Archive for March, 2012

Being A Smart Kid Can Sometimes Spell Trouble

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Results of a new longitudinal research study  done in the United Kingdom led to the conclusion that high childhood IQ increases the risk of illegal drug use in adolescence and adulthood. “It’s counterintuitive,” said lead author James White. “It’s not what we thought we would find.”

The Cardiff University team looked at data from 8,000 people born in April, 1970. This interesting group, called the British Cohort Study, took surveys approximately once every five years about a broad host of topics. The results, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that subjects that tested above average on IQ tests at age 5 were twice as likely to have done hard drugs within the past year, when asked at age 30.

The authors asked the subjects about their use of marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy and polydrug use within the last twelve months as well as about questions about social class, education, and psychological distress.


Etch A Sketching Our Way Past Grudges

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.                                                                                    -Eric Fehrnstrom, Aide to Mitt Romney

Fehrnstrom’s comment this week about the Etch A Sketch game inspired a lot of political commentary and boosted both sales and fond memories of the hugely popular toy. A client of mine posed a timely question near the end of his session. “My family really sucks at letting go of grudges. So what’s the shake it all away, ya know…Etch a Sketch tool for that?”

His question got me thinking about how helpful it would be if people were more like an Etch A Sketch, as least when it comes to negative feelings. Faced with upsets with our loved ones we could just turn ourselves upside down, shake a bit, and the emotional slate would be clean!

Unfortunately, life’s problems aren’t always so easy to resolve, but there are some ways of communicating about and handling feelings that can help us to shake off what’s bugging us and start with a fresh slate.

Given that all humans make mistakes, it is essential that we know how to recover and repair. Research shows that letting go of upsets in constructive ways is fundamental to maintaining happy, loving, long-term relationships. It’s really difficult to be positive with those around us when we hold grudges. And since we know that emotions are contagious, they are hard to hide.


News on Couples and Empathy: Reader Beware

Monday, March 19th, 2012

“When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without taking responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good.  When I have been listened to, when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and go on.”    – Carl Rogers

The results of a new research study underscoring the importance of empathy for marital satisfaction, just hit the web and weekly news magazines. Before you ask yourself why in God’s name we needed research to confirm such an obvious observation, let me explain how I came upon this and why I chose to write about it.

I was reading The Week, one of the few magazines I happily read cover to cover. In the Health & Science section, where I often discover new research that I delve into for my blog, there was a tantalizing headline, “Why Women Seek Conflict.” What is this about? Since this would be news, at least to me, I continued.


The Importance of Family Dinners

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

“Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.”   -Susan Leiberman

Even back just one generation, sitting down for dinner each night as a family was pretty much a given. It is a telling sign of the times to find out how quickly this ritual is being swallowed up by the demands of our current culture. Many American families, if statistics are to believed, do sit down and eat together.

According to the Journal of American Medicine, 43 percent of American families eat together every day. If you are one of those families, congratulate yourself. You may not realize just how important regular family meals are to the health and well-being of your kids. If you have not made this part of your family life, perhaps the following findings will inspire you…


How to Improve Communication in Families

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

“Precision of communication is important, more important than ever, in our era of hair trigger balances, when a false or misunderstood word may create as much disaster as a sudden thoughtless act.”                                                                                                                                — James Thurber

I’ve been a psychotherapist for over thirty years but I’m still struck, on almost a daily basis, by how very few people really know how to communicate well. If only we had all been taught the necessary skills along with reading and writing–what a difference it would make in our families! It is so easy to hurt or be hurt by our loved ones due to faulty communication. If you are a parent, it is essential that you are able to talk and listen not only to your children but to anyone who is sharing the parenting role with you.

Even when we are communicating clearly, misunderstandings can occur, but what are some of the most common mistakes all of us make? 


Welcome to Parenting Tips

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Parents need all the help they can get in this day and age where technology is often the most important thing in a child’s life.

Parenting skills are most often learned from our own childhood — how did our parents raise us? Then we add our own flavor and opinions to the mix, and we come up with something resembling what we believe is “good parenting.”

But our parents may have not actually raised us as well as we may think. And even if we were raised in what we consider an “ideal” home, there’s always new tips and skills we can learn to become even better parents.

So I’m pleased to present our new blog, Parenting Tips, from Don MacMannis, Ph.D. and Debra Manchester MacMannis, MSW, who will be blogging about parenting. The blog will give parents new ideas for skills and tips they can try out with their own kids and in their own family.

Don and Debra are a team both at home and at the office. Husband and wife for almost thirty years, they have simultaneously served as directors of the Family Therapy Institute of Santa Barbara, a nonprofit organization. You can read more about them here.

Please give Don and Debra a warm Psych Central welcome!


How's Your Family Really Doing?
Don MacMannis, Ph.D. & Debra Machester MacMannis, MSW are the author of How's Your Family Really Doing?.

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