Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Depression, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Intervention, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: What is Seasonal Affective Disorder? What causes it and how can it be managed or treated? The further north we live the less light we have in winter and as well, the further north we live the colder and snowier our winters are. So, is it that case that some people experience a drop in their mood in the winter because winter itself is depressing? I like to use the term Winter Molasses to describe what winter feels like to me at least. How would you answer the questions back up at the top of this paragraph? Once you have put your thought together have a look through the article linked below to see a light touch overview of current psychology on this topic.

Source: Seasonal affective disorder can last for months. Here are the signs. Lindsey Bever, and Lauren Tierny, The Washington Post.

Date: January 12, 2023

Image by Stephan Keller from Pixabay

Article Link:

The linked article originated in the United States and so its consideration of the role latitudinal variation in light levels ends at the 49th parallel with 8 to 8.5 hours of daylight at the winter solstice. Canadian cities are mostly further north so while Toronto has just under 9 hours of daylight at the winter solstice, Winipeg has just over 8 hours, Regina has about 8 hours, Calgary has under 8 hours and Yellowknife has just under 5 hours of daylight on the winter solstice. Given this it will not surprise you to hear that SAD rates are higher in Canada than in the USA. The data on light therapy is significant and positive and well worth looking at if you think you might have symptoms of SAD, with professional assistance of course. All that said, it may also be that there is more going on here than lower light levels. People who enjoy winter sports and related activities seem to do a bit better in the darker months of winter. This would suggest that it makes sense to have winter festivals that get people out and about in winter and, perhaps, improve peoples’ moods. SO, look up the Quebec Winter Carnival and go and meet Bonne Homme or take in the Snow Days Festival in Banff National Park, Vancouver’s Dine Out Festival or perhaps Fernie’s Griz Days and take some of the mood bite out of Winter!

Questions for Reflection and/or Discussion:

  1. What are some of the signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder?
  2. What are some of the possible causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder?
  3. What are some of the self-administrable ways to cope with SAD and what are some of the more professional treatment options?

References (Read Further):

Fernandez, D. C., Fogerson, P. M., Ospri, L. L., Thomsen, M. B., Layne, R. M., Severin, D., … & Hattar, S. (2018). Light affects mood and learning through distinct retina-brain pathways. Cell, 175(1), 71-84. Link

Vetter, C. (2020). Circadian disruption: what do we actually mean?. European Journal of Neuroscience, 51(1), 531-550. Link

Partonen, T., & Lönnqvist, J. (1998). Seasonal affective disorder. The Lancet, 352(9137), 1369-1374. Link

Kurlansik, S. L., & Ibay, A. D. (2012). Seasonal affective disorder. American family physician, 86(11), 1037-1041. Link

Melrose, S. (2015). Seasonal affective disorder: an overview of assessment and treatment approaches. Depression research and treatment, 2015. Link

Mersch, P. P. A., Middendorp, H. M., Bouhuys, A. L., Beersma, D. G., & van den Hoofdakker, R. H. (1999). Seasonal affective disorder and latitude: a review of the literature. Journal of affective disorders, 53(1), 35-48. Link

Levitan, R. D. (2022). The chronobiology and neurobiology of winter seasonal affective disorder. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience. Link

Nussbaumer, B., Kaminski‐Hartenthaler, A., Forneris, C. A., Morgan, L. C., Sonis, J. H., Gaynes, B. N., … & Gartlehner, G. (2015). Light therapy for preventing seasonal affective disorder. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (11). Link

Pjrek, E., Friedrich, M. E., Cambioli, L., Dold, M., Jäger, F., Komorowski, A., … & Winkler, D. (2020). The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 89(1), 17-24. Link

Meesters, Y., & Gordijn, M. C. (2016). Seasonal affective disorder, winter type: current insights and treatment options. Psychology research and behavior management, 317-327. Link


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Assessment, Clinical Neuropsychology, Families and Peers, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Disorders, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Are there particular sounds that bother you? Some sounds CAN be unpleasant or annoying like the hum or rattle of a neighbor’s air conditioner when we are trying to relax on our balcony or in our backyard and some sounds can be truly awful. For example even thinking about the sound of fingernails on a blackboard can make many people cringe and shudder. All makes sense but what if there were some people who found some sounds that other people make (sniffing, chewing etc.) so annoying that they react in ways described as ‘sound rage’ and this (not surprisingly) has negative impacts on their relationships. Aside from seeming rather odd does it sound to you like a description of something that could be considered a disorder?  Misophonia is the name that has been suggested for just such a disorder. It is not currently included within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of disorders or the WHO’s International Clisification of Diseases (ICD) manual. Have a read through the article linked below and, perhaps, the first journal article listed in the References/Further Reading section below to find out more about what this “new possible disorder” if thought to involve, what its diagnostic criteria might include, and a bit about why it is still a wannabe disorder.

