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July 2011



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Archive for July 7th, 2011

By Jennifer Gibson, PharmD | Editor Shaheen E Lakhan


Friedrich Neitzsche once claimed that without music, life would be a mistake. Researchers in Norway claim that without music, art, or other cultural events, life may also be shorter and less satisfying. A new study, published by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, reports that visiting museums, attending concerts, playing an instrument, and creating art are associated with happier lives. The investigators surveyed more than 51,000 adults to assess their leisure habits and cultural participation and their self-perceived health status and levels of depression and anxiety. Overall, there was a strong correlation between engaging in cultural activities and happiness. The association was not affected by socioeconomic status or educational level.


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Article Date: 05 Jul 2011 – 2:00 PDT


A good night’s sleep is something we all value. Scientists tell us, and we know from experience, that it refreshes us, helps us perform better, and contributes significantly to health and happiness, especially in children. And yet, there are millions of us suffering from ongoing shortage of sleep.


According to the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM), sleep problems add up to a global epidemic that affects 45% of the world’s population.


“Insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), restless legs syndrome (RLS), and sleep deprivation significantly impact physical, mental and emotional health, in addition to affecting work performance and personal relationships,” they said, on the fourth annual World Sleep Day on Friday 18th March 2011, when health professionals from WASM and other organizations worldwide came together to deliver the message that sleep is a “human privilege that is often compromised by the habits of modern life”.


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Article Date: 05 Jul 2011 – 3:00 PDT


While depression and anxiety have long been recognised as risk factors for heart disease, there is less certainty over the beneficial effects of a ‘positive’ psychological state, Now, following a study of almost 8000 British civil servants, researchers say that a satisfying life is indeed good for the heart.


The results of the study are published online today by the European Heart Journal.


The civil servants – who were all members of the Whitehall II study cohort in the UK with an average age of 49 years (2) – were questioned about seven specific areas of their everyday lives: love relationships, leisure activities, standard of living, job, family, sex, and one’s self. They were asked to rate their satisfaction in each domain on a scale of 1 (‘very dissatisfied’) to 7 (‘very satisfied’). Ratings for each domain were also combined to provide an average satisfaction score for their overall lives.


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How the DSM Developed: What You Might Not Know

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Associate Editor


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is widely known as the bible of psychiatry and psychology.


But not many people know how this powerful and influential book came to be. Here’s a brief look at the DSM’s evolution and where we are today.


The Need for Classification


The origins of the DSM date back to 1840 — when the government wanted to collect data on mental illness. The term “idiocy/insanity” appeared in that year’s census.


Forty years later, the census expanded to feature these seven categories: “mania, melancholia, monomania, paresis, dementia, dipsomania and epilepsy.”


But there was still a need to gather uniform stats across mental hospitals. In 1917, the Bureau of the Census embraced a publication called the Statistical Manual for the Use of Institutions for the Insane. It was created by the Committee on Statistics of the American Medico-Psychological Association (now the American Psychiatric Association) and the National Commission on Mental Hygiene. The committees separated mental illness into 22 groups. The manual went through 10 editions until 1942.


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We trawl the world’s journals so you don’t have to:

Neuropsychology of Prospective Memory (Neuropsychologia).

Translational models of prefrontal cortical function (Behavioural Neuroscience).

Personality and economics (Personality and Individual Differences).

Peter Lomas special issue (European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling). Lomas was an influential psychotherapist (read his Guardian obituary).

Elucidating the neural basis of the self (Neurocase).

Age and the Cultivation of Place (Journal of Aging Studies).

Origins of Ownership of Property (New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development).

[This post was compiled by Christian Jarrett for the BPS Research Digest.]



Internet dating and the science of fire starting


The New Yorker has a fantastic article about the psychology of online dating.


The piece explores how the big names of internet matchmaking attempt to strike up sparks between you and millions of other people and how they play off what attracts people in face-to-face encounters.


Psychology, maths and the economics of truth are used to bring people together, with each dating site having a different theory about how attraction works.


