Sunday, November 14, 2010


Created Oct 27 2010 - 7:56pm

There are certain practical realities of existence that most of us accept. If you want to catch a bear, you don't load the trap with a copy ofCatch-22—not unless you rub it with a considerable quantity of raw hamburger. If you want to snag a fish, you can't just slap the water with your hand and yell, "Jump on my hook, already!" Yet, if you're a woman who wants to land a man, there's this notion that you should be able to go around looking like Ernest Borgnine: If you're "beautiful on the inside," that's all that should count. Right. And I should have a flying car and a mansion in Bel Air with servants and a moat.

Welcome to Uglytopia—the world reimagined as a place where it's the content of a woman's character, not her pushup bra, that puts her on the cover of Maxim. It just doesn't seem fair to us that some people come into life with certain advantages—whether it's a movie star chin or a multimillion-dollar shipbuilding inheritance. Maybe we need affirmative action for ugly people; make George Clooney rotate in some homely women between all his gorgeous girlfriends. While we wish things were different, we'd best accept the ugly reality: No man will turn his head to ogle a woman because she looks like the type to buy a turkey sandwich for a homeless man or read to the blind.

There is a vast body of evidence indicating that men and women are biologically and psychologically different, and that what heterosexual men and women want in partners directly corresponds to these differences. The features men evolved to go for in women—youth, clear skin, a symmetrical face and body, feminine facial features, an hourglass figure—are those indicating that a woman would be a healthy, fertile candidate to pass on a man's genes.

These preferences span borders, cultures, and generations, meaning yes, there really are universal standards of beauty. And while Western women do struggle to be slim, the truth is, women in all cultures eat (or don't) to appeal to "the male gaze." The body size that's idealized in a particular culture appears to correspond to the availability of food. In cultures like ours, where you can't go five miles without passing a 7-Eleven and food is sold by the pallet-load at warehouse grocery stores, thin women are in. In cultures where food is scarce (like in Sahara-adjacent hoods), blubber is beautiful, and women appeal to men by stuffing themselves until they're slim like Jabba the Hut.

Men's looks matter to heterosexual women only somewhat. Most women prefer men who are taller than they are, with symmetrical features (a sign that a potential partner is healthy and parasite-free). But, women across cultures are intent on finding male partners with high status, power, and access to resources—which means a really short guy can add maybe a foot to his height with a private jet. And, just like women who aren't very attractive, men who make very little money or are chronically out of work tend to have a really hard time finding partners. There is some male grumbling about this. Yet, while feminist journalists deforest North America publishing articles urging women to bow out of the beauty arms race and "Learn to love that woman in the mirror!", nobody gets into the ridiculous position of advising men to "Learn to love that unemployed guy sprawled on the couch!"

Now, before you brand me a traitor to my gender, let me say that I'm all for women having the vote, and I think a woman with a mustache should make the same money as a man with a mustache. But you don't help that woman by advising her, "No need to wax that lip fringe or work off that beer belly!" (Because the road to female empowerment is...looking just like a hairy old man?)

But take The Beauty Myth author Naomi Wolf: She contends that standards of beauty are a plot to keep women politically, economically, and sexually subjugated to men—apparently by keeping them too busy curling their eyelashes to have time for political action and too weak from dieting to stand up for what they want in bed. Wolf and her feminist sob sisters bleat about the horror of women being pushed to conform to "Western standards of beauty"—as if eyebrow plucking and getting highlights are the real hardships compared to the walk in the park of footbinding and clitoridectomy. Most insultingly, Wolf paints women who look after their looks as the dim, passive dupes of Madison Ave nue and magazine editors. Apparently, women need only open a page of Vogue and they're under its spell—they sleepwalk to Sephora to load up on anti-wrinkle potions, then go on harsh diets, eating only carrots fertilized with butterfly poo.

