Tuesday, November 07, 2006

How to Encourage Greater Creativity

My apologies for the delay in posting. Things have been crazy at this end. My wife and I have found children ranging in age from 11 to 10 months. Lately the baby has been having some frightening health issues but I think she'll be fine in the long run.

Also, I've been coaching my 9 year old's soccer team this year. And the team has been simply awesome. They are undefeated after 10 games in the Mustang Soccer league which is highly competitive. And we have not even focused on trying to win. We focus on playing to our potential and putting forth best effort. Before each game, I do a simple sports psychology technique to put them in the 'zone' called the Circle of Power. And they go out and tear it up. That's been a blast.

However, my topic today is creativity and ways that you can encourage your own creativity.

It seems that most geniuses and great artists throughout the past have all had muses. Da Vinci, Picasso, Van Gogh, John Lennon - many of the greats had partners which inspired their creativity. Just like a peacock, men use creative expressions of music, art, poetry, writing and other areas to attract partners.

Psychologists at Arizona State University recently discovered that men - but not women - were significantly more creative and inspired afer picturing a beautiful woman (or a hot date). On the other hand, women were inspired when they imagined the perfect long-term mate. The difference here is one of time. Men were inspired by imagining a short-term, highly attractive date. Women were inspired by imagining a long-term, attractive, emotionally intelligent partner.

Surprisingly, picturing these attractive individuals worked better to spark creativity than did the offer of money to create.

So, it seems that the simple act of thinking about mating, mates and dates turns up those creative juices. Imagine that!

Dr. John Schinnerer
Author, Psychologist, Founder, and Coach
Guide To Self: The Beginner's Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought

Copyright 2005-2006. Dr. John Schinnerer and Guide To Self, Inc. All rights reserved

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Guide To Self:The Beginner's Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought by Dr. John Schinnerer

Guide To Self:The Beginner's Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought
By Dr. John Schinnerer


EDITORS: For review copies or interview requests, contact:
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Tel: 925-944-3440

Email: pressreleases@authorhouse.com
(When requesting a review copy, please provide a street address.)

Guide to Self: Psychologist Shows Readers How to Manage Emotions, Thoughts in New Book

ALAMO, Calif. – Emotions are the foundation of everything people say, think and do, says John L. Schinnerer, Ph.D., author of the new book, Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought (now available through AuthorHouse). In his book, Schinnerer helps readers find greater success and happiness at home and at work through awareness and management of their emotional landscape.

Despite the fact that emotions can vary greatly from person to person, Schinnerer discovered that emotional states can be managed by raising awareness of the current emotions, underlying mood and biological temperament. “Most people are born and die with the exact same temperament because they don’t realize that they have the power to change it to their liking,” he says.

Schinnerer explains to readers how they can change their emotions for the better, supported by peer-reviewed scientific research from top universities throughout the world, he says. Within the science, Schinnerer also incorporates spirituality and ethical awareness into his methods. “There is a growing awareness that spirituality is integral to a person’s well-being,” he says. “A full 85 - 95 percent of Americans believe that spiritual faith and religious beliefs are closely tied to their emotional and mental health, and they’re right!”

With a holistic approach to thoughts, emotions and spirituality, Schinnerer’s step-by-step guide helps readers manage thoughts and feelings to realize their potential, resulting in less suffering and more happiness, he says. “You are far more powerful than you ever dared to dream. You can have a profound impact on your emotions, your thoughts and your happiness,” says Schinnerer.

Schinnerer holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley and has 12 years of experience in research and practice. He is the founder of Infinet Assessment, a psychological testing company that uses new methodology to evaluate emotional IQ, traditional IQ, ethics, personality traits and knowledge for success in the workplace. Schinnerer is also the president of Guide to Self, a company dedicated to coaching executives and managers on the best practices for emotional management, the single best predictor of success for white collar jobs. He hosted “Guide to Self Radio” in the San Francisco Bay Area for a year, airing more than 200 shows. Guide to Self is Schinnerer’s first book. More information can be found at www.guidetoself.com.

