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Is California Eliminating Mental Illness Treatment?

According to DJ Jaffe, co-founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center which advocates for mandated outpatient treatment laws, California is "eliminating mental illness treatment."

This, of course, will be a surprise to the tens of thousands of mental health providers in California. Millions of Californians currently receive treatment for their mental disorders, both in the private and public sector.

In fact, Californians wanted to make up for past deficiencies in funding their mental health services, so they passed a law in 2004 that set aside new money specifically to help fund treatment.

Jaffe claims the money isn't going to the programs it was intended to fund. Should we take his word for it?

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3 Fascinating Facts About Our Brilliant Brains

Our brains do a lot of work behind the scenes to help us function and thrive. But we largely know this already.

What might surprise you are the details of this work. For instance, as neuroscientist David Eagleman writes in his book Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain:

Your brain is built of cells called neurons and glia—hundreds of billions of them. Each one of these cells is as complicated as a city. And each one contains the entire human genome and traffics billions of molecules in intricate economies. Each cell sends electrical pulses to other cells, up to hundred of times per second. If you represented each of these trillions and trillions of pulses in your brain by a single photon of light, the combined output would be blinding.

The cells are connected to one another in a network of such staggering complexity that it bankrupts human language and necessities new strains of mathematics. A typical neuron makes about ten thousand connections to neighboring neurons. Given the billions of neurons, this means there are as many connections in a single cubic centimeter of brain tissue as there are stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Below are several other interesting and surprising facts about our brains from Eagleman’s Incognito.

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Children and Teens

If I Could Go Back To College: I’d Be A Little More Practical

[If I Could Go Back is a series of articles that center around the college experience. Hindsight is 20/20, and sometimes the best advice we could ever give stems from experiences in our past that make us cringe just the tiniest bit.]

"If I could do it all over again, I'd major in Education."

"Oh, me too. Either that or Business."

"I should have majored in Economics. At least then I'd have a real job."

These are not the words of slackers or lazy, "Generation Me" complainers. Nor is this a made up conversation invented by a conglomerate of strict parents hoping their children will study something safe in college. This dialogue was actually spoken, by real twenty-somethings, all of whom worked hard for good grades and big fellowships, sometime last week.

During a short vacation back to my hometown, I met up with a bunch of old friends. As we all got caught up with each other's lives, it became shriekingly apparent that there was a trend among the entire group: we all wished we had been more practical in college.

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Why A Hurricane Filled Me With Gratitude

Like much of the East Coast, New York City was hit by Hurricane Irene. On Saturday, we checked our flashlights, loaded up on food, filled the bathtub, and hoped for the best.

We were extremely lucky. The hurricane didn’t affect us much -- we didn’t even lose power. And I’m very, very grateful for that.

The hurricane was a good reminder about gratitude.

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Best of Our Blogs: August 30, 2011

I'm not sure we're ever fully immune to it-that pout, that stomp, that automatic childlike reaction to things not going our way. "It's not fair," seems to never want to grow up. As we get older, however, the disappointments get bigger.

It's not the game we lost, but the games we can't even play that upsets us.

It's not the rides we can't get on, but the rides that life thrusts upon us on that really gets our goat.

It's not the gifts we didn't get, but the unwanted gifts we got that makes us want to be a kid again, throw our hands up in the air, cry and scream, "It's not fair!"

Whether it's physical or mental illness, tragedy or a natural disaster, life will hand us unexpected challenges. Challenges that we didn't imagine as kids fantasizing about all the fun we'd have when we grew up and could do whatever we wanted.

The good news is that we do have choices. The top posts this week shows us new ways to look past limitations whether it's working through your marriage when you have a child with ADHD or coping with the recent hurricane.

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Nutritional Supplements to Treat ADHD, Bipolar, Depression: EMPowerplus

EMPowerplus is a nutritional supplement that consists of 14 vitamins, 16 minerals, 3 amino acids, and 3 antioxidants. According to its makers, TrueHope Nutritional Support, EMPowerplus "works by giving the brain the right balance of vitamins and trace minerals on a regular basis."

