Choosing to be happy

Pain is as omnipresent as breathing. No human life exists without it.  The capacity for pain is hardwired into the most ancient, reptilian region of our brains. As an evolutionary mechanism this is highly effective: if we are bitten by a snake, our brain remembers that snake bites hurt and this association causes us to…

Shackles and flow

Have you ever been so engrossed in something that you completely lost track of time? In psychological  terms, this is known as a flow state. When you are in flow, or “in the zone”, the only thing in your mind is what you are doing in that moment. This single-minded focus allows you to block out the…

It’s not happening now

In honour of Mental Health Awareness Month, which started in America as long ago as 1949, I wanted to write something pertinent to this year’s theme: “Life with a mental illness”. Although we tend to think of neurology, psychiatry and psychology as fields that are still in their infancy, I find it staggering that there is…

Thinking errors and depression

“he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow” Ecclesiastes I owe a great deal of the content of this blog to Neel Burton’s “Psychiatry” (2nd edition), which I cannot recommend highly enough to anyone looking for a grounding in the aetiology, diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. The interesting thing about depression is that when you compare…

Anchoring

I’d like to tell you about a technique I use when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, which I call ‘anchoring’. Just to clarify, I’m not talking about the cognitive bias  theory here. When I say anchoring, what I mean is the practice of drawing on a memory of a strong positive emotion to displace feelings of sadness, anxiety or…

Parent, adult or child?

What we can learn from transactional analysis? Eric Berne’s theory of transactional analysis posits that we all assume the role, or ego state, of either parent, adult or child in relationships. The person we are relating to responds to our behaviour based on their own ego state and this combination determines the outcome of the…