It is tempting to think of online dating as a sophisticated way to address the ancient and fundamental problem of sorting humans into pairs, except that the problem isn’t very old. Civilization, in its various guises, had it pretty much worked out. Society—family, tribe, caste, church, village, probate court—established and enforced its connubial protocols for the presumed good of everyone, except maybe for the couples themselves. The criteria for compatibility had little to do with mutual affection or a shared enthusiasm for spicy food and Fleetwood Mac. Happiness, self-fulfillment, “me time,” a woman’s needs: these didn’t rate. As for romantic love, it was an almost mutually exclusive category of human experience. As much as it may have evolved, in the human animal, as a motivation system for mate-finding, it was rarely given great consideration in the final reckoning of conjugal choice.


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Married Without Infidelities: Speaking Up for Monogamy


Are we too quick to forgive adultery?

How Your Most Intimate Relationships Can Be A Vehicle For Your Growth


Ondina Nandine Hatvany, MFT Updated: Jul 5th 2011


The old paradigm for couples was pretty simple: The man went to work, brought home the money and paid for the house, mortgage, etc. He was the provider of security and stability. The woman’s role was to cook, clean, raise the children and take care of the home. She was the provider of emotional nurturing and comfort. The roles were clearly defined and rigid. How many of us have parents who fit this model or at least strived to?


Now so much of this has changed. Women have jobs and careers, men may stay at home as the primary caregivers, and relationships run across a much broader spectrum than the old “He/She” model. For instance, now there are “He/ He” and “She/ She” models for couples. And there are couples who do not necessarily form a dyad. A “couple” could be in a committed triad relationship or be part of a larger poly community. There are numerous variations on these alternatives, and so it goes on. But what hasn’t changed much is that many relationships still run on unspoken contracts or implicit agreements regarding roles and expectations. When these contracts are broken, couples often get angry with each other and start pointing fingers.


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When Does Flirting Become Cheating? 9 Red Flags


By Therese J. Borchard
Associate Editor


According to psychologist Michael Brickey, author of Defying Aging and many other relationship experts, playful bantering or gentle flirting with someone outside of your marriage is harmless if proper boundaries remain intact. Those boundaries differ with each relationship, of course. What would be considered a violation in one marriage might be perfectly acceptable for another couple. Difference of opinions even occur within a marriage.


For example, I know a woman who recently asked her husband to either give her his Facebook password or close out his account after she found an email that he had sent to a former classmate that she found to be rather suggestive. He disagreed and thought it was perfectly appropriate.


Social media sites and online interaction are pushing this issue to dinner tables across the country — much more so than in the past. Katherine Hertlein, a licensed marriage and family therapist interviewed by DiscoveryNews.com, explains, “You don’t actually recognize that you’re growing closer to someone on the Internet because it just looks like you’re having a conversation, and that’s why I think it could be really seductive in some ways.”


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Loving Others Without Loving Yourself: A Reconsideration


What kind of self-loathing is more destructive of relationships?

Breaking-Up: Should You Leave Or Can You Get the Change You Want?


Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT Updated: Jul 7th 2011


Is your relationship or marriage just, well, so-so? Maybe you’re not sure if you still love or ever loved your partner? Maybe he or she has many good traits – is kind, or generous, funny, or the sex is great. She’s gorgeous, or he showers you with kindness – but something is missing. Maybe your parents or friends think that he or she is great – that others would give their eye teeth for such a relationship. There’s more at stake if you have children together, but if not, how do you decide what’s the right thing to do? You tell your friends that you want a soul mate. They say you’re unrealistic. You say the romance is gone. They tell you that’s why Hollywood movies end when couples marry – romance doesn’t last. You want someone to connect with physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. You’re told your expectations are too high, that you’re lucky if you get one, or “He doesn’t hit you or drink. He has a job.” But you’re restless, or feel a vacuum instead of connection.


Take these steps:


1. Make an inventory. Assess your needs and prioritize them. Think of the four above categories and add financial, social, and more. This is very individual. To a feeling-type individual, sharing emotions is number one. Someone else values intellectual conversation, while another, shared interests, a travel companion, or financial stability. This is why no one can tell you what to do.