It turns out that the real beauty myth is the damaging one Wolf and other feminists are perpetuating—the absurd notion that it serves women to thumb their noses at standards of beauty. Of course, looks aren't all that matter (as I'm lectured by female readers of my newspaper column when I point out that male lust seems to have a weight limit). But looks matter a great deal. The more attractive the woman is, the wider her pool of romantic partners and range of opportunities in her work and day-to-day life. We all know this, and numerous studies confirm it—it's just heresy to say so.

We consider it admirable when people strive to better themselves intellectually; we don't say, "Hey, you weren't born a genius, so why ever bother reading a book?" Why should we treat physical appearance any differently? For example, research shows that men prefer women with full lips, smaller chins, and large eyes—indicators of higher levels of estrogen. Some lucky women have big eyes; others just seem to, thanks to the clever application of eyeshadow. As the classic commercial says, "Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's Maybelline." (If it increases her options, who cares which it is?)

Unfortunately, because Americans are so conflicted and dishonest about the power of beauty, we approach it like novices. At one end of the spectrum are the "Love me as I am!" types, like the woman who asked me why she was having such a terrible time meeting men...while dressed in a way that advertised not "I want a boyfriend" but "I'm just the girl to clean out your sewer line!" At the other extreme are women who go around resembling porn-ready painted dolls. Note to the menopausal painted doll: Troweled on makeup doesn't make you look younger; it makes you look like an aging drag queen.

Likewise, being 50 and trying to look 25 through plastic surgery usually succeeds in making a woman look 45 and fembot-scary—an object of pity instead of an object of desire. Plastic surgery you can easily spot is usually a sign—either of really bad work or of somebody who's gone way over the top with it, probably because she's trying to fill some void in her life with silicone, Juvederm, and implanted butt cutlets. There are women who just want to fix that one nagging imperfection. For others, plastic surgery is like potato chips, as in, "Betcha can't eat just one." A woman comes in for a lunchtime lip job—an injection of Restylane or another plumping filler—and ends up getting both sets of lips done. Yes, I'm talking about labioplasty. (Are your vagina lips pouty?)

Once women start seeing wrinkles and crow's feet, the desperation to look like they were born yesterday often makes them act like it, too. Women want to believe there's such a thing as "hope in a jar"—and there is: hope from the CEO selling the jars that you and millions of others will buy him a new yacht and a chateau in the south of France. There actually is hope to be found in a plastic bottle—of sunblock, the kind that protects against both UVA and UVB rays (the skin-aging ones). But the Beauty Brains, a group of blogging cosmetic scientists, write, "The sad truth is that creams that claim to be anti-aging are not much more effective than standard moisturizing lotions."

French women, too, buy into the idea that there's some fountain of youth at the Clarins counter. But, perhaps because feminism never seeped into mainstream culture in France like it did here, they generally have a healthier and more realistic relationship with beauty, accepting it as the conduit to love, sex, relationships, and increased opportunities. They take pleasure in cultivating their appearance, and in accentuating their physical differences from men. They don't give up on looking after their looks as they age, nor do they tart themselves up like sexy schoolgirls at 50. They simply take pride in their appearance and try to look like sensual, older women.

To understand what it takes to be beautiful, we need to be very clear about what being beautiful means—being sexually appealing to men. And then, instead of snarling that male sexuality is evil, we need to accept that it's just different—far more visually-driven than female sexuality. To focus our efforts, we can turn to an increasing number of studies by evolutionary psychologists on what most men seem to want. For example, the University of Texas' Devendra Singh discovered that men, across cultures, are drawn to a woman with an hourglass figure. Men like to see a wom an's waist—even on the larger ladies—so burn those muumuus, which only reveal your girlish figure in a Category 5 hurricane, and if you don't have much of a waist, do your best to give yourself one with the cut of your clothes or a belt.

