Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

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Bullying: Why Do Girls Tend To Become Violent & Agressive Later Than Boys?

Girls appear to be “protected” from showing antisocial behaviour until their teenage years, new research from the University of Cambridge has found.

The study sheds new light on antisocial behaviour in girls compared with boys and suggests that rather than violence or antisocial behaviour simply reflecting bad choices, the brains of people with antisocial behaviour may work differently from those who behave normally.

Until now, little research has been done on antisocial behaviour (Conduct Disorder) in girls. According to Cambridge Neuroscientist Dr Graeme Fairchild of the Department of Psychiatry, lead author of the study:

“Almost nothing is known about the neuropsychology of severe antisocial behaviour in girls. Although less common in girls than boys, UK crime figures show that serious violence is increasing sharply in female adolescents.”

The study, published online this month in Biological Psychiatry, compared a group of 25 girls, aged 1418 years-old, with high levels of antisocial and/or violent behaviour with a group of 30 healthy controls.

“Most of our participants had major difficulties controlling their temper, lashing out and breaking things around their homes when they got angry, and had often been involved in serious fights. Several had convictions for violent offences and some had been to prison for assault,”
Dr Fairchild explains.

Dr Fairchild and colleagues measured the girls’ ability to recognise the six primary facial expressions – anger, disgust, sadness, fear, surprise and happiness. They found that girls with antisocial behaviour made a large number of errors when asked to recognise anger and disgust, but had no problems recognising other facial expressions.

According to Dr Fairchild: “Our findings suggest that antisocial behaviour or violence may not simply reflect bad choices but that, at some level, the brains of individuals with antisocial behaviour may work differently. This might make it harder for them to read emotions in others – particularly to realise that someone is angry with them – and to learn from punishment.”

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The study also shows that although girls and boys with severe antisocial behaviour have the same problems recognising emotions, the girls – whose problems began when they were teenagers – more closely resembled boys whose antisocial behaviour began in childhood.

Boys with childhood-onset Conduct Disorder have difficulties recognising anger and disgust, but those with adolescence-onset Conduct Disorder do not.

“This suggests that there are interesting differences in antisocial behaviour between girls and boys, with girls being protected from showing antisocial behaviour until their teenage years for reasons we don’t yet understand,”
Dr Fairchild says.

The next phase of the research involves a brain scanning study. “As far as we know, this will be the first functional neuroimaging study ever carried out in girls with severe antisocial behaviour,” Dr Fairchild says.

Around five percent of school-age children would meet criteria for Conduct Disorder, but it is approximately three to four times more common in boys than girls. A range of factors – ranging from physical abuse in childhood to being diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – make it more likely that someone will develop Conduct Disorder.

It is difficult to treat using psychological therapy, and there are no effective drug treatments, but a new form of therapy called Multi-Systemic Therapy is currently being trialled in the UK and shows promise in treating antisocial behaviour.

The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Source: the University of Cambridge

Research Article: Facial Expression Recognition, Fear Conditioning, and Startle Modulation in Female Subjects with Conduct Disorder.
Fairchild G, Stobbe Y, van Goozen SH, Calder AJ, Goodyer IM.
Biol Psychiatry. 2010 May 4.

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May 14, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Bullying, Child Behavior, Girls, Identity, Parenting | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Spoonful Of Sugar DOES Makes The Medicine Go Down! Sweet Solutions Reduce Kids Experience Of Pain From Needles

Infants who receive sweet solutions before being immunised experience less pain and are more comfortable, reveals research published ahead of print in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Read The Abstract Here

Healthcare professionals should consider giving infants aged 112 months a sweet solution of sucrose or glucose before immunising a child, the international team of researchers recommended, because of the child’s improved reaction to injections.

Existing research shows the effectiveness of giving newborn infants and those beyond the newborn period, a small amount (e.g. a few drops to about half a teaspoon) of sucrose and glucose as analgesics during minor painful procedures.

Little is known, however, about the effect of such solutions on pain, so a team of researchers from Toronto in Canada, Melbourne in Australia and Sao Paulo in Brazil, funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Knowledge Synthesis grant, collected the findings from 14 relevant trials involving 1,674 injections given to children aged 112 months.

They found that giving a child a small amount of sweet solution, compared to water or no treatment moderately decreased crying in the child during or following immunisation in 13 of the 14 studies (92.9%).

