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The Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Dsm Pros And Cons

(category: Psychology, Word count: 610)
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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fourth edition, text revision [American Psychiatric Association. DSM-IV-TR, Washington, 2000] - or the DSM-IV-TR for short - describes Axis II personality disorders as "deeply ingrained, maladaptive, lifelong behavior patterns". But the classificatory model the DSM has been using since 1952 is harshly criticized as woefully inadequate by many scholars and practitioners.

The DSM is categorical. It states that personality disorders are "qualitatively distinct clinical syndromes" (p. 689). But this is by no means widely accepted. As we saw in my previous article and blog entry, the professionals cannot even agree on what constitutes "normal" and how to distinguish it from the "disordered" and the "abnormal". The DSM does not provide a clear "threshold" or "critical mass" beyond which the subject should be considered mentally ill.

Moreover, the DSM's diagnostic criteria are ploythetic. In other words, suffice it to satisfy only a subset of the criteria to diagnose a personality disorder. Thus, people diagnosed with the same personality disorder may share only one criterion or none. This diagnostic heterogeneity (great variance) is unacceptable and non-scientific.

In another article we deal with the five diagnostic axes employed by the DSM to capture the way clinical syndromes (such as anxiety, mood, and eating disorders), general medical conditions, psychosocial and environmental problems, chronic childhood and developmental problems, and functional issues interact with personality disorders.

Yet, the DSM's "laundry lists" obscure rather than clarify the interactions between the various axes. As a result, the differential diagnoses that are supposed to help us distinguish one personality disorder from all others, are vague. In psych-parlance: the personality disorders are insufficiently demarcated. This unfortunate state of affairs leads to excessive co-morbidity: multiple personality disorders diagnosed in the same subject. Thus, psychopaths (Antisocial Personality Disorder) are often also diagnosed as narcissists (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) or borderlines (Borderline Personality Disorder).

The DSM also fails to distinguish between personality, personality traits, character, temperament, personality styles (Theodore Millon's contribution) and full-fledged personality disorders. It does not accommodate personality disorders induced by circumstances (reactive personality disorders, such as Milman's proposed "Acquired Situational Narcissism"). Nor does it efficaciously cope with personality disorders that are the result of medical conditions (such as brain injuries, metabolic conditions, or protracted poisoning). The DSM had to resort to classifying some personality disorders as NOS "not otherwise specified", a catchall, meaningless, unhelpful, and dangerously vague diagnostic "category".

One of the reasons for this dismal taxonomy is the dearth of research and rigorously documented clinical experience regarding both the disorders and various treatment modalities. Read this week's article to learn about the DSM's other great failing: many of the personality disorders are "culture-bound". They reflect social and contemporary biases, values, and prejudices rather than authentic and invariable psychological constructs and entities.

The DSM-IV-TR distances itself from the categorical model and hints at the emergence of an alternative: the dimensional approach:

"An alternative to the categorical approach is the dimensional perspective that Personality Disorders represent maladaptive variants of personality traits that merge imperceptibly into normality and into one another" (p.689)

According to the deliberations of the DSM V Committee, the next edition of this work of reference (due to be published in 2010) will tackle these long neglected issues:

The longitudinal course of the disorder(s) and their temporal stability from early childhood onwards;

The genetic and biological underpinnings of personality disorder(s);

The development of personality psychopathology during childhood and its emergence in adolescence;

The interactions between physical health and disease and personality disorders;

The effectiveness of various treatments - talk therapies as well as psychopharmacology.

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Pathological Narcissism Psychosis And Delusions

(category: Psychology, Word count: 804)
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One of the most important symptoms of pathological narcissism (the Narcissistic Personality Disorder) is grandiosity. Grandiose fantasies (megalomaniac delusions of grandeur) permeate every aspect of the narcissist's personality. They are the reason that the narcissist feels entitled to special treatment which is typically incommensurate with his real accomplishments. The Grandiosity Gap is the abyss between the narcissist's self-image (as reified by his False Self) and reality.

When Narcissistic Supply is deficient, the narcissist de-compensates and acts out in a variety of ways. Narcissists often experience psychotic micro-episodes during therapy and when they suffer narcissistic injuries in a life crisis. But can the narcissist "go over the edge"? Do narcissists ever become psychotic?

Some terminology first:

The narrowest definition of psychosis, according to the DSM-IV-TR, is "restricted to delusions or prominent hallucinations, with the hallucinations occurring in the absence of insight into their pathological nature".

And what are delusions and hallucinations?

A delusion is "a false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary".