Too many women try to get away with a bait-and-switch approach to appearance upkeep. If you spend three hours a day in the gym while you're dating a guy, don't think that you can walk down the aisle and say "I do...and, guess I don't anymore!" A woman needs to come up with a workable routine for maintaining her looks throughout her lifetime and avoid rationalizing slacking off— while she's seeking a man and after she has one. Yeah, you might have to put five or ten extra minutes into prettying up just to hang around the house. And, sure, you might be more "comfortable" in big sloppy sweats, but how "comfortable" will you be if he leaves you for a woman who cares enough to look hot for him?

Like French women, we, too, need to understand that a healthy approach to beauty is neither pretending it's unnecessary or unimportant nor making it important beyond all else. By being honest about it, we help women make informed decisions about how much effort to put into their appearance—or accept the opportunity costs of going ungroomed. The truth is, like knowledge, beauty is power. So, ladies, read lots of books, develop your mind and your character, exercise the rights the heroes of the women's movement fought for us to have, and strive to become somebody who makes a difference in the world. And, pssst...while you're doing all of that, don't forget to wear lipgloss.

Published on Psychology Today (


Levi Strauss: Jeans (1873)

Maurice Levy: Lipstick (1915)

Lazlo Biro: Ballpoint Pen (1938)

J. Robert Oppenheimer: Atomic Bomb (1945)

Edwin Herbert Land: Instant Photography (1947)

Denis Gabor: Holography (1948)

Peter Carl Goldmark: Long Playing Record (1948)

Robert Adler: Television Remote Control (1950)

Edward Teller: Thermonuclear Bomb (1952)

Paul M. Zoll: Defibrillator (1952) Cardiac Pacemaker (1952)

Gregory Pincus: Contraceptives (1950s)

Charles Ginsburg: Videotape (1950s)

Gordon Gould: Laser (1958)

Stanley N. Cohen: Genetic Engineering (1973)

Jason Lanier: Virtual Reality (1989)

Sigmund Freud: Psychological innovations

Edward Land: Polaroid Camera

Abraham Stern: Adding Machine

Charles Adler: Traffic Light

Leo Sternbach: Valium

Emile Berliner: Microphone

Morris Michtom: Teddy Bear

Benno Strauss: Stainless Steel

Abraham Levis: Hot dog bun

Joe Friedman: Flexi-straws

Niels Bohr: Work on the structure of the atom.

Emilio Segre: Nobel Prize for his part in the discovery of antiprotons.

James Franck:Laws governing the impact of the electron on the atom.


A significant number of inventions were produced by medieval Muslim engineers and inventors, such as
and most notably al-Jazari.

Some of the inventions journalist Paul Vallely has stated to have come from the Islamic Golden Age include :

mechanized water-clocks,
surgical catgut,
vertical-axle windmill,
three-course meal,
Source : Wikpedia


6 ways to add mood-boosting foods to your diet.

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Feature

Are you feeling down in the dumps? Are you irritated at how often you’ve been irritable?
Perhaps it’s time to look at the foods and drinks you consume to see if they are trashing your mood. Nutrition experts say that the foods you eat can help you feel better -- or feel worse -- in the short-term and the long-term. 

You Don't Have to Live With Depression

 Understand the symptoms of depression, from sadness to hopelessness to headache.

·                              Depression Myths and Facts
·                              What’s Causing Your Depression?
·                              Getting Help: Where You Can Look
·                              Questions to Ask Your Doctor
·                              18 Positive Steps to Feel Better
© 2009 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

·                                 Meal-to-meal and day-to-day, keeping your blood sugars steady and your gastrointestinal (GI) tract running smoothly will help you feel good and energetic. If your blood sugars are on a roller-coaster ride -- hitting highs and lows from too much sugar and refined flour – you are more likely to feel out of sorts. This is also true if your gastrointestinal system is distressed due to intense hunger from a fad diet or constipation because you aren’t getting enough fiber and water.
·                                 Week-to-week and month-to-month, keeping your body healthy and disease-free makes good moods more likely. For example, key nutrients you get in certain foods can influence the levels of feel-good hormones such as serotonin. Other nutrients can help prevent inflammation so blood circulates well to all of your organs.

