Turning Pain into Purpose with Dr. Suzana Flores

Dr. Suzana E. Flores is clinical psychologist specializing in pop culture, mythology, and social media addiction, Keynote Speaker and author of “Untamed: The Psychology of Marvel’s Wolverine” (McFarland Publishing, 2018) and “Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives” (Reputation Books, 2014) with international book deals in South Korea and Poland. She currently works as a trauma specialist at Ochsner Healthcare System in New Orleans.

As a psychological expert and commentator, Dr. Flores has appeared on national and international newscasts, podcasts, radio and talk shows including: The Howard Stern Network, PBS, Al Jazeera, WCIU Channel – “The U,” National Public Radio (NPR), “Just Jenny” Sirius XM Channel, WGN Radio Chicago, The ManCow Show, Univision Television News, Mundo FOX, Charlotte News WSOC-TV and radio broadcasts out of Germany, U.K. and Canada.

Dr. Flores has been quoted in The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Time.comCNBC.comABC.comCBS.comEsquire.com, Men’s Health Magazine, Everyday Health Magazine, Mashable.com, Dame Magazine, The Nation Magazine, SheKnows.com, New Parent Magazine, Hispanic Health & Beauty Magazine, La Raza Newspaper, Newlyweds.comUpwave.com and Moms.me.

In her hometown of Chicago, Dr. Flores has earned a Masters in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University and a Doctorate degree in clinical psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology.



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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Psychologists are not immune to trauma
  • Holding a doctoral degree gives you the avenue to serve others
  • Earning your doctoral degree prepares you for the unexpected
  • When something excites you, that’s usually where you should go
  • Have a sense of direction and be willing to change that direction anytime
  • The polarization effect of social media
  • No amount of emojis can equal human to human interaction
  • Comic books are a modern mythological representation of the human experience

In this episode…

Our experiences gear us up for life’s unpredictability. Sometimes, you set goals, and the next thing you know, you’re on a completely different path, or starting your first day at a new job, or taking lessons from a comic book character. And that’s okay—what matters is you’re resilient enough to shift gears. 

In this episode of An Unconventional Life, Dr. Suzana Flores speaks with Dr. Russell Strickland about the story of how she unexpectedly ended up in the comic book world as she recovered from pain and trauma. The author of “Untamed: The Psychology of Marvel’s Wolverine” shared how the X-Men character helped her turn pain into purpose, and consequently, through writing about her experiences, she has connected with people that resonated with her story of survival. Dr. Flores also discusses another book she wrote, “Facehooked,” which talks about the psychological effect of social media. She discovered many profound realizations about the younger generation’s dependence on social media, one of which is their utter discomfort in conversational pauses. Having the first name “Doctor” has opened up opportunities for Dr. Flores, and she’s prepared to seize some more.

Life certainly doesn’t get easier, but you get strong and ready enough to face whatever comes your way. Learn about resilience and more from Dr. Suzana Flores.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done, America’s #1 authority in dissertation completion for working professionals.

Founded by Dr. Russell Strickland, Dissertation Done serves people in two ways:

  1. If you’re struggling with your dissertation, getting ready to start your dissertation, or just plain wanting to get your dissertation done as soon as possible, go to www.dissertationdone.com/done and Let’s Get Your Dissertation Done
  2. If you’re busy living your Unconventional Life and have a message that you want to share, maybe you should join our Expand Your Authority Program to become a published author. Go to www.dissertationdone.com/book and let me know that you’d like to talk about Expanding Your Authority.

Visit www.dissertationdone.com to learn more about our other services and leave a message or call them at 888-80-DR-NOW (888-803-7669) to schedule your free 30 to 45-minute phone consultation.

Episode Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript is here for your reading convenience. It was created by machines and may (a-hem) contain some errors. If you email us about these errors, the machines will undoubtedly find out. I hope they won’t get angry.


