Category Archives: Psychology

Does the movie ‘Marriage Story’ get family law right?

Family law is a department filled with heartache and many families that walk in through the lawyer’s door seldom depart with a happy ending or a fair settlement. While law firms work hard to fight for their client’s best interests. However, in the midst of negotiating the winning terms for both parties, it often generates a clash of interest and creates both drama and tension, as illustrated in the film “Marriage Story” starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver.

Healthy divorces can be done without the help of a lawyer

The film lays the groundwork for a couple whose marriage is crumbling due to neglect, but there is still much love between the two protagonists. As they come to terms with filing a divorce, they decide not to use any lawyers as they didn’t want to make it messier than it already is. However, as a child is involved, they both struggle over custody and end up hiring divorce attorneys to help them get the best deal out of the situation which is not what the divorcing couple intended. At the very end of the film, we see Scarlett’s character question the actions of her lawyer, asking why she had imposed more stringent rules on the father when it comes to child visitation, and the lawyer simply stated that they had “won”, but Scarlett makes it clear that winning was not in her agenda and she did not feel the need to restrict her ex-husband from visiting their son. She expresses her regret at proceeding with lawyers when they had wanted to split amicably.

Therapy should be the first choice

When the film begins, we see both husband and wife at the therapist’s office, trying to work things out between them and Scarlett’s characters blatantly refusing to read the letter her husband had written as per the therapist’s instructions. At the end of the film, we find out what a heartfelt love letter the husband had written but it was too late, the battle for their son had been waged and their marriage was in tatters. If there is an overarching message that the film wanted to send to audiences, it was this: work hard for your relationship, put in the effort, even when you no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t shut your significant other out, even when you feel like you hate them, because how you feel about them is transient, and you will be able to work through it if the both of you are willing to.

At the end of the day, we need to recognize that when parents split up, the family becomes collateral damage. But also, there are no right or wrong parties, regardless of what has happened between them unless domestic abuse is involved. However, most divorces happen because a relationship has naturally run its course and the pair that should be tending to it has averted their attention elsewhere: on their children, career, etcetera. 

The Link Between Plastic Surgery and a Person’s Confidence

Plastic surgery often gets a bad rap for being something that only those with low self-esteem pursue. It’s assumed that these individuals try to improve their physical appearance to make up for some missing psychological component. However, there could be a link between plastic surgery and self-confidence.

Improved Body Image Following Surgery

There’s a growing body of research on the psychological effects of plastic surgery, and many studies have found that those who have undergone plastic surgery do experience improved self-confidence after their surgeries.

“These are fascinating issues for psychologists to look at—from the cultural phenomena to the interpersonal phenomena to the mental health and self-esteem issues,” psychologist Diana Zuckerman, PhD and president for the National Research Center for Women and Families, told the American Psychological Association. She believes that though the research is currently thin, it will become a huge part of psychological study in the future.

A recent study from the Center for Human Appearance at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine examined the psychological outcomes following a cosmetic procedure. Researchers discovered that more than 87 percent said they were satisfied with the surgery and felt that their body had improved as a result. They exhibited fewer negative emotions towards their body when put in social situations.

The study was directed by psychologist David B. Sarwer, PhD, who is also the Director of Education, Weight, and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Sarwer reports that an improvement in body image does not replace therapy for psychological needs.

“Clearly, cosmetic surgery patients consider themselves to have an improved appearance and report an enhanced body image following surgery,” Dr. Sarwer wrote in conclusion. “It does not appear, however, that a surgical change in appearance leads to more general improvements in psychosocial functioning.”

Entering the Procedure with Realistic Expectations

Most studies that explore the relationship between self-confidence and plastic surgery indicate that satisfaction following a procedure is most often associated with setting up realistic expectations during the initial consultation.

Dr. Sarwer stated this in the study mentioned above: “Assessing patients’ motivations for and expectations of surgery is an important part of the preoperative consultation,” he wrote.

Another study headed up by David J. Castle, MSc, MD, published in The Medical Journal of Australia agrees.

“Patients who have unrealistic expectations of outcome are more likely to be dissatisfied with cosmetic procedures,” study authors wrote.

Psychosocial Effects of Plastic Surgery

Dr. Castle’s study also strongly stresses that plastic surgery is mostly ineffective in boosting confidence for those with certain psychological disorders.

