Critique of psychological research methods on the subject of anxiety

In this essay the research area of interest is the effect of the social environment on anxiety. Two different methods are examined to see how they have contributed to this research in two particular studies. The methods are: meta-analysis arising from self-report data and semi-structured interviews.


The first study to be examined is Twenge (2000). Twenge found that anxiety had increased considerably over the time of the study and the environmental attributes of low social connectedness and high threat explained these high levels of anxiety. The method used in the study was meta-analysis. Meta-analytic techniques were used to gather and analyse data from samples of American college students and children between the years 1952 and 1993. The participants completed self-report measures of anxiety and neuroticism. For the college students the initial research was conducted using the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale, the Eysenck Personality Inventory or the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. For the studies involving children the Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale was used.


The method of self-report can be examined first. The anxiety scales are highly structured so this suggests they can give robust and valid data. It is difficult to see how personality constructs can be measured in any other way with a large sample. However, this self-report method is not without its problems. Scales can suffer from the problem that some people will tend to choose the extreme ratings while others will cluster round the middle. Participants may not respond truthfully or may not take the questions seriously enough. It is impossible to establish cause and effect from self-reports. There may be other variables at work. There are already preconceptions in the questions so the answers are necessarily limited. Participants may answer in a way that does not accord with their views. Some participants may lack the necessary introspection to answer the questions or may not understand what they are being asked (Hoskin 2012). Thus it can be argued that anxiety scales are not entirely reliable but Hoyt and Magoon (1954) found the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale to be largely valid with the results according with those given by experienced counsellors. One major weakness of the study is that the self-reports may not reflect true shifts in personality but the participants’ willingness to describe themselves as anxious because of the acceptability of the term in society. Attitudes towards mental health have become less judgmental (Twenge 2000).




Secondly, the meta-analysis method will be examined. Twenge used data from many studies. This can be criticized in that the researcher has lost control of how the original studies were performed and there may have been errors in their methods. The use of meta-analysis has the advantage of enabling a large sample size to be examined suggesting the results are reliable and valid. The method avoids the bias that may be inherent in literature reviews. The method improves statistical power and improves estimates of the effect size (Noble 2006).


A difficulty for meta-analysis is the research cannot exceed the limits of what is reported by the primary research. It is a challenge to quantify the size of the common effect because of the diversity of the primary studies and their many potential differences. The effect size may be over-estimated reflecting bias in the original studies. There could still be bias in the researcher as important studies could have been left out and more favourable studies included. Meta-analysis seems very complicated so mistakes can be made which invalidate the results (Borenstein et al 2009).


In spite of some shortcomings it seems that Twenge’s study does make an important contribution to anxiety research suggesting that the larger sociocultural environment has a large impact on the mental health of the individual. There does seem a reductive element to the study though and one is left wanting to know more about the experiences of the participants. This could be achieved through a detailed case study or more open interviews.


Twenge seems to have a mix of worldviews. The major focus seems to be social constructionist. The data is qualitative from self-reports and the statistical analyses only show correlations not causations. The tone of the study seems exploratory as she is showing new possibilities for further study into the effect of society on the mental health of the individual. The participants are viewed within their contexts. There is also an element of the pragmatist worldview as this research can be used to solve real world problems: to create societies where people do not feel so anxious. There is a problem of power relations in this study as the researcher is in a more powerful position than the participant as she has framed the terms of the study. Future research on this topic could have a more transformative tone (Cresswell 2014, cited in The Open University 2017).


The second study to be examined is Brown et al (1992). This study found that anchoring events (events giving increased security) were associated with recovery or improvement in anxiety. The method used here was the semi-structured interview. The participants were interviewed twice with one year between. On the first interview information was gathered about the previous year. There was therefore clinical information for three years. The interviews were recorded and the interviewer made the final ratings. The interviewers used the DSM-III-R diagnostic system to record the anxiety symptoms. There was also a semi-structured interview for the information about life events. Raters judged the life events against what most women were likely to feel in that situation.


