Category Archives: Psychology

Does your girlfriend suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder?

Dating a Woman with Borderline Personality Disorder.

Women who suffer frоm BPD (Bоrdеrlinе Personality Diѕоrdеr) can profoundly effесt the quality of their significant others lives. One minute everything is fine and the next you fееl аѕ if уоu are walking on eggshells. You never know how she will react to a situation or уоu; will it be with love… or аngеr? Being with her can make you fееl hеlрlеѕѕ and unable to cope. At times you may want to end it, but at the same time you may feel addicted to her. Usually the relationship is an intense one.

It is thought that more than six million реорlе in the U.S. have Borderline Personality Diѕоrdеr and that thеѕе реорlе grеаtlу affect the livеѕ of at least 30 million оthеrѕ. There is some controversy how many women might have BPD compared to men. Old studies say its 75/25, newer studies say its 53/47. The ratio of my caseload is about 75/25, which is why I am writing this article.

What is Borderline Pеrѕоnаlitу Diѕоrdеr (BPD)?

“Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes a pattern of unstable intense relationships, distorted self-image, extreme emotions and impulsiveness.

With borderline personality disorder, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and you may have difficulty tolerating being alone. Yet inappropriate anger, impulsiveness and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though you want to have loving and lasting relationships.”

By Mayo Clinic Staff

 

The reason why men get trapped in rеlаtiоnѕhiрѕ with women who have borderline реrѕоnаlitу disorder is because of their ability to make you feel special and alive. Their intensity is infectious almost like a drug. At the beginning you will probably want to be with her all the time. You may say to yourself I think I found my soul-mate after a very short amount of time. Many times the sexual chemistry is overwhelming. They also may get you to fееl sorry for them and can make you feel that only you can save them. Then they may pull the rug out from under you. You can be feeling greater than ever you have met the love of your life, then she suddenly pushes you away. When she pulls away you may feel a very painful withdrawal, all you want is to get her back in your life. Then all of a sudden she comes back and you feel you are with that incredible person again. Unfortunately, the cycle usually will start all over again. This will effect your self-esteem and you may find yourself obsessing about her all the time.

 

Here are some red flags that your girlfriend may have BPD (borderline personality diѕоrdеr.)

  • Dоеѕ she immediately ореn up tо you about abuse in her раѕt?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе trаѕh her еx-bоуfriеnd or ex-husband even bеfоrе уоu hardly get tо know her? Dоеѕ ѕhе ѕееm tо go on and on аbоut her еx and how he ruined her life?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе have an intense bad rеlаtiоnѕhiр with her parents? Especially with her mother.
  • Is ѕhе always ѕауing bad things аbоut her раrеntѕ tо you? Does she blame her parents for all of her problems?
  • Does she seem to want tо move the rеlаtiоnѕhiр forward at a very quick pace? Maybe showing an intеrеѕt in moving in with you very early in the relationship?
  • Has she suffered or is currently suffering from an eating disorder?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе have temper tantrums in front of уоu and others?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе start horrible уеlling fights with уоu and when you try tо lеаvе she bеgѕ for уоu tо stay?
  • Has she bought you extravagant gifts early in the relationship?
  • Is she willing tо еxрlоrе risky ѕеxuаl behaviors?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе аbuѕе drugs or аlсоhоl?
  • Does ѕhе ѕееm very quick to fall in love with уоu and almost view уоu аѕ her knight in shining аrmоr?
  • Does she have a difficult time being friends with оthеr women?
  • Does she have a lot of associates she calls friends?
  • Is she always busy?
  • Dоеѕ it lооk like a lot of bad things kеер hарреning tо her? Thrown out by her boyfriend, trouble with finаnсеѕ, trouble maintaining a job, еtс?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе ѕееm to have very compelling excuses and rеаѕоning that explains why these bad things have happened tо her (example, her еx-bоуfriеnd made her run up her сrеdit саrd debts, and that’s why her credit is bad)

If she has one or even two of these traits, it’s probably alright. But if its more than that, it is probably something to look into.