The authors conclude that infants aged 112 months given sucrose or glucose before immunisation had cried less often and for less time.

The amount of glucose or sucrose given made a difference and the researchers found that infants receiving 30% glucose in some trials were almost half as likely to cry following immunisation.

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The researchers could not identify the ideal dose of sucrose or glucose because of the variety of volumes and concentrations used in the various trials.

Analgesic effects of sweet solutions given to older infants were more moderate than those in newborn infants.

They conclude: “Healthcare professionals responsible for administering immunisations should consider using sucrose or glucose during painful procedures.

“This information is important for healthcare professionals working with infants in both inpatient and out-patient settings, as sweet solutions are readily available, have a very short onset of time to analgesia, are inexpensive and are easy to administer.”

Source: Eurekalert

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May 13, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, Pain, Parenting, Resilience, stress | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Regular Exercise Is Important For The Health Of Those Who Have Schizophrenia

Regular exercise can play an important a role in improving the physical and mental wellbeing of individuals with schizophrenia, according to a review published in The Cochrane Library. Following a systematic review of the most up-to-date research on exercise in schizophrenia, researchers concluded that the current guidelines for exercise should be followed by people with schizophrenia just as they should by the general population.

“Current guidelines for exercise appear to be just as acceptable to individuals with schizophrenia in terms of potential physical and mental health benefit,” says lead researcher Guy Faulkner of the Faculty of Physical Education and Health at the University of Toronto, Canada. “So thirty minutes of moderate physical activity on most or all days of the week is a good goal to aim for. Start slowly and build up.”

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness affecting four in every 1,000 people. It is already known that exercise can improve mental health, but so far there has been only limited evidence of effects in schizophrenia. The new review focused on three recent small studies that compared the effects of 1216 week exercise programmes, including components such as jogging, walking and strength training, to standard care or yoga.

The researchers found that exercise programmes improved mental state for measures including anxiety and depression, particularly when compared to standard care. Changes in physical health outcomes were seen but they were not significant overall. However, the researchers suggest this may be due to the short timescale of the trials.

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Two previous reviews have found exercise therapy to be beneficial in schizophrenia, but called for more rigorous research. “This new review suggests that such calls are starting to be addressed,” says Faulkner. “But we still need more research that will help us learn how we can get individuals with schizophrenia engaged in exercise programmes in the first place, and how such programmes can be developed and implemented within mental health services. That’s one of the biggest challenges for this type of intervention.”

Source: Eurekalert

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May 12, 2010 Posted by | Books, Exercise, mood, Resilience, Schizophrenia | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Lucky Charms Sometimes Work: The Powerful Positive Performance Psychology Of Superstition

Can luck really influence the outcome of events? That question has captivated otherwise rational people for centuries—and challenged scientists to somehow prove whether lucky charms, special shirts or ritualistic behaviors hold special powers.

Read The Original Research Dissertation

They do. (Sometimes.) New research coming out in June suggests that a belief in good luck can affect performance.

In a test conducted by researchers from the University of Cologne, participants on a putting green who were told they were playing with a “lucky ball” sank 6.4 putts out of 10, nearly two more putts, on average, than those who weren’t told the ball was lucky. That is a 35% improvement. The results suggest new thinking in how to view luck and are intriguing to behavorial psychologists.

“Our results suggest that the activation of a superstition can indeed yield performance-improving effects,” says Lysann Damisch, co-author of the Cologne study, set to be published in the journal Psychological Science. The sample size, just 28 university students, was small, but the effect was big enough to be statistically significant.

Believing in their own good fortune can help people only in situations where they can affect the outcome. It can’t, say, help people watching a horse race they have bet on.

While the findings have not been published, this study could prompt psychologists to explore ways to tap into people’s belief in good luck. “Simply being told this is a lucky ball is sufficient to affect performance,” Stuart Vyse, professor of psychology at Connecticut College and author of “Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition,” says of the new study.

More Accuracy: Participants who were handed a golf ball and told, ‘Here is your ball. So far it has turned out to be a lucky ball,’ were 35% more likely to make a golf putt than participants who were told, ‘This is the ball everyone has used so far.’.

When Anthony Overfield rides his motorcycle, he carries two passengers on board: so-called gremlin bells. The 46-year-old runs a Web site, New York Biker, and sells merchandise at bike shows statewide. Gremlin bells are his best sellers. Many bikers believe these small brass bells, mounted near the back of his bike, help ward off accidents. “My bike’s in good shape,” he says. “I’m healthy. I haven’t been involved with any altercations with vehicles.” In short, his good-luck charms seem to be working.