AuthorHouse is the premier publishing house for emerging authors and new voices in literature. For more information, please visit www.authorhouse.com.


Dr. John Schinnerer, Guide To Self, Inc. copyright 2005-2006.All rights reserved

Friday, October 13, 2006

A kind, caring and supportive family environment can actually turn off depression

Recent research from Shelley Taylor at UCLA shows that a kind, caring and supportive family environment can actually turn off a gene linked to depression.

Source: University of California - Los Angeles

Date: October 13, 2006

Early Family Experience Can Reverse The Effects Of Genes, Psychologists Report

Early family experience can reverse the effect of a genetic variant linked to depression, UCLA researchers report in the current issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry.

Among children from supportive, nurturing families, those with the short form of the serotonin transporter gene (known as 5-HTTLPR) had a significantly reduced risk for depression, found the UCLA team, under the direction of Shelley E. Taylor, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and an expert in the field of stress and health. The research team also found that among children from emotionally cold, unsupportive homes marked by conflict and anger, those with the short form of the 5-HTTLPR gene were at greater risk for depression, as some previous research has also shown.

The 118 young adult men and women who participated in the study completed assessments of depression, early family environment and current stress. They were asked, for example, how often they had been loved and cared for, shown physical affection or insulted and sworn at by their families. Saliva samples were used to determine if the participants' standing on the 5-HTTLPR had two short alleles (s/s), a short and a long allele (s/l) or two long alleles (l/l) for the serotonin transporter gene. (An allele is any of several forms of a gene.)

The research showed that a person's likelihood of developing symptoms of depression was not predicted by the particular combination of alleles alone; rather, it was the combination of the person's environment and genetic variant s/s that determined whether the person experienced symptoms of depression, said Taylor, principal investigator on the study.
Among the study's implications is that the short form of the 5-HTTLPR is "highly responsive to environmental influence" and, rather than predicting risk for depression, its effects vary substantially, depending on how supportive the external environment is, Taylor said.

These conclusions were bolstered by parallel evidence collected by the team showing that a supportive environment reduced the risk of depression among those with the s/s form of the 5-HTTLPR gene, while those experiencing a great deal of stress in their lives had an increased risk of depressive symptoms if they had the s/s variant of the gene. "Genes are not destiny," Taylor said. "Although some genes confer particular risks, others, such as variants of the 5-HTTLPR, are clearly highly responsive to input from the early and current environment. That means, among other conclusions, that there is an important role that parents and even friends can play in providing protection against the risk of depression that stress can confer." The study adds a new component to evidence that the environment can regulate biology and steer the effects of genetic predispositions.

"It indicates just how important a loving and caring family can be," said Baldwin Way, a co-investigator on the project. The other members of the research team, from UCLA's department of psychology and department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, are William Welch, Clayton Hilmert, Barbara Lehman and Naomi Eisenberger.

Taylor was honored Oct. 7 with the inaugural Clifton Strengths Prize, which recognizes the life and work of Donald O. Clifton, past chairman of The Gallup Organization. The prize, which will be presented every two years, recognizes groundbreaking theory, research and practice in "strengths-based psychology." Clifton's philosophy was for people to focus on what was positive and right with themselves and to build on their strengths to achieve their full potential, Gallup said. Taylor's research showing how a supportive environment reverses the impact of a genetic risk factor is an example of the work for which she was honored.

The research published in Biological Psychiatry was federally funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Science Foundation, with additional funding from and UCLA's Center for Psychoneuroimmunology.

In previous research, Taylor and UCLA colleagues, including psychology professor Rena Repetti, reported strong evidence that children who grow up in risky families often suffer lifelong health problems, including cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression and anxiety disorders, as well as early death (Psychological Bulletin, March 2002, Vol. 128, No. 2, pp. 330--366). A child's genetic predispositions may be exacerbated by the family environment, and this combination can lead to the faster development of health problems in risky families, which may be more debilitating than they would be in a more nurturing family, the researchers found.

