

Creating the IEEG was no easy feat. The electrodes were placed on the pediatric patients during brain surgery—for unrelated reasons—here the opportunity was seized to directly examine the data directly from the exposed brain surface. Majority of the research occurred post operation. Patients were being monitored and performing memory excesses. the participants look at pictures of scenes to see how well they remembered them. The team presented participants with images and then again with new scenes they hadn’t previously seen. This helped observe any age-related differences and how well memory in participants was working. 

Lastly, focusing on the communication between the prefrontal cortex (PCF) and medial temporal lobe (MTL), their brain signals are studied to see memory formation. Analyzing a rather slow, oscillating brain wave and a faster one, scientists learned how the two regions communicate. The two waves enable communication between regions. Their  rhythms determined whether a memory successfully formed, separating high performing adolescents from low-performing children.

  • Maikel Angeles 

Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/02/220215113357.htm

YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE THIS

If you know anything about concealed information tests (CIT)–and in particular that the psychophysiological technique is scientifically valid in exposing people with crime-related knowledge–you might think twice before planning your next heist. But you can, in fact, avoid exposure when taking the test. 

Let’s start by discussing how the test works. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analyzes changes in brain activity linked to cognitive processes involved in lying. The test is used to track changes that occur in blood oxygenation and flow in response to neural activity, but fMRIs do not directly measure neural activity. Studies show that, “Instead, [fMRI] measures small and variable changes in the ratio of oxygenated to deoxygenated blood in the brain when a particular task is performed or stimulus presented—the so-called BOLD, or blood oxygen level-dependent, response.” In testing the accuracy of fMRIs in lie detection, many scientists have instructed their subjects on how and when to lie. These direct instructions blur the validity of the results, begging the question: “does this really constitute lying?” Another complication is that repeated lies, and those first told long ago, appear differently on fMRI from an “unpracticed or recent lie.” 

After taking these problems into account, scientists thought one step further and realized that subjects could use countermeasures to produce inaccurate or misleading results. These countermeasures include moving during the test and ignoring instructions. In a study conducted by Giorgio Ganis and his colleagues, participants were told to slightly move their hands or feet prior to pressing a response button. The results of this study show that, with the countermeasure in play, fMRI accuracy plummeted to a mere 33 percent. Another study executed by Melina Uncapher and her colleagues revealed that participants were able to successfully cloak their memory, manipulating “hippocampal activity—a region long known to be important for memory—and distributed neural patterns.” In general, this and other research has proven that fMRIs biased by countermeasures are 20% less accurate than those that aren’t. 

What this means for you: before you rob a bank or swipe an old lady’s purse, commit the lessons of this blog post to heart to improve your chances of getting away it with it. Or, better yet, just don’t do it. 

– Irene Tussy, Writer

Sources: Science Daily and Columbia Law School Scholarship Archive

Let me help you study and learn better

Today was the end of a busy week at Hunter college: The workload is piling up, projects are coming due, and the first round of exams is upon us. This week, I want to focus on science-based ways to improve learning. After all, time feels like a scarce commodity  and needs to be used wisely right now.

Before getting into the tools I’ve put together, I want to mention a quick note about sleep. (Check out my blog from last week for more). Skipping sleep to study more is a highly ineffective way of learning and retaining information. It also isn’t sustainable. I definitely am guilty of this from time to time when I have to hit deadlines (like for these blog posts!) but I try to avoid it. The rewiring of neural circuits (learning) occurs during sleep, so try to keep a healthy sleep routine even in busy times. 

In order to study effectively, one must be both alert and focused. There are several ways to be more alert. Caffeine is one way, but exercise and taking a walk in the sun 30-60 minutes after waking are very effective ways too. For focus, a period of meditation will give your study session a significant boost. But I get it, you’re probably not going to do that on a tight schedule (though if you do, go for it!) A good alternative is focusing on a specific point in your room, or on your wall, and staring at it for 60 seconds before turning your attention to your current task. Turning your phone off and blocking all notifications will also help. 

Now that you are alert and focused, your body is in an appropriate state to begin studying. But is there a particular method of breaking up your study time to optimize learning capabilities? According to research, there is! It consists in setting up two to three 90 minute learning sessions throughout the day. During these sessions, you would ideally have minimal distractions (no phone, eating, shopping, physiological urges etc.) The research indicates that we can maintain focus and learn for up to 90 minutes, and most people are unable to do more than 270 minutes of intense learning a day. I suggest doing two intense 90 minute sessions and a little more “casual learning” throughout the rest of the day. I think you’ll be surprised at how much you accomplish in a 90-minute intensive block. 

Finally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and foundation throughout periods of stress has proven to enhance my learning and standard of living during tough weeks. In the past, I often abandoned all existing routines when stressful assignments came my way. I’d obsess over the given assignment and stopp going to the gym, meditating, reading, and sleeping well. I wasn’t going to go work out when I had an exam to study for! That obsession, though, did not translate into productive learning, and I would often spend most of my time anxious and in a terrible state of mind. I was far from feeling 100%. This is why I recommend keeping a healthy baseline even–and especially–in the most stressful times. Good luck to everyone this week. Peace.

– Emile Beniflah 

Source: Huberman Lab with Andrew Huberman, Ph.D.

SEASONAL DEPRESSION: IS IT REAL?

