Psych Alive!

Hey my name's Max and this is a self help blog.

I'm interning at The Glendon Association and their self help website is called Psych Alive, and some really smart people write really good articles there.

I'm really interesting but the blog's not about me. Sometimes I will reblog stuff I think is cool though because that's just how I roll. I also run this other blog that's about growing food in cities, and people must like it because I have around 15,000 followers for some reason.

There are a lot of suicidally depressed people on Tumblr. You can search for tags like "depression" and "suicide" and "cutting" and "selfharm" and see for yourself. If you're one of those people, you can always call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). If you know somebody who is struggling with these issues, there are lots of resources at to help you figure out what the best course of action is. Just remember that you are not your thoughts or feelings, and they don't have to control you. Easier said than done. Thanks for reading, and please follow the blog!

Posts tagged "psychology"


Friends Counteract Negativity

Having and keeping in touch with close friends provides benefits beyond a healthy social life; it also offers profound psychological and even physical benefits. In fact, among children experiencing negative situations in their lives, having a close friend directly impacts the child’s ability to cope positively, according to new research from Concordia University.

(via mentalhealthresource)

If 5 is neutral, I’m at about a 6. Maybe 7, but I’m a little sick today.

Attachment refers the particular way in which you relate to other people. Your style of attachment was formed at the very beginning of your life, during your first two years.  Once established, it is a style that stays with you and plays out today in how you relate in intimate relationships and in how you parent your children. Understanding your style of attachment is helpful because it offers you insight into how you felt and developed in your childhood. It also clarifies ways that you are emotionally limited as an adult and what you need to change to improve your close relationships and your relationship with your own children.

Strong community = good mental health.

(via likelyhealthy)

70% of abused children turn into abusive adults. Donate at Break the circle.


Wow this is exactly how my feelings seem to work I wonder if it’s the same for others


For anyone who still doubts the amazing healing effects of nature connection, here’s the proof:

Rigorous new research by the University of Illinois reveals:

• Access to nature and green environments yields…

As a culture, we are highly concerned with self-esteem. And this is a good thing. How we feel about ourselves determines how we treat those around us and vice versa. In 1890, William James identified self-esteem as a fundamental human need, no less essential for survival than emotions such as anger and fear. And yet, we often fail to measure the many distinctions between self-esteem and vanity, or we fail to understand how our actions and reactions can serve to bolster one as opposed to the other.

Terror management theorist Dr. Sheldon Solomon makes the point that self-esteem is “controversial as some claim that it is vitally important for psychological and interpersonal well-being, while others insist that self-esteem is unimportant or is associated with increased violence and social insensitivity.” He goes on to say that “those who claim that high self-esteem is problematic and associated with increased aggression are either willfully or unwittingly confusing and [equating] self-esteem with narcissism.”

The distinction between self-esteem and narcissism is of great significance on a personal and societal level. Self-esteem differs from narcissism in that it represents an attitude built on accomplishments we’ve mastered, values we’ve adhered to, and care we’ve shown toward others. Narcissism, conversely, is often based on a fear of failure or weakness, a focus on one’s self, an unhealthy drive to be seen as the best, and a deep-seated insecurity and underlying feeling of inadequacy. So where do these attitudes come from? And why do we form them?

In our new book, The Self Under Siege, my father, psychologist and author Robert Firestone, and I write, “Vanity is a fantasized image of the self that is formed when parents substitute empty praise and a false buildup for the real love and acknowledgment they have failed to provide to their child.” Such parents leave their children feeling unseen and with a sense of pressure to be someone they aren’t. On the other hand, parents who are attuned to their children and genuinely responsive to them leave their offspring feeling seen and validated. These children grow up with an accurate sense of who they are and with healthy self-esteem.

Studies have shown that children offered compliments for skills they haven’t mastered or talents they do not possess are left feeling as if they’d received no praise at all, often even emptier and less secure. Only children praised for real accomplishments were able to build self-esteem. The others were left to develop something far less desirable — narcissism. Unnatural pressure or unearned buildup can lead to increased insecurities and anxieties that foster narcissism over self-confidence.

Narcissism encourages envy and hostile rivalries, where self-esteem supports compassion and cooperation. Narcissism favors dominance, where self-esteem acknowledges equality. Narcissism involves arrogance, where self-esteem reflects humility. Narcissism is affronted by criticism, where self-esteem is enhanced by feedback. Narcissism makes it necessary to pull down others in order to stand above them. Self-esteem leads to perceiving every human being as a person of value in a world of meaning.