Intro  [00:03]

Welcome to An Unconventional Life, a podcast where we share stories about the crazy one percent out there, who earned their doctoral degrees, and then went on to use them in crazy, cool, unique and unconventional ways. Here’s your host astrophysicist turned teacher, author, dissertation coach, and more, Dr. Russell Strickland.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:28]

Hello, and welcome to An Unconventional Life. I’m your host, Dr. Russell Strickland, the founder and CEO of Dissertation Done, and I’m here today with Dr. Suzana Flores, who is a clinical psychologist specializing in pop culture, mythology, and social media addiction. She’s a keynote speaker and author of “Untamed: The Psychology of Marvel’s Wolverine.” And we’ve had a little bit of a talk already about this. I am so excited to share this with you guys. This is so cool. She currently works as a trauma specialist with Ochsner Health Care System. And is a was a she’s a commentator, a psychological expert. She’s appeared on numerous national and international newscast podcasts, radio and talk shows, including such things as the Howard Stern Network, PBS, Al Jazeera, W-WCIU, the channel that you add in, in Chicago, if I remember correctly. Let’s see that’s net. There’s also in NPR, Sirius XM, WG in Radio Chicago, the Mancow show, which I remember listening to when I was in Chicago. Just a host of media appearances, been quoted in the in the New York. I mean, started the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, ABC, CBS, Esquire, on and on and on, cannot wait for you guys to meet Dr. Flores. Thank you so much for joining us here today.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [01:53]

Thank you for having me.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [01:55]

You’re so welcome. Now let folks know just very briefly that today’s episode is being brought to you by Dissertation Done and at Dissertation Done we help adult doctoral students through the dissertation process. If that’s something that you’re facing, or we’ll be facing soon, why don’t you reach out to us and let’s have a conversation. At DissertationDone.Com/done. See if we might be a good fit to help you fast track your dissertation get to graduation a lot sooner than you thought possible. And if you have graduated, and your first name is “Doctor” and he would like to publish a book in that expert space, and reach out to us at DissertationDone.Com/book, no better way of becoming an instant expert, then not only having the first name, Doctor, but literally writing the book on your area of expertise. So we’ll be happy to talk with you about that if you like. That’s the commercial now. Dr. Flores. Welcome once again.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [02:44]

Thank you. Thank you glad to be here.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [02:47]

Wolverine, this is so cool. We’ve we talked about this a little bit before we started the show here today. Tell folks how did you end up in the comic book world as a as a person with a doctoral degree in psychology.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [03:01]