Though the pandemic has made the last couple of winters especially brutal, with little respite during the summers of quarantine, winter is always hard. As seasons change, and temperatures rise and drop, we evince transitory mood swings that researchers don’t quite understand just yet. For now, animal behavior is our best guide to our seasonal highs and lows, more aptly referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Seasonal breeders, such as birds, are greatly affected by day length, in particular with respect to hormones. As day length increases, male birds experience a testosterone surge, and migratory species become restless and start their seasonal migration. Though we aren’t seasonal breeders, our brains have similarly complex responses to day length. SAD occurs most commonly in “highly seasonal places distant from the equator where day length in winter is very short and triggers severe depression in vulnerable individuals,” per Psychology Today. New York falls into that highly seasonal category, which means we have to tolerate whatever the seasons throw at us, rain or shine. 

For those who don’t mind a winter chill, being confined at home during extreme cold still interferes with our regular activities, resulting in lower moods. Of course, “the demotivating effect of extreme summer heat is similar to that of extreme winter cold. Both are stressful, tending to increase anxiety and lower mood,” driving home the fact that all extreme temperatures affect us negatively. 

But it’s not so apparent, scientifically speaking, that the change of seasons affects our mood. There is actually little evidence that climate has any true impact on mood or mental health. Indeed, humans are incredible at adapting to the physical conditions we find ourselves in, including uncomfortable temperatures. If you feel your body simply cannot handle the cold, it is likely just because you’re not accustomed to it as someone in, say, Alaska or Minnesota might be. 

SAD may not be a real mental illness, but I can personally vouch for the its real effects–and I know many others can too. 

– Juliet Weschke, Writer

Source: Psychology Today

psych advising presents: a virtual meet and greet with psychology’s academic advisers

Hello Psychology Students,

Do you want to learn about the Psychology Major, its requirements, meet your Academic Advisers?  Then please join us this Friday, March 4, 2022 @ 1pm virtually for important information as you take your courses and prepare for registration of next semester which will come sooner than you may expect.

Please see below the ZOOM link and join us then:

You are invited to a Zoom meeting: Get to Know your Psychology Major. 

When: FRIDAY, Mar 4, 2022 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIpcOmuqTsuE9zsTbd22hv5ju7IM5tJR8Hf

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

We are looking forward to seeing you then!

PSYCH ADVISING PRESENTS: A SEMINAR ON TIME MANAGEMENT

Hello Psychology Community,

As the new academic semester starts, we want to help you have a good experience at Hunter.  For that, we have arranged for a Time Management Workshop wil take lace THIS WEDNESDAY, March 2, 2022 @ 1pm that is open to all!  Please see below for more info:

Do you want to reduce/avoid anxiety and procrastination, eliminate cramming, increase motivation, and gain extra time?  These are a few of the many advantages of learning how to effectively manage your time. Then join us for a workshop on TIME MANAGEMENT that was created especially for you in mind and that will help you to maximize your time for a successful semester.  This workshop is open to all undergrads, MA, Certificate and Doctoral students, faculty and staff.

So please join us with the ZOOM link below:

Topic: Psych Dept. Time Management Workshop Time: Mar 2, 2022 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81541103851?pwd=eGlOSmxWVGFTTlhwR3RSY2tqdEZMZz09 Meeting ID: 815 4110 3851 Passcode: 090112 One tap mobile +16465588656,,81541103851# US (New York)

We are looking forward to seeing you then!

The “pet effect” (yes, it’s real, so say i)

Everyone should have a pet, or at least that’s what I say. The “pet effect” refers to the idea that having a pet improves physical and mental health. Previous studies have supported this idea (though more recent studies don’t) and a study that will be published in April will demonstrate that long-term pet ownership is linked to slower cognitive decline. Several studies reveal that dog owners live longer and cat owners are saved from premature deaths by heart attack or stroke. (Investigators at Tufts University have not discovered this connection in their research.) This makes sense, as owning a pet leads to less stress, lower blood pressure, and reduced loneliness. Indeed, it is a mood booster! Unsurprisingly, this is why hospitals and nursing homes bring in therapy animals for their patients and residents.  

Anyone that’s owned a pet knows that there’s nothing like coming home after a long day at school to be met by your furry (or scaly, or feathery, or… you get the picture) best friend.  Whether it’s your cat bowling you over, your cat rubbing up against you, your bird singing to you, or your fish swimming his way over to you, you will agree that the human-pet bond is unparalleled. Megan Mueller, the head researcher in the aforementioned Tuft’s study, says it best in boiling down the question of pet ownership to: “What if it is the case that we perceive our pets to be beneficial for us, but we can’t find any measurable effects? Practically, does that matter, or not?” My answer? A resounding no! If you have a pet, you probably are with me. If you’re thinking of getting one, try pet-sitting for a week or two before you commit, as pet ownership is–to be fair–a great responsibility, and we owe our nonhuman friends all (we lay pet owners think and insist) they give us. 

– Irene Tussy, Writer

Source: Psychology Today

Think you know sexual selection? think again.

Everyone sixth grader knows about sexual selection, the form of natural selection that occurs when members of one sex choose mates of the other sex based on a range of factors and member characteristics. These include access to important resources (like food and shelter) and expressions of good genes (like vibrant colors). Over time, preferred traits become more prevalent–or “selected” for—in a population, as members who evince those traits are more likely to reproduce and pass along those traits. 

