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April 2011



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Archive for April 19th, 2011

Posted on: Tuesday, 19 April 2011, 12:39 CDT

Associated with early seizure onset and cognitive impairment

A new study found that treatment-resistant epilepsy (TRE) is common in idiopathic autism. Early age at the onset of seizures and delayed global development were associated with a higher frequency of resistance to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Full findings appear online in Epilepsia, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can significantly impact social interaction, communication and behavior. The CDC estimates that on average, 1 in 110 U.S. children has an ASD (which is four times more likely to develop in boys than in girls). Medical evidence suggests that the prevalence of epilepsy in autism ranges from 7% to 46%.

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Forbidding Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Should you let your partner check other people out?
It’s no surprise that partners who are less interested in alternatives to their current relationship partners turn out to be more satisfied with those relationships . If you don’t think the grass is greener, then you won’t be as interested in hopping the fence. What might come as a bigger surprise are the findings of a group of psychologists at the University of Kentucky and Florida State suggesting how one should react to a partner whose eyes (and potentially, hearts) are wandering: let them ogle.

They root their theory in an old idea that has received strong recent empirical support: forbidden fruit tastes sweeter. When our desires are externally prohibited, desires grow stronger. Psychologists call this “reactance”. When prohibitions are imposed upon us we tend to interpret such impositions as an affront to our liberty. In response we come to value the forbidden more than we otherwise would. This is why we drive even faster than we were previously going after we pass by police cars on the highway. Police going to tell me how fast I can drive? I don’t think so.

Sometimes such prohibition can benefit relationships (e.g. Romeo and Juliet). But when you catch your boyfriend doing the old “oh I’m just stretching my neck” routine , how should you react? Scolding such action might make that passerby, and perhaps others as well, seem more desirable. This is the possibility the researchers sought to test.

They brought participants who were in relationships of over 1 month into the lab and told them they would be engaging in a timed categorization task. A letter (E or F) would appear on the screen and they were to press the corresponding key as quickly as they could on the keyboard. Simple enough. But before the letter appeared, two pictures (one of an attractive opposite-sex person and an average looking opposite-sex person) were flashed on the screen, and then the letter appeared in the same location as one of these pictures. In the experimental condition, the letter appeared in the location of the average-looking picture 80% of the time, subtly directing participants’ attention towards those pictures (and away from the attractive alternatives), while in the control condition letter placement was random. Now, having limited participants’ attention away from the hotties, how would participants judge the quality of their actual relationships?

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Want a Happier Marriage? Unrealistically Idealize Your Partner

By John M Grohol PsyD
Founder & Editor-in-Chief

If ignorance is bliss, then delusion is even better — if you’re in a new marriage, anyways.

So says new research from investigators at the University at Buffalo, who examined 193 newly-married couples over three years to see what kinds of variables might predict greater marital satisfaction.

How could this be? Weren’t we always told the common wisdom — that we needed to be realistic in our relationships, and not look for that Knight in Shining Armor who comes to our rescue (or a Maiden trapped in a castle tower who needs rescuing)?

Apparently the common wisdom may need to be revisited, because continuing to idealize your partner long after the glow of the wedding fades away seems to help keep you happy.

Read on to learn more…


The Forbidden Fruit in Relationships

By John M Grohol PsyD
Founder & Editor-in-Chief

A long-term, stable romantic relationship with a committed, caring partner has many psychological benefits, which we know from the oodles of psychological research published about them. So it’s a good thing to try and protect one’s relationship from external influences. One of the most difficult to recover from and damaging influences is cheating.

If cheating will harm a relationship (and cheating appears to be one of the primary reasons cited in many, if not most, relationship breakups), what can be done to minimize it?

After all, isn’t it human nature — and the nature of temptation — to constantly look for desirable alternatives?

One of the ways people look to protect their long-term relationship is to simply remain inattentive to those alternatives. Research has demonstrated that being inattentive to attractive members of the opposite sex generally promotes relationship success.

But new research (DeWall et al., 2011) suggests it’s not so simple. If the circumstances or situation implicitly limit a person’s attention to an attractive alternative, that alternative suddenly becomes “forbidden fruit.”

And all that more attractive.

The researchers call this the “forbidden fruit hypothesis,” based upon previous research that has demonstrated that people find things more desirable when they off-limits or forbidden. There’s something in human nature that wants what it can’t have. (Or perhaps we can have it, but with serious consequences.)

This hypothesis is consistent with another psychological theory called the “ironic process model.” This model suggests that suppressing thoughts about something will lead that thing to become even more salient. The more we try and not to think about something, the more we think about it.

To test their forbidden fruit hypothesis, the researchers conducted a series of three experiments involving undergraduate students.