2. Consider which needs are your responsibility to yourself and not your partner’s. Make sure you’re not blaming your partner for your own unhappiness.


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Men Love To Cuddle, Women Love Sex More Over Time Global Research Says


Article Date: 07 Jul 2011 – 3:00 PDT


A new international, global study that included more than 1,000 couples from the United States, Brazil, Germany, Japan and Spain, found that tenderness is more important to men than to women overall. Also it was reported that men are more likely to admit to being happy in their relationship, but women are more likely to be satisfied with the sexual part of their partnerships as they view it over time. Basically, cuddling and caressing help boost satisfaction in long-term relationships, according to a new study of middle-aged and older couples who had been together for an average of 25 years.


Sexual satisfaction for both women and men was associated with frequent kissing and cuddling, sexual caressing by a partner, high sexual functioning, and frequent sex. What a revelation right?


Sexual satisfaction for women increased over time. Those who had been with their partner for less than 15 years were less likely to be sexually satisfied, but satisfaction increased significantly after 15 years. Both women and men were happier the longer they had been together and if they had higher levels of sexual functioning, the investigators found. Safe to assume than that it is not about the “fire,” but about the “glow.”


Interestingly enough for men, the report said that having had more sex partners in their lifetime was a predictor of less sexual satisfaction.


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Men Can Improve Health to Improve Sex Life


By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on July 7, 2011


It may be a common sense notion, but now research bolsters the link between unhealthy lifestyle choices and sexual dysfunction in men.


In a new study, Danish scientists found that weight problems, physical inactivity, high alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, and hard drugs were associated with sexual dysfunctions in men.


The study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine also discovered that an unhealthy lifestyle is more common in persons who are sexually inactive.


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How Much Should You Compromise for Your Relationship?


Your relationship should serve you, not the other way around

Article Date: 06 Jul 2011 – 9:00 PDT


Over two in five people in Ireland would not want to know if a loved one was experiencing depression according to findings in the 2011 Lundbeck Mental Health Barometer. Despite this, 93% of respondents agree that it is important that depression is discussed openly. However, when asked if they would find it difficult to discuss depression with their doctor 70% agreed.


The Barometer provides insights into Irish people’s attitudes towards mental health. This year’s research has illustrated that while people have become more aware of depression, they still do not have a clear understanding of what it is, and those who do experience it are reluctant to speak to a healthcare professional about it.


The research findings indicate that depression has become more visible over the past six years. In 2006 18% of those who personally had depression, or who had a family member with depression, said that many or some people would have been aware. This year that number has grown to 53% which may illustrate a greater degree of awareness around the condition.


Stigma continues to be an underlying issue with 60% of respondents saying that they consider depression to be stigmatising. Statistics in the research also revealed that almost a quarter (23%) of people believe that depression is not an illness but a “state of mind”. These findings indicate that while awareness of depression has grown, there is still a degree of ignorance around the condition.


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ScienceDaily (July 7, 2011) — Pupils with special needs and teachers in mainstream schools in the UK are often the victims of a “one size fits all” approach to schooling and education, a leading academic has claimed.


Professor Paul Cooper, a chartered psychologist and professor of education at the University of Leicester, said pupils with social, emotional and behavioural problems (SEBD) are at particular risk of under-achieving because schools are frequently ill-equipped to handle their problems.


Teachers need better training in the appropriate skills and methods for supporting pupils with special needs, while the children themselves require a more diverse range of provision to meet those needs both within and beyond mainstream schools.


In a new study, Professor Cooper and co-author Barbara Jacobs, also of the University of Leicester’s School of Education, argue that it is not children with special needs that present the problems for schools and teachers — but failings within the education system.


Professor Cooper, whose study also examines classroom strategies and approaches that have been found to be effective, said that too often “blanket assumptions” are made about pupils’ needs, and teachers frequently lack the skills and knowledge to be able to support them.


He said: “There should be a diverse range of educational facilities so that children can move between one or another as needs arise. Everyone should have the right to go to their local school, but they also have a right to be educated in accordance with their needs and aspirations.


