The Naked Truth Blog
The Naked Truth is a blog intended to help us all live more fulfilling lives by confronting our self-deception. No sugar-coating. No coddling. Just the honest reflection of you standing naked in front of a mirror. You can read it here or on Psychology Today.
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TORONTO, Ontario, Canada, August 8, 2015: How many women and men dislike their appearance and weight? How do eating norms and ideals of beauty differ across countries and ethnic groups? Are we responsible for our own emotional reactivity? How does our inability to be honest harm our romantic relationships? How honest can we be with ourselves about who we really are?
These are just a few of the meaningful questions that Dr. Warren explores through her research and clinical practice. Provocative and compelling, Dr. Warren’s work earned her the 2015 American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Programs’ Early Career Achievement Award.
Raised traveling the world, Warren has a unique perspective on how culture influences eating norms, food ritual, ideals of beauty, and personality identity. As such, the majority of Warren’s research explores eating pathology, addictions, self-deception and the practice of psychotherapy from a cross-cultural perspective. Her new book, “Lies We Tell Ourselves: The Psychology of Self-Deception” and her recent TEDx talk: “Honest Liars: The Psychology of Self-Deception” highlight the ways that humans struggle to be honest with themselves. At the core, Dr. Warren argues that people lie to themselves because they don’t have enough psychological strength to admit the truth and deal with the consequences that will follow. In essence, “our lies reflect what we wish were true.” Through her new website, ChooseHonesty.com, Dr. Warren provides information about self-deception, its practical influence on our quality of life, and a free monthly blog that highlights some aspect of her work.
With 40 peer-reviewed journal articles, seven book chapters, and a book, Warren’s work appears in many top journals, including the International Journal of Eating Disorders, Appetite and Obesity. Warren has won some of the most prestigious awards in her field, including the 2004 Edwin B. Newman Graduate Research Award, 2010 Samuel M. Turner Early Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Diversity in Clinical Psychology, and the 2011 Theodore H. Blau Early Career Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Clinical Psychology from American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Foundation.
Cortney’s Background & Education
Cortney graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College (St. Paul, Minnesota) in 2000. Funded by the American Psychological Associations’ Minority Fellowship Program, Cortney earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University after completing a pre-doctoral clinical internship at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Cortney joined the faculty at the University of University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2006; earned tenure in 2012; and resigned effective summer, 2014. For more information on Cortney and her work, visit ChooseHonesty.com.Read More...
– My daughter peed in my bed yesterday.
– I have no time to myself.
– My body is so uncomfortable, and I feel like a cow!
Yesterday I woke up a total Sourpuss. Six am. Awake with my five-week-old son, soon to be joined by my two-year-old daughter. All I could think about was how utterly exhausted I felt. Like many parents to young children, I was not sure I could get through the day without falling apart.
Soon after drinking a much-needed cup of coffee, I paused. Clearly, my thoughts were justifying my grumpiness. Yet, my thinking wasn’t particularly flawed. It is true that I haven’t slept more than a few hours at a time since my son was born. That my potty-trained daughter peed while sitting next to me in my bed. That I have almost no alone time, and that my body is struggling after an unexpected C-section and breastfeeding fiascos. My thoughts were basically true. So, what is the problem?
Then it dawned on me: When unpleasant events occur in life, we are more prone to feeling grumpy and prolonging our own misery. Because when something happens that is downright undesirable (like the spit-up running down the side of my arm every few hours), we feel justified in our grumpiness. We actually have reasonable explanations that support our feelings. We can easily articulate why we are grumpy, entitled to be grumpy, and entitled to stay grumpy for as long as we please! And, in that way, we begin to use honest descriptions about our lives to justify negative emotions, behavior, and experiences.
Yet, therein lies a problem for our life fulfillment. The world is full of hardships and challenges. Sometimes we have good reasons to be upset or even downright miserable. But where does that leave you? Now what? Okay, you are entitled to be a sourpuss because you are in a tough situation. So now you are miserable. How is that working for you? How does it affect your behavior? Health? Relationships?
When I realized what I was doing—namely focusing on the proverbial puke and not on the privilege of having two children—I had to take responsibility for my sourpuss state. I had to stop justifying my bad mood by describing current life challenges. I had to shift from thinking about why I deserved to be grumpy to appreciating the fact that I am utterly grateful to be a mother to two children. Once I did that, my mood changed. I cannot say that I had the best day of my life or that I became the picture of enthusiasm (the black bags under my eyes gave me away). But, I had a much better day than I would have if I hadn’t changed my perspective.
The Naked Truth is this: There are times in life that are challenging. And days when we wake up a sourpuss. I am not suggesting we should be elated 100% of the time. In fact, that would also be a lie. For to be honest requires that you admit realities that are unpleasant and cause discomfort. Sometimes pain is an honest reaction to the truth! But, often, we use challenging real-life circumstances to justify unpleasant emotional states. That will leave you unhappy and unfulfilled. Yet, we can choose to change our perspective to focus on the positive. At the end of the day, it is a choice —and your choice will affect your life fulfillment and happiness.
