Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

Psychology News & Resources

“My Kid Wouldn’t Go There”: Teens & Teen Sexuality

It can be difficult for parents of teenagers to come to terms with the fact their kids may have sex, particularly given widespread concerns about the consequences of teen sexual activity. In fact, a new study from North Carolina State University shows that many parents think that their children aren’t interested in sex – but that everyone else’s kids are.

“Parents I interviewed had a very hard time thinking about their own teen children as sexually desiring subjects,” says Dr. Sinikka Elliott, an assistant professor of sociology at NC State and author of the study. In other words, parents find it difficult to think that their teenagers want to have sex.

“At the same time,” Elliott says, “parents view their teens’ peers as highly sexual, even sexually predatory.” By taking this stance, the parents shift the responsibility for potential sexual activity to others – attributing any such behavior to peer pressure, coercion or even entrapment.

For example, Elliott says, parents of teenage boys were often concerned that their sons may be lured into sexual situations by teenage girls who, the parents felt, may use sex in an effort to solidify a relationship. The parents of teenage girls, meanwhile, expressed fears that their daughters would be taken advantage of by sexually driven teenage boys.

These beliefs contribute to stereotypes of sexual behavior that aren’t helpful to parents or kids.

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“By using sexual stereotypes to absolve their children of responsibility for sexual activity, the parents effectively reinforce those same stereotypes,” Elliott says.

Parents’ use of these stereotypes also paints teen heterosexual relationships in an unflattering, adversarial light, Elliott says and notes the irony of this: “Although parents assume their kids are heterosexual, they don’t make heterosexual relationships sound very appealing.”

A paper describing the study is published in the May issue of Symbolic Interaction. Elliott is also the author of the forthcoming book, Not My Kid: Parents and Teen Sexuality, which will by published by New York University Press.

Source: ScienceDaily (May 3, 2010)

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May 5, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Books, Child Behavior, Girls, Identity, Intimate Relationshps, Parenting, Sex & Sexuality | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Emotional Intelligence: Learning To Roll With The Punches

It’s a hot-buzz topic that covers everything from improving workplace performance and successfully climbing the corporate ladder to building the happiest of marriages to ending school bullying. But what exactly is Emotional Intelligence (EI)? If we lack it, can we learn it? And how do we know if our EI is high or low? Is it only high if we’re really, really nice?

Three scholarly researchers – including University of Cincinnati Psychology Professor Gerry Matthews – delved into the science of EI and published “What We Know About Emotional Intelligence: How it Affects Learning, Work, Relationships, and Our Mental Health.”

Published by MIT Press (2009), the book was recently awarded the American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence – the PROSE Awards – in the biological and life sciences category of biomedicine and neuroscience. The book, co-authored by Matthews, Moshe Zeidner (University of Haifa) and Richard D. Roberts (Center for New Constructs, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, N.J.), was also on display at the UC Libraries’ Authors, Editors and Composers Reception and Program from 3:30-5 p.m., Thursday, April 22, in the Russell C. Myers Alumni Center.

MIT Press promotions describe EI as the “ability to perceive, regulate and communicate emotions – to understand emotions in ourselves and others.” Workplaces want to test for it to find the most EI-talented employees, and consultants are touting training and EI tests to improve productivity. “In the popular writings, EI tends to be defined very broadly and one can’t proceed with scientific research with such a vague and broad definition,” Matthews says.

Matthews’ research interests have explored how stress, mood and coping ability can affect performance on tests, in the workplace and on the highway. He adds that amid the grim economy, even the people who have jobs are feeling high levels of stress in the workplace and are feeling more challenged by workplace demands and concerns about job security. In general terms, those who can roll with the punches – with a shrug and a smile – may have higher Emotional Intelligence.

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Then again, “The intimate association of personality and emotion sets a trap for researchers interested in Emotional Intelligence,” writes Matthews. “It might seem that happy, calm states of mind should be seen as the person imbued with high Emotional Intelligence. However, such emotional tendencies may be no more than a consequence of biases in brain functioning or information-processing routines operating without insight or ‘intelligence.’ Some individuals – in part because of their DNA – are simply fortunate in being prone to pleasant moods, so it follows that emotional states do not alone provide an index of Emotional Intelligence,” Matthews states in the book.

