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Centerpointe Research

Psychology

Intellectualization

Intellectualization occurs when you tend to explain everything away.  People say you are

Cast of characters in The Big Bang Theory. Fro...

Cast of characters in The Big Bang Theory. From left: Howard Wolowitz, Leonard Hofstadter, Penny, Sheldon Cooper and Rajesh Koothrappali. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

all in your head. You ignore your gut feelings and you tend to be less emotional than other people.  You try to find an explanation for everything.  However, you may be unconsciously programed to react in a certain way without thinking about it and can’t find an explanation for why you do what you do.  Things in the unconscious are unconscious and that is why you don’t know why you are doing what you do.

Intellectualization goes hand in hand with blocking in psychotherapy.  This occurs when a person starts to remember something and immediately forgets what it was.  Things in the unconscious are there for a reason and remembering them can be uncomfortable and therefore, they get blocked.  Emotions are attached to these memories which are repressed and feeling these emotions is unacceptable for various reasons.  Episodes of abuse are often forgotten and not remembered because of the horrible memories attached to them and the fear that telling someone might result in rejection or death.

Intellectualization occurs in persons for whom being emotional usually is unacceptable and for whom giving a reason for doing something is more often acceptable.  The problem with denying feelings is that a person can become unemotional and not experience good feelings as well as bad.  Geeks and nerds are often considered to be unemotional in this way.  For an example of this watch The Big Bang Theory.  Of course being overly emotional can be also unacceptable too.  This type of character has also been successfully portrayed in situation comedies and comedy sketches as well.

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Whose Business Is It Anyway?

EXPERT

EXPERT (Photo credit: Pete Prodoehl)

Most of us have trouble controlling our own lives so why do we think we can do a good job of controlling someone else’s life, especially that of someone we really don’t know.   It seems that our media encourages this and hour upon hour of television news is spent speculating about people who are in the public spotlight and garnering opinions about them, who they are, what to do about them, and why they did what they did.  They survey dozens of “experts” and whether these experts know what they are talking about is often not very clear.

Usually this speculating starts before the facts about the situation (if we ever really get them) are all in and often the initial information from which people are drawing conclusions is sketchy, at least a little inaccurate, and sometimes just plain wrong.  This jumping to conclusions can lead to actions and  reactions that are not just inappropriate, but downright harmful.  Mob violence, for example, can be such a thing.  There is something to be said for delays in reporting some of the news until all the facts are in and for taking the time necessary to put together a full and unbiased report.  Even then should people, consumers and “experts”, be called prematurely to offer ideas as to how they would describe the motives of possible “suspects” and as to what should be done in terms of punishment and in terms of changes in the law that should be made.

How can some of us who may have similar problems of our own that we can’t or won’t solve and/or who have little knowledge of the problem in general tell others with that problem what to do?  In college, the sophomore who was taking introductory psychology always knew the most about the subject and was inclined to offer other college students who had not yet taken the class, friends, and family unsolicited advice and opinions about others’ behavior and psychological problems.  “Don’t look at me; look at them,” the person seems to be saying and often following this with unsolicited and unsound advice.  Control yourself, not others, unless you are officially responsible for them as a teacher, law enforcement officer, judge, or parent.

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Give Someone a Chance

Failure

Failure (Photo credit: awsandlight)

If a person tries to do something differently, make sure you don’t turn their attempt into a failure because you don’t want to be disappointed again and find it easier to expect and accept failure again.  Is it easier to expect failure and have it happen than it is to expect success and have a failure instead?  People can develop a negative attitude about other people and can make it difficult to impossible for that person to change.  Failures are easy to see while successes can be easy to miss if you have a prejudicial attitude.  Often initial attempts at changing behavior are hard to see and it can be seen as accepting too little to reward small, seemingly inept changes in a person’s behavior.   Initially it may be harder to be “good” than bad and the person’s knowledge of what constitutes  acceptable behavior is limited and may not meet many of the other person’s criteria.  In fact, it may even initially look more like unacceptable behavior than acceptable behavior.  For example, a husband’s idea of dressing appropriately to go out might consist of putting on clean clothes, i.e. khaki pants and a new tee shirt while the wife expects a dress shirt or a polo shirt and a sports  jacket or sweater.  The poor husband might get bawled out instead of praised for this attempt to dress appropriately.

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From Their Side From Our Side

Starting in the 1950s Carl Rogers brought Pers...
Starting in the 1950s Carl Rogers brought Person-centered psychotherapy into mainstream focus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are an opinionated country.  Everybody has something to say about everything especially now with the social network sites.  We get so caught up in how we see an issue or behavior that we are literally blind to how the other person might see them.

