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January 2013



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Archive for January 30th, 2013


By  Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on January 26, 2013


Practicing yoga may help relieve the symptoms of several types of mental disorders, according to a new review.


Researchers compiled the findings of 16 significant studies that examined the effects of yoga on mental illness. 


The results conclude that yoga may offer positive effects for people withdepression and sleep problems even if they don’t take medication, as well as for individuals with schizophreniaand attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who are taking medication.


No benefit was found, however, for people with eating or cognitive disorders.


Yoga research has suggested that the practice positively influences chemical messengers in the brain, inflammation in the body, and other biological factors in much the same way as antidepressants andpsychotherapy, said study researcher Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center.


Read in Full:





An anxiety disorder is much more than being very nervous or edgy.


An anxious person will report an unreasonable exaggeration of threats, repetitive negative thinking, hyper-arousal, and a strong identification with fear. The fight-or-flight response kicks into overdrive.


Anxiety is also known for producing noticeable physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and digestive problems. In General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) andSocial Anxiety Disorder (SAD) the symptoms become so severe that normal daily functioning becomes impossible.


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common treatment for anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy theorizes that in anxiety disorders, the patient overestimates the danger of disruptive events in his life, and underestimates his ability to cope. CBT attempts to replace maladaptive thinking by examining the patient’s distorted thinking and resetting the fight-or-flight response with more reasonable, accurate ones. The anxious person and the therapist work to actively change thought patterns.


In contrast, instead of changing thoughts, mindfulness-based therapies (MBTs) seek to change the relationship between the anxious person and his or her thoughts.


In mindfulness-based therapy, the person focuses on the bodily sensations that arise when he or she is anxious. Instead of avoiding or withdrawing from these feelings, he or she remains present and fully experiences the symptoms of anxiety. Instead of avoiding distressing thoughts, he or she opens up to them in an effort to realize and acknowledge that they are not literally true.


Although it may seem counter-intuitive, fully realizing the experience of anxiety enables anxious people to release their over identification with negative thoughts. The person practices responding to disruptive thoughts, and letting these thoughts go.


By remaining present in the body, they learn that the anxiety they experience is merely a reaction to perceived threats. By positively responding to threatening events instead of being reactive they can overcome an erroneous fight-or-flight response.


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By  Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on January 26, 2013


Teens who experience a decline in verbal skills, compared to their peers of friends, are at increased risk for developing a psychotic disorder in adulthood.


Although research has shown that patients who develop adult psychosisexperienced several cognitive deficits during childhood and adolescence, it had remained unclear whether these deficits became more severe during adolescence.


For the study, researchers looked at data from 10,717 males born in Sweden in 1953, 1967, 1972 and 1977, and followed through to December 2006. Verbal, spatial, and inductive ability were tested at ages 13 and 18 using standardized tests.


The findings showed that individuals whose verbal ability declined, compared to their peers or friends between ages 13 and 18, were at greater risk for developing schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders in adulthood.


Decline in verbal score between ages 13 and 18 was a much stronger predictor of later psychosis than the score at age 18 alone.


“We know that the brain undergoes a rapid period of development during adolescence, and these findings add to the evidence that brain development may be impaired in some people, who later develop psychosis,” said James MacCabe, Ph.D., lead researcher of the study from the Department of Psychosis Studies at King’s College London.


“However, it is important to understand that only a small minority of people develop psychosis, so the actual risk of psychosis, even among people with a decline in verbal abilities, remains very low. This could certainly not be used as a ‘test’ for psychosis.”


Read in Full:



Editor’s Choice
Academic Journal


Article Date: 28 Jan 2013 – 11:00 PST


Facebook activity could be an indicator for psychological health, and be used as tools by therapists and psychologists


A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri and published in the journal Psychiatry Research, has revealed that social media profiles can provide insight into the mental health of patients.


Social networking sites, like Facebook, are becoming increasingly popular and are becoming a primary method for communication and socialization. Although it has been established that there is increased use by those on the schizophrenia-spectrum, few details are known to what depth.


Study leader Elizabeth Martin, doctoral student in MU’s psychological science department in the College of Arts and Science, said:


“Therapists could possibly use social media activity to create a more complete clinical picture of a patient. The beauty of social media activity as a tool in psychological diagnosis is that it removes some of the problems associated with patients’ self-reporting.

For example, questionnaires often depend on a person’s memory, which may or may not be accurate. By asking patients to share their Facebook activity, we were able to see how they expressed themselves naturally. Even the parts of their Facebook activities that they chose to conceal exposed information about their psychological state.”