It was completely unexpected to me, I I would have never in a million years would have thought that I would be involved in the comic book world and never read them as a child or a teenager, I just started until a few years ago. And so my background is in mentioned like trauma and pain psychology. And a few years ago, I’m pretty open about this topic because I think it’s an important topic to share. But a few years ago I was sexually assaulted. And you know, a lot of people think that psychologists are we psychologists like are immune to trauma and it’s absolutely not true. We go through what everybody else goes through, you know, a lot of like, emotional numbing, and depression and anxiety, confusion, etc. And so I’m in the, the legal process was also it was almost more traumatizing than the event itself. I was just going through a lot like defamation of character. You know, people blaming the victim, everything that you know, trauma victim goes through. And somewhere in there like I saw, I remember like passing by this comic book store and I saw a picture of it was a panel of Wolverine and he was in the gutter covered and done and you know, like just beaten in battle. And then all of a sudden he had like the claws out. Right as as a comic books, say and he said, You know something along the lines of “Okay, suckers. Now it’s my turn.” And then he went like medieval, you know, and his enemies sliced and diced and whatever and something about that kinda like really called to me. And I remember thinking like, I want that type of strength, that’s who I want to be. And I had a have a friend, name is Alcadia who’s like a huge Wolverine fan and he was one of the first people that mentioned you know, like, I think that you should write about him because your stories are very similar. I have chronic pain, Wolverine has pain, and you suffered trauma. And so I’m like, you know, and I just kind of started looking into it, and I became addicted. And luckily, I have a lot of geek friends, right? That kind of helped me along the way, like over 40 years of Wolverine stories, and I became obsessed, and just immersed. And so the more that I read about Wolverine, I realized, and the x-men for that matter, I realized that comic books are a form of modern mythology that represent the human experience from anywhere from like good versus evil, submission versus domination, control, you know, and suppression and oppression. And I just realized, at one point, I can write this and someone had already written you know, like a story about Batman. And so I figured I’d write like Wolverine, it’s never been done the psychology of Wolverine. And in order to write it, I just had to imagine that he was an actual client of mine of which would never happen. But he’s like, surly and angry and he would never be on a psychologist couch, never in a million years. But I had to kind of imagine that and so like, I knew nothing of the comic book world. So I started attending Comic Cons, and luckily, I met someone called Chandler Reiss of Celestial Comics, Desert One Comics, and he knew a lot of people and he heard my story and he started connecting me with writers and artists of Wolverine, including the creators of Wolverine. So like Roy Thomas, Len Wein, John Romita, senior, I didn’t get to meet or Trumpy because he’s deceased. So it’s pretty, you know, very much an honor. And as I was speaking to these writers and artists, I think it was John Romita Jr. That asked, like, you know, so why Wolverine, you could write about anybody. And I said, like, Well, you know, someone already wrote about Batman. So I picked the most popular character of Marvel. And he’s like, that’s wonderful. Now, why did you really write about Wolverine? And I’m like, wow, right? Like unshrink, like trying to, you know, I think shrinking the shrink. And so then I shared my story. And he shared a story of, you know, his experience with anger and rage, and, you know, wanting to protect and he is a true, like, True Blue New Yorker. And remember, experience extreme, experiencing extreme rage during 9/11. And that he’s never felt before, you know, but he’s also a martial artist. And he had to find balance with that. Consequentially, you know, Wolverine is also a martial artist, you know, in the comic book world. And so this is a character that is really messed up, psychologically, he experiences trauma after trauma, he experiences something called associative amnesia where his mind tries to protect him from all of the trauma, and his body heals over and over, but because that happens, he’s never really able to fully process you know, to work, work through the trauma, and yet he strives every day to become a better human being, which I think is once again, the human experience. And it’s been an amazing journey since so, you know, I, after the interviews, you know, I wrote a lot, interviewed, you know, other people, like, you know, experts and the x men, who are pretty much like a mythological form representing the societal oppression of minorities. You know, I’ve also learned that as well, it just took so many so many different angles, you know, like, what does an enemy mean, like Wolverines, enemies, the love triangle with Jean Grey, you know, and, and Scots, and, you know, what does that mean in the psychological world, and I just got so much material out of it. From there, I was invited to do a TED talk from TEDx from Grand Canyon University, and that talk is called Untamed: What Wolverine Teaches Us About Rage. And so it’s in defense of anger, like, like, anger serves us, like we try to suppress it. But it actually serves us like when something like because in life, some things are not okay. And it’s a call to action to do something about it, which is exactly what I went through. Like, I had to feel intense anger in order to get my fight back. Because I was very depressed, very, you know, anxious. And at one point, I just like exploded, right. I, you know, so to speak, I lost it. And at that, you know, I realized like, I was gonna fight back. Even if I was gonna lose, I was going to fight back because no one was going to silence my voice. I was going to be like Wolverine. And so he is my superhero, so to speak, and he’s, he’s damaged and he’s not perfect. Right. So like, Superman would not serve me he was too perfect right Wolverine would. He has his own moral code. And at the time, because I was so angry, I think I just needed someone who was damaged and traumatized and saw read, like I did at the time. And just, you know, took day by day to try to solve or try to solve, like his, his confusion. And I don’t know, just just trying to like go day by day by life and while trying to become a better person, and still being very authentic to who he was. And that was me, and it changed my life. And Comic Cons are a whole other conversation, you know, I’ve had people come up to me, like, I’ve done some panels, and I’ve signed books at Comic Cons, and people find me and, you know, they’ll, they’ll share their stories with me of sexual assault or any kind of assault, and you know, we hug we cry. And it’s a connection that I’ve never known before. So that’s my story.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [10:57]

And just so amazing that you were able to take this, this, this, this psychological state of damage, they knew that as you refer to it, and be able to turn it into something that was powerful for you, and has helped other people in the community. That’s one of the things I love talking to doctoral students and people who have their doctoral degrees about is, there always seems to be this undercurrent of helping of serving others in some way. And and and I think it’s just brilliant that your doctoral experience prepared you for this, because we were talking about there being a bit of a connection going all the way back to them, right.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [11:35]

Yes, someone recently pointed out, so he was asking me like, you know, what was my dissertation title? And I said, mine was an analysis of the character, Raskolnikov, from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment based on Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration. And so he mentioned, it seems like you’ve been analyzing characters for a while, and the thought never occurred to me, but he was absolutely right. And so I think it was, yeah, as you mentioned, like the precursor to something grander. You know, further, further on this,


Dr. Russell Strickland  [12:08]

That’s one of the things I like to really bring out to people is that going through this process of earning a doctoral degree, prepares you for so many things that you would not anticipate. It prepares you to handle things in life in a different way than you might have done it otherwise. But it also prepares you and opens up opportunities to you that just wouldn’t be there. Otherwise.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [12:29]

