PsychCentral – Brain Blogger http://brainblogger.com Health and Science Blog Covering Brain Topics Wed, 30 May 2018 15:00:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 Finding the Right Way to Use Ketamine for Depression http://brainblogger.com/2018/04/06/finding-the-right-way-to-use-ketamine-for-depression/ http://brainblogger.com/2018/04/06/finding-the-right-way-to-use-ketamine-for-depression/#respond Fri, 06 Apr 2018 12:00:32 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=23637 Many studies have shown ketamine to be a promising treatment for those suffering from severe depression, but figuring out how to safely administer the drug has been a challenge for researchers. One hopeful delivery method was a nasal spray device because of its ease-of-use and the fact that it is less invasive than other methods such as injection.

But a new Australian study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reveals some unexpected problems with the nasal spray method. In particular, the study shows the unpredictable nature of intranasal ketamine tolerance from one person to the next.

Lead author Professor Colleen Loo at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), who is based at Black Dog Institute, states:

It’s clear that the intranasal method of ketamine delivery is not as simple as it first seemed. Many factors are at play when it comes to nasal spray ketamine treatments. Absorption will vary between people and can fluctuate on any given day within an individual based on such things as mucous levels in the nose and the specific application technique used.

The pilot trial aimed to analyze the effectiveness of repeated doses of ketamine through an intranasal device amongst 10 volunteers with severe depression, ahead of a larger randomized controlled trial.

First, the participants were given extensive training in proper self-administration techniques before receiving either a course of eight ketamine treatments or an active control over a period of four weeks, under supervision at the study center.

Following the observation of each patients’ initial reaction to the nasal spray, the dosages were adjusted to include longer time intervals between sprays.

However, the trial had to be put on hold after testing with five participants resulted in unexpected problems with tolerability. Side effects included high blood pressure, psychotic-like effects, and motor incoordination which left some participants unable to continue to self-administer the spray.

Professor Colleen Loo commented:

Intranasal ketamine delivery is very potent as it bypasses metabolic pathways, and ketamine is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. But as our findings show, this can lead to problems with high peak levels of ketamine in some people causing problematic side effects. Other recent studies have questioned whether changes to ketamine’s composition after being metabolised into derivative compounds may actually deliver useful therapeutic effects. It remains unclear whether ketamine nasal sprays can be safely relied upon as a treatment for patients with severe depression.

Previous research led by Loo last year revealed the success of ketamine’s antidepressant effects in elderly patients when delivered in repeated doses, which were adjusted on an individual basis and given by the subcutaneous method (injections under the skin):

Our prior research has shown that altering the dose on an individual patient basis was important. However, we wanted to see if a simpler approach using a set dose of ketamine for all people and administered by nasal spray could work just as well in this latest pilot. More research is needed to identify the optimal level of ketamine dosage for each specific application method before nasal sprays can be considered a feasible treatment option.

The researchers are now recruiting participants for the world’s largest independent trial of ketamine to treat depression, to determine the safety and effects of repeated dosing using subcutaneous injections.

This guest article appeared on PsychCentral.com: Ketamine Nasal Spray for Depression Runs Into Problems and was originally posted on Psych Central by Traci Pedersen.

References

Gálvez V, Li A, Huggins C et al. Repeated intranasal ketamine for treatment-resistant depression – the way to go? Results from a pilot randomised controlled trial. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2018;32(4):397-407. doi:10.1177/0269881118760660.

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Different Coping Styles May Cause, Prevent, or Treat OCD http://brainblogger.com/2018/03/26/different-coping-styles-may-cause-prevent-or-treat-ocd/ http://brainblogger.com/2018/03/26/different-coping-styles-may-cause-prevent-or-treat-ocd/#respond Mon, 26 Mar 2018 12:00:20 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=23634 People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) tend to fall back on maladaptive coping strategies such as rumination and thought suppression, according to new research; even though adaptive coping skills such as acceptance and problem-solving could improve their quality of life.

Unfortunately, many OCD patients tend to lack those adaptive coping skills while in the throes of the disorder, according to a new German study published in the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research.

OCD is a complex psychological condition in which the patient suffers from persistent unwanted thoughts and high levels of anxiety. The disorder can lead to a severe reduction in one’s quality of life.

For the study, the researchers compared the behavior of 60 patients with OCD to a group of 110 people with depression as well as a control group of 1,050 adults. All participants completed anonymous online surveys in which they reported their medical and psychological histories, along with their levels of compulsivity and abilities to cope in specific situations.

Participants also answered a questionnaire that covered different adaptive and maladaptive coping styles that one might use to deal with difficult situations.

The participants also completed the Maladaptive and Adaptive Coping Styles Questionnaire (MAX) that had been recently developed by the researchers. This questionnaire measures coping styles using three dimensions: maladaptive coping (thought suppression, rumination), adaptive coping (problem-solving, acceptance), and avoidance.

Participants gave information about the coping strategies they use against their OCD symptoms such as problem-solving and rumination, as well as other coping styles that have recently been adopted in therapy, such as acceptance and suppression.

People with OCD were found to possess more maladaptive coping skills than all of the other participants, including those suffering from depression. They also possessed fewer functional skills to help them cope and adapt. Those who lacked adaptive coping skills were more likely to have poor insight into their condition and a resistance to symptoms.

As put by the study leader, Dr. Steffen Moritz from the University Hospital Hamburg in Germany:

Patients with OCD are characterized by both more maladaptive coping and less adaptive coping relative to controls. Coping skills are important for many aspects of daily life beyond mental health.

Teaching children skills such as how to cope with bullying at school, poor performance or problems with their parents, for example, in the framework of general cognitive preventative treatment and resilience training in school, may help children to better deal with emotional turmoil and challenging situations during adolescence.

It may also prevent the progression of a vulnerability to later obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression as well as other disorders.

Although the findings highlight some of the skills that patients with OCD lack, Moritz says further research is needed to find out to what extent improving such coping skills during childhood and adolescence through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or similar interventions may indeed improve an OCD patient’s quality of life.

This guest article appeared on PsychCentral.com: Many OCD Patients Tend to Use Poor Coping Strategies and was originally posted on Psych Central by Traci Pedersen.

Reference

Moritz, S., Fink, J., Miegel, F., Nitsche, K., Kraft, V., Tonn, P., & Jelinek, L. (2018). Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder is Characterized by a Lack of Adaptive Coping Rather than an Excess of Maladaptive Coping. Cognitive Therapy And Research, 1–11. doi:10.1007/s10608-018-9902-0

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Your Behavior—How to Understand and Change It! http://brainblogger.com/2018/02/07/your-behavior-how-to-understand-and-change-it/ http://brainblogger.com/2018/02/07/your-behavior-how-to-understand-and-change-it/#respond Wed, 07 Feb 2018 16:30:04 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=23435 Richard Pfau, who holds a doctorate in science education and an undergraduate degree in psychology, wrote Your Behavior: Understanding and Changing the Things You Do as a reaction to what he sees as the current state of psychology. In his own words, the psychology field today is “scattered and speculative”.

