Friday, 15 June 2012

Benign Envy is Good For You

We all know about the destructive forces that envy can unleash because it's...

"...a hostile emotion that often prompts aggressive behaviors. Its antagonistic nature is exemplified by the many publicized crimes and intergroup conflicts attributed to it; the countless literary tales of assassination, murder, and sabotage provoked by it..." (van de Ven et al., 2011)

But psychologists have identified two types of envy:

"We tend to feel malicious envy towards another person if we think their success is undeserved. This is the type that makes us want to strike out at the other person and bring them down a peg or two. However when another's success feels deserved to us, we tend to feel a benign envy: one that isn't destructive but instead motivates."
Benign envy is the kind which raises you up rather than making you want to pull the other person down. Here are four ways that this type of benign envy can be useful.

1. Benign envy motivates

Benign envy can motivate, as long as you compare yourself to the right person. If he or she is in your league, then they can push you on to greater achievements:
"Relevant superstars provoke self-enhancement and inspiration when their success seems attainable but self-deflation when it seems unattainable." (Lockwood & Kunda, 1997)
So stick to being envious of people who are doing a bit better than you. For motivation envy beats admiration.

2. Benign envy feels good

Benign envy is the norm: most people automatically compare themselves with people doing better than themselves. And when we see other people doing better than us, it can give us hope, which makes us feel good.
Here is what Simon Latham says in his book "The Science of Sin: The Psychology of the Seven Deadlies (and Why They Are So Good For You)":
"...comparison can provide information on how a task is done. If you have the good fortune to observe a skilled performer, you watch, you learn and so you perform better [...] Envy can change your expectations about what it is possible to achieve. In other words, it can change your perceived likelihood of success."

3. Benign envy makes you more creative

People who are doing better than us can spur us on to be more creative. In one study on creativity:
"...participants were exposed to comparison targets who either threatened or boosted self-evaluations and then completed a performance task. Participants exposed to the threatening target performed better than those in a control group, whereas those exposed to the nonthreatening target performed worse." (Johnson & Stapel, 2007)

4. Benign envy makes you smarter

In the same way as it can make you more creative, being envious can make you smarter. Blanton et al. (1999) found that students who compared themselves with others tended to do better in school.
Similarly, these sorts of upward social comparisons can make women better at maths:
"...women's math test performance was protected when a competent female experimenter (i.e., a female role model) administered the test." (Marx & Roman, 2002)

Envy can change your perspective

So envy isn't all bad, as long as it isn't destructive. It's natural and beneficial to compare ourselves upwards with people doing a bit better than ourselves as long as we don't let the green monster out of its cage.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Depression Project(!)

In contemporary times due to numerous factors, depression seem to be the scourge of our times. Despite that fact,there are many people who do not know exactly what depression is and what are the effects of it.The video below will explain everything for you :

What is depression

We often use the expression "I'm feeling depressed" when we're feeling sad or miserable about life. Usually, these feelings pass in due course. But if the feelings are interfering with your life and don't go away after a couple of weeks, or if they come back, over and over again, for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you're depressed in the medical sense of the term.

I felt detached from the world around me. All emotions – love, affection, anger – were gone. Actually, I can't say I had no emotions, I did, but they all seemed desperately negative. Most involved fear. Fear that I would never escape the condition.

In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life, but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, major depression (clinical depression) can be life-threatening, because it can make people suicidal or simply give up the will to live.

Forms of depression

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

If you usually become depressed only during the autumn and winter, it could be due to not getting enough daylight. You may benefit from spending time sitting in front of a special light box.

Postnatal depression

Many mothers have ‘the baby blues’ soon after the birth of their baby, but it usually passes after a few days. Postnatal depression is a more serious problem and can appear any time between two weeks and two years after the birth.

Bipolar disorder (manic depression)

Some people have mood swings, when periods of depression alternate with periods of mania. When manic, they are in a state of high excitement, and may plan and may try to execute grandiose schemes and ideas.

At least one person in every six becomes depressed in the course of their lives. One in 20 is clinically depressed. Figures suggest that it is women more than men who become depressed, but men may find it harder to admit to or talk about their experience. All age groups can be affected, and it’s important to take symptoms seriously and not to dismiss them as an inevitable part of growing up or growing old. By recognising and treating the symptoms and getting help, it’s possible to overcome depression, and prevent it coming back.

Causes of depression

There's no one cause of depression; it varies very much from person to person and can occur through a combination of factors. Although depression doesn't seem to be inherited through genes (with the possible exception of manic depression), some of us are more prone to depression than others. This could be because of the way we're made, or because of our experiences or family background.

I was so scared of being alone with my thoughts. At night, everything seemed so bleak. I couldn't concentrate on anything; I couldn't read or watch TV. I couldn't relax or unwind. Sleep seemed impossible – so many thoughts were racing through my mind. I would spend hours fantasising about ways of killing myself.
Past experiences can have a profound effect on how we feel about ourselves in the present, and if those feelings are very negative, they can be the start of a downward spiral. In many cases, the first time someone becomes depressed, it's triggered by an unwelcome or traumatic event, such as being sacked, divorced, physically attacked or raped.