Very, very true. Um, you know, it’s pretty my background, I was planning the original plan, right, was to be a forensic psychologist. Yep. Um, and then, I ended up at the VA Medical Center at Salsbury, North Carolina, where I got training in trauma. And that took over whatever forensics interests that I had. And then became trained in in pain psychology, and then ended up in, in the comic book world. And as I said, like, I often tell my students to or like my former students, interns, etc. You don’t want to get married to a particular, you know, area, or a particular, you know, subject like you think this is what I want to do, but sometimes in life, you just have to allow certain experiences to guide you certain interest, you know, and we listen to the mind and the body connection. And many times, like the mind ignores the body. And we shouldn’t, right when, when something excites us, right? We feel great. That’s usually where we should grow. And go, sorry, I’m gonna go. And however, when there’s that tightness in our chest, and we feel like a lot of apprehension, that might be a signal that this may or may not, you know, be for you, but it’s notion of at least analyzing it. And so that’s, that’s pretty much what happened to me. And so like, I would thought forensics, and then after a while, I’m like, huh, I wasn’t feeling that excited about it. After a while. Trauma was great. Pain Psychology was great. And then writing was the exhilaration of all exhilaration. And I didn’t even know how to write I had to learn how to write a nonfiction book. It’s very sad.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [14:09]

When I went to a doctoral degree work, right, they


Dr. Suzana Flores  [14:14]

Well, yes, I knew how to write, but it’s a different form of writing.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [14:17]

Right? That’s something they teach you how not to write in your dissertation, because nobody reads those things. Right.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [14:24]

Right. Exactly.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [14:25]

Now, you have to write something people will actually want to read.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [14:27]

Yes. And I think that that was like, like, I got a lot of help with this. And I heard several times, this is not a research paper, you have to not you have to turn that off. Because this is not what this is. It’s an you know, an analysis of the character. And you have to make it readable for you know, the general public and so I’m like, okay, okay. And so I actually went to a book, bookstore too, and I bought a book. This is hilarious. I bought a book on how to write a nonfiction book. So I’m like, I’m buying a book on how to write a nonfiction book. And so I just I learned a little bit at a time and my writing developed over time, and it just took me to a very surprising place that I would have never imagined.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [15:11]

Well, I, I’m a big fan of planning and then adjusting as as, as the as you go, because you never know what experiences are going to mold you and change you and open up new vistas that that you hadn’t noticed before. So I think that it’s it’s great to have some sense of direction that that way, at least, you should always have some sense of direction, because you don’t want to just be aimless, but you should be willing to change the direction when, when called to do so that’s that’s the way I like to do things, at least, because I certainly did not plan at any point in my past to be doing this. Right now.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [15:47]

I bet and yet here you are!


Dr. Russell Strickland  [15:50]

That kind of yeah, it just kind of happened because I did this and that and the other. And it makes sense, in hindsight, but it’s not where I would have seen things going ahead of time.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [15:59]

Ultimately, I was honored enough to have the opportunity to speak at Stanley’s Memorial. And, and that was the honor and opportunity of a lifetime. And I again, I would have never imagined that I would be not only in that world, but to have that level of an honor. That was unforgettable, and eternally grateful for that. And so I enjoy my journey. And my books tend to be related to what I’m going through or experiencing at the moment. So I did write a prior book called “Facehooked.” And it is on the psychological effect of social media, right. And I wrote that, because I started seeing a different clinical presentation with my patients, and namely social media. And I started speaking to colleagues and my friends about like, well, this is going to be the next big wave of psychology. And it was very early at the time. And they’re like, no, and I’m like, no, this is gonna be a thing. Just Just wait. And so my friends got tired of me speaking about it. And then they said like, yeah, just right. And so that’s where that started as well. Um, funny story on how that began, like, I had a downtown office in Chicago, and it was freezing cold. And I’m like, how do I get people to talk to me about this, because they needed to interview people. And so I held up, it’s ridiculous. I held up a poster that said, talk to me about social media, and I’m freezing outside, like with my little mittens, and everything. And people became very curious. And then so one by one, they slowly started to come towards me, and they’re like, what do you want to know? And I said, I want to know what your experiences. And people love to talk about their personal experiences. And so because I love to kind of vague like that, like, just you can start wherever you want, they really did open up like most people really want to be listened to basic psychology. And then, and then after that I got more in person, like, you know, in my office interviews, and then I opened the interviews to the Facebook audience itself. So I had contributors from all over the world. Because obviously, annoyingly, I was tapping into something. And it’s affected people. So in so many different ways that people were beginning to enjoy having a dialogue about their own experiences. And you can and of course, with recent events, you know, it’s not just Facebook, it’s Twitter. It has, I mean, that’s a whole other conversation, right? But it obviously has an incredible impact, not only on our individual functioning, but also societal, societal function, as well.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [18:49]

