The Curse of Counter-Dependence

-Jonice Webb, PhD

Sophie was excited about her new position. Finally she would have the opportunity to use the marketing skills she had learned in her MBA program. But in the first week, it was clear to Sophie that she was somewhat over her head. With multiple demands coming at her from every direction, she realized that she desperately needed to rely on her immediate supervisor for help and support. But instead of letting her supervisor know her situation, Sophie simply continued to struggle, falling farther and farther behind.

James was packing up his apartment to move into his new condo. Every day after work for a week, he packed boxes, sorted and stacked for hours. By the end of the week, he was exhausted. With moving day fast approaching, James could not bring himself to ask any of his friends for help with packing or moving.

Everybody needs help sometimes, there’s no way around it. For most people, it’s not a big deal. You ask someone for assistance and usually, presto! Help is delivered.

But not so for many other people. These are the ones who balk at letting themselves even need help, much less ask for it. To these folks, relying on another person feels scary, and it may even feel just plain wrong.

These are the ones who are living with the curse of counter-dependence.

Counter-Dependence: A deep discomfort with any form of reliance on others.

In reality, the word “discomfort” is probably an understatement. I have seen many counter-dependent folks in my time. For a significant number, it’s a fear of depending on anyone, and that fear can reach the level of a phobia. It’s a fear that can keep you stuck in a bubble of self-sufficiency, and also hold you back from opportunity and growth.

3 Ways Counter-Dependence Hold You Back

  1. It prevents you from receiving the help and support that others get, putting you at an automatic disadvantage to everyone else.
  2. It keeps you isolated, feeling unsupported and alone in the world.
  3. It holds your relationships back, since you don’t get to experience the richness and depth of a truly mutual, trusting relationship where each party relies on other.

Exactly what is the source of the curse over Sophie and James? How did they each become so averse to depending on another person? It all goes back to how they were raised. It was Childhood Emotional Neglect.

13-year-old Sophie tiptoes carefully up to her sleeping mother, afraid of the reaction she might receive if she wakes her. She has no choice but to do so, because she needs her mother to  sign a permission slip for tomorrow’s school field trip. After silently watching her mother sleep for a few minutes she loses her nerve, and silently tiptoes out.

13-year-old James lives in a bustling, active and loving family. The family is so active that talk of schedules, soccer games and homework rule the day, from the moment of waking up to the dinner conversation. James’ parents and siblings have no idea how to respond to emotion or talk about anything difficult, so as a family they just don’t go there.

Why is Sophie afraid to wake her mother? Perhaps she’s an alcoholic who is passed out from drinking and whose responses to Sophie can be highly unpredictable, or even violent. Perhaps Sophie’s mother works two jobs to support the family and will be exhausted if Sophie wakes her up. Or her mother might be ill or depressed, so that Sophie feels guilty asking her for anything.

Interestingly, the specifics of Sophie’s predicament do not matter. The lesson for her is,

Never burden others with your needs.

Many would envy James for his family. Yet James’ family is unwittingly searing an important message into his developing brain:

Your emotions and needs are bad. They are to be hidden and avoided.

These messages we receive in childhood are powerful, even if they are never stated outright. Sophie and James will walk through their lives unaware that they are controlled by fear. A fear that a normal, healthy part of themselves (their emotional needs) will be exposed. A fear of chasing away the people they want in their lives by asking them for something. A fear of feeling or appearing weak or needy.

4 Steps to Reverse The Curse of Counter-Dependence

  1. Become aware of your fear, and how it holds you back from allowing others to help and support you.
  2. Work on accepting that it’s okay to have needs. You are human, and all humans have needs. Make it a point to pay attention to yours, notice them, and treat them as valid.
  3. Know that those who care about you want you to depend on them. They want to be there for you and to help you, and they are probably frustrated and feel shut out by your counter-dependence.
  4. Start taking risks. Make it a point to ask for help. Step-by-step, try to increase your comfort level with depending on another person.

Just like James and Sophie, the fear of depending upon other people may be seared into your brain from childhood. But that does not mean that it’s permanent. You can reverse the curse by directly challenging and over-riding it.

The curse will only run your life as long as you allow it. Why should you fight it? Yes, it requires perseverance and work. But deeper relationships, less exhaustion, more support and less alone.

It definitely pays to reverse this curse.

Productive Fidgets: 8 Ways to Deal with Anxiety and Depression

-Liz Briggs

As a person with active and severe mental illness, for six months I worked with a service animal. When I weaned off of his care, I transitioned to things that would keep my hands busy, things that would keep me from absentmindedly scratching myself or picking at my skin. I tried things like Play0Doh, modeling wax, and rubbing stones, but none could engage my brain enough to keep me on track. I eventually found the missing link: they were not productive.

Once I had isolated this critical thread, I was able to pack myself a small bag of “productive fidgets” that I could carry around in a manner that is *relatively* socially innocuous while mitigating the symptoms of my anxiety and depression.

  1. Knit or crochet
    Knitting has been my favorite, because of the simple, repetitive motion. Knitting is essentially tying identical knots over and over in a line, and then at the end of the line flipping over and doing the exact same thing in the opposite direction. Creating simple square or rectangular-shaped pieces (scarves, baby blankets) requires only minimal thought, but simultaneously fully engages both hands and the eyes, as well as allowing me to daydream of the person for whom I am creating the item. My favorite this past year was a set of two Harry Potter-themed blankets for a newborn set of twin baby girls.
  2. Write lists
    Get on your phone! There is perhaps no singular more “socially acceptable” fidget than playing with your phone. I visualize my refrigerator, and imagine what needs to be consumed. Then I list out two to four days worth of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks, using up those foods. Sometimes I take a brief sojourn over to Pinterest and type in “onions and limes” and see what pops up. I have made some dishes I’d never previously heard of by following this pattern.
  3. Sort/file
    Again this is a phone-based fidget. Get into your email and start deleting things from 2008 about Black Friday sales. Make new email folders and delete some of the existing ones that seemed like such a good idea at the time. Sort and organize the apps on your phone into new or more logical files.
  4. Focused exercises/stretching
    Hug yourself tight. Reach your hands across your back and pull. Point and flex your feet. Pull your knees up to your chest. Stretching improves flexibility and overall health. Do you want to do the splits? I *super* believe in you…just stretch a little more each day.
  5. Write letters to family/old friends/future self
    Don’t you have that one auntie who lives somewhere in the Pacific Northwest? When was the last time you talked to her? I bet she would love to hear that funny thing that happened at work last week…and she might even be interested in whatever that Mexican food recipe was that you found to use up your onions and limes. And again, this is a fidget that you can do on your phone.
  6. Record memories
    I swear I cannot spend more than ten minutes with my little nephews without one of them saying something unbelievably adorable. If I wrote all those things down, I’d be well on my way to a coffee table book. That text plus some pictures of flowers, maybe.
  7. Learn something/read something
    There are so many things to read on the Internet, not to mention the ability to download ebooks to your phone (or iPad or Kindle, etc). Some of my favorite non-Internet-based things to read are old journals from when I was a little kid. It is so amusing to see what I considered important enough to record!
  8. Create something artistic
    This is your vastly open-ended option. What do YOU create that you are proud of? Are you good at sketching? Computer animation? Photography? Poetry? What about something like napkin-folding or origami? What is your art? How do YOU make this world a better place?

The medications we have to treat symptoms of mental illness are wonderful, and I wouldn’t be able to live the functional, contributing life that I do without them. That being said, sometimes before popping a PRN medication, I find that taking steps to make myself a responsible and contributing member of society has many of the same positive effects on my brain and my behavior. Plus I get the benefit of the outcomes of whatever project(s) I’ve chosen to attack! Getting stuff done rocks.

Resentment Can Damage Marriage Even More Than Cheating

-Leslie Doares

It just eats everything away…

Infidelity is the worst thing that can happen in a marriage, right?

Think again.

While cheating is a devastating betrayal, the MOST damaging thing you can do in your marriage is to give in when you don’t really want to.

7 Last-Ditch Ways To Save Your Marriage (When You Feel Hopeless)

When you agree to something you don’t actually want, resentment builds and eats away at your relationship. Over time, each concession you make gives birth to termite-like resentments that erode the very foundation of your marriage. The more unwanted concessions you make, the faster your marriage crumbles.

Of course, every marriage involves some form of concession at some point in time.

In fact, the moment you accept the common belief that marriage requires compromise, you’ve opened your relationship to unwanted concessions. We often believe compromise means talking someone into accepting a solution even when they don’t feel 100 percent OK with it. Without honest acceptance, it’s impossible to truly embrace the proposed solution, and so the nesting ground for resentment is put into place.

