Post Of The Week – Saturday 13th September 2014

1) Diets Again

I posted last week a link to a BBC story about diets. There’s a dispute going on at the moment between supporters of low carb and low fat diets. This story seemed to suggest that really it doesn’t matter which you choose provided that you stick to it. This blog offers a slightly more intelligent commentary.

http://blogs.plos.org/onscienceblogs/2014/09/05/low-carb-v-low-fat-losing-weight-plus-knight-science-journalism-tracker/

It focuses on two points. Firstly, there are significant methodological flaws in the comparative study which is at the heart of this dispute. Secondly, it makes it clear there is still no clear agreement about which diets might be most effective and how they might work. That should trouble us.

2) Mindfulness Based Therapy

There is increasing interest in mindfulness based therapy, particularly in relation to CBT. The idea of this is to blend eastern practices of meditation with the structure and processes of western therapy. There are repeated claims that this blend is highly effective.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-mindfulness-good-medicine/

This article explains some of these claims and looks in particular about why mindfulness might be an important element for people recovering from more than one depressive episode. There is however a problem in evaluating this approach. It is not entirely clear how much is mindfulness and how much is CBT. Each therapist blends in his/ her own way to suit the circumstances of the client.

3) Shock Room

We’ll be looking at obedience in term 2 of AS. We consider the controversies concerning Milgram’s study and research. If you follow the link to the google page, you can see some of the evidence which has recently come to light which challenges the conventional view of Milgram’s study.

This article goes one stage further, examining in particular the idea that Milgram’s study is harmful not because it forces them to do something they do not want to do but because it teaches them that obeying authority is acceptable if it leads to a higher good.

http://www.bps.org.uk/news/psychologists-say-milgram’s-famous-experiment-obedience-authority-has-been-misunderstood

Here is some more information about the film and also about work currently being done to re-evaluate Milgram’s research.

http://www.bbcprisonstudy.org/index.php?p=12&NewsID=19 http://www.bbcprisonstudy.org/index.php?p=12&NewsID=20

4) Hyper-Connected: What Depression Does to Your Brain

When we look at stress, we consider research which suggests that it is rumination which is particularly harmful in the experience of stress. Going over things in your mind again and again makes you stressed and then depressed.

http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/09/hyper-connected-what-depression-does-to-your-brain.php

This research suggests a biological basis for this phenomenon. Young people vulnerable to depression were found to have hyper-connectivity in areas of the brain associated with rumination. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, we are looking at the biological basis of a psychological problem. Secondly, as the article points out, if we can find a way of addressing the way the brain develops in adolescence, we can prevent the chronic development of depression.

5) Access To Mental Health Services

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-29116354

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/news/students-missing-out-education-because-mental-illness

http://www.thementalelf.net/mental-health-conditions/making-parity-a-reality-rcpsych-launch-manifesto-to-improve-the-nations-mental-health/

Three links which speak for themselves and which show us how far we still have to go in removing the stigma which surrounds mental illness.

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