Currently viewing the tag: "neurosis"

There is in human nature a compulsion to repeat… It compels us to do again and again what we’ve done before, to attempt to restore an earlier state of being. It impels us to transfer the past – our ancient longings, our defenses against those longings – on to the present. –Necessary Losses by Judith Viorst

Fiction Writing Prompt: What is your protagonist compelled to repeat? How does this feed the conflict in your story?

Journaling Prompt: Write about a pattern that recurs in your life and what you are seeking to accomplish through it.

Art Prompt: Repetition compulsion

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the repetition compulsion, either with a humorous or dramatic personal story.

Photo Credit: mari moon on Flickr

stop thinking

A physiological shift occurred when I stopped drinking, a reallocation of bodily resources. The most overworked organ switched from my liver to my brain. Now I can’t stop thinking. –The Charlestown Connection by Tom MacDonald

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene about an addict in recovery and include internal monologue.

Journaling Prompt: What do you do when you want to avoid thinking about something?

Art Prompt: Can’t stop thinking

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about strategies people use to avoid thinking about difficult or painful things. Give them strategies for facing their issues instead.

Photo Credit: Frédéric Poirot on Flickr

Living Room

Hoarding is considered an offshoot of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but recently this categorization is being reevaluated. It’s estimated that about one in four people with OCD also are compulsive hoarders. It is possible that some time in the future hoarding will become its own distinct category. In the meantime, it’s very real, and more and more people are opening up about the difficulty hoarding presents in their lives.
Without exception, hoarding is always accompanied by varying levels of anxiety and sometime develops alongside other mental illnesses such as dementia and schizophrenia…
Hoarding both relieves anxiety and produces it. The more hoarders accumulate, the more insulated they feel from the world and its dangers. Of course, the more they accumulate, the more isolated they become from the world, including family and friends. Even the thought of discarding or cleaning out hoarded items produces extreme feelings of panic and discomfort. –Gregory Jantz, PhD

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story of scene about a character who hoards.

Journaling Prompt: What kinds of things do you feel like hoarding? Why?

Art Prompt: Hoarding behavior

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about anxiety and the behavior it can cause.

Photo Credit: ZerO 81 on Flickr

police cars

… the world is becoming a very complicated and very scary place. The police are not seen to be solving the crime problem in urban areas. In fact in some quarters the police are seen as part of the problem. Politicians can’t seem to solve the country’s problems either social or economic. Politicians are seen as obstructionist, or beholden to vested interests who do not want the social and economic problems solved, or they are simply out to line their own pockets.
It is a big and complicated world and that’s a scary thing for a lot of people. –MD Jackson

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene with a protagonist who is scared of the world. Include internal monologue.

Journaling Prompt: What is the scariest thing about the world for you? How do you deal with the fear?

Art Prompt: Scary world

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience how they can deal with anxiety around common complications of the modern world.

Photo Credit: on Flickr


There is a chance I could grow up to be ugly, and this is one of many things I worry about. –The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story, scene, or poem about a child afraid of growing up ugly. Include the internal monologue.

Journaling Prompt: What were you afraid of when you were growing up.

Art Prompt: Ugly duckling

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience how they can address the fears of their children OR tell a humorous story about one of your childhood fears.

Photo Credit: Henning Mühlinghaus on Flickr

19th Century justice - Victorian Crime and Punishment

A series of experiments conducted by researchers affiliated with Princeton University has found that punishment is only satisfying to victims if the offenders change their attitude as a result of the punishment.
“Revenge is only ‘sweet’ if the person reacts with a change in attitude, if the person understands that what they did was wrong. It is not the act itself that makes punishment satisfying,” said Friederike Funk, a Princeton graduate student in psychology and one of the researchers. –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about revenge that backfires.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel when someone hurts you? What do you want to happen?

Art Prompt: Revenge

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a story about wanting revenge, then finding out that it didn’t satisfy you.

Photo Credit: Paul Townsend on Flickr


“Anorexia nervosa principally onsets during adolescence, with 14- to 15-years-old being one of the peak periods,” said Zucker, who is also a faculty member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. “If the state of the body is uncoupled from what is important to us, then this period may be a ‘window of opportunity’ for those with anorexia nervosa to engage in behaviors that are starkly in contrast to the body’s need.”
This study’s findings could help design prevention and treatment interventions that hone in on risky decision-making or help adolescents with mental illness rely more on themselves to make decisions.
“Our ability to use our bodies to guide optimal decisions may go through some risky developmental windows,” Zucker said. “Knowing these periods, we can better educate adolescents about how to maneuver the challenges of adolescence.” –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a teen’s descent into anorexia or about recovery from anorexia.

