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Insane Psychiatrists Redefining Process of Mourning - Proposal Would Label Grief a Mental Disorder

Grief
© Unknown
"This is a disaster," says Frances, a renowned U.S. psychiatrist who chaired the task force that wrote the current edition of the DSM

Human grief could soon be diagnosed as a mental disorder under a proposal critics fear could lead to mood-altering pills being pushed for "mourning."

Psychiatrists charged with revising the official "bible" of mental illness are recommending changes that would make it easier for doctors to diagnose major depression in the newly bereaved.

Instead of having to wait months, the diagnosis could be made two weeks after the loss of a loved one.

The current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - an influential tome used the world over - excludes people who have recently suffered a loss from being diagnosed with a major depressive disorder unless his or her symptoms persist beyond two months. It's known as the "grief exclusion," the theory being that "normal" grief shouldn't be labelled a mental disorder.

But in what critics have called a potentially disastrous suggestion tucked among the proposed changes to the manual, "grief exclusion" would be eliminated from the DSM.

Family

A little responsibility can go a long way: For family violence among adolescents, mattering matters

Image
© Mike Cohea/Brown University
Above all else: the need to matter. Do others know you exist? Do they invest time and resources in you? Do they look to you as a resource? Greg Elliott asserts that “mattering” is the fundamental motivation in human beings.
Adolescents who believe they matter to their families are less likely to threaten or engage in violence against family members, according to a new study led by Brown University sociologist Gregory Elliott. The research s published in the Journal of Family Issues.

A relatively new concept, "mattering" is the belief persons make a difference in the world around them. Mattering is composed of three facets - awareness, importance, and reliance. Do others know you exist? Do they invest time and resources in you? Do they look to you as a resource? Elliott asserts that mattering is the fundamental motivation in human beings. "Above all else, there's a need to matter," he says.

The data for this analysis comes from telephone interviews with a national sample of 2,004 adolescents, age 11-18, as part of the 2000 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Controlling for age, gender, race, religiosity, and family socioeconomic structure and size, the findings reveal that failing to matter to one's family increases the probability of violence, whereas a strong feeling of mattering is likely to protect the adolescent from engaging in violent behavior toward a family member.

Magic Wand

Narcissism and Spiritual Materialism: The New Age Legacy

Image
© Unknown
Recently, I went for a walk with a close friend in a nearby town. It was a beautiful day and the town was one of those places where there is an abundance of antique stores, craft shops, book stores and the like. As we walked along I spotted a sign in a window that said "Zen" and "Tai Chi." Curious what the "zen" reference involved, we entered the establishment.

Immediately we were assailed by the distinctive "odor" of New Age -- that sweet smell of candle perfume combined with cheap, saccharine Indian incense. The ubiquitous CD was playing in the background, permeating the store with a soothing rather mysterious ambient music, very "spacey." The store was filled with books, posters, crystals and assorted materials.

We spent some time looking at the books, a large assortment of topics ranging from angels to zen. Their selection of Buddhist books was fairly decent. A copy of Chogyam Trungpa's Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism was prominently displayed. I could not help flashing on the sly little smile that would have crossed Rinpoche's face had he been there and seen his book displayed in such an establishment.

Leafing through the books and looking at the titles, I was struck by the heavy emphasis on the notion that the vast majority of them were offering people something other than reality. The theme of altered, higher, better states of consciousness occurred repeatedly. I was surprised at the number of books dedicated to "angels." The recurrent thread throughout was that of personal entitlement, getting something, reaching or attaining something. All of it seemed demeaning in a way, a tacit acknowledgment that there was something missing, that an individual could find and possess by reading the book. I could not help noticing some of the customers browsing the titles, most appeared to be dissatisfied people desperately seeking some sort of answers.

Heart

Serotonin: A critical chemical for human intimacy and romance

seratonin
© Unknown
The judgments we make about the intimacy of other couples' relationships appear to be influenced by the brain chemical serotonin, reports a new study published in Biological Psychiatry.

Healthy adult volunteers, whose levels of serotonin activity had been lowered, rated couples in photos as being less intimate and less romantic than volunteers with normal serotonin activity.

The approach involved giving amino acid drinks to two groups of volunteers in order to manipulate blood concentrations of the amino acid tryptophan, which is a vital ingredient in the synthesis of serotonin. One group received drinks that contained tryptophan. The other group received drinks that did not contain tryptophan. They were then asked to make judgments about sets of photographs of couples. Differences in the judgments made by the two groups reflected changes in their serotonin activity.

"Serotonin is important in social behavior, and also plays a significant role in psychological disorders such as depression," explained Professor Robert Rogers of Oxford University, who led the research. "We wanted to see whether serotonin activity influences the judgments we make about peoples' close personal relationships."

Attention

Boy, two, is first person in the world to be born with an extra strand of DNA

A two-year-old boy has become the only person in the world to be diagnosed with an extra strand in his DNA.

Brave Alfie Clamp was born blind and with severe disabilities, which led doctors to carry out various tests.

They revealed his seventh chromosome has an extra strand of material which has never been documented anywhere in the world before.

Doctors are baffled at his condition, which is so rare it does not have a name.

Image
© Manchester Evening News Syndication
Baffling: Alfie Clamp, two, has an extra 'arm' on one of his chromosomes.