Yeah, it’s, it’s been a huge, huge wave. Obviously, that’s, that’s taken over, particularly with in the recent, last several months with pandemic, so many people not being able to associate with friends and family face to face. But even before then, just the vast changes that we’ve had and how we deal with with people socially. Were there any anything that you found that was really unique or or a an aha moment? They came out of those interviews about social media and how people use Facebook and other tools of this?


Dr. Suzana Flores  [19:24]

Yes, I think here, there were two things, one speaking to teenagers who are masters, right at social media, um, you know, and I did say like, okay, I’m old school, obviously, I’m aging myself, right? We used to use the telephone and obviously texting, but newer generations definitely don’t use the telephone nearly as much as my generation. And I said, what is it about that that is weird to you? And so in most cases, like they would say, it’s the pauses that made them uncomfortable. The pauses in conversation and I explained that to me, and they said, Well, right now you paused. And I was like, Yes. Right. And they said, I don’t know what to do with that. And I’m like, I, you know, so I’m like, please go further. They said, well, when you’re texting somebody, and someone disappears for like a minute or an hour, it’s assumed that they got busy, you know, they had a church or phone or whatever the case may be. But when there is a pause in conversation, it’s awkward. And so I told him, that’s going to be a real problem. And so they’re curious, like, why would that be a problem? And I said, because you if you don’t take pauses, in, in dialogue, in conversations, you know, in terms of understanding yourself and other people, then you are you’re avoiding or prohibiting yourself from the opportunity towards introspection, taking the time to think about what this conversation meant to you. So nowadays, there’s this incredible pressure to respond immediately to you know, like, so the phone is like the extension of the arm, right? If you go to a restaurant, and you’re with your friends, everybody has their phone on the table, like instant, like you could do the experiment really sent next time you go to a group dinner, you’ll see how many people have their phones, because we feel protected, we feel like that’s what we need to do. That’s, that’s who we are nowadays. And so we are actually becoming lonelier, we’re more, the more connected, we become the actual, like lonelier, are isolated, we are isolated. And there’s COVID. Right. But I think what what COVID and quarantine has taught us like we’re not designed to be this isolated, especially for this amount of time, we are social creatures, and you know, as many emojis that you express, you know, or text or something, it is not the same as human to human interaction. And so, you know, it was just like, wowing to me that the newer generation, like they just didn’t quite understand the beauty of like, it’s almost like a symphony with with conversation, right? One person bounces, you know, an idea off another person, and then the other person counters and then before you know what you’re talking about something completely different. It has like conversations have waves, and they’re being deprived that they don’t know what that means. And they also don’t know what privacy means. Not the way we do.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [22:33]

That’s right. I remember when I was in high school, and certainly in college, is staying up all night with friends. And at some point, inevitably, we stopped, like, how the hell do we get here? You know, everything. And yeah, that’s just,


Dr. Suzana Flores  [22:51]

It didn’t really matter, right? Because the conversation was flowing in a particular pattern. And so that that definitely really concerned me. And so when I was mentioning this to teenagers, you know, the newer generations are looking at me looking at me, like with deer in the headlights look right of like, What do you mean? Or in terms of privacy? Like, you know, there is no privacy, not like, not like we knew it, right? And nowadays, like taking screenshots of conversations and sharing it with other people that is normal. That’s absolutely normal. It’s kind of understood, if you’re texting it, it is open game. It can go absolutely anywhere. And it’s like, you can’t really get angry because you texted it, you know, and yet there’s this incredible discomfort with speaking to people or hearing their voice. And there was this notion of the pauses, silence, they don’t know how to interpret or analyze or develop a comfort level with.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [23:49]