You also may want to check out another list from Boomerang Love

 

How to Cope with the Woman with BPD

Dating a woman with borderline реrѕоnаlitу disorder is exhausting and соnfuѕing. This is because they lасk a ѕеnѕе of who thеу are. One minute she might think of hеrѕеlf as a rеаl реrѕоn and the next minute think of herself аѕ evil and flawed. Thoughts аbоut other реорlе fluctuate rарidlу, as well. She might want to trust others, but at the ѕаmе time, she dоеѕn’t think other реорlе are trustworthy. All of this confusion саn lеаvе her fееling empty, sad, and hollow inside.

The best way tо cope is tо try tо understand what BPD is and how it is effecting you. Learn аѕ much аѕ уоu саn about BPD, its ѕуmрtоmѕ and what a sufferer of BPD gоеѕ through. Mоѕt imроrtаntlу, take care of yourself first and do not take it personally.  A qualified therapist can help you understand what is going on. They can also help you see if you can set boundaries and reduce the drama.  A good therapist should be able to give you some strategies on how to try to change the dynamic of the relationship. Remember you can only do so much since she has to work with you. If it appears it is not changing, do some deep soul searching and ask yourself will I ever get what I need out of this relationship?

As you can see there is no winning with someone with BPD. It will always be an intense push-pull. One day you may feel you have it figured out and the next day you are back where you started from. Will the drama ever stop? Unfortunately, many times these relationships cannot be salvaged.

 

Usually these relationships will end in one of two ways. The most common is she will just kill you off. All of a sudden she won’t talk to you, it’s like the relationship never happened. Almost as if you never existed. She may block your phone, make you feel like a bad person just because you want closure. Other times if you try to end it, they will not let go and create drama. Sometimes they may even stalk you. Usually it is not an easy ending.

 

 

 

How to Stop Hurting When You Have a Narcissistic Parent

How to Stop Hurting When You Have a Narcissistic Parent

Published on PsychCentral

narcissistic parent

“If I accept that I can never have a real relationship with my father, it feels like I don’t have a father. If I accept that, am I still a son?”

Jack’s Story:

Jack is a 45-year-old architect, recently married for the first time. He came to therapy to deal with long-standing feelings of depression. His wife, ten years younger than Jack, wanted to start a family. Jack had spent years keeping a cool and cordial distance from his critical father. Now, as his wife pressed him to become a father himself, he felt flooded by sadness and insecurity. Could he be a good father? What if he messed it up?

Having done much reading, Jack came into therapy with the understanding that his father had many characteristics of a narcissistic personality disorder. Even as an adult, Jack could no right. Jack’s father constantly criticized his life choices, even his thoughts and feelings. Only his father’s way of seeing things was right.

Although Jack learned to expect that his father would react to perceived slights with complete rage, this behavior never became easier for him to bear. Still, part of him continued to hope that things would change. He hoped that some day he could have a “real” relationship with his father that would help him feel better about himself.

How to Feel Better

Jack gradually learned ideas that helped him cope with his painful feelings about his relationship with his father. He also learned that he could have these feelings and move forward in his life.

The following ideas helped him and they can help you, too. They are based on concepts from Buddhist meditation practices and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). The good news is you don’t have to a Buddhist, expert meditator, or be in DBT to greatly benefit from these ideas.

1. DIALECTICAL: means two ideas can be true at the same time. Life is full of opposites that exist together.

We can can feel better when we acknowledge what is AND that change can still occur. We can learn to cope with two opposite ideas.

2. ACCEPTANCE: means that we suffer when we hold onto things we can’t change.

We can accept things, without approving of them, and find new ways to live. When we accept painful realities, we can begin to problem solve.

Here is an especially important point:

Acceptance is more than than today’s ubiquitous phrase: “It is what it is.” This seems to imply: “Whatever. Just deal with it.”

Acceptance does not mean approving of, condoning, or forgiving a situation.

For Jack, this meant that accepting that a father with a narcissistic personality will not change. This is very painful; he will never have the kind of father-son relationship he craves and deserves. At the same time, Jack can move forward in his life. He can learn ways to deal with these painful feelings and have the life he wants (marriage, fatherhood, feeling good).

3. MINDFULNESS: helps us notice our feelings, but not be overwhelmed by them.

There are many ways to practice mindfulness. For example, when Jack felt hit by feelings of grief or fear, it helped him to imagine these feelings flowing out of him like waves roll out of the ocean.

