Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Keeping Emotions in Check May Not Always Benefit Psychological Health

Emotion

Emotion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 28 October 2013 ScienceDaily article

 

Being able to regulate your emotions is important for well-being, but new research suggests that a common emotion regulation strategy called “cognitive reappraisal” may actually be harmful when it comes to stressors that are under our control. The study is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“Context is important,” says psychological scientist and lead researcher Allison Troy of Franklin & Marshall College. “Our research is among the first to suggest that cognitive reappraisal may actually have negative effects on psychological health in certain contexts.”

Previous research has shown that cognitive reappraisal — a strategy that involves reframing one’s thoughts about a given situation in order to change its emotional impact — is especially beneficial for the psychological health of people who are highly stressed. But, as Troy and colleagues discovered, the controllability of a given situation seems to be the key in determining whether cognitive reappraisal helps or hurts:

“For someone facing a stressful situation in which they have little control, such as a loved one’s illness, the ability to use reappraisal should be extremely helpful — changing emotions may be one of the only things that he or she can exert some control over to try to cope,” Troy notes.

“These results suggest that no emotion regulation strategy is always adaptive,” says Troy. “Adaptive emotion regulation likely involves the ability to use a wide variety of strategies in different contexts, rather than relying on just one strategy in all contexts.”

These findings have implications for public health, given that stress and impairments in the ability to cope with it are important predictors of psychological health problems. The findings also have important implications for clinicians, given that many existing forms of therapy focus on using cognitive reappraisal as a way of strengthening emotion regulation:

“Our results suggest that therapeutic interventions that seek to improve emotion regulation ability and teach clients to use particular strategies in context appropriate ways would be particularly beneficial,” says Troy. “It may be, for instance, that more active strategies like problem-solving and seeking social support could be particularly beneficial in more controllable contexts.”

The researchers plan on expanding their person-by-situation approach to the study of other emotion regulation strategies like acceptance, distraction, and suppression.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

October 28, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Behavior problems in preschool and child care centers may be an issue of genes

From the 24 October 2013 EurkAlert

BEND, Ore. – A new study suggests that some children may be genetically predisposed to developing behavioral problems in child care and preschool settings.

Previous research has found that some children develop behavior problems at child care centers and preschools, despite the benefit of academic gains. It was never known, however, why some youngsters struggle in these settings and others flourish. The new study indicates that some children may be acting out due to poor self-control and temperament problems that they inherited from their parents.

The study’s lead author Shannon Lipscomb, an assistant professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University-Cascades, said the findings point to the reason that some children develop problem behavior at care centers, despite the best efforts of teachers and caregivers. The results are published online today in the International Journal of Behavioral Development.

“Assuming that findings like this are replicated, we can stop worrying so much that all children will develop behavior problems at center-based care facilities, because it has been a concern,” she said. “But some children (with this genetic predisposition) may be better able to manage their behavior in a different setting, in a home or smaller group size.”

Researchers from Oregon State University and other institutions collected data in 10 states from 233 families linked through adoption and obtained genetic data from birth parents as well as the children. They found that birth parents who had high rates of negative emotion and self-control, based on a self-reported temperament scale, were more likely to have children who struggled with behavioral issues such as lack of self-control and anger, in child care centers. They controlled for adoptive parent’s characteristics, and still found a modest effect based on the genetic link.

“We aren’t recommending that children are genetically tested, but parents and caregivers can assess a child’s needs and help them get to a setting that might be more appropriate,” Lipscomb said. “This study helps us to explain why some children struggle so much with large peer groups and heightened social interactions. It may not be a problem with a teacher or parent, but that they are struggling on a biological level.”`

 

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Lipscomb is in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. She is an expert on early childhood development and school readiness, and is particularly interested in adult influences on young children.

Researchers from the University of Oregon, Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh, University of California, Riverside, Yale Child Study Center, and Oregon Social Learning Center contributed to this study, which was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

 

Related article by Lipscomb

Academic gains found among high risk kids in Head Start

 

October 25, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Torture: The Use of Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons

Strongly believe solitary confinement  is a mental health issue.

How we treat the least of us is a reliable measure of just how human we are.

I’ve been know to take to the streets, so to speak, against war & the death penalty.
Most recently at the Supreme Court at the annual Starvin’ for Justice event this past June/July.
These days, when I don’t take to the streets I voice through other means, including this blog.

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From https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=516200851781018&set=a.509091729158597.1073741827.184364598297980&type=1&theater

That’s me on the left holding up the sign.  Kirk Bloodsworth, the speaker, is the first person exonerated from death row using DNA technology. The gentleman on the right holding up a sign is another Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (the preferred title of those of us who served). We shared stories, and perhaps reflected on how our overseas service shaped our views on peace and justice.

(For anyone who would say “get a job”, well my reply is witnessing against injustice is my job.)
(Oh, and for the record, I am now gainfully employed for the first time in three long years of job hunting.
Being unemployed against one’s will certainly is a mental health issue, but nothing compared to greater injustices)

The Hole

The Hole (Photo credit: Chris.Gray)

From the Web Page of the Center for Constitutional Rights

….

Ever since solitary confinement came into existence, it has been used as a tool of repression. While it is justified by corrections officials as necessary to protect prisoners and guards from violent superpredators, all too often it is imposed on individuals, particularly prisoners of color, who threaten prison administrations in an altogether different way. Consistently, jailhouse lawyers and jailhouse doctors, who administer to the needs of their fellow prisoners behind bars, are placed in solitary confinement. They are joined by political prisoners from various civil rights and independence movements.

CCR’s Challenges to Solitary Confinement

In May 2012, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a lawsuit against the state of California for its use of prolonged solitary confinement in the infamous Pelican Bay prison. Ruiz, et al. v. Brown, Jr., et al., is a federal class action challenging prolonged solitary confinement and deprivation of due process, based on the rights guaranteed under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, at Pelican Bay. The case challenges inhumane, unconstitutional conditions under which thousands of prisoners live. Ruiz reasserts the importance of fundamental human rights and the Constitution’s guarantee that no one may be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and that all are entitled to the due process of law.

CCR’s case against solitary confinement at Pelican Bay is the latest in a long history of challenges to the use of isolation in prisons. InWilkinson v. Austin, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in support of CCR’s claims that prison officials cannot confine prisoners in long-term solitary confinement in a
super maximum prison without first giving them the opportunity to challenge their placement. CCR has engaged in solidarity efforts alongside hunger striking prisoners, as well as engaged in advocacy and education efforts around the impact of the use of isolation in prisons.

Solitary Confinement is Torture

The devastating psychological and physical effects of prolonged solitary confinement are well documented by social scientists: prolonged solitary confinement causes prisoners significant mental harm and places them at grave risk of even more devastating future psychological harm.

Researchers have demonstrated that prolonged solitary confinement causes a persistent and heightened state of anxiety and nervousness, headaches, insomnia, lethargy or chronic tiredness, nightmares, heart palpitations, and fear of impending nervous breakdowns. Other documented effects include obsessive ruminations, confused thought processes, an oversensitivity to
stimuli, irrational anger, social withdrawal, hallucinations, violent fantasies, emotional flatness, mood swings, chronic depression, feelings of overall deterioration, as well as suicidal ideation.

Exposure to such life-shattering conditions clearly constitutes cruel and unusual punishment – in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Further, the brutal use of solitary has been condemned as torture by the international community.

A Growing Human Rights Movement against the Use of Solitary Confinement

Across the United States and the world, there is an emerging movement calling for the end of solitary confinement.

In the U.S., prisoner-led movements have attracted media attention and public scrutiny to harsh conditions of confinement, including overcrowding, the use of isolation, deplorable health conditions, substandard medical care, and the discriminatory and careless treatment of people with mental illnesses. Several prisoner-led hunger strikes have drawn attention to these harsh
conditions, including efforts in Georgia, Ohio and California. Advocates have joined in solidarity and alongside prisoners to protest the use of solitary confinement.

International human rights experts and bodies have also condemned indefinite or prolonged solitary confinement, recommended that the practice be abolished entirely and argued that solitary confinement is a human rights abuse that can amount to torture. In August 2011, Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, concluded that even 15 days in solitary confinement constitutes torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and 15 days is the limit after which irreversible harmful psychological effects can occur. However, many prisoners in the United States have been isolated for far longer.

Read more at http://ccrjustice.org/solitary-factsheet

October 23, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology, Public Health | , , , , | 1 Comment

[Repost] ‘Yes’ to One Drug Could Become ‘Yes’ for Other Drugs

English: Close up shot of some high quality ma...

English: Close up shot of some high quality marijuana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 8 October 2013 ScienceDaily article

 

High school seniors who frown upon the use of drugs are most likely to be female, nonsmokers or hold strong religious beliefs, according to a study¹ by Joseph Palamar of New York University. Palamar examines how teenagers’ attitudes toward marijuana influenced their thoughts on the further use of other illicit drugs. The work appears online in the journal Prevention Science², published by Springer.

The study was conducted as marijuana use continues to be on the upswing in the United States, along with more lenient legislation and diminishing public disapproval toward its use. Although previous research has shown that people who disapprove of a particular drug will in all likelihood not use it, little is known about how the use of one drug affects people’s attitudes toward using other drugs.

Palamar therefore examined how demographics and a lifetime use of various drugs — marijuana use in particular — can predict if a person will become partial to using “harder” and more dangerous drugs, such as powder cocaine, crack, LSD, heroin, amphetamine and ecstasy, also known as “Molly.” Data was obtained from 29,054 high school seniors who took part in the Monitoring the Future annual cross-sectional survey of approximately 130 public and private schools in 48 states between 2007 and 2011.

Palamar found that youths who smoked cigarettes or used more than one “hard” drug were consistently less critical of other drug use. The lifetime use of alcohol had no impact on people’s attitudes. Those who used only marijuana tended to be less judgmental of further using such so-called “socially acceptable” drugs as LSD, amphetamine and ecstasy. They did not approve of cocaine, crack or heroin, however, most likely because of their perceived dangers and addictive qualities.

Unsurprisingly, female high school seniors consistently disapproved of using cocaine, crack, LSD and ecstasy. Compared to their male counterparts, females are generally less likely to use most drugs. Palamar was also not surprised by the finding that religiosity robustly increased attitudes against drug use, as it is a major force in societal values.

Youths from more advantaged socio-economic backgrounds with highly educated parents as well as those living in urban areas were much less disapproving of the use of the so-called “less dangerous” drugs. Palamar believes that the higher prevalence of illicit drug use in urban areas may be helping to normalize drug use in cities.

The finding that Black students are less disapproving of powder cocaine, crack and ecstasy is somewhat paradoxical as members of this group generally use such drugs less than White students do. This could, in part, be explained by their strong religious beliefs and the higher rates of arrests and incarceration among Blacks that may serve as a deterrent. The normalization of ecstasy, specifically in rap and hip-hop music, may explain why Black youths are less disapproving of it.

“Public health and policy experts need to ensure that the use of other drugs does not increase in light of the growing prevalence of marijuana use and more lenient policies surrounding it,” Palamar explains. “Although it may be difficult to prevent an adolescent or a young adult from using alcohol, tobacco or marijuana, we need to prevent individuals from becoming users of multiple drugs.”

 

 

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Truth or consequences? The negative results of concealing who you really are on the job

 

 

Caption: Clayton R. Critcher is an assistant professor of marketing at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

From the 8 October 2013 EurkAlert

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY’S HAAS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS – Most know that hiding something from others can cause internal angst. New research suggests the consequences can go far beyond emotional strife and that being forced to keep information concealed, such as one’s sexual orientation, disrupts the concealer’s basic skills and abilities, including intellectual acuity, physical strength, and interpersonal grace—skills critical to workplace success.