The semi-structured interview has many advantages as a method of psychological research. There is a pre-determined set of open questions but the interviewer can explore issues further. The participants are not limited by closed questions so the information is getting closer to their real experience that can be very valuable. There is still some uniformity because of the pre-determined questions. The structure gives reliability but there is also flexibility because of the openness. If the interviewer is skilled and well trained they may well rate the information more accurately than in the case of a self-report questionnaire. The skilled interviewer can also elicit more information about the real life events. The data can be rich (McLeod, S. A. 2014).


There are, however, obvious disadvantages. The interview is a social interaction and the participant may answer in a different way to how they would normally. The participant could be intimidated by the interviewer and tell lies or give the answers they think the interviewer wants to hear. Recording the interview could make the participant more reticent. The interviewer could suggest answers so there is a real possibility of interviewer bias. The research method is very time consuming and needs highly trained interviewers and raters (McLeod, S. A. (2014).


The use of the DSM-III-R diagnostic system can be argued to be reductive but the scale has been shown to be valid and reliable over time (Brown et al 1992). One strength of this study is that the interviewer is making the rating, not the participant, so if the interviewer is well trained the ratings should be accurate. The semi-structured interview about the anchoring and other life events can be the most challenging part of the study due to the possible bias effect of the interviewer and the complexity of rating and categorizing this material. This study does try to lessen bias effects by having a team of researchers with different people rating the information to the ones doing the interviewing.


The researchers themselves point out some limitations of the study. It is impossible to rule out bias completely. There was sometimes doubt about the exact date of the clinical change. It is possible that the clinical change as in recovery from anxiety occurred before the anchoring event and this change brought about the event rather than the reverse. The sheer complexity of the subject matter means the correlations between anchoring events and recovery from anxiety may involve other factors (Brown et al 1992).


In spite of some drawbacks of the method this study seems to provide valuable and reliable, rich evidence about the influence of social factors on anxiety that has real world implications. There is a wealth of detail in the data because of the interview method that is lacking in Twenge (2000).


Again, there seems a mix of worldviews in the design and implementation of this study. The use of the semi-structured interview provides situated information placing the participants in a social context and giving validity to their experiences. This gives the study a strong social constructionist element. There are also some pragmatic features such as the desire to solve a real problem. There is still a power inequality between the researcher and the participant with the researcher framing the terms of the research so the study is not transformative (Creswell 2014, cited in The Open University 2017).



Both methods have provided important information about the effect of the social environment on mental health and both have an exploratory tone giving pointers to further research, moving the dialogue about mental health on from beyond the individual and the family. The meta-analysis has breadth while the semi-structured interview has more depth from a smaller sample.



(Borenstein, M. Hedges, L. Higgins, J. Rothstein, H. 2009) ‘Introduction to Meta-Analysis’, John Wiley and Sons, Ltd (Online) DOI: 10.1002/9780470743386 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)


(Brown, G. Lemyre, L. Bifulco A.1992). ‘Social Factors and Recovery from Anxiety and Depressive Disorders A test of specificity’, British Journal of Psychiatry vol. 161 pp. 44-54 (Online) DOI: 10.1192/bjp.161.1.44 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)


(Hoskin, R. 2012) ‘The dangers of self-report’, (Online) Available at 24th Nov 2017)


(Hoyt, D. Magoon, T. 1954) ‘A validation study of the Taylor manifest anxiety scale’,

Journal of Clinical Psychology, October 1954, Vol.10(4), pp.357-361 (Online) DOI: 10.1002/1097-4679 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)


(McLeod, S. A. 2014) ‘The interview method’ (Online) Available at (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)


(Noble, J. 2006) ‘Meta-analysis: Methods, strengths, weaknesses, and political uses’, Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine Volume 147, Issue 1, Pages 7–20 (Online) DOI: (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)



The Open University (2017) DD801 Worldviews and Transformative Enquiry. 8.2 Four Worldviews on Research. Available at (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)



(Twenge, J. 2000) ‘The Age of Anxiety? Birth Cohort Change in Anxiety and Neuroticism 1952-1993’ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2000, Vol.79(6), pp.1007-1021 (Online) DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.79.6.1007 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)












What criticisms are levelled at the case study in psychology?


