Psychology Today

The last time I picked up an issue of Psychology Today was circa 1999, when the subscription I had from my college days expired. I've certainly grown over the past seven years, and seeing the February issue of Psychology Today put me in a warm, cozy, reflective state, making it impossible for me to refuse the trip down memory lane.

The front of the book is where I noticed the most changes. The Insights section, briefs focusing on anything related to health, brain, relationships, and culture, used multiple celebrity examples in its write-ups, most likely to offset the psychobabble. This isn't a bad thing; famous faces are used as examples when describing real-life issues (such as society's view of mixed-raced individuals), making the celebs seem more ordinary and the ordinary feel less alone when fighting their personal demons.

Some of the facts in this section are oft-stated: drink tea, it has antioxidants; young children need to sleep a lot; lewd outdoor ads CAN cause traffic accidents. Still, I didn't walk away without learning something. For example: Researchers studied Boston emergency room data from October 2004 (the month the Red Sox won the World Series) and found that visits to the emergency room came to a standstill during the games, suggesting that Red Sox fans took Curt Shilling's playing through the pain mantra a bit too seriously by postponing visits to the ER until the games ended. (Then again, Red Sox fans envisioned hell freezing over before the Sox won another championship, so an extra hour or two of pain probably didn't matter to them.)

I also enjoyed the brief that analyzed personality based on a person's taste in music. While some of the conclusions aren't earth-shattering--for example, "people who might like country and pop might be more simpleminded"--other ideas left me scratching my head. Why should "extroverts gravitate to music with a heavy bass line"?

There was also a timely item about the lack of referees in high school sports due to the increase of abusive behavior by parents.

It was refreshing, too, to see a story ("The Great Male Meltdown") addressing the important topic of why men are hesitant to see a doctor and tend to ignore problematic symptoms.

Remove the one picture too many of half-naked couples in passionate embraces, and the cover story about keeping intimacy alive in a marriage was best summed up in the fourth paragraph: "Sex, and more importantly, intimacy, are grown-up skills, and most of us, metaphorically speaking, are still in junior high."

Psychology Today attempts to nourish readers' mental, physical and spiritual well-being. It nails the first two, but flounders with the latter. Beef up coverage of matters of the spirit, PT, and your readers could find mind, body and soul singing.

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