“With no federal protection for gays and lesbians in the work place, our work suggests that the wisdom of non-discrimination laws should be debated not merely through a moral lens, but with an appreciation for the loss of economic productivity that such vulnerabilities produce,” says Clayton R. Critcher, assistant professor at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Critcher, a member of the Haas Marketing Group, conducts research on consumer behavior and social psychology, including questions of self and identity.

Critcher’s paper, “The Cost of Keeping it Hidden: Decomposing Concealment Reveals What Makes it Depleting,” forthcoming in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General and co-authored with Melissa J. Ferguson of Cornell University, details multiple negative consequences of concealment. The findings, says Critcher, stem from the difficulty of having to constantly monitor one’s speech for secret-revealing content that needs to be edited out.

The researchers conducted four studies, each of which was a variation on a single paradigm. When participants arrived at the study, they learned they would be taking part in an interview. Following a rigged drawing, all participants learned they were assigned to be an interviewee. Another supposed participant—who, in reality, was an actor hired by the experimenter—was the interviewer.

Some participants were given special instructions about what they could reveal in the interview. In three of the four studies, some participants were told they should make sure not to reveal their sexual orientation while answering the questions. For example, participants were told that in answering questions, instead of saying “I tend to date men who …,” the participants could say, “I tend to date people who ….”

After the interview, participants thought they were moving on to an unrelated study. In actuality, this second part of the experiment was related, offering researchers the opportunity to measure whether participants’ intellectual, physical, or interpersonal skills were degraded by concealment. The studies revealed the variety of negative effects of concealment.

In one study, participants completed a measure of spatial intelligence that was modeled after items on military aptitude tests. Participants randomly assigned to conceal their sexual orientation performed 17% worse than those who went through the interview without instructions to conceal. In another experiment, participants tasked with hiding their sexual orientation exhibited reduced physical stamina, only able to squeeze an exercise handgrip for 20% less time than those in a control condition. Additional studies revealed that concealment led people to show less interpersonal restraint. For example, the participants responded to a “snarky” email from a superior with more anger than politeness.

During another test, participants demonstrated poorer performance on a “Stroop task,” a commonly-used measure of executive cognitive function.

In consequent experiments, participants’ abilities were assessed both before and after the interview. This permitted the experimenters to more directly observe that merely going through an interview does not affect one’s strength of cognitive control, but going through an interview while having to conceal one’s sexual orientation led to significant declines.

In addition, the researchers varied whether questions focused on participants’ personal or dating life, or on topics for which one’s sexual orientation would never be revealed. Concealment caused similarly sharp declines in both cases.

“Environments that explicitly or implicitly encourage people to conceal their sexual orientation—even when employers adopt a ‘Don’t Ask’ policy—may significantly harm workers,” says Critcher, “Establishing a workplace climate that supports diversity may be one of the easiest ways to enhance workplace productivity.”

 

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Watch Clayton Critcher talk about his research: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2bSRNjd5Yo&feature=youtu.be

See full paper: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23796042

 

 

 

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poor Concentration: Poverty Reduces Brainpower Needed for Navigating Other Areas of Life

Something I’ve suspected all along…now it seems to be quantified..

From the 29 August 2013 article at Science Daily

Poverty and all its related concerns require so much mental energy that the poor have less remaining brainpower to devote to other areas of life, according to research based at Princeton University. As a result, people of limited means are more likely to make mistakes and bad decisions that may be amplified by — and perpetuate — their financial woes.

Published in the journal Science, the study presents a unique perspective regarding the causes of persistent poverty. The researchers suggest that being poor may keep a person from concentrating on the very avenues that would lead them out of poverty. A person’s cognitive function is diminished by the constant and all-consuming effort of coping with the immediate effects of having little money, such as scrounging to pay bills and cut costs. Thusly, a person is left with fewer “mental resources” to focus on complicated, indirectly related matters such as education, job training and even managing their time.

In a series of experiments, the researchers found that pressing financial concerns had an immediate impact on the ability of low-income individuals to perform on common cognitive and logic tests. On average, a person preoccupied with money problems exhibited a drop in cognitive function similar to a 13-point dip in IQ, or the loss of an entire night’s sleep.

“Stress itself doesn’t predict that people can’t perform well — they may do better up to a point,” Shafir said. “A person in poverty might be at the high part of the performance curve when it comes to a specific task and, in fact, we show that they do well on the problem at hand. But they don’t have leftover bandwidth to devote to other tasks. The poor are often highly effective at focusing on and dealing with pressing problems. It’s the other tasks where they perform poorly.”

The fallout of neglecting other areas of life may loom larger for a person just scraping by, Shafir said. Late fees tacked on to a forgotten rent payment, a job lost because of poor time-management — these make a tight money situation worse. And as people get poorer, they tend to make difficult and often costly decisions that further perpetuate their hardship, Shafir said. He and Mullainathan were co-authors on a 2012 Science paper that reported a higher likelihood of poor people to engage in behaviors that reinforce the conditions of poverty, such as excessive borrowing.

“They can make the same mistakes, but the outcomes of errors are more dear,” Shafir said. “So, if you live in poverty, you’re more error prone and errors cost you more dearly — it’s hard to find a way out.”

The researchers suggest that services for the poor should accommodate the dominance that poverty has on a person’s time and thinking. Such steps would include simpler aid forms and more guidance in receiving assistance, or training and educational programs structured to be more forgiving of unexpected absences, so that a person who has stumbled can more easily try again.

“You want to design a context that is more scarcity proof,” said Shafir, noting that better-off people have access to regular support in their daily lives, be it a computer reminder, a personal assistant, a housecleaner or a babysitter.

“There’s very little you can do with time to get more money, but a lot you can do with money to get more time,” Shafir said. “The poor, who our research suggests are bound to make more mistakes and pay more dearly for errors, inhabit contexts often not designed to help.”

 

Read the entire article here

 

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reposting] Why do haters have to hate?

From the 26 August 2013 article at EurkAlert

Newly identified personality trait holds clues

 IMAGE: This image shows Dolores Albarracín (left), University of Pennsylvania, and Justin Hepler, University of Illinois.

Click here for more information. 

PHILADELPHIA (August 26, 2013) – New research has uncovered the reason why some people seem to dislike everything while others seem to like everything. Apparently, it’s all part of our individual personality – a dimension that researchers have coined “dispositional attitude.”

People with a positive dispositional attitude have a strong tendency to like things, whereas people with a negative dispositional attitude have a strong tendency to dislike things, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The journal article, “Attitudes without objects: Evidence for a dispositional attitude, its measurement, and its consequences,” was written by Justin Hepler, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Dolores Albarracín, Ph.D., the Martin Fishbein Chair of Communication and Professor of Psychology at Penn.

“The dispositional attitude construct represents a new perspective in which attitudes are not simply a function of the properties of the stimuli under consideration, but are also a function of the properties of the evaluator,” wrote the authors. “[For example], at first glance, it may not seem useful to know someone’s feelings about architecture when assessing their feelings about health care. After all, health care and architecture are independent stimuli with unique sets of properties, so attitudes toward these objects should also be independent.” However, they note, there is still one critical factor that an individual’s attitudes will have in common: the individual who formed the attitudes. “Some people may simply be more prone to focusing on positive features and others on negative features,” Hepler said.

To discover whether people differ in the tendency to like or dislike things, Hepler and Albarracín created a scale that requires people to report their attitudes toward a wide variety of unrelated stimuli, such as architecture, cold showers, politics, and soccer. Upon knowing how much people (dis)like these specific things, the responses were then averaged together to calculate their dispositional attitude (i.e., to calculate how much they tend to like or dislike things in general). The theory is that if individuals differ in the general tendency to like versus dislike objects, attitudes toward independent objects may actually be related. Throughout the studies the researchers found that people with generally positive dispositional attitudes are more open than people with generally negative dispositional attitudes. In day-to-day practice, this means that people with positive dispositional attitudes may be more prone to actually buy new products, get vaccine shots, follow regular positive actions (recycling, driving carefully, etc.)

“This surprising and novel discovery expands attitude theory by demonstrating that an attitude is not simply a function of an object’s properties, but it is also a function of the properties of the individual who evaluates the object,” concluded Hepler and Albarracín. “Overall, the present research provides clear support for the dispositional attitude as a meaningful construct that has important implications for attitude theory and research.”

 

August 29, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Substance use by adolescents on an average day is alarming

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 3.55.53 PM

 

I am all for decriminalizing illegal drug use. However, I am very concerned about substance abuse, especially among folks whose brains are still developing (and this goes on until age 25 or so).

From the abstract of the report at Full Text Reports

On an average day, 881,684 teenagers aged 12 to 17 smoked cigarettes, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).   The report also says that on average day 646,707 adolescents smoked marijuana and 457,672 drank alcohol.
To provide some perspective, the number of adolescents using marijuana on an average day could almost fill the Indianapolis Speedway (seating capacity 250,000 seats) two and a half times.
“This data about adolescents sheds new light on how deeply substance use pervades the lives of many young people and their families,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “While other studies indicate that significant progress has been made in lowering the levels of some forms of substance use among adolescents in the past decade, this report shows that far too many young people are still at risk.”
The report, which highlights the substance abuse behavior and addiction treatment activities that occur among adolescents on an average day, draws on a variety of SAMHSA data sets.
The report also sheds light on how many adolescents aged 12 to 17 used illegal substances for the first time.  On an average day:
  • 7,639 drank alcohol for the first time;
  • 4,594 used an illicit drug for the first time;
  • 4,000 adolescents used marijuana for the first time;
  • 3,701 smoked cigarettes for the first time; and
  • 2,151 misused prescription pain relievers for the first time.

Using data from SAMHSA Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), the report also analyzes how many adolescents aged 12 to 17 were receiving treatment for a substance abuse problem during an average day.  These numbers included:

  • Over 71,000 in outpatient treatment,
  • More than 9,302 in non-hospital residential treatment, and
  • Over 1,258 in hospital inpatient treatment.

In terms of hospital emergency department visits involving adolescents aged 12 to 17, on an average day marijuana is involved in 165 visits, alcohol is involved in 187 visits and misuse of prescription or nonprescription pain relievers is implicated in 74 visits.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service that people – including adolescents and their family members — can contact when facing substance abuse and mental health issues. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information in print on substance abuse and mental health issues. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit the online treatment locators at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

The complete report contains many other facts about the scope and nature of adolescent substance abuse, treatment and treatment admissions patterns and is available at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2K13/CBHSQ128/sr128-typical-day-adolescents-2013.pdf. It was drawn from analyses of SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Treatment Episode Data Set, and National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, and Drug Abuse Warning Network.

 

August 29, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Statistics, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Are the Brains of Introverts and Extroverts Actually Different?

From the 27 August 2013 post at Discover Magazine

By Ben Thomas

introvert extrovert

Introversion, it seems, is the Internet’s current meme du jour. Articles on introverts are nothing new, of course—The Atlantic’s 2003 classic “Caring for Your Introvert” still gets passed around Facebook on a regular basis—but the topic has gained some sort of strange critical mass in the past few weeks, and has been popping up everywhere from Gawker to Forbes.

This latest swarm of articles ranges from glorified personality quizzes (31 Unmistakable Signs That You’re An Introvert”) to history lessons (“16 Outrageously Successful Introverts”) to business essays (“Why Introverts Can Make Excellent Executives”) to silly, self-aware send-ups of the trend itself (“15 Unmistakable, Outrageously Secret Signs You’re an Extrovert”). The vast majority of them also come packaged with the assumption the reader understands the basic concept of introversion, and already has a pretty clear idea of whether he or she is an introvert or an extrovert.

The Science of Personality

In short, although the science of personality is still in the relative Dark Ages, researchers have begun to draw links between what these structural and functional brain differences between personality types might mean in terms of their respective peccadilloes.

