Gambler’s Fallacy


Gambler’s Fallacy is a cognitive bias, proposed by Amor Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, which states that people tend to hold erroneous belief that an event which occurs more frequently in the past is less likely to occur again in the future, even though it is well-established that occurrence of each independent event depends on probability and have no connection to what happened in the past. The best example is a gambler who is playing at a roulette table, when he sees that red has come up several times in succession, he will start believing (erroneous belief) that a black is more likely to come up in the next spin, and thus will continue to bet; or when parents after having multiple children of same sex, believe that next child will be of opposite sex. Also known as Monte Carlo fallacy, Gambler’s fallacy occurs from an erroneous belief that small numbers are representative of the larger population.


The Pomodoro Technique

Are you struggling with Time Management? Try the Pomodoro Technique.


The Pomodoro Technique is a method of managing time that was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. As per the technique, the work is divided into different intervals, generally of 25 minutes each. Each interval is followed by a short break. This interval of work is called pomodoro, which means ‘tomato’ in Italian. The technique is named after a tomato shaped timer used by Cirillo during his university days.
The technique comprise of six steps:
Step 1. Select a task to be completed.
Step 2. Set pomodoro timer for 25 minutes.
Step 3. Start working on the task.
Step 4. As the pomodoro starts ringing, stop the task and put a checkmark on your list of tasks.
Step 5. Take a short break of 3-5 minutes, if there are less than four pomodoros tick marks.
Step 6. After completion of four pomodoros, take a break of 15-30 minutes.

The basic premise of this technique is to cut down the effect of internal and external disturbances on flow and focus required to complete the task.

Planning Fallacy

Planning fallacy refers to a phenomenon where people display optimistic bias while predicting time required to complete a task in the future and thereby underestimate the actual time needed to complete the task. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, first proposed the phenomenon in 1979.

Interestingly, the phenomenon often takes place despite the individual’s knowledge that similar tasks took longer to complete even after careful planning. Another important point is that this optimistic bias corrupts the predictions about one’s own task completion only; when it comes to predicting the task completion of others, individuals show pessimistic bias, thus overestimating the time required to complete the task.

In 2003, an expanded definition was proposed by Lovallo and Kahneman, where it was explained as  the tendency to underestimate the time, costs, and risk of future actions and at the same time overestimate the benefits of the same actions. Thus, indicating that the phenomenon not only leads to time overruns, but also cost overruns and at the same time shortfalls of benefit. The Sydney Opera House, Boston Central Artery, and Denver International Airport are some of the real life examples of planning fallacy.

Capgras Syndrome


Capgras syndrome (CS) is a rare psychiatric disorder in which a person holds a delusion that their loved ones or those they know have been replaced by imposters or doubles. Nothing can dispel this illusion because it is so strong. The Capgras delusion is categorized as a delusional misidentification syndrome, a type of delusional belief in which people, locations, or objects are misidentified. It might manifest itself as acute, temporary, or persistent.

CS can be caused by brain damage in the bifrontal, right limbic, and temporal regions. This brain damage causes problems with memory, self-monitoring, and reality perception. Such neurophysiological deficiencies result in a failure to correctly integrate emotional information processing and facial recognition.

The illusion is most common in people with schizophrenia, although it has also been observed in people with brain damage, dementia with Lewy bodies, and other types of dementia. It frequently manifests in people with neurological diseases, especially in the elderly.

15 Facts about Human Brain

robina-weermeijer-so1L3jsdD3Y-unsplash (1)Here are 15 fascinating facts about the human brain that will wow you:

  1. Recollection practice can help with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  2. Having easy access to knowledge can make it difficult to remember.
  3. The human brain begins to slow about the age of 24.
  4. It consumes 20% of the entire oxygen and energy in the body.
  5. The brain itself cannot experience pain
  6. 95% of all decisions are made subconsciously.
  7. Memories begin to form in the womb.
  8. Emotion prioritizes memory.
  9. The human brain consists of 73% water
  10. It is unable to develop memories while drunk.
  11. It produces 12-15 watts of electricity.
  12. Vitamin B1 can boost both short- and long-term memory. Fruit and vegetables that are common sources include cauliflower, oranges, potatoes, asparagus, and kale. Other sources include liver, eggs, and brewer’s yeast.
  13. Five minutes without oxygen can result in brain damage.
  14. Sweating can cause temporary brain shrinkage.
  15. Learning new things increases the amount of grey matter in the brain.

Munchausen Syndrome (Factitious Disorder) 

Munchausen syndrome is a mental health illness in which you fabricate, exaggerate, or cause physical, emotional, or cognitive impairments.