It backs up that statement with a link to 11 research studies which it says demonstrates the effectiveness of this supplement to help people with attention hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and depression.

It's been selling the supplement for over a decade now from Canada, to hundreds of thousands of people. Many people swear by it. Others have questioned whether it is really any better than placebo.

So does it work? Let's find out...

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Brain and Behavior

Beliefs about Memory: Interview with Dan Simons

In a recent survey of the U.S. population, researchers Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris assessed common beliefs about memory.  They found that common beliefs are often incongruent with scientific findings.  Recently I had an opportunity to ask Simons about some of the implications of the survey.

What motivated this survey on understanding memory?

Our goal in conducting the study was to supplement the research we had done for our book, The Invisible Gorilla. The book focuses on everyday illusions, cases in which people's intuitive beliefs about how the mind works are faulty. In writing the book, we realized that nobody had ever conducted a national survey to measure how pervasive those beliefs are. Our PLoS One paper reports the results from a subset of the items in the survey, those most related to memory. We chose our items by drawing from a number of smaller-scale surveys that asked about the same sorts of principles, so we had good reason to suspect that these items would reveal a sizable discrepancy between public beliefs and the established science.

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Tending the Family Heart Wins a Gold Young Voices Award

Psych Central is pleased to congratulate Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker, author of our first e-book, Tending the Family Heart on receiving a Gold "Young Voices Foundation Award" in the parenting category. This prestigious award is handed out only once a year, and Dr. Hartwell-Walker was the only winner this year in the parenting category.

The Young Voices Foundation is the sponsor of the Young Voices Foundation Awards, which honors books and media that inspire, mentor and educate young people and their families. Judging is based on content (emphasis on strong family values and suitability for the specified age group), originality, design, and production quality.

The judging panel for the award includes published authors, editors, publishers, educators, young readers, parents, and family counselors.

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Brain and Behavior

The Curious Case of Phineas Gage and Others Like Him

If you’ve ever taken an introductory psychology class, then you probably know the story of Phineas Gage, the 25-year-old railroad worker whose personality dramatically changed after a rod pierced his skull.

Gage lost portions of his frontal lobe and went from being a kind and mild-mannered man to rude and unrestrained.

On September 21, 1848, The Boston Post reported on the incident. The article was called “Horrible Accident" and said:
As Phineas P. Gage, a foreman on the railroad in Cavendish, was yesterday engaged in tamping for a blast, the powder exploded, carrying an instrument through his head an inch in length, which he was using at the time. The iron entered on the side of his face, shattering the upper jaw, and passing back of the left eye, and out at the top of the head.
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5 Tips for Staying Calm in a Hurricane

When hurricanes or tropical storms are forecast to reach us, we often go into a panic and fear the worst about the coming storm. The uncertainty of the storm provokes a certain in anxiety in most of us. Some of those fears are very real, as government officials ask residents to evacuate areas directly in the path of the hurricane. Low-lying areas are especially at risk for flooding.

Calm is a hard emotion to muster when our entire environment is turning against us. It is ever harder to remain calm when you're asked to evacuate your home, and live in a shelter or with a family member for a few days. Will my home still be standing when I return? What about my most cherished possessions?

Even folks who aren't asked to evacuate fear the loss of electricity to their homes, and whether they'll have enough food and water to last the duration of the storm.

What can you do to help stay calm during a hurricane or tropical storm?

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Brain and Behavior

Zimbardo’s Infamous Prison Experiment: Where the Key Players Are Now

It’s arguably one of the most controversial experiments.

It all started in the basement of the psychology building at Stanford University on August 17, 1971 after psychologist Phil Zimbardo and colleagues took an ad out in the paper stating: “Male college students needed for psychological study of prison life. $15 per day for 1-2 weeks.”

Over 70 people volunteered for the Stanford Prison Experiment. Twenty-four healthy, smart college-aged men were picked and randomly assigned either to be a guard or a prisoner. The aim of the study was to explore the psychology of prison life and how specific situations affect people’s behavior.

But the experiment didn’t last very long — six days to be exact. Zimbardo was forced to pull the plug because of the disturbing behavior of the guards and the downright despair and other negative reactions of the prisoners.

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