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Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994
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Archive for the ‘Psychology’

A feline star is born in the new Coen Brothers movie

December 06, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Movies, Music, Psychology, Science No Comments →

Inside Llewyn Davis stars a ginger tom cat named Ulysses, who is actually several cats because cats are divas and don’t like doing retakes. Cute cat, and his human co-star’s not bad, either. Ulysses has received plaudits for his performance, particularly for that scene in the subway where he watches the signs whooshing by (and he is apparently a running theme haha). We are wary of movies featuring animal performers because we were traumatized by Old Yeller, and we especially hate movies where the animal characters are killed off just so the audience will feel something. We don’t think the Coen Brothers will torment Ulysses, but they do enjoy torturing their human characters (wood chippers, bolt guns, etc) so we can’t be sure. Nothing bad better happen to that cat. (This being a Coens movie, we’re assuming Llewyn Davis doesn’t live happily ever after.)

Here are Saffy and Mat’s horror movie auditions.

Saffy on the door
The horror!

Read Do Cats Control My Mind? in The Atlantic.

Got a question about sex? Ask our guest psychiatrist, Dr. Agnes Bueno

October 23, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Podcast, Psychology, Sex 14 Comments →

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Therese dreaming by Balthus, 1938

Everybody thinks about sex; the question is, how often? Is it possible to think about sex too much? (What is “too much”?) Is it possible to not think about sex at all?

Around the time we declared independence from our parents and moved into a place of our own, we turned on the TV late one night and discovered the woman who has the answers. With her high intelligence and erudition, her direct manner, her colored contact lenses and decolletage, and her absolute refusal to treat sexuality as a subject “not suitable for polite company”, she helped to liberate us from our silly, giggly notions about love and relationships.

On Tuesday we’re doing a podcast with the famed psychiatrist and human sexuality expert, Dr. Agnes Bueno. We’re tackling everything you’ve always wanted to know about sex but didn’t know whom to ask (or were afraid to ask for fear of being judged and condemned as a maniac). So post your questions for Dr. Bueno in Comments, and we’ll try to cram them all into the podcast next week. Don’t be embarrassed; she won’t be.

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The 50 Shades of Grey books being devoid of literary value, does their use as masturbation helpers for the creatively-challenged justify their existence?

Could you recommend some good erotica?

Which fictional couples (from novels, movies and TV) would you say have healthy relationships?

Why do some people insist on staying in abusive relationships? Do they feel they deserve the abuse? Get their kicks from being abused?

Is Freud still relevant to the times?

Is monogamy natural and possible, or are people kidding ourselves?

Loneliness is lethal.

May 24, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Music, Psychology 3 Comments →

(Frieda Fromm-Reichmann’s) “On Loneliness” is considered a founding document in a fast-growing area of scientific research you might call loneliness studies. Over the past half-century, academic psychologists have largely abandoned psychoanalysis and made themselves over as biologists. And as they delve deeper into the workings of cells and nerves, they are confirming that loneliness is as monstrous as Fromm-Reichmann said it was. It has now been linked with a wide array of bodily ailments as well as the old mental ones.

In a way, these discoveries are as consequential as the germ theory of disease. Just as we once knew that infectious diseases killed, but didn’t know that germs spread them, we’ve known intuitively that loneliness hastens death, but haven’t been able to explain how. Psychobiologists can now show that loneliness sends misleading hormonal signals, rejiggers the molecules on genes that govern behavior, and wrenches a slew of other systems out of whack. They have proved that long-lasting loneliness not only makes you sick; it can kill you. Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking.

Read The Science of Loneliness: How Isolation Can Kill You in TNR.

Take this quiz to see where you are on the UCLA Loneliness Scale.

According to the quiz we are not lonely at all. Probably because we really enjoy being alone, plus we refer to ourself in the first person plural so we don’t even think we’re alone.

Reading works. And music.


Here’s Tom Waits singing Lonely. Which makes us happy.

Do you remember your dreams?

April 22, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Childhood, Psychology 4 Comments →

romanmuradov
Dream diary by Roman Muradov, via biblioklept.

We don’t seem to. We’re sure that at some point in our 8 or 9 hours of sleep every night (This is our real talent, sleeping) we have dreams, but when we wake up we usually don’t remember a single one. Which is too bad because the few we do remember would make some weird short stories. We’ve tried ordering ourselves to recall our dreams, and keeping a notebook by the bed, to no avail. (On the other hand we remember stories our friends have forgotten they told us years ago.)

But if we get up after dawn to go to the bathroom and then go back to sleep, we remember the dreams we have in the next 2-3 hours.

The dream we remember most vividly is the one where a vampire flies into the kitchen while we’re having breakfast with our parents. We had it when we were 10 or so. In the dream the vampire grabs us, and in our terror we look at our mother and father, and they wave, “Buh-bye! Buh-bye!”

Did your memories happen to you, or to someone else?

February 06, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Psychology 1 Comment →

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London Blitz

From Speak, Memory by Oliver Sacks

It is startling to realize that some of our most cherished memories may never have happened—or may have happened to someone else. I suspect that many of my enthusiasms and impulses, which seem entirely my own, have arisen from others’ suggestions, which have powerfully influenced me, consciously or unconsciously, and then been forgotten. Similarly, while I often give lectures on similar topics, I can never remember, for better or worse, exactly what I said on previous occasions; nor can I bear to look through my earlier notes. Losing conscious memory of what I have said before, and having no text, I discover my themes afresh each time, and they often seem to me brand-new. This type of forgetting may be necessary for a creative or healthy cryptomnesia, one that allows old thoughts to be reassembled, retranscribed, recategorized, given new and fresh implications.

Read the whole essay at NYRB.

“I will not let you go”: A story of stalking

January 25, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Psychology No Comments →

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Image by Holly Gressley

“I Will Ruin Him”
How it feels to be stalked
By James Lasdun

Some years ago, I found myself, to my surprise, the victim of a campaign of malicious e-mail stalking and online defamation by a former M.F.A. student.

Nasreen (all names here have been changed) was a talented writer, and she had an interesting story to tell about her family’s experiences in Iran at the time of the revolution. During the term I taught her, I’d made it clear I thought highly of her work.

Two years after she graduated, she contacted me, asking me to help edit her novel. I was too busy at the time, but I put her in touch with my agent, who in turn introduced her to a freelance editor. Nasreen seemed grateful for the help, and an amicable correspondence began between us…

Read the full article in The Chronicle Review.