Guide To Self(C) 2005-2006.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Natural Supplements to Improve Your Mood and Make Your Life Happier!

Hey! Dr. John Schinnerer here! I am a U.C. Berkeley-trained psychologist. Having done some research into supplements and mood, I thought I’d contribute to the conversation. To begin with, here are the ground rules of natural supplements which affect the brain.

First, these recommendations are only for those who are interested in living a longer and happier life, those of you who want to maintain a healthy brain throughout your life based on the latest in scientific research.

The best approach to getting the nutrients to your brain depends upon the ability to combine a healthy approach to life with the right combination of nutrients in the correct dosages. Our brain requires a lot of supplements in small dosages as opposed to one supplement in a large dose. This fact is demonstrated by Ray Kurzweil, co-author of the Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, who takes 250 supplements per day. In contrast, I take 30 supplements per day. I am still playing catch up to Ray’s knowledge base.

Second, each nutrient has an ideal dosage for you. If you take too much, it may result in negative side effect. Be careful when taking two or more supplements together as their effects might be cumulative and build upon one another.

Third, you want to start with a low dose and slowly increase it over time – days or weeks – to avoid side effects.

Fourth, most of the supplements are best taken in the morning.

Fifth, don’t assume that all supplements available on the pharmacy shelf are effective or safe. What I’m sharing with you is the latest info on supplements as of today. This knowledge base is likely to change down the road.

Finally, always talk to your doctor prior starting any routine that involves supplements.

Please understand that there is still a great deal that we don’t know about the brain and its nutritional requirements. The brain is one of the last frontiers to be explored and understood by humankind. You need to decide for yourself which supplements are right for you.

So, without further ado, here are a few of the latest, scientifically proven ways to safeguard your brain and create a happier mood.


Low levels of serotonin (a chemical in the brain) are related to obsessive thoughts, compulsive behaviors, interrupted sleep, aggressiveness, moodiness, overfocusing and rigid thinking. 5-HTP helps sleep, improves your mood, and decreases irritability by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain. A number of double blind studies have shown 5-HTP to be as effective as antidepressant medication when treating depression.

Recommended dose: 50 to 300 milligrams per day. 5-HTP taken on an empty stomach will improve absorption. A possible side effect of 5-HTP is an upset stomach. To reduce this possibility, start with the minimum dose (50 mg) and slowly work your way up to the desired dose over a 1 to 2 week period.

The serotonin pathway is as follows: Tryptophan  5-HTP  Serotonin  N-acetyl-serotonin  Melatonin. Both 5-HTP and L-tryptophan are available as nutritional supplements. However, 5-HTP is more readily absorbed into the brain than L-tryptophan. Seventy percent of 5-HTP penetrates the blood-brain barrier while only 3% of L-tryptophan is absorbed into the brain.

Aspirin Therapy Improves Arteries and Keeps the Communication Lines Open to the Brain

As I have touched on before, the health and functioning of your brain is directly related to the health of your arteries and your heart and the quality of your blood. This is a relationship that surprised Cliff, the producer of my radio show, (Guide To Self Radio) whom I dearly love, and who scared all of us recently when he had a minor heart attack a few weeks ago. Fortunately, he is fine and getting stronger each day – Thank you, Lord.

One step you can take to prevent heart attack, keep your blood thin, prevent inflammation of the arteries, and sustain the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain is aspirin therapy. Aspirin helps your blood from clotting. It may also help the body create more blood vessels so that when clots do form, there are alternate routes, around the clot, that the blood can use to get to its many destinations. Among other things, Cliff is now taking aspirin daily. On top of the heart-related benefits, aspirin reduces your likelihood of dementia and Alzheimer’s. We think it’s because it help keep the arteries young and healthy. However, do NOT take Advil, or ibuprofen, together with aspirin as they cancel each other out.

