Tag Archives: mental health

“Why didn’t anyone stop this? It seems so obvious!”

By, Adam K. Fetterman
After an act of extreme violence, it is normal for people to want answers. The shooting of Arizona officials a couple weeks ago is no exception. Briefly, a disturbed man opened fire on public officials killing six and leaving U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona in critical condition. Many accusations were thrown about to explain the man’s extreme behavior. For example, mental health was pointed out in an article on TheHill.com. While there is all this blame thrown around, many question why no one had noticed his erratic behavior and stopped it. According to The Hill article, polls have been conducted and many blame the mental health system for failing to identify dangerous individuals. It also notes that many people have the same feelings regarding other shootings. It seems so obvious to those around these shooters that these people are unstable. Unfortunately, they only notice after the fact.

Part of the reason that people only notice mentally unstable shooters after fact is because of a psychological effect called “Hindsight Bias” (Fischhoff, 1975). Hindsight bias occurs when one misjudges the predictability of an event after the event occurs. According to Campbell and Tesser (1983), one motive for this bias is that people have a need for predictability. Particularly in the case of these shooters, we have a strong motivation to believe that these events are predictable, and not random. Therefore, it is easy to blame an institution or individuals for not recognizing the instability beforehand and “do something” to prevent these atrocities, because we have all the evidence after the fact. With the benefit of hindsight, we believe the events are quite a bit more predictive than they really are, because it makes us feel safe. However, in reality, these events are fairly random. With this in mind, perhaps we should hold back on finding out who is to blame for not stopping these things from happening.

Poll: Mental health linked to Arizona shooting. By Jason Millman from TheHill.com

Campbell, J. D. and Tesser, A. (1983), Motivational interpretations of hindsight bias: An individual difference analysis. Journal of Personality, 51: 605–620.

Read all of Adam K. Fetterman’s posts here.

Ideological dilemmas and depression


Tim Lott’s recent article ‘Men are suffering a depression epidemic…’ in the Daily Mail argues that one of the causes of men’s depression is the fluidity of the roles they are ‘expected to play in modern life, both professionally and emotionally, and as fathers and husbands’, which ‘can lead to a lot of painful doubt about what the role of a man actually is’. That is, men are ‘expected to be strong yet sensitive, successful but not materialistic, caring yet masculine’. Whether it is fair, as he does, to blame women for this is a moot point. However, the article does provide an interesting example of how ideological dilemmas may affect mental health.

Billig et al (1988) first introduced the concept of ideological dilemmas in a book with the same name. Their aim was to make a contribution to the debate surrounding the nature of ideology by questioning the notion that ideologies are always constituted by integrated and coherent sets of ideas. Although they did not deny that ideologies could conform to this classical Marxist definition, they argued that a different kind of ideology existed. These ‘lived’ ideologies are the beliefs, values and practices of a given society. In other words, these ideologies are a society’s ‘common sense’ ways of doing things. Unlike their Marxist counter-parts, these ideologies are often characterized by inconsistency, fragmentation and contradiction, which do not provide clear and concise ways for people to think and act. Billig et al (1988) provide numerous examples, such as the dilemma between ‘many hands make light work’ and ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’, or, ‘look before we leap’ and ‘he who hesitates is lost’.

Edley (2001) argues that the concept of ideological dilemmas can also inform our understanding of gender and gender relations. One such example is the dilemma of work versus family. That is, how do mothers and fathers fulfill their career aspirations as well as their parental obligations, and also find time to develop their own relationship by having quality time together away from the demands of children and work? In addition, men are today, confronted as never before with mediated messages that invite them to openly confront their emotions, be sensitive, caring and feel comfortable seeking help, whilst at the same time they are expected to be appear powerful, strong and self-reliant (Gough, 2009). It is these ideological dilemmas that Lott and MIND identify as often leading to men suffering depression.

Men are suffering a depression epidemic too… and some of it is caused by women

MIND – Men’s mental health

Ideological Dilemmas: A Social Psychology of Everyday Thinking

Gender fatigue: The ideological dilemma of gender neutrality and discrimination in organisations

Governments Sanction Happiness

EnthusiasticBillyMurrayA new political trend appears to be evolving—the search for happiness. A case in point is the country of Bhutan, which measures “gross national happiness” according to NPR and Sheldon and Lyubomirsky (2007). An NPR story reported how the country of Bhutan is growing alternative resources to reduce the cutting down of its forests. The depletion of forests may reduce the countries happiness the story reports. On the same note The Associated Press, reported that French President Sarkozy declared that happiness should be implemented as part of an economic indicator.  For instance, it is noted that factors such as “distribution of wealth and income, education, health and leisure” would be considered instead of GDP.

The search for happiness seems to be elusive even for those who study the concept, according to Sheldon and Lyubomirsky (2007). One similarity in the review was that happiness does depend on factors such as the distribution of wealth, income, education, health and leisure and so on. Sheldon and Lyubomirsky (2007) also noted however that when everything is equal other variables are more important. The authors conclude that the search for happiness starts at an individual level with consistent pursuit and appropriate goals. However the governments opening up the discussion may be the start of the pursuit of happiness.

square-eye Read more:  “Bhutan Hopes Bamboo Boosts National Happiness”

square-eye Read more: The Associated Press: Sarkozy wants happiness used as economic indicator.

square-eye Sheldon, K.M., Lyubomirsky, S. (2007) Is it possible to become happier? (And if so, how?)

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Divorce hurts health even after remarriage

man woman hands holding broken heartLove is a miracle and happy romantic relationships might be the best gift for most people in the world. In fairy story, marriage is always the ultimate happy ending of romantic relationship. In reality, about 2.4 million American couples marry each year; during the same time period, half or more of these marriages fail as the result of the departure or death of a partner, most often during the second to sixth years of marriage (US census bureau, 2005). What happens when the sweet dream of marriage falls into pieces?

A new study shows that divorce or losing a spouse to death can exact an immediate and long-lasting toll on mental and physical gains, even after remarriage. Romantic relationships don’t end easily because they involve the investment of one’s time and feelings, the exchange of powerful rewards, and commitment. However, once the romantic relationships end up, people will experience not only the loss of caring, affective support, intimacy, and companionate love, but also extremely stressful and miserable feeling of pain, loneliness, helplessness and hopelessness. Besides, people ignore their health; they’re less likely to go to the doctor; they’re less likely to exercise; they’re sleeping poorly. Remarriage helps people get back on a healthy trajectory, but it puts people back on a healthy trajectory from a lower point, because they didn’t take care of themselves for a long time! Divorce operates like a traumatic event in one’s life; it damages not only your romantic relationship, but also your health.

Speed-DatingMSNBC news: Divorce hurts health even after remarriage

Speed-DatingP. F. Moffitt, N. D. Spence, & R. D. Goldney. (2006). Mental health in marriage: The roles of need for affiliation, sensitivity to rejection, and other factors

Speed-DatingA. Mastekaasa (2006). Is marriage/cohabitation beneficial for young people?