We were thrilled to have expert guest, Dr. Helen Hsu, join us for an episode about the important topic of college mental health! We discussed controversy surrounding college re-opening plans and enforcement of physical distancing policies–including what we think we would do if we were college students in 2020. Dr. Hsu shared her observations about how mental health concerns among students have changed both across generations and pre- vs. post-pandemic. She also shared what she thinks is driving those changes. We talked about coping strategies during the pandemic including anti-all-or-nothing-thinking, taking nonjudgmental attitudes towards ourselves, safe socializing, creating a sense of purpose, and learning radical acceptance. We enjoyed making this episode and hope you enjoy listening to it! Thanks so much!
Note: All opinions expressed on this podcast are our own and do not reflect the views of our employers.
With the release of “Too Much and Never Enough” by Mary L. Trump (a clinical psychologist and Trump’s niece), the debate about diagnosing Donald Trump was thrust into the limelight again. We were very excited to have Dr. Josh Miller, an authority on narcissism and psychopathy and co-author of an article examining the ethics of the Goldwater rule, on this episode to share his expertise. We talked about what motivated Dr. Miller and his coauthors to write the article, whether Trump indeed meets criteria for narcissistic (or other) personality disorders, and about his work examining narcissistic and psychopathic traits in U.S. presidents. We had a great time chatting with Dr. Miller, considering whether these traits are becoming permanent fixtures of the modern political landscape, and fretting about whether we’ll get much pushback for this episode.
Given the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, we were very lucky and excited to have Dr. Apryl Alexander, Associate Professor at the University of Denver and activist with Black Lives Matter, Chapter 5280 join us as an expert guest. We had a very stimulating conversation with Dr. Alexander about her path in forensic psychology, her involvement in Black Lives Matter activism, and social justice policy-making. We delved on the varied meanings of “defund the police,” her approach to discussing these issues with her students, and the need for a sustained, multi-mission approach to justice similar to the one pursued by BLM5280. As a bonus, we also discussed Joe Biden discussing police reform with Trevor Noah, Dave Chappelle’s 8:46 special, and considered the role of celebrities in social activism. As extra, extra, bonus, we finished the episode with Dr. Alexander telling us about an integral part of her self-care and activism team: Her adorable schnorky pup, Jax! We hope you enjoy and learn from the episode as much as we did.
In May, Nancy Pelosi referred to Donald Trump as “morbidly obese” on CNN and this led to a viral tweet celebrating her insult. Back in January, physical trainer Jillian Michaels said that Lizzo’s music should be celebrated, but not her body weight, which led to a backlash from some of her fans. Is fat-shaming okay when we don’t like the target? Or does it contribute to weight bias and discrimination? We take a look at the psychological research and talk about some pop culture representations of overweight characters. Tune in for that or just to hear Katie struggle to pronounce “hydroxychloroquine,” “pseudonymous,” and “anathematized” and Leo’s timely references to weight-based comedy on the Johnny Carson Show!
Self-care is a bit of a buzzword these days. At its best, it encourages people to have balance in their lives and to tend to their health needs. However, the self-care movement seems to have been picked up as a way to market things to people, placing greater importance on indulging themselves with products or experiences. And for some, the idea that prioritizing self-care will improve mental health can backfire, because they believe their persistent emotional distress is due to an inability to commit to activities or products rather than other factors (e.g. difficulty accessing mental health treatment).
We invited Dr. Joel Minden on the show because we think that the approach in his book, Show Your Anxiety Who’s Boss, is an excellent way to think about self-care. Joel acknowledges the value of self-care activities to promote health and manage stress, but he argues that self-care is not the answer for every concern. He makes the case for flexibly responding to emotional and practical challenges with realistic and useful thinking, solution-focused action, and responding to difficult emotions with greater acceptance and warmth.
For anxiety, specifically, he talks about the risk of acting impulsively on anxiety and avoidance urges, and how this approach can make anxiety even more difficult to manage in the long run. Instead, he encourages responses to anxiety that prioritize long-term values, so that you can direct your attention to living with meaning and purpose. Joel’s approach involves relating to anxiety objectively, as an inevitable part of life, rather than something to get rid of. As much as self-care has its place, it’s important to consider opportunities for change and acceptance to help you respond to life’s challenges and the difficult thoughts and feelings that go with them, with strategies that boost personal control and life satisfaction.
According to Pornhub, people are watching a lot more porn since the pandemic started. Some worry that this will lead to a permanent jump in post-pandemic porn use, while others expect that porn use will return to pre-pandemic levels after all of this is over. Can people be addicted to porn? Are their psychological benefits of porn use? What treatment approaches are used with people concerned about their porn use? Dr. Joshua Grubbs, who is a professor, researcher, and a clinical psychologist, gives us fascinating answers in this episode!
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In this second part to our Tiger King episode, we are very excited to talk to Dr. Hal Herzog. Hal is a world-renown anthrozoologist and professor emeritus at Western Carolina University. He wrote a great book on the complex relationships between humans and animals called “Some we Love, Some we Hate, Some we Eat” and he maintains a blog on Psychology Today called Animals and Us. We had a lot of fun talking about anthrozoology, the one time that Hal got to hang out with a chimp at Doc Antle’s farm (yes, THAT Doc Antle), his research on ethical issues of human and animals, like whether it is ethical to keep animals as pets. After all, if you consider your pet a part of your family, would you neuter a member of your family? We probably are not going to get any pet food endorsements for Psychodrama after this episode, but that is ok. We had so much fun making it that this is a virtually unedited version. So, please, enjoy this extra long episode of Psychodrama to help with the tedium of quarantine.
Alright! On this episode of Psychodrama, we jump on the Tiger King bandwagon and try to inject clinical psychological science to help (perhaps) explain some of the “colorful” behavior prominently displayed by the main characters of the series. From Joe’s gun-totin’- devil-may-care, pathological attention-seeking to Carole (killed her husband?) Baskin’s single-minded crusade to be the one and only tiger queen and savior to Doc’s Antle’s Svengali-like influence on his feline followers. Listen to this first episode of a 2-part series as we try to humanize the main characters but also admit that it would be pretty sweet to commute to work riding your own elephant (or at least jet-ski).