Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, has a number of important roles including tissue growth and repair and acting as an antioxidant. It also increases iron absorption, so large doses of ferrous supplementation may need to be decreased in order to avoid iron toxicity.
Vitamin C deficiencies can lead to depression. And scurvy.

The proposed theory as to why supplementation of vitamin C might aid in alleviating depressive symptoms is because ascorbic acid is involved in pathways making the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Since serotonin is low in depressed patients, increased ascorbic acid intake may help increase the levels.

Despite the large number of sites on the interweb claiming vitamin C fights depression, I had a difficult time locating articles on the subject in the medical database.

The recommended daily intake is 75-2000mg/day (the Vitamin C foundation recommends 3000mg/day and other sources recommend doses in the several thousands). Good plant sources are red pepper (190g/each), broccoli (90g/1cup), large orange (100g/each), and spinach (90g/cup).

References: 1, 2, 3

Monday, March 30, 2009


I find these lists of “How To” get better irritating when I read them because it’s never as easy as the bullet point notes imply. This article has been on my waitlist for a while as I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with it. Then this morning, very early, at an hour I would never usually be awake at if I didn’t try, I had one of those really obvious epiphanies which you are certain everybody else knew about all along.

Motivation is not synonymous with eagerness (I checked in the thesaurus just to be sure). Eagerness is excitement, fervour, impatience. A motive is an incentive, reason, purpose, inspiration. Certainly eagerness aids in motivation, but it is not necessary. Rather, eagerness is something that is developed through motivation; the more you work at something, the more you enjoy it, and the more you want to continue doing it.

Yet, I think eagerness can be what motivates a person with a mood or personality disorder as excitement is sometimes easier to conjure up than purpose, which tends to be lacking. But eagerness needs motivation to be sustained and if it fades too quickly, it becomes a reason to not engage in an activity; if you’re not excited about it, why should you bother, right? So instead your depression has increased your motivation to remain in that state.

This is not an easy cycle to break. It takes time and work. That said, for those with more severe depressive symptoms who do not have a reason to do anything, eagerness might be a necessary starting point – motivation through exposure. Depression is not as constant as it appears to be. The immutable state is an illusion of the depression. When you find yourself feeling better, make note of it, without thinking about it. This will give you evidence that there were times when things were better and material on which to build motivation.

Of the following list, accepting setbacks is probably the most important. If you accept setbacks as a natural occurrence in the process of any undertaking, then your illness will have a more difficult time convincing you that the regression is an indicator of failure.

Staying Motivated:

* Find a way to personalise the activity. If your goal is to go running every morning but you really hate running, try cycling or rollerblading instead. Or try running in different locations, explore other neighbourhoods, run along the beach or on trails, run at a track, or use a treadmill.

* Recognise progress, celebrate success, and reward yourself. The reward does not have to be material, maybe you allow yourself to read and have tea for one hour instead of cleaning house.

* Ask for help. Get some tutoring, take classes, discuss on a forum, talk to your therapist, and ask friends or strangers questions (people like to help others with the same interests. Asking a stranger for help, even if you make up the question, can help you develop your social network).

* Share your goals, efforts, and progress with others.

* Have a role model. When you feel you need a bit of a push, ask yourself, “What would (insert name of role model here) do?”

* Have short and long term goals. Break larger goals into smaller pieces. Accept setbacks and readjust short term goals as necessary.

* Keep daily priority list of things to do and do at least 3 of them a day.

* Help others in same area. You will gain a new perspective on things when approached from a different angle.

* Don’t overdo it. Zealousness is great, but keep your goals realistic. This doesn’t mean settling for less, only don’t make becoming an Olympic athlete a top priority if you don’t know how to swim.

* Think of the activity as a prescription, a medicine you take regularly to help manage symptoms.

* Be cautious of excuses which may seem more dramatic than they are (your depression will try to convince you otherwise). Do the activity anyway. Don’t ignore your feelings but work through them in a mindful manner.

* Keep a journal of your efforts and outcomes. Make note of time of day, day of week, extenuating circumstances, how long you spent on the activity, perceptions before you start and after you’ve completed the task.

* Enforce a ten minute rule. If you’re having one of those days where you want to do something, but are having trouble finding something or deciding what to do, allow yourself ten minutes to contemplate the options and when that ten minutes is up, if you haven’t made a choice yet, pick any activity and just do it without any more consideration.

* Add more desired activities, or devote more time to a favourite, to your daily schedule as you gain more energy and start to feel better.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Psychology GRE Study Guide Page 6

Oh my god, I’m bored. Do you realise the majority of the GRE is based on first year material?

I’m too lazy to link all of the previous pages, but you can find them in the archives and under the label “GRE”. Page 1 has a link to the official Practice GRE from which this guide is developed.

a. Resisting persuasion is to defend oneself against attempts at manipulation.
b. Group polarisation is when a group’s dominant view, usually determined by majority, increases in strength over time. Also related is groupthink, where members of a group so intensely seek consensus that they ignore other views.
c. Fear arousal is frightening people into compliance or into a desired behaviour.
d. Halo effect is when an opinion about one object influences opinions in the same direction on related objects. For example, if a kitten is furry and I like kittens, then if I dress in kitten fur, I will be liked.
e. Two-sided arguments which state two different points of view, pro and con. A one-sided argument presents only the pro side.

44. Binet and Simon were commissioned by the French government way back when to develop a test that would identify children who were more likely to encounter difficulties with the school curriculum. As such, the test was designed to measure memory, reasoning, and verbal comprehension in order to determine the child’s mental age by comparing each individual score with the average of an age group. The Binet and Simon test eventually evolved into the Stanford-Binet IQ test.
a. Crystallised intelligence is knowledge gained through experience. Fluid intelligence is a person’s innate ability to reason and problem solve.

45. The law of effect, developed by Thorndike, is that when an event is followed by a rewarding experience, the event will be carried out more quickly in subsequent sessions (such as a rat receiving food for successfully completing a maze.
a. Skinner was an American psychologist, behaviourist, who focused on operational conditioning which is when a subject (rat) operates on a mechanical device (lever) and an event occurs (pellets come out).
b. Thorndike developed animal intelligence experiments leading to the idea of instrumental conditioning (the animal learns behaviour because of a reward and this behaviour is performed more quickly each time). (In classical conditioning, the animal does not need to perform a behaviour, but is presented with an external stimulus, to receive a reward).
c. Dewey was a founder of pragmatism and functional psychology which regards mental health as an active adaptation to the environment. He also worked with visual perceptions.
d. Wertheimer was one the founders of Gestalt therapy.
e. J.B. Watson was a behaviourist.

46. Lewis Terman’s study of gifted children found that children with a higher IQ were generally taller and in better physical and mental health. He was the inventor of the Stanford-Binet IQ test and believed IQ was inherited.
a. A longitudinal study is a design such that the same people are studied repeatedly.
b. A cross-sectional study is a design in which people of different ages are compared.
c. An experimental study is such that the investigator alters aspects of the test in order to observe the result. The aspect of the environment/test that is altered is the independent variable. The measured behaviour is the dependent variable.
d. A quasi-experimental study is an experimental study that does not include random assignment to groups.
e. A qualitative study is an intellectual inquiry without quantitative, numerical, scientific, evidence.