Source: Misophonia: how ‘sound rage’ destroys relationships and forces people to move home. Ellie Violet Bramley, The Guardian.

Date: January 26, 2023

Image by naturepost from Pixabay                  

Article Link:

So, does Misophonia sound like a disorder to you? Should it be included in the DSM and the ICD? We don’t get to vote on inclusion as such decisions are long and involved and made by committees of researchers and clinicians. Despite this, the article does suggest a number of approaches to help people that seem to be experiencing Misophonia or whatever it is and this can be helpful no matter how the condition is categorized. Whether Misophonia is eventually added to the DSM will involve consideration of its possible diagnostic criteria, its impact on human functioning, on whether people who experience it in themselves or those around them perceive it as a problem. Issues of stigma are also worth consideration. As always, further research and reflection is required.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is Misophonia thought to involve?
  2. What are some of the things suggested for people who seem to display signs of possible Misophonia?
  3. What would some advantages and disadvantages be of including Misophonia in the DSM?

References (Read Further):

Schröder, A., van Wingen, G., Eijsker, N., San Giorgi, R., Vulink, N. C., Turbyne, C., & Denys, D. (2019). Misophonia is associated with altered brain activity in the auditory cortex and salience network. Scientific reports, 9(1), 1-9. Link

Cavanna, A. E., & Seri, S. (2015). Misophonia: current perspectives. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 2117-2123. Link

Vitoratou, S., Uglik-Marucha, N., Hayes, C., & Gregory, J. (2021). Listening to people with misophonia: exploring the multiple dimensions of sound intolerance using a new psychometric tool, the S-five, in a large sample of individuals identifying with the condition. Psych, 3(4), 639-662. Link

Vitoratou, S., PhD, Hayes, C., Uglik-Marucha, E., Pearson, O., Graham, T., & Gregory, J. (2022). Misophonia in the UK: norms of the selective sound sensitivity five factor model (S-Five) for misophonia and prevalence of the disorder using a large sample representative of the UK population. PsyArXiv, 4. Link

Kokowska, M. (2018). Psychological Sensitivity to Sounds in Misophony and Phonophobia. Open Journal for Psychological Research, 2(1). Link

Schröder, A., Vulink, N., & Denys, D. (2013). Misophonia: diagnostic criteria for a new psychiatric disorder. PloS one, 8(1), e54706. Link

Taylor, S. (2017). Misophonia: A new mental disorder?. Medical Hypotheses, 103, 109-117. Link

Jager, I., de Koning, P., Bost, T., Denys, D., & Vulink, N. (2020). Misophonia: Phenomenology, comorbidity and demographics in a large sample. PloS one, 15(4), e0231390. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Psychology, Emerging Adulthood, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Psychological Intervention, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Everyone worries sometimes about some things. Some people worry a LOT and have trouble dealing with the constantly high levels of anxiety  that comes along with those worries. What do you think this is and what can people do, or be helped to do, that will make things better and reduce their levels and frequencies of anxiety? Bob Newhart had a comedy sketch in which he played a psychologist with a very simple approach to treating anxieties, worries and other challenges or disorders that took less than 5 minutes of his clients’ time and for which he charged just $5 or one dollar a minute if it took less time. He would have the client describe their problem and then he would dispense his advice/treatment which just involved forcefully telling them “Stop It!” Sound like a good therapy technique? Well, not so much. However, the 17 approaches to reducing worrying described in the article linked below are supported by clinical research and ARE more sophisticated than Stop It therapy, and they are also more effective so have a look though the linked article and find out about them.

Source: How to Stop Overthinking and Reduce Anxiety, Elaine K. Howley and Anna Medaris Miller, U.S. News and World Reports.

Date: January 19, 2023.

Image by Sam Williams from Pixabay

Article Link:

It IS important to understand that simply calling a client a “kook” as Bob did in the sketch is NOT a viable therapeutic approach. It is better to help the client understand that worry is a part of being human while runaway worry can be debilitating. I like the characterization of worry as a Goldilocks issue: a little bit is not enough, a LOT is too much and so somewhere in the middle, perhaps at times under one’s own control is just right. The article provides some good examples of how a clinical psychologist would work with their clients in applying one or more of the worry reducing tactics. Importantly while suggesting that people can try any or all of the approaches themselves they should be open to the possibility that they may need to get some help (professional help) in addressing their worries and anxiety.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What might be some ways to distinguish between good worrying and negative or problematic worrying?
  2. How are worrying and anxiety related?
  3. Which of the worry reducing tactics described in the linked article do you think would work for you and why?

References (Read Further):

Davey, G. C., Hampton, J., Farrell, J., & Davidson, S. (1992). Some characteristics of worrying: Evidence for worrying and anxiety as separate constructs. Personality and Individual Differences, 13(2), 133-147. Link

Wells, A. (2010). Metacognitive theory and therapy for worry and generalized anxiety disorder: Review and status. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 1(1), jep-007910. Link

Brenes, G. A., Divers, J., Miller, M. E., & Danhauer, S. C. (2018). A randomized preference trial of cognitive-behavioral therapy and yoga for the treatment of worry in anxious older adults. Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications, 10, 169-176. Link

Bayrami, M., Movahedi, Y., Kazimi Razai, S. V., & Esmaili, S. (2015). The effect of mindfulness cognitive therapy on pathological worry and anxiety symptoms in students with generalized anxiety disorder. Iranian Journal of Rehabilitation Research, 2(1), 79-90. Link

Parmentier, F. B., García-Toro, M., García-Campayo, J., Yañez, A. M., Andrés, P., & Gili, M. (2019). Mindfulness and symptoms of depression and anxiety in the general population: The mediating roles of worry, rumination, reappraisal and suppression. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 506. Link

Feng, Y. C., Krahé, C., Koster, E. H., Lau, J. Y., & Hirsch, C. R. (2022). Cognitive processes predict worry and anxiety under different stressful situations. Behaviour research and therapy, 157, 104168. Link

Koerner, N., & Dugas, M. J. (2006). A cognitive model of generalized anxiety disorder: The role of intolerance of uncertainty. Worry and its psychological disorders: Theory, assessment and treatment, 201-216. Link

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Development of the Self, Early Social and Emotional development, Families and Peers, Human Development, Personality, Social Influence, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Consider this quote from John Watson, one of the founders of Behaviorism: “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select — doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. (Watson, 1930”). Aside from the dated sound of the quote, think about what it is suggesting. Watson, Behaviorism and philosophers like John Locke held to the view that newborn children are tabula rasa (blank slates) with no inherent tendencies to develop in any particular direction but are, instead, waiting to be written upon by their experiences in their families and environments. Does that sound like a good description of how development proceeds? It is certainly an extreme position. What about the obvious, polar opposite, approach that developmental outcomes are all tied to a child’s genetic/biological make-up? That sounds a bit extreme too, don’t you think? Development must really involve a bit of both or, better yet. an interaction of both right? So think about this. What role does an infant’s temperament play in how their development proceeds and in what sort of child, teen and adult they develop into? As you think about that for a minute fold in this consideration. Do not think of temperament as a developmental endpoint (as in a difficult infant temperament becomes a difficult teen or adult temperament or personality). Think about the developmental pathway(s) that infants will crawl and then walk as they move towards adulthood and then think about how a set of behavioral or reactive tendencies an infant might be born with could influence or factor into how their development proceeds. Once you have a rough theory for the role of temperament in development sorted out have a read through the very nicely written overview of research into the role of temperament in development contained in the article linked below to see how your theory measures up to those worked out by development psychologists.

Source: Born that way, Gina Mireault, Aeon.

Date: January 17, 2023

Image by Prashant Sharma from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, children do not grow and develop alone in caves. I know that sounds like a stupidly simple thing to say but it helps the point out that development occurs through the ongoig interactions between the child and their physical and social environments (e.g., parents, siblings, extended family, peers, neighbors, communities, etc. .. it is all interactive). Temperament is a term for describing how the child enters into those interactions. How those interactions go, how the child’s world and the people in it react or respond to the child contributes to the ongoing interactions that make up development. So, yes, temperament predicts development outcomes, sort of but it is perhaps more accurate to say that how the child and the world interact figures in how the child comes to be in the world, it is all interaction and THAT is a useful way to think about development (whether you are doing it, parenting it, or observing/studying it).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is infant/child temperament?
  2. What role does temperament play in children’s, teens’ and adults’ development?
  3. What is involved in taking an interactive approach to understanding and discussing child development?

References (Read Further):

Chess, S., & Thomas, A. (1990). The New York longitudinal study (NYLS): The young adult periods. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 35(6), 557-561. Link

Rothbart, M. K. (2007). Temperament, development, and personality. Current directions in psychological science, 16(4), 207-212. Link

Schwartz, C. E., Kunwar, P. S., Greve, D. N., Moran, L. R., Viner, J. C., Covino, J. M., … & Wallace, S. R. (2010). Structural differences in adult orbital and ventromedial prefrontal cortex predicted by infant temperament at 4 months of age. Archives of general psychiatry, 67(1), 78-84. Link

Nigg, J. T., Karalunas, S. L., Gustafsson, H. C., Bhatt, P., Ryabinin, P., Mooney, M. A., … & Wilmot, B. (2020). Evaluating chronic emotional dysregulation and irritability in relation to ADHD and depression genetic risk in children with ADHD. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 61(2), 205-214. Link

Mireault, G. C., & Reddy, V. (2020). Making sense of infants’ differential responses to incongruity. Human development, 64(2), 55-63. Link

Gaias, L. M., Räikkönen, K., Komsi, N., Gartstein, M. A., Fisher, P. A., & Putnam, S. P. (2012). Cross‐cultural temperamental differences in infants, children, and adults in the United States of America and Finland. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 53(2), 119-128. Link

McClowry, S. G., Rodriguez, E. T., & Koslowitz, R. (2008). Temperament-based intervention: Re-examining goodness of fit. International Journal of Developmental Science, 2(1-2), 120-135. Link

Belsky, J., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., & Van IJzendoorn, M. H. (2007). For better and for worse: Differential susceptibility to environmental influences. Current directions in psychological science, 16(6), 300-304. Link

Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Health Psychology, Psychological Health, Research Methods, Research Methods in ADA, Research Methods in AP, Research Methods in ChD, Research Methods in CP, Research Methods in SP, Stress, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Even if you have not had to move (from one house or apartment to another) I bet you know that moving is stressful, right? If I told you that research shows that people who move show higher levels of stress when compared to people who have not moved recently you would not be surprised would you? Given this I suspect it would also not surprise you to hear that research shows that people who move a lot are significantly more stressed than people who have recently moved just once or not at all. Makes sense, right? But think about this a bit more. It could be that your “knowing” that moving is stressful is biasing your interpretation of the research I just mentioned. If people who move report more stress than people who do not move and if people who move a LOT report more stress than people who move less or not at all then it is clearly the moving that is causing the stress right? OK, but what if moving is a symptom rather than a cause? Why might people move? Or more pointedly, why might people have to move? Noting from a distance that two things like moving and stress are related or correlated does not tell us about the nature or direction of the causal relationships that might be involved. Certainly moving can cause stress but I bet you can think of (hypothesize about) a number of other things that cause stress and which, once they have occurred, could also result in a move. Yes, Moves and stress are associated but are they causally connected with moves always leading to stress? THAT is the causal question. So, here is a more important research question. How would you design a study to try and figure out how stress and moving are related? Also, if you were not actually designing the study from scratch (e.g., randomly assigning half of your sample to move and half to not move to see how much stress members of each group experience) but, instead, working with data from a larger population level survey or census what sort of data would you need to get access to in order to address this causal question? Once you have your thoughts in order have a read through the article linked below that (partially) describes one such study and, as you read it, try and decide if the study does address the causal question and if you are not sure, figure out what else you would need to know about the study to decide this matter.

Source: Measuring the stress of moving house, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: December 15, 2022

Image by Stephano Ferrario from Pixabay

Article Link:

When a psychology graduate student is defending their master’s thesis or their doctoral dissertation and the research study or studies they included they are often asked what they see as the impact or potential impacts of their work. In some cases the students will talk about how their research suggests some ways in which some social policies or programs could or should be changed in ways that would provide greater benefit or less harm to some segment of the population. The authors of the research discussed in the linked article do this when they recommend “implementing housing strategies that ensure housing can be sustained over time.” In thesis oral exams such statements are often followed up with additional questions asking if the causal connections and directions stated (moving causes stress) have been clearly demonstrated and, further, if the results of a single study are sufficiently clear and powerful enough to properly support the recommended changes in social or governmental polies and programs. Clearly demonstrating causality in research can be quite important. Did the information in the linked article convince or assure you that this was accomplished in the research study that was discussed? I would have to say, based on the information included in the article, I am not sure. The original research article itself is a bit more informative, though it is a bit of a slog to get through. I think the issue is an important one and is somewhat informed by the search discussed but I also think more research is needed (isn’t it always?).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might moving be stressful or why might moving cause stress?
  2. What are some alternative causal possibilities? That is, how might stress lead to rather than follow from a move?
  3. Based on your reading of the linked article what does the research project it describes sort out and/or fail to sort out about the relationship between moving and stress? Are the recommended policy/program changes warranted?

References (Read Further):

Cheung, K. S., & Wong, D. (2022). Measuring the Stress of Moving Homes: Evidence from the New Zealand Integrated Data Infrastructure. Urban Science, 6(4), 75. Link

Raviv, A., Keinan, G., Abazon, Y., & Raviv, A. (1990). Moving as a stressful life event for adolescents. Journal of Community Psychology, 18(2), 130-140. Link

Thomas, E. (2017, November). Exploring residential mobility: Learning about how young children experience the transition of moving house and how adults can best support them. In TACTYC Conference, Birmingham. Link

Fokkema, T., & Van Wissen, L. (1997). Moving plans of the elderly: A test of the stress-threshold model. Environment and Planning A, 29(2), 249-268. Link

Marsland, D., White, C., & Manthorpe, J. (2014). Relocation, Portability and Social Care Practice: Moving House and Moving Care: A Research Study. Link

Ponic, P., Varcoe, C., Davies, L., Ford-Gilboe, M., Wuest, J., & Hammerton, J. (2011). Leaving≠ moving: Housing patterns of women who have left an abusive partner. Violence Against Women, 17(12), 1576-1600. Link

Coulter, R., Van Ham, M., & Feijten, P. (2011). A longitudinal analysis of moving desires, expectations and actual moving behaviour. Environment and Planning A, 43(11), 2742-2760. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Consciousness, Depression, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, mental illness, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Intervention, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: In “the old days” ( a couple of hundred years ago) the general understanding of fever (an above average body temperature) was a problem in and of itself. The fever was seen as the disease. Efforts were made to reduce the fever (cold compresses etc.) and sometimes it went away and the person got better (less fevered) and sometimes it did not and the person died, of fever. Today we still worry about fevers but not as problems in and off themselves. Instead we view fevers as an indication that the body is trying to fight something off and the fever is a side-effect of that process. We still need to worry about runaway fevers but that does not stop us from trying to figure out and to treat the fever’s underlying cause. So, in the old days we stopped our thinking about, and our understanding of, symptoms being presented at fever but now we understand that fever is indicative of a deeper issue or condition that needs to be addressed if the fever is to go away. Makes sense right? Of course it does. Ok, but does this mean we have everything figured out now or is today going to become another version of “the old days” in the future? If this is true then what are we believing to be true today that will turn out to be similar to our old notions of fever? Well, how about this. Would there be an advantage to looking at some “abnormal psychological” symptoms less as presenting problems reflective of neurochemical imbalances or other brain-based dysfunctions and, instead, as indicators of something else that needs to be addressed? What if some versions of depression are indicators of a need for significant life changes? What if delusions of grandeur are adaptive in some ways? What if dyslexia is a reflection of an atypical set of skills for dealing with the world? And what if delusions such as hearing voices might not be entirely crazy (or at least better dealt with by NOT seeing them as completely such)? Ok, yes, I see that these sound a bit odd but welcome to Evolutionary Psychiatry. Keep and open mind and have a read through the article linked below that provides an engaging overview of the emerging, paradigm shifting, approach to some disorders.

Source: The helpful delusion, Justin Garson, Aeon-Psyche.

Date: January 17, 2023

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what do you think of Evolutionary Psychiatry? If depression as a sign of a need for life change or some delusions may be adaptive suggestions are too hard to consider what about the finding that a full third of successful entrepreneurs are dyslexic? What about blues musician Kevin Burt’s observation that ADHD as opposed to a fixed set list makes his live performances better and more engaging? The adaptiveness of some behaviors may not seem “normal” but then some individuals’ worlds and experiences are not particularly “normal” either. It is all a bit disorienting isn’t it. However, as we learned to look behind fevers for other issues while still worrying about the fevers perhaps we need to begin to consider similarly expanding our psychiatric/ abnormal psychology perspectives as well looking for adaptivity and evolutionary advantages. Could be rather interesting!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What was the “old” view of fever?
  2. What are some abnormal psychological things that we treat today like we used to think about fever medically?
  3. What are some examples of psychiatric symptoms that might benefit from a little re-thinking in terms of adaptational possibilities and where might doing so take us in our approaches to treatment and to dealing with social stigma?

References (Read Further):

Taylor, H., & Vestergaard, M. D. (2022). Developmental dyslexia: disorder or specialization in exploration?. Frontiers in Psychology, 3374. Link

Brüne, M. (2016). Borderline Personality DisorderWhy ‘fast and furious’?. Evolution, medicine, and public health, 2016(1), 52-66. Link

Habib, M. (2021). The neurological basis of developmental dyslexia and related disorders: A reappraisal of the temporal hypothesis, twenty years on. Brain sciences, 11(6), 708. Link

Ritunnano, R., Kleinman, J., Oshodi, D. W., Michail, M., Nelson, B., Humpston, C. S., & Broome, M. R. (2022). Subjective experience and meaning of delusions in psychosis: a systematic review and qualitative evidence synthesis. The Lancet Psychiatry. Link

Isham, L., Loe, B. S., Hicks, A., Wilson, N., Bird, J. C., Bentall, R. P., & Freeman, D. (2022). The meaning in grandiose delusions: measure development and cohort studies in clinical psychosis and non-clinical general population groups in the UK and Ireland. The Lancet Psychiatry, 9(10), 792-803. Link

Devendorf, A., Bender, A., & Rottenberg, J. (2020). Depression presentations, stigma, and mental health literacy: A critical review and YouTube content analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 78, 101843. Link

Devendorf, A., & Zikmund-Fisher, B. Framing depression as a functional signal, not a disease: Rationale and initial evidence. Link

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Depression, Development of the Self, Eating Disorders, Emerging Adulthood, Families and Peers, Health Psychology, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Prevention, Research Methods, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: You cannot have missed the increasing level of discussion and concern regarding the possible impacts of social media use on the mental health of teens and youth in recent years. The available new coverage of this topic ranges widely from articles that seek out and dive into recent, population level research on social media use and teen mental health to articles that do not cover research in much depth but, instead, focus upon reactions such as references to TikTok as “digital fentanyl”. Do you think you have a pretty good idea of what differences you would see in article content as you moved along this dimension of reporting on the potential dangers of social media? Well, how about a pop quiz regarding that understanding? Read the article linked below and decide which end of the above-described continuum or coverage of this topic you believe it is closest to. Oh, and, of course, think about what arguments you would use in your answer if this were an essay question rather than a one or the other type of question.

Source: Why experts worry TikTok could add to mental health crisis among US teens, Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN Business.

Date: January 11, 2023

Image by Sayyid96 from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what was your verdict? I think my opening quote about digital fentanyl in my opening paragraph shows clearly which end of the dimension this article sits closest to. Other gems include “psychologists say,” “can have a positive impact,” “the majority of teens say” to note a few, all with no or only indirectly cited research support. Closing an article with a title suggesting it was going to look at research into negative impacts of social media with a quite from an individual who said they quit their job to work on their TikTok account as a positive career move is confusing at best. Of course, more research is needed but there IS much more research out there and while it has not yet sorted out what is going on with social media perhaps better to close with something like more (better) journalism is needed!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of research were described (or perhaps just hinted at) in the linked article and what  else would you like to know about it in order o properly (critically) evaluate its contribution to the debate regarding social media mental health impacts?
  2. Based just on the article and its contents what conclusion, if any, might you draw regarding the role of social media platforms like TikTok on teen mental health?
  3. Upon reflection, what do you think is a clear, fair statement about what the article is arguing for?

References (Read Further):

Pew Research Center (2022) Teens, Social Media and Technology 2022. Link

Duffy, M. E., Twenge, J. M., & Joiner, T. E. (2019). Trends in mood and anxiety symptoms and suicide-related outcomes among US undergraduates, 2007–2018: Evidence from two national surveys. Journal of Adolescent Health, 65(5), 590-598. Link

Twenge, J. M., Joiner, T. E., Rogers, M. L., & Martin, G. N. (2018). Increases in depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates among US adolescents after 2010 and links to increased new media screen time. Clinical Psychological Science, 6(1), 3-17. Link

Heffer, T., Good, M., Daly, O., MacDonell, E., & Willoughby, T. (2019). The longitudinal association between social-media use and depressive symptoms among adolescents and young adults: An empirical reply to Twenge et al.(2018). Clinical Psychological Science, 7(3), 462-470. Link

Montag, C., Yang, H., & Elhai, J. D. (2021). On the psychology of TikTok use: A first glimpse from empirical findings. Frontiers in public health, 9, 641673. Link

McCashin, D., & Murphy, C. M. (2022). Using TikTok for public and youth mental health–A systematic review and content analysis. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 13591045221106608. Link

Posted by & filed under Assessment: Intellectual-Cognitive Measures, General Psychology, Language-Thought, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience.

Description: Think for a moment about how good you are at editing your own and other peoples’ writing. To put a finer point on your self-assessment, place yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 in editing skill with 10 being razor sharp and missing little or nothing and 1 being sloppy and inconsistent. Now, be honest, in rating your editorial skills did the phrase “it depends” even cross your mind and if it did was it tied to anything more than a version of “how much the task matters”? Did the idea that your editorial skill might vary depending on your passing mood (and NOT your mood about the editorial task but your general mood)? How might your general mood be related to your editing skill? Think about it and then read the article linked below to see what recent research suggests might be going on. Oh, and pay attention to how the research study discussed was designed to see if that has any influence on your evaluation of the work.

Source: How your mood affects the way you process language, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: January 13, 2023

Image by Wokingham Libraries from Pixabay

Article Link:

It is interesting that being in a negative mood seems to improve our attention to detail in tasks like proof reading. I also hope you took close note of the discussion of the research design elements as they are particularly important parts of how we decide if the study “properly” addressed its focal questions. For example, they used the movie Sofie’s Choice which was described as a sad movie (no argument there) and then indicated that they viewed the resulting participant mood states as negative. The funny clips (Friends episodes) were reported to have no influence on mood. As such there was no positive mood state condition in the study. Participants served as their own controls by completing both study conditions a week apart in random order. This is a good way to control cross participant differences without using random-assignment. Overall a good design but I am left wondering what the impact of positive moods might be and I am also wondering how it is that negative mood states make us more analytical. Finally, I am wondering if the researchers gave any thought to the possible impact of their findings on the behavior of managers overseeing workers engaging in important analytic tasks. A statement to the effect that their data is not conclusive enough to support adjustments to management practices in such workplace settings might be in order. I am only partly serious about this last point, but researchers do need to be prepared to speak to the limitations of their findings.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of tasks besides proofreading require analytic thinking and focus?
  2. Did the research design and participant tasks make sense to you in light of what the researchers wanted to investigate? How might you change the tasks or the design to broaden their potential findings?
  3. As it was NOT assessed in the described study what do YOU think the effect of a positive mood might be on proofreading tasks or on other work tasks and how would you research this?

