Tag Archives: psychology

Fox paws – the funny brain

… or faux pas. I’ve heard it both ways >_>

I’ve been thinking about how confidence changes pretty much everything in a social situation. That’s hardly an original thought, but I’m starting to think that people easily fool themselves into thinking that their perception of themselves is the right one, but everything about that self-image is based on confidence, or the lack thereof. I’ve been thinking about a really simple, harmless situation that happens to me quite a lot. It goes like this:

Quentin (talks fast with his head turned away): Ophelia, could you go down to the office and tell Gary that the tramumble mumble photocopier in five minutes?

Ophelia: Sorry, what?

Quentin: Gary, in the office.

Ophelia: Sorry, I didn’t catch-

Quentin: Gary, the guy with dark hair and glasses.

Ophelia: But what was the last bit?

Quentin: Tell him the transport to fix the photocopier will be here in five minutes!

I hate not understanding what people are trying to tell me,- who wouldn’t? I think it’s incredibly embarrassing to have to ask people to repeat themselves several times. It happens to everyone, the only difference is how confident we are. Bear with me on this:

If Ophelia has low confidence in her social ability she will probably perceive the misunderstanding as her fault. She thinks it’s embarrassing that she couldn’t hear what Quentin was saying, and to make it worse she thinks she phrased her following utterances wrong which made Quentin believe that she wanted him to clarify a different part of his question.

If Ophelia has high confidence in her social ability, she will probably perceive the misunderstanding as Quentin’s fault. How embarrassing of him to fail to communicate a simple question, and to make it worse, he interrupted her and misinterpreted her questions for clarifications twice!

Obviously, it’s a made-up situation and it doesn’t really matter who’s “fault” it is. I don’t think anyone thinks twice about it when someone else makes the “error”. What matters is that the interpretation is different depending on the level of confidence. I feel like it’s damn near impossible to break the pattern, because if you have low confidence in general, you’re always going to perceive situations in a way that conforms to the idea that you are less than good. To make matters worse, as soon as you take on the “responsibility” for the faux pas, people pretty much accept that it was your “fault” too and strengthens that belief. And vice versa, although if you have a sound confidence you can probably accept that you mess up every once in a while without thinking too much about it. Speaking from personal experience, I can think about situations like that in a completely rational way, but there’s always a part deep inside of me that feels ashamed and embarrassed no matter what. It’s the same part of me that says “They’re lying”, “Oh, he’s just being nice” or “I’m an imposter” when someone gives me a compliment.

I think the only true way to overcome social anxiety is to stop giving a fuck what people think, or view life as a great social experiment. I’m not sure if it works but at least it makes things more interesting!

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spinning spinning spinning

I’m having one of those rare moments when I’m so hyped up/manic that it’s almost not funny! I spent 5 minutes just spinning around on my spinny share and listening to Cat Steven’s version of First cut is the deepest. I find myself dancing, biting my hair and drumming the table with my hands without thinking. I’m trying to calm down by listening to music. When I’m manic it’s like my mind isn’t as quick as my body and I think something like “It would be nice with a glass of water” and then I’m immediately in the kitchen reorganizing drawers with no memories of what happened in between. It’s like I have a very sporadic ADD because I don’t really have any reason to be hyper. Well, I guess the proper psychiatric definition is having a severe case of being just like everyone else, meaning full of unexplained quirks and contradictions. Or just coffee and sugar overload but I don’t think that’s the case…


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Short little update

Tom and I went to Oxford between Sunday-Monday and stayed with his parents, since he had to get a wisdom tooth removed at a hospital nearby on Monday morning. He came home from work today, had dinner, then fell asleep on the couch and has been sleeping soundly since then. Bless. I haven’t had any wisdom teeth removed and while I knew it hurt I didn’t think it made people so sleepy. Then again I have reason to believe that Tom’s reactions to medicine and surgical procedures (and contact lens examinations) is probably not the normal reaction. Usually I take a photo of him to shame him when he falls asleep this early (usually after 1 beer). He’ll get a pass this time though because he’s going to be sufficiently grumpy anyway because I made this blog post.

On an unrelated note, today I Skyped with mum’s dog (and mum and my younger sister). I miss him so much. I worry a lot about my family when I’m away, and that was my main hindrance against coming/staying here. The dog is fine, unfortunately mum has hit a rough patch again health wise after years of being relatively healthy, which is pretty much everything I feared before going here. She has some form of borderline/psychotic depression that’s been going on since she was a teen, but with long periods of being relatively healthy. I wish I could believe that, because she’s hit rough patches before and eventually things became OK, it will be OK again but the truth is that sometimes anti-depressants and anti-psychotics just stop working, and sometimes there’s no more medicine or therapy to try, and sometimes it’s been close – scary close – that everything ended the worst way possible. But I’m trying to stay positive and think about how she has a lot of resources that other people with mental illness don’t have access to. It’s hard to be so far away though when you kind of want to have a constant eye on someone.

On a second unrelated note, I’ve written a long post about hair (and I haven’t even had anything done to mine). Don’t worry, it will all make sense when I post it. I think. I doubt I’ll finish it tonight though. I hope it will be interesting, it’s tidbits of the social history of hair that I find particularly interesting. You’d think that it would be a bit disheartening that the posts that takes me the longest to make, the article styled one about whatever topic I find interesting, are the ones that very rarely gets any attention at all. To be honest, I’m just happy I have people reading my blog at all. I got a notification a while ago that I have received 100 likes and almost 50 followers, which is much more than I expected, even if a good few of them might be bots (I don’t know why someone would create bots to follow blogs, but if you know, please enlighten me). If you haven’t noticed already I try post a mix of posts relating to my personal life, recipes, funny stuff and more serious article style posts. What I’m trying to avoid the most is that kind of blog that is all about image crafting and showing the world how great your life is; what’s the point in that?

