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

Loony Bins And Fear: One Woman's Struggle With Postpartum Psychosis

Friday, November 14, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Mom Stories/Opinion

Postpartum depression is a common occurrence, estimated to occur in around 15% of women. Many of them have symptoms including anxiety, hopelessness and trouble sleeping. But it is the thoughts of infant harm that scare these women most, often because they are led to believe that those with PPD harm their children due to a very biased—and very misinformed—media. 

But most mothers who engage in infant harm are not suffering from PPD at all. Most of these mothers are suffering from another disorder entirely, known as postpartum psychosis (Read more here in PPD is NOT Postpartum Psychosis: What Women Need to Understand About Infant Harm). However, even mothers with postpartum psychosis are not usually dangerous. Less than 1% of women ever develop postpartum psychosis, and of that 1%, less than 4% harm their children.

Postpartum psychosis is not an all-or-nothing thing (explained further in Understanding Postpartum Psychosis: A Temporary Madness.) Women may have symptoms and be able to get help even when in the throes of hallucinations or delusions. Most women are able to see past the thoughts and get assistance before they do something they will regret. Most can be pulled back from the brink. 

But it is usually the getting help that makes a difference for these women. Today, I invited a dear friend to discuss her experience with postpartum psychosis. And while she wishes to remain anonymous, it is her sincere hope that her story might help someone else out there to identify what is happening to them and get the assistance they need.  ...  continue reading

Birth Plans, The Mommy Wars and Jerk-Face Asshats: Shame, Maternal Anxiety and the Illusion of Control

Monday, November 10, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Psychology of Motherhood

So....birth.

I have seen too many cases of post traumatic stress and anxiety responses following childbirth to pretend it isn't a real issue. But stress surrounding childbirth isn't isolated to the outliers. At every turn we have people telling us that birth is dangerous, that hospitals are dangerous, that women who have cesareans are irresponsible and ill informed, that those who birth naturally at home are child-endangering hippies. Quite aside from the fact that we are often unable to actually choose our ideal outcome, our strong, evolutionarily-relevant response to public shaming triggers us to defend, to justify our experiences to others in a culture of "having surgery means you're broken," or, "dear god, you're fucking insane giving birth without a doctor." It's like saying, "You didn't do it my way? Fuck you and the vagina you rode in on."

This shit is crazy.

Regardless of our own birthing experiences, natural or cesarean, the element of choice in medical treatment carries physical and emotional implications for all women. And for those who believe that shame is not the issue at all, but that instead informed consent is the biggest driver here, let us acknowledge that in blaming other women for choices, whether fully informed or not, we continually reinforce this notion of "at fault" and subsequent shame, while dividing ourselves along lines of natural birthers versus surgical birthers.  As if one makes us inherently better than the other. As if we are really all that different in our desire to make choices for our bodies and for our families. As if the ability to choose always exists. Not to mention that those lines of division make it less likely that the demand for more education, for more choices, for more informed consent will fall below the threshold at which hospitals, other medical bodies or governments alter policy.

But you're not here for the policy. You're here for the psychology, right? So what about the emotional implications of these choices?

When faced with shame or blaming, many women feel "less than" or "wrong" for choices they made and this loss of empowerment has wider implications than we think. For while it is about control, it is not only absolute power that matters. It is our perception of control in any given situation that leads to emotional responses. We need to understand this as well as the fact that we are eroding the mental health of other women by blaming them for their decisions simply because they are not the same as ours or for having births that they may not have even wanted to begin with.

So for the love of holy fuck, knock it off and let's talk about this, about what control really means to us, about why we make different decisions, about how these things alter our emotional state. We need to understand one another. Because we get nowhere if we don't get there together....  continue reading

Herbs for Sexual Dysfunction and Depression: The Benefits of Maca Root

Friday, November 07, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Physical Health and Emotion

Did you hear the one about the guy who made an appointment to treat his impotence? He had to cancel because something came up! 

Maybe he was taking maca root. (Genius transition, I know.)

Lepidium meyenii, also known as maca, is a starchy potato-like root with a high nutritional profile. It contains nineteen essential amino acids, fatty acids such as linoliec, oleic and palamitic, along with calcium, potassium, manganese, copper, iodine, iron and zinc. Maca is often touted as an adaptogen, or a compound that helps the body to adapt to stress by normalizing internal systems. 

But it is great for more than good overall health. Maca root may also reduce depression and menopausal symptoms while alleviating sexual dysfunction, including low libido. 

“Say what? More happiness and better sex drive? Please, continue.”...  continue reading