Psychology

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As a therapist, I can devote much time and focus on examining my clients’ unhealthy relationships and patterns of relating. It raises a great question: What does a healthy relationship look like? Whether it be with a romantic part...
As a therapist, I can devote much time and focus on examining my clients’ unhealthy relationships and patterns of relating. It raises a great question: What does a healthy relationship look like? Whether it be with a romantic partner or a friend, a healthy relationship will have many of the same components. In a healthy relationship, the identity of the individual parties remains distinct. Individuality and being exactly who one is is valued as an asset within the dyad. This creates a feeling of safety, because the individuals are free to show up authentically in the relationship, and can ask for what they want and need. It’s also important to respect that the other person is an imperfectly perfect human being, who sometimes makes mistakes. Perfection is not expected, and when a boundary is crossed, the individual says so, and the other responds respectfully. Being in relation to others also means that we continue to grow as individuals, and we do the work that is necessary on ourselves to create this state. We don’t feel responsible for another’s personal growth, just as they are not responsible for ours. Being responsible for our selves means sharing the truth of our own unique reality, without expecting someone else to determine what our reality is, whether it be a physical, emotional or spiritual reality. Again, identifying one’s own needs and wants within the relational context is a crucial piece of being interdependent, as opposed to being dependent or codependent. Resolving problems together is another important piece of the relational puzzle. Problems are an inevitable part of life. When each person takes responsibility for his or her part in a difficulty, and works together toward solving the issue, the relationship can thrive despite obstacles that may arise. Negotiating and accepting compromise within a relationship is an important part of sharing time and space with another. Taking care of one’s self while at the same time being supportive of another is also extremely important in any relationship. I always tell my clients, “What’s good for you is truly good for the relationship,” and I believe this is true. Sometimes we have wants and needs, and we need someone to play a supporting role for us, and the same is true in reverse. However, this should never come at the cost of our own self-care. Finally, good communication is an incredible building block for a healthy relationship. Respectfully making clear, direct statements about needs can create just the type of positive exchange that helps a relationship to move forward in a healthy and loving way.
about 6 hours ago
Thanks to the generous support from our Summit Sponsors we are glad to share all slide decks from the 2013 SharpBrains Virtual Summit: How Can Neuroscience-based Innovation Enhance Behavioral and Brain Health (September 19-20th). We hope...
Thanks to the generous support from our Summit Sponsors we are glad to share all slide decks from the 2013 SharpBrains Virtual Summit: How Can Neuroscience-based Innovation Enhance Behavioral and Brain Health (September 19-20th). We hope you enjoy them! –> You can check out all slide decks HERE –> As an example, you can check out the slide deck corresponding to the session below, simply by clicking on the image. 10:15–11:45am. How can orga­ni­za­tions max­i­mize the resilience and pro­duc­tiv­ity of their human resources? His­tor­i­cally, human resource depart­ments have not had the toolkit to develop the most human resource of all – our brains. What are some large employ­ers and insur­ers doing to apply emerg­ing sci­ence and best prac­tices in this domain, via well­ness and train­ing ini­tia­tives, and HR benefits? Chair: Andrew Lee, Vice Pres­i­dent at Aetna, YGL Class of 2011 Hyong Un, Head of Employee Assis­tance Pro­grams at Aetna Evian Gor­don, Exec­u­tive Chair­man of Brain Resource David Nill, Chief Med­ical Offi­cer at Cerner Corporation
about 6 hours ago
Agency is the ability to act autonomously and freely, and in psychology the term is often used to refer to people who feel that they are able to act independently and effectively to control their own lives. Understanding Agency In some...
Agency is the ability to act autonomously and freely, and in psychology the term is often used to refer to people who feel that they are able to act independently and effectively to control their own lives. Understanding Agency In some ways, the process of early growth and development is a progressive unfolding of more and more agency. Infants cannot even control their own bodily functions, let alone act on the world around them, while young children are typically fettered by parental rules and willingness to help them with activities. As children grow and develop, they tend to develop more ...
about 8 hours ago
Melinda Douglass, PsyD - Next time you and your partner are at a communication impasse, consider a brainstorming exercise to get possible solutions flowing....
