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Psychological effects of social nudity

Psychological effects of social nudity


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I have been conducting extensive research over the last few years on the history of nudity in social situations, and I am looking to expand my research base now I have come across a few other interesting facts. I have found a lot of facts stating that although the wearing of clothes is the social norm in most cultures; some cultures, groups and individuals are more relaxed about nudity (for example Nudists/naturists - WARNING! - Link is NSFW), however, attitudes often depend on context. It is generally agreed by naturist organisations (for example, British Naturism and International Naturist Federation) that eroticism and blatant sexuality have no place in naturism and are, in fact, directly opposed to its ideals. Reasons that have at times been given include rapport with other humans including equality and respect.

Being nude in groups makes all feel more accepted - physically, intellectually and emotionally (Veltheim, 2010)

On the other hand, some people feel uncomfortable in the presence of any nudity, and the presence of a nude person in a public place can give rise to controversy, irrespective of the attitude of the person who is nude. You only have to look at the history of Steven Gough as an example.

Besides meeting social disapproval, in some countries and in some settings within more liberal countries, public nudity may constitute a crime of indecent exposure. Many people have strong views on nudity, which to them can involve issues and standards of modesty, decency and morality. Some people have a psychological aversion to nudity, called gymnophobia.

On the flip side, there is a form of psychotherapy I have not long come across called Nude Psychotherapy which is

the use of non-sexual social nudity as an intentional means to improve the participant's psychological health.

The field began in the 1930s with psychological studies of the effects of social nudity on the lives of naturists. It developed in the 1960s along with the encounter group movement as a way to challenge preconceptions and promote intimacy and trust, but suffered a decline in the 1980s. It is still used by some organizations that offer participatory workshops on intimacy, sex and love…

… Today The Human Awareness Institute (Global Site) (UK Site), an organization that offers participatory workshops on intimacy, sex and love continues to conduct group sessions in which the participants have the option to be naked. (Shewey, 1994)

There are a lot of historical studies on the history of clothing, social nudity, and nudity in art, ancient Greece and ancient Rome; plus there are also anthropological studies on the irony of losing fur when evolving from primates (Horizon: What's The Problem With Nudity, 2008). I am not after biblical references (I have lots of those through my research) and I am not after personal opinions without scientific backing. What I am wondering is are there any referenced books, articles or scientific studies anyone is aware of, on the psychological effects of nudity - particularly social nudity?

References

Horizon: What's The Problem With Nudity, (2008) [Film] Directed by Paul King. UK: BBC. Available on YouTube

John Veltheim, (2010). Naturism: Naked Beneath Your Clothing

Shewey, Don (1994). Healed With a Kiss


Quoting from one paper, which doesn't say all that much:

The experience of nakedness under the gaze of others is highly diverse, and important background differences will affect the relative comfort with which one might strip in front of others.

Cover, R. (2003). The naked subject: Nudity, context and sexualization in contemporary culture. Body & Society, 9(3), 53-72. DOI: 10.1177/1357034X030093004

And from one of the few studies of nudists in the US, back when this was more common over there (that is 1964):

Among changes reported by nudists were “less concern with appearance,” “reduced anxiety,” “more benevolence,” and “less inhibition.”

Casler, L. (2010). Some Sociopsychological Observations in a Nudist Camp: A Preliminary Study, The Journal of Social Psychology, 64:2, 307-323

Fairly similar findings from a nude group therapy "marathon" (24hrs session):

Nudity apparently facilitates group interaction in a marathon. 17 of 20 participants felt that the factor of nudity increased their ability to open up to each other emotionally and to achieve a greater degree of authenticity and transparency. The group integrated and seemed to become therapeutically functional more rapidly than clothed marathon groups

Bindrim, P. (1968). A report on a nude marathon: The effect of physical nudity upon the practice of interaction in the marathon group. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice, 5(3), 180-188

And a pretty interesting discussion contrasting the German and UK cultural differences in how sexuality relates to social nudity is found in Smith, G., & King, M. (2009). Naturism and sexuality: Broadening our approach to sexual wellbeing. Health & place, 15(2), 439-446.


There's this article which I'm unable to obtain: "The Psychology of Social Nudism", Lutzeier, Daniel Paul

https://www.base-search.net/Record/24284d994ab352ffa7c0fe41386604322d9cd0edfc2a04f7082ffbcac2beadd2/


Separation from parents removes children’s most important protection and generates a new trauma, Stanford scholar says

Stanford psychologist Ian H. Gotlib discusses the psychological effects of early-life stress and parental separation. Gotlib’s research has shown that children need their parents for their own emotional well-being.

In recent months, more than 2,000 migrant children have been separated from their families at the United States/Mexico border. Questions about the policy, including how it affects the children’s well-being, has led to a suspension of the practice.

Ian Gotlib (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

For these children, family separation is an additional trauma to an already adverse experience in their home environments and a long, difficult journey to the Unied States, according to Stanford psychology Professor Ian H. Gotlib. Even after families are reunited, the uncertainty surrounding these parents’ lives could exacerbate feelings of anguish, despair, guilt, blame and depression – negative emotions that disrupt how they learn life skills.

