Category Archives: Memory

The Therapeutic Alliance: The Essential Ingredient for Psychotherapy

Standard

umbrellas

 I am currently writing on the ‘therapeutic alliance’ – its relation to mindfulness, psychotherapy, understanding, and ‘being listened to…’   What follows is an interesting article that I came across that may interest some of you…

Excerpt:

Have you ever tried to change the way you do something? It could be anything — the way you hold your tennis racket, blow into a flute, meditate — you name it. If so, think about that experience. No matter how motivated you were to change, and no matter how much you knew that it would help your serve, musicality, or sense of inner peace, it can be difficult and scary to change even the smallest thing. In order to change, you have to give up your old way of doing something first and then try the new way. That means that for a while you’re in a free fall — you no longer have your old habit to rely on and you don’t yet have the new one.

The anxiety of trying to change something as complex and entrenched as how you relate to people close to you or manage stress takes the feeling to a whole new level. Yet, that’s just what you do when you enter psychotherapy. Just as you had to put yourself into the hand of your teachers and coaches, in therapy you need to gradually do just that with your therapist to help you through what can be a harrowing adventure. The foundation for therapy is called the therapeutic alliance (1, 2). When it’s there, you know that your therapist is there to help you, no matter how hard the going gets.

The therapeutic alliance might be the most important part of beginning a psychotherapy. In fact, many studies indicate that the therapeutic alliance is the best predictor of treatment outcome (3-5).

See entire article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-l-cabaniss-md/therapeutic-alliance_b_1554007.html

 

WOOLF’S DARKNESS: EMBRACING THE INEXPLICABLE

Standard

VirginiaWoolf-290.jpg

Woolf gave us limitlessness, impossible to grasp, urgent to embrace, as fluid as water, as endless as desire, a compass by which to get lost.

“The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be, I think,” Virginia Woolf wrote in her journal on January 18, 1915, when she was almost thirty-three years old and the First World War was beginning to turn into catastrophic slaughter on an unprecedented scale that would continue for years. Belgium was occupied, the continent was at war, many of the European nations were also invading other places around the world, the Panama Canal had just opened, the U.S. economy was in terrible shape, twenty-nine thousand people had just died in an Italian earthquake, Zeppelins were about to attack Great Yarmouth, launching the age of aerial bombing against civilians, and the Germans were just weeks away from using poison gas for the first time on the Western Front. Woolf, however, might have been writing about her own future rather than the world’s…

…Despair is a form of certainty, certainty that the future will be a lot like the present or will decline from it; despair is a confident memory of the future, in Gonzalez’s resonant phrase. Optimism is similarly confident about what will happen. Both are grounds for not acting. Hope can be the knowledge that we don’t have that memory and that reality doesn’t necessarily match our plans; hope like creative ability can come from what the Romantic poet John Keats called Negative Capability.

On a midwinter’s night in 1817, a little over a century before Woolf’s journal entry on darkness, the poet John Keats walked home talking with some friends and as he wrote in a celebrated letter describing that walk, “several things dove-tailed in my mind, and at once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature.… I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.”

To read this entire essay, see link: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2014/04/virginia-woolf-darkness-embracing-the-inexplicable.html?utm_source=tny&utm_campaign=generalsocial&utm_medium=tumblr&mbid=social_tumblr

A mad world A diagnosis of mental illness is more common than ever – did psychiatrists create the problem, or just recognise it?

Standard

Unfortunate Events

When a psychiatrist meets people at a party and reveals what he or she does for a living, two responses are typical. People either say, ‘I’d better be careful what I say around you,’ and then clam up, or they say, ‘I could talk to you for hours,’ and then launch into a litany of complaints and diagnostic questions, usually about one or another family member, in-law, co-worker, or other acquaintance. It seems that people are quick to acknowledge the ubiquity of those who might benefit from a psychiatrist’s attention, while expressing a deep reluctance ever to seek it out themselves…

…While a continuous view of mental illness probably reflects underlying reality, it inevitably results in grey areas where ‘caseness’ (whether someone does or does not have a mental disorder) must be decided based on judgment calls made by experienced clinicians. In psychiatry, those calls usually depend on whether a patient’s complaints are associated with significant distress or impaired functioning. Unlike medical disorders where morbidity is often determined by physical limitations or the threat of impending death, the distress and disruption of social functioning associated with mental illness can be fairly subjective. Even those on the softer, less severe end of the mental illness spectrum can experience considerable suffering and impairment. For example, someone with mild depression might not be on the verge of suicide, but could really be struggling with work due to anxiety and poor concentration. Many people might experience sub-clinical conditions that fall short of the threshold for a mental disorder, but still might benefit from intervention.

