Clinically Speaking is a blog that will allow anyone to learn about Social Work, case presentations in psychotherapy, and the relationship of pop culture in psychology. Come one...come all!!!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Growing Pains: Bullying & Violence may speed aging

Last week a study was published that childhood bullying and violence have the DNA decay associated with elder adults. It was found that a specific chromosone, Telomeres, is affected in children with violence-related stress. Telomeres, which prevent DNA from unraveling, get shorter each time cells divide, which limits the number of times cells can divide. Early breakdown indicates poor survival and chronic disease. The study was conducted out of Duke University and was a longitudinal study. As reported by US News and World Report, the Duke team found that children with a history of two or more kinds of violent exposures -- such as domestic violence, frequent bullying or physical abuse by an adult -- had significantly more telomere loss than other children. Idan Shalev, a postdoctoral researcher in psychology and neuroscience at Duke University's Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, said "this is the first time it has been shown that our telomeres can shorten at a faster rate even at a really young age, while kids are still experiencing stress." 

The majority of studies that are conducted in world of psychology are treatment and assessment based. Meaning, after psychological event happens this is how to treat or when we assess a person we should look for this or that, but what about preventative measures? Granted, we cannot predict that a child or even an adult will be exposed to any amount of bullying or violence, but if we are able to educate the masses better, maybe we can avoid the decay of that chromosome and allow kids to be kids and develop emotionally at the right times.

Make your Monday not Mundane!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Abuse and Money

Short little post.
I read today via Yahoo! news "that Trauma is the leading cause of the death of children in this country. The effect of trauma on productive life years lost exceeds that of any other disease. The economic cost of 50 million injuries in the year 2000, alone, was $406 billion. This includes estimates of $80 billion in medical care costs, and $326 billion in productivity losses. And the predicted cost to the health care system from interpersonal violence and abuse ranges between $333 billion and $750 billion annually, or nearly 17 to 37.5 percent of total health care expenditures."  

Yes, you read correctly BILLIONS of dollars and ranges over a 1/3 of health care treatment. That means that there is a large population that have endured some sort of trauma in their life. That number may even be more with the trauma that is not being reported or treated. I am surprised about the amount of revenue, but not surprised that it is a big chunk of treating trauma. I would also not be surprised if those numbers increased with treating our veterans over the past couple of years... 

Enjoy this little diddy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Childhood Trauma=Schizophrenia

Good morning, 
Last week there was a study that was published that children who experience trauma are 3x more likely to develop schizophrenia. Researchers at Liverpool and Maastricht University in the Netherlands, are the first bring together and analyze the findings from more than 30 years of studies looking at the association between childhood trauma and the development of psychosis, as reported by in the article Childhood trauma linked to schizophrenia. The article explains how the study was conducted and the results that were calculated. Professor Richard Bentall, from the University's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, said in the article: "Our findings suggest that studies on the neurological and genetic factors associated with these[schizophrenia, bipolar, psychotic disorders] conditions, which are not yet fully understood, are more like to advance our knowledge if we take into account a patient's life experiences. We need to know, for example, how childhood trauma affects the developing brain, as well as whether there are genetic factors that increase vulnerability or resilience to traumatic events..These questions will need new research strategies, such as studies comparing traumatized children who grow up to be psychologically healthy and those who go on to develop mental illness. Looking at the brain or genes only is unlikely to tell us what we need to know in order to treat a patient effectively." 

Despite the recent research that has been published, I am still on the fence about this research. With regards to this study, while it may give us a lot of information to help treat these children, we aren't going to now treat 7 y/o or an 8 y/o who has been through excessive trauma with the same medication as 35 y/o chronic schizophrenic. That isn't what the research is saying, but why would knowing this help combat the possible organic deficiency in a person? We cannot control the trauma at that point, and we would not be able to control the fact that this person has excessive levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Unless, we treat these types of children with the same medication to prevent them developing schizophrenia. Furthermore, schizophrenia is Dx in about 1% of the population, if this is study is a good indicator that number will increase. 

I just don't know...Thoughts ClinicallySpeaking nation?

Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blood Test: Predicting Mental Illness

Yesterday, it was reported by multiple different news and psychology sources(I used that a study was published, that researchers have now been able to diagnose major depression in teens. The study was conducted not only to help predict and treat teens with depression, but also to make a distinction between depression and different subtypes of depression like major depressive d/o with anxiety. As reported, by "Right now depression is treated with a blunt instrument," said Eva Redei, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead investigator of the study, published in Translational Psychiatry. It's like treating type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes exactly the same way. We need to do better for these kids." The article went on to explain how the study was conducted saying that "[Redei] discovered 11 [of the genetic] of the markers were able to differentiate between depressed and non-depressed adolescents...these 11 genes are probably the tip of the iceberg because depression is a complex illness, but it's an entree into a much bigger phenomenon that has to be explored. It clearly indicates we can diagnose from blood and create a blood diagnosis test for depression." 

