David Kirkpatrick

March 26, 2010

Is psychology bunk …

… as a scientific discipline? Couldn’t say, but studies like this don’t help the argument.

The release:

Is it really bipolar disorder?

New study finds widely used screening scale misidentifies borderline personality disorder as bipolar disorder

PROVIDENCE, RI – A study from Rhode Island Hospital has shown that a widely-used screening tool for bipolar disorder may incorrectly indicate borderline personality disorder rather than bipolar disorder. In the article that appears online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the researchers question the effectiveness of the Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ).

The MDQ is the most widely-used and studied screening tool for bipolar disorder. It is a brief questionnaire that assesses whether a patient displays some of the characteristic behaviors of bipolar disorder. It can be administered by clinicians or taken by patients on their own to determine if they screen positively for bipolar disorder. For the purposes of this study, the MDQ was scored by researchers.

Bipolar and borderline personality disorders share some clinical features, including fluctuations in mood and impulsive actions. The treatments, however, will vary depending on the individual and the diagnosis. Principal investigator Mark Zimmerman, MD, director of outpatient psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital, conducted a study to test the accuracy of the MDQ.

The research team interviewed nearly 500 patients using the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV) and the Structured Interview for DSM-IV for personality disorders. The patients were also asked to complete the MDQ. The research team then scored the questionnaires and found that patients with a positive indication for bipolar disorder using the MDQ were as likely to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder as bipolar disorder when using the structured clinical interview. Further, their findings indicate that borderline personality disorder was four times more frequently diagnosed in the group who screened positive on the MDQ.

Zimmerman says that these findings raise caution for using the MDQ in clinical practice because of how differently the disorders are treated. “An incorrect diagnosis of bipolar disorder will usually lead to a treatment involving medications. If a patient truly has bipolar disorder, that treatment may work. However, at this time there are no approved medications to treat borderline personality disorder.

“Without an accurate diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, we may have many people in treatment who are taking medications that will not work to alleviate the characteristics of the condition from which they really suffer.” Zimmerman, who is also an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, continues, “In addition, patients with unrecognized borderline personality disorder will not be treated with one of the effective psychotherapies for this condition. It is therefore vital that we develop or identify a more accurate method to distinguish between these two conditions, and adopt it into clinical practice.”

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About Rhode Island Hospital:

Founded in 1863, Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, RI, is a private, not-for-profit hospital and is the largest teaching hospital of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. A major trauma center for southeastern New England, the hospital is dedicated to being on the cutting edge of medicine and research. Rhode Island Hospital receives nearly $50 million each year in external research funding. For more information on Rhode Island Hospital, visit www.rhodeislandhospital.org.

January 13, 2010

Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend

Looks like there really is something behind the old trope.

Yeah I know this will make three releases in a row, but I haven’t done a release dump in quite a long time.

The release:

‘Weekend Effect’ Makes People Happier Regardless of Their Job, Study Says

From construction laborers and secretaries to physicians and lawyers, people experience better moods, greater vitality, and fewer aches and pains from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, concludes the first study of daily mood variation in employed adults to be published in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. And that ‘weekend effect’ is largely associated with the freedom to choose one’s activities and the opportunity to spend time with loved ones, the research found.

“Workers, even those with interesting, high status jobs, really are happier on the weekend,” says author Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. “Our findings highlight just how important free time is to an individual’s well-being,” Ryan adds. “Far from frivolous, the relatively unfettered time on weekends provides critical opportunities for bonding with others, exploring interests and relaxing — basic psychological needs that people should be careful not to crowd out with overwork,” Ryan cautions.

The study tracked the moods of 74 adults, aged 18 to 62, who worked at least 30 hours per week. For three weeks, participants were paged randomly at three times during the day, once in the morning, the afternoon and the evening. At each page, participants completed a brief questionnaire describing the activity in which they were engaged and, using a seven-point scale, they rated their positive feelings like happiness, joy, and pleasure as well as negative feelings of anxiety, anger, and depression. Physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, digestive problems, respiratory ills, or low energy, also were noted.