The case study has suffered from many criticisms but these can all be countered with reasonable success. Flyvbjerg (2006) sets out the five main criticisms. The first is that practical knowledge provided by case studies is not as valuable as theoretical knowledge. The second is it is not possible to generalise from a single case. Next, that the case study is only useful for generating hypotheses. In addition, the case study contains a bias towards verification. Lastly, it is difficult to summarise and develop general theories on the basis of case studies.


It can be argued that case study knowledge is just as valuable as theoretical knowledge. It is not possible to have hard science theories in psychology because it is the study of people in real life situations. Newburn’s study (2015) of the behaviour of crowds in city riot situations is a good example of this. This topic cannot be studied in a theoretical way. The researcher needs to look at the actual behaviour in real life in order to learn something. As Flyvbjerg (2006) states there really is only context dependent knowledge when one is concerned with the behaviour of people. Milgram’s (1965) laboratory experiment study of obedience has many flaws, which make its findings questionable. A case study could be a valuable way of looking at this concept. All psychological research can be flawed, not just case studies.


It can also be argued that it is possible to generalise from a single case. The Magh Mela study (Hopkins et al 2015) is an example of an extreme or critical case. If effervescence and self-realisation is evident here in a huge crowd living in extreme conditions then it should be possible in any crowd situation. Many cases show the same phenomenon such as the road protest study (Drury 2015) where people are empowered through being in a crowd. However, this argument still seems weak as one case study only suggests rather than demonstrates a theory and could be disproved by more case studies on the same topic.


The case study is not only suited for generating hypotheses but can reveal more information leading to greater knowledge of a subject. This is particularly true of extreme or paradigmatic cases as Flyvbjerg states (2006). The Magh Mela study (Hopkins et al 2015) can be seen as a case like this as its richness adds more information creating knowledge which can be studied further.


It is not correct to say that case studies always suffer from confirmation bias, as there are examples where the case study results challenge the pre-conceived notions of the researcher. This was true in the study of democracy, power and urban planning (Flyvbjerg 1998) where he actually found that democracy and urban planning were in fact weak in the face of power in Aalberg where he originally thought this would be a model case of strong democracy.


Flybjerg (2006) counters the difficulty of summarising case studies and drawing theories from them by stating this difficulty is to do with the richness of the material that provides good narratives, which are valuable in their own right. It is not always necessary to summarise or theorise. The Magh Mela is a case study like this (Hopkins et al 2015).


The case study is therefore a valuable research method, which is not as weak as the classical view of it proposes. It provides knowledge alongside other theoretical or experimental knowledge so that psychological research can have both breadth and depth. It is particularly useful for studying real world human behaviour that cannot be replicated in a laboratory setting. It is also useful for confirming or rebutting hypotheses but does suffer from the problem of lack of generalizability.



Flyvbjerg, B. (1998) ‘Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Flyvbjerg, B. (2006) ‘Five misunderstandings about case study research’, Qualitative Inquiry, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 219–245. Available at (Accessed 23 October 2017)


Drury, J., & Reicher, S. (2000). Collective action and psychological change: The emergence of new social identities. British Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 579–604. UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.




Hopkins, N., Reicher, S., Khan, S., Tewari, S., Srinivasan, N. and Stevenson, C. et. al (2015) ‘Explaining effervescence: investigating the relationship between shared social identity and positive experience in crowds’, Cognition and Emotion, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 20–32 Available at (Accessed 23 October 2017)



Milgram, S. (1965) ‘Some conditions of obedience and disobedience to authority’, Human Relations, vol. 18, pp. 57–76. Available at (Accessed 23 October 2017)



Newburn, T. (2015) ‘Reflections on why riots don’t happen’, Theoretical Criminology, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 125–44. Available at (Accessed 23 October 2017)

New Year’s Resolutions

I know we are all tired of resolutions and I have failed to keep many in the past but I still need goals so here are mine.


