Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

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

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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

War causes mental illness in soldiers

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems there is still debate (see related articles).

 

From the 19th September 2012 EurekAlert

One in every two cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers remains undiagnosed. This is the conclusion reached by a working group led by Hans-Ulrich Wittchen et al. They report their study in the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2012; 109(35): 559), which is a special issue focusing on the prevalence of psychological stress in German army soldiers. In a second original article, results reported by Jens T Kowalski and colleagues show that more female soldiers contact the psychosocial support services provided by Germany’s armed forces than their male colleagues (Dtsch Arztbl Int 2012; 109 (35): 559).

Wittchen et al. draw attention to the fact that thus far no information has been available on how commonly soldiers have traumatic experiences during deployments to Afghanistan and develop PSTD. In their study, 85% of all soldiers deployed overseas reported at least one distressing event, but usually several such events. Overseas deployment is associated with twice or four times the risk of PTSD for soldiers. In international comparison, the prevalence of PTSD is notably lower in German soldiers, at 2.9%, than in soldiers from other countries who are deployed in the same regions. However, the estimated proportion of undiagnosed and untreated cases of PTSD is 45%.

Kowalski et al. explain that it is not only Afghanistan from where soldiers return in a traumatized state but also Kosovo. The number of Kosovo returnees with mental problems in their study increased significantly compared to the number of traumatized soldiers returning from Afghanistan. The study is based on hospital data of all German army psychiatric wards; these data evaluated the psychiatric morbidities between January 2010 through June 2011. The most common diagnoses were adjustment disorders, PSTD, and mild and moderate depressive episodes.

 

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http://www.aerzteblatt.de/pdf.asp?id=128487

http://www.aerzteblatt.de/pdf.asp?id=128488

Accompanying Editorial: http://www.aerzteblatt.de/pdf.asp?id=128486

 

 

September 20, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

One in Three Victims of Teen Dating Violence Has Had More Than One Abuser

After reading this article a few questions come to mind.
Has this kind of violence always occurred, and is only now being studied more closely in the past?
Are more people becoming increasingly desensitized to violence through depiction in the media? and being violent (including verbally) without realizing the consequences?
Should dating be discouraged in people under 16 ? Should they be encouraged to socialize with others in the younger teen years rather than date in order to learn how to communicate, respect one another, and develop as individuals?
Do people (especially girls, young women) have too high expectations of dating? Do they expect a boy or young man to fill needs best met by families/parents?

On a related note, about a year ago I was on our courthouse grounds for a few hours. I was participating in a local peace group’s display of the cost of the Iraq war. A couple walked by, and the young man (late teens/early 20′s) was pushing the young woman he was walking with and calling her names.  Although both were smiling, it seemed like it was escalating. I stepped in, not boldly, and tried to get him to stop through words. Forgot what I said. He didn’t really stop, but at least it did not get any worse.
On reflection, the relationship seemed to be based more on ownership than mutual love. So sad.

 

Excerpts From the 18 September 2012 article at Science Daily

Overall, nearly two-thirds of both men and women reported some type of abuse during their teenage years, which falls in line with other studies.

But it was surprising how many teen victims had two or more abusive partners, said Amy Bonomi, lead author of the study and associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.

“For about one in three teens who were abused, it wasn’t just one bad boyfriend or girlfriend. It may have been at least the start of a trend,” Bonomi said.

The same patterns were not seen in similar population-based studies of adults, who tend to report abuse by a single partner, she said….

One argument that violence researchers often hear is that behaviors like name-calling and insults aren’t serious enough to be called abuse. But that’s not true, Bonomi said.

“Studies in adults have shown that psychological abuse alone can be damaging to health,” she said. She is currently studying whether the same is true for adolescents….

Some types of dating violence tended to occur at earlier ages than others, the study found. For females reporting dating violence, controlling behavior tended to occur early, with 44 percent reporting it between the ages of 13 and 15. For males, 13 to 15 was the most common age range for the first occurrence of put-downs and name-calling (60 percent).