Still, people often overestimate how much control they have over a situation. For a 2003 paper, researchers in the U.K. enlisted 107 traders at London investment banks to play a computer game simulating a live stock index. They were told that pressing the letters Z, X and C on the keyboard “may have some effect on the index,” when in fact it didn’t.

Nonetheless, many traders had an illusion of control. This characteristic could have detracted from their job performance. Traders in the study who held the strongest false belief in control had lower salaries in real life, suggesting that excessive belief in their own control of “luck” may have hurt their trading decisions.

“The idea that wearing a red shirt, saying some sort of incantation or prayer or carrying a lucky charm will bring good luck is very appealing because it gives people the illusion that they have some degree of control over future events in their lives,” says Peter Thall, a biostatistician at the University of Texas. “The painful truth is that we have little or no control over the most important events in our lives.”

Better Memory: with their ‘lucky charms’ on hand performed significantly better than those separated from their charms. Moreover, participants with their lucky charms reported that they felt 30% more capable than participants without the charms.

Mathematicians have demonstrated the role that randomness plays in life—”there are no long-term successful craps players,” says Harvey Mudd College mathematician Arthur Benjamin.

But don’t tell that to the people who believe they can shape their own luck. They’re well represented in games of chance, such as lotteries and casinos, and will be out in force at Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, in which a favorite is named, what else, Lookin At Lucky.

On a recent rainy Sunday afternoon at Aqueduct Race Track in Queens, N.Y., Dennis Canetty was wearing a brown suit. Not an everyday, run-of-the-mill, ordinary brown suit. The retired Wall Street trader, age 61, was sporting his lucky brown suit to help the horse he co-owns, Always a Party, win the second race. The power of the suit is real and proven: Mr. Canetty was wearing it at the Preakness Stakes two years ago when Macho Again, another horse he co-owns, finished second as a 40-to-1 long shot.

“It’s silly,” he said a few minutes before race time. “My wife thinks I’m nuts.”

Even some otherwise calculating mathematicians hold irrational beliefs about luck. “I tell my class, ‘Don’t bother entering sweepstakes; it’s so unlikely you’re going to win,” says Joseph Mazur, a mathematician at Marlboro College and author of the book “What’s Luck Got to Do with It?” coming out in July. But then his wife entered him in a sweepstakes and he won $20,000.

More Persistence: In an anagram game, in which participants had to make as many words as possible from a string of eight letters, participants with their lucky charms set higher goals (16 more words) and persisted longer (nearly 5½-minutes longer) than participants whose lucky charms had been removed.

“There I was for months afterwards, entering every sweepstakes contest I could find,” he says. It was futile—he never repeated.

Investors also are prone to superstitions. For example, during an eclipse, which many cultures view as a bad omen, major U.S. stock-market indexes typically fall, according to research conducted by Gabriele Lepori, assistant professor of finance at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. This effect persists even after controlling for economic news and long-term trends. And the indexes usually bounce back soon afterward.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, known for basing personnel decisions on statistics, notes with bemusement the superstition of some of his highest-paid employees. “Every locker room has a comical procession of superstitions,” he said in an email. “We have things based on time, on speech intonations and on specific conversation exchanges. If you look at the introductions of any NBA team and what the players do, you have an anthropologist’s dream.”

But at Times False Confidence: In a stock-market simulation, 107 traders were told that pressing the letters Z, X and C on a keyboard ‘may have some effect on the index,’ when in fact it didn’t. Traders in the study who held the strongest belief that the keys made a difference had lower salaries in real life, suggesting that ‘luck’ may hurt their trading decisions.

But Mr. Cuban is sticking with his stats. “When it’s all said and done, it’s about performance and data,” he said. “Guys will change their superstitions, but the numbers don’t lie.”

Still, he says he has some superstitions of his own to give his Mavs a boost, “but there is no chance I tell you; that kills them.” These may not have helped his team in the playoffs: Dallas trails San Antonio, three games to two.

And did Mr. Canetty’s lucky brown suit prove to be lucky? His horse, Always a Party, was bumped early in the race and jockey Channing Hill went flying. “I threw the suit away,” Mr. Canetty said on Tuesday. “I’m not wearing that suit anymore.” For the next race, “I’ll try out a new suit, and see if it brings better luck.”