1 Read the Bible every day

2 Pray every day in English and in tongues.

3 Meditate every day

4 Find out all I can about different mental health therapies  by reading and having therapy. Choose one that works for me

5 Diligently work on my hypnotherapy training and become qualified in it.

6 Diligently work on my MSc Psychology and complete the first module.

7 Do not drink alcohol

8 Do not eat meat

9 Attend the Alive Church every week and decide if it is the right Church for me.

10 Find paid employment.

11 Do voluntary work.

12 Find out all I can about Christianity by reading and talking to other Christians.

13 Rework my second book and self publish it.

14 Start and complete a third novel.

15 Increase my social circle.

Don’t Worry. It’s Not You. It’s Society. Anxiety Blog



Modern psychological research is suggesting that the causes of anxiety may not lie within the individual in terms of faulty biology or faulty thinking patterns but come from factors within the wider society.

The most recent Psychiatric Morbidity Survey indicates that there are some 3 million people in the UK with an anxiety disorder. What methods are used to give us information about anxiety? Different methods produce different evidence. Traditionally, anxiety was studied as something within the person using scientific experiments but these days surveys and interviews are often used to examine the effect of society in causing anxiety.

Anxiety is usually described in terms of the body’s stress response triggering the fight or flight reaction. This could have been useful in caveman times when we were out hunting but these days it can cause problems. The amygdala deep inside the brain alerts the rest of the brain that a threat is present and triggers an anxiety response just like in the cartoon above. Just knowing this doesn’t help you very much does it? Biology isn’t the whole story.

The Survey

The survey is a common method of collecting data in anxiety research. People answer questions about their feelings and behaviour on a scale such as the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale and this data is subject to statistical analysis. This type of research often leads to thinking of anxiety as due to faulty biology which leads to faulty thinking and disordered behaviour. It is also possible to use surveys with more open-ended questions and answers.

The survey method is cheap and can be used with lots of people at once. A large group of people taking the survey can make the evidence seem likely to be true for most people.

There are problems with the survey method though. The people answering questions may have lied or they may not have taken the survey seriously. They may not have understood the question. The questions may not fully reflect their experiences. Some researchers argue that anxiety scales are not accurate. For example, a statement reads ‘I worry more than most people’ and the answer is marked true or false. Just think about how vague this is and how open to different interpretations. The element of the social environment is missing on these scales. The Twenge (2000) study, which showed increased levels of anxiety from the 1950s to the 1990s, uses this method in the primary research studies.

This means the evidence collected by this method may not be entirely reliable.

The Interview

 This is similar to a survey but a researcher interviews the people taking part. The data from this can be seen to be more accurate than a survey if the interviewer is skilled and well trained. It can produce more detailed data, getting closer to the person’s actual experience. This method can also move beyond the idea that the anxiety is a fault from within the individual. It can bring in the missing factor: the social environment. The researcher can ask people about what might have caused their anxiety or indeed cured it.

Brown et al. (1992) found that anchoring life events, which bring security, could lessen anxiety. An example of such an event could be getting married and settling down. A team of researchers interviewed women about their feelings of anxiety and they did use scales but with an interviewer doing the rating. Then they interviewed the women about what was going on in their lives in a less structured way.

There are problems with this method too. The interviewer is a person and that person could be biased. They bring in their own thoughts and feelings into the social interaction and they might even lead the interviewee into answering in a certain way. They could do this without realizing it. It is also difficult to code this rich data gained from the interviews for analysis and mistakes can creep in here.

The evidence from this method may not be totally reliable either.

The Meta-Analysis

 This is where the researcher pools the data from lots of previous studies and then performs statistical analysis on all of it to see what the effect is. This is good for looking at large amounts of data but it is so complicated errors can creep in. There may have been errors in the previous studies that are then carried over into the new study. This method is good for looking at trends in society such as has anxiety increased over time. The bad news is that it probably has. The Twenge study (2000) did this and found that anxiety has increased a huge amount since the 1950s. Twenge also compared anxiety levels with social statistics and found that anxiety levels increased along with environmental factors such as low social connectedness and social threat levels. Lonely people living in high crime areas are more likely to have high anxiety levels.