If you have Munchausen syndrome, you may have to undertake unpleasant or risky medical tests and operations in order to receive the sympathy and particular attention reserved for the truly ill. You may secretly harm oneself in order to produce symptoms of disease. You can mix blood into your pee or cut off circulation to a limb with a rubber band. Some people will cut or burn themselves, poison themselves, reopen wounds, rub excrement or dirt into a wound to promote infection, or consume bacteria-contaminated food.

People suffering from factitious diseases act in this manner out of an inner need to be perceived as unwell or injured, rather than to get a tangible benefit, such as medication or financial gain. This is distinct from malingering, which occurs when someone exaggerates or fabricates an ailment in order to, for example, avoid work.

Munchausen syndrome was named after Baron von Munchausen, an 18th century German officer noted for embellishing his life and experiences. The majority of symptoms in persons with this disorder are caused by physical illness, such as chest pain, gastrointestinal difficulties, or fever, rather than by a mental disorder. Some symptoms are self-inflicted, while others are exaggerated. You could, for example, exaggerate symptoms such as visual loss, seizures, joint pain, headaches, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Inspiring Happiness Quotes?

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” —The Dalai Lama

“I think self-knowledge is a key to happiness. We can build happy lives only on the foundation of our own natures, our own values and our own interests.” —Gretchen Rubin

“Personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a checklist of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications are not your life.” —J.K. Rowling

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself and you will be happy.” —Stephen Fry

“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called ‘All the things that could go wrong.’” —Marianne Williamson

“Happiness is like a cloud—if you stare at it long enough, it evaporates.” —Sarah McLachlan

“Be happy in your body. It’s the only one you’ve got, so you might as well like it.” —Keira Knightley

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” —Steven Kloves

“The good news is that going blind is not going to make you as unhappy as you think it will. The bad news is that winning the lottery will not make you as happy as you expect.” —Daniel Gilbert

“You can’t be really happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes.” —Lauren Oliver

“One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.” —Rita Mae Brown

How Does the Change of Clocks and Seasons Affect Sleep?

According to a study by Ron B. Postuma, MD, MSc, a member of the American Academy of Neurology, sleep plays an crucial part in keeping up overall wellbeing, good disposition, cognition, work execution, and social movement, and it is impacted by the circadian cadence, the inside clock that controls body forms. “The good news is that the sleep disruptions we observed following the change to standard time were brief and no longer evident two weeks after the shift,” he said.

The study included 30,097 individuals, ages 45 to 85, who completed a survey about sleep duration and satisfaction, ability to fall asleep, capacity to stay sleeping and intemperate sleepiness during the day. Questions consisted of, “Over the last month, how often did it take you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep?” and “Over the last month, how often did you wake in the middle of the night or too early in the morning and found it difficult to fall asleep again?” Those whose response was three or more times a week to either of these questions were considered to have sleep issues.

For the transition to autumn standard time, the researchers compared the questionnaire filled out a week before the transition with those filled out a week later. After adjusting for age, gender and location, they found that those who finished the questionnaire a week after the shift had a 34% higher risk of insomnia, with 28% reporting insomnia, compared to 23% of those surveyed the week before. After one week, those who completed the survey were also more than twice as likely to fall asleep, 64 per cent more likely to fall asleep, and twice as likely to experience excessive sleepiness while awake.

In connection with the transition to daylight saving time in spring, the researchers compared those who completed the survey a week before the change with those who answered the survey a week later. They found no difference in sleep disturbances. However, they found that sleep duration decreased by nine minutes after one week of switching.

 The researchers looked at when participants completed the survey: spring, summer, autumn, or winter. Although they found no difference in sleep disturbance, they did find a minor difference in sleep duration. In the summer, the respondents to the survey had the shortest sleep duration, an average of 6.76 hours per day. In winter, the survey respondents had the longest sleep time, an average of 6.84 hours per day, which means the difference is five minutes. 

 “As disruptive as these transitions may feel in the short term, there may be few long-term implications of the repeated switch back and forth from daylight saving time to standard time,” said Postuma. But, previous studies have linked the transitions to and from daylight saving time with higher accident rates and an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. Future studies are needed that follow people over time, including people who live in places with different light exposure and seasonal changes.

 The study’s limitation was that it only comprised middle-aged and older adults, and outcomes may not be similar for younger adults.  The study was financed by the Canadian Institute for Health Research.

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An Instruction Manual for New Parents on Newborn Care

After a successful pregnancy, labor, and delivery, you’re now prepared to take your new family home and start a new chapter in your life. However, after you get home, you might think you have no idea what you’re doing! You are acting in complete ignorance! Even the most anxious new parents can soon feel comfortable taking care of a baby thanks to following advice.