47. According to the neurodevelopmental hypothesis states that impaired cognitive abilities lead to impairment of second-order cognitive processes (memory, emotion) and may result in schizophrenic traits.

48. Eleanor Gibson’s is known for the visual cliff experiment in which infants demonstrated depth perception by avoiding a virtual cliff (a table with a glass extension) and even when encouraged by their mothers, the infants would not cross onto the glass. She concluded perception to be a learning mechanism. Similar studies were done with kittens!

49. The procedure of determining attachment developed by Ainsworth is called the strange situation test and can be used to classify children (10-24months) into three groups – secure, resistant, and avoidant attachment. The test is conducted in a clinical setting by observing child and parent in a secure environment and then adding stressors and observing how the child responds (when strangers are near, parent leaves).

50. Yay, brain stuff!!!
a. The foramen of monro is a ventricle.
b. The medulla and the pons are located in the hindbrain and serve as pathways for neural impulses from the spinal cord to the brain. Functions include life support such as sneezing, heart rate, vomiting, breathing, and blood pressure.
c. Broca’s area is concerned with language.
d. The hippocampus is associated with emotions and memory.
e. The thalamus relates sensory information to the cerebral cortex, regulates sleep cycles, and regulates arousal.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Art Appreciation Metaphor

If you stand too close to a painting, you only get to see a small piece of it. If you stand too far away, you never get to appreciate the detail in the work.

You might approach a particular painting and, from a distance, anticipate that you won’t enjoy when you get up closer, but when you do get closer you start to see there are more colours in it than you could see from further away. And as you get closer still, you start to see the fine detail in the brush strokes and you can start to understand, or muse on, why the artist chose to paint the picture in that way. The more time you spend observing the painting, from all different distances and angles, you begin to see even more colour and detail, small animal tracks in the snow, a bird hidden behind some leaves in a tree.

One thing about art, and life, is that the process and the movements of the process need not always be intentional and deliberate in order to achieve a work of beauty; sometimes mistakes and errors can take the painting, or life, in a new and surprisingly pleasant direction. But a great painting can’t be created on impulse alone; even the most abstract works need some intention behind them. You have to choose your colours, brushes, medium, size, and surface. And it’s the small, intentional details of a painting, those three, tiny red dots in the corner that don’t quite fit with the rest of the colour scheme, that can evoke the most intimate feelings.

And that’s just one painting. The entirety of a life is composed of a whole gallery of artworks. On the first floor of your gallery might be more traditional and classical works, a homage to your past, perhaps. On the second floor might be very contemporary works, a place where new things and ideas in and about your life are developing. On the third floor you might house your abstract works, paintings of non-literally expressed emotions which are more mature in content and method than the second floor, but lack the constraints of the classical works on the first floor. And up on the top floor is your studio; a place full of ideas, materials, and potential.

In regards to the fourth floor, I think cognitive behavioural therapy could stand in for ideas, pharmacotherapy or other treatments for materials, and potential, well that’s inherent in everyone.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Psychology GRE Study Guide Page 5

I’m too lazy to link all of the previous pages, but you can find them in the archives and under the label “GRE”. Page 1 has a link to the official Practice GRE from which this guide is developed.

35. Children begin to form two word sentences at about 1yr.
a. Pretend play is a fantastical, symbolic method of play beginning at about 2yrs.
b. Conservation of volume relates to understanding the concept behind an idea like fluid displacement and usually begins at about 11yrs. (Conservation of number is achieved at about 6yrs and is concerned with understanding the number of objects remains the same when oriented differently.)
c. Metalinguistic awareness is the interaction between language and written text, especially in bilingual literacy development. In children, it refers to the ability to concentrate on sounds and language patterns usually beginning at school age.
d. Visually guided reaching is the control of reaching behaviour towards an object of particular size and depth. It is said to occur in infancy, but I came across one study questioning the actual mechanism of infant reaching.
e. The Palmer grasp reflex occurs the first week after birth and is so strong the baby can support its own weight.

a. An ill-defined problem has no clear goal, start, or evaluation method such as the search for happiness.
b. A systematic random search is when possible solutions are tested in relation to sets of rules.
c. A confirmation bias is when one seeks out evidence to support their hypothesis.
d. Functional fixedness is the tendency to see objects and their functions in a fixed and typical way. A person with this view might see a spoon as only an eating utensil and not as a shovel that can be used to bury a dead cat. Mental sets are established patterns of perception and thought which are usually an effective problem solving strategy.
e. The framing effect is when an option presented in a different way alters a person’s decision.

a. Automatisation is the process of learning by which the subject is first learned with full, conscious effort and then later using connections to make recall automatic.
b. Second-order conditioning is using a conditioned stimulus to condition a second signal. An example is pairing a bell with food for a dog which conditions salivation and then pairing a rock with the bell which will also induce salivation. Finally, when the dog is presented with the rock alone, salivation will occur. Second-order associations are used in marketing by pairing something desirable, a box full of kittens, with something else, a used tissue.
c. Sensory preconditioning refers to an association between two (or more) stimuli before conditioning. An example would be exposing a kitten to both a light and a bell. Afterwards, the kitten is conditioned to clean its own cat box at the sound of the bell. However, upon being exposed to a flash of light, without direct conditioning, the kitten will start scooping its own waste.
d. Chaining is the reinforcement of behaviours occurring in a subsequent fashion.
e. Autoshaping is a Pavlonian-type conditioning experiment, but done with a light and pigeons instead of a tone and dogs.

38. Schema are clusters of information and facts that are organised in a knowledgeable way into structured relations. An example is understanding that a towel is not only a piece of cloth, but is used to dry oneself after showering or swimming, needs to be hung to dry properly, and is usually found in the bathroom. In terms of memory, schema makes recall more efficient since you only have to remember general knowledge. However, it can also lead to false memories because of these general associations.

a. Connectionism models behaviour based on the emergent processes of neural networks.
b. Information processing systems are physiological brain structures that have developed to process environmental information in order to solve problems. Cognitive psychologists use this system to explain behaviours.
c. The ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) model uses acceptance, mindfulness, and behavioural changes to increase psychological flexibility.
d. The Atkinson-Shiffrin model states there are two types of memory storage, long-term and short-term. Sensory memory was added later as a third category.
e. The encoding specificity theory states that for material that is to be learned for later recall, there must be a connection made between the cue and the material at the time of learning. If you are trying to remember the Schrödinger equation and are using a picture as a learning aid, it might be helpful to think of a cat in a box. Or, if you are trying to remember the word ‘vase,’ you may associate that word with the word ‘flower.’ Whatever the cue is, it has to be learned at the time of memorisation, otherwise there is no specific connection between the cue and the material in the brain.

a. Eidetic imagery is often called photographic memory and represents total recall of a previous experience.
b. Proactive inhibition is a theory of forgetting in which old memories inhibit the recall of new ones. Retroactive inhibition is when new memories interfere with the recall of older ones.
c. The complexity of expression phenomenon is the relation of an event using more complicated language structure and incorporating more aspects into the description. (I made that up, but it sounds right enough.)
d. The tip of the tongue phenomenon is knowing something that can not be recalled.
e. The template model is the storage of knowledge in easily accessible templates, representations of object categories.

