Psychological disorders are also known as mental health disorders.  

These disorders affect the way we think, feel, act, and function in the world. 

The list of psychological disorders includes many types, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Anxiety and depression are two of the most common disorders experienced worldwide.  

Moreover, each disorder has its own unique set of symptoms and can make daily life difficult.  

In this article, we will look into the major psychological disorders list and give you a few examples of the issues.  

List of Psychological Disorders

1. Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorder is a persistent feeling of worry and fear that can affect daily functioning. 

If you have an anxiety disorder, you may experience symptoms consistently for a long period of time.  

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) notes that anxiety disorders are quite widespread and affect a significant number of adults globally.  

Some of the common examples of anxiety include: 

  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) 
  • Social anxiety disorder 
  • Separation anxiety disorder 
  • Specific phobias 
  • Panic disorder 

Common symptoms across these disorders are:  

  • Persistent and uncontrollable anxious thoughts 
  • Restlessness 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Irritability 

Talk Your Heart Out (TYHO) psychologists in Singapore use psychotherapeutic approaches to treat anxiety.  

In particular, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is usually used as the primary form of treatment.  

However, your psychologist may use either one or several approaches based on the specific type of anxiety disorder. 

Visit our anxiety counselling page for more information about the type of treatment used for anxiety.  

An anxious person holding their head between their hands on a garden due to a psychological disorder.

2. Mood Disorders

Mood disorders appear in the major psychological disorders list. It may affect one’s emotional state.  

The two main types of disorders in this category are major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.  

Major depressive disorder (MDD) involves feeling sad all the time and having a lack of interest in life. If you have MDD, you may find it hard to perform daily activities like cleaning, cooking, or eating.  

Also See: How to Be Happy Again? Rediscovering Joy and Happiness 

Bipolar disorder, on the other hand, involves dramatic changes in mood, especially from a high state (ie mania) to a low one (ie depression). 

During mania, a person may feel extremely energetic or irritable and may make impulsive decisions. During a depressive episode, the person may feel sad, upset, or have severe fatigue.  

With the right and personalised therapeutic plan, you can manage and overcome mood disorders. Psychologists in Singapore can help you heal. 

Depression counselling in Singapore can give you more insights into the treatment plans. 

3. Trauma- And Stress-Related Disorders

Trauma- and stressor-related disorders come under the major psychological disorders list.  

Below is a list of some of the common types of stress/trauma disorders: 

  • Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) 
  • Adjustment Disorders   

You May Like Reading: How Trauma Affects Physical Health 

Common symptoms across stress disorders include: 

  • Experience severe anxiety, frustration, anger, or dissociative symptoms 
  • Feeling emotionally numb 
  • Feeling isolated or hopeless 
  • Having negative and unhelpful thoughts or flashbacks 

If you have uncontrollable anger or want to control anger in a relationship, please visit our anger management page to learn more.  

4. Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are one of the major categories of psychological disorders list.  

A person may have different patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that may diverge from society’s conventional way of functioning.  

The difference can, therefore, cause distress or affect the person’s daily life. Personality disorders can affect: 

  • Relationships dynamics 
  • Behavioural regulation 
  • Self-image 
  • Interaction with others 
  • Work-place performance 

You May Like Reading: Why Does My Mom Hate Me? Reasons You May Feel This Way 

Common types of personality disorders include:  

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder 
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder 
  • Borderline Personality Disorder 
  • Dependent Personality Disorder 
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder 
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder 
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder 
  • Paranoid Personality Disorder 
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder 
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder 

5. Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are a category in the major psychological disorders list as they severely affect our daily lives.  

Lack of sleep can make us feel lethargic and affect our concentration, attention span, physical health, and so on.  

Below are some of the common sleep disorders: 

  • Insomnia: A person may find it hard to fall asleep if they have insomnia.   
  • Sleep apnea: This condition causes pauses in breathing during sleep.  
  • Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy causes an irrepressible need to sleep. It can also cause sudden muscle weakness, known as cataplexy.  
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS): If you feel uncomfortable sensations in your legs that urge you to move them, it might be RLS. RLS can also occur during the nighttime and disturb sleep cycles.   
  • Parasomnias: Activities like sleepwalking or experiencing night terrors during sleep are known as parasomnias. 

You can visit each TYHO psychologist’s profile to check if they can help you with sleep issues.  

A person laying on the work desk unable to fall asleep due to a psychological disorder called insomnia.

6. Eating Disorders

Eating disorders affect a person’s eating habits and perceptions about food and body image.  

Common types of eating disorders include:  

  • Anorexia Nervosa 
  • Bulimia Nervosa 
  • Binge Eating Disorder 
  • Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder 
  • Pica 
  • Rumination Disorder 

Please visit our eating disorders page if you would like to gain in-depth information about each type.  

7. Substance Use and Addictive Disorders

Substance use disorders are a key part of the list of psychological disorders.  

People may use substances like alcohol, drugs, and tobacco when they find it hard to cope with life challenges.  

Although these substances may give temporary relief, they may worsen physical and mental health in the long run.  

Below are common examples of addictive disorders: 

  • Alcohol Use Disorders 
  • Opioid Use Disorders 
  • Cannabis Use Disorders 
  • Stimulant Use Disorders 
  • Tobacco Use Disorders 

If you or someone you know suffers from any psychological disorders, please visit our Singapore psychologist page to seek help. 

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This piece is produced in collaboration with DTAP Clinic, A GP+ clinic with a special focus on men’s health, women’s health and sexual health.

Whether emotional or physical, trauma can leave lasting impacts on our well-being. When confronted with traumatic events, our body instinctively releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to prime us for immediate action.

These reactions manifest as:

  • Freeze – Feeling as though you are trapped or unable to act

  • Flop – Complying with a situation without the ability to resist
  • Fight – Actively defending oneself or confronting the threat

  • Flight – Escaping or distancing oneself from the danger
  • Fawn – Appeasing or placating those causing harm

However, the effects of trauma do not end once the event has passed. Persistent stress signs can affect both mental trauma and physical health. 

This interplay can subsequently influence our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours in profound ways.

It is also crucial to recognise that everyone’s experience with trauma is different and that all reactions and responses are valid.

This article will expand on the nature of trauma, the physiological repercussions of traumatic experiences, and healing trauma in the body. 

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is when someone experiences distressing situations either in childhood or current life.

A person can have several types and responses to trauma, such as emotional, physical, and psychological.

However, any situation that threatens the person, either physically or emotionally, can lead to trauma.

If a person has trauma, they may struggle with feelings of helplessness, shock, grief, and fear.

During a distressing event, the person may find it hard to acknowledge their need for support.

The hesitation might occur due to the belief that whatever is happening to them is ‘normal’ or experienced by everyone.

Only through professional and social support might a person start to recognise that the incidents they went through are not normal or okay. Due to this, the affected person might find it hard to process their experiences.

Other than emotional distress, the person might also have physical symptoms, which leads to a strong connection between trauma and physical health.

The persistence and severity of these symptoms can also indicate signs of a deeper issue, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Below are the different types of trauma:

  • Acute trauma: Arises from a single distressing event (eg road accident).

  • Chronic trauma: Results from prolonged exposure to highly stressful events (eg child abuse or domestic violence). 

  • Complex trauma: Occurs due to exposure to multiple traumatic events. 

Furthermore, there are other less common types of trauma, like secondary or vicarious trauma.

Vicarious trauma affects those who, while not directly experiencing the traumatic event, are in close contact with someone who has. For example, a person can develop vicarious trauma when witnessing a murder, accident, or abuse happening to someone else.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) refers to distressing events that one may have faced in their childhood, especially around 0-17 years of age. 

Some examples of ACEs include:

  • Violence
  • Abuse
  • Neglect 
  • Domestic violence
  • Traumatic loss of a family member

Furthermore, the child’s environment while growing up has a significant potential in shaping their lives. 

For example, a person has a high chance of developing trauma if they lived in a household with:

  • Substance misuses issues
  • Parental separation
  • Parental gaslighting
  • Mental health challenges (ie one or more family members having depression, PTSD etc)
  • Family members being in prison

ACEs can have several different types and intensities of impact on a person. In fact, there is a strong link between trauma and physical health, especially when the trauma is chronic. 

Research shows that interpersonal trauma, especially, can lead to poorer physical health. 

Moreover, ACEs can affect academic and work performance, social relationships, self-esteem, sense of self, and social support. 

Aspects of the child's environment can cause trauma, which can eventually lead to physical health issues later in life.

Effects of Trauma on the Body

Chronic trauma profoundly impacts not only the mind but also the body. 

While many associate trauma primarily with psychological signs, the impact of trauma on physical health can be equally distressing. 

People who have experienced traumatic experiences might initially approach medical professionals with physical complaints. 

They may usually be unaware of the underlying trauma-induced causes. 

Biology of Trauma

Trauma significantly affects physical health through various biological mechanisms. One primary impact is on the limbic system, which regulates emotions and memory. 

Traumatic experiences can alter its functioning and lead to intense or extreme emotional reactions.

Additionally, trauma influences the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, causing inconsistent cortisol levels. 

Elevated cortisol can weaken the immune system, making people more prone to illnesses.

Neurotransmitter imbalances also occur from trauma, particularly affecting arousal and the endogenous opioid systems. This can result in increased anxiety (eg generalised anxiety disorder) and altered pain perception.

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as abuse or neglect, affect brain development. 

They also increase the risk of interpersonal violence in adulthood and predispose individuals to chronic diseases, mental disorders, and substance abuse. 

Physical Effects of Trauma

Trauma can lead to several physical health problems. Some of which include:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Neurological problems
  • Musculoskeletal conditions
  • Respiratory issues
  • Dermatological disorders

A 2018 study found that childhood traumatic events (CTEs) were more common among people living with fibromyalgia (ie musculoskeletal condition). 

Moreover, another 2020 research showed that people who experienced trauma of any kind in childhood had a high risk of developing fibromyalgia later in life.

Additionally, a person can develop urological issues and substance use disorders because of trauma. 


Somatisation, stemming from the Greek word ‘soma,’ meaning body, refers to the conversion of psychological distress into physical symptoms. 

It manifests as a wide array of bodily complaints, such as joint pain or temporary vision loss, despite the absence of an underlying physical cause. 

These symptoms are undeniably real, like how nausea eventually leads to actual vomiting, even without any digestive issues.

It is crucial to distinguish somatisation as a symptom rather than a diagnosis. Typically, it is part of conditions like somatic symptom disorder and conversion disorder, although it can co-occur with other ailments. 

Seeking help from a qualified counsellor is advisable for those struggling with somatisation.

Somatisation is a common human experience, with people occasionally vomiting due to anxiety, experiencing stress-induced headaches, or feeling physically debilitated after trauma. 

However, it transforms into a clinical concern when it persists and causes significant distress.

Psychological distress usually converts into physical symptoms and cause headaches or chronic pain.


Hyperarousal is a heightened state of alertness that occurs when individuals afflicted by trauma mentally revisit their traumatic experiences. 

Despite the absence of real danger, their bodies respond as if it were imminent. Hyperarousal causes prolonged stress even post-trauma.

Symptoms of hyperarousal include:

  • Sleep disturbances: Insomnia and recurring nightmares

  • Concentration difficulties: Impaired focus and cognitive function

  • Irritability: A sense of annoyance and frustration

  • Anger and outbursts: Sudden, intense bursts of rage

  • Panic: Overwhelming anxiety and panic attacks

  • Constant worry: A perpetual state of apprehension

  • Easy startle response: Exaggerated reactions to stimuli

  • Self-destructive behaviour: Risky actions, such as reckless driving or excessive drinking

  • Profound guilt and shame: An overwhelming burden of self-blame

In children, hyperarousal often manifests through sleep disturbances and trauma-related play. 

These symptoms typically coincide with flashbacks, emotional numbing, and avoidance of trauma triggers. 

Sleep Disturbances

Sleep disturbances resulting from trauma are not uncommon. Following a traumatic experience, people often develop problems with sleeping well. 

These may manifest as delayed reactions, including symptoms such as depression, fatigue, nightmares, and, in more severe cases, sleep disorders. 

When these issues persist and disrupt daily life, they may indicate the presence of post-traumatic stress.

Although ongoing research seeks to elucidate the precise mechanisms at play, current findings suggest that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep experiences the most significant disruption. 

REM sleep plays a pivotal role in storing memories and emotional processing. We see vivid dreams in this stage of sleep.  

Trauma survivors frequently experience disturbing dreams and nightmares. These dreams can either directly reenact the traumatic incident or incorporate elements of related emotions, details, and symbols. 

Researchers say that trauma-related dreams stem from the brain’s innate fear response, potentially serving as a means for the mind to confront and process the traumatic experience. 

Although rare, trauma survivors may encounter other sleep disorders from their traumatic experiences. These include nightmare disorder, periodic limb movement disorder, sleep terrors, and parasomnias such as REM sleep behaviour disorder. 

Each of these disorders presents its own unique challenges and requires tailored approaches to intervention and management.

Healing Trauma in the Body

Trauma can leave deep emotional scars that manifest not only in the mind but also in the body. Various therapeutic approaches have been developed to address this connection between psychological trauma and bodily experiences.

Healing trauma in the body involves a nuanced understanding of the interconnectedness of the mind and body. While approaches like CPT and PE primarily target cognitive aspects, EMDR and SE™ delve into the somatic experiences associated with trauma. 

Talk therapy, when administered by skilled therapists online, can accompany these methods by shedding light on the broader impact of trauma across various life domains.

When seeking trauma therapy, consulting with a qualified counsellor who specialises in the chosen modality is essential.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

CPT is similar to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). During therapy, a therapist might use CPT techniques to identify and replace automatic negative thoughts (ANT). 

ANTs are negative and random thoughts that a person has about themselves. These thoughts are unwanted and can cause distress or anxiety.

However, CPT tools such as Socratic questioning are a structured way of exploring a thought from several different angles and for many purposes (eg identifying root causes and understanding complex emotions). 

During therapy, the client also learns important life skills that can help them manage their emotions that occur due to past traumatic experiences. 

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) strongly endorses CPT as a recommended treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)

PE is a type of therapy where a psychotherapist may use evidence-based techniques to help the client gradually confront trauma-related memories and emotions. 

The main aim of this therapy is to avoid triggering the person more while helping them overcome and process their trauma at the same time.

Eventually, the person may start to understand that their memories of the trauma cannot harm them. 

By desensitising the emotions linked to trauma, the person starts to gain a strong sense of control and autonomy. 

Desensitisation refers to helping someone overcome their trauma or fear by slowly introducing them to the thing (ie traumatic memories, in this case) they fear. 

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a type of therapy that helps reduce the negative emotions associated with specific traumatic memories. 

For example, if a person has a fear of swimming due to a negative experience (ie drowning), they might fear that they will drown every time they swim. EMDR helps remove the thought “I’ll drown” and replace it with facts and reassurance. 

Hence, the person might start to believe their rational voice.

Somatic Experiencing (SE™)

Developed by trauma researcher Peter A. Levine, SE™ helps individuals:

  • Recognise trauma symptoms

  • Access internal resources for healing

  • Safely revisit traumatic memories for processing

SE™ empowers individuals to address the somatic aspects of trauma and helps develop a deep sense of resilience. 

Working with a somatic experiencing practitioner and getting help for physical health issues caused by trauma can be a transformative experience.

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy, though primarily focused on cognitive aspects, can provide powerful insights into the psychological and physical impact of trauma. 