Gotlib’s research shows that early life stress is a significant risk factor for depression and suicidal behaviors. His work has also examined how early life stress affects brain development. His research has also looked at treatments of depression and how to reduce young children’s risk of developing depression.

Gotlib is the David Starr Jordan Professor in the Department of Psychology in the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences. He is a member of Stanford Bio-X, the Child Health Research Institute and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute. He is also the director of the Stanford Neurodevelopment, Affect and Psychopathology Laboratory.

Stanford News Service talked with Gotlib about the impact of early life stress on children’s psychological well-being.

One of your research projects examines early life stress. What are the psychological effects of separating children from their parents?

While we do not explicitly study the effects of separating children from their parents in our laboratory, we nevertheless know from decades of research that children, and younger children in particular, depend on and need their parents for their own emotional well-being.

5 questions: How border separations can traumatize children

Unplanned separation from parents is among the most damaging events a young child can experience, according to trauma research. A Stanford expert explains how it can hurt kids’ development.

In providing a supportive and nurturing relationship, parents play a critical role in promoting their children’s healthy development. They also protect their children from the psychological consequences of significant stress by buffering them from the effects of traumas and helping them to regulate their emotions.

Obviously, separation from parents is traumatic it both removes children’s most important protection and generates a new trauma. Indeed, in studies of institutionalized children, such separation has been found to disrupt normal child development and to have long-term negative consequences for their psychological and physical health. In our own research, we are documenting that early adverse experiences have detrimental behavioral and biological consequences for children and adolescents years later.

How does early-life stress affect psychological well-being, both in the short and long term?

Early life stress is consistently associated with behavioral problems in children, with symptoms of psychopathology, and with psychological and physical disorders. It is clear that early life stress can have both immediate and long-lasting consequences, particularly when it is severe and cumulative, as in the case of separation from parents following what might be years of adverse experiences in their home environments and a long, arduous journey to the United States.

We and others have demonstrated that in response to traumas and adverse experiences similar to separation from parents, children secrete high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This elevated cortisol has negative effects on brain structure and connectivity, slowing neuronal growth and reducing volumes of critical brain structures like the hippocampus and affecting brain regions involved in effective emotion regulation. Not surprisingly, research has also demonstrated adverse effects of early trauma on children’s psychological functioning, including higher rates of depression, anxiety and “externalizing,” or acting-out, behaviors.

Family separation is one of many stressful experiences of a migrant experience. What can be done to mitigate the effects of stress in childhood?

Obviously, reuniting the migrant children with their parents is an essential first step for mitigating the effects of the stress they have experienced. Certainly, their struggle will not be over, but they are far more likely to then have dedicated and attentive parents who provide nurturance and safety. Research with previously institutionalized children indicates that children can recover from the adverse effects of trauma when they return to family settings.

What psychological effects does family separation have on parents?

Having your child forcibly separated from parents can induce anguish, despair, guilt, blame and depression in the parents – all powerful negative emotions that disrupt how they can learn life skills. This includes how to cope well with adversity, being resilient, not experiencing depression or anxiety.

Unquestionably, for parents, there are few events as traumatic as being separated from their children. Moreover, these emotions are only likely to be exacerbated by the uncertainty surrounding these parents’ lives, even after they are reunited with their children.

In our research we have documented powerful negative consequences for children of being raised by parents who are experiencing these negative emotions deeply and for a prolonged period of time. Such children themselves have higher rates of depression and other forms of maladaptive behavior, and have difficulty recovering from stressors and regulating their emotions appropriately. This is a vicious cycle that we must try to end.


How Online Anonymity Hurts Self-Esteem

Anonymity now has a large influence on the feedback people receive about their image on social media.

We know how people respond to an image influences self perception. Today, the chance of being scrutinized is greater because more people interact through a protected, anonymous filter, potentially making any self-esteem issues more sensitive.

There are forums — like the subreddit amiugly, which has more than 22,000 subscribers — that allow anonymous users to give constructive criticism on self-submitted portraits. Most of which is positive, but this further suggests the desire to maintain an image that's accepted by society before the self.


Applying Psychology to Public Policy

This month’s guest columnist is David Halpern, Director of the United Kingdom’s Behavioural Insights Team. This innovative team provides a model for other countries demonstrating how psychological science can be utilized to inform government policy decisions.

When governments want advice on the likely impact of their policies, they traditionally turn to economists. Psychologists have been less in demand. The reasons are understandable: Economists have seemed to offer relatively clear and well developed models for predicting behavior, notably “expected utility theory.” In contrast, the lessons from psychology have often seemed less clear-cut, no matter how interesting or suggestive they may have been.

This situation is now changing. Officials are recognizing that their policies may stand or fall on social, cognitive, and emotional factors that economists have traditionally neglected. Given their position at the top table, it is perhaps unsurprising — if ironic — that economists themselves have communicated this point. Behavioral economics, essentially a combination of economics and psychology, has provided a new bridge between policymakers and psychological findings.