Basic sexual selection, settled and sorted. The question is: Who gets to choose? Studies on animals and evolution have demonstrated that the sex that invests more in fetal care tends to have more influence in mating choice. Females, then, often have more control in mating. (Only in a small group of animals, including sea horses, do males have more mating choice.) Surprisingly, this paradigm does not apply to humans, perhaps because men use social capital and physical force to stop competitors from pursuing females they are interested in. This hypothesis is supported by the presence of secondary sex traits in males and females; researchers hold that female body shape and vocal pitch are heavily shaped by male attention. 

In other words, in evolutionary terms, human males have found certain traits in females particularly appealing, and over time, females have “adopted” this characteristic in order to be selected by males and pass down their genes. Male secondary gender characteristics, on the other hand, are not necessarily shaped by matting selection, but rather by same-sex competition. Indeed, research reveals that a deep voice and beard serve more to threaten other males than to appeal to women.

Angie Lee, Writer 

Source: David Pets, Human Sexual Selection  

Let Me Help You With Sleep

I’m going to tell you something you already know: sleep really matters. Its deprivation impacts concentration and increases the risk of depression, inflammation, heart disease, and insulin resistance. It also decreases athletic abilities and muscle recovery, and craters motivation. Studies have shown that chronic sleep problems disproportionally affect people with mental disorders, by large margins. People suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and ADHD are especially prone to struggling with sleep. (This leads to a vicious cycle, because good sleep is essential to shoring up mental health.) The bottom line is that good sleep is essential. How much sleep one needs varies from person to person, ranging between six to nine hours, but regardless of your sweet spot, here are ways to get those hours of quality sleep. 

Maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm is essential for regulating sleep. A solid routine that is synchronized to your environment will get your body prepared for and used to going to sleep at a set time. Try waking up and going to bed at the same time every day. That way your body won’t be confused about when it’s time to rest. Furthermore, try to turn off all bright lights and screens a couple of hours before bed (during the school year, I put on my blue-light glasses and work up to an hour before going to bed, keeping on only a small lamp with a dim light bulb). This will also aid in regulating your circadian rhythm. Going on a walk in the sun within 30-60 minutes of waking up, and again in the afternoon, has also been shown to promote healthy sleep (and focus!)

Caffeine is a surefire way to interfere with sleep. Experts suggest avoiding caffeine eight to ten hours before bedtime, but some are even more sensitive. For example, if I have a cup of coffee after 10 a.m., my sleep will be disturbed. I don’t consume much caffeine anymore, but limiting myself to one cup of coffee before 9 am made a big difference when I drank more of it. If you’re still a coffee addict (I get it!), those midday naps after a caffeine crash are fine, unless they go over 90 minutes. Research shows more than that will disturb your sleep. 

It is as important as anything else to cultivate a healthy environment to wind down and transition into sleep. Your room should be dark and cool. Our body temperature needs to decrease one to three degrees to fall and stay asleep. You will wake up if you grow warmer at night, so you ought to sleep with blankets in a cool room to regulate your temperature effectively. One last tip, especially for the partiers among us: alcohol (and many recreational drugs) will disturb your sleep, so avoid them as much as possible.

I’ve come to realize that, now that I consistently log eight hours of sleep a night, I have a very different (read: better) personality and outlook on life than when sleeping only five or six hours a night. After expending a bit of attention and effort, I have a fairly structured routine now (that, alas, I abide by only 65-70% of the time), and it’s amazing how much more productive, focused, and stable I am. Though these tips might seem overwhelming and difficult to impose, I have found it far more difficult not to impose them, and you likely would find the same. Consider starting to turn the ship by implementing one or two of the aforementioned techniques to gradually build greater sleep structure into your life. You’ll thank me later. 

– Emile Beniflah 

Sources: 

Huberman Lab with Andrew Huberman, Ph.D.
Harvard Health Publishing 
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH)
Healthline

The olympics: When “Tough Love” Fails

According to a study from 2017, the tough love style of coaching, lauded across the sports world, negatively affects athletes by raising their anxiety and worry, and disrupting their concentration. It both ruins players’ experiences and lowers their chances of winning, because athletes are motivated by pleasing their coach and meeting their impossibly high standards instead of the actual competition. When coaches expect their players to win and see anything less as a failure, athletes can’t enjoy a win or cope with a loss. The sport they love becomes a burden. 

And that all made intuitive sense when I watched Olympic figure skater, Alexandra Trusova, break down when she realized she hadn’t won a gold medal (but rather a silver one) after performing a routine with five quads, a feat that no woman had ever accomplished before. Most women are unable to perform the quad, let alone five in short order, because the technique relies on one’s ability to pull in all of their body mass, exceedingly difficult with breasts and hips. The reason Trusova was able to perform how she did is because of her coach, Eterei Tutberidze, who is known for her grueling and abusive practices, which include forced starvation, leading to anorexia and bulimia; frequent weigh-ins; overtraining that leads to broken bones; and early retirement. Tutberidze even forced one figure skater to take the hormone blocker, Lupron, which can cause early menopause. 