It can explore how trauma affects mental health, physical well-being, relationships, core beliefs, and one’s worldview. 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy have efficiently addressed trauma-related issues. 

These therapeutic modalities help understand the connection of thoughts, emotions, and sensations tied to past trauma.

Therapists will help clients understand how their trauma affects their physical health. Online talk therapy helps overcome psychological challenges.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

There are many types of strategies within CBT that can help with trauma-related issues. However, the most common approach professionals use is trauma-focused cognitive-behavioural therapy (TF – CBT). 

The main aim of TF-CBT is to help clients identify and change their negative thought patterns. Further, the therapist may also help with identifying cognitive distortions. 

Cognitive distortions include:

  • Overgeneralisation 
  • Black-and-white (or all-or-nothing) thinking
  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Filtering out the positives

The mental health expert may also help the person look at their trauma from a fresh perspective or an objective point of view. 

In TF-CBT, the professional may help the person confront their trauma through gradual exposure in a controlled environment. The gradual exposure helps prevent re-triggering any memories. 

Through CBT, the person may:

  • Learn how to overcome and avoid maladaptive behaviours 
  • Improve their self-esteem
  • Regain a sense of self and confidence
  • Develop a strong personality

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Your iPhone is more than just a gadget; it reflects your lifestyle and even your personality. Apple customer psychology reveals that the choice of an iPhone—down to its colour—can offer intriguing insights into one’s character.

For instance, the range of iPhone colours is no accident. Apple knows that offering different hues appeals to a broader user base, each colour subtly hinting at different personality traits. 

The psychology of the iPhone is another exciting lens to look through. We can analyse how you use your iPhone, from your app choices to your settings, to make educated guesses about your behavioural traits. 

Are you a minimalist who prefers a clutter-free home screen or a social butterfly with every messaging app installed to maintain your friendships? Your iPhone knows, and so do marketers.

In essence, your iPhone serves as a mini-psychological profile that you carry in your pocket. 

So, the next time you pick up your iPhone, remember—it is telling a story about you.

What Does Your iPhone Say About You?

You Have the Latest iPhone

If you have the latest iPhone – say, iPhone 14 Pro Max or iPhone 13 – you can find out various qualities and aspects of your lifestyle choices. 

For example, the psychology of the iPhone is quite interesting in that it provides insights into factors such as your social status, technical interest or savviness. 

If you are the kind of person who prefers to update your mobile every year, you are more likely interested in staying ahead of everyone else. You like to try out new things and have a curious mind.

However, your choices speak volumes about not just the hardware but also your personality. 

Your constant upgradation means that you like to showcase your socio-economic status wherever appropriate. 

Your new model iPhone conveys that you appreciate and value affluence and modernity (remember showing off your new iPhone in a business meeting?)

Other than all these personal pointers, Apple’s support for newer iPhones also comes with advanced performance and security features. Perhaps you also value high security and take comfort in upgrades. 

Your iPhone is more than a gadget - it says a lot about your personality and preferences.

You Have the Oldest iPhone

Owning an old iPhone reflects a lot of interesting facts about your personality. 

People often assume that you are a ‘tech faux pas’ if you have the oldest iPhone. When you combine ‘tech’ with ‘faux pas’, it means that you are not up-to-date with technology or that you are socially awkward or out of touch. 

However, the psychology of the iPhone says otherwise. Owning the oldest iPhone means that you value commitment and you are loyal. It also means that Apple has a long-standing quality of technology.

More importantly, you are in no rush to update your phone because you enjoy the dual-camera system (you love fashion and aesthetics), and you still value the iPhone 12’s ceramic shield front cover (you are quite clumsy but in a cute way). 

You are extremely organised and responsible as a person. With an old iPhone, you can show your social status but save money at the same time! 

Your choice of keeping an old iPhone means that you are a calculative person and make only the smartest decisions that serve you in some way – and that’s a quality you can flaunt anytime you want! 

You Have a Cracked Screen

Are you navigating the world with a cracked iPhone screen? So are we. While Apple products are known for their smart design and durability, accidents happen. A shattered screen can be more than just an aesthetic issue; it often shows your personality and habits.

Firstly, a cracked screen could indicate a stressful, busy, on-the-go lifestyle. You juggle multiple tasks; sometimes, your iPhone bears the brunt of your hustle. 

However, it also suggests a lack of attention to detail. Apple products are investments, and a damaged screen could imply negligence towards valuable possessions.

For the risk-takers among us, a cracked screen might be a badge of honour, showcasing an adventurous spirit. On the flip side, it could reveal procrastination tendencies. You know the screen needs fixing, but you keep pushing it off.

Interestingly, a cracked screen can also be a conversation starter. It adds character to your device and makes you relatable; almost everyone has experienced a similar mishap. 

Yet, if you consistently deal with cracked screens, considering AppleCare for your next iPhone is not a bad idea.

You Have the iPhone 14 Pro Max

Owning an iPhone 14 Pro Max or its Pro counterpart sends a clear message: you are a connoisseur of cutting-edge technology. These Apple products are not just smartphones; they are a lifestyle statement. 

Opting for the Pro series indicates that you are willing to invest in superior features, whether it is for professional use or personal satisfaction.

The iPhone Pro models offer advanced camera systems for photography enthusiasts, elevating your mobile photography game to new heights. If you are a business professional, the performance and premium build quality make multitasking a breeze, enhancing your productivity. 

Gamers, too, find the Pro models irresistible due to their high-refresh-rate displays and powerful chipsets.

The iPhone Pro series also appeals to those who seek exclusivity. Features like ProRes video and ProMotion display are not just technical jargon; they are practical benefits that set you apart from the crowd. 

In essence, choosing an iPhone Pro model is akin to joining an elite club, one that values both form and function. Owning one of the pro models means that you are ambitious and value both the looks and the brains!

What Does Your iPhone Color Say About You?

Similar to how the type of iPhone you own, the colour of your iPhone also says a lot about your personality. 

As most people assume, the colour of an iPhone is not only about aesthetics. For example, buying a silver iPhone means that you have a preference for elegance.

On the other hand, vibrant colours like alpine green or starlight may indicate your enthusiasm for adventure and thrill. 

Your iPhone colour may also give you an idea about how others perceive you. Every colour may already have a preconceived notion and specific qualities. 

For example, don’t you think red is bold and confident? Likewise, if you own a black iPhone, you may exhibit traits like professionalism – maybe with a ting of mysteriousness and melancholy. 

For the reasons above, black is usually famous and a great choice among business executives. However, lighter shades like pastel colours may be more fitting for casual meetings and hangouts. This is because pastels may show traits like approachability and playfulness. 

More interestingly, our upbringing and culture significantly influence colours and how we perceive them. 

For example, some cultures may have symbolic meanings for certain colours, and this factor could further influence your choice. 

The next time you choose your iPhone, remember that the colour may reveal just enough qualities about you. We’re here to break it down and help you make an exciting choice! 

Youthful Yellow

Choosing a yellow iPhone reveals more about your personality than you might think. According to colour psychologists, yellow signifies optimism, creativity, and an outgoing nature. 

If you are sporting a yellow iPhone, chances are you enjoy standing out from the crowd. Someone who is not afraid to be different and often wishes to seek new experiences.

In business environments, yellow grabs attention and stimulates mental activity. So, it is no surprise that professionals who opt for this hue are generally seen as innovative and intellectually curious. They are the ones brainstorming in meetings and proposing fresh ideas.

Interestingly, yellow is also associated with caution and alertness. This suggests that while you are optimistic, you are not naive. You approach life with a balanced perspective, weighing the pros and cons before making a decision.

A yellow iPhone can serve as an excellent conversation starter in social settings. It is a hue that invites curiosity and engagement, making you more approachable.