David Halpern

Perhaps the most famous early application of this approach has involved efforts to encourage people to save for retirement. Rather like the changes in 401k schemes in the United States, the United Kingdom has recently changed the default for enrollment in employee pension schemes from an opt-in to an opt-out. This change has raised the proportion of workers saving in large firms from 61% to 83% (and more than 90% among directly eligible workers). This insight will not be new to most psychologists, but it has profound implications for how governments deliver policies. Moreover, policy makers do not have to accept this principle as an a priori article of faith — it has been established through repeated experiments.

Behavioral economics has found a receptive audience in governments that, over recent decades, have increasingly been tasked with addressing such broad and complex social problems as obesity, climate change, and social exclusion. Many of these challenges are dependent on changes in the behavior of individuals or groups. In this context, there is a real demand for approaches that can better explain observed behavior. Indeed, Richard Thaler (perhaps the most famous of the behavioral economists) recently argued that the US government should have a Council of Behavioral Scientist Advisers to sit alongside the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.

A psychologist by background, I lead a small team in the center of the UK government that actually has such a remit. The UK’s Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) brings together psychologists, policymakers, and economists to apply findings from behavioral economics and social psychology to improve public policy. Though created by the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat administration, BIT has roots that spread across administrations. It was a decade ago, when I was Chief Analyst to then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Strategy Unit, that we first published a report on the application of behavioral science to policy.

Since 2010, BIT has worked across nearly every domestic policy area, from health and energy to fraud and charitable giving. For example, BIT has been undertaking a major program to improve the way people are helped into the labor market. A key element draws on findings about the power of commitments and implementation intentions to influence behavior: A group of job seekers were helped to plan their route to an interview and decide when they would rewrite their résumé, as opposed to the usual practice of merely being reminded to do these things. An initial program has shown encouraging results, and we are currently trialing the impact of the intervention across the whole district.

Although we know there is a set of factors that influence behavior, we don’t know for certain which will apply in a particular context. Therefore, BIT has promoted a “Test, Learn, Adapt” approach to government, based around the use of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). RCTs have a reputation in government for being expensive, difficult to implement, and slow to give results. BIT has set about showing that they can be cheap and feasible, and can give quick feedback to improve policy making.

Recently, for example, BIT conducted work to increase the proportion of people on the UK organ donor register. Thanks to the UK’s Government Digital Service, people registering for vehicle tax are now also offered the opportunity to join the register. Using a rapid and low-cost process, BIT tested the effect of including different messages with that offer. One message pointed out that thousands of other people register, and this increased registrations from 2.3% of visitors to 2.9%. (The best performing message registered 3.2%, equivalent to 96,000 additional registrations a year). But if that message was combined with a picture of a crowd of people, registrations actually dropped to 2.2% — worse than no message at all. This was an unexpected result, since evidence from elsewhere suggests that adding such a picture should be more effective. This example shows the importance of such evaluation: If BIT had simply followed the evidence without testing, it would have reduced registrations by 10,000.

By combining new insights with rigorous evaluation, BIT’s interventions have saved the UK government tens of millions of pounds. Recently, the White House set up a Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, and other countries are in the process of doing the same. However, we also want to advance the field of knowledge: We have collaborated closely with academics, and will continue to do so. In the future the team will be pursuing these objectives in the form of a public-private social enterprise, reflecting the demand for its services more details can be found at blogs.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/behavioural-insights-team/.

To read more about Halpern’s work and other initiatives to incorporate behavioral science into policy-making, see the September 2013 Observer feature “ Small Nudge, Big Impact .”


Humiliation of one person by another is often used as a way of asserting power over others, and is a common form of oppression or abuse. However, it can also be consensual, as part of an agreement with a lover of sexual humiliation. In either of these cases, it may be motivated by sadism. In addition, many punishments are deliberately designed to be humiliating, e.g. tarring and feathering, pillory, mark of infamy (stigma).

Humiliation may include (also in combinations):

  • forced nudity
  • forced cross-dressing , other forced sex (including forced masturbation) or forced simulation of sex
  • forced watching of nudity and/or sex
  • being kept on a dogleash
  • being hooded (reason may be the humiliation, but also preventing the victim from seeing and identifying the other person and the location)
  • being ridiculed
  • small penis size humiliation (ridiculing a male's penis size as small and comparison with larger men)
  • forced dressing up in formal clothes

Physical abuse is, in addition to the physical damage, also humiliating, as is intimidation. Rape may, in addition to being humiliating, cause physical damage, including being infected by a sexually-transmitted disease, and also the physical abuse of making an unwilling woman pregnant.

Some of the above are forms of sexual humiliation. However, some people find humiliation by others erotic in certain circumstances: see erotic humiliation. Not all use of humiliation is sexually motivated it may be seen by some in positions of authority (like parents) as corrective in certain circumstances.