41. A morpheme is the smallest unit that carries meaning, usually consisting of single words, prefixes, and suffixes (‘tie’ has one morpheme and ‘untie’ and ‘ties’ have two). A phoneme is the smallest significant sound unit in speech. Babies have many more sounds than adults and phonemes vary between languages (in English, a speaker does not differentiate between the ‘p’ sound in ‘paw’ or ‘stamp’).

42. The bystander effect is the reluctance to help another when others are around because of diffusion of responsibility and the belief that someone has already, or will, assist. A related idea is social loafing which is the tendency to put less effort into a task when working in a group rather than alone.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Vagus Nerve Stimulation

The vagus nerve (left and right), or Cranial Nerve X, is the tenth cranial nerve (there are twelve in total). It begins in the brain and travels down through the chest to the organs. The functions of the vagus nerve include afferent sensory and motor information and autonomic function of viscera (digestion, heart rate).

VNS is another electrical brain stimulation technique. The difference between this method and ECT, TMS, and MST, is that the device sending the electrical impulse is surgically implanted in the chest. A wire connects this device, the pulse generator, to the left vagus nerve which is located in the back of the neck.

The device is activated by a physician after implantation (a short surgery) to deliver frequent, short impulses (30 second stimulation every 5 minutes) automatically. A magnetic device is also supplied so that the patient can turn off the stimulation by holding the magnet over the device when necessary.

It is used primarily to treat epilepsy and treatment resistant depression. Many research studies suggest promising effects of VNS on TRD especially over the long-term. As well, there is evidence that VNS improves sleep cycles, which are associated with mood. Theses studies each have their problems, as usual, causing hesitancy in the medical community.

Side effects include obstructive sleep apnea, laryngeal problems (changes in voice, coughing, pharyngitis, and bradyarrithmias.

There have been no documented cognitive side effects. The procedure is also safe to use during pregnancy.

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Psychology GRE Study Guide Page 4

I’m too lazy to link all of the previous pages, but you can find them in the archives and under the label “GRE”. Page 1 has a link to the official Practice GRE from which this guide is developed.

26. A sign stimulus is an evolutionary, external, environmental stimulus that elicits a specific patterned behaviour to a specific stimulus, such as behavioural imprinting.

27. Primary prevention is education of how to prevent certain ailments from occurring. Secondary prevention is the early identification of risk factors, screening. Tertiary prevention is the treatment and containment of an illness once it has begun.

a & d. Antidepressants are not a guarantee of long-term recovery; their effects vary with dose, interactions with other drugs (including vitamins), and the individual. Relapse is common in treatment resistant depression. Many people often need to try a few different antidepressants before finding one that is suitable.
c. Personality is a complicated collection of beliefs, experiences, and personal history.
e. Side effects vary between the different medications, but are common.

29. A behavioural approach is designed to change behaviours, as opposed to thoughts, through the application of learning principles (e.g. desensitisation for phobias). Only one of the answers is non-cognitive.

a. The expectancy theory explains the choice making process of an individual which predicts that employees will be more motivated when they believe more effort will result in better performance, better performance will lead to work-related and personally valued awards.
b. The balance theory is proposed to understand a person’s drive towards psychological balance. It involves assigning a negative symbol to disliked objects and a positive symbol to liked objects and then multiplying these signs for inter-related objects.
c. The social comparison theory explains self-evaluation processes of an individual in comparison to a desirable social group.
d. The equity theory concerns an individuals perception of fairness is relationship/social exchanges.
e. A drive is a psychological state arising from a physiological need, such as thirst, in order to restore homeostasis.

31. A preposition is a word that comes before a noun or a pronoun.
a. Descriptive means to describe, outline.
b. Prescriptive is a rule or guideline.
c. Orthographic means concerned with spelling.
d. Pragmatic means concerned with practical considerations or consequences.
e. Semantics is the study of meaning in language.

a. Contextual retrieval cues include visual aids such as graphs and punctuation as well as linguistic and semantic clues.
b. Retroactive interference is when the formation of new memories inhibits the recovery of older memories. Proactive interference is when old memories interfere with the formation of new memories.
c. Decay is the idea that memories are forgotten with the passing of time.
d. Learning is learning, not remembering.
e. Motivated forgetting is synonymous with repression and is a defence mechanism used to push unwanted, traumatic memories out of consciousness.

a. Afferent means leading towards the CNS from an organ or part.
b. Efferent means leading away from the CNS towards an organ or part.
c. Dorsal describes a position towards the back; dorsal fin.
d. Ventral describes a position towards the abdomen.
e. Frontal, anterior, describes a position towards the front; forehead. Posterior is towards the rear; tail.

34. Erikson’s stages of personal identity development are (the backslashes indicate ‘vs.’):
i. Infancy/childhood: trust/mistrust (birth-1yr), autonomy/shame (1-3yrs), initiative/guilt (development and decision making regarding the carrying out of plans, 3-6yrs), industry/inferiority (ability and competency issues, 6-12yrs).
ii. Adolescence: identity/role confusion (adolescence), intimacy/isolation (young adulthood).
iii. Adulthood: generativity/stagnation (concerns over contributions to younger generations), integrity/despair (regarding one’s life, successes and failures).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Quantum Tunnelling Metaphor

I very much dislike when people use quantum physics to explain…whatever they want. But I think I can get away with it here as I am using quantum tunnelling only as a metaphor.

To start off, imagine a potential barrier of width L and potential V>E. Now consider a particle described by wave mechanics that has a wavelength,
λ = 2πħ /(√2m(E-Vo)).

For E> Vo, the wavelength is real (because the square root in the expression above is positive). However, the change in potential causes an increase in wavelength and a change in wavelength means that the particle is both reflected from and transmitted across the barrier.

For E less than Vo, the wavelength in the region of the barrier (region II) is imaginary (the square root in the expression above is negative). Because the wavelength is imaginary, the wave function decreases exponentially inside the barrier. If L is large (infinite), the wave will not cross the barrier. But if L is small, the wave will resume at the other end of the barrier, although with a decreased amplitude.

In my metaphor, the wave function is the patient and the barrier is the depression (or other illness). More severe depressions will have larger barriers. Classically speaking, a particle would not be able to pass through the barrier. However, we have just seen that the seemingly impossible is possible from a different perspective. I would say the classical perspective is the way a patient views their situation through their depression.

Inside the barrier is where the therapy occurs, working in and through the depression. While in the depression, it may seem like there is no way out as the wave function decreases, especially if the barrier is large. However, both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy can decrease the width of the barrier, decrease the length and intensity of the depression.

An when the patient does emerge on the other side, because L isn’t infinite, they may interpret the attenuated wavelength as them being less of their original self when in fact, the variations in their mood is now more stable instead of fluctuating into extreme values as it did before they passed through the barrier of depression.

Physics saves lives.