Pressure to have sex was more likely to start at later ages, from 16 to 17 for women.

Bonomi said it was significant that college students were reporting this level of abuse as teens.

“There’s a common belief in our society that dating violence only affects low-income and disadvantaged teens. But these results show that even relatively privileged kids, who are on their way to college, can be victims.”

The results also call for better education in our elementary schools.

“Many of these kids are getting in relationships early, by the age of 13,” Bonomi said. “We need to help them learn about healthy relationships and how to set sexual boundaries. It shouldn’t just be one class session — it needs to be a routine discussion in school.”

  • Teen Dating Violence (politicalsocialworker.wordpress.com)
  • What’s Behind All The Violence In America Today? (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)
    “The reality untaught in American schools and textbooks is that war — whether on a large or small scale — and domestic violence have been pervasive in American life and culture from this country’s earliest days almost 400 years ago. Violence, in varying forms,according to the leading historian of the subject, Richard Maxwell Brown, “has accompanied virtually every stage and aspect of our national experience,” and is “part of our unacknowledged (underground) value structure.” Indeed, “repeated episodes of violence going far back into our colonial past, have imprinted upon our citizens a propensity to violence.”Thus, America demonstrated a national predilection for war and domestic violence long before the 9/11 attacks, but its leaders and intellectuals through most of the last century cultivated the national self-image, a myth, of America as a moral, “peace-loving” nation which the American population seems unquestioningly to have embraced. But the Reality tells different story.”

Take dating violence, for example. Emily Rothman, associate professor at Boston University School of Public Health recently, published a study on dating violence among teenagers in December of 2010 in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. She surveyed around 1,500 students from the Boston area. Rothman found that:

… Nearly 19% of students reported physically abusing a romantic partner in the past month, including pushing, shoving, hitting, punching, kicking or choking. Nearly 43% reported verbally abusing their partner, cursing at them or calling them fat, ugly, stupid or some other insult.”

September 19, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

How Early Social Deprivation Impairs Long-Term Cognitive Function

 

Brain structures involved in dealing with fear...

Brain structures involved in dealing with fear and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 17 September 2012 article at Medical News Today

 

A growing body of research shows that children who suffer severe neglect and social isolation have cognitive and social impairments as adults. A study from Boston Children’s Hospital shows, for the first time, how these functional impairments arise: Social isolation during early life prevents the cells that make up the brain’s white matter from maturing and producing the right amount of myelin, the fatty “insulation” on nerve fibers that helps them transmit long-distance messages within the brain…

When isolation occurred during a “critical period,” starting three weeks after birth, cells called oligodendrocytes failed to mature in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region important for cognitive function and social behavior. As a result, nerve fibers had thinner coatings of myelin, which is produced by oligodendrocytes, and the mice showed impairments in social interaction and working memory.

 

 

September 17, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Self-control may not be a limited resource after all

 

From the 12 September 2012 article at EurekAlert

So many acts in our daily lives – refusing that second slice of cake, walking past the store with the latest gadgets, working on your tax forms when you’d rather watch TV – seem to boil down to one essential ingredient: self-control. Self-control is what enables us to maintain healthy habits, save for a rainy day, and get important things done.

But what is self-control, really? And how does it work?

In a new article in the September 2012 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers Michael Inzlicht of the University of Toronto and Brandon Schmeichel of Texas A&M University argue that the prevailing model of self-control may not be as precise as researchers once thought. Rather than being a limited resource, self-control may actually be more like a motivation- and attention-driven process.

Research on self-control has surged in the last decade and much of it has centered on the resource model of self-control. According to this model, originally proposed by Roy Baumeister and colleagues, self-control is a limited resource – if we exercise a lot of self-control by refusing a second slice of cake, we may not have enough self-control later in the day to resist the urge to shop or watch TV.

