Saturday, April 30, 2011

Zener Cards

Zener Cards: a set of twenty-five cards, each featuring one of five symbols, used by experts to test claims like extra sensory perception.

I have a friend named Ruth who is psychic. The other day I just happened to run into her outside of Macy's. I was carrying a bag and she knew exactly what I had bought: red cardigan, striped tote and Isotoner slippers!

She scares me.

Note from Luana: Thanks to everyone who has joined me in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. It's been an amazing 30 days and I've met some wonderful people. If you haven't gone to Emerald City, I'd like to invite you over for a visit where you can get to know me better. Blog on!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Yerkes-Dodson Law

Yerkes-Dodson Law: a correlation between task performance and an optimal level of arousal, whereby performance will first improve as a person's arousal level increases but then reach a point at which further stress will result in a decrease in performance.

Not too long ago I had to give a report to the Board of Directors about our new Modern Art exhibit. The more I thought about it, the more nervous I got. But then I remembered what Mama always told me about public speaking: "If they kill you, they won't eat you." My nerves went away just like that.

Mama should be a therapist. She's good.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


eXtraversion: the tendency to turn towards the outer world and interact with others.

Dr. Channing says I need to be more social. My tendency to hibernate with mint chocolate chip ice cream and Project Runway has become a problem.

So I'm taking a class in organic gardening. I'm learning about soils, seeds and squash. I was hoping to meet some interesting people and make some new friends. I like Hilda. She's into sewing quilts, baking bread and playing the organ at church. She is 85 years old. 
Maybe I should have taken the documentary filmmaking class.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Word Salad

Word Salad (also known as schizophasia): the utterance of a jumble of meaningless words and phrases.

This happens when I stub my toe, which occurs twice weekly because my exercise bicycle takes up 75 percent of my living room.

My favorite phrase is "Yabba dabba doodle Snuffleupagus!"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vertical Thinking

Vertical thinking is a distinct approach towards problem solving using selective, analytical and sequential methods.

I did not use this approach when I colored my hair. The decision was based on pure emotion. I was going for Kate Hudson and ended up with Kathy Griffin. Had to wear a hat for six months.

Lesson learned.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Unconscious: the part of the mind containing psychic material that is only rarely accessible to awareness but that has a pronounced influence on behavior.

Dr. Channing has told me that in the process of psychoanalysis, feelings, urges and impulses may arise to consciousness from the unconscious and subconscious which lie beneath my state of awareness. Okay.

All I know is that every time I see Papa Smurf, my foot itches.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Transference: the process by which a person in psychoanalysis attaches to a therapist feelings formerly held toward some significant person who figured in a past emotional conflict.

I've been seeing Dr. Channing for several months now and have never experienced transference. Maybe she hasn't dug deep enough into my psyche, which is okay by me.

I wonder if she realizes that I've been researching psychology terms to see how they apply to my therapy. If so, is she concerned? And would she tell me if she was?

Friday, April 22, 2011


Superego: the aspect of personality that represents the internalization of society's values, standards, and morals.

This is why I never park in a handicapped zone. That, and because of what happened to George Costanza in "The Handicap Spot" episode.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Rationalization: a defense mechanism by means of which a subject adopts logical, rational explanations to justify his/her behaviour or actions which would otherwise be unacceptable.

Mama always told me to just admit it when you make a mistake. Her motto is "No Excuses." That's how I live my life. Everyone wants to blame someone else for their problems, but it's a lot easier to just face the truth, apologize or make restitution if necessary, and move on with your life.

But there's a danger in going overboard to the opposite extreme and blame myself for the things other people do.

Why is the world so complicated?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Quirky: far out, kinky, off-beat, way out.

I took a personality quiz at a party, just for fun. And guess what? I found out that I'm not "quirky." I really wanted to be quirky.

It was rather depressing. Does that mean that I'm just average? Mediocre? Boring?

Does it mean that I really "want" to be "crazy" and that this whole therapy journey is a sham? Am I trying to prove that I AM crazy so I won't be a nobody?

Now THAT would be crazy. Dr. Channing, we have a problem.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety: a kind of anxiety which stems from the fear of being incapable of fulfilling a task or attaining some goal and being judged negatively by others.

