The Candid Counselor

Helping individuals overcome anxiety, depression, and life's issues

Dr. Julia Becker

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Licensed Psychologist
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Serving the greater Waco, TX area, including Woodway, Hewitt, Lorena, Bellmead, Robinson, and China Spring.

Does your child play “The Choking Game”?

Posted by Dr. Becker Wednesday, January 25, 2012 2 comments


New research from Sam Houston State University shows that 1 out of 7 Texas college students has played “The Choking Game.” This is a behavior involving the deliberate cuff off of blood flow from the brain, with the purpose of achieving a high. This behavior has also been called “The Fainting Game,” “Pass Out,” and “Space Monkey.”  This behavior is carried out both in groups and with  individuals alone.  Methods may include choking oneself or others with a ligature, or placing a plastic bag over the head.


The Choking Game has led to several deaths across the country, and this behavior is not limited to college students.  Teenagers and even pre-adolescent children are playing this dangerous game. 


There are several reasons why this behavior has become widespread.  First, young people may be using this method to attain a high because they mistakenly believe it is safer than using drugs or alcohol.  Another reason is that young people are often able use this method to to get high without being detected by a drug test, parents, or teachers.  Furthermore, prevention programs have focused on drug and alcohol prevention, and many have not addressed the dangers of the Choking Game.  The college students in the research study stated that the main reason they first tried out this game was curiosity.  Researchers also found that educating young people about the dangers of this game was effective in preventing the behavior.


How to talk to your child or young adult about the dangers of the Choking Game:

  • First approach your child in a non-judgmental, open manner.
  • Ask your child if they have ever heard of the Choking Game, and ask what they think of it. 
  • Ask them to tell you what they think the potential dangers of this game may be.  Teens and young adults tend to respond better to conversation rather than lecturing, so keep them engaged. 
  • Offer to go online with your child and do some research together about effects of the Choking Game.
  • Strive for and maintain a positive, trusting relationship with your child in order to help keep the lines of communication open.

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

Teenagers, Mass Hysteria, and Tourette’s Symptoms

Posted by Dr. Becker Wednesday, January 18, 2012 3 comments


Recently 12 teenage girls from a school in upstate New York suddenly became very ill with Tourette’s symptoms, including tics and verbal outbursts.  High school cheerleader Thera Sanchez stated her symptoms appeared “out of the blue” after a nap one day in October.  The state health department performed an extensive search of the school to determine whether environmental factors or toxins were to blame for the girls’ symptoms. After the investigation, they found that the girls’ symptoms were not caused by an infection or any environmental factor.  Instead, the symptoms were caused by a psychological condition called conversion disorder, which is commonly referred to as “mass hysteria.”


Conversion disorder is a real psychological condition that is caused by stress.  People with conversion disorder experience  neurological symptoms, such as problems with motor control or sensory function.  This condition often causes significant impairment in several areas of life.  Conversion disorders can occur with individuals alone and within groups.  Stress can often be “contagious,” which explains why conversion disorders sometimes occur within groups of people or within crowds in public places.


Myths and facts about conversion disorder:

MYTH: People with conversion disorder are making up their symptoms.

FACT: People with conversion disorder are usually very distressed by their symptoms and are trying hard to find a physical explanation to cure their symptoms.


MYTH: People with conversion disorder want to be sick, and they are doing this for attention.

FACT: There are other psychological conditions in which people fake physical symptoms, but people with conversion disorder experience their symptoms as being outside of their control.


MYTH: People who get conversion disorder are “crazy.”

FACT: People who develop conversion disorder may be otherwise mentally and physically healthy.  Stress can affect anybody at any time, and nobody is completely immune to developing conversion disorder symptoms.


The brain is a very powerful organ that controls the entire body.  The brain influences both physical and emotional functioning.  Scientists and physicians used to think that the mind and body were completely separate and did not influence one another.  They believed that physical illness resulted only from chemical and biological factors.  In recent years, psychologists have begun to recognize the powerful role of the mind related to health and physical illness.  Many physicians and psychologists now embrace a bio-psycho-social model of health and illness.  This model helps explain how biology, psychology/mental processes, and social factors all contribute to health and illness.


Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.