But brain differences that correlate with introversion or extroversion don’t necessarily show which of these differences—if any—cause introversion or extroversion. “We don’t have experiments that really address whether those brain differences play a causal role,” Castro says. “We’re still pretty far from having … a scientific description of personality differences at the level of cells and synapses.”

And it’s important to keep in mind that our brain structures vary from person to person along all sorts of axes that inform our personalities—not just introversion and extroversion. As the science of brain mapping develops, maybe we’ll have a myriad of new spectrums we can use to describe our personalities in terms of our gray matter.

August 29, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

[Re-post] The Advantages of Not Multi-Tasking

Tantek Multitasking

Tantek Multitasking (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

 

Always thought it was best to focus on one thing at a time….

 

From the 8 August 2013 article at Higher Ed Jobs by Kelly A. Cherwin, Communications Editor, HigherEdJobs

 

Although I did turn off my cell phone, I attended the recent ACUHO-I conference session eating my yogurt and drinking a cup of coffee as I was taking notes on why most people are not efficient at multi-tasking. This is why I’m sharing tips from the presentation: “I’m Really Good at Multi-tasking” – No You Are Not!

Many people feel that if they multi-task, they can be more efficient and effective. However, the truth is that most people don’t do it well and often times the quality of each task completed may decrease. As discussed by the presenter, Cathy Bickel from Ball State University, a study by Microsoft found that it takes an employee an average of 15 minutes to return their attention back to the previous task when distracted by email, instant message, etc. If a person is in a meeting and then decides they must return a text message, they are no longer really focusing on the meeting details. They are physically sitting in the meeting, but they are not present because their attention is diverted to the text and then later more time is spent focusing their attention back to the meeting. Someone is on a phone call and then suddenly hears the “ding” of new emails in their inbox. They check the emails, while still talking on the phone but again, their attention is diverted from the phone call as well as possibly missing details in the emails. Examples of inefficient multi-tasking are plentiful. So, what is the answer? In most non-urgent cases, it is better to complete one task with one’s full attention and then move on to the next. Yes, the definition of urgent is subjective but most professionals should be able to distinguish between something urgent and the newest funny picture of a cat.

As Bickel mentioned, attention is a more limited resource than time and people need to manage their attention in order to be more productive. Here are strategies on how to manage attention and be more efficient without multi-tasking:

  • Prioritize the day. Try to schedule the most important tasks in the morning. Don’t move on to next task until the first one is complete. Having a to-do list of these necessary tasks is a must.
  • Consider time periods. Similar to what is encountered in school or in a sporting event, block the day into time periods. Work through these specific time periods accomplishing set tasks without allowing for interruptions. Schedule a bit of downtime in between periods for a breather or to take care of an urgent matter that may arise.
  • Remove negative attention. For example, turn off the phone during the meeting or set incoming message alerts to mute while on a phone call.
  • Don’t constantly fill the white space. There isn’t a need for technology all of the time. While waiting in line at the store or for the train, don’t always check the phone. Enjoy the surroundings!
  • Invest attention in high returns. Consider eliminating “non-essential” websites and only check your favorites like HigherEdJobs.com or others once a day.
  • Prevent distractions. Close the door if it is apparent that people or other noise will constantly be causing interruptions.
  • Discuss boundaries. Let friends and family know when it is appropriate to be contacted at work. If there is an illness, “yes” but to ask what is for dinner is a “no.”
  • Share commitments with others. If you tell people that you are not going to look at your emails the entire night, they can help hold you accountable.

It is not breaking news that we live in a chaotic world and often are forced to juggle many roles. But if we could all take a few minutes to slow down and truly focus on the task at hand (the meeting, an email, a co-worker, your family), both efficiency and effectiveness will follow even without multi-tasking.

 

 

August 29, 2013 Posted by | Psychology, Workplace Health | , , , | Leave a comment

We face an epidemic of excessive busyness

 

From the 11 August 2013 KevinMD.com article

 

In the past few years, I’ve observed an epidemic of sorts: patient after patient suffering from the same condition. The symptoms of this condition include fatigue, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, headaches, heartburn, bowel disturbances, back pain, and weight gain. There are no blood tests or x-rays diagnostic of this condition, and yet it’s easy to recognize. The condition is excessive busyness. It’s one with which, as a fellow sufferer, I empathize especially.

Being excessively busy has become so much a part of our culture that we’ve developed an extended vocabulary for it, like Eskimos and snow: tapped out, laid flat, on overload, crazy busy, fried. The other day, while discussing an interesting potential project with me, a colleague asked if I “had the bandwidth” to take it on.

The pervasiveness of busyness is such that we may not even notice it anymore. A patient of mine wanted to be tested for anemia–why else could she be so tired? It didn’t occur to her that working full time, going to school, and caring for a severely disabled child might have something to do with her exhaustion.

….

For the poor, as this recent editorial by science writer Moises Velasquez-Manoff points out, stress has a particularly pernicious effect on health. Velasquez-Manoff points out that it’s not busyness itself, but lack of control and resources to deal with stress that busyness engenders that makes poor people less healthy than rich people. He writes:

It’s not necessarily the strain of a chief executive facing a lengthy to-do list, or a well-to-do parent’s agonizing over a child’s prospects of acceptance to an elite school. Unlike those of lower rank, both the C.E.O. and the anxious parent have resources with which to address the problem. By definition, the poor have far fewer.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , | 1 Comment

LSD and Other Psychedelics Not Linked With Mental Health Problems, Analysis Suggests

Well, I still don’t feel inclined to try any…despite my FB profile.

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Could psychedelics be healthy for you?

The researchers found that lifetime use of psilocybin or mescaline and past year use of LSD were associated with lower rates of serious psychological distress. Lifetime use of LSD was also significantly associated with a lower rate of outpatient mental health treatment and psychiatric medicine prescription.

The design of the study makes it impossible to determine exactly why the researchers found what they found.

“We cannot exclude the possibility that use of psychedelics might have a negative effect on mental health for some individuals or groups, perhaps counterbalanced at a population level by a positive effect on mental health in others,” they wrote.

Nevertheless, “recent clinical trials have also failed to find any evidence of any lasting harmful effects of psychedelics,” the researchers said, which supports the robustness of the PLOS ONE findings.

In fact, says Krebs, “many people report deeply meaningful experiences and lasting beneficial effects from using psychedelics.”

From the 19th August 2013 article at ScienceDaily

The use of LSD, magic mushrooms, or peyote does not increase a person’s risk of developing mental health problems, according to an analysis of information from more than 130,000 randomly chosen people, including 22,000 people who had used psychedelics at least once.

“After adjusting for other risk factors, lifetime use of LSD, psilocybin, mescaline or peyote, or past year use of LSD was not associated with a higher rate of mental health problems or receiving mental health treatment,” says Johansen.

Could psychedelics be healthy for you?

The researchers found that lifetime use of psilocybin or mescaline and past year use of LSD were associated with lower rates of serious psychological distress. Lifetime use of LSD was also significantly associated with a lower rate of outpatient mental health treatment and psychiatric medicine prescription.

The design of the study makes it impossible to determine exactly why the researchers found what they found.

“We cannot exclude the possibility that use of psychedelics might have a negative effect on mental health for some individuals or groups, perhaps counterbalanced at a population level by a positive effect on mental health in others,” they wrote.

Nevertheless, “recent clinical trials have also failed to find any evidence of any lasting harmful effects of psychedelics,” the researchers said, which supports the robustness of the PLOS ONE findings.

In fact, says Krebs, “many people report deeply meaningful experiences and lasting beneficial effects from using psychedelics.”

……….

Read the entire article here

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Sweaty Palms and Racing Heart May Benefit Some Negotiators

From the 26 August 2013 post at ScienceDaily

The idea of having to negotiate over the price of a new car sends many into the cold sweats, but new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that sweaty palms and a racing heart may actually help some people in getting a good deal.

As researchers Ashley D. Brown and Jared R. Curhan of the Sloan School of Management at MIT demonstrate in two experiments, physiological arousal isn’t always detrimental:

“It turns out that the effect depends on whether you are someone who dreads or looks forward to negotiating,” Brown explains. “It’s not inherently harmful.”

Read the entire article here

 

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Even Mild Stress Can Make It Difficult to Control Your Emotions

From the 26 August 2013 Science Daily article

Even mild stress can thwart therapeutic measures to control emotions, a team of neuroscientists at New York University has found. Their findings, which appear in the journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, point to the limits of clinical techniques while also shedding new light on the barriers that must be overcome in addressing afflictions such as fear or anxiety.

“We have long suspected that stress can impair our ability to control our emotions, but this is the first study to document how even mild stress can undercut therapies designed to keep our emotions in check,” said Elizabeth Phelps, a professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science and the study’s senior author. “In other words, what you learn in the clinic may not be as relevant in the real world when you’re stressed.”

In addressing patients’ emotional maladies, therapists sometimes use cognitive restructuring techniques — encouraging patients to alter their thoughts or approach to a situation to change their emotional response. These might include focusing on the positive or non-threatening aspects of an event or stimulus that might normally produce fear.

 

Read the entire article here

 

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] The Uninsured Mentally Ill

From the 10 August 2013 post at League of Bloggers for a Better World

Here’s a scary fact: A single hospital admission for a mentally ill patient paid for by the taxpayer-financed state medical-assistance program costs more than a year of private outpatient care. It makes little financial sense, yet it happens every single day in America.

Everyday, a mentally ill person is admitted to an ER in the throes of a psychiatric emergency, desperately needing care and having nowhere else to go. No psychiatrist, no therapist, no case manager, no nothing. So they rely on ER doctors and nurses- and tax payers. But after the patient gets emergency care, they are back on their own. Until it happens again.

So why do these patients lack proper, long term psychiatric care that could provide regular treatment? Why do they end up in this endless cycle? The answer is simple, yet still disturbing- they have no health insurance.

Psychiatrist Christine Montross wrote an article,”The Woman Who Ate Cutlery,” about this quandary that many mentally ill people who lack health insurance face on a regular basis. The article was featured in the New York Times on August 3, 2013.

From NYTimes.com:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — M is a 33-year old woman who swallowed silverware. Each time she ingested utensils, she went to the emergency room so that doctors could remove them from her esophagus and stomach.

Then the hospital transferred M to the psychiatric unit, where she was assigned to my care. When I met M she had already been hospitalized 72 times.

M’s case is dramatic. But she is one of countless psychiatric patients who have nowhere to turn for care, other than the E.R.

It is well known that millions of uninsured Americans, who can’t afford regular medical care, use the country’s emergency rooms for primary health care. The costs — to patients’ health, to their wallets, and to the health care system — are well documented. Less visible is the grievous effect this shift is having on psychiatric care and on the mentally ill.

How could this cycle of self-injury be disrupted? M and other psychiatric patients who turn to emergency rooms for care need regular outpatient appointments with a doctor they know and trust who can monitor their symptoms and assess the efficacy of their often complicated medication regimens.

Sadly, M’s history of recurrent hospital admissions is not uncommon. Recently I treated a 65-year-old man caught in a chronic cycle of homelessness and suicide attempts who had been in and out of the E.R. 246 times. If M had insurance, or enough money to pay out of pocket, she might see a therapist every week for an hour and a psychiatrist once or twice a month.

For full article, go to nytimes.com.

 

August 10, 2013 Posted by | health care, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog]New study explores the pathways that lead to jail time for women

From the 6 August 2013 article at Medical News Today

How do pathways to jail vary for females who are victims of specific types of trauma? New research published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, a SAGE journal, pinpoints the types of trauma such as caregiver violence, witnessing violence, and intimate partner violence, that lead to specific types of offending later in life and offers explanations based on real experiences.