Well, I remember my talking with my kids recently, they seem to think that it was very rude to call someone without sort of an invitation, without kind of announcing it. Like probably you and I would think if someone just showed up at your door knocked on your door, and you had no idea they were coming over. Yeah, back in my day, that would be considered very little awkward, a little bit rude. I mean, not straight up, but it depends on the relationship. But yeah, if it wasn’t a very, very, very close relationship, you don’t just show up at someone’s house. Well, apparently my kids now feel the same way about calling someone on the phone. Which I thought was really interesting that the change that’s happened that period of time.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [24:35]

Yes. Yeah, I think the other thing I discovered too, is that there is a lot of narcissistic gaslighting that occurs on social media which has and it’s not just that there’s many other problems but psychologists have seen like record number anxiety cases or you know, depression cases or even paranoia cases related to social media because we’re trying to interpret interpret these Hey, guess what a statement or some some, you know, whatever someone posts, and it may or may not have anything to do with you, but you’re really like making a lot of assumptions which we already do, you know, in the real world, non digital world, but interacting on Facebook or any other social media platform has definitely amplified the anxiety, it’s also led to a lot of cyber wars, you know, like, it’s, it’s a lot easier to argue or to be incredibly mean to people. Because like, you know, the screen, even if it’s a phone screen, the screen has metaphorically become like a shield. Right? If I don’t have to see your reaction, then I can say whatever I want. And the keyboard has metaphorically become a bridge between our every thought in the world. And so we just like blurt out a lot of things without even thinking of the ramifications. And people have either hurt themselves or hurt other people as a consequence. So it’s like, as you know, I’m going to go back to superheroes, right? A spider man says, like, with power comes responsibility. And there’s a lot of power in social media. And there’s many positive aspects to it’s given us a voice, especially the younger generation, right, a voice like we’ve never had before we can connect with people across the world in a matter of seconds. It’s amazing. But we also have to be careful with it. You know, think introspection, take a little bit of time to think about our words, and how we might be affecting others. But that’s becoming more and more of a problem in recent years.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [26:31]

So this has got me thinking now about cancel culture that’s so prevalent these days. And I’m wondering if that topic came up, as you were researching Facebook, because to me, it seems like it’s a product of a younger generation that hasn’t realized how easy it is to screw up quite yet. Along with that sort of shield of being able to say anything I like I disapprove of that, and I’m going to wag a finger at you digitally that I wouldn’t necessarily do in public. How heavy did that come up at all? in your in your conversations for Facebook?


Dr. Suzana Flores  [27:08]

Well, it was it was several years back that Facebook was published, like the counterculture that’s a little bit like more recent. But I think what was more prevalent was, was this notion of not realizing the magnitude of words. Yeah, that’s what I think was more prevalent at the time, if again, it was several years that I, that Facebook was published a reputation books, but you know, I’m going to say whatever I want to say, and without realizing not only the ramifications to other people, but also oneself. Additionally, dating, that’s a whole other conversation to dating or like meeting people on social media. And it’s just way too easy to be manipulated. And social media because you know, it’s, it’s like a sandbox, right? We throw sand in there. And we’re creating a persona of who we want to be, we posted pictures of the New Year’s Eve party, we don’t post pictures of the hangover, the following day, you know, and so what was very interesting to me was the notion that people were becoming depressed, not only based on what other people were posting, but even comparing themselves to what they posted online. So for example, you know, I’ve been on social media for a while, like everybody else, right? So you know, if I’m posting something from 10 years ago, when I looked better and thinner, and you know, whatever the case may be, I am taking an emotional hit. So, you know, and so because, on some level, we’re believing that what we’re seeing on social media is real. That’s not that’s why all of us get like stunned when we hear about divorce. But you know, for example, and we’re like, they, they look so happy, right? And it’s because it’s a persona. Yes, we do that in real life, too. But everything is amplified on like, everything.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [29:04]

Yeah, much easier to curate, when you’re Yes, media,


Dr. Suzana Flores  [29:08]

You can create whatever kind of world that you believe is acceptable. We’re also editing ourselves like we’ve never done before. And even people that don’t think that they do, yes, you do. Because you’re typing something, and then you go, delete, delete, delete, delete, because you want to type something, you know, or text, whatever, right? Like, post something that you believe will get you more approval. And so therefore, your your identity is based on other people’s approval. And yes, that’s true offline as well. But you know, you’re you’re hoping to get the approval of like your 2000 friends that you don’t even know. Right, right. So they you’re giving away so much power to other people.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [29:52]

Yeah, that’s a macro concept that just hit me that that is what drives all of this social media stuff is kind of a a need for approval. And a lot of our greatest artists and thinkers and leaders have never wanted that type of approval. And if we’re in this current environment where that’s the way that people communicate, what’s going to happen to our leaders going forward? And I’m not just talking about political leaders, I mean, of any bulk? How are they going to emerge? And and are they going to be the same? Or are they going to be dramatically and qualitatively changed?


