Q&A: Long-Distant Phone Fights


Re: “Little Fight” Dear Long-distant-er,

From what you describe, you and your boyfriend are having problems understanding each other, as evidenced by your boyfriend hanging up on you when he thinks you don’t know what he’s saying. This brings up a second, more serious issue with your relationship: your boyfriend shows disdain for you, which is not healthy for you, him or your relationship.

You say, “We don’t fight really often, but lately he says mean stuff during his days off, like I’m stupid, and I’m not stupid so I told him to stop calling me that…When we speak over the phone, he argues with everything I say. I feel like he’s just always trying to prove me wrongBut you should see him around his friends. He can have a normal conversation and argue about something, but when he does that with me, he hangs up on me, leaving me feeling like shit.”

We applaud you for at least trying to set boundaries of what is acceptable Read more »

Q&A: Big Age Gap

old-man-with-young-blondeDear College Student,

The age difference between you and your sister’s boss is not as worrisome as the fact that the two of you want entirely different things. You are a 22-year old college student and want a relationship that goes beyond casual sex. He is a 46-year old successful entrepreneur who doesn’t really have time for you but who occasionally whisks you away on short trips. He wants the occasional sexual encounter but not a stable, defined relationship. Read more »

Causes and Treatments of Narcissistic Personality Disorder


In our last post, we considered signs that Elliot Rodger had narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), according NPD’s DSM-5 criteria. Researchers estimate that 1% of the general population has lifelong NPD. That’s one person in one hundred. And the prevalence of narcissism may be increasing. (Twenge et al, 2014) That means you and I encounter NPD often, in other people and perhaps in ourselves.

Not all narcissism is pathological. Besides those with a disorder, many of us present narcissistic behaviors less frequently or intensely than constitutes a disease. We may even go through phases of being more narcissistic, such as in adolescence. Some even argue there are benefits to a little narcissism. Still, if someone experiences the three Ds (dysfunction, distress, and deviance) from five or more NPD behaviors, psychologists consider that person ill. To treat a mental illness, it’s important to understand its possible causes. Read more »

Elliot Rodger’s Narcissism

Last Saturday morning, the U. S. found out that Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old, went on a murderous rampage Friday night in Isla Vista, CA. Isla Vista is a pretty, beach town, filled with seemingly immortal, young students with lives of sunshine and partying. My brother lives there, two blocks from where the chaos ensued. I became interested in the story as I waited for Jim to call me back to say he was okay. Read more »

Let’s Talk about Sexual Dysfunctions

It might seem like having continuous, spontaneous orgasms throughout the day would be fun, but to those with persistant genital arousal disorder (PGAD) it’s hellish. For sufferers, continual arousal means, “Being on the edge of an orgasm 24 hours a day, to the point where you can’t sleep, you can’t function, you can’t even think straight – that’s not fun.” It can destroy their deliberate sex lives, since having intercourse may exacerbate their discomfort. PGAD is a particularly disruptive but rare sexual dysfunction.

The Sun's story about Kim Ramsey

The media may present cases of PGAD as entertainment, but PGAD is NOT entertaining for those who have it. The Sun’s story about Kim Ramsey from August 2012. Taken from http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/apr/14/women-persistent-genital-arousal-disorder-orgasm-pgad-pain.

According to the DSM-5, sexual dysfunctions are a varying group of disorders which have in common a “disturbance in a person’s ability to respond sexually or to experience sexual pleasure.” While causes of sexual dysfunctions might sometimes be physical,  sexual experience is profoundly connected with one’s psychological wellbeing. Like other drives, if one’s sex drive is hyperactive, hypoactive or in other ways malfunctioning, this can upset a person’s love life and other areas of her life.

Read more »

Colored Pain: An Unusual Case of Synesthesia

Brit and I also write for a blog for Psychology Today as well as the blog for our lab, the Brogaard Lab for Multisensory Research. Below is a post I wrote a while ago. It’s not directly about romantic love. But it is about perception, which certainly plays an important role in one’s experience of romantic love. In any case, we wanted to share it. 

In a 1913 article in the The Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Isador Coriat describes a case of “colored pain,” which is still considered a rare form of synesthesia. These synesthetes perceive colors as they experience pain. Coriat’s subject is an intelligent forty-year-old woman suffering from anxiety, sleepwalking and headaches. As far back as she can remember she’s seen different colors when she feels pain. Pain produces clear, distinct colors and a certain “kind of pain” consistently produces a certain color.

“Each type of pain produced its individual and invariable color, for instance: Hollow pain, blue color; sore pain, red color; deep headache, vivid scarlet; superficial headache, white color; shooting neuralgic pain, white color.”

The woman sees colors as masses with no recognizable shape, except when pain “involved a jagged, longitudinal or round area, the color stimulated by this particular type of pain had a corresponding geometrical figure.” I’m guessing by this Coriat means that the woman’s pain might have a certain shape, depending on where it is on her body. But I’m not sure. This made me wonder what exactly is it to experience pain. What exactly makes a kind of pain onto which certain colors map? Read more »

New ebook pricing

Notice that the new pricing of the ebook listed in the right column won’t take effect until tomorrow.

Final Version of Manus

Today I submitted the final version of On Romantic Love to Oxford University Press. It’s going into production on Tuesday.


Adolescents are Prone to Love Addiction

Adolescence spans from roughly age twelve to as late as twenty-five, with the late teens and early twenties sometimes called ‘emerging adulthood.’ During this important and exciting phase of life, individuals transition from being children to being adults. Specific aspects of physical, social, and personality maturation affect the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of adolescents. Here I briefly consider how the adolescent brain makes young people susceptible to love addiction. By ‘love,’ I mean the physiological and psychological experience associated with one’s judgment that she has “fallen in love.” I mean the thrilling, intoxicating stage of new love.

Read more »

Q&A: Dear Social Actor

Dear Social Actor,

While your main question is how to kill your libido, you might benefit from addressing issues that make you want to do that: (1) feeling disconnected from people and (2) obsessing about women and compulsively acting on these obsessive thoughts. 

One form of self-therapy to consider is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can be helpful to those with mild cases of depression or anxiety. If you weren’t being facetious about being a “self-diagnosed schizoid” and believe you have a severe mental illness, you should set up an appointment with a clinical psychologist. 

You say: “I’m a loner and used to being ignored by people who have no practical use for me…I’ve accepted that and have decided to become a recluse.”

You say only those who want to use you pay attention to you. How do you know that’s true? Unless your social interactions always involve someone trying to overtly, or subtly, manipulate you, you must have interactions in which people don’t try to manipulate you. In those cases, if you think people still have an angle, you might be having a cognitive distortion called ‘mind reading.’ Read more »

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