In fact, Matthews says he’s skeptical that people who are better at managing stress hold higher Emotional Intelligence, but as the researchers found as they tried to narrow down the science of Emotional Intelligence, more research is needed. For instance, is someone with higher EI in the workplace more productive, or are they just better at self-promotion and forming positive relationships with co-workers? Matthews says he believes EI appears to be very modestly related to workplace performance, and could turn out to be nothing more than a business fad.

He adds the researchers are also skeptical about all of those EI tests, particularly those self-assessments. After all, people could be rating themselves the way they see themselves or the way they would like to be seen, and not like they actually are.

Currently, authors Matthews and Roberts are researching the testing of EI through video scenarios. The situation judgment test involves watching the videos unfold a challenging situation, and then the video comes to a stop and offers different options for resolving the problem. Matthews is building on his earlier research which explored whether negative moods affected good decision making abilities. “Through the video project, the idea is to see if emotionally intelligent people are better able to make rational decisions under stress,” he says.

The researchers are also examining the link between EI and school social and emotional learning programs.

Source:
Dawn Fuller
University of Cincinnati

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May 2, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, Books, Cognition, Health Psychology, Identity, Positive Psychology, research, Resilience | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

All By Myself…The Tyranny of The Loneliness Epidemic

Credit Dr Ronald Pies, M.D. via psychcentral.com

The recent controversy over the still-developing DSM-5 — that compendium of mental disorders the media love to call, inappropriately, “The Bible of Psychiatry” –has gotten me thinking about loneliness. Now, thankfully, nobody has seriously proposed including loneliness in the DSM-5. Indeed, loneliness is usually thought of as simply an unpleasant part of life — one of the “slings and arrows” that pierce almost all of us from time to time. Loneliness, in some ways, remains enmeshed in a web of literary and cultural clichés, born of such works as Nathaniel West’s darkly comic novel, Miss Lonelyhearts, and the Beatles’ whimsical anthem, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

But loneliness turns out to be a serious matter. And as psychiatry debates the diagnostic minutiae of DSM-5, all of us may need to remind ourselves that millions in this country struggle against the downward tug of loneliness. Yet even among health care professionals, few seem aware that loneliness is closely linked with numerous emotional and physical ills, particular among the elderly and infirm.

It’s easy to assume that loneliness is simply a matter of mind and mood. Yet recent evidence suggests that loneliness may injure the body in surprising ways. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine studied the risk of coronary heart disease over a 19-year period, in a community sample of men and women. The study found that among women, high degrees of loneliness were associated with increased risk of heart disease, even after controlling for age, race, marital status, depression and several other confounding variables. (In an email message to me, the lead author, Dr. Rebecca C. Thurston, PhD, speculated that the male subjects might have been more reluctant to acknowledge their feelings of loneliness).

Similarly, Dr. Dara Sorkin and her colleagues at the University of California, Irvine, found that for every increase in the level of loneliness in a sample of 180 older adults, there was a threefold increase in the odds of having heart disease. Conversely, among individuals who felt they had companionship or social support, the likelihood of having heart disease decreased.

The young, of course, are far from immune to loneliness. Researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark studied loneliness in a population of adolescent boys with autism spectrum disorders (an area of great controversy in the proposed DSM-5 criteria). More than a fifth of the sample described themselves as “often or always” feeling lonely—a finding that seems to run counter to the notion that those with autism are emotionally disconnected from other people. Furthermore, the study found that the more social support these boys received, the lower their degree of loneliness. We have no cure for autism in adolescents–but the remedy for loneliness in these kids may be as close as the nearest friend.

And lest there be any doubt that loneliness has far ranging effects on the health of the body, consider the intriguing findings from Dr. S.W. Cole and colleagues, at the UCLA School of Medicine. These researchers looked at levels of gene activity in the white blood cells of individuals with either high or low levels of loneliness. Subjects with high levels of subjective social isolation—basically, loneliness — showed evidence of an over-active inflammatory response. These same lonely subjects showed reduced activity in genes that normally suppress inflammation. Such gene effects could explain reports of higher rates of inflammatory disease in those experiencing loneliness.