References (Read Further):

Lai, V. T., Van Berkum, J. J., & Hagoort, P. (2022). Negative affect increases reanalysis on conflicts between discourse context and world knowledge. Frontiers in Communication. Link

Mancini, E., Beglinger, C., Drewe, J., Zanchi, D., Lang, U. E., & Borgwardt, S. (2017). Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: A systematic review. Phytomedicine, 34, 26-37. Link

Chepenik, L. G., Cornew, L. A., & Farah, M. J. (2007). The influence of sad mood on cognition. Emotion, 7(4), 802. Link

Forgas, J. P., & Eich, E. (2013). Affective influences on cognition: Mood congruence, mood dependence, and mood effects on processing strategies. In A. F. Healy, R. W. Proctor, & I. B. Weiner (Eds.), Handbook of psychology: Experimental psychology (pp. 61–82). John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Link

Forgas, J. P. (2002). Feeling and doing: Affective influences on interpersonal behavior. Psychological inquiry, 13(1), 1-28. Link

Forgas, J. P., Laham, S. M., & Vargas, P. T. (2005). Mood effects on eyewitness memory: Affective influences on susceptibility to misinformation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 41(6), 574-588. Link

Beal, D. J., Weiss, H. M., Barros, E., & MacDermid, S. M. (2005). An episodic process model of affective influences on performance. Journal of Applied psychology, 90(6), 1054. Link

Forgas, J. P. (1998). On feeling good and getting your way: mood effects on negotiator cognition and bargaining strategies. Journal of personality and social psychology, 74(3), 565. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, Depression, General Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, mental illness, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: It is fascinating to see how some ideas, theories and research pop up in the popular press as opposed to in peer review research journals that are not generally read recreationally. Perhaps you have run across articles and related references recently to the potential efficacy of psychedelics in the treatment of depression and other mental disorders. There was a related popular press pop up this week in the form of the release of Prince Harry’s autobiography Spare. The largest buzz around the release of the book has been the account it contains of a fight between Harry and his brother William. However, also in the book are account of Harry’s recreational use of psychedelics and his more recent “therapeutic use” of psychedelics such as ayahuasca and psilocybin to deal with intense and long-term grief over the death of his mother, Princess Diana. Do psychedelics help with significant long-term grief or trauma? Good question. Should accounts of their efficacy provided based on the experiences of one person, even a royal person, be taken as clear, reliable, valid, assessment of their efficacy? I very much hope that, as someone with an interest in psychology, your answer to this question is no (even if you do not have a working knowledge of the limitations of the generalizability of single case studies, or personal accounts even by royals). The original question, though, is still a good one and luckily some articles, such as the one linked below, move beyond the case study approach and ask researchers thinking about and working on the question, what their data says or what research they think we need to do in order to start to address the original question of the potential use of psychedelics in grief and trauma treatment. This is a new enough area that I suspect you do not have enough information to form your own hypotheses at this point so, give the article a read and see what may be at play or possible.

Source: What We Know About Treating Extreme Grief With Psychedelics, Dana G. Smith, The New York Times

Date: January 10, 2023

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Article Link (Read or Listen):

So, what are your take-ways from this article? Aside from the positive personal account of Prince Harry it is clear that there is not a lot of research data on this question. The few studies available that focused upon psychedelics and grief were based on small samples and involved participants who were expecting positive treatment effects AND did not have control groups. Does this mean that this line of study should be abandoned? Well, no, not yet. Initial studies in such areas are often hard to get off the ground (and to get funding for) and as such tend to be of the sort described in the article with small sample sizes and fewer than an optimal degree of experimental control. In addition, there have been better studies on the possible role of psychedelics in the treatment of depression and other disorders so perhaps there are grounds for considering larger studies into the possible therapeutic use of psychedelics in the treatment of long-term grief and perhaps trauma. This is exactly what is meant by the term “more research is needed” but we could add to that the observation that early studies do seem to be producing interesting results.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What did Prince Harry use psychedelics for (beyond earlier recreational use)?
  2. Which psychedelics were discussed in the article as potentially useful in the treatment of extended grief and how might extended or long-term grief be distinguished from “normal” or natural grief?
  3. What sorts of studies are needed next to move our understanding of the possible use of psychedelics in grief and trauma forward?

References (Read Further):

American Psychiatric Association (2022) Prolonged Grief. Link

Anderson, B. T., Danforth, A., Daroff, R., Stauffer, C., Ekman, E., Agin-Liebes, G., … & Woolley, J. (2020). Psilocybin-assisted group therapy for demoralized older long-term AIDS survivor men: An open-label safety and feasibility pilot study. EClinicalMedicine, 27, 100538. Link

Agin-Liebes, G., Ekman, E., Anderson, B., Malloy, M., Haas, A., & Woolley, J. (2021). Participant reports of mindfulness, posttraumatic growth, and social connectedness in psilocybin-assisted group therapy: An interpretive phenomenological analysis. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 00221678211022949. Link