Over 100 papers have produced findings that support this model. Research has found, for example, that people who are required to manage their emotions show impaired performance on later tasks, such as solving a difficult puzzle, squeezing a handgrip exerciser, and keeping items in working memory.

But Inzlicht and Schmeichel point out that a newer crop of studies are yielding results that don’t fit with this idea of self-control as a depletable resource. Recent studies have shown that incentives, individual perceptions of task difficulty, personal beliefs about willpower, feedback on task performance, and changes in mood all seem to influence our ability to exercise self-control. These results suggest that self-control may not rely on a limited resource after all.

To accommodate these new findings and get at the mechanisms that underlie self-control, Inzlicht and Schmeichel propose an alternative model that describes self-control as a process involving motivation and attention.

“Engaging in self-control by definition, is hard work; it involves deliberation, attention, and vigilance,” the authors write. If we resist that second slice of cake, we may experience a shift in motivation so that we feel justified in indulging ourselves later on. It’s not necessarily the case that we can’t control ourselves because we’re “out” of self-control but rather that we choose not to control ourselves any longer.

At the same time, our attention shifts so that we’re less likely to notice cues that signal the need for self-control (cake = empty calories) and we pay more attention to cues that signal some kind of reward (cake = delicious treat).

In laying out the basic components of this process model, Inzlicht and Schmeichel want to motivate researchers to ask critical questions about how self-control really works. “The idea that self-control is a resource is one possibility, but there are alternative possibilities that can accommodate more of the accumulated data,” Inzlicht says.

Identifying the mechanisms that underlie self-control can help us to understand behaviors related to a wide range of important problems, including obesity, impulsive spending, gambling, and drug abuse. Inzlicht and Schmeichel hope that researchers will ultimately be able to use this knowledge to design effective m..

 

 

September 13, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , | Leave a comment

Favorite TV reruns may have restorative powers, says UB researcher

 

From the 9 September 2012 article at EurekAlert

 IMAGE: Derrick’s findings may dispel some notions that watching TV is bad for us.Click here for more information.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — We hear all the time that we need to get off the couch, stop watching TV and get moving.

But what if watching TV under specific conditions could actually provide the mental boost you need to tackle a difficult task?

A new paper that describes two studies by Jaye Derrick, PhD, research scientist at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, found that watching a rerun of a favorite TV show may help restore the drive to get things done in people who have used up their reserves of willpower or self-control.

“People have a limited pool of these valuable mental resources,” explains Derrick. “When they use them on a task, they use up some of this limited resource. Therefore, they have less willpower and self-control for the next task.

“With enough time, these mental resources will return. However, there may be ways to more quickly restore them.”

One of these ways is to re-watch your favorite TV show, Derrick’s research found. Doing so, she says, taps into the surrogate relationship people form with the characters in their favorite shows. We find it comforting, mainly because we already know what the characters are going to say and do. All we have to do is sit back and enjoy it.

“When you watch a favorite re-run, you typically don’t have to use any effort to control what you are thinking, saying or doing. You are not exerting the mental energy required for self-control or willpower,” Derrick explains. “At the same time, you are enjoying your ‘interaction,’ with the TV show’s characters, and this

 

September 11, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Learn to understand and interpret your body’s language (holiday stress example included)

 

From KevinMD.com article  by SUSAN BIALI, MD on September 9th, 2012

A few weeks ago I was brought in to speak to the staff of a local university. I gave a two hour workshop, which is even more fun for me than giving a keynote as I get to interact personally with the audience and draw their stories out. One of the sections of the workshop was about listening to your body. Every person’s body “speaks” to them in a different way; it’s important to pay attention to and learn to understand and interpret your body’s language.

 

When your life is off track, your body will let you know. It starts small, whispering to you through minor ailments such as suddenly developing a rash like eczema, or getting mild tension headaches. If you don’t pay attention and make adjustments it will get louder. You might start catching every cold that’s around, or end up with pneumonia.

