Category: psycholOgy


SPLC The Trump Effect cover

Between March 23 and April 2, 2016, Teaching Tolerance surveyed approximately 2,000 teachers, asking them how the presidential campaign was affecting their student and their teaching. The results indicated that the campaign is having a profoundly negative impact on schoolchildren across the country, producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom. Many students worry about being deported. Many educators fear teaching about the election at all.

A synthesis of our survey results make up the content of this report:The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on Our Nation’s Schools. A  complete listing of the 5,000 survey comment is available here.

excerpts:

“My students are terrified of Donald Trump,” says one teacher from a middle school with a large population of African-American Muslims. “They think that if he’s elected, all black people will get sent back to Africa.”

“A Portland, Oregon, middle school teacher reported that her principal had imposed a “gag order” on teachers, prohibiting them from talking about the election. But the order didn’t stop one of her students from telling an immigrant classmate, “When Trump wins, you and your family will get sent back.” On the survey she posed the question, “What does a teacher do? I can assure you that if a student says that loudly and brazenly in class, far worse is happening in the hallway.”

::: simply click cover pic above to access report in pdf @ teachingtolerance.org :::

Through treating everything from strokes to car accident traumas, neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch knows the brain’s inability to repair itself all too well. But now, she suggests, she and her colleagues may have found the key to neural repair: Doublecortin-positive cells. Similar to stem cells, they are extremely adaptable and, when extracted from a brain, cultured and then re-injected in a lesioned area of the same brain, they can help repair and rebuild it. “With a little help,” Bloch says, “the brain may be able to help itself.”

Swiss neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch is an expert in deep brain stimulation and neuromodulation for movement disorders. Her recent work focuses on cortical cells, called doublecortin, related to neurogenesis and brain repair. In collaboration with Jean François Brunet and others, she is pioneering the development of adult brain cell transplantation for patients with stroke, using their own stem cells. She aims at gathering all these novel therapeutic strategies under a common umbrella that will optimize treatment options for patients suffering from neurological impairments. She is in charge of the functional neurosurgery unit at the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV).

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What if Schools Taught Kindness?

By Laura Pinger, Lisa Flook | February 1, 2016 | 7 CommentsLaura Pinger and Lisa Flook share their lessons from creating a “kindness curriculum” for young students

  

Walking to class one day, one of us (Laura) saw a young student crying and waiting for his mother to arrive—he had split his chin while playing. When Laura got to class, the other students were very upset and afraid for their friend, full of questions about what would happen to him. Laura decided to ask the class how they could help him.

“Caring practice!” exclaimed one of the children—and they all sat in a circle offering support and well wishes. The children immediately calmed and they continued with their lesson.

Young students make “peace wands” as part of the Center for Healthy Minds’ Kindness Curriculum.Image courtesy of the Center for Healthy Minds

This is what’s possible when kids learn to be kind at school.

Various mindfulness programs have been developed for adults, but we and our colleagues at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, wanted to develop a curriculum for kids. Every school teaches math and reading, but what about mindfulness and kindness?

We ended up bringing a 12-week curriculum to six schools in the Midwest. Twice a week for 20 minutes, pre-kindergarten kids were introduced to stories and practices for paying attention, regulating their emotions, and cultivating kindness. It’s just the beginning, but the initial results of our research, coauthored with Professor Richard Davidson and graduate research assistant Simon Goldberg, suggest that this program can improve kids’ grades, cognitive abilities, and relationship skills.

::: click here for this piece continues free + in full @ Greater Good Science Center :::

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What Leaders Must Do to Battle Bigotry Big Ideas, Empathy | January 18, 2016

Prejudice lies deep in the brain, but leaders can set the stage to help us overcome it.

 

Altruism is SexyMind & Body, Altruism | January 15, 2016In a new study, a kind heart trumps good looks—but the combination of both is the most desirable of all.

 

When Kindness Helps Teens (and When It Doesn’t)Family & Couples, Altruism | January 14, 2016According to a new study, we can predict whether teens will get into trouble by how nice they are to strangers.

 

<a href=“http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1451677545?ie=UTF8&tag=gregooscicen-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1451677545”>Free Press, 2015, 307 pages</a>

Don’t Let Your Mind Be Your Worst EnemyMind & Body | January 13, 2016Two new books reveal the inner workings of human psychology–biases, rationalizations, and all.