Lush Lavender

Lavender signifies creativity, calmness, and a touch of whimsy. If you are sporting this hue, you likely value emotional balance and a tranquil environment. 

Apple’s lavender shade is not a loud, in-your-face purple but rather a subdued, almost pastel version. It suggests you are not trying to scream for attention, but you do enjoy standing out subtly and sophisticatedly.  

This aligns with the idea that you appreciate nuance and complexity, whether in relationships, art, or even your morning coffee. 

Cultural influences also play a role. If you are a fan of Taylor Swift’s “Lavender Haze,” your phone choice might be due to your pop-culture leanings. It is a blend of fandom and fashion, a way to carry a piece of your favourite artist in your pocket.  

Lastly, if you are eyeing the iPhone 14 Pro’s Deep Purple, know that it is a shade that conveys a sense of authority and ambition. It is lavender’s mature, more intense cousin, perfect for blending creativity with power.

Radiant Red

Red is the most interesting colour for iPhones on the internet right now. You might wonder what a red iPhone says about you. This vibrant hue screams confidence and audacity (the good kind). 

You are not one to shy away from the spotlight; instead, you embrace it. A red iPhone suggests you are a risk-taker who thrives on challenges and is not afraid to stand out from the crowd.

Moreover, red is often associated with passion and intensity. If you opt for this colour, you likely approach life with an enthusiasm that is hard to ignore. Whether it is your career, relationships, or hobbies, you give 100% to everything you do.

Interestingly, red is also the colour of love and warmth. This could indicate that you value deep connections and meaningful relationships. You are not just about the flash and dazzle; there’s depth to your character. 

Lastly, let us not forget the philanthropic angle. Apple’s red iPhones are part of the (PRODUCT)RED initiative, contributing to global health programmes. So, your choice also reflects a socially conscious mindset.

Gregarious Green

Green often symbolises balance, harmony, and growth. If you opt for a darker shade, like forest green, you’re likely projecting a sense of stability and sophistication. This hue often appeals to individuals who are analytical, logical, and drawn to problem-solving.

Conversely, lighter shades like mint or seafoam green suggest a more empathetic and open-minded nature. You probably value emotional intelligence and tend to approach conflicts with diplomatic finesse.

Interestingly, green is also associated with environmental consciousness. Owning a green iPhone could signal your awareness of sustainability issues, subtly aligning you with eco-friendly values.

In the corporate world, green exudes a sense of calm and focus. If you are in a meeting and pull out a green iPhone, it subtly communicates your ability to maintain equilibrium even in high-stakes situations.

Blue iPhone - what does it say about you? You are calm, but also not easily rattled.

Wholesome White

White iPhone often indicates a preference for simplicity and elegance. White, universally recognised as a symbol of purity and cleanliness, suggests you value these traits in various aspects of life, not just your gadgets.

Opting for a white iPhone could also hint at your extroverted nature. Unlike darker shades, white attracts more attention, mirroring your own social tendencies. You likely enjoy the spotlight, even if it is just a little.

Interestingly, the colour white is often associated with perfectionism. If you have chosen this hue for your iPhone, you set high standards for yourself and your surroundings. 

Your attention to detail is impeccable, and you do not settle for anything less than the best.

However, a white iPhone also demands regular upkeep to maintain its pristine appearance. This suggests you are not averse to putting in effort to keep things in top condition, be it relationships or personal belongings.

In summary, what does a white iPhone say about you? It speaks to a personality that values purity, simplicity, and a touch of extroversion, all wrapped up in a perfectionist’s attention to detail.

What does a white Iphone say about you? You are pure, simple, and a perfectionist.


Now you know that your iPhone’s model, colour, and even the apps and functionalities you prefer say a lot about your lifestyle choices! 

Do you prefer the latest model? You are tech-savvy and like staying updated. 

Enjoy bold and vibrant colours? You are an extrovert and love making a *fashion* statement.

The apps you prefer and the type of features you use in your iPhone reveal whether you are into fitness and nutrition, enjoy taking photos, or are interested in financial planning.

However, regardless of the iPhone you own and your choices, the above article is not a definitive measure of who you are. 

While exploring your qualities based on iPhone colour and type is a fun reflection and self-care activity – it is not an analysis of who you are as a person. 

So, go ahead and pick an iPhone that you love and show it off to your friends. After all, you now know some secrets that they don’t!

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What Is Reverse Psychology

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, reverse psychology is, “a method of trying to make someone do what you want by asking them to do the opposite and expecting them to disagree with you.” Essentially, it is a strategy of getting what you want while saying the opposite of what you want.

Reverse psychology is based on the notion that while people have a propensity to resist direct persuasion or directions, they may act more adamantly in the other direction if they feel as though they are making an independent decision. The fundamental idea is to appeal to someone’s desire for independence or chance of rebellion. 

It is vital to remember that reverse psychology should only be applied with care and in proper circumstances. Since reactions might vary, it might not always work. It is also critical to think about ethical issues and apply it in a courteous and responsible manner.

The Concept of Reactance

Reactance is a psychological term for the uneasy feeling you have when you believe your independence is threatened. When reactance is present, the instinctive reaction is to go against what is required in order to demonstrate your independence.

If you’ve previously enjoyed freedom and it’s abruptly taken away, you’ll probably react negatively. For instance, if a parent forbids a child from playing video games after school after the child has been doing so for some time, the child may react violently.

Reactance is the core of reverse psychology. This strategy aims to instill this sense of reactance in an individual, hence making them resist our demands. If you demand something that you don’t want, they will probably respond by doing what you desire.

Examples of Reverse Psychology


Parents can employ reverse psychology as a tactic to influence kids’ behaviour or cooperation. However, it’s crucial to use it sparingly and sensitively, taking into account the child’s age and emotional health.

Reverse psychology may sometimes be used in parenting to get the child to do what the parent thinks is best.
  • Duties and responsibilities: If a child refuses to carry out some chores, a parent may respond, “You know what? I don’t believe you’re prepared to handle these roles just yet. Perhaps I can find someone else to complete them.” The child could feel pushed and motivated to display their maturity by eagerly accepting the chores if it is implied that they are not competent or mature enough, and prove their parents wrong. 

  • Eating well: A parent may reply, “I guess you’re right, vegetables are likely too unpleasant for you.” to a youngster who refuses to eat their vegetables. This way, the parent can encourage a sense of independence and curiosity in the child and increase the likelihood that the child will try the vegetables by expressing agreement with the child’s opposition.
  • Bedtime routine: In response to a child’s protests about an earlier bedtime, a parent may comment, “Staying up late is only for big kids who can handle it. Besides, you may miss out on the fun in the park tomorrow if you wake up late!” Framing sleep as something that only older children can handle and highlighting the potential consequences of staying up late makes the idea of sleep appealing and encourages your child to follow the nightly ritual.

Keep in mind that reverse psychology may not always work with every child, and it is important to gauge their reactions and adjust your approach accordingly. Open communication is essential to understanding your child’s needs and wants and developing a strong and trustworthy relationship with them.


In order to persuade customers and raise the likelihood of closing a deal, a salesperson may resort to using reverse psychology.

  • Limited availability: A salesperson may say, “I’m not sure if we have enough stock of this product for you. I wouldn’t want you to pass on the opportunity because it looks to be in high demand.” to elicit feelings of urgency or FOMO (fear of missing out) in customers. Implying scarcity or limited availability can encourage them to make a purchase.

  • Suggesting alternatives: A salesperson may also go, “Based on what you’ve told me, I don’t think this product is the right fit for you. However, I have another option that might be more appropriate for you.” rather than outright promoting a certain product. The salesperson can increase the likelihood that the customer would be interested in the original product by insinuating that they might not be a suitable fit for the product.
  • Reversing the pitch: You may even hear, “I’m not sure if this product is what you’re looking for, it may be too complicated or costly for your requirements.” This tactic may prompt the customer to contradict the salesperson and prompt them to ask more questions, possibly increasing the likelihood of them purchasing the item.

