Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Child Development, Clinical Neuropsychology, Disorders of Childhood, Human Development, Neuroscience, Physiology, Psychological Health, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness.

Description: Consider this well supported research finding. One third of individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are also diagnosed with epilepsy. Epilepsy is the unregulated firing of neurons in the brain, sometime limited to small brain areas (petite mal seizures) and sometime spreading throughout the entire brain (grand mal seizures). Folks with ASD are more likely to have a mutated gene called CNTNAP2 or referred to colloquially as “catnap2”. While this has been known for a while what has not been clear is how the presence of this mutated gene is related to higher incidents of epilepsy. The article linked below describes a recent study looking at this question directly and suggesting a possible explanation for how the catnap2 gene might be related to epilepsy. Read the article linked below to see this possible explanation.

Source: When kids’ autistic brains can’t calm down, ScienceDaily.

Date: April 5, 2018

Photo Credit: Lori Werhane / Fotolia

Article Links:

The researchers suggest, in the article linked above, that the Ccatnap2 mutated gene may not provide the “brain calming” influences that it normally would and that this is what may contribute to increased rates of epilepsy in ASD individuals. They suggest that this information my guide the development of new approaches to controlling epilepsy in this population. What was not discussed in the linked article is the possible role that mutations in the catnap2 gene might play in the emergence of the symptoms associated with ASD. Certainly, one can quickly imagine how the effects of the mutation to the catnap2 gene might be related to symptoms of ADHD (lack of “brain calming”) but it is less clear how it might be related to other ASD symptomatology. Several articles cited in the Further Reading section below provide a bit more information in relation to this particular question.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How does the catnap2 gene mutation potential contribute to higher rates of epilepsy?
  2. What sorts of ways might treatments based on this information about the role of catnap2 gene mutations lead to treatment possibilities?
  3. What are some possibly ways in which the lack of “brain calming” associated with eh catnap2 gene mutation be related to some symptoms associated with ASD ?

References (Read Further):

Gao, R., Piguel, N. H., Melendez-Zaidi, A. E., Martin-de-Saavedra, M. D., Yoon, S., Forrest, M. P., … & Surmeier, D. J. (2018). CNTNAP2 stabilizes interneuron dendritic arbors through CASK. Molecular psychiatry, 1.

Peñagarikano, O., & Geschwind, D. H. (2012). What does CNTNAP2 reveal about autism spectrum disorder?. Trends in molecular medicine, 18(3), 156-163.

Rodenas-Cuadrado, P., Ho, J., & Vernes, S. C. (2014). Shining a light on CNTNAP2: complex functions to complex disorders. European journal of human genetics, 22(2), 171.

Peñagarikano, O., Abrahams, B. S., Herman, E. I., Winden, K. D., Gdalyahu, A., Dong, H., … & Golshani, P. (2011). Absence of CNTNAP2 leads to epilepsy, neuronal migration abnormalities, and core autism-related deficits. Cell, 147(1), 235-246.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Personality, Personality Disorders, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, The Self.

Description: You may recall, if you are regular reader of this blog, that I have written before about the Dark Triad of personality traits (Psychopathy, Machiavellianism and Narcissism, a lovely combination). Recent research has added Sadism to the list and created the Dark Tetrad (social interaction gets better and better!). Some recent research has done something I find very interesting. Rather than look at the general behaviors of people scoring high on the personality scales that make up the Dark Triad or Dark Tetrad these researchers looked at what sorts of first impressions people with varying Dark profiles make on others in real face-to-face first tie interactions. Given the potentially seriously negative consequences of engaging in long-term interactions with people scoring high on the dimensions of the Dark Tetrad it could be important to know if we have any ability to notice or at least get a “feel” for people who score high on Dark Triad traits. In addition, it could be very helpful if we could figure out how to get better at doing this with thought or practice. Do you think you have Dark Tetrad radar for first impressions of people who score high on those dimensions? If you do can you tell what it is based on or is it just a more intuitive feeling of creepiness? Do you think people who score high on the Dark Tetrad traits are aware of the sorts of first impressions they leave when interacting with others? Once you have thought about these questions read through the article linked below to find out more about the Dark Tetrad traits and about their impact upon first impressions. Oh and a lot of research is linking the Dark Tetrad to the behaviors of internet “Trolls” (look it up if you do not know what they are or read one or two of the articles linked in the Further Reading section below).

