Friday, May 27, 2011

Old MacDonald had a Farmer's Market

I just came across this piece called "Old MacDonald Had a Farmer's Market: Total self-sufficiency is a noble, misguided ideal."  It's a great look at how interdependence is required for human flourishing, even when the image of the self-sufficient hermit is appealing. As a therapist, I think his analysis of connection and happiness is worth reading. 

The idea of self-reliance is so deep in our psyches, however, that even when we attempt to escape from the unhappy and unsustainable cul-de-sac of our society, we’re likely to turn toward yet more Publish Post“independence.”

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Atypical Antipsychotics in Children and the Elderly

This article in Time about using psychiatric medication on vulnerable populations (in this case, the elderly and children) raises some concerns about the way we use and view psychiatric medication in general. It also makes the point that: "Second-generation' antipsychotics like Geodon, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Abilify and Risperdal rake in more money than any other class of medication on the market and, dollar for dollar, they are the biggest selling drugs in America."

Certainly, antipsychotics and other psychiatric medications have made huge differences for people, and have saved lives. At the same time, the popular consciousness seems to be shifting into a more active and informed roll about what psychiatric medication can and cannot do for someone. 

From the article:

Pharmaceutical companies have recently paid out the largest legal settlements in U.S. history — including the largest criminal fines ever imposed on corporations — for illegally marketing antipsychotic drugs. The payouts totaled more than $5 billion. But the worst costs of the drugs are being borne by the most vulnerable patients: children and teens in psychiatric hospitals, foster care and juvenile prisons, as well as elderly people in nursing homes. They are medicated for conditions for which the drugs haven't been proven safe or effective — in some cases, with death as a known possible outcome.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Atheists have better sex than theists?

Who has better sex, atheists or theists? According to this piece, atheists have better sex because they are less likely to feel guilty about it:

Atheists have far better sex lives than religious people who are plagued with guilt  during intercourse and for weeks afterwards, researchers have found.
A study discovered that non-believers are more willing to discuss sexual fantasies and are more satisfied with their experiences

If this is true, it certainly has implications for sex therapy. I doubt that this means that people will have to stop being religious, but perhaps spirituality and religion will need to become more active topics of discussion in therapy. What would be interesting follow-up research--what separates those who are religious and have good sex from those who are religious and do not have good sex? My suspicion (completely unscientific speculation!) is that the factors that equal good sex in the religious are not the same as those that equal good sex in atheists.

Read more here. 

Top 10 Myths about the Brain

Here is an excellent article from entitled "Top Ten Myths about the Brain." I hear many of these myths all the time. I highly recommend reading the article--and in fact, learning as much as possible about how the brain works. 

Here is a sample: 

4. We have five senses. Sure, sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch are the big ones. But we have many other ways of sensing the world and our place in it. Proprioception is a sense of how our bodies are positioned. Nociception is a sense of pain. We also have a sense of balance—the inner ear is to this sense as the eye is to vision—as well as a sense of body temperature, acceleration and the passage of time.

Read the rest.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Men earn only one in five of all master’s degrees awarded in psychology, down from half in the 1970s. They account for less than 10 percent of social workers under the age of 34, according to a recent survey. And their numbers have dwindled among professional counselors — to 10 percent of the American Counseling Association’s membership today from 30 percent in 1982 — and appear to be declining among marriage and family therapists.

I have certainly noticed the lack of male therapists when attending continuing education and professional association meetings. Once upon a time the stereotype of a therapist was an older man--complete with gray hair, a pipe and a jacket with patches on the elbows. Now, therapists are more likely to be female. 

Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong here. But some clients prefer a male therapist, and will sometimes have difficulty finding one. The article addresses this, and some of the factors that may have changed the profession over time.