Posted by & filed under Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Social Psychology.

Description: I am sure that you have at least heard the name Machiavelli (Niccolò Machiavelli 1469 – 1527) and I suspect you have some thoughts about what it means when someone is referred to as Machiavellian. Machiavelli’s book, The Prince, is typically seen as text or guide to navigating the treachery, deception and crime associated with royal court life and politics. His advice was about how to survive and NOT about how to be nice. I mention this to provide some context for the following: Within the personality psychology research domain Machiavellianism is discussed and researched as a trait or traits and a lot of research looks at the concept in relation to politics and other social behaviors. Now, given all this I was drawn to the title of the research article that is discussed in the article linked below. Th research looks at the relationship between scores on two Machiavellianism personality dimensions and the tendence to produce and the tenancy to be susceptible to bullshit in social interactions. How could that NOT be interesting! So, think for a moment about how the use of and reactions to bullshit might be influenced by place on Machiavellianism scales and then give the article linked below and its discussion of this research a read.

Source: Machiavellianism is associated with bullshitting according to new psychology research, Eric W. Dolan, PsyPost.

Date: Feb 3, 2022

Image by akenemonkey from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, did the suggested relationships between Machiavellian approach and manipulative bullshit and Machiavellian avoidance and evasive bullshitting make sense to you? How about the results related to pseudo-profound bullshit and scientific bullshit? I have to say I was drawn into the detailed analyses of the different types of bullshit examined in the research discussed in the article. Perhaps this sort of research might contribute to a more productive understanding of our current complex and distressing political realities!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does Machiavellianism involve as a personality trait or traits?
  2. How is bullshit defined by the researchers whose work was discussed in the article?
  3. In what ways might this research or future research like it be applied in useful ways to our current social and political realities?

References (Read Further):

Littrell, S., Risko, E. F., & Fugelsang, J. A. (2021). ‘You can’t bullshit a bullshitter’(or can you?): Bullshitting frequency predicts receptivity to various types of misleading information. British journal of social psychology, 60(4), 1484-1505. Link

Littrell, S. (2021). The psychology of bullshitting: Measurement, correlates, and outcomes of the propensity to mislead others. Link

Turpin, M. H., Kara-Yakoubian, M., Walker, A. C., Walker, H. E., Fugelsang, J. A., & Stolz, J. A. (2021). Bullshit ability as an honest signal of intelligence. Evolutionary Psychology, 19(2), 14747049211000317. Link

Blötner, C., & Bergold, S. (2022). It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver: Machiavellianism is associated with producing but not necessarily with falling for bullshit. British Journal of Social Psychology. Link

Littrell, S., Risko, E. F., & Fugelsang, J. A. (2019). The Bullshitting Frequency Scale: Development and psychometric properties. Link

Spicer, A. (2020). Playing the bullshit game: How empty and misleading communication takes over organizations. Organization Theory, 1(2), 2631787720929704. Link

Wilson, D. S., Near, D., & Miller, R. R. (1996). Machiavellianism: a synthesis of the evolutionary and psychological literatures. Psychological bulletin, 119(2), 285. Link

Rauthmann, J. F., & Will, T. (2011). Proposing a multidimensional Machiavellianism conceptualization. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 39(3), 391-403. Link

Kessler, S. R., Bandelli, A. C., Spector, P. E., Borman, W. C., Nelson, C. E., & Penney, L. M. (2010). Re‐examining Machiavelli: A three‐dimensional model of Machiavellianism in the workplace. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40(8), 1868-1896. Link

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Child Development, Cultural Variation, Development of the Self, Early Social and Emotional development, Families and Peers, Group Processes, Human Development, Motivation-Emotion, Research Methods, Research Methods in CP, Social Psychology.

Description: Imagine (if it is not the case for you already) that you are about to become a parent for the first time and you are trying to figure out how you are going to approach the challenges and, hopefully, joys, of being a parent. Boil it down to one or two questions by starting with this question. What are infants (children) basically like? Do they need to be protected, supported (loved) as they develop from dependency towards independence? Do they need to be guided, managed (loved) and consistently encouraged to develop past their basic selfishness to appreciate and act withing their obligations and commitments to those who are closest to them, putting family, and other social connections before their own interests? Asking what infants are basically or essentially like sets up a more important question. Based on your answer to the basic nature question, what do you see as the roles or responsibilities that parents have in raising their children? While a seemingly simple answer to this second question might be something like; “Well all children and unique special and different so there is no one answer to the how to parent question.” A lovely sentiment and while it is true that each parent has to figure out and decide how to work with each of their children’s characteristics, thinking of parenting that way leaves all parents totally alone to work their approach to parent out by themselves on a child-by-child basis. Look back at the first question above and then think about how, who or what other social forces address that question. Trying to answer that question is a cultural issue; a not just “what I think” question but a “what do we think” question. North American psychology and North American culture tends to consider individual theories and approaches to big questions like this first and turn to consider the role that cultural and historical contexts play in how such questions are worked out later as secondary considerations. Cultural psychology turns this around somewhat and encourages us to think about cultural and historical contexts and their influences on how people awork to answer important questions like “How should I parent.” The insights gained can be helpful and supportive for new parents. So, how can a cultural perspective inform new parents as they consider their new existential questions? Have a read through the article linked below to see at least a bit of what this might look like.

Source: How Cultures Around the World Think About Parenting, Amy S. Choi, Ted Ideas.

Date: October 9, 2022

Image by darkside-550 from Pixabay

Article Link:

Considering the cultural perspective helps us to see that answers to what seem like, and are really, fundamental human questions vary not just from historical time to time but also from cultural context to cultural context. See that could help parents at least more easily find a starting point for figuring out how they are going to parent and could support them along they way as well, as their children grow and develop.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the basic nature of human infants?
  2. How might answers to the above question result in differing thoughts about how parents should parent?
  3. What role does culture play in how we approach questions such as “how should we parent”?

References (Read Further):

Harkness, S., & Super, C. M. (2002). Culture and parenting. Handbook of parenting, 2(2), 253-280. Link

Bornstein, M. H. (2012). Cultural approaches to parenting. Parenting, 12(2-3), 212-221. Link

Lee, E., Bristow, J., Faircloth, C., & Macvarish, J. (2014). Parenting culture studies. Springer. Link

Goto, A., Surkan, P. J., & Reich, M. R. (2020). Challenges to changing the culture of parenting in Japan. Journal of Epidemiology, 30(10), 427-428. Link

Lee, E. (2014). Experts and parenting culture. In Parenting culture studies (pp. 51-75). Palgrave Macmillan, London. Link

Bornstein, M. H. (2015). Culture, parenting, and zero-to-threes. Zero to three, 35(4), 2. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Depression, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, mental illness, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Psychological Disorders, Social Cognition, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Is clinical depression a categorical disorder? By this I mean is it something that you either have or do not have? Well, the diagnostic categories of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual ARE defined in an all-in fashion but are all people who meet the diagnostic criteria for depression equally depressed? That does not sound sensible. Think for a moment about what a condition described as high-functioning depression might involve and how it would fit within the typical set of diagnostic criteria for depression and then have a read through the linked article to see what it suggests in this matter.

Source: High-Functioning Depression: the Symptoms and Treatments, Paul Wynn, Health, US News and World Reports.

Date: October 6, 2022

Image by Graehawk from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, do the suggestions the article offers regarding high-functioning depression make sense? The mention of possible personality profile tie-ins (perfectionism) and emotional self-management correlates are interesting, though there were no links to possibly supportive research. It makes sense (has face validity) to suggest that some folks hide or downplay their depressive experiences and continue to function at some level. What we need to better understand the possible nature of a high-functioning depression is more data regarding how those who meet diagnostic criteria for depression vary in terms of their general levels of functioning and patterns of symptoms.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are there degrees or levels of depression as it is diagnosed using the DSM?
  2. What might be included in a definition of high-functioning depression?
  3. If there were a diagnostic category for high-functioning depression what might its advantages and disadvantages be?

References (Read Further):

Mungai, K., & Bayat, A. (2018). High-functioning depression among women in South Africa: An exploratory study. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 28(5), 411-415. Link

Goodwin, R. D., & Gotlib, I. H. (2004). Gender differences in depression: the role of personality factors. Psychiatry research, 126(2), 135-142. Link

Piccinelli, M., & Wilkinson, G. (2000). Gender differences in depression: Critical review. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 177(6), 486-492. Link

Achat, H., Kawachi, I., Spiro, A., DeMolles, D. A., & Sparrow, D. (2000). Optimism and depression as predictors of physical and mental health functioning: the Normative Aging Study. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 22(2), 127-130. Link

Fried, E. I., & Nesse, R. M. (2014). The impact of individual depressive symptoms on impairment of psychosocial functioning. PloS one, 9(2), e90311. Link


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Assessment: Clinical Decision Making, Assessment: Self-report Projective Measures, Clinical Psychology, Cultural Variation, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Intergroup Relations, mental illness, Psychological Disorders, Research Methods, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Are you the same person today that you were 5 years ago? How about 10 years ago? A quick answer is, “of course, yes!” but as time, personal and developmental mount up the question becomes more challenging. Typically starting in the adolescent and emerging adult years it can become harder, and perhaps even impossible to answer this question by pointing to first external things (what you wear, what you own, what you do) and then later by pointing to inner things (your personality, character, likes dislikes etc.). If or when it gets harder to find inner things to point to maintaining a sense of personal continuity can become seriously challenging and in a small number of cases this can give rise to suicidal thoughts. A solution to this challenge can involve a developmental shift to using a new, narrative, approach to thinking and talking about your self-continuity. A sort of “let me tell you how the person I was became the person that I am now” approach. Does this seem to make sense? Take this perspective a step further and consider the title of the article/podcast linked below that raises the question of what it might mean to be unable to trust the stories or mind tells us (we tell) about ourselves. Might this narrative approach to understanding how self-continuity may be maintained starting in adolescence and early adulthood provide us with a useful perspective on mental health, mental illness, and challenges to wellbeing? Have a listen to the podcast connected to the article linked below to see what this approach might involve.

Source: When You Can’t Trust the Stories Your Mind is Telling, Rachel Aviv on the Ezra Klein Show (podcast), The New York Times.

Date: October 4, 2022

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Article Link:

The concepts and examples raised in the podcast are complicated. There has been a lot of discussion and social actions taken regarding the stigmas associated with thinking about, talking about and socially discussing mental illness. Much of this has tended to include a general assumption that such new and old thinking and storytelling about mental illness are unrelated to mental illnesses themselves. It is perhaps helpful to note that storytelling involves or implies some sort of audience. We tell our stories to ourselves and to others and if we are using those stories to define or to make sense out our current selves and our continuity with our past and future selves then the stories themselves and the audience expectations they anticipate or react to are not out there at a comfortable arm’s length but are woven in as an integral part of how we experience, think about and react to issues of mental illness (in ourselves and others). Food for thought, reflection, and theorizing.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might self-narratives (self-stories) relate to mental illness?
  2. Is there more to the stories people hear or tell about mental illness than matters of stigma about mental illness?
  3. Can thinking of some aspects of mental illness in terms of a self-narrative approach help us to better understand and better provide support and assistance to individuals trying to cope with mental illness?

References (Read Further):

Becker, M., Vignoles, V. L., Owe, E., Easterbrook, M. J., Brown, R., Smith, P. B., … & Lay, S. (2018). Being oneself through time: Bases of self-continuity across 55 cultures. Self and Identity, 17(3), 276-293. Link

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

Hydén, L. C. (2010). Identity, self, narrative. Beyond narrative coherence, 11, 33-47. Link

King, R., Neilsen, P., & White, E. (2013). Creative writing in recovery from severe mental illness. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 22(5), 444-452. Link

von Knorring, A. L., & Hultcrantz, E. (2020). Asylum-seeking children with resignation syndrome: catatonia or traumatic withdrawal syndrome?. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 29(8), 1103-1109. Link

Sallin, K., Lagercrantz, H., Evers, K., Engström, I., Hjern, A., & Petrovic, P. (2016). Resignation syndrome: catatonia? Culture-bound?. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7. Link

Thomas, S. P. (2017). Resignation Syndrome: Is it a New Phenomenon or is it Catatonia?. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 38(7), 531-532. Link

Park, J., Lee, D. S., Shablack, H., Verduyn, P., Deldin, P., Ybarra, O., … & Kross, E. (2016). When perceptions defy reality: The relationships between depression and actual and perceived Facebook social support. Journal of Affective Disorders, 200, 37-44. Link

Zeng, N., Pope, Z., Lee, J. E., & Gao, Z. (2018). Virtual reality exercise for anxiety and depression: A preliminary review of current research in an emerging field. Journal of clinical medicine, 7(3), 42. Link

Westerhof, G., & Bohlmeijer, E. (2012). Life Stories and Mental Health:: The Role of Identification Processes in Theory and Interventions. Narrative Matters, 2(1), 106-128. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Depression, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Disorders, Research Methods, Social Influence, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: Whether or not you have had any training in how to approach and engage someone who might be considering suicide (you should ask them if they are thinking of killing themselves) consider this question: Over the past 100 years how much better have clinical psychological science and clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers etc. gotten and accurately predicting which at risk people are most likely to act of their suicidal thoughts? Would it surprise and worry you to hear that the answer might be “no better at all”? The problem is that, thankfully, suicide is a rare event but what this also means is that the task of figuring out who of those who are “at risk” for suicide will act on their suicidal thoughts and when. If what we have been trying is not leading to predictive improvement (and to timely interventions) what might we do differently? Would an algorithm help? What sorts of data might an algorithm dray upon? What sort of “proving” studies need to be done to develop and to test an algorithm’s efficacy? Organize your thoughts and then ready the article linked below to see what has been developed recently in this area.

Source: Can Smartphones Help Predict Suicide? Ellan Barry, The New York Times

Date: September 30, 2022

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, is the answer to the need for better prediction and triggered response to suicide more data and the use of algorithms? It is clear from the data reported upon that algorithms might improve things somewhat, but the improvements shown so far are not of the order of magnitude variety we hope for and need. Finding ways to stay connected to at risk for suicide people is as or perhaps more important than the data we are staying connected through, at least until or if we find ways to better sort and utilize that data. An algorithmic approach to suicide risk shows some promise as a way of facilitating the human connections that work if they can be made.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How well can we predict who of those who are at risk for suicide will act on their suicidal thoughts?
  2. What are some of the reasons that our success in doing what question 1 asks about has not improved much if at all over the past 100 years?
  3. What might the use of algorithms and bigger datasets do for us in this area? And what can’t they do for us?

References (Read Further):

Franklin, J. C., Ribeiro, J. D., Fox, K. R., Bentley, K. H., Kleiman, E. M., Huang, X., … & Nock, M. K. (2017). Risk factors for suicidal thoughts and behaviors: A meta-analysis of 50 years of research. Psychological bulletin, 143(2), 187. Link

Torous, J., Larsen, M. E., Depp, C., Cosco, T. D., Barnett, I., Nock, M. K., & Firth, J. (2018). Smartphones, sensors, and machine learning to advance real-time prediction and interventions for suicide prevention: a review of current progress and next steps. Current psychiatry reports, 20(7), 1-6. Link

Cannizzaro, K. REACH VET and the Possible Impact on Integrated Healthcare. Link

Chan, M. K., Bhatti, H., Meader, N., Stockton, S., Evans, J., O’Connor, R. C., … & Kendall, T. (2016). Predicting suicide following self-harm: systematic review of risk factors and risk scales. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 209(4), 277-283. Link

Simon, G. E., Johnson, E., Lawrence, J. M., Rossom, R. C., Ahmedani, B., Lynch, F. L., … & Shortreed, S. M. (2018). Predicting suicide attempts and suicide deaths following outpatient visits using electronic health records. American Journal of Psychiatry, 175(10), 951-960. Link

Chen, Q., Zhang-James, Y., Barnett, E. J., Lichtenstein, P., Jokinen, J., D’Onofrio, B. M., … & Fazel, S. (2020). Predicting suicide attempt or suicide death following a visit to psychiatric specialty care: A machine learning study using Swedish national registry data. PLoS medicine, 17(11), e1003416. Link

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Clinical Psychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Neuroscience, Research Methods, Successful Aging, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Dementia associated with aging is a serious concern. Dementia is a general term for impairments in memory, thinking, and decision making in ways that can interfere with everyday activities. It can be related in injury, Alzheimer’s disease, changes in blood flow with age and any number of other issues. There are some treatments that may slow the advancement of some types of dementia but there is no general course of treatment or activity that seems to consistently reduce the incidences of dementia. Though this last statement may not be true. The research discussed in the article linked below suggests that walking 10,000 steps a day (you have heard of that magic number) may reduce one’s risk of showing signs of dementia by 50% or more. Impressive and an easy intervention, right? Well sure but think for a minute about what sort of research would need to be done to produce this finding. Then think for another minute about what the research would need to involve if one hoped to be able to make causal as opposed to correlational statements about their results, and thus about the relationship between daily 10,000 steps walking and reductions in rates of later onsets of dementia and THEN have a read through the articled and see what it suggests,

Source: Walking this number of steps everyday can reduce dementia risk by 50%, Linda Carroll, New Middle Age, Today.

Date: September 9, 2022

Image by cozminphotos from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what did you make of the results discussed in the article? Sounds very straightforward, walk 10,000 steps a day and significantly reduce your risk of developing dementia as you age. I would not for moment argue against the suggestion that daily exercise such as walking is likely good for you. However, the article did not raise the smallest bit of a question about the possibility that other factors might be involved. What if some of the preconditions for the development of dementia with age are also acting to make it less likely that those people would walk 10,000 steps a day prior to the onset of dementia? Researchers using the sorts of HUGE population health datasets used in the reported research very often consider such issues. If you look at the research article itself you will see that their study was perspective, which means they started with a large sample that was free of any signs of dementia at the start of their study and followed them for quite a long time and, as a result, had a large number (nearly 900) participants who developed dementias while in the study. That sort of study does get us closer to causal insight but it does give us causal certainty.


Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is walking thought to be related to dementia in the research discussed in the linked article?
  2. What sorts of causal/correlational challenges does this sort of research study face?
  3. What could the researchers have to get closer to being able to make causal statements about the role of walking in relation to later development of symptoms of dementia?

References (Read Further):

del Pozo Cruz, B., Ahmadi, M. N., Lee, I. M., & Stamatakis, E. (2022). Prospective Associations of Daily Step Counts and Intensity With Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Incidence and Mortality and All-Cause Mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine. Link

Su, S., Shi, L., Zheng, Y., Sun, Y., Huang, X., Zhang, A., … & Lu, L. (2022). Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Neurology. Link

Matthay, E. C., Hagan, E., Gottlieb, L. M., Tan, M. L., Vlahov, D., Adler, N. E., & Glymour, M. M. (2020). Alternative causal inference methods in population health research: evaluating tradeoffs and triangulating evidence. SSM-Population Health, 10, 100526. Link

Subramanian, S. V., Glymour, M. M., & Kawachi, I. (2007). Identifying causal ecologic effects on health: a methodological assessment. In Macrosocial determinants of population health (pp. 301-331). Springer, New York, NY. Link

Ravaglia, G., Forti, P., Lucicesare, A., Pisacane, N., Rietti, E., Bianchin, M., & Dalmonte, E. (2008). Physical activity and dementia risk in the elderly: findings from a prospective Italian study. Neurology, 70(19 Part 2), 1786-1794. Link

Blondell, S. J., Hammersley-Mather, R., & Veerman, J. L. (2014). Does physical activity prevent cognitive decline and dementia?: A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. BMC public health, 14(1), 1-12. Link

Posted by & filed under Aggression, Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Clinical Psychology, Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Psychological Disorders, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: Have you heard discussion of rising concerns over the rates of self-harm among early teens? Some teens who feel trapped in life situations that cause them significant stress and anxiety may engage in self-harm behaviors such as cutting as a means of managing their troubling emotions. There is some additional questions regarding how recent increases in the prevalence of these sorts of behaviors might be linked to the immersive rise in use of social media by young teens. We are still trying to sort out the correlational from the causal in the data looking at this last question. Given this, though, it is sadly ironic that some recent research is identifying and starting to explore findings that suggest that the rates of young teens who are engaging in digital forms of self-harm are increasing rapidly as well. Think fir a minute about just what digital self-harm might involve and about what might push some at risk (for suicidal thoughts) teens to engage in it and then have read thorough the article linked below to see what the recent research has to suggest.

Source: ‘Digital Self-Harm’ In on the Rise Among Teens: What Parents Can Do to Help, Chantelle Pattemore, Health News, Healthline.

Date: September 7, 2022

Image by tortugadatacorp from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what do you make of the apparent emergence of this sort of ‘self-bullying’? And further, what do you make of the data suggesting it is twice as prevalent among non-heterosexual students? On one hand, given the HUGE role that social media engagement plays in the self-concepts (identities) of teens and emerging adults, it is perhaps not so surprising that some of what is going on psychologically for those who are struggling is playing out withing social media spaces. On the other hand, those sorts of engagement with social media raise further potential concerns about the impact that social media is having on the wellbeing of teens and emerging adults. We do not only need more research into this issue but we may also (rather urgently) need to broaden our theoretical understanding about self and identity development and adaptation and coping are proceeding for teens and emerging adults these days.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of behaviors constitute self-harm among teenagers?
  2. What sorts of online behaviors constitute digital self-harm?
  3. What might we add to our theories of the nature of self-concept and identity development to make room to look at and possible account for digital self-harm?

References (Read Further):

Patchin, J. W., Hinduja, S., & Meldrum, R. C. (2022). Digital self‐harm and suicidality among adolescents. Child and adolescent mental health. Link

Common Sense Media (2015) Landmark Report: U.S. Teens Use an Average of Nine Hours of Media Per Day, Tweens Use Six Hours, Link

Child Trends Databank (2019) Suicidal Teens Link

Meldrum, R. C., Patchin, J. W., Young, J. T., & Hinduja, S. (2022). Bullying victimization, negative emotions, and digital self-harm: testing a theoretical model of indirect effects. Deviant Behavior, 43(3), 303-321. Link

Twenge, J. M., Haidt, J., Lozano, J., & Cummins, K. M. (2022). Specification curve analysis shows that social media use is linked to poor mental health, especially among girls. Acta psychologica, 224, 103512. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Legal Ethical Issues, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Intervention, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Have you heard of E.M.D.R. therapy? It stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy. This is an unfair oversimplification, but it involves a patient thinking of a past traumatic event while guided by a therapist to engage in some form of bilateral stimulation such as following the therapist’s finger moving from side to side. The idea is that the bilateral stimulation keeps the client grounded in the here and now and, over sessions, leeches some of the intense emotion out of the memory of the traumatic event. Sounds rather amazing, right? Does it work? Many people swear by it. IS there research supporting its claims? Well, more than there once was but is it compelling? THAT is the question. Have a read through the linked article for an overview of the current research and practice using E.M.D.R. to see where it is at currently.

Source: ‘One Foot in the Present, One Foot in the Past:’ Understanding E.M.D.R. Dani Blum, The New York Times.

Date: September 19, 2022

Image by teeveesee from Pixabay

Article Link:

The theory of why E.M.D.R. works (if it works) is compelling and fits with a lot of what is available on the impact of stress and stressful events on our vigilance systems. A traumatic experience could tip our vigilance systems into overdrive, making it very hard to react/respond reasonably in the here and now. Thongs that would help people stay in the here and now in the face of a traumatic memory that is driving currently excessive vigilance could be a helpful thing, right? Makes sense on its face and many clients and therapists report success when applying it but, is the research in hand sufficient to declare it a scientifically grounded treatment for trauma? Well, the research noted in the linked article suggests we are getting closer but we may not be all the way there yet. More research is needed but the treatment seems very promising.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is E.M.D.R. therapy?
  2. What are the theoretic claims being made by E.M.D.R practitioners?
  3. What sorts of research could/should be done to further explore the process and impacts of E.M.D.R. therapy and what is needed for us to be able to say it is a proven treatment for trauma?

References (Read Further):

APA (2022) Cognitive Processing Therapy. Link

Powers, M. B., Halpern, J. M., Ferenschak, M. P., Gillihan, S. J., & Foa, E. B. (2010). A meta-analytic review of prolonged exposure for posttraumatic stress disorder. Clinical psychology review, 30(6), 635-641. Link

APA (2022) Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy. Link

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2018) Post-traumatic stress disorder. Link

Cuijpers, P., Veen, S. C. V., Sijbrandij, M., Yoder, W., & Cristea, I. A. (2020). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing for mental health problems: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 49(3), 165-180. Link

Lenferink, L. I. M., Meyerbröker, K., & Boelen, P. A. (2020). PTSD treatment in times of COVID-19: a systematic review of the effects of online EMDR. Psychiatry research, 293, 113438. Link

de Jongh, A., Amann, B. L., Hofmann, A., Farrell, D., & Lee, C. W. (2019). The status of EMDR therapy in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder 30 years after its introduction. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 13(4), 261-269. Link

Posted by & filed under Clinical Health Psychology, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Psychological Health, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: I hope you already know that spending time out in nature is good for you. If not, have a look at one or two of the articles listed in the Further Reading section below. Given the positive relationship that has been observed between time in nature and well-being, how would you design a study to look at how this relationship played out during Covid-related restrictions. Think about the things you would need to control for. Perhaps people who are already better off in terms of well-being, choose to spend more time in nature. What are people who make such choices like? What sorts of impacts might variations in local conditions and restrictions have on this question. Once you have your thought ordered, have a rad through the article linked below to see a description of a rather well-designed study looking at these questions. Be sure to look through the limitations section at the bottom to see if your concerns or issues lined up with theirs.

Source: Exploring the Relationships Among Experiences in Nature, Wellbeing, and Stewardship During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Dietlinde Heilmayr, Erica N. Baranski and Travis J. Miller, Frontiers in Psychology.

Date: September 24, 2022

Image by Larisa-K from Pixabay

Article Link:

It was encouraging, I think, to see that being Covid-restricted seemed to re-awaken an interest in nature-related activities, especially given the other data on how those experiences relate to well-being. It is also interesting that time in nature did not seem to be related to commitment of time or resources to nature supporting endeavors. This reminded me of some unpublished work a student of mine conducted a while back showing that in addition to feeling or issues of stewardship of (caring for) nature, many people seem to hold to some of the hopefully increasingly dated view that we have dominion over nature and can use it as we please. The authors’ limitations discussion is very good and worth reflecting upon nit just for how it relates to their study but what it suggests we keep in mind about a lot of research.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is time in nature related to well-being?
  2. What sorts of things make it hard to clearly answer the above question?
  3. What might we take away from this research and potentially apply if there are lock-downs or related public health restrictions in future?

