Saybrook University

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Setting your own schedule makes it easier to get your work done

04/14/2011

Flexible_Workplace_Variability Have you had any trouble with work-life balance recently?  You wouldn’t be alone.  The inability to integrate work in your life, is a common complaint among employees.

So imagine, if you will, a job where you can decide when and where you work. The only requirement is that you complete all of your assigned duties.  If you had it, you would be working in a ROWE or results-oriented work environment.

Employees at the Best Buy Richfield, MN offices didn’t have to imagine this scenario. It was their real life work experience, beginning began back in 2005 thanks to two Best Buy employees Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler. Studying this experiment, sociology professors Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen found that it worked better than expected.

Maybe more of us should get to ROWE.

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It turns out torture is in the eye of the observers -- so we need better observers

04/13/2011

Torture (Abu Ghraib) It seems like we should know what is and isn’t torture.  But do we?

Most of the debate has centered on specific techniques – sleep deprivation?  Stress positions?  Water boarding?  The endless ways we can do one another harm seem to have created an endless shade of gray, because we’ll never have a checklist big enough to cover every scenario … or exactly how they can be applied.

But what if that’s the wrong way to approach the question?  Is there a better way to determine what is and isn’t torture? 

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How many people will hurt you for $33? The answer is a lesson in evil

04/12/2011

Military_of_Montenegro_training2 “Money is the root of all evil”

Well not exactly. The actual quote is “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil…” -- Timothy 6:10

The world is still reeling from the disastrous collapse of worldwide financial markets all fueled by that toxic love for money. A lot has been written over the centuries about the problems of desire, greed, and evil;  and you’d think that with all the knowledge of history to draw upon, we’d know that it’s not a good idea to put others in harm’s way for profit. 

Sadly, a recent study has shown that we’re just as eager to make the same old mistakes one more time if there’s a buck in it. 

At the April 2011 annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society co-author Oriel FeldmanHall presented a study that showed that even with our best spoken intentions, sometimes we will do the very opposite, especially when it comes down to money.

Participants were initially asked if they would give another person an electric shock in order receive a cash payout. When presented with that option as a purely hypothetical situation, most people said no. 

Then they were given a chance to do it for real.

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Being perfectly human means accepting human imperfections

04/11/2011

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself,” states Anna Quindlen, best selling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. 

It’s ok to make mistakes. Stop striving for perfection.

Easier said than done, I know.  We have a strange relationship with the need to be perfect.  In society, children are told its ok to make mistakes. But not adults.  As soon as we join the “real world,” mistakes stop being okay.

Well, new literature suggests that mistakes ARE ok – even for adults.  In fact, they can help facilitate growth and it might just well be the foundation of psychological health.

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Your inner child still lives - Your outer child still acts out.

04/07/2011

Baby_Blue_Adult_Pacifer While many think childhood ends at eighteen, new research shows it is still very alive at any age—and is a contributing factor in your everyday life.

Author Leon Seltzer explores the evolution of self and personality in Self-Sabotage and Your "Outer Child" speaking to an “outer-child” in adult personalities that is characterized by impulsivity, carelessness and limitlessness. The Outer Child, Seltzer points out, acts impulsively out of a need for instant gratification from tension, anxiety and other negative feelings. Its motto: at all costs – avoid pain, pursue pleasure.

Sounds good – but there’s an inherent problem in instant gratification.

Turns out, it makes us feel worse about ourselves. Sure, we feel better in the moment, our tension relieved (or at least ameliorated). But eventually we feel worse about ourselves because we’ve sacrificed our values, wishes, or ethics to the moment. It’s self indulgence at its most unhealthy level, and for it we sacrifice our deepest need, self-nurturance.

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Social services beware: Addressing poverty alone can't undo the effects of poverty

04/07/2011

627px-HN99~Worker_4xKidsWork You wake up in the morning after spending the night sleeping in your car. Your two children are awake in the back seat and both are looking pretty hungry, although they’ve learned that food may not around today. How do you feel at this moment?

You’d probably the same way that many people who are living at or below poverty level are feeling everyday; stressed, anxious, depressed and possibly even suicidal.

A report in the April issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry by Dr. Jitender Sareen and others presents data from a 3 year study citing the connection between poverty and mental disorders. This isn’t news, there has been a considerable amount of research on this issue, but it is further proof that there is a clear relationship between having basic needs go unfulfilled and anxiety, substance abuse, and psychological pain.

According to this report the participants with a household income of less than $20,000 annually had a greater risk for experiencing mood disorders, depression and anxiety. The risk was much lower for those with incomes higher than $70,000.

