Why do people have the same fights, over and over again? That's the repetition compulsion, a deeply ingrained psychological phenomenon—but not so deep that it can't be beaten.
Sigmund Freud initially thought humans operated on the 'pleasure principle'—that we run toward pleasure and run away from pain. However, this didn't quite align with what he saw in his office. There, he worked with people who escaped abusive relationships only to end up in a new relationship with the same dangerous dynamic. Many of us have the same fight with a coworker or a loved one, in different forms, over and over again. This led Freud to a turning point in his theory: he dubbed this phenomenon the repetition compulsion, a psychological trap where we repeat the same dysfunctional behavior or fall into the same traumatic circumstances, over and over again. In the video above, Harvard professor Dan Shapiro explains that there is a way to break this cycle of dysfunction and have healthier relationships. It's not easy, but it's worth doing to live a happier and less stressful life. As Sam Harris describes in his book, Waking Up: "My mind begins to seem like a video game: I can either play it intelligently, learning more in each round, or I can be killed in the same spot by the same monster, again and again." Understanding the way that you fight, and what your conflict triggers are, will stop you living the same destructive patterns on a loop. Dan Shapiro's latest book is Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts.
The cognitive boost of taking testosterone supplements has not been substantiated — but let’s face it, most men aren’t seeking a better memory when popping testosterone pills.
This past weekend I randomly stumbled into the 420 Games in a Santa Monica beach parking lot. Rows of booths displayed the latest wares emerging in the culture of cannabis capitalism. Having worked in the fitness industry for most of my adult life, I was taken aback by how many start-ups are focusing on the magical motivational powers of marijuana. Forget glaucoma, “hacking your neurochemistry to achieve flow states” is the tagline du jour.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. We’re a nation in search of shortcuts. Anything promising quick results with little work is practically destined to trend—tiny Tibetan berries that aren’t really from Tibet, libido-boosting avocados, memory-boosting neurotransmitter precursors, how to think differently to influence the universe because, obviously, the universe needs your input.
Products targeting the ravages of aging are especially profitable. Anything, natural or not, that defies wrinkles, sags, and hair loss are always in demand. Sometimes exogenous compounds make millions, though we seem especially interested in naturally occurring hormones. If a little does a little good, well then a boatload must be even better. Enter testosterone.
First isolated in 1935, testosterone usage has tripled in the United States since 2001. The naturally occurring steroid hormone is used medically to treat diminished functional activity in the testes, as well as breast cancer, though most associate it with doping. Given its role in supposedly reinvigorating the male sex drive, the supplement is widely available.
Testosterone therapy is often self-prescribed, which creates a lot of room for error. Ignorant of dosage requirements the side effects—which include heart attack and failure, hostility, depression, and male infertility—prompted the FDA to require new labeling standards last year. Of course if you’ve got a recurring shipment on Amazon chances that you’re reading the box are slim.
New governmental studies on testosterone’s effects give us more reason to pause. As the NY Times reports:
Anyone hoping that a dose of testosterone will provide an easy antidote for sagging muscles, flagging energy and a retiring sex drive may find the results of recent government studies of the sex hormone sobering.
In a recent study, 790 men over the age of 65 were given either testosterone gel or a placebo gel over the course of a year. Each man was below average for blood testosterone levels and experienced symptoms associated with such levels, including diminished sex drive. The results were mixed.
While the therapeutic application of testosterone helps correct anemia, it appears to have no effect on cognitive functioning or improved memory. More importantly, men that received testosterone also experienced increased levels of noncalcified plaque in their coronary arteries compared to the placebo group. This does conflict with another study published last year that stated testosterone therapy reduces heart problems. The “T trials,” as they’ve been dubbed, were not long enough to measure other potential therapeutic benefits of testosterone, such as with prostate cancer or heart disease.
Let’s face it, many men aren’t seeking a better memory when popping testosterone pills. Yet only 15 per cent of men over age 65 have reduced levels in the first place. Some studies support the notion of an increased sexual drive, though, as the Times reports, “the bump was modest and waned over time.”
