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March 2020 marked the official outbreak of COVID 19 crisis officially labeled by (WHO, 2020a) when the governments internationally have since attempted  to control, contain and stop the spread of the virus by encouraging people to adhere to improved hygiene practices (washing hands, wearing masks et.al) and maintain social distancing at all times. Governments around the world had significant challenges to implement these measures (Tominey, 2020).

In order to understand how these challenges could be implemented, it would be interesting to investigate what factors that would influence people to comply. According to researchers the consideration and the importance of social and psychological factors need to be considered in attempting to limit the spread of COVID 19 (Van Bavel et al., 2020). Mental health experts and other advisory groups (SAGE, 2020), have emphasized the role of cultural factors that could play in people’s intention to engage or comply with government instructions and also establish a probable link between cultural orientation and people’s intention to engage in behaviors that would help in reducing the spread of COVID 19.

Social psychologists (Biddlestoneet,al. 2020) and mental health experts have further examined two potential mediators of this relationship, conspiracy theories(Sweney&Waterson, 2020) and feelings of powerlessness(Xiang et al., 2019; Jolley& Douglas, 2014a, 2014b).

Culture and the spread of COVID 19

Cultural psychology (Hofstede et al., 2010), has emphasized on the dimensions of individualism and collectivism that prioritizes individual’s needs over group and group’s needs of individuals.

According to researchers, there has been consistent observation that collectivist cultures demonstrate greater compliance and adherence to social norms as compared to the individualistic culture (Kim et al., 1994). In the collectivist culture it is ideal to follow norms and meet social duties to maintain the societal harmony (Miller, Bersoff& Harwood, 1990), whereas in the individualistic culture personal freedom is promoted over societal harmony (Markus &Kitayama, 1991).

Individualism and Collectivism (Singelis et al., 1995) is further broken down into vertical and horizontal Individualism ad collectivism and  is briefly discussed.   Vertical individualism (viewing the self as an autonomous individual who accepts inequality), horizontal individualism (viewing the self as an autonomous individual who prefers equality), vertical collectivism (viewing the self as part of a collective whilst accepting inequality), and horizontal collectivism (viewing the self as part of a collective that emphasizes equality.

According to (Murray et al., 2011), adherence to social norms can be an important response to collective crisis and behavioral science advisors in the UK have pointed out if individuals are aware of collectivist  behavior then they can reduce the instances of public disorder, increase self-policing, and promote appropriate social norms that would constitute apposite pandemic behavior (SAGE, 2020).

According to social psychologists a sense of collectivism can improve people’s attitudes toward personal sacrifices and actions. Tighter cultures are considered more collectivist at the cultural level (Gelfand et al. 2020)e.g., Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea was able to contain the spread of the virus more effectively than looser cultures(considered more individualist; e.g., the United States, Spain, and Italy).

Climate change perceptions has also demonstrated that collectivists with their  personal sacrifice have engaged in climate friendly actions as compared to individualists (Xiangetal.,2019) and considering the findings, researchers have inferred  that individualism will have negative and collectivism will have positive impact and implication for adherence to appropriate behaviors aiming at limiting or reducing the spread of COVID 19.

Researchers have investigated the intensity to which belief in conspiracy theories and feelings of powerlessness conciliate the relationship between cultural orientation and intentions to engage in behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Conspiracy Theories

COVID 19 has given prominence to conspiracy theories, the notion that China has manufactured the disease as a bioweapon against various nations to implement 5G or use this technology to spread the disease (van Bavel et al., 2020). Although there is no direct links, according to research, between conspiracy theory, collectivism and individualism, researchers think that they should be related.

The need for uniqueness, for example according to (Caietal.,2018;Wang,Fan,&Ouyang, 2017), is considered to be the central feature of individualism that consistently predicts conspiracy beliefs (Hart &Graether, 2018; Lantian et al., 2017). “Moreover individualist (versus collectivists) score higher on the Dark Triad(narcissism,Machiavellianism,andpsychopathy;Wilson&Hartley,2015),and these very traits consistently predict conspiracy beliefs(Cichocka et al., 2015; Douglas & Sutton, 2011; March & Springer, 2019).”

Therefore according to (Mikey,et.al,2020), that individualism is positively associated with conspiracy theories than collectivism.

According to  (Douglas et al., 2019), belief in conspiracy theories has meaningful impact on social and health-related consequences. This includes reduced engagement with politics, climate change initiatives, vaccination programs and others  that has been identified as a likely  obstacle to constructive response to the pandemic  (Van Bavel et al., 2020). Aggregating the researches together, experts predict that individualists rather than collectivists would show decreased COVID 19 compliance with its mitigating activities as a consequence of their belief in conspiracy theories around COVID 19.

Powerlessness

The feeling of powerlessness, the sense of being unable to make significant and meaningful impact on important issues according to (Xiangetal.,2019), is associated with cultural orientation. According to Xiang et al. individualism was positively – and collectivism was negatively – related to feelings of powerlessness regarding climate change.

This according to the experts suggests that collectivists draw power from collective effort and rely on others to take action on global issues thereby making their own personal contribution more meaningful. Individualists on the other had do not feel empowered by collective support or effort and therefore feel their personal contribution to be less meaningful. Therefore, COVID 19 has exposed different feelings of powerlessness between individualists and collectivists.

According to researchers, there is a relation between the feelings of powerlessness that predict health related behaviors.According to (JolleyandDouglas,2014b) the feelingsof powerlessness negotiated  therelationship betweenconspiracybeliefsandlowervaccinationintentions, a demonstrated climate-friendly behavior too (Jolley& Douglas, 2014a). Feelings of powerlessness are therefore also likely to negatively influence people’s responses to the pandemic.

