Serving Whatcom & Skagit Counties in-person, and Washington & California Online                                                           

My Blog: "Psyched News" 

by Carol Tyler, Ph.D. 

Contact:  (650) 218-6839

​​​A "Feel-Good Gene"?  March 17, 2015

​​​Don't worry about the "feel-good gene" in the news, and whether you have it! It's way too early to go from preliminary rat studies to conclusions regarding human fear and resiliancy -- even if the "New York Times" and other news sources feature this story. So far, it's a story. Let's see why...  

As I commented re: a "Here and Now" radio interview, "Before people get too excited, this research [about a speculative feel-good gene] most likely cannot simplistically be explanatory of human feelings and behavior as was discussed in this program. "Scientific American" currently has a counter-argument piece, directed at the hype in the "New York Times": Read John Horgan's "Cross Check" March 13 [2015] blog at "Scientific American," which includes criticism of the experiment itself, as well as a discussion of how single gene theory being explanatory of complex human behavior has not panned out across the years despite hype by major news organizations, as per the excitement over the alcohol gene, a big flop. Wouldn't we wish for such a quick fix? As a cognitive behavioral psychologist myself, I respectfully submit that Lee's vision of extra therapy sessions for phobias, etc., seems to be speculative at best, based on a shaky yet well-intentioned house of experimental cards."

I do feel that people's hopes should not be set up only to be dashed, when it is later more carefully determined that an early experimental finding doesn't have easy-to-follow breadcrumbs to some neat and tidy revelation about our everyday psychology. So, don't worry, be happy, grab a little bite of chocolate, hum your favorite song, and take Sparky for a stroll. Feel good!

Do You Talk to Yourself? That's a GOOD Thing!   March 3, 2016

Positive "self-talk" -- including addressing yourself by name! -- turns out to be a sign of strength, and it even improves your self-image. So, keep on mumbling to yourself!

A article ( has professionals weighing in on why self-talk both focuses us and buoys us up. Older notions held that odd people talk to themselves, perhaps suffering from a bit of dementia. But self-talk is merely a part of normal internal dialog.

Our brains actively represent our feelings, ideas, intentions, and deliberations, I believe, both symbolically (representationally) and also linguistically. Self-talk, as actual words and sentences in our heads, unfortunately can be negative and destructive, kind of like a continuation of abusive or at least critical commentary made to us by others, even from when we were growing up. This is the idea of a critical internalized parent.

Yet here is an opportunity to amend the internalization of earlier, less than supportive messages about ourselves, every time we wonder out loud, "OK, Carol, so where did those keys go, this time?" When we might hear ourselves say out loud, "Robin, you lose so many things because you're just a big loser," it's time to swap out negative self-talk with an affirming, encouraging, optimistic version -- out loud, and said to "Robin."

To tell the truth, I'm personally not terribly wild about the first name approach, but to each, their own self-referent that feels best. Just be sure to stay positive, not necessarily about the content of your internal dialog, but definitely in terms of how you treat yourself in these talks and remarks to yourself! Over time, they can be exceedingly therapeutic. We can discover ourselves -- and maybe also our keys -- in a clearer, friendlier way.