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Could inflammatory changes, in turn, explain the correlation between loneliness and heart disease? Inflammation is known to play an important role in coronary artery disease. But loneliness by itself may be just one domino in the chain of causation. According to Dr. Heather S. Lett and colleagues at Duke University Medical Center, the perception of poor social support — in effect, loneliness — is a risk factor for development, or worsening, of clinical depression. Depression may in turn bring about inflammatory changes in the heart that lead to frank heart disease. This complicated pathway is still speculative, but plausible.

Loneliness, of course, is not synonymous with “being alone.” Many individuals who live alone do not feel “lonely.” Indeed, some seem to revel in their aloneness. Perhaps this is what theologian Paul Tillich had in mind when he observed that language “… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.” Conversely, some people feel “alone” or disconnected from others, even when surrounded with people.

Let’s admit that not everybody is capable of experiencing the “glory of being alone” or of transforming loneliness into “solitude.” So what can a socially-isolated person do to avoid loneliness and its associated health problems? Joining a local support group can help decrease isolation; allow friendships to form; and give the lonely person an opportunity both to receive and to provide help. This reciprocity can bolster the lonely person’s ego and improve overall well-being. Support groups geared to particular medical conditions can also help reduce disease-related complications. Although there are always risks in going “on line” to find support, Daily Strength appears to be a legitimate and helpful website for locating support groups of all types, including those for loneliness. Psych Central also provides opportunities to exchange ideas and “connect” with many individuals who feel isolated or alone. For those who feel lonely even in the midst of friends, individual psychotherapy may be helpful, since this paradoxical feeling often stems from a fear of “getting close” to others.

No, loneliness is not a disease or disorder. It certainly shouldn’t appear in the DSM-5 — but it should be on our minds, as a serious public health problem. Fortunately, the “treatment” may be as simple as reaching out to another human being, with compassion and understanding.

Ronald Pies MD is a psychiatrist affiliated with Tufts University School of Medicine and SUNY Upstate Medical University. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Psychiatric Times and author of Everything Has Two Handles: The Stoic’s Guide to the Art of Living. . Disclosure information for Dr. Pies may be found at www.psychiatrictimes.com

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April 29, 2010 Posted by | Age & Ageing, anxiety, Aspergers Syndrome, Books, brain, depression, diagnosis, Health Psychology, Identity, mood, Pain, self harm, stress | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Too Sexy Too Soon! PART ll – Are Sexual Images Now An Inescapable Part Of Children’s Lives?

See Part I of this Post HERE

A billboard for a brothel on a school route

Source: AAP

THE professional body for Australia’s psychiatrists says the self-regulation of advertising and other media industries has failed to protect children from an onslaught of sexualised content.

Today’s generation of kids faced the “widespread use of sexual images to sell anything from margarine to fashion”, Professor Newman, the president of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, said.

She said risque images were now an “inescapable” part of a child’s environment and pointed to billboard and TV advertising, magazines and music videos and even the posters in department stores.

Prof Newman is calling for a new regime of restrictions to protect children from both targeted and inadvertent exposure to sexualised media content.

She said more Australian research was needed to gauge its effect, though the anecdotal evidence was troubling.

The exposure appeared to push typically teenage and adult concerns about body image, “sexiness” and of being a “worthwhile individual” well into a child’s first years of life.

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“I’ve seen four-year-olds and pre-schoolers who want to diet … going on intermittent food refusal,” she said.

Introducing sexualised themes to children could be overt, Prof Newman said, such as the move by a British retailer to sell a child’s pole dancing kit or “tween” magazines that offer advice to girls on how to be more attractive to the opposite sex.

But in many cases it was inadvertent.

“If you go into a 7-Eleven, at child’s eye-view will be Ralph magazine next to cartoons,” she said.

“The child might be attracted to the cartoons but what they are bombarded with are all these really quite unusual women with breast implants.

“It is sending a message that this is sexual attraction, this is what gets you on the front of a magazine.”

