What’s Your Fatal Flaw?

-Jonice Webb, PhD

Thousands of fine people walk through their lives harboring a terrible secret.

A secret that is buried deep inside them, surrounded and protected by a cocoon of shame. A secret that harms no one, but does great damage to themselves. A secret with immense power and endurance.

It’s their Fatal Flaw.

A Fatal Flaw is a deep-seated, entrenched feeling / belief that you are somehow different from other people; that something is wrong with you.

Your Fatal Flaw sits beneath the surface of your conscious mind. Outside of your awareness, it drives you to do things you don’t want to do. It also stops you from doing things you should do.

Rooted in your childhood, it’s like a weed. Over time it grows. Bit by bit, drop by drop, it quietly, invisibly erodes away your happiness and well-being. All the while you are unaware.

The power of your Fatal Flaw comes partially from it being unknown to you. You have likely never purposely put yours into words in your own mind. But if you listen, from time to time you may hear yourself expressing your Fatal Flaw out loud to someone.

I’m not as fun as other people.

I don’t have anything interesting to say.

When people get to know me they don’t like me.

I know that I’m not attractive.

No one wants to hear what I have to say.

I’m pathetic.

Your Fatal Flaw could be anything. And your Fatal Flaw is unique to you.

Where did your Fatal Flaw come from, and why do you have it? Its seed was planted by some messages your family conveyed to you, most likely in invisible and unspoken ways.

The Flaw                                                             The Roots

I’m not as fun as other people. Your parents seldom seemed to want to be with you very much.
I don’t have anything interesting to say. Your parents didn’t really listen when you talked.
When people get to know me they don’t like me. You were rejected as a child by someone who was supposed to love you.
I know that I’m not attractive. You were not treated as attractive as a child by the people who matter – your family.
No one wants to hear what I have to say. You were seldom asked questions or encouraged to express yourself in your childhood home.
I’m pathetic. You were somehow shamed as a child for simply being who you are.

The Good News

Yes, there is some. Your Fatal Flaw is a belief, not a truth. A truth cannot be changed, but a belief most certainly can.

How to Get Rid of Your Fatal Flaw

  1. Recognize that you have it, and that it’s not a real flaw. It’s just a belief / feeling.
  2. Find the words to express your own unique version of “something is wrong with me.”
  3. Identify its specific cause in your childhood. What happened, or didn’t happen, in your childhood to plant the seeds of your fatal flaw?
  4. Share your Fatal Flaw with another person; your spouse, a trusted friend, a family member, or a therapist. Describe your belief, and talk about it. 
  5. Watch for evidence that contradicts your Fatal Flaw. I assure you it has been there all along. But you have been blinded to it by your Fatal Flaw.
  6. Track your Fatal Flaw. Pay attention, and take note of when it “speaks” to you.
  7. Start talking back to your Fatal Flaw.

I am fun to be with. I am interesting. People like me more as they get to know me. I am attractive, and I have important things to say. I’m not pathetic at all, I’m just me.

You’re Fatal Flaw is actually neither fatal nor a flaw. It’s not even real.

It’s only powered by your supercharged belief that it is both.

Using Digital Devices Around Bedtime Can Disrupt Kids’ Sleep

-Rick Nauert, PhD

A new study discovers use of devices such as smartphones and tablets at bedtime more than doubles the risk of poor sleep in children.

Previous research suggests that 72 percent of children and 89 percent of adolescents have at least one device in their bedrooms and most are used near bedtime.

The speed at which these devices have developed — and their growing popularity among families — has outpaced research in this area, meaning that the impact on sleep is not well understood.

Researchers from Kings College, London reviewed 20 existing studies from four continents, involving more than 125,000 children aged six to 19 (with an average age of 15).

Their findings appear in JAMA Pediatrics.

Investigators discovered bedtime use of media devices was associated with an increased likelihood of inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Bedtime use was classified as engagement with a device within 90 minutes of going to sleep.
They also found that the presence of a media device in the bedroom, even without use, was associated with an increased likelihood of poor sleep.

One potential reason for this is that the “always on” nature of social media and instant messaging means children are continuously engaged with devices in their environment, even when they are not actively using them.

