Post Of The Week – Saturday 19th September 2015

1) Violent Video Games

This Horizon documentary takes you through several pieces of research on video games.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06cjypk

What’s interesting here is not so much the conclusion but the research process. We have some classic laboratory experiments, some correlational evidence, a study which addresses one significant extraneous variable and some current neuroscience. We end up looking at applications: video games are used to train surgeons and help older people. That’s a snapshot of how Psychology works in many areas. I liked this review in The Psychologist.

https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/are-video-games-really-bad

It sums up the frustration that although the science is multi-faceted and elegant, there is no clear answer at the end of it. That is still worth knowing about. Here are some strong follow up resources from iWonder.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zcs76fr?ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbc_radio_4&ns_source=twitter&ns_linkname=radio_and_music

2) Uta Frith On OCD

You can still catch this on the BBC website.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06874cc/horizon-20142015-16-ocd-a-monster-in-my-mind

Here’s a companion piece in The Psychologist.

https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/understanding-ocd

3) If You Think That You Have Control Of Your Weight ……

In A2, we are about to look at factors influencing attitudes to food and eating behaviour. We will also be looking at dieting. In factors influencing, there is evidence that what people believe about the effects of food is as important as the chemicals inside the food in influencing their mood and behaviour. In the dieting sub-topic, we get interested in Sandra Aamodt’s work on mindful eating.

http://www.spring.org.uk/2015/09/the-belief-that-inspires-healthy-eating-and-weight-loss.php

This evidence fits into that well. Basically, believing you are in control of your weight was linked to more healthy eating behaviour. We might worry about cause and effect here. It is easier to think that you are in control of your weight if your weight is actually under control. Nevertheless, the article points out that this belief is linked to behaviours which might enable people to lose weight.

4) Access To Therapy As A Political Issue

The provision of high quality mental health care came up in Prime Minister’s Questions this week. Here is a piece from Simon Wessley and Gregory Smith of the Royal College Of Psychiatrists.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/gregory-smith/jeremy-corbyn_b_8153470.html

In relation to children and mental health, here is a piece by Maggie Atkinson, former Children’s Commissioner.

http://www.cypmhc.org.uk/resources/listening_to_and_respecting_the_rights_of_the_chil/

5) How Is ECT Used

ECT was commonly used to treat depression and other disorders in the 1950s and 1960s. Its use is much rarer now. The Royal College Of Psychiatrists keeps a record of treatments administered in the UK and Ireland. Here are the latest figures.

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/ECT%20Minimum%20Dataset%20Report%202014-15.pdf

ECT use is on the increase.

6) Introduction To Depression

Here is Fiona Shand from the Black Dog Institute in Australia explaining what depression is and isn’t.

http://www.3aw.com.au/news/depression-explained-the-common-misconceptions-and-genetic-factors-20150909-gjir7d.html

7) Thomas Insel Resigns

I have liked Thomas Insel’s work at the NIMH for a while. I use his TED Talk as a lead lesson on abnormality and have posted links to his articles on here. It’s a surprise, therefore, that he is leaving his job.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/dr-tom-insel-to-step-down-as-nimh-director.shtml

Insel’s most important work has been to promote Research Domain Criteria. This brings together research into therapy with research into cause. Basically, research into therapy only gets funded if it helps explain the origin of conditions. It’s obvious from the response of some people to his departure that not everyone agrees with Insel’s ideas about this.

8) Network Models And Classification Systems

I’m fond of telling people that most problems in Psychology are really problems of definitions. For a long time now, psychological disorders have been classified through clusters of symptoms.

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0137621

This article challenges this approach, suggesting that we need to understand networks rather than clusters. Networking means making links between symptoms within a diagnosis. For example, the lethargy which people with depression often report can be related to the insomnia they also report. Networking also means making connections between different conditions. Lack of sleep turns up in many different conditions. Understanding how these are related means that treatment can become more personalised.

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