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Sep 28

5 Mindful Treatments for Rumination



Rumination is a mental habit which leads to fixation on flaws and problems, thus extending a negative mood.

With continued attention to our problems, we become obsessed with our pain and can retreat from life. We stop eating (or eating more), sex drive disappears, sleep is disrupted, we are tired all the time, life is dull, and we do less and less.

Rumination starts off as a dim light that we stop putting energy into, allowing it to get darker and darker until we can’t see anymore.

It begins with a stressor — let’s say a divorce, a spouse cheating, or even being single for longer than one would like.

Regret shows up with “You should have been a better spouse”; “You should have taken better care of yourself”; “You are doing everything wrong.” You start believing Regret, and start ruminating, making it personal with, “I should have, and there is something wrong with me.” Then Anxiety arrives with Worry, and Fear adding, “How am I going to make it on my own? How will it affect the kids?”

With all this mental madness, we stop “plugging in” to the light sources we need to stay alive. The mental madness dominates our attention, and we can’t focus on anything else. We are physically drained by the internal warring, and the war keeps us up all night.

Rumination is winning and has depressed any positive aspect of our life. Hopelessness is here. We can’t see anymore. It’s too dark. We are depressed.

Here are 5 mindful ways to combat rumination.

Acceptance. What if you didn’t look at the stressor as a napalm bomb, but as an unexpected curveball? — “where did that come from?” instead of, “I’m going to die!” What if you came to accept that life isn’t always predictable? And what if life was actually doing you a favor? Disruption and destruction also come with possibility.
Truth. How would your life change if you stopped blaming others and paused to consider it might be true? What if you could have been a better spouse? What if you could have taken better care of yourself? And what if you are doing things that aren’t serving your best interest?
Curiosity. What if you decided to get curious about the disruption? What if you learned from your mistakes, or learned something new? What if you started putting energy into new things like learning to be a loving spouse for your next relationship? What if you started exercising and started feeling confident? What if you got over your fears and started dating?
Gratitude. What if you took the attention away from the discomfort of the change, and gave some attention to what was good and positive in your life? As Jon Kabat-Zinn says in the Stress Reduction Program, “If you are breathing, there is more right with you than there is wrong.”
Inner discipline. What if in one year, you look back and realize that curveball was a gift? What if the pain and destruction drew you to be the person you’ve always wanted to be? What if you had more inner discipline to cultivate acceptance, truth, curiosity, and gratitude, and you are now handling life’s curveballs with a little more grace?

Sep 26

Bariatric Surgery Doesn’t Lift Mood for Everyone


By JANICE WOOD Associate News Editor

While most severely obese people are much happier once they lose weight after bariatric surgery, this isn’t true for all patients, according to new research.

In fact, based on the findings of their new study, researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine advise that levels of depression be measured six to 12 months after bariatric surgery. This, they say, will ensure that the necessary help can be provided.

Researchers Valentina Ivezaj, Ph.D., and Carlos Grilo, Ph.D., set out to investigate how prone bariatric patients are to still experiencing symptoms of depressions after surgery.

Self-reported questionnaires were completed by 107 patients with extreme obesity before they underwent gastric bypass surgery, and then again six and 12 months after the procedure. They were asked to reflect on their levels of depression, possible eating disorders, their self-esteem and general social functioning, according to the researchers.

Of the 107 participants, 94 were women, 73 were white, and 24 had completed college.

Consistent with previous research, the researchers found that most people were in much better spirits after the surgery. In fact, most reported experiencing a normal and improved mood at six and 12 months after surgery, the researchers reported.

However, in some cases negative mood changes started to creep in between six and 12 months after the operation, the researchers discovered. They found that 3.7 percent of patients reported they felt discernibly more depressed 12 months post-surgery.

Between six and 12 months after the operation, however, even more patients — 13.1 percent — reported increases in symptoms of depression. These changes went hand-in-hand with significantly lower levels of self-esteem and social functioning, the researchers found.

“The majority of patients whose mood had worsened discernibly experienced these mood changes between six and 12 months post-surgery, suggesting this may be a critical period for early detection and intervention, as needed,” said Ivezaj.

“The increases in symptoms of depression are also notable given that they were associated with other difficulties, including lower self-esteem and social functioning,” added Grilo.

The researchers noted that the increases in symptoms were indicative of only subthreshold or mild mood disturbances. They also said that future research is needed to determine whether these mood changes continue to worsen over time.

The study was published in the journal Obesity Surgery.

Source: Springer

Sep 22

By JANICE WOOD Associate News Editor

While antidepressants are the most commonly used treatment for social anxiety disorder, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is more effective and — unlike medication — can have lasting effects long after treatment has stopped, according to a new study. CBT is one of the most common forms of talk therapy or psychotherapy.

According to researchers at John Hopkins University, social anxiety disorder, which is characterized by intense fear and avoidance of social situations, affects up to 13 percent of Americans and Europeans.

