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Archive for January, 2008

WordPress Update

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I just updated WordPress, the software with which this blog is created and maintained. It appears to have gone well. If you see a problem, please let me know.

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 18th, 2008 at 7:30 pm

Posted in Administrivia

Therapy versus “Madication”

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Psych Central News is finally helping the rest of the world catch up to a little something NLPers have known for bloody ages:

A NIMH-funded research study discovers a behavioral therapy program designed to treat children diagnosed with social phobia helped them overcome more of their symptoms than the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac). The study is published in the December 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Go to Psych Central and read more of Therapy More Effective than Medication for Kids with Social Phobia.

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 16th, 2008 at 2:40 am

Manipulation at its finest

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A couple of years ago, I was blessed with a fine opportunity. I got to watch a master manipulator work his magic. And since he was being observed by way of a digitally-recorded surveillance camera, I got to play it back in slow motion and really pick it apart.

The manipulator was a little boy, and his victim was his mother. The kid threw a fit when we told him we had to take a blood sample. When he became combative, even threatening the staff with a handy everyday item that most people — including the dipstick that was monitoring him — would not think of as a weapon, I had to get involved.

After we held the little guy down and got the blood we needed, we left the room; his mother remained to pet him and tell him what a good little boy he was. As I walked out of the room, I was thinking, “In a few years hell be too big for her to placate, and then hes going to hurt her… and badly.” I’ve seen it too many times… the little kid is in charge of the entire household.

Its my habit, when we have to “throw down” with a patient and it’s in front of a camera, to go back and review the recording. I get to critique myself and the rest of the staff, finding out what went well and what needs to change. As I was reviewing this one, something inspired me to keep watching, and then to slow the playback waaay down. I got it down to about one-tenth normal speed and watched the kid jerk his mother around like a marionette.

He’s lying on his back on the stretcher, and she bends over him to hug him. He grabs her shirt sleeves in his hands and pulls her toward him… and at the same time, he’s pushing her away with his knees and shins. When she finally responds to the push by standing upright, he reaches at her with his arms, but makes tiny “shoo” motions with his hands, and he allows his legs to fall, open, to the bed.

She once again bends down to hug him, and he puts his arms straight up on either side of her head. She can feel his arms on the sides of her head and neck, but not the back of her neck and her shoulders. This is a rejection, so she again rights herself, and he reaches up to her face with both hands. He barely strokes her hair and then pushes her head back and away. When she stands all the way up, he beckons to her again, and when she does not immediately respond, he falls limp to the stretcher… poor, helpless, defenseless one.

She bites at this hook, and as she bends to hug him, he reaches up toward her, but just before it becomes an embrace, he falls limp again. With her holding on to him, though, this time it is not a come-on; its a put-off.

Back and forth, back and forth, double-bind, bait-and-switch.

All this took place within, perhaps, five or six seconds time. Much of it I wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t slowed down the recording.

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 16th, 2008 at 2:36 am

Posted in Articles

If you build it, they will… uh…

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One of the most important economic lessons I learned in college was that of the law of supply and demand. The professor used porn as a great example. During a lecture on business ethics, she posed questions to the class: Should it be legal? Is it ethical to produce it? Opinions varied widely, but she closed the discussion with, “If there were no demand, there would be no supply.”

That law (among others) figures in to the world’s oldest profession, too. Why does she sell her body? Well, because people buy it, that’s why.

Now there’s a brothel in Prague that’s combined the two and leveraged modern technology to meat the kneads (sorry, I had to do it) of both markets at the same time:

…Big Sister, a Prague brothel where customers peruse a touch-screen menu of blondes, brunettes and redheads available for free. The catch is clients have to let their exploits be filmed and posted on the Internet.

OK, OK… free sex in Prague. Are you wondering what this has to do with us in the context of NLP? Not a whole lot, but one thing caught my attention:

Visitors to Big Sister start at the electronic menu, which provides each woman’s age, height, working name and the languages she speaks.

The cops in my area tell me that most of the Johns around here only want to know how much she costs and if she still has most of her teeth. The guys in Prague actually sort hookers based on the languages they speak.

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 15th, 2008 at 2:14 am

Influence of Subliminal Messages

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Here’s some cool research on subliminals:

Subliminal messages–messages that are processed by our brains but never reach our consciousness–really do influence attitudes and behavior, according to a new study.