4. Discussion

The mean of effect size of studies in the fixed-effect model and random-effect model was obtained respectively as 0.356 and 0.330, both of which are significant at 0.001, and are considered average, based on Cohen criteria (19). These results are aligned with other studies’ results (14, 16, 17). So it can be said that positive social communication with family members and friends reduces anxiety and develops the feeling of security. People with more positive ethnical social relations and higher social support enjoy more efficient communication skills, which directs them away from depression and other mental problems (34). Moreover, Cobb introduces the social support as a protector against stress in a way that it largely affects social health and performance. Cobb explains that social support gives people the feeling of being loved, cared, respected, and belonging to a network of communication (78). According to Durkheim’s theory, people do not receive social support and their health is at risk if social unity is poor. Conversely, a high level of social support protects people from illnesses (7). Also, the results revealed that sex, sampling method and a mental health questionnaire did not moderate in the correlation between social support and mental health but the target population and social support questionnaire doesn’t have the role of mediator. The results showed that studies that have been conducted solely on women, had higher effect size than the studies on men. These results are aligned with other studies’ results (79, 80, 25). In this respect, the effect size of social support varies with sex in a way that women discuss their emotional problems with others outside the family, more than men do. It may be more difficult for men to accept their anxieties, fears, and depressions due to the social perceptions expected from men regarding their gender role behaviors. Men’s inability to cope with stresses may be deemed their weakness, and thus, they may not use the support from helping contexts because they are afraid of losing their dignity and status (2). In this study the effect size of social support on mental health was examined and compared in the different groups. Results revealed the high correlation of social support with mental health in parents with disabled children, immigrants, and people seeking to change their sex the effect size of social support on mental health in university students, ordinary people, workers, and veterans was higher than the average level and the effect size of social support on mental health in female heads of household, infertile couples, school students, women who had been abused, and older adults was at the average level. According to Rathus, social support reduces the adverse effects of mental stress in 5 ways: emotional attention, helping, information, assessment of others’ feedback about the quality of performance, and sociability (20). University students and workers who access social networks more than others are more likely to contact social support networks and be more skilled in receiving social support when they experience stressful situations or have problems. Furthermore, immigrants with higher social, mental, and financial support kinship networks sense of belonging and attachment and participation in various aspects of social life in new environments enjoy better mental health in that new society (43). Parents who have disabled children but receive social support, are capable of giving meaning to life problems, mental stresses, physical disabilities, and the psychological vulnerability and consequently, reducing mental pressure (57). In older adult communities, it should be said that older people who receive more social support and participate in different aspects of social life more than others, enjoy more favorable mental health. Perceived social support can inhibit the adverse physiological complications of diseases and increase self-care among older people (31). In the field of social support on patients’ mental health, patientscertainly find themselves in a precarious situation and look for support that decreases their anxiety and discomfort, and thus, social support in such a situation can reduce their anxiety and discomfort (25). The results showed that the studies that had used census method showed maximum effect size, because this method investigates the entire study population and consequently, is more accurate.


The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter

A cluttered home can be a stressful home, researchers are learning.

By Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi

Do you have a clutter problem?

If you have to move things around in order to accomplish a task in your home or at your office or you feel overwhelmed by all your “things,” it’s a strong signal that clutter has prevailed. And it might be stressing you out more than you realize.

“Clutter is an overabundance of possessions that collectively create chaotic and disorderly living spaces,” said Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago who studies the causes of clutter and its impact on emotional well-being. And a cluttered home, researchers are learning, can be a stressful home.

Dr. Ferrari was part of a research team that questioned three groups of adults about clutter and life satisfaction: college students young adults in their 20s and 30s and older adults, most in their 50s.

The authors assessed volunteers’ tendency to procrastinate, asking them to respond to statements like “I pay bills on time” using a five-point scale, ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. Procrastination is closely tied to clutter, because sorting through and tossing items is a task that many people find unpleasant and avoid. It takes time to file away important papers or sort through a dining room table buried under books.

The researchers also measured participants’ general well-being in relation to how clutter might be affecting their lives, asking them to answer questions such as “the clutter in my home upsets me” and “I have to move things in order to accomplish tasks in my home.”

The study, published in Current Psychology, found a substantial link between procrastination and clutter problems in all the age groups. Frustration with clutter tended to increase with age. Among older adults, clutter problems were also associated with life dissatisfaction.

The findings add to a growing body of evidence that clutter can negatively impact mental well-being, particularly among women. Clutter can also induce a physiological response, including increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

A 2010 study in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology looked at dual-income married couples living in the Los Angeles area who had at least one school-aged child at home. The wives in the study who perceived themselves as having a cluttered home or a home that needed work tended to have increased levels of cortisol throughout the day. Those who weren’t feeling cluttered, which included most of the men in the study, had cortisol levels that tended to drop during the day.

Darby Saxbe, an assistant psychology professor at University of Southern California and the study’s lead author, said that the women in the study who described their home as being cluttered or needing work began their day stressed and remained stressed. Some of the added stress, she suspects, was tied to women’s tendency to take on housework and extra chores after the workday. In terms of cortisol levels, men who did more housework in the evening were as likely to have raised cortisol levels at the end of the day as women. It’s just that not as many men spent as much time on housework as their wives, she said.

In a follow-up study, Dr. Saxbe studied the cortisol level in the afternoon and evening, a time when stress should be dropping in “an adaptive recovery.” Not everyone in the study was bothered by shoes left on the staircase or mail piled on the coffee table. But again, women were more likely than men to complain about clutter or having too many unfinished projects, and did not show a cortisol reduction.

