Since March 7, 2012, I have written well over one hundred blog posts which, cumulatively, have received over one million views. Here I list the 7 blog posts which received the most views. Interestingly, they are not my most incisive or provocative blog posts, or even my favorites. The most popular blog post, with over 100,000 views, is on how to improve confidence and self-esteem, hinting at a silent epidemic of suffering out there. Topics or themes that proved most popular include self-help, human personality and motivations, and flippancy or humour. On the other hand, book reviews and more academic subjects such as science, philosophy, theology, and history (as applied to psychology) did not fare so well, even though they underpin much of the more accessible or practical blog posts.
Anyway, without any further ado, here are the top-7 blog posts, starting with number 7.
7. Bipolar Disorder and Creativity (22,000 views)
In 1989 the psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison (who herself suffers from bipolar disorder) surveyed 47 British authors and visual artists from the British Royal Academy and found that 38 per cent had been treated for a mood disorder.
6. Top 10 Psychology Jokes (27,000 views)
A man was walking in the street one day when he was brutally beaten and robbed. As he lay there unconscious and bleeding, a psychologist, who happened to be passing by, rushed up to him and exclaimed, "My God! Whoever did this really needs help!"
5. Fighting Suicidal Thoughts (28,000 views)
If you are assailed by suicidal thoughts, the first thing to remember is that many people who have attempted suicide and survived ultimately feel relieved that they did not end their lives. At the time of attempting suicide they experienced intense feelings of despair and hopelessness because it seemed to them that they had lost control over their lives and that things could never get better. The only thing that they still had some control over was whether they lived or died, and committing suicide seemed like the only option left. This is never true.
4. Hell Yes: The 7 Best Reasons for Swearing (30,000 views)
Swearing can give us a greater sense of power and control over a bad situation. By swearing we show, if only to ourselves, that we are not passive victims but empowered to react and fight back. This can boost our confidence and self-esteem, and also provide the impetus for further corrective action to be taken. As Mark Twain put it, 'When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.'
3. Our Hierarchy of Needs (42,000 views)
In his influential paper of 1943, A Theory of Human Motivation, the American psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed that healthy human beings have a certain number of needs, and that these needs are arranged in a hierarchy, with some needs (such as physiological and safety needs) being more primitive or basic than others (such as social and ego needs). Maslow’s so-called ‘hierarchy of needs’ is often presented as a five-level pyramid, with higher needs coming into focus only once lower, more basic needs are met.
2. The 10 Personality disorders (110,000 views)
The majority of people with a personality disorder never come into contact with mental health services, and those who do usually do so in the context of another psychiatric disorder or at a time of personal crisis, for example, after harming themselves or committing a criminal offence. Nevertheless, personality disorders are important to psychiatrists and physicians in general because they predispose to mental disorders and affect the presentation and treatment of mental disorders that are already present. They also (by definition) result in considerable distress and impairment, and may therefore need to be addressed ‘in their own right’.
Building Confidence and Self-esteem (112,000 views)
People with long-term low self-esteem generally see the world as a hostile place and themselves as its victim. As a result, they feel reluctant to express and assert themselves, miss out on experiences and opportunities, and feel helpless about changing things. All this merely lowers their self-esteem even further, and they end up getting caught in a downward spiral. Thankfully, there are a number of simple things that anyone can do to boost his or her self-esteem and, hopefully, break out of this vicious circle.
Neel Burton is author of The Meaning of Madness, The Art of Failure: The Anti Self-Help Guide, Hide and Seek: The Psychology of Self-Deception, and other books.
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