A hallucination is a "sensory perception that has the compelling sense of reality of a true perception but that occurs without external stimulation of the relevant sensory organ".

Granted, the narcissist's hold on reality is tenuous (narcissists sometimes fail the reality test). Admittedly, narcissists often seem to believe in their own confabulations. They are unaware of the pathological nature and origin of their self-delusions and are, thus, technically delusional (though they rarely suffer from hallucinations, disorganised speech, or disorganised or catatonic behaviour). In the strictest sense of the word, narcissists appear to be psychotic.

But, actually, they are not. There is a qualitative difference between benign (though well-entrenched) self-deception or even malignant con-artistry - and "losing it".

Pathological narcissism should not be construed as a form of psychosis because:

The narcissists is usually fully aware of the difference between true and false, real and make-belief, the invented and the extant, right and wrong. The narcissist consciously chooses to adopt one version of the events, an aggrandising narrative, a fairy-tale existence, a "what-if" counterfactual life. He is emotionally invested in his personal myth. The narcissist feels better as fiction than as fact - but he never loses sight of the fact that it is all just fiction.

Throughout, the narcissist is in full control of his faculties, cognisant of his choices, and goal-orientated. His behaviour is intentional and directional. He is a manipulator and his delusions are in the service of his stratagems. Hence his chameleon-like ability to change guises, his conduct, and his convictions on a dime.

Narcissistic delusions rarely persist in the face of blanket opposition and reams of evidence to the contrary. The narcissist usually tries to convert his social milieu to his point of view. He attempts to condition his nearest and dearest to positively reinforce his delusional False Self. But, if he fails, he modifies his profile on the fly. He "plays it by ear". His False Self is extemporaneous - a perpetual work of art, permanently reconstructed in a reiterative process designed around intricate and complex feedback loops.

Though the narcissistic personality is rigid - its content is always in flux. Narcissists forever re-invent themselves, adapt their consumption of Narcissistic Supply to the "marketplace", attuned to the needs of their "suppliers". Like the performers that they are, they resonate with their "audience", giving it what it expects and wants. They are efficient instruments for the extraction and consumption of human reactions.

As a result of this interminable process of fine tuning, narcissists have no loyalties, no values, no doctrines, no beliefs, no affiliations, and no convictions. Their only constraint is their addiction to human attention, positive or negative.

Psychotics, by comparison, are fixated on a certain view of the world and of their place in it. They ignore any and all information that might challenge their delusions. Gradually, they retreat into the inner recesses of their tormented mind and become dysfunctional.

Narcissists can't afford to shut out the world because they so heavily depend on it for the regulation of their labile sense of self-worth. Owing to this dependence, they are hypersensitive and hypervigilant, alert to every bit of new data. They are continuously busy rearranging their self-delusions to incorporate new information in an ego-syntonic manner.

This is why the Narcissistic Personality Disorder is insufficient grounds for claiming a "diminished capacity" (insanity) defence. Narcissists are never divorced from reality - they crave it, and need it, and consume it in order to maintain the precarious balance of their disorganised, borderline-psychotic personality. All narcissists, even the freakiest ones, can tell right from wrong, act with intent, and are in full control of their faculties and actions.

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How To Experience A Lucid Dream

(category: Psychology, Word count: 1683)
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Lucid dreaming means dreaming while you know that you are dreaming. The term was coined by Frederik van Eeden who used the word "lucid" in the sense of mental clarity. With practice nearly anyone can experience lucid dreams.

Lucidity is not the same as dream control. It is possible to be lucid and have little control over the dream. However, becoming lucid in a dream is likely to increase your ability to deliberately influence the events within the dream. With practice you may extend the amount of control that you have over dream events. Many lucid dreamers choose to do something permitted only by the extraordinary freedom of the dream state, such as flying.

Some people have objections to lucid dreams. They say that it is un-natural and could be harmful to the psyche. In my opinion this is not true at all. Perhaps if all of our dreams were lucid and controlled there may be some harm, but with our lucid dreams spread out among many "normal" dreams we have plenty of time for non-lucid dreaming.

While we are in a dream our mind accepts what we see and feel as reality. We often find ourselves in very unusual circumstances when compared to our waking life. You could be living in a different house or driving a different car. The sky could be green and the river yellow. In most cases we accept these things as being true. Why doesn't the mind "think" 'Hey! I don't have this vehicle' or 'This isn't where I live!' or even 'Hey! I know the sky isn't supposed to be that color!'