Copyright Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D.Read More...
As a clinical psychologist with an expertise in eating disorders, people frequently tell me stories about their experiences with eating and weight. Some tell painful stories of watching loved ones deal with severe symptoms. Some express their own struggles around dieting and body image. Some describe trying to treat patients. And some just ask questions.
In these interactions, it is clear to me that most people want to understand eating disorders. They are interested. They want to learn. They want to help or be helped. What these people have in common is a need for basic facts about eating disorders. And, many of them are misinformed.
Below are the three biggest myths that I hear about eating disorders. These myths often lead us to under-recognize and misunderstand the experiences of people struggling with these complex disorders.
1. All People with Eating Disorders are Underweight.
Technically, there are eight different feeding and eating disorders that someone could be diagnosed with according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). Of these, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder are the most publically-recognized and widely researched (1). Yet, of these disorders, only anorexia nervosa is associated with being significantly underweight. In fact, individuals with bulimia nervosa are generally average weight or slightly overweight and about half of people with binge eating disorder are obese. Consequently, it is not true that all people with eating disorders are underweight.
2. Eating Disorders are Not That Serious.
Often, the media sensationalizes and trivializes eating disorder symptoms (2,3). This leads many people to think that eating disorders are minor struggles that don’t really affect peoples lives in a meaningful way. The truth is that eating disorders are incredibly serious mental disorders characterized by problems in eating behavior and body image. They are highly comorbid with other mental illness: the large majority of individuals who have an eating disorder also have at least one other psychological disorder (4). And, although each eating disorder is unique, all are associated with serious psychological, physical, and social impairment. Consequently, eating disorders are very serious psychological disorders that should not be minimized or taken lightly.
3. Eating Disorders Only Affect Young, White Women.
Although eating disorders usually develop during adolescence or young adulthood and are more prevalent in women than men, recent research suggests that eating disorders often affect people of all genders, ethnicities, ages, and socioeconomic groups. For example, in a community-based sample of over 2000 adults, about 3.5% of women and 2% of men met lifetime criteria for binge eating disorder (5). Furthermore, in a large sample of data collected from three national surveys, lifetime prevalence of binge eating disorder was similar in Asian American, African American, White/European American, and Hispanic/Latinos, ranging from 1.3% in Asian Americans to 2.1% in Latinos (6). Furthermore, bulimia nervosa was more common in Latinos and African Americans than Whites. Consequently, eating disorders do not only affect young, White women.
The Naked Truth is This: In today’s society, most of us have been in contact with and personally affected by someone who has struggled with an eating disorder. Additionally, almost everyone has personally struggled with their eating, felt negatively about their physical appearance, or worried about their weight at some point in their life. Yet, our image of the typical person struggling with an eating disorder is often incredibly narrow and often inaccurate. It is important to broaden our view of what a person with an eating disorder “looks like” to ensure appropriate assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.
For more information about eating disorders, visit the American Psychiatric Association (http://www.psychiatry.org/eating-disorders); the National Eating Disorders Association (http://nationaleatingdisorders.org); the Binge Eating Disorder Association (www.beda.com); and the Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness (www.allianceforeatingdisorders.com). For information on changes to the diagnostic criteria (which occurred in 2013), see the most recent revision to the Feeding and Eating Disorders section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-V; 7).
Copyright Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D.Read More...
Writing a will is not something that most of us think about. Or talk about. Or want to think or talk about. Because writing a will reminds us that we are all going to die.
Death is a topic that causes most of us incredible fear, pain, and discomfort. The mere thought that our child, parent, or partner could die at any moment petrifies us. So, when it comes to our own mortality, it is not surprising that we would prefer to avoid the topic. In essence, writing a will is something that we rationally know we should do but politely avoid because it is unpleasant to plan for our own demise.
In fact, a large percentage of adults in the USA do not have a legal will. In a 2012 survey by Rocket Lawyer.com, half of Americans with children did not have a legal will (1). A recent study by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) found that only 44% of individuals between the ages of 50-54 have a legal will (2).
So, why is it so important to write a will? Why should you spend time, money, and emotional energy to write a will? Here are three powerful reasons that you should confront your feelings about death and write a will today.
The main reason to write a will is to give yourself a voice. To make your wishes known. To dictate what happens to your belongings after you die. For if you die without a will, your possessions will be divided as dictated by the laws of your state and the government. This includes everything considered to be a part of your estate, including your money, personal effects, and property.