In conclusion, more research needs to be conducted in order to understand the impact of cultural orientation on the perception to reduce any pandemic.  Experts  feel the need to emphasize on the examination of the interplay between cultural orientation, personal feelings of powerlessness and information consumption (conspiracy theories) in times of crisis (pandemic or others).

It raises interesting possibility to that collectivism, during crisis encourages powerful response in contrast with individualism that removes a sense of power, replacing it with harmful conspiracy theories that may be harmful.

Cichocka, A., Marchlewska, M., Golec de Zavala, A. (2015). Does Self-Love or Self-Hate Predict Conspiracy Beliefs? Narcissism, Self-Esteem, and the Endorsement of Conspiracy Theories. Social Psychologicaland Personality Science, 7(2), 157–166. https://doi.org/10.1177/ 1948550615616170

Douglas, K. M., & Sutton, R. M. (2011). Does it take one to know one? Endorsement of conspiracy theoriesisinfluencedbypersonalwillingnesstoconspire.BritishJournalofSocialPsychology, 50(3), 544–552. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8309.2010.02018.x

Gelfand, M. J., Jackson, J. C., Pan, X., Nau, D., Dagher, M. M., Lange, P. V., & Chiu, C. (2020). The Importance of Cultural Tightness and Government Efficiency For Understanding COVID-19 Growth and Death Rates. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/m7f8a

Hart, J., &Graether, M. (2018). Something’s going on here: Psychological predictors of belief in conspiracy theories. Journal of Individual Differences, 39(4), 229–237. https://doi.org/10. 1027/1614-0001/a000268

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J., &Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw Hill Professional

Jolley, D., & Douglas, K. M. (2014a). The social consequences of conspiracism: Exposure to conspiracy theories decreases intentions to engage in politics and to reduce one’s carbon footprint. British Journal of Psychology, 105(1), 35–56. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjop.12018

Markus, H. R., &Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Markus, H. R., &Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation.

Miller, J. G., Bersoff, D. M., & Harwood, R. L. (1990). Perceptions of social responsibilities in India and in the United States: Moral imperatives or personal decisions? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(1), 33–47. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.58.1.33

MikeyBiddlestone* , Ricky Green and Karen M. Douglas (2020).Cultural orientation, power, belief in conspiracy theories, and intentions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32592420

Murray,D.R.,Trudeau,R.,&Schaller,M.(2011).Ontheoriginsofculturaldifferencesinconformity: Four tests of the pathogen prevalence hypothesis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(3), 318–329. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167210394451

Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) (2020)SPI-B return on risk of public disorder. GOV.UK. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/scientific-advisory-groupfor-emergencies-sage-coronavirus-covid-19-response

Sweney, M., &Waterson, J. (2020). Arsonists attack phone mast serving NHS Nightingale hospital. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/14/ arsonists-attack-phone-mast-serving-nhs-nightingale-hospital

Singelis, T. M., Triandis, H. C., Bhawuk, D. P., &Gelfand, M. J. (1995). Horizontal and vertical dimensionsofindividualismandcollectivism:Atheoreticalandmeasurementrefinement.CrossCultural Research, 29(3), 240–275. https://doi.org/10.1177/106939719502900302

Tominey, C. (2020). Compliance with government’s coronavirus advice steadily rising, latest poll finds.The Telegraph. Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/03/30/ compliance-governments-coronavirus-advice-steadily-rising-latest/

Van den Bos, K., Van Veldhuizen, T. S., & Au, A. K. (2014). Counter cross-cultural priming and relative deprivation: The role of individualism–collectivism. Social Justice Research, 28(1), 52– 75. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11211-014-0230-6

VanBavel,J.,Baicker,K.,Boggio,P.S.,Capraro,V.,Cichocka,A.,Cikara,M.,Crockett,M.J.,Crum,A. J., Douglas, K. M., Druckman, J. N., Drury, N., Dube, O., Ellemers, N., Finkel, E. J., Fowler, J. H., Gelfand, M., Han, S., Haslam, S. A., Jetten, J., …Willer, R. (2020). Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic esponse. Nature Human Behaviour, 4, 460–471. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0884-z

Xiang, P., Zhang, H., Geng, L., Zhou, K., & Wu, Y. (2019). Individualist–collectivist differences in climate change inaction: The role of perceived intractability. Frontiers in Psychology, 10(187), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00187


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What is Cyber bullying?

Cyber bullying according to (Smith et.al.,2012),  is an aggressive and intentional act carried by an individual or a group with the use of electronic medium (cyberspace), repeatedly and overtime the victim cannot defend himself or herself against the perpetrator.

This definition of cyber bullying is similar to the traditional bullying and the only variance is the use of cyber space instead of being physically present. The nature of the behavior of the perpetrator can be  very hostile and aggressive. The intention of the perpetrator refers to the degree of awareness of harming the victim or others without being aware of the intensity and the seriousness of their acts.

Therefore cyber bullying, with its indirect nature, poses challenges to evaluate and analyze the intention and the reactive nature of the attack. Cyber bullying, according to many experts from various disciplines, meets the criteria of repetition and frequently creating an imbalance of power.

Although it is difficult to gauge the physical and the psychological strength of the perpetrator in the cyberspace as compared to face-to-face bullying, it can be stated that the victim can block the aggressor from the attack.

There are instances where cyber bullying leads to harassment, as reported by the victim due to repeated and frequent number of incidents and the degree of reported distress. In this instance scholars have proposed alternate terms like online, internet harassment or attacks. This requires another article discussion and does not fall in the scope of this article.  In order to understand the article one needs to define the entities like the victim and the perpetrator.