Oh, there is also an energy barrier in a game called Rune Village which keeps unwanted souls from entering the port, but to pass through that barrier all you have to do is give the guards some money.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Five-Factor Model

The FFM is a tool used to describe personality based on five different categories. It was developed in the 1930’s using the lexical hypothesis which states that all of human emotions can be encoded into language. Some scientists went through the English language and extracted all words relating to emotion and then reduced this list to words they felt were most descriptive and pertinent to describing human emotion and this list was further reduced over the years to the Big Five.

The Big Five categories are:
1. Openness/Intellect – interest and appreciation of ideas, art, experience
2. Agreeableness – compassionate, cooperative
3. Conscientiousness – self-reliant, purposeful, sense of duty, planned experiences
4. Extraversion – energetic, socially outgoing, positive emotions
5. Neuroticism – emotional instability, negative emotions

Criticisms of the FFM include it not being a theoretically based, it does not describe all of human emotion, the Big Five are not linearly independent, and problems with the methodology.

Some other scientists compared five-factor profiles to the ten personality disorder categories in the DSM-IV and concluded there was a correlation between a particular five-factor profile and each of the personality disorders, in the DSM – FFM direction.

But a study just released in Am J Psych (1) examining the clinical utility of the FFM shows that psychiatric workers (psychiatrist, clinical psychologists, and social workers) had a more difficult time making a DSM diagnosis based on the FFM.

“We emphasize that our goal was not to compare the DSM-IV and the FFM in the exact format proposed to be adopted and determine which system excels… We acknowledge that the current methods do not experimentally control for all possible differences between the DSM-IV and FFM (e.g., clinicians’ familiarity with the systems)…. by not overcontrolling for practicing clinicians’ current understanding of the FFM, the results identify consequences that normal clinicians would face if the FFM replaced the DSM-IV axis-II diagnoses. Overall, any potential descriptive system to be incorporated into the
DSM-V should take into account not only validity, but also clinicians’ ability to reason with the system.”

References: 1, 2

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Types of Love

Depending on the source, there are 3, 4, 6, or 9 types of love. But my list first:

1. Requited love: mutual, romantic, sexual, committed, secure. This is probably the best.
2. Unrequited love: one-sided, possibly sexual, non-secure. This one breaks hearts. But on the positive side, you loved, and something good most always comes out of that.
3. Enough to not tell my/your significant other love: because monogamy is unrealistic (I have heard of people who have done it though). Healthy, caring, non-committed.
4. Transference love (not therapists): because you remind me of the person I would rather be with. Can still be happy, healthy, and committed.
5. Associative love: using a person to get closer to another or make someone jealous.
6. Pet love: that just sounds wrong.
7. Math love: ∫, ∏,µ, √, ф, ɛ, Ω, ∆, ℮
8. Fantasy love: expressed towards an imaginary person, celebrity, or someone you don’t really know but think you do.
9. Self love: VERY important. Seriously. Confidence and self-esteem are two very positively powerful forces for setting and achieving goals.
10. Instinctual love: when there’s no reason you can find for loving a particular person.
11. Google love: because the interweb will give you the answers to the questions the person you are searching won’t.
12. Thrill love: passionate, risk-taking, addictive. Not necessarily directed towards a person, e.g. skydiving.
13. Obligatory love: usually applied to family members. Pretending to love a person which therefore indicates care, but deep feelings are absent.
14. Desperate love: derived from loneliness and/or aging. May or may not develop into requited love.
15. Abusive love: When a person says they love you but is physically or psychologically abusive.
16. Summer Glau love: see #11. Also leads to hours of addictively viewing really bad Fox programming (just Fox, not Joss Whedon). *** see footnote.
17. Sandwich love: see the Qwantz comic. I call it Ice Cream love. May also apply to other foods, significant material objects, and immaterial sensory stimuli.

The 3 types of love are:
1. Eros love is based on passion, sexual attraction and desire.
2. Philia is an interested, affectionate, strong liking with an emotional connection.
3. Agape love has its roots in Christianity and is a spiritual (not sexual), gentle, selfless love towards all.

The 4 types of love are:
1. Security love: nurturing and caring; ideally, this love is the type parents have for their children.
2. Friendship love: this is the same as Philia love.
3. Romantic love: similar to Eros love; butterflies-in-your-stomach-love-at-first-sight love.
4. Unconditional love: this is a sort of romantic-agape love, unconditional.

The 6 types of love are:
1. Eros
2. Ludus: an uncommitted love, conquest driven love which may include lying.
3. Storge: a friendship love similar to Philia which may include dispassionate sex.
4. Pragma: a pragmatic, practical, mutually beneficial relationship where sex may be viewed as a technical requirement.
5. Mania: an obsessive, jealous love.
6. Agape

The 9 types of love are:
1. Affection: non-sexual but touching and kissing may occur; caring and secure.
2. Sexual: sex and sex related feelings; short-term.
3. Platonic: non-sexual, contented, trusting; like affection but without the kissing.
4. Romantic: rose petals and sunset walks on the beach love.
5. Puppy: youthful, innocent, short-term, infatuation.
6. Friendship: not sure how this is different from platonic love.
7. Committed: respectful, long-term, sexual.
8. Passionate: lust, sex, euphoria.
9. Infatuation: obsessive, blinded.

*** typical conversation while watching The Sarah Connor Chronicles:

“I don’t understand why they would do that. They obviously changed the story mid-shoot. There not even wearing the same clothes. Am I seriously supposed to believe that these time travelling robot killers haven’t figured out that they shouldn’t use cel phones for communicating sensitive information?”
“Just watch the show.”
“But I have all my disbelief suspended, and this still doesn’t make any sense. How does a story even get this bad? And you know it’s not the writers, it’s just Fox ruining what would otherwise be a kick-ass show.”
“Do you wanna watch another episode?”
“Yeah. Of course.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Psychology GRE Study Guide, Page 3

Also, feel free to email me with questions.

Page 1 - question #1 updated
Page 2

a. Synchrony means occurring at the same time.
b. Proximodistal development means that physical development occurs from the inside (near) out (distal); spinal cord develops before outside regions of body, arms develop before hands.
c. Reciprocal socialisation is a bidirectional process where by parents and children socialise each other.
d. Symbiosis is two organisms living together with either one or both members benefiting from the attachment (parasites).
e. Insecure attachment can be either avoidant (child is not concerned with coming or going of parent and may avoid contact) or resistant (child is very upset when parent leaves and is not easily comforted upon reunion). Secure attachment is when a child is slightly distressed in the absence of a caregiver and is easily reassured upon reunion.

18. Jean Piaget believed everyone is born with a tendency to organise their environment in a meaningful way. He also believed that children think differently than adults. Especially, that children’s views of the world are inaccurate and that their schemata (models of the world) change with children’s reasoning errors. Piaget suggested that the ability to correct errors in schemata is based on assimilation (fitting new experiences into existing schemata) and accommodation (modification of schemata based on new experiences). Piaget believed there were four stages of childhood development. These were sensorimotor (birth-2yrs, schemata based on sensory and motor information), preoperational (2-7yrs, more abstract and symbolic thought-absent objects), concrete operational (7-11yrs, verbalising, visualising, and mental manipulation), and formal operational (11-adult, mastery of abstract thinking). Piaget allowed for variations in timing in how children progress through these stages, but that the stages occur in sequence.