Prof Newman said it was natural for children to be inquisitive about bodies, and eventually about sex, though these matters should be discussed within a family at a developmentally appropriate time.

“They don’t need to know about adult sexual themes, and that’s the concern,” she said.

Prof Newman will speak on the issue at the Australian Conference on Children and the Media, in Sydney on Friday.

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April 21, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Books, Bullying, Child Behavior, Eating Disorder, Girls, Identity, Parenting, research, Sex & Sexuality, Social Psychology, Spirituality | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Compulsive Collecting: Finding Hope In The Misunderstood Mess of Hoarding

Compulsive collecting or Hoarding is a misunderstood and debilitating mental health issue. Many psychologists and counsellors never see someone with this condition as they very rarely present for help. This article from an Australian newspaper provides an excellent overview of the condition and issues underlying hoarding, and I have included links to two brilliant books co-authored by the researchers discussed in the article, who have developed a wholistic and novel approach to it’s treatment.

Credit: Kate Benson, Sydney Morning Herald April 8 2010

They may dress well or hold down a good job. But hoarders are unhappy people who suffer from a debilitating condition.

Every suburb has one. The elderly woman weaving through an overgrown backyard full of cardboard boxes, old tyres and discarded furniture. Cats perch on every surface; kittens roll about among the rusted drums and long grass.

Inside, behind closed curtains, the rooms are piled high with papers, cups, plates and bottles. Broken toys, old clothes and shopping bags spill across kitchen benches and floor, smothering the stove and filling the sink, neither of which has been used in years.

The stench of cat faeces, urine and food scraps fill the house.

To her neighbours, she is an oddity. Or a pest, bringing down house values and encouraging vermin.

But to therapists she is one of a growing band across Australia suffering from a debilitating condition known as compulsive hoarding, where people feel a need to collect and store items that seem useless to others.

Their homes become havens of insurmountable clutter and junk, often leaving them unable to sleep in their beds or use appliances. Many end up with electricity or gas supplies disconnected or their fridge and washing machines unusable because they fear their lifestyle will be revealed if they contact a tradesmen to make repairs.

This secrecy and shame make it difficult to know exactly how many people have the disorder.

Some experts think between 200,000 and 500,000 Australians compulsively hoard, but others put the figure closer to 800,000.

“It’s a sleeping giant,” Chris Mogan, a clinical psychologist and expert on hoarding, says. “There is no systematic estimate of how many hoarders there are in any Australian setting. I suspect there are many, many more out there than we are aware of.”

Louise Newman, the president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, agrees.

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“I’ve only seen one case in my career [because] these people usually only come to light when the council steps in and orders a clean-up. Hoarders desperately want to keep hoarding. They don’t want to be stopped.”

There is little research on the condition in Australia and not much in the way of funding or treatment programs, but experts are hopeful hoarding will be included in the next (fifth) edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible used by mental health experts to diagnose psychiatric conditions.

Many sufferers fall between the cracks because hoarding is not a clinical diagnosis in its own right, but is seen more as an offshoot of obsessive compulsive disorder, muddled with depression, anxiety, panic disorder and low self-esteem.

“But it is different to OCD and once we get it in the DSM-V, therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers can then be trained in the management of it [and] we can attract funding for research,” Mogan says.

Jessica Grisham, a clinical psychologist who specialises in obsessive compulsive disorder, also believes compulsive hoarding should be included in the next edition as it requires specialised treatment.

She cites recent neural imaging studies in the US that showed that different parts of the brain were activated in hoarders than in obsessive compulsive disorder patients.

Mogan and Grisham agree that cognitive behaviour therapy, where sufferers are slowly taught to change their thought patterns, is more effective than medication alone.

But hoarders responded better to a specially adapted version of the therapy, developed by the American hoarding experts Gail Steketee and Randy Frost. It had been achieving success with about 60 per cent of hoarders – far more than standard cognitive behaviour therapy.

“But it has to be a long-term project. You don’t go in to someone’s place and do a sudden excavation against their will,” Grisham says.

“That’s a violation and it’s very traumatic for them. It might make great TV, but it’s not good clinically.”