Melinda Douglass, PsyD - Next time you and your partner are at a communication impasse, consider a brainstorming exercise to get possible solutions flowing....
about 8 hours ago
A new study from Finland finds that women with eating disorders are less likely to have children than others in their age group. The discrepancy is the most apparent in anorexia sufferers. In this group, the number of pregnancies was les...
A new study from Finland finds that women with eating disorders are less likely to have children than others in their age group. The discrepancy is the most apparent in anorexia sufferers. In this group, the number of pregnancies was less than half of that of the control group. Moreover, the likelihood of abortion was more than double for bulimics than for others in the same age group. Investigators also discovered the likelihood for miscarriage was more than tripled for binge-eating disorder (BED) sufferers. For women who had been in treatment for BED, nearly half of their pregnancies ended in miscarriage. Researchers say the findings illuminate the insidious impact of eating disorders. “Early recognition, effective care and sufficiently long follow-up periods for eating disorders are crucial in the prevention of reproductive health problems,” said researcher Milla Linna from the University of Helsinki, Hjelt Institute. Eating disorders are common in Western countries, particularly among girls and young women. It has been estimated that 5–10 percent of all young women in developed countries suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Conducted jointly by the University of Helsinki and the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the 15-year register-based study examined the reproductive health of patients treated at the eating disorder clinic of the Helsinki University Central Hospital and a control group. Members of the control group were of the same age and gender and from the same region as the patients. More than 11,000 women participated in the study, of which 2,257 were patients of the eating disorder clinic and 9,028 were control group members. Researchers acknowledge that the study format was correlational rather than causative. “This study does not provide an explanation for the reproductive health problems observed in women with eating disorders. Based on previous research, however, it seems likely that the problems can at least partially be attributed to the eating disorder,” said Linna. “Both being underweight and obese are known to be associated with the increased risk of infertility and miscarriage. Eating disorders also often involve menstrual irregularities or the absence of menstruation, which may lead to neglecting contraception and ultimately to unwanted pregnancies.” A follow-up study is currently under way, focusing on the course of the pregnancies and deliveries of women who have had eating disorders. Source: University of Helsinki
about 8 hours ago
Studies find exercise increases stress resilience, fights anxiety, speeds up the mind, protects against dementia, is more fun than we predict, and more...Other recent posts: 8 Fascinating Facts About Anxiety Why Do Cheaters Cheat Wh...
Studies find exercise increases stress resilience, fights anxiety, speeds up the mind, protects against dementia, is more fun than we predict, and more...Other recent posts: 8 Fascinating Facts About Anxiety Why Do Cheaters Cheat When The Stakes Are Low? 10 Magical Effects Music Has On the Mind Our Genes Respond Positively to The Right Kind of Happiness The ‘Beer Goggles’ Effect: What Causes It? ? Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
about 8 hours ago
New research suggests a loving touch can improve the brain’s ability to create and sustain a healthy sense of self. European researchers discovered slow caresses or strokes — often instinctive gestures from a mother to a child or b...