19. This one relates to #18 where a young child’s view of the world is still developing and they are still in the process of accommodating new experiences. In assimilation, the child will take something new, say a bowl, and fit it into their current view by categorising it as a cup because both are round with an open top.

20. Epstein believed that to get an accurate estimate of a personality trait, you need many observations. The psychometric approach aims to identify stable individual differences by analysing large groups of people with various tests.

21. Heterozygous means carrying to different alleles. In this case, one allele from each parent must be recessive. In order for a recessive trait to be expressed, the person must have two of the recessive alleles (one from each parent). There are four possible combinations of two alleles from each parent. The probability that a specific trait is expressed is (the number of possible combinations of alleles allowing for that expression)/(the total number of possible allele combinations). In the figure below, 'A' is the dominant allele and 'a' is the recessive allele. The probability that the dominant trait is expressed is 3/4.

22. These are pretty straightforward terms. One thing to notice is that A, C, D, and E are all types of learning, which is what is needed for development in any area.

23. Psychosexual stages of psychoanalytic theory are: oral (birth-1yr; pleasure from suckling), anal (1-2yrs; pleasure from defecation), phallic (3-5yrs; attention to genitals), latency (5-puberty; suppressed sexual feelings), genital (puberty; appropriate sexuality).

24. The right hemisphere of the brain is involved in spatial tasks such is assembling a puzzle or orienting an object in an environment and emotional processing. It is more engaged in fantasy and music. The left hemisphere is involved in verbal tasks. It is more engaged in analytic and rational tasks such as math.

25. The reticular formation is situated in the hindbrain. It is linked to life-supports functions such as control of breathing, heart rate, vomiting, sneezing, blood pressure, and coughing.
b. Olfaction and gestation refer to smell and taste, respectively.
e. Homeostasis is the process by which the body maintains a steady state and includes temperature regulation and fluid balances, among other things.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Vitamin B

Vitamin B comes in many varieties. Three of those, B6, B12, and folate (B9) have been related to depression. B6 in its active form is called pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP). PLP, through some biochemical reactions, is related to serotonin levels, and serotonin is related to moods and sleep cycles.

It has been shown that depressed patients have lower levels of vitamin B12, PLP, and folate. However, B6 studies are still relatively new in the exploration of effects on depression. A couple of studies (5, 6) have shown positive effects, but inconclusive, of B6 treatment, as an antidepressant augmentation, in patients with schizophrenia and depression.

A recent study of depression in the SUN cohort (1) demonstrated an association of depression with low folate levels in smoking men and low B12 levels in women. The study did not find any significant association with B6 levels. Similar results were found in another study (2) where low folate levels were associated with depression in Japanese males. Yet another study (3) also showed a significant association between low folate levels and depression; this study further hypothesises that insufficient folate levels may be a consequence, rather than a cause, of depression and that there may be some sort of negative feedback type cycle with low folate further decreasing appetite.

Folate and B12 are involved in biochemical reactions which affect neurological functioning (7). In the relationship between these vitamins and depression, deficiencies are markers for low homocysteine levels and low homocysteine levels are associated with depression.

A 2008 study (4) of the effects of B6 on depression suggested that the intake method of B6, dietary versus supplemental, may be significant, but that more studies need to be done to verify the hypothesis.

The recommended daily intakes of B6, B12, and folate are 1.3-2.0mg, 2.4 µg, and 400 – 1000 µg, respectively (for both men and women).

Sources of B12 include beef (3oz-2.1µg), salmon (30z-2.4µg), milk (80z-0.9µg), and cheese (brie, 10z-0.5µg).

Sources of B6 include fortified cereal (3/4c-2g), baked potato (0.7g), banana (0.68g), chick-peas (1/2c-0.57g), and chicken (half breast-0.52g).

Sources of folate include fortified cereal (3/4c-400µg), spinach (1/2c, cooked-100µg), and black-eyed peas (1/2c-105µg).

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Vitamin A

Vitamin A comes in both fat-soluble (from animal sources) and water-soluble (from plant sources) varieties. Lipid-soluble vitamin A is stored in fat cells and in the liver and excess can lead to toxicity whereas water-soluble provitamin A is more easily excreted. Vitamin A can be found as retinol (an alcohol), retinal (an aldehyde), or retinoic acid (RA). Deficiencies or excesses of Vitamin A can be detrimental to neurological health.

Isotretonoin, a synthetic retinoid used to treat severe acne (and other dermatological symptoms), can cause psychiatric side effects including depression and suicidality, especially in teens who are more likely to be taking the drug. A recent study (1) which reviewed publications linking psychopathology to isotretonoin showed many studies with convincing evidence of the link, though with flawed methodologies. Other studies showed no correlation. The author does point out the obvious fact that a dermatological condition can also be a cause of psychiatric symptoms.

It is believed that isotretonoin’s effect on psychopathology is through its many effects on neurotransmitter systems (2). The pathways are complicated, but evidence indicates a correlation between RA pathways and Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and the serotonergic system (sleep and mood).

The recommended daily intake of Vitamin A is 900 – 3000 µg for adult males and 700 – 300 µg for adult females. Some sources of vitamin A are liver (6500 µg and gross), carrots (835 µg), sweet potatoes (709 µg, I still don’t know the difference between a sweet potato and a yam), spinach (496 µg), and broccoli (31 µg, the leaves have much more content, 800 µg).

References: 1, 2

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy Pi Day!

Today is pi day. I thought I should write something relating to psychiatry and numbers, but I have a pi related event to attend, so I will just say that everything thing in life can be represented by numbers. Each individual has a series of numbers associated with their identity – driver’s license, hospital records, phone number, age…

For the record, I met my goal set in the earlier post and memorised the first 100 digits of pi. It turned out to be a pretty easy task.

Also, a colleague of mine has devoted an episode of his web comic, The Skeleton Show, to pi day.

Happy Pi Day Everyone!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Therapeutic Writing

There have been a few studies (two published quite recently) which have shown patients who completed writing homework exercises exhibited fewer anxiety and depression symptoms as well as greater therapeutic progress than patients in the writing control groups. One of these studies also showed an efficacy of structured writing comparable to that of CBT alone.

There have also been studies investigating the physiological effect of expressive writing and some of those findings include a lower heart rate and lower blood pressure in the emotionally expressive groups.

Writing can help identify thematic stressors as well as give insight into thought processes and problem solving strategies, which may be impaired in the presence of a psychiatric disorder but can be remedied once they are recognised. Writing can also be a way of divulging secrets while still keeping them safe.

Writing is common in CBT, but it is usually highly structured. The reason for this format is that it forces the patient to spend only a certain amount of page space in their usual thinking patterns and then using the rest of the space to analyse and restructure their thought patterns.

