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Alumni Messenger

Announcing: 6th ANNUAL SPRING/SUMMER: Internship, Trainingship and Fellowship Programs in Applied Evidence-Based Sport Psychology

The American Board of Sport Psychology is pleased to announce the availability of a limited number of tuition-based positions in its 6th ANNUAL SPRING/SUMMER: Internship, Trainingship and Fellowship programs in Applied Evidence-Based Sport Psychology SEE: YOU TUBE: ABSP: Venue: New York City (activities throughout greater New York City area) Dates...

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Alumni Messenger

Call for Papers:

Call for Papers: Psychology Dear Researcher, Greetings from the Psychology (PSYCH), which is published by Scientific Research Publishing (SRP, USA. The Journal dedicates to the latest advancement of psychology and the goal is to keep a record of the state-of-the-art research and promote the research work in these fast moving areas. Topics: Cognitive Psychology...

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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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What America can learn from Brazil about fighting poverty


US_states_by_poverty_rate_svg It may seem counter intuitive to give poor families money just for sending their kids to school,  keeping a full time job, and buying healthy foods.  But what if that’s what works?                    

Programs in the United States have long been providing financial assistance to families in the form of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Federal level food stamp programs, to name a few.  Some good has been done, but all too often the result has been a continuation of poverty and its many problems. 

Now New York is reviewing an approach with a better track record:  giving assistance to mothers who commit to keeping their kids in school and healthy. 

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The placebo strikes again! Here's how we can harness it for better medicine


Four Placebos The trouble with placebos is that they work.  They shouldn’t.

Placebos ... a harmless sugar pill given that patients are told it is an actual drug ... have a long track record of curing, healing, and improving the lives of patients.  Often a bigger track record than the actual drugs themselves. 

Placebos work.  They shouldn’t.  We don’t know why they do. 

We have a better idea, however, of how they don’t work. 

Much previous research with placebos was based on the idea of deception – that doctors were lying to patients to convince them that the placebo was a real drug. 

Recent research suggests that’s not the case. 

A team of leading placebo researchers from the Harvard Medical School’s Osher Research Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center looked at the effectiveness of placebos pills on patients who knew they were taking placebos. The study was published in the December 22 issue of PLoS ONE.

It turns out that letting patients in on the “secret” had very little impact on the effectiveness of the placebo. 

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Pretending to be happy makes other people miserable


466px-Depression-loss_of_loved_one When you’re having a lousy day and someone asks “How are you?” ... what do you do?

If you’re like most people, you lie.  You decide that the truth won’t go over well and push down your negative emotions. 

But just because it’s common doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.  What does publicly denying our unhappiness do to our well being, and what effect does it have on others?

Researchers from the University of California Berkeley, Stanford University, and Syracuse University recently answered those questions in a study called “Misery Has More Company Than People Think: Underestimating the Prevalence of Others’ Negative Emotions”

Their conclusion:  People think that others are happy even when they may not be. Believing that others are happier than them can lead to rumination, loneliness and feeling less satisfied with life.

In other words, we’ve got to stop doing this.  Sure, sometimes it’s not appropriate to say “I’m miserable, actually” – but when we put on a happy face, people believe us, and it causes problems.

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2011 is the year to fight psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry for your mind


DelacroixTasso According to epidemiologists 30% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness in 2011. That’s disturbing enough, but this is also the year when the definition of what a so-called “mental illness” is could change.  You could be mentally ill right now - and if the pharmaceutical companies get their way, you certainly will be.

The DSM-5, the very newest “Bible of psychiatry” is scheduled to come out, and as the publication date nears the battle is raging. 

Accoding to many critics, the DSM-5 will go out of its way to make many of the ordinary issues of life "treateable" by expensive medication.  They won't make your life any better, but they will pump you full of drugs.  Allen Frances, lead editor of the DSM-4, calls what’s happening now a “hoax.”  If it is, it will have a drastic impact on that 30% of Americans who get diagnosed – along with their families, friends, and loved ones. 

So, lets look at some of the hard and fast facts on this elusive and tenuous publication – and then examine why so many psychologists think the new DSM will give drug companies a license to medicate everyone for anything:

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Start the year by admitting that "willpower" isn't enough


2011 is upon us, and the New Year will find painful mornings at the gym, empty shelves in the dietPostcards2CardsNewYearsResolution1915  section of booksellers, and a renewed commitment to activities that bring purpose and happiness.  At least, for a while.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions—save money, quit smoking?  People are trying to cash in by helping you keep them.  There are even new apps for your phone designed to keep you on the path to self improvement:  NikeCouch to 5k (C25K), Mint (you guessed it—save cash!), and lastly—LeadMyGoals.

The motto “there’s an app for that” aside, how does one successfully accomplish and keep New Year’s Resolutions? Is it worth it?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal makes a startling claim: forget willpower, reaching a goal means retraining the brain to form new habits.

Really?  Sounds like a direct contradiction to conventional wisdom. But here’s the argument: 

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Bullying kids into weight loss is still bullying


Anti-bullies art Parents in the Flagstaff, Arizona, school district were shocked to find their elementary school children coming home with letters from the district announcing that they were overweight. 

The children had been given a Body Mass Index test during gym, and the results – along with district commentary about how the children stacked up to the rest of the population and a demand that something be done – were sent to parents.

“They didn’t mail it home, they didn’t even bother putting it in an envelope,” parent Deborah Dela-Bruer told ABC News.  “It was stapled with a cover letter for her and her friends to see.”

The program doesn’t include improved nutrition (school lunches are notoriously unhealthy) or opportunities to exercise.  It also doesn’t test for actual health issues like high cholesterol or high blood pressure that are correlated with obesity but not limited to it (some people who are overweight don’t have these issues, while some people who aren’t overweight do). 

Doing such things would be harder than publicly sending a “fat note” home to parents, and more expensive.  The takeaway, then, is that childhood obesity is a crisis of epic proportions ... but not enough to inconvenience adults over.    

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Do you ever outgrow adolescence? (Yes. Yes you do)


High_Resolution_FMRI_of_the_Human_Brain According to Newsweek, you never escape high school.

The magazine reports that recent studies - based on MRI scans - have concluded that teenage brains are in a crucial developmental phase, and what happens to you as a teenager will in large part determine the rest of your life.

“This emerging research,” wrote Russ Juskalian, “sheds light not only on why teenagers act the way they do, but how the experiences of adolescence—from rejection to binge drinking—can affect who we become as adults, how we handle stress, and the way we bond with others.”

Naturally we’re all very impressed.  This research telling us that teenage years are crucial to development is surely the most important research on personality since the research telling us that the years from 0-3 are a crucial to development and determine what happens to you for the rest of your life. 

Also, there’s the research telling us that the brains of people in middle age are still developing and that middle aged people can change their lives and develop in wholly new ways. 

And – let’s not forget – the research telling us that the brains of senior citizens are still developing and that seniors can change fundamentally ... affecting who they are for the rest of their lives. 

So ... if I get the research right ... the years when you are a child, an adolescent, an adult, and senior are all crucial developmental phases that explain who you are for the rest of your life.  Is that it?

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