The Clock in Our Brain

Ever wonder why new born infants stay awake and active during night but sleep during day time?

Body clock or Circadian rhythm is what enables us to synchronise the working of our body with the day and night. The actual ‘clock’ is a cluster of around 10,000 nerve cells that lie buried deep within a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Light coming in through our eyes ‘trains’ the body clock to keep in time with day or night and resets it slightly every day.

Your body has an internal clock that makes you feel sleepy at night and awake during the day. Even though there are 24 hours in a day, this clock is actually on a slightly longer cycle (24.1 hours).

The production of rhythms is complex. But we can sum things up as follows: special clock genes in the Supra Chiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) switch on which leads to protein production. As these proteins accumulate, along with other chemicals, they switch off the clock genes. The level of proteins then drop to point where the genes are able to switch on again and the cycle restarts. This cycle of switching off and on happens about once every 24 hours. The SCN sends out signals to the rest of the body that vary according to this cycle. The cycle is not just determined by the SCN itself: it responds and adapts to signals from outside the body (principally light and dark) to keep the organism synchronised with the world around it – that is, ticking at the right time.

It is with the stimulation of the SCN, that the pineal gland in the brain produces a hormone called melatonin which tells our body to sleep…..

A newborn’s biological clock is immature. It takes time for a baby to develop his own natural circadian rhythm as it had stayed in dark for 24/7 in the womb for a long time.  Sleep patterns develop with time, and as the baby gets older, her biological clock and nervous system matures, which makes it get on a routine.

Then what happens when a person is experiencing a jet lag due to long distance travels? The answer to this is also the same. Bright light can help us to reset our circadian rhythms according with the new time zone.

A quote from Sam Levenson to go with this article –

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.”

The above article was contributed by Shwetha. R. Bhat.

Midnight Child: What lies ahead?

For a counselor, working with children can be challenging. It requires a lot of patience and presence of mind to answer their problems and sometimes to tackle their wit. Since you have to keep them engaged in various activities sometimes you run out of ideas. As a psychologist, I have had various experiences and learned that it’s not just the adults who have so many problems but children too have them. Ranging from “what if I tell my friend that I don’t like her anymore” to inattentive or abusive parents. I would like to share one such experience as I feel the idea of going to a counselor or a psychologist is still not acceptable to people but maybe through this article I would be able to convey how important their role is in life.girl-child

One fine day while I was going through case studies, a social worker entered my room with a girl child of about 8 years old. She was a lost child found on the isolated streets by a policeman at midnight. The social worker told me that the child is not speaking at all and is not even telling her name. One of the doctors of our Govt. Hospital tried to talk to her for half an hour but all in vain thereafter she was referred to me for intellectual assessment. Though the child appeared very cheerful, but I could feel that behind the twinkling eyes laid shattered hopes.

To start off the session, I gave her few colours and asked her to draw anything she likes. She fetched the colours from me and started drawing. To me it appeared something like alphabet “S”. After few minutes of scribbling and prompting her to speak, I could not get any response. I drew a random figure and to my surprise she announced “It’s a cat!” and started laughing. I produced cat like sounds and she continued laughing but did not speak anything except “Cat”. I was delighted that at least she uttered something.

Hope interrupted
While I was figuring the next course of action, the social worker walked into my room and told me that the girl is to be taken for some judicial proceeding and she is not allowed to sit with anyone for more than 20-25 minutes. At that point I was disappointed but asked the girl to come again. She left my room with a drawing I made for her, with a smile on her face and hope in her eyes to meet me again and tell me her story. After she left, I realized that it was one of the shortest sessions I ever had and left me wondering about the condition of the girl child who is supposed to be enjoying her blooming childhood but whose fate has decided something else for her.

Author’s message
We don’t realize that sometimes lending someone our ears and giving them our time can be the greatest thing for them. It helps them believe that someone is there for them. And that can make a huge difference in their as well as in our lives.

This post was written by Apurva Vashisht.

The Eternal Selfie

In today’s compact times when we come across someone new and want to add them to our social circle, the standard process of an exchange of phone numbers is usually padded with requests for personal and business email addresses in addition to “how can I find you on Facebook?”, “do you have a Twitter account?” questions. Very soon said person will also receive a LinkedIn invite possibly followed by an entreaty to add him or her to Skype. Add to this a plethora of other emerging and already entrenched modes of communication and information sharing: Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Viber, Tango etc.selfie

This intricate and lightening quick dance is mutually understood to not be unnerving in nature and will prevent either party from actualizing the possible notion of the other being a stalker (which makes it all the more difficult to spot the ‘actual’ creeps in our lives today).