 

FRONTIERS OF PSYCHOTHERAPIST DEVELOPMENT

Introduction:

We are in the business of growth and change. If we are to be helpful to those whom we serve, it’s our imperative to continuously development.

The Frontiers of Psychotherapist Development (FPD) blog is about pushing beyond the edge of your development.  When we grow, our clients benefit.

Practical ideas pulled together from the studies of expertise and expert performance in a variety of professional fields*, teaching & education, cognitive science, aesthetic arts, as well as from psychotherapy research, will be shared on regular basis.

Subscribe to FPD blog for regular updates. You might want to go to Start Here for a sample of the blogposts. Any comments about this is greatly appreciated.

Your email will be treated with confidentiality. No spams, I promise.

Cheers to your on-going development!

Daryl Chow Ph.D

For Information about Daryl Chow Ph.D., click HERE.

::: click here or above to access and subscribe to The Frontiers of Psychotherapist Development (FPD) blog :::

RECENT POSTS

Challenges and problems can derail your creative process … or they can make you more creative than ever. In the surprising story behind the best-selling solo piano album of all time, Tim Harford may just convince you of the advantages of having to work with a little mess.

Economist, journalist and broadcaster
Tim Harford’s writings reveal the economic ideas behind everyday experiences. Full bio

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excerpt:

With over a billion users, Facebook is changing the social life of our species. Cultural commentators ponder the effects. Is it bringing us together or tearing us apart? Psychologists have responded too – Google Scholar lists more than 27,000 references with Facebook in the title. Common topics for study are links between Facebook use and personality, and whether the network alleviates or fosters loneliness. The torrent of new data is overwhelming and much of it appears contradictory. Here is the psychology of Facebook, digested:

Is Facebook making us lonely and sad?
This is the crunch question that has probably attracted the most newspaper column inches (and books). A 2012 study took an experimental approach. One group were asked to post more updates than usual for one week – this led them to feel less lonely and more connected to their friends. Similarly, a survey of over a thousand FB users found links between use of the network and greater feelings of belonging and confidence in keeping up with friends, especially for people with low self-esteem. Another study from 2010 found that shy students who use FB feel closer to their friends (on FB) and have a greater sense of social support. A similar story is told by a 2013 paper that said feelings of FB connectedness were associated with “with lower depression and anxiety and greater satisfaction with life” and that Facebook “may act as a separate social medium ….  with a range of positive psychological outcomes.” This recent report also suggested the site can help revive old relationships.

Yet there’s also evidence for the negative influence of FB. A 2013 study texted people through the day, to see how they felt before and after using FB…

::: click here for this extensive piece in full + open access @ BPS Research Digest :::

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excerpt…

PAUL BLOOM

DEC 17, 2015    SCIENCE

Can psychological research change your life? Most of the time, no—findings by psychologists don’t usually bear on everyday concerns. My colleagues at Yale, for instance, study topics such as the neuroscience of memory, how babies reason about social groups, and decision-making in psychopaths. Such studies are intended to explore how the mind works, and while their findings might ultimately make the world a better place—at least this is what we say in our grant proposals—that’s not their immediate focus…

::: click on through to the Atlantic for piece in full + open source :::

Paul Bloom is a contributing writer for The Atlantic and the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology at Yale University. He is the author of a forthcoming book about empathy.

Can we, as adults, grow new neurons? Neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret says that we can, and she offers research and practical advice on how we can help our brains better perform neurogenesis—improving mood, increasing memory formation and preventing the decline associated with aging along the way.

Neural stem cell researcher Sandrine Thuret studies the way adult brains create new nerve cells in the hippocampus — a brain area involved in memory and mood. Full bio

As Mental Health Week 2015 draws to a close, here’s an enaging and succinct short on Mindfulness…

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News…

Norman Gunston star on living with anxiety

In quotes: Life on the margins

Using the bush to improve Indigenous mental health

What does 5 years’ solitary confinement do to a person?

Online OCD trial shows promising signs of success

Podsiadly ends AFL career, takes on mental health role

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excerpt…

That increasingly common end-of-day feeling: of physically leaving the office, only for it to tag along home. Thanks largely to technology, our availability – to clients, bosses and co-workers – extends into our evenings, weekends and even holidays. Getting a clear account of what this means for us isn’t easy, as jobs that intrude more into leisure time are also distinguished by higher pace and further factors known and unknown, making it hard to pinpoint what harmful effects, if any, are specifically due to our constant availability.

