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

Violent Video Games & Kids: Definitive Study Shows Both Short & Long Term Harmful Effects

Iowa State University Distinguished Professor of Psychology Craig Anderson has made much of his life’s work studying how violent video game play affects youth behavior. And he says a new study he led, analyzing 130 research reports on more than 130,000 subjects worldwide, proves conclusively that exposure to violent video games makes more aggressive, less caring kids — regardless of their age, sex or culture.

Read the original research paper (PDF)

The study was published in the March 2010 issue of the Psychological Bulletin, an American Psychological Association journal. It reports that exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive thoughts and behavior, and decreased empathy and prosocial behavior in youths.

“We can now say with utmost confidence that regardless of research method — that is experimental, correlational, or longitudinal — and regardless of the cultures tested in this study [East and West], you get the same effects,” said Anderson, who is also director of Iowa State’s Center for the Study of Violence. “And the effects are that exposure to violent video games increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior in both short-term and long-term contexts. Such exposure also increases aggressive thinking and aggressive affect, and decreases prosocial behavior.”

The study was conducted by a team of eight researchers, including ISU psychology graduate students Edward Swing and Muniba Saleem; and Brad Bushman, a former Iowa State psychology professor who now is on the faculty at the University of Michigan. Also on the team were the top video game researchers from Japan — Akiko Shibuya from Keio University and Nobuko Ihori from Ochanomizu University — and Hannah Rothstein, a noted scholar on meta-analytic review from the City University of New York.

Meta-analytic procedure used in research

The team used meta-analytic procedures — the statistical methods used to analyze and combine results from previous, related literature — to test the effects of violent video game play on the behaviors, thoughts and feelings of the individuals, ranging from elementary school-aged children to college undergraduates.

The research also included new longitudinal data which provided further confirmation that playing violent video games is a causal risk factor for long-term harmful outcomes.

“These are not huge effects — not on the order of joining a gang vs. not joining a gang,” said Anderson. “But these effects are also not trivial in size. It is one risk factor for future aggression and other sort of negative outcomes. And it’s a risk factor that’s easy for an individual parent to deal with — at least, easier than changing most other known risk factors for aggression and violence, such as poverty or one’s genetic structure.”

The analysis found that violent video game effects are significant in both Eastern and Western cultures, in males and females, and in all age groups. Although there are good theoretical reasons to expect the long-term harmful effects to be higher in younger, pre-teen youths, there was only weak evidence of such age effects.

Time to refocus the public policy debate

The researchers conclude that the study has important implications for public policy debates, including development and testing of potential intervention strategies designed to reduce the harmful effects of playing violent video games.

“From a public policy standpoint, it’s time to get off the question of, ‘Are there real and serious effects?’ That’s been answered and answered repeatedly,” Anderson said. “It’s now time to move on to a more constructive question like, ‘How do we make it easier for parents — within the limits of culture, society and law — to provide a healthier childhood for their kids?'”

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But Anderson knows it will take time for the creation and implementation of effective new policies. And until then, there is plenty parents can do to protect their kids at home.

“Just like your child’s diet and the foods you have available for them to eat in the house, you should be able to control the content of the video games they have available to play in your home,” he said. “And you should be able to explain to them why certain kinds of games are not allowed in the house — conveying your own values. You should convey the message that one should always be looking for more constructive solutions to disagreements and conflict.”

Anderson says the new study may be his last meta-analysis on violent video games because of its definitive findings. Largely because of his extensive work on violent video game effects, Anderson was chosen as one of the three 2010 American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientist Lecturers

Read the original research paper (PDF)

Source: Iowa State University
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April 25, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Books, Bullying, Child Behavior, Internet, Parenting, research, Social Psychology, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Social Anxiety: Another Side To The Struggle

Read Original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF internal link)

From ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2010) — When you think of people suffering from social anxiety, you probably characterize them as shy, inhibitive and submissive. However, new research from psychologists Todd Kashdan and Patrick McKnight at George Mason University suggests that there is a subset of socially anxious people who act out in aggressive, risky ways — and that their behavior patterns are often misunderstood.

In the new study published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, Kashdan and McKnight found evidence that a subset of adults diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder were prone to behaviors such as violence, substance abuse, unprotected sex and other risk-prone actions. These actions caused positive experiences in the short-term, yet detracted from their quality of life in the longer-term.

“We often miss the underlying problems of people around us. Parents and teachers might think their kid is a bully, acts out and is a behavior problem because they have a conduct disorder or antisocial tendencies,” says Kashdan. “However, sometimes when we dive into the motive for their actions, we will find that they show extreme social anxiety and extreme fears of being judged. If social anxiety was the reason for their behavior, this would suggest an entirely different intervention.”

Kashdan and McKnight suggest that looking at the underlying cause of extreme behavior can help us understand the way people interact within society.