Martin and her team asked a group of volunteers to print their Facebook activity and linked aspects of their activity with the level to which these people showed schizotypy, an assortment of symptoms including social withdrawal to unusual beliefs. 


As expected, several participants showed signs of the schizotypy condition called social anhedonia – the inability to encounter happiness from normally enjoyable activities, such as interacting and talking to peers.


These people with social anhedonia were more likely to:

  • * have fewer friends on Facebook
  • * communicate less frequently
  • * share fewer pictures
  • * have a longer Facebook profile


Read More …



The research could lead to computers and robots that think like people – and unlock the secrets of depression and Alzheimer’s.


By Rob Waugh | Yahoo! News – Tue, Jan 29, 2013


A ten-year project in Europe will use supercomputers to simulate the workings of an entire human brain for the first time.


The research could lead to computers and robots that think like people. 

Scientists also claim that the research could unlock the secrets of memory, depression and Alzheimer’s. 


The European Commission announced that the Human Brain Project (HBP) will receive up to a billion euros over the next ten ten years. 


“The HBP will build new platforms for “neuromorphic computing” and “neurorobotics”, allowing researchers to develop new computing systems and robots based on the architecture and circuitry of the brain,” EFPL scientists said in a statement this week.


The Swiss project likened the research to the Large Hadron’s Collider’s exploration of the subatomic world, describing the Human Brain project as a, “CERN for the brain.” 


Professor Bernd Stahl from Britain’s De Montfort University, said: “The Human Brain Project is truly pioneering, and the results will make important contributions to neuroscience.”


“However because this project is breaking new ground there is a need for members of the project to consider their responsibilities.” 


Announcing the funding decision, European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes said: “Europe’s position as a knowledge superpower depends on thinking the unthinkable and exploiting the best ideas.”





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The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) is a controversial treatment facility right here in my home state of Massachusetts that uses a form of electroshock therapy in order to “treat” developmentally disabled teens and adults in its care. It’s one-of-a-kind in the nation for its aggressive use of shock therapy — ala B.F. skinner and rats from the 1960s.


Last month, the Center received a warning letter about the continued unauthorized use of “adulterated” shock devices, called GEDs (for Graduated Electronic Decelerators). The Center is the only treatment facility in the country that uses these self-manufactured devices.


They were approved for their intended use by the FDA in 1995. However, since at least 2008, the Center has been using revised versions of these devices — GED3A and GED4 — that deliver higher electrical charges. The FDA has told the Center — repeatedly — that these new versions need to undergo additional testing to demonstrate their safety (especially a concern, given the higher voltage levels the devices reportedly deliver).


And yet, for over four years, the Center has simply ignored the FDA and continues to use the devices — against the FDA’s rules and directives.


Meanwhile, patients in the Center’s care continue — every day — to be shocked against their will. Here is one patient’s story.


According to Fox News, the Center is still “being investigated by the Justice Department and has drawn the scrutiny of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.


“And Massachusetts State Sen. Brian A. Joyce, D-Milton, a long-time critic of JRC, has written to the FDA asking them to ban the shocks all together. He is also planning on again filing legislation to ban the use of shocks and other aversive treatments in Massachusetts.”


It’s no wonder. How, in the year 2013, could we consider the use of electrical shocks on human beings who are developmentally disabled to be either humane or an appropriate treatment? If it’s so successful, how is it that no other treatment facility in the entire country uses this form of “treatment?” How is it that no independent researchers not connected to the JRC have ever published a single peer-reviewed, controlled scientific study on the effectiveness and safety of GED3A or GED4 devices?


But don’t listen to me. Listen to someone who has undergone this “treatment:”


The GED IS harmful. Even the GED-1. I was burned many times, and I still have scars on my stomach from being repeatedly shocked there, by the FDA approved GED-1. The electrodes had actually burned into my skin. I experienced long term loss of sensation and numbness in my lower left leg, after getting a shock there. I felt searing pain all the way down to the bottom of my foot, and was left with no feeling in my skin from the knee down for about a year. Again, this was with the GED-1.

After complaining to JRC nursing about my leg, they told me to tell the Neurologist about it during a follow up visit for a suspected seizure. He asked the staff what that device was on my leg, and they explained to him it was an electrode. After their explanation, the Neurologist said, “Well, I don’t know what that thing is, but it needs to come off.”

JRC left the device off my leg for about a year, then decided on their own, without sending me back to a Neurologist, it was ok to put it back. I have seen students with torso electrodes accidentally placed on their spine area, get a shock there and be violently bent backwards.

Also, I would like you to know that the devices have a tendency to malfunction and go off all by themselves. JRC refers to this as a “misapplication.”

Read More …http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/01/29/judge-rotenberg-center-one-patients-story/