The Psychology of Greed

wolf of wall street scene best picture nomination

In The Wolf of Wall Street, stockbroker Jordan Belfort gains a massive fortune by committing crimes in the financial sector. Eventually his greed backs him into a corner. The F.B.I.’s pursuit leaves him with a choice: relinquish control of his company and give up his career in finance or risk losing everything. Despite words of caution from his father and the fact that he already has money and opportunities to last a lifetime, Belfort continues his pursuit of even more wealth. This mistake ultimately leads to his demise.

What exactly was running through Belfort’s mind when he made that decision? What about his innate characteristics and experiences made him so insatiably greedy, willing to put the desire for more income and assets over family and his own freedom?

There are millions of people like Belfort who have inspired researchers to explore the psychology of greed. Here is what psychologists have learned so far: Continue reading The Psychology of Greed

4 Mental Health Benefits of Gratitude to Keep in Mind This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving gratitude card autumn leaves

Recently, studies of happiness and emotional well-being have gained popularity in the psychology world, as well as in mainstream media. There has been a massive uptick in research on the nature of gratitude — how we can better harness and cultivate it, its potential impacts on physical health, as well as on mental and emotional well-being.

As 2017 comes to a close, and life start to amp up for the holidays, many of us may use this time as an opportunity to reflect on the last year — what challenges we were met with, but also what brought us great joy. For so many of us this year, simple things like reading the news became troubling and overwhelming parts of daily life. At times, it felt like images of violence, or word of another political scandal, or devastating environmental issues were simply inescapable parts of living in our modern world. Continue reading 4 Mental Health Benefits of Gratitude to Keep in Mind This Thanksgiving

My Holiday Anxiety Around Eating and Body Issues

thanksgiving feast family passing plates

The spread is incredible — juicy dark meat turkey, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes, those brussel sprouts my brother prepares that make them actually taste delicious, candied sweet potatoes — and we haven’t even gotten to dessert, my favorite part of every meal, especially when seasonal pies are involved.

My eyes feast on the meal, but inside my anxiety starts to edge its way into my mind. How much can I put on my plate this Thanksgiving and still feel like I won’t be judged for how much or what I am eating? Can I afford to eat two slices of pie, or do I need to stick with just one to keep up appearances? Am I making enough of a show of restraint in comparison to my BMI for the extended family members at the table so I won’t feel judged? Continue reading My Holiday Anxiety Around Eating and Body Issues

I Took Care of People My Entire Life and Then I Broke

stressed out mom illustration

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been a caretaker. When I was five and our father left our family, I became my pregnant mother’s little helper, rubbing her feet and bringing her snacks and tea. I took care of my sister when my mother was busy working or tending house. And when my sister couldn’t sleep during those nights we’d stay at our dad’s house, I’d lie with her until she drifted off. Somehow, I was the one in our family that everyone relied upon — the responsible, wise, compassionate one.

I see now that this wasn’t the most appropriate role for me to take, since I was only a child, but it’s the role I seemed to naturally gravitate toward. And it’s a role I have found myself in throughout my adult life as well. I find myself drawn to needful people, and to professions that require care and compassion. I have always worked in caretaker industries: my jobs have included babysitter, preschool teacher, college instructor, soup kitchen volunteer, nursing home assistant, postpartum doula, breastfeeding counselor — and of course, mother to my two sons. Continue reading I Took Care of People My Entire Life and Then I Broke

Holidays and Mental Health: My Family After One Year of Trump

family arguing thanksgiving wine glasses

The majority of us acknowledge the world’s precarious state. In fact, according the APA, a survey of 3,440 Americans found that 63% feel the “future of the nation” is a very or somewhat significant stressor in their lives.

Election Night 2016 was an intense and polarizing event for the vast majority of Americans. Last year many people saw their holidays soured by the state of the world and their fears for the future. Others were frustrated with their families for not giving then President-elect Trump a fair chance to prove himself and provide for the country. Most were simply exhausted from the politics of the past couple years, hoping for a reprieve from the constant arguments.

The political climate rapidly tore my own family apart. My mom has always been pretty socially liberal and compassionate — and raised me accordingly. Social issue voters seemed to have a clear option: Hillary Clinton, who I support wholeheartedly to this day. My mom, however, voted for Trump. Continue reading Holidays and Mental Health: My Family After One Year of Trump

How the Right Song Can Help You Manage Anxiety

happy woman using headphones and listening to music

Maya Benattar is a licensed psychotherapist in New York City. Her office looks like the typical therapist’s office — calm and quiet, comfortable seating, soothing lighting. The perfect place to work through difficult feelings of anxiety and depression.

But a few items might catch your eye: a piano, drums, a guitar, and various other music-making tools. Not things you’d typically expect to see in a therapy setting.

That’s because Benattar — in addition to her credentials as a psychotherapist — is also a board-certified music therapist. Continue reading How the Right Song Can Help You Manage Anxiety

How I Learned to Love My Dark Side

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How I Learned to Love My Dark Side originally appeared on Shine, a free daily text to help you thrive.

I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m sensitive. Like, we’re talking so sensitive that I can get stressed out from watching The Great British Bake Off because I see the stress in the competitors faces as they race to put a Victoria sponge cake in the oven.

I’ve had people in my life give me flack for being so sensitive, and often I’m self-conscious that I’ll come off as weak or unable to handle what obstacles come my way. That’s why I consider sensitivity my “dark side.” Continue reading How I Learned to Love My Dark Side

Learning to Cope with My Schizoaffective Disorder

illustrated heads collage different colors

I was sleeping on a tile floor during a New England winter with very little heat and no blankets. I starved to the point where I lost too much weight. After all this chaos I was hospitalized at Portsmouth Regional Hospital where the staff diagnosed me with schizophrenia, specifically schizoaffective disorder.

During my first episode of schizoaffective disorder, I experienced psychosis to the point where I had difficulty speaking more than several words at a time. I had referential thinking and lost my ego boundary. Everything external and internal blended together.

I believed there was a telekinetic network and my thoughts were being disseminated to everyone in the world. Continue reading Learning to Cope with My Schizoaffective Disorder

Can A Relationship Make You Mentally Ill?

angry couple arguing on couch

Point blank — relationships are complicated. When they go south, they can sometimes be a blame game, and it’s all too easy point fingers at our partner when you-know-what hits the fan. But can we blame mental illness on our partner? While relationships can be amazing, enriching experiences, they do have the potential to be unhealthy and harmful to your mental health, and therefore, your overall well being.

Mental illnesses are very complex, often with multiple causes, which can be biological, genetic, or environmental. For example, while you might not have been born displaying the characteristics of a certain mental illness, you can be born with a predisposition to it, and it may be lying dormant until it’s triggered by a major life event or trauma. So, how do relationships come into play and factor into mental illness? Can love be so intense that a relationship makes you mentally ill? Continue reading Can A Relationship Make You Mentally Ill?

How To Cure an Emotional Hangover

woman with headache on couch

We all know (and hate) hangovers. A crazy night out drinking too much alcohol can lead to a slew of unpleasant symptoms the next morning. But did you know there’s another type of hangover that has absolutely nothing to do with drinking? You might wake up feeling drained, exhausted, moody, or a bit off…except, the night before wasn’t fun at all. In fact, it was quite the opposite! Welcome to the emotional hangover.

The idea is that the effects of an emotional event can linger for a while after the event actually happens — the same way nausea lingers long after you’ve consumed one too many tequila shots (whoops). This event can be anything from an argument with your best friend to a break up with your partner. While the event is over, your head is still reeling and messing with your current emotions. Continue reading How To Cure an Emotional Hangover