It is thought that screen-based media devices adversely affect sleep through a variety of ways, including delaying or interrupting sleep time; psychologically stimulating the brain; and affecting sleep cycles, physiology, and alertness.

Sleep disturbance in childhood is known to have adverse effects on health, including poor diet, obesity, sedative behavior, reduced immune function, and stunted growth, as well as links with mental health issues.

Dr. Ben Carter from King’s College London, said, “Our study provides further proof of the detrimental effect of media devices on both sleep duration and quality.

“Sleep is an often undervalued but important part of children’s development, with a regular lack of sleep causing a variety of health problems. With the ever-growing popularity of portable media devices and their use in schools as a replacement for textbooks, the problem of poor sleep amongst children is likely to get worse.

“Our findings suggest that an integrated approach involving parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals is necessary to reduce access to these devices and encourage good sleeping habits near bedtime.”

Dads Get Kids’ Skills as Well as Moms

-Rick Nauert, PhD

New research from Denmark finds that a father is able to evaluate a child’s cognitive and non-cognitive skills as well as a mother.

The discovery is important for parental rights cases, schools, or other places where in the past, a mother’s judgement of children was deemed superior.

Aarhus University researchers used the results from the so-called CHIPS-tests (Children’s Problem Solving) — which test the child’s linguistic and cognitive level and psychiatric diagnosis — and compared the results with the parents’ overall evaluation of the child’s academic and behavioral performance (the latter specified in a Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire).

The test results from 6,000 Danish families, adjusted for variables such as gender, the parents’ age, educational background, work situation, income, psychiatric diagnosis etc., show that dad is just as able to evaluate the child’s cognitive and non-cognitive skills as mom.

“This is important knowledge not least in e.g. divorce cases, where the majority of parental rights cases are decided in favor of the mother — among other things based on the parents’ testimonies on the well-being and skills of their children,” said Nabanita Datta Gupta, Ph.D., one of three researchers behind the study.

The research has been published in Review of Economics of the Household.

The study also shows that mothers who have mental issues often evaluate their children’s competences as being poorer than they actually are.

This could be a serious issue as a child may develop a lower self-esteem and a lack of confidence in their own abilities, say the researchers. Moreover, another study has previously shown that children of parents with mental illnesses are at a greater risk of attempting suicide.

“Many women who suffer from post-natal depression are never diagnosed, but their mental state still influences their life and also their ability to evaluate their children’s competences.

Generally, our results indicate that parents should be regarded equally in clinical and school-related contexts, where the doctor and the teacher might as well hear the father’s evaluation of e.g. symptoms and well-being as the mother’s. Especially in Denmark, where fathers are typically very actively involved in looking after the child,” Gupta said.

Gupta believes findings from the research can be widely applied.

“The results are valid, because the parent’s subjective evaluations are compared to the objective measurements of the CHIPS test and the psychiatric diagnoses. Naturally, a lot of other factors are also important, but our research is an important contribution to the collected understanding of the parents’ ability to evaluate their children’s behavior and competences,” she said.

Fear of Missing Out, and Not Even Trying…

-Donna C. Moss

Dear Folks, I’ve been off line a few days with a family emergency.  In that time I was interviewed for a radio show called “Emotions R Us” about how vulnerable normal teens are in this day of news feeds and violence and social media.  What I explained to my host was that we are used to assessing kids with pathology: be it depression, panic or anxiety, etc.  But I am finding now that pathology is not in them but in us.  Our society has become poisoned by alienation, rage and revolt.  So that an A student is now shaking with fear during a test because she is afraid of getting shot.  So that the captain of the football team is paralyzed to apply for college because football kids are crazy.  So that an 11th grader stopped looking at colleges because her parents are tapped out.  This is how we live.

It becomes easier to simply avoid your life.

Avoidance reinforces more avoidance.

If you don’t try to make friends, meet new people and have new experiences from the age of teen and young adult you get trapped in a cycle of stagnation.  You fail to individuate.  You are stuck at home.  You develop a lingering depression.  You become glued to your phone.  You wake up when you’re 28 and say, wait, I forgot to grow up.

Here’s what you can do right now to stop hiding in your room.

