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Brain and Behavior

Workarounds that Work: Russell Bishop’s Wise Advice for 2011

Here's an appropriate post for New Year's Eve!

How to organize your life!

So that everything that happens in 2011 will fit into a nice, neat category.

Sort of.

My only resolution this year is to become more organized in the way I work and live so that work and life are less on my mind during the times that I'm supposed to be chilling with the kids or hanging with friends.

I hereby declare that I am guilty of the perspective of just getting through something to get to the other side, where things will be peaceful. I'm constantly wishing for a date in the nearby future, where the specific problems and complications of today won't be there.

But that attitude robs me of so many teaching moments of today.

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Introducing Neuroscience and Relationships

Well, as we say goodbye to another year, I have an early new year's present for everyone -- a new blog! I'm pleased to introduce Neuroscience and Relationships with Dr. Athena Staik.

Dr. Athena Staik has been studying the brain, the neuroscience of attachments, and cutting edge tools for accelerated success and human change for over 10 years. With a in marriage and family therapy, and an MA and BA in psychology, her work is influenced by a wide range of psychological models,...
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Brain and Behavior

Should You Tell Your Kids about Your Mental Illness?

Parents with a mental illness typically wonder whether it’s best to disclose their diagnosis to their kids. On the one hand, you want to be open and honest. On the other hand, you may think that not saying anything protects your child. A parent's natural instinct to want to shield your child from any confusion or concern. However, according to research, not telling your child can actually have the opposite effect.

Research shows that if parents don’t tell children about their mental illness, children develop misinformation and worries which can be worse than the reality, said Michelle D. Sherman, Ph.D, clinical psychologist and director of the Family Mental Health Program at the Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Later, these kids also report feeling resentment toward their parents for keeping them in the dark.

“It isn’t really a question of if you should tell them, but what and when,” said Ryan Howes, Ph.D, psychologist, writer and professor in Pasadena, California.

“We all know kids are incredibly perceptive — if there’s something going on, they’ll know.” Information decreases kids’ confusion, said Sherman, who’s also a professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

So how do you broach the topic with your kids?

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Calories in Disguise

Low-carb proponents claim that eating a low-carb diet enhances weight loss irrespective of caloric content.  Low-fat proponents often make the same claim.  Many other advocates of special diets make similar claims: It’s not calories, it’s something else causing weight loss.

In support of their diet's efficacy, proponents often cite their own successes or the success of other followers. However, they often fail to acknowledge that many other people lose weight following radically different weight-loss plans.  And never mind the scientific research, as it provides evidence that all successful weight loss programs share a common characteristic: create a calorie deficit on a consistent basis and weight loss follows.

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When You See Hoofprints

One of the best instructors I had in grad school was the first person to say the phrase “when you see hoofprints look for horses, when you don't find horses, look for zebras.” The importance of this did not strike me until I was deeper into practicing as a psychologist.

I have a lot of people come into my office at various stages of explaining what is happening with them. Some people will say “I don't know” straight away, whereas others have created a complex narrative. But we can have a tendency in our search for explanations to latch onto things that we read online or heard about on a TV show that have very little probability of being accurate. That is looking for zebras before horses.
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Brain and Behavior

Why We Make New Year’s Resolutions

It's well known that New Year's resolutions don't have a high success rate. While many people opt to ditch the annual goal-setting event, about 40 to 45 percent of American adults set at least one resolution come New Year’s.

Unfortunately for many, the results turn into a pattern: January 1, we start off determined to follow through on our goals. Excited and energized, we think that this year will be different from the last, when our resolutions went by the wayside. But come February or even mid-January, the majority of us have abandoned our goals altogether.

So why do we continue to make resolutions every year even though so few of us follow through?

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Accepting Imperfection

Professional organizer Debbie Jordan Kravitz was a perfectionist through and through.

“I’ve struggled with perfectionism all my life. Between having parents with perfectionistic tendencies and my own people-pleasing and competitive nature, it’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember,” she said.

