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Introducing an Epidemic of Addiction

I'm pleased today to introduce our newest blog, Epidemic of Addiction, with Dr. Jeffrey Junig. Addictions to substances -- like alcohol, cocaine, opioids, prescription drugs and other kinds of drugs -- remain a serious problem in modern society. It's a telling sign that society pays little attention to drug addicts, believing that theirs is a self-made bed in which to lie upon.

But like any mental illness, addiction is not something a person ever asks for. Addiction often creeps up on a person as they're living their everyday lives, starting out not so much as a problem at first. It can quickly snowball, though, and become a problem before a person ever realizes it.

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Best of Our Blogs: August 31, 2010

Here is it. The last day of August. When you think back to the last three months of summer, how do you feel?

Did you get to do everything you wanted to do? Read every book you wanted to read? Spend a few days relaxing and doing nothing too?

Sometimes we get sucked into this "I need to accomplish everything and be perfect" hole. And when we're there, we don't know how we winded up where we are or why we wanted to be there in the first place.

There's a theme in this week's top posts that have to do with perfectionism and also truth. I think we all strive to seek truth, what's true for us and how to accept ourselves and be comfortable with who we are. Yet, there's this crazy sense of push and pull between who we are (what's true) and who we think we're supposed to be (perfection).

How do we find balance between trying to better ourselves and accept our flaws in the process?

Here's hoping that these five posts might send you on the path to get you there.

Perfectionism Runs on Mindlessness

(360 Degrees of Mindful Living) - We try to make our homes spotless, our work and relationships perfect. But do we know why? This post addresses something we rarely question. What is the true purpose of perfection?

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Brain and Behavior

Narcissistic College Students Spend More Time on Facebook

It probably comes as little surprise to anyone, but a small exploratory study done on 100 college students from a single university suggests that students who score higher on a test of narcissism also spent more time checking and updating their Facebook profile.

Facebook is currently the world's largest social network, with over 500 million users. More than 50% of Facebook's active users log on to Facebook in any given day, while the average user has 130 social connections (what Facebook calls "friends").

The researcher (Mehdizadeh, 2010) also examined the relationship between narcissism and self-esteem, as well as gender differences in how people use Facebook for self-promotion. "Self-promotion," according to how it was used in this study, was defined as "any descriptive or visual information that appeared to attempt to persuade others about one's own positive qualities. "

Mehdizadeh looked at only five profile features in Facebook: (a) the About Me section, (b) the Main Photo, (c) the first 20 pictures on the View Photos of Me section, (d) the Notes section, and (e) the Status Updates section. The researcher, rating these items on her own, examined to the extent they were considered self-promoting according to the above definition.

What did the research find?

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Brain and Behavior

Walking, Yoga Helps Your Brain

Two studies out last week demonstrate connections between practicing yoga and simple walking may work to help improve your brain health. Previous research has linked exercise to helping keep our brains healthy. The two latest studies independently found that walking and yoga may help our brain health in different ways.

To study the effects of walking on brain health, researchers followed a group of older adult "couch potatoes" -- ages 59 to 80 -- who joined a walking group, or stretching and toning group for a year...

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Brain and Behavior

ECT: The Electric Personality Change

Patrice was misery incarnate. Unlike some of my depressed patients, who lived the proverbial life of quiet desperation, Patrice did not hide her suffering. She wept. She moaned. She regaled our walk-in clinic with a kind of biblical keening, which, understandably, attracted the attention of our clinic director. He took me aside one day and said, as gently as possible, “You really need to do something with that lady.” He was right, of course, and thus far I had done little to help Patrice, despite months of treatment.

Aside from being poor and dealing with some physical limitations, Patrice had no discernible cause for her chronic depression. Her marriage was good, and despite her straitened
circumstances, Patrice lived in a modest but comfortable home. Unlike many depressed patients, Patrice herself had no “narrative”— no internalized account of how she came to be depressed. Her mood disorder was as much a puzzle to her as to me — the kind of illness that, in the 1960s, would have been called “endogenous depression”— arising, rather mysteriously, from within.
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Best of Our Blogs: August 27, 2010

The other day I was driving when I heard a familiar song playing on the radio. It was Bob Marley's Buffalo Soldier. In fact, as I type this I can hear it playing in my head.

The funny thing is that the sound automatically took me back to my childhood. My cousins and I were sitting in someone's living room. The radio was playing. That song was on. And my older cousin was sitting on this huge comfy chair while the rest of us kids were sitting on the ground.

Why do I remember this seemingly mundane event?

My cousin spontaneously began belting out the song, dancing to the beat and being as silly as a kid can be. We rolled on the floor and laughed until our sides hurt. It was a memorable moment. We were young, spontaneous and free.

How does this relate to this week's top posts?
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Brain and Behavior

Psychology Secrets: Most Psychology Studies Are College Student Biased

Psychology, like most professions, holds many little secrets. They're well known and usually accepted amongst the profession itself, but known to few "outsiders" or even journalists -- whose job it is to not only report research findings, but put them into some sort of context.

