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I finished my first semester at UW – Stout with flying colors.  Over the course of the semester I learned a ton of things, notably, the differences between the classic family theories (Structural, Bowenian, Strategic, ect), that due to the fact that we live in a pervasively racist society, everyone really is a racist, and at the end of the day I want to be a female version of Carl Whitaker.  (Carl Whitaker, for those of you who don’t know, was a sort of grouchy old man who believed that everyone was crazy and to effectively create change in families, they must have the motivation within themselves to do it.  He was very confrontational and often was accused of “not liking his clients.”  He agreed with his accusers.)  In short, I am taking on the socially constructed identity of a marriage and family therapist and liking it.

One thing that I did not like very much over the course of the semester was working full-time while doing school full-time.  Although I was able to successfully do both of those things, I was not able to do things like have free time or invest in friendships.  Both free time and friendships are important to me and because of that, I am cutting my hours at CRTC to part-time.  I am looking forward to having time to be more than a great student and employee.  At the beginning of February, I will be in the Part Time Overnight position.  Although the sleep schedule will take some adjusting, I think that it will be worth it, especially because I will be able to use some down time during the overnight to do homework.  I am also hoping to have some more time to keep this blog maintained.

Over the course of Holiday break, I have been spending time with family, playing the Sims, and reading “fun” books.  (It should be noted that “fun” is in quotes because I decided to see what all of the Twilight fuss was about.  It is as bad as you’ve heard.)  One of the things I want to try in the Sims is make a polygamist relationship and a polyamourous relationship.  I want try this: 1) to see if I even can with the way the game is coded and 2) to see how harmonious I can make both of those types of relationships work within the game.  The problem I run into with running social experiments on the Sims is that I start to feel attached to my avatars – I don’t want them to suffer.  So when they start fighting with each other and sobbing into their hands (you Sims players know what I am talking about), I fold like a cheap suit and start giving them what they want. Does anyone else experience this?  With a simulation game (one without a win point), do you find yourself feeling bad for your avatars?  Assuming that I don’t just have an excessively sensitive heart, I wonder if people who struggle with empathy would empathize with their avatars in a game like the Sims.  Would someone who is dealing with Antisocial Personality Disorder or Reactive Attachment Disorder feel bad for or attach to their Sim?


According to a recent study put out by the University of Texas at Austin, Facebook users profiles coincide fairly accurately with their actual personalities. A questionnaire given to a variety of Facebook users evaluated them on the five factor personality traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness. Users who did not know the original set evaluated them on the basis of their Facebook profile only using the same criteria. The most stable trait was extraversion and the least stable trait was neuroticism, which makes sense because it is difficult to tell how neurotic someone is until you actually meet them.

This finding flies in the face of the idea that social media is all about promoting only a fake or idealized version of the self. The article, in fact, points out that mediums like Facebook and Twitter have now become synomonous with the phone for genuineness of social interaction. Basically, it is as genuine as the user makes it out to be.

Feel free to check me out on either Facebook or Twitter. My Twitter username is stonea3 and my Facebook account is under Anna Bohlinger. See you on the internet!

University of Texas at Austin (2009, December 1). Facebook profiles capture true personality, according to new psychology research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from­ /releases/2009/12/091201111154.htm

As someone who wants to be a therapist, the idea that a robot may eventually outsource me is not good news.  However, new research suggests that a Palm Pilot be more helpful than I could ever be for a client dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder.

People dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder are characterized by extreme and persistant fluctuations in mood, relationships, self concept and anger.  They frequently make suicidal gestures, threats, or attempts in addition to self harming.  They feel alone and are terrified of abandonment.  They often feel paranoid or disassociate.  Research on treating Borderline Personality Disorder is just beginning.

Research is finding that it is difficult for clients dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder to retrospectively monitor their emotions and mark mood changes.  Additionally, self reporting may vary based on client mood and opinion of the therapist at any given time.  However, giving patients Palm Pilots that prompted them to rate their mood on a scale from 1-5 randomly throughout the day gave data that was both dependable and factual.  One researcher involved with the study supposed that eventually, Palm Pilots and other hand held devices may be installed with programs that prompt for healthy coping techniques and therapeutic interventions at given points.  Although this is bad news for me, it is good news for the client.

University of Missouri-Columbia (2008, December 11). Palm Pilots Bridge Communication Gap Between Therapists And Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 9, 2009, from­ /releases/2008/12/081201144727.htm

One topic that continues to interest me is the role social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace play in social development for adolescents and young adults.  A recent study covered by Science Daily discusses the role online interventions can play in decreasing the display of risky behaviors on Myspace profiles.  Currently, 54% of Myspace users have chosen to display suggestions sexual behavior, substance use or violence on their profile.  For the study, one of the researchers (whose Myspace profile belongs to “Dr. Meg”) sent a message through Myspace’s service to 190 randomly selected 18 year olds whose profiles displayed such content discussing the dangers of personal self disclosures on the internet and containing a link to an online resource for STD testing.  To quote from the article:

Three months after the MySpace e-mail intervention, the same online profiles were evaluated again for references to sex and substance use, as well as any changes in profile security settings (switching from a “public” to a “private” profile). At the beginning of this study, 54 percent of subjects referenced sex and 85 percent referenced substance use. After the email intervention, 13 percent of the profiles decreased references to sex behaviors, and 26 percent decreased their substance use references. Ten percent of the profiles changed their security listings from “public” to “private,” and a total of 42 percent of the profiles implemented any of these three protective measures. Of those who received the email intervention females were most likely to eliminate sexual references.

The effectiveness of the somewhat annonomous digital intervention is striking to me.  What role do you think online interventions will play in the future?

Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center of Seattle (2009, January 7). Majority Of Teens Discuss Risky Behaviors On MySpace, Studies Conclude. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2009, from­ /releases/2009/01/090105175317.htm

When my husband, Jon, first got a Nintendo Wii gaming system, one of the features that I was most excited about was the ability to download old games.  Sixteen dollars later, I was the proud co-owner of both Super Mario World and Donkey Kong from the Super Nintendo gaming system of my youth.  I sat down, a relative non-gamer, and it breezed through the first few levels within an hour.  I hadn’t played those games in over ten years, but my hands seemed to remember how it was done.

Mark Baldwin of McGill University seems to know what I experienced.  He remember playing Tetris and after playing the game where you stack blocks efficiently to build a wall being compelled to reorganize his closet.  He applied what he learned in Tetris to organization in general.

Out of interest in that idea, he and his students are working on making self esteem more automatic through a series of Flash games that can be found at Self Esteem Games.  Wham!, Grow your Chi, and EyeSpy: The Matrix aim to associate positive feedback (smiling, your own name, your birthday) with earning points.  The idea behind EyeSpy: the Matrix is especially interesting to me; you look at a series of faces and identify the one positive, affirming one as quickly as possible.

Can you find the positive face?

Can you find the positive face?

The idea is that it trains your mind to look for positive feedback instead of negative.  Beginning research seems to show that playing those games increases the self esteem and lowers aggressive feelings immediately after playing on the part of the participants.

American Psychological Association (2009, January 1).  Video Games and Behavioral Modification. PsychPort. Retrieved January 3, 2009, from

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