Yet again there could be a problem with the reliability of the evidence due to the possibility of errors in the original studies used for the meta-analysis.

Looking to the Future

 A more recent movement in research has criticised all these approaches as having too much power inequality. The researchers are in control. Transformative research approaches want to redress this balance and give more power to the individual. The person with anxiety can collaborate with the researcher to set up the study.

Yes that’s power to you, the individual.

All of this doesn’t mean that anxiety research has all been wrong up to now. If the researcher has tried hard to minimise the risk of errors and performed the study rigorously the evidence can be useful. Both Twenge (2000) and Brown (1992) provide reasonably good evidence to suggest that anxiety can be linked to social factors.

This can be really empowering for people with anxiety symptoms. Instead of a pill or a course of therapy they can think about factors in their lives that could be causing their symptoms.




(Borenstein, M. Hedges, L. Higgins, J. Rothstein, H. 2009) ‘Introduction to Meta-Analysis’, John Wiley and Sons, Ltd (Online) DOI: 10.1002/9780470743386 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)


(Brown, G. Lemyre, L. Bifulco A.1992). ‘Social Factors and Recovery from Anxiety and Depressive Disorders A test of specificity’, British Journal of Psychiatry vol. 161 pp. 44-54 (Online) DOI: 10.1192/bjp.161.1.44 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)



(Charlton E. 2017) ‘What happens to your brain when anxiety attacks?’ (Online) Available at (Accessed 27th Nov 2017)



(Hoskin, R. 2012) ‘The dangers of self-report’, (Online) Available at 24th Nov 2017)


(McLeod, S. A. 2014) ‘The interview method’ (Online) Available at (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)



(McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) 2016) ‘Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014’. Leeds: NHS Digital. (Online) Available at (Accessed 27th Nov 2017)


(Noble, J. 2006) ‘Meta-analysis: Methods, strengths, weaknesses, and political uses’, Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine Volume 147, Issue 1, Pages 7–20 (Online) DOI: (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)



The Open University (2017) DD801 Medicalising and Experiencing Anxiety and Worldviews and Transformative Enquiry (Online) Available at id=204962 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)



(Twenge, J. 2000) ‘The Age of Anxiety? Birth Cohort Change in Anxiety and Neuroticism 1952-1993’ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2000, Vol.79 (6), pp.1007-1021 (Online) DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.79.6.1007   (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)




Yogi Cameron Diet Day 10

Weight: 64.1 kg No weight loss. I am becoming exasperated. I think I am eating healthily and low calorie but it’s not enough. I shall have to be ever more draconian.

Breakfast: fried egg, two slices of sourdough bread

Lunch: nut roast, roast potatoes, broccoli

Dinnner: two boiled eggs


So it’s Sunday today so I don’t do exercise. Total rest day. I did do dog walking for an hour but that’s it. I have eaten too much. Next week my plan is to cut the wine out completely. Then I will be free of stimulants. I woke up in the night again with the same headaches and leg aches. My legs were still aching in the morning. Ibuprofen is my new best friend. This caffeine withdrawal is going on for longer than I hoped. I still feel tired and have no energy. There isn’t much improvement so far. I must be patient. As far as the Yogi Cameron ethos goes I have not eaten meat or fish and I haven’t had processed food or caffeine. This is an achievement. I have been eating my main meal at lunch time instead of evening. This is all in keeping with his principles. The next big push is the alcohol. I know I have been self medicating to bear the pain of the caffeine withdrawal. I have had crazy nightmares. I really hope to feel better soon. I was lazy and watche politics and a French film. It was beautiful sunshine today so the walk was lovely. I hope I am stronger soon. There are so many things I want to do. I feel like an elderly person who needs to be pushed around in a bath chair and covered in a plaid rug. Please God can I have my energy back.

Yogi Cameron The One Plan Day 3

Weight: 64.5 kg. No weight loss

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, green tea

Lunch: ratatouille, rice, green tea, red wine

Dinner: dates

Snack: corn bread. Extra virgin olive oil

Meditation: 15 minutes.