See link for interesting article on psychiatry…and bits about the importance of psychotherapeutic intervention…

http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/have-psychiatrists-lost-perspective-on-mental-illness/

Milton H Erickson

Standard

On the bus yesterday, I listened to an audiobook about a man I found very interesting. I would love to reproduce everything I heard, but this will be some facts that I found especially interesting

I had the nickname in grade school and high school, “Dictionary,” because I spent so much time reading the dictionary. One noon, just after the noon dismissal bell rang, I was in my usual chair reading the dictionary in the back of the room. Suddenly a blinding, dazzling flash of light occurred because I just learned how to use the dictionary. Up to that moment in looking up a word, I started at the first page and went through every column, page after page until I reached the word. In that blinding flash of light I realized that you use the alphabet as an ordered system for looking up a word…I don’t know why it took me so long. Did my unconscious purposely withhold that knowledge because of the immense amount of education I got from reading the dictionary?

Milton H. Erickson – Wikipedia

His story is impressive, and even more so when one considers his background: He was color blind, deaf and dyslexic. He learned hypnosis, and worked as a psychiatrist first. He married, got 5 children with his wife (he had three from previous relationships). He founded the American Society of Hypnosis. He died in 1980, and his ashes were strewn over a mountain top that many of his clients reached.

I had polio, and I was totally paralyzed, and the inflammation was so great that I had a sensory paralysis too. I could move my eyes and my hearing was undisturbed. I got very lonesome lying in bed, unable to move anything except my eyeballs. I was quarantined on the farm with seven sisters, one brother, two parents, and a practical nurse. And how could I entertain myself? I started watching people and my environment. I soon learned that my sisters could say “no” when they meant “yes.” And they could say “yes” and mean “no” at the same time. They could offer another sister an apple and hold it back. And I began studying nonverbal language and body language.
I had a baby sister who had begun to learn to creep. I would have to learn to stand up and walk. And you can imagine the intensity with which I watched as my baby sister grew from creeping to learning how to stand up.
– My Voice Will Go With You

He was recognized for his hypnotherapy, were he integrated his extensive knowledge collected from experience and intelligence. An example of his insights: “One day a horse wandered into his home place. He let the horse take him where he wanted, and he stopped where he came from. When the farmer asked how he knew where the horse came from, he said: I didn`t, the horse did”. By relying on the force of the unconscious, he could help both people and animals

Milton Erickson was an interesting therapist and scientist: With creativity he tailored therapy to each client so that it fitted perfectly. He was the perfect ”mirror” for others, so much that he actually could “talk” exactly like the client in front of him. He strongly believed in the unconscious, and in letting people find their own insights. He could tell little anecdotes that were completely right for the client. An example was an alcoholic that lived in a family where everyone drank (even his own wife) and drunk for several years. He was considered a hopeless case. Milton gave him a task: He should go to a park and sit down to watch a cactus for several minutes. Erickson told him this cactus could live without water ericksonfor three years. 5 years later his sister called Erickson and told him both he and his wife had stopped drinking. He also used Reframing, mirroring and the paradox intervention. And example of the first, is when he sent a rootless client to Flagstaff so that she created new positive associated to a place that just seemed negative before. An example of the second is when he met a patient that tore things apart. She tore and threw everything she saw: Clothes, curtains, wallpaper. Generally, she was acting out. Erickson stood beside her and did the same thing, he tore up pieces of the wallpapers and threw things here and there. He exclaimed: “This was fun! Let`s go somewhere else and do more of it”. They came to a hospital, where he ripped the clothes off a nurse.

After this event, the girl became an angel, not knowing that the nurse in on the whole thing. An example of the paradox intervention was telling a woman who had severe problems with her weight. Erickson told her to try a new method where she first would gain a certain weight before she started with dieting. When she no longer had to restrain herself, she suddenly lost the weight she needed.

BUCHis theories have been developed further after he died, and one of the results is NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming ). I actually know very little about NLP, but I have thought several times that I`ll have to check into it, since I`m very interested in theories integrating what we know about our brain, with psychology.

  1.  Milton H. Erickson | History of Hypnosis

    Milton H. Erickson (1901-1980) graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1

    Milton Erickson, Founder of Conversational Hypnosis | Business NLP

  2. Ericksonian Hypnosis: Breaking Habits with Tasks — NLP 

    PICTURES:  http://www.pinterest.com/pin/391391023837204618/
     http://ww2.odu.edu/~eneukrug/therapists/Erickson.html

Stress and Memory From a Neuroscience Perspective

Standard
Stress and Memory From a Neuroscience Perspective

 

 

 

 

 

 

“From a neuroscience perspective, amnesia in the absence of brain damage can be partially explained in biochemical terms. Stress causes a chemical reaction that affects regions of the brain responsible for memory. With repeated overwhelming stress, neurotransmitters and stress hormones are released in the brain in such excess quantity that they can adversely affect portions of the brain responsible for emotional memories as well as other kinds of memory.” p. 33, The Wandering Mind: Understanding Dissociation from Daydreaming to Disorders by John A Biever, M.D. and Maryann Karinch.

