Mr. Rolón's rock-star status reflects Argentina's fascination with
psychoanalysis. Argentina had 145 psychologists per 100,000 residents in a 2008
study by researchers Modesto Alonso and Paula Gago. That's far more than
second-place Denmark, with 85, or ninth-place U.S. with 31, in a 2005 study by
the World Health Organization.
There is some discussion of how psychology has grown to be so prevalent in Argnetina, both individually and collectively. In addition, there is a brief profile of a celebrity psychologist in Argentina, who does not appear to be respected by at least some of his peers. Read the whole thing!
This article reviews new research indicating forensic evaluators operate with a high degree of accuracy. The research used a mathematical model to assess the findings of a group of forensic psychiatists, who offered opinions on 156 cases. The researchers found the evaluators distinguished competent from incompetent defendants 29 out of 30 times. From the article:
In an average of 29 out of every 30 cases, the psychiatrists could distinguish competent defendants from incompetent defendants. That’s a level of performance that exceeds standard diagnostic performance in other areas of medicine, such as spotting breast cancer in mammograms or using advanced imaging methods to detect Alzheimer’s disease.
What I also like about this research is the recognition of the difficulties in providing "Yes/No" responses, as psycho-legal issues generally require, when one is dealing with a particularly complicated case. It is perfectly reasonable for two experts to examine the same data, yet ultimately arrive at different opinions, when the data is complex, scattered, etc. There is not a single line separating competency versus incompetency to stand trial, or with other psycho-legal issues; there are cases where defendants fall somewhere in the middle. As the article states:
“These results help us see how courtroom experts can be quite accurate in distinguishing competence from incompetence, but still reach different conclusions,” says Mossman of the study, which was published online in Law and Human Behavior, the journal of the American Psychology-Law Society. “It’s a matter of where experts draw the line on the issue of competence.”
Continues Mossman: “Experts may disagree with each other even though they are very good at making all the right distinctions. You’re apt to get disagreement when you ask experts for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, as the courts do, on issues that can have gray areas, like competence to stand trial.”
This is not to say there isn't the occasional individual who tends to find in one direction or the other more frequently, for whatever reason. However, the notion that virtually all evaluators already have their minds made up is nonsense. In addition, as the methods available to assess defendants continues to improve, it will become increasingly difficult to defend and outlying opinion. Foresnic evaluations are far more data-driven than in the past, and more scientific in general; as a result, an opinion isn't worth much unless an expert can back it up on the stand. A thorough evaluation, addressing the pertinent questions, explaining the findings in a way that makes sense to everyone in the courtroom, and being honest pretty much addresses these issues.
I have a book review pending for Rubicon, a book about the last days of the Roman Republic (hint: I loved it!). Unfortunately, it is written on a computer that is now without a screen, and that is now being mailed back to me by Dell (unrepaired, I might add). Once returned, I'll do my best to pull my writings off of its hard drive, and will hopefully be able to post my review.
Rubicon was written by Tom Holland, who also wrote Persian Fire, about Leonidas, Xerxes, and the war being the Greeks and the Persian Empire. Note - I loved that book, too. As a result, I read Rubicon, and will read Tom Holland's other stuff when able.
Based on my enjoyment of Rubicon, I recently began receiving HBO's series Rome in the mail. Disc 1 sat on my computer stand for two weeks, but I finally popped it into the player this weekend. All I can say is, "Wow!"
I'm not going to go into any kind of review; this has been around awhile (2005?), and I'm sure there are tons of quality reviews all over the Internet. Suffice to say that if you enjoy history presented well, with a focus on both the major players, as well as the day-to-day lives of the typical citizens, this series is for you. Well written, well acted, beautifully filmed, and with a story of remarkable importance and timelessness, I am four episodes in, and can't wait to watch more. I recommend the double dip - read Rubicon, which is very well written and will provide you with a sense of the time, players, and issues. Then, start watching Rome, and be sure to use the special feature "All Roads Lead to Rome," which provides bits of information and trivia on-screen as the episode plays. Two seasons were filmed, with 22 episodes total. I find this appealing, in that an end is in sight right off the bat, and the last episode appears to be at an appropriate juncture in Roman history. Enjoy! I know I will...