A victim, according to the dictionary definition, is someone or something that has been hurt, damaged, or killed or has suffered, either because of the actions of someone or something else, or because of illness or chance. It follows the definition and the only difference is the type of hurt, damage that the victim (someone) has suffered because of the aggressive behavior of the perpetrator (someone) in the cyber space.

A perpetrator,according to the dictionary definition is a person who is responsible for a crime. While a suspect may be suspected of having committed a crime, this term is used for the person who actually committed it. Usually, this term is only used for people who commit illegal acts or crimes in this case the medium is often cyber space.

Cyber bullying demystified

Although some experts (Olweus& Limber, 2018; see Vaillancourt, Faris, &Mishna, 2017)  view cyber bullying as not subtly specific from traditional bullying,  but according to (Savage & Tokunaga, 2017), there is inadequate information to generalize the findings from traditional to cyber bullying. Experts and researchers also stated that there are many facets of cyber bullying that somewhat overlaps with traditional bullying but somewhat different. The many facets of cyber bullying include its definition, prevalence rates, risks and preventative measures, outcomes and protective factors. According to other experts (Vaillancourt et al., 2017) cyber space provides the platform for ease and accessibility of bullying inflicting greater harm and hurt than traditional bullying.

Therefore one can state that cyber bullying may be more complex and insidious than traditional bullying and the field in very nascent in that it requires a lot of research and intervention in order to build awareness and healing.

According to Pew Research Center  95% of teens “own or have access to a smartphone” and 45% of teens surveyed report being “online on a near-constant basis” (Anderson & Jiang, 2018) and that 24% of the youth surveyed by Pew Research Centre perceived that social media had negative impacts on their lives and that the social media was the reason for excessive bullying and rumor spreading. According to (Vaillancourt et al. 2017), cyber bullying is uniquely associated with

  • Somatic difficulties (e.g.,headaches, stomach aches,etc.,)
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts
  • Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Academic difficulties

According to (Tetri&Vuorinen, 2013)cyber security attacks are primarily based on social engineering techniques – the use of psychological manipulation to trick people into disclosing sensitive information or inappropriately granting access to a secure system.There are various existing characteristics of cyberspace bullying mainly intent to harm, power imbalance and repetition of the harmful behavior (Olweus, 1999).

The power imbalance, that is less explicit in the cyberspace as compared to traditional cyber bullying, provides dis-inhibition to the perpetrator to behave more brazenly due to anonymity. Also, the perpetrator with a single malicious attack can reach multiple users and this behavior also negates the repetition of the acts compared to traditional bullying.

 The Psychology behind Cyber Attack

The interplay of Trust and Risk play a very important role in the cyberspace (social media) where , according to the experts, the real world constructs have been incorporated. This is turn provides a platform for communication, emotion, activities, location expression and other expression that provides a fabric for the users to spin and define their personas online. The risk that comes with this is that the users are unable to view the expressions of the other users in the virtual environment and take a huge risk in communicating with one another with sometimes fictitious identities or even deceased people with the promise of unlimited and unbounded opportunities that seems too good to be true. Furthermore this results in a huge interplay between trust and influence where a perpetrator can use subtle skills to influence the victim suavely, slowly and skillfully.

According to the Dr.Robert Cialdini, there a various psychological elements and are not limited to  that lead to cyber bullying  are as follows:

Principle of Liking

People tend to build trust with those they are attracted to both physically and emotionally. A  simple principle with very complicated and complex implications.

Social Proof

Actions of people are based on what others do rather than rational validation of the consequences of the actions.

Rule of Reciprocation

A  sense of obligatory quid pro quo.  A   feeling of obligation and indebtedness to reciprocate a gift or a favor for the recipient to return the act in kind.  This action can also be employed in cyber space where via social networking strangers are compelled to accept invitations with a mutual feeling of obligation and indebtedness.

Commitment & Consistency

People while using the social media as a loyalty commit to their original decision despite information and communication that may not be conducive to their feeling of comfort and therefore they find it very difficult to unfriend, block or un-follow and instead continue to interact with the person.

Principle of Authority

The principle of authority is also  used in social engineering, directly or indirectly where either of the users uses names of authorities by fabricating personal credentials to impress and influence the target.

Principle of Scarcity

The value increases when the demand for anything or anybody increases with the rarity. Cyber bullies can sometimes use this tactic to bully the victim.

According to X-Force 2013 Mid-Year Trend and Risk Report, the elements of psychology discussed above can contribute to the social networking threats that can contribute to the success of the exploitative behavior of the cyber bullies.

Much of the research in cyber bullying has been aimed at protection of the victim rather than investigating or researching the rationale for bullying for the perpetrator. Nevertheless, according to (Slonje et al. 2013), the psychological state of a perpetrator is as such that they were once a victim of bullying and since they were unable to retaliate face-to-face, they turn to cyber bullying behind the veil of anonymity where they feel protected. At the crux of all bullying whether cyber or classic, are victimization, disparagement and abuse of a targeted child. Child abuse, whether perpetrated by a child or adult, is detrimental to all aspects of their psychological and developmental maturation following them into adulthood and throughout their lifespan.

The children who are traumatized by abuse and victimization develop higher rates of all kinds of negative psychological and sociological aspects of human condition (drugs and alcohol abuse, criminal involvement, domestic abuse and psychiatric illness). Some of these children turn out to be perpetrators as they grow up to be an adult.

