Thursday, July 15, 2010

Newest Book by my Dear Husband :)

Most children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are diagnosed between the ages of ten and twelve-right on the cusp of their adolescent years. Yet, until now, there have been no resources available for the substantial population of teens suffering with the unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and rituals (compulsions) characteristic of OCD. Free from OCD is an Instant Help workbook designed to correct that problem. The activities in this book help teens and parents work together to assess the severity of the symptoms and offer teens cognitive behavioral skills to overcome them. Teen readers learn essential information about the biology and dynamics of OCD, then discover a multitude of skills for moving beyond the most common types of obsessions and compulsions: hand washing, checking, counting, ordering, repetition of mental acts, fear of harm to self or family, fear of germs or diseases, fearing of losing something valuable, and perfectionism. The last section explains exposure and response prevention and invites the reader to understand and prepare to undergo this process. Both imagined and real-life exposure and response prevention exercises are included to help teens with OCD make dramatic gains in symptom management and improve their confidence to move forward in treatment.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Is Your Brain Being Shaped?

As we get wired, we get re-wired

According to research, people consume approximately 12 hours of media a day on average while at home (with simultaneous use counting as double). Computer users visit an average of 40 Web sites per day and at work, computer users change windows or check email or other programs nearly 37 times per hour. In a recent poll, most Americans reported that generally devices such as smart phones, cell phones, and personal computers have made their lives better and their jobs easier.
But more and more attention is being paid to the possible downside of all of this media consumption as well. Some of it is simply a matter of time – when we consume 12 hours of media per day at home we don’t have time for other things. For example, one in seven married respondents said that use of devices was causing them to see less of their spouses, and 1 in 10 said they spent less time with their children under 18.
However, scientists who have been studying media consumption and media multitasking are finding that there may by other effects as well, which range from our ability to relate to others to actual changes in the structure of the brain. For example, we are designed as animals to respond to immediate opportunities and threats as a way to survive. Sudden stimulation (such as a phone call, incoming email, or text message) provokes excitement (a dopamine surge) which can become addictive. People can become bored in its absence.
Some studies have suggested that excessive dependence on our devices is akin to an addiction, similar to issues people have related to food or sex. It may be an apt comparison, because while people can abstain from drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes, electronic media has become essential to modern life. In excess, though, the evidence is mounting that it is counterproductive at best and detrimental at worst.
Additionally, while multitaskers report feeling more productive, research indicates that heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, and experience more stress. Even more concerning is that even after the devices are shut off, fractured thinking and lack of focus persists – our brains are actually being “rewired by technology,” says Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, director of the Impulse Control Disorders Clinic at Stanford, has stated that we are “paying a price in terms of our cognitive life because of this virtual lifestyle.” Some experts believe that our personalities are being reshaped due to exposure to technology, causing us to become more impatient, impulsive, forgetful, and even more narcissistic.
The nonstop interactivity people experience these days is one of the most significant shifts ever in the human environment, said Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco. “We are exposing our brains to an environment and asking them to do things we weren’t necessarily evolved to do,” he says. Apparently that environment is here to stay. The question is how to we manage our relationship to it, and what the consequences are if we don’t.
As experts study the effects of “getting wired” and sound the alarm, no one has yet to spell out the solutions for us. Looking back in history, there have been periods of technological breakthroughs that have happened and we have plunged ahead, thrilled with the new convenience and speed in our lives, without thinking about future consequences. These days, new programs are springing up around the country to attempt to help people struggle with the technology that appears to be taking over our lives at a rapid pace, but it is a challenge for them to get the attention of the general public. If we could just, for a moment, sustain our attention in their direction, we might be able to hold on to that ability for just a little longer.
Samantha Smithstein, Psy.D.