So the iPhone 5 has arrived. Ho hum. Another false messiah that millions upon millions will worship across the globe. So much so that many find themselves texting sweet nothings to their sweethearts while driving the car with kids in tow.
Perhaps that’s what life in our wireless world has been reduced to: false messiahs and seriously short-sighted shortcuts. In the relentless rush of the rat race, these shortcuts are as ubiquitous as they are iniquitous. We think we need to convey a message so we punch out yet another banal text.
It gets worse, or better, depending on whether you believe tweets are for twits. Millions of people feel the need to share their innermost thoughts with the world, except it seems so many substitute the message for a missile at someone’s heart. So often the content is at best puerile and at worst depraved.
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Parents have good reason to feel overwhelmed by the digital revolution consuming their teenagers. As far as the physiology of our brains goes, we adults will never keep up.
The adolescent brain is a natural wonder forged by evolutionary forces which have differentiated it from both the child and adult brain. Although “adolescence” was barely acknowledged before the 1900s, and teenagers are often referred to as a modern social invention, our brains suggest otherwise. The teenage brain is distinct in its extraordinary capacity to adapt to the environment around it.
Imagine, then, what might be happening inside the heads of the first generation of “digital natives”? In the United States, teenagers are averaging 8.5 hours a day of learning, playing and interacting via computers, mobile phones and other screen based devices (which jumps to 11.5 hours if you allow for multi-tasking). In Australia, the comparable average screen time was 7 hours and 38 minutes in 2009.
Oh man, my train was delayed for a WHOLE hour this morning. No one told us what was going on. It was so cramped I reckon a woman was starting to suffocate. My boss was so angry with me. If I miss critical deadlines again, I’m fired. He’s after me.
Where did I get this tiny bruise on the side of my face from? Oh, that… Yeah, I got smacked by a vicious thug when I was wandering home late at night at the weekend. I only got away because I’m so fit.
So fit, I ran a marathon in under 3 hours once. Haven’t I told you?
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It’s a puzzling paradox that while people with mental illnesses are still battling stigma, the ‘worried well’ will gleefully embrace the latest on-trend disorder.
Do you have to triple check that you switched the stove off? OCD! Wake up worrying about the day ahead? Anxiety! A surfeit of pouty Facebook pics? Narcissistic!
In dazzling displays of psychobabble savvy, we also fling diagnoses at bosses, at politicians, at friends. She’s probably a psychopath. He’s got Asperger’s. They’re anally retentive. Or expulsive. Or something.
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Have you seen this advertising campaign for the Art Series Hotels? As reported in The Australian, it encourages people to come and stay the night in one of the three Art hotels (The Cullen, Olsen and Blackman) all based in Melbourne.
If you see the piece of art by Banksy, (it’s valued at over $15,000) on the walls you can steal it. If you manage to get away with it you get to keep it. If you get caught then back on the wall it goes. The promotions aim is to encourage people to stay at the hotel over summer by offering them the chance to be in their very own art heist, and so far has been extremely popular.
There are good reasons why, but before I get into that I have to disclose it was our agency that helped develop this scheme.
Offering people the chance to steal, is like offering people the chance to cheat, lie, covet thy neighbours wife, eat a whole tub of ice cream, or a litany of other sins. These are all things we know we should not indulge in, but for what ever reasons at times, have a strong desire to do. In forensic psychology there is a well-established saying ‘bad men do what good men dream’. That is, we all have the impulses to act in anti-social ways, however, most of us have learned how to manage such urges, and not act on them. We have realized that acting on these urges will often lead to hurting someone, or ourselves – hence we suppress that which we know we should not do.
There is a strong connection between gays and lesbians having the choice to marry and significantly improving their mental and physical health.
The link has been highlighted by the American Psychological Association which recently issued a statement citing the growing number of studies into marriage and the mental health of same-sex attracted people.
According to the statement, which was unanimously endorsed by the APA’s governing body, denying same-sex attracted people the right to marry:
a) excludes them from the many health benefits of marriage,
b) reinforces “minority stigma” against them and their families, and
c) may reduce the longevity of their relationships.
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Love is all around. It’s in the air, on the air and online. Unfortunately it’s mostly self love. Studies show narcissism is on the rise. Far from being mythological, some say it is now an ‘epidemic’, with people falling so hard for themselves they can no longer relate to others.
US congressman Anthony Weiner’s self love overflowed onto Twitter, leading to punderous headlines, turgid analysis, and a drooping career trajectory. Silly Weiner obviously looked in the mirror one day and thought: “Wow. That is just so good I can’t keep it to myself.”
