Post Of The Week – Saturday 28th February 2015

1) Psychotherapy Does Not Work For Everyone
The problems of biological therapies in the form of drugs for depression are well rehearsed. There’s evidence that they work but they clearly don’t work for everyone and the extent to which they work in reducing and eliminating symptoms is debated. We don’t really know what they do inside people’s brains and we know that people may get worse after treatment before they get better. There’s a risk of costs in the form of side-effects and dependency on medication.

This article from Allen Frances makes the case for the same applying to psychological therapies. Different therapies work well for different people: that’s why IPT is offered by the NHS as well as CBT. Some people get worse during therapy because the therapist is not very good or the therapy brings dormant negative thoughts and feelings to the surface. Sometimes a relationship of dependency develops. Nobody can be sure what it is about a therapy which makes it work: the processes at the centre of the therapy or the relationship with the therapist which underpins these processes. Plenty of good evaluation material in here.

2) Mark Griffiths On Addictive Eating
One of the hardest bits of the course to work out is factors affecting attitudes to food and eating behaviour in A2. We look there at the link between food and mood and also at how attitudes are socially learnt.
In this article, Mark Griffiths locates mood dependent eating within the framework of addiction. This is helpful because addiction has biological, psychological and social-cultural aspects to it. Griffiths explores some of these in this article.

In connection with this, here is Jeremy Dean on the most addictive foods.

3) Teachers As Researchers
This is an article about educational research. The basic idea is that teachers do it rather than leave it just to academics in universities. What’s interesting here from the perspective of A Level Psychology concerns the status of randomised controlled trials. When studying applications of theories of cognitive development to education, we claim that assessing the impact of such applications is difficult because randomised controlled trials cannot be done. This article suggests a way round the problem.

4) What We Currently Know About Mirror Neurons
This is a complex paper.
It turns out that whilst we have an idea of what they do, how many of them exist and why and how they develop remains a mystery. The idea now is that mirror neurons exist throughout the motor system.

5) Smokers More Prone To Depression
We consider co-morbidity throughout the depression topic, using the example of alcohol dependency to illustrate the problem if co-morbidity in relation to diagnosis and treatment for depression.
This brief article reminds us that we could say the same about smoking. It is also worth bearing in mind that we cannot consider the effectiveness of biological and psychological interventions for addiction unless we bear in mind the conditions which might exist alongside the addictive behaviour.

6) Suicide
In lessons, I find myself increasingly referring to suicide. It comes up as a side-effect of anti-depressants and as a barometer for what we get wrong as a society in providing mentally healthy environments for young males in particular.
This article explains why we choose not to talk about it and why we might need to think again.

7) Invest In Children’s First 1001 Days
The idea behind this article is that if we invest in children’s early social development, we will protect them from problems later in life. This is an idea which will be publicised as the election looms. Nobody could be against good quality health and social care for children. The question is where finite resources should be concentrated.

8) That Dress
I’m very bad at describing colours, so I am not the person to ask. This article explains the neuroscience behind an internet phenomenon.

9) p Values
When we study inferential statistics, we learn how p values are used to determine the significance and value of data. The problem is that results can be significant even when effect size is small: Rahe et al (1970) is a very good example of this.
One journal has gone as far as to ban research based on p values, looking instead at effect size. That may be a bit premature.


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