“Clutter is in the eye of the beholder,” Dr. Saxbe said. “The people who talked about it were the ones who had the cortisol response.”

Experts are beginning to explore why clutter can elicit such a strong emotional response.

Dr. Saxbe said there has long been a standard representation on how a middle-class home should look and function. A disorderly home fails to live up to such an expectation.

“If you think of the 1950s ideals of the single family home,” Dr. Saxbe said. “The man comes home, kicks up his feet and has a cocktail. The home is a place to come home and unwind. But not if the home is filled with a to-do list and never-ending drudgery.”

Gaining control over the drudgery of decluttering is a task that many inhabitants of cluttered residences struggle to master.

Dr. Ferrari noted that clutter is also often the result of an “over-attachment” to our personal items, which makes it difficult to part with them. For overwhelmed individuals who want to declutter, he recommends a hands-off approach.

“If you’re going to declutter, don’t touch the item. Don’t pick it up,” he said. “Have somebody else hold the pair of black pants and say, ‘Do you need this?’ Once you touch the item, you are less likely to get rid of it.”

Another option is to make a conscious effort to acquire less. Dr. Ferrari argued that most of what we accumulate we do not need. “We have taken our wants and been told they are needs,” he said.

Dr. Saxbe agreed that a good way to declutter is to keep items out of the house in the first place. She urged shoppers to consider whether they truly need an item or if it will add to their home’s sense of dysfunction. “Once it’s in the house, it’s really hard to deal with. You get attached to the things you own,” she said.


Separation from parents removes children’s most important protection and generates a new trauma, Stanford scholar says

Stanford psychologist Ian H. Gotlib discusses the psychological effects of early-life stress and parental separation. Gotlib’s research has shown that children need their parents for their own emotional well-being.

In recent months, more than 2,000 migrant children have been separated from their families at the United States/Mexico border. Questions about the policy, including how it affects the children’s well-being, has led to a suspension of the practice.

Ian Gotlib (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

For these children, family separation is an additional trauma to an already adverse experience in their home environments and a long, difficult journey to the Unied States, according to Stanford psychology Professor Ian H. Gotlib. Even after families are reunited, the uncertainty surrounding these parents’ lives could exacerbate feelings of anguish, despair, guilt, blame and depression – negative emotions that disrupt how they learn life skills.

Gotlib’s research shows that early life stress is a significant risk factor for depression and suicidal behaviors. His work has also examined how early life stress affects brain development. His research has also looked at treatments of depression and how to reduce young children’s risk of developing depression.

Gotlib is the David Starr Jordan Professor in the Department of Psychology in the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences. He is a member of Stanford Bio-X, the Child Health Research Institute and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute. He is also the director of the Stanford Neurodevelopment, Affect and Psychopathology Laboratory.

Stanford News Service talked with Gotlib about the impact of early life stress on children’s psychological well-being.

One of your research projects examines early life stress. What are the psychological effects of separating children from their parents?

While we do not explicitly study the effects of separating children from their parents in our laboratory, we nevertheless know from decades of research that children, and younger children in particular, depend on and need their parents for their own emotional well-being.

5 questions: How border separations can traumatize children

Unplanned separation from parents is among the most damaging events a young child can experience, according to trauma research. A Stanford expert explains how it can hurt kids’ development.

In providing a supportive and nurturing relationship, parents play a critical role in promoting their children’s healthy development. They also protect their children from the psychological consequences of significant stress by buffering them from the effects of traumas and helping them to regulate their emotions.

Obviously, separation from parents is traumatic it both removes children’s most important protection and generates a new trauma. Indeed, in studies of institutionalized children, such separation has been found to disrupt normal child development and to have long-term negative consequences for their psychological and physical health. In our own research, we are documenting that early adverse experiences have detrimental behavioral and biological consequences for children and adolescents years later.

How does early-life stress affect psychological well-being, both in the short and long term?

Early life stress is consistently associated with behavioral problems in children, with symptoms of psychopathology, and with psychological and physical disorders. It is clear that early life stress can have both immediate and long-lasting consequences, particularly when it is severe and cumulative, as in the case of separation from parents following what might be years of adverse experiences in their home environments and a long, arduous journey to the United States.

We and others have demonstrated that in response to traumas and adverse experiences similar to separation from parents, children secrete high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This elevated cortisol has negative effects on brain structure and connectivity, slowing neuronal growth and reducing volumes of critical brain structures like the hippocampus and affecting brain regions involved in effective emotion regulation. Not surprisingly, research has also demonstrated adverse effects of early trauma on children’s psychological functioning, including higher rates of depression, anxiety and “externalizing,” or acting-out, behaviors.

Family separation is one of many stressful experiences of a migrant experience. What can be done to mitigate the effects of stress in childhood?

Obviously, reuniting the migrant children with their parents is an essential first step for mitigating the effects of the stress they have experienced. Certainly, their struggle will not be over, but they are far more likely to then have dedicated and attentive parents who provide nurturance and safety. Research with previously institutionalized children indicates that children can recover from the adverse effects of trauma when they return to family settings.