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The federal government has a great plan to address mental health needs - but do they have the right model?

04/06/2011

SAMHSA banner Should substance abuse recovery and mental health care have as much government attention as physical diseases like arthritis and appendicitis?

Last month the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published its strategic initiatives paper for its roles and actions for 2011-2014. The paper includes the focus, goals, and action plan for carrying out its mission—of reducing the impact of substance abuse and mental illness in American society.

From months of public discussion and stakeholder contributions, eight strategic initiatives have resulted—on how to best utilize SAMHSA’s resources and improve the behavioral healthcare system in America. It’s focus? The Mental Health Parity, Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act—to put mental healthcare and substance abuse recovery on equal footing with all other physical aliments.

The initiatives include the following:

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Is the media portrayal of disasters itself disastrous?

04/05/2011

www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons">TV-camera Weeks after a disaster, such as in Japan or Christchurch, we are inundated with imagery and new stories. Tucked in between the sound bites of horror, grief and sadness were a few stories highlighting heroism, altruism and empathy. 

A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows a direct link between watching these media reports of selfless actions in the face of tragedy our own behavior. People who observe such acts are more likely to help others – and this has big implications for the way the media portrays human behavior day in and day out. 

Lead author Karl Aquino at the Sauder School of Business and co-author Brent McFerran, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Michigan, wanted to know whether or not we experienced what they termed a “moral elevation” after seeing others perform an act of kindness. 

The participants were randomly assigned to read one of two news stories. One described the 2006 school shooting at the Amish schoolhouse and the parents’ act of forgiveness and gift of money to the shooters family. The second story was about a couples’ experience of watching a beautiful sunset together. They found that those who already had a stronger sense of moral identity were more likely to give more to others after watching a news story about altruism.

This may explain the surges of giving after a disasters, especially after all of the bad news has given way to stories of triumph. 

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Getting your groove on is good medicine

04/04/2011

Finnerud_dancing Anybody want to dance? 

Dancing has never been a fad … indeed it’s likely one of the first arts human beings created … but even so it seems like there’s a lot of it coming up today.  Turn on your television and what do you see?  Dancing with the Stars, America’s Best Dance Crew, So You Think You Can Dance …

Much of this has the reputation as being just reality TV, but could it also be an expression of something joyful, even healthy? 

In a recent article, Psychology today spoke to the mounting and compelling evidence suggesting that “getting your groove on” is psychologically, physically, and spiritually invigorating. 

Researchers at the University of New England looked at the effects of “tango dancing” over a period of six weeks with people diagnosed with depression and other mental health issues. Researcher Rosa Pinniger found that tango dancing with a partner is an effective alternative therapy for those suffering from anxiety and depression. Tango dancing was found to interrupt the negative cyclic thought patterns through the practice of “mindful awareness” and connection with one’s partner and the dance routine. Through the mindfulness practices that the tango dance requires, participants experienced freedom from their detrimental thought patterns that led to the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The expressivity inherent in tango and other dance exercise regimens help people release emotions that have been “stored” in the body; keeping it all in the body can have deleterious health effects.  Indeed, Zumba, body movement, and other creative arts practices are increasingly becoming part of the realm of psychotherapeutic practice under the umbrella of expressive arts therapies. Leading the revolution in training expressive arts therapists is Dr. Natalie Rogers, daughter of the late humanist Carl Rogers.

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The best treatments for Borderline Personality Disorder are deeply personal

04/01/2011

It’s a diagnosis that ravages two percent of the general population and twenty percent of patients in psychiatric inpatient facilities. Characterized by frantic efforts to avoid abandonment, intense patterns of idealization and devaluation of interpersonal relationships, high levels of impulsivity in spending, sexuality, or eating-- all with deleterious effects—and this is only the beginning.

Welcome to the world of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

The fragile realm of BPD is rapidly changing in treatment and diagnosis. Changes to the upcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) are heralding the most prominent adjustments to psychiatric diagnosis in some thirty years. Personality disorders are taking the biggest hit – half of personality disorders in the current manual getting the “boot.” All these changes and more are preliminary and awaiting field trial.

While diagnosis is an important part of the mix of modern medical and mental healthcare, it does little to directly help treatment and recovery. For those effected by BPD – it’s ravaging. For those that treat it – taxing.

But advances in treatment have occurred:  you just won’t find them in the DSM.  Research-based humanistic person centered treatment methods provide a beacon of hope for those with BPD.

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