Researchers Dana DeHart, Shannon Lynch, Joanne Belknap, and Bonnie Green conducted life-history interviews with 115 female inmates from five U.S. states and found the following patterns:

  • Intimate partner violence increased women’s risks for property crimes, drug offending, and commercial sex work. These relationships often related to intimate involvement with violent men who fluctuated between roles as the women’s co-offenders, drug dealers, and pimps.
  • Witnessing violence increased risks for property crimes, fighting, and use of weapons. These relationships often stemmed from affiliation with criminal networks, and often women’s use of weapons or aggression arose from efforts to protect themselves or others.
  • Experiences of caregiver violence increased risk of running away as a teen. Runaway youth often enact this behavior as a means of escaping intolerable maltreatment at home.

 

Read the entire article here 

 

August 6, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] 5 advantages of online patient communities

online-support-network1-300x200

 

From the 2 August 2013 KevinMD.com article

A support group has many potential benefits, some of which include improving coping skills, reducing anxiety, depression, isolation, ignorance about the condition and others.  Online patient communities (OPCs) are a recent phenomenon.  Some are open (with respect to type of member or fee) and some are more focused and closed.  Irrespective of the type, OPCs have blossomed. It is a major indication of social media’s penetration into healthcare (or vice versa) and why physicians need to establish a presence in social media.  While there are still reasons why support groups are popular, OPCs have definite advantages. I will highlight a few of them.

1. Many patients and caregivers cannot physically attend a support group.

Just as online social media is not a substitute for real life interpersonal exchanges, OPCs will not necessarily replace the real life experiences of support groups.  However, they do offer a different experience which brings together people from all over the world.

Read the entire article here

Resources

August 4, 2013 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] Personality and social psychology highlights from the 2013 APA Convention

From the 2 August 2013 Medical News Today article

From how secrets influence our emails to personality traits that increase the risk ofobesity – a guide to some talks with new research in personality and social psychology at the APA Convention in Honolulu, July 31 – August 4, 2013 …

Linguistic Fingerprints of Secrets[1]

Keeping a secret not only burdens someone with the guilt of withholding information but also changes the way the person interacts with others, according to new research. In two studies, researchers looked at linguistic changes in the emails of people harboring secrets. They found that interactions with friends became more deceptive and detached, while interactions with acquaintances became more superficially positive and frequent.

Judging Health Based on Behavior, Personality[2]

Can you accurately size up someone’s health just by watching them? In a recent set of studies, researchers sought to answer this question by filming research participants and asking research assistants to assess their health or behavior. In one study, researchers judged participants on 15 health dimensions – including general health, tobacco use, alcohol use, physical activity, sleep quality, cholesterol, and blood pressure – based on just 5 minutes of film. They found that intuitive snap judgments of health can be surprisingly accurate.

Personalty Traits That Increase Risk of Obesity[3]

A complex mix of biological and social factors affects a person’s likelihood of becoming obese. Across four studies that looked at more than 8,900 people, researchers have found significant links between personality traits and obesity – showing that that high neuroticism and low conscientiousness, among other traits, are consistently associated with increased risk for obesity. These associations are similar across samples that vary in ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic status.

The Benefits of Confronting Bias[4]

Confronting discrimination may boost your well-being, according to new research. In three studies, researchers found that while experiencing discrimination is associated withdepression, confronting that bias gives people more autonomy, which helps to moderate the stressful situation. These results were true not only for minorities but also for Whites.

Being Grateful Trains Our Brains for the Good[5]

Feeling grateful can train us to feel better, finds a new study. Asking people daily for one week to write about three good things that made them grateful increased their well-being after the week, and even five weeks later. Researchers think that the gratitude exercise trains the brain for cognitive processes that support well-being, such as increasing attention so that individuals are more likely to notice benefits in their lives.

Two Hormones Together Explain Status-Seeking[6]

Looking at only testosterone as a hormonal measure of status-seeking behaviors is incomplete, argues new research. Testosterone’s influence on status-related behavior critically depends on levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Six studies suggest that researchers must consider the effects of testosterone and cortisol together. The studies show that a profile of high testosterone and low cortisol is associated with leadership, social dominance, risk-taking, emotional stability, and monetary reward maximization. On the other hand, a hormone profile of high testosterone and high cortisol is associated with subordinate behaviors, socioemotional sensitivity, anxiety, and monetary loss.

Positive Anticipation Helps Overcome Stress[7]

Past research has shown that eliciting positive emotions immediately to offset stress can ameliorate the negative effects of the stressor. Now researchers are testing the effects on stress of anticipating positive events – as that more realistically mirrors how people use emotion to regulate stress in daily life. In two studies, they found that anticipating a positive event leads to improved recovery after stress and is more effective in coping with stress than experiencing a positive event just prior to being stressed.

Recognizing that Life is Meaningful[8]

In our never-ending quest to understand the meaning of life, social psychologists are bringing a different perspective: urging us to think of meaning as an experience that involves seeing, recognizing, and noticing rather than something to search for or struggle to create. Simply maintaining a positive mood, for example, can facilitate meaning in our everyday lives and connect us more to the world.

The convention program is here

August 2, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

What to do if your partner is in a bad mood

Angry Penguin

Angry Penguin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 6 July 2013 KevinMD.com post

 | CONDITIONS | JULY 6, 2013

As with most things in life, romantic relationships are, for many of us, a double-edged sword: while most find it wonderful to love and be loved, developing intimate emotional ties to someone makes us emotionally vulnerable—vulnerable not only to being hurt by our partner’s opinions of and feelings toward us, but also vulnerable to being affected by our partner’s bad moods. If a colleague or a friend gets depressed, we’re often able to offer a comforting word or two without ourselves being drawn into his or her emotional maelstrom. When our partner becomes depressed or sad or angry or jealous or anxious, however, our own emotions are often triggered in unpleasant ways. Just what can we do to manage our own bad moods that arise as a result of our partner’s?

1. Identify and understand your typical reactions to your partner’s bad moods. In medical school, students are taught that if they find themselves feeling depressed when interviewing a patient it’s often because the patient is depressed. Moods are contagious. Often—but certainly not always—your reaction to your partner’s mood will be to mimic it (i.e., he’s down so you become down; she’s angry so you become angry, and so on). For example, when my wife gets irritated at someone, I often become irritated at her. Why? Because I don’t like having to deal with angry people (it’s not rational, I know, but emotional reactions often aren’t).

2. Take responsibility for your own mood, not your partner’s.

Read the entire article here

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brain Research Shows Psychopathic Criminals Do Not Lack Empathy, but Fail to Use It Automatically

From the 24 July 2013 article at Science Daily

Criminal psychopathy can be both repulsive and fascinating, as illustrated by the vast number of books and movies inspired by this topic. Offenders diagnosed with psychopathy pose a significant threat to society, because they are more likely to harm other individuals and to do so again after being released. A brain imaging study in the Netherlands shows individuals with psychopathy have reduced empathy while witnessing the pains of others. When asked to empathize, however, they can activate their empathy. This could explain why psychopathic individuals can be callous and socially cunning at the same time.

Why are psychopathic individuals more likely to hurt others? Individuals with psychopathy characteristically demonstrate reduced empathy with the feelings of others, which may explain why it is easier for them to hurt other people. However, what causes this lack of empathy is poorly understood. Scientific studies on psychopathic subjects are notoriously hard to conduct. “Convicted criminals with a diagnosis of psychopathy are confined to high-security forensic institutions in which state-of-the-art technology to study their brain, like magnetic resonance imaging, is usually unavailable,” explains Professor Christian Keysers, Head of the Social Brain Lab in Amsterdam, and senior author of a study on psychopathy appearing in the journal Brain this week. “Bringing them to scientific research centres, on the other hand, requires the kind of high-security transportation that most judicial systems are unwilling to finance.”

The Dutch judicial system, however, seems to be an exception. They joined forces with academia to promote a better understanding of psychopathy. As a result, criminals with psychopathy were transported to the Social Brain Lab of the University Medical Center in Groningen (The Netherlands). There, the team could use state of the art high-field functional magnetic resonance imaging to peak into the brain of criminals with psychopathy while they view the emotions of others.

…..

Related Video

  • The Unrepentent (Canadian Broadcasting Company-The Fifth Estate)
     “They are marked by their ability to kill without passion and without remorse. Some are called psychopaths – a term that evokes nightmare images of murderers and monsters. But the label can also apply to men and women who are successful, intelligent, charismatic, charming and amusing – and so all the more dangerous. This week on the fifth estate, Linden MacIntyre looks at what makes a psychopath through the fifth estate’s close encounters with of four of Canada’s most frightening criminals. [From the CBC site...video at this site is only accessible in Canada]

July 25, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NLM Director’s Comments Transcript Force Feeding Guantanamo Detainees Criticized

The NLM Director showed some courage in commenting on the force feeding of prisoners in Guantanamo.
This is indeed a health issue, because we are indeed responsible for the health (including mental health) of these detainees.

Some excerpts from the comments, full text may be found here.

A candid and stimulating editorial, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, strongly suggests physicians at the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp in Cuba should not force feed detainees who are on a hunger strike. The editorial’s three authors argue the force feeding of some Guantanamo prisoners is medically unethical — and the practice warrants more criticism from health care professionals.

A news story about the editorial published in the U.K. Guardian reports the Guantanamo Bay camp currently houses about 166 prisoners (most of whom are held for alleged terrorist activities). Many of these detainees or prisoners have been held at Guantanamo Bay (a U.S. military base in Cuba) in an era that began with the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. At the time the editorial was published, the Guardian reported 104 prisoners were on a hunger strike and 43 detainees received forced feeding.

The editorial’s authors (who are highly respected senior faculty at Boston University’s Schools of Public Health and Medicine) write [and we quote]: ‘Guantanamo is not just going to fade away, and neither is the stain on medical ethics it represents’ (end of quote).

The editorial’s authors explain the ethical principle to not force feed prisoners initially was advanced by the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki after World War II. The authors cite the declaration that says (and we quote): ‘forcible feeding (of mentally competent hunger strikers) is never ethically acceptable’ (end of quote). The authors add forced feeding (and we quote): ‘is a form of inhumane and degrading treatment’ (end of quote).

The editorial’s authors note a U.S. Department of Defense’s 2006 directive on force feeding detainees says (and we quote): ‘In the case of a hunger strike, attempted suicide, or other attempted serious self-harm, medical treatment or intervention may be directed without the consent of the detainee to prevent death or serious harm’ (end of quote).

However, the authors explain a hunger strike is not an attempt to commit suicide. They discern the goal of the hunger strikers (and we quote): ‘is not to die but to have perceived injustices addressed’ (end of quote).

In addition, the authors suggest physicians abdicate their professional responsibilities to make individual and independent medical assessments when they participate in penological decisions that maintain prison order by force feeding detainees. The authors write (and we quote): ‘physicians who participate in this nonmedical practice become weapons for maintaining prison order’ (end of quote).

The editorial’s authors also imply a sense of frustration with the dearth of criticism among physicians regarding Guantanamo’s forced feeding efforts.

The authors conclude (and we quote): ‘As (Guantanamo) increasingly becomes a medical ethics-free zone, we believe it’s time for the medical profession to take constructive political action to try to heal the damage and ensure that civilian and military physicians follow the same medical ethics principles’ (end of quote).

We should add it is rare to see such a frank and critical editorial in one of the world’s leading medical journals. The editorial is a reminder of the field of medical ethics’ capacity to illuminate health and social issues.

Meanwhile, a helpful overview of the legal and ethical issues in health care (provided by Merck and Co. Inc) is provided in the ‘overviews’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s medical ethics health topic page.

A link to information about the nutritional needs of end-of-life patients is available within the introduction of MedlinePlus.gov’s medical ethics health topic page. MedlinePlus.gov’s medical ethics health topic page also provides updated, comprehensive, evidence-based information about diverse healthcare ethics issues such as: genetic and prenatal testing, birth control, organ donation, and patient rights.