This is what I call incongruities. Things in our dreams that are not "normal". We must wonder, and many have, why our mind so readily accepts anything we experience within our dreams as being real. We know there are no monsters. We know the proper colors for things. We know our home and our daily life. While we are dreaming we often forget these things and we believe what we see in the dream.

Just knowing this and thinking about it can actually help you on your way to a lucid dream experience. An incongruity is one of the triggers to lucid dreaming. A trigger is that which inspires or begins lucidity.

Here is an example of this from one of my own lucid dreams:

I was driving a blue Ford Bronco down a dirt road. I think it was a late 70's model. There was a young boy in the passenger seat. I was giving him a ride because his motorcycle had run out of gas. The bike was in the back. Suddenly I realized it. I did not own a blue Bronco! In the dream I slammed on the breaks and held my hands up. "I don't own a Ford bronco!" I said, "I am dreaming!" from that point on I was lucid.

A recurring dream or nightmare can also be used as a trigger. If you have a recurring dream make a conscious effort to realize that you are dreaming the next time you are in that situation. If the dream involves a certain person or place try to think as you go to sleep, "The next time I see that house I will know that I am dreaming". Since the dream is recurring it wont be long before you see that house, person, etc. This may take several attempts. Don't be discouraged if it doesn't work the very first time.

Another technique that works for a lot of people is asking yourself "Am I dreaming?" and leaving notes for yourself. Several times a day ask yourself the question aloud. Also write the question on a note and put it on the refrigerator. Put the same message in other places where you will see them throughout the day. Many people will find them self asking that question or seeing the question written on a note while they are actually dreaming. This will trigger a lucid dream.

My first lucid dream, that is the first one I had when I was trying to achieve lucidity, was triggered by a flying dream.

Try to go to sleep in the same place and around the same time as much as possible. It is best to sleep with silence as music or other sounds can affect your dreaming. If you do choose to listen to music while you are going to sleep choose soft and soothing music, preferably without vocals. Use the same music each time. Before you go to sleep concentrate on a trigger. My first time I said, "tonight I will fly", aloud several times and I concentrated on it. The second night I had a flying dream but I did not become lucid. On the fourth night I had another flying dream and at that time I became lucid. I was then able to fly to wherever I wanted to!

The trigger or combination of triggers that you use will depend upon you. If you have a common dream theme this is a great trigger. Just concentrate on the next time that you see or experience that you will be dreaming. Think of it as often as you can while you are awake.

Lucid dreamers often comment to themselves in dreams. You may say aloud, "This is a dream! I know that I am dreaming."

Make a list of questions that you have about dreams. Read the list often and look over it several times and concentrate on it before you go to bed.

Can you read text in a dream? Can you add numbers in a dream? These were some questions I had on my list at one time. I had read in a dream book that it was not possible to read text or to calculate numbers in a dream, but I didn't believe it. I eventually found myself lucid in an office. I walked over to a calendar on the wall and I read the text describing a New England farm house. I turned to another man there and said, "You see? You can read text in a dream!" I turned back to the calendar to read again and found that the words had completely changed. That amazed me and I commented to the other man about it. Next I walked over to a desk and found a calculator. I added and subtracted numbers and came up with correct answers. Yes, you can read text and perform mathematics in a dream. I proved it to myself beyond any doubt and with more confidence than I ever could have by reading anything about dreams.

Keep a Dream Journal

Keeping a dream journal is one of the most effective tools to achieving lucid dreams. Try to write down your dreams as soon after you wake up as you can. Don't just write a narrative of what took place in the dream. Record your thoughts and emotions felt. This will help you later on as you develop your dreaming research. Be sure to note all major elements, such as people, places, animals, etc.

Keeping a dream journal will also help you a great deal in understanding your non-lucid dreams. As you continue to write in your journal and re-read your previous entries you will begin to see parallels with your dreams and your life. Gradually you will be able to recognize what the symbols in your dreams are really saying to you.

Once lucid in a dream, people can often choose their actions and exert some deliberate control over the dream content. This ability has been utilized in the laboratory to study lucid dreaming and dream psychophysiology. For example, proof that lucid dreams occur in REM sleep was achieved by having subjects give a prearranged distinct signal with deliberate eye movements to mark the points in time when they realized they were dreaming. The dreamers' reports of the eye movements they had made in the dreams corresponded exactly to their physical eye movements as recorded by means of electro-oculograms on a polygraph record. Reports from experiments conducted using eye movement signaling in lucid dreams can be found in the literature (Dane, 1984; Fenwick et al., 1984; Hearne, 1978; LaBerge, Nagel, Dement & Zarcone, 1981; Ogilvie, Hunt, Kushniruk, & Newman, 1983).

