Hurts So Good: One Woman's Struggle with Skin Picking Disorder

Friday, January 16, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

Excoriation, or skin picking disorder, is a condition categorized in the DSM-IV with not otherwise specified impulsivity issues such as trichotillomania (hair pulling/twirling), pyromania (fire starting) and kleptomania (stealing). Though it is usually identified as being on the obsessive compulsive spectrum, excoriation may come about for a number of reasons, discussed more in the post What is Skin Picking Disorder? Excoriation and Why You Should Avoid Rush Limbaugh

But insight matters and no one can describe the emotional impact of excoriation quite like one who suffers. So I have invited a friend of mine to share her experience. If you suffer from this condition, you are not alone....  continue reading

What is Skin Picking Disorder? Excoriation and Why You Should Avoid Rush Limbaugh

Monday, January 12, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

While many pick or scratch their skin, Excoriation (Skin-Picking) Disorder—sometimes known as Compulsive Skin Picking (CSP), Pathologic Skin Picking (PSP) or Dermatillomania—is present around 1.4% of the population1. The beginnings tend to be benign, a small injury or pimple that gets scratched or worried into a larger injury. With repeated picking of the scab, it remains itchy encouraging further picking to relieve it, and eventually becoming a habit. In hindsight, most note that they started picking after a stressful event or life change and may have subconsciously relied on the behavior as a way to reduce that strain. 

I know I get all picky when I listen to Rush Limbaugh. But I digress. 

Some women may find that these behaviors fluctuate with hormonal shifts, such as the menstrual cycle, and others have these behaviors begin around larger alterations such as menopause, suggesting that hormonal balance may play a role. There may also be genetic or environmental components that are as of yet undiscovered, as some animals also engage in self chewing, the non-opposable-thumb equivalent of skin picking and other compulsive behaviors. And those with anxiety disorders and depression might be especially vulnerable to these issues as a way to process excess stress....  continue reading

5 Reasons We Suck At New Year's Resolutions (And What To Do About It)

Friday, January 09, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

Let’s be clear up front: this is not an article about how to stick wholeheartedly to your resolutions. I won’t tell you to set your alarm across the room so you can’t hit snooze if your goal is to work out every morning. I won’t tell you to throw out all the cookies in the house because you gave up sugar “from now on.” 

Plus, life without cookies? Puh-lease.  Screw that noise. 

Here’s the thing, guys: resolutions are bound to fail. Resolutions come and go partially because no one really expects that they will stay for any length of time. It’s the ultimate joke for many. 

“Oh, you resolved to give up yoga pants? See you at the grocery store wearing Yogi’s special in a week, girl.”

It’s not your fault, though. It’s the way we approach the goals that somehow became critical at the first of the year when we were still coming out of that sugar and carb coma that makes the holidays so damn delightful.

“SO MUCH SUGAR! Staring January first, I’m never eating sugar again!”

Except you will. You know it too....  continue reading

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself: Understanding Introversion and 8 ways to Cope With Social Obligations

Monday, December 15, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under General

I have argued with a few people about whether or not I am an introvert. Because I, in no way, come off as “shy”. I’m confident. I will talk to anyone about anything and I have a tendency to be outspoken. The stage doesn’t bother me much and I have been known to do impromptu piano recitals in front of large groups of people.

But, I assure you, I am about as introverted as they come.

Introversion isn’t about shyness, though some introverts do feel very uncomfortable in larger groups. Shyness comes with discomfort, anxiety or fear, as explained by Schmidt and Buss in The Development of Shyness and Social Withdrawal1. Shyness is more a social status thing, a worry about what others might think, perhaps a throwback to the days when social conflict mattered more because it might have meant life or death

For me, worrying about what other people think is on my list entitled "Things Ain’t Nobody Got Time For". ...  continue reading

Why Your Mother-In-Law Is Crazy: Criticism, A Shit-load of Toys and The Grandmother Hypothesis

Monday, December 08, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Evolutionary Psychology

It's the holiday season. And this year I have already gotten a bunch of emails about how to deal with grandparents. The most common complaints seem to be: 

  1. "Grandma brings over so many toys that we just don't need. Why can't she understand that the playroom is already filled to bursting?"
  2. "I always feel criticized at holiday gatherings. Sometimes it's with a look and sometimes it's more confrontational. Why can't she leave me alone?"

Believe it or not, there might be some good evolutionary reasons for these behaviors. So if you're losing your mind because your children just came back from granny's covered in chocolate, peppermint bark and lipstick, there may be a reason for grandparent spoiling besides to make you insane. The plight of the indulgent grandparent may have root in a mechanism affectionately entitled, "The Grandmother Hypothesis." And her criticism of you might even have a root there as well....  continue reading

The Sexiness of Sadness: Evolved and Socialized Reasons We Might Be Attracted to Depression

Monday, November 17, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Sexuality/Relationships

Many in the therapy biz have emotional reactions to the people they treat. When left in a room with a sociopath, physical responses such as fight or flight are common. Being with anxious people may make us tense based on the evolutionarily relevant assumption that if you're nervous, I probably should be too.

"Where's the tiger, yo?"

But depression triggers therapists and others alike to respond in unexpected ways. Instead of nervousness, many feel attached or even more motivated to help, what Dr. Peter Kramer calls "being charmed" in Against Depression1

This "charming" effect may be an offshoot of a drive to provide care to the overwhelmed, or at least to save the depressed from attack in a vulnerable state. But it is more than a desire to assist. This same system may make moodiness and vulnerability sexually attractive to a higher percentage of the population than you might think....  continue reading