Pfau’s goal with Your Behavior is to synthesize work from various fields including psychology, sociology, anthropology, and biology into a coherent explanation of why we do the things we do, and to do so in a way that is accessible to both laypeople and professionals. Throughout the book, he draws from perceptual control theory (PCT) to help readers understand their own behavior and how to change it.

Pfau does an excellent job of ordering and organizing his work. He begins with establishing the reader as an “autopoietic being,” which includes the assertion that we are wired to survive. As such, he asserts that most of our behaviors are done to ensure survival and often occur without conscious thought.

Pfau examines the origins of behavior from the cellular level up to all possible environmental levels and discusses how the different levels interact with each other in a system that is not strictly linear.

In life, most of us have “references,” or things like goals, plans, or how we think things ought to be. We change our behaviors based on our perceptions of how congruent they are with our references. A basic example could be something as simple as putting on a jacket when it is cold. Our body’s reference is to maintain its optimum temperature and homeostasis. But it can also be much more complicated. For instance, the references a person may have in his or her political or religious beliefs may lead to behaviors to bring the references for those beliefs into being.

We behave in such a way that our perceptions give us feedback to ensure we are in congruence with our references, whether our behavior is or is not a conscious thing. At times, we may mistakenly attribute a behavior to one level when it is a result of a different level. We are in constant interaction with our environment in terms of our perceptions of our references. Pfau offers a truly intriguing look at human behavior.

The first ten chapters offer a comprehensive overview of perceptual control theory (PCT) and why people behave the way they do, which includes a look at both ourselves and others. Pfau has organized the book in a way so that the reader can delve as deeply as they want.

Each chapter begins with a brief overview and contains multiple boxed highlights that give examples of topics in the chapter, or more in-depth information about concepts. These were very helpful as refreshers of what concepts mean throughout the book. I do not recall ever coming across PCT or autopoiesis before reading Your Behavior.

Each chapter ends with a preview of the following chapter, which gives a sense of the intentional continuity of the educational process of this book. There is an extensive list of references for further reading at the end of each chapter, as well as endnotes that give further information on the covered material. The organization and presentation are very straightforward, well thought out, and excellently presented.

I am still debating Pfau’s critique of current behavioral theory. He says that the term “culture” is abstract, and therefore a statement such as “culture causes behavior” is meaningless or misleading, and cannot be verified. But just as humans evolve in the interplay with their environment to survive, cultures also evolve, and generally due to the shortness of our lives, cultures (our interplay with our environment in a systems way) evolve outside of our awareness.

I think it may come down to “abstract” versus “construct.” There are arguments that the self is a construct, which I don’t think is addressed in this work. While reading this, I became curious as to how PCT would address the self, and perhaps culture, as a construct.

After providing a very thorough understanding of PCT and why we and others behave the way we do, the final two chapters guide us through analyzing our own behaviors, and how to systematically change them.

Pfau calls upon the works of several individuals for this, but one that stood out to me was John Norcross, who has been involved in the transtheoretical model of change over the years. (Curiously, I didn’t find any reference to the model here.)

There are very useful appendices including checklists and forms with cues to help readers analyze and develop a way to change their own behavior. Pfau even discusses his own change process with weight and smoking.

This is a very comprehensive work that is clearly presented. Your Behavior is a good book for anyone interested in behavioral change with a theory backing it that encompasses a comprehensive system from the cellular level up.

This guest article appeared on PsychCentral.com: Your Behavior: Understanding & Changing the Things You Do and was originally posted on Psych Central by Richard H. Pfau and reviewed by Stan Rockwell, PsyD.

References

Richard H. Pfau (2017) Your Behavior: Understanding and Changing the Things You Do. Paragon House.

Image via aleksandra85foto/Pixabay.

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How Mindfulness Can Kill Your Cravings http://brainblogger.com/2018/02/05/using-mindfulness-strategies-to-curb-cravings/ http://brainblogger.com/2018/02/05/using-mindfulness-strategies-to-curb-cravings/#respond Mon, 05 Feb 2018 16:30:01 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=23433 A new study from the U.K. suggests mindfulness strategies may help prevent or interrupt cravings for food, cigarettes, and alcohol.

Craving can be defined as an intense, conscious desire, usually to consume a specific drug or food. There is also a significant body of research that suggests it is causally linked to behavior.

Investigators reviewed experimental studies that addressed the effects of different types of mindfulness strategies on cravings. They discovered that in many instances these strategies brought about an immediate reduction in craving.

For example, craving predicts relapse episodes in substance use, and food cravings predict both eating and weight gain. As such, cravings are often considered an appropriate target for intervention.

Researchers from City, University of London believe the mindfulness techniques work by occupying short-term memory which in turn lead to clinically relevant changes in behavior. Their findings appear in the journal Clinical Psychology Review.

Mindfulness meditation has a long tradition of being used to address cravings. According to ancient Buddhist texts, craving leads to suffering but can be avoided through meditation practice.

Mindfulness interventions typically employ a range of strategies. Some techniques include exercises designed to promote greater awareness of bodily sensations, while others help to develop an attitude of acceptance toward uncomfortable feelings.

Additionally, a mindfulness objective may be to help individuals see themselves as separate from their thoughts and emotions.

However, there is currently a limited understanding of the ways in which these different types of strategy may influence craving-related outcomes, either independently, or in combination.

As a result, the review aimed to address these limitations by reviewing studies that have examined the independent effects of mindfulness on craving.

Looking at 30 studies which met the criteria, it was found that some of the beneficial effects seen for mindfulness strategies in relation to craving are likely to stem from interrupting cravings by loading working memory. Working memory is a part of short-term memory concerned with immediate conscious perceptual and linguistic processing.

In addition, it was also seen that mindfulness reduced craving over the medium term, most likely due to “extinction processes,” essentially strategies that result in the individual inhibiting craving-related responses and behaviors which eventually lead to reduced cravings.

Dr. Katy Tapper, author of the review and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at City, University of London, said:

The research suggests that certain mindfulness-based strategies may help prevent or interrupt cravings by occupying a part of our mind that contributes to the development of cravings. Whether mindfulness strategies are more effective than alternative strategies, such as engaging in visual imagery, has yet to be established.

However, there is also some evidence to suggest that engaging in regular mindfulness practice may reduce the extent to which people feel the need to react to their cravings, though further research is needed to confirm such an effect.

This guest article appeared on PsychCentral.com: Using Mindfulness Strategies to Curb Cravings and was originally posted on Psych Central by Rick Nauert PhD.

References

Tapper, K. (2017). Mindfulness and craving: effects and mechanisms. Clinical Psychology Review, 59, pp. 101-117. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2017.11.003

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Born Prematurely? Adult Mental Illness Risk Linked to Brain Injury and Dopamine http://brainblogger.com/2018/01/25/born-premature-adult-mental-illness-risk-linked-to-brain-injury-and-dopamine/ http://brainblogger.com/2018/01/25/born-premature-adult-mental-illness-risk-linked-to-brain-injury-and-dopamine/#respond Thu, 25 Jan 2018 16:30:09 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=23382 Babies born prematurely who also sustain small brain injuries at the time of birth are more likely to have lower levels of dopamine as adults, according to a new study led by researchers at King’s College London.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with motivation, attention, concentration, and finding enjoyment in life. Low levels of this chemical may lead to serious mental health conditions such as depression and substance dependence.

Although one in 10 people are born prematurely, most experience no major complications around the time of birth. However, 15-20 percent of babies born before 32 weeks of pregnancy experience bleeding in the brain’s ventricles (fluid-filled spaces). If this bleeding is significant, it can cause long-term problems.

While the exact link between birth complications and greater risk of mental health issues is still unclear, one theory states that the stress of a complicated birth could lead to increased levels of dopamine, which is also increased in people with schizophrenia.

To investigate this further, researchers from King’s, Imperial College London and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, used a combination of positron emission tomography (PET) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain along with a range of psychological tests. They wanted to determine the precise changes to both chemistry and brain structure following early brain damage.

They compared three groups of people: adults who were born very preterm who sustained early brain damage, adults who were born very preterm who did not sustain brain damage and controls born at term.

Dr. Sean Froudist-Walsh, the study’s first author commented:

People have hypothesized for over 100 years that certain mental illnesses could be related to problems in early brain development.Studies using animal models have shown us how early brain damage and mental illness could be linked, but these theories had not been tested in experiments with humans.

We found that dopamine, a chemical that’s important for learning and enjoyment, is affected in people who had early brain injury, but not in the way a lot of people would have thought — dopamine levels were actually lower in these individuals.

This could be important to how we think about treating people who suffered early brain damage and develop mental illness. I hope this will motivate scientists, doctors and policymakers to pay more attention to problems around birth, and how they can affect the brain in the long term.

Research has shown that mental health problems often arise from a complex mix of genetic vulnerability factors combined with negative or traumatic life experiences. Difficulties at birth may count as one of the most stressful life experiences.

Dr. Chiara Nosarti, the study’s joint senior author from King’s College London, notes on the overarching impact of the research:

The discovery of a potential mechanism linking early life risk factors to adult mental illness could one day lead to more targeted and effective treatments of psychiatric problems in people who experienced complications at birth.

This guest article originally appeared on PsychCentral.com: Dopamine Seen As Link to Mental Illness for Brain-Injured Preemies by Traci Pedersen.

References

Froudist-Walsh, S., Bloomfield, M., Veronese, M., Kroll, J., Karolis, V., & Jauhar, S. et al. (2017). The effect of perinatal brain injury on dopaminergic function and hippocampal volume in adult life. Elife, 6. doi:10.7554/elife.29088

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New Fibromyalgia Treatment: Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy http://brainblogger.com/2017/10/02/new-fibromyalgia-treatment-emotional-awareness-and-expression-therapy/ http://brainblogger.com/2017/10/02/new-fibromyalgia-treatment-emotional-awareness-and-expression-therapy/#respond Mon, 02 Oct 2017 15:25:59 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=22957 Psychotherapy that encourages addressing emotional experiences related to trauma, conflict, and relationship problems has been found helpful for people with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia.In the randomized clinical trial at Wayne State University in Detroit, 230 adults with fibromyalgia received one of three treatments. Each was presented for eight weekly sessions to small groups of patients.

The new therapy, called Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy (EAET), helps patients view their pain and other symptoms as stemming from changeable neural pathways in the brain that are strongly influenced by emotions, the researchers explain.

EAET helps patients process emotional experiences, such as disclosing important struggles, learning how to adaptively express important feelings—especially anger and sadness, but also gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness—and empowering people to be more honest and direct in relationships that have been conflicted or problematic, according to the researchers.

The EAET intervention was compared to both an educational intervention, as well as the gold standard psychological approach in the field, cognitive behavioral therapy. Six months after treatments ended, patients were evaluated for the severity and extent of their pain and other problems that people with fibromyalgia often experience.

Patients who received EAET had better outcomes—reduced widespread pain, physical impairment, attention and concentration problems, anxiety, and depression, and more positive emotions and life satisfaction—than patients who received the education intervention, the researchers report.

More than twice as many people in EAET (34.8 percent) reported that they were “much better” or “very much better” than before treatment, compared to 15.4 percent of education patients.

An important additional finding was that the new emotion therapy also had greater benefits than cognitive behavior therapy in reducing widespread pain and in the number of patients who achieved at least 50 percent pain reduction, the researchers point out.

Mark A. Lumley, Ph.D., a professor of psychology said:

Many people with fibromyalgia have experienced adversity in their lives, including victimization, family problems, and internal conflicts, all of which create important emotions that are often suppressed or avoided. Emerging neuroscience research suggests that this can contribute strongly to pain and other physical symptoms.

We developed and tested an approach that tries to help people overcome these emotional and relationship problems and reduce their symptoms, rather than just help people manage or accept their fibromyalgia. Although this treatment does not help all people with fibromyalgia, many patients found it to be very helpful, and some had dramatic improvements in their lives and their health.

The Wayne State researchers collaborated with a team of researchers from the University of Michigan Medical Center led by David A. Williams, Ph.D., a professor of anesthesiology.

The study was published in the journal PAIN.

This guest article originally appeared on PsychCentral.com: New Therapy Technique Offers Hope to Those with Fibromyalgia by Janice Wood.

References

Lumley, M., Schubiner, H., Lockhart, N., Kidwell, K., Harte, S., Clauw, D., & Williams, D. (2017). Emotional awareness and expression therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and education for fibromyalgia. PAIN, 1. DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001036.

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How Ketamine Acts on the Brain http://brainblogger.com/2017/09/29/how-ketamine-acts-on-the-brain/ http://brainblogger.com/2017/09/29/how-ketamine-acts-on-the-brain/#respond Fri, 29 Sep 2017 15:30:23 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=22959 Ketamine is a medication mainly used for starting and maintaining anesthesia although it has also been used to provide rapid relief of treatment resistant depression.

The ability to rapidly stabilize severely depressed patients has been demonstrated in several studies and has led researchers to search for the exact mechanism by which ketamine works.

The effort is important as ketamine is sometimes illicitly used for its psychedelic properties and could also impede memory and other brain functions.

The multiple actions of ketamine has spurred scientists to identify new drugs that would safely replicate its antidepressant response without the unwanted side effects.

Now, emerging research from University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center scientists has identified a key protein that helps trigger ketamine’s rapid antidepressant effects in the brain. This is a crucial step to developing alternative treatments to the controversial drug being dispensed in a growing number of clinics across the country.

Researchers from the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute have now answered a question vital to guiding future research: What proteins in the brain does ketamine target to achieve its effects?

As Dr. Lisa Monteggia, Professor of Neuroscience at UT Southwestern’s O’Donnell Brain Institute states:

Now that we have a target in place, we can study the pathway and develop drugs that safely induce the antidepressant effect.

The study published in Nature shows that ketamine blocks a protein responsible for a range of normal brain functions. The blocking of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor creates the initial antidepressant reaction, and a metabolite of ketamine is responsible for extending the duration of the effect.

The blocking of the receptor also induces many of ketamine’s hallucinogenic responses. The drug—used for decades as an anesthetic—can distort the senses and impair coordination.

But if taken with proper medical care, ketamine may help severely depressed or suicidal patients in need of a quick, effective treatment, Dr. Monteggia said.

Studies have shown ketamine can stabilize patients within a couple of hours, compared to other antidepressants that often take a few weeks to produce a response—if a response is induced at all.

As explained by Dr. Monteggia:

Patients are demanding ketamine, and they are willing to take the risk of potential side effects just to feel better. This demand is overriding all the questions we still have about ketamine. How often can you have an infusion? How long can it last? There are a lot of aspects regarding how ketamine acts that are still unclear.

Researchers will work to answer these questions as they plan two clinical trials with ketamine, including an effort to administer the drug through a nasal spray as opposed to intravenous infusions.

The results of these trials will have major implications for the millions of depressed patients seeking help, in particular those who have yet to find a medication that works.

A major national study UT Southwestern led more than a decade ago (STAR*D) yielded insight into the prevalence of the problem: Up to a third of depressed patients don’t improve upon taking their first medication, and about 40% of people who start taking antidepressants stop taking them within three months.

Ketamine, due to the potential side effects, is mainly being explored as a treatment only after other antidepressants have failed. But for patients on the brink of giving up, waiting weeks to months to find the right therapy may not be an option.

Dr. Monteggia touches on expected future developments, where:

Ketamine opens the door to understanding how to achieve rapid action and to stabilize people quickly. Because the (NMDA) receptor that is the target of ketamine is not involved in how other classical serotonin-based antidepressants work, our study opens up a new avenue of drug discovery.

This guest article originally appeared on PsychCentral.com: Researchers Learn How Ketamine Acts on the Brain by Rick Nauert PhD.

References
Suzuki, K., Nosyreva, E., Hunt, K., Kavalali, E., & Monteggia, L. (2017). Effects of a ketamine metabolite on synaptic NMDAR function. Nature, 546(7659), E1-E3. Doi: 10.1038/nature22084

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Ketamine for Rapid Treatment of Depression http://brainblogger.com/2017/09/27/ketamine-for-rapid-treatment-of-depression/ http://brainblogger.com/2017/09/27/ketamine-for-rapid-treatment-of-depression/#respond Wed, 27 Sep 2017 15:30:01 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=22955 A team of researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently discovered why the drug ketamine may act as a rapid antidepressant.

Ketamine is best known as an illicit, psychedelic club drug. Often referred to as “Special K” or a “horse tranquilizer” by the media, it has been around since the 1960s and is a staple anesthetic in emergency rooms and burn centers. In the last 10 years, studies have shown that it can reverse — sometimes within hours or even minutes — the kind of severe, suicidal depression that traditional antidepressants can’t treat.

Researchers writing in the August 2010 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry reported that people in a small study who had treatment-resistant bipolar disorder experienced relief from depression symptoms in as little as 40 minutes after getting an intravenous dose of ketamine. Eighteen of these people had previously been unsuccessfully treated with at least one antidepressant medication and a mood stabilizer; the average number of medications they had tried unsuccessfully was seven. Within 40 minutes, 9 of 16 (56 percent) of the participants receiving ketamine had at least a 50 percent reduction in symptoms, and 2 of 16 (13 percent) had full remission and became symptom-free. The response lasted an average of about a week.

In a small 2006 NIMH study, one of the first to look at ketamine for depression, 18 treatment-resistant, depressed (unipolar) patients were randomly selected to receive either a single intravenous dose of ketamine or a placebo. Depression symptoms improved within one day in 71 percent of those who were given ketamine, and 29 percent of the patients became nearly symptom-free in a day. Thirty-five percent of patients who received ketamine still showed benefits seven days later.

In the most recent study published online in the journal Nature in May 2016, researchers discovered that a chemical byproduct, or metabolite, is created as the body breaks down ketamine. The metabolite reversed depression-like behaviors in mice without triggering any of the anesthetic, dissociative, or addictive side effects associated with ketamine.

As put by Carlos Zarate, MD, of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and a study coauthor and pioneer of research using ketamine to treat depression:

This discovery fundamentally changes our understanding of how this rapid antidepressant mechanism works, and holds promise for development of more robust and safer treatments. By using a team approach, researchers were able to reverse-engineer ketamine’s workings from the clinic to the lab to pinpoint what makes it so unique.”

In response to the Nature report, Sara Solovitch of The Washington Post wrote that:

experts are calling [ketamine] the most significant advance in mental health in more than half a century.

She reported that many academic medical centers, including Yale University, the University of California in San Diego, the Mayo Clinic, and the Cleveland Clinic, have all begun offering ketamine treatments off-label for severe depression.

It all sounds too good to be true, right?

The Drawbacks of Ketamine

The predominant drawback of ketamine is the lack of data.

There haven’t been enough clinical trials on the drug to assure its safety, and there’s a lack of information on the long-term effects of its use.

Ketamine’s effects are also short-lived. To be used as an effective antidepressant, it would need to be administered regularly, which leads to concerns about addiction, tolerance, and, again, long-term effects. The data that we do have on long-term use comes from people who have taken ketamine recreationally, as well as those who have used it to treat chronic pain.

One 2014 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology included among possible side effects, psychedelic symptoms (hallucinations and panic attacks), nausea, cardiovascular stimulation, memory defects, and bladder and renal complications.

Still, the drug holds promise for uncovering new ways of treating depression and offers hope for the most severe and complicated mood disorders that baffle psychiatrists today.

Richard J. Hodes, MD, director of the National Institute on Aging, commented on the most recent NIH study and the importance of furthering the research:

Unraveling the mechanism mediating ketamine’s antidepressant activity is an important step in the process of drug development. New approaches are critical for the treatment of depression, especially for older adults and for patients who do not respond to current medications.

Join Project Hope & Beyond, the new depression community.

This guest article appeared on PsychCentral.com: Ketamine: A Miracle Drug for Depression? and was originally posted on Sanity Break at Everyday Health by Therese J. Borchard.

References

Diazgranados, N., Ibrahim, L., Brutsche, N., Newberg, A., Kronstein, P., & Khalife, S. et al. (2010). A Randomized Add-on Trial of an N-methyl-D-aspartate Antagonist in Treatment-Resistant Bipolar Depression. Archives Of General Psychiatry, 67(8), 793. DOI: archgenpsychiatry.2010.90.

Zanos, P., Moaddel, R., Morris, P., Georgiou, P., Fischell, J., & Elmer, G. et al. (2016). NMDAR inhibition-independent antidepressant actions of ketamine metabolites. Nature, 533(7604), 481-486. DOI: 10.1038/nature17998.

Zarate, C., Singh, J., Carlson, P., Brutsche, N., Ameli, R., & Luckenbaugh, D. et al. (2006). A Randomized Trial of an N-methyl-D-aspartate Antagonist in Treatment-Resistant Major Depression. Archives Of General Psychiatry, 63(8), 856. DOI: 10.1001/archpsyc.63.8.856.

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Sniff Out Alzheimer’s Risk with Powerful New Smell Test http://brainblogger.com/2016/12/13/sniff-out-alzheimers-with-quick-new-smell-test/ http://brainblogger.com/2016/12/13/sniff-out-alzheimers-with-quick-new-smell-test/#respond Tue, 13 Dec 2016 16:00:45 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=22484 A provocative new report suggests a low-cost, non-invasive testing protocol may identify older individuals at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators discovered testing individuals’ ability to recognize, remember and distinguish between odors provided similar recommendations as genetic, imaging, and more detailed memory tests.

The report — suggesting testing of both olfactory and cognitive abilities as a means to designate candidates for treatments designed to halt or slow Alzheimer’s symptom development — has been published online in Annals of Neurology.

Mark Albers, M.D., Ph.D., of the MGH Department of Neurology, the principal investigator and corresponding author of the report says:

“There is increasing evidence that the neurodegeneration behind Alzheimer’s disease starts at least 10 years before the onset of memory symptoms. The development of a digitally-enabled, affordable, accessible, and non-invasive means to identify healthy individuals who are at risk is a critical step to developing therapies that slow down or halt Alzheimer’s disease progression.”

It is well-known that brain circuits that process olfactory information can be affected by Alzheimer’s disease, and several studies have documented a diminished ability to identify odors in affected individuals.

Other studies have associated deficits in odor identification with established Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers and with greater rates of cognitive decline. However, the most commonly used test of olfactory ability — the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test — has a number of limitations and does not take into account the great variation in olfactory ability among healthy individuals.

In the research the MGH team used a battery of four tests to addresses both olfactory and cognitive functions:

  • In the OPID (Odor Percept IDentification)-10 test, participants are presented with a battery of 10 odors — menthol, clove, leather, strawberry, lilac, pineapple, smoke, soap, grape, or lemon. After experiencing each odor for two seconds, they are asked whether the scent is familiar and then asked to choose among four words — from the names listed above — for the one that best describes the odor.
  • Participants then complete the Odor Awareness Scale (OAS), a previously validated questionnaire that assesses their overall attention to environmental odors and how they are affected emotionally and behaviorally by scents.
  • The OPID-20 test includes the 10 odors previously presented and an additional 10 — banana, garlic, cherry, baby powder, grass, fruit punch, peach, chocolate, dirt, and orange. Participants are first asked whether a presented odor was included in the OPID-10 test and then asked which word best describes the odor. Their ability to remember odors from the first test determines their POEM (Percepts of Odor Episodic Memory) score.
  • In the Odor Discrimination (OD) test, participants are presented with two consecutive odors and asked whether they were different or the same, a process that is repeated 12 times with different paired scents.

The study recruited 183 participants, most of whom were enrolled in ongoing studies at the MGH-based Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

At the time of the olfactory testing, 70 were cognitively normal, 74 tested normal on cognitive tests but were personally concerned about their cognitive abilities, 29 had mild cognitive impairment, and 10 had been diagnosed with possible or probable Alzheimer’s disease.

As part of the studies they were enrolled in, all of them had comprehensive medical and neurological examinations — including annual tests of their memory and cognitive abilities — and several had brain imaging studies of Alzheimer’s-associated factors.

Results of the OPID-20 test significantly differentiated among the four groups of participants, and those results correlated with the thinning of two brain regions — the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex — previously associated with Alzheimer’s risk.

Participants’ ability to remember a previously presented aroma, as reflected in the POEM score, also showed significant differences between the two cognitively normal groups and participants with Alzheimer’s disease, whose results were no better than chance.

Because the ability of normal individuals to recognize and discriminate between odors can vary by as much as 40 times, the POEM scores of the two cognitively normal groups were compared with what would have been predicted based on their ability to identify and differentiate between odors, as reflected in the OAS and OD tests.

That comparison determined whether each individual was a good or poor POEM performer, and poor POEM performers were more likely to have the variant of the APOE gene associated with increased Alzheimer’s risk. While results of an annual test of short-term memory improved year-to-year for the good POEM performers, no such improvement was seen among the poor performers, who also showed thinning of the entorhinal cortex.

Albers and his colleagues are currently recruiting participants for a larger-scale study to validate these results:

“It is well recognized that early diagnosis and intervention are likely to produce the most effective therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer’s disease — preventing the onset or the progression of symptoms. If these results hold up, this sort of inexpensive, noninvasive screening could help us identify the best candidates for novel therapies to prevent the development of symptoms of this tragic disease.”

This guest article originally appeared on PsychCentral.com: Sniff Test May Detect Risk for Alzheimer’s by Rick Nauert PhD.

REFERENCES

Dhilla Albers, A., Asafu-Adjei, J., Delaney, M.K., Kelly, K.E., Gomez-Isla, T., Blacker, D., Johnson, K.A., Sperling, R.A., Hyman, B.T., Betensky, R.A., Hastings, L. and Albers, M.W. (2016) ‘Episodic memory of odors stratifies Alzheimer biomarkers in normal elderly’, Annals of Neurology, . doi: 10.1002/ana.24792.

Image via MarionF / Pixabay.

