Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fathering tied to sexual behavior in daughters

This article suggests that high-quality parenting from a girl's father can reduce risky sexual decision making later in life.

Comparing sisters in the same family, the study showed that living for longer periods of time with a dad who provided high-quality fathering reduced risky sexual behavior.

More time with a dad who provided low-quality fathering actually increased risky sexual behavior.

The article doesn't tell us what "high-quality fathering" is, but I look forward to reading the article when it is published. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Therapy to change "feminine boy" caused long-term problems?

This article details a tragic story of a young boy who undergoes therapy to become more masculine, and later kills himself at age 38. It is worth reading to remember that therapy that seeks to change orientation or gender expression often does more harm than good. 

Teaser quote:

In 2003 at age 38, Kirk Murphy took his own life.
A co-worker found him hanging from the fan of his apartment in New Delhi. His family has struggled for years to understand what happened.
"I used to spend so much time thinking, why would he kill himself at the age of 38? It doesn't make any sense to me," said Kirk's sister, Maris Murphy. "What I now think is I don't know how he made it that long."
After Kirk's death, Maris started a search that would uncover a dark family secret. That secret revealed itself during a phone conversation with her older brother Mark, who mentioned his distrust of any kind of therapy.
"Don't you remember all that crap we went through at UCLA?" he asked her. Maris was too young to remember the details, but Mark remembered it vividly as a low point in their lives.

Read the whole thing here. 

P.S.: It is worth noting that the therapist who treated Kirk Murphy was George Rekers, who is the prominant right-wing figure who was caught last year on vacation with a rent boy.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Is decreasing lead poisoning related to decreasing crime?

This article over at Wired looks at the link between lead poisoning and crime--in particular the theory that correlates the decrease in exposure to leaded gas and lead paint over the past 50 years with the decrease in crime over the same time period. The basic idea is that childhood lead poisoning impacts the part of the brain that is associated with decision making, impulse control and mood regulation. The whole article is worth reading. 

Teaser quote:

In recent years, neuroscientists have made important progress in identifying the precise mechanisms by which lead exposure reduces impulse control. Here, for instance, is a recent PLOS study from the Cincinnati Lead Study, in which the blood lead level of babies born in poor areas of Cincinnati were repeatedly measured between 1979 and 1984. Twenty years later, the researchers tracked down these subjects and put them in MRI machines, allowing them to measure the brain volume of participants. The researchers found that exposure to lead as a child was linked with a significant loss of brain volume in adulthood, particularly in men. Furthermore, there was a “dose-response” effect, in which the greatest brain volume loss was seen in participants with the greatest lead exposure. What’s especially tragic is that the loss of volume was concentrated in the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain closely associated with executive function and impulse control. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

When does grief become a mental illness?

Certainly, grief is a part of life. It is one of many experiences that comes with the territory of being alive in the world--we lose things, and we feel pain around the loss. So when does ordinary grief become a problem, and who decides what constitutes "ordinary grief" and "abnormal grief?"

This article from Scientific American covers two proposed changes to the DSM-V that would classify grief differently:

In the less controversial change, the manual would add a new category: Complicated Grief Disorder, also known as traumatic or prolonged grief. The new diagnosis refers to a situation in which many of grief’s common symptoms—such as powerful pining for the deceased, great difficulty moving on, a sense that life is meaningless, and bitterness or anger about the loss—­last longer than six months. The controversial change focuses on the other end of the time spectrum: it allows medical treatment fordepression in the first few weeks after a death. Currently the DSM specifically bars a bereaved person from being diagnosed with full-blown depression until at least two months have elapsed from the start of mourning.

There is much talk about the new DSM-V, and this proposal will likely ensure that the discussions continue.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Remembering Carl Jung

Carl Jung is one of the pioneers of mental health who not only influenced the field, but also captured the attention of popular culture. Terms like "collective unconscious" and "Jungian" have become part of everyday speech. The Guardian has begun a series examining the life and work of Carl Jung, who died 50 years ago on June 6.

From the article:

If you have ever thought of yourself as an introvert or extrovert; if you've ever deployed the notions of the archetypal or collective unconscious; if you've ever loved or loathed the new age; if you have ever done a Myers-Briggs personality or spirituality test; if you've ever been in counselling and sat opposite your therapist rather than lain on the couch – in all these cases, there's one man you can thank: Carl Gustav Jung.

Here is the original.