After Jack learned about dialectics, acceptance, and mindfulness, he continued to have negative thoughts about himself and his future. This is normal. Our minds are like Gorilla Glue — they do not want to let go. Jack practiced noticing his self-critical, pessimistic thoughts and letting them go, without beating himself up for it. Sometimes he had to do this many times throughout day. It helped to remind himself that acceptance does not equal liking or even forgiving. It just meant that he was learning to cope and change.

The more Jack practiced Acceptance and Change, the more optimistic he felt. He began to feel that his sense of worth was separate from his relationship with his father. He could make his own choices.

Sangoiri/Bigstock

Why People Care More About Pets Than Other Humans

We love our pets. Two thirds of Americans live with an animal, and according to a 2011 Harris poll, 90 percent of pet owners think of their dogs and cats as members of the family. These relationships have benefits. For example, in a survey by the American Animal Hospital Association, 40 percent of married female dog owners reported they received more emotional support from their pet than from their husband or their kids. The pet products industry calls this “the humanization of pets.” One of my colleagues recently spent $12,000 on cancer treatments for her best friend Asha, a Labrador retriever.

More

Does Experiencing Therapy Make A Better Therapist?

It seems intuitive. Psychologically adjusted clinicians should provide better psychotherapy.

Aside from the stressors of their own daily life, therapists face the emotional struggles and traumas of their clients on a daily basis. To meet these challenges effectively and to avoid burnout, therapists need to maintain a high degree of self-awareness and personal wellbeing.

So how does experiencing therapy help clinicians with their work?

British psychotherapist Drew Coster says that personal psychotherapy has helped him broaden his repertoire of techniques and taught him to focus on achieving his clients’ goals instead of focusing on a prescriptive model of treatment. Similarly, Chicago psychologist Gerald Stein has explained that going through therapy can help clinicians identify problems in their treatment approach based on their personal experiences.

Studies have also shown that the therapist’s wellbeing affects the quality of the relationship developed with the client. The clinician-client relationship is often referred to as the therapeutic alliance and it is related to better therapy outcome regardless of the therapist’s specific style or school of thought.

Psychologists Leslie Greenberg of York University and Shari Geller of the University of Toronto, authors of the Therapeutic Presence: A Mindful Approach to Effective Therapy, argue that therapist self-care builds the foundation for developing a good therapeutic relationship with the client. Only through personal balance and stability can clinicians be fully present, attentive, and helpful during sessions.

Self-care can take many forms and can include going through therapy. For practitioners, experiencing their own therapy helps promote self-awareness and personal growth. And it allows them to address private issues and biases that would otherwise hinder progress in their clients. Becoming aware of one’s strengths and limitations can help therapists determine what clients to take on and when to refer clients to other therapists.

Traditional psychoanalysis is the only therapeutic orientation that requires the therapist-in-training to actually go through the therapy process. Self-reflection and exploration are key components of humanistic and experiential therapies. And while cognitive and behavioural approaches do not emphasize personal development on the part of practitioners, mounting evidence for the importance of solid therapeutic alliances may be shifting this tradition.

Psychiatrist Steven Reidford, argues: “At the most commonsense level, a therapist who knows what it is like to be a patient may be more empathic, and may anticipate unstated feelings more readily than a therapist without this first-hand knowledge.”

Reidford cites the requirement for practitioners of psychoanalysis to undergo therapy, explaining that the Freudian concepts of emotional transference and countertransference between patients and therapists are readily applicable to other therapeutic styles like CBT. Instead of relying on theory and patient-report data, he suggests experiencing the phenomena firsthand. He explains that therapists’ primary tool is their emotional sensitivity, which can be honed by attending psychotherapy and getting familiar with one’s own feelings and biases. He also notes that being in therapy de-stigmatizes the process and can help therapists see their patients as individuals instead of maladies.

Experiencing therapy may be helpful from a simpler, more practical standpoint. Associate professor James Bennett-Levy of the University of Sydney found in a recent study that students learning the cognitive therapy approach found personal therapy helpful in enhancing their understanding of the theory and process of treatment. They also found it helpful in gaining a better understanding of their role as a therapist, developing greater empathy, and gaining a better understanding of themselves.