Society plays a role in fostering self-esteem or narcissism. Dr. Solomon explains, “Self-esteem is ultimately a cultural construction, because the standards of value by which people judge themselves are derived from adhering to social standards.” These standards can either provide ways for people to feel good about themselves, or they can promote unrealistic expectations that can only destroy self-esteem. Solomon comments that in America, a man has to be rich and successful, and a woman has to be “young and thinner than a piece of linguini, and that’s impossible.” He states:

Our kids are taught at a very early age to adhere to a set of values that is not realistically attainable for the average individual. And so it shouldn’t surprise us that a third of the American population is depressed and another third is addicted to drugs and alcohol, and the final third is watching television or shopping at [the super store] for a chain saw or a lemon.

When Dr. Solomon and his colleagues, Jeff Greenberg and Tom Pyszczynski, developed terror management theory, one of the questions they asked was: What is the significance of self-esteem? Their research uncovered important answers to their question and incidentally underscored the reason why, as William James noted, “Self-esteem is a fundamental human need, essential for survival.” Their findings showed that a powerful and potentially productive shield against existential anxieties inherent in our human condition is the feeling that we are each a valuable member of a meaningful universe.

Dr. Solomon and his colleagues have posited that existential awareness and the attempts to avoid death anxiety have contributed significantly to many of the world’s wars and political conflicts. Conversely, both Dr. Solomon and Robert Firestone argue that when death awareness isn’t denied but recognized, it can be used to promote peace and compassion. The idea that we are all in the same boat, albeit a sinking boat (as Solomon indicates), promotes a sense of equality and togetherness. The acknowledgement that our physical selves share the same fate and that we all have the same fears, can help us to be more understanding of one another’s limitations.

Feeling good about yourself as a person and acceptable for who you are allows you to move through your life with a sense of purpose, meaning, and value. Ernest Becker wrote, “the seemingly trite words ‘self-esteem’ are at the very core of human adaptation.” In order to gain a sense of self, we must perceive ourselves as valuable members of a society that means something. Giving back and offering compassion, aid, and empathy are key to realizing our value. When we acknowledge that our time on earth is fleeting, we accept the painful reality that gives each action more weight, each moment more poignancy. It also gives us a great opportunity to take advantage of the time we have and the people we share this time with. Thus, building self-esteem is about building beyond ourselves, a sense of community, camaraderie, and equality among our fellow human beings.

On June 12, I will join Dr. Sheldon Solomon for the CE Webinar, “Self-Esteem: the Belief that One is a Valuable Contributor to a Meaningful Universe,” in which he will explore how productive and creative efforts to increase self-esteem can be a healthy response to anxiety aroused by our awareness of our mortality.

Learn more or register for the June 12 Webinar, “Self-Esteem” with Dr. Sheldon Solomon

I must admit, I was curious as to why my sister was sitting me down to show me a recording of a dance she’d seen on a popular TV show.I watched, a bit skeptically, as the choreographer explained how she wanted the contemporary dance to symbolize a person’s struggle with addiction. The upbeat intro showed the young male and female dancer, she as the addict, and he, as the addiction itself. They stepped onto the dark stage, and the dance began. Instantly, I was captivated. The expressiveness of each movement conveyed the allure and devastation of addiction. The girl would cling helplessly to her partner, rising and falling with his every move, one minute escaping, and the next throwing herself at his side. All the while, her face showed the torment of falling victim to her captor. The performance was powerful and successful in capturing the self-destructive nature of addiction.

A couple months ago I wrote the blog “Are You an Addict?” to illustrate what draws people to addiction and how they can tell when they are engaging in addictive behavior. All addictive behaviors have at least these two things in common: (1) they help people cut off painful feelings and (2) they are strongly influenced or controlled by a destructive thought process that both seduces the person into the behavior and punishes them for indulging. Like a dance, an addiction finds a pattern by which to step seamlessly into a person’s life, luring and condemning, comforting and destroying.

People who engage in drug or alcohol abuse, who have an eating disorder, or who struggle with any addiction are acting according to the prescriptions of a destructive thought process known as the critical inner voice. For example, if you struggle with an alcohol dependency, this internal enemy will try to tempt you with a seductive, seeming friendly thought (or “voice”) saying, “You’ve had a rough week. Have a drink. You really need to relax.” If you’re overcoming a food addiction, it might lure you with rewards, “Have a piece of cake. You did well on your diet all week.”