Science and research are kicking proverbial butt right now!!! Which made me do my own research, so are we researching other mental illnesses that could be predicted by a blood test? You got that right!

In 2008, Dr. Alexander Niculescu at Indiana University School of Medicene conducted a study that have concluded that there are 10 genes that can be detected that were able to asses a patient for Bipolar Disorder. He said "Having an objective for disease state, disease severity, and especially to measure response to treatment, would be a big step forward." The article went on to say that Dr. Niculescu is working on other genetic markers to test anxiety, stress and hallucinations in patients with schizophrenia.*

In January 2011, reported on an article called, Blood Test to Diagnose Schizophrenia, Other Brain Disorders On The Horizon, that said "Psynova-Neurotech and Rules Based Medicene(RBM) have developed VeriPsych, the first blood test for the disorder. To produce a sensitive and specific assay, scientists obtained blood samples from a large sample of both schizophrenic patients and healthy controls. Out of the 181 candidate bio-markers tested, 51 presented blood serum concentrations that were significantly correlated with the schizophrenia diagnosis. Using these 51 proteins as bio-markers, the VeriPsych test has an accuracy of 83%, which is remarkably close to the accuracy of the psychiatric interview."

I was just beat up real bad by science and research, but I enjoyed the smackdown! This should really give a lot more firepower for researchers at institutions who do research and that have problems getting funding at universities.

That was fun right?
Happy Thursday!

Some good links...

I'll post a real post later. Here are some good links to hold you over:

Post one of the day!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Officials, Celebrities, Athletes are human too!

Unless you have been living under rock for the past few days you are aware of the recent news that secret service personnel were involved with prostitutes in a hotel. In Colombia, prostitution is legal and they were not in direct detail for guarding the president.

Why is this news? Furthermore, Why do we care?   

Celebrities and Athletes alike get divorced, and say stupid things. In sports, it happens on weekly basis(i.e. Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, Ozzie Guillen). 

So I ask again, why do we care?

Since this is an election year, candidates love to make personal attacks on each other. If someone is a good president, or accountant, or therapist; why do I care what they do in their personal life? It's just that, personal.

I think sometimes we look to these individuals as role models for ourselves and our children. Truthfully, they could be looked at as professional role models, but not as personal role models. Conversely, Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin prove this theory wrong and maybe the reason why people are still wrapped up in Tebow mania and Linsanity. Public figures who practice what they preach. 

On a more psychological aspect, some of us may live vicariously through these individuals. Interestingly, in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, there is an article written called Vicarious Goal Satiation. The article supports the notion that when people observe others completing a task successfully they are more willing to complete that task themselves successfully. Could it be we think like this? Could be the reason we say "there life is great, I want that, and could have that too". We may idealize and/or become envious of what they have accomplished and say to ourselves " If I had what they had, it would perfect.  Knowing what these people are doing/talking/eating/watching/reading, evolutionary psychologists agree; it allows society determine who is trustworthy.

Bottom line: We have no idea what goes on with the Officials, Celebrities, Athletes behind close doors. It may appear that there life is a lot better, but it may not be all that great(but it may...)

Top of the week to you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and Psychology!

In general here on CliniciallySpeaking, while we talk and engage about trending topics whether it be in politics, sports, pop culture, and tech that relate to mental health, rarely we talk about controversial topics. However the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman story has captivated the country both good and bad. I'd like to stay away from right/wrong and focus on what the psychological preconceived notions/implications that this story has on the country.
As reported by Chris Sweeney, on his blog on Trayvon Martin Killing and New Psychological Study On Gun Perception Whip Media Into Frenzy, shortly after the shooting, "psychology professors at Notre Dame and Purdue University announced a study showing that a person carrying a gun is more likely to "see guns in the hands of others". The study, slated for publication in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Perception and Performance, gave people a toy gun or a foam ball and then flashed pictures of people on a computer screen. Participants were asked to determine if the people in the pictures were a holding a toy gun or something else, like a cell phone. When the study participants were holding a toy gun, they were more likely to say the people in the picture were also holding a gun." When I read the opening line of the findings in that experiment, Does that give any justification for the actions of George Zimmerman?Something to think about...