Personal counselling also allows the therapist to experience what it feels like to be the client. Clinicians in Bennett-Levy’s study stated that personally experiencing the treatment process, beyond reading about it or conducting it, provided a deeper understanding of the models and techniques they were studying.

It is important to keep in mind that this research was based on the therapists’ self-evaluations. Are these benefits reflected in psychotherapy outcomes for clients?

Most research on therapy for therapists has focused on self-evaluations of the positive and negative effects. While clinicians purport to gain insight and professional skills by attending therapy, little research exists measuring the specific impacts of therapy for therapists on client satisfaction. Nevertheless, as with anyone, therapy can help clinicians gain self-awareness and empathy, which may otherwise wane as a result of life stress.

-Essi Numminen, Contributing Writer

Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder

By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT From PsychCentral

 

couple upset woman man 7Caring about someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD) tosses you on a roller coaster ride from being loved and lauded to abandoned and bashed. Having BPD is no picnic, either. You live in unbearable psychic pain most of the time on the border between reality and psychosis. Your illness distorts your perceptions, causing antagonistic behavior and making the world a perilous place. The pain and terror of abandonment and feeling unwanted can be so great that suicide feels like a better choice.

If you like drama, excitement, and intensity, enjoy the ride, because things will never be calm. Following a passionate beginning, expect a stormy relationship that includes accusations and anger, jealousy, bullying, control, and breakups due to the insecurity of the person with BPD.

Nothing is gray or gradual. For people with BPD, things are black and white. They have the quintessential Jekyll and Hyde personality. They fluctuate dramatically between idealizing and devaluing you and may suddenly and sporadically shift throughout the day. You never know what or whom to expect.

Their intense, labile emotions elevate you when they’re in good spirits and crush you when they’re not. You’re a prince or a jerk, a princess or a witch. If you’re on the outs with them, all their bad feelings get projected onto you. They can be vindictive and punish you with words, silence, or other manipulations, which can be very destructive to your self-esteem. Unlike bipolar disorder, their moods shift quickly and aren’t a departure from their normal self. What you see is their norm.

Their emotions, behavior, and unstable relationships, including work history, reflect a fragile, shame-based self-image. This is often marked by sudden shifts, sometimes to the extent that they feel nonexistent. It is made worse when they’re alone. Thus, they’re dependent on others and may frequently seek advice from several people about the same question on the same day. They’re desperate to be loved and cared for, yet are hypervigilant for any real or imagined signs of rejection or abandonment.

For them, trust is always an issue, often leading to distortions of reality and paranoia. You’re seen as either for or against them and must take their side. Don’t dare to defend their enemy or try to justify or explain any slight they claim to have experienced. They may try to bait you into anger, then falsely accuse you of rejecting them, make you doubt reality and your sanity, or even brainwash you as emotional manipulation. It is not unusual for them to cut off friends and relatives who they feel have betrayed them.

They react to their profound fears of abandonment with needy and clingy behavior or anger and fury that reflect their own skewed reality and self-image. On the other hand, they equally fear the romantic merger they try to create, because they’re afraid of being dominated or swallowed up by too much intimacy. In a close relationship, they must walk a tightrope to balance the fear of being alone or of being too close. To do so, they try to control with commands or manipulation, including flattery and seduction. Whereas narcissists enjoy being understood, too much understanding frightens the borderline.

Generally, borderlines are codependent, and find another codependent to merge with and to help them. They seek someone to provide stability and balance their changeable emotions. A codependent or narcissist who acts self-sufficient and controls his or her feelings can provide a perfect match. The borderline’s partner vicariously comes alive through the melodrama provided by BPD.

The person with BPD may appear to be the underdog in the relationship, while his or her partner is the steady, needless and caretaking top dog. In fact, both are codependent and it’s hard for either of them to leave. They each exercise control in different ways.

The non-BPD may do it through caretaking. A codependent who also yearns for love and fears abandonment can become the perfect caretaker for someone with BPD (whom they sense won’t leave). The codependent is easily seduced and carried away by romance and the person with BPD’s extreme openness and vulnerability. Passion and intense emotions are enlivening to the person without BPD, who finds being alone depressing or experiences healthy people as boring.