Read The Original Research Dissertation

Credit: CARL BIALIK : The Wall Street Journal

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May 11, 2010 Posted by | Books, Cognition, Positive Psychology, research | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Down By The River: 5 Minutes Of “Green Exercise” Boosts Your Mood

Just five minutes of exercise a day in the great outdoors can improve mental health, according to a new study, and policymakers should encourage more people to spend time in parks and gardens.

Read The Original Article (PDF)

Researchers from the University of Essex found that as little as five minutes of a “green activity” such as walking, gardening, cycling or farming can boost mood and self esteem.

“We believe that there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate more with green exercise,” Barton said in a statement about the study, which was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Many studies have shown that outdoor exercise can reduce the risk of mental illness and improve a sense of well-being, but Jules Pretty and Jo Barton, who led this study, said that until now no one knew how much time needed to be spent on green exercise for the benefits to show.

Barton and Pretty looked at data from 1,252 people of different ages, genders and mental health status taken from 10 existing studies in Britain.

They analyzed activities such as walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming.

They found that the greatest health changes occurred in the young and the mentally ill, although people of all ages and social groups benefited. The largest positive effect on self-esteem came from a five-minute dose of “green exercise.”

All natural environments were beneficial, including parks in towns or cities, they said, but green areas with water appeared to have a more positive effect.

Read The Original Article (PDF)

Source: msnbc

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May 9, 2010 Posted by | depression, Exercise, Health Psychology, Mindfulness, Positive Psychology | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

TV For Toddlers: “The Wiggles” Or The Wobbles?

Want kids who are smarter and thinner? Keep them away from the television set as toddlers. A shocking study from child experts at the Université de Montréal, the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center and the University of Michigan, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, has found that television exposure at age two forecasts negative consequences for kids, ranging from poor school adjustment to unhealthy habits.

View Abstract Here

“We found every additional hour of TV exposure among toddlers corresponded to a future decrease in classroom engagement and success at math, increased victimization by classmates, have a more sedentary lifestyle, higher consumption of junk food and, ultimately, higher body mass index,” says lead author Dr. Linda S. Pagani, a psychosocial professor at the Université de Montréal and researcher at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center.

The goal of the study was to determine the impact of TV exposure at age 2 on future academic success, lifestyle choices and general well being among children. “Between the ages of two and four, even incremental exposure to television delayed development,” says Dr. Pagani.

A total of 1,314 kids took part in the investigation, which was part of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development Main Exposure. Parents were asked to report how much TV their kids watched at 29 months and at 53 months in age. Teachers were asked to evaluate academic, psychosocial and health habits, while body mass index (BMI) was measured at 10 years old.

“Early childhood is a critical period for brain development and formation of behaviour,” warns Dr. Pagani. “High levels of TV consumption during this period can lead to future unhealthy habits. Despite clear recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggesting less than two hours of TV per day — beyond the age of two — parents show poor factual knowledge and awareness of such existing guidelines.”

According to the investigation, watching too much TV as toddlers later forecasted:

  • a seven percent decrease in classroom engagement;
  • a six percent decrease in math achievement (with no harmful effects on later reading);
  • a 10 percent increase in victimization by classmates (peer rejection, being teased, assaulted or insulted by other students);
  • a 13 percent decrease in weekend physical activity;
  • a nine percent decrease in general physical activity;
  • a none percent higher consumption of soft drinks;
  • a 10 percent peak in snacks intake;
  • a five percent increase in BMI.

“Although we expected the impact of early TV viewing to disappear after seven and a half years of childhood, the fact that negative outcomes remained is quite daunting,” says Dr. Pagani. “Our findings make a compelling public health argument against excessive TV viewing in early childhood and for parents to heed guidelines on TV exposure from the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

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Since TV exposure encourages a sedentary lifestyle, Dr. Pagani says, television viewing must be curbed for toddlers to avoid the maintenance of passive mental and physical habits in later childhood: “Common sense would have it that TV exposure replaces time that could be spent engaging in other developmentally enriching activities and tasks which foster cognitive, behavioral, and motor development.”

“What’s special about this study is how it confirms suspicions that have been out there and shown by smaller projects on one outcome or another. This study takes a comprehensive approach and considers many parental, pediatric and societal factors simultaneously,” she adds.

