Psych Central

Archive for September, 2011

Sexy Anna Rexia: Eating Disorders As Machisma

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

It’s almost October and you know what that means: Here come the goblins, ghosts, witches, and sluts!

The sleaziness of women’s (and little girls’) Halloween costumes has become an annual gripe for mommies and feminists.

But my friend Jeannine Gailey, PhD, a sociologist at Texas Christian University, clued me in on what might be the most appalling costume ever created: Anna Rexia, the sexy side of a life-threatening eating disorder.

Yikes.

The model dressed as someone starving herself to death is slender, yes. Even skinny. But her breasts strain to escape the bodice that barely contains them. Her skin glows, her hair is shiny, her eyes have a come-hither sparkle. She doesn’t look the least bit like a woman with anorexia. She looks like a woman ready to take control with her womanly wiles.

Gailey also sent me a 2009 article she published in Critical Criminology, titled ‘Starving Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have’’: The Pro-Ana Subculture as Edgework.”


The Unplugged Experiment

Monday, September 26th, 2011

My five-day experiment in unplugging was a flop.

No, I didn’t cave and mainline Facebook during my Mexico-beach vacation. I didn’t crumble and tweet my every mojito, check my email, text, or even google anything. My computer stayed home and I kept my phone turned off and locked in the room safe.

Despite all my prior misgivings, no trauma was involved.  Not the slightest twinge. My husband had his computer with him and I wasn’t even tempted to peek. I never felt cut off, suffered no DTs, needed no substitutes. As anxious as I felt about not having a computer to write on for a week, I wasn’t even tempted to scribble a few lines with pen and paper.

I read, sketched, ate, drank, swam, snorkeled and lounged. It was easy

Some experiments don’t go as anticipated.


Why You Might Have Trouble Making Friends

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Today’s guest blogger is Irene S. Levine, PhD, author of  Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend and co-author of   Schizophrenia for Dummies. Irene discusses about all sorts of issues surrounding women’s friendships on her blogs The Friendship Blog and The Friendship Doctor.

Many women write to me perplexed about why they can’t form close friendships. They try new approaches, put themselves in all the right places, see therapists, and read relevant self-help books. They consider themselves interesting, loyal, kind, and friend-worthy people. But for reasons unknown to them, they have a tough time forming the intimate relationships other women seem to have and that they covet for themselves. Many admit to not having even one close friend.

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology offers some clues as to how both nature (personality) and nurture (experience) impact our friendships.

Researchers at the University of Virginia and University of Toronto, Mississauga studied more than 7000 American adults between the ages of 20 and 75 over a period of ten years, looking at the number of times these adults moved during childhood. Their study, like prior ones, showed a link between “residential mobility” and adult well-being: The more times participants moved as children, the poorer the quality of their adult social relationships.


Three Wishes For My Daughters

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Today’s guest blogger is Lara Mayeux, PhD, a developmental psychologist and associate professor at the University of Oklahoma. Lara studies peer relations among children and adolescents. Her specialty is popularity, which is a hot field of research; she co-edited a book of theory and analysis titled Popularity in the Peer System. The book is aimed at academics, but Lara is also a mother who here connects research and mother love.

Today I taught a graduate class on attachment theory, and at the end of a particularly intense discussion about maternal sensitivity and fostering emotional security in children, one of the students looked at me and said, “It must be really hard to be a developmental psychologist and a mother.”

My initial reaction was Yes, yes, it is, it’s the hardest thing. Thank you for letting me admit that. Being a developmental psychologist—an academic one, meaning teaching courses in the field and doing my own research as well—means that I’m aware of many of the (seemingly thousands) of ways I can screw up my own two little girls.

But it also means that I understand the opposite—the ways in which I can try to facilitate healthy development and positive outcomes.


Fear of Going Off the Grid

Friday, September 16th, 2011

I’m going on vacation next week. A real, total-veg-out vacation at an all-inclusive beach resort. I’m shutting down my office and my brain. I haven’t taken a vacation like that in 20 years.*

The resort has in-room WiFi, but I’ve decided to cut myself off and leave my computer at home. No working. No googling, no Facebook, no Twitter, no blogging (look for guest posts next week). Radio silence.

It sounds great, right?

Then why does the thought fill me with anxiety?

Am I addicted to the Internet?


Why Women Aren’t Funny

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a great story about celebrities trying to win the New Yorker magazine’s cartoon-caption contest.

And the operative word is “trying.”

Zach Galifianakis got so frustrated, he finally gave up. Roger Ebert tried 107 times. Maureen Dowd wrote at least one caption I think was funnier than the winning caption. Remember that as you read the rest of this post.

I entered the contest once and never again. The more I tried, the less likely I was to come up with not just a funny caption, but anything at all. My mind would go blank.

According to University of New Mexico anthropologist Gil Greengross, that means I’m not a funny person.

Greengross and psychologist Geoffrey Miller conducted research designed to explore humor ability as it relates to mating success, and they used the cartoon-caption contest as a way to judge participants’ humor ability.


Nostalgia As A Drug

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Woody Allen’s most recent film, Midnight in Paris is a perfect story.

Not the romance stuff so much. All that’s OK. As always, the Woody Allen character (played by Owen Wilson) is found irresistible by young and beautiful women. Ho hum. Right. It’s his movie, he can do whatever he wants with that.

But the way Allen handled the premise of longing for the past dazzled me. Yes, of course. That’s exactly how it is.

Nostalgia is seductive. We yearn and yearn for bygone days, when life was simpler, or more creative, or more exciting, or more…whatever. Whatever we need at the moment.

Are those good old days really that much better, or is it just easier to imagine they are because we can “remember” only what we choose to?


When Fun-Drunk Goes Bad

Monday, September 5th, 2011

New research finds that alcohol doesn’t blind us to the stupidity of our drunken actions, it only makes us not care about how stupid they are.

This is useful information even for those of us who don’t drink to the point of picking fights or doing anything preceded by the command, “Watch this!” (As in the old Texas joke: What are an Aggie’s last words?)

Drinking does lower inhibitions, which can be a good thing, in moderation. In fact, the researchers found that participants who were given alcohol reported themselves to be feeling “less negative” than the stone-cold sober control group.

Certainly a little alcoholic lubricant is just the thing some of us need to cruise through social situations. With the right amount of alcohol, I am pleasantly outgoing. I relax and loosen up.

But a drink or two over my line and I am guaranteed intense middle-of-the-night regrets.


 

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