“Eating a heart healthy diet -- high in fiber and low in saturated fat -- is a great place to start to boost your mood. There isn’t any question about it, says Diane M. Becker MPH, ScD, director of the Center for Health Promotion at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Conversely, “a high-fat, high-glycemic load meal can make you physically feel dysfunction in your body. People who eat this type of meal tend to feel bad and sleepy afterwards,” she says.

6 Tips for Foods and Beverages That Help You Feel Good

1. Seek out foods rich in vitamin B12 and folic acid (folate).

What’s special about chili made with kidney beans and lean beef? Or a light chicken Caesar salad made with skinless chicken breast and romaine lettuce? Or grilled salmon with a side of broccoli?
All these dishes feature one food that is rich in folic acid (folate) and another that is rich in vitamin B12. These two vitamins appear to help prevent disorders of the central nervous system, mood disorders, and dementias, says Edward Reynolds, MD, at the Institute of Epileptology, King’s College, London.
The link between higher food intakes of folate and a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms crosses cultures, too. A recent study confirmed this association in Japanese men. 
Folic acid is usually found in beans and greens. Vitamin B12 is found in meats, fish, poultry, and dairy.
Other dishes that feature B-12 and folic acid-rich foods include:
·                                 A burrito or enchilada made with black beans plus beef, chicken, or pork
·                                 A spinach salad topped with crab or salmon
·                                 An egg white or egg substitute omelet filled with sauteed spinach and reduced-fat cheese

2. Enjoy fruits and vegetables in a big way.

Fruits and vegetables are packed with key nutrients and antioxidant phytochemicals, which directly contribute to your health and health-related quality of life.
In a one study, eating two more servings of fruits and vegetables a day was associated with an 11% higher likelihood of good functional health. People who ate the highest amount of fruits and vegetables felt better about their health.

3. Eat selenium-rich foods every day.

Selenium is a mineral that acts like an antioxidant in the body. What do antioxidants have to do with feeling better and minimizing bad moods? Research suggests that the presence of oxidative stress in the brain is associated with some cases of mild to moderate depression in the elderly population. 
One study evaluated the depression scores of elderly people whose daily diet was either supplemented with 200 micrograms of selenium a day or a placebo. Although more research is needed to confirm the findings, the group taking selenium had higher amounts of selenium circulating in their blood and significant decreases in their depression symptoms.
Try to get at least the recommended daily allowance for selenium: 55 micrograms a day for men and women.
Whole grains are an excellent source of selenium. By eating several servings a day of whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-grain bread, and brown rice, you can easily get 70 micrograms of selenium. Other foods rich in selenium include:
·                                 Beans and legumes
·                                 Lean meat (lean pork or beef, skinless chicken or turkey)
·                                 Low-fat dairy foods
·                                 Nuts and seeds (especially Brazil nuts)
·                                 Seafood (oysters, clams, crab, sardines, and fish)

4. Eat fish several times a week.

Several recent studies have suggested that men and women have a lower risk of having symptoms of depression if they eat a lot of fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3s from fish seem to have positive effects on clinically defined mood swings such as postpartum depression, says Jay Whelan, PhD, head of the department of nutrition at the University of Tennessee.
Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
·                                 Herring
·                                 Rainbow trout
·                                 Salmon
·                                 Sardines
·                                 Tuna

5. Get a daily dose of vitamin D.

Does a little time in the sun seem to make you feel better? The sun’s rays allow our bodies to synthesize and regulate vitamin D. 
Four recent studies showed an association between low serum levels of vitamin D and higher incidences of four mood disorders: PMS, seasonal affective disorder, nonspecified mood disorder, and major depressive disorder.
Researcher Pamela K. Murphy, PhD, at the Medical University of South Carolina says people can help manage their moods by getting at least 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day.
That’s significantly more than the RDA for vitamin D, which is 200 IU for adults under 50, 400 IU for ages 51 to 70, and 600 IU for people over 70.
Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. So she recommends we get vitamin D from a variety of sources: short periods of sun exposure, vitamin D supplements, and foods.
Vitamin D can be found in:
·                                 Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
·                                 Beef liver
·                                 Cheese
·                                 Egg yolks
But our primary source of dietary vitamin D is fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals, breads, juices, and milk.