However, some subliminal messages may have an opposite effect than expected. For example, exposing people to a subliminal image of a national flag moderates rather than intensifies their political attitudes.

Go check out the rest of The Influence of Subliminal Messages at Psych Central News.

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 13th, 2008 at 3:31 pm

The Stroop Effect

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Someone at work found this fun graphic, which is a demonstration of a phenomenon discovered by Ridley Stroop several decades ago:

Stroop Effect

The University of Washington has an interactive demo of the Stroop Effect which will show you your difference in mental processing time. I didn’t find it that difficult, but there was almost eight seconds’ difference between the first and second sets.

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 12th, 2008 at 4:26 am

Posted in Linguistic,Neuro

Depression stinks, but we can’t tell

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Psych Central News writes about some interesting research showing a link between being depressed and a lack of olfactory sensitivity:

Can’t smell the roses? Maybe you’re depressed, say researchers from Tel Aviv University. Scientists recently linked depression to a biological mechanism that affects the olfactory glands.

It might explain why some women, without realizing it, wear too much perfume.

I used to know a woman who was rather severely depressed (she had good reason!) and she’d leave a scent trail one could follow for several minutes. She used a lot of perfume. When someone mentioned it to her, she was surprised; she really had no idea.

I wonder how this might affect the way I approach people who tell me they want help with depression. Maybe I’ll make sure to add in some hallucinated “aromatherapy” during the session.

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 12th, 2008 at 4:24 am

Mystery Solved

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Randy Cassingham of This Is True fame blogs a great article on the real-world differences between experiencing something and knowing about something.

Well, no wonder I’ve struggled so long trying to figure it out and explain it; why I couldn’t explain it has perplexed me for some time. I think Dan is right: that’s impossible. All I know is that many Premium subscribers absolutely love it, and say things like Belinda did — it’s a life “essential” — or liked Daniel, who “savors” it. Or like Dan: he’ll read it for life (his or mine, I guess: whichever comes first!)

Read Randy’s Mystery Solved. And if you don’t already get his newsletters, start with This Is True, collections of strange-but-true stories like:

  • A man sued his doctor because he survived his cancer longer than the doctor predicted.
  • Two robbers were in the process of their crime when one changed his mind and arrested the other.
  • A woman had her husband’s ashes made into an egg timer when he died so he could still “help” in the kitchen.
  • Only 68 of 200 Anglican priests polled could name all Ten Commandments, but half said they believed in space aliens.

(I’ve been a Premium subscriber for several years and have appreciated every issue.)

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 11th, 2008 at 7:54 pm

Posted in Free,Psych,Web sites

Patients, Doctors, and the Power of a Camera

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Dr. Gretchen Berland, M.D., has been doing some marvelous research with disabled people. She mounts video cameras on their wheelchairs so as to get their own perspectives on their lives. From the New England Journal of Medicine:

Moments of extraordinary frustration were also recorded, a scene captured by [patient Vicki] Elman being a striking example. After 20 years of living with multiple sclerosis, Elman required a power wheelchair. One afternoon, her regular public-transportation service picked her up from an event, and during the ride home, her wheelchair stalled inside the van. Although it’s officially against the rules, most riders say that a driver will sometimes bring them into their homes. That day, however, Elman wasn’t so lucky. The driver parked her 10 ft from her front door, where she stayed and waited. But she had brought the video camera.

The first time I screened this tape, I was horrified. I watched Elman try to call for help on a cell phone that had no signal. I watched her wait for a car to drive by, hoping that someone would stop and help. I watched as the afternoon light faded in the background.

I wish the indignity Elman suffered that day was an isolated event, owing to one overworked bus driver. Yet the material she and Buckwalter recorded suggests otherwise. Their filmed interactions with the health care system, including telephone calls with insurance companies, visits with physicians, and exchanges with nursing aides, reveal a culture that can be both naively ignorant and, sometimes, dangerously neglectful.

Follow this link: Full article, video samples, and more information.

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 11th, 2008 at 7:54 pm

Interview with Steven Pinker

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I’ve loved everything I’ve read that Dr. Pinker has written, starting with The Language Instinct.
Approachable and intelligent at the same time. Great stuff. Interviews – Steven Pinker

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 10th, 2008 at 4:45 pm