Dec 27

Many clients tell me of difficulties finding the right relationship partner. Of course such problems almost always have psychological reasons – in one way or another, these persons sabotaged themselves, they suffer from forms of social anxiety or (in my experience, this is the most common reason) have low self-esteem.

The issues around dating, attraction and sexual attraction have inspired researchers and artists since the beginnings of mankind. Under this – rather ironic – article headline, I will summarize the results of relevant studies and research – and continuously expand and update this collection as soon as there are new findings.

But beware: I’ll not guarantee for the plausibility – or especially success – of any of these hints! 😉

Attractiveness and mate selection

  • “Attractive bodies and faces are symmetrical” – when selecting a partner, we jump on aesthetic impressions indicating a good state of health and fitness, including reproductional capabilities (Source).
  • People with symmetrical physique receive more positive attention when dancing and during mate selection” (source)
  • Women without ideal measurements are stronger, tougher and more resistant to crises” – in Western countries, women with a greater waist-hip ratio than 0.7 are considered to be less attractive than in other world regions, but better prepared for times of crisis (Sources: [1, 2, 3])
  • Estrogen makes women’s faces look more attractive.’ –  during their fertile days, the faces of women obviously look more attractive (Source)
  • Women tend to be selected if they are beautiful, men are more likely to be selected if they act dominantly‘ – this actually refers to political elections, but then, maybe not .. if you consider the other research results mentioned in this blog entry (source)
  • Beauty makes insecure.‘ – this, and that attractive men and women usually find it more difficult to find partners than averagely attractive people, would be a possible conclusion from the so-called ‘sidewalk experiment’ by James Dubbs u. Neil Stokes (‘Beauty is Power: The Use of Space on the Sidewalk’, 1975): on a sidewalk, pedestrians altered their walking direction more often to give space to men rather than for a woman, for 2 people rather than for just 1, and for pretty than for  unattractive women. Their theory was that attractiveness, group size and gender are signals of power which involves territorial claims causing the aforementioned evasive behavior (Source).
  • Other attributes for attractiveness will be judged based on attractiveness of the clothing‘ – attractively dressed subjects were judged as more competent and social than non-attractively-dressed individuals, and, as the researchers suspected, probably as physically more attractive as well (source).
  • Taller men are sexually and socially better off than shorter ones. ‘ – men seem to have their greatest difficulties when dealing with strong, attractive and wealthy competitors, but the taller they are, the less of a role these attributes play in dealing with them. Little men tend to be most jealous. In women, however, the taller and shorter ones are more jealous than the ones of average size. Average-sized women are most shaken by tall and socially dominant rivals just as by other women’s  persuasiveness (link)
  • women prefer older men, older men prefer younger women.’ – a possible explanation for the biological causes of this phenomenon was provided by a study that found that women with a four-year-older partner, and men with a six years younger partner show the greatest reproductive success (source).
  • Man perhaps lost his body hair because it was sexy to the opposite sex.’ – new hope for bald people? (source)
  • Results of an econometric analysis of online dating behavior showed that men who reported that they were in search of a long-term relationship achieved much more success in online dating than those who were merely out on an affair. For men, the appearance of women is of outstanding importance; for women, the man’s income is of utmost importance: the richer the man, the more emails he receives. Income increases the attractiveness of a woman for men as well, but only up to a certain height. [..] Men are attracted by female students, artists, musicians, veterinarians, and celebrities, and they avoid secretaries, retired women and women who work in the military or the police. Women prefer soldiers, policemen and firemen as well as lawyers and financial experts in a management position, but they avoid laborers, actors, students [..]. The data analysis of about 30,000 users also revealed that men have significant drawbacks when they are short. For women, obesity is fatal. That’s probably why many online daters ‘adjust’ these parameters relatively often: male online daters are slightly taller than the average man while the typical female online dater is 10 kg lighter than its real counterpart. In the book Freakonomics in which the results can be read in detail, the authors described their findings, obtained by mathematical methods, as follows: ‘In the world of online dating, a head full of blond hair has about the same worth for a woman as a college degree.’
  • “‘Nasty’ men not only get most women, but also the most beautiful ones.” – in most studies on this subject, these men showed distinctive combinations of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy (Sources: [1], [2], [3])
  • Men should not act as if they were ‘carried away’: uncertainty about the feelings of the opponent increases his/her attractiveness (Source: E. et.al in Whitchurch: “Uncertainty Can Increase Romantic Attraction”, Psychological Science, 01/2011).


Sexuality

  • ‘The mere presence of a woman increases the testosterone levels’ – regardless of her appearance, the testosterone levels in men sitting in the same room as a woman increased by 8% within 300 seconds (Sources: [1],[2])
  • The frequency of female orgasms increases with the income of their partner ‘ – sex with wealthy or powerful men probably feels more exciting by women because it may help to obtain access to wealth and power, or to keep this access up (Sources: [1], [2], [3])
    Addendum 04/2010: a counter study was published that shows different results.
  • The more attractive women consider themselves to be, the greater demands they make on their sexual partners – in men, this correlation doesn’t exist, which could mean that they are less picky or less inclined to enter into permanent relations aiming at reproduction (Sources: [1], [2])
  • (indirect) relationship between voice and sexual activity’ – volunteers with a voice perceived as attractive had about equally long fingers on both hands (reference to the context of attractiveness by symmetry, see above), their first sex at a younger age, more sexual partners and more affairs (Sources: [1], [2])
  • Women respond differently to male body odor.’ – their brains can differ normal male perspiration from perspiration resulting from sexual arousal (Source)
  • Women’s tears put off men and reduce their testosterone level. (Source: Shani Gelstein et.al, “Human tears contain a chemosignal” in: Science 01/2011, DOI: 10.1126/science.1198331)

Family / Children / Fertility

  • ‘Correlation between wealth and reproductive success‘: a British study found higher reproductive success for wealthy men; in women, the number of children declines with increasing education and income (Source)

(First published in German language (‘Wissenschaftliche Aufriss-Tipps’) in 01/2008; continuously updated. Last update: 12/2011)

Dec 27

Andropause is an onset of hormonal changes in men – mostly between the ages of 40 and 50 -, which is triggered by reduced testosterone levels.

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and is produced in the testes. It affects all body cells and is responsible not only for sexual development, but also for the specific skin, bone and muscle structure of men. It is equally important for the production of red blood cells, which supply the body with oxygen. And after all, testosterone also plays a significant role in providing sexual pleasure and emotional balance. At around one’s middle years, however, the production of this hormone gradually drops, and so do the testosterone levels in the blood. This reduction causes problems for many affected men: in German language, the saying “die Fitness ist kraftlos und die Lenden sind saftlos” (freely translated as ‘no gas in the muscles, no fluids in the loins”) expresses the feeling when the so-called andropause kicks in: depression, irritability, loss of concentration and vitality.

Possible symptoms of the andropause include:

  • Mood disorders such as anxiety, irritability, aggression
  • Tendency to depression
  • Increased weight and body fat, increasing abdominal girth
  • Increasingly poor short-term memory
  • Decreased concentration and attention span
  • Sleep problems and / or stronger daytime fatigue than before
  • Reduced desire for intimacy and lower sex drive..
  • ..or rational desire for sex, but still, sexual apathy
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Less frequent and intense ejaculation
  • Osteoporosis
  • low self-esteem
  • Hot flashes and night sweats

There are, however, considerable differences of opinion among experts as to which of these symptoms actually indicate a so-called ‘male menopause’ or andropause and were initially caused by testosterone deficiency, because for each of the symptoms in the list, there could be other root causes, even if a reduced testosterone level would actually be detected in a patient. Thus, in a way, the so-called ‘testosterone replacement therapy’ is often not much more than a ‘shot in the dark’.

Testosterone replacement therapy – yes or no?

Some doctors and hospitals today offer testosterone replacement therapy without much hesitation to men, often with the particular aim of helping them to regain their desire for a satisfying love life. Even with impending cardiovascular diseases, this hormone is sometimes used for prevention, because studies have shown that testosterone has a protective effect on arteries and veins, so there are good, potential reasons to say ‘yes’ to this kind of therapy (usually in the form of tablets, gels, patches or nose sprays). However, it is important to know that a hormone replacement therapy does not help at all if one simultaneously depletes his bodies’ health and resources. It is remarkable and perhaps not entirely coincidental that many men who are looking to start a hormone replacement therapy are also often frivolous users of  ‘fitness booster medication’ (self-medicated).

Ideally, taking on an artificial testosterone substitution should increase muscle mass, bone density, libido and performance. Under certain conditions, the ‘extra dose’ testosterone may also accelerate the development of an existing prostate cancer. A preventive control (PSA control) is therefore highly advisable.