6. Treat Yourself to 1 oz of Chocolate

“Small amounts of dark chocolate can be a physical upper,” says Becker at Johns Hopkins. “Dark chocolate has an effect on the levels of brain endorphins,” those feel-good chemicals that our bodies produce. Not only that, but dark chocolate also seems to have a heart-healthy anti-clogging effect in our blood vessels.
In one study from the Netherlands, Dutch men who ate 1/3 of a chocolate bar each day had lower levels of blood pressure and lower rates of heart disease. The chocolate also boosted their general sense of well-being.

How Foods and Beverages May Make You Feel Bad

Just as some foods can help you feel better, others can make you feel down. Here are ways to reduce the harmful effects of three foods that can drag you down.  

1. Reduce foods high in saturated fat.

Saturated fat is well known for its role in promoting heart disease and some types of cancer. Now researchers suspect saturated fat also play a role in depression.
The link was found in a study called the Coronary Health Improvement Project, which followed 348 people between the 24 and 81. A decrease in saturated fat over a six-week period was associated with a decrease in depression.  

2. Limit alcohol carefully.

That “feel-good” drink, alcohol, is actually a depressant. In small doses, alcohol can produce a temporary feeling of euphoria. But the truth is that alcohol is a chemical depressant to the human brain and affects all nerve cells.
Depending on the amount of alcohol consumed, people can go quickly from feeling relaxed to experiencing exaggerated emotions and impaired coordination.
It’s no coincidence that depressive disorders often co-occur with substance abuse, and one of the main forms of substance abuse in this country is alcohol.

3. Don’t go crazy with caffeine.

Caffeine can increase irritability a couple of ways.
·                                 If the caffeine you consume later in the day disrupts your nighttime sleeping, you are likely to be cranky and exhausted until you get a good night’s rest.
·                                 Caffeine can also bring on a burst or two of energy, often ending with a spiral into fatigue.
Some people are more sensitive than others to the troublesome effects of caffeine. If you are sensitive to caffeine, decrease the amount of coffee, tea, and sodas you drink to see if this helps uplift your mood and energy level, particularly in the latter part of the day.

Action Creates Emotion

By Noam Shpancer, Ph.D.
Created Oct 25 2010 - 7:24pm

In the summer of 1971, a team of researchers led by Psychology professor Phillips Zimbardo divided a group of undergraduates randomly into two groups, prisoners and prison guards, and arranged for them to act out their respective roles in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

A phony situation, but real feelings

Within days, the guards began to display authoritarian attitudes, ultimately subjecting some of the prisoners to intentional humiliation. The prisoners developed passive attitudes, many sinking into a depressed state. The experiment had to be stopped after only six days.

The Stanford prison experiment is often said to illustrate the power of social roles in shaping behavior, but it also illustrates the power of behavior to elicit real powerful emotions. The guards in Zimbardo's experiments were not really guards. And the prisoners were not prisoners. They were all volunteers. They were all students. But once they began to act the part, they began to feel the part.

Many people assume that the link between emotion and behavior is one-way: Emotions shape behavior. You love him, therefore you kiss him. You hate him, therefore you hit him. This view is incorrect. In fact, the relationship is reciprocal. Much of the time, behavior actually shapes emotion.

All in a day's work...

Ever wonder why so often the actor and actress who play a couple in a movie fall in love on the set? Multiple processes are involved, to be sure. Both are usually young and attractive. They have much in common. They hang around each other a lot. All these are known predictors of mate selection.