“In the adult world, the same can be said for managers, co-workers, romantic partners and friends. It is easy to misunderstand why people are behaving the way we do and far too often we assume that the aggressive, impulsive behaviors are the problem. What we are finding is that for a large minority of people, social anxiety underlies the problem,” says Kashdan.

The researchers suggest that further studies of this subset group can help psychologists better understand and treat the behaviors. “Recent laboratory experiments suggest that people can be trained to enhance their self-control capacities and thus better inhibit impulsive urges and regulate emotions and attention,” says McKnight. “Essentially, training people to be more self-disciplined — whether in physical workout routines or finances or eating habits — improves willpower when their self-control is tested.”

Credit: George Mason University

Read Original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF internal link)

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March 20, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, Bullying, therapy | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cyber Safety and Social Networking: Don’t Let Your Kids Play Roulette Online

* Alex Dickinson  From:  The Courier-Mail http://couriermail.com.au
* March 05, 2010 11:00AM <break>

A NEW website dubbed “a predator’s paradise” has become an internet sensation in Australia – but there is almost nothing that Queensland authorities can do to track those preying on children.

Chat Roulettehttp://chatroulette.com launched online in November, instantly puts users face-to-face with a stranger anywhere in the world

In a concept Queensland Police say is one of the most dangerous on the web, the site shows webcam footage of the stranger – one of more than 20,000 on the site at one time – and has an option to “spin the wheel” to the next stranger.Users don’t have to register any identifying information and the site has already been flooded with users exposing themselves and sharing intimate details.

Some reports suggest 20 per cent of the webcams show masturbating men. The Courier-Mail logged on to the site for 15 minutes last night and was connected to 10 users from across the globe – three were shirtless men hiding their faces, another man was showing his penis while a woman with a US accent started stripping. The website mixes the most dangerous aspects of social networking, chat rooms and web cameras, according to police.

“Predators seek out and chat to children with webcams and can place enormous pressure on them to transmit indecent images of themselves,” a police spokeswoman said. Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens’ Associations president Margaret Black said the concept was extremely risky for children. We are quite horrified about where social networking sites are going,” Ms Black said.

US-based psychiatrist Dr Keith Ablow has labelled the site a “predator’s paradise”. “Parents should keep all children off (Chat Roulette) because it’s much too dangerous,” Dr Ablow said. The site, hosted in Germany, was created by 17-year-old Moscow high school student Andrey Ternovskiy.

But unlike the millions who use Facebook, offenders on http://www.chatroulette.com are a lot harder to track, according to Associate Professor of Law at the University of South Australia, Melissa deZwart. “You don’t have to be a member or register details so the service provider doesn’t have the same control over its users that Facebook does,” Ms deZwart said.

Technology website CNET suggests most parental filtering programs will be able to block the website.

So here are a couple of sites that I would deem unsafe or unhealthy for children and adolescents to access. These are specifically sites that may well slip through the net of your parental control software. I will add to them as I receive your comments and as I do more research

Chat Roulette:  http://chatroulette.com

See article above.

Answerbag: http://answerbag.com

This site invites users to post questions, than engages users by starting a discussion around those questions. Seems innocuous enough on face value, but a sample of questions posted include:

when i say evil you say…?

when i say gun you think..?

Is it odd that I let Freddy Krueger perform a C-section on me?

How should we keep the aryan race from being polluted?
Check it out and form your own opinion.

Any other sites you think are worthy of mention?

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March 6, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Bullying, Child Behavior, Internet, Resources, Technology | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Violence and Young People: An Enlightening & Alarming Discussion

On Sunday 27th Feb. I took part in a rich and informed discussion on Violence and Young People on Peter Jan965_logoetzki’s “Talking Life” radio program on which I am a regular guest. I was very much a “third wheel” in this discussion, with the key guests being Dr Steven Stathis, Psychiatrist and Paediatrician, who is a consultant at Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. Steven is also Director of the Child and Family Therapy Unit (CAFTU), and consults at the Youth Detention Centre, Wacol. The other key guest was Dr Mubarak Ali, a researcher in Social Work at Flinders University in Adelaide. Mubarak has done extensive and ground-breaking international research examining child and youth use of the internet and digital technology, and how this usage correlates with violent behaviour. It was a rich discussion with some interesting content and phone calls. If this is a topic which in any way interests you, I would encourage you to take the time to have a listen.

UPDATE: You can now listen to the entire podcast by selecting the links below. These files are now stored in my library internally for easy access: (Free – mp3-internal links) click to play or right click and “save link /target as” to download.

Youth Violence part 1

Youth Violence part 2

Youth Violence part 3

Youth Violence part 4

OR

Peter Janetzki

Peter Janetzki

A podcast of the entire show in easy to listen parts, and podcasts of recent shows can be found here or by clicking on the 96.5 logo.You can listen to the podcast from your browser or with iTunes, Talking Life streams live every Sunday night from from 8-10pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (GMT+10) and you can listen by going to the 96.5 website @ 96five.com and clicking on the home page media player.