The perpetrators had motives, both internal and external, according to (Varjas et al. 2010) that were revenge, boredom, jealousy or experimenting with new persona to impress or displace feelings. External motives were categorized as no consequence, non-confrontational or a different persona that contradicted the internal motive and that internal motivations, according to the researchers, predicted the cyber bullying more than external. Additionally,  a deep feeling of inferiority and proclivity and the “need for acceptance”, according to ( Alfred Adler, 1964), contributes to the cyber bullying behavior if not addressed or intervened during the early years of a person. The feeling of inferiority triggers a child to become big and better than others thereby leading to aggressive behavior with various kinds of bullying Righteous Cyberbully & Narcissistic Cyber bully.

A Righteous Cyber bully,  according  to the experts,“are aware of their actions, understands they are causing the target child distress, understand their actions are wrong, but continues to do so because they believe the target child deserves their assaults. The Righteous Cyberbully feels warranted in his/her actions for reasons including:

  1. The target child offended or abused the aggressor in the past from bullying or an isolated aggressive event.
  2. The target child offended or abused a peer or loved one close to the aggressor in the past from bullying or an isolated aggressive event.
  3. The target child offended the aggressor’s belief system due to their race, religious affiliation, physical presentation, socio economic status, sexuality and any other aspects the aggressor deems offensive, immoral or unjust.”

The Narcissistic cyber bullies are potentially dangerous and more concerning than the others as they are aware of their malevolent intent and they cause intentional distress and assault on the victim.  Cyber bullies of this group become future sociopaths, criminals and psychopaths, and victimize and inflict pain on others as adults, devoid of remorse. It is not mandated by the society to evaluate all children for antisocial  and narcissistic personality but at some point the society must treat all the children as having some potential as both the aggressor and victim.

Most children who are either the perpetrator or the victim rarely disclose the information to either the parents or as they become adult to their friends and family.

In concluding, and according to experts (Jean Kummerow, 2014),  the use of Adler’s psychological principles in our day-to-day lives, could be an effective preventative measureto minimize cyber bullying to some degree. This is called “the Crucial C’s” of Adlerian principle thatprovides a system for creating more functional, responsible, and capable families.

Connect:  Everyone feels a need to belong and have a bond with others. When we feel secure, we can reach out and make friends.  These connections help foster a concern for the welfare of the community.

Capable:  We all need to acquire skills so we can accomplish our goals. It is important to feel confident and self-reliant and to have self-control when things are not going our way.  The Adlerians talk about turning a felt negative into a perceived positive.

Count:  Everyone needs to be valued and feel like they can make a difference.  Adler talks of finding significance.  The principle of social equality also prevails; we are on a horizontal ladder, not a vertical one in terms of relationships.  We are motivated to do our best. This is different than having to win and to best others.

Courage: We all need to be hopeful, resilient, and be willing to try.  We need to cope with difficult times and learn from them.  We need “the courage to be imperfect,” and we get at least some of that courage through encouragement.

The concept of Cyber bullying is very complex and with the introduction of “hactivism”* and other concepts a growing number of students both children and adults are being affected. Early intervention by counselors can act as a preventative measures by utilizing program based on solution based brief therapy using Adlerian techniques that can help victims overcome feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, insecurity, proclivity and lower self-esteem. Rogerian techniques can also be used by counselors to build trust and rapport with the clients with complimenting and empowering victims to create the feeling of control. Families, communities and societies need to be aware of the symptoms of cyber bullying and need to nip it in the bud in order to avoid any debacle in the future that might affect society as a whole.

 *Hacktivism is sparked by an individual’s or group’s perception of what they consider to be ‘wrong’ or ‘unjust’ and hence incentivizes them to do something about it. Motivations include revenge, political or social incentives, ideology, protest, a desire to embarrass certain organisations or individuals within those organisations or sometimes sheer vandalism.

Adler, A. (1964). Social interest: A challenge to mankind. New York, NY: Capricorn

Anderson, M., & Jiang, J. (2018, May 31). Teens, social media & technology 2018.Retrieved on May 19, 2019 from https://www.pewinternet.org/2018/05/31/teenssocial-media-technology-2018/.

https://www.ipredator.co/cyberbully-minds/

J Wolak, KJ Mitchell, D Finkelhor – Journal of adolescent health, 2007 – Does online harassment constitute bullying? An exploration of online harassment by known peers and online-only contacts-Elsevier

Olweus, D. (1999). Sweden. In P. K. Smith, Y. Morita, J. Junger-Tas, D. Olweus, R. Catalano, & P. Slee (Eds.). The nature of school bullying: A cross-national perspective (pp. 7–27). London: Routledge.

Olweus, D. (1999). Sweden. In P. K. Smith, Y. Morita, J. Junger-Tas, D. Olweus, R. Catalano,&P.Slee (Eds.).Thenatureofschoolbullying: Across-national perspective(pp. 7–27). London: Routledge.

Olweus, D., & Limber, S. (2018). Problems with cyberbullying research. Current Opinion in Psychology, 19, 139–143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.04.012. Patchin, J. W., &Hinduja, S. (2012). Cyberbullying: An update and synthesis of the research. In J. W. Patchin, & S. Hinduja (Eds.).

Cyberbullying prevention and response: Expert perspectives (pp. 13–35). New York, NY: Routledge.

Rogers, C. R. (1961). On becoming a person. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.

Savage, M. W., & Tokunaga, R. S. (2017).Moving toward a theory: Testing an integrated model of cyberbullying perpetration, aggression, social skills, and internet self-efficacy. Computers in Human Behavior, 71, 353–361. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb. 2017.02.016

Slonje, R., & Smith, P. (2008).Cyberbullying: Another main type of bullying?. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology49(1), 147–154

Smith, P. K. (2012). Cyberbullying and cyber aggression. In S. R. Jimerson, A. B. Nickerson, M. J. Mayer, & M. J. Furlong (Eds.), Handbook of school violence and school safety: International research and practice (p. 93–103). Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

Tetri, P. &Vuorinen, J. (2013). Dissecting social engineering.Behaviour& Information Technology, 32(10), 1014–1023.