What Are The Benefits of Lucid Dreaming?

The scientific study of dreaming and REM sleep

A variety of psychological and recreational applications.

Lucid dreaming can be a powerful tool for overcoming nightmares

In therapy, lucid dreams appear to be promising for providing personal insight, assisting with integration, and as a safe environment for experimentation with new behaviors (LaBerge & Rheingold, 1990).

Many lay people are attracted to lucid dreaming because it offers an outlet for fantasy, an opportunity for adventure unfettered by the laws of physics or society, and free of risk. As such, lucid dreaming is for many a source of creative and inspiring recreation. Anecdotes indicate that lucid dreams are helpful for artistic creativity, problem-solving, and practicing skills for waking life (LaBerge & Rheingold, 1990).

Dreams hold the most vivid mental images attainable by most people. Lucid dreaming is probably the best method for achieving the benefits such as enhancing physical performance, learning, remembering and facilitating healing.

REFERENCES

Dane, J. (1984). An empirical evaluation of two techniques for lucid dream induction. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Georgia State Univ.

Fenwick, P., Schatzman, M., Worsley, A., Adams, J., Stone, S., & Baker, A. (1984). Lucid dreaming: Correspondence between dreamed and actual events in one subject during REM sleep. Biological Psychol, 18, 243-252.

Hearne, K. M. T. (1978). Lucid dreams: An electrophysiological and psychological study. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, U of Liverpool.

LaBerge, S., Nagel, L., Dement, W., & Zarcone, V. (1981). Lucid dreaming verified by volitional communication during REM sleep. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 52, 727-732.

Ogilvie, R., Hunt, H., Kushniruk, A. & Newman, J. (1983). Lucid dreams and the arousal continuum. Sleep Research, 12, 182.

LaBerge, S. & Rheingold, H. (1990). Exploring the world of lucid

dreaming. New York: Ballantine.

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The Psychopath And Antisocial

(category: Psychology, Word count: 742)
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Roots of the Disorder

Are the psychopath, sociopath, and someone with the Antisocial Personality Disorder one and the same? The DSM says "yes". Scholars such as Robert Hare and Theodore Millon beg to differ. The psychopath has antisocial traits for sure but they are coupled with and enhanced by callousness, ruthlessness, extreme lack of empathy, deficient impulse control, deceitfulness, and sadism.

Like other personality disorders, psychopathy becomes evident in early adolescence and is considered to be chronic. But unlike most other personality disorders, it is frequently ameliorated with age and tends to disappear altogether in by the fourth or fifth decade of life. This is because criminal behavior and substance abuse are both determinants of the disorders and behaviors more typical of young adults.

Psychopathy may be hereditary. The psychopath's immediate family usually suffer from a variety of personality disorders.

Cultural and Social Considerations

The Antisocial Personality Disorder is a controversial mental health diagnoses. The psychopath refuses to conform to social norms and obey the law. He often inflicts pain and damage on his victims. But does that make this pattern of conduct a mental illness? The psychopath has no conscience or empathy. But is this necessarily pathological? Culture-bound diagnoses are often abused as tools of social control. They allow the establishment, ruling elites, and groups with vested interests to label and restrain dissidents and troublemakers. Such diagnoses are frequently employed by totalitarian states to harness or even eliminate eccentrics, criminals, and deviants.

Characteristics and Traits

Like narcissists, psychopaths lack empathy and regard other people as mere instruments of gratification and utility or as objects to be manipulated. Psychopaths and narcissists have no problem to grasp ideas and to formulate choices, needs, preferences, courses of action, and priorities. But they are shocked when other people do the very same.

Most people accept that others have rights and obligations. The psychopath rejects this quid pro quo. As far as he is concerned, only might is right. People have no rights and he, the psychopath, has no obligations that derive from the "social contract". The psychopath holds himself to be above conventional morality and the law. The psychopath cannot delay gratification. He wants everything and wants it now. His whims, urges, catering to his needs, and the satisfaction of his drives take precedence over the needs, preferences, and emotions of even his nearest and dearest.

Consequently, psychopaths feel no remorse when they hurt or defraud others. They don't possess even the most rudimentary conscience. They rationalize their (often criminal) behavior and intellectualize it. Psychopaths fall prey to their own primitive defense mechanisms (such as narcissism, splitting, and projection). The psychopath firmly believes that the world is a hostile, merciless place, prone to the survival of the fittest and that people are either "all good" or "all evil". The psychopath projects his own vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and shortcomings unto others and force them to behave the way he expects them to (this defense mechanism is known as "projective identification"). Like narcissists, psychopaths are abusively exploitative and incapable of true love or intimacy.