  1. Get outside.  Even once a day.  Vitamin D is good medicine from the sun.
  2. Get some exercise, even a simple stretching routine will do.
  3. Get get your sleep cycle regulated, even on the weekends.
  4. Get a hobby that you can do anywhere, anytime, whatever it is.  Having a passion makes you interesting.
  5. Do one new thing, and report back.  Even if it sucked, at least you now know what you don’t like.
  6. Break it down: if you have to go somewhere, map it in your head.  Each step will become easier.
  7. Dare to love and be hurt.  It beats the alternative of loneliness and isolation.

You can use CBT, DBT and basic tricks and tools for this Halloween to stay calm and centered.  Called, “Taking in the Good,” you can train yourself to be more compassionate first to yourself and then to others.  What’s the worst that can happen?  Trick or Treat, hide or be hidden, first be real.  You can thank yourself right now.

Healing Compassion Fatigue with Nature

-Jennifer Blough

Suspecting I was struggling with a touch of compassion fatigue, my husband recently convinced me to head up to northern Michigan for a few days to stay at our family’s cottage. I was long overdue for some much-needed self-care, so I packed a small suitcase and hit the road. It was officially fall, which meant that the tourist season had come to another close, the trees began to show hints of color, and the lake was still – perfect for a little rest and relaxation.

Our cottage, which is located on the southern tip of Torch Lake, has always served as a refuge for me. No matter what Mother Nature has to offer – the gentle lapping of the waves on the beach, the warmth of the summer sun, or an evening thunderstorm – she has ability to nourish the mind, body, and soul.

Nature’s Medicine

But don’t just take my word for it. In fact, there is mounting evidence that suggests that nature does indeed have a restorative effect on our well-being by combatting mental fatigue, reducing stress, and improving productivity and concentration. Exposure to nature has even been shown to increase our life satisfaction and promote a more positive outlook (Chalquist, 2009).

While weekend getaways are nice, you don’t necessarily have to travel to the woods or the lake in order to reap the benefits of nature. Healing can take place almost anywhere, anytime with a little effort and imagination:

  • Take walks outside on your lunch break
  • Go to a park and have a picnic
  • Plant a garden – inside or out!
  • Go swimming
  • Plant a tree
  • Sit quietly and observe birds and animals
  • Go skiing or sledding
  • Practice mindfulness, mediation, or deep breathing outdoors
  • Bring the outdoors in – decorate your home or work space with elements of nature, such as rocks, wood, live plants, or even a small water fountain.

Take a Mindful Approach

No matter what the season, there are countless ways to enjoy the healing power of nature. The next time you head outdoors, give this mindfulness activity a try:

  • Wherever you are, take a deep breath and look around you. Simply notice what you see. Do you see water? Trees? Mountains? Without judgment, just observe everything you see.
  • Take notice of all the sounds that nature has to offer. What can you hear? Do you hear leaves rustling? Birds chirping? Again, without judgment, just notice what you hear.
  • What do you smell? Do you notice the aroma of flowers or maybe a salty mist coming from the ocean? Without judgment, simply notice what you smell and take it all in.
  • Finally, notice what you feel. Notice the sensation of your breath coming in and going out. Without judgment, notice how the breeze or the sun feels against your skin. Notice how your feet feel firmly planted against the earth.
  • Wherever you are, use all of your senses to simply observe and be in the moment.

True Story: One Father’s Struggle with Postpartum Depression

-Tom Burns

Dads get the “baby blues” too.

People might not realize this, but, after the birth of a child, both women and men can encounter symptoms of postpartum depression. I’m speaking from experience here.

After the birth of my daughter, which endures as one of the happiest moments of my life, I found myself struggling with unexpected waves of anxiety, fear, and depression.

It was horrible, and what made it worse, was that I was very uncomfortable talking about it.

Here’s why — don’t you hate it when a couple says “we’re pregnant”?

I do. Because the dude isn’t pregnant. He’s not going to have to squeeze a bowling ball out of his downstairs business, so, c’mon, give credit where credit is due — SHE is pregnant and the guy is along for the ride.

I’ve never liked it when a man tried to make the pregnancy about him. He plays a part, sure, but, I was always of the opinion that, as a guy, there is NO way that I can ever comprehend the physical and emotional toll of pregnancy, so my role was to sit back, be supportive, and shut up.

And, for the most part, I think that strategy works.