“It is patently obvious that many of our schools experience difficulties in catering for the needs of all students, and demanding that they do so in the absence of appropriate training and resources is disheartening for teachers and disastrous for students — especially those who are most vulnerable.


Teachers are as much victims of this muddled approach as children, Professor Cooper argues.


“Initial teacher training has not changed sufficiently to accommodate the inclusion policy, leaving most teachers lacking in the skills required to deal with children with serious difficulties.


“This failure means that the most vulnerable pupils often do not tend to achieve educational success. There is also a knock on effect from this, whereby teachers facing the most challenging circumstances find themselves locked into a fire fighting role, which has a negative effect on the learning experience of all students.”


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Published: Wednesday, June 29, 2011; Last Updated: Wed. Jun 29, 2011, 5:36pm


OLD SAYBROOK (AP) — Federal law enforcement officials say an early-learning center in Old Saybrook has agreed to pay more than $7,000 to settle allegations that it terminated the enrollment of a toddler because he has autism.


The U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday that Beach Babies Learning Center LLC denied it discriminated against the child who was 2 years old at the time. Authorities did not say when the discrimination allegedly occurred.


Beach Babies agreed to implement t policies and procedures to ensure disabled children benefit from its programs. It also agreed to pay $7,341 in damages to the child’s parents, Ali and Josh Linkov.


A call to Beach Babies was not immediately returned.


The Justice Department investigated allegations that the learning center violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.





For 40 years, ‘inclusion’ has been the buzzword for special-needs education. Now radical reforms will mean fewer disabled children in mainstream schools. Is this what families want? Sarah Cassidy reports


Thursday, 30 June 2011


Ten-year-old Olivia Locke has not been to school for two years. When she did attend classes, she became so anxious that she felt physically sick – complaining of headaches, stomach- and leg-pains – and then refused to go back.


By the time her parents removed her at the age of eight, Olivia had refused to attend a nursery, three state primaries and one private school.


Olivia has Aspergers syndrome – a form of autism that causes difficulty in processing and understanding language – but also a generalised anxiety disorder, a combination that, her parents argue, makes attending mainstream school impossible.


Her mother, Kay Locke, 45, says: “We are being told by our local authority that her needs can be met in a normal mainstream secondary school. But all the reports we have had say she needs specialist provision. My sadness is that, as parents, we felt very much labelled as being inadequate. They said: ‘Just bring her into school and it will all be fine’, but we felt they just didn’t understand the situation. Unfortunately, there is a real culture of blame and it quickly turns into ‘you and them’.” The family – which is from Stockport – is now taking its local authority to a tribunal in an attempt to get Olivia a place at a specialist unit, but the process has caused a huge amount of stress and anguish for everyone.


It is families such as the Lockes that the Coalition Government hopes to help with its radical shake-up of provision for children with special needs or a disability. The consultation on its Green Paper closes today. The document boasts that the proposals will mean the biggest reform in the education and health support for children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities in 40 years. This is a package of reforms that has been influenced heavily by the Prime Minister’s own personal views and experiences.


David Cameron, whose late son Ivan was severely disabled, personally drafted the Conservative manifesto pledge to end the “bias towards the inclusion” of children with special needs in mainstream schools. In a wide-ranging Green Paper published in March, Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather, unveiled proposals that also promised to remove this “bias” from the system, as well as reforming everything from statementing to teacher training and giving new rights to – and choices for – parents.


Around two million children and young people have been identified as having a special educational need or disability. The aim of the Green Paper – called Support and Aspiration – was to respond to the frustrations of these young people, their families and the professionals who work with them, who have complained that the system is bureaucratic, bewildering and adversarial, and that there is limited choice about the best schools and care.


According to the Council for Disabled Children, on average a disabled child experiences 32 assessments as they grow up, which ministers describe as being “unacceptable” and “inefficient”.


The most radical proposal would see the statement – the foundation of the SEN system for more than 30 years – scrapped and replaced with a “combined education, health and care plan”, which would last until the age of 25. Ministers also hope to speed up the process by reducing the time limit for statutory assessments.


The “school action” and “school action plus” categories for children with SEN – but without a statement – will also be axed.


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