Read in Full: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/04/08/the-forbidden-fruit-in-relationships/

A General Theory of Love, Part 2: The Science of Attraction

By Daniel Tomasulo, Ph.D.
Ask the Therapist

“When love is not madness, it is not love.”
~Pedro Calderon de la Barcaa

“Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame.”
~Henry David Thoreau

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”
~Zora Neale Hurston

To be loved means being free to be yourself in the presence of another person.  It is the mutuality of this experience that we each crave.  Somehow we know when it is near, and ache when it is lost. We have all had it: the look, the feeling, and the sense of awe in the presence of the person we are attracted to.  But is it more than just the infusion of the catecholamine neurotransmitter, dopamine, or the mammalian hormone oxytocin?


Proof Positive

You most likely know that the limbic system is the seat of emotions and it regulates the type, degree and intensity of our feelings.  But what you may not know is your limbic system may be trying to detect whom you will love, and who will love you back. Limbic resonance is a term used to describe the feeling of attraction to another.

From the book A General Theory of Love the authors define the term:

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The Myth of Closure: We Can Heal Without It

Bob Livingstone, LCSW Updated: Apr 18th 2011

We are brainwashed by television and movies at a very young age that there is a glorious, happy ending at the end of every story. This phenomenon instructs us that our lives should always include happy endings. We are taught that anything less than total fulfillment and smiles all around amounts to dismal failure. We are taught this concept called closure. It is a term used often in contemporary media and it means to heal a personal loss or trauma such as death of a loved one, being abused by a parent or being a child of an alcoholic parent. After this process, we are supposed to ride off into the sunset with this emotional pain never darkening our door step again.

Well, this is actually impossible to accomplish unless you get total amnesia. If you have the expectation that you will not have any sad or frightening memories about this trauma once you have believed you have fully healed, you will find yourself deeply disappointed and frustrated.

Memories and feelings about the trauma are likely to come up from time to time. Just because the memories continue to arise don’t mean that you haven’t worked through your issues. It only means that as humans; memories and feelings will continue to move in and out of our awareness unless you are deeply repressing them. Repression is not a useful or helpful tactic unless you are in a situation where pushing away memories and feelings is the only way to survive.

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Snow White Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Laughter, Pleasure, Malice, and the Pursuit of Adult Fun


Article Date: 19 Apr 2011 – 3:00 PDT

The future mood swings of people with bipolar disorder can be predicted by their current thoughts and behaviour, a study has found.

Psychologists from the Universities of Manchester and Lancaster say their findings are important because they mean talking therapies, like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), could prove effective treatments for the condition.

People with bipolar are prone to extreme mood swings that take them from great emotional highs to the pits of depression; the cause of these mood swings is often put down to the patients’ genes and biology rather than their own thoughts and actions.

For this latest study – published in the American Psychological Association journal Psychological Assessment – the researchers followed 50 people with bipolar disorder for a month. The team found that the patients’ thinking and behaviour predicted their future mood swings even when their medical history had been accounted for.

“Individuals who believed extreme things about their moods – for example that their moods were completely out of their own control or that they had to keep active all the time to prevent becoming a failure – developed more mood problems in a month’s time,” said study lead Dr Warren Mansell, in Manchester’s School of Psychological Sciences.

“In contrast, people with bipolar disorder who could let their moods pass as a normal reaction to stress or knew they could manage their mood, faired well a month later. These findings are encouraging for talking therapies – such as CBT – that aim to help patients to talk about their moods and change their thinking about them.”

A new form of CBT, known as TEAMS (Think Effectively About Mood Swings), is being developed by Dr Mansell and colleagues, at The University of Manchester. It aims to improve on previous therapies by focusing on current problems, like depression, anxiety and irritability, and helping patients to set goals for their life as a whole.

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Catharine Zeta-Jones Treated For Bipolar Disorder In Clinic


Article Date: 14 Apr 2011 – 0:00 PDT

Catharine Zeta-Jones, 41, was hospitalized for five days at the Silver Hill Hospital, Connecticut, last week and treated for bipolar disorder II. With bipolar disorder II the individual experiences depression and one or more episodes of hypomania, but no severe mania, which occurs in bipolar disorder I.

Hypomania is less severe than mania, but similar. The patient has an elevated mood, raised activity, sleeps less, has feelings of grandiosity, and racing thoughts. However, symptoms are not severe enough to cause considerable distress or disabling enough to impair one’s work, social life or family life like manic episodes do.

Put simply, those with bipolar disorder I have extreme mood swings, while those with bipolar disorder II have mood swings, but less severe ones.