The results demonstrated that men and women alike consistently feel better mentally and physically on the weekend. They feel better regardless of how much money they make, how many hours they work, how educated they happen to be, or whether they work in the trades, the service industry, or in a professional capacity. They feel better whether they are single, married, living together, divorced, or widowed. And, they feel better regardless of age.

To tease out exactly why weekend hours are so magical, the researchers asked participants to indicate whether they felt controlled versus autonomous in the task they were engaged in at the time of the pager signal. Participants also indicated how close they felt to others present and how competent they perceived themselves to be at their activity.

The findings indicated that relative to workdays, weekends were associated with higher levels of freedom and closeness: people reported more often that they were involved in activities of their own choosing and spending time with more intimate friends and family members. Surprisingly, the analysis also found that people feel more competent during the weekend than they do at their day-to-day jobs.

The results support self-determination theory, which holds that well-being depends in large part on meeting one’s basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. This study, conclude the authors, “offers one of the first substantive and theory-based explanations for why wellbeing tends to be more favorable on the weekends: People experience greater autonomy and relatedness, which are, in turn, related to higher wellness.” By contrast, write the authors, the work week “is replete with activities involving external controls, time pressures, and demands on behavior related to work, child care and other constraints.” Workers also may spend time among colleagues with whom they share limited emotional connections.

The study also raises questions about how work environments can be structured to be more supportive of wellness. “To the extent that daily life, including work, affords a sense of autonomy, relatedness, and competence, well-being may be higher and more stable, rather than regularly rising and falling,” the researchers conclude.

The weekend effect study was coauthored by Jessey Bernstein, professor of psychology from McGill University, and Kirk Warren Brown, professor of psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University.

About the University of Rochester

The University of Rochester (www.rochester.edu) is one of the nation’s leading private universities. Located in Rochester, N.Y., the University gives students exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close collaboration with faculty through its unique cluster-based curriculum. Its College, School of Arts and Sciences, and Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are complemented by the Eastman School of Music, Simon School of Business, Warner School of Education, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, Schools of Medicine and Nursing, and the Memorial Art Gallery.

January 11, 2010

Gambling and investing

Filed under: Business, et.al. — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:16 pm

Looks like the skills that make for a strong poker player can help you improve your investing strategies. (I should quickly add the title could be a little misleading because I consider poker a gambling game of skill, not chance. Much like investing.)

From the link:

The psychological issues that drive investing and gambling decisions aren’t merely similar. They are “identical,” says Andrew Lo, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory for Financial Engineering and one of the leaders in the field of behavioral finance (listen to our podcast with Lo). It’s easy to find investment professionals and professional poker players who agree. Says poker pro Daniel Negreanu, who holds four World Series of Poker bracelets and two World Poker Tour Championship titles: “Having emotional stability and emotional control is key to both investing and poker.”

August 12, 2009

Bush 43, torture and incompetence

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:39 am

These three grafs areprobably all you need to read on the genesis of the Cheney/Bush torture program and exactly how ill conceived and amatuer the whole operation was in terms of execution, and more importantly, legality.

The damage done to the United States is still an untold story, and the legitimacy our use of torture has already given despotic governments around the world is reason enough to spend time and resources to uncover the entire illegal program.

From the link:

Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were military retirees and psychologists, on the lookout for business opportunities. They found an excellent customer in the Central Intelligence Agency, where in 2002 they became the architects of the most important interrogationprogram in the history of American counterterrorism.

They had never carried out a real interrogation, only mock sessions in the military training they had overseen. They had no relevant scholarship; their Ph.D. dissertations were on high blood pressure and family therapy. They had no language skills and no expertise on Al Qaeda.

But they had psychology credentials and an intimate knowledge of a brutal treatment regimen used decades ago by Chinese Communists. For an administration eager to get tough on those who had killed 3,000 Americans, that was enough.