This research was funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

The article, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, was authored by Linda S. Pagani, Caroline Fitzpatrick and Tracie A. Barnett of the Université de Montréal and its affiliated Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center in Canada in collaboration with Eric Dubow of the University of Michigan in the United States.

Source: Sciencedaily

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May 8, 2010 Posted by | ADHD /ADD, Books, Child Behavior, Cognition, Education, Parenting, Resilience, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Emotional Binge Eating: Dealing With The Emotions Is Just As Important As Dealing With The Eating

This article highlights how Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is being integrated into weight loss programs for emotional eaters.

How many times have you, after a particularly hard day, reached for some chocolate or ice cream? It’s common for many people, but for those trying to lose weight, it can be detrimental to their long term success, and most weight-loss programs never even address it.

They focus on choosing healthier foods and exercising more, but they never answer a key question: how can people who have eaten to cope with emotions change their eating habits, when they haven’t learned other ways of coping with emotions?

Researchers at Temple’s Center for Obesity Research are trying to figure out the answer as part of a new, NIH-funded weight loss study. The new treatment incorporates skills that directly address the emotional eating, and essentially adds those skills to a state-of-the art behavioral weight loss treatment.

“The problem that we’re trying to address is that the success rates for long-term weight loss are not as good as we would like them to be,” said Edie Goldbacher, a postdoctoral fellow at CORE. “Emotional eating may be one reason why people don’t do as well in behavioral weight loss groups, because these groups don’t address emotional eating or any of its contributing factors.”

The study has already had one wave of participants come through, and many participants have seen some success in the short term, but have also learned the skills to help them achieve long term success.

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Janet Williams, part of that first cohort, said she lost about 17 pounds over 22 weeks, and still uses some of the techniques she learned in the study to help maintain her weight, which has not fluctuated.

“The program doesn’t just help you identify when you eat,” said Williams. “It helps you recognize triggers that make you eat, to help you break that cycle of reaching for food every time you feel bored, or frustrated, or sad.”

Williams said that the program teaches various techniques to help break that cycle, such as the “conveyor belt,” in which participants, when overcome with a specific emotion, can recognize it and take a step back, before reaching for chips or cookies, and put those feelings on their mental “conveyor belt” and watch them go away.

“I still use the skills I learned in the study,” she said. “I’ve learned to say, ‘I will not allow this emotional episode to control my eating habits.'”

Source:eurekalert

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May 6, 2010 Posted by | Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Addiction, Books, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, depression, Eating Disorder, Health Psychology, Mindfulness, mood, stress | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Willy Wonky & The Chocolate Fetish”: Why Do Depressed People Eat More Chocolate?

People who are depressed appear to eat more chocolate than those who aren’t

Researchers at UC San Diego and UC Davis examined chocolate consumption and other dietary intake patterns among 931 men and women who were not using antidepressants. The participants were also given a depression screening test. Those who screened positive for possible depression consumed an average of 8.4 servings of chocolate — defined as one ounce of chocolate candy — per month. That compared with 5.4 servings per month among people who were not depressed.

Read Abstract Here

Those who scored highest on the mood tests, indicating possible major depression, consumed an average of 11.8 servings per month. The findings were similar among women and men.

When the researchers controlled for other dietary factors that could be linked to mood — such as caffeine, fat and carbohydrate intake — they found only chocolate consumption correlated with mood.

It’s not clear how the two are linked, the authors wrote. It could be that depression stimulates chocolate cravings as a form of self-treatment. Chocolate prompts the release of certain chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, that produce feelings of pleasure.

There is no evidence, however, that chocolate has a sustained benefit on improving mood. Like alcohol, chocolate may contribute a short-term boost in mood followed by a return to depression or a worsened mood. A study published in 2007 in the journal Appetite found that eating chocolate improved mood but only for about three minutes.

It’s also possible that depressed people seek chocolate to improve mood but that the trans fats in some chocolate counteract the effect of omega-3 fatty acid production in the body, the authors said in the paper. Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to improve mental health.

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Another theory is that chocolate consumption contributes to depression or that some physiological mechanism, such as stress, drives both depression and chocolate cravings.

