The term ego is as confusing as any in psychology. Not only is the word itself used to refer to several distinct psychological constructs and processes, but the psychological landscape is littered with concepts that include “ego” in one way or another—egotism, ego-defense, egocentrism, superego, ego-involved, and so on. But what does ego actually mean? What are we talking about when we refer to the ego? And what is the difference among all of the terms in which the term, ego, is embedded? Put simply, the English word, ego, is the Latin word for “I.” Literally translated, ego means “I.” (If you were writing “I love you” in Latin, you’d write ego amo te.) Use of “ego” crept into psychology mostly through the work of Sigmund Freud. In Freud’s theory, the ego is the part of the personality that arbitrates between the animalistic desires of the “id” and the moral and … [Read more...] about What Is the Ego, and Why Is It So Involved in My Life?
Figuring out what you want in life
Waiting at traffic lights, I watch a man with a shopping cart and a dog. He has few possessions; just a couple of bags in the cart. He sets a bowl on the sidewalk and pours water in from a bottle. The dog is waiting expectantly. On the way home, I pass them again. This time, the dog is riding in the cart – there’s no space for many possessions when you have a Golden Retriever to fit in. The dog looks happy, watching the world go by, while the man pushes hard to move the trolley. The bond between man and dog is obvious. But should homeless people have pets? Why do they have them? Source: Michal Kulesza/StockSnap.io/CC0 Research shows that pets mean a lot to homeless people, and can even be the impetus to get clean, get off the streets, and/or get a job. According to Irvine (2013), pets feature in what she calls the “redemption narratives” of people who are or previously were homeless: ways in which the animals are described as “either motivating … [Read more...] about Pets of the Homeless: Attachment Figures and Social Support
Addendum: March 24: Time, Alcohol is good for your heart—most of the time. Drinking alcohol in moderation is linked to a lower risk of certain heart problems. Just don't overdo it. America is a temperance culture -- a country where the movement to ban alcohol has been strong -- along with a handful of other nations (every one of them English-speaking or Nordic). Yet many or most of these other cultures have abandoned their temperance roots (it is hard to call the UK, Australia, even Ireland and Sweden, temperance nations today). But in the U.S. temperance runs strong, even being adopted by many of its leading intellectual forces. As I write this, one of America's most famous reformed drinkers, Jimmy Breslin, has died. Breslin, and his equally famous abstinent, formerly hard-drinking Irish-American journalism friend, Pete Hamill (author of A Drinking Life: A Memoir) were pioneers in the New York culture of neoabstinence. It might seem arbitrary to point out that the two men … [Read more...] about The New Prohibition: The Hip Culture Wants You to Abstain
A pipe bomb exploded in New Jersey. Nearly 30 people were injured in an explosion in New York City. Nine people were stabbed at a Minnesota mall. All this happened on Saturday. Whether you are a professional helper or a friend helping a loved one following these events, it’s important to know your limits and practice self-care. When we help others affected by disasters we sometimes forget to consider our own needs. This can put us at risk for compassion fatigue and burnout. The people you are helping need you now—but they are also going to need you over the long haul. You will be a more effective helper if you remember to help yourself too. That’s why in this post I share some proven ways to prevent burnout when helping after a disaster. To illustrate each point I also discuss how I recently applied each of these tips in my own life around a recent deployment to the Louisiana flood zone. Listen to Your Body When helping amidst a disaster it’s … [Read more...] about Helping After Terrorist Attacks? Know Your Limits
In a world in which pharmaceutical companies bombard consumers with ads for drugs that treat everything from anxiety to ADHD, it's easy to regard a pill as the be-all and end-all to life's difficulties. Research on the effectiveness of the most commonly prescribed medications show that these drugs can alleviate the symptoms in people with severe depression. This fact didn't stop Dr. Peter Kramer from claiming recently in a highly controversial New York Times article that antidepressants are good for almost all of what ails us mentally, even if we're psychologically normal or perhaps a bit neurotic. We're not told, though, that results of drug company-sponsored studies that don't show a positive effect of medications are not published, a problem called the "file drawer" phenomenon. What you might not know is that these drugs are not effective for moderate or mild depression symptoms. What's worse, their side effects and interactions with other medications can make someone's … [Read more...] about 13 Qualities to Look for in an Effective Psychotherapist