González, D., Cantillo, J., Pérez, I., Farré, M., Feilding, A., Obiols, J. E., & Bouso, J. C. (2020). Therapeutic potential of ayahuasca in grief: a prospective, observational study. Psychopharmacology, 237(4), 1171-1182. Link

Carhart-Harris, R., Giribaldi, B., Watts, R., Baker-Jones, M., Murphy-Beiner, A., Murphy, R., … & Nutt, D. J. (2021). Trial of psilocybin versus escitalopram for depression. New England Journal of Medicine, 384(15), 1402-1411. Link

Gonzalez, D., Aixalá, M. B., Neimeyer, R. A., Cantillo, J., Nicolson, D., & Farré, M. (2022). Restorative Retelling for Processing Psychedelic Experiences: Rationale and Case Study of Complicated Grief. Frontiers in Psychology, 13, 832879-832879. Link

Kitchenham, B., Pickard, L., & Pfleeger, S. L. (1995). Case studies for method and tool evaluation. IEEE software, 12(4), 52-62. Link

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Cultural Variation, Families and Peers, General Psychology, Group Processes, Human Development, Language-Thought, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology.

Description: I was not intending to post three conceptually focused pieces (another one, a third one) when I sat down at my computer this week. By conceptual, I mean looking at articles that ask us if we are looking at or thinking about some aspect of human psychological functioning properly or whether a different conceptual (theoretic) perspective might be important to consider. Maybe this is a good way to start a new year by considering alternate conceptual directions in our thinking about psychology. So, here goes again. I have posted before on some of the issues associated with the strongly individual focus of much of the research and theoretic work in psychology. An individual focus can go a long way towards accounting for LOT of behavior but treating social relations and culture simply as backdrops for individual behavior downplays or ignores the powerful impacts that relationships, community, and culture has upon our behavior. Think about (sorry to bring them up again) the many debates about how to deal with the psychology of the Covid pandemic. Questions like “How do we get people to wear masks” or “How do we get people to get vaccinated” or “How do we get people to focus clearly and rationally on the science?” all assume that individual decisions are the key turning point of how we might manage the epidemic. What if we started thinking about things like the pandemic and about health issues in general by acknowledging the essential role that our connections to others play in building an understanding of human psychology and in figuring out how best to understand and influence human health decision-making? Think about what this might look like and then have a read through the article linked below to see what this approach might involve.

Source: We can’t view health as an exclusively personal matter – it’s a collective endeavor. Wency Leung, The Globe and Mail.

Date: January 6, 2022

Image by Bob Dmyt from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, while I appreciate that you may have done far more Covid reflection than you would want to do by now, what did you take away from the broad argument offered in the article that “the collective” should be playing at least an equal role in our theorizing and research about human decision making to that of the individual? Understanding what it means to be a social species involves more than just stating, in relation to Covid for example, that “we are in this together”.  A perspective that more actively respects the role of the collective (and the impact of current decisions on broader and future generations) may not just lead to different approaches and different decisions but, maybe, to more effective decisions and approaches. Worth thinking about!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some problems with conceptualizing health decisions like getting vaccinated or wearing a ask as matters of individual choice?
  2. How might our public health strategies in relation to issues like Covid, change if we broaden the role of “the collective” in our thinking about and development of those strategies?
  3. What are some other areas within psychology that would shift (potentially dramatically) with the inclusion of a focus on “the collective” and what might the resulting theories and approaches look like?

References (Read Further):

Fotaki, M. (2013). Is patient choice the future of health care systems?. International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 1(2), 121. Link

Goldberg, D. S. (2012). Social justice, health inequalities and methodological individualism in US health promotion. Public Health Ethics, 5(2), 104-115. Link

Haslanger, S. (2020). Failures of methodological individualism: the materiality of social systems. Link

Valsiner, J. (2019). Culture & psychology: 25 constructive years. Culture & Psychology, 25(4), 429-469. Link

Lomas, T., Waters, L., Williams, P., Oades, L. G., & Kern, M. L. (2021). Third wave positive psychology: broadening towards complexity. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 16(5), 660-674. Link

Murphy, J., Vallières, F., Bentall, R. P., Shevlin, M., McBride, O., Hartman, T. K., … & Hyland, P. (2021). Psychological characteristics associated with COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and resistance in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Nature communications, 12(1), 1-15. Link

Barello, S., Palamenghi, L., & Graffigna, G. (2021). Looking inside the ‘black box’of vaccine hesitancy: Unlocking the effect of psychological attitudes and beliefs on COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and implications for public health communication. Psychological Medicine, 1-2. Link

Böhm, R., & Betsch, C. (2022). Prosocial vaccination. Current opinion in psychology, 43, 307-311. Link

Butter, Sarah, Emily McGlinchey, Emma Berry, and Cherie Armour. “Psychological, social, and situational factors associated with COVID‐19 vaccination intentions: A study of UK key workers and non‐key workers.” British Journal of Health Psychology 27, no. 1 (2022): 13-29. Link