Monday, July 30, 2012

How Do Older Adult Relationships Impact Psychological and Physical Health?

Relationships evolve over the course of a person’s life. Camaraderie with coworkers and neighbors may shift and change as people age and assume new jobs or locations. Likewise, relationships with friends and family members also ebb and flow based on circumstances and maturity. It is thought that positive relationships with others enhance physical and psychological well-being. In fact, research suggests that healthy and supportive relationships can provide protection from stress and illness. But little attention has been given to the effects of relationships as people enter their later years in life.
Unlike relationships forged in early and mid-life, relationships maintained in older adulthood tend to be based on mutual respect and are valued for their positive benefits. However, relationships with some individuals, such as family members, may still present stress and conflict. To better understand how these ambivalent relationships compare to entirely negative relationships with respect to health in later life, Karen S. Rook of the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California recently conducted a study examining the influence of relationships on physical and psychological health in a sample of 916 elderly adults.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Eating disorder - a serious mental illness

Eating Disorders (EDs) are serious mental illnesses, and include anorexia, bulimia and binge eating, to name a few, and compulsive eating disorders not otherwise specified. All EDs result in serious emotional suffering and maladaptive coping mechanisms, and can lead to medical complications and even death. You cannot tell whether someone has an ED or is at risk of death based on their size.

The mortality rate for eating disorders is the highest of any mental illness, at 10 to 20 per cent. About half of the mortalities result from medical causes, the other half from suicide. Eating disorder behaviours are maladaptive coping mechanisms to respond to fear and ambivalence. Weight restoration/stabilization or symptom interruption ramp up the distress and fear. As a result, we may engage in dangerous compensatory behaviours, including compulsive over-exercise, laxatives, diuretics, "diet pills" and deliberate self-harm. These behaviours can lead to electrolyte imbalance, sudden heart failure, osteopenia and osteoporosis, loss of bowel function and kidney failure.

We all believe we are "different." An ED won't happen to us because "we're not really that skinny," "we don't need as much food as others" or "we aren't really that sick and other people are more sick and 'deserving.'"

Weight stabilization is not a cure for EDs. Eating disorders are a mental illness, not a physical disease. EDs are often accompanied by ambivalence about recovery. We would really like to recover without having to stabilize our weight or stop compensatory behaviours. We are often afraid of recovery; that if our weight stabilizes, people will think we are cured and no one will help us any more.

Signs that someone you know may be developing or suffering an ED include strange or rigid eating habits, restrictive eating, large quantities of food disappearing, lots of empty wrappers in the garbage, dramatically increased exercise, disappearing after every meal, dramatic weight change accompanied by denial of a problem, isolation from friends, family and social events, and difficulties at school or work as a result of reduced cognition, concentration and short-term memory. Whatever your relationship to a child or adult with an ED, express your love, support and concern, and open the door for us to talk about it.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Professor Wilcox-Herzog won prestigious award for teaching

Amanda Wilcox-Herzog, an associate professor of psychology at Cal State San Bernardino, has been selected as the winner of the 2011-2012 Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching.

Wilcox-Herzog was surprised in her classroom by the friendly "ambush" when university President Albert Karnig burst into her class on Jan 19 to announce that she had won the university's prestigious award. He was joined by former recipients of the award, colleagues and administrators to honor her.

Karnig said that it’s valuable to announce the Golden Apple award winner during class so that students can participate in the recognition.

"Student evaluations were a key element in Dr. Wilcox-Herzog's selection, with comments that were effusive about her remarkable ability to explain complex issues, to skillfully ground theory in real-life situations, and the fact that she was simply 'a great teacher,'" Karnig said. "She not only explains things thoroughly, but patiently."

In reviewing her teaching records, the selection committee found her to be very passionate about teaching, wrote Tapie Rohm, chair of the selection committee. "Professor Wilcox-Herzog is the best of the best when it comes to teaching — a real teacher's teacher," said Rohm.

"Of all the things that I've done here at the university, this means the most to me, because it's the job I do in front of you," she told her students, Karnig and the others who were there.

She will be honored at the annual San Bernardino Mayor's Golden Apple Awards dinner on March 29, at CSUSB's Obershaw Dining Room, along with three other employees from CSUSB, four from San Bernardino Valley College and four from the San Bernardino City School District.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Psychologists - Sexual addiction among women real and growing

The women spend hours online looking at pornography or looking for sex.

Some fantasize about being sexual in public. Others cruise bars looking for anonymous encounters with strangers. Tolerance builds and things get boring, so the women have to engage in ever-riskier or more frequent behaviour to get the same "hit," or even just to feel normal.

Little is known about the prevalence of sexual addiction in women, but psychologists say the phenomenon is real and only now getting the attention given men.

"We're seeing women getting into pornography in a way we've never seen before," says psychologist and sex-addiction research pioneer Dr. Patrick Carnes, executive director of the Gentle Path program at Pine Grove Behavioral Center in Hattiesburg, Mississippi - the clinic where Tiger Woods reportedly sought treatment.

"Women are engaging in affairs, they're engaging in sado-masochistic behaviour," Carnes said. "This thing is just morphing right in front of us.

According to Carnes, sexual addiction is estimated to afflict as much as three to six per cent of the population and is defined as intense, sexually arousing fantasies, urges and behaviours that the person cannot control or stop, regardless of the consequences.

As a result, "women aren't inclined to come forward and say, 'I need help," ' says Lawson, creator of Canada's first residential treatment program for sexual addiction at Bellwood Health Services in Toronto.