For those of you over 40 years of age, I strongly urge you to look at the possibility of taking 162 mg of aspirin each. It’s recommended that you drink ½ glass of water before and after taking the aspirin to reduce wear and tear on the stomach lining. According to “You: The Owner’s Manual”, aspirin therapy has a long-term effect of making you the equivalent of 2.3 years younger when your 55.

My mom stays in good physical health and keeps her brain in great shape. She is very mentally active and one of the smartest people I know. About ten years ago, my mom was up at our family cabin in Tahoe by herself where had a mini-stroke several years ago and I can tell you that is a scary occurrence when the brain wiring goes haywire in a loved one. As her left side quickly became paralyzed, she pulled herself over to the phone to call 911. However, her face on her left side was growing paralyzed as well, making it difficult to speak and be understood. Fortunately, the dispatcher understood enough to get her assistance and she was rushed to the hospital. She recovered fully from the mini-stroke, but it provides a stark reminder of our need to take excellent care of ourselves so as to reduce our risk of strokes, which are caused by blockages in the tiny arteries or by a blood vessel bursting in the brain.

Vitamin E to Stave Off Alzheimer’s

Vitamin E has been shown in some studies to help fight off Alzheimer’s. In one study, people who ate more than 23 IU (international units) of vitamin E had a 43% reduction in their risk of Alzheimer’s. In addition, ask your doctor about taking 400 international units (IU) to 1,000 IU of vitamin E daily for extra brain protection.

Understand that there is an elaborate link between the brain and the body. Chemical messengers that help the brain cells “talk” to one another are called neurotransmitters. They are like the postal service of the brain. They carry messages between brain cells.

While we’re on the topic of Alzheimer’s, I want to point out that your risk of Alzheimer’s increases by 30% for each hour of TV that you watch daily. While watching TV doesn’t cause Alzheimer’s, it does represent an inactive or sedentary lifestyle which contributes to the disease. Staying mentally and physically active will enhance the health of your brain as well as help prevent age-related diseases.

Get Your Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Better Health

Ever since 1945, the rates of depression have increased worldwide and the age of onset is moving downward – younger people are affected by it. This was noted by Dr. Gerald Klerman who found that each generation of individuals born since WWII appears to have a higher incidence and earlier age of onset of major depression and bipolar disorder. There are many theories for this. However, one of them points to the increase in our diets of sources of omega-6 oils (e.g. from corn and soy) and a decrease in Omega-3 fats. (Not proven).

Rates of depression have been found to be much lower in countries that eat a great deal of fish. In fact, the relationship is so strong, the rates of depression can actually be predicted based on per capita fish consumption!

Why? When a neurotransmitter binds to a receptor (in the brain) the receptor sets in motion within the cell a series of chemical processes known as signal transduction, amplifying the original signal. Mood stabilizers inhibit or dampen that amplification. It’s similar to building a dam across a raging river which quiets the downstream waters.

One of the most studied nutrient, is the Omega-3 fatty acids. About 60% of the brain is made up of fats (lipids) that make up the lining of every brain cell. Omega-3s are required by the brain to an extraordinary degree. They cannot be produced by our bodies but must be ingested via diet or pills. They are found in large, fatty, cold water fish, many types of nuts such as walnuts, flaxseed oil, olive oil, and canola oil.

Omega-3s help turn down the ‘volume’ of communications between brain cells (similar to the action of a mood stabilizer). Documented benefits of Omega-3 oils include improved mood, clearer thinking, more serenity, better concentration and focus, and better vision. While still under exploration, it is believed that omega-3s can help combat normal age-related deterioration of the brain, depression, anxiety, heart disease, and addictions. It’s been linked to pain relief, cancer prevention, lower blood pressure, and reduced asthma risk.