Mogan agrees. A pay TV show, Hoarders, was damaging to the public’s understanding of the illness, because it focused on forcefully cleaning houses in three days.

“Within six to 12 months that house will be recluttered because it is a compulsion … they suffer a lot of grief after things are taken away.”

Mogan makes weekly home visits to hoarders, and focuses on getting them to reduce the associated dangers by ensuring their home has two exits for safety, and working appliances and smoke alarms.

“Just as we do with drugs and alcohol, we’re into harm minimisation. Once the house is safe, we gradually set more goals. If they are comfortable with that, they will continue to stay in touch and not reject us.”

Sometimes the problem extends beyond mounds of paperwork and clothes. Mogan and Grisham know patients who hoarded urine or fingernail clippings. Some stored their own faeces or collected one particular item, such as bicycles. One sufferer was hoarding so much junk, the only access to the house was a 30-centimetre gap at the top of the front door.

But for Allie Jalbert, of the RSPCA, the most distressing hoarders are those who keep scores of cats and dogs, all battling for attention and food on a crowded suburban block.

She has been calling for years to have hoarding classified as an illness in its own right to allow more people to receive treatment and put an end to the 100 per cent recidivism rate.

“Often, we find that hoarders might be treated for peripheral symptoms such as anxiety or depression, but their core problem, the hoarding, is not addressed. So once we have cleaned out the house, they reoffend, which is very, very frustrating for everyone involved,” Jalbert says.

Some people threatened suicide and had to be removed by police when faced with the prospect of giving up their animals or clutter.

“There’s a mixed bag of emotion when you deal with hoarders. Firstly, there is the concern for your personal safety but there is also a degree of empathy because often these people are quite emotional and attached to the animals. But it’s quite frustrating to see animals living in such horrific situations,” she says.

“I’ve seen bathtubs full of faeces and rubbish, sinks that no longer work, homes with no heating or cooling. Sometimes it’s quite an overwhelming experience.”

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Who develops the condition and why?

Some studies have shown that many hoarders have been brought up in households where chaos reigned. Some were neglected as children and witnessed pets being treated poorly.

Mogan accepts the aetiology is mostly unknown, but cites an Australian study that found sufferers reported failing to connect with their parents or growing up in households lacking emotional warmth.

“The lack of attachment causes them to become ambivalent about their identity and about other people. As a compensatory mechanism, they link with things, which they find more compelling, more predictable and dependable and less rejecting.”

But Grisham believes there is no real trigger, apart from children of hoarders being rewarded for saving things and getting punished for discarding. “Sometimes there is a traumatic head injury but those cases are very rare.”

The condition affects slightly more women than men but is found across all occupations, age groups and ethnicities. “And they are in relationships,” Mogan says. “Albeit strained ones.

“Some are going out to work, but they make sure no one comes to their house. They’re not agoraphobic. On the contrary, many hoarders go out a lot to escape. But their children’s lives can’t be normalised because they can never sit down for a meal or find space to do homework. It’s a real impost on the family experience.”

Mogan runs group therapy sessions in Melbourne and says that many patients do want to be cured.

“This condition is a disability and the source of quite a lot of human suffering and neglect. A lot of these people are quite relieved to get help.”

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April 10, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, Books, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, diagnosis, Identity, research, Resources, therapy | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Ripped Off!: The Psychological Cost Of Wearing A Fake Rolex (Or Other Knockoffs)

Credit: Wray Herbert: The Huffington Post April 7 2010:

Read the original research paper HERE (PDF)

Within just a few blocks of my office, street vendors will sell me a Versace t-shirt or a silk tie from Prada, cheap. Or I could get a deal on a Rolex, or a chic pair of Ray Ban shades. These aren’t authentic brand name products, of course. They’re inexpensive replicas. But they make me look and feel good, and I doubt any of my friends can tell the difference.

That’s why we buy knockoffs, isn’t it? To polish our self-image–and broadcast that polished version of our personality to the world–at half the price? But does it work? After all, we first have to convince ourselves of our idealized image if we are going to sway anyone else. Can we really become Ray Ban-wearing, Versace-bedecked sophisticates in our own mind–just by dressing up?

