World Notes

The couch is not where healing happens


Yoga group picture In the 20th century the popular metaphor for therapy was “the couch” – the therapist’s couch, Freud’s couch.  What did you do when you went to therapy?  You lay down on the couch.  It was almost a cultural cliché.

It won’t work for the 21st century.  More and more, psychology is telling people to get off the couch and get moving. 

That’s because mind-body therapies, especially with a humanistic emphasis, are increasingly being shown to have a significant positive impact for people with a range of problems – including not being able to get off that couch.

Yoga, in particular, has recently been shown to have a host of benefits:

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90 percent of us have big regrets: dealing with it is a crucial skill for healthy living


Maybe an unexamined life is a little more worth living than we thought:  recent research has shown that wallowing in regret can lead to feeling stressed, anxious, unhappy about life … and even impact physical health.

A study in the recent issue of the  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin shows that about 90 percent of adults have deep regrets about their lives, and that the more they dwell on it the worse their quality of life tends to get.  If we all have big regrets – and it looks like we virtually all do – then managing regret is a crucial life skill.

How do we do that?

Current research in psychology and sociology has begun to focus in on self-regulation processes – a person’s ability to come up with ways to manage how they feel at any given moment. For example, someone may self regulate, ease their pain, about losing a job by thinking about the homeless person on the street.

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Psychology still needs to take Martin Luther King Jr.'s advice


Martin Luther King Jr speaking In 1967, as black communities in Detroit and Newark were still picking up the pieces after rage had exploded onto the streets during the “Long, Hot Summer,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C.. 

From the podium, Dr. King offered his vision for how psychology and sociology could help pull us all towards humanity’s highest potential.  “You who are in the field of psychology,” he said, “have given us a great word. It is the word maladjusted. This word is probably used more than any other word in psychology. It is a good word; certainly it is good that in dealing with what the word implies you are declaring that destructive maladjustment should be destroyed. You are saying that all must seek the well-adjusted life in order to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities.”

Today psychology is still very focused on maladjusted individual.  But King’s vision went beyond neurosis or what we think of as “mental illness.”  What, he wondered aloud, does psychology have to say to the average person who supports the status quo, who remains blind or chooses to ignore the ills that plague or society?  


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America is great at creating the kind of peole who can solve its problems, and terrible at letting them


Dollars Social mobility is the engine that powers the “American Dream” – the idea that all it takes to reach the top is hard work and talent. 

Maybe America needs a new engine.  Social mobility doesn’t seem to be taking us anywhere anymore. 

If you want to work for a top level investment bank, law practice, or consulting firm, a study out of Northwestern University shows,  there are only five colleges you can graduate from.  Nobody else is even considered. 

Forget prestigious:  if you want to be a well compensated lawyer at all, an article in the New York Times explains, you’d better have graduated from a law school in the top quartile.  Otherwise, most firms will touch you. 

In fact, The Atlantic has gone so far as to suggest that the “new rich” are pulling further and further away from the rest of us ... not only in terms of wealth, but in the way they live, the rules they live by, and the opinion they have of “the rest of us.”

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The secret to mental health isn't rocket science -- it's gratitude


Einstein Albert Einstein knew a lot about math and physics.  Did he also know how to beat depression?

This quote of his – “There are two ways to look at life. One way is that nothing is a miracle. The other is that everything is a miracle.” – suggests that perhaps he did. 

For all his intellectual grandeur, Einstein had a profound understood the shared experience of being human: needs, wants, and pain. His strategy was to develop gratitude and forgiveness as part of one’s the foundational experience of daily living. Exist in gratitude for daily life

A newly released book, The Mind-Body Mood Solution: The Breakthrough Drug-Free Program for Lasting Relief from Depression – tackles this very subject.  Gratitude, it suggests, is the mechanism to free oneself from depression and meaningless living.

Jeffrey Rossman’s empirical research and academic acumen provides the glue and adhesive for our broken hearts and unlived potentialities.