“It’s unlikely that chocolate makes people depressed,” said Marcia Levin Pelchat, a psychologist who studies food cravings at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. She was not involved in the new study. “Most people believe the beneficial effects of chocolate are on mood and that they are learned. You eat chocolate; it makes you feel good, and sometime when you’re feeling badly it occurs to you, ‘Gee, if I eat some chocolate I might feel better.’ ”

Chocolate is popular in North America and Britain, she said. But in other cultures, different foods are considered pleasure-inducing pick-me-ups.

“In the United States, people consider chocolate really tasty,” Pelchat said. “It has a high cultural value. It’s an appropriate gift for Valentine’s Day. But in China, you might give stuffed snails to someone you really like.”

Source: LA Times

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April 30, 2010 Posted by | Books, Cognition, depression, Health Psychology | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Families, Alcohol, Recovery & ‘The Limits Of Love’

I have re-posted this article from psych central as it is a thorough, well written and balanced view of the impact of alcoholism in families, the hope for recovery and the role of families and the community in helping those with substance over-use illnesses: Please read!
By William L. White, M.A. and Robert J. Lindsey, M.Ed., CEAP

Gredit: psychcentral.com

On April 25th, Hallmark Hall of Fame will broadcast the movie “When Love Is Not Enough — The Lois Wilson Story,” starring Winona Ryder and Barry Pepper (CBS, 9:00 pm ET). The movie, which portrays the life of Lois Wilson, co-founder of Al-Anon Family Groups and wife of Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson, is based on William G. Borchert’s 2005 book, The Lois Wilson Story: When Love Is Not Enough.

Borchert’s earlier screenplay was the basis of the acclaimed movie My Name is Bill W. which starred James Woods, James Garner, and JoBeth Williams. The premiere of the movie also falls during the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.’s (NCADD) 24th Annual Alcohol Awareness Month with its theme, “When Love Is Not Enough: Helping Families Coping With Alcoholism.”

Lois Wilson fell in love with a man whose alcoholism brought his life and their relationship to the brink before he began his personal recovery and helped found Alcoholics Anonymous. Lois and many of the other wives of early AA members also began to band together for mutual support, formalizing these meetings into Al-Anon Family Groups in 1951.

When Love is Not Enough is the story of Lois Wilson and her life with Bill Wilson. The reach of her and their stories is unfathomable and inseparable from the larger stories of AA and Al-Anon and the influence their lives would exert on the larger story of the professional treatment and recovery of individuals and families affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. As William Borchert suggests:

“In the end, Bill Wilson’s alcoholism proved not to be the tragic undoing of this brilliant and loving couple, but rather the beginning of two of the twentieth century’s most important social and spiritual movements- Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon Family Groups.”

There are presently more than 114,500 Alcoholics Anonymous groups (with a combined membership of more than 2 million) and more than 25,000 Al-Anon/Alateen groups (with a combined membership estimated at more than 340,000) hosting local meetings worldwide.

When Love is Not Enough is clearly more than a love story, though it is surely that. Readers of Psych Central and the people they serve will discover in this movie six profound lessons about the impact of alcoholism and alcoholism recovery on intimate relationships and the family.

1. Prolonged cultural misunderstandings about the nature of alcoholism have left a legacy of family shame and secrecy. Centuries of debates between those advocating religious, moral, criminal, psychiatric, psychological, medical and sociological theories of alcoholism failed to offer clear guidance to individuals and families affected by alcoholism. When Love is Not Enough is in part a poignant history of the hidden desperation many families experienced before the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, and modern alcoholism treatment. Lois Wilson and Anne Bingham helped change that history in 1951 when they organized 87 groups of wives of AA members into the Al-Anon Family Groups.

2. Alcoholism is a family disease in the sense that it also wounds those closest to the alcohol dependent person; transforms family relationships, roles, rules, and rituals; and isolates the family from potential sources of extended family, social, and community support. And, it has far reaching, long-lasting effects on the physical and emotional health of the family and children. When Love is Not Enough conveys the physical and emotional distress of those struggling to understand a loved one who has lost control of drinking and its consequences.

It vividly portrays the disappointment, confusion, frustration, anger, resentment, jealousy, fear, guilt, shame, anxiety and depression family members experience in the face of alcoholism. The recognition that significant others and their children become as sick as the person addicted and are in need of a parallel pathway of recovery were the seeds from which Al-Anon and Alateen grew.

