Monday, October 8, 2012

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Maybe you're a believer of prophecies. Or maybe you're one of the people who thinks prophecies are based on superstitions. But there is one psychological phenomenon that makes the prophecies real. It is called self-fulfilling prophecy.

Of course, this does not include the acts of nature such as typhoons, earthquakes or floods. Self-fulfilling prophecy refers to your predictions about certain events around you. The expectation or belief you have leads you to act subconsiously toward fulfilling that prophecy.

For example, you may predict that today is a very unlucky day. Because of this, you tend to notice all the unlucky events that are happening to you, such as forgetting to bring enough money or getting caught in the traffic. You tend to feel negative already about your day and every little thing that doesn't go your way would make you believe more about that notion. Since you are already convinced that your day is indeed unlucky, you will tend to deal with your problems inefficiently, thus fulfilling the prophecy. On the other hand, believing that today is a great day would make you act positively toward events. As you go about your daily routine, even if you encounter some minor problems, you will tend to be proactive and address the problems effectively. Your positive attitude will also help you deal with people more effectively.

Yes, in other words, our attitudes in life play a very important role in the events to come. Many events are uncontrollable, but a big part of our fate depends on how we face it. So, don't forget to always wear a smile, and always think positively. Your mind is powerful enough to change your fate.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Slips of the Tongue

There are moments when we blurt out words that we didn't really mean to express. Some of these blunders may be quite embarassing. These mistakes are often caused by our unconscious thoughts. A phenomenon often observed by Freud in his patients - thus the term Freudium slip, also called Parapraxis or Slip of the Tongue.

In pscyhoanalysis, slips of the tongue uncover your hidden wants, desires, and thoughts. Yes, sometimes, the tongue could betray the owner and divulge his/her darkest secrets. An example would be a female patient of Freud, relating her thoughts about a man: "I really never had anything against him. I never gave him the chance to cuptivate my acquaintance." Later on, Freud found out that she was romantically involved with the man, and her slip of the tongue "cuptivate" was accidentally expressed instead of the intended word "cultivate."

It's indeed an interesting way to learn about a person's real thoughts through slip of the tongue. But perhaps, a mistake is just a mistake. Not every slip of the tongue has deep psychoanalytical roots. For instance, when a female asked a man what would he like for breakfast. If he said "bed and butter" instead of "bread and butter," it may have a psychoanalytical explanation relating to the hidden urges of the man, or simply an honest grammatical error. Maybe the man was used to eating his bread while lying on bed? So when you hear a person blurt out the wrong words, it's best to not jump to conclusions too quickly. Asking further would help you learn more about the person's mind.

Do you have a memorable slip of the tongue experience? Share it by posting in the comment box below.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Defense Mechanism #4: Reaction Formation

What people show you may not be exactly what they feel. It is a common behavior for people to show the opposite of how they feel because of the fear of getting criticized. We are very complex creatures. We don't just hide what we feel. We show the opposite in order to make sure our feelings our safely concealed. This behavior is a defense mechanism called reaction formation.

We are very aware of this human nature and this could be clearly seen by the adage: "The more you hate, the more you love." Do you have a coworker who is extremely kind to you and treats you as a very special person for unknown reasons? Or perhaps you know someone who wants to pick a fight with you constantly? Maybe these unknown reasons are due to their defense mechanism.

Reaction formation could also be seen among media, political, or religious personalities showing an extreme stance on a certain issue. One example would be a person showing extreme hatred toward homosexuals, but is secretly a homosexual himself.

Reaction formation in an extreme form is unhealthy. It could be either a conscious or unconscious effort. A psychotic behavior could in fact be rooted by a reaction formation and thus should be addressed by the professional.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Organization Skills and Personality

In my earlier blog post, I have written about the different dimensions of personality based on Myers-Briggs Personality Types. One of these dimensions refer to a person's way to organize his/her environment: Judging and Perceiving.

To summarize, a Judger is highly organized and makes decisions quickly. A Perceiver is spontaneous, disorganized, and always keep options open, making him/her appear to be somewhat indecisive.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Difficult Situations for the Shy Child, and What You Could do as a Mentor

© Helen Shorey |
Being a shy girl myself has made me extra sensitive to those who are also shy. I have a very soft spot for the shy children, knowing that being shy in an extrovert-dominating community is a tough experience. Shy people have their own strengths as well that needed to be recognized. Doing many things that are easy for most people are quite difficult from the shy child's perspective, especially when there is a social aspect in the task.

If you are a parent or teacher, always be supportive of the shy child. They are very sensitive. Any kind of ridicule would force them to shut themselves. Doing things for the first time makes the child feel anxious, that's why a little gentle nudge plus words of encouragements are the ingredients to help the child develop into a healthy and confident person. Take note, don't attempt to take away shyness completely. It is a quality, not an abnormality. Embrace the child for who he/she is, yet help him/her reach out and develop self-confidence. That should be your goal as the child's mentor.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hindsight Bias: The I-Knew-It-Along Phenomenon

Psychology is a study of human behavior. People often think that it is all common sense. After all, who would have the best knowledge about human behavior other than human beings themselves? When I read online articles about psychological researches or studies, I always see comments of readers stating that those are a waste of time, and that the results are very obvious. Well, although I sometimes feel that way too, but psychology isn't about common sense. It is about understanding people the scientific approach. For instance, if a study reveals that people tend to marry those who are opposite to their personalities, confirming the cliche "opposites attract." People would think, "Ah! I knew it all along. It was very obvious." What if the study reveals otherwise, instead it proves that people tend to marry same-minded partners, confirming the saying about "birds of the same feather flock together?" Then people would jump to this belief, stating that it was what they knew all along.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

There are many ways of categorizing and labeling people based on different variables. Some people might hate the idea of being put inside a box. However, this is being done not to limit each person, but to increase understanding on human behavior.

