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The Psychology of Survival: what happened after AIDS

12/02/2010

AIDS test Prior to the advent of the antiretroviral (AVR) medications, gay men who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS were confronting almost certain death. Now, with relatively easy availability of AVR medication, they confront a life that will be devoted dealing with a chronic illness and any potential lingering medical and emotional complications. Many experience shame, grief, isolation brought on by stigma or self isolation because they have chosen not to disclose.

They have survived not just an individual illness, but a community-wide epidemic that killed friends, lovers, neighbors and even members of your family. The impact of AIDS, both in succumbing to it and surviving it, can be every bit as great on the psyche as on the body. 

Silvio Machado, a PhD student of Psychology at Saybrook University provides a vivid research based narrative on the existential dimensions of the lives of the men who have survived.  His article, “Existential Dimensions of Surviving HIV: The Experience of Gay Long-Term Survivors,” is published in in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 

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University

Carl Rogers' legacy of human dignity

12/01/2010

Recently, Time Magazine compiled a list of the twenty-five most powerful and influenential women of the century. And, to no surprise, Mother Teresa ranks in at the top.

A Roman Catholic nun, known for her symbolic simple white garb with blue stripes, Mother Teresa brought the values of human dignity and intrinsic worth to one of the most impoverished places on earth, working with the sick and the dying.  Teresa, named at birth Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, undoubtedly revolutionized a world by her humble example and unselfish love to the dying, the sick, and abandoned in Calcutta, India.

As I read about Mother Teresa, I was reminded of another Nobel Peace Prize nominee, one who brought the values of human dignity and intrinsic worth to the psyche, bringing the idea of self-determination and presence into the both the therapists office and everyday life. 

Carl Rogers We are nearing what would have been the 108th birthday of Carl Rogers, and he deserves to be celebrated as much as Mother Teresa – and for many of the same reasons. 

Rogers, a true revolutionary and pioneer, looked at human nature through the lens of hope, promise, and positivism. Rogers was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (an award Mother Teresa won) in 1987 for his work in South Africa and Ireland in conflict resolution. His scholarly work, nearly as influential as that of Sigmund Freud, introduced the concept of research to the world of psychotherapy and brought the revolutionary person-centered approach to psychology, education, organizations and communities.

Roger’s believed in affirming a person’s basic worth; without judgment, doing so in the form of unconditional positive regard. Perhaps nothing describes Roger’s and his theoretical work more than his renowned book, Client-centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory. In this piece, Rogers describes the nineteen core tenets of his theory regarding the human person, their worth and the therapeutic environment.

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University

Prescription drug abuse is on the rise among teens. Why? Because they're prescribed so much more.

11/30/2010

Hand o' drugs A legal high – there is a way to get one and most likely the teen in your life knows exactly how to do it and where to get their supply. Their doctor. 

A recent study states that the supply is increasing.

Young adults and adolescents are being prescribed more medications to deal with “ailments” like insomnia and anxiety that have been shown to be best managed with diet, exercise and lifestyle choices. But we all have the option of taking a pill instead of making these life changes ... at least that’s what the ads say.

As a result the types of prescriptions (also known as controlled medications) that are most commonly abused by teens include stimulants, opioid, sleeping aids, and sedative or anxiety medications. All of these are available via a doctor’s prescription for pain, insomnia and anxiety.

A study published in the November 2010 issue of Pediatrics found that between 1994 and 2007 the rates for prescriptions of controlled medication doubled from 8.3 to 16.1 percent for teens 15 - 19 years old, and from 6.4 to 11.2 percent for young adults 20-29 years old. The increase was across the board and not influenced by age or gender. Prescriptions were available at multiple medical setting, emergency rooms, ambulatory office and for physical or non-physical (psychological) visits.

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University

The psychological impact of suburban poverty could be big

11/29/2010

Suburban home When we think of suburban areas of the United States, we think of white picket fences, generous green lawns and kids playing hopscotch. The suburbs aren’t always the richest areas of the country, but they’re the most elite:  inhabited by the people who rose above traditional neighborhoods and landed in communities of choice.