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Using Magnets on the Brain to Bring Back Memories http://brainblogger.com/2016/12/11/using-magnets-on-the-brain-to-bring-back-memories/ http://brainblogger.com/2016/12/11/using-magnets-on-the-brain-to-bring-back-memories/#respond Sun, 11 Dec 2016 16:00:30 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=22491 New research is challenging the idea that working memory helps us remembers things through sustained brain activity.

Instead, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found that our brains tuck less-important information away beyond the reach of the tools that typically monitor brain activity. The researchers then were able to bring that information back into active attention with magnets.

The research could eventually help people suffering from schizophrenia or depression, according to Dr. Brad Postle, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

“A lot of mental illness is associated with the inability to choose what to think about. What we’re taking are first steps toward looking at the mechanisms that give us control over what we think about.”

According to Postle, most people feel they are able to concentrate on a lot more than their working memory can actually hold. It’s a bit like vision, in which it feels like we’re seeing everything in our field of view, but details slip away unless you re-focus on them regularly:

“The notion that you’re aware of everything all the time is a sort of illusion your consciousness creates. That is true for thinking, too. You have the impression that you’re thinking of a lot of things at once, holding them all in your mind. But lots of research shows us you’re probably only actually attending to — are conscious of in any given moment — just a very small number of things.”

For the study, the researchers conducted a series of experiments in which people were asked to remember two items representing different types of information — words, faces, and directions of motion — because they’d be tested on their memories.

When the researchers gave their subjects a cue as to the type of question coming — a face, for example, instead of a word — the electrical activity and blood flow in the brain associated with the word memory disappeared. But if a second cue came letting the person know they would now be asked about that word, the brain activity would jump back up to a level indicating it was the focus of attention.

“People have always thought neurons would have to keep firing to hold something in memory. Most models of the brain assume that. But we’re watching people remember things almost perfectly without showing any of the activity that would come with a neuron firing. The fact that you’re able to bring it back at all in this example proves it’s not gone. It’s just that we can’t see evidence for its active retention in the brain.”

The researchers were also able to bring the seemingly abandoned items back to mind without cueing their subjects. Using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to apply a focused electromagnetic field to a precise part of the brain involved in storing the word, they could trigger the sort of brain activity representing focused attention.

Additionally, if they cued their subjects to focus on a face (causing brain activity associated with the word to drop off), a well-timed pulse of transcranial magnetic stimulation would snap the stowed memory back into attention, and prompt the subjects to incorrectly think that they had been cued to focus on the word, the researchers report:

“We think that memory is there, but not active. More than just showing us it’s there, the TMS can actually make that memory temporarily active again.”

The study suggests a state of memory apart from the spotlight attention of active working memory and the deep storage of more significant things in long-term memory, according to Postle:

“What’s still unknown here is how the brain determines what falls away, and what enables you to retrieve things in the short-term if you need them.”

Studying how the brain apportions attention could eventually influence the way we understand and treat some mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, in which patients focus on hallucinations instead of reality, and depression, which seems related to spending an unhealthy amount of time dwelling on negative things, he noted:

“We are making some interesting progress with very basic research. But you can picture a point at which this work could help people control their attention, choose what they think about, and manage or overcome some very serious problems associated with a lack of control.”

This guest article originally appeared on PsychCentral.com: Magnetic Brain Stimulation Can Activate Dormant Memories by Janice Wood.

REFERENCE

Rose, N.S., LaRocque, J.J., Riggall, A.C., Gosseries, O., Starrett, M.J., Meyering, E.E. and Postle, B.R. (2016) ‘Reactivation of latent working memories with transcranial magnetic stimulation’, Science, 354(6316), pp. 1136–1139. doi: 10.1126/science.aah7011.

Image via PeteLinforth / Pixabay.

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How to Secure Therapy Completion with Meta-Intervention http://brainblogger.com/2016/12/05/how-to-secure-therapy-completion-with-meta-intervention/ http://brainblogger.com/2016/12/05/how-to-secure-therapy-completion-with-meta-intervention/#respond Mon, 05 Dec 2016 16:00:53 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=22477 Keeping messages brief and simple is more effective when trying to encourage patients to complete a health care program, according to new research.

In a study that analyzes six years of data, a team of researchers found small “nudges” in the right direction were a simple, inexpensive, and effective way to increase completion of health care programs, leading to a 16 percent jump in the completion rate for an already fastidious audience.

Dr. Dolores Albarracin, a professor of psychology and business administration at the University of Illinois and one of the co-authors of the study said that:

“Retention and completion are critical components of the effectiveness of health care interventions in real-world conditions, so a 16 percent increase in completion is significant.”

She noted that most health care intervention programs — for example, 10 sessions with a counselor — are expensive to implement and deliver:

“Patients start but they often drop out, which is not beneficial and is a huge deadweight loss of resources for everyone. That’s why increasing retention rates is vital for public health, because multi-session behavioral interventions or a series of appointments with a health care provider are more efficacious when completed.”

For the study, a randomized control trial with more than 700 eligible patients in Florida was conducted to identify a simple, effective intervention to increase the completion of an HIV-prevention counseling program delivered at the Duval County Department of Health.

The study involved two factors: One representing an instrumental message and the other an empowering message. The messages were brief videos played immediately after the counseling program.

The instrumental message reminded participants that they could discuss issues other than HIV with their counselor. The empowering message was designed to make them feel free, independent and in charge of their decision to return — a strategy that doubled enrollment in programs in other work by the same team, according to the study.

The idea was to use brief, simple marketing messages not for a commercial product. As Albarracin explains:

“health programs to get people to complete interventions that change detrimental behavior. These messages were designed to either empower clients as agents responsible for their own change or to highlight the instrumental outcomes of the intervention in terms of participants’ lives by addressing health concerns other than HIV, such as employment or education.”

Results indicated that the instrumental message alone produced more completion than either the empowering message alone or combined with the instrumental message.

The success of the simple, post-session message, which the researchers termed “meta-intervention,” comes down to the power of the nudge as a “gentle reminder to do something,” Albarracin said:

“The word ‘nudge’ has such a nice connotation to it because it reminds us that we need to find strategies that are simple and cost-effective. In a health care setting, you need something that’s practical, implementable and inexpensive. This is that kind of approach.”

For people who are vulnerable or disadvantaged, repeated contact with the health care system is important, according to Albarracin.

“Contact with the public health system is often the front door to accessing a lot of other public services — mental health services, career and employment services, and other forms of social assistance,” she said. “So the public health system might design a program with health in mind, but the audience who is buying into the program has multiple goals in mind, not just health.”

Having a good job or access to other services is just as important, which is why you have to sell the benefits of the program from the perspective of the audience, not of the provider, according to Albarracin:

“Social marketing is a marriage between psychological approaches and an approach that has the consumer in mind. Make it recipient- and patient-centered, not provider-centered. The instrumental message capitalizes on that.”

This guest article originally appeared on PsychCentral.com: Brief ‘Nudge’ Can Help Patients Finish Health Program by Rick Nauert PhD.

REFERENCE
Albarracín, D., Wilson, K., Durantini, M. R., Sunderrajan, A., & Livingood, W. (2016). A meta-intervention to increase completion of an HIV-prevention intervention: Results from a randomized controlled trial in the state of Florida. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84(12), 1052–1065. doi:10.1037/ccp0000139

Image via Picudio / Pixabay.

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Affection, Not Money, Key to Child Health http://brainblogger.com/2016/10/18/money-cant-buy-kids-health-without-affection/ http://brainblogger.com/2016/10/18/money-cant-buy-kids-health-without-affection/#respond Tue, 18 Oct 2016 11:34:04 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=22365 Growing up in a well-off home can benefit a child’s physical health even decades later, but a lack of parent-child warmth, or the presence of abuse, may eliminate the health advantage of a privileged background, according to a Baylor University study.

Assistant professor of sociology at Baylor University, Matthew A. Andersson, Ph.D., explains:

Previous research has associated high socioeconomic status with better childhood nutrition, sleep, neighborhood quality, and opportunities for exercise and development of social skills. But good parent-child bonds may be necessary to enforce eating, sleep, and activity routines.

For example, if parent-child relationships are strained or abusive, meals may be less coordinated among the family, and children may be more likely to eat sugary or high-fat foods as snacks or even in place of meals.

Sleep and activity routines also may become irregular, keeping children from developing healthy lifestyles and social and emotional skills useful for successful aging, Andersson said.

Unfortunately, although good parent-child bonds in economically disadvantaged homes, promote health, they do not seem to lessen the negative impact of low socioeconomic status as the children age, Andersson said.

Previous research has shown parents with less education and fewer financial advantages are more apt to threaten or force obedience rather than have constructive dialogue, and that may lessen warm relationships.

In addition, disease rates or inflammation among those children when they become adults have been linked strongly to abuse, mistreatment, or lower levels of parental warmth.

The study on Midlife Health and Parent-Child Relationships appears in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

For the study, health at midlife was defined as being free from 28 possible conditions, among them cancer, circulatory or respiratory disease, endocrine diseases, nervous system diseases, infectious and parasitic diseases, skin or digestive disease, and musculoskeletal conditions. Andersson explains the take-home message:

Much research continues to view socioeconomic status and parent-child bonds as highly related or even interchangeable. But in fact they may quite independently influence a child’s well-being. The key takeaway is that without adequate parent-child relationship quality to match, socioeconomic advantage during childhood may not offer much protection at all against major chronic disease as children become adults and reach middle age.

For the study, Andersson analyzed data on disease or poor health of middle-aged adults drawn from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS).

He surveyed 2,746 respondents ages 25 to 75 in 1995 about their childhood treatment by parents. He conducted surveys again about 10 years later, with 1,692 of the individuals taking part.

The follow-up analysis, adjusted for personal background in 1995 and for probability of dropping out of the MIDUS study, revealed that childhood abuse continued to undermine any protection from disease linked to childhood socioeconomic advantage.

This guest article originally appeared on PsychCentral.com: Lack of Affection May Cancel Health Benefits of Well-Off Family

References

Andersson, M. A. (2016). Chronic disease at Midlife: Do parent-child bonds modify the effect of childhood SES? Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 57(3), 373–389. doi:10.1177/0022146516661596

Image via Pezibear / Pixabay.

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Projection – When Narcissists Turn the Blame on You http://brainblogger.com/2016/10/16/projection-when-narcissists-turn-the-blame-on-you/ http://brainblogger.com/2016/10/16/projection-when-narcissists-turn-the-blame-on-you/#respond Sun, 16 Oct 2016 11:22:38 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=22217 Ah, projection. The fine art of making me guilty of your vices.

Projection

No one projects better or more frequently than a narcissist. They’ve practiced, honed and refined projection to a fine art.

Whatever they’re up to, by some mental “abracadabra,” suddenly they’re innocent and you’re actually the one up to no-good.

Deep In The Race

Since Eve ate the “apple” and blamed it on the serpent, projection has been a quintessential part of the human race. Since Adam ate the “apple” and blamed it on Eve, men have been projecting onto their wives. Wives have been projecting onto their husbands. Parents have been projecting onto their children. And siblings have been projecting onto each other.

C’mon, you know you’ve done it. I certainly have. And while projection may be elevated to a high art-form by narcissists, we’ve all done it or been tempted to do it. We’ve all got a little corner of narcissism in our souls. That’s why we understand them so well.

As I see it, projection proves how deeply and profoundly all homo sapiens, narcissists or otherwise, not only inherently know the moral code…but believe in it.

Why Project?

Guilt? Maybe.

Envy of other’s innocence? Perhaps.

Avoidance of the result of wrong-doing? Now we’re getting somewhere.

The need to be perfect! Bingo + all of the above.

Gotta protect that fragile little ol’ ego, y’know.

Equality

Projection is the great equalizer. Everyone the narcissist knows is equally guilty.

Their children, especially the one assigned the role of “scapegoat,” suffer the most from being projected upon. Trained to be humble and submissive, brainwashed to feel false guilt, they take on their elder’s vices without critical thinking. Bearing the “sins of the fathers” as a burden like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress.

Spouses of narcissists suffer from a shit-load of projection too. They are in the unenviable position of being accused o’re and o’re of infidelity. Y’know, the infidelity the narcissists is actually engaging in.

Co-workers are also a dandy target for career projection. After all, fill-in-the-blank is never the narcissist’s fault, yet blame must be assigned.

Projection In Literature

In his charming books on veterinary practice in Yorkshire, James Herriot wrote a fascinating line about his highly, shall we say, eccentric partner, Siegfried Farnon. James is speaking to Tristan, the long-suffering younger Farnon brother.

You know the one thing I can’t stand about your brother, Tris? It’s when he gets patient with you. He gets this saintly look on his face and you know that any moment now he’s going to forgive you. For something he’s just done.

Oh, how I remember that vile, nasty saintly expression of condescending forgiveness for a wrong I didn’t commit. I also remember the hand-written notes left for me by my parent, forgiving me for the abuse I forced them to commit against me. Abuses like throwing a sheaf of my schoolwork across the room and yelling at me for half an hour. My crime: Ending a paragraph with a question, instead of a statement. Isn’t that awful of me!? (sarcasm)

Ah, but I was forgiven by the next morning.