Given the recent tragedy in Tucson, Arizona and other national and personal travesties, gratitude seems inconceivable and implausible--the farthest thing from logic. Look again. Try these tips: Cheesy? Maybe. Psychologically Effective—Irrefutably so!

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Can we show compassion to the families of killers?


Jared Lee Loughner mug shot One can only imagine the suffering that the families of killers go through when they first find out what happened. 

But we have to imagine:  there has been very little research published on the trauma that families such as the Loughners are experiencing at this moment. It may have to do with the fortunate fact that there are very few crimes like the one Jared Loughner committed.  The families of most convicted criminals rarely experience the piercing spotlight that the Cho, Loughner, Klebold, or Harris families experienced ... public and political scrutiny on a global scale. 

They are left to deal with the public questions that rarely have clear answers:  did they know what was happening?  Could they and their families have been the source of this pain?   

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The lesson of Tucson: mental health care has to be available to be effective


MRI device Monday morning, president Barrack Obama called for a moment of silence to remember the tragic events that happened over the weekend in Tucson, Arizona.

Jared Lee Loughner, twenty-two, has been charged and is facing two counts of first degree murder, one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress and two other counts of attempted murder—and prosecutors say that this is only the beginning.

The question burning at the heart of this ordeal remains: ahat motivates such an individual to commit such an abhorrent and repugnant act?

Jared Lee Loughner has been described by classmates and teachers as “odd, eccentric, paranoid, and delusional.” Is he indeed a cold-blooded murder? Or, is he simply a very disturbed, mentally ill young boy who our mental health system has failed to treat? The evidence suggests Mr. Loughner is one of many who has “slipped through the cracks” and in turn has acted out because of his mental disturbance.

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A year after Haiti's earthquake, here's what we've learned about trauma relief


Haiti earthquake picture January 12th will mark the year anniversary since the devastating earthquake in Haiti brought down its city, communities and people. Immediately after the earthquake, aid from all over the world rushed in to pull potential survivors from the rubble and to help with the physically and emotionally wounded. Medical response teams were usually followed by teams of mental health workers with the mission to ease psychological caused by the disaster.

There has been a good amount of recent research about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and disasters. But an article published in the December issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest offers another viewpoint: the field may be able to be far more effective if there is a shift in how mental health workers see their roles in helping after a disaster.

Researchers Bonanno, Brewin, Kaniasty and La Greca argue that the chaotic nature of disasters make it difficult to know what if any psychological affects people may suffer and what is the best way to help them recover. In order to gain perspective on what is being done for mental health in disaster relief, the researchers reviewed multiple research studies on disaster response they drew five conclusions:

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Is there a psychological treament for autism?


A parent’s worst nightmare can a diagnosis of Autism for their child.

Also known as ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder effects one out of every one hundred and ten children. ASD is characterized by an array of neurodevelopment disorders; which result in impaired social functioning, communication impediments, repetitious behaviors and overall restricted development.

The terrifying part? The number of children diagnosed with ASD is growing—some sixty percent between 2002 and 2006.

The growth in ASD cases has become a pandemic of sorts in families and the medical community. All are looking for answers—to both prevent and treat.

Without a clear and concise understanding of autism, its causes and triggers, psychiatry and the medical community as a whole are left with psychotropic medications—to treat the symptoms, not the causes—coupled with horrendous medication side effects.

Take Hope. Psychology is making so much headway that The Autism Research Institute purports that “Autism is Treatable.”

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Ron Kurtz, who combined Buddhism and psychotherapy into a remarkable method, has died


Ron Kurtz picture We've lost a  scholar, visionary, hero and prominent psychologist.

Ron Kurtz, a revolutionary clinician, author and human, passed away Wednesday morning from a massive heart attack in Ashland, Oregon.

Kurtz, known for his work as a body-centered psychologist, developed what is known as the Hakomi method of psychotherapy. Congruent with humanism and existentialism, the Hakomi Method is often described by scholars as “applied Buddhist psychotherapy.” The method, developed from over forty years worth of clinical know-how, works by way of nonviolence, gentle mindfulness, honesty and openness within the psychological framework of the mind-body connection.

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