A very simple exercise is to divide a page in half by drawing a line down the middle; on the left side of the page one can record a negative thought, but this thought must be challenged on the right hand side of the page. For example, on the left side there might be a comment such as, “I am always late for work,” and on the right side this might be balanced with, “I have only been late for work twice this year and both times were due to unusually high traffic.” This kind of task might be very difficult in the beginning. IF someone has suffered a chronic depression, even the positive side might come out sounding negative or cynical, but it will get easier the more the exercise is done. It is important for the therapist to be supportive during this learning phase and acknowledge the patient’s effort. It is also important for the patient to listen to criticism on how their homework can be improved.

I certainly do not argue against the benefits of structured CBT writing, but I also know that thoughts don’t come in discrete units. Sure it’s nice to put things neatly into columns, but there is always that possibility of a something-is-missing feeling.

As a balance to other therapies where the patient may feel disconnected from their work and therefore abandon it, journal or creative writing can be helpful. While writing can be a healthy, cathartic process giving the person a sense of control, I still think there needs to be some structure to the writing, at least in terms of content. The patient should spend an equal amount of time on positive writing, but they can be placed anywhere in the piece. As well, I do not believe it to be particularly healthy for someone to write about the same issue repetitively or at length.

I have my reservations regarding the Pennebaker protocol, simple because of the intensity of negative emotions that will likely be experienced, and there is no balance during those four days of analytic catharsis. For those in psychiatiric treatment, I would recommend only one day of writing before their next session and do not tackle events that are too traumatic to deal with now (you can come back to these situations later if you decide to). And, as I have said, any negative writing should be balanced with something positive, even if it’s fiction.

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Well, not quite, though the literal interpretation could be applied to the metaphor. It’s not my metaphor; someone said to me today that a person who engages in a variety of short-term activities is akin to a promiscuous man sleeping with many women because he’s trying to find the best mate. My replies to any conversation have a significant delay period, so I didn’t respond, but it bothers me when people are wrong.

First off, the con-arguer in this debate is implying that pre-marital (or marital if you really want to push the boundaries here) sexual promiscuity is a negative behaviour. That would be like me saying that waiting until you’re married before engaging in sexual intercourse is wrong. I might not think it’s the best approach, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with it. Just as there is nothing wrong with enjoying consensual sex with multiple partners. Sexual compatibility is extremely important in a relationship. And I would say that sexual compatibility is even more important when one or both people has experienced a trauma.

Now, the metaphor. Similarly, I believe it is healthy for a person to venture, non-committedly, into different interests. This is certainly the attitude towards academics; take lots of different classes during your first year or two to find out what you like. Would you call this person an academic slut? (I would, but only in jest). There are so many things to experience in life, it seems a shame to pick one right off the bat and fully commit to it; that’s what leads to disappointed monogamy.

Likewise, with the traumatised person, and here the trauma can be any psychiatric illness, they may not have had many positive experiences in any activity. In which case, they may need to try smaller, safer activities, without the pressure of full commitment, in order to build confidence that they can enjoy, not just one or two, but many of the experiences life has to offer.

Some difficulties may arise with the borderline patient or any avoidance behaviour, which is probably what the con-arguer was getting at, and I agree with in such cases, but the metaphor from their point of doesn’t hold up under detailed analysis.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Psychology GRE Study Guide Page 2

My “free” internet signal has left me despondent these past couple of weeks. Yesterday, the signal returned, but only for a few hours. As a result, I was forced to use one of those book-thingy’s on my shelf. I had to reference things in the index and flip the pages (by hand!), but it was still faster, and more enjoyable and relaxing, than retrieving information from the interweb. Wait, unless you are studying for the GRE, in which case it’s easier to come here.

Page 1

Page 2:

9. Protection-motivation theory was developed by Rogers. It describes coping strategies for perceived health threats using either a threat or a coping appraisal. The theory proposes that intended self protection depends upon: perceived severity of event, perceived probability or vulnerability, the efficacy of the recommended prevention (response efficacy), and the perceived self-efficacy.

10. An attitude, according to social psychologists, is a positive or negative evaluation or belief of something. It may affect behaviour. Attitudes can be broken down into cognitive, affective, and behavioural components.

11. Elaine Hatfield did some studies about the types of love.
a. Agape love has its roots in Christianity and is a spiritual (not sexual) and selfless love towards all.
b. Companionate love is described more by trust and warmth than intense emotions. Tends to start later in the relationship and be more enduring.
c. Erotic love (eros) is sexual attraction and desire.
d. Passionate love is an intense emotional state in which the individual is influenced by a powerful longing to be with the other person.
e. Friendship love (philia) is an interested, affectionate, strong liking with an emotional connection.

a. Problem-solving heuristics refer to learning by experiment.
b. Linguistics is the study of language.
c. Self-monitoring behaviour is the tendency to change behaviour in accordance with a situation. High self-monitors are more likely than low self-monitors to change their actions and beliefs in order to best suit their needs.
d. Intrinsic motivation refers to situations where there is no internal or external motivation; the behaviour is self-motivated.
e. The fundamental attribution error is the overestimation of internal factor and the underestimation of external forces when interpreting another person’s behaviour.

13. Self-esteem is a person’s own evaluation of their worth. There is only one answer here that is concerned directly with the individual and can not be attributed to other environmental factors.

14. Adrenaline (epinephrine) is involved in autonomic responses to stressors, particularly the fight-or-flight response, increasing heart-rate and available energy for a short period of time. Schachter and Singer found that experience of emotion was determined by expectation and developed the two-factor theory of emotion which includes autonomic arousal as well as individual interpretation of that arousal. Dopamine and serotonin affect sleep, mood, attention, and learning.

15. The correlation between two variables is the slope of the best-fit line.

16. Paul Ekman did an experiment where people were asked to match photographs of provocative facial expressions to a wide number of emotion labels and found agreement on six. (For the record, I don’t buy into this theory; I have more emotions than that in ten minutes).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Iceberg Metaphor

Why is it icebergs always represent problems? I guess problems need their metaphors too, but I’m going to change the symbolism anyway.

The iceberg is you, in a solid, contained form. The tip of the iceberg is what depression allows you to see. The surface of the ocean is the depression; it doesn’t allow you to see how much more there is to you below itself reflecting back what is above the surface thereby convincing you that all that lies below the surface-depression is more of what is above the surface. And so the tip of the iceberg, which is the negative distortions of depression, looks to only be a small amount of much more depression, when in fact there is only that small amount of negativity while the rest of the iceberg, which is much larger, contains everything else. Actually, the tip of the iceberg is only 1/8 of the total size.

Icebergs melt in about a year, so you might not recover from your depression immediately, but each positive thing you do can aid in the process.

The water inside the iceberg is fresh and not likely to be polluted. Though devoid of pollutants, icebergs do usually carry impurities such as volcanic dust and other terrestrial material. These impurities might be viewed as undesirable aspects of the self when in fact as the iceberg melts, these materials aid in significantly increasing biological life for up to two miles around the iceberg. So there are actually vast quantities of life below the surface of your depression, both contained within yourself and in the surrounding ocean which can be thought of as everything else in your life. And furthermore, the life within you, when released, will have dramatic positive effects on everything surrounding you - work, friendships, health, “thriving communities of seabirds above and a web of phytoplankton, krill, and fish below.”