Scapegoat

As it turns out, the concept of a “scapegoat” is thousands of years old, with a rich history.

In Leviticus 16:21 it says, “And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away…into the wilderness…”

Most ancient religions have some version of this. Projection of sin onto a sacrifice.

Projection makes us the scapegoat, wearing on our heads the iniquities of the narcissist. Our self-esteem and innocence is sacrificed on the altar of their ego, so they can go on their merry way.

Right Runs Deep

I would argue this shows how deeply and profoundly narcissists believe in right VS wrong.

If they don’t know right from wrong, why project?

If they don’t care about right vs wrong, why project?

If they don’t have a functioning conscience, why project?

It could be for expediency. To avoid the ramifications of their actions. To keep the smooth sailing going.

But, how would they know what needed to be projected, if they don’t know right from wrong?

They know, oh, how they know!

And therein is their undoing.

Atonement

I dunno about you, but most of my best ideas happen in the shower. (Or bed.) I’ll never forget the “discovering fire” moment under a hot shower when something went “click.” I finally got it. Let’s hope I can articulate it to you.

The Old Testament concept of the scapegoat comes to full circle in the New Testament concept of atonement.

There is one and only one setting where projection actually works! We get to project our sins onto Christ. It’s okay. Go ahead and project. And in exchange, through the shedding of His innocent blood on the Cross, His perfection becomes ours.

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him”, II Cor. 5:21

That’s why He came. He didn’t just come to be a great moral teacher. As C.S. Lewis wrote in “Lewis’s trilemma” in Mere Christianity:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say.

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Wow!

Profundity

Pretty deep stuff, huh. The age-old battle between Right vs Wrong. Mankind’s deep-seated need to be in the right, even if it means doing wrong (i.e. projection) to maintain the appearance of being in the right. And the profound paradigm of scapegoating, sacrifice and atonement.

Like the pieces of a puzzle, it all holds together. It makes sense. As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, ”

“Logic!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?”

Above all, narcissists are logical. And, in a twisted way, projection is also logical. Twisted. Sad. Wrong…but still logical.

This guest article originally appeared on PsychCentral.com: Projection: Narcissists’ Favorite Trick

Image via PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay.

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Best Strategy to Manage Stress Depends on the Person http://brainblogger.com/2016/10/14/best-strategy-to-manage-stress-depends-on-the-person/ http://brainblogger.com/2016/10/14/best-strategy-to-manage-stress-depends-on-the-person/#respond Fri, 14 Oct 2016 11:22:46 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=22354 People use different coping strategies to deal with stressful events, and some people use coping strategies more than others. Three techniques for keeping perspective through the ups and downs of life that have been studied are:

Mindfulness: Staying aware in the present moment
Reappraisal: Finding ways of reinterpreting negative events to give them more positive meaning
Emotion Suppression: Putting negative emotions out of side and out of mind

To learn more about how these strategies work on a day-to-day basis, a team of researchers recently performed a study of 187 participants looking at how use of these strategies affected people’s moods.

Overall, different strategies had different benefits for different people.

Mindfulness helped people keep their emotions balanced in two ways. It both increased people’s levels of positive emotions and decreased their levels of negative emotions.

Emotion suppression turned out to have the exact opposite effect. When people used more emotion suppression, they reported higher levels of negative emotions and lower levels of positive emotions.

For reappraisal, the picture was a little more nuanced. For about half the people in the study, reappraisal seemed to be of no use in regulating their negative emotions. Overall, appraisal tended to be more helpful for people who were older: for older participants, using appraisal was associated with lower levels of negative emotions while for adolescents, it was linked to higher levels of negative emotions!

These results indicate that there’s no one-size-fits-all coping strategy that works for everyone. Finding whatever way of dealing with stressful situations works best for you is the way to go.

That said, some strategies seem like promising places to look. Mindfulness is an especially promising candidate while for many emotion suppression will do more harm than good. And reappraisal? You’ve probably got about a fifty-fifty chance on that one.

This guest article originally appeared on PsychCentral.com: Mindfulness, Reappraisal, Emotion Suppression: Which Coping Strategies Work?

Reference

Brockman, R., Ciarrochi, J., Parker, P., & Kashdan, T. (2016). Emotion regulation strategies in daily life: Mindfulness, cognitive reappraisal and emotion suppression. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. doi:10.1080/16506073.2016.1218926

Image via lecreusois / Pixabay.

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The Science of a Happy Family – Leisure Time http://brainblogger.com/2016/10/12/happy-family-linked-with-time-spent-together-at-home/ http://brainblogger.com/2016/10/12/happy-family-linked-with-time-spent-together-at-home/#respond Wed, 12 Oct 2016 11:22:43 +0000 http://brainblogger.com/?p=22358 Family fun often means new activities and destinations but a new study suggests leisure time spent at home in familiar pastimes may be a better route to happiness.

The lead author of a newly published study in the World Leisure Journal, Dr. Karen K. Melton, assistant professor of child and family studies at Baylor University talks causality:

That may be because when the brain is focused on processing new information, such as taking part in an unfamiliar activity with unfamiliar people in a new location, less ‘brain power’ is available to focus on the family relationships,

While research results suggest that all quality time together contributes to satisfaction with family life, “all family leisure is not equal,” she said.

The best predictor of happiness for families may be spending quality time together in familiar activities inside the home. And that’s great news for families who have little time or few resources.

Researchers performed the online research beginning with a sample of 1,502 individuals in 884 families in the United Kingdom. Each family unit taking part in the online research had at least one child between the ages of 11 and 15.

Participants answered questions about whether they took part in family leisure in the past year, and if so, what activities (from 16 categories) they did, how much time they spent doing them and how frequently they did so.

Melton said that the catchy expression “The family that plays together, stays together!” carries two misconceptions: that all family leisure brings positive results and that all family activities are equal.

Family members also can express stress and conflict as well as pleasure during leisure time. The activities alone will not heal the scars of hurting families.

Melton noted that some studies support the idea that eating together is one of the best predictors of functioning families, while watching TV is seen as ineffective for individual happiness or family function. Melton warns, however, that each family is different and that a one-size-fits-all notion is often incorrect.

For some families, quality togetherness is having dinner together or playing games; for others, it may be hobbies, videos, TV or music… At the end of the day, what matters is that we are social beings who crave a sense of belonging and connectivity.

This guest article originally appeared on PsychCentral.com: Leisure Time At Home May Be Best Path to Happy Family

References
Melton, K. K., & Zabriskie, R. B. (2016). In the pursuit of happiness all family leisure is not equal. World Leisure Journal, 58(4), 311–326. doi:10.1080/16078055.2016.1228154

Image via ArtsyBee / Pixabay.

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