Depression is seen by some experts as a form of unfinished mourning. Often events or experiences that trigger depression can also be seen as a loss of some kind. It could be following the actual death of someone close, a major life change (such as moving house or changing jobs) or simply moving from one phase of life into another, as we reach retirement or our children leave home. It’s not just the negative experience that causes the depression, but how we deal with it. If the feelings provoked are not expressed or explored at the time, they fester and contribute towards depression. It's important to acknowledge and grieve over what we have lost in order to be able to move on successfully.

Everything to do with everyday life seemed like such hard work. I simply didn't have the energy to go to work, to see friends, to shop, cook or clean. It all seemed pointless! What was the point in eating, when I didn't even want to be alive?

Depression may also be caused by an underactive thyroid. The thyroid gland controls metabolic rate and, if it is not working properly, can cause you to experience various symptoms. If it is underactive, you will feel sluggish and lethargic, may put on weight, and feel depressed. If it is overactive, you may feel very speeded up, lose weight and have symptoms similar to mania. It is important to have a thyroid function test (a simple blood test) to make sure that this is not the cause of your depression, especially if you cannot account for it in other ways, such as recent life events. If an underactive thyroid is diagnosed, it can be treated successfully with appropriate medication (see Useful websites).

Anecdotal evidence suggests that occasionally people become very depressed in response to certain foods. Such a reaction is very individual, and people are often not aware of the particular food substance or drink that is causing the problem. But if you suddenly feel depressed for no apparent reason, it may be worth considering whether you have eaten or drunk something new, and whether this might have caused your sudden change of mood. If this is the cause, your mood should lift very quickly, so long as you don’t consume any more of the particular item.


At a time when you may well find making decisions difficult, it can also seem like an added burden to try and choose between a range of treatment options.

What is actually available to you may depend very much on where you live. For example, talking treatments, such as counselling and psychotherapy, are more readily available in London and the South-East than they are in rural areas of northern England. You should be able to choose freely among a range of treatment options, but, in practice, most people attending GP surgeries are offered antidepressants as the first treatment choice. Don't be afraid to ask your GP about the treatments offered and what the alternatives are.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on the treatment of depression (updated 2009) suggest that, for mild depression, antidepressants are not appropriate because the risk of side effects outweighs the benefits. Suggested treatments include watchful waiting – a recognition of the fact that depression often goes away without
treatment – guided self-help, short-term talking treatments such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), behavioural activation, and exercise programmes. For more severe depression antidepressants are appropriate, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are suggested because their side effects are usually better tolerated than those of the alternative types of antidepressants. However, combining a psychological treatment with medication maybe the most effective course for severe depression.


Antidepressant drugs are the most common medical treatment for depression. They work on chemical messengers in the brain to lift your mood. They can’t cure depression, but they can alleviate the symptoms so that you may feel able to take action to deal with the depression yourself. It often takes between two to four weeks before the drugs take effect. The usual recommendation is that you stay on them for six months in order to prevent a recurrence. They don’t work for everyone.

Antidepressants frequently cause unpleasant side effects, which are worse to begin with. Some can be dangerous when used with other drugs. Of the various different types available, SSRIs are usually the preferred first choice because, although they have as many listed side effects as older drugs, they are usually better tolerated. Others include tricyclic antidepressants and MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors). Whichever type of antidepressant you take, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them, especially if you have been taking them for some time. Because of this you should withdraw slowly, reducing the dose in stages over a period of weeks.

Psychological treatments

Your GP may offer you one of the following psychological treatments. The choice will depend on what's available, your own preferences, how severe your depression is and other factors:

Five or six sessions of problem-solving therapy can help people break down their problems into manageable portions and provide strategies for coping with them.
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) helps to identify and change negative thoughts and feelings affecting behaviour and may last up to 12 months. Computerised CBT (CCBT) is now available and can be used in addition to or instead of sessions with a therapist. It is not suitable for someone with severe symptoms though, and NICE recommend individuals are assessed before using one of the programmes.
Guided self-help delivers a six to eight week therapy programme through self-help books, under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) focuses on relationships. Therapy can continue for 6 to 12 months.
Psychodynamic counselling or psychotherapy focuses on how past experiences may be contributing to experiences and feelings in the present. Therapy can be short or long-term.
Counselling can be short or long-term. It involves talking with someone who is trained to listen with empathy and acceptance. This allows you to express your feelings and find your own solutions to your problems.
Psychotherapy is not usually available on the NHS. It is more frequent and intensive than counselling, and goes more deeply into childhood experience and significant relationships. Most psychotherapists work in private practice. For lists of qualified and regulated therapists, see Useful organisations, further down this page. For more information, see Further reading.

Painful experiences are hard to talk about, but healthcare professionals understand this. Be as frank as possible, so that people can offer you the best help. Don't be afraid to ask questions about your condition.