However, I wasn’t prepared for how “shutting up” would negatively impact me AFTER my wife gave birth.

Because becoming a parent stirs up deep, powerful emotions. And, while many of those feelings are overwhelmingly sunny and positive, they can, sometimes, cast a shadow. Those epic highs lend themselves to equally epic lows and, suddenly, you find yourself crying and you don’t know why.

Once we brought my daughter home, I found myself confronted with those overpowering moments of terror and panic and I didn’t say anything about them.

Why? Because my wife had just gone through a freakin’ c-section. She’d spent almost a year getting sick every day, while a living creature grew in her belly, and then doctors had to cut her open to pull the creature out. They then sewed her up, handed her the creature, and expected that she’d know how to feed and care for it.

That’s a lot of shit to put on a person. No question — my wife had it WORSE than I did. There’s no comparison.

However, just because things were harder for my wife doesn’t mean that they weren’t also hard for me. She might win the miserable contest, hands down, but I was still in a really bad place. And I was too embarrassed to let my support network know that I needed them.

The more I’ve talked to new fathers, the more common I realize this experience is.

We’ve all just watched our partners go through one of the most intense physical experiences in the world, so we just feel ashamed to admit that we’re hurting a little too. It feels like our struggles are frivolous in comparison, but the fact is they’re very, very real and painful. Postpartum depression can be painfully real for men too, even if it’s embarrassing.

It all came to a head for me the first evening I spent alone with my daughter.

I’d encouraged my wife to go out with some friends — she’d only consented to leave for a few hours — and told her I’d be fine. Our baby was so good and happy. A little alone time was going to be good for us.

So she left. And my daughter started crying. She rarely cried.

And she cried, as if she’d been set on fire, for three hours non-stop.

I was beside myself. She never did this and, no matter what I tried, I could not get her to stop.

It shredded me, but I knew I couldn’t call my wife. I wanted her to have a fun first night out. I didn’t want her to worry. I was supposed to able to handle this.

My wife called me when she was leaving to come home, and I guess she heard the panic in my voice. She asked if I was OK. My voice cracked and I said, “Just please get here soon.”

She raced home and, the SECOND she stepped into our apartment, my daughter stopped crying. The baby smiled. The baby laughed. The baby goddamn cooed.

I handed her to my confused wife without a word, went into our bedroom, locked the door, laid down on the bed, and cried for thirty minutes.

Once I opened the door again, my wife and I had our first conversation about my postpartum depression.

I will say, my depression was extremely manageable in comparison to some stories I’ve heard. It came in waves that seemed to grow smaller and smaller as I became more comfortable as a father. So I was lucky.

Lucky it wasn’t more severe and lucky that my partner was so supportive (even though, again, she had it SO much worse than I did).

But, more than anything, it really opened my eyes about the importance of men needing to talk about postpartum depression.

It doesn’t just happen to women. It is important. And it is valid and OK acknowledge that you’re not feeling right, even when you know your partner is feeling worse.

Men — don’t be afraid to speak up about your anxiety and emotions following the birth of a child.

The healthiest thing you can do, for everyone, is get your feelings out into the open and let your support network do their job, even if they’re breastfeeding and changing diapers while they do it.

11 Common Problems in Romantic Relationships

-Tarra Bates-Duford, PhD, MFT

Most couples will experience challenges during the course of a romantic relationship. However, some couples can navigate the challenges better than others. Couples that have built a strong foundation, maintain healthy communication, and remain committed to their partners as well as the relationship usually fair better than couples with a weak foundation and poor communication skills. Couples that can foresee issues in their relationship have a much better chance of overcoming them.

Although, every relationship has its ups and downs, successful couples have learned how to manage the bumps and keep both their love life and the relationship going. Persons with a healthy understanding of the requirements of a relationship will remain committed, tackle problems, and learn how to work through the complex issues of everyday life. Many do this by reading self-help books and articles, attending seminars, going to counseling, observing other successful couples, or simply using trial and error.

Unfortunately, even partners who love each other will have problems in their relationship. Couples that seemingly appear “perfect” can be mismatched, sexually. Sexual mismatch can include contrasts in sexual desire (one partner wanting sex more often than the other), differ in the type pf sex desired (oral, anal, role play, fetishes, etc.), and differences in each partner understanding of intimacy. When there is a lack of sexual self-awareness and education within a relationship, problems typically become more pronounced over time. Having a close, intimate, sexual relationship often brings us closer. The brain releases hormones that benefit our bodies both physically and mentally, allowing partners to build the chemistry needed for a healthy relationship.