Codependents already have low self-esteem and poor boundaries, so they placate, accommodate, and apologize when attacked in order to maintain the emotional connection in the relationship. In the process, they give over more and more control to the borderline and further seal their low self-esteem and the couple’s codependency.

Borderlines need boundaries. Setting a boundary can sometimes snap them out of their delusional thinking. Calling their bluff also is helpful. Both strategies require that you build his or her self-esteem, learn to be assertive, and derive outside emotional support. Giving in to them and giving them control does not make them feel more safe, but the opposite. See also my blog on manipulation.

BPD affects women more than men and about two percent of the U.S. population. BPD usually is diagnosed in young adulthood when there has been a pattern of impulsivity and instability in relationships, self-image, and emotions. They may use alcohol, food, or drugs or other addiction to try to self-medicate their pain, but it only exacerbates it.

To diagnose BPD, at least five of the following symptoms must be enduring and present in a variety of areas:

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
  2. Unstable and intense personal relationships, marked by alternating idealization and devaluation.
  3. Persistently unstable sense of self.
  4. Risky, potentially self-damaging impulsivity in at least two areas (e.g., substance abuse, reckless behavior, sex, spending)
  5. Recurrent self-mutilation or suicidal threats or behavior. (This doesn’t qualify for nos. 1 or 4.) Around eight to 10 percent actually commit suicide.
  6. Mood swings (e.g. depressed, irritable, or anxious) mood, not lasting more than a few days.
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness.
  8. Frequent, intense, inappropriate temper or anger.
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms.

The cause of BPD is not clearly known, but often there has been neglect, abandonment, or abuse in childhood and possibly genetic factors. People who have a first-degree relative with BPD are five times more likely to develop BPD themselves. Research has shown brain changes in the ability to regulate emotions. For more, read here and here.

Unlike narcissists, who often avoid therapy, borderlines usually welcome it; however, before recent treatment innovations, its effectiveness had been questioned. Use of medication and DBT, CBT, and some other modalities have proven helpful. Borderlines need structure, and a combination of knowing that they’re cared about and firm boundaries communicated calmly.

©Darlene Lancer, LMFT

 

15 Life Lessons Learned From Primatologist Jane Goodall

From Life Hack.org by BY JEANNETTE DOZIER

In the world of biology, Jane Goodall is one of the biggest rockstars, drawing huge crowds and attention everywhere she goes. Having dedicated her life to the study of chimpanzees and crusading to save our planet, Goodall’s work is full of passion and meaning. Here are a few lessons we can learn from her.

Make time to read

Though she often has little time to spare, Goodall always reads a few chapters of a book every night. She credits reading Tarzan and the Apes to putting her on her path to explore Africa. Reading was also responsible for one of her greatest opportunities: when she met Louis Leakey she impressed him with her vast knowledge of Africa-knowledge she had obtained solely from books.

Value your family

Goodall frequently travels with her family and cites her mother as one of her biggest inspirations. As a child growing up she was always exploring and asking questions. Instead of scolding her or trying to suppress her curiosity, her mother encouraged Goodall, something she says is the reason why she was able to be so successful.

Don’t let school get in the way of your education

Goodall went from secretary school straight to getting her doctorate degree. Leakey famously told her that she couldn’t waste the time getting an undergraduate degree; she had to go straight to the top of academics. That had to be intimidating for a young girl back then with no training other than as a secretary, with most of her knowledge being self taught. But under her supervisor’s guidance she excelled and went on to change the science world forever.

Treasure this earth

Goodall is a famous activist for wildlife preservation. She has seen firsthand what is being done to this earth and she uses her position to mitigate it. Goodall has written several books about our planet’s decline as well as ways that we can restore it. She even started a group Roots and Shoots, an international community action based program, to help teach children about what is going on and how they can help.

Leave a legacy

Roots and Shoots is just a part of the greater Jane Goodall Institute. The JGI is a nonprofit founded by Jane Goodall that empowers others to make a difference in this world. The institute focuses on preservation, alleviating poverty, increasing education and sustainable living. Through the JGI and programs like Roots and Shoots, the legacy of Jane Goodall will live on and help to make the world a better place.