Reverse psychology must be applied in sales in an honest and ethical manner. Instead of tricking or influencing clients, the objective is to involve and assist them in making educated decisions. Any sales strategy should primarily focus on developing trust and providing actual value.


  • Quality time: If one partner wants to spend more time with the other, they may say, “I think you’re too busy to hang out, let me find something else to do.” This comment may cause the other party to reconsider their priorities and make adjustments to their schedule to accommodate their loved one’s needs.

  • Taking initiative: One spouse can say, “Since I always make the decisions, I will just go ahead and make the plans.” if they wish their partner to take more initiative while organising activities. This may encourage their partner to take the initiative and participate in the planning processes.
  • Appreciation: If a partner desires appreciation, they may say something like “I read about how little moments of gratitude can really strengthen the bond in relationships. Not sure how that works.” By downplaying their need for validation, they can cause the other partner to be more mindful of their efforts and express appreciation more overtly.

  • Personal growth: If one partner wants the other to work on personal improvement, they may say, “I don’t think you’re ready to make any changes or better yourself.” This statement may spur their spouse to pursue personal development activities out of a need to prove themselves or a worry about stagnation.

Nonetheless, excessive use of reverse psychology may cause the relationship to turn sour. One may appear passive-aggressive and make snide remarks without actually being clear about their expectations and desires.


  • Lowering expectations: Upon finding yourself procrastinating on a task, you may tell yourself, “I don’t expect to do a terrific job on this, I’ll probably just speed through it or do the bare minimum for this task.” Lowering your standards may give you a sense of rebellion and inspire you to prove yourself wrong by making an attempt to perform better.

  • Implying inability: You can persuade yourself when you’re putting off a task by saying,  “I don’t think I can finish this by the deadline. It’s too challenging for me.” This may inspire you to begin working on the assignment by igniting your competitive nature or drive to demonstrate your competence and prove yourself wrong. 
  • Deadlines: If you’re putting off a task, thinking, “I’ll never be able to finish this on time, I will have to stay up and use up my free time for this.” could make it seem more urgent. These statements could inspire you to start earlier and use time management strategies by highlighting the pressure and potential consequences of not finishing the assignment on time. 

Does Reverse Psychology Work?


When used ethically, reverse psychology has a multitude of benefits.


Reverse psychology does have merit in motivate an individual.

By instilling a sense of difficulty or disobedience, reverse psychology can be used as a motivating technique. Advocating the opposite of what is sought can raise someone’s drive to disprove the proposal.


Reverse psychology typically appeals to a person’s need for independence and autonomy. By making a recommendation that goes against the individual’s inclinations or wants, you instigate a sense of rebellion and prompt them to take responsibility for their actions.


Reverse psychology is a different method of persuasion that does not include direct coercion or explicit instructions. Instead, it offers a subtly challenging or suggesting suggestion as opposed to forcing someone to do anything, giving people the impression that they are making their own autonomous judgements.


Reverse psychology can inspire people to consider novel ideas and unorthodox solutions. It can stimulate creative thinking and urge them to take into account various views or approaches by pressing them to question their presumptions or expectations.


Reverse psychology also encourages relationships based on trust, humour, and playfulness when used sensibly and in an appropriate setting. It can foster a fun atmosphere and serve as a means to increase camaraderie and understanding.

See: Setting realistic couple goals


Reverse psychology must be employed carefully, as it has its own set of drawbacks too.

Potential backfire

When people are aware that reverse psychology is at play, some may become angry, defensive, or disobedient. They might feel taken advantage of or lose faith in the individual using the tactic. This would affect the relationship between both individuals involved in this situation.


Reverse psychology has the potential to become manipulative when employed carelessly or unethically. Relationships can suffer, trust can be lost, and bad things can happen when the goal is to manipulate or deceive someone rather than to empower them. For example, narcissistic gaslighting involves manipulating the person to make them believe something that they might otherwise not. 

Emotional impact

Reverse psychology can negatively impact emotions and cause confusion or irritation if not handled appropriately. If the recipient feels tricked or manipulated, it could lead to misunderstandings. Relationships may also suffer as a result.

Lack of honesty

Presenting a false or misleading stance that implies the opposite of what one genuinely intends or believes can occasionally be a part of reverse psychology. Misunderstandings or a lack of actual connection might impair open and honest communication.


Relying too heavily on manipulation as a means of persuasion rather than promoting open communication can have the opposite effect. It is critical to create a balance and avoid relying too much on reverse psychology as the main method of persuasion or inspiration.

Context sensitivity

Reverse psychology is not always successful in all circumstances or with all people. Its effectiveness is dependent on a variety of elements, including the personality of the user, the nature of the connection, and the situation. Before applying reverse psychology, it is critical to determine whether it is acceptable and to take the unique circumstances into account.

Effectiveness of Reverse Psychology

The effectiveness of reverse psychology on individuals differs due to one’s characteristics and circumstances as well as the technique used. For some, it might work, while others may react negatively, or not even react at all. The effectiveness of reverse psychology depends on the following reasons.


The personality and self-awareness of each individual vary. Reverse psychology may be more effective for those who like challenges or want to disprove others. However, people who are fiercely independent, unyielding to persuasion, or more perceptive might not react as planned. Thus, for them, reverse psychology may not work.


It matters how the recipient and the individual employing reverse psychology relate to one another, and what kind of relationship they share. For reverse psychology to be successful, trust, comprehension, and open communication are essential. Without these components, the recipient may detect manipulation or turn defensive, which could have unintended consequences.

Ethical considerations

Reverse psychology that is manipulative or dishonest can damage relationships and destroy trust. Refrain from using it to manipulate or control people. Use it to inspire and empower them.

Individual differences

Individuals react differently to numerous psychological tactics. One person’s solution might not be suitable for another. When employing reverse psychology or any other persuasive tactic, it is crucial to take into account individual differences, preferences, and sensitivities.

How Often Should We Use Reverse Psychology?

We should consider using reverse psychology only occasionally and in balance with other communication techniques. It is not a strategy that serves as a means of inspiration or communication. Instead, think of it as one tool in your arsenal of interpersonal tools. Consider the following aspects before deciding whether to apply it or not.


Apply reverse psychology only if the scenario at hand is suitable. Consider using it strategically, for example, with other forms of incentive or communication.

Individual responses

Reverse psychology affects people differently, and some may respond to it more favourably than others. It is critical to consider the person’s personality, preferences, and emotional health. It may be time to consider other strategies if someone continually responds adversely or grows resistant.


Balance in a relationship requires communication and compromise.

It is vital to have a wide variety of communication tools in your toolbox – Individual counselling can help with improving your skills. Overusing reverse psychology can stifle conversations. Maintaining strong relationships requires striking a balance between straightforward communication, active listening, and collaboration.


Just as with all other communication techniques, it is wise to use reverse psychology in moderation and with clear intentions. At the end of the day, nothing can replace an open, authentic, and honest conversation.

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What is middle child syndrome? Is it a real thing? Does birth order really influence our lives and personalities? If so, how do we navigate being a middle-born child? Middle child syndrome is a theory that middle-born children feel neglected in comparison to the oldest and youngest children. This is because parents are often hypothesised to place more attention on the oldest and youngest children (Dodgson, 2017). As a result, middle-born children grow up feeling overlooked and undervalued (Miller, 2018). They may also experience low self-esteem and have a low need for achievement (Ashby, LoCicero, & Kenny, 2003).