MedlinePlus.gov’s medical ethics health topic page additionally contains links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the ‘journal articles’ section. From the medical ethics health topic page, you can sign up to receive email updates with links to new information as it becomes available on MedlinePlus.

To find MedlinePlus.gov’s medical ethics health topic page, just type ‘medical ethics’ in the search box at the top of MedlinePlus.gov’s home page. Then, click on ‘Medical ethics (National Library of Medicine).’ MedlinePlus.gov also has a health topic page devoted to nutrition and health.

 

July 22, 2013 Posted by | health care, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vitamins and minerals can boost energy and enhance mood

From the 17 July 2013 EurekAlert

Vitamins and minerals can boost energy and enhance mood

CHICAGO- Vitamin and mineral supplements can enhance mental energy and well-being not only for healthy adults but for those prone to anxiety and depression, according to a July 15 panel discussion at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo® held at McCormick Place.

Bonnie Kaplan, Ph.D., professor in the faculty of medicine at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, said Monday vitamins and mineral supplements can be the alternative to increasing psychiatric medicines for symptom relief of anxiety and depression. The supplements, she said, also can provide the mental energy necessary to manage stress, enhance mood and reduce fatigue.

In a series of studies she recently conducted in Canada, Kaplan found of the 97 adults with diagnosed mood disorders who kept a three-day food record, a higher intake of vitamins and minerals were significantly correlated with overall enhanced mental functioning.

Other vitamins that have been known to enhance mood, said C.J. Geiger, Ph.D., president of Geiger & Associates, LLC, and research associate professor in the division of nutrition at the University of Utah, include 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5 HTP), Vitamins B and D, as well as ginkgo biloba and Omega 3.

In her research, Geiger has found most adults define energy throughout the day as peaking mid-morning, falling to a valley in the afternoon after lunch and recovering with a pickup in late afternoon, settling back down before bedtime. However, these peaks and valleys did vary with gender, age and climate. She said many adults are known to use coffee, soft drinks, chocolate and candy bars as well as energy drinks, bars and chews with high sugar boosts to maintain energy throughout the day. She found other adults ate more frequent, smaller meals to sustain energy while making time for lots of rest and exercise.

 

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About IFT

For more than 70 years, IFT has existed to advance the science of food. Our nonprofit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professions from academia, government, and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.

 

 

 

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

New PTC Research Finds Teen Girls the New Target of Sexual Exploitation on TV

Parents Television Council

Parents Television Council (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the summary of the report at Full Text Reports

 

July 18, 2013

New PTC Research Finds Teen Girls the New Target of Sexual Exploitation on TV
Source: Parents Television Council

New research from the Parents Television Council’s “4 Every Girl Campaign” found that underage female characters on primetime broadcast television are more likely to be presented in sexually exploitative scenes than adult women, and the appearance of underage female characters in a sexually exploitative scene increased the probability that the scene would be presented as humorous.

Study results revealed that out of 238 scripted episodes which aired during the study period, 150 episodes (63%) contained sexual content in scenes that were associated with females and 33% of the episodes contained sexual content that rose to the level of sexual exploitation.

The likelihood that sexual exploitation would be considered humorous increased to 43% when the sexual exploitation involved underage female characters. Topics that targeted underage girls and were presented as humorous included: sexual violence, sex trafficking, sexual harassment, pornography, and stripping.

 

 

 

 

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using Behavioral Indicators to Help Detect Potential Violent Acts A Review of the Science Base

Reminded of a phrase used by one of my college professors.
“Now that you have this information, what are you going to do with it?”

In this case, when one has information about a person’s behavior, what does one do?
Especially when it seems the person might be predisposed to violent acts.
Does one find a way to commit him or her to a mental institution? Arrest him or her on some other charge to remove him or her from the general population? Find some way to get the person help as an out patient?

From the summary of the report at Full Text Reports

Government organizations have put substantial effort into detecting and thwarting terrorist and insurgent attacks by observing suspicious behaviors of individuals at transportation checkpoints and elsewhere. This report reviews the scientific literature relating to observable, individual-level behavioral indicators that might — along with other information — help detect potential violent attacks. The report focuses on new or nontraditional technologies and methods, most of which exploit (1) data on communication patterns, (2) “pattern-of-life” data, and/or (3) data relating to body movement and physiological state. To help officials set priorities for special attention and investment, the report proposes an analytic framework for discussion and evaluation; it also urges investment in cost-effectiveness analysis and more vigorous, routine, and sustained efforts to measure real-world effectiveness of methods. One cross-cutting conclusion is that methods for behavioral observation are typically not reliable enough to stand alone; success in detection will depend on information fusion across types of behaviors and time. How to accomplish such fusion is understudied. Finally, because many aspects of using behavioral observations are highly controversial, both scientifically and because of privacy and civil-liberties concerns, the report sharpens the underlying perspectives and suggests ways to resolve some of the controversy while significantly mitigating problems that definitely exist.

 

 

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prisoners Doing Yoga May See Psychological Benefits

yoga

yoga (Photo credit: GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS)

 

From the 11 July 2013 article at Science Daily

 

Yoga can improve mood and mental wellbeing among prisoners, an Oxford University study suggests, and may also have an effect on impulsive behaviour.

The researchers found that prisoners after a ten-week yoga course reported improved mood, reduced stress and were better at a task related to behaviour control than those who continued in their normal prison routine.

‘We found that the group that did the yoga course showed an improvement in positive mood, a decrease in stress and greater accuracy in a computer test of impulsivity and attention,’ say Dr Amy Bilderbeck and Dr Miguel Farias, who led the study at the Departments of Experimental Psychology and Psychiatry at Oxford University. ‘The suggestion is that yoga is helpful for these prisoners.’

Dr Bilderbeck adds: ‘This was only a preliminary study, but nothing has been done like this before. Offering yoga sessions in prisons is cheap, much cheaper than other mental health interventions. If yoga has any effect on addressing mental health problems in prisons, it could save significant amounts of public money.’

If yoga is associated with improving behaviour control, as suggested by the results of the computer test, there may be implications for managing aggression, antisocial or problem behaviour in prisons and on return to society, the researchers note — though this is not measured in this initial study.

Dr Bilderbeck, who practices yoga herself, cautions: ‘We’re not saying that organising a weekly yoga session in a prison is going to suddenly turn prisons into calm and serene places, stop all aggression and reduce reoffending rates. We’re not saying that yoga will replace standard treatment of mental health conditions in prison. But what we do see are indications that this relatively cheap, simple option might have multiple benefits for prisoners’ wellbeing and possibly aid in managing the burden of mental health problems in prisons.’

Sam Settle, director of the Prison Phoenix Trust, says: ‘Almost half of adult prisoners return to prison within a year, having created more victims of crime, so finding ways to offset the damaging effects of prison life is essential for us as a society. This research confirms what prisoners have been consistently telling the Prison Phoenix Trust for 25 years: yoga and meditation help them feel better, make better decisions and develop the capacity to think before acting — all essential in leading positive, crime-free lives once back in the community.’

 

 

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Health News Items, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Acceptance of What Cannot Be Changed Predicts Satisfaction in Later Life

From the 11 July 2013 article at Science Daily

When older adults lose control as they move into residential care, they adapt and accept what cannot be changed in order to stay happy. According to a new study, by Jaclyn Broadbent, Shikkiah de Quadros-Wander and Jane McGillivray from Deakin University in Australia, when it comes to satisfaction in later life the ability to accept what cannot be changed is as important as the feeling of being able to exert control.

..

Ageing with satisfaction has been linked to maintaining a sense of control into the later years. Perceived control consists of two components. Primary control relates to the capacity to make changes to the environment to suit your desire or needs — this applies to older adults living independently in the community. Secondary control describes making cognitive changes within yourself to adapt to the environment — for example when older adults move into residential care. In effect, secondary control buffers losses in primary control by helping us to accept what cannot be changed.

Their analyses revealed that the unique relationship between primary control and satisfaction was always larger for the elderly living in the community than those in residential care. Equally, the contribution of secondary control to satisfaction was larger in the residential care group than in the community group. Having a strong sense of control is therefore likely to be more important to older adults living in the community than those living in residential care. In contrast, acceptance is likely to be more important to the well-being of care residents than community dwellers.

The authors conclude: “In order to protect the well-being of older individuals, adaptation involves both a sense of control and the active acceptance of what cannot be changed. Primary and secondary perceived control may predict satisfaction with comparable strength depending on the older person’s situation. Acceptance takes more of a prime position in low control situations.”

 

 

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Gang Members Found to Suffer Unprecedented Levels of Psychiatric Illness

From the 12 July post at Science Daily

 

Young men who are gang members suffer unprecedented levels of psychiatric illness, placing a heavy burden on mental health services, according to new research led by Queen Mary, University of London.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Maurice & Jacqueline Bennett Charitable Trust funded study surveyed 4,664 men aged 18 to 34 in Britain. The survey covered measures of psychiatric illness, violence and gang membership. It is the first time research has looked into whether gang violence is associated with psychiatric illness, other than substance misuse.

In terms of mental health, gang members and violent men were significantly more likely to suffer from a mental disorder and access psychiatric services than non-violent men. The exception was depression, which was significantly less common among gang members and violent men.

Violent ruminative thinking, violent victimisation and fear of further victimisation were significantly higher in gang members and believed to account for high levels of psychosis and anxiety disorder in gang members.

The findings showed that, of the 108 gang members surveyed:

  • 85.8 per cent had an antisocial personality disorder;
  • Two-thirds were alcohol dependent;
  • 25.1 per cent screened positive for psychosis;
  • More than half (57.4 per cent) were drug dependent;
  • Around a third (34.2 per cent) had attempted suicide; and
  • More than half (58.9 per cent) had an anxiety disorder.

The authors suggest that the higher rate of attempted suicide attempts among gang members may be associated with other psychiatric illness, but could also correspond with the notion that impulsive violence may be directed both outwardly and inwardly.

Street gangs are concentrated in inner urban areas characterised by socioeconomic deprivation, high crime rates and multiple social problems. The authors report that around one per cent of 18 to 34-year-old men in Britain are gang members. The level rises to 8.6 per cent in the London borough of Hackney, where one in five black men reported gang membership….

English: An MS-13 suspect bearing gang tattoos...

English: An MS-13 suspect bearing gang tattoos is handcuffed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | 1 Comment

Listen to the stories behind substance dependence

English: Most significant possible long-term e...

English: Most significant possible long-term effects of ethanol. Sources are found in main article: Wikipedia:Ethanol#Long-term. Model: Mikael Häggström. To discuss image, please see Template_talk:Häggström diagrams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the KevinMD blog of June 27, 2013

 

“You don’t have any idea what you’re dealing with, do you?” asked Mr. Johnson a mere two minutes into my interview. The scene is the Crisis Intervention Unit. The time is 3:00am. I have a feeling my breath is terrible. The hospital pizza I engulfed earlier in the evening has decided to stage a churning acidic protest in my guts. However, far worse than my half-closed eyes, my halitosis or my gastrointestinal distress is the fact that he’s absolutely right. Mr. Johnson is here because he has come to the realization that living sober is about as awful as living as an alcoholic. As a result, he has decided life is simply not worth living.

As a practitioner, patients caught in this double-bind are among the most frustrating to treat. They are living proof that substance dependence treatment can be quite shortsighted. The logic is charmingly simple and irritatingly simplistic: if you’re drinking too much, then you should probably stop. Once you stop, all will be better.

To properly understand the failure of this logic, we need to distinguish the brain from the mind. Although our medications and therapies are effective in removing alcohol from the brain, we are less successful filling the empty space left in the mind. Mr. Johnson’s alcohol use started as a coping strategy and slowly evolved into a way of navigating the world: a drink to take the edge off at a dinner party; a libation or five to take the edge off of a bad day at the office; a quick stop at the corner bar after work to steel himself against a troubled marriage and a wayward teen. Alcohol played prominently in the way his mind functioned for years….