Narcissistic psychopath are particularly ill-suited to participate in the give and take of civilized society. Many of them are misfits or criminals. White collar psychopaths are likely to be deceitful and engage in rampant identity theft, the use of aliases, constant lying, fraud, and con-artistry for gain or pleasure.

Psychopaths are irresponsible and unreliable. They do not honor contracts, undertakings, and obligations. They are unstable and unpredictable and rarely hold a job for long, repay their debts, or maintain long-term intimate relationships.

Psychopaths are vindictive and hold grudges. They never regret or forget a thing. They are driven, and dangerous.

I wrote this in the Open Site Encyclopedia:

"Always in conflict with authority and frequently on the run, psychopaths possess a limited time horizon and seldom make medium or long term plans. They are impulsive and reckless, aggressive, violent, irritable, and, sometimes, the captives of magical thinking, believing themselves to be immune to the consequences of their own actions.

Thus, psychopaths often end up in jail, having repeatedly flouted social norms and codified laws. Partly to avoid this fate and evade the law and partly to extract material benefits from unsuspecting victims, psychopaths habitually lie, steal others' identities, deceive, use aliases, and con for "personal profit or pleasure" as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual puts it."

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The Ghost Cat In The Attic

(category: Psychology, Word count: 661)
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This is a very strange but true story. Not everyone believes in ghosts but I do and I have had several experiences with the super natural, this is only one of my encounters.

This happened when I was only (8) eight years old.

My bus driver's wife had a kitten and she wanted to get rid of it so she offered it to me first and of course I took the female kitten from her. Now this was the first cat that I can remember owning, she was a black and white cat and for some reason I gave her the name Dozier. She was a very sweet cat and she truly was mine because she was every where that I was.

Now we had several other cats and we had a problem with them getting into our attic, seemed like we could not keep them out so we decided to put up boards in the places that they were getting in through but Dozier would always find a way in. Now in my bed room there was a large rectangular hole in the corner of the ceiling: now Dozier had found this hole and we started playing with each other through this hole and I would feed her if I had any food in my room, she would stay there for hours and play with me.

We had this cat for maybe a year, we had her long enough for her to have a litter of kittens. About two weeks after her having her kittens my grandfather had found her dead in the road when we all had gone to the store. Instead of burying her he had just thrown her over the hill. When mom had finally decided to tell me that evening I was sad and depressed because that cat and I were so close and I couldn't believe that my grandfather didn't bury her.

Well we were left to care for her kittens. Days later after Dozier's death I was sitting in my bed room doing home work when suddenly I saw a black and white paw coming through the hole in my ceiling and not really thinking I was glad to see Dozier because my home work was getting on my nerves and I went to play with her. Now her death had completely slipped my mind and I was really playing with her and petting her then I turned to see if I had some food for her when suddenly it hit me that she was dead and I fell flat on the floor trying to get away from her and I busted my head on the floor but the pain didn't faze me. I looked back up at the hole and she was still there waiting for me to bring her something like she always did.

I went to my mother and asked her to go outside and call all of her cats on the porch then I had her to come in the bed room and she saw it to. This dead cat was still there. I was one terrified little girl then suddenly I had realized why she had came back to me, two reason for her return; one was to tell me good bye and the other one was that she was not at rest. The next day when I came home from school I went over the hill where my grandfather had thrown her and found what was left of her and I buried her in the hills and I never seen her again. So I put her soul to rest and she was satisfied and had no reason to come back.

Seeing a ghost is one thing but seeing one and touching one is something that you never forget. The reason that so many ghosts try to reach the living is because they want us to help them to reach the other side.

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The World S Greatest Lie

(category: Psychology, Word count: 1202)
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"Everyone believes the world's greatest lie..." says the mysterious old man.

"What is the world's greatest lie?" the little boy asks.

The old man replies, "It's this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That's the world's greatest lie."

(An excerpt from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. A fable about following your dreams.)

Do you believe you have no control over your life? Are you who you are today, by choice or by fate? Will a change in your actions create a change in your life? Many people have given up on their dreams... they say, "Dreaming is only for the rich. When you have money, you can dream. When you have no money, don't dream."

That's true... not everyone is lucky enough to be born with a silver spoon. If you are lacking in funds, it's going to be difficult to start living life the way you want to. Money buys you freedom to follow your passions. But you don't have to give up on your dreams, just because you lack money. Depending on where you are brought up, you will face limitations depending on your family finance, culture, and environment. Some of us are born to have easy lives, while some are born to take a more challenging path. Perhaps the limitations and obstacles you face today are part of your journey - you must overcome them to grow stronger on the path to achieving your goals.