Many Americans only get as little as 200 mg per day of fish oils while Eskimos or Japanese people go as high as 10,000 mg per day due to their fish intake. The recommended daily dose is 2 to 5 g daily of a combination of the 2 key fatty acids in Omega 3s - EPA and DHA. Take 1-2 g with each meal. Little extra benefit has been found at dosages over 5 grams per day. Don’t worry too much about the particular break down or combination of amounts of EPA vs. that of DHA. Any combination of the two is fine. Future research may indicate that DHA is more beneficial, but we have not found that out yet, and supplements that contain DHA, by itself, tend to be more expensive.

Now, some people don’t like the fishy aftertaste you get from the fish oil supplements, so they take flaxseed oil instead. However, there is an important difference between fish oil and flaxseed oil. Fish oil contains the preformed omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Flaxseed oil, on the other hand, has ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid, which is the precursor to omega-3 fatty acids that are in fish. Our bodies can convert ALA to EPA and DHA but the amount converted is minimal. So while flaxseed oil is good for you and thought to be heart healthy, it’s not a true substitute for fish oils.

The only 2 ways to bump up your daily fish oil intake is to eat fish or take fish oil supplements. As fish oil appears to substantially reduce the levels of triglycerides (dangerous blood fats) in your blood as well as get the necessary amounts of EPA and DHA. Fish oil at a daily dose of 2 – 5 grams has been shown to reduce triglyceride levels by 20 – 50%. So research suggests that fish oil is helpful to your heart as well as your brain, cutting your risk of heart disease. I can’t say enough about fish oil – it appears to lower the heart rate, fights arterial inflammation, reduce blood clot formation, and slows the buildup of plaque in arteries which leads to blockages, heart attacks, and strokes.

I personally take 4,000 mg per day of fish oil supplements and 2,000 mg per day of flaxseed oil.

One word of caution is that fish oil supplements of more than 3 g per day can thin the blood. When combined with blood thinners such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, Vitamin E, ginkgo, garlic, phosphatidylserine (or PS), and prescription blood thinners, it could increase the risk of too much bleeding.

Be careful where you get your fish oil supplements. Make sure they screen out the mercury, a known neurotoxin, which means it kills brain cells. When eating fish, you may want to be aware of which fish are more likely to contain high levels of mercury. You can get the latest information on healthy fish at www.seafoodwatch.org.
A difference should be noticeable after approximately 3 weeks.

Recommended daily dose: 3 to 4 grams daily. Take an antioxidant with your fish oil to clean up any left over free radicals. Take 1 gram with each meal. Fish oils are one of the most critical components of optimizing your brain.

Choline for More Memory

Some of us are concerned about declines in memory. Personally, I know that my memory can never be strong enough. Research has shown that the level of phosphatidylcholine (PC) declines in the brain as we age. Choline helps form PC. Choline is found in eggs, fish, nuts, meats and vegetables.

Most people get roughly 300 to 900 mg per day from their diet. If you have a normal diet with adequate representation from all the food groups, you probably do not need a choline supplement.

Recommended daily dose: You should be getting enough from your diet. If you’re not getting enough, or if you want to try a supplement, 250 mg per day is a good dose to start at. You can work your way up to 500 mg with a goal to increase mental clarity and memory. Potential side effects include gastrointestinal distress, nausea, sweating and loss of appetite.

That should give you a few choices of supplements with which to begin. Remember, start with one supplement at a low dosage and build up to the desired dosage slowly. I have tried all of these supplements personally and found them helpful. Let me know if you find them helpful as well! All the best in health and happiness!
Warmest regards,

Dr. John Schinnerer
Guide To Self, Inc. – Positive Psychology Life Coaching

Contact Dr. John via email at DrJohn@GuideToSelf.com

For speaking inquiries, please call (925) 944-3440.

Check out Dr. John’s new book on the latest scientifically proven ways to a happier life, Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought
Infinet Assessment – Premiere workforce testing

Guide To Self(C) 2005-2006.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

My book is out! My book is out! I'm thrilled!