What psychological effects does family separation have on parents?

Having your child forcibly separated from parents can induce anguish, despair, guilt, blame and depression in the parents – all powerful negative emotions that disrupt how they can learn life skills. This includes how to cope well with adversity, being resilient, not experiencing depression or anxiety.

Unquestionably, for parents, there are few events as traumatic as being separated from their children. Moreover, these emotions are only likely to be exacerbated by the uncertainty surrounding these parents’ lives, even after they are reunited with their children.

In our research we have documented powerful negative consequences for children of being raised by parents who are experiencing these negative emotions deeply and for a prolonged period of time. Such children themselves have higher rates of depression and other forms of maladaptive behavior, and have difficulty recovering from stressors and regulating their emotions appropriately. This is a vicious cycle that we must try to end.


Laboratory for the Study of Stress, Immunity, and Disease

Sheldon Cohen received a Bachelor of Philosophy degree from Monteith College, Wayne State University (Detroit, MI) in 1969 and a Ph.D. in Psychology from New York University in 1973. He was Assistant to Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon from 1973 through 1982, and has been a Professor of Psychology at   Carnegie Mellon University   (Pittsburgh, PA) since 1982. He was named the Robert E. Doherty Professor of Psychology in 2003, and was named   University Professor   (the highest academic accolade a faculty member can achieve at Carnegie Mellon) in 2014. Since 1990 he has also been an Adjunct Professor of Pathology and Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School as well as a member of the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and from 1999-2009 a member of the Executive Board of NIH Pittsburgh Mind-Body Center. In 1992 he served as the interim director of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute's Behavioral Medicine Program and was the co-director of Pittsburgh's Brain Behavior and Immunity Center from 1990-1999. He was also a member of the core groups of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health and of the Fetzer Institute's Working Group on Psychosocial Factors in Asthma, and served as chair of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Planning Group on Social Connectedness and Health. Dr. Cohen is the recipient of the American Psychological Association's Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Psychology, the American Psychological Society's James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Research in Applied Psychology, the American Psychological Association's (Division 38) Award for Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology, the American Psychosomatic Society's Patricia R. Barchas Award for Significant Contributions to the Study of the Impact of Social Behavior on Physiology, the American Psychosomatic Society's Distinguished Scientist Award, the National Institute of Mental Health's Research Scientist Development, and Senior Scientist Awards and was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences. He was an American Psychological Association Distinguished Lecturer, and a British Psychological Association Senior Fellow Lecturer. His paper entitled "Social Support, Stress and the Buffering Hypothesis" was named a Current Contents Citation Classic in 2003 he was named one of Science's Most Cited Authors by the Institute of Scientific Information.

Dr. Cohen's work focuses on the roles of stress, affect, and social support systems in health and well-being. He has published pioneering theoretical and empirical work on the effects of aircraft noise on health and development of school children, and on the roles of stress and social networks in physical and mental health. Over the last 20 years he has studied the effects of psychological stress, social support, and social status on immunity and susceptibility to infectious disease. This work attempts to identify the neuroendocrine, immune, and behavioral pathways that link stress, personality, and social networks to disease susceptibility. He is also involved in studies of the effects of psychosocial factors on the onset and progression of asthma, and on the effectiveness of social support interventions in facilitating psychological adjustment and disease progression in women with breast cancer. His current work focuses on how interpersonal dispositions and behaviors influence immunity and host resistance to infectious disease. His research has been published in the   New England Journal of Medicine, the   Journal of the American Medical Association, the   Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the   Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and the   American Journal of Public Health   in addition to other medical, public health, and sociology journals as well as in numerous psychology journals.

PLEASE NOTE: DR. COHEN IS NO LONGER ACCEPTING NEW TRAINEES

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Living Alone, Loneliness, and Psychological Well-Being of Older Persons in Singapore

Studies of the psychological well-being of elderly living alone have yielded inconsistent results. Few investigators have distinguished living alone from loneliness in the same study. Thus, the present study examined the independent and interactive effects of living alone and loneliness on depressive symptoms (GDS score) and quality of life (SF-12 MCS score) in a prospective 2-year follow-up cohort study of 2808 community-dwelling older adults (aged ≥55 years) in Singapore, controlling for baseline covariates. In cross-sectional analysis, loneliness was a more robust predictor of GDS score than living arrangements living alone, when controlled for loneliness, was not associated with GDS score. GDS score associated with living alone was worse for those who felt lonely than for those who did not feel lonely. Similar patterns of association were found in longitudinal analyses and for SF-12 MCS score, although not all were significant. Thus, though living alone predicted lower psychological well-being, its predictive ability was reduced when loneliness was taken into account and loneliness, a stronger predictor, worsened the psychological effects of living alone.

1. Introduction

Population aging generates an array of social and health concerns, among which are the special concerns of the psychological well-being of elderly who live alone. Much research on the association between living arrangements and subjective well-being of the elderly has yielded inconsistent findings. Studies of various older populations in the United States, Hong Kong, Japan, and The Netherlands have reported that elderly living alone were more likely to be depressed [1–5] and have poorer mental health status and quality of life [2, 6, 7] than their counterparts.