Tutberidze is an archetypal example of the touch loving coach–she foments in her athletes an intense fear of failure and a belief that the only way to win is by coming out at the top of the pack. Constant berating is inherent in these relationships. This context sheds light on Trusova’s otherwise questionable breakdown, during which she cried and yelled, “I hate this sport,” and, “I won’t go on the ice again.” Despite her abuse, Tutberidze has coached since 2014, and in 2020, was awarded Coach of the Year by the International Skating Union (ISU). The ISU has borne a lot of pressure to investigate Tutberidze’s coaching, and I hope that encourages other sports organizations to take a closer look at their own tough, not so loving, coaches. 

Etta Feuer

Source: Frontiers in Psychology Journal

Don’t Forget the Girls: How Biases Towards Male Development Have Impacted Female Autism Diagnoses.

It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in medical studies and clinical trials. This underrepresentation then leads to misunderstanding how certain illnesses or treatments affect certain populations. What, then, does that mean for male and female autism diagnoses? 

As autism awareness and understanding is growing among the scientific community, so are the deficits in diagnostic standards. While the Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was once thought to occur in males at a 4:1 ratio, recent analysis shows that the actual ratio may be closer to 3:1. “Taken together, the etiological literature suggests that it is unlikely that ASD is equally common among males and females. However, there is growing evidence that current diagnostic procedures may fail to capture the female manifestation of ASD and thus exaggerate the sex imbalance in prevalence rates” (Halladay et al. 2015; Kirkovski et al. 2013; Loomes et al. 2017). Females have been found to be diagnosed with ASD at significantly later ages and to experience greater delays in between receiving an initial evaluation and a clinical ASD diagnosis” (Begeer et al. 2013; Shattuck et al. 2009; Siklos and Kerns 2007). 

Previously, females diagnosed with ASD were more significantly impaired and of lower IQ than their male counterparts. This led medical professionals to believe that while females were less likely to be affected by ASD, those who were would typically display more severe symptoms and impairments. Now, however, researchers have begun to understand gender differences in ASD differently. For example, it is now understood that females often “mask” their autistic traits by mimicking neurotypical social behaviors, have a wider vocabulary (and therefore less noticeable speech delays), and may better respond to non-verbal cues and eye contact. They are also less likely to engage in repetitive behaviors. 

Current male-biased diagnostic criteria may leave females affected by ASD without a diagnosis or with a misdiagnosis, barring them from resources to which they would have access were this gender bias to be corrected. It is incumbent upon the medical community to continue to include girls and women in clinical studies, in order to avoid misunderstandings like those that have plagued females living with ASD. 

Elena Kalvar

Source: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

COUNSELING AND WELLNESS SERVICES PRESENTS: FOSTERING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS

Do you struggle to effectively navigate the relationships in your life? Do you experience difficulty having your needs met within relationships? If so, join us on Wednesday, March 2, 2022 from 1-3pm via Zoom for our Fostering Healthy Relationships Virtual Workshop.

Learn strategies to enhance self-awareness, while developing self-care skills, to more effectively engage in relationships. This workshop is designed for undergraduate students who wish to learn conflict resolution and how identify the signs of healthy vs. unhealthy relationships. See the links just below.

Counseling and Wellness Services (CWS) Website
CWS Event Registration

THE PANDEMIC HAS BEEN HARD, BUT You Are NOT Alone

Remember back in March 2020 when we college students all thought we were getting a mere two-week vacation because of some virus that started with a C? Well, look at us now. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in myriad ways, big and small. And we all cope in different ways. 

Some of us weren’t even aware of how the pandemic had changed our lives until it was time to come back to campus. Some of us forgot how to socialize with new classmates – or maybe it just scares us now – and others of us simply can’t stand wearing a mask all-day. Studies show that about 20% of students claim that their mental health has significantly worsened, 38% experience trouble focusing on studies and find work to be more stressful, and 74% of students struggle to maintain a routine. So, I present to you some advice on how to combat the negative mental health effects of COVID-19:

  1.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone if you need help or just need someone to talk to! Reaching out allows you to put your feelings “out there,” and it may also help the person who’s listening to you. Sometimes all it takes is saying something out loud to feel better about it. 
  2. Take time to do something you enjoy with the people you love! This allows you to remember what makes you happy and will remind you to actively make decisions to maximize your happiness. 

Studies also show that 69% of college students are extremely hopeful about their future. So, look for comfort in the fact that you are NOT alone. So many of us are experiencing the same feelings as you! 

– Irene Tussy, Writer

Source: Active Minds

DOG PERSONALITIES: MORE THAN THE BREED?

Have you ever wondered what shapes a dog’s personality? What makes a dog anxious or aggressive? A lot of people assume dogs’ breeds dictate their personalities: bull dogs tend to be more aggressive, for instance–or so the thinking goes. A study out of Michigan State University, however, suggests that dogs’ personalities are parallel to their owners’. Researchers asked 1600 dog owners about their own personalities and then asked about their pets’. The researchers concluded that owners significantly shape their dogs’ personalities. 

I found this research to be interesting because it intimates that stereotypes about dog breeds may not be accurate. The relationship between dog parenting style (if you will) and dogs’ personalities is similar to that which mediates parenting style and babies’ personalities. Therefore, instead of judging a dog solely on its breed, we might set up workshops and meetings to educate owners as to how to maintain healthy relationships with their dogs. 