Dr. Suzana Flores  [30:33]

Here’s a story that relates to this exact topic. I found an old PowerPoint for the presentations, you know, it became a public speaker on on social media, the psychology of social media, and it was like, I believe it was 2013, 2014, somewhere right there. Yeah. And I saw a slide that I wrote, like, what would happen if world leaders started using Twitter, the way we do, and then I remember saying, in the speech like, this will never happen. This will never happen is not likely to happen. But it would be catastrophic. Right, because like, again, there’s so much, you know, responsibility. And so like, when I saw this, like, I was reviewing it, I remember just like going like this, like, seen it, you know, and I’m like, I have never been so wrong, you know, because at the time, I just couldn’t believe, you know, that we that, again, I’m not going to go there. But like, you know, the the highest levels, right of politics, right, or someone in a political position, would convey messages in a few characters. And the danger of that, and this is what’s happening, you know, whatever side you’re on, it doesn’t matter, right? Like, if we’re receiving multiple messages from multiple sources throughout multiple times during the day, we’re not designed to handle all of that. So what ends up happening is people put the blinders on, I’m only going to see my site, and I’m not even going, I don’t have time to read this article, I’m just going to judge whatever I see, based on a very limited amount of characters. And that’s where we’re at. And that’s dangerous. And that I think, has led to a lot of the problems that we’ve had in recent years,


Dr. Russell Strickland  [32:21]

That well, and I think that it goes back even a little bit further than that to things like Facebook saying, hey, we want to give you you know, an experience that you want. And so when you first think about, hey, you get to see advertisements that are things you might actually be interested in. That sounds like a good idea. You know, I don’t really need to see a lot of advertisements about menstrual products. I mean, I’ve got two daughters. I’ve helped them a little bit in that regard. But I think I know everything I know about that. So thank you one of those ads, I’m fine.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [32:54]

But they get so much information from us. Like even like if your mouse is hovering over the color blue, let’s say you see shirts, right? All of a sudden, this has happened to all of us, you’ll begin to see products with the color blue, or shirts with the color blue. And you’re like, that’s weird. I just happened to be looking at this thing. And all of a sudden, it’s on my feet, of course, because they’ve just gotten information for it.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [33:18]

But but it goes so much further than that. It goes past the advertisements now because now, the only thing that you have to hear anymore on social media is stuff that you agree with. And I think that that is such a dangerous, dangerous thing. That’s what’s caused this trivialization, where we can literally live in neighborhoods or subdivisions, or whatever you want to call it next to people that are very, very different than we are. And that didn’t used to happen. It used to be that there would be small little enclaves that people that were, you know, felt this way and people that felt that way where we share a certain ethos and but now it’s very, very tribal eyes and and it’s down to the the computer you’re logging on from. And yes, you can so different and not hear any news that someone right next door to you is hearing, because you guys have different belief structures or different things you’re interested in.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [34:11]

And yeah, that comes back to the point of we’re not speaking to each other, we’re not having in person conversations. So like, let’s see a few years back in the 70s or 80s, like you have like, you’re a Democrat, you have a republican friend, or if you’re a Republican, you have a democrat fan, and you’re having a debate and you’re like, and you can tell the other person like Oh, you’re an idiot, let’s go have a beer. Like, either way, we’re gonna be friends. Right? And we disagree. And that was it. But it. I certainly believe that social media has led to the polarization of America, and many other problems as well, because once again, we’re not designed to handle that much input at one time. And so people cope with it the way that they can and so they don’t have time to listen to other perspectives or they don’t have the mental capacity to you know, handle that much information. And that’s understandable probably for both sides. And so like, it’s just like, I’m going to just listen to this, or I’m just going to read this because I just, I can’t handle that much. And it’s too much, it really is too much. So it has its benefits, but it’s also overwhelming.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [35:17]