I was reminded of this truth while working with a couple whose relationship struggled through infidelity issues. The partner who had the affair shared that he closed his Facebook account because he was tired of “defending” his activity on it. I could tell from his tone that he’d felt pressured into doing so. Recovery from any affair is guaranteed to be even harder when either person resents taking an action they don’t want to take as a means of satisfying the upset of the other.

In fact, resentment is often the first step anyone takes on the path toward infidelity. Without fail, these moments of caving to their partner leads to emotional distance and disconnection. Once feelings of resentment are firmly in place, the relationship becomes vulnerable — and if they are left unaddressed, it will surely die.

Knowing whether or not your partner is honestly agreeing or simply making a concession to appease you can be one of the toughest marital challenges.

If one partner agrees to what seems like a mutual decision, how would the other know the agreement isn’t really mutually acceptable without being told so directly?

If you see yourself as a people-pleaser or as conflict avoidant take special care.

5 Illusions About Marriage That Need To Be Broken

People with these personality types are most likely to make unwanted concessions because their fear of upsetting their loved one outweighs their desire to honor their own needs. This may work for the moment, but the resulting resentment eventually reaches a point where the feelings can no longer be contained. More damage is done to your marriage the longer this process takes to unfold.

Each concession increases the number of resentment termites and later leads to costlier, more time-consuming repairs in order to rebuild the marriage.

Learning how to reach solutions that do not involve unwanted concession is the best way to avoid resentment.

Although the process is simple, it may not feel easy at first. Here’s what you do:

Make a commitment to yourself and each other that you will no longer agree to a solution that doesn’t work for both of you. Ever.

This doesn’t mean that you draw lines in the sand and require your partner to accept your way at all times. It means that you keep talking and listening until you find common ground. The more you hold to this commitment, the easier it becomes.

Isn’t having a great marriage worth it?

Couples Who Flay Together Stay Together.

-Gerald Schoenewolf, PhD

What started out as an experiment in somebody’s garage has turned into a growing business where people pay anywhere from $20 to $500 (and more) for the privilege of smashing furniture, demolishing dishes, shredding mannequins or at times even destroying custom-made rooms designed to be replicas of a real room. Some people think this is a good trend, some think it is harmful.

The trend was started by Donna Alexander in Dallas. The first group to come to her garage and break things was comprised of friends and co-workers. Then, in 2011, she quit her job and opened a 1000-square-foot room in downtown Dallas—called simply the “Anger Room.” Soon other versions of the Anger Room opened around the world, including in Houston, Australia, Niagara Falls and Toronto.

Business increased, according to Alexander, during the recent U.S. Presidential Election, when mannequins of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were often requested for venting and destruction sessions. Customers in Dallas demolished two Clinton mannequins, requiring replacements. Trump’s mannequins took a bigger beating. “We’ve gone through at least three of the male mannequins that we have to dress up as Donald Trump,” Ms. Alexander reported.

Customers can customize their anger-room settings. Customers of the Anger Room have paid to re-enact a scene from the 1999 movie “Office Space,” in which the main characters, three angry computer programmers, beat a printer to death with a baseball bat. The company can customize the space any way customers want it, and charges according to how much it costs to arrange the space.

Typically, staff members make runs through neighborhoods in Dallas and pick up furniture and other items that people throw out for garbage pickup. There is no shortage of chairs, tables, desks, beds, mirrors and kitchenware. Customers use various weapons in their venting sessions—bats, metal bars, two-by-fours or golf clubs. Knives, guns, and other weapons using projectiles are not allowed. Customers are also provided with protective gear such as helmets, pads and gloves.

Alexander notes that quite often couples come in for mutual destruction sessions, at times customizing a room to replicate their bedroom. It appears that destroying things as a team brings the couple closer together. The theme of such sessions seems to be that “a couple that flays together stays together.”

However, one psychologist interviewed in an article about this phenomenon expressed the opinion that such venting might be harmful. “Although it’s appealing to think that expressing anger can reduce stress, there is not much evidence of that,” says George M. Slavich, a clinical psychologist and director of the Laboratory for Stress Assessment and Research at the University of California, “On the contrary, the types of physiological and immune responses that occur during anger can actually be harmful for health.”