Narcissism covers a spectrum of self love; from a healthy self esteem through to unhealthy self infatuation, which can lead to abusive, controlling behaviour, a lack of empathy towards others. It’s this far end, where self love overrides all else, that is getting out of control.
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I love hot chips. I can’t get enough. Sometimes I’m thinking about hot chips when I should be thinking about work. Sometimes I hide them so no one will know. I think I have a hot chip addiction.
Addictions are, apparently, the disorders du jour. And sex addiction is the latest hot item. Psychologists are warning that since Tiger Woods checked into a posh sex-addict clinic last year, the number of people coming clean with their addiction has surged.
So they’re turning up in their millions (seriously) to programs like Sex Addicts Anonymous. Which may sound like the most awesome pick-up joint you ever went to, but is in fact quite serious.
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On a recent trip the US I read journalist Dave Cullen’s book about the Columbine massacre. With a spate of highly-publicised suicides there apparently linked to bullying, and a subsequent rash of legislation in various states designed to “combat” the phenomenon, Columbine is a timely publication with much relevance to our own national debate on the subject.
In his book, Cullen demolishes one of the central and most persistent myths of the Columbine massacre: that a pair of misfits with artistic and intellectual tendencies were hounded by meathead jocks until they finally snapped. Instead he paints a chilling portrait of a malignant relationship between a psychopathic narcissist and his angry and malleable best friend.
Yes, the Columbine kids were picked on, argues Cullen, but not as badly as many others and they certainly displayed no ideological biases when it came to blowing away their classmates.
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For the very first time I find myself agreeing with Tony Abbott. Not because of his views on climate change, and definitely not because of his views on homosexuality, but simply because he expressed reservations about introducing an e-Health records system.
The national e-Health records system is due to be rolled out in 2012, and would allow health providers to access patient summaries that include conditions, medications, test results allergies, and vaccinations as well as an indexed summary of specific health events and the related practitioner.
One of the obvious benefits of this system is that it will potentially promote consistent care across jurisdictions. But when it comes to the kind of sensitive information exchanged during psychological treatment, this level of transparency is equally undesirable.
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There’s something uniquely sickening about cases of animal abuse that outrages the community more than most crimes. To hear of a defenceless creature being brutalised by a cowardly attacker can get the blood of even the gentlest soul boiling.
This week we learnt of the shocking case of Snowy, a much loved family pet suffering horrific injuries at the hands of a torturer. The 18-month-old cat’s ears were mutilated and he had been set alight. Also this week charges against the man believed to have tortured Buckley, a puppy who had his ears and tail hacked off, were dropped amid fears that the case would not stand up in court.
In recent months there have been multiple cases of animals being tortured and killed in a trend that appears to be Australia wide. It seems no animal is immune from such callous attacks; pets, wildlife, even dolphins have been targeted by individuals who derive some sort of thrill from inflicting pain on an innocent creature. Despite the increasingly violent and sadistic nature of these attacks and the public’s growing disgust, offenders if caught can expect little more than a slap on the wrist.
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HOW many Test innings have we seen fail as Aussie batsmen reach the nervous nineties?
Too many, I’d say.
Boxing Day is often a cricketer’s field of dreams - the biggest day on the Test calendar.
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Editors’ note: Noel Blundell is a sports psychologist who works with elite athletes, including some of the world’s best golfers.
He was totally absorbed for two hours. Tiger walked into the grass bunker near the club house at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney and randomly tossed five golf balls into the grass. They wandered into a range of lies varying from the impossible to very challenging. He chose to play every ball from where it lay. No short cuts. There were no adoring crowds and he had shot 79 in the first round. Was this kid overrated?
Fortunately for myself and two colleagues Ken Berndt and Ian Triggs, we had chosen to take a break from working with one of our players Peter Senior who played the first 2 rounds with Tiger. It was chill time for us, sitting near the bunker with a couple of coffees reflecting on the day.
The ensuing couple of hours provided clear insights into the mental template of arguably the greatest golfer to grace the planet.
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Every year multitudes of young people line up to unleash their hidden talents at the auditions for the Australian Idol competition. As viewers we are entertained by the many – alas, too many – whose efforts fall well short of what may be objectively regarded as talent.
Most interesting is their surprised reactions to being rejected. They truly believe they have something special to offer and cannot fathom that the judges disagree.
How is it that in all the years prior no one around these people, family or friends, had shared reality with them, tapped them on their shoulder and suggested they may be better off pursuing another hobby?
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