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The Psychology In Black Swan - By Chris Gearing

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Psychosis In Black Swan - By Chris Gearing

Friday, January 14, 2011

The movie Black Swan depicts the disturbing descent of ballerina Nina Sayers, played by Natalie Portman, into psychosis. Most analyses of the film focus on Nina’s obsessive compulsive and anorexia symptoms and her preoccupation with physical and professional perfection. But I believe that some of the most important issues in this movie may have to do with a more common issue faced by millions of young women. Challenged by an already tenuous sense of herself, Nina falls into a deepening state of anxiety as she strives to define herself as an individual separate from the opinions and expectations of others – particularly her mother.

All too often, as young women emerge into their adult roles-either as a dancer, as a student or as a professional-they lack the pivotal skills to handle the anxiety that is a natural part of any positive change. Instead, as this character’s downward spiral illustrates, their ability to cope can falter and in some rare and extreme cases, they can become psychotic if certain factors occur at the same time.

Here are some important factors to keep in mind:

New Opportunities Create Anxiety: New environments such as going to college or getting a promotion require new coping skills or even honing the skills we’ve already been rehearsing. Anxiety often hits us and hits us hard just when we need to be the most independent, clear thinking and capable. Many girls sabotage themselves because of the unrelenting anxiety that causes increased impulsivity, carelessness and even reckless behavior. Sadly, they have absolutely no idea why they are faltering.

Independent Thinking Embraces Many Sides of Our Personalities: Most of all, these new opportunities require us to define what we expect of ourselves separate from the expectations of others. For example, in this character’s case, Nina’s mother kept her sheltered as a little girl – giving her baths, brushing her hair, and pretty much determining every second of her life outside of the world of ballet. When she landed the role of the Swan Queen, Nina had to recognize not only her sweet and tender side but to embrace her seductive, playful adult self – and it was tearing her apart. She failed to recognize that she could be a sweet woman who also enjoyed pleasure and seduction.

Lack Of Self-Definition: If you have grown up with parents who insisted on defining and controlling you, your ability to build an independent and strong reality is often challenged. If you’re paying constant attention to what they want you to feel and how they want you to feel it, your inner world retreats and you constantly orient to the outer world. You grow up without a fully developed ability to think and feel for yourself, often with disastrous outcomes--as the movie illustrates.

The World of Performance: Physical perfection at any cost is often the gold standard in professions that emphasize public performance. Whether the young woman enters the world of dance or corporate sales, she is rewarded for remaining rail thin, toned, and sexual. Caloric restriction that is often unsustainable over time gives her the control she seeks, but it can literally erode her body, her mind, and her sense of reality.

Sexual Harassment: Tragically, some men in power exploit the women in subordinate positions just because they can. The inequity in power disables the young woman’s confidence in supporting herself and in challenging his reckless, harassing behavior. Such stressors can be especially disturbing for a young woman who has been taught to substitute the opinions and expectations of others for her own thoughts – her own painful feelings are pushed aside as she focuses on the gratification and praise from the man taking advantage of her. She will ignore her own rights and view the harassment as her fault or will even defend his behavior.

How To Impress At Your Office Holiday Party - By Chris Gearing

Monday, December 06, 2010

How To Impress At Your Holiday Office Party - By Chris Gearing

Friday, December 03, 2010

As the season of office parties begins full tilt this holiday season, many of us will be tempted to let loose and have a little too much fun. But a new study reports that around 40% of us have been embarrassed at a holiday party and a shocking 23% of attendees have been reprimanded for their misbehavior.

So why do so many people get in hot water at the annual holiday party?

There is a basic misconception about these parties - this is a business event and you must remember that. Even if it’s supposed to be social, similar office expectations prevail. Your boss and coworkers do not want to see you dancing the night away after drinking too much! They want to see the relaxed, congenial side of your personality behaving appropriately. Whether it is fair or not, you are being evaluated on some level by everyone in the room. The bottom line is that you can use the office party to enormously enhance your career or you can land yourself in a heap of trouble.

More than 1 in 10 Americans say they know someone who has been fired for their inappropriate behavior at a holiday party.

Here are a few ways to get in trouble at the office party:

  • Saying Something Inappropriate to a Colleague or Boss
  • Drinking Too Much – please stop at 2 drinks and nurse them throughout the event.
  • Hooking Up with a Coworker
  • Disinterested and Arrogant Behavior
  • Overly Friendly or Familiar Behavior
  • Forgetting Someone’s Name – take a look at the nametags!

