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Month: November 2009

Hurt Feelings vs. Hurt Heart

Clifford, 42, married with children, told me during a phone session that he was tired of not feeling happy and joyous. “As a small child, I remember being so happy and excited about life. But my parents didn’t receive me at all. They were indifferent to my creativity and excitement.” “Clifford, how did you feel when they didn’t receive you?” “Shattered.” Yes, shattered. And the shattered feeling was too big for a sensitive little boy, so Clifford learned to put a lid on his joy to protect himself from feeling shattered. He also learned to protect himself by taking...

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Why Do We Love Sports?

The love of – nay, addiction to – competitive and solitary sports cuts across all social-economic strata and throughout all the demographics. Whether as a passive consumer (spectator), a fan, or as a participant and practitioner, everyone enjoys one form of sport or another. Wherefrom this universal propensity? Sports cater to multiple psychological and physiological deep-set needs. In this they are unique: no other activity responds as do sports to so many dimensions of one’s person, both emotional, and physical. But, on a deeper level, sports provide more than instant gratification of primal (or base, depending on one’s point of view) instincts, such as the urge to compete and to dominate. 1. Vindication Sports, both competitive and solitary, are morality plays. The athlete confronts other sportspersons, or nature, or his (her) own limitations. Winning or overcoming these hurdles is interpreted to be the triumph of good over evil, superior over inferior, the best over merely adequate, merit over patronage. It is a vindication of the principles of quotidian-religious morality: efforts are rewarded; determination yields achievement; quality is on top; justice is done. 2. Predictability The world is riven by seemingly random acts of terror; replete with inane behavior; governed by uncontrollable impulses; and devoid of meaning. Sports are rule-based. Theirs is a predictable universe where umpires largely implement impersonal, yet just principles. Sports is about how the world should...

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Why Do We Love Pets?

The presence of pets activates in us two primitive psychological defense mechanisms: projection and narcissism. Projection is a defense mechanism intended to cope with internal or external stressors and emotional conflict by attributing to another person or object (such as a pet) – usually falsely – thoughts, feelings, wishes, impulses, needs, and hopes deemed forbidden or unacceptable by the projecting party. In the case of pets, projection works through anthropomorphism: we attribute to animals our traits, behavior patterns, needs, wishes, emotions, and cognitive processes. This perceived similarity endears them to us and motivates us to care for our pets and cherish them. But, why do people become pet-owners in the first place? Caring for pets comprises equal measures of satisfaction and frustration. Pet-owners often employ a psychological defense mechanism – known as “cognitive dissonance” – to suppress the negative aspects of having pets and to deny the unpalatable fact that raising pets and caring for them may be time consuming, exhausting, and strains otherwise pleasurable and tranquil relationships to their limits. Pet-ownership is possibly an irrational vocation, but humanity keeps keeping pets. It may well be the call of nature. All living species reproduce and most of them parent. Pets sometimes serve as surrogate children and friends. Is this maternity (and paternity) by proxy proof that, beneath the ephemeral veneer of civilization, we are still merely a kind of...

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A Typology of Codependence and the Dependent Personality Disorder

Typology of codependents Codependence is a complex, multi-faceted, and multi-dimensional defence against the codependent’s fears and needs. There are four categories of codependence, stemming from their respective aetiologies: (i) Codependence that aims to fend of anxieties related to abandonment. These codependents are clingy, smothering, prone to panic, are plagued with ideas of reference, and display self-negating submissiveness. Their main concern is to prevent their victims (friends, spouses, family members) from deserting them or from attaining true autonomy and independence. (ii) Codependence that is geared to cope with the codependent’s fear of losing control. By feigning helplessness and neediness such...

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Twitter: Narcissism or Age-old Communication?

It has become fashionable to castigate Twitter – the microblogging service – as an expression of rampant narcissism. Yet, narcissists are verbose and they do not take kindly to limitations imposed on them by third parties. They feel entitled to special treatment and are rebellious. They are enamored with their own voice. Thus, rather than gratify the average narcissist and provide him or her with narcissistic supply (attention, adulation, affirmation), Twitter is actually liable to cause narcissistic injury. From the dawn of civilization, when writing was the province of the few and esoteric, people have been memorizing information and...

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