Slavish has a point. Anger, especially chronic anger, can be harmful to the immune response, as the continual arousal of stress hormones in the body takes its toll on our physiology and weakens the immune system. Also, venting in and of itself does not lead to resolution or cure. It may make you feel better for a while, but eventually the anger and other negative feelings will return. It is the same for running or weight lifting or boxing; they can relieve your stress temporarily but unless it is done regularly the stress will return.

However, historically the psychotherapy community has devised various methods of helping clients release their stress, whether it is related to anger, fear, jealousy or some other feeling. The work of Wilhelm Reich and Alexander Lowen led to the creation of a school of therapy called, “Bioenergetics,” in which clients at times beat mattresses or pillows with tennis rackets. However, the object of such exercises in therapy is not just venting. Bioenergetics is an ongoing process of releasing stress and negative energy that, over time, is intended to lead to resolution.

When one hits a pillow or screams at it, using it as a surrogate for someone toward whom one has animosity, the goal is to start with the anger that lies at the surface, and then to reach the hurt and sadness that lies underneath. In addition to physical exercises, Bioenergetics also uses breathing exercises combined with sounds to release pent-up angst. During the course of the sessions the therapist attempts to guide the clients towards re-experiencing traumatic events in their lives and releasing them.

When such an exercise vents anger in order not just to release it but to get to the root of the problem, which sometimes harks back to traumatic events in early childhood, the anger, fear, jealousy, or rage dissolve and the wound is soothed if not healed. One gets in touch with deeper feelings of hurt and sadness and has transformative experiences (sometimes called catharses) that enable much-need self-objectivity as well as forgiveness of both others and yourself.

When people reach this state and can let go of their needless cares and woes, they will have a true release, as opposed to temporary venting, and their immune system and physiological processes will be helped, not hindered.

Sleep Plays Key Role in Reducing Emotional Trauma

-Rick Nauert, PhD

Does sleep help individuals process stress and trauma, or does it actually intensify emotional reactions and memories of the event?

This previously unanswered question was addressed in a recent University of Zurich study.

Investigators discovered sleep, especially during the first 24 hours after a trauma, appears to play a key role in helping individuals manage the stress and emotional impact related to the event.

Experts say the knowledge is highly relevant for the prevention of trauma-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The way in which extremely distressing experiences are processed right at the outset can influence the further course and development of post-traumatic stress disorders.

PTSD patients experience highly emotional and distressing memories or even flashbacks where they feel as if they are experiencing their trauma all over again. Sleep could play a key role in processing what they have suffered.

In the new study conducted by a team from the Department of Psychology at the University of Zurich, researchers sought to determine the impact of sleep during the first 24 hours after a trauma.

To do this, investigators showed test subjects a traumatic video. The recurring memories of the images in the film that haunted the test subjects for a few days were recorded in detail in a diary.

Virtually out of the blue, the test subjects would see a snapshot of what they had seen in their mind’s eye, reawakening the unpleasant feelings and thoughts they had experienced during the film.

The quality of these memories resembles those of patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders. Other than after a traumatic event, however, they reliably disappear after a few days.

Investigators randomly assigned study participants to two groups. One slept in the lab for a night after the video while their sleep was recorded via an electroencephalograph (EEG); the other group remained awake.

“Our results reveal that people who slept after the film had fewer and less distressing recurring emotional memories than those who were awake,” explains first author Birgit Kleim.

“This supports the assumption that sleep may have a protective effect in the aftermath of traumatic experiences.”

On the one hand, sleep can help weaken emotions connected to an existing memory, such as fear caused by traumatic experiences, for instance.

Sleep also helps contextualize the recollections, process them informationally and store these memories. However, this process presumably takes several nights.

According to the authors of the study, recommendations on early treatments and dealing with traumatized people in the early phase are few and far between.

“Our approach offers an important non-invasive alternative to the current attempts to erase traumatic memories or treat them with medication,” says Birgit Kleim.

“The use of sleep might prove to be a suitable and natural early prevention strategy.”

How To Limit Rumination With Bipolar Disorder

-Lauren Walters

Introduction

Ruminating with Bipolar Disorder can be a powerful cycle that can cause a lot of stress and anxiety to individuals with Bipolar Disorder.  This article will provide readers with tips to limit rumination with Bipolar Disorder.  They include journaling, talking to others, and moving around.

