Hey Friends, welcome to my about me page.

My companion and fellow gray-haired creature

What I’m doing on Medium

Forever fascinated by people and the things they do, I’ve been studying Psychology in one way or another for over twenty years. I want my writing to be a form of psychoeducation. This is a new term that I’m kicking around these days, it means helping people learn about themselves, by introducing cognitive science to them in a fun and interesting way.

The way I came to writing was through teaching. I’ve worked as a psychology professor for years, and have a deep love of getting my students excited about this topic…


How I’m using a writing challenge to break through perfection paralysis

Overhead shot of hands typing on a laptop
Overhead shot of hands typing on a laptop
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

At the beginning of 2020, my Medium habit was strong. I was writing a lot and having fun doing it. But as the year wore on, and my mood shifted from optimistic, to frightened, to anxious, to depressed, my writing took a serious dive.

I have noticed a perfectionist tendency that I cycle through. I fear failure and the shame that comes with it, and so I procrastinate. Sometimes the procrastination becomes so entrenched that I become overwhelmed by the sheer effort it’s going to take to overcome it, and I just give up.

I think that’s largely what happened…


How a viral video is helping people understand themselves

Two people riding a carousel and smiling at each other
Two people riding a carousel and smiling at each other
Photo by sept commercial on Unsplash

Tik-Tok is a fascinating place. Social media can show us when something really resonates with a massive amount of people. Posts go viral, sometimes out of malice or anger, but because they create such a lightbulb moment in someone that they just have to share it. A recent viral post explores a fascinating connection between love languages and self-destructive behaviors.

What are the Five Love Languages?

Posts going viral are not unlike a book becoming a best seller. People read the book and want to share it, they talk about it, pass it around, buy copies of it for friends and loved ones. The Five Love…


Self-help without the toxic positivity

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

This past year has been hard on us all. Those of us in helping professions, whether teachers, mental health workers, healthcare workers, activists, community organizers, healers, or even just those of us taking care of someone, we are all emotionally exhausted.

This short list aims to provide a resource for this place of burnout. To offer a helping hand. And I’ve chosen these books specifically because of their grit, their honesty, and their complete lack of fluff. None of us needs to be told right now that if we just hang a bubbly affirmation on our mirror we can talk…


Has online learning forever changed the magical snow day?

“Snow in the Deep South” Oil on canvas

When I was seventeen, I moved to Pittsburgh from sunny South Carolina for college. The drastic weather change was a shock. I remember waking up one morning in October to the snow falling heavily outside. My heart jumped for joy as I thought of canceled classes, and fun to be had, but no, it was just another day. Pittsburgh didn’t have snow days, not really. The city had incredible tools for dealing with the snow, and barring an incredible blizzard, no one was canceling anything.

Growing up in South Carolina, a snow day happened extremely rarely. Not even once a…


How do we move from a culture of violence to a culture of compassion?

We may never know the truth of what happened the night that Breonna Taylor was murdered. But one thing I know is true, her life would have been spared if we had Community Care.

Addiction and Violence

Often, folks believe that mental illness can lead to violence. There is a commonly held stereotype that individuals with schizophrenia are violent and scary. The sad truth though is that a person with schizophrenia is far more likely to be a victim of violence than a perpetrator of it.

If we examine the mental health of those in our population that have ended up incarcerated, there…


Will AI be affected by the culture it grows up in?

Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash

“Dogs aren’t as important as people! Kill the dogs!”

“No — dogs are innocent, and they are just victims of circumstance, they didn’t put themselves in the car!”

The shouting match continued as I showed my students increasingly weirder scenarios: would you choose for the driverless car to self-sacrifice a car full of robbers rather than swerve and kill one older adult? What if it was a car full of cats? What if the older adult was crossing against the light?

These scenarios come from a test called the Moral Machine, created by scientists at MIT to crowdsource answers for…


Finding your balance

Photo by Denise Johnson on Unsplash

Have you ever had the experience of having a new routine go fabulously only to have it fizzle out after a week or two? Or had a strict diet protocol feel cleansing and nourishing at first, only to start feeling ravenous and depleted out of nowhere?

I know I have. It’s frustrating and confusing. But the past few days, I’ve been reading and listening to the work of Alisa Vitti, a women’s hormone expert, who has been blowing my mind. She points out that all of the wellness practices that call for grinding out the exact same routine every day…


This winter my motto is “Analog is Warmer”

Photo by Emre on Unsplash

“Mom, are you going through a Tumblr phase?!” my seventeen-year-old daughter squealed at me over dinner last Sunday.

Maybe I am — maybe at 43 years old, I’m having some sort of return to adolescence. A midlife crisis? But this doesn’t feel like a crisis, it feels like a hack, a trick. I asked my daughter to explain what an aesthetic was to her very clueless and confused father.

“Well, this is a terrible word, but it works… it’s a vibe” she said spreading her hands expressively. “It’s more than a visual, it’s the feeling that comes from the visual.”


The one habit to rule them all

Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash

Changing a habit is simple in concept but difficult in practice. But I found a hack that might help you too, and it’s finding your keystone habit.

A keystone habit is one change that you can focus on, which will start a chain reaction to changing other habits. Like the keystone in an archway, it holds up and supports lots of other little habits. And if you are trying to change all the other little habits but neglecting your keystone, that can also make change more difficult.

If you’re still not sure, here’s my story of finding a keystone this…

Amanda O’Bryan

Psychologist and Human mood ring.

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