But they also do love scenes together. They have to act like people who care deeply for each other. They look into each other's eyes, they touch each other. They act out the behaviors of love. No wonder the emotion of love often follows.

The psychologist/philosopher William James was one of the first theorists to notice this counter-intuitive process. He believed that emotions arise out of the bodily actions we take in response to what is happening in our lives. It is not, he theorized, that, "we lose our fortune, are sorry and weep; we meet a bear, are frightened and run; we are insulted by a rival and angry and strike." In fact, he argued, "this order of sequence is incorrect...the more rational statement is that we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble."

Actions create feelings

James argued that without some kind of bodily response (crying, trembling, striking) we would not feel emotion. "We might then see the bear, and judge it best to run, receive the insult and deem it right to strike, but we should not actually feel afraid or angry." While over simplifying somewhat, he was still onto an essential truth. Behavior can create emotion.

Recent research in clinical psychology has shown that the fastest way to change an emotion is to change the behavior attached to it. The idea itself is not new. For example, behavioral theorists back in the 70s believed that depression was, indirectly, a result of inactivity: after many failures and disappointments, people stopped trying and withdrew from the world; withdrawal and inactivity, however, decrease the possibility of positive interactions or experiences, hence isolation and passivity increase, hence depression.

No risks, no rewards

Human beings, prone as they are to prefer immediate rewards, often respond to discomfort by withdrawal and avoidance. Withdrawal and avoidance reward us in the short run by eliminating discomfort, but they punish us in the long run by preventing us from learning how to obtain rewards in the environment. The correct reaction to failure is not to give up and shut yourself away, but to learn to act more skillfully and purposefully so as to reintroduce positive reinforcements into your life. Behavioral treatment for depression, then, revolves around getting the client to change behaviors in order to experience a change in mood-a notion referred to as behavioral activation.

Behavioral approaches to treating depression were pushed aside somewhat in the 80s by cognitive techniques, which focused on altering internal "cognitive distortions" (catastrophic, pessimistic thoughts) and negative "attributional styles" (self-punitive habits of assigning meaning to events). However, several studies in the 90s, showing that a behavioral activation component alone performed as well as the total cognitivetherapy package for depression, created renewed interest in the earlier ideas.

The behavioral activation model assumes that depression has to do with the sufferer's external circumstances, not merely with the sufferer's internal characteristics. Disorders, in other words, are ‘events in context.' The behavioral activation model hence represents a ‘contextualist' view of mental illness. Rather than reflecting the individual's internal genetic or cognitive flaws, disorders are seen as an interaction between individual characteristics and environmental conditions.

Small steps for long-term progress

The principle that behavior shapes emotion is applied these days in the treatment of depression through a technique called ‘activity planning,' in which clients are asked to reintroduce into their lives activities that are associated with feelings of achievement and pleasure. This goes beyond past recommendations to ‘take a walk' or ‘go out on the town.' Therapists work with clients to look at the specific behavioral contingencies that exist in their lives, break tasks into small, easily attained steps, and build chains of reinforcement to elicit successful behavior in the world. The psychologist acts in a way that is analogous to the way a physical therapist breaks down movement into small component parts that can be easily practiced in order to build strength and flexibility.

Being active in the world may lead to changes in mood through several paths. Physical activity leads to a feeling of well-being by releasing pain reducing hormones, not to mention increasing heart capacity and muscle strength, improving appearance, etc. Our bodies are built for motion, and they feel good moving.

Practicing feeling good

Being active in the world also gets you to be around people. We are social animals, and social interaction has positive effects on our mood. The single best predictor of human happiness is the quality of social relationships. Moreover, activity often amounts to practice, which improves skill, which improves our ability to obtain rewards in the environment.

The bottom line message is useful not just for people with depression, but for anyone interested in maintaining sound mental hygiene. The shortest, most reliable way to change how you're feeling is to change what you're doing. When you feel bad, don't wait to feel good to do what you love. Start doing what you love. Good feelings will likely follow. 


Published on Psychology Today (