WorkSurfing

The New York Times recently published an intriguing article entitled “Relax, You Will Be More Effective.” It arrived at just the right time. Preparing for an upcoming vacation had made me particularly hectic. And then, while I was on vacation and writing this post, I got a blog post from MoodScope which was devoted to the importance of taking regular …

Trickster Brain

If you want to figure out if something is true or not, you’re probably better off not going to a psychiatrist. Therapists really have no greater ability to decipher what the truth is than anyone else. On the other hand, if you go to see a decent, “good enough” therapist, with enough experience working with people, he or she might …

Sleep and Memory

An interesting story published in the New York Times suggests that the reason we are less able to remember things as we get older is that we sleep less well. The article is based on a report posted online on Sunday in the journal Nature Neuroscience. The report suggests that as the brain ages, changes take place that interfere with sleep quality, which …

Borderline Emotions

Originally, the label “borderline personality disorder” was applied to patients who were thought to somewhere  between patients with neurotic and psychotic disorders in terms of psychopathology. Increasingly, though, this area of research has focused on the heightened emotional reactivity observed in patients carrying this diagnosis, as well as the high rates with which they also meet diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic …

Of Two Minds

This morning I was thinking about the relationship between your pre-frontal cortex and your limbic system. I know, it’s a little strange to be having these thoughts while out riding a bicycle in the morning… a hazard of the profession I guess. The reason I was thinking about this subject is that people’s moods appear to be affected by both …

Relationship Fear

I have been working with a couple of young women who seem to be unable to move beyond a recently ended relationship with a young man.  In both cases, there’s no question that the young man is coming back, and yet their thoughts keep turning back to trying to analyze the failed relationship, wondering what might have gone differently and …

How Could Light Help?

There has been considerable skepticism about the value of light therapy for people with seasonal depression, despite a very compelling research literature. Perhaps this might, in part, be because the way that light might affect mood has not been clear. In a recently published animal study, change in light exposure increases stress hormones, depresses mood, and impairs learning through changes light …

Bipolar Brains

After years of trying, a group of researchers down at UCLA (led by Lori Altshuler) may have succeeded in identifying important changes in brain function that are associated with bipolar moods. They have found two specific areas of the brain that show pretty consistent changes associated with bipolar. One area (the orbitofrontal cortex) is generally less activated in bipolar, no …

Learned Helplessness

This is an animal model of the human experience of depression. In the learned helplessness model an animal is repeatedly placed in a situation where it has no ability to avoid a painful outcome After a while the animal begins to look depressed (listless, passive). At that point if you place the animal in a situation where it could escape …

Self-Consciousness: You Can’t Fool Yourself

Many years ago we read a book by renowned social psychologist George Herbert Meade entitled Mind, Self and Society. In it Meade wrote about the origins of self-consciousness in childhood experiences. If you follow the development of children you notice that at first they act as though they and the world are one, with no apparent sense of others (especially …