World of Psychology

Take it easy on ECT

People are polarized over ECT, popularly known as electroshock and otherwise electroconvulsive therapy. It's either a torture device that must be banned, or it's a lifesaver. Well, my memory is good enough to remember from psychotherapy that things are not black or white. (It's a cognitive distortion to think they are, and I learned skills to counter and tolerate that distortion). Reality lies in a shadowy wisp of gray.

I've had ECT. It helped, and it hurt. It was administered in a skilled,...

Can Rats Feel Hopelessness?

Animal research has always been a part of modern American psychology, especially that done with rats. But historically psychologists haven't sliced and diced their brains as much as other researchers have. Earlier this week, USA Today discussed a study that purportedly shed light on hopelessness. In rats. After reading the article, however, I'm not so certain what we -- or the researchers -- really learned.

Essentially, the study — published online by the journal Science — suggests that hopelessness is just a short-circuit of...

Closed Psychiatric Hospitals Reused, But Current Patients’ Rights Restricted

Two stories in today's Boston Globe caught my eye. The first is a look at the reuse of old, closed public psychiatric hospitals throughout the state, mostly being turned into some type of housing. Typically developers purchase the properties (which is a lengthy, difficult process because the legislature must approve the sale of this public property), tear down most of the old buildings and structures, but keep one or two historic structures which are rehabilitated. Then new housing, typically apartments, condominiums, and/or affordable...

Does EMDR Work for PTSD in Just 5 Sessions?

Can eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), a psychotherapy technique, work to help people with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in just 5 sessions? The short answer is, yes.

And what about its long-term effects of EMDR? Do the benefits continue even after treatment has ended? Yes again.

For the first answer, I turn to Swedish researchers who examined 24 subjects who had just five sessions of EMDR therapy for the treatment of PTSD. After the five-session treatment, 67% of the subjects no longer...

New Drug Doesn’t Delete Bad Memories

Imagine a drug that can "wipe away single, specific memories while leaving other memories intact." That would be quite a drug, wouldn't it?

Well, according to both this article and the 's Telegraph, researchers have found this non-existent drug in propranolol (Inderal), a commonly prescribed (and older) beta-blocker.

Unfortunately, it's not true. What both LiveScience and the Telegraph claim the researchers found isn't actually what they found (or even claimed to have found).

What the small study (N = 19) found was that a...

Mad Pride Month

Imagine these scenarios: A woman with OCD who washes her hands raw a dozen times an hour says, "There's nothing wrong with me, it's only a damaged society that says I don't fit in. Living like this is just a variation on "normality", as...

The Rest of Moore’s “Sicko” Story

Kevin Freking and Linda A. Johnson from the Associated Press conduct a nice summary analysis of some of the larger facts and figures that litter Moore's recent documentary, Sicko, on the American healthcare system. Unlike many, however, these two have really done their homework to try and put some of the numbers that Moore throws out into context. Because it's telling not only what a filmmaker says, but what he doesn't say. And Moore doesn't say a lot.

For instance, it's a nice...