It is it is. And and and it would be nice if at a minimum, we could at least get back to sort of some sense of not of a non biased news reader or something like that. So that would be nice. Yeah. I do remember that growing up. And and before I was interested in following the news in any way, shape, or form, I do remember that. And then I grew up in North Carolina, and before Jesse Helms, senator years ago, became a very powerful senator, he was reading editorials on the local news channel, and that later that day, or right after he got finished, someone else would would give the opposing point of view. And they would both get airtime, either in the same week, or on the same broadcast. As a matter of design, we’re not going to have this guy saying this stuff without somebody else saying essentially the opposite. And then you get to weigh them and decide how you want to absorb that information. And that’s just not present anymore. You’d have to literally flip channels. Now, if you want to see Opposing Viewpoints, and people don’t do that.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [36:20]

I agree.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [36:21]

Anyway, two very, very interesting topics did very interesting things that your doctoral degree has led you to examine, what are some things that you’re working on? Now I know you have some things coming up that are a little hush, hush, I won’t ask you to divulge too much there. But tell everybody kind of what you’re doing now. And maybe what you foresee in the future coming up?


Dr. Suzana Flores  [36:42]

Well, what I’ve realized is like, whatever I experience, either personally or professionally, that leads to the book, right? So like, Facehooked was just me being inundated by clients stories of in all the distress that they’re experiencing because of social media that was early on. Untamed was about my personal pain and personal struggle, and a notion of resiliency, through the work. So the work actually helped me heal, right? Um, what’s really prevalent nowadays is narcissism, right? It’s that word is so used, like more than, than we’ve ever, you know, more than it’s ever been used. And there, there are reasons, I’m not going to go into that, right. But so I decided I’m going to try to write a different take on a psychological book about narcissism. And I’m still, like, I’m still providing the structure, I’m still creating it. And so I thought it would be interesting to write it from the perspective of a narcissist, based on you know, I used to work at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, I trained there, rather, and I’ve gathered some experience, you know, from there, and through some other clients or so. And I think it would just be interesting to, you know, to, for readers to kind of hear it from the mouth of narcissists. Yeah. Interesting. So that’s, I’m still playing with it. But that’s kind of what I’m doing now.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [38:09]

And see, I think that that’s, that’s the fun thing is that you get to play with these different ideas and different thoughts and turn them into things. And I think you’re in so much of a better position to do that having a first name doctor, then than you would be otherwise, both because of the training, but also just because of the halo effect. And the fact that


Dr. Suzana Flores  [38:30]

Absolutely, the title doctor has afforded me many opportunities that I would not I don’t believe I would have had it otherwise.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [38:39]

100%. Well, I hear it all the time from people. And I just want to know if anyone’s out there struggling to get through their dissertation. Being able to have conversations like this is the reason why you want to finish because you can be doing all of these sorts of things. But like you said, that opens so many doors and you just get to walk through. Very cool. Well, listen, if Dr. Flores if someone wanted to reach out to you to continue any of these conversations we’ve been having here today. What’s the best way for them to do that?


Dr. Suzana Flores  [39:12]

I can go through my website. So it’s DrSuzanaFlores.com. So it’s D-R-S-U-Z-A-N-A, just one N, F-L-O-R-E-S dot com. And so I read my messages through there.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [39:27]

Okay. And will you if you happen to miss that you can go to DissertationDone.Com/blog to find Dr. Flores’ episode there. And we’ll have her contact information there for you to to collect at your leisure. So Dr. Flores, again, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciated having you today.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [39:43]

Now this was great. Thank you for having me.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [39:46]

I’ll just remind folks briefly that today’s episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done so if you might need help with your dissertation project, maybe a little coaching guidance, support direction, reach out to us at DissertationDone.Com/done. If you would like to write a book to help establish your expertise, let’s have a conversation about that. You can go to DissertationDone.Com/book. And we’ll also have some time to talk. Dr. Flores again, thank you so much. This whole thing, marvel, that Facebook, is very cool. Very cool. I really enjoyed this conversation.


Dr. Suzana Flores  [40:18]

Me too.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [40:19]

All right, everyone else I want to have a wonderful day, and go out and live your unconventional life.


Outro  [40:28]

This has been An Unconventional Life. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed today’s episode, subscribe now to keep getting inspirational stories of unconventional lives as soon as they’re released. Until then go out and live your best unconventional life.

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.