Mindfulness: I can statements. Love and compassion to all beings.

Exercise: dog walking 30 mins

Social interaction: talking with husband until he left at 3 for a conference

I had a day of rest today as it is Sunday. I didn’t feel very good. Felt very tired. Mood medium. I was annoyed at myself for eating corn bread. I am not supposed to be eating any bread at all. The only thing I am proud of is avoiding coffee. I am still eating too much though I have reduced my portions. I will concentrate on avoiding caffeine as I can’t give up too many things at once. I spent the morning lounging and watching political programmes on TV. Then I watched a film. I feel myself slipping into old habits so I must try harder. I am more aware of my thoughts and trying to catch them before they turn negative. I felt myself sliding into hopelessness again that I do not have a proper purpose. Try not to have wine tomorrow. Keep trying. I was pleased I didn’t have processed food. I didn’t eat late. I think eggs are not really allowed on the ayurvedic diet but  think they are healthy.

Yogi Cameron The One Plan Day 2

Weight: 64.5 kg. I have lost no weight. Aaargh. Hey it’s only one day.

Dog walking: 30 mins

Meditation: 15 mins. Concentrating on the breath and observing thoughts.

Mindfulness: I can statements. I can write.

Yoga: 30 mins

Jogging: 20 mins

Breakfast: strawberries, banana, green tea

Lunch: aloo gobi curry, nectarine, green tea

Dinner: ratatouille and beans. Baked potato. Red wine.

Snack: almond milk hot chocolate.

Mood: up and down but ok

Social interaction: some at village dog show, husband in the evening

Pretty pleased at the amount of exercise I achieved today. Felt good in the morning. Energy dipped in the afternoon as did mood. Got some writing on the novel achieved though not very much.

The big news was giving up coffee. I had green tea instead. Big achievement. I did not get a headache. Felt naughty about the red wine but it is Saturday night.

I reread some of the One Plan. I love the idea he talks about as emerging as a masterpiece. Yes I would like that.

Feel I kept to eating healthy foods. I am still probably eating too much but I had no processed food. It is time consuming to cook everything from scratch but I really enjoy it. In a better world I would have a house full of children to cook for. I always make too much of everything. Sigh.

I had some negative thoughts impinging but I managed to come back to the present moment. The rainy weather does not help. I enjoyed watching my garden birds on the bird feeder.

A good day. Onwards.


Yogi Cameron The One Plan Reboot Day 1

I have started the One Plan before but I gave up after a few weeks. I can’t now remember why. I am going to give it another go. The One Plan is a book by Yogi Cameron who is a holistic therapist. It promises to change your life in a year with a week by week plan. I have been feeling so ill, tired and hopeless recently that I really need something. I have decided to persevere this time and not give up like I usually do.

The One Plan applies the principles of yoga and ayurveda to the realm of the body, mind and spirit.

Week One is about remembering not to eat late at night and to practise non-violence on yourself and others. This means verbal as well as physical.

I am going to blog about my progress through the days. I hope it is helpful to people. I am going to keep broadly to the plan but also mix in other ideas from Buddhism and health sites. I will be broadly vegan with a few animal products from time to time. I allergic to milk and gluten intolerant.

Day 1

Wake 8 am

Weight: 64.5 kg. Heaviest I have been for a long time.

Exercise: dog walking

Meditation: 15 minutes Concentrating on the breath. Observing my thoughts.

Yoga: 30 minutes.

Mindfulness: mantra of I can statements. I can write. I can write my novel. Visualise myself as a famous novelist.

Breakfast: smoothie consisting of almond milk, peanut butter, strawberries, banana, flax seeds, chia seeds, cocoa powder, avocado, cod liver oil. All whizzed up in the blender. Coffee.

Hypnosis tape.

Lunch: 1 pm salad. Yogi Cameron does not approve of salads but it is what I have in my organic veg box so it’s what I’m eating. Lettuce, cucumber, brazil nuts, tomato, avocado, French dressing with garlic and mustard. Green tea.