This isn’t to say that you necessarily caused any and every medical condition you might end up with; there will always be some health situations that we have no explanation for. Yet there’s no question that when you’re out of balance in your life it’s perceived by your body as a stressor, and that can lead to all kinds of secondary consequences (and physical alarm bells). It’s essential to pay attention to this.

While speaking at that university, I asked the audience members if they had any examples of a time their body let them know that something in their life had to change. A small, pleasant-faced woman raised her hand.

“I got diabetes,” she told us. “There’s absolutely no history of it in our family. It was purely due to stress.”

Chronic excess stress could trigger diabetes in a variety of ways: reaching for sugary snacks or other poor food choices to temporarily calm and comfort; lack of time to exercise and maintain a healthy weight; being chronically sleep-deprived (even brief sleep deprivation triggers a pre-diabetic state); or having constantly elevated stress hormones that raise blood sugar.

I asked her what the circumstances were that had made her life so stressful.

“I’m a victim of the sandwich generation,” she said. “I was taking care of my kids, my parents, and everybody else. When I got diagnosed with diabetes, I knew something had to change. I was the person who everyone else came to for Thanksgiving, Christmas, everything. The year I got my diagnosis I told them that if they wanted to eat turkey they could make it themselves, I wasn’t lifting a finger. They didn’t like it at first, but I had no choice. Everything’s so much better now. I made lots of positive changes that were way overdue, and my blood sugar has gone back to normal.”

 

 

 

September 11, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Expressing Your Emotions Can Reduce Fear, UCLA Psychologists Report

 

anxiety

anxiety (Photo credit: FlickrJunkie)

 

From the 7 September 2012 article at Medical News Today

 

“Give sorrow words.” – Malcolm in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”

Can simply describing your feelings at stressful times make you less afraid and less anxious?

A new UCLA psychology study suggests that labeling your emotions at the precise moment you are confronting what you fear can indeed have that effect.

The psychologists asked 88 people with a fear of spiders to approach a large, live tarantula in an open container outdoors. The participants were told to walk closer and closer to the spider and eventually touch it if they could.

The subjects were then divided into four groups and sat in front of another tarantula in a container in an indoor setting. In the first group, the subjects were asked to describe the emotions they were experiencing and to label their reactions to the tarantula – saying, for example, “I’m anxious and frightened by the ugly, terrifying spider.”

“This is unique because it differs from typical procedures in which the goal is to have people think differently about the experience – to change their emotional experience or change the way they think about it so that it doesn’t make them anxious,” said Michelle Craske, a professor of psychology at UCLA and the senior author of the study. “Here, there was no attempt to change their experience, just to state what they were experiencing.” …

 

 

September 7, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , | 1 Comment

The Effects of Discrimination Could Last a Lifetime

 

From the 27 August 2012 article at Science News Daily

Increased levels of depression as a result of discrimination could contribute to low birth weight babies.

Given the well-documented relationship between low birth weight and the increased risk of health problems throughout one’s lifespan, it is vital to reduce any potential contributors to low birth weight.  A new study by Valerie Earnshaw and her colleagues from Yale University sheds light on one possible causal factor.  Their findings, published online in Springer’s journal, theAnnals of Behavioral Medicine, suggest that chronic, everyday instances of discrimination against pregnant, urban women of color may play a significant role in contributing to low birth weight babies.

Twice as many black women give birth to low birth weight babies than white or Latina women in the U.S.  Reasons for this disparity are, as yet, unclear. But initial evidence suggests a link may exist between discrimination experienced while pregnant and the incidence of low birth weight.  In addition, experiences of discrimination have also been linked to depression, which causes physiological changes that can have a negative effect on a pregnancy…

..

Levels of everyday discrimination reported were generally low.  However, the impact of discrimination was the same in all the participants regardless of age, ethnicity or type of discrimination reported.  Women reporting greater levels of discrimination were more prone to depressive symptoms, and ultimately went on to have babies with lower birth weights than those reporting lower levels of discrimination.  This has implications for healthcare providers who work with pregnant teens and young women during the pre-natal period, while they have the opportunity to try and reduce the potential impacts discrimination on the pregnancy.