3. The family experience of alcoholism is often one of extreme duality. When Love is Not Enough poignantly conveys this duality: brief hope-inspiring interludes of abstinence or moderated drinking, periods of peacefulness, moments of love and shared dreams for the future — all relentlessly violated by explosive bouts of drinking and their devastating aftereffects. Memories of that lost person and those moments and dreams co-exist even in the face of the worst effects of alcoholism on the family.

It is only in recognizing this duality of experience and the character duality of the alcoholic that one can answer the enigmatic question that is so often posed about Lois Wilson’s contemporary counterparts, “Why does she/he stay with him/her?” As clinicians, we can too often forget that these family stories contain much more than the pathology of alcohol or drug dependence (White, 2006).

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4. Family recovery from alcoholism is a turbulent, threatening and life-changing experience. The hope of all families and children wounded by alcoholism is that the drinking will stop and with it, the arrival of an idyllic family life. Lois Wilson’s story confirms what research on family recovery from addiction is revealing: recovery from alcoholism can destabilize intimate and family relationships. Stephanie Brown and Virginia Lewis (1999), in their studies of the impact of alcoholism recovery on the family, speak of this as the “trauma of recovery.”

People recovering from alcoholism, their families, and their children can and often do achieve optimum levels of health and functioning, but this achievement is best measured in years rather than days, weeks, or months. That recognition in the life of Lois Wilson underscored the need for sustained support for families as they went through this process.

5. We cannot change another person, only ourselves. If there is a central, singular message from Lois Wilson’s life and from the Al-Anon Family Groups program, this may well be it. Al-Anon’s defining moments came when family members stopped focusing on how they could change and control their addicted family member and focused instead on their own need for regeneration and spiritual growth, the overall health of their families and the comfort and help they could offer each other and other families similarly affected.

Their further discovery that AA’s twelve step program of recovery could also guide the healing of family members marks the birth of the modern conceptualization of family recovery. The 2009 Al-Anon Membership Survey confirms the wide and enduring benefits members report experiencing as a result of their sustained involvement in Al-Anon—irrespective of the drinking status of their family members.

6. The wonder of family recovery. As a direct result of Lois’s groundbreaking work in co-founding Al-Anon and the impact it has had on the field of alcohol and drug treatment, family recovery from alcoholism is a reality for millions of Americans today, and the hope, help, and healing of family recovery has become the most powerful way to break the intergenerational cycle of alcoholism and addiction in the family.

The growing interest in the lives of Bill and Lois Wilson — as indicated by a stream of memoirs, biographies, plays, and films — is testimony to the contributions that Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon Family Groups have made to personal and family recovery from alcoholism and to the ever-widening adaptation of the Twelve Steps to other problems of living (Wilson, 1994).

Psych Central readers will find much of value in “When Love Is Not Enough — The Lois Wilson Story,” including the power of Al-Anon as a tool of support for clients living with someone else’s alcoholism. A DVD of the movie and a Viewer’s Guide, for use as a tool in family and community education, will be available at www.hallmarkhalloffame.com on April 25th, the day of the movie’s premiere.

References

Al-Anon membership survey. (Fall, 2009). Virginia Beach, VA: Al-Anon Family Headquarters, Inc.

Borchert, W.G. (2005). The Lois Wilson story: When love is not enough. Center City, MN: Hazelden.

Brown, S., & Lewis, V. (1999). The alcoholic family in recovery: A developmental model. New York & London: Guilford Press.

White, W. (2006). [Review of the book The Lois Wilson Story: When Love is Not Enough, by W. G. Borchert]. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 24(4), 159-162.

Wilson, L. (1979). Lois remembers: Memoir of the co-founder of Al-Anon and wife of the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. New York: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.

Additional Resources

Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, 800-4AL-ANON (888-425-2666), Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., ET.

Alcoholics Anonymous

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD).

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April 26, 2010 Posted by | Addiction, Alcohol, Books, depression, diagnosis, Health Psychology, Intimate Relationshps, Marriage, mood, Resources, Spirituality, stress | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Too Sexy Too Soon! PART I – Should Girls As Young As 9 Be Taken To Get Their Legs Waxed?

Video still of an children's fashion shoot image which was released as part of a report into the sexualisation of children.

There has been an increasing amount of concern amongst health professionals regarding the rise of “tweenage” culture, the target marketing of pre-adolescent children, particularly girls, with clothing and cultural images that seem to be pushing them towards adulthood way too early. The following newspaper articles from this weekend’s newspapers highlight this disturbing trend, and offer up some food for thought for parents.