References: 1

Saturday, March 7, 2009

CBT with Euler’s Number

In honour of the number e (because pi is getting so much attention these days and also because e has more higher order numbers in its beginning than does pi), here is a traditional priority ranking exercise, but using the digits of e. The way it works is simple; for each digit of, in sequence, you assign an activity of either pleasure or obligation to the number with 0 being the least enjoyable or easiest to accomplish and 9 being the most enjoyable of difficult to accomplish.

The catch is you have to use each digit in order. So if you have three activities that rank at level 1, you have to fill in all of the digits up to the third 1 (that’s 27 digits if you skip the leading 2). And no cheating by changing the rank of an activity to match the digit you need to fill.

The point of the exercise is to help you recognise what you need and want to do during your day/week/month as well as to help you recognise how much of your time is spent on less enjoyable activities. The next step in this type of exercise would be to track each activity throughout the week. You will probably notice some activities during this tracking period that were not included in your original list. If you do, make sure to take note of it so that you can place it with all the others. Eventually, you will move on to replacing the less enjoyable activities in your schedule with enjoyable ones. But for now, all you are doing is taking an inventory. I will post an example schedule soon.

The activity you list can also be something you have wanted to do but haven’t for whatever reason. If you’ve always wanted to go skydiving, you can use that as one of your high ranking activities. However, when you use desired activities to fill in the blanks, you have to make an honest effort to actually do them.

From a philosophical point of view, the infinite digits of e can be thought to represent the infinite number of possibilities of things you may accomplish. So the exercise is also to force you to recognise the more important aspects of your life. And because e is irrational (the digits are random), a very significant event can occur after many less significant ones, a metaphor for change and improvement from your current disposition.

Most CBT exercises of this type encourage you to find ten activities, but allow for less. I think I am going to introduce the rule that you have to use at least the first 20 digits, but I challenge you to do more.


7 – Go for run in morning
1 – Check email
8 – Brush teeth before bed
2 – Brush teeth in morning
8 – Eat a proper dinner
1 – Make coffee to go
8 – Learn to do the splits
2 – Water plants
8 – Spend time with Summer Glau
4 – Read a novel

That’s ten digits already, so I know you can easily fill at least twenty (you can break large tasks into smaller components if you want).

e = 2.71828 18284 59045 23536 02874 71352 66249 77572 47093 69995 95749 66967 62772 40766 30353 54759 45713 82178 52516 64274 27466 39193 20030 59921 81741 35966 29043 57290 03342 95260 59563 07381 32328 62794 34907 63233 82988 07531

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Is it OK for Therapists to Cry (with Patients)?

No. That was easy. Here’s why:

• It blurs the line of the doctor-patient relationship, potentially putting the patient in a very awkward position. Does patient now need to comfort therapist? Of course not, but the patient might not be able to discern that, especially in their emotional turmoil, and this is a question they will inevitably be asking themselves.

• Not crying during a distressing session is a demonstration to the patient that intense emotions can be managed and tolerated without becoming overruled by them.

• For the sake of the therapist, it is not healthy to be getting caught up in patient’s problems on a regular basis.

• It de-stabilises a therapeutic alliance. If doctor is emotionally shaken at one declaration by patient, patient might be more reluctant to share other information, whether they are uncomfortable with doctor’s crying or because they don’t want to upset doctor.

An exception occurs when the therapist makes an effort to not become emotionally caught up with the patient, but is physically unable to prevent tears (however, if this happens frequently, I would say there is an issue with the therapist). Crying is like sneezing; you might not be able to stop it (sometimes you can), but you can at least minimise its display. I myself have been deeply, and sadly, moved by some patient’s stories, and I have cried. But I did not cry in the presence of that person, because it was not about me, it was about them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Psychology GRE Study Guide Page 1

This is for all those psychology students out there who want to be professional psychology students. And since the GRE is required for most graduate programs, I will be going through the practice test page by page explaining not only what the question is asking, but also each of the answer options. I will not be posting the actual answer, but this still may want to be something you look at after you’ve done the practice test, though I won’t be doing it that way. I figure by the time I’ve completed all 31 pages, I will have forgotten the earlier ones and I would rather do a 31 page assessment of my knowledge after studying rather than before.

1. Transformational grammar uses grammar in a logical way to convey meaning and thought behind the sentence rather than just as a structural tool.
a. Roger Brown is an American social psychologist who studied paediatric linguistics, flashbulb memories, and tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon.
b. Alan Turing was a British mathematician, logician and cryptanalyst.
c. Jerry Fodor is an American philosopher and cognitive scientist who philosophised much on language believing that communication was achieved by ‘language of thought’ which states that cognition and related processes are plausible only when expressed as representational systems and that thought follows the same rules as language.
d. B.F. Skinner was an American psychologist who focused on operational conditioning which is when a subject (rat) operates on a mechanical device (lever) and an event occurs (pellets come out).
e. Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, political activist, author, and lecturer and is known for being the father of modern linguistics.

Also, Noam Chomsky is known for critiquing the beliefs of Skinner saying that there exists a language instinct in each individual and that language learning is more complicated than behavioural teaching citing cases of development of language in the absence of structured or unstructured teaching.

2. A mnemonic device is an association between one object/word/poem and the relevant data.
b. A teaching machine is a mechanical device to aid in learning developed by Sidney Pressey and built again later by B.F. Skinner.
d. The Grecian Method and Illocutionary Force Indicating Devices are used to convey sentence meaning.

3. Countertransference is a Freudian concept describing when a therapist develops an emotional attachment to a patient.
a. Psychodrama is, usually, a group therapy where personal conflicts are acted out.
b. Psychoanalysis is a Freudian technique used to examine a patient’s issues by means of verbal communication (free-associations, dreams…).
d. Client-centred therapy is a non-directive, supportive, and validating approach developed by Carl Rogers.
e. Behaviour modification is the modification of behaviours – reinforcing desired behaviours and punishing negative behaviours.

a. Projection is when a person ascribes their emotions onto another person.
b. Reaction formation is when a person avoids a position by assuming the opposite position.
c. Displacement is the deflection of an effect from one target to another.
d. Compensation is when a person covers up perceived negative aspects of the self by exaggerating the inadequacies in another area.
e. Rationalisation is when a person justifies behaviours/emotions through logical means.

5. Systematic desensitisation is the use an in increasing grade of agitating stimuli to accustom a person to the actual agitation-inducing stimulus.

a & b. Rods are more sensitive to light than cones, are more numerous, and not
sensitive to colour perception.
c. Cones do enable greater visual acuity (but remember, only when the lights are on).
d & e. Foveal acuity is better than peripheral acuity. The fovea also has no rods
and a high density of cones.

a. Equilibrium is when competing forces in a system are balanced.
b. Enervation means to weaken or destroy the strength or vitality of. It also
means to remove a section of or a complete nerve.
c. Myelinisation is the development of a myelin, electrically insulating, sheath
around the axon of a nerve.
d. Sensitisation is the amplification of a response to a stimulus.
e. Hyperpolarisation is when the potential across a membrane increases to greater
than its resting potential. The resting potential is negative therefore the hyperpolarisation potential is more negative. Hyperpolarisation occurs after the firing of a neuron.

a. Preoperational thinking occurs between ages 2 – 6 and is characterised by
language development.
b. Cognitive perspective-taking is theorised to be important in intentional moral and proper social behaviour.
c. Play patterns are methods of social learning during the pre-school years. Boys tend to show more functional play (imaginative) than do girls who display more constructive play (object manipulation).
d. & e. I couldn’t find any gender differences in the literature.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ethics and Palliative Volunteers

An article in the 2009 issue of American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine I found interesting was concerning hospice volunteers who get very little training before going onto the ward. This was a US study, but the same thing applies at least here in Vancouver.