Getting Aid Following Childbirth

During this stressful and overwhelming period, think about seeking assistance. Speak with the professionals nearby while you are in the hospital. Many hospitals employ lactation consultants or feeding specialists who can assist you in starting to breastfeed or bottle-feed. Nurses may demonstrate how to carry, burp, change, and care for your baby, which is another fantastic resource.

You could choose to engage a postpartum doula, a baby nurse, or a respectable neighborhood adolescent to assist you for a short while following the birth if you need in-home assistance. Your doctor or the hospital may be able to direct you to home health agencies and assist you in finding information about in-home care. Family and friends frequently wish to assist as well.

Care of a Newborn

The fragility of infants might be frightening if you haven’t spent much time around them. Observe the following fundamentals:

Before touching your child, wash your hands or sterilize them with a hand sanitizer. Because they don’t yet have a robust immune system, newborns are vulnerable to illness. Make sure everyone who comes in contact with your kid has clean hands.

Support the head and neck of your infant. When you are carrying your infant, support the head and cradle it. When you are laying your baby down, support the head.

Never, under any circumstances, whether anger or play, shake your baby. Brain hemorrhage and possibly death might result from shaking. If you need to wake your baby, tickle them instead of shaking them.

Bonding and Calming

One of the most enjoyable aspects of caring for an infant is certainly bonding, which takes place during the delicate period in the first few days and hours following delivery when parents form a close bond with their child. An emotional connection can be facilitated by physical proximity.

Infants’ attachment influences their emotional development, which influences other aspects of their development, such as their physical development.

The presence of a parent or other responsible adult in a child’s life is essential for their development.

Start your bonding process by cuddling your infant and giving him or her gentle strokes in various patterns. You and your partner can also benefit from being “skin-to-skin” by cradling or nursing your infant close to your bodies.

Babies, particularly those who are premature or have health issues, may respond favorably to infant massage. Certain massage techniques may improve bonding and aid in the growth and development of infants. Ask your doctor for advice. Infant massage is covered in many books and DVDs. However, be cautious because babies lack the strength of adults, so massage your baby lightly.

The vocal noises that babies typically enjoy are talking, chattering, singing, and cooing. It’s likely that your infant will likewise enjoy music. Other effective techniques to boost your baby’s hearing include baby rattles and musical mobiles. Try singing, reciting poetry and nursery rhymes, or reading aloud while gently swaying or rocking your baby in a chair if they are being fussy

Some infants may be extremely sensitive to touch, light, or sound; they may also scream more frequently than usual, sleep for shorter periods of time than typical, or turn their faces away when spoken or sang to. Keep noise and light levels low to moderate if that applies to your baby.

Another calming technique first-time parents should learn is swaddling, which some newborns respond favorably to during their first few weeks. When done correctly, swaddling prevents a baby’s legs from moving too much while keeping their arms tight to their bodies. Swaddling a baby seems to give most babies a sense of security and comfort in addition to keeping them warm. Additionally, swaddling may lessen the startle reflex, which might awaken a newborn.

The Whole Diaper Story

Before bringing your new child home, you will probably choose between cloth and disposable diapers. Whichever method you choose, your child will need new diapers roughly 10 times per day, or 70 times per week.

Make sure you have everything you need before changing your baby’s diaper so you won’t have to leave your child unattended on the changing table.

Lay your infant on his or her back and take off the soiled diaper after each bowel movement or if it is damp. To gently clean your baby’s genital area, use a washcloth, cotton balls, and water. You can also use baby wipes. Boy diaper removal should be done with caution as exposure to the air may cause him to urinate. To prevent a UTI, wipe a girl’s bottom from front to back when wiping her (UTI). Apply cream to stop or heal a rash. Always remember to fully wash your hands after changing a baby.

A typical problem is diaper rash. Warm showers, diaper cream, and some time out of the diaper usually help the red, bumpy rash to disappear in a few days. The majority of rashes occur as a result of the baby’s sensitive skin being irritated by the wet or poopy diaper.

Try these suggestions to treat or avoid diaper rash:

As soon as your baby has a bowel movement, change their diaper as quickly as you can.

Apply a fairly thick layer of diaper rash or “barrier” cream after gently cleaning the region with mild soap and water (wipes can occasionally be unpleasant). The best creams are those that contain zinc oxide because they provide a barrier against moisture.

Wash your cloth diapers in detergents devoid of dyes and fragrances if you use them.

Allow the infant to spend some of the day alone. This enables the skin to breathe.

Call your doctor if the diaper rash lasts more than 3 days or appears to be getting worse; it can be a fungal infection that needs to be treated with a prescription.

Basics of Bathing

You should give your infant a sponge wash until the umbilical chord is cut, and the navel fully recovers (1–4 weeks)

In the first year, a bath two or three times per week is acceptable. Bathing more frequently could dry out the skin.