11 Common Problems in a Romantic Relationship:

  • Poor communication or lack of communication. Some couples have marked difficulty expressing their needs in a relationship, avoid talking about them altogether, or are unable to discuss issues in the relationship without becoming combative, defensive, or inappropriate.
  • Trust. Lack of trust can undermine the very foundation of a relationship by creating or exacerbating pre-existing tension. Trust issues can include lack of faith in a partner’s decision making abilities or being around another man or woman and remaining faithful.
  • Differences in sexual drives and desires. Many couples will experience a change in sexual frequency and desire as time passes. Family, career, social, and other demands can lead to a shift in priorities, creating additional demands that can affect sexual frequency and desire.
  • Jealousy and insecurity. Insecure or partners that are jealous are often locked in a dysfunctional cycle anger and animosity. Unfortunately, when there is jealousy in a relationship it is difficult for couples to see past their current problems in a manner that would allow a resolution to the problems.
  • Money. Money problems are one the most significant factors that can lead to relationship conflict and divorce. Differences in money management skills and styles can lead to a rift in a romantic relationship.
  • Home responsibilities/chores. Partners that do not have a pre-existing agreement or understanding of personal roles and responsibilities within the home will experience problems in their romantic relationship. Partners that feel they are carrying the bulk of the responsibilities in the home often express feelings of being taken for granted, taken advantage of, or overwhelmed with the additional responsibilities.
  • Change in priorities. Relationships are expected to enhance who we are as individuals, yet not change who we are at our core. Although, you may be in a relationship, that does not change who you are. As individuals, we evolve and change all the time. You’re not the person you were last year, and you won’t be the person you are now next year.
  • Time. Change in time and availability can impact our romantic relationships in several different ways, i.e., one partner or both may not have enough time to devote to the other partner or the relationship as they once had, they may no longer spend quality time together, they do not have the time to catch up on their partner’s day or pertinent changes in their life, etc.
  • Partners drift apart. When partners begin to spend less and less time together, they usually begin to explore interests separately. Some partners may conclude they may not need to be in the relationship anymore as they no longer feel a connection with their partner.
  • Space and individual growth. Although, this appears to be contradictory to the earlier stated problems in a relationship, too much “togetherness” can lead to feelings of being stifled. When you’re in a committed relationship, spending time with each other is very important to maintaining a relationship. However, spending too much time away from each other can lead to a breakdown in communication, change in priorities, drift, etc.
  • Falling out of love. Recognizing, acknowledging, and accepting we have fallen out of love with our partner can be a difficult issue to confront. Falling out of love in a relationship is the biggest problem we can face in a relationship, and one that’s hardest to overcome. Falling in love is easy. Staying in love isn’t.

15 Problem-Solving Strategies That can be Used to Improve Your Romantic Relationship:

  • Do what you say and say what you mean
  • Be consistent
  • Be sensitive to your partners concerns and feelings
  • Carry your fair share of the workload within the relationship and home
  • Never say mean or malicious things to hurt your partner’s feelings, i.e., never say anything you cannot take back
  • Don’t overreact when things go wrong.
  • Do not ruminate on things you cannot change
  • Don’t dig up old wounds
  • Avoid talking about relationship problems when angry
  • Do not lie or use misleading information
  • Respect your partner’s boundaries
  • Refrain from jealousy
  • Communicate your feelings and issues appropriately
  • Be an even better listener.
  • Act fairly, even in an argument

Every relationship will experience setbacks and challenges, as no relationships can be perfect. However, that does not mean the relationship will not survive. Conflict and or problems in a romantic relationship are a natural, healthy, and expected part of building a connection with another person. By developing skills to resolve issues in a romantic relationship, you also develop effective techniques to manage future issues that may arise in the relationship. Healthy resolution of problems can lead to stronger, tighter bonds in the relationship.