Vaillancourt, T., Faris, R., &Mishna, F. (2017).Cyberbullying in children and youth: Implications for health and clinical practice. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 62(6), 368–373. https://doi.org/10.1177/0706743716684791

Varjas, K., Talley, J., & Parris, L. (2008). High school students’ perceptions of motivations for cyberbullying: An exploratory study. West J Emerg Med11(3), 269-273.

https://securityintelligence.com/sophisticated-cyber-attacks-6-psychological-elements/

 


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24/Aug/2020

Thanks to the advancements in neuroscience and modern technology, with the help of medical pieces of equipment and imaging techniques like EEG and MRI scans, we are now able to get a clearer picture of the brain structure and function.

And it has been seen that neglect and abuse, even of the emotional kind can leave a lasting impact on our brain. Sophisticated imaging techniques like diffusion tensor imaging provides information on the white matter tracts, and how the circuits in our brain are altered in an abusive environment.

Amygdala, which is one of the brain’s most important areas, process fear and fear response within us. And regular abuse results in increased activity in the amygdala, which advances to behavioural changes such as impulsivity and a constant state of heightened alert. And on the other hand, the reward centre of our brain shows a blunted response, which means that we find it difficult to feel happiness. Emotional regulation and behavioural maladjustments are other key changes that happen with constant stress and abuse.

In the previous article, I spoke about the kindness one can offer a partner. But people rarely talk about the abuse one greets one’s intimate partner with.

I was a terrible lover to my partner.

I am you; you are me, we’ve all been here on this path before.

Strangely enough, I was never a bad guy. I’ve never hit a woman or even used a swear word against one. I’m not abusive in that popular cultural reference kind of away.

But I was still abusive in that I didn’t respect my partner’s thoughts and feelings as much as I should have. Even though I didn’t intend it as such, I ended up making her feel like her opinions were worthless, and in effect, she was worthless.

When two people disagree, they do so because both of them think they’re right. I thought I was right. I thought this more often, even when I didn’t think of her as wrong.

I forgot the inalienable truth; sometimes there’s no right or wrong, especially in a relationship. One person can like colour, the others needn’t. One might like a particular kind of movie, the other needn’t. There’s no right or wrong over here. But I treated it as such. What I felt and thought and hence believed, I considered as true. Which automatically meant, I thought she was wrong.

I had promised to love her, and I did. I never stopped loving her. But I did stop observing what effect my nonchalance was having on her.

I always put her first in my life. But not when it came to disagreements and fights. When we fought, it was all about me, how I had to prove to her how I am not to be blamed, how I am in fact blameless. It’s not that I wasn’t, but my insistence on proving my “innocence” meant that I didn’t see how it was affecting her.

She told me about it. Once, twice and many more times than I can recall. I heard her plenty, but I didn’t listen to her.

I was a good person. I was charitable. I was generous. I was sacrificing. How can I be a bad guy, then? Those people (bad people) do horrible violent acts. Then how can I be one of them? Then it hit me; a good man can still be a lousy professional. A good man can still be a bad teacher, doctor, and officer. I was just a bad lover.

The fear response in our Amygdala acts in haste when we hear perceivable bad things about ourselves. When our fear response gets activated, our sympathetic nervous system gets activated. We react unconsciously and impulsively. We get defensive, we get angry, we try to rationalize and justify our behaviour.

I didn’t hit her. I didn’t call her names. But I still drove her to tears during a fight. Constant abuse altered her brain circuitry. It affected her behaviour; she was in constant distress.

When she moved away from me for good, it finally hit me what I was doing to her. When she moved to cities and went back to college, I realized what I had lost.

Emotional abuse, it’s the silent devil in relationships.

I share my story so that you don’t end up alone like me.


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21/Aug/2020

Our brains are squishy structures that can change and that can be changed by us, us, you know, by our own brain!

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change, adapt and grow as we learn and practice new skills. In countless MRI scans, it has been revealed that by simply moving our little finger for an hour can bring about changes in the motor cortex region of our brain. What’s even strange is that even if we don’t actually move our finger but merely think about doing it for an hour, it still shows changes in the post thought MRI scans!

Compassion and meditation have shown to increase the thickness of our prefrontal cortex. So if someone calls you a big-headed person, it’s a good thing! Well…

The science is pretty simple though. The more action or thought we do of a single event, the more connections we make in our brain. The more we strengthen the neural pathways in our brain. And over time, such chemical changes can even alter the structure of our brain.

The name of the game then is kindness, and no better player to practice this with than your partner. One way or the other, they are the ones who are going to influence you the most in your life and the person with whom you’re going to spend most of your time.

But how? What should I do? How can I be kind to my partner?

For starters, when your partner is interested in something and tries to engage in a conversation with you regarding it. Learn to pay attention and tune in to what they are talking about. You must learn to do this even if the thing that they are into isn’t really your thing! This is how you’ll strengthen the connection, both in your brain and between people.

We all lead busy lives; there’s so much to do in a single day. We have to go out, study and work. Commute and curse at other drivers for being worse drivers than us, who don’t know how to drive compared to our superior driving skills. There are housework chores to do, there are taxes to pay, there are curses to conjure towards the government for making us pay taxes, there are credit card bills to pay and then there’s panic to do when you realise you don’t have money to pay your credit card bills. There’s Nietzsche to read and wonder about the abyss, and time to look at your bank statements and wonder what kind of an abyss this is! In short, we all lead busy, tiring lives. But, and I cannot stress this enough. Having a bad day is no excuse to neglect your partner. Even when you’re stressed and tired, you must find time for your partner. Period. Especially during then!