To finish off this very odd update (that I only thought of making because it’s been a while and it’s going to take a while longer before my hair post is done), here’s a photo of the aftermath of St Jude that I thought was really funny.


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Dreams and other fucked up things the brain does


I know everyone hates hearing about other people’s dreams, but dreams as a phenomenon is freaking interesting! No one knows quite why we dream, but of course there is a lot of theories. Some say that dreaming is the brain’s way of filtering the events and thoughts of the day, which makes sense until you consider that dream you had about your primary school teacher that you haven’t thought of in years yelling at you for crocheting obscene art.

And why do some people dream so much more than others? I dream every night and I remember my dreams when I wake up. My boyfriend rarely dreams at all, and when he does he wakes up screaming because he dreams of bees. I think I’ve always been fascinated with dreams. When I was a kid I would sneak in to my younger sister’s room and whisper random things into her ear to see if she would dream about them. In general, I feel like she was the subject of most of my psychological experiments as a child. That’s what older siblings are for, I guess.


Dreams are also interesting when you consider what the brain actually does when dreaming,- it pretty much shuts down both your ability to think logically and be self-aware. I’m sure everyone has experienced dream logic at some point, but brain scans has actually shown that the prefrontal lobe is more or less deactivated when dreaming. Some people claim to be able to become self-aware and presumably capable of logical reasoning while dreaming, which is called lucid dreaming. The point of lucid dreaming is being aware that you are in fact dreaming and being able to manipulate the dream. I tried to master it when I was younger (there’s a lot of online instructions on how to do it) but it only worked for a short period of time.

Another interesting (and sometimes horrifying) thing is how our bodies become paralyzed when sleeping to prevent us from hurting ourselves (or others) by acting out the movements that our dreamself is doing. For some people, the brain shuts down body control too early or turns it on too late, the so called “sleep paralysis” , when you realize you are awake and can’t move. Others, like my mum, seem to lack this function entirely and ends up doing a ton of stupid things while asleep, like rearranging the furniture. I think the most terrifying story of sleep walking that I’ve heard was about a friend of a friend who woke up to discover all of his kitchen knives laid out neatly on the kitchen table. Luckily nothing happened, but it really makes you think about what could happen.


Of all the crap the brain pulls when dreaming, the thing I hate the most is hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations. Hypnagogic hallucinations is what you might hear or see just before falling asleep; hypnopompic hallucinations is what happens when you wake up. My number 1 reason for never wanting to drop acid is because my infrequent but terrifying hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations makes me think that me on acid is just a bad, bad, bad idea. I once woke up and screamed my lungs out and threw myself to the other side of the bed because I thought there was a spider the size of my head on my wall. More commonly, when I’m about to fall asleep, I hear a loud, monotonic beep that sets my heart racing. A common element to all my hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations is that I jerk awake with a feeling of panic and dread even though the thing I see/hear aren’t that scary by themselves. Thanks a lot, brain!

Anyhow, so why can’t we read in dreams? Things like reading a text and looking at a clock are often hard to do in dreams, but there isn’t a solid explanation as to why. Some people also experience that the palms of their hands are messed up when dreaming, but that has never happened to me. One theory is that some part of the brain that is involved in reading text or the sense of time is deactivated during sleep.


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Trypophobia – fear of many small holes . . . . . . . . !

Here’s something deeply unfair: Every time you google a specific phobia, google shows the object of the phobia on the first page. I feel bad for people with serious phobias who go online to search for help to overcome it and instantly run across a picture depicting the very thing they hate. Here’s a good thing though: Wikipedia seems to have thought about this and doesn’t include photos in the articles about specific phobias.

Trypophobia is described on wikipedia as fear for objects with small holes. I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with anything that reminds me of pores, but oddly I’ve never thought about it from the perspective that pores are many tiny holes. I just figured it’s damage from when I was a teen and my great aunt (the only elderly relative who I saw on a regular basis) would pinch and cut her skin because she had larvae and eggs living under her skin that she needed to get out. A couple of years later I found out that she was in fact psychotic and there wasn’t anything living under her skin at all, something that my parents had known all along and just failed to mentioned because A) Maybe they thought it was obvious B) Maybe they didn’t want us children to know that she was psychotic C) Maybe they just didn’t occur to them to tell us (knowing my parents I’m definitely going for option C). Maybe I was a dumb teen but I really thought she had insects and eggs under her skin and the idea grossed me out immensely and I was afraid that I would catch what she had every time I visited. Because of this I thought my aversion to everything involving skin and particularly pores was reasonable. Just last January I made a drawing that reflected my fear about this (click on the picture for the description at my DA). Don’t click if you’re severely trypophobic, lol.


I’m not much for self-diagnosing and I think people in general are too quick to label something as abnormal or needing to be fixed, but it is interesting that it isn’t just me and that maybe humans in general have some biological aversion to things like this. While there isn’t much research on the subject, some people have suggested that it is probably less socially produced and might be because trypophobic patterns can be found on poisonous animals and the brain is wired to be afraid of them.

Anyhow, it’s an interesting topic and I hope there will be more research done on it. I just wished that the authors of the articles could be a bit considerate and maybe not illustrate the phobia all the time! Seriously, just writing this blog post has made my skin crawl. If you want to look at some images and decide whether you have trypophobia, I suggest going to this buzzfeed article or watch “true facts about the frog” because those things have ruined me forever (and yes, that’s where I came across the term).

To bring this post to a conclusion: BLEEEERGGGGHHHHHHH!

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