i'm not out to convince you or draw upon your mind*Image Credits (all work used with permission through CC license)–
“i’m not out to convince you or draw upon your mind” by Andrea Joseph
“Standing at the Gates of Hell” by Shane Gorski

Just A Spoonful of Stress Hurts the Medicine

Standard
Spoonful

Spoonful

A brand new study has been completed by a team of neuro-scientists at New York University with findings that point to the limits clinical techniques have over helping people manage their emotions even under the influence of mild stress. The study’s findings appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences document how even mild stress can undermine therapies designed to keep emotions in check.

“In other words, what you learn in the clinic may not be as relevant in the real world when you’re stressed,” says Elizabeth Phelps, the study’s senior author and a professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science.

The study’s main intent was to determine whether cognitive restructuring techniques, such as encouraging patients to change their thinking or approach toward a situation in order to change their emotional response, would hold up in the real world where everyday stress occurs.

If you would like to know particular details of the study, please write me personally and I will gladly provide you with them, but the main points are that the study was designed as a two-day experiment in which participants were taught cognitive strategies, collectively titled cognitive-behavioral therapy to use to decrease conditioned fear. They were exposed to the fear conditioning on the first day. They were also taught strategies for combating the fear that was produced on that first day.

On day two they were put in a situation where they were expected to rely on the fear-combatting-strategies in the ‘real world situation” they were placed in, AFTER having been exposed to a mild level of stress.

The participants in the ‘stress group’ were not able to reproduce or use the techniques to combat fear they had been taught the previous day. The ‘control group’ the participants who were not subjected to a mild level of stress, on the other hand, employed the techniques they were taught.

Brain

Brain

The study linked to findings that show cognitive techniques used to control fear rely on regions of the pre-frontal cortex that have been proven to be functionally impaired by mild stress. This is what the study’s authors believe is the cause of the inability to learn to employ the fear decreasing techniques. But do not lose hope, because with practice or after longer intervals of cognitive training, the strategies may become more habitual and less sensitive to the effects of stress, according to the authors.

I am rephrasing here, but it seems that for some people, it will most likely never be a rational, natural type of reaction to fear and anxiety. These people will have to work harder and longer to turn these methods into habits in order for them to be effective for them. But, it can be done and the more studies that are funded to research emotion study, the more readily methods will be found to work with a variety of people in more individual and accurate ways that work best for them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

The tabula rasa

Standard

We have all wished for it, one time or another. What if we could forget all the bad things that happened? What if we didn`t have to feel all the pain? If we could erase all of it, would we do it? Some of you might have seen the movie eternal sunshine on a spotless mind, where the protagonist wants to erase the memory of his former lover, but discovers that he doesn`t want to, when the process has begun. I am a bit curious. What would you do, if given the choice?

Can our memories be edited, even turned off? Can we turn bad memories into good memories? MIT neuroscience lab rats, Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu, say yes. In fact, they’ve done it.

But what about the ethics of such science? They discuss that, too, in today’s featured TED talk

Enjoy.

 To manipulate memory

.

https://ted.com/talks/view/id/1813

 

Feats of Memory anyone can do

Standard

One of the reasons I started this blog, was from my personal experiences of starting to read psychology and the dawning realization that much of what I learned, would have made my life very different had I known what the books told me, much earlier. One of the things I really loved, was the memory techniques. Why did we not learn this at school? Already in first class? In finland they have a school system that actually have started to apply principles from psychology. They don`t focus on rote repetition, but on meaningful learning. But many countries have much to learn when it comes to school. Last fall we had a course with the «memory expert» from Norway, called Oddbjørn By. He talked about the method of loci, and told us the tricks. He made learning and memory fun, and I think life should be more about enjoying learning than making it a drag. I want to present a TED-talk that presents the method of loci, and the concept of «elaborate learning». I think we all are eager to learn and explore, but sometimes this thirst is quenched. I like this talk, since it inspires and give hope!

Enjoy!

 

Joshua Foer: Feats of Memory Anyone Can Do

There are people who can quickly memorize lists of thousands of numbers, the order of all the cards in a deck (or ten!), and much more. Science writer Joshua Foer describes the technique — called the memory palace – and shows off its most remarkable feature: Anyone can learn how to use it. Including you!

Joshua Foer is a science writer who 'accidentally' won the U.S. Memory Championship.

Joshua Foer

Joshua Foer is a science writer who ‘accidentally’ won the U.S. Memory Championship. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Slate, the New York Times, and other publications. He is the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura, an online guide to the world’s wonders and curiosities, and is also the co-founder of the design competition Sukkah City.

Related articles