New research suggests a loving touch can improve the brain’s ability to create and sustain a healthy sense of self. European researchers discovered slow caresses or strokes — often instinctive gestures from a mother to a child or between partners in romantic relationships — instill an understanding of our body. The study is published online in Frontiers of Psychology, and was lead by Dr. Aikaterini (Katerina) Fotopoulou, University College London, and Dr. Paul Mark Jenkinson of the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. Researchers evaluated 52 healthy adults, using a common experimental technique known as the rubber hand illusion. The technique tricks participants’ brains into believing that a strategically placed rubber hand is their own. As they watch the rubber hand being stroked in synchrony with their own, they begin to think that the fake hand belongs to them. This method demonstrates the changeable nature of the brain’s perception of the body. Affective touch, characterized by slow speed tactile stimulation of the skin (between 1 and 10cm per second) has been previously correlated with pleasant emotion and has also been seen to improve symptoms of anxiety and other emotional symptoms in certain groups of adults and infants. Researchers wanted to test whether affective touch would affect the brain’s understanding of the body and body ownership. The team adapted the ‘rubber hand’ technique to incorporate four different types of touch, including a synchronized and asynchronized, slow, affective touch and a faster neutral touch, again in synchronous and asynchronous patterns. Participants were also asked to complete a standardized ‘embodiment’ questionnaire, to measure their subjective experience during the experiment. The results confirmed previous findings that slow, light touch is perceived as being more pleasant than fast touch. More importantly, the study demonstrated that slow tactile stimulation made participants more likely to believe that the rubber hand was their own, compared with the faster neutral touch. The perception of affective touch in the brain is one of a number of signals that help us monitor homeostasis. Researchers believe the study provides new evidence to support the existing idea that interoceptive or internal signals, such as affective touch, play an important role in how the brain learns to construct a mental picture and an understanding of the body, which ultimately helps to create a coherent sense of self. Decreased sensitivity to and awareness of interoceptive signals, such as affective touch, have been linked to body image problems, unexplained pain, anorexia nervosa and bulimia. “As affective touch is typically received from a loved one, these findings further highlight how close relationships involve behaviors that may play a crucial role in the construction of a sense of self,” said doctoral student Laura Crucianelli, the researcher who carried out the study. “The next step for our team,” said Fotopoulou, “is to examine whether being deprived of social signals, such as affective touch from a parent during early development, may also lead to abnormalities in the formation of a healthy body image and a healthy sense of self, for example in patients with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa.” Boosting interoceptive awareness and an individual’s sense of body ownership could be key to developing future treatments for some of these conditions, and the sensation of ‘affective touch’ could play an important role. Source: Neuropsychoanalysis Foundation Mother caressing her baby’s head photo by shutterstock.
about 9 hours ago
There is increased interest in the relationship between mood and anxiety disorders and cardiovascular function.Presence of depression appears to be an independent risk factor for the future development of cardiovascular disease.Patients ...
There is increased interest in the relationship between mood and anxiety disorders and cardiovascular function.Presence of depression appears to be an independent risk factor for the future development of cardiovascular disease.Patients with depression and myocardial infarction demonstrate increased risk for future cardiac events including cardiac death.The exact mechanism for the interaction of depression and cardiovascular function is unclear. Depression appears to be associated with a faster resting heart rate as well as a decrease in heart rate variability (HRV). Resting heart rate and HRV are felt to be measures of vagal nerve and parasympathetic tone.Depression may adversely effect cardiovascular function through an impaired stress response mechanism resulting in increased resting heart rate, decreased HRV in what has been labeled the "autonomic resource hypothesis".Traditional antidepressants in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class are felt to be safe in heart disease. However, the effect of SSRI drugs on cardiovascular stress response is unclear. SSRI effects on cardiovascular function may vary by physical fitness status. Camilla Hanson and colleagues recently completed a study of the effect of the SSRI escitalopram on vagal nerve response to stress in group of healthy women. The key elements of the design of the study included:Subjects: 44 healthy female volunteers with psychiatric or medical illnessExperimental design: 20 mg of escitalopram or placebo in double-blind crossover designPhysical activity assessment: subjects were grouped into low and high physical activity groups based on Australian guideline cutoffs of 3o minutes of vigorous physical activity at least 3 times per weekStress paradigm: Participants were studied under a mental stress test known as the mental arithmetic task in the Trier Social Stress Test. In this test, participants are asked to serially subtract 13 from 2083 or 2027 over a 5 minute period.Key outcome variables: Heart rate and heart rate variability during rest and stress periodsThe key findings from the study included:Women with high physical activity showed a more resilient cardiovascular stress response than low physical activity women under