Working Best Under Pressure

I have had a number of clients tell me they “work best under pressure.” I don’t argue with them, though the research shows that we actually don’t perform our best (with regard to efficiency and decision-making) while under pressure. I do acknowledge that pressure and deadlines are often necessary for meaningful motivation–I think they interpret “work best under pressure” as “work with the most urgency/intensity under pressure.” It isn’t really the same thing.

When I do hear someone say this I think to myself “So, you ‘work best’ when you are potentially doing metabolic and cardiovascular damage to yourself–great!”

Simple But Good Advice

A Huffington Post blog this week posted 10 Things to Stop Tolerating in one’s life. The piece doesn’t really go into how to rid oneself of the 10 things very much, but they are things worth reminding people to be aware that they can be damaging to physical and mental health. Some of the references they the author makes though can be good sources to solutions.

I would add an important 11th one–unsatisfying relationships. Unsatisfying relationships plague many of my clients. Frequently they are aware the relationship is unsatisfying and yet continue the relationship for some reason. It isn’t necessary to ditch an unsatisfying relationship in all cases though–sometimes it is a matter of figuring out how to make the relationship satisfying. This can be done by (1) changing the way one behaves within a relationship, (2) better communicating one’s needs within a relationship, or (3) learning how to adjust expectations so that the relationship is no longer unsatisfying. Often theseĀ  approaches are at the core of relationship counseling. Sometimes none of these approaches works, but they are at least options.



Transgender SEAL

A new book has come out about a former Navy SEAL who is transgendered. This type of hypermasculinity is not uncommon among MTF transgendered people. That someone who internally identified as female would pursue an occupation which is so publicly identified with masculinity challenges the ideas of masculinity and femininity.

I think it also challenges the idea that transgender people are in some way mentally unstable. Clearly, to perform at the elite level of a Navy SEAL requires great mental strength and character. I hope that her coming out opens people’s eyes about the “normalcy” and health of people who experience Gender Dysphoria. Gender Dysphoria is still considered a mental disorder in the 5th Edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), but with greater societal and personal acceptance we are seeing fewer symptoms of poor mental health associated with being transgendered (much like homosexuality 40+ years ago).

BDSM is Healthy

A recent study showing the overall relative well-being of people who engage in BDSM compared to those who don’t was brought to my attention recently by a client and by a friend. Like with gays and lesbians up until the 50s, there has been a general feeling within the mental health profession that those who practice alternative sexualities have higher rates of psychopathology. This opinion is changing.

This current study does not use the American “gold standards” of assessing mental health [one of the instruments they used (NEO) I use in my practice specifically because it is designed to NOT measure psychopathology], but still can provide good evidence of overall mental well-being. There has, so far, been insufficient research on the mental health of alternative sexualities (and relationships), but this appears to be a good start.

Another recent sign of the changing opinion on alternative sexuality is the recent publication of the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). This is the first time in the history of the book–intended to guide the diagnosis of mental disorders– has specifically distinguished between paraphilias and paraphilic disorders, noting that “a paraphilia is necessary but not sufficient condition for having a paraphilic disorder, and a paraphilia by itself does not necessarily justify or require clinical intervention” (p. 686).