Source: Why Psychopaths Make Such Bad First Impressions, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Fulfillment at Any Age, Psychology Today.

Date: April 21, 2018

Photo Credit: Psychology Today

Article Links:

Have you had experiences where you pick up a “bad vibe” or a sense of “creepiness” from someone with whom you are briefly interacting for the first time? If you were lucky or smart you acted on those feelings as the research discussed in the link above suggests that we CAN pick up on Dark Tetrad traits in others in short first social interactions. This is a good example of Psychological research that is helping us to think about, better understand, and perhaps use more effectively and consciously social abilities we may not even be aware that we possess. It is also interesting to see more clearly how people scoring high on the Dark Tetrad traits (defined nicely in the linked article) see and reflect upon how they are perceived by others in initial social interactions. You can see how their Dark Tetrad traits impact BOTH their beliefs about how they are perceived by others in initial social interactions AND the developmental implications (for them) of the impressions they make on others. Basically if you tend to creep people out when you meet them this will most certainly impact your thoughts and beliefs about other people.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the traits that make up the Dark Tetrad?
  2. If you have had the experience of feeling as though someone you are interacting with for the first time is “creepy” what sorts of things were they doing that might have contributed to your feelings during the interaction?
  3. How might you train yourself or train others to develop and pay proper attention to forms of creepiness first impression social radar?

References (Read Further):


Rogers, K. H., Le, M. T., Buckels, E. E., Kim, M., & Biesanz, J. C. (2018). Dispositional malevolence and impression formation: Dark tetrad associations with accuracy and positivity in first impressions. Journal of Personality, doi:10.1111/jopy.12374

Buckels, E. E., Trapnell, P. D., & Paulhus, D. L. (2014). Trolls just want to have fun. Personality and individual Differences, 67, 97-102.

Book, A., Visser, B. A., Blais, J., Hosker-Field, A., Methot-Jones, T., Gauthier, N. Y., … & D’Agata, M. T. (2016). Unpacking more “evil”: What is at the core of the dark tetrad?. Personality and Individual Differences, 90, 269-272.

Chabrol, H., Melioli, T., Van Leeuwen, N., Rodgers, R., & Goutaudier, N. (2015). The Dark Tetrad: Identifying personality profiles in high-school students. Personality and Individual Differences, 83, 97-101.

Greitemeyer, T. (2015). Everyday sadism predicts violent video game preferences. Personality and Individual Differences, 75, 19-23.

Southard, A. C., Noser, A. E., Pollock, N. C., Mercer, S. H., & Zeigler-Hill, V. (2015). The interpersonal nature of dark personality features. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 34(7), 555-586.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Child Development, Consciousness, Cultural Variation, Depression, Health Psychology, Indigenous Psychology, Psychological Health, Research Methods, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: In my previous post ( I talked about the role of culture in Psychological development and adjustment and the role of culture in the discipline of Psychology. While I am planning to move away from suicide and suicidal ideation as my focus on understanding the role of aboriginal and metis culture in individual development and adaptation I thought it would be instructive to have you look at a research article that specifically examines the role of historical cultural experiences (First Nations residential school attendance). The study linked below looks at knowledge of whether one’s parents or grandparents attended Indian Residential School (IRS) and the incidence of suicidal ideation (thoughts about suicide) among the First Nations adults in the study. I would suggest that you read the abstract then the introduction and then the discussion of the study (you can, of course, read it all if you like). After reading the article I would suggest you think a little bit about what you now know about the relationship between IRS attendance by one or two previous generations of one’s family and thoughts of suicide. I would also suggest you also think a bit after reading the study about what you now know or do not know about the role of culture in suicidal thoughts.

Source: McQuaid, R. J., Bombay, A., McInnis, O. A., Humeny, C., Matheson, K., & Anisman, H. (2017). Suicide Ideation and Attempts among First Nations Peoples Living On-Reserve in Canada: The Intergenerational and Cumulative Effects of Indian Residential Schools. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 62(6), 422-430

Date: June 1, 2017

Photo Credit:

Article Link:

If you read my previous post you may have seen how the article linked above is a reasonably good example of the sort of culture/heritage as symptom approach to indigenous psychology I talked about as being rather common in mainstream North American Psychology. If you are not sure you see this connection think a little bit about what the causal contribution of the attendance of previous generation(s) of relative at IRS to current adult levels of suicidal ideation and you should start to see the issue. For an alternative, culturally grounded, perspective I would encourage you to have a look at one or another of the three references by Chandler I have re-posted below in Further Reading. If suicidal thoughts are linked to struggles finding viable ways to articulate a sense of self-continuity, then the role of previous generations of IRS attendees in the issue of suicidal ideation might be better crafted and understood as an issue of lack of cultural continuity.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why were substantial number of aboriginal and metis children sent to Indian Residential Schools?
  2. How do you think cultural- and self-continuity might be related in situations of heightened suicidal ideation?
  3. What other thigs would be helpful to find out about if one wished to more clearly understand the role of IRS, culture, and self-continuity in aboriginal and metis thoughts of suicide?

References (Read Further):

McQuaid, R. J., Bombay, A., McInnis, O. A., Humeny, C., Matheson, K., & Anisman, H. (2017). Suicide Ideation and Attempts among First Nations Peoples Living On-Reserve in Canada: The Intergenerational and Cumulative Effects of Indian Residential Schools. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 62(6), 422-430.

Chandler, M. J., & Lalonde, C. (1998). Cultural continuity as a hedge against suicide in Canada’s First Nations. Transcultural psychiatry, 35(2), 191-219.

Chandler, M. J., & Lalonde, C. E. (2008). Cultural continuity as a protective factor against suicide in First Nations youth. Horizons, 10(1), 68-72.

Chandler, M. J., Lalonde, C. E., Sokol, B. W., Chandler, M. J., & Turiel, E. (2000). Continuities of selfhood in the face of radical developmental and cultural change. Culture, thought, and development, 65-84.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Consciousness, Cultural Variation, Indigenous Psychology, Intergroup Relations, Social Influence, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: If you look within Psychology textbooks and scan the Psychological research literatures you can find a fair amount of discussion about culture and about the roles that culture (cultural heritage, cultural background, and current cultural connections) play in Psychological development and functioning. In many instances, however, culture is mainly employed as a marker for problems of psychological adjustment, health or functioning. Suicide, for example, is seen as a particularly serious problem among aboriginal youth in North America. In the case of suicide, culture is often viewed simply as a marker of higher risk, though challenges in cultural continuity, once articulated, can provide a much more nuanced picture of the phenomenon AND suggests a number of culturally grounded strategies that could significantly reduce rates of suicide among aboriginal youth (see the Chandler references below in Further Reading). It is somewhat difficult to describe the importance of a culturally informed or culturally aware or culturally grounded approach to psychological adjustment, health and development when the mainstream, North American, approach to Psychology and to personal identity development too for that matter is essentially entirely blind to culture. Members of minority cultural groups, especially in urban settings, do, certainly, encounter racism in various forms from time to time. However, at least as large an issue can be linked not to racism but rather to the indifference (see DeVerteuil & Wilson reference below in Further Reading) that flows from the mainstream belief that adjustment, wellbeing and development are simply human and in no ways flavored, organized, or otherwise influenced by culture, history and heritage. By not consciously acknowledging and practicing their own culture, members of the mainstream (white) culture simply relegate issues of culture and heritage to a back seat or to the “back of the developmental textbook” (where they are typically found) perspective. The fix to this shared oversight or majority blindness is not quick or simple but read the article linked below for an overview of some of what it could mean to consider an indigenous model of mental health and, by extension, of psychological functioning and development.

Source: Is there such a thing as indigenous mental health? Implications for research, education, practice and policy-making in psychology, Carlota Ocampo, Communique, American Psychological Association.

Date: April 8, 2018

Photo Credit: Cross-Cultural Psychology OVERVIEW Prof. Djamaluddin Ancok, Yopina Galih Pertiwi.

Article Links:

So what do you think of the three theoretic perspectives on culture captured in the definitions shown in the graphic above? The Indigenous Psychology approach challenges many of our mainstream assumptions about the universal nature of psychological development and adaptation. It also provides us with opportunities to much more inclusively understand and engage with aboriginal and Metis cultural communities and, as well, to more deeply understand cultural variation across the whole of Psychological knowledge and practice. I will be posting more articles and comments in this area to think about over the next few months. As we, in Canada, struggle to discern how to effectively proceed with recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission one of the things that will necessarily change as part of that process is the understanding of culture within theories of Psychological development and functioning and the extent to which Psychology can be indigenized without perpetuating or expanding past aspects of Colonialism. A fascinating and interesting challenge indeed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Where in Psychology (or in our standard psychology books) is culture in general and indigenous culture in particular considered?
  2. Which of the three theoretic approaches to Psychology shown in the image above fits most closely with your view of how culture fits into or in found within Psychology?
  3. Looking at the disciplinary definitions provided in the image above how would each of the three perspectives differ in their approaches to personal identity development or to youth suicide in aboriginal or metis communities?

References (Read Further):

Ancok, Djamaluddin  & Pertiwi, Yopina Galih, (2017) Cross-Cultural Psychology OVERVIEW Prof. Ph.D. M.A,

DeVerteuil, G., & Wilson, K. (2010). Reconciling indigenous need with the urban welfare state? Evidence of culturally-appropriate services and spaces for Aboriginals in Winnipeg, Canada. Geoforum, 41(3), 498-507.

Chandler, M. J., & Lalonde, C. (1998). Cultural continuity as a hedge against suicide in Canada’s First Nations. Transcultural psychiatry, 35(2), 191-219.

Chandler, M. J., & Lalonde, C. E. (2008). Cultural continuity as a protective factor against suicide in First Nations youth. Horizons, 10(1), 68-72.

Chandler, M. J., Lalonde, C. E., Sokol, B. W., Chandler, M. J., & Turiel, E. (2000). Continuities of selfhood in the face of radical developmental and cultural change. Culture, thought, and development, 65-84.

Posted by & filed under Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Clinical Neuropsychology, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Neuroscience, Research Methods.

Description: What were you told about the cells in the human brain and aging? That our neurons die off as we age and are not replaced? That we have the most neurons we are ever going to have at birth and things go downhill from there? Well if so, it may be time to rethink that stuff. Have read through the article linked below and be prepared to change a few basic bits of your knowledge around. As well, pay particular attention to things that might be useful in talking about or accounting for age related changes in brain function (if a diminishing number of neurons is not going to a viable explanation).

Source: Older adults grow just as many new brain cells as young people, ScienceDaily, Science News

Date: April 5, 2018

Photo Credit: gorbovoi81/Fotolia

Article Links:

So, the hippocampi of many aging brains continue to generate neurons and limits to functioning may relate more to declines in vascularization or in the number of progenitor cell possessed at different ages. These changes may also be linked to changes on cognitive-emotional resilience, something else to consider in the mix that is brain-based aging.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Do we stop producing neurons at some point in development?
  2. If we DO continue to generate neurons into old age what sorts of other things might account for any aged-related brain-based declines in function?
  3. What might the findings of this research suggest about new possible courses of treatment or life style planning related to brain function in aging?

References (Read Further):

Maura Boldrini, Camille A. Fulmore, Alexandria N. Tartt, Laika R. Simeon, Ina Pavlova, Verica Poposka, Gorazd B. Rosoklija, Aleksandar Stankov, Victoria Arango, Andrew J. Dwork, René Hen, J. John Mann. Human Hippocampal Neurogenesis Persists throughout Aging. Cell Stem Cell, 2018; 22 (4): 589 DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2018.03.015

Lazarov, O., Mattson, M. P., Peterson, D. A., Pimplikar, S. W., & van Praag, H. (2010). When neurogenesis encounters aging and disease. Trends in neurosciences, 33(12), 569-579.

Klempin, F., & Kempermann, G. (2007). Adult hippocampal neurogenesis and aging. European archives of psychiatry and clinical neuroscience, 257(5), 271-280.

Varela‐Nallar, L., Aranguiz, F. C., Abbott, A. C., Slater, P. G., & Inestrosa, N. C. (2010). Adult hippocampal neurogenesis in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Birth Defects Research Part C: Embryo Today: Reviews, 90(4), 284-296.’s%20Disease.pdf?sequence=1

Marr, R. A., Thomas, R. M., & Peterso, D. A. (2010). Insights into neurogenesis and aging: potential therapy for degenerative disease?. Future neurology, 5(4), 527-541.




Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Learning, Physical Development: Birth, Motor Skills, and Growth.

Description: You may have heard about research suggesting that we need to rethink bussing schedules for grade school and junior high school students. Basically, it has been shown that the typical practice of busses taking the older junior high school students to school first (early) and then taking the elementary school students to school next (later) contributes to the junior high students not getting the extra sleep the need in their early teens and suffering academically as a result. Young children are typically up earlier anyway and could go to school first (before the teenagers) with little or no ill effects. This is a developmental effect, but what about college and university students? While they are largely past the sleep need bump of the early teen years there still might be an issue. What is your circadian rhythm related to sleep? Do you stay up late and sleep in or go to bed early and get up early? What are your high and low points during the day? Now, if you are in college or university or when you were do/did you select your courses to match your circadian patterns? Think about that and then ready the article linked below to see what impact this may be having or have had on your grades. Oh, and while you are thinking, reflect a bit on how you might measure the degree of concordance between people’s circadian rhythms and their class schedule selections without asking them directly about their circadian rhythms.

Source: Poor grades tied to class times that don’t match our biological clocks, ScienceDaily, Science News

Date: March 29, 2018

Photo Credit: ScienceDaily

Article Links:

While most people know a bit about circadian rhythms many do not make conscious or strategic choices when it comes to matching their daily routines with their daily sleep/wake cycles. In fact, as the linked article suggested only about 40% of students they assessed have class schedules that match their sleep/wake cycles, and this may have negative impacts on their class performances and marks. Some thin worth thin king about as you plan any upcoming terms. Also, did you notice how the researchers assessed activity patterns on non-class days? The use of learning system access patterns provides a reliable indication of activity patterns and these sorts of data gathering opportunities are important as it can be difficult to obtain reliable data in many areas involving alertness and physiological functioning (and circadian patterns are one of these areas) using self-reports.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are most students’ circadian patterns related to their course schedule choices?
  2. Can you think of some other ways in which students’ non-class day patterns of sleep/wake, activity patterns and alertness might be assessed?
  3. Thinking about your own weekly, day-to-day schedules requirements how well is your typical pattern of activity matched to your circadian cycles? If you are not sure how might you find out?

References (Read Further):

Smarr, B. L., & Schirmer, A. E. (2018). 3.4 million real-world learning management system logins reveal the majority of students experience social jet lag correlated with decreased performance. Scientific reports, 8(1), 4793.

Wolfson, A. R., Spaulding, N. L., Dandrow, C., & Baroni, E. M. (2007). Middle school start times: the importance of a good night’s sleep for young adolescents. Behavioral sleep medicine, 5(3), 194-209.

Fredriksen, K., Rhodes, J., Reddy, R., & Way, N. (2004). Sleepless in Chicago: tracking the effects of adolescent sleep loss during the middle school years. Child development, 75(1), 84-95.

Kelly, W. E., Kelly, K. E., & Clanton, R. C. (2001). The relationship between sleep length and grade-point average among college students. College student journal, 35(1), 84-86.

Lund, H. G., Reider, B. D., Whiting, A. B., & Prichard, J. R. (2010). Sleep patterns and predictors of disturbed sleep in a large population of college students. Journal of adolescent health, 46(2), 124-132.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, Research Methods, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: In my previous post ( I discussed and provided an article link to the issue of whether clinical psychologists should (be required to) routinely objectively assess the status (wellbeing) and outcomes of their clinical clients. One of the arguments against having clients complete a status assessment prior to each therapy session is that the questions on such assessments could be perceived as irrelevant by the client or could be upsetting to the client or could be responded to randomly by the client (rendering the responses useless)whereas therapists ought to be able to monitor their client’s status and progress using their clinical insight and observational skills. Think a bit about this position and about how you would respond to it and then go back to the article linked below and (re)read the part of it containing this argument (it appears just below half way down the article page). Think about whether there are things that could be done to address these issues and still use status and outcome measure with clinical therapy clients. Also, have a look at the section entitled “Acceptability” on page 53 of the research article linked below (citation in Further Reading section) to see how this sort of question might be addressed in research.

Source: Rethinking therapy: How 45 questions can revolutionize mental health care in Canada, Erin Anderssen, The Globe and Mail and Towards a standardized brief outcome measure: Psychometric properties and utility of the CORE–OM. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 180(1), 51-60

Date: April 7, 2018

Photo Credit:

Article Links:  and

All of the concerns about how college/university student clients might react to questions on a status/outcome measure they are asked to complete prior to each therapy session are important and need to be considered. What is not at all clear is whether simply doing away with the assessment tool is the answer to addressing these issues. One possibility would be to ensure that the purpose and usefulness of the measure is properly explained by both the clinic’s reception personnel and that it is also addressed by the therapist in the first session. Perhaps a paragraph at the top of the measure itself could also help to ensure that the purpose of the survey questions is clear to the client. An important discussion to have involves consideration of the criteria being used (or that should be used) to assess the full range of issues facing potential therapy clients and to monitor their status and outcomes during and after treatment.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How to clinical psychologists know if their clients’ issues and symptoms are improving, staying the same or getting worse?
  2. What are some of the ways in which clients entering therapy might negatively react to a status/outcome baseline assessment prior to their first and subsequent sessions?
  3. What steps might clinical psychologists take to ensure that the use of regular and routine status/outcome assessments are a positive (or at least not a negative) part of clients’ therapeutic experiences?

References (Read Further):

Evans, C., Connell, J., Barkham, M., Margison, F., McGRATH, G. R. A. E. M. E., Mellor-Clark, J., & Audin, K. (2002). Towards a standardized brief outcome measure: Psychometric properties and utility of the CORE–OM. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 180(1), 51-60.

Garland, A. F., Kruse, M., & Aarons, G. A. (2003). Clinicians and outcome measurement: What’s the use?. The journal of behavioral health services & research, 30(4), 393-405.

Brown, S. D. (2017). Meta-analysis and evidence-based career practice: Current status and future directions. Integrating theory, research, and practice in vocational psychology: Current status and future directions, 82.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Classification Diagnosis, Clinical Assessment, Clinical Psychology, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, mental illness, Psychological Intervention, Research Methods, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Clinical Psychologists who are involved in providing therapy to people have a number of ethical standards to which they must adhere (you can download the Canadian Psychological Association Code of Ethics here: . One of those standards states that practicing psychologist should Strive to provide and/or obtain the best reasonably accessible service for those seeking psychological services. (paragraph II.18)” Adherence to this part of the ethics code involves assuring that one stays critically informed about the current research looking at therapy approaches, practices, techniques, and outcomes. Basically, being up to date on what works in therapy. Related to this, psychologists are to monitor the effects of their interactions with clients. Basically, so they can see if what they are doing with each of their individual clients is helping make things better for the client. So, how should they do this do you think? It is certainly true that monitoring their client’s psychological processes and progress are core part of the therapeutic connection. However, should individuals in therapy be monitored using status and outcome measures on a regular basis? It has been suggested that a such monitoring (using at least somewhat objective means) will be a prerequisite for the inclusion of psychological therapy as a service within the general health care system in Canada. Sound reasonable? Would it surprise you to hear that such routine status and outcome assessments (think of them as like vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure or blood sugar levels) are not used by most practicing clinical psychologists? Think about why that might be and think a bit about how this would be measured and then read the article linked below to fond out about British experiences with these questions and about how they may be spreading across Canada.

Source: Rethinking therapy: How 45 questions can revolutionize mental health care in Canada, Erin Anderssen, The Globe and Mail

Date: April 7, 2018

Photo Credit: Ming Wong/The Globe and Mail

Links:  Article Links

While the idea of monitoring psychotherapeutic “vital signs” may seem obvious, straightforward, and desirable some of the concerns raised about the rudimentary and perhaps generic nature of such status and outcome screens are worth thinking hard about. On the other hand, a commitment to regular monitoring of client status and outcomes as a check on the efficacy of therapy is also worth thinking hard about. The observation that it took physician 200 years to incorporate systematic use of the thermometer into their practice is frankly somewhat alarming. At least clinical psychologists have an ethical commitment to staying up to date with current research on therapeutic practice, technique, and client status and outcomes so it is unlikely to take 200 years for these questions about the potential universal use of status and outcome measures to be resolved.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How to clinical psychologists know if their clients’ issues and symptoms are improving, staying the same or getting worse?
  2. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the efficacy monitoring strategies you noted above?
  3. Should clinical psychologists be required to regularly assess the status and outcomes of their therapy clients? Should this be viewed as an issue in practice ethics or as a matter of health care system policy?

References (Read Further):

Davey, Graham C.L. (2014) Are some psychotherapies better than others? Psychology Today,

Castonguay, L. G., & Hill, C. E. (2017). How and why are some therapists better than others?: Understanding therapist effects. American Psychological Association.

Clark, D. M., Canvin, L., Green, J., Layard, R., Pilling, S., & Janecka, M. (2017). Transparency about the outcomes of mental health services (IAPT approach): an analysis of public data. The Lancet.

Fortney, J. C., Unützer, J., Wrenn, G., Pyne, J. M., Smith, G. R., Schoenbaum, M., & Harbin, H. T. (2016). A tipping point for measurement-based care. Psychiatric Services, 68(2), 179-188.

Walfish, S., McAlister, B., O’donnell, P., & Lambert, M. J. (2012). An investigation of self-assessment bias in mental health providers. Psychological Reports, 110(2), 639-644.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Child Development, Clinical Assessment, Clinical Psychology, Disorders of Childhood, Health Psychology, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders.

Description: So here is a thought: In psychology we typically talk about Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) as an unquestionably undesirable thing. Look at its name, we view it as a deficit and a disorder. There is no doubt that there are many situations and circumstances where ADHD would NOT be adaptive (school usually being one of those places). I am not going to be critical of the mighty DSM and its inclusion of ADHD as a disorder. What I am going to do is ask you to step back and consider “ADHD-like” dispositions and behaviors from a bit broader perspective. You may or may not have heard about concerns raised by an apparent HUGE jump in the prescription of AHDH meds for children in the past 15 years. Diagnosis of AHDH in children in the US had increased by 43% since 2003 ( There is debate about whether there is a trend towards over-diagnosis and over-treatment of ADHD (see articles in further reading below) and there is some discussion of the possibility that children with signs and symptoms of ADHD do better once they get out of school and can “niche-pick” where and how they invest their time. So, what kind of a world and what kind of situations might ADHD tendencies (if not the full diagnostic condition) be an asset rather than a liability? Think about that and then read the article linked below.

Source: In Praise of ADHD, Leonard Mlodinow, Grey Matter, The New York Times.