 

Practice compassion

Goodall has seen her share of horrific practices and treatment of chimpanzees and other species. She dedicated her life to studying and helping these creatures but focused her charity only on animals. One day on a flight over Gombe National Park she saw the abject poverty the people there lived in. She realized then that until a person could feed their families they wouldn’t care about saving animals and that it was irrational to ask starving men to stop poaching when it was their only way of making money. She has since extended her charities to helping humanity and eradicating poverty.

 

Don’t just theorize, act

Goodall is not just theory and talk, she is about action. Her institute is at the forefront of bringing the inhumane treatment of animals to the public’s attention. Her most recent crusade is urging aquariums around the world to phase out the practice of keeping beluga whales and dolphins in captivity.

Persistence pays off

Goodall’s work in Tanzania was arduous and slow, getting familiar with chimpanzees to let her get close enough to observe them before collecting the data and defending her methodology. But eventually her persistence payed off and entire scientific volumes have been written about her discoveries. She even discovered that chimpanzees used modified tools — a trait beforehand only given to distinguish humans.

There are many teachers in life

Not all of Goodall’s learning was from books or academics. She gives credit to a dog named Rusty and the chimpanzees she worked with for teaching her compassion and that animals can have unique personalities too. Goodall gave her chimpanzees names and wrote their personalities down as scientific notes! She believes that science must become more empathetic or we will miss crucial elements of what we are studying.

 

Your comfort zone is just a suggestion

The average chimpanzee is 3-5 times stronger than an average human. Picture a young Jane Goodall, no protection, no weapons, sitting just a few feet from foraging chimps — now that’s getting out of your comfort zone! She was in very real danger, enduring charges by the males, as well as the elements and diseases of Africa including Malaria and African sleeping sickness. Goodall proves that only by getting out of our comfort zone can we achieve greatness.

 

Age does not define you

Jane Goodall is almost 81 years old yet she travels more than 300 days a year. She marches in protests, she speaks at schools and conferences, and she is personally involved in her institute all at an age well past retirement. Her strong sense of purpose and determination enables her to do things most never dream of at an age that most don’t think they’ll ever reach.

You can get more done together

Goodall is famous for saying that the best way to deal with your enemy is to make them your friend. She has met with heads of the logging industry, petroleum and even lab scientists to listen and exchange ideas and from those meetings real change has occurred. She has recently partnered with Google to bring views of Gombe National Park to every computer screen on earth in an effort to raise awareness of the plight of chimpanzees around the world. She also partners with several local groups in Africa and starts Roots and Shoots programs to get more people involved.

 

Technology can connect us and teach us

Along with her partnership with Google, Goodall also uses online platforms like Twitter and YouTube to raise awareness and spread her message. The JGI releases animal videos that go viral; the more they are shared the more people cannot ignore their messages and the faster change happens.

Sometimes luck plays a huge role

While Goodall is an incredibly hard worker with legendary determination, luck did play a role in her career. Her mother encouraged her to go to secretary school. She was then chosen to be the secretary for Louis Leakey, a famous scientist and explorer. She impressed Leakey so much that he mentored her and encouraged her to get her PhD and continue her research. Without this chain of events, who knows what Goodall’s life would have led to?

Never give up hope

The most important message Goodall gives is to never, never, never give up hope. Hope is the one thing that keeps her going, the main reason she founded the JGI. She has hope in mankind and in the future. She believes that the combined efforts of the human brain, the indomitable human spirit, the resiliency of nature and the determination of young people can and will bring this planet back and stop the extinction of species and the decimation of the wild

 

I had the honor of meeting Dr. Goodall when she came to speak at Georgia State University. What struck me at first was how frail she seemed, she is almost 81 after all. But from the moment she opened her mouth and gave out a loud female chimpanzee greeting call I knew she was a force to be reckoned with. Her life gives us many lessons about love, compassion, determination, change, and truly living. But the main message to take away is to never give up hope.

Break Bad Habits by Changing Your Environment

By Thorin Klosowski From Life Hacker

We know that different types of triggers can cause us to fall back into certain habits, but actually doing something about that is harder than it seems. Over on NPR, a handful of psychologists explain how altering a physical place can help you break bad habits.

Over time, we integrate our habits into our environment and the environment itself becomes a trigger. The trigger itself isn’t always obvious either, sometimes it’s nothing more than a door:

“For a smoker, the view of the entrance to their office building — which is a place that they go to smoke all the time — becomes a powerful mental cue to go and perform that behavior,” Neal says.