However, some authors reported that living alone was not associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms and lower quality of life [3, 8]. For instance, Kawamoto et al. [9] in their 2-year study also found that living alone was not a significant risk factor for emotional well-being in Japanese elderly after adjustment for conventional confounding factors such as age, sex, work activity status, and self-rated health. These discrepant findings may be explained by various reasons that include the selection characteristics and heterogeneity of the study populations, such as differing concentrations of the urban poor and indigent in different studies. An important factor is the effect of loneliness.

Loneliness can be viewed as a subjective measure of one’s state of mind and the negative feelings about one’s level of social contact [10], often involving an unwanted discrepancy between existing and desired relationships [11]. Loneliness is a universal phenomenon embedded in the human experience and is closely associated with changing life circumstances [12]. Old age is a period that is often seen to be marked by loneliness [13], escalating with approaching death [14]. Studies have shown that loneliness is linked to depression and lower quality of life [8, 15, 16] and increased vulnerability to both physical and mental health problems of the elderly [17, 18]. These associations have been shown to be independent of age, education, income, marital status, and perceived stress [15].

In much of the earlier literature, the concepts of living alone and loneliness were often used interchangeably [19]. However, living alone is not equivalent to feeling lonely. While living alone is an objective measure of one’s living arrangements, loneliness is a subjective emotional experience of one’s personal relationships. Hence, although living alone may increase the risk for loneliness, not all elderly people who live alone feel lonely and vice versa.

It has been suggested that the relationship between living alone and psychological well-being may be more salient in Chinese populations [20], in which the collectivist culture places a strong emphasis on family togetherness and the interdependence of family members. Thus, living alone may arguably have a strong negative effect on the well-being of the Asian elderly. As in other developed countries, the population in Singapore is ageing rapidly. The number of elderly aged 65 and above in Singapore has increased markedly from 164,000 in 1990 to 238, 000 in 2000, and it is expected to multiply threefold to 900,000 in 2030 [21]. In this predominantly Chinese population with traditional value of filial piety, children are expected to care for their aging parents 74% of the elderly live with their families [21]. However, rapidly accelerating population aging and recent sociological trends toward family nuclearization have increased the number of elderly people living alone from 15,000 to 22,000 between 2000 and 2005 [21]. Therefore, in such a highly collectivist society like Singapore [22] which values family unity and interdependence, living alone would have a negative effect on the well-being of the elderly.

Under the influence of the traditional values such as filial piety which still dominates the family support system of modern collectivist societies including Singapore, adult children are expected to support their parents financially, physically, and emotionally. This traditional cultural practice and attitude enable most elderly to have high level of social engagement and thereby reduce feeling of loneliness. Yang and Victor [23] reported that living in a rural area and thinking one’s children as not filial were two significant predictors of old age loneliness that are specific to the Chinese context. The elderly who are most likely to feel lonely would be those who perceived that their adult children had failed to fulfill their responsibilities. Loneliness occurs when there is a difference between the perceived and expected amount of support the elderly derive from their families especially children.

The present study seeks to examine the unique effects of living arrangements (living alone versus living with others) and loneliness and their interactions on depression and quality of life in a 2-year followup study of community-dwelling elderly in Singapore. We postulated that while living alone might possibly be negatively associated with these measures of psychological well-being, the associated feeling of loneliness might possibly be a stronger contributing factor. Furthermore, the effect of living alone on the psychological well-being might possibly be amplified by the experience of loneliness. These relationships are examined by controlling for the effects of other variables known to influence well-being in the elderly: age, gender, race, marital status, educational level, social contact frequency, number of medical problems, number of social/productive/fitness/health activities, functional disabilities (activities of daily living, ADL), and cognitive status.

2. Methods

2.1. Participants

The present study used data drawn from 2808 participants in the Singapore Longitudinal Aging Study (SLAS), a prospective cohort study of aging and health among community-dwelling elderly Singaporeans. All older adults who were citizens or permanent residents aged 55 years or above were identified by door-to-door census and invited to participate voluntarily in the study. The study was approved by National University of Singapore Institutional Review Board. The estimated response rate was 78.5%.

Compared to those who dropped out, those who were followed up in the present study included more women, (65.3% versus 58.9%,

), fewer with low or no educations (23.6% versus 29%,

), and fewer who were living alone (11.7% versus 15.2%,

). Those who were followed up gave significantly higher scores on health activities (

), and productive activities (

), higher baseline MMSE score (

), and lower baseline GDS score (

) than those who dropped out of the study.

2.2. Measurements

Participants underwent an extensive series of health interviews and assessments. Structured interviews, physical performance, and clinical assessments were conducted by trained nurses and clinical psychologists. Interviews were conducted by a multiethnic and multilanguage team in the language or dialect with which the subjects were most conversant with.

Living Alone
Participants were asked whether they were currently (1) living alone or with (0) others (spouse, adult children, other relatives, or friends).