Most people never receive treatment. For those who do, medication is the more accessible treatment because there is a shortage of trained psychotherapists, according to the researchers.

“Social anxiety is more than just shyness,” said study leader Evan Mayo-Wilson, D.Phil., a research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“People with this disorder can experience severe impairment, from shunning friendships to turning down promotions at work that would require increased social interaction.

“The good news from our study is that social anxiety is treatable. Now that we know what works best, we need to improve access to psychotherapy for those who are suffering.”

The study, a network meta-analysis that collected and analyzed data from 101 clinical trials comparing multiple types of medication and talk therapy, was a collaboration between the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Oxford University and University College in London, where Mayo-Wilson formerly worked.

For the new study, the researchers analyzed data from 13,164 participants in 101 clinical trials. All had severe and longstanding social anxiety. Approximately 9,000 received medication or a placebo, while more than 4,000 received a psychological intervention.

Few of the trials looked at combining medication with talk therapy, and there was no evidence that combined therapy was better than talk therapy alone, the researchers noted.

After comparing several different types of talk therapy, the researchers found that individual CBT was the most effective. CBT, which focuses on relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviors, helps people challenge irrational fears and overcome their avoidance of social situations, according to Mayo-Wilson.

For people who don’t want talk therapy, or who lack access to CBT, the most commonly used antidepressants — selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — are effective, the researchers found. But they caution that medication can be associated with serious adverse events, that it doesn’t work at all for some people, and that improvements in symptoms do not last after patients stop taking the pills.

The researchers acknowledge that medication is important, but say it should be used as a second-line therapy for people who do not respond to or do not want psychological therapy.

According to Mayo-Wilson, the analysis has already led to new treatment guidelines in the U.K. and it could have a “significant impact on policymaking and the organization of care in the U.S.”

“Greater investment in psychological therapies would improve quality of life, increase workplace productivity, and reduce health care costs,” Mayo-Wilson said.

“The health care system does not treat mental health equitably, but meeting demand isn’t simply a matter of getting insurers to pay for psychological services. We need to improve infrastructure to treat mental health problems as the evidence shows they should be treated. We need more programs to train clinicians, more experienced supervisors who can work with new practitioners, more offices, and more support staff,” he said.

The study was published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

Source: Johns Hopkins University

Sep 20

How to Overcome Limiting Beliefs



meditation-yogaI have to earn my place here. Other people don’t struggle like I do. I should’ve figured this out by now. There’s something wrong with me.

Do these thoughts — or some version of them — swirl in your head? Do they consume you daily? Or arise whenever you try something new or make a mistake?

These thoughts are examples of limiting beliefs, according to Lea Seigen Shinraku, MFT, a therapist in private practice in San Francisco. Limiting beliefs derive from a variety of sources. One source is childhood. Naturally, none of us grows up in a “perfect environment,” where each and every need is met.

As such, “each of us has to grapple with our own suffering as infants and young children — a time when we are not fully equipped to metabolize challenging emotions, and a time when we form beliefs about how the world works.”

If a child’s need for attention and connection consistently goes unmet, that child may start to believe that it’s because of them, and they have to do something to earn acceptance and love from others, she said.

Another source is the media. According to Shinraku, the media perpetuates the idea that people must perform and compete in order to be worthy and loveable.

Social media also plays a role. “[W]ell-curated posts on social media can leave you with the impression that others are happier and more successful, and that they ‘have it all figured out.’”

The biggest reason limiting beliefs are problematic is because they crush our most fundamental need, according to Shinraku: our need to belong.

“Limiting beliefs reinforce an experience of separateness and exclusion; they keep people thinking that they are alone in their humanness.”

But you’re not stuck with these beliefs. You can start working through them, slowly examining, questioning and then setting them aside. Because limiting beliefs are deeply engrained into our psyches, it’s important to have patience during this process, Shinraku said. These specific strategies can help.

Recognize your limiting beliefs.

According to Shinraku, limiting beliefs are typically “absolute, rigid and final,” and include words such as “always” and “never.” They also include beliefs about being “damaged” or “broken,” she said. They don’t leave any space for “alternate perspectives, possibilities, or change.”

Whenever you find yourself thinking a limiting belief, name it. Acknowledge it. Doing so is your first step in unpacking the belief and lessening its power, she said. Limiting beliefs “can’t hold up under closer examination, because they aren’t true.”

It also can help to write down these beliefs in a notebook, including the time of day you had the belief, what triggered it and what emotions you were feeling, Shinraku said.

Explore your limiting beliefs.

Exploring what reinforces your beliefs today can be incredibly helpful. (It’s also helpful to explore how your beliefs were formed but this is often harder to pinpoint and isn’t necessary in order to work through them, Shinraku said.)