I hope you believe that everybody is entitled to their own opinion; however, it is difficult to do when it involves a life or death question.  We often (when we have a conversation or interaction with others) spend more time thinking about we are going to say than hearing what the other person has to say and/or acknowledging it.

Active listening is one way to be sure we understand what the other person is saying.  (See the work of psychologist, Carl Rogers.)  We listen and then paraphrase what the other person has said.  At the same tine checking with them to see if we got the information right.

It is important in such conflicts to be assertive rather than aggressive.  It helps if you agree that a person has a right to their opinion.  You might say, “I can see where you might think I am being aggressive because of the tone of voice that you thought that I used.

Finally, a disagreement might be at least partly due to a lack of knowledge of what information the person used to come to their conclusion.  There are two sides to every issue.  That’s what debates are based on.  People can get so worked up about an issue that they jump to conclusions and leave no room for the other person to communicate what actually happened.

One way that a person might realize this is when they meet a person who represents the very thing they have condemned and gets to know them before they find out they are supposedly on opposite sides.  Such a person might be a Muslim or illegal alien or a conservative politician or stay at home mom; but the person with the stereotype doesn’t know this when he or she first meets them.

 

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Making Judgments

There are some things worth making judgments about and there other things not worth making judgments about.   When life or death decisions are to be made, it is important to use good judgment.  When personal taste is involved, it sometimes makes no sense to always inflict our opinions on others.  Not everyone has the same standard of beauty or shares the same taste in food.  Newlyweds or those couples living together for the first time often find this out rather quickly.  I was in a grocery store once and a young couple were making their first shopping trip together.  They couldn’t seem to agree on anything.  My husband and I both cook, but I am more likely to add salt to things and he is more likely to add sugar.  I mistakenly believed too that who one thought was a beautiful woman or a handsome man was shared by others.  One of the females in my family and I were talking about actresses and I found that certain actresses that I thought were not beautiful were found to be very attractive to her.

Gossip 0ften mostly involves making judgments about others’ “bad” qualities or behaviors.  Usually when such comparisons are made,  we feel better about ourselves by comparison.  Rather than making judgments, perhaps we should practice making and giving complements.  In psychology it has been found that giving rewards such as praise for “good” or desired behaviors is more effective in changing behavior than punishing or criticizing undesirable behaviors.  I have found that rather than joining in when someone is making negative comments about someone or their behavior, if I point out some good qualities of the person and/or my more positive personal experiences with that person, it changes the tone of the conversation and makes it more productive  “Bad” reputations never did anybody any good..  .  .

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Dumb Animals?

I guess I was very impressionable when I was in grade school.  It was a christian school and I was thoroughly indoctrinated.  I didn’t know what I believed, but I knew what I was supposed to believe.  Being raised in the church and having the added experience of a religious education, was not totally a bad thing as it was there I learned about values and how to live my life in a way that considered others as well as myself.  It was from this advantage point that I developed my concepts of why we are in this world and what our purpose in life was.  As a result, I am not an atheist.  Unfortunately not everything I learned was helpful.

As I have said in another post, teachers often give their own point of view on the subject that they are teaching and children especially can easily accept their words as law.  Hopefully when they grow up they will find out that some of the things the teacher said did not represent the “gospel truth.”  I did, but not before making a few incorrect conclusions based on these teachings.  One belief I kept for a long time was that animals were dumb, not intelligent like humans, and their behavior was only based on instinct.  Also I thought humans were superior to animals in every way and that there was nothing an animal did that a human couldn’t do better.  I also believed that animals didn’t really deserve a place in God’s kingdom like man did.

When I first studied psychology, I learned that animals were acceptable substitutes for humans in experiments studying the origins and expressions of many behaviors.  Certain animals were more appropriate for use in such experiments than others depending on their similarity to humans. At the time animals were not considered to be intelligent like humans and could be used in ways that could not be used on humans. Recently (or at least since I was a student) we have learned that at least some animals can think (not everything they do is because of instinct) and/or use language which we used to think was reserved for humans. Also animals are special creatures that can do things that humans can’t do or do as well. I strongly suspect that as time goes on, we will find this to be more true rather than less.

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History? Truth or Fiction Part Two

Social Theory of International Politics

When I first was in school, I thought that history was cut and dried.  It was a subject that involved memorization of the “facts” presented.  It was not until I learned to think for myself that I began to realize that there may be more than one way to interpret a certain set of facts and even later I realized that important information can be left out.  A current example of this would be that of the two opposing political camps supporting the candidates for president different takes on often the same sets of information.  Also they may choose to focus on different sets of “facts”.