Journaling

The first tip to limit rumination is to journal.  When you journal, you write your thoughts and feelings out.  This enables you to see them on paper and understand why you are experiencing these thoughts and feelings.  Your thought process will also be clearer.  This may help to prevent rumination.

According to healthcentral.com, the following can be mentioned about journaling to limit rumination:

Journal your worries. The process of writing can be very therapeutic. Seeing your worries written down may help you to discover themes to your anxiety. You may then have more clarity as to which issues to address first.

Talking To Others

In addition to journaling, another way to limit rumination is to talk to others about what you are thinking and feeling.  When you talk about what you are thinking and feeling, you are letting it out on the surface.  You are also receiving support from others.  This will provide you with a sense of relief and comfort.

According to healthcentral.com, the following can be noted about talking to others to limit rumination:

Talk it out with others who understand. Sharing your worries on sites such as Anxiety Connection may help you to gain a different perspective on things which trouble you.

Moving Around

In addition to journaling and talking to others, another way to limit rumination with bipolar disorder is to move around and not sit around all day long.  When you sit around all day long and ruminate, you are not going to feel well about yourself.  You are going to begin to ruminate.  This is not going to help you at all.  Instead, move around.  Go out and take a walk.  This will help you feel better, as well.

According to healthcentral.com, the following can be noted about moving around to limit rumination:

Don’t sit and worry in one setting. Get up and move. Go outside and go for a walk. Sometimes physical movement and getting a change of scenery can disrupt our thought patterns to allow for a new perspective or insights.

Fun at Works Helps Skill Development

-Rick Nauert, PhD

New research suggests all work and no play may hamper on-the-job learning at the worksite.

Pennsylvania State researchers discovered having fun at work was significantly related to informal learning, which includes most unstructured, non-classroom forms of learning.

Michael Tews, an associate professor of hospitality management explains that informal learning is a common method for employees to learn lessons that can improve their job performances.

“Most learning at the workplace occurs independently at the desk, or with a few other people, not necessarily in a classroom,” said Tews.

He added that it may not be the fun activities themselves that instill the new lessons, but how fun creates a better learning environment. People in fun work environments are more inclined to try new things and not fear possible mistakes, for example.

“You might not think there is this connection between informal learning and fun in the workplace,” said Tews.

“It’s easier to make the connection between fun and retention, or fun and performance to the extent that it leads to creativity, but fun and learning doesn’t seem connected at the face of it. The gist of this argument, though, is that when you have a workplace that is more fun, it creates a safe environment for learning to occur.”

The study looked at fun activities supported by management to enhance wellbeing — team-building activities or celebrations to recognize achievements, for example — and the manager’s overall support for fun on the job.

A manager’s support for fun actually mattered more than his or her support for learning, according to the researchers.

“There’s a lot of talk in the literature about a manager’s support for learning, or creating a climate for learning, and how that makes a culture for learning where workers learn from one another,” said Tews.

“What we’re showing is that this fun on the job actually matters as much as — or even more — than that support for learning.”

Fun can also bring coworkers together, which, in turn aids learning between workers.

“It creates this group cohesion,” said Tews. “So, when there’s fun, then the co-workers may be able to get to know each other, have better connections, and be more apt to help each other.”

While fun is often looked at as a distraction by managers, it may improve a worker’s resiliency and optimism, leading to better attention with tasks.

In the study, Tews teamed with John W. Michel, associate professor of business and management, Loyola University, and Raymond A. Noe, professor of management and human resources, Ohio State University.

Their paper appears online in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, currently online.

The researchers caution, however, that fun is not a cure-all for workplace productivity and learning.

In earlier research, Tews found that fun had a favorable effect on promoting employee retention, but could cause productivity to suffer. Managers, then, should be selective in how they use fun to encourage learning and productivity.

“With most management tactics, there are always going to be pros and cons,” said Tews. “There’s never going to be a perfect workplace, there’s never going to be a perfect management intervention, so you have to choose your battles.”

The researchers recruited 206 managers from a chain of 80 casual dining restaurants. The restaurants are decentralized with limited opportunities for classroom learning and rely on informal learning opportunities to improve knowledge and skills.

Participants were asked to rate fun activities, their own bosses’ support for fun, their attitude, and informal learning at their restaurants.

Tews said future research is needed to validate the study’s findings with other groups of employees. However, the current findings are promising to support the notion that fun has instrumental value in the workplace, he added.