Looking to make a good impression at this year’s holiday party? Here are the do’s-and-don’t’s to have a great time AND impress your boss:

Please Limit Alcohol: Even though that open bar looks inviting, that is the last place you need to park yourself. Have a drink or two and then chase it with club soda. Never, ever get drunk at the party—it is career suicide.

Talk It Up: Use the event to demonstrate how conversational you can be. Since most business, especially at the higher executive levels, requires an excellent ability to interact well with others socially. If you’re looking for a promotion, it is vital that you work the room: move with confidence, sincerely show interest in others, and shake everyone’s hand.

Dress Well: The office party is not a time to deck yourself out with your most seductive attire. Remember, this is a business event so you need to be festive but professional. Your boss and other superiors may not make the rounds in your direction but they will get a glimpse of you and you want that moment to serve you well. Reserve the wild ties and low cut dresses for your personal party time.

Don’t Gossip: Please come prepared to talk about something other than your job—your children, their children, the best hamburger in town, etc. Most of all, avoid gossip that can be repeated by your inebriated coworkers. Office parties mixed with booze are renowned for inspiring inappropriate disclosures.

Follow Up: A lot of people are careless about making promises at office parties to provide information—like a phone number or a business lead—and then fail to follow up. This is a huge mistake since people tend to only remember what you don’t do for them. Following up is an opportunity for you to gain credibility by being the one person who actually sends the information after the party is over. People truly appreciate the self-discipline such efforts require.

Make Some Friends: We know from new research that social interactions are like medicine. In fact, a review of 148 studies found that socially connected people have a 50% lower chance of dying. In addition, the holidays can be stressful for all of us and these office parties can be a great place to enjoy an interesting conversation and lower your stress. Even if you aren’t interested in the corner office, friends will keep you alive longer!

And finally, show some gratitude. The party planners never get any attention. People love to be thanked and genuine appreciation creates enormous good will. When you depart, find the people who were instrumental in hosting the party and thank them generously. Your appreciation will never be forgotten.

Office Holiday Party Etiquette - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

For some bizarre reason, CBS 11's online player will not allow us to embed the video directly.

But you can watch it -- here.

(Click on "here.")

The Next Chapter In The Anita Hill Story - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, October 21, 2010

In 1991, Anita Hill was called to testify in Justice Clarence Thomas’s Senate confirmation hearings. She alleged that Justice Thomas had made lewd and inappropriate advances toward her. Recently, Virginia Thomas, his wife, called Professor Hill and requested an apology.

You can watch me covering this story on CBS 11 here:

http://cbs11tv.com/video/?id=57973@ktvt.dayport.com

How To Detect Domestic Violence - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

by Dr. Sylvia Gearing

The tragic death of University Virginia athlete, Yeardley Love, has raised the question once again of domestic violence in young couples.

Here’s what the latest statistics tell us about this frightening phenomenon:

  • Just under 45% of this age group have experienced violence in a relationship either before or during college.
  • Relationship violence seems to peak prior to college for most kids with 53% of women and 27% of men reporting victimization.
  • Emotional violence was the most common type of violence at all ages but is more common in high school.
  • Both sexual and emotional violence increase in college, if not addressed properly.

How can you detect if someone you know is being abused? Here are the signs:

  • Isolation: Abusive partners prefer that their victim remain isolated and unable to turn to others. In addition, victims isolate themselves from friends and family.
  • Increasing Anxiety and Depression: Domestic abuse victims show signs of anxiety and depression such as agitation, sadness, withdrawal, low energy, emotional mood swings, tearfulness and a decline in functioning at school.
  • Avoiding The Truth: People who are being abused are shell shocked. They are literally frozen by the stress. Many kids from good homes are naive about what abuse is, normalize the actions of the abusive partner and make excuses for the abuser until it is too late.
  • Social Shedding: Victims of emotional of sexual abuse by a partner seem to shed their former relationships—best friends, family connections, socializing patterns. They stop responding to others and deny they are being harassed.
  • Progressive Pain: Look for signs of increasing disconnection from others, less responsiveness and avoidant behavior. They are locked in a cage of agony and don’t know how to ask for help.

So what can you do to help?

Many family and friends prefer not to get involved out of respect of personal boundaries. However, this is one time that you need to speak up. Caring about this person now involves compassionate intervention. Please, do not turn your back.