placeboEscitalopram improved the cardiovascular stress response in low physical activity women but not high physical activity womenThis improvement with an SSRI mimicked the pattern of stress response seen in the high physical activity groupThe authors note their study supports a common model for the effect of both exercise and SSRI antidepressant treatment on vagal tone. Both appear to increase vagal tone and increase cardiovascular resilience to stress. This effect may have beneficial "downstream" effects such as "improved regulation of HPA axis function and inflammatory processes". The results of this study are consistent with studies finding an antidepressant effect with aerobic exercise in those with mild to moderate depression.This study also suggests outcome studies on antidepressants should consider physical activity level as a potential moderator of treatment response.Readers with more interest in this research can access the free full-text manuscript by clicking on the PMID link below.Photo of the astronomical clock in old town Prague, Czech Republic from the author's files.Hanson CS, Outhred T, Brunoni AR, Malhi GS, & Kemp AH (2013). The impact of escitalopram on vagally mediated cardiovascular function to stress and the moderating effects of vigorous physical activity: a randomized controlled treatment study in healthy participants. Frontiers in physiology, 4 PMID: 24069000... Hanson CS, Outhred T, Brunoni AR, Malhi GS, & Kemp AH. (2013) The impact of escitalopram on vagally mediated cardiovascular function to stress and the moderating effects of vigorous physical activity: a randomized controlled treatment study in healthy participants. Frontiers in physiology, 259. PMID: 24069000 The impact of es
about 9 hours ago
While new methods to purportedly sharpen our mental abilities are found in brain training games, apps and websites, a central question is “do they work?” New research suggests that brain training programs might strengthen your ability to...
While new methods to purportedly sharpen our mental abilities are found in brain training games, apps and websites, a central question is “do they work?” New research suggests that brain training programs might strengthen your ability to hold information in mind, but they won’t bring any benefits to the kind of intelligence that helps you reason and solve problems. The findings are published in Psychological Science. “It is hard to spend any time on the web and not see an ad for a website that promises to train your brain, fix your attention, and increase your IQ,” said lead researcher Randall Engle, Ph.D., of Georgia Institute of Technology. “These claims are particularly attractive to parents of children who are struggling in school.” Engle and other are concerned that the advertisement mislead parents and other consumers. According to Engle, the claims are based on evidence that shows a strong correlation between working memory capacity (WMC) and general fluid intelligence. Working memory capacity refers to our ability to keep information either in mind or quickly retrievable, particularly in the presence of distraction. General fluid intelligence is the ability to infer relationships, do complex reasoning, and solve novel problems. The correlation between WMC and fluid intelligence has led some to surmise that increasing WMC should lead to an increase in both fluid intelligence, but “this assumes that the two constructs are the same thing, or that WMC is the basis for fluid intelligence,” Engle said. In an experiment to validate the relationship between these two aspects of cognition, Engle and colleagues had 55 undergraduate students complete 20 days of training on certain cognitive tasks. The students were paid extra for improving their performance each day to ensure that they were engaged in the training. Students in the two experimental conditions trained on either complex span tasks, which have been consistently shown to be good measures of WMC, or simple span tasks. With the simple span tasks, the students were asked to recall items in the order they were presented; for complex span tasks, the students had to remember items while performing another task in between item presentations. A control group trained on a visual search task that, like the other tasks, became progressively harder each day. The researchers administered a battery of tests before and after training to gauge improvement and transfer of learning, including a variety of WMC measures and three measures of fluid intelligence. The results were clear: Only students who trained on complex span tasks showed transfer to other WMC tasks. None of the groups showed any training benefit on measures of fluid intelligence. “For over 100 years, psychologists have argued that general memory ability cannot be improved, that there is little or no generalization of ‘trained’ tasks to ‘untrained’ tasks,” said Tyler Harrison, graduate student and lead author of the paper. “So we were surprised to see evidence that new and untrained measures of working memory capacity may be improved with training on complex span tasks.” The results suggest that the students improved in their ability to update and maintain information on multiple tasks as they switched between them, which could have important implications for real-world multitasking: “This work affects nearly everyone living in the complex modern world,” said Harrison, “but it particularly affects individuals that find themselves trying to do multiple tasks or rapidly switching between complex tasks, such as driving and talking on a cell phone, alternating between conversations with two different people, or cooking dinner and dealing with a crying child.” Despite the potential boost for multitasking, the benefits of training didn’t transfer to fluid intelligence. Engle points out that just because WMC a
about 9 hours ago
From beneath her beautifully tiny, A-cup breasts, her smooth ribs, covered only by a thin layer of white flesh, peeked out, taunting me, reminding me of what I could never be. Yet, at the same time, they gave me a glimmer of empty hope ...