Of particular note, if you are not legally married, your domestic partner may have no rights to your belongings if you die and do not have a will in place (3). This is especially relevant for many gay and lesbian couples who cannot be legally married due to some current state laws (4). Furthermore, if you do not have any surviving relatives, your entire estate could go to the state instead of your favorite charity or loved ones (5). So, if you want specific people to inherit family heirlooms, the majority of your cash, or your home, it needs to be specified in a legal will; otherwise it will be determined for you.
2) Protect Your Dependents.
We care about our children, pets, and other legal dependents (such as aging parents) more than almost anything else in life. Without a doubt, deciding who we want to raise our children or care for loved ones when we die is an incredibly difficult decision. Yet, without a will, custody of your dependents will be transferred to the next surviving family member or other guardian as determined by the state. In a will, you can outline everything from who you want to have primary custody of your children to who can have visitation and sustained relationships with them over time (6). Although it is a painful topic, wouldn’t you rather decide who cares for your dependents than have the state make that decision for you?
3) Unburden Family and Friends.
When you die, your loved ones will grieve. On top of coping with your death, they will also have to make difficult decisions about what to do with your estate. Without a will, this process can be incredibly stressful, emotionally painful, conflicted, and time consuming. It is actually a wonderful gift to those you love to have a will in place so that they can celebrate your life after you die—not become engrossed in legal battles over your stuff.
The Naked Truth is this: All of us deceive ourselves to avoid uncomfortable life realities (7). Our ability to deny, distract, and rationalize helps us to cope with some of the most difficult realities of life. Yet, until we find the scientific fountain of youth, we are still all going to die. If you want any control over what happens to your belongings and dependents after you die, write a will. Today.
For more information on practical aspects of writing a will, visit http://www.usa.gov/topics/money/personal-finance/wills.shtml or https://www.legalzoom.com/knowledge/last-will/topic/wills-intestate.
Copyright Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D.Read More...
I will never forget the first patient I treated who was the victim of sexual trauma and kidnapping. A 16-year-old immigrant who spoke limited English, the stories that she painstakingly recounted as we started the therapeutic process of recovery were so horrific that I would often leave the session in disbelief that humans were capable of such cruelty. How could someone do this to another human being, let alone a child?
All of us lie to ourselves about the truth (1). We are particularly good at lying about issues that are most psychologically upsetting to admit—it helps us cope with some of the most brutal realities of life. Yet, it doesn’t make the truth any less true.
In that vein, most of us struggle to admit that human sex trafficking, sexual violence and torture occur on a daily basis. We can’t emotionally handle the idea that people—often young children—are induced into the commercial sex trade against their will for the financial profit of others (2).
We don’t want to know that 2 million children are victims of the sex trade each year (3); that the average girl being forced into prostitution in the USA is 13 years old (4); and that over 80% of confirmed cases of sex trafficking in the United States are American-born citizens (5). We can’t fathom that an estimated 20.9 million people are enslaved in the world today (6,7), many of whom are forced to engage in sex for the profit of someone else.
The truth is that human sex trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, accounting for an estimated $150-billion a year (8).
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month (9). In the interest of humanity, here are three simple things that we can do to help fight sex trafficking in our communities.
1. Education and awareness
We can’t fight sex trafficking until we can actually admit that it is happening. We have to be willing to acknowledge the data and listen to the many emotionally charged stories of survivors. We actually have to be affected by the reality. Watch A Path Appears, a new documentary airing on PBS exploring issues of gender inequality and sex trafficking (10), or one of many documentaries and short films exposing the lived experiences and world of sex trafficking (11).
Often, the more taboo and ugly the topic, the less we want to talk about it. Yet, as we become more aware, we have to talk about it—honestly and openly. The more we can start a dialogue about the realities of sex trafficking, the more likely we are as a global community to do something about it.
3. Get Involved
As the truth is acknowledged, we have to do something. In addition to talking about it, become involved in prevention efforts in your community. There are many organizations dedicated to fighting sex trafficking, such as the Not For Sale Campaign (12), UNICEF End Sex Trafficking Project (13) and the Polaris Project (14). Whether you take a moment to sign a petition that supports governmental legislation to help end trafficking, attend an awareness event, or talk to your friends about this difficult topic, collective efforts can make a difference (15).
The Naked Truth is this: Human sex trafficking is an enormous problem in the United States and around the world. Choose to become more informed about the facts of human sex trafficking, talk about them, and get active. We cannot allow our self-deceptive tendencies to delude us into ignoring this issue.
*Note: If you or someone you know is the victim of a human sex trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline (1-888-373-7888) or the U.S. Department of Justice Hotline (1-888-428-7581).
1. Warren, C. S. (2014). Lies We Tell Ourselves: The Psychology of Self-Deception. Sevierville, TN: Insight Publishing.
3. UNICEF, Children Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out of Reach; Abused and Neglected, Millions of Children Have Become Virtually Invisible (Dec. 2005).
7. International Labour Organization (2012), ILO global estimate of forced labour: Results and methodology.
Copyright Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D.Read More...