Testosterone didn’t help older men walk farther, they found, and it didn’t temper fatigue or increase men’s sense of vitality, though it did improve mood slightly.
None of this will stop marketers from promoting testosterone replacement therapy as a silver bullet for male virility. Bodybuilders continue to “off-label” the hormone despite the well-known history of acne and shrunken gonads associated with overuse. Those looking to recapture their younger years will also be seduced by the promise of return.
No increase in hormones is without consequences. Hackers seeking a quick-fix will be disappointed with the prescription that doctors are offering for many problems addressed by testosterone therapy: a better diet and regular exercise. There’s nothing sexy about the basics, but there’s a reason the simplest response keeps popping up—it works. Since too much of a good thing is never enough for the insatiable mind, hackers tend to pay for what they abuse.
Derek's next book, Whole Motion: Training Your Brain and Body For Optimal Health, will be published on 7/4/17 by Carrel/Skyhorse Publishing. He is based in Los Angeles. Stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter.
Over the course of his presidency, Barack Obama issued a total of 276 executive orders. So, what exactly does that mean?
Over the course of his presidency, Barack Obama issued a total of 276 executive orders, according to the Federal Register. During his eight-year presidency, Obama was criticized for using the powers of the executive office to circumvent the Constitution and Congress by issuing executive orders—more so than any previous president. However, Pew released a chart showing this simply isn’t so. He issued fewer executive orders than President George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan. So, how should we take this information?
It’s important to first define what an executive order is and to understand it has a relative in the presidential memorandum. The executive order has the force of law whereas a presidential memorandum is similar in its legal implications. However, a memorandum tends to govern the actions of specific departments under the executive branch. The reach of the president’s ability to affect change extend beyond the executive order.
Even the Pew report acknowledges their analysis is somewhat limited:
“This analysis focuses on executive orders alone because of data limitations for other types of executive action. (Presidents are required to count and publish executive orders but are not obligated to release memoranda or proclamations.)”
Presidential memorandums only need be published to the Federal Registrar when the president deems they have “general applicability and legal effect,” leaving the president with a lot of leeway.
When it comes to executive orders, by the numbers presidents have been issuing them less and less. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the last president to use them and boy did he – he issued a whopping 3,721 executive orders. However, it’s important to consider he was the longest sitting president with four terms and the one who ran the country during WWII. However, gone are the days when over 1,000 executive orders can go through government unchallenged.
Chris Edelson, an assistant professor at American University’s School of Government, explained to The Daily Dot:
“A president could issue 1,000 executive orders. As long as they were all based on legitimate statutory or constitutional authority, [the executive orders] would be fine. Another president could issue just one executive order like the one FDR relied on to initiate the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II—which was later supported by Congress but should have been recognized as unconstitutional—and be way out of line. The key issue to me is to determine when unilateral presidential action can be justified—sometimes it can be, sometimes not—whether it is carried out by executive order or not.”
But this still doesn’t answer our question about memoranda. Back in 2014, USA Today wrote an article which stated Obama issued more presidential memorandums than any other president. The Washington Post published an excellent piece in response to this article, which called into question USA Today's claims and made an interesting point: why do we care about the numbers anyway?
John T. Woolley, co-director of the American Presidency Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara—the organization which provides the data on executive orders—told The Washington Post he doesn’t consider this a good use of their data.
Ultimately, he told them, “the counting of memorandums is just about pointless in terms of illustrating what is going on and whether it is controversial.” We’re trying to play a numbers game, when we really need to be focusing on the substance of these executive orders and memorandums. The Washington Post continues:
[N]ot all executive orders are earth-shattering; some appear banal, such as changing the name of the National Security Council staff and making the day after Christmas a holiday for federal workers. Meanwhile, one of the presidential actions on the Affordable Care Act — the delay in implementing the employer mandate — that led to a lawsuit by House Republicans was accomplished through neither an executive order nor a presidential memorandum; it was just a Treasury Department notice.
Focusing on a tally of executive orders, memoranda, or notices is an irrelevant distraction that can't be compared from one president to another. Like with most things, here quality matters over quantity.
Speaking of quality presidents: