One Million Downloads

1 12 2013

My lecture podcast for my Abnormal Psychology Course (link) just passed one million downloads since I started keeping track in 2009. I am very happy it has benefitted so many people. I get emails from people all over the world with appreciation for my podcasts.




Obituary for Susan Nolen-Hoeksema

14 01 2013

Today’s NY Times has an obituary for the author of the textbook I used for Abnormal Psychology, Susan Nolen-Hoeksema. I considered it one of the best of the abnormal psych books. Here’s a link to the obit. She was only 53.




DSM-V, medicalization of bereavement, and bias

30 12 2012

courtesy Flickr user focus2capture

The ever-excellent Mind Hacks blog has a good post covering a Washington Post story on the elimination of the bereavement exemption from the diagnosis of major depressive disorder. The DSM-V panel has significant ties to big pharma, making it easier for normal sadness to be medicalized and treated with drugs. It also points out the importance of understanding implicit bias. Check it out here.




NY Times on “Mindfulness Meditation” therapy

27 05 2008

The NY Times has a very good article on the emergence of “mindfulness meditation” as a therapy for mental illness.

Mindfulness Meditation, Based on Buddha’s Teachings, Gains Ground With Therapists – NYTimes.com:

Steven Hayes, a psychologist at the University of Nevada at Reno, has developed a talk therapy called Acceptance Commitment Therapy, or ACT, based on a similar, Buddha-like effort to move beyond language to change fundamental psychological processes.

“It’s a shift from having our mental health defined by the content of our thoughts,” Dr. Hayes said, “to having it defined by our relationship to that content — and changing that relationship by sitting with, noticing and becoming disentangled from our definition of ourselves.”

For all these hopeful signs, the science behind mindfulness is in its infancy. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which researches health practices, last year published a comprehensive review of meditation studies, including T.M., Zen and mindfulness practice, for a wide variety of physical and mental problems. The study found that over all, the research was too sketchy to draw conclusions.

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Bingeing behavior in monkeys

20 05 2008

In Abnormal Psychology, we were taking about eating disorders, and the biological basis for bingeing. The NY Times has an article today regarding research with monkeys which shows stress-related eating binges occur in lower-status monkeys, but they only binge on monkey junk food…

Eating Junk Food May Help Stressed-Out Monkeys Cope – New York Times:

“Essentially, eating high-calorie foods becomes a coping strategy to deal with daily life events for an individual in a difficult social situation,” Dr. Wilson said. “The subordinates don’t get beat up, but they get harassed by high-ranking monkeys. If they’re sitting somewhere and a dominant monkey comes over, they give up their seat and move away. They’re always looking over their shoulders.”

These results seem to jibe with the famous Whitehall study of British civil servants, which found that lower-ranking workers were more obese than higher-status workers. Even though the subordinate workers were neither poor nor lacked health care, their lower status correlated with more health problems.

The new monkey data also jibe with an American study that looked at women’s snacking tendencies. After they worked on puzzles and recorded a speech, the women were tempted with an array of chocolate granola bars, potato chips, rice cakes and pretzels provided by the research team, led by Elissa Epel, a psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

The women who seemed most stressed by the tasks, as measured by their levels of cortisol, ate more of the sweet, high-fat snacks, the same pattern observed in the subordinate monkeys with high cortisol levels. But as Dr. Wilson and others caution, there are plenty of other factors besides status and stress that affect humans’ diets and waistlines.

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Fighting Stigma with “Mad Pride”

11 05 2008

After having finished Kay Jamison’s memoir, An Unquiet Mind, we were discussing stigma and mental illness in Abnormal Psychology class. Mind Hacks pointed me toward a great article in the New York Times on the “Mad Pride” movement:

Mad Pride; Fights a Stigma – New York Times

Just as gay-rights activists reclaimed the word queer as a badge of honor rather than a slur, these advocates proudly call themselves mad; they say their conditions do not preclude them from productive lives.

RECENT mad pride activities include a Mad Pride Cabaret in Vancouver, British Columbia; a Mad Pride March in Accra, Ghana; and a Bonkersfest in London that drew 3,000 participants. (A follow-up Bonkersfest is planned next month at the site of the original Bedlam asylum.)

The article points to a website of a writer at the Philadelphia Weekly who chronicles her experience with bipolar disorder. Here’s a link.

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Cookie Monster’s self-reflection

5 04 2008

Found via Mind Hacks:

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Cookie Monster Searches Deep Within Himself and Asks: Is Me Really Monster?

Me know. Me have problem.

Me love cookies. Me tend to get out of control when me see cookies. Me know it not natural to react so strongly to cookies, but me have weakness. Me know me do wrong. Me know it isn’t normal. Me see disapproving looks. Me see stares. Me hurt inside.

When me get back to apartment, after cookie binge, me can’t stand looking in mirror—fur matted with chocolate-chip smears and infested with crumbs. Me try but me never able to wash all of them out. Me don’t think me is monster. Me just furry blue person who love cookies too much. Me no ask for it. Me just born that way.

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Dissociative disorders and trauma

29 02 2008

In Abnormal Psychology, we’ll be discussing dissociative disorders next week. Mind Hacks has a good summary of dissociative disorders and trauma, including the role of hypnosis:

Mind Hacks: Fragments of consciousness:

Dana’s online neuroscience magazine Cerebrum has a fantastic article on trauma and dissociation – the splitting of consciousness that apparently makes some aspects of the mind inaccessible to others.

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Politics and mental illness

24 02 2008

The excellent neuroscience blog, Mind Hacks, has a very interesting post about the stigma of mental illness, particularly as it relates to moral weakness and politics…

Mind Hacks: The ghost of moral madness:

One of the most remarkable stories from recent years comes from Scandanavia, where Kjell Magne Bondevik, the then serving Prime Minister of Norway, announced he needed three weeks sick leave owing to an episode of depression.

Bondevik returned to work and was re-elected in the subsequent election. He’s now retired from politics, campaigns to fight the stigma associated with mental illness and was recently interviewed (realvideo) about his experiences on BBC’s Newsnight programme.

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Kay Redfield Jamison lecture on Bipolar Disorder

21 02 2008

A kind soul has posted a YouTube video of a Kay Redfield Jamison lecture describing her experience with bipolar disorder. Check it out:[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/CxRLap9xLag" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]