I thought that certain breeds of dogs are dangerous until I volunteered at an animal hospital this winter break. One of the doctors would bring her dog to the hospital every day so she could walk it at lunch. The dog is an American bulldog, so I was intimidated at first. Every time I passed by it, I would walk as fast as I could and avoid any eye contact. One day, I saw my coworker playing with the dog. I quickly discovered that it was incredibly sweet and began playing with it myself–and never looked back. The lesson for me is that, just as we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, we shouldn’t judge a dog by its coat.     

Angie Lee, Writer

Source: Dogs and Their Owners Share Similar Personality Traits, Megan Schmidt

Let me help you: stop being tired all the time

We all know how horrible it feels waking up to that horrible radar alarm blasting aggressively first thing in the morning. Definitely not the best part of the day, but I get it- it’s the morning and I know the drill: my energy and motivation are slightly off, I’m generally weak, and simple tasks feel harder. This malaise typically ends as the day gets going. 

What I do not get, and am definitely not down for, is my morning following me through the rest of my day. We’ve all had those days, whether while recovering from a sleepless night or adjusting to jet lag. But I found myself constantly feeling fatigued, as if my body was desperately fighting to recover from something. My sleep was fine, I was not doing anything abnormal. I have a fairly healthy lifestyle, so I was confused. Why did I feel so drained all the time? I looked into it, and here’s what I found to be most helpful. 

Lack of sleep is an obvious factor that can lead to constant fatigue. You have heard it all your life. But getting 7-8 (8 is better) hours of quality sleep is critical for so many reasons that go beyond just feeling rested. (Check out my post next week on sleep for more information.) But avoiding blue lights at night and any stimulating activity is important. 

What you eat and put in your system is also very important. Your body uses a lot of energy when you eat foods that cause inflammation. Eat a diet based on whole foods, and stop eating all that processed crap. You may also want to try cutting out dairy and grains as they trigger allergic reactions in many people, and even a mild reaction is found to decrease energy. Sugar (fructose, in particular) is also detrimental to your body in countless ways, including in impacting your energy. Avoid sugar at all costs. Other dietary tools include limiting the time you spend eating throughout the day. Your mitochondria have to work constantly if you never stop eating, allowing them no time for repair and rest.

Finally, sunlight is really important, especially in the morning. Even if it’s cloudy, take a walk outside and follow your circadian rhythm. Exercise is also a really important factor and one that helped me out with my fatigue. Being tired sucks, and affects mental health negatively. When I’m tired, I am less able to deal with my messed-up head through activities like exercise, connecting with people, and purposeful work. This information was really helpful to me and hopefully will be to you too!

Emile Beniflah

Source: The Doctor’s Farmacy with Mark Hyman, M.D.

The Science (or Lack Thereof) Behind Manifestation

Believing that you can think things into existence, more commonly known as manifestation, has become increasingly popular through social media, and specifically TikTok. One archetypal video I came across on the platform features eerily lit ceilings and text like, “this sound is 528hz” (which suposedly attracts love) along with a caption that covers all the bases: “#manifestation #ursign #august27 #1111 #2222 #thisisiursign #528hz” 

This idea of manifestation isn’t new. Its origins trace back to the New Thought movement from the 19th century. Coined by Phinneas P. Quimby, it generally holds that everything—including sickness, wealth, and love–comes from the mind. It follows that the right mindset can affect those things. The concept was later popularized by Rhonda Byrne’s self-help book and documentary The Secret, in which a woman claims she “thought” her cancer away. And in the present day, teenagers on TikTok create vision boards, listen to certain frequencies and repeat sentences a certain amount of times, at specific points in the day, to manifest their ideal life. 

This all seems mostly harmless, possibly prompting many to wonder why I’m bothering to write about it. It is, after all, essentially just a way to feel a bit more in control. However, belief in manifestation has a dangerous side. There are two main problems, one more nefarious than the other. Researchers explain that those who suffer from anxiety, and specifically intrusive thoughts, are particularly vulnerable; when thoughts of a family member dying invade one’s brain and she believes that those thoughts can affect reality, for instance, that can be incredibly frightening. On a more fundamental level, studies show that not only does manifestation not work–it is also counterproductive. By only thinking of an end goal, and not of the process of getting there, people are less motivated to actually work towards their desired outcome, rendering the technique moot. When you just dream about a perfect future, you disregard any possible problems that may arise and work less to circumvent them, because you almost believe the future you want already exists. If you instead think of your future as process-driven, you can take into account possible obstacles and work to overcome them. Obviously, dreaming about the future, creating vision boards, or writing out your goals can be motivating and ultimately rewarding, but only if it is followed by action. Thinking alone doesn’t create reality; thinking plus acting does.

Etta Feuer

Source: The Washington Post

DEVELOPMENT and Memory Formation

Have you ever tried thinking about your childhood memories but only grasp certain flashbacks? Neuropsychologists have identified two pivotal brain areas responsible for long lasting memory formation! A study published by Northeastern University explains “how memory develops, not just that it develops,” said coauthor Lisa Johnson. Traditionally, scientists have been limited in their understanding of memory formation partly due to lack of high-resolution data from brain scans. In this study, pediatric patients were examined by incorporating intracranial electroencephalograms (iEEG) to measure brain development and its relation to supporting memory development, allowing for a wealth of such high-resolution data.

Creating the iEEG was no easy feat. Electrodes were placed on pediatric patients during unrelated brain surgeries. Researchers seized the opportunity to examine the exposed brain surface directly. (A majority of the research occurred post operation.) Patients were monitored and performed memory exercises. In particular, participants were asked to look at pictures of scenes and report how well they remembered them. The research team presented participants with images in multiple trials, helping to elucidate memory function and age-related differences. 

