Saybrook University

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What does it take to get mentally healthy in 21st century America?

05/02/2011

There is no health, without mental health. 

May is Mental Health Month—bringing hope and awareness for more than 54 million adults in America who have a diagnosable mental health condition. One and four American adults live with a mental illness that is diagnosable, debilitating and better yet: treatable.

It’s estimated that up to half of the more than 54 million people with a mental illness do not seek help. Cost, stigma, lack of information, or insufficient health insurance coverage account for the disparity—with frightening repercussions for individuals, families, society.

Poor mental healthcare is a public health crisis. Regrettably, it effects are widespread. Here are some of the frightful side effects--

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds.
  • Older adults with untreated depression and diabetes—die at twice the rate of those who receive effective treatment and care for their depression.
  • Research suggests that students ages 14-21 with emotional disturbances or mental health conditions drop out of school at twice the rate of students with other disabilities.

Reforming America’s mental healthcare system begins as a grassroots level; by embracing the foundational principles inherent in humanistic psychology.

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Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies

05/01/2011

Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies

Every individual has a unique role and influence in the world that can be realized through their life’s work.

Saybrook’s College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies helps you find your passion, prepare for your career, and engage with the world to make it a better place. 

The premier graduate university for education in humanistic psychology;  a cutting edge pioneer in the study of organizational systems;  and the only American university offer accredited degrees in Human Science (the European tradition of social sciences) – Saybrook’s College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies (PHS) offers a truly unique opportunity to advance one’s life’s work through humanistic study, scholarship, and activism.

PHS degrees are offered in low-residency programs, allowing students to study while remaining in their careers and without relocating.  Students are required to attend a small number of Residential Conference each year for workshops, seminars, training, and intensives – and otherwise can complete coursework online. 

Learn about the degrees available from Saybrook's Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies.

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Obese kids are at higher risk for mental illness -- what are we going to do about it?

04/29/2011

A twenty year cohort study in The Australian And New Zealand Journal Of Psychiatry looked at overweight and obese children and their risk of developing of a mental illness later in life. The research found that obese and overweight children have an increased risk for the development of a mood disorder in adulthood when the same overweight trends continued. The research included both sexes; however overweight and obese girls were found to have an even higher risk than boys for developing mood disorders and other mental health issues when the obesity continued on into adulthood. 

A first of its kind, the research looks at the psychiatric risk factors associated with obesity and overweight children. While more research is needed—one conclusion can be made. Obesity in American youth is a risk factor for the development of a mental disorder later in life.

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Racial bias a key factor in decisions we don't know we make

04/28/2011

Iat-image Who do you trust and why?

You might be surprised.

In the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers showed (yet again) that we make many of our decisions around money and overall trust based on our unconscious racial bias.

Psychologists have generally agreed that we have explicit and implicit thoughts that inform our day to day experience. Explicit refers to intentional thinking, decisions and judgments. Implicit thoughts are hidden behind all those good intentions. These implicit biases, or the more technical term for this implicit social cognition have an impact on how we live and work.

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Reviews of Guantanamo files confirm: psychologists knew of torture, and tacitly supported it

04/27/2011

599px-Camp_x-ray_detainees In 2008 the American Psychological Association issued a resolution saying that psychologists may not work in places where people are tortured, or support torture in any form. 

To many of us have done it anyway. 

Vincent Iacopino and Stephen Xenakis reviewed Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) medical records and case files of nine prisoners. The records showed that the detainees did tell GTMO medical staff that they were being tortured, tortured with abusive interrogation methods that are clearly defined by the UN as being torture. What they went through was even beyond the Bush administration lax definition of torture.

Despite witnessing the physical and psychological wounds of these nine detainees, medical staff took no action to report the violations. They patched them up and sent them back in.

It gets worse. Medical records show that the detainees were showing signs of psychological problems. Yes, being imprisoned is going to take someone to an edge of psychological despair, but the records showed that there was much more going on.  One of the detainees was having nightmares, memory lapses, loss of appetite, depression and suicidal thoughts. He was treated with antidepressants and a chilling recommendation of “You…need to relax when guards are being more aggressive.”

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Painkiller addiction requires a psychological cure

04/26/2011

Is heroin still heroin when it’s prescribed?  