Sex Addiction Insights From Across the Pond: UK vs. US

-Linda Hatch, PhD

Sex and porn addiction treatment are alive and well in the UK.  On a recent trip, I met and talked at length with two wonderful colleagues, one in London and one in Edinburgh.  Our two countries approach  sex addiction treatment in much the same way.  But there are differences, things we can learn from one another.

Obviously this is not intended as a comprehensive survey but rather as food for thought based on my own observations and questions.  It seems to me that the differences between the approach to sex addiction in the US and the UK fall into (at least) three categories.  There are professional differences, cultural differences, political differences.

Professional framework

There are five certified sex addiction therapists (CSATs) in the UK.  These are the therapists who have received training and certification through the US based International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP).  This is the same number of CSATs as there are in New Mexico which has one thirtieth of the population!  And yet judging by the frequency of articles from the UK documenting the increases in porn and sex addiction, the problem is increasingly evident in the medical, educational, professional and non-professional communities.

Mary Sharpe of the Reward Foundation in the UK is also very active in the US based Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH).  She has recently put out a press release entitled “Unprecedented rates of sexual dysfunctions in young men may be related to internet porn use”.  In it she outlines a number of recent studies from the UK, Europe and the US.  In addition, some of the most important laboratory research by Valerie Voon and others on the neurobiology of porn addiction has come out of Cambridge University.

Yet my colleague, Mary, is not a clinician.  She is a lawyer and an activist.  Just so you know, she is not a religious fanatic or a flame-out feminist.  She is just a person who is determined to educate people about the problems related to porn use.

So with all the media attention given to the problem of porn and sex addiction in the UK one wonders if Brits are subject to the same kind of pro-porn backlash that we experience in the US.  While the media in Britain do seem to try to be “fair and balanced” in their coverage of the topic, there does not seem to be the same kind of concerted effort to undermine the mere idea of sex or porn addiction that we see in the US.  And absent, it seems, is the conspiratorial thinking of those who see sex and porn addiction treatment as some con game being perpetrated in order to make money.  But more about that below.

There are 65 separate regular weekly Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings in the UK.  Yet the resources for sex addiction treatment are scarce in the same way that they are in the US.    Mary is frequently contacted by people looking for help.  She finds herself advising them as best she can with support and information.

Cultural differences

My new friend Paula Hall is a sex addiction therapist in England.  She too connects to our professional community in the US through SASH.  Although Paula is well trained and experienced, she has not completed the US based CSAT training.  She is however familiar with that theoretical framework and its program tools and she uses them in her work with sex addicts.

My impression from talking to her is that Paula works with sex addicts in much the same way that I and my fellow CSATs do only without the official imprimatur.  She does individual therapy, offers 6-day intensive workshops and conducts 12-week therapy groups.

Paula is impressive.  When I met with her she was preparing to do a training on sex addiction in Thailand and had lectured to a psychiatric clinic in Dubai.  She recently posted an excellent TEDx talk entitled “We Need to Talk About Sex Addiction”.

What I learned from Paula is that one cultural difference between the US and the UK is that clients in the US are more willing to go with a highly manualized  and regimented program than are the Brits.  It is always tricky to stereotype groups, but this fits with my own perceptions of the British as more irreverent and more willing to question authority.  Some clients, Paula reports, are put off by what they see as “cheesy” inspirational sayings and more inclined to laugh at some of the CSAT tools such as the Personal Craziness Index which are seen as simplistic.

Paula says her solution is to say things differently, to be less directive until asked.  And to be fair, some US clients react against a one-size-fits-all approach.  They don’t want to “drink the kool-aid”.  But my impression is that although the CSAT and 12-step approaches may seem overly rigid to some, I suspect that most CSATs in the US are able to be flexible, authentic and willing to go with what works for the client.

Political considerations

Government attempts to regulate the porn industry in the UK have been politically rocky but more energetic than in the US (with the exception of child porn) particularly in the area of preventing underage exposure to porn.  There may be a back and forth about regulation but there seems to be less denial that porn and sex addiction pose real social and medical problems.  There also seems to be  and less of a backlash against regulation per se vs. the US reflex of “don’t take away my freedoms!”