Dinner: 4 pm three quinoa rice cakes with marmite and peanut butter

One glass of red wine.

Social interaction: virtually none. Greeting neighbours while dog walking. Husband is at the gym until late. Not in yet.

I am pleased with myself today. I am easing in. I had a sense of well being. I had a slight headache in the afternoon. I am still drinking coffee which I will have to stop but I only had one. I didn’t eat any processed food and I didn’t eat late. I did lots of reading and I wrote this blog. I looked at some social media which I am trying to cut down. I have realised a lot of my problems stem from negative self thoughts. I need to do more tomorrow. I kept grabbing at the thoughts to make them go away. I have just recovered from a cold so feel slightly woozy though the nostrils are a lot less blocked than usual. I also have negative self thoughts against other people. This is something I need to work very hard on to eradicate. I need to meditate on forgiveness. I had one glass of wine which will need to come down.

A good day.


Taking Control of My Mental Health

I have had delicate mental health for a while. I have taken lots of self help steps to try to make myself better with some success but somehow I always relapse.

This year I have suffered with sinusitis and chronic tiredness which has made me depressed.  I don’t know what comes first, the illness or the depression or that they both feed on each other in some horrific symbiotic relationship. At points all I could do was lie on the sofa and drink wine. I was spiralling downwards.

I decided I was sick of all this and took charge of myself. First the sinusitis had to go. The doctor had given me a steroid nasal spray which did nothing. She said it would take twelve months to work. So basically it didn’t work.  I read up online and came across someone saying dairy caused their sinusitis. This felt right to me. I gave up dairy, bread and eggs two weeks ago. The results were quite something. My sinusitis got better almost immediately. Two weeks later I would say it is almost gone completely though not quite. The eczema on my finger has also cleared up. I think I have been allergic to milk and not realised it. I also felt that my digestion was better and I didn’t feel bloated. I had more energy.

I started hypnotherapy. I have had two sesssions and have received an audio file that I am to play at night. I did not feel instantly better as some people report but I am perservering. It is like a guided meditation focusing on positive thoughts. I have been eating healthily, avoiding alcohol and doing yoga, meditation, jogging and walking. I do feel somewhat better. The hypnotherapy is deadly expensive so I am holding off for a while for the next session.

I scoured the local mental health services and self referred for a well being course. I have four sessions of CBT therapy for depression. It doesn’t start until October. It’s in a group so I am not sure   if it will be effective but I am giving it a try.

I have also decided to take control of my life in other ways. I have signed up for an MSc in Psychology at the Open University and I have signed up  to learn hypnotherapy. So that’s two part time courses. I am paying for them with a student loan from the government. I still neeed some kind of job to pay my way. This is proving tricky. I need to get on it though. I am winding down my business as it makes virtually no money.

I am not cured yet by any means but I feel that I am more in control of events. I have got better before and then slid back down. I must not let that happen again. I know a lot of it is negative thoughts. It’s like there’s a tape in my head that puts me down. My awareness of it is the first step to getting rid of it. I am hoping the outside agencies will help me.

I am toying with asking for antidepressants though I have always resisted this. I am still not sure. I also think about having private therapy though the cost is horrendous.

I have realised that I will never be able to go back to what passes for a normal life. I can’t just have a quiet drink without it turning into an enormous session. I can’t just eat what I like because certain foods just don’t agree with me and I get fat and sluggish. Every day I will have to take time for self care. I am treating myself as a project like an elderly, delicate maiden aunt who needs lots doing for her. I am being gentle with myself. I am turning off the critical voice. Every day it will be an effort but I am going to do it. I have made the first steps.

And I will finish my novel.


Selling Online – The Life and Near Death of LittleBuddha.Guru

Last October I set up my online business: I wanted to sell bohemian and Buddhist items from Nepal and India. They were fair trade and I was going to gave a proportion of the profits to a Tibetan Buddhist charity. I was really into it. I got a domain from GoDaddy and a website. I soon realised the website didn’t really have the facility to sell lots of things so I later bought an online store from GoDaddy. This looked really professional and I could add lots of products.  I found a wholesaler in Holland that imported spiritual items from Nepal, India and Tibet. They had just what I was looking for. I was particularly taken with the Tibetan Singing Bowls which were hand made in Nepal and really good quality. They are a meditation aid and can be therapeutic. In addition to the website I sold on Ebay and Amazon.

