Are virtual emotions real ?

It’s been some years now that Internet takes a huge place in our life. It was, and still is, a wonderful tool that allows us to be in touch with our friends and family who live far from us. The industry of social media developed very fast and so well that today, we can not live without it. Our social media represents our personality, or I better say, it represents what we want other people to think about our personality. It started with Facebook, followed by many others including dating apps. Cyberspace is considered as an uncertain space for our identities and this is why we create the “identity game” (Gassey, 2019) which is influenced by many factors. On social media, we look for social connections indeed, but for other things as well. For example, the reactions others may have toward our feed pushes us to explore ourselves. In order to avoid cognitive dissonance in the way we present ourselves and what others think we’re always in readjustment. The biggest challenge that we have to deal with is the impossibility to validate the information we see. It depends on us whether or not we believe what we read.

When it comes to emotions felt through social media, lots of questions take place. Is what I feel relevant or even real ? Is everything made in my head ? We are 80% sure that we express ourselves clearly while discussing with someone and yet there’s only a 50% chance that she or he understands our tone (Gassey, 2019). This unique fact shows the importance of non-verbal behaviour in our communication. While communicating online, our imagination plays a huge role to reduce as much as possible the uncertainty that we deal with. It reveals our need to orient ourselves through the different relations we may create online.

The fact of attributing the power of emotional evocation to devices of objects creates therefore a valid form of presence for our brain (Gassey, 2019). The best example for this is the well-known “emoji”; we infer different emotions to different emojis which help us to understand what the other wants to say. In addition, “emojis” can be interpreted as signs of proximity by some. However, we forget that interpretations differ for each one of us. Some may use emojis very often and others tend to use them very rarely. While on one hand making emotion more valid, emojis can lead to misunderstandings on the other hand.

In conclusion, virtual emotions are mostly perceived subjectively as real, well-founded and even rational (Gassey, 2019). Yet we have to keep in mind that most of the time they are based on uncertain or even false, biased or manipulated information and nothing can replace the authenticity of the face-to-face conversation.

Bibliography :
  • Gassey, O. (2019, Printemps). Introduction à la sociologie des pratiques sociales en ligne
Featured image :
  • Brake, T. (2017, juillet 12). Understanding virtual emotional intelligence.

Author : Ardiana Dacaj

student life

Ghost Students

These past months have been a huge work in terms of adaptation. Between closure and reopening of schools, the program kept on going and exams still took place. How would we stop education?

Yet, the impact that the lockdown has on students is very considerable. When for some it is way better to study from home, for some others it is a nightmare. Closed in a 15m2 room, all alone, having to motivate yourself to study every day with no interaction can be very heavy with time. The difficulty is emphasized for the students who just began their first year of university. Indeed, the start of studies itself is a very big step in one’s life and feeling all alone can be very dangerous for the continuation of the studies. In France, the situation of students is not very considerate (#Étudiantsfantomes, 2021) and due to the suicides of several students (Nouveau suicide étudiant. La politique du gouvernement est criminelle !, s. d.) they decided to mobilize together to be seen and to protest against the situation. Thus, they created a hashtag named ghoststudents (#etudiantsfantomes) to collect testimonies in which they express how they feel towards the home studying, their impression of not being considered as part of society and not being supported. The main reason for this hashtag is to raise awareness and connect students together in order to feel less alone in their difficulties. There are some accounts on Instagram under the name @anxietudessuperieures (higher studies anxiety) in France and Belgium and there is also one for the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

Claire, a student at the University of Bern, manages the account for the French part of Switzerland ( I asked her a few questions on her motivations to hold such a platform and here are her answers:

  • What prompted you to follow the French movement?

“This period is very tough for every student and me included. When talking with some friends I could realize that I wasn’t the only one suffering and just the fact of knowing that gave me a little comfort. Besides that, frustration began to grow more and more with months passing by because my university worked less and less on listening to student’s difficulties and adapting the right conditions to lessons, exams and access to its infrastructures (our libraries closed during our exam session!) So, when I saw that the French launched a movement to break the silence around the conditions of students, I told myself let’s try and see if it will work in French-speaking Switzerland. As I suspected, the problem is not limited to France only…”

  • Did you have any specific expectation when you launched this account?

“No, I only thought that if I could make a student feel less alone with this account then all the work would have been worth everything. And according to the feedback I already received this goal is largely achieved and this is awesome.”

  • Do you plan to evolve or stick to the testimonies?

“For now as the account is still in growth and I have exams, I will keep going with posting testimonies for a while but I have some other ideas to add to them as for example a Discord platform to exchange, an open letter to Universities to ask more recognition and support and why not a demonstration (let’s be ambitious!).”