By focusing on communication between the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and medial temporal lobe (MTL), researchers were able to better understand memory formation in the study’s participants. Analyzing a rather slow, oscillating brain wave and a faster one, scientists learned how the two regions communicate. The two waves enable communication between regions. Their rhythms determine whether a memory successfully forms.

Maikel Angeles, Writer

Source: Science Daily

Let Self-compassion Take Charge

Self-compassion can be difficult to experience from time to time, but today will not be “one of those days!” Let’s use this Valentine’s Day to learn to love who we are and indulge in some self-compassion. What better way to do so than taking time to nourish your mental health? Whether it’s binge-watching your favorite Netflix show, venturing out with friends, or treating yourself to a tub of ice cream, we all have an outlet that allows us to relax. Yet sometimes, we do not manage to find the time to engage in these activities. So, here are some new ways to quickly and effectively boost your sense of self-compassion, take your stress and “Shake It Off” as Taylor Swift would say.

You must recognize a few ways in which you respond to failure and make the active choice to instead respond with elements of self-compassion. Writing a letter about yourself (to hype yourself up) not only forces you to recognize your positive attributes but also enables you to see them in a tangible medium. You can also meditate, allowing yourself to let go of self-critical thoughts and emotions, thus opening the door for self-compassion. Self-compassion leads to resilience, increased productivity, and decreased stress. So as the spring semester begins, it is important to take time out of your day to ease your mind, implement these acts of self-compassion, and allow their benefits to prepare you for an auspicious semester!

– Irene Tussy, Writer

Source: Stanford Medicine

Stress management: strategies for success

Looking for new ways of managing your stress? Join Counseling and Wellness Services on Wednesday, February 2, 2022 from 1:00 – 3:00 PM for a virtual ‘Stress Management: Strategies for Success‘ workshop where you will learn to better manage your stress levels and reverse unhealthy coping behaviors.

They will discuss healthy methods of coping and will equip you with solid strategies to combat the stress in your daily life. This workshop is designed for undergraduate and graduate students who wish to better manage their stress levels.

Please check your email for the link, or contact Counseling and Wellness Services for more information: https://hunter.cuny.edu/students/counseling-and-wellness-services/counseling-services/

last psych advising event of the semester: stress management

Hello Psychology Community,

The end of the academic semester is near and we want to provide you a last opportunity to attend our Stress Management Workshop prepared especially for the Psychology Department. The event will take place TOMORROW, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2021 from 1-3pm. Please see the ZOOM link below and try to attend it. This will be our last event of the semester:

Stress Management, 12/8- https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88634180606?pwd=VmxRMDJZYUgvK3lDSkIweU9GMUlWZz09 Meeting ID: 886 3418 0606 Passcode: 922189 Stress Management Workshop: Are you looking for new ways to manage your stress during COVID-19, during the final weeks of the academic semester? In this workshop, we’ll identify and address unhealthy behaviors before they become a barrier to your success. While stress can’t be completely avoided, this workshop will teach you how to reduce stress and anxiety by introducing healthy methods of coping and solid strategies to combat the stress in your daily life.

We are looking forward to seeing you then!

This message is brought to you by your Student Academic Advising in Psychology Office: Stay connected, participate!

A note on burnout

Feeling Burnout? Let’s try to make that better!

As students, we might feel that after long hours of studying nonstop, we start feeling tired and unmotivated. We just want to take a long break. This is one definition of the word “burnout” has. The feeling of not being able to continue–of feeling so drained of your energy that you feel everything is pointless. This is one of the most common things to happen to us students. And who can blame us for feeling like that? We do so many things at once, while striving to keep good grades. It is so difficult. So, today I will try to share some stuff I do when I feel burnout that usually helps me get motivated.

One thing I love doing is dancing, and yes, this is an activity that requires energy, but there is a difference between mental energy and physical energy. While dancing requires both, it will come down to the purpose behind your dance. I generally aim to learn and grow as a dancer, but when feeling burnout, I just freestyle to whatever I want and let my feelings out. This fuels me with energy. This is one thing you can try! You do not need to be a dancer to dance; just have fun! Other options are to take a walk, get some fresh air and connect with nature. Yes, we live in a city, but just go to your nearest park and relax. Perhaps listen to some chill music there (or anywhere). That is something I greatly enjoy doing, especially when I’m listening to relaxing sounds. I know this won’t work for everyone, but you might try it. I will applaud you from here!

-Jeshua Restituyo, Writer

PSI CHI INDUCTION THIS FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3RD, 2021

The Hunter College Psychology Department cordially invites you to its:

Psi Chi Induction

December 3, 2021

3:00 P.M. TO 4:15 P.M.

Topic: Psi Chi Fall 2021 Induction


Join Zoom Meeting
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Meeting ID: 846 9349 6320
Passcode: 748352
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        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 846 9349 6320
Passcode: 748352
Find your local number: https://huntercollege.zoom.us/u/kecHxehieB

CALL FOR PROPOSALS: EASTERN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION

Hello Psychology Students,

The deadline for proposals to the Eastern Psychological Association has been extended.  This year the event will take place in New York so please take advantage of the opportunity and submit a paper, poster, or symposium proposal.