After indulging, this deceptively soothing inner voice transforms into a cruel enemy, tearing you apart. The voice maliciously punishes you for indulging in the very behavior it had encouraged. “You weak-willed jerk. You said you weren’t going to drink anymore!” “You’ve ruined everything. You’ll always be a fat cow.”

Like the male dancer in the performance I watched, the critical inner voice always plays two roles in an addiction: seducer and punisher. Addictive behaviors represent a direct assault against a person’s physical health and emotional well-being, and they limit one’s ability to pursue meaningful personal goals in life. Therefore, it is important that a therapist help a client to identify the critical inner voices that govern these habit patterns and to challenge their dictates by learning more constructive ways of dealing with emotional pain.

In Voice Therapy, a therapeutic approach developed by my father, psychologist and author Robert Firestone, therapists help clients pinpoint environmental triggers that precipitate the painful emotions and negative thought patterns, which, in turn, influence them to engage in addictive behaviors. By further encouraging the pursuit of genuine wants, desires, and goals, therapists strengthen clients’ real selves, a process that enables them to achieve freedom from addictive, self-destructive behaviors. In addition, individuals can use the following techniques to help them overcome addiction:

Identify – It is vital to identify the thoughts that get you into trouble and lure you into destructive behavior. Even though these thoughts may seem friendly or calming, they should be recognized as an enemy. I often advise clients to look for patterns in their behavior. What occurs or goes through your mind right before you take a self-destructive action? What situations tempt you? What scenarios do you feel are dangerous? By identifying the internal and external triggers, people can become more conscious and self-aware. They can pause to reflect and resist acting on thoughts that go against their own self-interest.

Journal – Once you recognize your thoughts, you can record them as a means to get to know yourself better and familiarize yourself with your negative habits. Taking the action of writing down whatever comes into your head is a good alternative to engaging in destructive behavior. It also provides you with something to look back on to help you find patterns in yourself and discover what drives you toward addiction.

Reflect – Once you know what the thoughts are and when they come up, you can start asking why. Where do the “voices” come from? Do they sound familiar? Do they remind you of someone or something from your past? Did anyone from your past influence you by engaging in similar behavior? Did your parents or other influential figures use any destructive means to deal with their feelings or to soothe themselves?

Plan – Knowing what triggers you orients you toward action. You can then define a plan of what to do in moments when you feel compelled to use or indulge in your drug of choice. You can visualize yourself saying no. You can think of actions you can take that have worked in the past to distract or help you. You can seek out a certain person to talk to, a certain friend to hang out with, or a certain activity to engage in during moments of stress.

Have compassion – We all face struggles and make mistakes. To deal with an addiction is a sign of strength, not weakness, and you must not allow your critical inner voice to beat you up for any mistakes or relapses. Remember that the urge to self-punish is a strong part of what draws a person to addiction. Listening to that inner voice will only work against you, even when you slip up or experience a setback.

Feel – Addiction numbs a person from joy as well as pain. Its purpose is to bury emotions that you are resistant to feeling or don’t believe you can tolerate. Naturally, when you break an addiction, emotions will arise that the addiction was helping you to avoid. Feeling these emotions and getting through them will make you stronger. It will also reduce your perceived “need” for the substance or behavior that was driving your addiction. Initially, the critical inner voices will get louder, as you stop listening to their instructions. However, when you persevere in your actions, they lessen and eventually fade. Throughout this process, you must be resilient, open, and compassionate. Talking to someone is important, and therapy is a healthy and intelligent option.

When you combat an addiction by challenging your destructive inner voices, you strengthen your true self. You achieve a better balance that leaves you stronger in the face of destructive temptations and hurtful behaviors. Most importantly, you break free from any internal chains that hold you back from experiencing who you are at your fullest potential and actively pursuing what you aim to accomplish in your life.

lisa firestoneDr. Lisa Firestone, PhD, is the Director of Research and Education for The Glendon Association. Since 1987, she has been involved in clinical training and applied research in suicide and violence. In collaboration with Dr. Robert Firestone, her studies resulted in the development of the Firestone Assessment of Self-Destructive Thoughts (FAST) and the Firestone Assessment of Violent Thoughts (FAVT). Dr. Firestone has published numerous professional articles, and most recently was the co-author of the books: Sex and Love in Intimate Relationships (APA Books, 2006),Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice(New Harbinger, 2002), and Creating a Life of Meaning and Compassion: The Wisdom of Psychotherapy (APA Books, 2003).