I could not help but wonder if the absence of the extreme polarization we find in the US might have something to do with the very centralized nature of the professional sub-specialty here.  There are any number of sexual treatment modalities in the US but CSATs are a fairly tight knit group.  We are all trained in largely the same way by the same people using the same books and materials.  And many of us have worked with or in the same programs and facilities around the country.  Those who want to question our motives may find ammunition in this very orthodoxy. There are many other factors, of course, but as I discussed above, things seem a bit looser (and more practical?) in the UK.  The problem of sex addiction in the UK is seen as real, and people from different disciplines seem to be approaching it in whatever ways they can.

I came home from my visit with a greater willingness to question American hegemony in the field and hopeful about the level of cooperation in activism, research and education.  In any case, the denial of sex and porn addiction is doomed.  It is doomed in the same way as science denial in general is.  It will be crushed by the increasing weight of scientific evidence and pushed aside by the greater practical  need to address the undeniable human fallout.

Setting Ourselves Up For Failure – Why Impulse Control Doesn’t Work, and Nine Strategies That Do

-Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT

When we think about controlling impulses, we are usually thinking about what we shouldn’t do. We really shouldn’t eat that ice cream after dinner. We really shouldn’t skip that workout, drink that beer, or have another piece of Aunt Martha’s apple pie. And if self-control is a game of stopping action, as oppose to starting it, the question is: Why do most popular theories of self-control advocate taking action to get a grip on those impulses?

Asking just this question, along with which form of self-control actually works best – the effortful pursuit of one’s goals, or the delaying of behavior until enough information processing has occurred – researchers from Idaho State University and the University of Southern Mississippi first exposed volunteer participants to action words, such as “start,” or “active” or inaction words, such as “stop”, or “pause”. Next using a classic test of self-control, participants were asked if they would rather have some money now or more money later.

What effect did action words have on self-control? The participants who were motivated to be active were more likely to select immediate rewards and had poorer impulse control than those who had been primed with words suggesting inaction (Hepler, et. al., 2011). In the words of Justin Hepler, who led the research study, “Overall, these experiments demonstrate that attempting to motivate oneself to be active in the face of temptations may actually lead to impulsive behaviors. On the other hand, becoming motivated for inaction or calming oneself down may be the best way to avoid impulsive decisions” (Hepler, 2011).

It turns out the pull of temptations is stronger than we realize. And, much like a fighter who is stronger than us, when we go head to head with our impulses – with motivation strategies – we usually lose. Even worse, we might make even more impulse decisions. As second study lead, Dolores Albarracín explains, “Those who try to be active may make wild, risky investments, for example, and persist in behaviors that clearly make them unsuccessful” (Albarracín, 2011).

Contrary to what we might think, motivating ourselves to lose that weight, fit into that dress, and be more healthy by taking action, might not be the best thing for our impulses. Controlling impulses may have more to do with learning to stop in the face of impulses, delay gratification, and take less action, not more. It’s the difference between free will and free won’t.

But the question remains, if impulse control doesn’t work, what does? Here are nine strategies to improve your self-control:

Use strategies that increase attention to the benefit of an activity throughout the duration of the activity. Running always looks better to us before we do it than when we are actually doing it. In order to be successful then, look for ways to remind yourself of the benefit of running while you are running. For example, you can use text reminders about the specific health benefits designed to be delivered during your run. You can also do this with statistics, reminding yourself of other desirable outcomes – such as increased intelligence, emotional regulation, creativity, or optimism – linked to running. Or you can use in-run reminders delivered to you by your supporters. Like being cheered for along the course of a marathon, having a close friend or family member send you some virtual cheering might just make you want to run a few more miles.

Reduce exposure to tempting options. It’s in our very nature to exaggerate the temptation costs of avoiding alluring options. If for no other reason than this, you should make every effort to avoid exposure to them. Having someone else to order off the menu for you while you avoid looking at it, and avoiding the grocery store and instead using a preset online shopping order can go a long way toward making sure those tasty muffins don’t end up in your shopping cart, or on your plate.  

Ensure that the long term goals are as certain as possible. The more uncertain your long term goals are, the more likely you will be to discount the risk in giving in to your impulses. And this effect is exaggerated when you depend highly on that long term goal. So whatever long term goals you choose, you should be certain you can get there.

Incorporate mastery. In order to continue doing something, you have to have an interest in it. And interest is highly linked to mastery. To incorporate mastery then, focus on learning goals, such as being able to shoot a free throw shot in proper form, learning the correct biomechanics of running, or learning how to ride a horse.