Over the ten months I was running the website I only sold three items from it. I knew I had to advertise. I had the whole social media shebang with Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. I fiddled around with the SEO trying to get my website to show up higher in the google search engines but it was an uphill battle. There were American sites selling singing bowls that always came out ahead of me. I did some Google Express Ads which got lots of people looking but nobody bought anything. They cost me a fortune so I jacked them in after a short time. I did google adwords which is cheaper because it is paid per click but still no buyers, just viewers. I did facebook ads which got people to like my page but only one person bought something. Pinterest and Twitter seemed to bring nobody in whatsoever.

Selling on Amazon was a weird experience. They control the buy box so as an outside seller you haven’t got a hope unless you are the cheapest price. After their huge fees you cannot make a profit like this. I sold a couple of things here but I didn’t like the platform. It was impossible to access any help as it is all done through automated emails. It was impossible to find an answer to your specific issue. I jacked Amazon in pretty quickly. The only way to do it would be to have lots of very cheap stock and sell by Fulfilled by Amazon which is expensive to run.

Ebay was actually my most successful platform. I started off selling things really cheaply that I had lying around the house to get some feedback and then I sold my Tibetan items. I have sold lots of singing bowls and also Tankas, clothing, scarves and ornaments on this site. It is quite easy to manage and they do have real humans on the help line who are usually quite good. The feedback system can cause a few problems as there are some really weird buyers who seem to enjoy being malicious. If it is grossly unfair you can get the feedback removed by ebay. I managed this once but I did have to kick up an almighty fuss. I becam a power seller and top rated pretty quickly. The postage times are a problem because people want everything as fast as Amazon. This is nigh on impossible for the small seller. If you have the things in stock it is still very expensive to send things express and the economy mail is quite slow. Customers want everything fast but they don’t want to pay for postage. Well you can’t have everything. I could just leave some things at the wholesale warehouse and order them for the customer but then the turn around time is so long that people start moaning. Having everything to hand means you have a lot of stock sitting in your house. So it’s expensive if you can’t sell it fast. I cannot sell fast. Ebay do charge commisssion for every time you sell so it’s a fair wack on your price. You can pay for a shop which has lots of whizzy features but this is yet again another monthly cost. Ebay would be great if people were willing to pay what things are worth but it seems they are not and to sell things you are constantly having to lower the price to the point where it is not economic to sell them. There are also a minority of people who try to scam you, claiming they didn’t get the item or that the item is damaged to avoid paying. You soon get fly to all this but it is wearing.

I loved selling my singing bowls and I liked to think that I was helping people with meditation and mindfulness and spreading the good news about Buddhism as well as helping artisans in India and Nepal. I just can’t sell enough to make it worth while. To date I have made  a loss in my business overall. I have shut down my website as I don’t want to pay another year’s fees. I am just going to sell my remaining stock on ebay and then rethink. I thought LittleBuddha.Guru was a great idea but as usual I realise I don’t think like the rest of the world. Maybe there just isn’t enough demand for spiritual items from India, Nepal and Tibet. To make money online you have to find a cheap product that there is a demand for but I really don’t want to sell counterfeit trainers from China so I shall have to think differently. If I were rich I would open a Buddhist shop in a busy part of London but I can’t afford to do that.  I have learned a lot about business though I am not a natural business person. The mess I made of my VAT return had to be seen to be believed. Sometimes I think it is not very Buddhist or spiritual to sell things anyway.

I am currently in a period of mourning for LittleBuddha but I am retraining as a therapist in October so I am hopeful about this. I haven’t quite killed off my business but I will have to put it on the back burner for now. I still need to learn more about the dark art of marketing.

Oh well. Onwards and upwards.