Before bathing your child, get the following ready: a soft brush to stimulate the baby’s scalp a soft, clean washcloth mild, unscented baby soap, shampoo towels or blankets, a fresh diaper and fresh clothing.

Sponging: Choose a safe, flat surface (such a changing table, floor, or counter) in a warm area for the sponge bath. If a sink or bowl is available, fill it with warm (not hot!) water. Baby should be stripped of clothing and wrapped in a towel. Start with one eye and wipe it from the inner corner to the outer corner of a clean cotton ball or washcloth soaked with water only. To clean the second eye, use a fresh washcloth corner or an additional cotton ball. Use the wet washcloth to clean your child’s ears and nose. Then dampen the cloth once again, gently wash the person’s face with a little soap, and pat it dry.

Next, make a lather using baby shampoo, gently wash your child’s head, and then rinse. Gently wash the remainder of the infant with a moist cloth and soap, giving close attention to the creases in the genital region, behind the ears, under the arms, and around the neck. After washing those areas, make sure they are dry before dressing and diapering your child.

Bathing in tubs: The initial baths for your infant should be gentle and brief when they are ready for tub baths. Return to sponge baths for a week or two if the person gets angry, then try the bath once more.

Burping and Feeding Your Infant

You might be unsure about how frequently to breastfeed or bottle-feed your child. In general, it is advised to feed babies whenever they appear hungry, or on demand. Your infant may cry, put his or her fingers in their mouths, or make sucking noises as a cue to you.

A newborn infant need feedings every two to three hours. Give your infant the chance to nurse for roughly 10 to 15 minutes at each breast if you’re breastfeeding. Your infant will likely consume two to three ounces (60 to 90 milliliters) of formula at each feeding if you are formula feeding.

To make sure they feed enough, some infants may need to be awakened every few hours. If you need to wake your infant frequently or if they don’t seem to be interested in sucking or feeding, call the doctor.

It is simple to check that your kid is eating enough when you use a formula, but nursing presents some challenges. Your baby is most likely getting enough food if he or she appears full, changes approximately six diapers, passes several stools, sleeps soundly, and gains weight consistently.

During feedings, babies frequently swallow air, which can make them irritable. Burp your child frequently to aid in preventing this. If you bottle-feed or breast-feed, try burping your child after 2–3 ounces (60–90 milliliters) or whenever you switch breasts.

Try burping your infant after each ounce when bottle-feeding or every five minutes when breastfeeding if they frequently have gas, have gastroesophageal reflux, or seem fussy during feeding.

Use these burping suggestions:

Hold your infant up straight, placing the child’s head on your shoulder. With your other hand, softly pat the back of your infant while supporting the head and back.

Place the infant on your lap. With one hand, support your baby’s head and chest by placing the heel of your hand on their chest and cradling their chin in the palm of your hand (take care to grab their chin, not their throat). Your baby’s back should be softly patted with the other hand.

On your lap, place your infant face down. Gently massage or rub your baby’s back while supporting his or her head, making sure it is higher than the child’s chest.

Before feeding your baby again, if they haven’t burped after a few minutes, switch the baby’s position and try again. When feeding time is finished, always burp your baby and then keep him or her upright for at least 15 minutes to prevent spitting up.

Getting to Sleep

If you’re a new parent, you might be startled to find that even while your baby seems to need you all the time, they actually sleep for at least 16 hours each day.

Newborns often snooze for 2-4 hours at a time. Expect your baby to wake up if they haven’t had food in four hours because babies’ digestive systems are too small to allow them to sleep through the night (or more often if your doctor is concerned about weight gain).

When should you anticipate your child sleeping through the night? At three months old, most babies sleep through the night (for six to eight hours), but if yours doesn’t, it’s not a cause for alarm. For this reason, if your infant is gaining weight and seems healthy, don’t get discouraged if he or she hasn’t slept through the night by three months. Babies, like adults, must develop their own sleep cycles and routines.

Baby should always be put to sleep on their backs to lower the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Other safe sleeping habits include sharing a bedroom (but not a bed) with the parents for the first six months to a year, and not putting blankets, quilts, sheepskins, plush animals, or cushions in the crib or bassinet (these can suffocate a baby). To avoid the development of a flat spot on one side of the head, be sure to rotate your baby’s head from night to night (first right, then left, and so on).

The days and nights of many babies are “mixed up.” During the day, they are more tired, while at night, they are more awake and attentive. Reduced stimulus at night is one method to assist them. Use a nightlight or keep the lights dim overall. Keep your baby’s conversations and activities for the daytime. Try to keep your baby awake a little bit longer by talking and playing with him or her when they wake up during the day.