  • Is there any form of exchange or collaboration between you and other countries?

“I exchanged at the beginning of the account with France and Belgium to have some tips but now I mainly exchange with Swiss pages who respond to my stories like groupement of students, meme pages and mental health promotion association such as”

Apart from collecting testimonies, the platform talks about mental health subjects that we often mix nowadays. Generalized anxiety, stress, depression, burn-out are all put in the same bag and yet they are not the same and the response you need to give each one differs.

Now, you know where to go if you feel alone and isolated due to your studies, seek help, your emotions are valid, we are not robots.

Bibliography :
  • #Étudiantsfantomes : Le malaise des étudiants face à un confinement qui dure. (2021, janvier 13). France 24.étudiantsfantomes-le-malaise-des-étudiants-face-à-un-confinement-qui-dure
  • Nouveau suicide étudiant. La politique du gouvernement est criminelle ! (s. d.). Révolution Permanente. Consulté 29 janvier 2021, à l’adresse
  • Instagram account :
Featured image :

Caz. H., [@henri_caz], (2121, January 15). N°15: Prisonné.


Your brain and gratitude

We can agree that almost each of us holds a diary once in life. In adult life, it can seem childish to keep journaling our thoughts and emotions, but it could help us in so many ways. For example, it allows us to think more clearly, to know oneself better, to reduce the amount of stress we feel toward something or a specific situation. It can also stop us from ruminating because putting emotions into words forces us to analyze everything around them and the most important: slow down our mind (83 Benefits of Journaling for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress, s. d.).

My focus on this article will be specifically on the emotion of gratitude, a very common one yet very underrated. Gratitude is one of the most complicated emotions in our society and because we link it to religion, we can feel indebted towards something or someone and everyone knows that this feeling isn’t a very good one (Singh, 2018).

However, studies show that the expression of gratitude through journaling or voice recording can have a huge number of benefits on different aspects of our well-being. It can help us sleep better (Wood et al., 2009), reduce stress and anxiety (Wood et al., 2008), lower symptoms of depression (Liang et al., 2020) and even reduce the risk of heart disease (Neighmond, 2015) according to the professor Paul Mills. A lot of studies are being conducted in the field of Positive Psychology and more particularly around gratitude. We now know that feeling grateful towards something has a more realistic (physical) impact on our brain and behaviour than what we previously thought. 

This year isolated us for a long time and thus our tendency to overthink and ruminate upon our “before Corona” life and uncertainty about our future could sometimes be very heavy and make us feel down for several days. That is why I suggest you try this by yourself and see if it works for you. If you are a writing person you can write down in a journal two or three things you are thankful for during your day. Another idea can be to share your gratitudes with a friend through a call or simply by messaging them. The fact of writing every day can feel heavy or exhausting for some of us and it can slide to the negative aspect of gratitude (guilt and shame). If it is being forced, feel free to listen to yourself and manage it according to your preferences.

  • 83 Benefits of Journaling for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress. (s. d.). Retrived on 18th december 2020 from
  • Liang, H., Chen, C., Li, F., Wu, S., Wang, L., Zheng, X., & Zeng, B. (2020). Mediating effects of peace of mind and rumination on the relationship between gratitude and depression among Chinese university students. Current Psychology, 39(4), 1430‑1437.
  • Singh, M. (2018, december 24). If You Feel Thankful, Write It Down. It’s Good For Your Health. NPR.Org.
  • Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., Lloyd, J., & Atkins, S. (2009). Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 66(1), 43‑48.
  • Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Gillett, R., Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2008). The role of gratitude in the development of social support, stress, and depression : Two longitudinal studies. Journal of Research in Personality, 42(4), 854‑871.
Featured image :
  • An Attitude of Gratitude. (2018, mai 30). Valleys Steps.

Author : Ardiana Dacaj

current directions

Physical touch and social distancing

We thought that Corona was gone during the summer but here we are, having a second wave. We have to social distance again and some of us have to self-quarantine. The psychological damages during the first lockdown were not well-known and most of us had difficulties to deal with it. Yet that we know what it is to love from afar it can either feel more bearable or a contrary can be perceived as a second “punishment”.

In this article, I want to discuss the power of physical touch and what it implies to be deprived of it. 

To illustrate I will present a study that was conducted by Harlow in 1958 (Harlow’s Classic Studies, 2018). At that time the study’s purpose was to discover more about the parenting bond, especially between mother and infant. 

I must warn that this kind of study is now considered as unethical and would not be reproducible.

Harlow isolated several baby monkeys directly after birth to see if they craved their mother only to be fed or if there was something more than just a primary need. Behaviorists tended to affirm that they needed their mother only for food issues and resumed the relation with the notion of stimulus-response. 