Journaling Prompt: Write about your relationship with food, now and when you were a teen.

Art Prompt: Anorexia nervosa

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Inform your audience about anorexia and tell the the warning signs to look for in a loved one.

Photo Credit: Mary Lock on Flickr

CBP Officer Apprehends Suspect

…even if police interrogators and lawyers knew that some people could be coaxed into false confessions, how were they to separate the people who broke down and confessed from the people who broke down and agreed? To that end, Gudjonsson came up with the Gudjonsson suggestibility scale. It’s a series of tests, some meant to test a person’s memory under neutral conditions, and some – requiring acting ability from the interviewer – meant to see how easily the subject will abandon those memories.
The test measures two main factors, “yield” and “shift.” Yield is the degree to which a person will simply agree with leading questions. If a person asks “Don’t you think that X is a little too bossy to have that job,” it’s easier just to say “I guess,” than “No, I don’t agree.” We’ve all done it, if only to avoid an argument with a stranger on a bus. Sometimes people do it when the stakes are higher. –Esther Ingliss-Arkell

Fiction Writing Prompt: How easily would your character yield under interrogation? How easily could you character manipulate others into yielding? Write a scene that demonstrates your answer.

Journaling Prompt: How do you respond to leading questions? 

Art Prompt: Leading question

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience how they can be affected by leading questions and give them strategies to handle these situations.

Photo Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Flickr


Why do we furiously resent the minor insults but forgive, or at least let go, of the major ones? Why do we let those close to us insult us in ways we’d never take from a stranger? According to the study authors, it’s because we can afford to.
If the hurt is minor, we can let it fester. If the pain is major, we find ways to calm ourselves down. We do similar things when we are physically injured. A gunshot wound can cause us less overall pain than a bad back, because we go to the hospital when we’re shot, while we’re perfectly content to wait for weeks before we seek treatment for a bad back… When something becomes too much trouble, or too painful, for us to put up with it, we take steps to alleviate the pain. This happens both physically and mentally. If holding a grudge means we have to be angry and miserable for a long time, we find a way to stop being angry. If we just suffer a little annoyance, we allow it. Or sometimes we even enjoy it. –Esther Ingliss-Arkell

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a festering grudge that initiates the conflict and drives the plot.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a grudge you are holding on to and why.

Art Prompt: Holding a grudge

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience why they hold on to grudges and how they can let go of them.

Photo Credit: Katie Brady on Flickr


“When people feel guilt about a specific behavior, they experience tension, remorse, and regret,” the researchers write. “Research has shown that this sense of tension and regret typically motivates reparative action — confessing, apologizing, or somehow repairing the damage done.”
Feelings of shame, on the other hand, involve a painful feeling directed toward the self. For some people, feelings of shame lead to a defensive response, a denial of responsibility, and a need to blame others — a process that can lead to aggression.
Tangney and her colleagues interviewed over 470 inmates, asking them about their feelings of guilt, shame, and externalization of blame soon after they were incarcerated. The researchers followed up with 332 of the offenders a year after they had been released, this time asking them whether they had been arrested again and whether they had committed a crime but had not been caught. They also compared the self-reported data to official arrest records.
Overall, expressions of guilt and shame were associated with recidivism rates, but in different ways.
“Proneness to guilt predicts less recidivism — a lower likelihood of re-offense,” Tangney says. That is, the more inclined an inmate is to feel guilt, the less likely he or she is to re-offend.
The implications of proneness to shame, on the other hand, were more complex.
Inmates inclined to feel shame, and who were also defensive and blameful of others, were more likely to slip back into crime. Inmates who were shameful but who didn’tblame others were less likely to end up in jail again. –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a criminal. Include inner monologue that illuminates the shame / guilt he or she feels. Show how it drives the criminal’s actions in the story.

Journaling Prompt: Write about something that you feel shameful about. How can you move past this painful feeling?

Art Prompt: Guilt and shame

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Inform your audience about the difference between guilt and shame. Include how they influence behavior.

Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney on Flickr