Although managing a newborn may make you feel uneasy, in a few short weeks you’ll establish a pattern and be parenting like a pro! Ask your doctor to suggest services that can help you and your baby grow together if you have any questions or concerns.

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New Support for a Serotonin Deficit in Depression

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Since the 1960s, researchers have postulated that major depression stems from disruptions in the serotonin neurotransmitter system, but the evidence for that idea, though plentiful, was indirect. In fact, a recent comprehensive analysis of existing studies concluded that there was not strong evidence to support the “serotonin hypothesis.” In its wake, some in the field have called for a reexamination of the hypothesis. Not so fast, says a new study that provides direct evidence of disrupted serotonin release in the brains of individuals with depression.

The study appears in Biological Psychiatry, published by Elsevier.

Depression is among the most common mental illnesses and causes of disability worldwide. Despite the lack of direct evidence for disrupted serotonin signaling in the depressed brain, medications used to treat depression overwhelmingly target the serotonin signaling system to increase extracellular serotonin, also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). Only about half of patients respond to antidepressants, and fewer than 30% experience total remission. A better understanding of 5-HT dynamics in depression could help guide more effective therapies.

“Our thinking about the role of serotonin in depression has evolved significantly over the past decade. We once thought that serotonin changes could account for the entirety of depression. When this simple hypothesis could no longer be supported, some were inclined to dismiss any role for serotonin in depression,” said John Krystal, MD, editor-in-chief of Biological Psychiatry. “The current study provides important new support for further exploration of the role of serotonin in depression. This is particularly timely, as drugs targeting serotonin receptors, such as psychedelics, are being explored as potential new treatments for mood disorders.”

The study, conducted by Invicro, a global, imaging contract research organization, in collaboration with researchers from Imperial College London, King’s College London, Copenhagen University, and the University of Oxford, used a novel imaging technique to look directly at the magnitude of serotonin released from neurons in response to a pharmacological challenge. In previous work, these researchers pioneered the use of positron emission tomography (PET) with the radioligand [11C] Cimbi-36 to detect serotonin release. In the current study, the researchers applied this methodology to compare serotonin release in 17 patients with depression and 20 healthy individuals.

David Erritzoe, MRCPsych, PhD, lead author of the paper, said, “This study used a new and more direct method to measure serotonin in the living human brain, and the results suggest reduced serotonin (release) functioning in depression. This imaging method, in combination with similar methods for other brain systems, has the potential to help us to better understand the varying — sometimes limited or even lacking — treatment responses that people with depression have to antidepressant medication.”

Participants with depression and healthy controls underwent PET scanning with [11C] Cimbi-36 to measure 5-HT2A receptor availability in the frontal cortex; the two groups did not differ significantly at baseline. Both groups then received a dose of d-amphetamine, a stimulant drug that works to increase 5-HT concentration outside of neurons, where it interacts with 5-HT2A receptors and reduces the binding of [11C] Cimbi-36. In a second scanning session three hours after drug administration, healthy control participants had significantly reduced 5-HT2A receptor availability, indicating an increase in serotonin levels. Participants with depression, however, did not show a significant decrease in binding potential, suggesting they had a blunted serotonin release capacity in key brain regions.

The study found no relationship between the severity of depression and the extent of serotonin release capacity deficits. Of note, all patients were free of antidepressant medication, and 11 out of the 17 had never received antidepressant treatment, indicating that low serotonin release capacity is a feature of depression rather than a result of antidepressant treatment.

This first direct evaluation of serotonin levels in the brain of individuals with depression is a major step forward in laying to rest the speculations questioning the involvement of serotonergic neurotransmission in the pathology of depression. Depression is a multifaceted disorder that may have multiple causes, and different subtypes may involve multiple neurotransmitter systems. Serotonergic dysfunction is unlikely to explain all the clinical features encountered in this disorder. Nevertheless, this study demonstrates that serotonergic deficits are present in unmedicated depressed individuals.

Eugenii Rabiner, MBBCh, FCPsych SA, at Invicro and senior author of the paper said, “It has taken our field over 20 years to develop a method that enables the measurement of serotonin release in the living human brain. I am very pleased that we managed to develop this method and apply it to clarify this important aspect of the pathophysiology of depression. I hope that we can use this technique in future to explore the different symptoms of depression, as well as serotonergic deficits found in other conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease.”

Journal Reference:

1. David Erritzoe, Beata R. Godlewska, Gaia Rizzo, Graham E. Searle, Claudio Agnorelli, Yvonne Lewis, Abhishekh H. Ashok, Alessandro Colasanti, Iro Boura, Chloe Farrell, Hollie Parfit, Oliver Howes, Jan Passchier, Roger N. Gunn, David J. Nutt, Philip J. Cowen, Gitte Knudsen, Eugenii A. Rabiner. BRAIN SEROTONIN RELEASE IS REDUCED IN PATIENTS WITH DEPRESSION: A [11C]Cimbi-36 PET STUDY WITH A D-AMPHETAMINE CHALLENGE.Biological Psychiatry, 2022; DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2022.10.012

Social Media: ‘Everything You Do Is Wrong’

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Anxiety and defying common sense feed clicks.