New research suggests that knockoffs may not work as magically as we’d like–and indeed may backfire. Three psychological scientists–Francesca Gino of Chapel Hill, Michael Norton of Harvard Business School, and Dan Ariely of Duke–have been exploring the power and pitfalls of fake adornment in the lab. They wanted to see if counterfeit stuff might have hidden psychological costs, warping our actions and attitudes in undesirable ways.

Here’s an example of their work. The scientists recruited a large sample of young women and had them wear pricey Chloe sunglasses. The glasses were the real thing, but half the women thought they were wearing knockoffs. They wanted to see if wearing counterfeit shades–a form of dishonesty–might actually make the women act dishonestly in other ways.

So they had them perform a couple tasks–tasks that presented opportunities for lying and cheating. In one, for example, the women worked on a complicated set of mathematical puzzles–a task they couldn’t possibly complete in the time allowed. When time elapsed, the women were told to score themselves on the honor system–and to take money for each correct score. Unbeknownst to them, the scientists were monitoring both their work and their scoring.

And guess what. The women wearing the fake Chloe shades cheated more–considerably more. Fully 70 percent inflated their performance when they thought nobody was checking on them–and in effect stole cash from the coffer. To double-check this distressing result, the scientists put the women through a completely different task, one that forced a choice between the right answer and the more profitable answer. And again the Chloe-wearing women pocketed the petty cash. Notably, the women cheated not only when they expressed a preference for the cheap knockoffs, but also when the real and fake designer glasses were randomly handed out. So it appears that the very act of wearing the counterfeit eyewear triggered the lying and cheating.

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This is bizarre and disturbing, but it gets worse. The psychologists wondered if inauthentic image-making might not only corrupt personal ethics, but also lead to a generally cynical attitude toward other people. In other words, if wearing counterfeit stuff makes people feel inauthentic and behave unethically, might they see others as phony and unethical, too? To test this, they again handed out genuine and counterfeit Chloe shades, but this time they had the volunteers complete a survey about “someone they knew.” Would this person use an express line with too many groceries? Pad an expense report? Take home office supplies? There were also more elaborate scenarios involving business ethics. The idea was that all the answers taken together would characterize each volunteer as having a generally positive view of others–or a generally cynical view.

Cynical, without question. Compared to volunteers who were wearing authentic Chloe glasses, those wearing the knockoffs saw other people as more dishonest, less truthful, and more likely to act unethically in business dealings.

So what’s going on here? Well, the scientists ran a final experiment to answer this question, and here are the ironic results they report on-line this week in the journal Psychological Science: Wearing counterfeit glasses not only fails to bolster our ego and self-image the way we hope, it actually undermines our internal sense of authenticity. “Faking it” makes us feel like phonies and cheaters on the inside, and this alienated, counterfeit “self” leads to cheating and cynicism in the real world.

Counterfeiting is a serious economic and social problem, epidemic in scale. Most people buy these fake brands because they are a lot cheaper, but this research suggests there may be a hidden moral cost yet to be tallied.

Read the original research paper HERE (PDF)

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April 9, 2010 Posted by | Books, Cognition, Identity, Resources, Social Psychology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Binge Eating: A 12 Week Self-Guided Program Gets Great Results

Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Press Release

Short-Term Program for Binge Eaters Using “Overcoming Binge Eating” by Dr. Christopher Fairburn Has Long-Term Benefits

PORTLAND, Ore. — A new study finds that a self-guided, 12-week program helps binge eaters stop binging for up to a year and the program can also save money for those who participate. Recurrent binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the country, affecting more than three percent of the population, or nine million people, yet few treatment options are available.

But a first-of-a-kind study conducted by researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Wesleyan University and Rutgers University found that more than 63 percent of participants had stopped binging at the end of the program — compared to just over 28 percent of those who did not participate. The program lasted only 12 weeks, but most of the participants were still binge free a year later. A second study, also published in the April issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, found that program participants saved money because they spent less on things like dietary supplements and weight loss programs.

