Archive for March, 2016

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a fairly effective treatment for some mental health concerns, especially depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders.  Focus is on increasing awareness of our thinking patterns, then working to replace unproductive/negative/inaccurate thoughts with more useful patterns.

There is a huge list of “cognitive distortions“, or thinking errors, that we talk about in treatment.  One of my personal favorites to focus on when dealing with depression (and, often, criminal thinking) is selective perception – seeing only what we want to see, putting outsized focus on certain events while discounting contradicting evidence, putting too much importance on small happenings.  It’s the reason people discard things that don’t fit with their previous beliefs.  If I believe I’m a terrible person and everything sucks, I’m more likely to focus on the things in life that are hard and that fit with that belief.

The best song I’ve found lately to represent this is an oldie (but a goodie!) by Say Anything, called The Futile, seen below (lyrics here).

Great example of selective perception!  We’ll be back next week with more of music and psychology!

***If you have a concept you’d like to know more about, or a song you’d like featured, send me a message!***

Welcome to my newest brainchild, a series illustrating psychological concepts with a song!

It’s been a while since I’ve written, as my real life has gotten completely, insanely, ridiculously busy, so this will be how we move forward, with an explanation of a psychological concept, and a song or two illustrating how they work in real life.


Today’s lesson is the concept of “self-fulfilling prophecy,” the idea that our expectations shape our behavior, and bring about the very thing we’re expecting!  Think about a party – if you go in nervous, not expecting to have a good time, or make friends, how will you act?  Nervous and scared, hanging around the punch bowl, being quiet and awkward?  Odds are, you won’t have a good time if that’s the case – your expectations brought about your expected result.

Perfect example of this is “The Obituaries” by the Menzingers, illustrated below.

Chorus lyrics?  “I will fuck this up – I fucking know it.”  I think he’s probably gonna fuck it up – that’s what he’s expecting to do!

See you next time for our piece on cognitive distortion – overgeneralizing!


Posted: March 8, 2016 in evidence based policy, Uncategorized
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Every time I vote in my town, I am humbled.

I live in a city with a huge immigrant population.  Every time there’s an election, I am surrounded by folks coming to vote, with their citizenship papers, or their voter registrations, or their passports and licenses.  Some speak broken English; some speak no English at all.  Our signs are in Bengali, Arabic, English, and Polish.

Every person in the hall is so excited to vote, the energy in the room is palpable.  These are folks who are working and living in this county, whose children attend our city’s schools, and are my neighbors and friends.  My community takes voting seriously.  Because it matters – because it still matters.

No matter how jaded or cynical I become, or how disillusioned with our political process (and I am), all I have to do is walk into my precinct on election day, and I am revitalized.

Citizenship matters, and voting is the most fundamental act we have as citizens.  I hope you take advantage of this beautiful gift.  I hope you fulfill your civic duty.  But most of all, I hope you are excited to be a citizen and to make your voice heard.

I voted.  Did you?