The Psychology behind Birth Order

The birth order theory states that the sequence in which we are born into our families affects our personalities. Adler (1964) proposed this theory and emphasised the need to consider family dynamics as an influence over children’s personalities. On one hand, first-born children are thought to be dominant, good leaders and have a higher need for achievement and social approval (Lemire, 2001). On the other hand, youngest children are perceived to be more pampered and prone to experience self-esteem issues. They also may feel pressured to outdo their older siblings. Middle-born children are generally more balanced in their views, with a tendency to play the mediator role in their families. Children’s parenting experiences and parent-child relationships directly affect the above traits attached to their specific birth order. Typically, parents experience high levels of stress and anxiety when raising their first-born child (Passey, 2012). They receive more cautious attention and strive to meet their parents’ standards. Consequently, the oldest child likely becomes more achievement driven to gain their parents’ favour. Conversely, parents tend to spend quality one-on-one time with the youngest child at an early age (Passey, 2012). As a result, youngest children tend to have close relationships with their parents. They develop more complex social skills and tend to more sociable than their siblings. Middle-born children generally grow up with less one-on-one interaction with their parents (Passey, 2012). As such, middle-born children can feel more distant from their family and are less likely to turn to them in times of crisis. In fact, they may feel constant competition with their oldest and youngest siblings.

Navigating the Birth Order Theory

Does this mean that being born into our families in a specific order defines our personality and experiences? Not necessarily. Birth order cannot account for all the individual differences between siblings. Age differences, gender, and socio-economic status (Lemire, 2001) all influence personality development.

McGowen and Beck (2009) argued that psychological birth order has more influence over a child’s personality than biological birth order. 

Psychological birth order refers to the experiences and interactions that shapes a child’s personality and mindset. For instance, a middle-born child who has older siblings can also develop stereotypical traits of an oldest child. Parents may give them more responsibilities and hold them to higher expectations when there is a large age gap between the middle-born child and the younger siblings. As a result, they could grow up to be independent and dominant.

Botzet, Rohrer and Arslan (2020) concurred that birth order had nonsignificant impact on children’s intelligence, personality traits and aversion to risk. Similarly, Rohrer, Egloff and Schmukle (2015) found that personality traits are not significantly associated with birth order. These show that birth order is not always an important predictor of a child’s development. 

As much as we acknowledge the relevance of this theory in particular family situations, it is crucial that we apply it with consideration.

Is Middle Child Syndrome a real thing?

Middle child syndrome can be a real thing in family dynamics and environments that perpetuate it. 

As discussed above, birth order is not the sole factor determining a child’s experiences and personality. An individual can be a middle-born child and have completely different relationships with their family members and encounters in their lives. Not all middle-born children feel neglected and overlooked, as middle child syndrome suggests. However, this applies when the family environment and dynamics facilitate the impression that middle-born children are less valued.

In some circumstances, oldest or youngest children may also undergo such experiences. Even though they stereotypically receive ample attention from parents, this may not always be true. These children may experience neglect and less meaningful relationships with their parents in certain situations. In some families, the middle-born child may require more care. This can be due to a medical or psychological condition. Parents may spend more time watching over this child and lavish them with more affection. 

Furthermore, in some cultures, children of specific genders are more favoured. Parents of middle-born children of the favoured gender may prioritise their well-being and bond more with them. Hence, oldest and youngest children may still experience middle child syndrome despite having a “favourable” birth order. Overtime, they can become more detached from their parents and less reliant on them for support. 

Characteristics of Middle Children

Middle Child Syndrome
Middle-born children are typically expected to possess some specific characteristics. As they lack the superiority of the oldest child and the affection given to the youngest child, they may feel inclined to compare themselves to their siblings (Passey, 2012). This can lead to the development of personal insecurities. Lacking a sense of belonging within their family, middle-born children may establish their identity through external avenues (McGowan & Beck, 2009). This can mean through other social groups, such as their peers. Middle-born children may experience more rebellious phases and are more likely to challenge authority (Collins, 2006Gustafson, 2010). Overtime, middle-born children who adapt well to their family roles can develop good interpersonal skills. Through family dynamics, middle-born children learn good mediation skills and the importance of treating others fairly. Also, as they are likely to seek social support outside their family, middle-born children can hone their social skills. These experiences can shape them into personable and well-liked individuals. Middle-born children also tend to deem their family environment chaotic or discouraging (Gfroerer, Gfroerer, Curlette, White & Kern, 2003). Hence, as they grow into adulthood, middle-born children develop more sensitivity to emotional affect. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that these characteristics are part of a stereotype. Not all middle-born children will identify with these traits. Every individual has unique experiences with their own families and may not relate to these situations in the same way.

What are the Effects of 'Middle Child Syndrome'?

Middle child syndrome can have lasting effects in an individual’s life. Middle-born children can continue experiencing it into adulthood even though their sense of inferiority stems mainly from parental relationships. The influence of middle child syndrome extends from peer relationships to future career choices (Collins, 2006). In terms of peer relationships, middle-born children usually have more positive views on friendships. Due to estrangement from their family, they can place greater importance on friendships than familial relationships. As a result, middle-born children seek to develop quality friendships with their peers. For achievement orientation, middle-born gravitate towards maladaptive perfectionism (Ashby, LoCicero & Kenny, 2003). They associate self-worth closely with their achievements. In extreme situations, it is unhealthy for the child. Middle-born children may also focus on outdoing other individuals’ achievements. This mindset is commonly found in environments where there are high parental expectations. Regarding career, middle-born children tend to be drawn to fields requiring skills of mediation (Collins, 2006). They are more focused on interpersonal relationships and justice-seeking. Therefore, middle-born children usually find employment in roles involved with serving other people.

Middle Child Syndrome in Relationships

Middle child syndrome in relationship
In romantic relationships, middle children syndrome can still occur. Middle-born children can possess specific beliefs around their relationships. For instance, they are prone to experiencing more irrational beliefs (Kalkan, 2008), and holding unrealistic thoughts about themselves, their relationships and their partners. Such thoughts possibly stem from childhood experiences where they were provided with less parental attention. This shows that as middle-born children grow up, they still experience anxiety surrounding their worth in relationships. The above is a stereotypical aspect of being a middle child. If you struggle with your self-esteem in relationships, it may be beneficial to seek professional help. Even you can go for online counselling, there are so many benefits of online counselling. Remember that our childhood experiences may shape us, but we can work through them to lead more comfortable lives. Therapy can be a safe outlet for you to discuss childhood influences and receive professional advice.

Overcoming Middle Child Syndrome

How do we overcome middle child syndrome? Feeling overlooked in the family context can lead to low self-esteem that implicates other aspects of life. However, every middle-born child’s experience with middle child syndrome can be vastly different. There is no one fixed method to manage it.

If you relate to the description of middle child syndrome, try reflecting on how it has influenced your life. Has it affected how you function in interpersonal relationships? How about how you show up at the workplace? Has this created favourable circumstances or difficulties in your life? 

Through becoming aware of how middle child syndrome has impacted you, you can seek out the appropriate resources to address it. One example could be placing too much emphasis on achieving your goals. When you are aware of this, you may wish to look for resources to improve the situation. This can include reading self-help books and even going for counselling.

Middle child syndrome can be tricky to overcome. However, there are many avenues available for help-seeking and developing more adaptive behaviours. 

Preventing Middle Child Syndrome

As a family member of a middle-born child, you may be wondering: how can we prevent middle child syndrome? McGowan and Beck’s study (2009) highlighted a few common themes contented middle-born children experienced. Middle child syndrome occurs due to a lack of parental attention and care. Therefore, helping middle-born children forge strong bonds with family members can prevent this. The common themes that emerged out of the study are:

Warmth and Closeness

  • These middle-born children felt that their families were warm and close. Family bonds are hence, important to them.
  • Middle-born children and their parents mutually respect and trust each other.
  • Middle-born child and their siblings have good relationships. Siblings are seen as dependable and good companions.

Positive Experiences With Having Both Younger and Older Siblings

  • These middle-born children saw the benefits in having an oldest sibling as a role model.
  •  Also, they felt it was good to have a youngest sibling who depended on them for care.
  •  They were satisfied and contented with their birth order.