Source for both articles: news.com.au

PARENTS are sending girls as young as nine to have painful beauty treatments.

Beauticians say that young children are being brought into salons by parents to undergo painful hair removal treatments.

NSW Community Services Minister Linda Burney criticised the paractice, and although she stopped short of calling it abuse, she said that mothers should not force their daughters to mature too quickly.

“Most people would be pretty aghast that girls as young as nine would feel that they need to have their legs waxed,” Ms Burney said.

“It raises the broader issue of children growing up too quickly and brings up the issue of sexualisation of children. Children should be allowed to be children and not feel they need to emulate what they see in gossip magazines and the advertising industry.”

Too young, too painful

She warned that the sexualisation of young girls through such beauty treatments could lead to depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Parents needed to use common sense in deciding when the right time was to allow their child to wax, but there was also an onus on the beauty industry, although regulation was not the answer, she said.

“At the end of the day, it is really on the proprietor to make a particular decision about whether they will allow that client in the salon,” Ms Burney said.

Bullied

Ms Burney said that there may be exceptional circumstances, for example, if a child was being teased or bullied because they were particularly hairy.

Child sexualisation expert and humanities and social science lecturer at Charles Sturt University, Emma Rush, said she was “disturbed” parents were taking young children to have the procedure.

“It might seem like a nice thing to do for a little girl, but not at that age. Mid-teens, sure. Children aged nine or younger have not got the cognitive (capacity). They don’t have the need for it. There is the question of whether they are ready to cope with the attention that can attract,” Dr Rush said.

She said girls in primary schools were now exhibiting depression, anxiety and eating disorders, which had all been strongly linked to sexualisation.

“Parents also need to think about the message that this is sending to their children,” she said.

“It is very limiting for a child how much focus there is on looks.”

She said children should never be pressured to undergo such beauty treatments and discouraged from starting them until at least 14.

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Leg waxes for nine year olds?

Alison Godfrey

Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 11:17am

THE Sunday Telegraph this weekend reported that parents were forcing girls as young as nine to get leg waxes.

In the article NSW Community Services Minister Linda Burney said mothers should not force their daughters to mature too quickly.

“Most people would be pretty aghast that girls as young as nine would feel that they need to have their legs waxed,” Ms Burney said.

“It raises the broader issue of children growing up too quickly and brings up the issue of sexualisation of children. Children should be allowed to be children and not feel they need to emulate what they see in gossip magazines and the advertising industry.”

She warned that the sexualisation of young girls through such beauty treatments could lead to depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Firstly I was horrified, then I wondered – are they really forcing them? Or are nine-year-old girls asking their parents if they can shave their legs and mums are taking them to the salon instead? Are mums just buckling to pester power?

Either way, it does raise the issue of sexualisation of young children. The story about leg waxing follows a run of other stories of inappropriate products aimed at children. Take a look at this padded bra for seven-year-olds which a UK retailer was forced to remove from sale after The Sun called the bra a “paedo (pedophile) bikini”.

Last month, Professor Newman, the president of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrist said she had seen four-year-olds who wanted to go on diets. She said the overt sexualisation of society was pushing teenage concerns about body image, “sexiness” and of being a “worthwhile individual” well into a child’s first years of life.

If you need any more proof of the issue – there’s this article about Noah Cyrus, Mylie’s 10-year-old sister selling fishnet stockings and knee high dominatrix boots.

Last week I was shopping for clothes for my soon to be born baby girl. I was shocked by the by the rock star style mini-skirts and leather jackets in Best and Less. I just wanted something cute, simple, elegant and baby like. What girl under one wears black leather and studs? What are they thinking?

But then, we should also be asking what are the parents thinking? Because ultimately it is the parents that agree to buy these items for children. It is parents who say yes, rather than no.

Yesterday I made my husband turn off Video Hits because CJ was watching a scantily clad woman gyrating to hip hop music. It made me uncomfortable. It wasn’t appropriate for a two-year-old. I can only imagine the conversations that must generate in families with older children.

When my baby girl is born in, hopefully just over 10 weeks, I know that I will probably be even more protective with her. And leg waxing will have to wait until I am ready for it.

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April 20, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Books, Bullying, Child Behavior, Eating Disorder, Girls, Parenting, research, Sex & Sexuality, Social Psychology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments