Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Is the way to someone's heart through the nose?

Much has been made of human pheromones, in science and in industry. Advertisements for pheromone-enhanced perfumes grace the back pages of magazines, and a Google search of "Human Pheromone" turns up thousands of results, offering magic love potions just waiting to be applied. But is there any truth in it?

 Randi  Epstein, writing in Slate, looks at the evidence and says "No." Or, at least, none that we can prove. The idea that human attraction is based in pheromones is based on refuted research, and Epstein spells out why.  

However, the science between human attraction and arousal is far from being complete, and it does appear that scent plays a role. For example, do you remember that study that showed that the scent of a woman's tears was a turn-off for men? (Here's a link to the NYTimes coverage.)  The question is, of course, is this nature or nurture? 

Without a doubt, scents can be associated powerfully with memories. (Think of the smell of Christmas, or of grandma's house, for example.) But it seems this is likely to be learned. And as for pheromones, Epstein would likely advise us to save our money:

This shift in thinking is really quite liberating. It means, for one thing, that we may have more complicated relationships with our men than a female silkworm moth has with hers. It also means that we're not programmed to respond in one particular way but that we can learn—indeed, train ourselves—to respond to an odor the way we want to.

Link to the Slate article

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rollo May on psychotherapy

In this video, Rollo May expresses his feelings of dissatisfaction with the state of modern psychotherapy. He says that psychotherapy that "patches a person up and sends them out" isn't real psychotherapy, and that the goal of real psychotherapy is to make the "unconscious conscious." Interesting perspective from one of the great minds in the field.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Relationship Myths

Here is an interesting little piece about three common relationship myths. I hear some of these in my practice from time to time. The author addresses why there is no "the one" for a person, why longevity in relationships can be questioned, and why it is important for people to be whole individuals in order to have healthy relationships. It's a short piece, and a fast read.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Inside Schizophrenia

This NYTimes article about a man living with schizophrenia is good reading. It shows the reality that chronic and persistent mental illness is just that--chronic and persistent. It is something that one lives with, managing day by day, for the rest of one's life. Here's a quote:

In recent years, researchers have begun talking aboutmental health care in the same way addiction specialists speak of recovery — the lifelong journey of self-treatment and discipline that guides substance abuse programs. The idea remains controversial: managing a severe mental illness is more complicated than simply avoiding certain behaviors. The journey has more mazes, fewer road signs.

Yet people like Joe Holt are traveling it and succeeding. Most rely on some medical help, but each has had to build core skills from the ground up, through trial and repeated error.