When we are young, we all seem to have clear idea of what we want to be when we grow up. But somewhere along the way, these dreams get buried under the reality of daily living. The focus shifts from 'living the dream' to just 'finding a good job with a stable income'. "Survival first", as they call it. The sad part is that many people spend much of their lives doing what they don't like, so they can finally earn enough to start doing what they do like. I say, that's a great way to bury your happiness and turn into an economic slave. Doing what you dislike, day after day, will numb the sense of joy within you. Soon you will feel that your life has no greater purpose, and there is nothing to look forward to but work, work, work.... You will have forgotten how much fun it is to spend your time doing the things you like to do.

*~The Secret to Living Your Dreams~*

It's painful if you don't make enough money to live comfortably. But what's more painful is if the work you do has no meaning to you. Everyday you can drag yourself to work, perform meaningless actions, and then drag yourself back home. Apart from sleeping, work takes up the majority of our time. So if you're not enjoying your work, you're not enjoying your life. And life is so short, isn't it? We probably have less than a hundred years to make our mark in this world. And you never know... you fail to look while crossing the road and BOOM! You could be gone tomorrow. So why spend your life doing something you don't like to do? We don't slog three-quarters of our lives just so we can enjoy one-quarter... we might not live that long. Realize that the essence of your life is happening right now - you are walking a path; making your journey through life. And if the work you do, is not designed to help you fulfill your higher purpose in life, then perhaps you are walking in the wrong direction. No point taking this path... change direction.

For your dream to stay alive, you have to act on it. It's like a fire that grows brighter and stronger if you fan its flames and keep adding wood. If you leave the fire alone, never doing anything to keep it alive, it will burn itself out. When you fail to act on your dreams, they die.

A little girl called Leanne wants to be a ballerina. But her family is poor and unable to afford the fees of the fine arts dance school. Her father tells her not to dream because dreaming is only for the rich. But her mother says, "Lea, you can be whatever you want to be. As long as you put your heart into it, and never give up. Always hold on to your dreams because when there's a will, there's a way."

Leanne remembered her mother's words. She paid her way through a college degree in the fine arts, using money she earned from working full-time. She was talent scouted by the Royal Dance and Music Theatre of England, where she began her illustrious career as a ballerina. Earning in British pounds, she made more than enough to support her family and give them a comfortable lifestyle.

Leanne had a choice... to fervently believe in her dreams, and do whatever it takes to achieve it, or believe the World's Greatest Lie... that at some point in her life, she lost control, and fate took over. She had to have the courage to step up to her dreams, and not give up just because she lacked money. If she listened to her father and put her love aside because dreaming was only for the rich, then she wouldn't have lived to experience her passion. She would pass on from this world, with the music still left within her... buried under some obscure belief that she could never make money doing what she loved to do.

There is music within you, and you only need to coax it out. The daily grind forces us to forget what we love to do. Imagine you're retired... You have enough money to live comfortably, but not to splurge. How would you spend your time? What activities would you find purpose in? What would you do to amuse yourself? If you have an idea of what you would love to do but are not doing, then schedule some time everyday to do it. Making time for what you love is just like fanning the flames of your passion - the fire can only grow stronger. It's what will bring a sense of purpose and meaning into your life; that spark of joy and wonder.

The happiest people are those who enjoy their work. They've managed to make money doing what they love to do, just like Leanne. And this can happen for you... if you are willing to reject the World's Greatest Lie. Realize that you always have control over your actions, and therefore your results. The only time your start to fail in life, is when you stop believing in your ability to make a difference. You don't need a silver spoon; you don't need to be a genius. What you need is a sincere belief in yourself and willingness to take action towards your dreams. Believe me, you have what it takes. Just follow what British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill said in World War II: "...never give up, never give up." And you'll win the war.

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Dark Hypnosis Man Busted Sent To Jail

(category: Psychology, Word count: 432)
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Did you know that "pattern interrupts" are a hypnotist's secret weapon to getting direct access to someone's unconscious mind?

In fact they're so powerful that many years ago a man, who was eventually caught and sent to jail, was using them to STEAL from tons

of restaurants.

More on that in a bit...

Pattern interrupts are so powerful because they work like this...

You break someone's expectation of how a normal, everyday event should proceed by doing something highly unusual instead.

This creates momentary confusion of their conscious mind and opens a brief doorway to their unconscious mind.