The following actors are known to have had bipolar disorder:

  • Maurice Benard
  • Russell Brand
  • Jeremy Brett
  • Richard Dreyfuss
  • Patty Duke
  • Carrie Fisher
  • Stephen Fry
  • Mel Gibson
  • Linda Hamilton
  • Mariette Hartley
  • Vivien Leigh
  • Jenifer Lewis
  • Kristy McNichol
  • Burgess Meredith
  • Eric Millegan
  • Spike Milligan
  • Cheri Oteri
  • David Strickland
  • Charlie Sheen
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme


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Related Articles


By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on April 15, 2011

A Spanish study finds that 1 in 5 people engage in self-medication — using an over-the-counter drug, alcohol, street drugs, or drugs prescribed for a different purpose, to alleviate an illness or condition, without professional supervision.

The study found that women were more likely than men to self-medicate.

Experts from the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid believe self-medication is associated with nationality, income level and alcohol and tobacco consumption amongst the population.

“In spite of the negative connotations generally associated with the idea of self-medication, it is actually the most significant method of self-care for the population,” said Dr. Pilar Carrasco, main author of the study.

According to the research, published in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 20.17 percent of Spaniards use medication without a medical prescription.

Women were found to self-medicate more than men (with a prevalence of 16.93 percent  compared to 14.46 percent).

According to Carrasco, women self-medicate more because they “are more likely to suffer from emotional disorders and are more vulnerable in our society.

“This may be due to a greater disposition among women to acknowledge and voice their symptoms.”

Researchers used data gathered between 2006 and 2007 from 20,738 people through the National Health System. Age, sex, nationality, marital status, level of education and occupational status were studied.

Those surveyed were asked if, in the last two weeks, they had consumed any of the drugs on a list drawn up by the researchers, without medical prescription.

Both men and women had consumed painkillers, antipyretics (to reduce fevers) and drugs to relieve the common cold or sore throat, without a medical prescription.

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Washington, Apr 17 (PTI) Scientists claim to have created the world”s first digital brain map that they say will help doctors better understand a range on conditions such as Alzheimer”s disease, autism and mental health disorders.

A team at the Allen Institute for Brain Science has created the computerised map after spending four years piecing together minute details from brain tissue including millions of genes, the ”Wall Street Journal” reported.

The brains were chopped up into sections to extract the RNA and find the 25,000 genes present in the human genome. Each detail was loaded into a computer to provide the exact directions from oner point of the brain to another.

In fact, the scientists hope the map will help doctors understand how the brain works and aid new discoveries in disease and treatments.

“Until now, a definitive map of the human brain at this level of detail simply hasn”t existed. For the first time, we have generated a comprehensive map of the brain that includes the underlying biochemistry,” Allan Jones from the Institute was quoted as saying.

The institute is making the atlas freely available at www.brain-map.org as a resource for scientists studying brain diseases, along with a set of computational tools to help them analyse the data for clues to conditions such as Alzheimer”s disease, autism and mental health disorders like depression.




April 18, 2011|By Karen Weintraub, Globe Correspondent

Q. How is your latest book about having Asperger’s syndrome different from your first, “Look Me in the Eye’’?

A. I resolved to write a book that answered the people who asked for more insight. I felt that by elucidating how [my autistic traits] affect me, it would allow people insight into other people in their lives, and might thereby offer them an opportunity to find their own path out of disability.

Q. You emphasize that Asperger’s slows down development, but that people with it can catch up eventually.

A. Life stank for me when I was little and I see how much better it’s gotten with understanding and wisdom and practice and age. I want to show young people today that life does get better. I want them to be able to see examples of people like me.

Q. But not everyone will be as successful as you’ve been in turning what some see as a disability into a career as a best-selling author, public speaker, and car restorer.

A. It’s certainly true that not everyone will emerge in the way that I have, but it’s generally true that the vast majority of people with any kind of autistic disorder improve with age. Autism is a condition where we’ll always be autistic, we will not always be disabled.

Q. You seem to bristle at the talk of finding a cure to autism.

A. When you talk about a cure for something that is really the way you are and the way you were born, it’s sort of like telling your kid what a piece of trash your ex-husband is. The kid knows the ex-husband is half him, therefore anything bad about the ex-husband is him. If you say how evil or ugly the autism is, well that’s you. And so, I suggest that talk about autism as disease and talk about autism as cure has a powerfully corrosive effect on people who are touched by it.

Q. You offer a lot of tips in your book on how to fit in socially.

A. I think we need to learn how to behave in society such that society will accept us, and that will tremendously improve our quality of life.

It’s very important that we learn to behave in ways that society will accept while still remaining true to ourselves.

Read in Full: http://articles.boston.com/2011-04-18/lifestyle/29444348_1_autistic-traits-autism-car-restorer