I have been away from this blog for quite awhile due to a health issue requiring surgery and an on-going relationship issue. Both combined is enough to make me think my life over. At this low point in life, existential loneliness is vivid. I have been questioning: Why do good people experience unfairness? What does love mean? What is my life purpose? Am I the cause of these unfavorable incidents? In dark hours, we are so restricted with what we can see, think, and feel at that time. Being around friends and relatives who don't quite understand how things work cognitively might not help because they tend to relate our specific experience with their past experiences, which can be quite different from what we are experiencing.
In certain Southeast Asian cultures, individuals who are experiencing “trance” tend to be regarded as “special” and can “help others” while at the same time enjoying monetary donations, despite their “social calling.” For someone who was trained in Western wasy of thinking, the notion of such giftedness is a bit too much to chew. In the study of psychology, an individual who seems to be separated from his or her original self is experiencing memory disconnection between past, present and future. When they are experiencing a major disruption of memory, they are experiencing “dissociation” or “separation” from the rest of their personality, which is basically an accumulation of memories connected from the day we were born. Depending on the type of memories being disconnected, dissociative disorders known to date according to DSM-IV-TR are: dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, dissociative identity disorder, and depersonalization disorder.
ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) is a common disorder among children. ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and CD (Conduct Disorder), are less common, but many children have them. Ten percent of children have CD at one point in time and 75 percent of them are boys. Eight percent of children have ODD. What are ODD and CD? What are the behavioral symptoms? What should parents do about their children with ODD or CD? What treatments and interventions are available to them? In general, misbehaving does not cause long-term adverse effects. A child may cry himself to sleep and is likely to forget the incident on the following day. In children with ODD and CD, however, the behaviors are hostile and defiant, not only disobedient. For instance, it is quite normal for children to feel miserable temporarily, but not for a prolonged period, after being scolded for breaking a plate. A child with ODD and CD, however, would be deeply angered and feel enormous resentment by breaking more plates deliberately or doing other destructive acts.
In social relationships, consciously and subconsciously, we are playing “tug-of-war” with others. Exchanges of energy occur at various levels; those with higher social power tend to “steal” energy from those with lower ranks. By taking energy from those with less social power than us, we actually make them less secure and less trusting. Such abuse of power occurs in any direct and indirect subordination relationships, such as parents-children, governor-governed, manager-managed, employer-employee, etc. In an ideal world, we all live with mutual respect and don’t “steal” each other’s energy, despite the direct and indirect subordination relationship. This explains the importance of good parenting, good management, and good governance. The more respectful and equal our relationship with others, the more harmonious and peaceful world we live in. This contributes to the on-going evolution of the natural world.
How do you define and introduce yourself? Are you a consultant, a therapist, or a coach? Sure, if you are trained as a psychologist in a university, then you’re likely a “therapist.” But some positive psychologists also claim that they are “coaches.” And other psychologists who specialize in organizational behavior call themselves “consultants.” So, what are the differences of these three terms? Are there any overlaps? Here are the differences according to Start it Up! Start Your Successful Coaching Business by Erik Bowman.
I admit that I don’t read romance books that much. I read detective and science fiction books, but none of them contain much romantic plot. A practical person by nature, anything “overly romantic” is corny to me. An article by Annie Murphy Paul in New York Times on March 17th, 2012 titled “Your Brain on Fiction” shook my core. Perhaps I should read more romance fictions, or well, at least, more fiction books. Cited from Paul’s article: “Researchers have discovered that words describing motion also stimulate regions of the brain distinct from language-processing areas. In a study led by the cognitive scientist Véronique Boulenger, of the Laboratory of Language Dynamics in France, the brains of participants were scanned as they read sentences like “John grasped the object” and “Pablo kicked the ball.” The scans revealed activity in the motor cortex, which coordinates the body’s movements. What’s more, this activity was concentrated in one part of the motor cortex when the movement described was arm-related and in another part when the movement concerned the leg.
Sometimes we ask ourselves, “Am I normal?” I usually double-check whether I’ve closed and locked the door or not, which seems like I may have the so-called Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I’m also considered “arrogant” by Asian standards as I always speak my mind, thus some people consider me “narcissistic.” From time to time, I wonder whether I’m “normal.” What’s normal enough? The question is: by whose standards are you “normal” or “abnormal” ? Depending on the society we live in, a behavior can be considered either normal or abnormal. In Japanese culture, honor is taken seriously, thus any incident that hurts one’s pride is worthy of self-killing or suicide. In the United States, however, the first thought that comes to mind whenever someone kills himself is: clinical depression. Thus, culture determines whether one’s behavior or suspected “psychological pathology” is abnormal or not. “Milder” and “somewhat accepted” bizarre behaviors, for instance, may be called “eccentric” instead of “abnormal.” An artist who paints with his own saliva, for instance, may be considered “eccentric” instead of “abnormal.”
“You are such a perfectionist,” may sound like a compliment. But is it, really? In working on any project, it would be nice to have a tinge of perfectionism to ensure an excellent result. However, too large a dose of perfectionism may become more of a liability than an asset. According to Flett and Hewitt, perfectionism can be directed inwardly or outwardly. Inward perfectionists tend to ruminate on the slightest idea of imperfection of themselves. Outward perfectionists are directed at others, which explains why they are tough on others and become frustrated of others’ less-than-perfect stance. Perfectionism can also be directed on all domains of life, which is “generalized,” or directed on specific domains of life or “situational” perfectionism. In addition, perfectionism can be categorized into primary and secondary, in the former its pursuit of perfection is the beginning and the end and in the latter is a means to an end. Whichever type it is, perfectionism pivots around approval, reflection and control. Researchers Million and Davis called it a conscientious compulsive variant of OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder).
March 30th is my birthday. This year, I’m reaching the milestone of middle adulthood. Being in my early 40s brings both joy and a reason to reflect. In these four decades, I have met many interesting people, traveled to many beautiful places, and done many useful things. In this reflection, I have decided to give more weight to the positive things instead of the negative ones. I have succeeded and I have failed, yet both experiences are useful and make me the way I am today. Both the positive and the negative experiences are positive in the end. Because our default state is positive; we give valuable meanings to every experience; and every single meaning adds up to the pile of “life experiences.” Carl Jung once said that midlife serves as an important preparation for late adulthood, “the evening of life.” He was right. I have been thinking about how I’d like to spend retirement years with loved ones, visiting places I’d love to remember, and meeting special people whom I admire. To achieve all these, I need to prepare myself for some changes: reinvesting time and resources for better purposes, and learning things that would be useful mentally and emotionally in later stages of life.
I studied law in college, business and education in graduate school, and now am studying psychology. I have several reasons for why I decided to pursue the study of the human mind and behaviors. The most personal reason that I hold very dear to my heart is: I’m confused with people’s “erratic” and “unpredictable” behaviors, and I’d love to understand them. There are always physiological, cognitive, cultural, social, humanistic, and other perspectives behind a particular behavior and why-and-how our mind works. The many schools and viewpoints of psychology have opened my eyes to see that a single act may have been the result of accumulated past experiences, which come with “good” or “bad” shades. Traumatic experiences, for instance, give a “bad” foundation for the future self, which may require some therapy to cope with. And each experience, be it joyful or traumatic, is experienced and recorded differently in every individual.