At that precise moment you can then give instructions to their unconscious mind.

And it can be DEVASTATINGLY effective.

Take the man who was banged up in jail for using them. Turns out this dude was easily scamming restaurants left, right and centre. He'd go into expensive restaurants and begin to give an order to a waiter. Halfway through he'd do a pattern interrupt on the unsuspecting waiter. During the moment of confusion he'd give an instruction to 'forget the bill', then continue with the order as normal. 9 times out of 10, he'd simply walk out of the restaurant after eating all their nice chow and drinking their fine wine. And without paying a dime!

Of course when you use this kind of hypnosis power criminally, you'll eventually end up getting busted.

And good job too.

But it doesn't take away from the fact that pattern interrupts are an incredibly powerful way to access peoples' unconscious minds whenever you need to.

In fact the friends of the greatest hypnotist of all time, Milton Erickson, use to REFUSE to shake his hand when they'd meet him!

That's because he'd often have fun using pattern interrupts on them and then instructing them to do little tasks for him.

Mind you that crafty old wizard had so many conversational hypnosis tricks anyhow - if he really wanted to chat with their unconscious minds he could easily have done so - and without them realizing it either!

That's the beauty of conversational hypnosis - people believe the instructions YOU give them are their idea.

Which is pretty handy!

If you'd like to discover more about pattern interrupts with conversational hypnosis and learn ALL the secret tricks and KILLER techniques of the great Milton Erickson then there's only one place

to surf over to now.

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The Pathology Of Love

(category: Psychology, Word count: 989)
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Recent studies buttress the unpalatable truth that falling in love is, in some ways, indistinguishable from a severe pathology. Behavior changes are reminiscent of psychosis and, biochemically speaking, passionate love closely imitates substance abuse. Appearing in the BBC series Body Hits on December 4, Dr. John Marsden, the head of the British National Addiction Center, said that love is addictive, akin to cocaine and speed. Sex is a "booby trap", intended to bind the partners long enough to bond.

Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Andreas Bartels and Semir Zeki of University College in London showed that the same areas of the brain are active when abusing drugs and when in love. The prefrontal cortex - hyperactive in depressed patients - is inactive when besotted. How can this be reconciled with the low levels of serotonin that are the telltale sign of both depression and infatuation - is not known.

The initial drive - lust - is brought on by surges of sex hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen. These induce an indiscriminate scramble for physical gratification. Attraction transpires once a more-or-less appropriate object is found (with the right body language and speed and tone of voice) and is tied to a panoply of sleep and eating disorders.

A recent study in the University of Chicago demonstrated that testosterone levels shoot up by one third even during a casual chat with a female stranger. The stronger the hormonal reaction, the more marked the changes in behavior, concluded the authors. This loop may be part of a larger "mating response". In animals, testosterone provokes aggression and recklessness. The hormone's readings in married men and fathers are markedly lower than in single males still "playing the field".

Helen Fisher of Rutger University suggests a three-phased model of falling in love. Each stage involves a distinct set of chemicals. The BBC summed it up succinctly and sensationally: "Events occurring in the brain when we are in love have similarities with mental illness".

Moreover, we are attracted to people with the same genetic makeup and smell (pheromones) of our parents. Dr Martha McClintock of the University of Chicago studied feminine attraction to sweaty T-shirts formerly worn by males. The closer the smell resembled her father's, the more attracted and aroused the woman became. Falling in love is, therefore, an exercise in proxy incest and a vindication of Freud's much-maligned Oedipus and Electra complexes.

Writing in the February 2004 issue of the journal NeuroImage, Andreas Bartels of University College London's Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience described identical reactions in the brains of young mothers looking at their babies and in the brains of people looking at their lovers.

"Both romantic and maternal love are highly rewarding experiences that are linked to the perpetuation of the species, and consequently have a closely linked biological function of crucial evolutionary importance" - he told Reuters.

This incestuous backdrop of love was further demonstrated by psychologist David Perrett of the University of St Andrews in Scotland. The subjects in his experiments preferred their own faces - in other words, the composite of their two parents - when computer-morphed into the opposite sex.

Contrary to prevailing misconceptions, love is mostly about negative emotions. As Professor Arthur Aron from State University of New York at Stonybrook has shown, in the first few meetings, people misinterpret certain physical cues and feelings - notably fear and thrill - as (falling in) love. Thus, counterintuitively, anxious people - especially those with the "serotonin transporter" gene - are more sexually active (i.e., fall in love more often).

Obsessive thoughts regarding the Loved One and compulsive acts are also common. Perception is distorted as is cognition. "Love is blind" and the lover easily fails the reality test. Falling in love involves the enhanced secretion of b-Phenylethylamine (PEA, or the "love chemical") in the first 2 to 4 years of the relationship.

This natural drug creates an euphoric high and helps obscure the failings and shortcomings of the potential mate. Such oblivion - perceiving only the spouse's good sides while discarding her bad ones - is a pathology akin to the primitive psychological defense mechanism known as "splitting". Narcissists - patients suffering from the Narcissistic Personality Disorder - also Idealize romantic or intimate partners. A similar cognitive-emotional impairment is common in many mental health conditions.

The activity of a host of neurotransmitters - such as Dopamine, Adrenaline (Norepinephrine), and Serotonin - is heightened (or in the case of Serotonin, lowered) in both paramours. Yet, such irregularities are also associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and depression.

It is telling that once attachment is formed and infatuation gives way to a more stable and less exuberant relationship, the levels of these substances return to normal. They are replaced by two hormones (endorphins) which usually play a part in social interactions (including bonding and sex) - Oxytocin (the "cuddling chemical") and Vasopressin. Oxytocin facilitates bonding. It is released in the mother during breastfeeding, in the members of the couple when they spend time together - and when they sexually climax.

Love, in all its phases and manifestations, is an addiction, probably to the various forms of internally secreted norepinephrine, such as the aforementioned amphetamine-like PEA. Love, in other words, is a form of substance abuse. The withdrawal of romantic love has serious mental health repercussions.

A study conducted by Dr. Kenneth Kendler, professor of psychiatry and director of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, and others, and published in the September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, revealed that breakups often lead to depression and anxiety.

Still, love cannot be reduced to its biochemical and electrical components. Love is not tantamount to our bodily processes - rather, it is the way we experience them. Love is how we interpret these flows and ebbs of compounds using a higher-level language. In other words, love is pure poetry.

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What Is Agoraphobia

(category: Psychology, Word count: 529)
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Most people have heard of most phobias. Mention claustrophobia, social phobia, or arachnophobia and everyone pretty much knows what you are talking about. Mention agoraphobia, and most people will just shake their heads.

Because of this, many people who get agoraphobia often take a year, and in some cases, many years, just finding out what is wrong with them. Since the panic and anxiety symptoms that come with agoraphobia are so physical, people who get agoraphobia commonly visit a succession of doctors trying in search of a diagnosis. Since medical doctors are not usually trained to diagnose agoraphobia, let alone anxiety disorders, agoraphobia has had time to become deeply rooted in most people before they know enough about the disorder to seek the proper treatment and being recovery.

In light of this, here are some basics about agoraphobia:

Agoraphobia is "anxiety about, or avoidance of, places or situations from which escape might be difficult (or embarrassing) or in which help may not be available in the event of having a panic attack or panic-like symptoms." (DSM-IV)

Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder. The term "agoraphobia" comes from the Greek words agora (αγορά), meaning "marketplace," and phobia (φό?ος), meaning "fear." Literally translated as "fear of the marketplace," people with agoraphobia are afraid of open or public spaces.

In reality, most people with agoraphobia are not so much afraid of open and public places as they are afraid of having a panic attack in these settings, especially settings in which there may be no one to help in the case of a panic attack or actual emergency.

The most common symptoms of agoraphobia are:

1) Panic Attacks: Periods of intense fear, usually lasting about ten minutes or so (but sometimes longer).

2) Avoidance Behavior: Avoiding places and situations that are hard to escape from or that might be embarrassing to have to suddenly leave. Most commonly, this is because they fear having a panic attack or unexpected catastrophe and not being able to get help or get away.

3) Developing "Safe" People: People with whom the agoraphobic is highly familiar with and feels emotionally close to. "Safe" people are usually parents, spouses, children, or close friends and relatives.

4) Developing "Safe" Places: Places in which the agoraphobic feels psychologically comfortable. The most common safe place for someone with agoraphobia is his or her own home.

5) Scanning: Obsessive monitoring of one's own body for strange or unusual symptoms.

6) Fear of being alone: This is related to the fear of having no one to help in the case of a panic attack or real emergency.

If you suspect that you or someone you know might have agoraphobia, don't waste any time in learning about the disorder. Research has shown that the sooner you start the recovery process the more likely your chances of a successful recovery are.

You can learn more about agoraphobia online at the Agoraphobia Resource Center website. The site was started by a recovered agoraphobic with the intention of helping others learn about and recover from agoraphobia. You can find it on the web at:

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