The psychologist first isolated the baby monkeys and created two false “mum-monkeys”. On one side there was a “wire mother” who provided only food and on the other side there was a “cloth mother” (see fig. 1). When released, the monkeys went to the “wire mother” to be fed and immediately after went to the “cloth mother” and stayed by it during the eighteen hours left. The searchers wanted to take the experience further and see which of the two monkey mums the baby would choose in a fearful situation.  They put the baby in the cage where the two mums were and scared it with a constructed robot that made a lot of noise. The baby monkey immediately ran to the “cloth mother” to seek comfort. 

Figure 1. “Cloth mother” and “wire mother” © 2020 Jane Gerhard

I intentionally chose this study to illustrate the need of physical touch. There is a huge amount of studies which prove that we need physical touch in our social construction and well-being. So, what I am telling is that we are not monkeys but we need physical touch to feel good and develop well. The social distancing we endure these days can really low our well being if we feel isolated mentally.

However, we can still manage to somehow “replace” the physical touch (not at 100% but enough). The chemical hormon delivered in our brain during a touch is oxytocin (Pierrehumbert, 2003), the so-called “happy hormone”. Luckily for us, we also produce this hormone when we give or receive compliments, eat something good, dance or do little attention for someone we love. So go bake that cake you saw on Instagram and write a letter to someone you love. 

Featured image :
  • Weill Cornell Medicine. (2020). ‘Social distancing:’ What does it mean, and how do we do it? Retrieved from :
Bibliography :
  • Harlow H. F., Dodsworth R. O., & Harlow M. K. (1965). Total social isolation in monkeys. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Retrieved from
  • Harlow’s Classic Studies Revealed the Importance of Maternal Contact. (2018). The Association for Psychological Science. Retrieved from
  • Pierrehumbert, B. (2003). Amour et attachement. Spirale, no 28(4), 31-48.
  • G. J., (2020) Untitled.

Author : Ardiana Dacaj

psyCH aktuell student life

An experience at the Trainers’ School

Roxane is a student who is currently doing her Master degree in health Psychology in Lausanne. She took part in the Trainers’ School of this summer and here is her story.

“I confess that even though I had enthusiastically enrolled in PsyCh trainers’ school on the advice of a friend, I remember arriving in Därstetten, far from home and a bit stressed. Indeed, I was a bit afraid of not having the knowledge and skills to achieve this week of training.

In spite of this, I was still looking forward to learning how to give training and to getting more familiar with original training techniques, which could go beyond the rigid and formal framework of academic presentations. I wanted to stimulate my creativity and develop my skills in managing group dynamics and oral presentation.  It was with this slight apprehension and these expectations that I walked through the door of this large chalet in Därstetten. 

It’s been already a few weeks since I attended this training, and I can truly confirm that it was sensational, so enriching, so dense but so interactive and constructive. Very quickly I forgot my fears and I felt really comfortable and integrated.

During this week I had the opportunity to attend, day after day, lessons about adult learning and oral presentation skills. I also learned progressively how to structure a training, how to define the different stages of reflection that participants should go through, how to set goals, to identify the participant’s needs and to adjust the content of a training according to each person’s experience and expectations. I learned how to give constructive feedback, enriching debriefings, how to facilitate and moderate group discussions.

I learned how to give training, but not from the point of view of a teacher who would know everything and students who would know nothing. One of the things I liked the most during the PsyCH trainer’s School 2020 was the philosophy behind the trainings. The fact that knowledge is built together, and that we are not there as experts. Everyone is an expert and everyone brings something to the training.  It is this idea of participation that I really appreciated. It was lively, it was rich.

I also got familiar with a multitude of equally creative methods to transmit content, to make this transmission dynamic and interactive. To link it with our life experiences so that it is imprinted in our memory for much more longer.

The trainers did an amazing job throughout the week to pass on what they knew and so that we could apply it as much as possible. One thing I also loved was the benevolence that reigned throughout all the week, this solidarity, this complicity. Everyone contributed to create a safe space, where everything was possible and every attempt was constructive and allowed us to learn. I learned in one week so much more, so much better! I will be able to apply all this knowledge, both in my academic cursus and in my everyday life.

For all these reasons, I recommend the experience of participating in the PsyCh trainer’s school. It will allow you to develop original and creative presentation techniques and skills. To transmit knowledge and content in a dynamic and participative way. This experience will also allow you to become part of a team, a family, and create very strong connections. I definitely recommend it.”

Featured image :
  • Pauli, E., (2020). Trainers’ School 2020.

Author : Ardiana Dacaj