The authors conclude that “Given the associations between birth weight and health across the life span, it is critical to reduce discrimination directed at urban youth of color so that all children are able to begin life with greater promise for health.  In doing so, we have the possibility to eliminate disparities not only in birth weight, but in health outcomes across the lifespan.”

 

August 31, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

People Merge Supernatural and Scientific Beliefs When Reasoning With the Unknown, Study Shows

 

From the 30 August 2012 article at Science News Daily

Reliance on supernatural explanations for major life events, such as death and illness, often increases rather than declines with age, according to a new psychology study from The University of Texas at Austin.

The study, published in the June issue of Child Development, offers new insight into developmental learning.

“As children assimilate cultural concepts into their intuitive belief systems — from God to atoms to evolution — they engage in coexistence thinking,” said Cristine Legare, assistant professor of psychology and lead author of the study. “When they merge supernatural and scientific explanations, they integrate them in a variety of predictable and universal ways.”..

..

According to the findings, participants of all age groups agreed with biological explanations for at least one event. Yet supernatural explanations such as witchcraft were also frequently supported among children (ages 5 and up) and universally among adults.

Among the adult participants, only 26 percent believed the illness could be caused by either biology or witchcraft. And 38 percent split biological and scientific explanations into one theory. For example: “Witchcraft, which is mixed with evil spirits, and unprotected sex caused AIDS.” However, 57 percent combined both witchcraft and biological explanations. For example: “A witch can put an HIV-infected person in your path.”

Legare said the findings contradict the common assumption that supernatural beliefs dissipate with age and knowledge.

“The findings show supernatural explanations for topics of core concern to humans are pervasive across cultures,” Legare said. “If anything, in both industrialized and developing countries, supernatural explanations are frequently endorsed more often among adults than younger children.”

The results provide evidence that reasoning about supernatural phenomena is a fundamental and enduring aspect of human thinking, Legare said.

“The standard assumption that scientific and religious explanations compete should be re-evaluated in light of substantial psychological evidence,” Legare said. “The data, which spans diverse cultural contexts across the lifespan, shows supernatural reasoning is not necessarily replaced with scientific explanations following gains in knowledge, education or technology.”

 

 

August 31, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Why Do Good People Sometimes Do Bad Things?: 52 Reflections on Ethics at Wor

 

From the Full Text Reports abstract of August 25, 2012

M. Kaptein , Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) – Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)

Source: Social Science Research Network

Why do good people sometimes do bad things in their work? This important question for the management of the ethics and integrity of an organization is addressed in this book. Drawing on social-psychological experiments, a model of 7 cultural factors is presented.

 

August 27, 2012 Posted by | Psychology, Workplace Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Anger or gratefulness it’s up to you

From the 15 August 2012 article at Health Services Authors

Gratefulness could be the best way to happiness and to avoid child’s mental health problems in case of a pathogenic infancy. In France our psychologists developed the concept of resilience. Anglo-Saxon world put the accent on gratefulness as a tool for resilience, paving the way for the happening of a state of mind conducive to happiness. Listen to how Nancy Floy, an acupuncturist from Chicago, got through a very difficult childhood thank to her grand mother’s teaching of gratefulness for yet being still alive after a night of alcoholic chaos perpetrated by her own genitors.
Gratefulness is a very good way of conducting once life, don’t you think? Anyway my three dogs already behave according to this precept: they manifest energetically their joy, eyes full of gratefulness whatever the littlest good I do for them (like for example just giving them a little cup of water when they are thirsty, or appearing in the evening after a full day of absence, nothing more than that makes them very happy ;-)

Thanks to the media HUMANKIND for broadcasting such interesting programs.

The interview of Nancy Floy

The public radio HUMANKIND.

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August 22, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

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