Archive for May, 2010

Self-Esteem, Kids and Anxiety

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

The other day I was in a restaurant and I overheard someone say to a kid, “Stop pushing your sister. You’re a horrible boy. If you don’t start behaving the devil will come and snatch you away. You’re evil and mean.”

I about fell out of my chair and I glared in the direction of the other table. The child was hanging his head and the adult was continuing the tirade, now sounding even more incoherent. I held my tongue, long ago realizing that comments to others in public places rarely help and often make things worse—so I didn’t jump up and give the adult a quick lesson in child management. But, I was tempted and as always shocked that people are still saying things like that to kids.


Mixing Anxiety and Oil

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

I admit, I can be a bit of a news junky—sometimes when I’m supposed to be working at home, I can’t resist a look at online news or a quick video of some current story. I confess, the oil spill has got me riveted. That’s not good when there are outlines to finish, blogs to write, bills to pay, or articles to read. Okay, so the laundry needs sorting so I can turn on the news while hanging and folding. Those pictures of black oil gushing into the gulf make me nervous. How about you?

The current controversy is about how much oil is actually spewing out. The company originally guessed about 5,000 barrels a day was leaking, but estimates now have grown from maybe 20,000 barrels to possibly 100,000 barrels. A barrel of oil produces about 19 gallons of gas (among other things). Hey, when I fill my car up at the gas station, I usually put about 19 gallons in my tank. So, for me if the lowest estimate (5,000 barrels) is correct, I could fill my car up about 5,000 times from one day’s worth at the lowest estimate. I usually fill up about once a week—5,000 weeks, that one day’s worth of leakage will take care of my car for the next 96 years. Now, I do drive a reliable car, but…


Anxiety and Families

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Here’s a secret. When traveling, most authors go to bookstores and check to see how many copies of their books are on shelves at the local bookstore. For us, it used to be a gamble. Chuck would say, “Do you want to get depressed?” and I’d say, “Yes, let’s take a chance.”

Now, since we’ve been writing For Dummies, it’s a pretty safe bet. Today, we are in Overland Park Kansas; it’s pouring rain, and we’ve nothing to do. So off we go to the local bookstore. There are 13 copies of our books. Pretty cool. Anyway, we noticed that the 2nd edition of Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies is out. We’re proud of our work on the 2nd edition. We updated the material and added a part on what’s making people more anxious today. We included chapters on finances, violence, natural disasters, and terrorism. Chapters packed with timely information, common sense tips, and strategies for dealing with tension.

But, as walk among the shelves here in Kansas today, we’re facing another source of tension and anxiety. We’re here visiting family.


Liar Liar Pants on Fire: How to Spot a Lie

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

A few days ago I wrote a blog about why people lie. Today, I’d like to discuss how to tell if someone is lying.

First of all, the detection of a lie is not an exact science. And people with lots of practice lying can become pretty hard to detect. In fact, some liars believe that they are so talented that they are invincible (but that’s another blog). Nevertheless, there are some clues to watch for when you suspect that someone is lying. There are no single accurate lie detectors. In order to catch a lie, you must consider a series of behaviors that involve looking, hearing, and feeling.

The first set of clues relate to how the person is looking and acting. Eye contact is thought to be the easiest way to detect lying. When people lie, they tend to have difficulty maintaining normal eye contact. They may look to the left, down, or off to the side. Some skillful liars look right at the person they are lying to because they are so confident that they can get away with it. The bottom line is that eye contact is off—either too little, off center, or too much.


Looking At Lies and Liars

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Even the most honest people lie from time to time. Who hasn’t said when asked, “Oh yes, that new hair cut looks great on you,” or “The chicken casserole was wonderful,” or “What a beautiful baby!”

Children usually begin to lie around the age of 4. This is when they begin to comprehend that other people have thoughts that are different than theirs. Early lies are usually stories, exaggerations, or attempts to get out of trouble. For example, a girl might tell a story about a bear coming into her room at night, a boy might tell someone that he can fly, or a girl might blame the family cat for breaking a lamp. Children at this age don’t think about whether or not dishonesty is right or wrong. They are playing with language and ideas. Grown-ups are usually pretty tolerant of this sort of lying.


Mysterious Miracle Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Chuck and I give talks to community groups or organizations like NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill). It’s one way we like to give back to the community. Just last week, we gave a talk on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). After describing the many different symptoms of OCD, we asked the audience, a group very familiar with mental health treatment, the following question. “How many of you have heard of Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) as a treatment for OCD?”

In the entire audience, only two people raised their hand. You’d almost think that ERP was a new miraculous treatment that just hit the scene. Every time we encounter a sea of blank faces (which is frequently), we are astonished. Why are we surprised?  Because Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) has been shown repeatedly to be a highly effective treatment for OCD. And it’s been around for about 40 years. So, why do so few in the public know about this treatment that consistently decreases symptoms and sometimes even cures such a debilitating condition?


Anxiety & OCD Exposed



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Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. and Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. are authors of many books, including Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies and Child Psychology & Development for Dummies.

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