A new study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, and led by Jan Dettmers at the University of Hamburg, takes a fresh tack on this, investigating workers who have two types of free-time: on-call periods where they are free to please themselves but must remain available for potential work demands, and other periods where they are truly off-duty. For each individual participant, this set up keeps job-role demands and responsibilities equal while varying the need to be available. The data suggest that extended work availability has a negative effect: dampening mood and also increasing markers of physiological stress.

article in full + open source @ BPS Research Digest

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via GreaterGood + logo links on through…

The author and pioneering University of Texas psychologist explains how awareness of your own thoughts and feelings can lead you to be kinder toward yourself—and why this self-compassion brings a host of mental and physical health benefits.

More about Kristin Neff.

via GreaterGood

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V.S. Ramachandran, PhD is looking to solve life’s big questions by taking a different path. In studying the oddities and anomalies of the brain he hopes to illuminate the mysteries of normal brain function. A pioneer in the study of phantom limbs, Ramanchandran joins William Mobley, MD, PhD to discuss his fascinating career and his scientific process.

(UCTV)

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For many shy people, online social networking sites have an obvious appeal – a way to socialise without the unpredictable immediacy of a face-to-face encounter. However, a new study finds that people who are socially anxious betray their awkwardness on Facebook, much as they do in the offline world. The researchers Aaron Weidman and Cheri Levinson said their findings could hint at ways for socially anxious people to conceal their nervousness and attract more online friends…

::: just click above to access piece in full @BPS Research Blog, (British Psychological Society) :::

Believe it or not, violence has been in decline for long stretches of time, and we may be living in the most peaceful era in our species existence. Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker presents the data supporting this surprising conclusion, and explains the trends by showing how changing historical circumstances have engaged different components of human nature.

Series: “UC Berkeley Graduate Council Lectures”

UCTV: recorded on 02/04/2014.

Professor Alex Haslam speaking at 2014 Division of Clinical Psychology annual conference in Glasgow.

For more information about DCP events visit the DCP website http://www.bps.org.uk/dcp

Professor Mary Doyle speaking at 2014 Division of Clinical Psychology (BPS) annual conference in Glasgow.

For more information about DCP events visit the DCP website http://www.bps.org.uk/dcp.

“…Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone was psychologically healthier? If there were less loneliness and less depression? If people knew how to overcome failure? If they felt better about themselves and more empowered? If they were happier and more fulfilled? I can, because that’s the world I want to live in, and that’s the world my brother wants to live in as well. And if you just become informed and change a few simple habits, well, that’s the world we can all live in…”

Psychologist, author

One of the six realms on the Buddhist Wheel of Life is the Hungry Ghost Realm, its inhabitants “creatures with scrawny necks, small mouths, emaciated limbs and large, bloated, empty bellies. This is the domain of addiction.”

A ravaged German-Canadian man is one day quoting the final lines of Goethe’s Faust, the next delivering a drug-fuelled anti-Semitic diatribe; a woman, very pregnant and intent on keeping her baby, is found beaten up on the sidewalk and screaming for drug money: these are among the hungry ghosts Dr. Gabor Maté encounters in his job as resident doctor at the Portland Hotel on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

 

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Gaza City – Since this summer’s devastating war in the Gaza Strip, the number of patients seeking help from the Gaza Community Centre’s mental health programme has jumped by close to 50 percent.

The centre, which previously handled about 15 patients daily, is now seeing up to 25, administrators say – and the Gaza City centre is just one of three branches of Gaza’s mental health network. The NGO’s psychiatry, social work and physiotherapy services are available for free to residents, but social stigma still prevents an untold number from seeking help.

Psychologist Hasan Zeyada spoke with Al Jazeera about the challenges facing Gazans in the wake of a war that killed 2,200 Palestinians, and amid an ongoing, crippling siege.

Al Jazeera: How has your patient load changed since the summer war?

Hasan Zeyada: We have more cases that are referred to our centres. It’s the immediate reaction after war. A lot of people had psychological and behavioural consequences because of the trauma during the military Israeli aggression. A lot of people, they are in need of consultation, they are in need of intervention. We started to do our intervention immediately through field visits for the families who lost their homes and lost their family members, and for the injured people…

The war was brutal and it was for a long time, and it’s the third experience for the children here in Gaza, so a lot of people have already developed acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. They are in need of intervention.”

