Dopamine fasting

Dopamine

Taking a break from technology is a fine idea, but we don’t need a pseudoscientific new name for it: dopamine fasting.  Launched with viral Silicon Valley memes, online reports, and articles in the New York Times and elsewhere, dopamine fasting is now a thing.  Basically, the idea is to temporarily deprive oneself of […]

We are one

E pluribus unum strikes the pluribus lately as a threat, not a promise — more like assimilation by the Borg than a patriotic ideal. Instead of striving for the common good, we’ve split into factions, each defined largely by its enemy. Feminism fights patriarchy, Black Lives Matter fights police brutality, the 99% fight the 1%. […]

Managing assaultive behavior

In Toronto on April 23, 2018, Alek Minassian intentionally drove a rented van into pedestrians, killing ten and injuring at least 15. Later the same day, Constable Ken Lam of the Toronto Police Service arrested Minassian after a brief, tense standoff. As seen in a widely circulated video, Minassian dared the officer to shoot, and […]

Lumping and splitting

As a young psychotherapy researcher I learned that some of my colleagues were “lumpers” and others were “splitters.” The former look at research data and see commonalities. Instead of different kinds of psychotherapy, say, they see a spectrum of styles with a shared core. Lumpers search for universal truths, missing links, ways of combining categories. […]

Diagnosing Donald Trump

On January 31, 2017, the Psychology Today editorial staff published a well-balanced summary of the debate over whether to declare President Trump mentally ill. While the debate focuses on mental health professionals such as psychiatrists and psychologists who are credentialed to make such diagnoses, the question clearly goes further. Public commentary following this and other […]

Christmas 2016, a fable

No one recalled when Rudy joined the teamsters, it may have been several seasons back. Awkward and quiet, he mostly kept to himself. The other guys avoided Rudy. No one ever asked him to join their casual poker games, no one ever invited him to hang out after work. He wasn’t harassed exactly, but their […]

Prescription drug abuse and the physician gatekeeper

Opioid painkillers such as Vicodin (hydrocodone) and OxyContin (oxycodone) are crucial medical tools that are addictive and widely abused. Tranquilizers and sleeping pills of the benzodiazepine class, e.g., Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Klonopin (clonazepam), are safe and effective in limited, short-term use, but are often taken too freely, leading to drug tolerance and withdrawal […]