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March 4, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Alcohol, Bullying, Child Behavior, Education, Identity, Internet, Parenting, Resilience, Technology | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sex After Marriage?: Resurrecting Sex & Developing Passionate Intimacy in your Relationship

In July 2002 I had a ( and I know I am sounding melodramatic here) life-changing and career rattling experience when I attended a two day workshop with Colorado-area Marriage and Family Health Center director and psychotherapist Dr David Schnarch, in Sydney,Australia.  (UPDATE: also see a related post HERE)

Dr David Schnarch

Dr David Schnarch

Schnarch is plugged as the “rightful heir” to sex science pioneers Masters and Johnson. But he’s not their disciple. In the 1950s they introduced the idea that sex was a natural function and should be regarded as such. At one level, that was tremendously liberating, he says. But at another level it was an inherently pathological model in which sexual difficulties (or dysfunction, as they became known post-Masters and Johnson) were treated as abnormal. In fact, says Schnarch, sexual difficulties are a normal part of the healthy development of an emotional relationship between adults.

We were a mixed group that arrived at the Mary McKillop Centre for the workshop.  Dr. Schnarch went to some trouble to make us all feel at home (even forsaking his tie, as is the custom in this part of the world).

He warned us it would be “like drinking from a fire hose” and he was right. There was so much practical wisdom in what he was saying that it was hard to take it all in. But we did. People changed over those two days. I did.

At the same time I became more and more excited at the robust promise of Dr. Schnarch’s work. It is increasingly accepted that he is offering a new paradigm in sexual and marital therapy, however I see this paradigm as offering new approaches to all forms of psychotherapy. To be able to approach clients from a genuinely non-pathologizing stance, and to work in such a way that I am speaking to and drawing on the best of them is a goal often promised but rarely, if ever, delivered on till now.

Materials in Dr Schnarch’s Passionate Marriage series highlight how common issues about intimate sexual relationships and common problems with sex and intimacy are really part of a system: Marriage is a natural 41NRT1PJ1TL._SL210_“people-growing process” and the inevitable sexual boredom, lack of passion, and communication difficulties are the drive wheels and grindstones of adult development. Relationships are shaped by more than unresolved childhood issues, past “wounds,” and family-of-origin problems. Even when these are non-existent, marriage becomes contentious because the growth processes in emotionally committed relationships surface in sexual interactions and other intimate exchanges. These are not situational problems to be solved and avoided. Rather, they are dilemmas to go through because they make us grow capable of the intimate sexual relationships and eroticism we seek. Common sexual and relationship difficulties are midpoints in the evolution of healthy relationships rather than signs of personal inadequacy, incompatibility, or falling out of love.

Passionate Marriage focuses on life-long sexual development rather than merely curing sexual dysfunctions or improving sexual relationships (it does this too). Most people never reach their sexual potential–and those who do are generally well into their 40s, 50s, and 60s. This is a pleasant surprise to many people because it’s common to confuse genital prime with sexual prime. In reality, we are more capable of intensely intimate sexual relationships and blatant eroticism as we mature. Most people are much better in bed as they get older. Sexual potential and cellulite are highly correlated!

Instead of emphasizing listening skills, communication, compromise, or negotiation, Passionate Marriage shows how “your relationship with yourself” controls both intimate connection and sexual desire for your partner. This revolutionary approach offers concrete ways to use your sexuality to build a stronger sense of yourself while getting closer to your partner. Most marital enrichment approaches emphasize other-validated intimacy: expecting empathy, reciprocity, and validation from your partner when you disclose. Passionate Marriage emphasizes self-validated intimacy: validating and accepting your own disclosures, and learning to soothe your own heart. This shift allows you to use emotional gridlock, difficulties being intimate, and problems in your sexual relationship like sexual boredom, and low desire to develop yourself while creating a more intimate, passionate, loving relationship with your partner.

41S1BZZ2V9L._SL210_This approach has lots of practical applications. Passionate Marriage decodes the “language” of sex, showing how your interactions in your sexual relationship reveal you, your partner, and your relationship. Discover new psychological “styles” of having sex and dimensions of sexual experience. Learn how eyes-open sex (and orgasms) can bring hot passion and new intimacy to your relationship–and make you grow. What partners learn about maintaining themselves in their intimate sexual relationships has immediate application outside the bedroom too. Although better sex doesn’t automatically make for a better relationship, the personal growth required to enhance the sexual and intimate aspects of relationship is the same growth that improves relationships in other ways, often at the same time.

Rather than focusing on “touch techniques,” the book Passionate Marriage and associated workshops emphasize intimate and emotional connection during sexual interaction. Expect explicit discussion of sexual behavior, practical tips, and details of couples’ going through the “people-growing” crucibles inherent in emotionally committed relationships.

These books are essential resources for all married or committed couples, not just those who think they are in trouble. More over the next few weeks.

Questions? Leave them in the comments. email me via the link on the right or tweet them.

Buy the books HERE!

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July 19, 2009 Posted by | Intimate Relationshps, Marriage, Resilience | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments