Anonymous asked:

Can you explain the difference between sociopath and psychopath? I was under the impression that one of those doesn't actually exist and is just a term the general population uses to describe someone they think is "crazy."

soullikethesea said: 

therapy101:

Sure, it’s a bit strange and I agree that most people do not use either terms in any accurate way- it’s more of a way to say “this person is bad and evil and crazy” in most circumstances. 

So initially there was an intention in the psychology, sociology, and criminology community (maybe I’m missing somebody but I think that’s it) to attempt to address the theoretical difference between how a person becomes a psychopath/sociopath. So these two theoretical terms were created to indicate that. Psychopathy indicates a person has these traits due to primarily innate, heritable causes, whereas sociopathy indicates that a person has these traits primarily due to environmental causes. 

However, sociopathy doesn’t really get used in practice and doesn’t get used a whole lot in research anymore either (here’s one argument for why it should get to stick around). Psychopathy is the forensic term most often used, and it is the one that psychologists can assess for, so it’s the one that gets the most clinical and research attention. I hope that’s helpful! 

Wouldn’t ‘antisocial personality disorder’ be what adult clients would be assessed for?

Great question! An adult client can be assessed for ASPD, but could also be assessed for psychopathy. Psychopathy is not a diagnosis, but because of its forensic and predictive value, the Hare PCL was created and is in high use today by psychologists to assess psychopathy. Psychopathy is usually thought of as a very small subset of ASPD, meaning that not everyone who meets criteria for ASPD will meet criteria for psychopathy, but everyone who meets criteria for psychopathy will meet criteria for ASPD. 

just-keep-on-keeping-on asked:

Hi! Just wanted to say that I love whenever you're on and answering questions! I definitely agree with whoever said you should consider going into academia. You always have such great answers and explain things so well. I ask you like a million questions and I really appreciate that you put so much thought & time into answering them. Thanks for all you do on here! :)

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Thanks, you’re the best :) I always appreciate your questions, you’re a very thoughtful person. I hope you’re doing well! :) 

Anonymous asked:

Does it ever bother you that you're a professional yet people treat your blog as somewhat of an agony aunt column?

So I had to google “aunt agony” because that wasn’t familiar to me… I guess it’s a british colloquialism? Apparently it’s an advice column, for anybody else whose unaware of cool british terms.

So anyway- no. Obviously I can’t answer questions that are looking for therapeutic advice, and I’m sorry to have to turn those people away. I hope the things I can say are helpful. I worry about saying much that’s definitive when people ask me for advice about their lives because I’m a professional and so what I say might be given more weight than other people, and I worry about the ethics of that. 

Otherwise, I really like getting a diversity of questions and comments and ideas. It’s really interesting to get to talk to a bunch of different people and consider different ideas. That’s one of the reasons this blog is such a great part of my life.  

Anonymous asked:

Can you explain the difference between sociopath and psychopath? I was under the impression that one of those doesn't actually exist and is just a term the general population uses to describe someone they think is "crazy."

Sure, it’s a bit strange and I agree that most people do not use either terms in any accurate way- it’s more of a way to say “this person is bad and evil and crazy” in most circumstances. 

So initially there was an intention in the psychology, sociology, and criminology community (maybe I’m missing somebody but I think that’s it) to attempt to address the theoretical difference between how a person becomes a psychopath/sociopath. So these two theoretical terms were created to indicate that. Psychopathy indicates a person has these traits due to primarily innate, heritable causes, whereas sociopathy indicates that a person has these traits primarily due to environmental causes. 

However, sociopathy doesn’t really get used in practice and doesn’t get used a whole lot in research anymore either (here’s one argument for why it should get to stick around). Psychopathy is the forensic term most often used, and it is the one that psychologists can assess for, so it’s the one that gets the most clinical and research attention. I hope that’s helpful! 

Anonymous asked:

I'm curious, how hard would you say it is to be a critical thinker? On average, I guess, since it would vastly change from person to person. Because I feel like I've used critical thinking since I can remember, to the point where I thought it was just thinking. Is that unusual or normal for some people?

You’re totally right- critical thinking varies across people. We think that critical thinking is a part of executive functioning, the sort of complex cognition that is most controlled by the frontal lobe. Generally we think it’s distributed on a normal curve, so the majority of people have average critical thinking abilities, and with fewer people at each pole having really good or really poor abilities. People with average abilities do engage in critical thinking naturally, although what that means to them may vary and it may be easier or harder in different circumstances. For instances, it’s often hard for people to think critically when they are under a lot of stress, and a lot easier when they’re thinking about something they understand fairly well. People with better skills probably have more complex, more insightful, broader critical thinking approaches, a greater number of approaches to use, and are probably faster and more effective at using them.

So, no, for the average person what you’re describing it not unusual. For people with poor critical thinking skills it may be unusual. For the people I work with- with serious mental illnesses -they often also have impaired neurocognition, and so have difficulties with things like critical thinking. So if they want to do something like critical thinking, it’s often a tougher and more conscious process, and far harder to do if there are barriers like stress. I hope that’s helpful! 

Anonymous asked:

Interesting! I never thought there'd be therapeutic techniques to improve critical thinking. I just figured as a grad student you'd have tips lol but I'll look into that stuff thanks!

That’s hilarious, I read that question and just assumed. Yes, there totally are therapeutic techniques but there are also lots of things you can just do yourself to help yourself out. 

What I most often do is stop while I’m reading or writing and ask myself questions. Usually it’s discussion questions, like, “what does this mean?” and “how does this apply to X?” and “what is this reading’s relevance in the greater context of everything else I know about this?” This helps me think about what I’m reading, really understand it, and integrate it with everything else I know. It also helps me figure out what I don’t understand so I can go back and read that bit or figure it out some other way. 

I also make lots of lists and tables so I can sort out how things work. I’m a visual learner, so this works really well for me. That way I can identify what’s important about something and often quantify it or put it on a scale of some kind. Sometimes I take notes this way instead of just in Word or on a notepad, so that things are organized better for the way I think. 

vamoose asked:

I'm really interested in working with perpetrators/possibly even sociopaths. I've read studies that conclude that sociopaths cannot benefit from any kind of therapy? What are your thoughts? I find sexual and physical abuse of children to be a huge hidden problem but it seems to only be tackled once it already happens. Am I naive to want to prevent it by working with offenders?

It’s a totally valid and pretty important field. You could think about it three ways, I think, based on what you’ve written: perpetrators, people with ASPD, or sociopaths/psychopaths. There’s a lot of overlap in these groups but they are different and all important areas of study and treatment. 

I don’t agree that psychopaths (which is what I use because it’s the most common term in psych, but at this point sociopathy and psychopathy are really indistinguishable in any practical sense, so it doesn’t really matter) unilaterally cannot benefit from any treatment. I do agree that psychopaths will never stop meeting criteria for psychopathy (or at least that this would be extraordinary) due to therapy. I think that there can be benefit from therapy and it is certainly worth pursuing this, particularly to decrease recidivism. 

As far as working with offenders- no, I don’t think that’s naive. I’ve worked some with offenders and I have colleagues who specialize in it. It’s important work. Prevention is incredibly important, and there are ways to reduce recidivism. Those kinds of programs are huge in most state hospitals and prison systems, so you would have lots of places to work and find your niche.

It is very difficult, very stressful, very emotionally taxing, and definitely not for everyone- I’m sure you know this. It is very hard to hear someone gleefully discuss harming a child. So if you think this is the path for you- that’s great and I totally support it -but make sure (this is something I did, and was very helpful). See if you can volunteer or get some entry level work experience in a state hospital or jail or prison and get a sense of what it’s like. Let them know what your interests are so you might be able to spend time with the population you’re interested in and maybe even shadow other mental health professionals. I hope that helps! 

Anonymous asked:

I can't remember if I've asked this already or not, but are there ways to improve my critical thinking skills? I feel like I'm not a very good critical thinker but I don't even know how to go about improving in that area or if it's even possible.

I can’t give individualized treatment or diagnostic advice. I really encourage you to seek treatment with a competent professional in your area if you are concerned.

Totally, critical thinking can be improved. There are lots of ways to do it, and some of them are in the therapeutic/psychological sort of spectrum, but that’s not necessarily the path a person would have to take. People who are good at critical thinking (usually thought as a part of executive functioning) tend to do it automatically. People who are not so good at it usually don’t do it automatically, so the trick is often to figure out a method to systematically engage in critical thinking when you need to. That way, when something is going on that you really need to think more in depth about, you already have a procedure (or procedures) that you know well and can do easily to help you with your critical thinking. One of the things I do most frequently with my clients to help them with this is problem solving therapy, although other approaches can work for this too. I hope that’s helpful! 

ajbergonia asked:

How do i help a friend who's depress?

I think the key thing is just to be a friend. You can’t be their therapist, or their medication prescriber. You can’t fix what’s wrong. But you can be supportive. You can be there for them. You can go the extra mile to make plans and do fun things with them. If they want to talk about it and you’re comfortable with that, you can talk things through. You can support their decisions to help themselves get better, whatever that might be: therapy or exercise or meditation or art class or whatever. If you feel like things are going downhill and you’re worried, you can bring it up carefully and thoughtfully. 

It’s important to keep an eye on your own needs, though. Sometimes when we care about someone we just want to do everything we can to help, even if that means sacrificing what we need. And that can be okay for short periods of time and for specific reasons, but make sure you know what your boundaries are and what you need to do maintain your own wellbeing. Maybe you can’t have heart to hearts in the middle of the night, or drive your friend everywhere because it makes them nervous, or whatever. Being a friend is important- but your friend should still be your friend, even if they are going through a really hard time. I hope that’s helpful! 

captain-amerikant asked:

Thoughts on Freud?

Oh, I have lots and could go on for a long time I think so maybe I’ll just write some stuff and if I don’t address what you’re interested in you can let me know :) 

I think Freud is a super interesting person and a totally fascinating figure in psych history. I tend to think it’s a mistake to dismiss him and his legacy and his place in history, but also a mistake to place him on a pedestal or think that his clinical approach is effective for most clients.

Freud is arguably the most famous person is psychology, and a large part of that is due to his mystique and his followers. He is probably the only person other than Jesus who called his followers disciples and didn’t get ostracized for it. It’s particularly interesting that he was able to achieve this in a time in history when Jewish people were experiencing such extreme level of institutional prejudice. I wonder whether the social climate impacted his theories and his decisions in the psych community. It’s certainly telling of his character and his interpersonal approach that he was so authoritarian about the way his disciples behaved and so unforgiving of dissent.