Avoid performance goals. Performance goals are linked to higher performance, but not continued involvement. So if you want to change behavior, and cultivate continued involvement, you should make every effort to avoid performance goals.

Minimize hot states. In hot states we are prone to errors in judgment and impulsive decisions. Minimizing hot states, and, at the very least, separating them from the self-control decisions you need to make, might not just help you steer clear of some nasty fights with your spouse, but also ensure that your waistline won’t pay the price for them.

Develop strategies to combat procrastination. Because chronic procrastination weakens executive function and lowers mood, you should make every effort to minimize it. You can do this through preset commitments. Giving $1000 to your neighbor to keep unless you follow through on your required tasks, (thereby avoiding procrastination) quite likely will spur your motivation – and keep that $1000 dollars in your pocket. On the other hand, you can also limit your exposure to more pleasurable (and deceptively distracting) options. Disconnecting, moving, or giving away the television, not surprisingly, might just help you get your work done – instead of watching the latest sitcoms.

Find ways to replenish self-control. Self-control is a limited resource, and the more you use it without replenishing it, the less of it you have. In order to replenish self-control then, allow yourself areas of your life where you can have free choice. For example, if you have spent all day restricting your impulse to go on Facebook, yet you’d like to be able to convince yourself to go to the gym after work, by first giving yourself one half hour to do whatever – such as calling a friend, going on a walk, or taking a nap – you’d like, you are much more likely to make it to the gym.

Minimize contact with self-control drains. Self-control is influenced by several factors, but one of the most insidious ways self-control can be derailed is through hanging out with the wrong people. When you see those around you giving in to impulses, suddenly you find a host of reasons why you should also. Not only do you not want to miss out on what you see someone else getting (it’s never fun to watch someone enjoy a delicious brownie right in front of you), but those justifications become that much easier (it’s always much easier to find reasons to do something someone else is already doing). So one of the best things you can do for your self-control is protect it from the things (and people) that drain it. When you notice who around you doesn’t exhibit the level of self-control you desire and minimize your contact with them, suddenly the power to control impulses becomes that much easier.

Behavior Modification And ADHD

-Lauren Walters

According to minddisorders.com, “Behavior modification is a treatment approach, based on the principles of operant conditioning, that replaces undesirable behaviors with more desirable ones through positive or negative reinforcement.  Behavior modification is used to treat a variety of problems in both adults and children. Behavior modification has been successfully used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), phobias, enuresis (bed-wetting), generalized anxiety disorder , and separation anxiety disorder , among others.”  In this particular article, we will focus on the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder through behavior modification principles.  This opening paragraph has focused on what behavior modification is.  In the remainder of these paragraphs, I will focus on the four hallmarks of an effective behavioral intervention plan for individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The Four Hallmarks For An Effective Behavioral Intervention Plan

According to adhdandyou.com, there are four hallmarsk for an effective behavioral intervention plan.  They are based on the following information:

  • Consistency: Parents or caregivers and/or teachers must show consistent adherence to a specified behavioral plan and be willing to implement it in virtually all circumstances. In addition, the child should understand that the consequences of the plan are in place and will be enforced by all adults and at all times.
  • Immediacy: Once a behavior has occurred, the consequences should be immediately administered. A time lag between the behavior and consequence results in a weak association between the two, rendering the intervention ineffective.
  • Specificity: Parents or caregivers and teachers should be explicit about which behaviors are being targeted by the intervention and the specified consequences—whether reinforcement or punishment—of each behavior. Stating “Your careful attention to your math problems has earned you 10 minutes of screen time” is much clearer and more explicit than saying “Good job on your homework.”
  • Saliency: To maximize effects on behavior, consequences should be meaningful and noticeable to the child. Consequences that go unnoticed or that hold no value for the child will have negligible effects on behavior.


To end this specific article, behavioral modification for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is based on four principles, that include consistency, immediacy, specificity, and saliency.  To be specific, consistency is essential for an effective behavioral intervention plan to be implemented.  Two, once a behavior has occurred, the consequences should be administered immediately.  Three, the consequences of the behavior should be specified, whether they consist of reinforcement or punishment.  Last, consequences should be noticeable.