As a wife and mom of two young kids, her perfectionism seeped into everything, no matter how big or small. She dwelled on her flaws and failures — defined essentially as “anything less than perfect.” But as any perfectionist truly knows, perfectionism is unreachable. It sabotages your self-image, squashes your satisfaction and turns life into a series of disappointments.

In the book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, researcher Brené Brown says that perfectionism is a shield, a self-created safety net that we think will shut out the bad stuff. (It doesn’t.)

“Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame,” Brown writes.

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8 Ways To Pitch Perfectionism

Although it can lead to imperfect -- or even damaging -- consequences, many of us strive for perfection anyway.

Procrastination, ironically enough, is one of those unfortunate consequences.

"In our pursuit of unreachable standards, we endlessly spin our wheels rather than move forward. In some cases, we never even start. The quest for perfection can be so intimidating that our productivity screeches to a halt,” said Debbie Jordan Kravitz, professional organizer and author of Everything I Know About Perfectionism I Learned from My Breasts. For some people, perfectionism can become all-consuming, so “reaching perfection is all they can see, feel, want or even need,” she said.

Fear of failure is part of perfectionism.

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Merry Christmas 2010

As we do every year, I'd like to take this moment to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

May the joy of the season be with your family, your friends, and most of all, with you. Whether you spend it with others or on your own, remember that the holiday lasts for only a very short time each year (whether that's for better or worse, I'll let you decide!) -- so savor it;...
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Best of Our Blogs: December 24, 2010

It's the day before Christmas and just a week until the end of the year. How are you holding up?

Are the festive melodies of Christmas music sounding like a broken record right about now? Is traffic getting to you? Are crowded shopping malls and pushy shoppers trying to get to the head of line pulling on your last strand of patience? Fed up with family obligations and obligatory gift giving?

Here is something to embrace.

Through the chaos, frustrations, grief and disappointments, there is and will always be peace.

It may not be delivered to you on a silver tray, shiny and easy, and beautifully wrapped like a present on Christmas morning. But the joy of everlasting peace regardless of circumstances is worth a whole lot more.

While you're dashing away toward your next event, rushing to the future without a moment's pause, take a few moments to find that peace.

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Brain and Behavior

Meeting Again for the First Time

It's Friday afternoon, and that means clinic. It's 1 p.m., and that means I’m walking to get Samantha from the waiting room for our therapy session. I take a deep breath before I open the door, and find myself looking forward to our session.

“Hello, Samantha,” I say, “I’m Dr. Hufford. Come on back.”

I always reserve the same room for our work, hoping that it will help her to remember that we’ve met before. Samantha and I have met many times before, but for her, every session is like meeting again for the first time. She is stuck in an unrelenting present, experiencing life about an hour at a time, before her anterograde amnesia -- an inability to remember new events -- sweeps the memories away, floating just out of her reach.

“Cognitive difficulties” is the way that her medical record describes it. A more sterile understatement is difficult to imagine. Samantha remembers everything from before about 15 years ago. She remembers going to college, having friends and ambitions, and falling in love. But her description of the accident is distant and clinical; a factual recitation of what she has been told happened. In a casual conversation you might not realize that you were talking to someone who would, only hours later, have no recollection of ever meeting you. 
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Best of the Web

Top Ten Depression Blogs 2010

The good (and bad) news about blogging about depression in 2010 is that there's less of it. Bloggers who were solely devoted to writing personal posts about depression, psychic pain, melancholy and stress in their lives found themselves, for whatever reasons, with less to say on traditional blogs.

But depression hasn't vanished, and neither has blogging, so where's it all going? Twitter, drop boxes, text, media, and mobile -- watch for blogging to evolve across platforms. And there are professionals sharing tips, artists gathering, and advocates to support each other. Although it may seem a quiet time, under the surface it's changing.

Blogs most likely to be triggering if you’re in a fragile state are marked with a (T). So, without further adieu, here are the picks for our favorite places we found depression blogged about in 2010...

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