Everything from keeping your limiting beliefs a secret to striving for perfection to overworking can bolster limiting beliefs, she said. Once you know what fuels your false beliefs, you can work on minimizing these habits and behaviors. For instance, you can talk about your limiting beliefs with someone you trust, thereby weakening them, Shinraku said.

Bring curiosity to your beliefs.

Instead of berating yourself, explore other explanations and perspectives for your situation. Be curious. Shinraku views genuine curiosity as a powerful form of self-compassion.

For instance, she said, instead of saying “What’s wrong with me? Why is everything so hard?” say, “This feels really challenging for me. I wonder why it’s so difficult.”

Then explore the different things that may be making this situation challenging. It could be everything from you not getting enough sleep to needing to learn a new skill to asking for help.

Shinraku also suggested asking these questions to tap into your curiosity: “Is there any other way to see myself and this situation? Is there some other way that I might respond that would feel better?”

Work with a therapist.

“For most people, limiting beliefs have been part of their internal world for so long that the beliefs feel ‘normal,’” Shinraku said. She likens it to a background we don’t even notice anymore. This makes it harder to recognize these beliefs.

Working with a therapist can help. A clinician can help you uncover limiting beliefs, understand how they were formed, interrupt the limiting patterns and create new, adaptive ways of understanding yourself and your world, she said.

Limiting beliefs can be stubborn. But by tuning into your rigid beliefs, exploring what reinforces them and cultivating curiosity, you can see limiting beliefs for what they are — untruths — and begin to relinquish them.

Sep 14

Low Serotonin Levels Don’t Cause Depression



Low Serotonin Levels Don’t Cause DepressionOne of the leading myths that unfortunately still circulates about clinical depression is that it’s caused by low serotonin levels in the brain (or a “biochemical imbalance”). This is a myth because countless scientific studies have specifically examined this theory and have come back universally rejecting it.

So let’s put it to rest once and for all — low levels of serotonin in the brain don’t cause depression.

Let’s find out why.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had to debunk this myth. We last did so in 2007 — 7 years ago — pointing out that most people’s (even doctor’s!) belief that low serotonin causes depression is a result of pharmaceutical companies’ successful marketing. It’s a message they repeatedly hammered home1, making it one of the most successful marketing messages-turned-into-fact ever done on Madison Avenue.

However, you may be reading this article to get to the punch line: So if low serotonin levels don’t cause depression, what does? Here’s the short answer — researchers still don’t understand what causes depression. We have a lot of theories still in the mix and still being researched, but none of them have resulted in one, conclusive answer.

One of those theories that’s been tested — and tested time and time again — is the idea that our brains can sometimes run low on a neurotransmitter called serotonin. It is thought by prescribing a selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant medication like Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil “fixes” this imbalance, bringing serotonin levels back to “normal.”

First, let’s tackle the whole “chemical imbalance” theory that underlines the serotonin theory of depression. In order for us to suggest an imbalance in anything, we’d have to understand what a perfectly balanced brain looks like. To date, no study or researcher has been able to show such a brain. It’s likely because it doesn’t exist.

The brain is the least-understood organ in the body today. What we do know about it is that it is constantly changing and in flux. Virtually any stimuli can alter its energy consumption temporarily. We don’t understand why the brain is structured the way it is, or even how it actually communicates internally (although, again, we have a lot of theories).

It’s hard to imagine, but physicians only began to understand what the heart’s purpose in the body was about 400 years ago. It’s no wonder we might need a few more decades (or longer) to understand how the body’s most complex organ operates.

Serotonin’s Role in Depression
Back in 2005, Lacasse and Leo pointed out in the journal PLOS Medicine that there was a huge disconnect between what we knew about serotonin’s role in depression from the medical research, and what pharmaceutical advertisements were claiming we knew:

Regarding SSRIs, there is a growing body of medical literature casting doubt on the serotonin hypothesis, and this body is not reflected in the consumer advertisements. In particular, many SSRI advertisements continue to claim that the mechanism of action of SSRIs is that of correcting a chemical imbalance, such as a paroxetine advertisement, which states, “With continued treatment, Paxil can help restore the balance of serotonin…” [22].

Yet […] there is no such thing as a scientifically established correct “balance” of serotonin. The take-home message for consumers viewing SSRI advertisements is probably that SSRIs work by normalizing neurotransmitters that have gone awry. This was a hopeful notion 30 years ago, but is not an accurate reflection of present-day scientific evidence.

New research that we reported on last month confirms the role of serotonin in depression is not well-understood. In that mice study, removing the stuff in the brain that creates serotonin2 did not create a bunch of depressed mice.

Other research confirms it’s not as simple as a serotonin deficit. As Whitaker (2010) noted, the 1976 Asbert study is still relevant. Asbert looked at levels of a metabolized result of serotonin (something called 5-HIAA) in spinal fluid. If low-levels of serotonin cause depression, then all people suffering from depression should have significantly lower levels of 5-HIAA in their spinal fluid than people without depression.