 

Read entire blog post here

 

 

 

July 14, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog]Re-framing Drugs as a Public Health Issue

Re-framing Drugs as a Public Health Issue.

From the Criminal Injustice Blog item of April 2, 2013

By Louellyn Lambros

It is time that drug use be viewed as a public health issue, rather than a matter for the criminal justice system. Too many drug users are saddled unnecessarily with criminal records, making it extraordinarily difficult to have fulfilling lives including being able to work and to make other kinds of valuable contributions to their families and society.

The skyrocketing incarceration rate in our country has been an outgrowth of the War on Drugs, which began over thirty years ago and had its roots in a political strategy to gain the votes of disaffected whites, in the wake of a successful Civil Rights struggle. Since outright discrimination on the basis of race was no longer acceptable or legal, an alternative route was to label African-Americans as criminals, thereby opening the door to reintroduce all the same forms of discrimination – in employment, housing, voting rights, and so on.

As the number of incarcerated people in the US grew from 300,000 in the last half of the 20th century to over 2.2 million today, racism continues to fuel the revolving door of our fellow citizens into the criminal justice system. In addition, the system has become big business, employing a growing number of judges, lawyers, prosecutors, and all types of ancillary personnel. Prisons themselves are becoming increasingly privatized, run as money-making corporations which sell shares on the NYSE. In thirty-seven states, prison labor is contracted to major corporations who pay 16 to 28 cents an hour, ensuring astronomical profits.

While the majority of Americans, once educated on the issue, may be persuaded by the injustice of the situation as it affects minority communities and may be horrified by how the one percent is capable of turning anything into a lucrative business, it will take more time and effort to address the concerns of those whose loved ones have suffered from addiction and subsequent incarceration.

The truth is that no one, particularly the most vulnerable dealing with drug addiction, is served by the current system. Those who are susceptible to addiction are even more vulnerable and in need of self-soothing in the face of extreme stress. Why do therefore we respond to their difficulties with a system of incarceration which stresses them to the max and saddles them with second-class citizen status as a ‘felon’ upon release back into their home communities?

A policy of decriminalization, as has been in place in Portugal since 2001, would take the whole issue of drug addiction out of the criminal justice system and make it a civil and public health matter. A panel of three– made up of two individuals with a health background and one with a legal background–would make a determination: is this person’s drug use a problem? If not, perhaps a fine or a warning will suffice. If it is deemed a problem, treatment and rehabilitation are in order. Treatment facilities could easily be funded by resources reallocated from the criminal justice system.

 

May 2, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New DARE–Drug Abuse Reliant Education

The New DARE–Drug Abuse Reliant Education.

With the school system failing them, many children are turning to drugs. Heard this one before, right? Well, how about the part where the pusher is your pediatrician, and the fed is subsidizing?

“I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”

Terrifying.

A recent NYT article spot lighted increasing psych diagnoses in children for the purpose of acquiring “brain boosting” pharma creations to increase academic performance. The purpose is to make a child more competitive on a college application, and increase funding for a school district as test scores rise. Children are being force-fed drugs instead of given the attention they need or the freedom to be creative and learn discipline on their own as pharmaceutical “solutions” are abused as steroids for the brain. Worse yet, the behavior is sanctioned by those in authority, who are supposed to advocate for their well-being–their parents, doctors and the federal government…

..

Education is a highly competitive arena, whether it’s a student vying for a scholarship or admission to their college of choice, or a district teaching to standardized test scores and praying for funding. The Obama administration’s lauded “Race to the Top” initiative even goes so far as making funding an actual competition–schools submit innovative proposals for education reform in an effort to win federal money.

An anonymous California superintendent pontificated that “diagnosis rates of A.D.H.D. have risen as sharply as school funding has declined.” Poor children are being prescribed stimulants at increasing rates, and Medicare is paying the bill. If we are not directly funding public education in this country, we are indirectly doing so in efforts to respond to the problem….

 

 

May 2, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychiatry, Psychology, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why is Hospice Still A Tough Call–Even for People Who Know?

Originally posted on As Our Parents Age:

Check out this fact sheet

Check out this hospice fact sheet.

When a person is approaching the end of life, we can find no easy answers, no solution that fits every person’s or family’s situation, even when they know a lot about the options available to them.

To illustrate this you will want to read For Hospice Pioneer, Still a Tough Call, by Paula Span at the New York Times New Old Age Blog. She describes the end-of-life period for Paul Brenner, age 73, who spend years organizing and leading hospice organizations around the country. Despite all of this experience, it was still challenging for Mr. Brenner and for his family to engage with hospice.

Over and over I hear from friends and acquaintances how a loved one uses hospice for the last several days or perhaps a week at the end of life, and I am sometimes puzzled about how difficult it…

View original 186 more words

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

The Online Blues—Is There A Relationship Between Social Media And Mental Well-Being?

Janice Flahiff:

Anxious

Unsettled

Disheartened

Irritable

Stressed

Frustrated

Drained

We all experience the above states from time to time as a result of our work environments. I know I did, which prompted a midlife career shift from clinical to nonclinical medicine.

So imagine my surprise to feel these emotions resurface during my year of playing hooky to write.

WHAT GIVES?

Recently, after an irritable self-pity party summoned Mr. Nasty Pants, my dreaded personality imp, I tugged at the stripes on his pants and said, “What the crap? I’ve spent my day glued to a laptop yet have little product to show for my efforts.”

Mr. Nasty Pants

My personality imp, Mr. Nasty Pants

My impish nemesis danced his evil two-step and laughed. “Oh, what’s de matter. Is wittle, baby Carrie’s plan not going her way?”

I sighed, closed my laptop, and assumed a supine position on the floor, hoping to soothe the twisted knot in my back. Then I accessed my left brain for analysis. What exactly was going on here?

  • Was it the writing process itself? My neurons fired a quick no in response.
  • Was it guilt over playing hooky from medicine? Eh, maybe a little, but not completely.
  • Was it the fact that my writing progress did not match my timeline? Bingo.

Okay, so if that was the source of my angst, what was the root?

At this point, Mr. Nasty Pants leaped onto my stomach and resumed his jig. “Twiddle dee, twiddle dum, you spend too much time online, my stupid chum.”

Hmm, my fashion-challenged demon might have a point.

ENTER PUBMED

Naturally, my first impulse was research. Are there studies to suggest too much online media is associated with psychological distress?

The concept makes sense; it doesn’t take millions of funding dollars to see that. Plus, I’ve read reams of pediatric literature discussing social media’s harmful effects on kids. But what about adults?

Show me the studies, man.

Here’s some of what I found:

  1. Media Multitasking is Associated with Symptoms of Depression and Social Anxiety: Given the title says it all, I see no reason to elaborate.
  2. Internet-Related Psychosis−A Sign of the Times: Well, now, that doesn’t sound good. In this study, too much social media involving ‘hyperpersonal’ relationships with strangers resulted in negative feelings. And delusions. (That’s the psychosis part, folks). For more information on this pleasant thought, see the aptly named article Can Facebook Drive You Crazy – Literally?
  3. Study: People Who Are Constantly Online Can Develop Mental Disorders (Abstract here): Um, yeah…again, pretty self-explanatory. But in addition to depression, this study also found sleep disorders and poor ergonomics (improper body positioning). One of the main culprits is that in an online world that’s 24/7, people never feel free. Furthermore, if they neglect their social media, feelings of guilt surface.

Kind of like when you don’t get to everyone’s blog posts, right?

NOW WHAT?

So what’s a bloke to do? Especially if said bloke uses social media not only for interaction but also as a marketing tool.

One needn’t be a genius to answer that. As Mr. Nasty Pants would say, jumping off each of our heads in gleeful spitefulness, “Turn off the endless black holes.”

But we know it’s not that easy. We want and need to maintain the interaction. But we also need to get work done and meet our personal deadlines. Finding that balance is the ever-elusive golden goose, is it not?

For my own self, I know I need to cut back. I only post once a week, and as such, perhaps I’ll only be able to visit other blogs once a week. And less Twitter. And Facebook. And forums. And…

When I have the answers, I’ll let you know…

What about you? Do you ever get the online blues? Are you able to cut back without guilt? 

All images from Microsoft Clip Art

Like this:

Originally posted on The Write Transition:

Anxious

Unsettled

Disheartened

Irritable

Stressed

Frustrated

Drained

We all experience the above states from time to time as a result of our work environments. I know I did, which prompted a midlife career shift from clinical to nonclinical medicine.

So imagine my surprise to feel these emotions resurface during my year of playing hooky to write.

What Gives?

Recently, after an irritable self-pity party summoned Mr. Nasty Pants, my dreaded personality imp, I tugged at the stripes on his pants and said, “What the crap? I’ve spent my day glued to a laptop yet have little product to show for my efforts.”

Mr. Nasty Pants

My personality imp, Mr. Nasty Pants

My impish nemesis danced his evil two-step and laughed. “Oh, what’s de matter. Is wittle, baby Carrie’s plan not going her way?”

I sighed, closed my laptop, and assumed a supine position on the floor, hoping to soothe the twisted knot in…

View original 492 more words

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , | 1 Comment

Email, voicemail, text… no response. What gives?

Ever been frustrated when leaving a message but not getting a response?
You are not alone!

I decided to post this because it seems to be a mental health issue, or related to a number of mental health issues.
For example, one reaction to no responses when emailing someone could be unwarranted anger or resentment.
And it just might be possible that the other person is just busy or overwhelmed.

There’s no easy answer to somehow “reconciling” instant communication with increasingly physical distances.
But just being able to label or identify the related issues is progress towards smoothing over communication challenges and fostering empathy.

Here’s some excerpts from the article  by MARTHA IRVINE | AP National Writer

Technology is supposed to make us easier to reach, and often does. But the same modes of communication that have hooked us on the instant reply also can leave us feeling forgotten…

…Whatever the reason, it’s causing a lot of frustration. A recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 39 percent of cell phone owners say people they know complain because they don’t respond promptly to phone calls or text messages. A third of cell owners also have been told they don’t check their phones frequently enough…
.

Those types of missed communications — and a lack of response — can cause “turbulence” in a relationship, says Dan Faltesek, an assistant professor of social media at Oregon State University. But, he adds, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“It can be a little awkward, but you should talk to people about how you like to talk,” Faltesek says. “Everyone will be happier when they say what the rules are.”

And it’ll go even more smoothly, he says, when people are willing to step outside their own favorite mode of communication to those preferred by the person they’re contacting.

“Use the reverse golden rule,” Faltesek advises. “Treat others the way THEY like to be treated.”
Read more: Email, voicemail, text… no response. What gives? – Mywesttexas.com: Homehttp://www.mywesttexas.com/article_b75e1e32-7f90-11e2-bd47-001a4bcf887a.html#ixzz2MTNH8XoU
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

On another note,  this article was in the print edition of my hometown newspaper.
I am wondering if I would have missed this article if it had not been in our newspaper.

 

March 3, 2013 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , | 1 Comment

CDC Releases Data on Interpersonal and Sexual Violence by Sexual Orientation (A First in this Area)

nisvs_coverFrom the 25 January 2013 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) press release

The first set of national prevalence data on intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual violence (SV), and stalking victimization by sexual orientation was released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study found that lesbians and gay men reported IPV and SV over their lifetimes at levels equal to or higher than those of heterosexuals; with sexual orientation based on respondents’ identification at the time of the survey.

The survey also found that bisexual women (61.1 percent) report a higher prevalence of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner compared to both lesbian (43.8 percent) and heterosexual women (35 percent). Of the bisexual women who experienced IPV, approximately 90 percent reported having only male perpetrators, while two -thirds of lesbians reported having only female perpetrators of IPV.