In the world of psychology there is a terminology called Cognitive Bias and Confirmation Bias. In this case one could argue that this is going on in the aftermath and during the shooting. George Zimmerman is a racist(Cognitive Bias-Media, the Martin family and supporters), or Trayvin Martin was involved with gang-related activities(Confirmation Bias-George Zimmerman and supporters)To someone who lives no where near the shooting and does not know anything about these two people will now conjure cognitive bias as well as confirmation biased based on almost no facts about either person involved.
Interestingly, Thomas J. Leeper Ph. D., reported on his blog, that there is a fascinating study that “recently shown that we can reduce our prejudices by consciously resisting our subconscious inclinations through “thinking safe”(rather than “thinking quick”)before judging whether an object associated with a black or white face is a gun. If Zimmerman was predisposed to see criminality in Martin’s presence in the neighborhood that night, it is unlikely that he would been thinking “safe”. Motivated reasoning and subconscious prejudice can be a powerful combination and it is possible they played a role here”.  Could this have preventative a death? Again, something to think about…

In regards to eye witness in this case and any case are pretty much is useless. Eye witness testimony is relied heavily on memory.   Therefore, a good majority of what the eye witnesses have said and will say might not hold a lot of water. Finally, something to think about...

It appears that this case will be on the front pages of our newspapers, media outlets and blogs(guilty as charged) for months to come, whatever the outcome I hope there is closure from whomever wants and needs it. There are more psychological aspects to this case and many more will probably unfold as more information is divulged.  If you plan to track the story heavily please keep an open mind and allow yourself to think and analyze for yourself.

Additionally, here are some links:
*Cognitive Biases Manifest in Trayvon Martin Case
Trayvon Martin's Psychological Killer: Why We See Guns That Aren't There?
Happy Thursday!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Psychology of Rubbernecking

Last night at around 11pm, I heard from my apartment a loud boom and then a car horn. I said to my wife, that was a car accident, about 5 minutes later, sirens and flashing lights were seen. My interest immediately heighten to, A-see if I was right about there being an accident, and B-what did it look like. As I went out in my sweatpants, I was not the only one that was interested in the carnage. Which got me thinking, Why do we as people like seeing car accidents, plane crashes, crippling sports injuries, or even as harmless as America's Funniest Videos when a guy is hit in the groin by his 2-year old. What is it about that, that we enjoy? There must be some psychological reason that we enjoy the blog cave bloggers!

This is not about the PTSD or effects of the people involved, but the bystanders who cannot pull their eyes away from a person being pulled from the wreckage. I cannot believe we are a society that thrives on other people's pain. But are we? We all enjoy the big hit in football(legal that is). Matt Hardigree wrote an article for on Why are we so captivated by car crashes, "According to Roland Maiuro, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington, we tend to look at car accidents because "The accident provides a close encounter without yourself being directly involved being put at risk." It is more about the risk involved rather than the actual event that took place. Furthermore, I have read and spoken to other mental health professionals is the aspect of the illusion of control. For instance, to say that "that person got into a car accident because they were speeding, I don't speed therefore that wont happen to me", which is clearly flawed thinking.

When it comes to sports, and the NFL in particular, that is part of the reason we all watch, for the high impact hits/violence. Only recently, has the NFL started to now reconfigure "legal" and "illegal" hits. In my research, it has come to the attention that we are a society that enjoys risky and violent behavior. It is well documented that football players very often are using the psychological scapegoat of Displacement. Displacement is taking unacceptable thoughts or actions and utilizing them in a social acceptable forum. Meaning, football players are aggressive people by nature, what they do is harness that aggression and use it to play an aggressive based sport.

Finally, in regards to America's Funniest Videos, we have all watched and laughed. Are those videos risky or violent in nature? One step further, who are the forefathers of physical comedy? 3 guys known as Mo, Larry, and Curly. Classic physical comedians, do we say what they do is risky and violent? University of Colorado psychologists A. Peter McGraw and Caleb Warren uses the Three Stooges as an example of benign immorality: "We laugh when Moe hits Larry because we know that Larry's not really being hurt. It's a violation of social norms. You don't hit people, especially a friend. But it's okay because it's not real...comedy comes from violating society's rules, but only if the observer feels those rules have been violated in a safe way."*  

Is that consistent with car accidents and sports? Yes! When it comes to car accidents I think a lot has to do with making sure the people involved are OK, once you can see that, it boils down to looking at what happened abstractly, risky/violent goggles are taken off. In sports, our risky/violent goggles are taken off  because its entertainment, when someone gets a good hit, we immediately cringe, but when he gets up we clap. Like sports, physical comedy we know inherently that harm is not done maliciously our risky/violent goggles are taken off.  