Gather Evidence: Collect the observations you have had and organize them into a coherent conversation. Specify behaviors you have seen and conversations you may have overheard or read online or through texting.

Stand Your Ground: Domestic violence at this age is especially lethal since adolescent and young adult brains are often immature and impulsive. If you present your evidence and they are still resistant, go to their community of friends and ask them to help. For more serious cases, please seek out a psychologist. However difficult these steps are, they may very well save her life.

Sources: JAMA and Archives Journals (July 8, 2008) Relationship Violence Appears Common Among College Students

The New Sexual Harassment - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The New Sexual Harassment

October 14, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

Sexual harassment has been a longstanding issue in a workplace that is now comprised of fifty percent women. However, there appears to be a new, much more subtle form of sexual harassment.

So you may be wondering, how real is this new form of sexual harassment?

It is quite real and it is proliferating due to our electronic networks and conversations. There is just so much room for misinterpreting a simple comment as sinister. On the other hand, there is also a lot of misbehavior and sexual harassment that can be hidden in such conversations.

According to research, we still view men and women differently in the workplace, especially in male dominated professions. Women must over-perform and female managers and supervisors are still expected to be more nurturing and supportive than their male counterparts (Rudman & Glick, 2008). Such expectations can be very awkward when your colleague or boss invites you to a private dinner or sends an inappropriate text.

Here’s how this new form of harassment is different from the old forms:

Not So Direct, Coarse or Directly Threatening: The new sexual harassment is not so direct, not so coarse and certainly not so directly threatening. The millions of dollars spent on educating corporate America has helped. However, subtle forms can be just as insidious.

Inappropriateness and Imbalance of Power: This new form of harassment emphasizes the imbalance of power by the inappropriateness of the request or comment. For example, your boss repeatedly comments on how fantastic you look while his eyes linger much too long or he may suggest you catch drinks alone late at night.

Setting a Boundary is Hard: Different from a direct threat, there is social capital lost if you retort with a boundary, however justified you may feel. Such pressure is often systematic and undermining and contributes to a hostile work environment.

Here are my tips and suggestions for avoiding these kinds of misunderstandings:

Watch Your Timing - Please do not email late at night from your personal email if you are saying anything about the other person, professional or not. Emailing at 4 A.M. might look a little weird if you are working that late. However, the email or text becomes a potential problem if it is too flattering, too personal or too self-disclosing. If this is a problem, invest in applications such as Gmail’s “Mail Goggles.” After a certain time of night, you have to solve three simple math problems within a time limit to send your e-mail. It’ll keep you safe and make you think twice.

Watch Your Facebook Posts - Social networking sites are great but do not post anything (pictures or text) that you don’t want an employer, your entire family, your first grade teacher and the local news to see. If you want a promotion, don’t put your latest bikini pictures online! Even if you dismantle a Facebook or other profile, don’t forget that images and information are still retrievable.

Find Romance Elsewhere - Please find your soul mate in the next building. When there is an imbalance in status and authority, there are unnecessary complications. Even when such relationships exist between colleagues, the legal challenges can be daunting for a company if someone is terminated. Such romances are great when you are dating and everything is rosy. However, such alliances can become a nightmare when you break up. Be smart.

Compliment in Person - It is much better to give a complement in person when the other person can read the non-verbal cues, tone and inflection and when there are witnesses. Compliments can be badly misinterpreted, especially when they are personal and about appearance or appeal. There is much less chance for miscommunications when accolades are given in person. However, the safest strategy is to restrict your praise to their work, their initiative and team contribution. If you must comment on their appearance, keep it simple and don’t stare.

Watch What You Write Down - Be very self protective about what you text or email in a business setting. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to anticipate who might misinterpret your words and bring an action. Don’t write anything down that you cannot defend easily.

Diffusing the Bomb - Every woman in the workplace has experienced unwanted attention from co-workers or superiors. Women must be adept at diffusing the political bomb that comes when a flirty comment is made in a business setting, especially when there is an imbalance of power. If someone crosses the line with a statement like “you looked hot today” you can reply with a cordial but clear message that you are remaining professional. Acknowledge the text or email but step past the comment and focus on the business issue. The absence of an inviting verbal volley will be noticed. Reply, but do not get entangled in the harassment.

Sources Include:

Newsweek.com

Forbes, com

The Social Psychology of Gender by Laurie A. Rudman and Peter Glick, The Guildford Press, 2008


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