“Throwing balls to your dog teaches obsessive behaviors and will cause permanent damage to their bones and joints.”

That was the last straw.

Loki, my pandemic pup, is involved in a lot of dog sports. He is a natural at FastCAT racing, we do Rally obedience, he’s training to be a therapy dog, and he can do dozens of silly pet tricks. My social media feeds are filled with posts about dogs. Most of them tell me what an awful pet owner I am.

  • You’re talking to your dog too much.
  • The popular leash you use for walks in the woods will kill your dog and cause permanent scarring.
  • Common high-end pet foods will poison your dog.

And the one that just pushed me over the edge—throwing balls to my dog will cause him irreparable harm.

Why Does Social Media Feed Fear?

I was recently interviewed by the Washington Post about parenting. Specifically, several experts, including myself, were asked about “sittervising.” Yes, it’s just what it sounds like—watching your child while sitting down instead of playing with them or obsessively following them around the playground. In other words, letting them play.

All the experts said, “Yup, good thing. Kids need some space.” The author of the piece, myself, and seemingly all of the commenters’ reaction to this new parenting trend was the same: “Well, duh.”

Yet “sittervising” hit several major newspapers and has been trending on Instagram and TikTok since August. Why?

The answer is clicks. The same reason that my feed is filled with scary warnings that perfectly normal things sensible dog owners do are dangerous.

The Stranger the Better

Think about these three headlines:

  1. Dogs need daily exercise.
  2. Feeding dogs too many treats can lead to vomiting.
  3. Throwing balls to dogs causes obsessive behavior.

Which would you click on?

Headline 1 is something you probably know—it doesn’t make you curious and it isn’t worrying, so you’re unlikely to seek more information.

Headline 2 is worrying, but not really surprising. I might click to see what they mean by “too many.” (I was surprised to read that my dog’s favorite liver treats are only supposed to be given a few at a time, several times a day. Oops.). A post on common human foods poisonous to dogs—chocolate, grapes—is more likely to get clicks.

But 3? I would definitely click. Why?

First, it annoyed me. What’s wrong with throwing balls to dogs? Dogs love balls. My dog really loves balls.

Second, it made me anxious. My dog runs over to me every afternoon, ball in mouth, ears up, looking hopefully at the door. When we get to the park, he is there, poised, ready, and eager to run. He’ll happily play catch for an hour. Is he obsessed? Is this compulsive behavior? Is this bad for him?

Third, and this is the key to the reason we see so many posts like this, throwing balls to dogs is something lots of people do. The more common the behavior—in other words, the more innocuous and seemingly safe it is—the more people are likely to click on the article. Why? Because it’s relevant to us.

If the headline read, “Dying your dog’s fur can lead to unnecessary vet bills,” most of the people who clicked would be people who dye their dogs’ fur or those considering it. That’s not a lot of folks in the world of clicks.

But if the headline read “Can bagging dog poop make you sick?” (The answer is no, by the way. Cleaning up dog feces reduces the likelihood of illness for both people and pets.) I’d click on that.

An ideal clickbait ad:

  • Catches your interest.
  • Raises your anxiety about something important to you (your pet, your child, your relationship, your finances).
  • Is highly relevant (something you do or are considering doing).

Since most responsible dog owners pick up dog waste, no one wants to get sick, and it’s kind of yucky, a post asking whether something you do several times a day is potentially dangerous is likely to be a popular post.

Parenting articles are similarly anxiety-producing. The sittervising piece was typical. It tells parents they should have been worried about letting their children play alone in their own home while they did other activities like watching TV, reading, or cooking dinner. I find it hard to believe that any parent has not engaged in sittervising.

This makes it a perfect clickable piece. It is relevant to many parents. It is anxiety-producing. And it annoys us, because we are being criticized for doing a common sense, safe, and normal behavior. Interestingly, the sittervising trend tells us that we probably were guilty for doing something that the article and experts say we should never have been guilty about. And that most of us were not guilty about.

Many parenting articles are like that. Does your child use social media? (Over 98% of U.S. adolescents do.). Worry! And find out why to worry.

Look at your own feed. Is it feeding your anxiety?

The Strongest Signs That a Romance Is Over

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How to tell when your partner is “quiet quitting” your relationship.