When we are so readily willing to give out seemingly all access passes to our online social lives and are equally insistent that others hand out similar passes to their lives, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the volume of information that needs to be processed will at times manifest itself in other forms of communiques such as images.

Cue The Selfie.

The Selfie (yes double capitals are necessary) has taken over the world and is presently reigning as the Ruler of All Social Websites. We must treat the term as we would with the titles it hobnobs with such as Lady, Marchioness, Duchess, Princess, Queen. The Selfie has joined the ranks of nobility, aristocracy and royalty.


On the face of it (bad pun time), The Selfie provides a rich source of information to the onlooker. If they choose to look on for long, The Selfie gives its audience tonnes of information about the person who has taken The Selfie: what they like to eat, what they like to wear, how they exercise, who their friends are etc. are all conveyed in a matter of minutes through a series of personal portraits. Snapshots of an individual’s life broadcast for the benefit of their online community. Though it must be noted here that the use of the word “benefit” has been inserted with the loosest possible definition of the same.

We have all taken Selfies. We have all seen Selfies. We have commented on them. We have pressed the ‘Like’ button and all its equivalents in all the parallel sites. We have grieved most copiously over some Selfies that have made us come into contact with some of our more base personal characteristics such as envy and derision. There’s a song about it1. American talk show host Ellen DeGeneres took a selfie at the 2014 Oscars that was shared worldwide within minutes of it being taken and went viral2. The Oxford Dictionary chose ‘Selfie’ as its Word of the Year in 20133. In short we have encouraged The Selfie. We called it into being and we have nursed it through its infancy and now it seems The Selfie is here to stay in all its formidable power.

Which of course begs the question: Why? Why has The Selfie come into this world and why did we bring it in and continue to stoke its fire?


Right from the beginning The Selfie was borne from the minds of the common person. It wasn’t the result of an experiment conducted by social psychologists in a lab in some blingy prestigious university that launched theories about human social interaction; it wasn’t coined by cultural anthropologists or sociologists to describe an aspect of emergent urban behavior.

In fact, academia (read the elite) had no part to play in the formation of The Selfie. If you believe it (some don’t4), the first usage has been linked back to a drunk Australian man who typed the word in a post on the Australian Broadcasting Company about ten years ago. He very intelligently and gallantly denies having invented the word and says the slang term was commonly used back then to describe a photograph taken of oneself by oneself. The Australians are notorious for adding –ie to words to shorten them for slang purposes: mosquito- mozzie, Australian- Aussie. In lexicon world this is referred to as hypocoristics5 if you’re wondering.

Selfie taking a disorder!

While academicians may not have had a hand in the creation of the word, they have begun to study the concept. Some time ago a huge hullabaloo (have always wanted to use that word) was created in the online world about how excessive Selfie taking is a psychiatric illness and can be diagnosed thanks to its recent inclusion to the vast database of mental disorders that exist by the American Psychiatric Association6 . This led to massive re-tweets (another new word that has come into existence thanks to Twitter, along with the beloved #) and people diagnosing each other and themselves as suffering from selfitis- the official term given to the excessive Selfie taking disorder. Many agreed that this was inevitable and were just waiting when this phenomenon would be recognized for the illness that it always was.

Except that this news piece was satirical in nature and poked fun at us all. The American Psychiatric Association cannot just add disorders to its database. Their database is a physical book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which is now in its fifth avatar. The first DSM was published in 19527. Since then there have been only five more updates to the DSM. These guys don’t change things so easily. They need valid and reliable research, evidence and stuff8.

However, academics do enjoy social phenomenon almost more so that the rest of us plebes do so they have actually gone ahead and conducted some interesting studies on social media in general9. One of these studies pertains to The Selfie albeit indirectly and can go to some lengths to explain why we love The Selfie so. In an article published in The Times of India on 13th January 201510, a British study brought to light a concept called ‘netbrain’ which refers to an abuse of the internet- that is overusing it to the point of abuse. It has been found to be linked to “narcissism, distraction and a fear of missing out” and has an even greater reach because of smartphone technology.

Reasons for Excessive Usage

The Selfie provides a perfect platform for our “netbrains” to process information that an individual wants to convey in ultra-fast mini doses. A quick Selfie of one’s smiling face looming in front of the Eiffel Tower tells everyone that you are vacationing in the City of Light. Similarly a sad face with a red nose lying down next to a box of tissues and a Vicks VapoRub dibiya tells me that you’re ill and prompts me to send you a get well soon message on WhatsApp. All this takes barely five minutes and loops back to what the British scientists discuss regarding the idea of the “netbrain”- we don’t want to miss out on telling the world about us and we don’t want to miss out on what the world is telling us because we’ve all become narcissists and want/need distractions. The Selfie has become an incomparable messenger of such information and will continue to be so as the world becomes smaller and more lives interconnect and criss-cross online.