Less Attention Provided

  • Even though middle-born children concurred that they received less attention than their siblings, they were neutral about it.
  • They saw benefits in receiving a moderate amount of attention, and still had their needs met.

High Parental Expectations

  • Middle-born children perceived their parents as having high expectations for them but were neutral about it.
  • The expectations were manageable and not beyond their abilities.

Good Communication Between Family Members

  • Forging healthy and good communication between siblings is vital to ensuring that they have good relationships.

Middle-born children need to have quality relationships with their family members to feel satisfied in their families. If their needs are met regardless of the amount of attention provided to them, middle-born children can still feel valued. This alleviates the possibility of developing middle child syndrome.

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Adler A. (1964) Problems of Neurosis: A Book of Case Histories. New York, NY: Harper & Row, Publishers, Incorporated.

Ashby, J. S., LoCicero, K. A., & Kenny, M. C. (2003). The relationship of multidimensional perfectionism to psychological birth order. The Journal of Individual Psychology, 59, 42-51. Retrieved from

Botzet, L. J., Rohrer, J. M., & Arslan, R. C. (2020). Analysing effects of birth order on intelligence, educational attainment, big five and risk aversion in an Indonesian sample. European Journal of Personality, 35(2), 234-248. doi:10.1002/per.2285iddle

Collins, C. (2006). The Relationship Between Birth Order and Personality and Career Choices. Providence College. Retrieved from

Dodgson, L. (2017). ‘Middle child syndrome’ doesn’t actually exist — but it still might come with some surprising psychological advantages. Insider. Retrieved from

Gfroerer, K. P., Gfroerer, C.A., Curlette, W. L., White, J., & Kern, R. M. (2003). Psychological birth order and the BASIS-A Inventory. The Journal of Individual Psychology 59 (1), 30-41. Retrieved from

Gustafson, C. (2010). The Effects of Birth Order on Personality. The Faculty of the Alfred Adler Graduate School. Retrieved from

Kalkan, M. (2008). The Relationship Of Psychological Birth Order To Irational Relationship Beliefs. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 36(4), 455-466. Retrieved from

Lemire, D. (2001) The family constellation scale. Reno: Creative Therapeutics.

McGowan, H. & Beck, E. (2009). A Qualitative Investigation of Middle Siblings. The College of New Jersey. Retrieved from

Miller, Z. (2018). 10 reasons why being the middle child is the worst. Insider. Retrieved from

Passey, E. (2012). The Benefits and Implications of Birth Order Position. The Brigham Young University Journal of Psychology, 9(1). Retrieved from

Tags: human psychology, lessons, Squid Game, motivation

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

By now, most of us have watched the latest drama series, Squid Game, by Netflix. It is a South Korean fictional drama in which 456 players were transported to an isolated island to play children’s games. Though these players were from different walks of life, they were all in debt. 

The winner would walk home with ₩ 45.6 billion (S$ 52 million) while losers are executed.

Celebrated as Netflix’s biggest debut hit, the insights it provides into human behaviour continue to contribute to its growing popularity. Here are five valuable lessons we can take away from Squid Game: 

Lesson 1 - Externalise Your Feelings

At the start of Red Light, Green Light, everyone shuffled forwards apprehensively. When Player 324 was shot, his sudden death sent shock waves to the rest of the players who realised the gravity of the situation and that losing meant death. They panicked and fled towards the exit, only to be gunned down. Dozens were eliminated.

Players experiencing the amygdala hijack when playing Red Light Green Light.
Image credit: Netflix

 The Amygdala Hijack

According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, this phenomenon is called the amygdala hijack. It is a situation when we overreact to something or someone due to intense emotion. When we are in that state, our amygdala instructs us to switch to survival mode and our priority is to seek safety. In this mode, our breathing becomes quick and shallow, and adrenaline increases our heart rates and activates the release of glucose into our bloodstream from the liver. Adrenaline also causes the blood vessels in our limbs’ muscles to dilate and obstruct the digestive and immune systems. 

All these happen because our brain is preparing us to fight, flee (flight) or freeze. 

The amygdala hijack explains why the players went into a frenzy. Meanwhile, the show’s protagonist, Seong Gi-hun, was so overwhelmed by the horrific scene that he froze and could not move. He had to be encouraged by his childhood friend, Sang-woo, who urged him to cross the finish line before the countdown timer reaches zero.  

Its Applicability to Our Lives

In life, we may experience this amygdala hijack when issues of the past, our present stressors, anxiety and worries of the uncertain future trigger us. What we can do is to focus on the present and what we can control. 

In Red Light Green Light, the players could only control how they think and respond. When Sang-woo nudged Gi-hun to get up and start moving, it shifted Gi-hun’s focus towards completing the game and not the horrific scene around him. Sang-woo’s words helped Gi-hun transform his fear into motivation which helped Gi-hun to finish the race. 

One of the lessons from Squid Game here is that we are in control of our thoughts and actions. We can learn to be anchored in the present, take the first step to sit with our emotion and externalise it by saying the emotion aloud or naming the emotion.  Sitting with our emotions helps to build our distress tolerance, and the next time we are triggered, we may feel less of the feelings or tolerate the situation better. 

Most of the time, we tend to suppress our emotions or ignore them. However, through externalising our feelings, we lessen their power over our lives, and we can then identify ways to transform the emotion we are experiencing.

Some ways to be in control of our thoughts and actions:

  • Identify whether the thought is based on fact or our emotion
  • Gather evidence against the negative self-thought 
  • Think about what is truly important or matters to you. To help you focus on what is essential, bring to your attention a photograph of a loved one. You will start noticing that the stresses begin to reduce slowly.

We would also encourage you to talk it out with the person you have in mind. By doing so, not only can you release some of these stressors, but you are also building social connections and these connections can help build resilience in life.

Lesson 2 - Build Trust

During the show, it was evident that many players did not trust one another and adopted the approach “every man for himself.” However, we see a high level of trust that was nurtured within Gi-hun’s team.

Components of Trust

Trust is an important part of human relationships and it is also a positive emotion that brings people together. Joshua Freedman (2019), an expert on emotional intelligence and Chief Executive Officer of Six Seconds, shared four components of trust that we can learn to develop.

  1. Caring
  2. Commitment
  3. Consistency
  4. Competence

Gi-hun’s Team

The trust forged within Gi-hun’s team was not by accident. We witness how different team members exhibited the four components of trust that set a strong foundation for the team. It is noteworthy that Gi-hun formed his team through the relational approach, where he gathered players who wanted to support one another.

First, he demonstrated care and warmth to his teammates, and made efforts to connect with them. This relates to Fredrickson’s Broaden-and-Build theory which postulates that positive emotions can have a broaden-and-build effect. Positive emotions expand our thoughts and behaviour to explore problems in novel and positive ways, make social connections, and build resources. Other teammates seemed to have been influenced by Gi-hun too. For instance, we see San-byeok beginning to open up to her team.

Second, throughout the games, the team demonstrated their commitment to one another. During the tug-of-war, it was evident that their team was disadvantaged due to the physically-weaker team members. Instead of turning their backs on one another, they stayed together and trusted one another to carry out their strategy.

Third, despite the ongoing betrayals, the team also stayed true to the alliance that they had formed. The challenges they faced together further strengthened the trust between them.

Lastly, each member offered whatever strengths they had to the team. In tug-of-war, the team followed Il-nam’s strategy as they were convinced that he knew the winning formula. Similarly, Ali was appointed to be the last man to anchor the team as they recognised his attributes.

The high level of trust and bonds formed between the team was evident in how they desperately tried to find a way to game the system such that all could live, and grieved whenever they lost a team member.

Deok-soo’s Team

In contrast, Deok-soo’s team was formed through a utility approach; only players who were physically fit and strong were chosen. Without any attempts to build trust, the foundation of this team was weak. 