References (Read Further):

Bratman, G. N., Daily, G. C., Levy, B. J., and Gross, J. J. (2015). Landscape and urban planning the benefits of nature experience: improved affect and cognition. Landscape Urban Plan. 138, 41–50. Link

Capaldi, C. A., Dopko, R. L., and Zelenski, J. M. (2014). The relationship between nature connectedness and happiness: a meta-analysis. Front. Psychol. 5, 976 Link

Capaldi, C., Passmore, H. A., Nisbet, E., Zelenski, J., and Dopko, R. (2015). Flourishing in nature: a review of the benefits of connecting with nature and its application as a well-being intervention. Int. J. Wellbeing 5, 1–16 Link

Oh, B., Lee, K. J., Zaslawski, C., Yeung, A., Rosenthal, D., Larkey, L., et al. (2017). Health and well-being benefits of spending time in forests: systematic review. Environ. Health Prev. Med. 22, 71. Link

Castelo, N., White, K., and Goode, M. R. (2021). Nature promotes self-transcendence and prosocial behavior. J. Environ. Psychol. 76, 101639. Link 

Posted by & filed under Health Psychology, Neuroscience, Physical Illness, Physiology.

Description: I am on an exploratory tour of the West Cost of Canada and have seen a few whales along the way (grizzly bears too but that is another story). Seeing whales is just simply an awe-inspiring experience and perhaps that lead me to pick up on a reference to the article linked below. Its title alone, intrigued me: ‘Why whales don’t get brain damage when they swim’. I looked and it has nothing at all to do with concussions arising from running into things while swimming (whales do not do that much or at all as far as I have been able to find). But think of this. When they swim, their physical power creates pressure pulses in their circulatory system which could, if un-managed, cause damage to their brain. This is in the same category of questions that rarely occur to us like, why don’t giraffes pass out from lack of oxygenated blood to their brains? Focusing on the whales, what would your hypothesis be (despite your lack on knowledge of whale brains and circulation systems)? Once you have a thought or two in place, read the article linked below for possible enlightenment on this vital question.

Source: Why whales don’t get brain damage when they swim, Science News ScienceDirect.

Date: September 23, 2022

Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, do you now feel much more fully informed? I particularly enjoy discovering unexpected questions and being offered possible answers at the same time. The fact that horses deal with circulatory pulses through their breathing is very interesting. The fact that whales cannot do this underwater (of course!) and that other compensatory processes are needed is fascinating (to me at least). Now I want to know a bit more about how those mechanisms work. Further reading is needed! I was particularly pleased to read that researchers appreciate the ethical limitations associated with their measuring this phenomenon directly in  whales.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are circulatory pulses and which species likely experience or deal with them?
  2. What do you make of how whales deal with such pulses?
  3. Given the ethical limitations on more direct measurement of this phenomenon, what might we do to gather more data?

References (Read Further):

Lillie, M. A., Vogl, A. W., Raverty, S., Haulena, M., McLellan, W. A., Stenson, G. B., & Shadwick, R. E. (2018). The caval sphincter in cetaceans and its predicted role in controlling venous flow during a dive. Journal of Experimental Biology, 221(11), jeb177212. Link

Joyce, W., & Wang, T. (2020). What determines systemic blood flow in vertebrates?. Journal of Experimental Biology, 223(4), jeb215335. Link

Chang, Y. H., Sheftel, B. I., & Jensen, B. (2022). Anatomy of the heart with the highest heart rate. Journal of Anatomy. Link

Latorre, R., Graïc, J. M., Raverty, S. A., Soria, F., Cozzi, B., & López-Albors, O. (2022). The Heart of the Killer Whale: Description of a Plastinated Specimen and Review of the Available Literature. Animals, 12(3), 347. Link

Brøndum, E., Hasenkam, J. M., Secher, N. H., Bertelsen, M. F., Grøndahl, C., Petersen, K. K., … & Wang, T. (2009). Jugular venous pooling during lowering of the head affects blood pressure of the anesthetized giraffe. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. Link

Mitchell, G., & Skinner, J. D. (2009). An allometric analysis of the giraffe cardiovascular system. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 154(4), 523-529. Link