While the definition of The Selfie remains the same as it did ten years ago in Mr. Aussie’s time perhaps the rampant use of social media combined with the bulk of information that is being generated and disbursed nowadays and instantly accessible in the form of smartphone technology, created the perfect oven for this bun of a baby term to bake away happily in, glisten goldly and aromatically inform every one of its presence back in the big bad world once it had risen and was ready to be consumed.

And so delicious was it that we haven’t been able to stop ourselves from indulging in The Selfie ever since.

The above post was written by Shubhra Shahare.


1 Chainsmokers, T.(2014, January 29). #Selfie. Retrieved January 17 2015 from:

2 Baertlein, L. (2014 ,March 3) Ellen’s Oscar ‘selfie’ crashes Twitter, breaks record. Retrieved January 17 2015 from:

3 (2013, November 19). Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 SELFIE is named Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013. Retrieved January 17 2015 from:

4 5 Zimmer, B. (2013, November 22). No, a Drunken Australian Man Did Not Coin the Word Selfie. Retrieved January 17 2015 from:


7 DSM: History of the Manual. Retrieved January 17 2015 from:

8 Grohol, J.M. Taking Too Many Selfies? Don’t Worry, It’s Not a Disorder. Retrieved January 17 2015 from:

9 Seiter, C. (2014, August 13). 7 Social Media Psychology Studies That Will Make Your Marketing Smarter. Retrieved January 17 2015 from:

10 (2015, January 13). Addicted to net? You may have ‘netbrain’ disorder. The Times of India. Page 17

Talk Therapy

Help me, Counselor…

Talking cure is a method of treating psychological disorders or emotional difficulties that involves talking to a therapist or counselor, in either individual or group therapy

It is quite like re-programming a computer. The outdated software that is probably loaded with virus (self-critical, negative and harmful thoughts) is replaced by a new version of positive, encouraging, future-oriented and healthy thoughts.

How does it help?
As we are brought up, most of us have learned to feel loved and/or valued only when talk/behave in a particular way. In this some of our strange desires and impulses, or so-called abnormal thoughts and perversions are curbed (for the fear that they might not find acceptance). However, considering there are both positive and negative shades in each human’s personality, both of them need acknowledgement. Within a counseling set-up one gets not only an unconditional respect, whatever the private thought process maybe like, but also methods to synchronize these thoughts with our day-to-day living. Provided these desires and impulses are not too crazy, in which case one will need more intense help, talking about them will amalgamate the various shades in one’s personality, thinking and self-esteem into a healthy whole. This leads to better self-understanding, self-acceptance and maturity.

Secondly, when friendly advice is not available, or not neutral, ‘talking cure’ can be of great help. Consider a woman in 30s going through a divorce. Her girlfriends might keep ranting on the weaknesses and negative shades of the ex-husband’s personality. The woman, rather, is confident of her decision, has already made peace with the fact of divorce, and needs more of life-management conversations. Her parents might be too shocked. The woman, now, would need to handle them also, along with shouldering the responsibilities of being a new single mother. She might be quitting her job for paucity of time, thus entering the lane of financial stress. Where and whom does she turn to? An empathic listener, who could reframe her concerns in a more positive wording. A career-guide who could provide her with some resources for landing a less time-energy consuming position. A non-judgmental friend. A safe-place for regaining a sense-of-control.

Relief from stress, doing away with isolation, getting stuff ‘off the chest’, gaining a new perspective, putting feelings into words, hope-generation, catharsis and skill-building are some additional advantages of going in for therapy.


Shape Your Personal Brand Attitude

AttitudeThis post talks about tips for those looking to build and shape their successful personal brand.

First and foremost, when looking to build your personal brand, you need to watch your attitude.

Attitude here refers to the unique attitude that you have and how to develop it into something memorable and meaningful. Your attitude is one of the most essential components of your personal brand. Here’s how to shape it.

Every Brand Has An Attitude

No matter what you do with your personal brand, it’s going to have an attitude.

Don’t let it shaped by the things that you do (or forget to do). Rather you can choose to intentionally shape that attitude.

Define your attitude i.e. your approach to shaping that attitude is extremely important for your future success.

Highlight Just A Few Things

Each of us possesses a complex set of drives, goals, experiences, beliefs, emotions, skills, passions and motivations. But you cannot possibly convey everything about yourself in a personal brand attitude.

Try picking just a few things and include this in whatever do – Whether you network, write, blog or speak- try to keep these few things in mind. Otherwise, you will end up diluting the attitude that you’re trying to create.

