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Take action - be more creative (and other things)

Dorian Minors • June 1, 2016

This is an archived article from our predecessor website, The Dirt Psychology. The idea there was to take psychological scholarship and turn it into wisdom. The Armchair Collective tries to go a little further than just psychology. As such, these articles live here in archive form, until they're updated.

The Weekly Dispatch

We curate the best psychological dirt from all over the web each week so you don’t have to. Get a jumpstart on the week, over your cup of morning coffee or on the way to work with The Weekly Dispatch.

We're all awful drivers. Here's why:

Anonymity has been linked many times in the literature to uninhibited behaviour. So too, has being part of a group. It's all about losing touch with your self, or becoming 'deindividuated'. Phillip Zimbardo (a notoriously nuts researcher) notes that “Anonymity, diffused responsibility, group activity, altered temporal perspective, emotional arousal, and sensory overload are some of the input variables that can generate deindividuated reactions...”. These are all things we see on the road, a part of being in a metal shell but yet part of the bigger group (the traffic). And with all those conditions on the road, plus our tendency to attribute actions to others' personalities (without considering contexts) means that the roads are a dangerous place for people to be.

Suicide isn't about wanting to die...

Activist and motivational speaker Gabe Howard conveys the truth about suicide (from someone who's considered it). See, suicide isn't about wanting to kill yourself, it's about wanting the pain to stop. When the pain of hopelessness hangs heavy for long enough, one stops believing it will ever go away. When that happens, suicide starts to look like the best alternative; a relief. The best way to go about helping someone who feels hopeless? Help them to be safe for now, and help them find someone to bring about the light at the end of the tunnel that you know (but they don't know) is there. And for pete's sake, if someone talks to you about it, treat it seriously. Parasuicide (psych jargon for talking about suicide for attention) is so rare it's essentially non-existent.

Creativity comes from DOING, not THINKING.

While trying to study creativity using an fMRI machine (brain scanner), Stanford University researchers found that the cerebellum was quite active during the most creative responses. Traditionally, and at the risk of over-simplifying, the cerebellum is thought to be involved in motor planning (planning movement). The pre-frontal cortex (traditionally thought to be responsible for higher-order thought) was less active during these times. The brain is an overgrown shortcut machine, and it might be that when it comes to shortcuts, the cerebellum is the key. It might automate our more practiced movements and let us riff off them to create more creatively!

Psychologists can be awful, learn how to find one that'll work for you

Most people should see significant improvement in five or six sessions with a trained clinician. The problem arises when your therapist isn't right for you. Dr Bruce Wampold talks about what makes a therapist a good therapist, and what you should look out for when you go to find one.

Your income relates directly to your mental health

Life is tough for those below the poverty line. New research from the CDC in America shows that almost 10% of the poor population are experiencing 'significant psychological distress', which is a fancy way of saying they probably have a psychological disorder, but we don't have time to diagnose them all (imagine trying to interview several hundred thousand people). It's long been known that low socio-economic status areas tend to lead to lower rates of mental well-being but now we can see that the gap is huge. Almost 10% when compared with half that as we look just above the poverty line. When we get to an $80,000 salary for a family of three (which is four times that of the poverty line), the rate is tiny at 1.2%. So, maybe next time you walk past the Salvos you might think about dropping off some cash... Turning scholarship into wisdom without the usual noise and clutter, we dig up the dirt on psychological theories you can use. Become an armchair psychologist at The Dirt Psychology.

Turning scholarship into wisdom we can use at The Armchair Collective.

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Dorian Minors

I mostly do brain science. Sometimes I train honeybees. I promise they're related. I made this site because there's no reason why scholars should be the only ones to own knowledge. My special interests are interpersonal relationships, the science of community, spirituality and the brain, and the neural basis of complex behaviour. I hope this stuff is as interesting to you as it is to me. You can find out more about me here.