::: click on through to piece in full @ Al Jazeera :::

 

abstract…

In slapstick comedy, the worst thing that could happen usually does: The person with a sore toe manages to stub it, sometimes twice. Such errors also arise in daily life, and research traces the tendency to do precisely the worst thing to ironic processes of mental control. These monitoring processes keep us watchful for errors of thought, speech, and action and enable us to avoid the worst thing in most situations, but they also increase the likelihood of such errors when we attempt to exert control under mental load (stress, time pressure, or distraction).

Ironic errors in attention and memory occur with identifiable brain activity and prompt recurrent unwanted thoughts;…piece in full pdf below…

Author: Wegner, Daniel M.
Citation: Wegner, Daniel M. 2009. How to think, say, or do precisely the worst thing for any occasion. Science 325(5936): 48-50.
Full Text & Related Files:

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Link feast

pick of the best psychology and neuroscience links from the past week or so:

Winter Is a Black Hole: How I Deal With Seasonal Depression
“Seasonal depression hits for me, like clockwork, the day after Halloween” – writes Dayner Evans at Gawker.com.

Learning How Little We Know About the Brain
By James Gorman in the New York Times.

How To Debunk Falsehoods
At BBC Future, Tom Stafford investigates the best way to correct false ideas.

The “Paper Effect” – Note Something Down And You’re More Likely To Forget It
At the Brain Watch blog I lampoon fears about the effect of computers and other digital devices on our memories.

How to Be Efficient: Dan Ariely’s 6 New Secrets to Managing Your Time
At Time magazine, Eric Barker summarises time-keeping advice from the author of Predictably Irrational.

I Hated Keeping a Gratitude Journal – Here’s What Worked Instead
Allison Jones at Fastcompany.com

Fooled By Your Own Brain
Don’t be so certain your senses are telling you the truth, says Virginia Hughes at Nautilus.

Human Body: The “Ultra-athletes” aged 60+
At BBC Future, David Robson reports on the senior ultra-athletes who are defying the limits of aging and the body.

Living With Schizophrenia
Access 60 free journal articles on this topic, courtesy of Psychology Press / Taylor and Francis.

How to Study The Brain
We’re about to obtain unprecedented amounts of new data on the brain, says Gary Marcus at The Chronicle, but the important missing ingredient is theory.

Illustrations of Madness: James Tilly Matthews and the Air Loom
At the Public Domain Review, Mike Jay recounts the tragic story of James Tilly Matthews, who was confined to Bedlam asylum in 1797 for believing that his mind was under the control of a terrifying machine.
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Post compiled by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.

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Today the UK and its allies are at war with an extremist group based in Syria and Iraq that calls itself the Islamic State (IS; a name rejected by mainstream Muslim organisations). The group declared a caliphate in June this year and is seeking to expand its territory.

Amnesty International has accused IS of war crimes including ethnic cleansing, torture, abductions, sexual violence and the indiscriminate killing of civilians. Prime Minister Cameron has branded the group “evil” and says they “pervert the Islamic faith as a way of justifying their warped and barbaric ideology.”

Many of the fighters of the Islamic State are Western citizens. Indeed, this week there were reports that a fourth jihadist from Portsmouth, England, has died fighting for the Islamic State.

Never has it been more urgent that we understand why people are drawn to extremist beliefs and to violent extremist organisations. Here the Research Digest provides a brief overview of the psychological research and theories that help explain the lure of extremism.

The Need to Belong:

A  2006 survey and interviews with British Muslims (cited by Andrew Silke 2008) uncovered an important finding – people who felt their primary identity was Muslim, rather than British, held more sympathetic views towards the concept of jihad and martyrdom. Indeed, according to Randy Borum (2014) writing in Behavioural Sciences and the Law, a key psychological vulnerability of those drawn to extremism is their need to feel they belong. “In radical movements and extremist groups, many prospective terrorists find not only a sense of meaning,” he writes, “but also a sense of belonging, connectedness and affiliation.” A related idea is that extremist groups and their ideologies help people cope with uncertainty about themselves and the world.

Who Becomes an Extremist?