Research corroborates the reality that in romance, the end is often predictable. The evidence suggests that the strongest sign that a romance is over is arguably not what a partner says or does, but how he makes the other feel.

In other words, if you sense your partner has moved on emotionally, he probably has. Although he might still perform the relational bare minimum, such as dutifully calling every day, a partner’s “quiet quitting” may be obvious in other ways, such as through the choice to increasingly make plans alone or with others. While it’s tempting to wonder if you are “just too sensitive,” or assume you must have done something to prompt your partner to pull away, actions speak louder than words—and a partner’s behavior speaks volumes.

Lack of Intimacy Predicts Breakup

Yoobin Park et al. (2021) investigated the link between a lack of intimacy and the likelihood of relationship dissolution. [i] They found that partners who perceived lower levels of reward in their relationship were more likely headed for a breakup. They discovered this effect was significant even after controlling for relationship satisfaction and attachment insecurity.

Operationalizing reward in a way that captured different features of intimacy such as connection, love, and self-disclosure, the findings of Park et al. validate the importance of intimacy within a romantic relationship, corroborating previous findings that intimate connection is one of the fundamental reasons people stay in a relationship. They also note that because there may be a difference in the extent to which people value intimacy or consider it a “reward,” there may also be a difference in the reward’s predictive power for a breakup. Park et al. report that their exploratory analyses yielded support for this possibility by demonstrating that reward did not predict breakup as strongly for people who place less value on intimacy.

Recognizing When the End is Near

1. Building boundaries. Some partners begin to withdraw by building walls instead of bridges. This may occur physically, such as when a partner seeks to spend more time in a different room, or emotionally, through decreased information sharing. However it is manifest, building boundaries is a roadblock to relational development, signaling the beginning of a future apart.

2. Withdrawing affection. If your partner has lost interest in intimacy and romance, you most likely want to know why. Barring significant life changes such as a cancer diagnosis, or the loss of a job or loved one, which can be associated with withdrawal and depression, withdrawing affection is often a sign that the relationship is faltering.

3. Seeking socialization. A partner who is gravitating towards meeting new people or attending events solo may be demonstrating a preference for singlehood. You can respectfully inquire into the reasons or rationale for the change in preference, but consider whether there will ever be an acceptable answer to the desire to spend time socializing without you.

Noticing the presence or absence of the features of intimacy noted by Park et al., such as connection, love, and self-disclosure, can make it easier to notice when your partner is disengaging. Here are a few signs.

Beginning a New Chapter

If your relationship does come to an end, remember that a failed relationship is not the end of the world; indeed, it can be the beginning of a fresh chapter in your life. There is nothing about romantic rejection that defines you; breakups happen to most people at some point, and many breakups have more to do with the partner who prompts the dissolution. If a breakup was indeed provoked by your behavior, you can learn from it and move on, stronger and wiser.


[i] Park, Yoobin, Emily A. Impett, Stephanie S. Spielmann, Samantha Joel, and Geoff MacDonald. 2021. “Lack of Intimacy Prospectively Predicts Breakup.” Social Psychological and Personality Science 12 (4): 442–51. doi:10.1177/1948550620929499.

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We Are Wired for Moral Cowardice

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Why it’s so hard to oppose the crowd

With reassessments of historical figures occurring regularly nowadays, it’s only right that a 1928 essay by W. E. B. Du Bois, skillfully dissecting the memory of Robert E. Lee, would resurface for modern readers. Du Bois’s masterful takedown of Lee, though written almost a century ago, has been circulating widely on social media. After conceding Lee’s military genius, Du Bois exposes the Confederate general’s moral failure with clarity and eloquence that make the essay arguably more relevant today than when it was written.

ROBERT-LEELee’s moral failure, Du Bois explains, was not only his defense of slavery but also his failure to reject the narratives of the social hierarchy that surrounded him. He writes: “(Lee) followed Virginia not because he particularly loved slavery… but because he did not have the moral courage to stand against his family and his clan… He was asked to lead armies against human progress… and did not dare refuse.”

As Du Bois pointed out, standing up against the crowd is the real test of moral fortitude. One must have the backbone to oppose “the overwhelming public opinion of their social environment.”

This principle is no less true today, not only in reconsidering Lee and other historical figures (and monuments to them), but in many other areas of social discourse. Standing up against the crowd is difficult because it conflicts with deeply ingrained human impulses. As social animals, we have a tendency to conform to predominant beliefs and views within our social group, whether that group is our family, our close friends, our community, our school or work peers, or the broader society. Open dissent in any of these contexts can be difficult, escalating in intensity with the perceived importance of the challenged views within the group.