Learn to fight. But don’t go to your local, Amazon acquired a black belt wearing Kung Fu master. Go to your local psychologist and find out how to fight. Everyone knows to fight instinctively, but no one knows how to fight kindly. Anger is natural and fair, fights arising out of it are also natural and fair. But learn, learn how to fight kindly. How to express your hurt and anger without hurting them and angering them.

Let your partner make decisions on their own. Don’t over analyse and find faults with them and their decisions. You’re with an adult, trust them to make their own decisions and any possible stumblings that they might have. If they are doing something to make you happy, accept it without questioning their motive. Just because our parents have conditioned us that when they gift you a watch, it means they expect you to score high in your boards, it doesn’t mean as adults we become suspicious of other people’s generosity.

Watch NBA, watch IPL, learn that cheerleaders are there for a purpose. Cheerleaders cheer when the team is winning and even when the team is losing. That’s what cheerleaders do. We need cheerleaders in our lives. Be the cheerleader in your partner’s life. Please don’t wait for birthdays and festivals to do good by them. Learn to be their rock and their constant support during the good times, and especially during their bad times.


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08/Aug/2020

In 2001 Frumkin mentioned, “Perhaps we will advise patients to take a few days in the country, to spend time gardening, or to adopt a pet, if clinical evidence offers support for such measures.”

As to how nature-assisted mental health interventions might concretely manifest in practice, this, of course, will depend on the particular form of methodological and theoretical integration chosen (e.g., narrative, Gestalt, cognitive, solution-focused, experiential or generally positive psychological or even pharmaceutical approach to intervention).

Various kinds of Ecotherapy

There are several different established nature-assisted approaches, such as:

  1. Horticultural therapy
  2. Wilderness therapy
  3. Civic environmentalism
  4. Walking for health and the use of healing gardens.

Nature as a therapeutic/salutogenic context (or independent variable) may range from quests in the wilderness to passive contemplation in a garden to a natural view from the consulting room. Indeed, it is clear from the outset of this study, that there is a multitude of different parameters, which might influence the particular manifestation of clinical practice.

Additional factors

In addition to those earlier stated, i.e., whether a practice is group-based or solo, active or passive, we also need to take into account factors such as:

  1. the degree of therapist intervention
  2. therapist positioning
  3. goals of therapy
  4. client compliance

Different Methodologies

In the late 1990s and early 2000, several scientists such as Burns, Linden & Grut, Berger, Reynolds, and Townsend demonstrated several methodologies for the practice of Ecotherapy. Specific methodologies have ranged from:

  1. Burns’s outcome-directed use of the Sensory Awareness Inventory
  2. The elicitation of metaphor from either nature-based assignments or shared activity with a therapist (Burns, 1998; Linden & Grut, 2002)
  3. Use of ritual (Berger, 2006) to group involvement in a conservation project (Reynolds, 2002; Townsend, 2006).
  4. Suitable methodologies, which show particular promise in terms of amalgamation within a nature-assisted integrative approach, such as mindfulness/meditation in nature.

In terms of the practice of nature-assisted psychotherapy, nature may be drawn on as the client’s focus elicited homework assignments. Experiences in nature may be the source of therapeutic material taken up in therapy (for example, experiential metaphors may be drawn on – Ibid), or natural settings may be the real context of therapy itself. That is, the consulting room could be under open skies or in a greenhouse.

The field of nature-assisted clinical psychological intervention is still in its fledgeling days, and the need for the development of best practice models is most apparent. At a seminar on nature guided therapy in Copenhagen, the need for ideas and guidelines on how psychologists might practice integrative nature-based approaches was evident. Burls has highlighted the pressing need for training programs for ecotherapists. It has also recommended that future practitioners need extensive psychotherapeutic knowledge and multi-therapeutic skills, including those who may draw from nature as a therapeutic resource.


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07/Aug/2020

Ecotherapy is the practice of the new field of ecopsychology founded by Theodore Roszak, also known as nature therapy or ecological therapy. In certain instances, ecotherapy derives from the idea that people are part of the web of life, and our psyches are not disconnected or removed from our surroundings. 

Ecotherapy is used to describe a rather diverse range of therapeutic modalities. These range from individual clients’ counselling within a psychotherapeutic context to ‘green care farms’, ‘green exercise’, and green gyms. Unfortunately, ecotherapy is also frequently associated with terms such as animal-assisted therapy, adventure therapy, and wilderness therapy.

Green Impact on Emotions

Researchers at the University of Essex demonstrated the basis for Mind’s afore-mentioned “green agenda for mental health” report. They have also highlighted the link between broader environmental ethics and human health, claiming that the emotional benefits of green spaces can be utilised as an argument for environmental conservation.

It is not shocking that nature has a calming impact when you know that for our entire life, the human race–and all our evolutionary forebears–have been closely related to it. It is only in recent times that many of us have been limited to environments created by man. Therefore interaction with green spaces is like returning home for us and fills us with the same sense of comfort and belonging. They crave nature in the same way as a child needs a mother, and derive from it the same sense of satisfaction.

Perspective of Therapy

Ecotherapy takes a distinctly more instrumental or functional perspective on the therapeutic value of nature. Its usefulness or value in promoting the health or alleviating the mental suffering of individual human beings, rather than from a vision of the interdependence of personal, community and planetary health. From such a perspective, nature is perceived more or less pragmatically as providing an optimal environment to enhance human psychological growth, restoration and healing. These approaches include horticultural therapy/social and therapeutic horticulture, healing gardens various schools of wilderness and adventure therapy animal-facilitated therapeutic practices, green care and green farms, health-promoting environments, evidence-based health design, not to mention the salutogenic use of urban green spaces, such as parks and gardens. 