Over time those cues become so deeply ingrained that they are very hard to resist. And so we smoke at the entrance to work when we don’t want to. We sit on the couch and eat ice cream when we don’t need to, despite our best intentions, despite our resolutions…

To battle bad behaviors then, one answer is to disrupt the environment in some way. Even small changes can help — like eating the ice cream with your nondominant hand. What this does is disrupt the learned body sequence that’s driving the behavior, which allows your conscious mind to come back online and reassert control.

Of course, adapting to your triggers is going to be different, but if you’re struggling to get into a good habit (or break a bad one), look around and see if you can do things a little differently.

What Heroin Addiction Tells Us About Changing Bad Habits | NPR

 

Why You May Feel Short on Time (Even If You Have Plenty of It)

From Lifehacker

Patrick Allan

We all have those days where it feels like there’s not enough time in the world to get our work done. Truth is, you might have plenty of time to get everything done, but your competing goals have altered your perception of time in general.

In a recent study, Jordan Etkin of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business teamed up with researches from Stanford to see how goal conflict can alter your mind’s perception of time. What they found was that goals perceived to be in conflict with one another caused participants to feel pressured for time. When goals appear to pull us in multiple directions, we develop anxiety and start to believe that there couldn’t possibly be enough time to do what we need to do. Priorities clash and suddenly time itself seems shorter. Additionally, participants were found to be far more impatient when this kind of anxiety developed.

So what can you do to keep your perception of time in check? Etkin and her colleagues recommend taking slow breaths over the span of 11 seconds. It can also help to psych yourself up in whatever way you can. Participants that were told to repeat aloud, “I am excited!” were able to fix their time perception as well. Of course, you could also find a way to make sure your days task never appear at odds with each other to begin with. Organize your week so that your days have themes or plot your work in groups of similar ideas. There are many ways for your brain to perceive time, and gaining control of your perception can help you relieve a lot of your stress.

How Your Brain Perceives Time (and How to Use It to Your Advantage)

We might not be able to create more time when we need it most–like when a deadline is… Read more

A Look at Effects of Stimulant Treatment on ADHD

A Look at Effects of Stimulant Treatment on ADHD

Researchers are working to gain a better understanding of long-term impacts.
From psychology today

Medication is an effective approach to helping children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but more research is needed to explore the long-term effects on the brain.

Most of us are aware of the fact that ADHD is often treated with stimulant medications. While there are well-documented, short-term benefits of this type of treatment, the long-term effects are still being studied. This post discusses how the medications act in the brain immediately, helping symptoms of ADHD, and then touches on some of the issues surrounding long-term effects on behavior and brain functioning.

ADHD can make it difficult for children to succeed in school and disrupt functioning in other areas of their everyday lives. About 6.4 million U.S. children have been diagnosed with ADHD (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2011) and the most common treatment approach is stimulant medication (Barbaresi et al., 2006). Stimulant treatments for ADHD include Ritalin, Concerta, Focalin, Metadate and Adderall.

Stimulant treatment has been used to help reduce the two major symptoms of ADHD: 1) inattention and 2) hyperactivity and impulsivity (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Some children display both symptoms, while others exhibit primarily only one symptom. Frequently recognized behaviors associated with ADHD include:

1. Inattention – behaviors such as forgetting to complete homework, having difficulty organizing or planning a task, or trouble following instructions.

2. Hyperactivity and impulsivity – behaviors such as difficulty remaining in a seat, speaking out of turn, or engaging in too many tasks at once (see http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/research.html).

These ADHD symptoms are thought to stem from improper levels of chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, in the brain. Two critical neurotransmitters are dopamine and norepinephrine. Their action and signaling mechanisms within many brain regions are essential for the regulation of attention and behavior (http://www.adhdandyou.com/hcp/neurobehavioral-disorder.aspx).

For individuals with ADHD, stimulant treatment helps to maintain optimal levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the frontal cortex and other critical brain regions. The proper levels of these neurotransmitters help to reduce hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity (Arnsten 2009 for review).