Any way you slice it, they each have some level of risk/violent whether fake or real, still remains!

Happy Opening Day! Let's Go Mets!!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

"It is I, The Messiah": Psychiatric illness or Divine Inspiration?

"I am Jesus!", "No I am Jesus" , "Well you can both can be Jesus, because I am the only Moses, that's right no beard!" You can walk around the streets of New York, Miami, LA, Vatican City, Rome and will undoubtedly find A Jesus, or A Moses,  or A Mary, or even an Allah. Most of us laugh, and walk by, some even give a stare and we ask ourselves: Are the people who claim and proclaim to be the Messiah, do they actually believe it or are they simply suffering from psychiatric illness??

As I like to do over the weekend besides sleeping and eating, I like to catch up on reading from the only magazine I subscribe to, WIRED. This magazine is primarily about gadgets, electronics, nuances of the internet, back stories of people of the web and tech industries. They often have amazing articles on random interesting topics in pop-culture. In the March 2012 issue, Chris Nashawaty wrote an article, The Jerusalem Syndrome: Why Some Religious Tourists Believe They Are the Messiah. The article chronicles a man named "Ronald Hodge" and his demise from working and being married to unemployed, divorced, in Jerusalem and suddenly believing he is Jesus Christ, oh yea and then being hospitalized psychiatricly.  Dr. Peseach Lichtenberg, is the head of the psychiatric department at the Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem and has been working with the patients who are Dx as having the Jerusalem Syndrome for over 20 years. The Jerusalem Syndrome is whereby a person who seems previously balanced and devoid of any signs of psychopathology becomes preoccupied by the particular religion they associate with and develop psychotic features after arriving in Jerusalem. That is a very important line "person who seems previously balanced and devoid of any signs of psychopathology" because that would lead someone to believe that these types of people become psychotic due their surroundings of holiness(ie Jerusalem) and not for any another reason. Dr. Lichtenberg reported that "In two decades at Herzog, the number of false prophets and self-appointed redeemers he has treated is in the low three figures". He goes on to say "that during times of uncertainty and conflict (not infrequent in Israel), admissions to his ward spike". According to Kalian & Witztum, 1998 it has been noted that about 18% of the tourists who need psychiatric hospitalization in Jerusalem display significant features of the syndrome. 

In the Journal of Mental Health, Religion and Culture; Kalian, Catinari, Heresco-Levi,& Witztum(2008) wrote an article called, Spiritual Starvation’’ in a Holy Space—a Form of "Jerusalem Syndrome". It gave case examples of the Jerusalem Syndrome. They wrote that "Not surprisingly, religious beliefs are commonly encountered in psychiatric practice and, like any other type of belief, span a continuum from normal to delusional. However, religious beliefs can present a unique challenge to the clinician attempting to identify where along this spectrum a particular belief lies (or delusion sets in)".

Which brings us to my original question: Psychiatric Illness or Divine Inspiration? Dr. Yoram Bilu, an Israeli psychological anthropologist at the University of Chicago Divinity School said that "It’s just the trigger...the majority of people who suffer from Jerusalem syndrome have some psychiatric history before they get here". Meaning they aren't completely balanced and devoid as mentioned earlier, but they might not be having full blown psychosis until there is some trigger, whether it be a life altering change (i.e. death, divorce, unemployment) but the mental illness stays dormant until a trigger occurs. When it comes to the Jerusalem syndrome, the trigger is religion/environmental based. 

So the answer is both! Religion to a certain extent relies on faith and belief without having concrete proof. To say that someone has a psychiatric illness because they believe, obviously would be ludicrous. Conversely, if a person had this enlightenment at a critical time in their life which led to psychosis or delusions or hallucinations. I think it would be a safe bet saying that the "divine inspiration" was a rationalization and the "trigger" for a much bigger problem.

Interesting stuff!
Happy Monday!

Addiction week comes to a close...

I hope you all enjoyed the posts on addictions, and you get a small taste of what is going on in the world of treatment and different addictions that people are facing in 2012. I must apologize, I had hoped to interview some therapists and substance abuse counselors in the field, but the professionals I had been contacting were unable to be interviewed for the blog. When they do become available I will interview them and post them ASAP.

If you or someone you know think they may have a problem. Click here for the MSSI-SA, its quick and easy. Click for information on AA, NA, SA, GA.

Happy 1st post of Monday!