You are Unique and so is your Attitude

This is something that is really important for personal branding: You are unique.

As we know, the world is full of people trying to be someone else. How good is that? There must be something unique that you have – something only you know and understand. Don’t deviate from being who you really are – offline or online. Let your true attitude be seen. The most successful personal brands are those who highlight who they are. They are unashamed of showcasing it.

Select your Fans and Friends

Other people contribute to who you are by writing testimonials and other things about you. You’re not the only one who gets to create your personal brand attitude.

The great thing about these external contacts and interactions is that you get to select which of these you want to showcase. Choose those that accurately reflect who you are.

Don’t Please Everyone

You can have attitude and still be very pleasant. But, let’s face it, some people aren’t going to like you no matter what you do. That’s very true in real life as well as in your personal online brand. Everyone can’t like you, so don’t aim.  As long as you are who you are, the right people will gravitate towards you and don’t worry about the others.

When my friend first started her entrepreneurial journey, she got really discouraged with people – mostly millionaires – who wouldn’t give her their time. She misunderstood them, because she misunderstood a lot of other things.

That’s often the case with people who don’t like your personal brand. If they misunderstand you, there’s not much you can do.

Share Your Opinions

Opinions are basically personal thoughts and feelings that you have on certain issues. These are the viewpoints that shape your approach and attitude.

Remember, creating a personal brand takes a long time. Your brand attitude may not come out right the  first time. It takes a lot of consideration to figure out just how you want to sound and be seen.

Plus, you gradually understand how people perceive you. People who have been developing personal brands for years constantly tweak and try to get it right.

Boldness can be an indispensable characteristic for creating your brand attitude.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Magazine.

A New Christmas Tradition

Vow to let go of all worries and anxiety in order to be light and free.Turn your family’s focus on how to support each other and not make trips to the shopping mall or finishing the house decorations.Remind yourself that the most important gifts we can give to others, and to ourselves, are to forgive and let go.Forgive mistakes you’ve made. Let go of the guilt so you don’t have to live in the past any further.Christmas-LoveForgive people who may have hurt you. Let go of the pain to open your heart and welcome peace back in.

Let go and free yourself of the idea that you have to be or look perfect.

Let go of the feeling of being damaged, inadequate and unworthy.

Let go of the painful memories so you can better remember the good times.

Forgive those people who said or you thought would be your friend, but then disappeared. Let go of the anger so you can make room for new friendships.

Build something new.

How Relationships Begin Today

A recently published American study by Cacioppo and colleagues (2013) analysed responses from nearly 20,000 people who married between 2005 and 2012. They found that more than one-third of marriages in America now begin on-line.

online-loveAs for the satisfaction – In comparison with more traditional off-line meeting, the on-line couples expressed greater marital satisfaction and were slightly less likely to separate or divorce.

They conclude that online dating is becoming increasingly responsible for the shifts in institution of marriage. How much of this is for good – only time will decide.

Interesting link between stress and attachment

You probably have heard of the nature-nurture debate. In the last decade or so, researchers have come to better understand the field of epigenetics and below is an interesting example of this in the link between stress and attachment.rat-study

Research indicated that rats raised by mothers who groom and lick them are later better able to cope with stress than pups who were infrequently licked and groomed. What seems to happen is that the brains of well-licked baby rats have been changed.

Basically, there are receptors in the brain that mop up the stress hormone cortisol, thus reducing the effect of stress on the brain. The gene that codes for these receptors is modified by the mothers’ behaviour so that the less pampered pups ultimately have fewer cortisol receptors in their brain.

The bottom line is that the attachment behaviours of the mother appears to alter the young rats’ brains so they cope less well with stressful experience. And this also affects the way the young rats subsequently treat their own babies. Nurture modifies nature. Poor attachment experiences lead to negative effects.

One view on smoking

Why people cannot stop smoking? What’s so hard about it?


A 2012 USA study has now shown that ‘nicotine dependent’ participants, i.e. people addicted to smoking, are vulnerable to feeling a loss of self-control, to having an external locus of control. The study also found that smoking a cigarette had a double effect, improving mood and restoring a more external locus of control (i.e. increased self-control).

This goes some way to explaining why people smoke and why it is so hard to quit the habit. However, quitting the habit might be a little less daunting  if alternative improving-self-control strategies could be taught, especially those that elevate mood. Suggested strategies include physical exercise as this puts the person in control and the endorphins released would boost positive mood.

An internal locus of control is when a person feels in control of herself; she feels she can and do affect their own lives, make their own decisions and so on.

An external locus of control, on the other hand, is a person feels she doesn’t have control over her own life; so that it does not matter what she does or doesn’t do as it won’t affect them because outside forces and people have the power and make the decisions.