Yes! At long last, my first book is available at http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/ItemDetail~bookid~38496.aspx! It's called "Guide To Self: The Beginner's Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought."
I know, it's a bit lenghty of a title. Yet the content is fascinating. Here's the thing, the illiterate of the next century will NOT be those who can't read nor write. The illiterate will soon be those who cannot harness the power of their emotion to improve their performance. This is the first step on the journey master your mind. Take a look! It will shatter your worldview.

Guide To Self(C) 2005-2006.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dr. John chats with Amy about parenting boys in this day and age where boys are often expected to act like little girls - quiet, restrained, and self-reflective. We've discussed the disservice we’ve done to our boys and men by shaming them into suppressing their feelings. After being shamed numerous times with looks of contempt and disgust, suppressing emotions becomes automatic. Once their behavior is automatic, then boys have two choices to respond to a perceived threat – silence or violence. They either get very quiet, withdraw or lash out physically.

Some boys have a terribly hard time managing their anger due to ADHD or simply to the fact that boys have more physical energy than girls.
So the question is how do you deal with this energy level particularly in the classroom? Tune in to find out.

Look for Dr. John's latest book, "Guide To Self: The Beginner's Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought" because every parent needs to be able to manage their emotions in the heat of the battle! Available 9/5/06. Check out http://www.GuideToSelf.com today!

Speaking inquiries for Dr. John should be directed to 925.944.3440.

Guide To Self is sponsored in part by Infinet Assessment, the best in employee testing. http://www.InfinetAssessment.com.

MP3 File

Dr. John Schinnerer on another difference within the marvelous human brain – automatic or conscious processes. Who is really in charge - your "old" emotional brain or your "new" rational brain?

Close the gap between how you think your brain works and how it ACTUALLY works. You THINK you have free will. What if it were the case that you don’t have as much free will as you think? What if 90% of what you do and say is automatic?

A fascinating and novel approach to radio. Dr. John borrows Jim Gaffigan's method of speaking the thoughts of the audience making for humorous and helpful radio. Best ever?!

Look for Dr. John's recent book, "Guide To Self: The Beginner's Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought" available Sept. 5, 2006. More info is at http://www.guidetoself.com.

Guide To Self radio is sponsored in part by Infinet Assessment, the premier firm for employee testing. More is available at

Interested in booking Dr. John as a speaker? Call us at (925) 944-3440
Duration:29 minutes, 25 seconds

MP3 File

Dr. John Schinnerer on another difference within the marvelous human brain – automatic or conscious processes. Who is really in charge - your "old" emotional brain or your "new" rational brain?

Close the gap between how you think your brain works and how it ACTUALLY works. You THINK you have free will. What if it were the case that you don’t have as much free will as you think? What if 90% of what you do and say is automatic?

A fascinating and novel approach to radio. Dr. John borrows Jim Gaffigan's method of speaking the thoughts of the audience making for humorous and helpful radio. Best ever?!

Look for Dr. John's recent book, "Guide To Self: The Beginner's Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought" available Sept. 5, 2006. More info is at http://www.guidetoself.com.

Guide To Self radio is sponsored in part by Infinet Assessment, the premier firm for employee testing. More is available at

Interested in booking Dr. John as a speaker? Call us at (925) 944-3440
Duration:29 minutes, 25 seconds

MP3 File

Dr. John uses a humorous approach to defining and deconstructing stress - a topic we are all too familiar with. Stress is a leading cause in heart difficulties, relational problems, exhaustion, physical ailments such as sciatica and much, much more.

Find out how to defuse your ticking time bomb of a temper in this enlightening and entertaining show on Guide To Self Radio.

Look for Dr. John's new book, "Guide To Self: The Beginner's Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought" coming out September 5, 2006.