Here is an article discussing new research into the impact of domestic abuse on the health of women. The study examined the responses and medical records of over 3,000 women. From the article:
Many of these health problems are not commonly understood as being associated with violence, such as abdominal pain, chest pain, headaches, acid reflux, urinary tract infections, and menstrual disorders.
"Roughly half of the diagnoses we examined were more common in abused women than in other women," said Amy Bonomi, lead author of the study and associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.
There was also this:
Compared with never-abused women, victims had an almost six-fold increase in clinically identified substance abuse, a more than three-fold increase in receiving a depression diagnosis, a three-fold increase in sexually transmitted diseases and a two-fold increase in lacerations.
The article also notes this is the first time the data were gathered from medical records, rather than relying on subjects' self-report. This gives the diagnostic information more credibility. The authors pointed out that as these diagnoses become more present in a patient, they should serve as a cue to formally screen for abuse, as many women will not spontaneously volunteer this information.
"The critic has many weapons. Among the most effective are the values and rules of living you grew up with. the critic has a way of turning your"shoulds" against you. He compares the way you are with the way you ought to be and judges you inadequate or wrong. he calls you stupid if the A you should have had slips to a B. He says, "A real man supports his family," and calls you a loser when you're laid off from work. He says, "The kids come first," and calls you selfish when you crave some nights off."
In addressing many neurotic mental health issues, you'll come across the concept of rigid thinking, and how it contributes to depression, anxiety, etc. The paragraph above demonstrates how this type of thinking leads to misinterpretations of environmental activities, which then leads to negative/maladaptive feelings, which in turn lead to less optimal behavioral responses. Albert Ellis is generally credited with the modern therapeutic framework for addressing rigid thinking patterns and their unhealthy impact on our well-being (Rational-Emotive-Behavior Therapy, or REBT).
When tackling low self-esteem, adressing rigid thinking patterns (as voiced by this "inner critic") is of paramount importance. The book goes into some detail as to why, as well as how to confront these cognitive errors. For now, let us just say that, in general, excessively rigid thinking is, first and foremost, wrong. Period. To consistently judge oneself against erroneous standards, then, puts us at a disadvantage. This is why confronting the inner critic, and correcting the rigid beliefs inherent in the inner critics' statements, is so important. Next up, I'll provide further quotes from the book, and provide a few examples.
One of my fondest memories growing up was having "movie parties" with my grandparents. A particular movie or television show was scheduled for a certain night while I was visiting (no video stores in those days!), and bowls of various snacks were placed all around. A particular favorite of mine was Jiffy Pop, the self-contained popcorn container you popped directly over the stove. Of course, it didn't pop as quickly or evenly as the commercial suggested (shocker!), but it was so much fun to watch, once it got going. This was the sort of pre-game activity reserved for a bigger cinematic event, such as The Wizard of Oz.
A quick search shows that Jiffy Pop is still for sale, via ConAgra, though I didn't see it available at the store I regularly shop at. I thought about Jiffy Pop for the first time in a long time when my wife popped popcorn on the stove instead of the microwave (for a project). A bit more history can be found here, including pop culture references (I love the Simpson's joke).
Interesting article here regarding the impact of exercise on one's own body image. It seems that if an individual engages in exercise, they experience an improved sense of their body image, regardless of their overall fitness level. From the article:
People who don't achieve workout milestones such as losing fat, gaining strength or boosting cardiovascular fitness feel just as good about their bodies as their more athletic counterparts, said Heather Hausenblas, a UF exercise psychologist. Her study is published in the September issue of the Journal of Health Psychology.
"You would think that if you become more fit that you would experience greater improvements in terms of body image, but that's not what we found," she said. "It may be that the requirements to receive the psychological benefits of exercise, including those relating to body image, differ substantially from the physical benefits."