Last week, the art gallery where I work had a special exhibit and I was in charge of arranging catering. My supervisor, Cordelia, alerted me that the artist was very particular (absolutely NO seafood). She said that she trusted me to "handle the task satisfactorily." Right.

Who wouldn't be stressed in a situation like that? But I took a deep breath and channeled my inner Martha Stewart. Martha told me to call my friend Cassie, who just happens to be best caterer in town. I had no worries because Cassie is the most confident, self-assured, and dynamic person I know. Her energy rubbed off on me and I'm proud to say I did not go ballistic.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Overcompensation: a defense mechanism whereby an individual attempts to offset weakness in an area of their lives by focusing on another aspect of it.

I'm really terrible at math, so to make up for that deficiency I've excelled at music. In school I was getting Cs and Ds in algebra, but I was first chair cello and in our high school orchestra. My friend Brook was a math whiz but she couldn't identify a bass clef to save her life.

This is how it is in the world and I've come to accept it. In fact, I think it's a good thing that people have different strengths and weaknesses. It's all about balance. What if everyone in the world could build a house but no one knew how to bake a cake? Where would we be?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mental Block

Mental Block: a condition in which a person is unable to continue his thought process or the painful thoughts in his mind are repressed.

Dr. Channing is concerned about my resistance to hypnosis. She thought it might help me come to terms with a traumatic incident in my childhood. My brother had captured a jar full of grasshoppers and I freaked out. I broke the jar and let the grasshoppers go, but one of them died from the broken glass. I wanted to take it to the vet but Mama wouldn't let me.

I have no idea what this means.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nervous Breakdown

Nervous breakdown: a state of neurasthenia characterised by a variety of symptoms including apathy, limited initiative, poor concentration, dysphoric or depressed mood, moments of anxiety, and hypochondriacal tendencies.

...what was I going to say...oh, well, sleepy...I CAN'T FIND MY OTHER SOCK!...going to bed...I have all the symptoms of acute indigestion...gotta see the doctor...good night...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Latent Content

Latent content: the presumed true meaning of dreams concealed beneath a manifest content.

Good news. After I told Dr. Channing about my recurring dream of polar bears, I haven't dreamed it since. I even tried to make myself have the dream by eating a Klondike bar and watching The Golden Compass before I went to bed, but it didn't happen. I think I'm cured. Dare I hope?

Click here for details of my dream and Dr. Channing's interpretation.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Kleptomania: an impulse-control disorder consisting of stealing objects which would be useless to the individual personally and have no great economic value.

Okay, I admit it. When I was 12, I stole a Snicker bar from the grocery store. I never got caught but my conscience wouldn't let me eat it. I consider that a good thing. I like having a conscience. That means I'm not a sociopath!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Johari Window

Johari Window: a type of exercise or tool designed for people to understand their interpersonal relationships in a better way.

Last year at the art gallery where I work, Cordelia (my supervisor), thought it would be a good idea for all of us to do a Johari Window exercise.

It works like this. There is a master list of adjectives that describe personality traits and the selections are arranged into four quadrants of a "window"

The result? My peers think I'm complex, nervous, self-conscious and tense.

I sound like a Chihuahua.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Inhibition: a defence mechanism in which a person inhibits learning or social activities or capacities with the aim of avoiding anxiety.

As a child I hated birthday parties. Mama wanted to have big, lavish parties for me, but I would not allow it. I didn't want to be the center of attention; just let me blend into the background and be invisible. To this day, I don't like people making a fuss over me.

I didn't like attending parties, either. Those stupid games like Musical Chairs scared me to death! What if I was the kid without a chair when the music stopped! I would die on the spot! And it was worse if you won the game because you would get a prize and everyone would be jealous.

I would say I'm definitely "inhibited."This is one of the reasons I'm seeing Dr. Channing. Does this mean I'm crazy after all?

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Hypochondriasis: the sustained conviction, in the absence of medical evidence, that one is ill or about to become ill.

I don't go to the doctor with fake ailments, but when I read a list of side effects on a bottle of Advil, I reconsider whether or not it's worth it. I don't like taking medicine and I avoid doctors and hospitals. Obviously if I were in dire straits I would get medical attention, but the straits would really have to be DIRE!