What Asbert found, however, wasn’t a clean result. In fact, it clearly shows how complicated depression as a disease process is. In both groups of people studied — both a depression group and a control group — about 50 percent had “regular” levels of 5-HIAA, about 25 percent had really low levels, and another 25 percent had really high levels.

If serotonin were really an important part of the picture in depression, we’d expect that group to look significantly different than the control group. In this study, at least, the two groups looked largely the same.

As we said back in 2007, serotonin may play some small, not-yet-well-understood role in depression. But if it does, it looks nothing like the simplistic “low levels of serotonin cause depression” hypothesis that was all the rage ten to twenty years ago.

If a doctor suggests this is the cause of your depression, and all you need is an antidepressant like Prozac, point them to this article. And please take a moment to share this on Facebook and twitter. It’s an widespread myth that dumbs down depression that we need to put to rest once and for all.

Sep 13

The Meaning of Life



Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 6.53.48 PMOften I hear people yearning to find the meaning of life. They want to know what their purpose is for being here.

This pursuit pretty much assumes that we each have a specific reason for being here and our job is to discover what that is. Some spend a lifetime pursuing this but never finding what they’re looking for because they’re too focused on themselves.

The answer is to look outside of our selves.
The wisest man I know, the Dalai Lama, does say “the purpose of life is to learn to be happy while living in an imperfect world.” But he also says:

“We are visitors on this planet. We are here for one hundred years at the very most. During that period we must try to do something good, something useful, with our lives. If you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true meaning of life.”

So, if we can stop obsessing about our own happiness and fulfillment, look outside of ourselves and take a path that contributes to other people’s happiness, we may actually experience our reason for being here!

If we’re too focused on fulfilling our purpose we’ll miss out on the meaning of life.
The second wisest man I know is my husband, Jake Eagle. He says that “the meaning of life is about contribution not consumption.” What I think he means is that finding happiness is certainly not about having all the right stuff or even finding the right partner. When we focus, instead, on how we can benefit others—then our purpose, our joy of life, and possibly finding the right partner who is also focused on other people’s happiness, can come without having to search.

There is, however, one caveat to this. To me, doing something that benefits others doesn’t mean being selfless. By caring for ourselves, we’ll definitely have strength and energy to help others better.

It’s so simple!

The meaning of life and finding your purpose is about being happy because you take good care of yourself and also contribute to the happiness and well-being of others.

There is another equally salient point . . .
We must learn to care for ourselves so that we have more to give to others. Self care often involves re-alignment—of our beliefs, behaviors, and emotional boundaries. For many people this is a prerequisite needed before being able to contribute to other people.

There is a fast track way to accomplish this re-alignment. If you are tired of floundering around and ready to jump in with two feet, I invite you to consider investing in yourself by attending a week-long retreat.

Yes, I am talking about the retreats I offer with my husband (remember, the second wisest person I know).

Why if I was advocating, in my previous blog, contributing to others, am I now advocating focusing on yourself? Because there are three things that get in people’s way, keeping them from making the contribution that they are capable of making.

1. Narcissism.
2. Not knowing a better way to make meaning.
3. Being overly concerned with what other people think.

Although a Reology Retreat can be classified as personal growth work, it is unique in many ways.

First, participants come to develop a new understanding of narcissism. They learn that the way they see the world is not the right way, it is simply their way. In one week they break through their limited way of seeing the world and never see it in the same way again.

Second, participants learn that meaning is made up. This is incredibly freeing. Without spending years in therapy we can, quickly, change the way we make meaning—freeing ourselves from limiting beliefs and immature behaviors.

Third, participants learn to stop being so overly concerned with what other people think of them. This too is incredibly freeing. A large reason why many people never find their unique path in life is because they spend too much time listening to other people and not listening to themselves. After learning to listen to yourself you are much more likely to know how, where, and with whom you can make the greatest contribution.

We only accept 20 people in each retreat we conduct and we only conduct 2 programs a year in America, one in Japan. We have limited the number of participants in these retreats for the past 13 years.

Our upcoming retreat will be on an exotic island—Roatan. And there are only a few spaces left.

If you are interested you should be warned that if you attend:
You will never quite see the world in the same way again.
You will learn a practice that teaches you to come into the present moment every time you speak.
You will stop thinking in terms of right and wrong and replace that with a deep curiosity.
Requirements for attendance:
You need to be psychologically stable.
You need to come with an open mind.
You need to be willing to try new behaviors.
You need to be open to the idea that life can be fun and easy.
You need to be interested and committed to paying forward what you gain.
To Learn More:
If you want to know what this experience is like for others, you can read these testimonials.
If you want to read a wonderful story about one participant’s journey, you can download this free booklet.
If you want an in depth look into this work, here’s Jake Eagle’s award winning book “ReRight Your Life”

Sep 11

The Secret Lives of Women with ADHD



No Boundaries Juniors Pull On Maxi Tulip SkirtMany women with ADHD live with a painful secret: “Shame, unfortunately, seems to be the name of the game, for many women I have worked with who have ADHD,” said Terry Matlen, MSW, ACSW, a psychotherapist and ADHD coach.