It’s an outdated notion, if it was ever true.  During the Great Recession things are quite different for many suburban families. “Suburban Poverty” is now a phenomenon commented upon in newspapers and magazines.  Food and clothing shelters have come to suburbs that never had them before, and existing ones serving suburban areas have seen exponential growth in places like the suburbs of Cleveland, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and Atlanta. 

In some ways, Suburban poverty is very different from what we still think of as “regular” poverty:  most suburbs aren’t walkable and don’t have effective public transportation, meaning the suburban poor must still have cars.  The schools are often more genteel.  But in other ways “suburban poverty” is just “poverty” with an adjective. 

The question no one has the answer to:  will suburban poverty have the same psychological impact on children and adults that urban poverty does? 

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University

Thanksgiving Gratitude 365 days a year

11/25/2010

Obama_ThanksGiving_Turkey_Pardon_2009 This is a time of year when the word “gratitude” receives a lot of press, but if we’re honest about the way most of us spend the holiday, Thanksgiving is really all about the turkey, retail sales, and getting together with the family we hardly ever see. 

We’re selling gratitude short.  It’s not just a “feel good” measure – expressing gratitude actually does make you feel better.  It can also help you be healthier and live longer.  This Thanksgiving let’s walk through the scientific research and spiritual traditions that highlight gratitude’s importance.

Social scientists and psychologists have conducted research that supports the practice of gratitude. Robert Emmons has made it his professional life path to study the effects of living in gratitude. After interviewing over 1000 people who took part in the study by completing daily gratitude journals and by incorporating daily gratitude practices, Emmons found that there were overwhelming benefits for living in gratitude.

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University

Sanitation counts

11/24/2010

Decorative_toilet_seat Be honest:  did YOU celebrate World Toilet Day on Nov. 19? 

This may be something that is off your radar, but there are billions of people without safe and clean toilets. Toilets are a bit of a taboo and ewwwww subject ... but this is a serious and dangerous issue that is linked to millions of deaths every year.  Worlwide Diarrhea is the second biggest killer of children under the age of five:  providing children access to sanitary, safe, facilities reduces such deaths by 40 percent. 

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University

High school's Faustian bargain: academic success can lead to lonliness

11/23/2010

Girl reading Many youth make it through high school with a shelf full of trophies and awards. There’s not much that would make the average parent more proud of their child than to see their names listed on the honor roll at school or to be valedictorian.

For some youth - especially some minorities - being a shiny success in academics leads to many lonely days.

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University

Education doesn't start with teachers

11/22/2010

Classroom_Urumqi_No_1_high_School It seems every week now, local school districts and state and federal governments are announcing cuts on educational budgets with the ultimate impact on our children and their greatest resource; their minds.

Some people think they have better ideas.  Bill Gates, founder and former chairman of Microsoft Corporation, has been one of the most outspoken critics on educational reform in the wake of budget cuts. In the wake of stimulus money running out in school district, Gates has urged school budget officials to compensate based on teacher excellence; not on seniority or education. And, more importantly, to reward teachers based on their ability to control classrooms, educate troubled children, and include families in the process of educating their youngsters.

This agenda for schools assumes, however, that teachers can control the most significant variables impacting a child’s performance in school.  Is this really the case? 

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Alumni Messenger

Saybrook Alumni and Student Publishing Opportunity in Telepathy, Alternate States of Consciousness, and Dreaming

11/19/2010
Stan Krippner is co-coordinating a special issue for the Neuroquantology Journal on the topic,Telepathy, Alternate States of Consciousness, and Dreaming. The journal founder and editor, Sultan Tarlaci, MD, is requesting 7 or 8 high-quality, publishable contributions for the June 2011 issue of the journal and thought that alumni Saybrook alumni and students might be interested. Your submission...

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Alumni Messenger

Alumnus H.D. Kirkpatrick, PhD '78 Releases New Book

11/19/2010
Alumnus H.D. Kirkpatrick, PhD '78 Releases New Book Alienation of Affection May 2010 From Amazon: This psychological mystery goes to the heart of alienation.... Available at Amazon.com

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