Sometimes I freak out when I think of all the chemicals in the foods we eat: hot dogs, potato chips, Lean Cuisine...but then I realize that's just life in the Big City and we can't change it.

No, I'm not a defeatist. Dr. Channing has helped me gain perspective about things I have no control over. My "freaking out" episodes have lessened considerably.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: uncontrollable, irrational and excessive worry with respect to daily life activities.

Am I the only one who doesn't see a problem with this? Everyone worries! Where would we be without worry? The world, as we know it, would cease to exist!

Don't you think that Tim Gunn worried when Isaac Mazrahi stole his "Project Runway" idea for "The Fashion Show"? Or that Ellen Degeneres worried about what people would think when she quit "American Idol"? Or that Jay Leno worried when he left the "Tonight Show," not knowing what the future would hold?

I'm not saying I enjoy worrying. Just that it happens. People shouldn't think they're crazy because they worry once in a while.

I wonder what Dr. Channing worries about. On second thought, I don't want to know.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Flooding: a procedure which consists in exposing a phobic person to feared stimuli for increasingly extended periods of time with the purpose of extinguishing the reaction of fear.

Last year, at Mama's insistence, I saw a behavior therapist to deal with my fear of listening to my own heartbeat. It was horrible. The therapy, not the disorder.

I was forced to listen to my heartbeat using the "flooding" method. Stethoscope. Heart monitor. Pulse detector. Never again. I've lived 29 years without listening to my heartbeat and it hasn't been a problem.

That's one reason I switched to psychoanalysis. Freudians would never do a horrible thing like that! Thank you, Dr. Channing!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Echolalia: the state in which a person repeats the vocalizations made by someone else.

I've done this since I was a kid with my brother Grant:

GRANT: Stop touching me!

ME: Stop touching me!

GRANT: I mean it, Madison. Leave me alone!

ME: I mean it, Madison. Leave me alone!

GRANT: You're stupid!

ME: You're stupid!

GRANT: You're crazy!

ME: You're crazy!

GRANT: I'm gonna tell!

ME: I'm gonna tell!



Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Dysphoria: a downward shift in the tone of mood (sadness) accompanied by irritability. The opposite of euphoria.

I definitely have this. However, I don't blame anyone. I take full responsibility for my moods. I suppose it's normal to have down swings; everybody does. It becomes a problem if you can't pull yourself out of it. When dysphoria strikes, I just crash on the couch and watch "Titianic." Yes, it's a depressing movie and I always cry at the end (the clock scene? OMG!), but when I think about how tough other people have it, I feel much better. Unfortunately, I've developed a fear of cruise ships.

Not mentioning this to Dr. Channing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cassandra Complex

Cassandra Complex: A state of mind in which valid concerns or warnings are disbelieved.

This complex is derived from a Greek myth. Cassandra was wooed by Apollo who admired her beauty and gave her the gift of prophesy. When she rebuked his advances, he turned the gift into a curse and no one would heed her warnings of future events.

I suppose it's like being in denial when things are going badly. Like the time I threw a surprise birthday party for my sister-in-law. Everyone tried to talk me out of it, but I didn't listen. 

On second thought, I don't think the Cassandra Complex applies to me. Dr. Channing says that I see the Dark Side and embrace it. Hmmm. Maybe I have a Darth Vader Complex.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Bibliomania is an obsessive-compulsive disorder in which an individual has the habit of collecting books excessively.

I am proud to say that I do not have bibliomania. I do enjoy books, but I'm not a MANIAC about it. I can't say the same for my Uncle Jarvis. His books are piled to the ceiling; it's like walking through a labyrinth. The towers of books makes his house look dark and creepy, like an old Victorian, when in fact, he lives in an open-concept ranch.

I wonder if there is a word for obsessively reading the same book 12 times in immediate succession. I did that with "The Devil Wears Prada." Perhaps I should casually mention it to Dr. Channing at my next session. Or maybe not. She has a Prada handbag.

Friday, April 1, 2011


I've decided to do a little research study psychology and psychotherapy terms. I figure since I'm in therapy it might be a good idea, especially when Dr. Channing starts tossing around words like "Manifest Content" and "Thanatos." Sometimes she scares me.

My word for today is Avoidance: the attempt to subtract oneself from a stimulus or situation considered unpleasant.

I do this all the time. Sigh.