Even women with advanced degrees in demanding, high-powered positions feel incredibly overwhelmed once they get home, stressed out by all the household details, she said. “They feel like they are living a lie — that their accomplishments are simply due to good luck.”

Even for women who understand how ADHD makes daily life difficult, one minor mistake or overlooked task can send them reeling from humiliation — “like simply forgetting to sign their child’s school-related paper in time.”

This triggers a barrage of negative, cruel thoughts: “Oh no! I’ve done it again. What is wrong with me? I’m such an idiot!”

In childhood, girls are taught that we must keep a tidy home, cook dinner every night, do laundry, entertain, take care of the chores, raise well-behaved children and work full time, said Matlen, author of the forthcoming book The Queen of Distraction: How Women with ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus, and Get More Done.

For women with ADHD these expectations — however unrealistic and unfair — can amplify their shame and sink self-esteem. This happens particularly when women become parents because there are so many additional responsibilities, she said.

When they can’t keep up, they start feeling guilty. They berate themselves for not being what they perceive as good enough mothers. They worry their kids won’t learn certain skills, such as time management. They regularly compare themselves to other moms, for whom parenting and other motherhood-related responsibilities seem to come easily, she said.

“Women are taught to be a stabilizing force in the family. If she falls apart, then what? So she continues to live with her painful secrets of feeling inadequate, unintelligent, incapable.”

Many women with ADHD also have been told that ADHD isn’t a “real” condition, said Matlen, who also has ADHD. They’re told they just need to work harder, but “Telling a woman to try harder is like asking someone with a hearing impairment to listen better.”

Letting go of shame and feelings of inadequacy is a process that takes time. Matlen’s seven tips can help you get started.

1. Connect with other women who have ADHD.

According to Matlen, “Women with ADHD have much in common and feel much better when they see how it affects others and how they manage.” She suggested joining online groups and support groups in your area.

Matlen has created a range of websites for women with ADHD: a community where women with ADHD can connect. an online group coaching for women with ADHD. features resources for women. a Facebook page for women to connect and share information and resources. a community for moms with ADHD.
She suggested these other great websites: Solden penned a groundbreaking book on women with ADHD. Her website is for both men and women, but lots of women are drawn to her site. a site for women, especially who are middle aged and up. offers resources for women.
To find other groups, Matlen also suggested trying Facebook and typing in the search box: “women with ADHD.”

2. Attend ADHD conferences.

“A lot of the issues surrounding shame and inadequacy are due to feeling like you’re the only one who has difficulties with organizing, time management, etc.” But you’re not the only one. Conferences help you connect with other women with ADHD, and learn important insights into how ADHD affects you, she said. Matlen recommended the ADDA conference and CHADD conference.

3. Revise negative thoughts.

Matlen stressed the importance of doing the internal work of dealing with negative thoughts and replacing them with positive thoughts. She shared this example: “I may not be great at remembering people’s names, but I know how to draw, paint, comfort people who are hurting, etc.”

4. Focus on your strengths.

“I’ve seen so many women’s self-esteem take a huge pounding as they forget or dismiss their strengths,” Matlen said. Remember to celebrate your abilities and the things you’re good at.

5. Channel your ADHD into positive pursuits.

If you’re impulsive, channel that into being playful and pursuing creative outlets, such as painting and dancing. If you’re a dreamer, Matlen said, start a journal to capture your ideas. Instead of fighting your ADHD, accept that it’s part of your neurobiology — not a character flaw — and reroute it into healthy, enjoyable activities.

6. Be picky about the people in your life.

“Reach out to people who celebrate your strengths and stay away from negative people,” Matlen said. If you’ve been too ashamed to tell anyone you have ADHD, consider sharing it with people you trust who aren’t judgmental, she said.

7. See a therapist.

It’s crucial to work with a therapist who has a solid, compassionate understanding of how ADHD affects women, Matlen said. “There may be years of struggling with low self-esteem, low self-worth, depression [and] anxiety that need to be teased out in the context of ADHD.”

Therapy also can help you realize that you’re a “perfectly capable woman who happens to have an ADHD brain,” Matlen said. Because you are.

Sep 10

Happy Wife, Happy Life


By JANICE WOOD Associate News Editor

A new study finds that for older adults, the more content the wife is with her marriage, the happier the husband is with his life — no matter how he feels about their relationship.

“I think it comes down to the fact that when a wife is satisfied with the marriage, she tends to do a lot more for her husband, which has a positive effect on his life,” said Dr. Deborah Carr, a professor in the Department of Sociology, School of Arts and Science at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

“Men tend to be less vocal about their relationships and their level of marital unhappiness might not be translated to their wives.”

Carr partnered with Dr. Vicki Freedman, a research professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, on the study, which was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

According to Carr, the new study differs from previous research because it takes into account the feelings of both spouses to determine how these marital appraisals influence the psychological well-being of older adults.

The researchers analyzed data from 394 couples who were part of a national study of income, health, and disability in 2009. At least one of the spouses was 60 or older. On average, couples were married for 39 years.

To assess marital quality, the couples were asked several questions, such as whether their spouse appreciates them, argues with them, understands their feelings, or gets on their nerves. They were also asked to keep detailed diaries about how happy they were in the previous 24 hours doing selected activities like shopping, doing household chores, and watching television.

The couples rated their general life satisfaction high, typically five out of six points — with husbands rating their marriage slightly more positive than their wives, according to the study’s findings.

“For both spouses, being in a better-rated marriage was linked to greater life satisfaction and happiness,” Carr said.

The study also found that while wives became less happy if their spouses became ill, the husbands’ happiness didn’t change if their wives got sick.

“We know that when a partner is sick, it is the wife that often does the caregiving, which can be a stressful experience,” said Carr. “But often when a women gets sick it is not her husband she relies on, but her daughter.”

According to researchers, the findings are important because the quality of a marriage can affect the health and well-being of older individuals as they continue to age.

“The quality of a marriage is important because it provides a buffer against the health-depleting effects of later life stressors and helps couples manage difficult decisions regarding health and medical decision making,” Carr said.

Source: Rutgers University

Sep 7

5 Signs you are Involved with a Narcissist



narcissismBasically you can’t get close to a narcissist. A relationship with a narcissist will be a problem, and the more narcissistic they are the more it becomes impossible.

Sex addicts and addicts generally are often described as narcissistic, but many non-addicts are narcissists as well. Trying to have a relationship with a true narcissist can be an extremely tortuous and confusing experience.

The continuum of narcissism

Many psychological disorders are now being talked about as existing on a “spectrum”, that is they are not like other diseases where either you have them or you don’t. With spectrum disorders the set of symptoms can range from very mild to very severe.

As I have discussed previously, narcissists at the mild end may be labeled as having narcissistic personality traits such as self centeredness and vanity; those labeled as having narcissistic personality disorder will be mostly oblivious of the needs of others and will focus on maintaining a false and grandiose sense of a self. At the outer most extreme the narcissist becomes akin to a sociopath, feeling so over-entitled and so lacking in conscience or empathy that they are opportunists and even criminals.

Many sex addicts and other kinds of addicts have what is called a narcissistic defense system, that is they have a façade of self importance which merely covers a deep seated lack of self worth.

What to expect with a narcissist

Narcissists are cut off from others by their underlying insecurity but they nevertheless can become expert at manipulating people in order to draw them in. They can be habitually seductive as a way of finding validation and power in relating to people generally. They are fundamentally impossible to connect with in the following ways.

The narcissist needs you to be focused on him.
He or she may initially show great interest and appreciation for you. This is gratifying but is skin deep. It is done to get you to focus on them. They may give lavish praise and compare you favorably to others; in this way they manipulate you into trying to keep their good opinion thus becoming more and more focused on what they think about you (and everything else.) And you become unconsciously afraid to displease the narcissist or incur his disapproval.

The narcissist needs to see anyone they are close to as special.
The idea here is that the narcissist needs to feel he is wonderful and that he wouldn’t be seen associating with anyone who wasn’t wonderful too. He sees you as a reflection of his own specialness. This does not really say anything about how he really feels about you, what is important to the narcissist is how you make him look to others and to himself.

The narcissist will be controlling and demanding.
You may feel constantly thrown off from what you were doing or thinking about because the narcissist will come at you with their needs and wants. Narcissists will have their own agenda most of the time. They will use their judgmental attitude, their scrutiny of you and their strong opinions to enforce that agenda.

If you have already become involved you may be sacrificing yourself in a million little ways and even feeling that your life has been taken over. This is a far cry from a real relationship in which the partners’ lives together involve mutual decision making and genuine listening.

Narcissists will be volatile when they are challenged.
Since their façade of superiority is just a façade, the narcissist will be cut to the quick if they feel criticized in any way. Their first line of defense will be to discount and devalue whatever or whoever has pricked their bubble. But they will be deeply affected and may harbor rage or resentments. This makes it impossible to express your true feelings or needs and to have them be heard.

Narcissists will bail out when you stop feeding their narcissism.
You may be unable to shake the feeling that the relationship is tenuous because it is. It is possible to puncture a narcissist’s false self very easily. And since your worth to him or her lies in your ability to reinforce their self image, you can become a hindrance if and when you stop mirroring their perfection.

Someone who has milder narcissistic traits is probably using their grandiosity as a defense, as is the case with most sex addicts in treatment. In recovery they can gain a stronger sense of self worth and let go of the narcissistic defense system. With treatment, these people may be more able to connect to their insecurities and you may find that they both want and have a genuine capacity for a healthy relationship.