The Guide To Self website is http://www.guidetoself.com. You can reach Dr. John for speaking inquiries at

Guide To Self Radio is sponsored in part by Infinet Assessment, the lion of the employment testing jungle. Check them out at www.infinetassessment.com. Tests designed to fit your unique company culture and value system.
Duration:30 minutes, 9 seconds

MP3 File

Monday, August 14, 2006

Dr. John talks with Pastoral Counselor Michael Chalberg, author of Shattered People: Journeys to Love. This is one show you DO NOT want to miss – we’ll be talking multiple personality disorder (MPD or DID), ritualistic satanic abuse and the hard, hard journey to wholeness for some of these shattered and fragmented folks. Multiple personality disorder is one of the most fascinating disorders in all of psychology.

Pastor Michael Chalberg has 15 years counseling folks with MPD who survived the ritualistic abuse of Clergy and parents.

Find out what it takes to split a human mind into 66 separate, fragmented personalities - all within one human body.

Question: Does each one of the personalities have their own soul?


Emotional IQ seminars with Dr. John are now scheduled at the Concord Hilton in California on September 12th and the 21st of 2006.

Please see http://www.guidetoself.com for more great information. Dr. John will be
presenting findings from his new book on emotional intelligence, "Guide To Self: The Beginner's Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought."

MP3 File

Monday, August 07, 2006

Do you get nervous in crowds? Social Anxiety

Dr. John Schinnerer, GuideToSelf.com

Social anxiety is the third largest psychological problem in the world today but few understand this.

A young man wastes time sitting in front of the telephone, agonizing because he's afraid to make a call. He's afraid to call a stranger in a business office about the phone bill because he's afraid he'll be imposing and they’ll be mad with him.

A young lady resists going to work since a meeting is scheduled the next day. She knows that such meetings always include her co-workers discussing their current projects. The mere thought of talking in front of her peers spikes her anxiety.

Another individual would like to go to out socially--- and, in fact, he is truly
lonely---yet he never goes out because he gets unbearably nervous when meeting new people. The idea of talking to strangers scares the daylights out of him. He is certain people will stare at him and expose him as an imposter. He is afraid they will reject him and humiliate him. They'll sense his discomfort, mistake it for arrogance and dislike him. He feels he has no way to win. And so he spends the night alone again. He is in his comfort zone at home. Home is the only area in which he feels totally at ease. Home is the only place he can relax.

In public, people with social anxiety feel that everyone is scrutinizing their every move and judging them, despite the rational knowledge that this is not the case. Socially anxious people cannot relax in public. They cannot enjoy themselves when they are out. They can never truly relax when others are around. To them, it always seems like other people are negatively judging them. Regardless of their rational thoughts, they still feel extremely self-consciousness while they are in the presence of others. For many, it is nearly impossible to relax and focus on anything other than the anxiety and the fear. The anxiety is agonizing, making it easier to avoid social situations and other people completely.

Social anxiety is an extreme fear of social situations and conversing with other people which creates feelings of self-consciousness, fear of judgment, evaluation, and criticism. This often leads to feelings of inadequacy, humiliation, and depression.

If you usually become anxious in social settings, but seem fine when you are alone, then "social anxiety" may be the problem.

Social anxiety disorder (or social phobia) causes relationship problems for millions of people all over the world every day of their lives. In the United States, studies have recently shown social anxiety disorder to be the third largest psychological disorder in the country. Such anxiety affects approximately 14-15 million Americans each year. In general, social anxiety is not well understood by the mental health care field. As a result, people with social phobia are frequently misdiagnosed. Socially anxious people have been misdiagnosed as "schizophrenic", "manic-depressive", "clinically depressed", and "personality disordered" to name a few.

An example of a specific social phobia is the fear of speaking in front of groups. On the other hand, generalized social anxiety makes a person anxious, nervous, and uncomfortable in the vast majority of social situations.

People who suffer from social anxiety disorder typically experience considerable emotional distress in situations such as:

Introductions to other people

Criticism and Judgments

Being the center of attention (e.g., birthdays)

Having someone watch while doing something

Talking to people in positions of authority (e.g., doctors, Ph.D.s and police)

Social encounters, especially with strangers

Making "chit-chat" at social engagements

The physiological symptoms that are associated with social anxiety frequently include intense dread, a quickening heart rate, blushing face, dry throat and mouth, shaking, difficulty swallowing, and muscle tension. Constant, pervasive, ongoing and intense anxiety is the most common symptom.