Planning Fun Events May Make Them Less Fun

-Janice Wood

New research shows that nothing ruins a potentially fun event like putting it on your calendar.

In a series of studies, researchers at Ohio State University found that scheduling a leisure activity, like seeing a movie or taking a coffee break, led people to anticipate less enjoyment and actually enjoy the event less than if the same activities were unplanned.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan at all: The research showed that roughly planning an event — but not giving a specific time — led to similar levels of enjoyment as unplanned events.

“People associate schedules with work. We want our leisure time to be free-flowing,” said Selin Malkoc, co-author of the study and an assistant professor of marketing at the Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. “Time is supposed to fly when you’re having fun. Anything that limits and constrains our leisure chips away at the enjoyment.”

Malkoc conducted the study with Gabriela Tonietto, a doctoral student at Washington University in St. Louis. The results are published in the Journal of Marketing Research.

In the paper, they report on 13 separate studies that looked at how scheduling leisure activities affects the way we think about and experience them.

In one study, college students were given a calendar filled with classes and extracurricular activities and asked to imagine that this was their actual schedule for the week.

Half of the participants were then asked to make plans to get frozen yogurt with a friend two days in advance and add the activity to their calendar. The other half imagined running into a friend and deciding to get frozen yogurt immediately.

Results showed that those who scheduled getting frozen yogurt with their friend rated the activity as feeling more like a “commitment” and “chore” than those who imagined the impromptu get-together.

“Scheduling our fun activities leads them to take on qualities of work,” Malkoc said.

The effect is not just for hypothetical activities, she noted.

In an online study, the researchers had people select an entertaining YouTube video to watch. The catch was that some got to watch their chosen video immediately. Others chose a specific date and time to watch the video and put in on their calendar.

Results showed that those who watched the scheduled video enjoyed it less than those who watched it immediately.

While people seem to get less enjoyment out of precisely scheduled activities, they don’t seem to mind if they are more roughly scheduled, the researchers discovered.

In another study, the researchers set up a stand on a college campus where they gave out free coffee and cookies for students studying for finals.

Before setting up the stand, they handed out tickets for students to pick up their coffee and cookies either at a specific time or during a two-hour window. As they were enjoying their treat, the students filled out a short survey.

The results showed that those who had a specifically scheduled break enjoyed their time off less than did those who only roughly scheduled the break. “If you schedule leisure activities only roughly, the negative effects of scheduling disappear,” Malkoc said.

She suggests you aim to meet a friend “this afternoon” rather than exactly at 1:00 p.m.

One study showed that even just setting a starting time for a fun activity is enough to make it less enjoyable. “People don’t want to put time restrictions of any kind on otherwise free-flowing leisure activities,” she said.

Malkoc pointed out these findings apply to short leisure activities that last a few hours or less.

The results also have implications for leisure companies that provide experiences for their customers, Malkoc said. For example, some amusement parks offer tickets for their most popular rides that allow people to avoid long lines.

But this research suggests that people will enjoy these rides less if the tickets are set for a particular time. Instead, the parks should give people a window of time to board the ride, which would be the equivalent of rough scheduling in this study.

Sexual Harassment May Be Common Part of Bullying

-Rick Nauert, PhD

Sexual harassment is a prevalent form of victimization that most antibullying programs ignore and teachers and school officials often fail to recognize, according to bullying and youth violence expert Dorothy L. Espelage, Ph.D.

The recent teen suicide of Brandy Vela, a teen in Texas City, Texas, is a case in point. According to Vela’s parents, the teen fatally shot herself following months of bullying and sexual harassment, perpetrated in part through text messages and social media.

Espelage recently led a five-year study that examined links between bullying and sexual harassment among schoolchildren in Illinois.

Nearly half — 43 percent — of middle school students surveyed for the study reported they had been the victims of verbal sexual harassment such as sexual comments, jokes, or gestures during the prior year.

Researchers followed 1,300 Illinois youths from middle school to high school, examining the risk factors associated with bullying and sexual harassment and the characteristics of the perpetrators.

Students from four middle schools completed the surveys, and some of the youths and their teachers also were interviewed by the researchers.

Investigators discovered that while verbal harassment was more common than physical sexual harassment or sexual assault, 21 percent of students reported having been touched, grabbed, or pinched in a sexual way, and 18 percent said peers had brushed up against them in a suggestive manner.