This was reflected in how they were quick to turn on one another. For example, when Deok-soo turned his back on Mi-nyeo the day after she helped him during the Dalgona game, and how they were quick to disband once things headed south.

The four components of trust also apply to teams and groups that we are part of at work or in school. 

If there is no trust within the team, notice how quickly tension can arise during a conflict, and how it takes a longer time to resolve differences. Fear creeps in when there is a lack of trust. 

On the flip side, if some time is spent nurturing positive relationships and trust within the team, you may notice the team working more harmoniously, and conflicts may be resolved quicker when team members recognise that they are working towards a common goal. Trust is an emotion that drives people and people drive productivity and performance.

Lesson 3 - Recognise Ally, Dictator, and Victim

Who are your allies in life? Are you able to differentiate the Ally, Dictator and Victim in your life? In order to do so, we need to learn to recognise what these individuals do or say.

Knowing how to distinguish between ally, dictator, and victim equips us with resources and toolkits to support each other.
Image credit: Netflix


Dictators take power away and move forward at the expense of others. Often, they use pronouns such as “I” and “You” when they communicate with others. For example, they would say, “You need to listen to me or else I will punish you.” In Squid Game, Deok-soo played the role of a dictator. He used his physical strength and appearance to intimidate others.


On the other hand, victims give power away and are often stuck in difficult circumstances. They rely on others for strength to move forward. Often you would hear them say, “I can’t do it,” or “I am not good enough.” Similarly, they use the pronoun “I” often in their conversations with people. Han Mi-nyeo portrayed herself as the victim in the show and tried latching onto different groups to survive. 

However, her behaviour caused her to lose favour and she was eventually ostracised by the rest of the players. Interestingly, during the Bridge game, it seemed that she tried to regain her power by taking Deok-soo with her as they plunged to their deaths.


Allies use power for others and themselves and move forward together. You will often hear them use the pronoun “we.” For example, “We can do it!”, “Let’s work on this together.” We hear Gi-hun and Ali use these pronouns the most often. 

It was also heartening to see Sae-byeok positively influenced by her team, when she assumed the role of an ally during the Bridge Game and shared the correct sequence of tiles to step on.

If you identify yourself as a victim, we encourage you to reach out to allies. These people could be your loved ones, friends or mental health professionals. You can regain the power of your life by first choosing to love yourself and taking steps to do things within your control.

We can also learn to become better allies for one another. Equip yourself with resources and toolkits to support each other. 

To find out how you can better extend care a loved one, give this article a read

Lesson 4 - Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation

Sang-woo: Extrinsically Motivated

As the show progressed, we see how Sang-woo was motivated to win all the money to pay back the debt caused by his failed investments. He seemed willing to do anything to survive. In fact, his actions got progressively more brazen and brutal as he inched towards the finishing line.

Sang-woo avoided alliances with players that he deemed weak and also hid valuable information about the games from players who were not in his team. As the games went on, we witness Sang-woo traverse down a slippery slope. He started out with small, self-justified deceptions before his actions and behaviours snowballed into bigger indiscretions, eventually causing Ali’s death and killing Sae-byeok.

Though his extrinsic motivation helped him survive the games, he was evidently unhappy and thoroughly worn out. In the end, he chose to commit suicide after a fierce battle with Gi-hun. Perhaps, he realised that the benefits of winning the prize money were overshadowed by the gravity of his actions. He may not be able to live with himself after all.

Gi-hun: Intrinsically Motivated

On the other end, Gi-hun was intrinsically motivated. He was driven by his values and commitments rather than the external situation. 

Even in life-and-death situations, he still showed care towards Il-nam, knowing full well it meant being at a huge disadvantage.

On the night before the final round, the contrast between Gi-hun and Sang-woo grew even more apparent. Gi-hun arguably had many reasons to kill Sang-woo. Unlike Sang-woo who killed for the sake of winning, Gi-hun seemed to be driven by grief, hurt and anger that Sang-woo had sabotaged the lives of his comrades. 

Fortunately, Sae-byeok stopped Gi-hun, knowing that he was acting out of character. As Gi-hun was strongly grounded by his values and principles, this seemingly small gesture by Sae-byeok was enough to bring him back on track and withdraw the knife.

In the end, though winning the match was a mere few steps away, Gi-hun still stuck to his values. He was willing to forfeit the prize if it meant that Sang-woo and he could go home safely. How many of us would be able to do the same?

It is important to strike a balance between your intrinsic and extrinsic motivations.
Image credit: Netflix

Our Takeaways

What can we learn from Sang-woo and Gi-hun? Intrinsic motivation helps us to connect with people, build a sense of belonging and give us a sense of fulfilment while extrinsic motivation pushes us towards specific goals that we want to achieve. 

Working solely on intrinsic motivation, however, can backfire if there are no specific goals to reach, whereas working solely on extrinsic motivation can push one to resort to actions where the means justify the ends, for the sake of the reward. It is thus important to strike a balance between them.

What motivates you in life? Think about the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations that you have. Are you living your life based on your values? Take time to reconnect with yourself and live a purposeful life.

Find your inner Gi-hun. 

Lesson 5 - What Brings Us Happiness?

What brings you happiness? Is it money, career accomplishments, forging strong relationships or helping others in need? In this show, players were driven by the possibility of winning the prize money. They believed that money would solve their problems and bring them the happiness that they sought. On the other hand, the VIPs made bets on who would win, deriving joy from the thrill and intensity of the games as the players battled it out. Similarly, Il-nam had all the money in the world but still chose to join in the game as he was seeking some thrill and happiness in his life. 

Common Takes on Happiness

According to various studies, we often have the misconception that having a good job, money, relationships and material goods bring us happiness. However, how much is enough? Will we truly be happy when we achieve these?

Lyubomirsky (2008) wrote that our salary goals rise whenever we get a pay rise. In relationships, we also adapt to marriage and our happiness returns to baseline after a few years (Lucas et al., 2003). Our definition of what is enough becomes a shifting goal post that we can never seem to reach.

Based on research by Lyubomirsky (2005), engaging in random acts of kindness is one of many ways you can intentionally make an effort to become happier. Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, increases when you engage in acts of kindness or are a recipient of it. Oxytocin helps to decrease blood pressure, improve our health, and boost self-esteem and optimism.

Re-evaluate Your Goals 

In the last episode, after Il-nam revealed to Gi-hun that he was the mastermind behind the games, he made a bet with Gi-hun that no one will step forward to help the homeless man across the street. Right at the stroke of midnight, Il-nam was proven wrong when a passerby enlisted the help of a police officer to assist the homeless man. This seemed to remind Gi-hun that there was still kindness in the world and people can still come through for you.

At times, we can be consumed by uncertainties about the unknown and the future that seem beyond our control. These can include worries about our relationships and careers. However, it is necessary for us to take time to re-evaluate what we are chasing after and reflect if achieving these would bring us the happiness that we are looking for.

In our day-to-day lives, happiness can also be achieved in the seemingly small gestures and acts of kindness that we can do for others. What is something that you can do for someone today?

All in all, with its compelling storyline, underlying themes, artistic direction and interesting dynamics between the characters, it is no wonder that Squid Game shot to fame, becoming the Number 1 show on Netflix in more than 80 countries. Besides the thrill from the survival series, the life lessons from Squid Game are definitely worth further exploration. 

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Freedman, J. (2019). Requesting Trust: 5 Practical Steps to Repair and Increase Trust. Retrieved from

Lucas, R. E., Clark, A. E, Georgellis, Y., & Diener, E. (2003). Reexamining Adaptation and the Set Point Model of Happiness: Reactions to Changes in Marital Status. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(3), 527-539. Retrieved from

Lyubomirsky, S. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 111.

Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want. Penguin Books.