Often a country’s government may prefer one view of an historical event over another and, if they have any control of the media, may present a very biased point of view.  This is  very true of some very totalitarian governments in our world today.   In these cases, not only current news is censored; but also often historical accounts.   Usually we call this propaganda.  It happens anytime when one one group’s point of view is either left out or misrepresented.  Not only governments can do this, but also experts on some academic subject or proponents of some scientific or social theory.

This is where psychology fits in.  How we make up our minds and view the world is very important in effecting how we behave.  Psychology is the science of human behavior.  Psychology should study all the important variables effecting behavior, not just those supporting one particular theory. It is important to also be aware that psychologists usually design their experiments to account for any type of bias that they can anticipate. Recently psychologists have been acknowledging the effect that observing (and measuring) a variable can have on the results found.

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Therapy is a Craft

A photo of a group conducting psychotherapy.

A photo of a group conducting psychotherapy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a graduate student, I chose to go to a big name university to study clinical psychology.  What I didn’t know (until I got there and learned what kind of research the psychology professors did) was that they taught that psychotherapy and psychological evaluations were all bunk unless their processes could be broken down into scientifically measurable procedures that could be applied by anyone scientifically trained  and thus measured for outcome.  Yes, I read the recommended books and reports of applicable psychological experiments; but there were areas of clinical work that I didn’t have a clue about how to do them.  When I reached the point in my training where I went for  experiential training in a mental health clinic,  I found out that there were qualities and intuitive behaviors of mental health clinicians that had not been scientifically measured and replicated and therefore could not be proven  effective that were successful.

That was how I learned that psychotherapy was an art and psychotherapists were artists or better yet craftsmen.  It was a privilege to observe these people work their magic.  Scientists were hard put to describe or replicate this magic process.  An interesting article in the current edition of The Psychotherapy Networker  talks about the clinician as a craftsman.  I also realized when in postdoctoral training were I was training medical students that they had to observe my interview of someone behind a one way mirror and then ask me questions about what I did and how I did it.  I did not completely know ahead of time what I would say and do; but if they questioned about how or why I said or did something after the interview, I could usually tell them even if I didn’t know this information ahead of time.

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Generating Fear and Anger

Can't Get You Out of My Thoughts

Can't Get You Out of My Thoughts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you resent people for what you think they have done to you in the past?  Are you concerned about things over which you have no control in the future or in the present moment?  Do you continually have such thoughts and they make you anxious and get you upset?  Did you ever think about how easily you can be controlled  because of these thoughts?   You may be calmly sitting in your recliner watching TV when something is mentioned that you are concerned about but is not happening to you at the present moment.  Are your feelings aroused?  These are usually not positive thoughts.  They can prevent you from enjoying life’s present moments and keep you from being in the here and now.  What might have been a pleasant break from everyday responsibilities turns into an unpleasant reaction to hidden fears and concerns that are associated with the content of the TV program you are watching.  The news often does not calm you and fill you with gratitude for the things life has given you.  The current presidential campaigns have taken on a negative slant and they must think that it works or why do they this?   Why do people think that the best way to motivate people is by hate and fear?  Psychological studies involving behavior modification find that rewards do a better job of changing behavior especially when they are associated with a desired positive behavior.  Unwanted behavior when eliminated must have the behaviors that are wanted already in place to take their place.

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Did You Lose Something in Childhood?

Problem Solving

Problem Solving (Photo credit: mikecogh)

There are things about childhood that are unforgettable or at least they ought to be unforgettable.   Children are little explorers.  They are always seeing something new to them.  They are always learning seemingly at the speed of light.   They go from only expressing their needs non-verbally  to verbally.   Vocabulary grows ex-potentially.  Watch out  as soon they  will learn to read and write.  When do we stop growing like this or should we?  It is a big world out there and it is conceivable that we should never stop learning.  It helps with our problem solving skills.  It expands our concept of the universe and the possibilities that we have to choose from.  Both in the terms of goals and ways to do things.

Besides our curiosity, we have our imaginations.  Little children quickly learn how to do things like talk on the phone.  Part of this is mimicking what they see and hear and part of this is done by using their imaginations.  When we imagine, we can be or do anything we want.  The possibilities are endless.  Most or all things that come into being in reality are first created in somebody’s mind.  There are few or no limits on what the mind can imagine.  Besides imagining things that don’t yet exist, we can imagine ways to do things that aren’t possible yet.  Exercise your imagination and grow.

 

 

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