The data presented in this report do not indicate whether violence occurs more often in same-sex or opposite sex couples. Rather, the data show the prevalence of lifetime victimization of intimate partner violence, sexual violence and stalking of respondents who self-identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual at the time of the survey and describe violence experienced with both same-sex and opposite-sex partners. …

Other key findings include:

  • The majority of women who reported experiencing sexual violence, regardless of their sexual orientation, reported that they were victimized by male perpetrators.
  • Nearly half of female bisexual victims (48.2 percent) and more than one-quarter of female heterosexual victims (28.3 percent) experienced their first rape between the ages of 11 and 17 years.

CDC will work to create resources to bring attention to these issues within lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.

For more information about NISVS, including study details, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/index.html.

To watch webinars that discuss the NISVS 2010 Summary findings, please visit PreventConnectExternal Web Site Icon, a national online project dedicated to the primary prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence.

 

 

February 6, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Health Statistics, Librarian Resources, Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

The Roots of Newtown, Part II: Purposeless boys

Janice Flahiff:

 

Originally posted on The Fly:

Come back Mom and Dad

You’re growing apart; you know that I’m growing up sad

I need some attention

I shoot into the light.

– Peter Gabriel, “Family Snapshot”

Purposeless boys are dangerous.

Michael Gurian, in his book The Purpose of Boys (2010), lists some of the effects of the growing population of boys without purpose.

  • For every 100 girls in public schools, 335 boys are expelled.
  • For every 100 girls ages 15-19 who commit suicide, 549 boys in the same age range kill themselves.
  • For every 100 women ages 18-21 in correctional facilities, there are 1,430 men behind bars.
  • For every 100 American women who earn a bachelor’s degree, 73 American men earn the same degree.

The key, Gurian points out, is that all boys intuitively crave being a part of, and contributing to, something that gives them status, respect, and purpose.Boys playing. Without a proper path to purpose…

View original 568 more words

February 2, 2013 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Virtual Superheroes: Using Superpowers in Virtual Reality to Encourage Prosocial Behavior

journal.pone.0055003.g001

Figure 1. Participant flying in VR.  This figure shows: (A) The labels the Head Mounted Display, which renders the virtual world on two screens, one for each of the participant’s eyes; (B) The optical tracking markers are labeled. One marker is placed on the participant’s head and two are placed in the participant’s hands. These markers track X,Y, Z position; When the participant raises her hands above her head, she flies higher in the virtual city; (C) One of the eight motion-capture cameras that track the optical marks; and (D) The orientation tracker for head rotation.     doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055003.g001

 

From the summary at Full Text Reports

Background

Recent studies have shown that playing prosocial video games leads to greater subsequent prosocial behavior in the real world. However, immersive virtual reality allows people to occupy avatars that are different from them in a perceptually realistic manner. We examine how occupying an avatar with the superhero ability to fly increases helping behavior.

Principal Findings

Using a two-by-two design, participants were either given the power of flight (their arm movements were tracked to control their flight akin to Superman’s flying ability) or rode as a passenger in a helicopter, and were assigned one of two tasks, either to help find a missing diabetic child in need of insulin or to tour a virtual city. Participants in the “super-flight” conditions helped the experimenter pick up spilled pens after their virtual experience significantly more than those who were virtual passengers in a helicopter.

Conclusion

The results indicate that having the “superpower” of flight leads to greater helping behavior in the real world, regardless of how participants used that power. A possible mechanism for this result is that having the power of flight primed concepts and prototypes associated with superheroes (e.g., Superman). This research illustrates the potential of using experiences in virtual reality technology to increase prosocial behavior in the physical world.

February 1, 2013 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Multi-Tasks and Why? Multi-Tasking Ability, Perceived Multi-Tasking Ability, Impulsivity, and Sensation Seeking

Tantek Multitasking

Tantek Multitasking (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

 

From the 29 January 2013 summary at Full Text Reports

 

The present study examined the relationship between personality and individual differences in multi-tasking ability. Participants enrolled at the University of Utah completed measures of multi-tasking activity, perceived multi-tasking ability, impulsivity, and sensation seeking. In addition, they performed the Operation Span in order to assess their executive control and actual multi-tasking ability.

The findings indicate that the persons who are most capable of multi-tasking effectively are not the persons who are most likely to engage in multiple tasks simultaneously. To the contrary, multi-tasking activity as measured by the Media Multitasking Inventory and self-reported cell phone usage while driving were negatively correlated with actual multi-tasking ability.

Multi-tasking was positively correlated with participants’ perceived ability to multi-task ability which was found to be significantly inflated. Participants with a strong approach orientation and a weak avoidance orientation – high levels of impulsivity and sensation seeking – reported greater multi-tasking behavior.

Finally, the findings suggest that people often engage in multi-tasking because they are less able to block out distractions and focus on a singular task. Participants with less executive control – low scorers on the Operation Span task and persons high in impulsivity – tended to report higher levels of multi-tasking activity.

 

 

 

 

January 31, 2013 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frontiers publishes systematic review on the effects of yoga on major psychiatric disorders

From the 25 January 2013 EurkAlert

Yoga on our minds: The 5,000-year-old Indian practice may have positive effects on major psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, ADHD and sleep complaints

Yoga has positive effects on mild depression and sleep complaints, even in the absence of drug treatments, and improves symptoms associated with schizophrenia and ADHD in patients on medication, according to a systematic review of the exercise on major clinical psychiatric disorders.

Published in the open-access journal, Frontiers in Psychiatry, on January 25th, 2013, the review of more than one hundred studies focusing on 16 high-quality controlled studies looked at the effects of yoga on depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, sleep complaints, eating disorders and cognition problems.

Yoga in popular culture

Yoga is a popular exercise and is practiced by 15.8 million adults in the United States alone, according to a survey by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau, and its holistic goal of promoting psychical and mental health is widely held in popular belief.

“However, yoga has become such a cultural phenomenon that it has become difficult for physicians and patients to differentiate legitimate claims from hype,” wrote the authors in their study. “Our goal was to examine whether the evidence matched the promise.”

Read the entire article here

January 25, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Surprising connections between our well-being and giving, getting, and gratitude

From the 19 January 2013 EurekAlert

January 19, 2013 – New Orleans – We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is good for our general health and well-being. But new research is highlighting a more surprising benefit of good sleep: more feelings of gratitude for relationships.

“A plethora of research highlights the importance of getting a good night’s sleep for physical and psychological well-being, yet in our society, people still seem to take pride in needing, and getting, little sleep,” says Amie Gordon of the University of California, Berkeley. “And in the past, research has shown that gratitude promotes good sleep, but our research looks at the link in the other direction and, to our knowledge, is the first to show that everyday experiences of poor sleep are negatively associated with gratitude toward others – an important emotion that helps form and maintain close social bonds.”

Social psychologists are increasingly finding that “prosocial” behavior – including expressing gratitude and giving to others – is key to our psychological well-being. Even how we choose to spend our money on purchases affects our health and happiness. And children develop specific ways to help others from a very young age. Gordon and other researchers will be presenting some of these latest findings at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) annual meeting today in New Orleans.

Sleeping to feel grateful…

[Article continues to summarize other findings as

  • giving away money to feel wealthy
  • buying experiences to feel wealthy
  • knowing what is best to help others]

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

January 22, 2013 Posted by | Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

[Booklet] Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Parents Can Do

coping-parents

Practical ways parents and others can help children in the days, weeks, and months after traumatic events.
From the US National Institute on Mental Health.
Tips are practical and some are arranged by age groups.
An excerpt from the booklet 

How Parents Can Help:

After violence or a disaster parents and family should:

  • Identify and address their own feelings — this will allow them to help others
  • Explain to children what happened
  • Let children know:
    • You love them
    • The event was not their fault
    • You will take care of them, but only if you can; be honest
    • It’s okay for them to feel upset
  • DO:
    • Allow children to cry
    • Allow sadness
    • Let children talk about feelings
    • Let them write about feelings
    • Let them draw pictures
  • DON’T:
    • Expect children to be brave or tough
    • Make children discuss the event before they are ready
    • Get angry if children show strong emotions
    • Get upset if they begin:
      • Bed-wetting
      • Acting out
      • Thumb-sucking
  • If children have trouble sleeping:
    • Give them extra attention
    • Let them sleep with a light on
    • Let them sleep in your room (for a short time)
  • Try to keep normal routines (such routines may not be normal for some children):
    • Bed-time stories
    • Eating dinner together
    • Watching TV together
    • Reading books, exercising, playing games
  • If you can’t keep normal routines, make new ones together
  • Help children feel in control:
    • Let them choose meals, if possible
    • Let them pick out clothes, if possible
    • Let them make some decisions for themselves, when possible.

 

 

January 15, 2013 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Delusions Of Gender: Men’s Insecurities May Lead To Sexist Views Of Women

Delusions of Gender

Delusions of Gender (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Thinking insecurities lead to sexist attitudes in other realms, including government, religious, and civic organizations….

 

From the 29 December 2012 article at Medical News Today

 

A new study led by Joshua Hart, assistant professor of psychology, suggests that men’s insecurities about relationships and conflicted views of women as romantic partners and rivals could lead some to adopt sexist attitudes about women…

..

Hart’s study found that anxiously attached men tend to be ambivalent sexists – both hostile and benevolent – whereas avoidantly attached men typically endorse hostile sexism, while rejecting benevolent sexism.

“In other words, anxious men are likely to alternate between chivalry and hostility toward female partners, acting like a knight in shining armor when she fulfills his goals and ideals about women, but like an ogre when she doesn’t,” Hart explained this month to the Society of Personality and Social Psychology’s web-based news site, Connections. “Avoidant men are likely to show only hostility without any princely protectiveness.”

The survey results also showed that anxiously attached men tend to be romantics at heart who adopt benevolently sexist beliefs, while avoidantly attached men lean toward social dominance. That, in turn, leads them to embrace hostile sexism.

The findings highlight how personality traits could predispose men to be sexists, according to Hart. This information could help couples build stronger relationships, particularly during therapy.

For the full study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, click here. To read Hart’s summary for the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, click here.

 

Read the entire article

 

 

 

December 29, 2012 Posted by | Psychology, Workplace Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Avoid Promoting Miracle Diets For New Year, British Lawmaker Urges Magazines

English: Jo Swinson MP addressing a Liberal De...

English: Jo Swinson MP addressing a Liberal Democrat conference in the Bournemouth International Centre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 27 December 2012 article at Medical News Today

 

Please do not promote “miracle diets” for the New Year, British Women and Equalities Minister, Jo Swinson has urged magazine editors.

Every year throughout the world, magazines are awash with miracle cure diets that guarantee incredible results after weeks of overindulgence during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Jo Swinson, MP (Member of Parliament) for East Dunbartonshire, says magazine editors must avoid the temptation of falling into the annual diet hype among their New Year resolutions for 2013. The Minister made the request in an open letter to magazine editors.

Swinson urges editors to think twice about the consequences of promoting unrealistic and untested diets on girls and women.

Swinson said “Surely by now we’re all aware that there are no miracle diets or if there are, they are miracles that come with a cost. Given that most diets fail within a very short time, it is irresponsible for magazines to offer ‘tips’ ‘tricks’ and ‘simple steps’ so that people can be thin. Not healthy or vibrant, just thin.”…

 

 

 

Read entire article here

 

 

December 27, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Human Performance Modification: Review of Worldwide Research with a View to the Future

 

 

 

 

I think horrific incidents as school shootings are a wake up call to address the root causes of violence and for us to be more compassionate to one another.
Getting tougher on crime is not the answer. On a wider scale, being on constant alert for enemies and preparing for war is not the answer to differences among people.