Psychologists have invented several terms in order to describe us. There is one popular term that describes a certain population with qualities that are often associated with the shy and introverted. These are people who dislike loud noises and get perplexed when exposed to overwhelming stimuli, thus the label HSP or Highly Sensitive Person.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Defense Mechanism #3: Overcompensation

One of my most used defense mechanisms is overcompensation. As a little girl, I was shy and clumsy. I was inferior in sports and I seldom participate in class discussions. As a means to deal with my feelings of inferiority, I decided that I could instead work harder in areas I am good at. It was during that period when I started to study harder. The outcome was: I got good grades, the teachers noticed me, and I felt better overall about myself.

Overcompensation is what we do whenever we feel we are lacking in some areas. Instead of dealing directly with the poor areas, we focus more on the areas we are skilled at and try to work harder for them. By excelling in those areas, we somewhat feel that we are able to make up for our poor qualities. If you encounter a person who works overboard, then it is possible that he/she is overcompensating.

To me, this defense mechanism is a great way to feel better about yourself. I dislike the idea of focusing on ones negative side for personal development. It's more important to focus on the good qualities rather than the negative qualities. People have different skills and talents. If one performs poorly on a certain skill, it's not the end of the world.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Defense Mechanism #2: Displacement

Have you ever encountered a loved one getting angry at you for no reason at all? When this happens, you know that he/she is only taking out his/her frustrations on you. In fact, you may have also taken out your frustrations on someone else during your bad days. In psychology, this behavior is a form of defense mechanism labelled as displacement.

Displacement is the transfer of impulses from a desired target to a more convenient and non-threatening subject. So when the boss gets angry at you, instead of shouting back at him (You don't want to do that, right?), you shout at your spouse, child, best friend, pet, or whoever is available when you get home. Displacement does not only refer to negative actions but also to positive ones. Say, if you feel very happy after learning about your passing in an exam, you immediately hug the person next to you when the real target (your close friend or loved one) is not available at the moment. 

Displacement, especially when dealing with negative impulses, saves us from negative consequences. You are able to apply your frustrations to a safer target and vent out your emotions. Personally though, when I was about to vent out my negative emotions to an innocent loved one, I try to control myself. After all, I don't want to hurt a person who has no faults at all. To me, although this defense mechanism has its own advantages, the best thing to do is to deal with the real cause of problem in a healthier and more productive way. Of course, not every situations has an easy remedy. So you might as well find a nonliving object as a target of your defense mechanism.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Defense Mechanism #1: Sublimation

We, as human beings, have urges. We desire to eat, sleep, drink, talk, or walk, and it is just natural to satisfy these desires. But sometimes, we come up with an urge so negative (such as kicking someone) that we are caught in between satisfying them or acting according to good social standards. After all, what sets us apart from animals is the ability to act morally despite the negative urges we feel.

When we encounter such urges, we don't immediately act upon them. Instead, we think about how to channel these energies based on our moral standards. When we fail to achieve our desires in a healthy way, it often leads to guilt. However, there is a way that our ego deals with negative desires and turn them into positive ones: by channeling these urges into socially acceptable means, a process called sublimation.

In fact, this defense mechanism is the most mature and useful type among all. For instance, if a person has some sexual urges, he could positively channel these energies through painting rather than going to brothels. Another example, if a person has a strong aggressive energy, she could channel it through sports instead of hurting other people.

The concept of sublimation is indeed a useful concept when dealing with delinquents. Instead of trying to stop him from becoming aggressive, psychologists could help him channel his aggression into something socially acceptable.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Psychology 101: Defense Mechanisms

What is a defense mechanism? As the term implies, these are strategies (could be thoughts or actions) that are used to "defend" ourselves from the harsh reality. We use defense mechanism to deal with situations that are undesirable or unacceptable for us. Defense mechanisms could be healthy or unhealthy. It is perfectly normal to employ such strategies because sometimes, viewing realities as they are might cause us extreme anxiety. However, some people rely too much on defense mechanisms to a very unhealthy extent. Too much defense mechanism might influence a person's life negatively.

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Love for Stuffed Toys and Play Therapy

Photo by Dan/Freedigitalphotos.
When I was a little girl, I did not like to play with dolls. My sister would continually nag me to play Barbie dolls with her, to which I reluctantly give in. My sister's bed was overflowing with stuffed toys. Mine was just a few pillows and a neglected pink stuffed toy pushed to the very end of the bed. Perhaps it was because I was a very obedient daughter. My mom didn't want me to sleep beside dolls, for she believed that the fibers from the dolls might give me respiratory diseases.

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