It’s easy to understand why such impulses would have had survival value for our ancestors. Individuals with personality traits that encouraged cooperation and cohesion would have often had an evolutionary advantage over those who reflexively challenged group decisions and viewpoints. These hard-wired impulses towards conformity and groupthink, meanwhile, explain why much of what we are taught as children encourages us to think and act as Lee did—to stand by our social group even when it marches us toward moral and human calamity.

From a young age, in various ways we are taught, encouraged, and sometimes even manipulated to accept all kinds of ideas—religious beliefs, political outlooks, nationalistic values, and views on matters from sex to immigration—that are predominant in our families and other social circles. As members of social groups, we are fed narratives that we are expected to simply accept. These narratives might address big theological questions or they might tell us what to think about people who don’t look like us. They might tell us how to think about long-dead warriors, but they might also tell us what to think about a war to be launched tomorrow.

Even if we have the intellectual independence to critically question such issues for ourselves, we might still hesitate to vocalize our opinions if they challenge the established position of a social circle that is important to us. As Du Bois teaches, and as Lee’s failure shows, our own moral character depends on our ability to transcend such narratives and think for ourselves, to speak up when our critical thinking leads us to question the prevailing social structure.

Independent thinking might sound dangerous to some, as if it would necessarily overturn established morality. But that is hardly the case. A willingness to think independently does not equate to moral anarchy. Free thinking does not mean quickly jumping aboard every crazy idea that comes along to challenge established norms. Critical thinking does not require the rejection of long-accepted truths when those truths can be backed up by evidence.

But if a prevailing idea, belief, or practice can’t stand up to scrutiny, it should be questioned if not outright opposed. In such a situation, human impulses toward moral cowardice are an obstacle to progress.

Grounding Techniques for Managing Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Grounding techniques are some of the tactics that can come handy in managing anxiety attacks or panic attacks. These techniques can be performed by the person experiencing strong or extreme emotions or can be practiced under the supervision of a medical practitioner. These techniques have been found to relieve anxiety, panic attacks, urge for self-harm or self-mutilation, dissociation, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stressful episodes.

These techniques help a person get in touch with the present here and now experience. These techniques involve five senses which help him or her alleviate intense emotional states by using distraction and by bringing attention to the present environment.

Here are some grounding techniques that you can apply in situations where you experience intense emotional states or traumatic flashbacks. Some of these techniques use distraction, some use mental processes, and some use relaxation as a way to calm the senses:

Use five senses:

  • Find five things you can see
  • Find four things you can touch
  • Find three things you can hear
  • Find two things you can smell
  • Find one thing you can taste

The 4-7-8 x 4 technique (breathing exercise): It is simple yet powerful breathing technique developed by Dr Andrew Weil. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, during the whole process, place your tip of your tongue lightly behind the upper teeth.

  • Inhale through your nose at the count of 4.
  • Hold your breath for the count of 7.
  • Exhale through your mouth at the count of 8, while making an audible ‘whoooosh’ sound.

Repeat the whole cycle 4 times. The 4-7-8 x 4 technique has been found to be very effective in alleviating anxiety and other intense emotional states by calming the mind, as it helps quieten the extreme and troubling thoughts.

Savor: Another grounding technique involves savoring the food or drinks as a way to bring your attention to the present. Take small bites or sips of whatever you are eating or drinking. Focus your attention on the texture, taste, smell, and flavors. Try to involve all your five senses in this experience.

Categories: Start thinking about a particular category, it could be anything like, food, places, names, etc. and then start thinking about things or items that belong to the chosen category. This technique helps by using distraction as a method to bring your attention to something else.

Focus on here and now: You can bring your attention to the present environment by focusing on here and now. You can start from stating your name, adding your age, the place where you live, date and time etc. You can also state the present situation, like where you are sitting, with whom or who else are around you. You can add just about anything.

Visualize: You can use visualization technique, where you can visualize your emotions as a volume dial and create a mental image of lowering your emotions by lowering the dial. Just like a volume dial on a radio.

Look for your strengths: You can ask yourself questions that can actually help you recognize your strengths.  This will help you acknowledge that “You did it before, you can do it now.”

Sing: Sing your favorite song or poem. You can also chant a mantra. This technique will help you distract your mind from heightened emotional states.

Positive affirmations: You can use positive and compassionate affirmations to help soothe and calm your mind. You can say them out loud or in your head, whatever feels comfortable. You can also write them down as follows:

“You are doing great, you can do it.”

“You are getting calmed down.”

Plan: You can start planning an activity that you would definitely enjoy. Like, planning a vacation or planning a house party. Focus on each and every detail, like with whom you would like to go on a vacation, packing your luggage, making bookings, etc. Or whom you would like to invite for your house party, deciding the menu, party games, preparation, etc.

Remember! These grounding techniques cannot substitute professional treatment, but these can surely aid the healing process. So do consult your mental health professional.