“It is unusual to find a program like this that works well, and also saves the patient money. It’s a win-win for everyone,” said study author Frances Lynch, PhD, MSPH, a health economist at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. “This type of program is something that all health care systems should consider implementing.”

“People who binge eat more than other people do during a short period of time and they lose control of their eating during these episodes. Binge eating is often accompanied by depression, shame, weight gain, loss of self-esteem and it costs the health care system millions of extra dollars,” said the study’s principal investigator Ruth H. Striegel-Moore, PhD, a professor of psychology at Wesleyan University. “Our studies show that recurrent binge eating can be successfully treated with a brief, easily administered program, and that’s great news for patients and their providers.”

Binge eating has received a lot of media attention recently because the American Psychiatric Association is recommending that it be considered a separate, distinct eating disorder like bulimia and anorexia. This new diagnosis can be expected to focus more attention on binge eating and how best to treat it, according to the researchers. It also could influence the number of people diagnosed and how insurers will cover treatment.

This randomized controlled trial, conducted in 2004–2005, involved 123 members of the Kaiser Permanente health plan in Oregon and southwest Washington. More than 90 percent of them were women, and the average age was 37. To be included in the study, participants had to have at least one binge eating episode a week during the previous three months with no gaps of two or more weeks between episodes.

Click image to read reviews: Book helps achieve results in this research study

Half of the participants were enrolled in the intervention and asked to read the book “Overcoming Binge Eating” by Dr. Christopher Fairburn, a professor of psychiatry and expert on eating disorders. The book details scientific information about binge eating and then outlines a six-step self-help program using self-monitoring, self-control and problem-solving strategies. Participants in the study attended eight therapy sessions over the course of 12 weeks in which counselors explained the rationale for cognitive behavioral therapy and helped participants apply the strategies in the book. The first session lasted one hour, and subsequent sessions were 20–25 minutes. The average cost of the intervention was $167 per patient.

All participants were mailed fliers detailing the health plan’s offerings for healthy living and eating and encouraged to contact their primary care physician to learn about more services.

By the end of the 12-week program 63.5 percent of participants had stopped binging, compared to 28.3 percent of those who did not participate. Six months later, 74.5 percent of program participants abstained from binging, compared to 44.1 percent in usual care. At one year, 64.2 percent of participants were binge free, compared to 44.6 percent of those in usual care.

Everyone in the trial was asked to provide extensive information about their binge eating episodes, how often they missed work or were less productive at work, and the amount they spent on health care, weight-loss programs and weight loss supplements. Researchers also examined expenditures on medications, doctor visits, and other health-related services.

The researchers then compared these costs between the two groups and found that average total costs were $447 less in the intervention group. This included an average savings of $149 for the participants, who spent less on weight loss programs, over-the-counter medications and supplements. Total costs for the intervention group were $3,670 per person per year, and costs for the control group were $4,098.

“While program results are promising, we highly encourage anyone who has problems with binge eating to consult with their doctors to make sure this program is right for them,” said study co-author Lynn DeBar, PhD, clinical psychologist at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research.

Study authors include: Lynn DeBar, John F. Dickerson, Frances Lynch and Nancy Perrin from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon; Ruth H. Striegel-Moore and Francine Rosselli from Wesleyan University; G. Terence Wilson from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; and Helena C. Kraemer from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

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April 4, 2010 Posted by | Books, Eating Disorder, Girls, Identity, Resources, therapy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Kids Who Bully Want Status But Long For Affection

Read The Original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF-internal link)

From ScienceDaily (Mar. 27, 2010) — Bullying is common in classrooms around the world: About 15 percent of children are victimized, leading to depression, anxiety, loneliness, and other negative outcomes. What’s driving bullies to behave the way they do? According to a new large-scale Dutch study, most bullies are motivated by the pursuit of status and affection.

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The longitudinal study was conducted by researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. It appears in the March/April 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.

In their work, the researchers questioned almost 500 elementary-school children ages 9 to 12. Based on their findings, they conclude that bullies generally choose to gain status by dominating their victims. But at the same time, they try to reduce the chances that they’ll end up on the outs with other classmates by choosing as victims children who are weak and not well-liked by others. In short, even bullies care a lot about others’ affection and don’t want to lose it.