This is why I find this study so saddening. If only we as humans would use our capabilities more to build, rather than defend.
By holding on, and asserting ownership…in the end, we only lose so much, including our humanity.

Historically, who are most revered? I would venture to say it is the peacemakers..Buddha, Jesus the Christ, and Ghandi to name a few….

 

0309262690

 

Human Performance Modification: Review of Worldwide Research with a View to the Future.

From the summary….

The development of technologies to modify natural human physical and cognitive performance is one of increasing interest and concern, especially among military services that may be called on to defeat foreign powers with enhanced warfighter capabilities. Human performance modification (HPM) is a general term that can encompass actions ranging from the use of “natural” materials, such as caffeine or khat as a stimulant, to the application of nanotechnology as a drug delivery mechanism or in an invasive brain implant. Although the literature on HPM typically addresses methods that enhance performance, another possible focus is methods that degrade performance or negatively affect a military force’s ability to fight.

Advances in medicine, biology, electronics, and computation have enabled an increasingly sophisticated ability to modify the human body, and such innovations will undoubtedly be adopted by military forces, with potential consequences for both sides of the battle lines. Although some innovations may be developed for purely military applications, they are increasingly unlikely to remain exclusively in that sphere because of the globalization and internationalization of the commercial research base.
Based on its review of the literature, the presentations it received and on its own expertise, the Committee on Assessing Foreign Technology Development in Human Performance Modification chose to focus on three general areas of HPM: human cognitive modification as a computational problem, human performance modification as a biological problem, and human performance modification as a function of the brain-computer interface. Human Performance Modification: Review of Worldwide Research with a View to the Future summarizes these findings.

 

December 18, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Human Obedience: The Myth of Blind Conformity

From the 20 November 2012 article at Science NewsDaily

…”Decent people participate in horrific acts not because they become passive, mindless functionaries who do not know what they are doing, but rather because they come to believe — typically under the influence of those in authority — that what they are doing is right,” Professor Haslam explained.

Professor Reicher, of the University of St Andrews, added that it is not that they were blind to the evil they were perpetrating, but rather that they knew what they were doing, and believed it to be right.”…

 

December 17, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More than Good Vibes: Researchers Propose the Science Behind Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Mindfulness (Photo credit: Cathdew)

 

From the 29 October 2012  Brigham and Women’s Hospital press release

 

BOSTON, MA—Achieving mindfulness through meditation has helped people maintain a healthy mind by quelling negative emotions and thoughts, such as desire, anger and anxiety, and encouraging more positive dispositions such as compassion, empathy and forgiveness. Those who have reaped the benefits of mindfulness know that it works. But how exactly does it work?

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have proposed a new model that shifts how we think about mindfulness.  Rather than describing mindfulness as a single dimension of cognition, the researchers demonstrate that mindfulness actually involves a broad framework of complex mechanisms in the brain.

In essence, they have laid out the science behind mindfulness.

This new model of mindfulness is published in the October 25, 2012 issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. The model was recently presented to His Holiness The Dalai Lama in a private meeting, entitled “Mind and Life XXIV: Latest Findings in Contemplative Neuroscience.”

The researchers identified several cognitive functions that are active in the brain during mindfulness practice. These cognitive functions help a person develop self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART) which make up the transformative framework for the mindfulness process.

The S-ART framework explains the underlying neurobiological mechanisms by which mindfulness can facilitate self-awareness; reduce biases and negative thoughts; enhance the ability to regulate one’s behavior; and increase positive, pro-social relationships with oneself and others-all-in-all creating a sustainable healthy mind.

The researchers highlight six neuropsychological processes that are active mechanisms in the brain during mindfulness and which support S-ART. These processes include 1) intention and motivation, 2) attention regulation, 3) emotion regulation, 4) extinction and reconsolidation, 5) pro-social behavior, and 6) non-attachment and de-centering.

In other words, these processes begin with an intention and motivation to want to attain mindfulness, followed by an awareness of one’s bad habits. Once these are set, a person can begin taming him or herself to be less emotionally reactive and to recover faster from upsetting emotions.

“Through continued practice, the person can develop a psychological distance from any negative thoughts and can inhibit natural impulses that constantly fuel bad habits,” said David Vago, PhD, BWH Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, and lead study author.

Vago also states that continued practice can also increase empathy and eliminate our attachments to things we like and aversions to things we don’t like.

“The result of practice is a new You with a new multidimensional skill set for reducing biases in one’s internal and external experience and sustaining a healthy mind,” said Vago.

The S-ART framework and neurobiological model proposed by the researchers differs from current popular descriptions of mindfulness as a way of paying attention, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. With the help of functional MRI, Vago and his team are currently testing the model in humans.

This research was supported by the Mind and Life Institute, Impact Foundation, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (5-R21AT002209-02).

 

 

October 31, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Traumatic Consequences Long After Fall of the Berlin Wall

English: Political Prisoners, sculpture by Sur...

English: Political Prisoners, sculpture by Suren Nazaryan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

PTSD – not just a war zone related condition.
The real eye opener was that 2/3 of the survivors were not suffering from this condition according to the parameters of the study.
Note to self: Research factors

 

 

 

From the 25 October 2012 article at ScienceDaily

 

One in three former political prisoners of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) still suffers from sleeping disorders, nightmares and irrational fear. Professor Andreas Maercker from the University of Zurich and PD Matthias Schützwohl from Dresden University of Technology reveal these post-traumatic stress disorders in a study — the first to examine the post-traumatic consequences in former political prisoners over a period of 15 years…

…To our surprise, post-traumatic stress disorder is still present in a third of the people studied,” says Professor Maercker, summing up the results. “While some have recovered compared to 15 years ago, in others the stress disorder has only manifested itself in recent years.” In all, such a delayed or recurrent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was apparent in 15 percent. We know from studies from other countries — mostly on prisoners of war or other victims of violence — that delayed or recurrent PTSD exists, albeit to a lesser extent. Maercker and Schützwohl’s study is the first to demonstrate this for former political prisoners. It appears in the journal Nervenarzt and additional analyses are to be published in the English-language journal Torture…

Decline in dependency on addictive substances

Other psychological disorders that former GDR prisoners suffered from decreased during the 15 years. Specific phobias such as claustrophobia were less common, for instance. The number of people addicted to alcohol and medication also fell. However, the number with acute depression quadrupled to 41 percent of those studied last year. At both time points, a more or less equal number suffered from anxiety disorders such as panic disorder (24 percent last year)….

 

 

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Does True Love Wait? Age of First Sexual Experience Predicts Romantic Outcomes in Adulthood

Please read the entire article, there are many factors that need to be “teased out” in future studies (as the author emphasizes).
A fascinating read, nonetheless.

From the 17 October 2012 article at ScienceNewsDaily

It’s a common lament among parents: Kids are growing up too fast these days. Parents worry about their kids getting involved in all kinds of risky behavior, but they worry especially about their kids’ forays into sexual relationships. And research suggests that there may be cause for concern, as timing of sexual development can have significant immediate consequences for adolescents’ physical and mental health.

But what about long-term outcomes? How might early sexual initiation affect romantic relationships in adulthood?

Psychological scientist Paige Harden of the University of Texas at Austin wanted to investigate whether the timing of sexual initiation in adolescence might predict romantic outcomes — such as whether people get married or live with their partners, how many romantic partners they’ve had, and whether they’re satisfied with their relationship — later in adulthood…

Read the entire article here

 

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whether We Like Someone Affects How Our Brain Processes Movement

 

From the 5 October 2012 article at Science Daily

Hate the Lakers? Do the Celtics make you want to hurl? Whether you like someone can affect how your brain processes their actions, according to new research from the Brain and Creativity Institute at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Most of the time, watching someone else move causes a “mirroring” effect — that is, the parts of our brains responsible for motor skills are activated by watching someone else in action.

But a study by USC researchers appearing October 5 in PLOS ONEshows that whether you like the person you’re watching can actually have an effect on brain activity related to motor actions and lead to “differential processing” — for example, thinking the person you dislike is moving more slowly than they actually are…

Past research has shown that race or physical similarity can influence brain processes, and we tend to have more empathy for people who look more like us.

In this study, the researchers controlled for race, age and gender, but they introduced a backstory that primed participants to dislike some of the people they were observing: Half were presented as neo-Nazis, and half were presented as likable and open-minded. All study participants recruited for the study were Jewish males.

The researchers found that when people viewed someone they disliked, a part of their brain that was otherwise activated in “mirroring” — the right ventral premotor cortex — had a different pattern of activity for the disliked individuals as compared to the liked individuals…

..

“These findings lend important support for the notion that social factors influence our perceptual processing.”

 

 

October 10, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Do We Make Moral Judgments? Insights from Psychological Science

 

From the 21 September 2012 article at Science News Daily

We might like to think that our judgments are always well thought-out, but research suggests that our moral judgments are often based on intuition. Our emotions seem to drive our intuitions, giving us the gut feeling that something is ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ In some cases, however, we seem to be able to override these initial reactions.

Matthew Feinberg and colleagues hypothesized that this might be the result of reappraisal, a process by which we dampen the intensity of our emotions by focusing on an intellectual description of why we are experiencing the emotion.

Across several studies, participants read stories describing moral dilemmas involving behaviors participants would probably find disgusting. Participants who reappraised the scenarios logically were less likely to make intuition-based moral judgments. These findings suggest that although our emotional reactions elicit moral intuitions, these emotions can also be regulated.

“In this way,” the researchers write, “we are both slave and master, with the capacity to be controlled by, but also shape, our emotion-laden judgmental processes.”……

 

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Misinformation: Why It Sticks and How to Fix It

From the 19 September 2011 article at Science News Daily

The main reason that misinformation is sticky, according to the researchers, is that rejecting information actually requires cognitive effort. Weighing the plausibility and the source of a message is cognitively more difficult than simply accepting that the message is true — it requires additional motivational and cognitive resources. If the topic isn’t very important to you or you have other things on your mind, misinformation is more likely to take hold.

And when we do take the time to thoughtfully evaluate incoming information, there are only a few features that we are likely to pay attention to: Does the information fit with other things I believe in? Does it make a coherent story with what I already know? Does it come from a credible source? Do others believe it?

Misinformation is especially sticky when it conforms to our preexisting political, religious, or social point of view. Because of this, ideology and personal worldviews can be especially difficult obstacles to overcome.

Even worse, efforts to retract misinformation often backfire, paradoxically amplifying the effect of the erroneous belief.

“This persistence of misinformation has fairly alarming implications in a democracy because people may base decisions on information that, at some level, they know to be false,” says Lewandowsky….

In their report, Lewandowsky and colleagues offer some strategies for setting the record straight.

  • Provide people with a narrative that replaces the gap left by false information
  • Focus on the facts you want to highlight, rather than the myths
  • Make sure that the information you want people to take away is simple and brief
  • Consider your audience and the beliefs they are likely to hold
  • Strengthen your message through repetition
  • The Penn State Medical Center Library has a great guide to evaluate health information on the Internet.

    The tips include

    • Remember, anyone can publish information on the internet!
    • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
      If the Web site is primarily about selling a product, the information may be worth checking from another source.
    • Look for who is publishing the information and their education, credentials, and if they are connected with a trusted coporation, university or agency.
    • Check to see how current the information is.
    • Check for accuracy. Does the Web site refer to specific studies or organizations?

The Family Caregiver Alliance has a Web page entitled Evaluating Medical Research Findings and Clinical Trials
Topics include

  • General Guidelines for Evaluating Medical Research
  • Getting Information from the Web
  • Talking with your Health Care Provider


Additional Resources

 
And a Rumor Control site of Note (in addition to Quackwatch)
 National Council Against Health Fraud National Council Against Health Fraud is a nonprofit health agency fousing on health misinformation, fruad, and quackery as public health problems. Links to publications, position papers and more.

September 21, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

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