The four ethical challenges outlined in the paper from Canadian palliative volunteers are the easy ones to answer, at least for a volunteer since in that position you defer responsibility of medically related enquiries to the medical staff. That takes care of challenges 1 and 3 (communication with anyone other than patient regarding their status), and 4 (personal medical concerns about the patient). Challenge 2 (being asked for opinions by the patient) is also pretty straightforward; don’t if you don’t want to. If a patient asks which funeral home you think they should go with, list a few different places and let them decide that way. Or ask them what they were thinking of going with and how they came to that decision. Or say that you don’t really know much about the topic and refer them to the nurses or family.

The article also talks about accepting gifts and listening to suicide talk/requests, which are more complicated issues, but still manageable.

In the introduction, more interesting examples were given which I will answer with extreme brevity here:

“…whether to address honestly the patient’s questions about whether she was dying while also respecting the family’s wishes that she not be told…” Defer to doctor – “I’m afraid I’m not given any medical information. You should ask your doctor next time you see him.”

“…whether to help a patient go to his garage (at some physical risk and with great difficulty) to destroy materials he did not want his wife to see…” You should never put yourself, or the patient, at risk.

“…whether to write a letter from the patient to someone the caregiver would not approve of…” Yes.

“…whether to speak up when the volunteer believed that the patient was seriously overmedicated…” Of course you should speak up, just remember that staff might not listen to you.

“…how to address issues of morality raised by the patient herself regarding a longheld
secret about a pregnancy before her marriage.” This would be much like any therapy situation; ask questions (don’t give opinions if uncomfortable), don’t judge, and listen attentively.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pi Day!!!!!!!

I am growing increasingly excited for pi day. March 14th for those who don’t know (3.14). Apparently, it’s tradition to eat pie on pi day, but I will be baking a cake in the shape of the pi symbol and at 1:59:26 (3.1415926) I will make the first cut. Sure I have a very important birthday just a few days before ( I will be (3*14)-(square root of the sum of the first 9 digits, after the decimal)+2*(the difference of the next two digits (that’s the 10th and 11th digit), , but what I am really looking forward to is pi day. My business card has the digits of e framed by the digits of pi. Because that’s how geeky I am.

I already have the first 46 digits memorised and would like to break 100 by pi day, but that might be a bit optimistic. A Japanese man in 2006 who recited 100,000 digits from memory kinda puts me to shame. For the record, the article I got this fun fact from said that pi “is usually written out to a maximum of three decimal places, as 3.141, in math textbooks.” Let the laughter ensue. This is why I can’t trust the media.

Oh, and there’s pi approximation day on July 22 (pi is roughly equal to 22/7). And on April 26 (the distance of orbit of the earth divided by the distance, 2 radians, it has travelled by April 26). And on November 10 (the 314th day of the year). And on December 21 (the 355th day of the year) at 1:13 (355/113). The fun never stops.

It really doesn’t…A pi rap song and a pi(ano) song which is written with the digits of pi mapped to a melody.

It’s not stopping yet…I stole this fun pi day activity from here:

Convert things into pi. This step is absolutely necessary for two reasons: To utterly confuse people who have no idea what you are talking about (thus opening the door for enlightenment) and to have fun seeing how many things can be referenced with pi. Consider two approaches:
• Convert naturally circular things into radians like the hours on the clock. Instead of it being 3 o'clock, now it's 1/2*pi o'clock. Or, instead of it being 3 o'clock, convert the inclination of the sun into radians and describe that as the time.
• Simply use 3.14 as a unit of measure. Instead of being 31 years old, you are 9pi years old (approaching your 10th birthday). With this same approach, you can find out your next pi birthday (don't forget to celebrate it when it comes!).

Strength Through Music

This game was sent to me and I am posting it here because I have made two therapeutic exercises out of it.

Upon completion of the game, I realised how depressing my music is (and this is on a 4GB ipod). May people who are depressed listen to depressing music (see my post for one reason this is therapeutic). Most people will not change the music they listen to. But even the most depressed person has some happy type music in their collection.

So the first exercise is to create a playlist with at least as many happy songs in it as there are sad songs in your current playlist and then merge these two. This might mean removing some negative songs from your current playlist, but them’s the rules. If you don’t have enough positive songs to balance the negative ones, again remove some of the negative songs. This doesn’t mean you can’t listen to your favourite depressing songs, just that you shouldn’t listen to all of them all the time. The songs on your playlist can be rotated, as long as the positive-negative count is at least equal, if not greater on the positive side. And you can’t use the excuse that you have no happy songs because I’m including some suggestions at the bottom.

The second exercise is more directly related to the game. What you do is get the lyrics to the sad songs on your list (I only used the first ten songs because my stolen internet signal disappeared on my) and write a positive passage/poem using one line from each song. Another interesting exercise I just thought of would be to use the lyrics of one song and write something positive using the words (not whole lines) in the song.

Here is the game (with my answers):

1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
4. Have Fun!

Same Ghost Every Night (Wolf Parade)

Sister (Sufjan Stevens)

Sea Legs (Immaculate Machine)

Brand New Colony (Postal Service)

One by One All Day (The Shins)

Almost Over (Elliot Smith)

Innocent Bones (Iron and Wine)

Two-Headed Boy (Neutral Milk Hotel)

The Gate (Belle and Sebastian)

WHAT IS 2 + 2?
One Chance (Modest Mouse)
- I can’t believe how wonderfully this one worked out.

Burn Your Life Down (Tegan and Sara)

Ghost (Neutral Milk Hotel)

Roboxulla (The Jealous Girlfriends)

Satin in a Coffin (Modest Mouse)

Roseblood (Mazzy Star)

Sunday Smile (Beirut)

O My Heart (Mother Mother)

Two Places (Immaculate Machine)

Sing (Dresden Dolls)

Wrong Choice (Lovely Feathers)

Sun Will Set (Zoe Keating)

Strength Through Music (Amanda Palmer)

Some happy songs:
You, Me, & the Bourgeoisie (The Submarines), 50’s Parking (Tapes ‘n Tapes), Jason’s Basement (The Gossip), Dashboard (Modest Mouse), Army (Immaculate Machine), Hay Loft (Mother Mother), Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games (Of Montreal)

This is my re-write of the first ten songs:

With an iron will to walk the walk -
My own breath, my own breath through the path,
Reminding me to know that I'm glad,
There is no reason to grieve.
If every moment of our lives
We have one chance,
Everything will change
And you've got everything to gain
And even the last of the blue-eyed babies know:
It's a chance I'll take oh yeah.

If anyone does this, I would be interested to see the results.