Loneliness
Participants were asked “Do you feel that at the present moment you are: not at all lonely (= 1), fairly lonely (= 2), very lonely (= 3)?” As there were small numbers of participants who were “very lonely” (and only three participants who were “very lonely” and lived alone), the loneliness variable was dichotomized into “not lonely” and “lonely” (fairly lonely and very lonely).

Depressive Symptoms
The 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale [24] was administered as a measure of depression at baseline and at followup. Composite score was calculated based on the unweighted sum of the 15 component items, with a potential range of 0 to 15. Cronbach’s alpha in the present study were .84 and .79 at baseline and followup, respectively.

Quality of Life
The generic health-related quality of life (QOL) was measured with the 12-item Short-Form Health Survey [25]. This shorter version of the commonly used SF-36 yields two summary measures: the physical component summary scale (PCS) and the mental component summary scale (MCS). Summary measures range from 0 to 100 and are calculated using the weighted scores of the twelve items higher scores represent better QOL. Only MCS was used in this study.

Potential confounders collected at baseline included (1) sociodemographic variables (2) number of chronic medical problems: participants were asked whether they had been diagnosed and treated by a doctor for a list of medical problem(s) including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, cataract/major eye problem, kidney failure, asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease, arthritis, hip fracture, and mental illness the number of chronic medical problems was added for each participant (3) social contact frequency: frequency of social contract was measured based on the reported frequency of participants’ visits and calls by children/relatives/friends, ranging from 3 = at least once a week, 2 = at least once a month, 1 = at least once a year, 0 = none (4) social activities: participants were asked the number of social activities (in six classes: “Attend church, temple, or mosque,” “Visit cinemas, restaurants, sport events,” “Day or excursive trips,” “play cards, games, bingos, mahjong,” “join a senior citizen club activities,” “Participate in social group activities e.g., karaoke, line dancing”) that they engaged in at least once a month (5) productive activities: participants were asked the number of productive activities (in six classes: “hobbies, e.g., gardening, painting,” “Preparing meals,” “Shopping,” “Unpaid community work,” “Paid community work,” and “Other paid employment or business”) that they engage in at least once a month (6) fitness activities: participants were asked the number of fitness activities (“Physical exercises,” “Walking,” “Active sports or swimming,” and “Taiji”) that they engaged in at least once a month (7) health activities: participants were asked the number of health activities (“Watch what you eat”, “Exercise regularly (i.e., 2-3 times a week),” “Good sleep,” and “Have time for leisure and relaxation”) that they engage in at least once a month (8) functional status: assessed by the participants’ level of dependency in performing 10-item Basic Activities of Daily Living (ADL) found in the Barthel Index [26] Cronbach’s alpha was 0.92 in the present study (9) cognitive function: assessed by the Mini-Mental State Examination [27], a global measure of cognitive function, which has scores ranging from 0 to 30, with higher scores denoting better cognitive performance. Cronbach’s alpha in the present study was 0.83.

3. Statistical Analysis

Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used in cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses to examine the relations between baseline values of living alone and loneliness on baseline and followup levels of GDS and SF-12_MCS scores as dependent variables, controlling for covariates including age, gender, race, marital status, educational level, social contact frequency, number of medical problems, number of social/productive/fitness/health activities, baseline levels of depression, activities of daily living (ADL), cognitive function, and mental components of quality of life. Longitudinal analyses included additionally as covariates baseline levels of GDS and SF-12_MCS. T test of significance for continuous variables and chi-squared tests of significance for categorical variables were used, with two-tailed significance at

. SPSS statistical software version 6 (SPSS Inc, Chicago, Ill) was used for all analyses.

4. Results

In this population of older adults (mean age 66 years), 211 (7.5%) reported living alone and 344 (11.9%) reported feeling lonely (Table 1).


Psychological effects of social nudity - Psychology

The impact of posting selfies and gaining feedback (‘likes’) on the psychological wellbeing of 16-25 year olds: An experimental study

Abstract

Social media, and particularly posting ‘selfies’ have become fully incorporated into young people’s lives. Research indicates that posting selfies may impact upon self esteem and that feedback in the form of ‘likes’ may change how young people feel about themselves. To date, however, most research has been cross sectional or qualitative limiting conclusions about causality. Further, it has taken place in non naturalistic environments, with no longer term follow up and limited outcome variables. This experimental study explored the impact of posting selfies and receiving feedback (‘likes’) on Instagram on broader aspects of the psychological well-being of young people. Participants (n = 59) aged 16-25 were randomly allocated to one of three conditions for a 7-day intervention (no selfie-posting posting selfies without feedback posting selfies with feedback) and completed measures at baseline, after the intervention and at one week follow up. ‘Likes’ were delivered through an app. The intervention had no impact on self-esteem or mood. Posting no selfies resulted in a greater improvement in appearance satisfaction over the study compared to posting selfies (regardless of feedback). In contrast, posting selfies with feedback resulted in a greater improvement in face satisfaction during the intervention although this dropped back to baseline by follow up. To conclude the impact of selfies may vary depending upon which outcome variable is measured and when.

Bibliographic citation

Keywords

Full Text:

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