“Some people are never satisfied with cosmetic interventions, despite good procedural outcomes,” the study reports. “Some of these have a psychiatric disorder called “body dysmorphic disorder.”

Overall, studies show that those with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) responded poorly to any physical changes to their body.

“The belief of imagined ugliness is often held with delusional conviction,” study authors state, pointing out that the issue is mental, and no amount of plastic surgery will change their viewpoint.

Overall, however, it appears that most individuals who are well prepared for their procedures are pleased with their outcomes. In most cases, the individual walks out more confident and socially prepared than when they walked in.

Breaking Bad Habits in College

College is a formative period of your life. It’s obviously a time when you’ll learn loads of new information that will (hopefully) assist you in planning a career, and a time when you’ll be able to expand and reinforce your social circle. But it’s also a time when your existing habits will dig in deeper, and when your new habits may come to define you for years to come.

It’s incredibly hard to break a bad habit, especially when you’re dealing with an enormous workload and new kinds of academic stress. But with the right mentality and commitment, you can eliminate the worst habits plaguing your health, academic performance, and happiness, and set yourself up for a brighter future—all before you graduate.

Breaking Your Bad Habits

These strategies can help a dedicated college student break almost any habit:

  1. Find a substitute. Your most powerful tool will be finding a substitute for the habitual action or behavior. It’s incredibly hard to stop doing something that’s part of a regular routine, but it becomes much easier if you find something to take the place of that bad habit. For example, if you currently smoke cigarettes, you might look forward to having one after class, after meals, or at other major points throughout your day. Replacing tobacco cigarettes with a JUUL could be the first step to getting rid of that habit for good, giving you many of the same sensations, but with less of a damaging effect.
  2. Interrupt your habit loop. Most habits occur as part of a three-stage “habit loop,” making it hard to stop the habit by itself. There’s the trigger phase, when something alerts you to a situation that makes it easier to engage in the habit; for example, you might feel anxious or enter a specific phase of the day. Then, there’s the habit itself. After that, you’ll feel rewarded by the behavior. It’s hard to make the habit directly less rewarding, but it’s possible to identify and reduce the power of triggers in the first phase. For example, you could learn to identify when you’re feeling anxious and aim to reduce your feelings of anxiety, rather than resorting to nail biting or picking your skin.
  3. Practice mindfulness. One way to improve your awareness of trigger points is to practice mindfulness, or bring your attention to the present. It takes time to develop this habit and ability, but it’s worth the effort. After even a few weeks of practicing mindfulness, you’ll be more keenly aware of your thoughts and feelings. That means you’ll be better able to manage anxiety, stress, and habit trigger points, so your bad habits are easier to work out.
  4. Make the habit harder to practice. You can also use physical impediments to make your bad habits harder to practice, especially as a short-term measure. For example, if there’s a mobile app stealing away most of your time, you could delete it or hide it on your phone, making it harder to access when you want it most. You could circumvent this, but it would force you to think about your habit, rather than mindlessly indulging it.
  5. Enlist the help of others. Consider talking to the people around you and enlisting their help in eliminating your bad habit. For example, you could ask your friends and roommates point out when you’re engaging in the habit, so you’re more aware of when it occurs, or you could ask them to join you in a new, healthy habit like going to the gym.
  6. Improve your big-picture. Many bad habits are created from negative life circumstances. For example, if you’re struggling with depression, you might resort to binge eating junk food. If you’re socially anxious, you may drink excessively to cope. You can make these bad habits less tempting by improving your big-picture situation; oftentimes, this means eating healthier, exercising regularly, seeking therapy, and learning anxiety management techniques.
  7. Reward yourself for positive changes. When you do make progress in reducing your bad habits, it’s important to reward yourself to preserve that momentum. For example, if you go a week without having a cigarette, you could treat yourself to a new outfit, or a new video game you’ve been wanting. Keep track of how many days you’ve gone without engaging in the bad habit, and set long-term goals that keep you working hard.

Getting Help

While most bad habits can be mastered and broken through sheer willpower alone, others may require more serious forms of intervention. For example, if you’re physically addicted to a substance, it may be nearly impossible for you to overcome your addiction by yourself. In this scenario, it’s important to recognize the severity of the problem and seek professional help.

Once you’ve been able to break one bad habit, the rest will seem miniscule by comparison. Over time, you’ll gradually perfect your habits and ultimately end up better able to succeed—both in the classroom and in life after college.