From beneath her beautifully tiny, A-cup breasts, her smooth ribs, covered only by a thin layer of white flesh, peeked out, taunting me, reminding me of what I could never be. Yet, at the same time, they gave me a glimmer of empty hope that one day my ribs may protrude like hers. One day, my hip bones may sharpen and stick out, my collar bone may reveal itself to the public, my thighs may one day stop touching. At 13, I found myself sitting in my living room, my eyes glued to the screen of my family’s clunky, black desktop as I fantasized what it would be like to be this 18-year-old goddess whose long, wavy dirty-blonde hair hung limp and dry from her scalp in that sexy, I-don’t-care fashion, framing her thin, pale, drawn-out face, made paler by her piercing, bright blue eyes encased by her dark bags and heavy black eyeshadow. I want to be her. These thoughts flew through my mind as I scrolled my mouse over the “tips” button, written in a friendly, script-like, purple font, and read, as though they were the holiest of texts, the long list of tips which would give me the emaciated body I longed for. Don’t eat. That was tip number one, right before the second most important tip: Don’t get caught. On the few occasions pro-eating disorder websites are discussed, the focus seems to lie within the thinspiration photos and tips offered. As a recovering bulimic who, at one point, found herself obsessively frequenting these websites daily (or hourly), I can say it was not the photos or the tips which trapped me into the depths of these sites — it was the ever-growing sense of community. During my eighth grade year, I would return home from school each day, toss my bag on the floor, and leap straight on the computer, cautious and ready to pounce on the red X on the upper-right corner of the screen should my mother or sister walk into the room. Although I spent a great many hours staring at emaciated women and rereading tips I had already memorized to achieve such a worthy, righteous body, I spent an even greater amount of time pouring my heart out in a brightly colored font to the many faceless strangers spread out across the country. I sought and found comfort in the stories posted by other girls, stories of their descent into starvation and endless purging, stories of cutting and scars, stories of isolation and depression and thoughts of suicide. Their stories were much like my own. As I read of their fears of being fat, of being imperfect, of being unworthy of the world, I felt as though I had found a place where I no longer needed to hide who I was. I shared their fears, their sadness, their anger, their self-loathing, and could finally admit to all of it. It was not the photos I yearned for as I visited these sites. It was the girls in whom I saw myself. As years passed and I began my long and painful journey upon the road of recovery (a road, I’m sorry to admit, I have yet to truly complete), I found it nearly impossible to break away from the hypnotic hold these websites held over me. Although I had never met these girls in person, they were no longer mere usernames and profile pictures. They were my friends. My best friends. They had let me into their lives, told me of their families, their friends, their backgrounds, whatever abuse they had faced. I knew their favorite books and movies and what Backstreet Boy they had proclaimed their love to during the ‘90s. I knew more about them then I did about my friends from school, and they knew more about me. They trusted me with their lives; they lent an ear and emotional support as I told them of my own fears and problems. To turn my back on the websites was to turn my back on them, and how, after years of true kinship, could I be so cold as to turn my back on them? Eventually, I did. And although breaking away from pro-eating disorder websites aided my recovery, I still live with a nagging, constant guilt for running away from the girls who had welcomed me into th
about 10 hours ago