::: click on through to BPS ResearchDigest :::

Most Extremists Are Not Mentally Ill

::: click on through to BPS ResearchDigest :::

Extremism is Fuelled By a Group Process Known as “Risky Shift”

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Dr Paul Brown, The Pierre Janet Centre, Melbourne | the Stringer |November 2nd, 2014:

I have just returned home to Melbourne from working as a locum consultant psychiatrist at Alice Springs Hospital. I also work in research. My field is suicide. Over the last decade, I have developed a theory of suicide which centres on violence and secularisation. I believe that subjects are mostly either driven or abandoned to suicide. I call this nemesism. In Aboriginal culture, the equivalent of secularisation is Westernisation. My nemesism-secularisation theory is informed by cultural studies in both First and Third World environments, most notably of Jews and Gentiles in pre-Nazi and Nazi Germany. Over the last year, my views on suicide have been reinforced by my first-hand experience as a veteran psychiatrist accessing Aboriginal and non-indigenous communities in WA, Victoria, Queensland and NT.

The statistics for Aboriginal suicide have been repeatedly published. Here, only the headlines need repeating. Georgatos’ (National senior consultant Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project) 2013 article in the Independent Newspaper[i] is my source. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 996 Aboriginal suicides across Australia between 2000 and 2010. That was one in every 24 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders. Mowanjum near Derby suffered a spate of suicides 100 times the national average. And, for every completed Aboriginal suicide across Australia, there were hundreds of attempted suicides.

Aboriginal youth suicide is at the heart of the epidemic. In part, the vulnerability of this age group reflects demographics…

::: click here for this piece in full + free @ the Stringer :::

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The September 2014 issue of PsyCh Journal features contributions by researchers working in China, Japan, Denmark, Australia, and Macao, on topics involving the visual discrimination of directional motion, the new field of social neuroscience, hypervigilance with regard to pain, hippocampal functions in extinction memory, the process of conflict in third-party punishment, and cultural influences on help-seeking attitudes regarding mental health problems.

::: just click cover above to access :::

The sad thing about children’s exam nerves is that their fears often become self-fulfilling. Too much anxiety and they can end up under-performing relative to their abilities.

A team of psychologists led by Fred Paas and colleagues has taken a cognitive psychology approach to this situation. Children have a certain amount of “working memory” capacity, they say, and it’s either used up by the task at hand, or by external pressures, such as intrusive, worrying thoughts. Paas and his team have explored the benefits of a simple strategy that’s designed to help children focus more on the school test, and less on worrying.

Over 100 children (aged 11-12) at three Greek primary schools sat a maths test. Stress was ratcheted up with a timer (three minutes per question) and a prize for the best performer in each class. Crucially, the researchers gave half the students one minute at the test start to skim through all 10 of the maths problems – this was the simple intervention. The researchers said this should reduce anxiety and boost confidence by “activating the relevant schemas for solving the test problems”. The remaining students acted as controls and had an extra minute to answer the first problem.

The good news is that the children who took a minute to skim through the questions performed better on average than the control students, and this was true regardless of their tendency to experience test-related anxiety. Because the students’ self-reported levels of mental exertion didn’t vary across the control and intervention conditions, the researchers said this shows…

::: click through here to piece in full+free @ BPS Research Digest :::

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-click cover for report –

key messages from WHO: 

Suicides take a high toll. Over 800 000 people die due to suicide every year and it is

the second leading cause of  death in 15-29-year-olds.

There are indications that for each adult who died of suicide there may have been

more than 20 others attempting suicide.

Suicides are preventable. For national responses to be
effective, a comprehensive multisectoral suicide
prevention strategy is needed.

Restricting access to the means for suicide works. An
effective strategy for preventing suicides and suicide
attempts is to restrict access to the most common means,
including pesticides, firearms and certain medications.

Health-care services need to incorporate suicide
prevention as a core component. Mental disorders and
harmful use of alcohol contribute to many suicides around
the world. Early identification and effective management
are key to ensuring that people receive the care they need.

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By guest blogger Robin Abrahams.

If you’ve been on the internet at all this year, you may have noticed an explosion of fiction-based personality quizzes. What house would you belong to inHogwarts—or in Westeros? Which “Mad Man” are you? WhatShakespeare role were you born to play?

Why do we want to know?

Researchers led by Randi Shedlosky-Shoemaker may have some answers. Their paper, “Self-Expansion through Fictional Characters” rests on the concept of parasocial relationships—a relatively new construct in the social sciences that is becoming increasingly relevant in our media-saturated age.