Students also reported being forced to kiss the perpetrators, having their private areas touched without consent and being “pantsed;” having their pants or shorts jerked down by someone else in public.

About 14 percent of the students in the study reported having been the target of sexual rumors, and nine percent had been victimized with sexually explicit graffiti in school locker rooms or bathrooms.

According to Espelage, “sexual harassment among adolescents is directly related to bullying,” particularly homophobic bullying.

Homophobic name-calling emerges among fifth- and sixth-grade bullies as a means of asserting power over other students, Espelage said.

Youths who are the targets of homosexual name-calling and jokes then feel compelled to demonstrate they are not gay or lesbian by sexually harassing peers of the opposite sex.

About 16 percent of students in the study reported that they had been the targets of homophobic name-calling or jokes, and nearly five percent of youths reported that this harassment happened to them often.

On the surveys, youths were asked an open-ended question about their most upsetting experience of sexual harassment.

Fourteen percent of students who reported being victimized negated their experiences by writing that their peers’ behaviors were “not really sexual harassment” because the incidents were “meaningless” or intended as jokes.

“What was most surprising and concerning was that these young people were dismissive of these experiences, even though they described them as very upsetting,” Espelage said.

“Students failed to recognize the seriousness of these behaviors in part because teachers and school officials failed to address them. Prevention programs need to address what is driving this dismissiveness.”

Youths who were dismissive of sexual harassment experiences also were more likely to perpetrate homophobic name-calling, the researchers found.

While students reported that large proportions of these sexual harassment incidents occurred in places such as school hallways, classrooms, gym locker rooms, or gym classes where faculty and staff members ostensibly might witness them, the researchers found that many teachers, school officials, and staff members failed to acknowledge that sexual harassment occurred in their schools.

Many of these adults also were unaware that they were mandated by school district or federal policies to protect students from sexual harassment, Espelage said.

“These findings highlight the importance of making sexual harassment prevention efforts a priority in U.S. school districts, and that will require the efforts of students, faculty and staff members, school administrators, and practitioners such as school psychologists,” Espelage said.

“Schools need to have a consistently enforced policy that clearly defines sexual harassment and establishes regulations against engaging in such behavior. School officials also must provide guidelines for faculty and staff members on how to address these incidents and how to respond appropriately to student reports of sexual harassment.”

Sexual harassment experiences varied across socio-demographic groups, depending on students’ age, race, and sex. For example, females were at greatest risk of sexual harassment, while African-American girls and boys were at greatest risk of being victimized by romantic partners, the researchers found.

3 Counterintuitive ADHD Coping Strategies

-Neil Petersen

ADHD doesn’t always make sense. At least, it doesn’t always make sense the way you expect it to.

If the common-sense ADHD coping techniques aren’t working, maybe it’s time to try the non-common-sense strategies. Here are 3 counterintuitive ADHD coping strategies.

  • Working in noisy places: If people with ADHD have trouble concentrating, clearly the solution is to work in quiet places to avoid getting distracted, right? Well, sometimes silence helps, but not always. Lack of stimulation can make it even harder for people with ADHD to focus, in which case working in a more lively environment rather than a silent, empty room can actually help.
  • Listening to music: Along the same lines, you might expect that listening to music would be distracting for people with ADHD. However, for some people with ADHD, listening to music can provide stimulation and stave off boredom, making it easier to stay on task.
  • Procrastinating: Procrastination is a double-edged sword – too much of it can cause a lot of problems. On the other hand, people with ADHD procrastinate for a reason: doing things at the last minute can provide the extra shot of adrenaline the ADHD brain needs to kick into gear.

You might notice that all three of these strategies have to do with finding the optimal level of arousal for the ADHD brain.

Traditionally, we think of a calm and low-stress environment as being ideal for concentration. For people with ADHD, though, lack of stimulation makes it harder to stay on task. When the ADHD brain gets bored, it automatically checks out and goes to find something more interesting to do, whether we want it to or not.

So keeping the ADHD brain happy by working in more interesting environments, listening to music, or adding a little pressure by doing things at the last minute can actually be conducive to concentrating.

Of course, this will be different for different individuals with ADHD. Ultimately, it’s about finding what works best for your brain. But as a starting point, these three strategies are definitely worth a shot!

D’you have other counterintuitive ADHD coping strategies? Please share them below!