While a particular medication may not clinically benefit all individuals for all symptoms, there are substantial benefits for many individuals (Fredriksen et al., 2012; Parker et al., 2013). As each type of medication differs slightly, different children might respond better to one type of medication compared to another. Unfortunately, there is no perfect method of determining the ‘best’ medication; often this process consists of trial and error.

Americans have reported concerns about pharmacological approaches to treatment, including their effectiveness and side effects, such as sleep abnormalities, loss of appetite, and nervousness. (For more discussion, see http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/research.html). These effects are important to consider.

Another concern with treating children with stimulants for ADHD is the long-term effects on the developing brain. During the ages that many children and adolescents receive stimulant medication for ADHD, the brain is still changing and maturing (Andersen, 2005). It is important to understand the effects of these medications on the brain after months or years of treatment.

A recent research paper reviewed much of the available information on brain structures of children with ADHD. Overall, the authors found that some areas of the brain in children with ADHD were reduced in volume compared to children of similar ages without ADHD. Stimulant treatment “normalized” particular brain regions, such that they were similar to children not diagnosed with ADHD (Schweren et al, 2013).

However, it is very difficult to study long-term effects of stimulant treatment in human children. Every child enters a study with a different treatment background (e.g. Ritalin v. Adderall, 2 years v. 6 years of treatment) and it makes it difficult to determine the cause of changes to the brain.

Our laboratory and others have recently studied stimulant treatment in young rats during their “childhood” ages. The lifespan of rats (~2 years) is shorter than humans and all developmental stages are faster, although similar to humans (Andersen, 2005), which makes rats very useful for studying ADHD medication and the brain. Rats can be given Ritalin orally, similar to a child, either on a cookie or in drinking water each day during their childhood years, and then tested in adulthood.

Initial findings from our laboratory suggest that adult female rats perform better on learning and memory tasks when given Ritalin as young rats, compared to female rats given no treatment. Unexpectedly, male rats given Ritalin performed the same as untreated rats in the same learning task, suggesting that the differences in stimulant treatment might depend upon gender. We hope to determine where in the brain Ritalin facilitates the behavioral improvements in female rats seen months after the last treatment.

In conclusion, scientific understanding of the fast actions of stimulant medication in the brain is quite clear, such that stimulants change the neurotransmitter levels. But the long-term effects of childhood stimulant treatment on the brain are still being measured (Molina et al., 2009).

More research is helping us to understand whether there are treatment approaches for childhood ADHD that could result in enhanced learning and memory throughout a lifetime. Indeed, that would be an exciting possibility for those who suffer from the disorder.

Leslie Matuszewich is an associate professor of psychology at Northern Illinois University. She is in the neuroscience and behavior program and teaches courses in biopsychology, research methods and psychopharmacology. Her research interests include the effects of chronic stress on brain function and behaviors, sex differences in motivated behaviors, and long-term effects of early stimulant exposure.

Mercedes McWaters is a graduate student in the Neuroscience and Behavior psychology program at Northern Illinois University. Her research interests include the long-term effects of early stimulant exposure, motivation, and the effects of stress on the brain and behavior.

Shaping problem-solvers

Harvard Gazette November 19, 2014

A Gen Ed course linked to the South Asia Institute takes an interdisciplinary approach to the region’s challenges. Students are faced with various scenarios that they must find solutions for (photo 1). In her four-week portion of the class, Professor Sue J. Goldie (photo 2) sought to give students background on the region’s health scene before drilling down to nation-specific challenges. Professor Tarun Khanna (right, photo 3) said that the cross-faculty approach of the course reflects the mission of the South Asia Institute.

By Alvin Powell, Harvard Staff Writer

“The existing system in many developing countries is not working for the masses, so almost by definition you need entrepreneurship,” Tarun Khanna said of the social and economic issues facing India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other nations of South Asia.

Khanna, the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School and the director of Harvard’s South Asia Institute, leads the Gen Ed course “Contemporary South Asia: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Social and Economic Problems.” He was speaking just outside Sever 113, where his students were working furiously on plans for improving maternal mortality in one of two places — India’s state of Uttar Pradesh or the Pakistani state of Punjab. A few minutes earlier, they had been presented with two scenarios and a sheet of relevant data, and then given half an hour to brainstorm solutions.

Full article from Harvard Gazette