Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Running is popular but there’s a dark side

There’s no doubt about it, running is popular. Increasingly you see people out and about clutching their bottle of water and wearing hi-tech clothes and running shoes.

All to the good you might think, and there is evidence of the health benefits of running e.g. enhanced mood and self-esteem as well as the physical improvements to your body – although there is also the potential to damage your health if you go to extremes.

However the evidence about the downside has been largely about physical damage. In the June 2017 edition of The Psychologist, Andrew Wood and Martin Turner, both lecturers in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Staffordshire University, wrote about the psychological downside of running – what they called the dark side such as eating disorders and exercise dependency.

Using rational-emotive behaviour therapy (REBT), which is based on the concept of rational and irrational beliefs, they found that many athletes they worked with did in fact have irrational (i.e illogical, rigid and extreme) views and responses to setbacks and adversity. So in dealing with setbacks, injuries, or rejection and failure their distress was coming from irrational beliefs such as:

  • I want to, and therefore I must exercise (demandingness)
  • It would be terrible if I could not exercise (awfulising)
  • Not being able to exercise makes me a complete loser (self-deprecation)
  • I can’t stand it when I can’t exercise (frustration intolerance)

In turn the athletes who were dependent on running would say things like “I can’t stand missing a run” or “I hate myself for not running” and felt guilty or anxious and in some cases started eating less.

In high performance athletes having irrational beliefs can actually help them to be more dogged and determined to win e.g. “I must not fail and I’m a loser if I do” no matter the cost in injury or pain.

And there’s the rub (no pun intended). Extreme and irrational beliefs may propel these athletes to success but at what cost? Runners pushing their bodies too hard, over-training and ignoring their personal well-being leading to exhaustion and burnout.

Rather than seeking to discourage people taking up what is a healthy pursuit for most people they simply ask you to exercise caution and monitor your relationship with your running: do you do it as a healthy choice or are you driven to run – at all costs?


Rich areas have fewer divorces or single parents

Almost 90% of parents from the top two socio-economic groups are married in places such as Harrow or Wokingham according to a new marriage map produced by the Marriage Foundation.

They say “if our neighbours are married we are more likely to be married ourselves. In richer areas everyone across all social classes is more likely to be married, regardless of how well off they are“.

Across England and Wales the average marriage rate for people in socio-economic groups A & B is 79%.

Twenty council have higher proportions of married couples in these socio-economic groups.

  • Harrow – 88%
  • Wokingham – 87%
  • Surrey & West Berkshire – 86%
  • Buckinghamshire – 85%
  • Barnet – 85%

At the opposite end of the socio-economic scale the marriage rate in Liverpool and Knowsley among socio-economic groups D & E (manual and non-workers) is only 25%.

No more than 30% of parents with dependent children in the bottom 20 council areas were married. The average rate for marriage in these groups is 37%.

  • Liverpool  & Knowsley – 25%
  • Salford, Blackpool, Wirral & Lambeth – 27

Experts believe that children from unmarried families have to contend with yet another factor which influences their life chances, inequality and social mobility.

A child born in 2017 has only a 50% chance of living with both parents by the time they reach fifteen. Of those parents who do stay together until their children reach fifteen, 93% are married.

And while there may not be a causal effect between being married and being rich if you don’t want your children to grow up poor you need to find a partner willing to work full-time according to Frank Field, a politician with a long interest in social inequality and fairness. Perhaps wealthier couples have more to lose if they split up so stay together longer regardless off how poor their relationship is. If you don’t have a lot to start with then you don’t have a lot to lose and you might be better off single and on benefits.

As my earlier post said, staying married might depend on how much you agree about money matters


Todmorden turning into another Hebden Bridge?

My fellow blogger Kindadukish told me about a new cafe he’d found which he thought was worth a visit for our weekly “business meetings”.

I had a look online and it seemed interesting but then I noticed it was vegetarian.

Now I know my friend isn’t averse to eating on the wrong side of the tracks from time to time as it were but I’m a dedicated omnivore.

However I decided it was worth a try and as we thought at least I could have an omelette. Well no as it turned out. They don’t do omelettes (although they have other dishes with eggs in them). Too much trouble they said. So I had to settle for a potato hash thing with an egg on top. It was OK but I left half of it, it just wasn’t appetising enough for me.

The Illy Italian coffee was very good though, with a very smooth and rounded flavour.

However the service was a bit hit and miss. I ordered a ginger IPA but they forgot about it and even when reminded it took a while to come to the table.

They also allowed dogs in which I object to. (When I was visiting Keswick I had the same problem. Thank goodness for Costa coffee and Wetherspoons which don’t allow them)

The building is the old Todmorden Industrial & Cooperative society and has scrubbed tables and an interesting collection of canned beers with fancy titles (and prices to match) as well as bottled ones. They also sell seconds crockery and there were some nice pieces although I couldn’t see the prices.

Outside and next door is the Kava cafe – yet another vegan and vegetarian venue. This was a quick visit, I had another appointment to go to and I was parked on a 60 minute spot. However Todmorden seems to have a free parking policy on all its public car parks, no wonder they were all full.

Before I left I took a couple of photographs of the Rochdale canal area.

There is a guillotine at Lock 19 and some interesting fish art on the wall alongside the canal.

My friend took several photos so I’m sure they’ll appear on his blog soon when I’ll make a link to it.

In the meantime you can check out this stretch of the canal on the Pennine Waterways website.

I will probably go back for another visit providing I can find a “proper cafe” – although I’d go back to the Co-op for its coffee. If I’d wanted veggie I’d have gone to Hebden Bridge again, not far up the road (or canal.)