However, the main reason that nature can heal and transform us is because of its calming and mind-settling effect. Our minds process much less information than usual in life, and by concentrating, they do not wear themselves out. Most importantly, the beauty perhaps wonders of nature in meditation works a bit like a mantra, slowing down the usual ‘thought-chatter’ that runs through our minds chaotically. It fills us with inner stillness and strength, producing a glow of being and intensifying our perceptions.


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06/Aug/2020

A metaphor is a “figure of speech in which a word or phrase denoting one form of entity or behavior is used instead of another to imply a connection or analogy between them.” It involves moving the relationship between one group of objects to another for brief clarification purposes.

The use of metaphors in hypnotherapy is universal and essential. It is used widely in hypnotherapy to pass suggestions to the subconscious mind while bypassing critical issues.

History of Metaphor

Milton Erickson is the pioneer in this field. He was the inspiration for using metaphors in a therapeutic context. His methods for communicating with the unconscious mind using sophisticated language patterns and metaphors are recognized now as essential for effective change. One of the main characteristics of therapeutic metaphors is that they are open-ended, thereby allowing listeners to draw on their resources for a solution.

A metaphorical story in a therapeutic context consists of elements that symbolically represent the client’s problem and offers a solution to the client’s problem indirectly.

Advantages of Metaphor Therapy

The following are the benefits and uses of therapeutic metaphor;

The value of metaphor in hypnotherapy is that it can bypass conscious resistances and serves to stimulate creativity and lateral think concerning problems.

  1. Cause something to be remembered.
  2. Make, demonstrate, explain, or illustrate a point.
  3. Create generative realities.
  4. Open up possibilities and strategies.
  5. Normalize or otherwise re-contextualize a particular position or content.
  6. Carry multiple levels of information.
  7. Facilitate new patterns of thoughts, behavior, and feelings.
  8. Stimulate lateral thinking and creativity.
  9. Reframe or redefine a problem or situation.
  10. Introduce doubt into a position that holds that there is only “one” way.
  11. Provide or guide associations and thinking along certain lines.
  12. Allow the client to form a choice or find his direction.
  13. Bypass normal ego defenses.
  14. Allow the client to process directly at a subconscious level (indirect suggestions.
  15. Shift the subject or redirect the discussion.
  16. Suggest solutions and new options.
  17. Provide a gateway between the conscious.
  18. Pass suggestions to the subconscious mind.
  19. Increase rapport and communication.
  20. Facilitate retrieval of resource experiences.
  21. Lighten up the mood.

Example of Metaphor Story

The following is an example of a therapeutic hypnotic metaphor story that frequently used by psychologists:

“Once Buddha and a few of his followers moved from one town to another. It was in the initial days. While they were traveling, they happened to pass a lake. They stopped there, and Buddha told one of his followers, I am thirsty, can you get some water from that lake there.

One of his followers walked up to the lake. When he reached there, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water becomes contaminated. The follower thought about how I can give this polluted water to Buddha as drinking water.so he came back and told Buddha everything happened. After for a while, Buddha again told him to go to that stream and bring the water. The follower didn’t like Buddha’s request. He talked to himself. The water became muddy, but why couldn’t Buddha understand that? Without saying anything to Buddha, the follower went back to the stream.

He found that this time the stream had completely clear water in it. He picked up some water in a bowl and took it up to Buddha. Buddha looked at the mud and then glanced up towards the disciple and said, see what you’ve done to clean the bowl.

You let it be….. And the mud settles down on its own, and you got clear water. Your mind is also like that. When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to make an effort to calm them down. It will happen; it is effortless.”

Many psychologists worldwide have built their ways of using metaphorical interpretation in a very different and individualized way.


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05/Aug/2020

Your mind can be a powerful healing device when given the opportunity. The belief that your brain will persuade the body that a fake cure is real is known as the Placebo effect. And it has been used for centuries as a healing method.

Medicines or treatment which react to one’s instructions or faith is termed placebo. Pain or physical ailments caused due to psychological reasons can be cured using compulsion or placebo pills.

Misconceptions in Placebo Treatment

 

Patient’s trust in the treatment, the physician, and the latter’s conduct are factors that add to the placebo effect. The mental state of the patient, who has received temporary stimulus as a result of the doctor’s compulsion, is mistaken by the former as prognosis.

Pseudo physicians easily influence many patients who are in the habit of readily believing things. A majority of people wish for a ritualistic solution to their ailments and problems. They prefer pseudo curing techniques that are either spiritual or mysterious in their approach. Such people tend to claim that these medicines were effective even when it had no real effect on them. Pseudo- physicians make outrageous claims about their mode of treatment.

It is made to believe that prognosis happens when there is a belief in the curing capacity of the medicine being taken. Through strengthening the body’s immunity against the disease, some ailments are healed. But this doesn’t work in the case of deadly diseases. Even when many treatments or medicines are of no use, the misconceptions regarding their healing power are widespread. Big wholesale pharmaceutical companies, sell off their sugar pills and useless tonics using grand advertisement tools.

Influence of Psychological Treatment based Placebo effect in curing diseases

 

Mental stress is the reason for many kinds of mental illnesses. Asthma, blood pressure, peptic ulcer, some skin diseases, sexual problems, allergy, sleeplessness, menstrual problems, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, constipation, recurring body pain, obesity, etc. are the primary psychological disorders caused by mental issues. Apart from this, people with physical diseases like cancer, epilepsy, stroke, heart disease, hypothyroidism, or Parkinson’s disease might show symptoms of depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, psychosis, etc.