Date: March 17, 2018

Image Credit: Sarah Mazzetti, The New York Times

Article Link:  

Here is an interesting question to reflect upon. If there has been a huge jump in rates of ADHD while we might want to blame modern life for that is there some of the ADHD rate jump which might reflect adaptation? Of course, it is not an all of one or all of the other possible answer, but it IS worth thinking about. The disorder of ADHD as contained in the DSM is rather clearly defined and, when appropriate assessments are done, is rather consistently defined and diagnosed. However, the larger societal discussion around “ADHD” as a pattern of symptoms is not limited to what would appropriately fit into the DSM. This larger discussion does not conform to clinical (DSM) criteria for defining ADHD, but it is invoking the disorder label regardless and as such should be part of psychologists’ ongoing discussions of what AHDH is (or is seen to be) and how it, and these discussions, are impacting children with attributed ADHD symptomology.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are there social situations where a little ADHD might be a good thing?
  2. Are there differences between ADHD disorder and “ADHD-like” symptoms?
  3. How might the idea that ADHD might be adaptive in some situations for some people be affected by a shift away from the use of drugs like Ritalin in the treatment of ADHD?

References (Read Further):

Potter, F. F. E. (2018). A different perspective on why prescriptions of ADHD drugs have soared. Assessment, 15, 43.

Davidovitch, M., Koren, G., Fund, N., Shrem, M., & Porath, A. (2017). Challenges in defining the rates of ADHD diagnosis and treatment: trends over the last decade. BMC pediatrics, 17(1), 218.

Harding, B. (2017). The Field Guide to ADHD: What They Don’t Want You to Know. Psychiatry–Theory, Applications and Treatments. Online Submission.

Cramond, B. (1995). The Coincidence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Creativity. Attention Deficit Disorder Research-Based Decision Making Series 9508.

Matejcek, Z. (2003). Is ADHD adaptive or non-adaptive behavior?. Neuroendocrinology Letters, 24(3/4), 148-150.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Language-Thought, Neuroscience.

Description: Your brain is comprised of a bunch of neurons — a BIG bunch but a bunch of simple cells none-the-less. Yet, from the complex interplay of the billions of neurons in your brain complex thinking and decision making arises. How does that work? Well it would be nice if we had a model to organize our thinking as we try to conceptualize the emergence of complex decisions from relatively simple, interconnected components. Hmmmm …  what to use? How about bees? Individual bees just do what they do (build the hive, defend, find pollen, tend offspring…) and yet at some point the whole hive has to decide that it is time to move and to decide which location from the several workers have scouted to choose, move to and construct a new hive. As a collective they “make a decision” and then act on that decision, sort of like how the neurons in your brain work to produce decisions. Got a feel for the analogy? Or perhaps it is a bit more than an analogy. Read the article linked below to see how researchers are talking about this.

Source: Bee Colonies Draw an Uncanny Parallel to the Neurons of the Brain, Sarah Sloat,

Date: March 27, 2018

Photo Credit: ( )

Article Link:

How complexity arises out of systems of simple components is a challenging question. How something like “rational” decision making, or perhaps even consciousness, arises out of a system of simple components is hard to conceptualize even as a possibility. We tend to think reductionisticly which leads us to thoughts like “How could a bunch of bees do anything intelligent? Except they DO. They find possible new hive locations and, together, they decide which one to move to and then they do that, move there and build a new hive. Perhaps studying bees (which we have to get working on saving from extinction anyway given our need for pollination to stay alive) might help us gets our heads (brains) around the questions of how complex thinking arises from simple components (be they bees or neurons)!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. So how DO bees decide where to move their hives to?
  2. Can you explain the similarities between bee decisions and human decisions?
  3. Are there other possible models out there for thinking about this complexity out of networked simplicity model?

References (Read Further):

Reina, A., Bose, T., Trianni, V., & Marshall, J. A. (2018). Psychophysical Laws and the Superorganism. Scientific reports, 8(1), 4387.

McGonigal, J. (2008). Why I love bees: A case study in collective intelligence gaming. The ecology of games: Connecting youth, games, and learning, 199-228.

Haggard, P. (2017). Sense of agency in the human brain. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 18(4), 196.