People with social anxiety know that their anxiety does not make rational sense. We know now that each one of us has two “types” of brain – the emotional brain and the thinking brain. These account for our emotional intelligence and traditional intelligence. Therefore, knowing something is not the same is not the same as feeling it. Sometimes we have feelings that are inconsistent with our thoughts. This is frequently the case in anxious people.

They feel anxious despite their rational knowledge that there is nothing of which to be afraid.

On the positive side, cognitive-behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder has been shown to be highly successful. Individuals with anxiety for years have flourished while in therapy. Due to successful therapy, anxious people have reported a new and improved life -- one that is nearly free of fear and anxiety.

Those who suffer from social anxiety need support, encouragement, and a relaxing environment while they work through therapy. Assuming you do enter therapy, remember that it is your time to heal. You are not putting anyone out. You should not be judged in therapy. You should be supported.

Another avenue to successfully triumphing over anxiety is a behavioral therapy group solely for those with social phobia. This is necessary. If there is no social phobia therapy group offered, you may want to seek therapy somewhere else. A behavioral therapy group is essential to your ultimate success. Please realize that this does not mean a “support group.” Support groups frequently lead to a worsening of anxiety symptoms.

In addition, the anxiety group should be focused solely on socially anxiety. It
should not be a mixed anxiety group. Although anxiety is similar across anxiety disorders, social phobia sufferers need specific, customized activities run by a specialist in this area. A social phobia behavioral therapy group should only be for those with social anxiety.

While it is not easy to overcome social anxiety, it can be done. I have done it myself. I suffered from social anxiety while I was a Ph.D. candidate in educational psychology at U.C. Berkeley. I felt like an impostor. Being around my professors made me break a sweat. My brain froze when put on the spot.

While it may feel hopeless when you are smack dab in the middle of the problem, keep in mind that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It may feel as if you’ll never get better. However, your anxiety can be overcome with the help of a skilled therapist.

The key components to vanquishing social anxiety are:

1. A knowledge and awareness of the situation,

2. A vow to carry through with therapy even when it provokes your anxiety,

3. Practice changing the “tapes” in your head so that your inner voices
become positive and automatic.

4. Sharing in a social anxiety therapy group in which you can work on anxiety-provoking situations at your own pace. In other words, the individual who feels nervous while speaking in public uses certain strategies to meet his or her goals, whereas the person who wants to learn how to make anxiety free small talk at parties slowly works toward his or her goals. The means by which this is done includes role-playing, acting, using a tape recorder and video camera, question and answer periods, and purposefully doing foolish acts as part of a behavioral therapy group focused on social anxiety.

Don’t give up. A better life is waiting for you. If you are motivated to end your lifetime of anxiety, then cognitive-behavioral therapy has the methods, techniques, and strategies to alleviate your anxiety and make the world a much more relaxing place.

Many of us have suffered through the life-altering fears and pervasive anxiety that social anxiety causes and have come out healthier and happier on the other side. You can too. Seek out a professional therapist today for a happier, more fulfilling life.


Dr. John Schinnerer

Guide To Self(C) All rights reserved 2005-2006.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Anger
(But Were Too Pissed Off to Ask!)

We know there are four types of anger - anger at self, anger at
others, disappointment (anger and sadness), and constructive anger -
but HOW do we deal effectively with anger?

Join Dr. John for the latest info on anger management, tips and tricks
to manage your inner beast!

For more info on Dr. John Schinnerer and presentation availability, go
to http://www.guidetoself.com or call
(925) 944-3440.

Look for Dr. John Schinnerer's new book coming soon. "Guide To Self:
The Beginner's Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought." Available
September 2006 at www.guidetoself.com.
Duration:27 minutes, 43 seconds

MP3 File