Heart

Mental health professionals use horses for therapy

Image
© Rik Jesse / Florida Today
Curtis Arnett participates in equine-assisted psychotherapy at Forever Florida near St. Cloud. He was able to build trust and establish boundaries with one particular horse. The West Melbourne man was rendered a paraplegic in 2005 after a motorcycle accident.
Mental health professionals incorporate equine therapy into approach

Chris Hamrick still is haunted by the memories.

It was Feb. 27, 1991, during the first Gulf War. His platoon leader stepped on a land mine, injuring the sergeant, killing his best friend and blowing off part of Hamrick's left leg.

"It don't ever go away," said the 44-year-old Palm Bay resident, who sees a therapist once, sometimes twice a week, for post-traumatic stress disorder. "You learn how to cope better. It helps just to be able to vent."

Recently, instead of sitting in an office and talking about his feelings, he tried something different -- a therapy involving a three-legged horse named La Nina , who lost one of her hind legs when it got wrapped in a wire fence several years ago. The session was at the Equine Education Center at Forever Florida near St. Cloud.

"The three-legged horse intrigued me," Hamrick said. "That's a pretty heavy animal to try to get around on three legs and develop a gallop. It takes a will to survive. I went through quite a bit myself, complications off and on, being an amputee. You got to decide that you are willing to accept the struggle and keep on going. It's interesting to see how an animal deals with it."

A growing number of mental health counselors are incorporating horses into their sessions, using the animals to treat a host of mental health issues ranging from eating disorders to substance abuse to post-traumatic stress disorder. NARHA, formerly known as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, has been offering equine-facilitated psychotherapy and learning since 1995 and calls them fast-growing disciplines in the equine industry.

Bad Guys

The Genetics Of Tyranny: Psychopathology, Parasitism, and Totalitarianism

original art
© Richard William Posner
Whilst doing research online I sometimes come across some really fascinating, albeit unrelated, information. One small joy of life in a world that becomes grimmer each day.

While scrolling down any given web page, reading an article for information pertinent to the current research, I may notice a heading or a phrase with a link to another page, which I find intriguing even though it's not specifically relevant. Often it's just a waste of time, sometimes it's so enticing that I abandon what I'm doing and become engrossed in the new find.

Just Lucky I Guess

In some of my writing and in comments I have made on the writing of others, I have alluded to my opinion that the psychopathic condition of people who seek dominance over all others is the result of a genetic aberration. It now seems my conjecture may not have been without merit.

Magic Wand

How to Work When Your Personal Life is Falling Apart

Image
© AIS
We often have to show up at the office even when there's a serious issue unfolding at home. Death, divorce, fights, and a myriad of other unfortunate life situations might stop your life in its tracks, but the harsh reality is that work must go on. To maintain your work-life balance and keep your job, here are several tactics employees can use to make a tough time a bit easier:

Comment: There is one proven technique that can assist you with reducing your stress, calming and focusing your mind, creating better links between body and mind and thus improving quality of life, increasing sense of connection with others in your community. It will help you to have improved overall health, a stronger immune system, better impulse control, reduced inflammation, etc. It will also help you to heal emotional wounds; anything that may hinder or prevent you from leading a healthy and fulfilling life.

Visit the Éiriú Eolas site or participate on the forum to learn more about the scientific background of this program and then try it out for yourselves, free of charge.


People

US: Brain Structure Differs in Liberals, Conservatives: Study

Everyone knows that liberals and conservatives butt heads when it comes to world views, but scientists have now shown that their brains are actually built differently.

Liberals have more gray matter in a part of the brain associated with understanding complexity, while the conservative brain is bigger in the section related to processing fear, said the study on Thursday in Current Biology.

"We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala," the study said.

Other research has shown greater brain activity in those areas, according to which political views a person holds, but this is the first study to show a physical difference in size in the same regions.

"Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual's political orientation," said Ryota Kanai of the University College London, where the research took place.

"Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure."

Comment: Bob Altemeyer has written a book - The Authoritarians - explaining more fully some of these personality differences between conservatives and liberals.


Bulb

The importance of real-time feedback in self observation: People control thoughts better when they see their brain activity

self observation
© Unknown
As humans face increasing distractions in their personal and professional lives, University of British Columbia researchers have discovered that people can gain greater control over their thoughts with real-time brain feedback.

The study is the world's first investigation of how real-time functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) feedback from the brain region responsible for higher-order thoughts, including introspection, affects our ability to control these thoughts. The researchers find that real-time brain feedback significantly improves people's ability to control their thoughts and effectively 'train their brains.'

"Just like athletes in training benefit from a coach's guidance, feedback from our brain can help us to be more aware of our thoughts," says co-author Prof. Kalina Christoff, UBC Dept. of Psychology. "Our findings suggest that the ability to control our thinking improves when we know how the corresponding area in our brain is behaving."

For the study, published the current issue of NeuroImage journal, participants performed tasks that either raised or lowered mental introspection in 30-second intervals over four six-minute sessions. fMRI technology tracked real-time activity in the rostrolateral prefrontal cortex (RLPFC), the region of the brain involved with higher-order thoughts.

Comment: In social context, fMRI's role of providing one with beneficial feedback and assisting with adjustment of one's perceptions or thoughts can be done by Networking.