Most recent intellectual developments in post-human complex systems (see, e.g., perceptively conclude that “social equilibrium” is just a theoretical state. But it is also something quite undesirable. Equally undesirable is a linear, predictable, stable, orderly, homogenous and pure human world.

We look at heroes and do-gooders as a special sort of breed; people who possess extraordinary traits of altruism, or self-less concern for the well-being of others, even at the expense of their own existence. On the other end, sociopaths also have an extraordinary set of traits, such as extreme selfishness, lack of impulse control, no respect for rules, and no conscience.
Psychiatrist Szabolcs Kéri of Semmelweis University in Hungary looked into an urban legend about the link between creativity and mental illness and says there may be something to it.  
He focused his research on neuregulin 1, a gene that normally plays a role in a variety of brain processes, including development and strengthening communication between neurons. However, a variant of this gene (or genotype) is associated with a greater risk of developing mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Global warming may not be a hot button topic these days because other threats, like  unemployment, terrorist attacks or death panels, are getting the media attention, says University of Colorado at Boulder psychology Professor Leaf Van Boven.

That makes sense.   Media needs to sell media and some hype doesn't hurt.  People tend to view their recent emotions, such as their perceptions of threats or risks, as more intense and important than their previous emotions.   In one part of the study focusing on terrorist threats and using materials adapted from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Van Boven and his research colleagues presented two scenarios to people in a college laboratory depicting warnings about traveling abroad to two countries.

These are uncertain and often frightening times for many people.  While none of my clients have thus far suffered any major emotional setbacks, the holidays are quickly approaching and I expect to see more depression and anxiety.  Since money is very tight and many have lost their homes and/or jobs, while others now have extended family living with them, this holiday season will be more of a challenge than most of us are comfortable dealing with.

How will you cope with the upcoming season?

Here are a few tips to inspire further thought and planning:

Over one third of American pre-schoolers live in homes where the television is on most of the time, even if no one's watching, and a new study says the effect of background TV on interactions between parents and young children is definitely negative.

The researchers studied about 50 1-, 2-, and 3-year-olds, each of whom was with one parent, at a university child study center.   Half of the one-hour session, parents and children were in a playroom without TV; in the other half-hour, parents chose an adult-directed program to watch , like Jeopardy. The researchers observed how often parents and children talked with each other, how actively involved the parents were in their children's play, and whether parents and children responded to each other's questions and suggestions.
People with depression and anxiety are the heaviest smokers in the country but their doctors and mental health specialists don't ask them to quit due to concern that if they try to quit smoking their mental disorders will get worse. 

Between 40 to 80 percent of people with mental illness are daily smokers, depending on the disorder, compared to less than 20 percent of people who don't have problems with mental illness, according to research. The mentally ill also smoke more cigarettes per day -- often up to two packs. They have a disproportionately high rate of tobacco-related disease and mortality, such as cardiovascular disease or cancer, with a correspondingly heavy financial burden to the health-care system.
You've heard the saying that money won't buy happiness; of course, that is true though some of it is also sweet lemons rationalization.   

So why is it that so many special interest groups insist they need more money or special treatment in order to be happy?   

Professor Mariano Rojas from Mexico's Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales  agrees and says that public policy programs aiming to tackle poverty need to move beyond simply raising people's income - because there's more to quality of life than money.
Until recently, I admired the autism parent community from afar. Like the parents who awakened and changed the schizophrenia treatment world, parents of autistic children have moved both treatment and public opinion about the disorder almost 180 degrees from where it had been.

They did it fairly quickly, too: bringing autism from an obscure and stigmatized issue to a topic discussed openly in less than a generation.

I’ve watched with wonder as the autism world has developed and changed. While public knowledge, research funding, and public services aren’t adequate, they’ve come so far.


Sep 03 2009 | 0 comment(s)

What was it that my late aikido and Zen sensei asked me to do, on that day twenty-some years ago?  I do remember his request struck me as difficult to carry out, and perhaps not really necessary. I recall with great clarity the short exchange that followed the request:

“I’ll try,” I waffled.

Sensei just stared at me.

“OK, I get it.  There is no try, only do or don’t do.”  I weakly attempted to mollify Sensei with a line from the new film, Karate Kid.