While there is a clear, bright line between real people and imaginary people (I exist, Hermione Granger does not), there is no such line dividing real and imaginary relationships. (As far as you are concerned, dear reader, both Ms. Granger and I are studious women who exist only on the page or screen.) Even in our most intimate personal relationships, we are often interacting with a mental model of our partner or parent, imagining their current state of mind, or how they would respond to whatever situation we find ourselves in. Although operationalised in this article as relationships with…

... SIMPLY CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THIS PIECE IN FULL & FREE @ THE BRITISH PSYCHOLOGICAL SOCIETY RESEARCH BLOG…

For far too many years suicide prevention has not engaged the perspectives of those who have lived through suicidal experiences. Because of social stigma and fear, as well as personal shame, a culture of silence prevailed. The Way Forward represents a seminal moment in this field’s history; it is an opportunity to benefit from the lived experience of suicide attempt survivors. Many of its recommendations are derived from evidence-based practices, and several are aspirational. All are grounded in the evidence of recovery and resiliency that is clear in the lives of our Task Force members. Viewing suicide prevention through the lens of the eight core values presented in The Way Forward can help us enhance safety while also bringing hope and meaning to those in suicidal despair.

The Core Values represent the group consensus on the values that attempt survivors want suicide prevention professionals and organizations to consider when developing or implementing suicide prevention supports. Research has indicated that promoting protective factors and addressing risk factors for suicide can prevent suicidal behavior.Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that activities that support the Core Values have the potential to prevent future suicide attempts, and improve the quality of life for people who have survived a suicide attempt.

Foster hope and help people find meaning and purpose in life

 Preserve dignity and counter stigma, shame, and discrimination

 Connect people to peer supports

 Promote community connectedness

 Engage and support family and friends

 Respect and support cultural, ethnic, and/or spiritual beliefs and traditions

 Promote choice and collaboration in care

 Provide timely access to care and support

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Remembering and imagining appear to be very different functions, one recovering true information from the past, the other considering the unreal or exploring the future. And yet many patients with damage to the hippocampus (a structure in the temporal lobes) – and resultant memory impairment – struggle in imagining the future. Moreover, neuroimaging data show the hippocampus is involved in both tasks. Taken together, this evidence suggests that memory for the past and imagination for the future may depend on shared neural processes.

A new imaging study by Brock Kirwan and his colleagues confirms at a broad anatomical level that both memory and future imagination call on similar regions of the hippocampus. But the research also shows how these two mental functions do depend on distinct neural processes after all.

Fourteen study participants were invited into a scanner where they were presented with photographs in a series of runs. One run contained…

... SIMPLY CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THIS PIECE IN FULL & FREE @ THE BRITISH PSYCHOLOGICAL SOCIETY RESEARCH BLOG…

Best-selling author and renowned neuropsychiatrist Daniel Siegel explains why adolescents turn to their peers and away from their parents for security, attachment, and approval.

This clip is from a March 11, 2014 talk for the UC Berkeley

British Psychological Society research digest:

‘You’ve probably experienced this. You’re in the middle of telling your friend a story when his eyes flick across to his phone. Perhaps he even picks it up, checks the screen. “Sorry, go on,” he says. But your flow is interrupted. And you know his mind is at least half elsewhere.

Shalini Misra and her team approached 100 pairs of people (109 women; average age 33) in cafes across Washington DC and neighbouring districts. They asked them to chat for ten minutes at a table in the cafe about a trivial topic (plastic festive trees) or about the most meaningful events of the past year. For each pair, the researchers observed from a discreet distance and checked whether either party put a mobile device on the table, or held one in their hand. After ten minutes was up, each person in each pair was asked to fill out a few questionnaires about the conversation and their partner.

Feelings of “interconnectedness” (rated by agreement with statements like “I felt close to my conversation partner”) were reduced for pairs in which a mobile device was placed on the table or held by one of them. Similarly, “empathetic concern” (measured by items like “To what extent did your conversation partner make an effort to understand your thoughts and feelings about the topic you discussed?”) was rated lower by pairs in which a mobile device was brought into view. The topic of conversation made no difference to these results, but the reduction in empathetic concern associated with the presence of a mobile device was especially pronounced for pairs of people who were in closer relationships, perhaps because their expectations about the interaction were higher…’

::: click on through to the results @ BPS research digest :::

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