Please see further info and the link below:

https://www.easternpsychological.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1

The new dates are as follows.

SUBMISSION DEADLINES EXTENDED:
The deadlines have been extended for submitting a paper, poster, or symposium proposal for the annual Eastern Psychological Association meeting, which will be held at the Marriott Marquis in New York City on March 3-5, 2022.

The submissions portal is open now and will remain open until 5:00 PM EST on December 5, for regular submissions and December 10 , 2021 for the special undergraduate poster session.   To access the portal, please use the login information on the Members Only page.  Please be certain to read the EPA submissions guidelines and the FAQs prior to preparing your submission.  Please remember that only Members, Fellows, and Associates (i.e., student members) with an expiration date of May 31, 2022, may submit proposals for the meeting. 

This message is brought to you by your Student Academic Advising in Psychology: Stay connected, participate!

SUPPORT YOUR FRIENDS IN PSYCH HONORS!

Hello Psychology Community,

The students taking PSYCH-39600-Honors in Psychology I or PSYCH-39800-Honors in Psychology II will be presenting their research work next TUESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2021 from 9:30-11am and we hope that you can join us then!

Come to hear about the most diverse topics and interesting work.  Come to learn about the work done at our Honors Program.  Come to support your colleagues, your classmates, or your students!

Please see below the ZOOM link for the oral presentations and the PADLET link for the poster presentations.  We are looking forward to seeing you then!

Zoom link is below:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89518801630

Posters will be presented at:

Made with Padlet

jOIN the dwelling place for A thanksgivinG MEAL

speaking of mental health (NAMI EVENTS)

We are promoting a couple of NAMI events here because we are committed to students’ mental health. We believe these events have the potential to shore up your mental wellbeing.

This upcoming Wednesday (11/17/21) we will host an event regarding Racial Trauma & Resilience. We will discuss racial traumas and ways in order to cope with it. Here is the registration link for the event This upcoming Thursday (11/18/21), we will host an event regarding Burnout Prevention. As college students, many of us can relate to experiencing some sort of burnout due to our classes, etc. We will discuss more burnout and share tips/tricks/advice on how to help prevent burnout and coping methods one can take. Here is the link to register link for the event.

 If you have any questions, feel free to email us or contact us via our social media. We hope to see you all at the event!
**If the link does not work: here is the QR code to register**

Left QR code is for the Racial Trauma & Resilience Event 
Right QR code is for the Burnout Prevention Event 

THE PSYCHOLOGY CLUB PRESENTS…


The psychology club will be hosting a virtual Research related event this WEDNESDAY (11/17) at 6 pm. Where we will promote a program at Hunter that funds research: BP-ENDURE/RISE. We will also be hosting a BP-ENDURE alumnus, Mia Roberts who will discuss her experience as a researcher.

Contact hunterpsychcollective@gmail.com or DM one of the e-board members of Psychology Club for the link!

oPTIMIZING rESILIENCE wORKSHOP

Hello Psychology Students,

The Student Academic Advising in Psychology Office’s Optimizing Resilience Workshop will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, November 10, 2021, from 1-3pm:

Taking a challenging course this semester? Didn’t do well in your exams? Do not loose confidence in yourself! Everyone faces challenges and hardship at times. Setbacks, hassles and stressors are an inevitable part of life. An important part of success in college and in life however, is the ability to be resilient when faced with these challenges. The Optimizing Resilience Workshop will offer a skills-based approach focused on exercises that will introduce the concepts of practicing gratitude, mindfulness, and rethinking failure to optimize resilience. This workshop will introduce strategies to strengthen one’s ability to bounce back from adversity, to grow, and thrive in various areas of life including academically, professionally and interpersonally.


Join us via ZOOM tomorrow at 1pm!  Please see the link and password below.  No pre-registration is required.  This workshop is open to all undergraduate, MA, certificate program, and doctoral students!  We are looking forward to seeing you then!


Optimizing Resilience, 11/10/2021 https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87841558497?pwd=NndjQVlnSWFyMVkyVDQyUTdldEN2QT09 Meeting ID: 878 4155 8497 Passcode: 396831

A note on the restorative properties of memes

When fraught times come, suddenly we feel trapped in a box of anxiety and stress where we feel there’s no way out. A pandemic being an example of a high stressor in our current day-to-day lives, being one thing that has changed our lives forever. In the last year we all went through a long time of not being able to see our dear ones, but thanks to the technology of online communication we deal with this by talking to them every time it is possible. But another thing that has proven to help us cope with this stress has been none other than memes. Yes memes, the funny images, quotes, cute stuff and such whose purpose is to have a comedic effect on people. “As the pandemic continued on, I noticed people were creating a lot of memes about COVID-19 and the stressors associated with life during a pandemic.” (Dolan, 2021). This study, through a survey, discovered how those who checked on Memes often showed more positive emotions that might have helped with reducing stress levels.

Me being a guy who lives for memes has noticed how these actually helped me have a more positive outlook with the pandemic, as I always send memes to my friends and relatives. Or call them to check funny short memes videos on discord, an app where can share our phone screens and such. For example, we love watching memes about a video game called Animal crossing. So, if you feel down, take some time out of your life to check some funny memes, it can be images, videos that’ll make you smile. – Jeshua Restituyo, Writer

Interested in animal behavior? look no further.