The article also addresses the relevance of the research, in that dissatisfaction with one's body image has increased dramatically in this country over the last 20 years. As a result, people spend tons of money on all sorts of products, diets, etc. in an effort to address their poor self-image. According to this research, people will experience an improved sense of self regardless of whether they reach specific fitness markers, in terms of type/duration of exercise, or physiologic measurements. Only frequency of participation appeared significant in the findings, which suggests that simply getting people to participate in some fitness-related activity regularly, regardless of length, will have a psychological benefit - one doesn't have to achieve certain thresholds before the benefits are experienced.
What is nice about this in the context of therapy is that, when exercise is a behavioral intervention (such as when treating depression), the only really important number one needs to worry about in terms of goal-setting is frequency of an activity. The client can slide on some of the other goals (like the length of the workout, walk, jog, etc.); it is simply the act of engaging in the activity for some length of time on multiple occasions during the week that will trigger an improvement in this area. Helping the client by adding the social/interpersonal dimension, such as "I will walk with my wife five days per week," will further increase the likelihood of initial compliance to the goal. As improvement occurs, the other issues (such as the length of the walk) can be examined more specifically.
In addition, this research may be important to provide as education to clients who have extremely poor body image, and/or are reluctant to initiate a workout routine due to concerns regarding "how they'll look in front of everyone." I get that, and there can be ways to work around this issue (go for walks instead of going to the gym, for example). However, there are certain exercise regimens that might be better for certain individuals, or certain exercises the client would otherwise prefer except for this one concern. This research might help a client overcome their self-conciousness and facilitate their participation in an exercise routine they are otherwise more likely to participate in and enjoy.
I just read this article, which indicates the judge has found the defendant competent to stand trial. This case has reached national prominence; the defendant is accused of killing a beloved high school football coach in Iowa.
According to the article, there was no dispute between the various experts on the defendant's diagnosis: everyone agrees he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. However, the judge agreed with the prosecution expert that, due to a positive response to treatment with medication, the defendant meets the critieria to proceed. From the article:
The judge said Becker's paranoid schizophrenia is "undisputed" but that an increased dosage of an anti-psychotic medication, along with findings of the prosecution's psychiatrist, lead him to believe Becker can understand the trial proceedings.
"The evidence indicates that Mr. Becker has sufficient ability to recall events which will be pertinent to his defense," Carroll wrote in the order. That includes Becker's ability to recall June 24, when Thomas was shot to death in the high school weight room in front of more than 20 students.
"Becker was able to recall and relate those events in a 'precise, chronologic, detailed, coherent manner,'" the judge wrote.
Carroll also agreed with the prosecution psychiatrist's finding that Becker suffers from auditory hallucinations. The judge said that because the hallucinations do not involve the legal system, and because Becker didn't experience hallucinations during the psychiatrist's interview, they likely won't interfere with his ability to assist with his own defense.
The last paragraph is related to a significant point. As I've noted in previous posts on the subject of competency to stand trial, the issue of competency is a functional analysis. That is, an evaluator has to assess to what degree an individual is capable of completing certain tasks. In the case of competency, the presence of a mental health disorder, even a significant one such as Schizophrenia, does not automatically preclude competency to stand trial. An evaluator must assess the degree to which the symptoms associated with the disorder impact the abilities required to meet the threshold in question. In this case, it appears as though all individuals agree not only on the diagnosis, but on a symptom that can significantly impair an individual (auditory hallucinations). However, even with a symptom like this, an assessment must be made as to whether the presence of this individual's symptom experience would impact the criteria for competency. In this case, it was determined the auditory hallucinations are not associated with a delusional belief system involveing the legal system; therefore, they do not impact the defendant's competency.
What this case may also highlight is the difference between various types of evaluations: in this case, competency to stand trial versus sanity at the time of the offense. Often people will confuse the two, or believe there is no differnce: "How can he be competent now when he was so crazy then? it's the same thing!" No, it isn't, and this case seems to prove why in at least one way: medication. An individual who engages in behaviors while experiencing the symptoms of a significant mental health problem may be taken into custody, where they then receive treatment, including medication. If the individual responds to the treatment, they may present as a whole lot better than how they looked before their arrest. It is certainly possible to be found competent to stand trial, but insane at the time of the offense, or vice versa. I am certainly interested in seeing how this case plays out from this perspective, as more information is made known.