Almost 25% of cancer patients suffer from depression or anxiety disorders. The treatment for mental disorders seen among cancer patients is termed psycho-oncology.

Certain peculiar behavioral traits are seen among people with psychological disorders: Over expectation and extreme importance to events. Sudden bouts of happiness and sadness. People with less civic sense, depression, sleep-related problems, etc. Categories psychological disorders include anxiety disorders, convention disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, stress-related ailments, Somatoform disorder, and so on.

For people suffering from psychological diseases and those with physical ailments like cancer, treatments for mental loosening are advisable. Certain studies suggest that psychological loosening up can strengthen the activity of immune cells to some extent. Hypnosis Progressive Relaxation techniques, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, etc. are scientific psychotherapy techniques used to treat psychological disorders.

Many illnesses can be cured without any treatment because our body has natural immunity. There occurs a reasonable gradation in the intensity of many deadly diseases or long-suffering ailments. It is easy to mistake it as a cure.


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04/Aug/2020

Sleep hypnosis is a process in which a hypnotherapist directs a client through verbal signals that trigger relaxation, in person or via a video, and a trance-like experience that can be used to help you sleep drift.

Hypnosis helps the subject to consciously “sleep,” while staying subconsciously aware. The following trance-like state happens with lower-level brainwave activity, where conscious activity subsides, and mental activity rises.

Hypnosis may be a valuable method for certain people who deal with a series of sleep problems, such as insomnia or sleepwalking.

Hypnosis can help people with insomnia and encourage both the body and mind to relax and get rid of the anxiety that causes not falling asleep. A sleepwalker, on the other hand, could learn to wake up when his feet touch the floor by hypnotic suggestion. Hypnosis can also increase up to 80 per cent of the time you spend in a deep sleep. That’s key because, for memory and recovery, deep sleep is crucial, so you start waking up feeling restored.

Why are the Instructions of a Hypnotist felt as Experienced by the Subject?

The brain’s central nervous system experiences a kind of numbness when the eyes are kept focused on a single object for long. Except for one, all the other sense organs become temporarily inactive. At this stage, the person is entirely devoid of his potential for critical thinking. Then, the few nerve centres that are still active will be compelled to accept the suggestions without checking for their validity. This is the reason why the subject experiences implications.

How does the Hypnotic Sleep Occur?

The related nerve centres experience a kind of induced lethargy when hypnosis is done by focusing one’s eyes on the tip of the nose or by making one listen to sounds or through progressive relaxation techniques etc. This also happens while paying attention to one single object for long. Now the hypnotist goes on to give suggestions that are capable of invoking particular suggestive chain of thoughts in the subject. For example, suppose the individual focuses his eyes on the tip of his nose on being instructed by the hypnotist. Approximately after three minutes, he will start experiencing lethargy in his eyes. Heaviness increases. At this moment, he receives the following instruction: “the heaviness of your eyes is increasing.” As a result of this, the subject starts believing things quickly and, in turn, takes even suggestions for experiences.

Although sleep hypnosis is usually considered safe, and it is a supplementary sleep aid that has mild benefits for some people, there are more efficient ways to get the sleep you need. Speak to your doctor to find out which treatment would be of most significant benefit to you.


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03/Aug/2020

Is there an impact of instructions given during hypnosis?

Posthypnotic suggestions are intended to make changes after coming out from the hypnotic state. The essential things that are attained through the posthypnotic recommendations are as follows:

  1. Absence of vagueness
  2. Passion of interest
  3. Positive Phrasing
  4. Manifestation of emotion
  5. No conscious disagreement

The person needs to be comfortable in a hypnotic state to achieve the goals. Therein lies the capacity of fluid exchange of information from conscious to the subconscious and the other way around. However, although this exchange can take place, it’s important to note that the subconscious can only embrace suggestions if they are not in conflict first and foremost with other, more dominant concepts already conveyed. And secondly, there is nothing else that prevents the transition.

How does it work?

Specific physical and mental changes occur in the person who has been subjected to hypnosis. In this state of hypnosis, many things can be brought to the subject’s mind, which is not possible when he is in his senses. Many a time, the subject will be able to remember the things which happened during hypnosis, even after waking up. The instructions given during hypnosis continue to influence the person even after waking up from that state. Examples:

  1. Smoking: If a smoker desperately wanting to quit smoking is made to go through hypnotic sessions where he is repeatedly instructed against smoking, he would develop an attitude against smoking when the hypnotic sessions are over. These kinds of posthypnotic instructions are successful many a time. At the same time, he should be made aware of the harmful effects of smoking on him and society.
  2. Sense: Posthypnotic instructions are also capable of nurturing one’s sense of appreciation and creativity. The main factor in the audio-visual media advertisements is nothing but posthypnotic instructions. Thus we are compelled to buy products which are not necessary and are expensive.

The physical and mental changes after hypnotism is a result of conditioning. We are not ready to examine things which we regularly say or hear. We never bother to rationally analyse a situation which we have repeatedly heard and hence have always believed. We are compelled to take it even when it is unscientific. Through these recommendations, events that have not happened are made to think as occurred, which appears because of a human brain speciality. The brain is not capable of differentiating real situations which kindle one’s emotions from similar conditions which are just imagined and are not real. The brain gives orders in producing the chemicals required for a particular emotion if the person imagines visuals capable of generating such a feeling.

Hence, for personality development, the person has to free herself from posthypnotic instructions which happen outside hypnosis. It is possible if he acts according to his will. Analysing other suggestions and acting according to one’s interests is an essential step towards the creative development of his personality.


SoftMind

 

We’ve experienced practising clinical hypnotherapist, consultant psychologist and Forensic Hypnologist in our team to work with people with a full range of mental health problems and emotional distress.

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