One of those secrets is that most psychology research done in the U.S. is consistently done primarily on college students -- specifically, undergraduate students taking a psychology course. It's been this way for the better part of 50 years.

But are undergraduate college students studying at a U.S. university representative of the population in America? In the world? Can we honestly generalize from such un-representative samples and make broad claims about all human behavior (a trait of exaggeration fairly commonplace made by researchers in these kinds of studies).

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Children and Teens

The Transition Year: An Interview With Courtney Knowles

Earlier this year, The Jed Foundation and the American Psychiatric Foundation launched one of the newest mental health resources on the Web, The Transition Year. Recently, I was able to talk with Courtney Knowles, the Executive Director of The Jed Foundation, to get the skinny on this one-stop shop and why its contents are so beneficial for both students and parents before, during, and even after the college years.

There’s a never-ending line at the bookstore. Posters announcing football schedules and Greek rush events are posted every couple of feet. Meal cards are being swiped every few minutes and music is blasting down the hall from the room where two longtime roommates are, once again, haggling over who’s in charge of buying the toilet paper.

Yep, it’s that time of year again: Class is officially in session for most colleges and universities throughout the nation.

For many teens, this means leaving the nest for the first stage of adulthood or catching up with friends and sharing summer adventure stories. For many parents, it’s a time mixed with bittersweet pride and, yes, a bit of breath holding.

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Brain and Behavior

SXSW 2011: Psychology and Mental Health Panels

It's that time of the year again -- to help people learn more about human behavior, psychology, and mental health issues at the annual technology conference held in Austin, Texas called SXSW. I'd like to highlight some of the panels I need your help with -- your vote helps panels make it into the final conference! (Voting is simple, but does require a free registration with the SXSW website.)

There is a specific health track this year -- the first time in SXSWi's history. This means that panel topics on health and mental health have a better chance than ever in making it in! I first presented at SXSW on a health topic in 1999, so it's great to see this dream finally become a reality.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite picks in the SXSW 2011 Panel Picker on health, psychology and mental health (starting with my very own submission)...

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Proof Positive: Generosity As a Business Model

Good works are links that form a chain of love.
-- Mother Teresa

My nickname is eleven-fifty-nine. That is the time I show up at the bank on Saturdays. They close at noon. I know the tellers. They laugh each week when I come in. I laugh too. I always promise I will try to get there earlier next week. I never do.   Life just gets in the way.

I went to the bank this past Friday. It is my writing day, and I was writing what you are now reading. I got there about 10 a.m. The tellers laughed, checked their imaginary or real watches and wondered out loud what day it was. I told them not to expect this from me again.

As I filled out the deposit slip, an unkempt, scraggly man carrying a satchel got in line. I noticed the tellers paying attention to him and his sack. My anti-terrorism paranoia took over and I watched as he made his way through the line. I finished filling out my deposit slip and got in line, two people behind him.

He was not your typical stone-faced, impatient customer. He smiled and nodded at the tellers. They each kept a keen eye on him. I heard him tell one teller “today’s the day.” My paranoia burst into full bloom.

When he got to the front of the line, he reached into his bag.

“I got a surprise for you,” he said, grabbing out of the bag something with a handle.

I took the cell phone out of my pocket.

He took something out of the bag:
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Resilience and Mindfulness: Thoughts from Two Masters

Two legends in psychology -- and popular culture -- presented at this year’s American Psychological Association Convention. Synonymous with concepts pervasive within education, psychotherapy, and integrative approaches (combining aspects of yoga, medical research, and psychotherapy) Sir Michael Rutter, MD and Steven Hayes, Ph.D. each gave powerful and illuminating presentations.

Sir Michael Rutter was introduced by past-APA President Richard Suinn. Sir Michael (Sir/Dr. Rutter?) not only has a voluminous body of writing about resilience, but is considered “the father of modern child psychiatry”.

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Best of Our Blogs: August 24, 2010

What did you do over the weekend?

I spent part of mine watching the 2006 movie Marie Antoinette. It wasn't the best of the bunch, but it did move me. It got me thinking about a time when women had little power and control over their own lives. When things were decided for you and the world, in general, was chaotic and out of control.

Watching the movie made me grateful for the time that we're living in now. Yes, it is still chaotic and unpredictable. But for us fortunate ones, we have a lot more control over our emotions, perceptions and our well-being today than we did in the past.

If you're having some difficulty with getting control over these three, don't worry because this week's top posts are all about gaining control of your life. You'll learn how to re-interpret the way you perceive others, find meaning in your life and how to take back control of your relationships, your life and your well-being this week. Oh and there's a light post in there that'll hopefully make you laugh too.

Hope you enjoy it and your week!

Another Reason Why Thoughts are Not Facts

(Mindfulness & Psychotherapy) - Felt snubbed by someone's behavior recently? Stop. Before you react, read this. You might be rendering a perfectly innocent and impersonal behavior personally.

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