Gender also plays a role. For example, the study finds that at this age, bullies only care about not losing affection from classmates of their own gender. So when boys bully boys, it doesn’t matter whether girls approve or disapprove. The same holds for girls. Moreover, boys will bully only those girls that aren’t well liked by other boys, regardless of what girls think about it, and girls will do the same in their bullying of boys.

“To understand the complex nature of acceptance and rejection, it’s necessary to distinguish the gender of the bully, the gender of the target, and the gender of the classmates who accept and reject bullies and victims,” according to René Veenstra, professor of sociology at the University of Groningen, who led the study.

Read The Original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF-internal link)

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March 28, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Bullying, Child Behavior, Identity, Parenting | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Attractive Lady Makes The Boys Go Gaga:Testosterone And Risk Taking Behavior

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From UNIS : University of Queensland research suggests that the presence of a beautiful woman can lead men to throw caution to the wind. Professor Bill von Hippel and doctoral student Richard Ronay, from UQ’s School of Psychology, have been examining the links between physical risk-taking in young men and the presence of attractive women.

To examine this issue, they conducted a field experiment with young male skateboarders and found the skateboarders took more risks at the skate park when they were observed by an attractive female experimenter than when they were observed by a male experimenter.

This increased risk-taking led to more successes but also more crash landings in front of the female observer.

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Professor von Hippel and Mr Ronay also measured testosterone from participants’ saliva, and found that the skateboarders’ increased risk taking was caused by elevated testosterone levels brought about by the presence of the attractive female.

According to the researchers these findings suggest an evolutionary basis for male risk-taking.

“Historically, men have competed with each other for access to fertile women and the winners of those competitions are the ones who pass on their genes to future generations. Risk-taking would have been inherent in such a competitive mating strategy,” said Professor von Hippel.

“Our results suggest that displays of physical risk-taking might best be understood as hormonally fuelled advertisements of health and vigour aimed at potential mates, and signals of strength, fitness, and daring intended to intimidate potential rivals.”

The researchers point out that although evolution may have favoured males who engage in risky behaviour to attract females, such behaviours can also be detrimental in terms of survival.

“Other instances of physical risk-taking that contribute to men’s early mortality, such as dangerous driving and physical aggression, might also be influenced by increases in testosterone brought about by the presence of attractive women.”

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March 27, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Cognition, Identity, Intimate Relationshps, Sex & Sexuality, Social Psychology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Money & Happiness: Higher Income Only Increases Contentment If You’re ‘Keeping Up With The Jones’s’

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Source :ScienceDaily (Mar. 22, 2010)

A study by researchers at the University of Warwick and Cardiff University has found that money only makes people happier if it improves their social rank. The researchers found that simply being highly paid wasn’t enough — to be happy, people must perceive themselves as being more highly paid than their friends and work colleagues.

The researchers were seeking to explain why people in rich nations have not become any happier on average over the last 40 years even though economic growth has led to substantial increases in average incomes.

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Lead researcher on the paper Chris Boyce from the University of Warwick’s Department of Psychology said: “Our study found that the ranked position of an individual’s income best predicted general life satisfaction, while the actual amount of income and the average income of others appear to have no significant effect. Earning a million pounds a year appears to be not enough to make you happy if you know your friends all earn 2 million a year.”

The study entitled “Money and Happiness: Rank of Income, Not Income, Affects Life Satisfaction” will be published in the journal Psychological Science. The researchers looked at data on earnings and life satisfaction from seven years of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), which is a representative longitudinal sample of British households.

First they examined how life satisfaction was related to how much money each person earned. They found however that satisfaction was much more strongly related to the ranked position of the person’s income (compared to people of the same gender, age, level of education, or from the same geographical area).

The results explain why making everybody in society richer will not necessarily increase overall happiness — because it is only having a higher income than other people that matters.

The three authors of the paper were Chris Boyce, Gordon Brown (both of the University of Warwick’s Department of Psychology), and Simon Moore of Cardiff University.

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March 23, 2010 Posted by | depression, Health Psychology, Identity, Social Psychology, stress | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment