The Interpersonal Problem Grid is a tool to assist looking at an interpersonal problem or conflict from a variety of perspectives. This can help to develop a fuller picture of the nature of the problem and where change may be possible.
This scale can be used as a “thermometer” of a variety of emotions, for the purpose of grading and comparing the intensity of an emotion in different contexts. The name of the emotion is recorded at the top of the scale, and a description of what is experienced at different intensities is recorded against different values on the thermometer, with 0 representing the absence of the emotion, and 100 representing the most intense experience of that emotion you could ever imagine experiencing. There are two versions of this tool available:
The ABC Monitoring worksheet is for identifying beliefs that play a role in producing our emotional and behavioural reactions to situations. Triggering situations are recorded in the “A” column, and reactions in the “C” column. Thoughts and beliefs that produced those reactions are then recorded in the “B” column. It is useful to use this tool in conjunction with a list of common cognitive distortions so that unhelpful beliefs can be categorised according to relevant cognitive distortions.
The cycle of OCD all begins with intrusive thoughts: distressing thoughts that seem to pop out of nowhere and are inconsistent with personal values. Pretty much everyone experiences intrusive thoughts from time to time. In OCD, however, these intrusive thoughts become so repetitve and distressing that they are referred to by a different name: obsessions.
Have you ever heard someone describing an ongoing problem they’ve been having with a friend or colleague and thought to yourself, “The problem is you, not them!”
Why is it that if a man’s own behaviour is the major cause of his own problem he can rarely see that it so – while it may be painfully obvious to others?
The problem lies with perspective. We all look at the world through our particular unique filters that make up our perspective of our world. Different people usually have slightly different biases: One woman assumes everyone she meets is trustworthy; one man believes that children don’t like him. There are also a number of biases that are nearly universal: for example, the confirmation bias which involves favouring information that supports our existing beliefs (e.g., choosing to read more articles by climate change skeptics than proponents because you are skeptical of climate change and, what’s more, being highly critical of proponent’s arguments but accepting skeptic’s arguments without cross-checking their supporting data).
These biases and the narrowness of our perspective make us vulnerable to errors of judgment – including the failure to realise when we are the source of our own problems. Continue reading
In one of Psychology’s dark moments, an 8 month old baby was taught to have a phobia of harmless furry things.
These unethical experiments, conducted in the 1920s by psychologist John Watson, were seen as evidence of how fear of harmless things can be learned through a process called classical conditioning. A careful observer will note numerous problems in the above video with how Watson conducted his research. However, better-controlled studies have since confirmed that fear, or anxiety, can indeed be learned through clasical conditioning.
What is classical conditioning?
Classical conditioning is a process by which we learn to associate an automatic response (such as fear, hunger, sleepiness) with a particular cue (a sound, object, sensation) because that cue has repeatedly been experienced to coincide with something that already caused that response. In the little Albert experiment, poor Albert was repeatedly distressed by a loud sound, causing fear, at the same time as he was exposed to a white rat. With time the rat (or more probably Watson himself) became a trigger of fear.
This is one way that we can learn to fear a thing – by its coincicidence with something scary. If I happen to be watching The Wiggles on tv at the moment a car crashes into my lounge room wall it is possible I might experience trepidation when I next hear a Wiggles song. Continue reading
ABC Radio National’s Health Report recently did a fascinating program on neuroplasticity: Brain plasticity / Measuring brain plasticity (for those who don’t want to listen to the audio there is also a link there to the transcript of the program). I highly recommend this program which outlines some exciting new implications of research into the workings of the human brain.
Our brains are not like computers, which have a fixed hardware onto which you load software and that stores information by re-arranging some ones and zeros electrically. For one thing, the transfer of information in our brains uses a highly complicated combination of electrical and chemical signalling. More significantly, though, as we form new memories and learn new skills our brains actually change structurally. Neuroplasticity is the ability your brain has to change structure – to “rewire itself” in response to experience. Continue reading