Positive Psychology 101

Nothing is real unless it exists in the outside world.

Your thoughts are not real. You cannot control them. But you can control the environment that affects them.

You cannot control where a dog urinates during a friendly neighbourhood walk. Will it be on the stump of a tree today? Or will it very coincidentally be under the letterbox of the old man across the street you do not particularly like? You cannot precisely determine this, even knowing it would almost certainly occur at some point during the stroll, but you can create lessons and precedents to influence what is considered more acceptable and what is considered less so.

Your thoughts are a wild farm animal zipping around in a fenced paddock. In a particular instance, the beast runs where it wants. At any given moment, you cannot decide exactly where in that enclosed field the your thoughts are. This level of microscopic precision is out of your control.

However, by maintaining an environment conducive to the kind of thoughts that you would like, you can control the dimensions, the weather and the general disposition of that paddock.

It is okay to be human.

Humans cannot control their exact thoughts but, over time, they are very good at meddling with man-made objects and putting artificial restrictions on things.

This is positive psychology 101: you can influence the world around you in order to become less of a grump.

Schizophrenia Derivatives

Schizophrenia is a thought disorder characterised by positive symptoms and negative symptoms.

Positive symptoms mean too much abnormal behaviour, like hallucinations and delusions. Psychosis! Disrupted perceptions of reality! That sort of thing.

Negative symptoms mean not enough normal behaviour, like flattened affect and alogia. Things starting with “a”! Amotivation! Avolition! Anhedonia! That sort of thing.

Like a massive tree of mental health, schizophrenia has partially related disorders and terms that branch out from it.

Behold! The many children of schizophrenia!

Here’s a simplified summary of it all.


Brief psychotic disorder is schizophrenia symptoms < 1 month.

Schizophreniform disorder is schizophrenia symptoms < 6 months.

Schizophrenia is schizophrenia symptoms > 6 months.

Mood Disorders

Schizoaffective disorder is schizophrenia symptoms with mood disorder. The psychosis is present without the mood component for > 2 weeks.

Mood disorder with psychotic features is what it says it is. Surprise!

Personality Disorders

schizoid person avoids social interaction. Think limited emotional expression.

A schizotypal person is a weird type of person. Think oddness and magical thinking.

Paper Bag Rebreathing Is A Lie

Save your paper bags for your lunches!

Panic attacks can involve people hyperventilating, which means they breathe too much and end up exhaling more carbon dioxide than normal. The low carbon dioxide level results in symptoms like dizziness and lightheadedness.

Breathe into a paper bag, they said. Let the recirculated carbon dioxide increase the carbon dioxide levels in the person’s body, they said.

Is this really effective?

Critics say this is not the case because hyperventilation doesn’t reliably induce panic attacks. They add that high carbon dioxide levels are more associated with impending suffocation, such as from situations of hypoxia or hypoventilation.

In fact, because panic attacks are fleeting by nature, it can be a sort of placebo effect that makes paper bags look like winners. The panic attack was going to pass anyway, so the panic fading just happened to coincide with the use of the paper bag.


  1. Allstetter, W. (n.d.). Panic Attacks and “Suffocation Alarm Systems”. [online] The Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. Available at: http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/psjournal/archive/archives/jour_v19no1/theories.html [Accessed 11 Nov. 2017].