Find Dr. Hatch on Facebook at Sex Addictions Counseling or Twitter @SAResource

Sep 6

4 Types of Subtle Manipulation



feeling manipulatedManipulation can be very subtle. We often talk about how manipulative addicts are. And in particular we talk about how sex addicts manipulate others in order to avoid discovery, throw their partner off the scent and “gaslight” their partners. In gaslighting, a term taken from the 1944 movie Gaslight, a person controls another person by finding ways to make them think that they are imagining things or that they are actually delusional.

Manipulation as a weapon of the weak

By definition manipulation is indirect and devious. It is neither aggressive nor passive-aggressive, although it is a cousin to both. It is a way of getting what you want without directly asking for it.

Manipulation does not involve overtly aggressive behaviors like threats or bullying although manipulative people may do these things at times. It is also different from mere passive-aggressive behaviors such as being late for something we don’t want to do or “forgetting” something we were supposed to do.

Someone who resorts to manipulation is doing so as a way to stay safe. Often the manipulator is in a low-power position in a relationship or unconsciously adopts that position. A manipulator is acting out of fear, fear of being direct, fear of being honest, and above all fear of being assertive and vulnerable.

Signs of manipulation

There are some subtle types of communication that suggest you may be dealing with a manipulator. All of them are designed to ultimately control what you think or do in ways that have plausible deniability. The manipulator is hiding their real selfish motive.

Arguing you out of what you want
You are leaving the house and you remember something else you need to bring. Your friend who is impatient to get going may say ” you don’t really need that do you?” or “You don’t want to be late do you?” The “logical” manipulator always has a reason why it is in your interests to do what is actually in his/her interests. This can apply to all kinds of things including things you want to spend money on that are important to you but that the manipulator doesn’t care about. He or she may try to convince you that this or that expenditure is not necessary, when that is actually beside the point (and maybe wrong). I honestly believe that some manipulative addicts try to talk their partners out of things on general principle, as if the idea of someone else getting their needs met is almost threatening in itself.

Non-stop talking
This is one that I observe in highly exploitive people including some sex addicts and sex offenders I have interviewed. Some people are just naturally very talkative, but monopolizing the conversation can also become a habit of people who are furtive and/or insecure about getting their needs met. If it is hard to get a word in edgewise, you may be talking to someone with a very powerful agenda that is hidden from view. This too can become a habitual way of interacting; control the conversation to control the outcome of the interaction.

Derisive joking and sarcasm
In this instance the manipulator is actually pushing you toward or away from something by means of shaming you. This could relate to anything: a movie you want to see, a person you like or don’t like, even your philosophy of life. The manipulative person is trying to influence you in a rather aggressive way without it seeming aggressive. He or she is staying in a safe place but trying to make your position seem trivial, silly, uninformed, unimaginative or wrong. All this is done by making fun of you and seeming to have no malice. But in fact it is a rejection of you.

Reframing your reality
This is a common form of persuasive communication and is not always done in an illegitimate way. I remember I once said that I didn’t want to invite someone to my wedding, someone I had a petty resentment against. My friend said “You are better than that.” This was actually a helpful thing as it helped me get over the resentment.

But when a person attempts to change your reality out of their own self interest it’s a different matter. This is the person who may want you to do something that you think is wrong and argues “life is short” or “if you are really my friend…” etc.

Manipulation in recovering addicts

If you have ever lived with a sex addict, or maybe any untreated addict, you may be saying that this is old stuff to you. You may have experiences so much manipulation that you had it wired.

In recovering sex addicts there is a lot of emphasis on living in integrity and not trying to be devious or controlling toward other people. But even in addicts with long term recovery it may be the case that the habitual ways of relating during the addiction will linger.

Arguably the recovering addict’s most difficult challenge is learning to function in intimate relationships. Intimacy requires trust and openness, and the recovering addict will be working toward becoming more direct and transparent even when the addictive behavior is long gone.

Find Dr. Hatch on Facebook at Sex Addictions Counseling or Twitter @SAResource

Sep 5


Since Robin Williams’ sad and shocking suicide on August 11, friends, family, fellow stars, and even reporters have offered multiple explanations for the virtually inexplicable:

Why did he do it?

Some of the many possible factors which have been proposed are depression, alcohol, drugs, and Parkinsons Disease. But I see another potential factor which is never mentioned by anyone. A factor which falls between the cracks just as its sufferers do: Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN).

CEN causes untold numbers of people to question the point of being alive. People with CEN feel empty and alone. But they were trained in childhood to keep their problems and needs out of view. Because they believe that their emotions and needs are a burden, they not only hide them from others; they even hide them from themselves.

CEN folks live in a prison of self-blame, self-doubt and emptiness. Yet they are unable to ask for help. Some can have secret suicidal thoughts throughout their lifetimes. Some act upon those thoughts, leaving family and friends forever baffled and pained.

Unlike medical disease, depression and substance abuse, CEN is not noticeable or diagnosable. It hides from everyone, even from the sufferer himself. People with CEN do not know the source of their pain. They only know their most deeply-held truth: they cannot let it be seen.

Since CEN is so invisible, how can anyone say that it was a factor in Robin’s suicide? The truth is, I can only surmise. But I can say that several facts about Robin’s childhood, combined with his behaviors as an adult, point to CEN. Here is a list of them:

Robin’s father was a high-level GM executive and his mother a fashion model. He grew up surrounded by wealth and privilege, but not by attention. His parents were seldom home, and he was raised mostly by the maid, who was also his primary companion.
Robin’s description of himself as a child: “short, shy, chubby and lonely.” He described spending much of his childhood in the family’s huge house, playing with toy soldiers, alone.
In 2009, Robin told People Magazine that in his childhood home, “the ideal child was seen, not heard.” This mantra is a hallmark of the CEN family.
During a 2001 episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio, Robin gave credit to his mother for helping to develop his humor because as a child, he worked to be funny as a way to get her attention.
All who knew Robin agreed that he kept his pain hidden, deep underground. Only those who spent considerable time with him or knew him well got glimpses of his true sadness and hurt. Carefully guarded pain: it’s the stamp of CEN.
Many people with CEN never have suicidal thoughts or tendencies. But I have seen CEN powerfully and significantly degrade the quality of life of many admirable, lovable, worthy people.

No matter where we go, no matter what we do, our child selves live within us. We feel that child’s joy, we feel that child’s pain. We feel as lovable as that child felt.

The father who loves his two beautiful daughters, but who struggles to feel that love.

The successful businesswoman who has everything but a feeling that she matters.

The much-loved man who never feels that he belongs.

The giving young woman who is there to help everyone, but who cannot ask for help.

The beloved funnyman who has everything but who cannot let himself be truly seen.

These are the many faces of Childhood Emotional Neglect.

Whether Robin grew up with CEN or not, let us make sure that we learn something from this loss. Let us break the silence that we were taught as children. Let us all stand up and do what Robin, sadly, could not.

Let us pay attention to our own secret pain, and reach out to those whose hidden pain we see. Let us take a chance and talk, and let ourselves be known.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood, often lasting into adulthood. Though it is commonly treated with a “stimulant” medication, there have been concerns that such drugs could stunt a child’s growth. Now, a new study suggests this type of medication does not affect children’s final height in adulthood.
Girl’s growth
The latest study reveals that stimulant medication taken by children treated for ADHD does not affect their final height in adulthood.
The longitudinal study is published in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) journal Pediatrics.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, 5% of children have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). But studies in the US indicate that this rate is higher. Recent surveys of parents have found that around 11% of children aged 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011, totaling 6.4 million.

Children with the disorder usually have difficulty paying attention, controlling impulsive behavior or are overly active. Though the underlying causes and risk factors for ADHD are not known, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that genetics may play a role.

Additionally, researchers are currently investigating other potential causes and risk factors, including brain injury, environmental exposures, alcohol and tobacco use in pregnancy, premature delivery and low birth rate.

Though it may seem counterproductive to give an overactive child a stimulant, the most commonly used medication for treating ADHD is a type of stimulant medication, which has a calming effect on children with the condition.

According to the CDC, between 70-80% of children with ADHD respond positively to such medications.

‘Neither ADHD nor stimulants linked with final adult height’
To investigate whether stimulant medications are associated with final adult height, the researchers examined 340 children with ADHD who were born between 1976-1982 and compared their final height in adulthood with a control group of 680 children who did not have the disorder.

Fast facts about ADHD in the US
The percentage of children diagnosed with ADHD increased from 7.8% in 2003 to 11% in 2011
Boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD
The annual societal cost of illness for ADHD is estimated to be between $36-52 billion, in 2005 dollars.
After studying height and stimulant treatment information from medical records and an adult follow-up study, the team found that neither ADHD nor stimulant treatment was associated with final height in adulthood.

Additionally, they observed that boys with ADHD who were treated with stimulants for more than 3 months had a growth spurt later than those not treated with stimulants. However, there was no difference in the size of the growth spurt.

There was also no link between a longer period of treatment with stimulants and final adult height, say the researchers, who conclude:

“Our findings suggest that ADHD treatment with stimulant medication is not associated with differences in adult height or significant changes in growth.”

Medical News Today recently reported on a study that suggested treating people who have ADHD with stimulant medication could reduce their likelihood of taking up smoking.

Meanwhile, guidance published in Pediatrics in June suggested ways of preventing substance abuse in people with ADHD, given that children with this disorder are at greater risk of abusing alcohol, tobacco and other illicit substances.

Written by Marie Ellis

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