Alleviating pain was the original intent behind the design, creation and prescribing of pain medications. A well-used type of pain killer is the powerful class of narcotics called opioids. Oxycodone is essentially pure version of heroin develop in 1916. Of course its purity adds to its’ addictive quality. The number of prescriptions for opioids has gone from 74 milligrams in 1997 to 369 milligrams in 2007.

Where are all these drugs going? These drugs are going to mothers, fathers, their children and even our elders; to the homeless and the owner of the penthouse on the corner. It’s easy to get these drugs and doing so is even validated by the fact that many people are getting them from physicians.

The Food and Drug Administration is taking one small step towards helping end opiate addiction.

The latest efforts by the FDA and supported by the Whitehouse are an attempt to stop the flow of the drug. They are recommending a four part approach:

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Rediscovering Virginia Satir - and fighting for self-esteem

04/25/2011

Are women who choose to breastfeed their babies seen as less competent?

The surprising answer is yes, according to the latest research. In the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Researchers Smith, Hawkinson, and Paull report findings that suggest prejudice against women who choose to breastfeed their children. The research findings report that women who breastfed were viewed as less competent, capable and intelligent. They were less likely to be hired, to be viewed as competent in analytical disciplines, and more likely to be viewed in a sexualized manner.

Furthering this research, researchers Schooler, Ward and Merriwether found a link between risky sexual activity, decision-making processes and feelings regarding women’s reproductive capacities. Published in the Journal of Sex Research, researchers found that greater societal shame and ignominy regarding natural menstruation cycles led to higher levels of sexual risk taking. Essentially, the shame a woman has regarding her body increases her willingness to take risks in sexual activity.

We have a big societal problem. Women’s natural reproductive and physiological functions have become the scapegoat in society’s messed-up psyche, causing the self-esteem of individual women to plummet.

We need to take action:  but we don’t need new tools.  A pioneering psychologist has already developed them.

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Psychology's "how to" guide to relationships

04/22/2011

Strangers_on_a_Train_-_Romance Human beings are social creatures, and so it’s no surprise that when we’re not trying to get in relationships we’re managing relationships, and when we’re not managing relationships we’re complaining to our friends about how we need to be in one. 

What is surprising is that for all the time, energy, and thought we put into our relationships, most of us are not very good at getting them right. 

Admit it. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 

An article in Psychology Today, entitled A Message of Hope for Anyone Seeking a Relationship, looks looks at three core constructs that form the basis of all growth facilitating relationships.

Here’s a glimpse of what relationship guru Ken Page suggests:

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Beyond the Inhaler: a whole person approach to treating asthma

04/21/2011

596px-Inhaler Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have found that children with asthma are successfully managing their symptoms using complementary and alternative medicines and practices like prayer and relaxation.

This research adds to a growing body of research that could help doctors and community health care providers gain insights in to helping a community of children self-manage their asthma.

Children living in urban centers in the United States are more likely to suffer from asthma than their suburban or rural peers. The field of pediatrics has been working on ways to help these youth live better lives despite their condition. Traditional treatment methods such as using inhalers or the pill form of asthma medications are effective at dealing with the physical symptoms.

But we also know that asthma can undermine a child’s experience of daily life. Every day they are burdened with the need to manage their physical health. They must live in complete awareness of what’s happening in their bodies at all times because they may or may not know when or where the next asthma attack may happen. The need for coping skills is critical for their overall well-being – and spiritual and alternative approaches were found to have significant benefits for asthmatic children.

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Empathy is going the way of the land-line: one more thing the young are giving up

04/20/2011

800px-US_Navy_040915-N-0000W-121_Lt._Charles_Dickerson_checks_on_a_young_patient_in_Ward_5B_of_the_U.S._Naval_Hospital,_Yokosuka Are college students today less likely to feel sympathy for people less fortunate than them than college students were 30 years ago? 

We’d better have a talk about empathy, before it’s too late. 

A meta-analyses study published in the August 2010 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Review looked at research empathy dating from 1979-2009, including over 13,000 college students. The researchers were looking at the personality quality referred to as dispositional empathy – which is what students display when they say that they care about the homeless man who sleeps in the park near campus. 

Konrath and colleagues found that students were less likely to agree with statements such as “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me” and “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective.” That last statement is critical to empathy.

The research indicates that a particular type of empathy has been lost. There has been a steady decline in the ability to imagine another person’s point of view and to sympathize with them. 

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