This is a friendly reminder about Student Academic Advising in Psychology’s event “Get to Know Your Psychology Major: Animal Behavior Concentration” which will take place TOMORROW, Wednesday, October 27, 2021 from 1:30-3pm. 

Please see below the original message and link for the ZOOM registration.  Once you register for the event, you’ll receive a link and password to the event.  So if you have yet to register, please do so.  We are looking forward to seeing you then!

“Did you declare your Psychology Major recently and want to know more details about the Program? Do you want to know more info about our Animal Behavior Concentration?

Have you declared your Psychology Major sometime ago and want to learn more about your options?  Do you want to learn more details about our Animal Behavior Concentration?

Are you close to graduating and want to make sure you completed all the requirements for the Psychology Major?

Do you want to met our Faculty and Academic Advisers!

Then see the ZOOM link below, register and join us via ZOOM TOMORROW, Wednesday, October 28th from 1:30-3pm for our “Get to Know Your Psychology Major: Animal Behavior Concentration” event:
You are invited to a Zoom meeting: Get to Know Your Psychology Major: Animal Behavior Concentration: 
When: Oct 27, 2021 01:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 
Register in advance for this meeting:https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZctcuCprDktEt3cRJPtbDquJenCx6-7u7bM 
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

TWO EVENTS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE PSYCHOLOGY DEPARTMENT ACADEMIC ADVISING OFFICE

1) The Optimizing Resilience Workshop will take place TOMORROW, Wednesday, October 20, 2021, from 1-3pm:

Taking a challenging course this semester? Didn’t do well in your exams? Do not loose confident in yourself! Everyone faces challenges and hardship at times because, unfortunately, setbacks, hassles and stressors are an inevitable part of life. An important part of success in college and in life however, is the ability to be resilient when faced with these challenges. The Optimizing Resilience Workshop will offer a skills-based approach focused on exercises that will introduce the concepts of practicing gratitude, mindfulness, and rethinking failure to optimize resilience. This workshop will introduce strategies to strengthen one’s ability to bounce back from adversity, to grow, and thrive in various areas of life including academically, professionally and interpersonally.

Please see below the link and join us via ZOOM:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86402570144?pwd=Umd1YW9CbDlBM0hWU01YeUxNdEhDQT09

Meeting ID: 864 0257 0144 Passcode: 619061

2) The Resume Writing Clinic workshop will take place this FRIDAY, October 22, 2021, from 1-3pm:

Please see below the link to the workshop and join us via ZOOM:

It is time to prepare or update your resume so you may apply for Independent Studies/Internships for the Spring 2022 registration, for graduate school, jobs, etc. Take advantage of the opportunity and join us for our Resume Writing Clinic, prepared with you in mind!

Please see below the link and join us via ZOOM:

Topic: Resume Writing Clinic
Join Zoom Meeting : https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89792616318

hELP HUNTER STUDENT RESEARCHERS Study dogs

A NOTE ON MENTAL HEALTH in young people

In light of World Mental Health Day, young people are more likely to be mentally impacted from the effects of COVID-19, per CDC.


October 10, 2021 is considered by the World Health Organization to be World Mental Health day, where the objective is to bring awareness to mental health issues around the world. It is also where efforts are made to continue the work of supporting those with mental health issues from advocates to specialists. In light of this, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) published a new report where they indicate a fluctuating pattern of anxiety and depression that coincided with COVID-19 peaks in cases. In other words, whenever COVID-19 cases were high, the level of anxiety and depression were high as well. In fact, the age group affected the most were people aged 18-29. According to CDC, “Nationwide, average anxiety severity scores increased 13% from August to December 2020 and then decreased 26.8% from December 2020 to June 2021. Similar increases and decreases occurred in depression severity scores.”


Given these scores, it’s important to highlight the importance of taking care of your mental health. Especially since numerous studies have shown that young people have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic globally. There are an array of resources you can find to take the steps you need to take care of yourself mentally. It is okay not to be okay. Check out Hunter’s Counseling and Wellness services (https://hunter.cuny.edu/students/counseling-and-wellness-services/) to start – Alex Segundo, Writer

IMPORTANT UPCOMING DEADLINES

The deadline to submit first drafts of your articles for Psych News is Friday, October 15th, at 11:59 PM. Please refer to the last two emails from psychnewshunter@gmail.com for more details and reach out to us there with any questions!

The deadline to apply to Psi Chi, the national honor society in psychology, is 10/29/21. Psi Chi confers a number of benefits onto its members; please check out our “Psi Chi” tab for more information about this prestigious organization and how to apply.

Also upcoming is the opening of the application to take Psychology 306, Dr. Dawn Dugan’s Seminar in Psychological Services. The intent of this course is to provide hands on learning experience in clinical settings that allow you to learn about the work of psychologically oriented professions that deliver services to individuals and/or communities. As a student, you will work in a placement of your choice, present yourself professionally, and receive supervision in an institutional setting appropriate to undergraduate learning. For more information , reach out to Dr. Dugan at dd552@hunter.cuny.edu!

What is the Psych News Blog?

We envision a space where students can write short blurbs about anything in the realm of psychology. Perhaps a new study has been published with exciting results that you’d like to summarize in a paragraph. Or maybe you have discovered something interesting in your own research. The blog will also likely share information about events and deadlines pertinent to the Psychology Collective and the Psychology department. You can help decide!