But there are also proven health tips for men, which in contrast to the artificial feeding of testosterone reliably pose no health risks and are also very well suited to raise the testosterone levels:

  • Development of more self-discipline for a healthy lifestyle – something that many men never achieved in their lives
  • Balanced nutrition (vitamins: more fruit and vegetables; low-fat: greasy, oily foods and refined carbohydrates lead to weight gain, but: obesity appears to influence the production of testosterone!)
  • The waist circumference should be less than 100 cm (see BMI test on this website)
  • Enough sleep – at least 6-8 hours per day
  • Care for a balanced mental state – if something brings you out of your balance on a reglar basis, seek necessary support through psychotherapy or coaching: optimism and a balanced state of mind help to reduce stress. On the other hand, if men are overloaded (perhaps even chronic), endocrine glands will produce significantly less amounts male sex hormones.
  • Smoke and drink less
  • Natural resources: oats and ginseng have a testosterone-like effect, and an extra portion of zinc also helps the testosterone levels: lobsters, oysters and shrimp, soybeans, wheat bran and pumpkin seeds. Casanova was known to eat 40 oysters a day!
  • Exercising also stimulates the production of testosterone: best results are achieved with intense strength training with sets of 10-15 reps, peppered with breaks of 60-90 seconds (intervals of 15-30 sec will stimulate the production of growth hormone).
  • Good sex: sexual excitement and ‘games of desire’ help to raise our hormone levels over a period of up to two days and thus counteract the natural way of deficiency. Even erotic fantasies will stimulate testosterone production in the short term, falling in love raises our testosterone for up to many months.

Men have the luxury of being able to affect their hormone levels through their lifestyle more than women, because their hormonal situation does not change so abruptly and radically with age.

In the “self test” on my website you will find a self-test for testosterone deficiency, which can allow an initial self-assessment. In case of doubt, a medical examination with blood test is recommended.

(Initially published in German language (‘Testosteron-Spiegel erhöhen’) in 10/2010. Image source: understandinglowt.com)

Dec 25

For several years now, I have observed a significant rise in clients – especially male ones – who suffer from massive fears of having pedophilic tendencies. Even though these fears are often unfounded, they may cause intense symptoms like massive emotional pressure and suffering or even self-inflicted injuries. In diagnostic terms, however, what by far most of these persons were dealing with are in fact obsessive thoughts.

I have finally found some time to translate the respective article of mine, first published in 2008 in German language, to English. It is now online at https://www.counseling-office.com/papers/sex-therapy/pedophile-obsessional-thoughts.phtml .

(Image source: drugfreeadd.com)

Dec 22

1- Find the C below..

Please do not use any cursor help or scrolling.


OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOCOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

2- If you already found the C, now find the 6 below.


99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
69999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999

3 – Now find the N below. This one is a little more difficult.


MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMNMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

This is not a joke. If you were able to pass these 3 tests, you can cancel your annual visit to your neurologist. Your brain is great and you’re far from having a close relationship with Alzheimer.

Congratulations!

and now … eonvrye that can raed this rsaie your hnad.

If you can read the following paragraph, you are even better.
This is weird, but interesting!

If you can raed this, you have a sgtrane mnid too

Can you raed this? Olny 45 plepoe out of 100 can.

I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The
phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde
Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the
olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit
pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a
pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by
istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot
slpeling was ipmorantt! If you can raed this sarhe it.

(Source: my Google Plus stream)

Dec 19

Burnout or Boreout – in the last issue of the ‘counseling Corner’ / this blog I have already mentioned that people being ‘bored out’ often show similar symptoms to people suffering from high amounts of work-related stress.
Interestingly, on a physiological level, the neurological and hormonal changes are quite similar between both of them, and their consequences are as well. Just as burnout, being ‘bored out’ is seen as a cause for diseases of the cardiovascular system (heart, veins and arteries), the digestional system, and it also might raise the risk for autoimmune diseases.

Here are 3 typical indicators for a burnout dynamic:

  • Physical, Mental and/or Emotional Exhaustion: Free time snaps away in a blink without any feeling of recovery or relief (burnout) or it seems to be never-ending with eating being one of the few highlights of the day (boreout).
  • Depersonalisation / Cynicism: Unfeeling and impersonal attitudes and reactions towards others, particularly with people you are dealing with on a regular basis. The goal of this behavior is seen as an effort to create distance between oneself and the ones who are causing discomfort.
  • Reduced Appraisal of Accomplishments: You might feel that you don’t achieve anything remarkable anymore, wasting your time. A feeling of failure and insufficiency is indicating an increasing loss of trust in our abilities.


The main problem in dealing with progressed forms of burnout is that we don’t have access to our usual resources of energy, creativity and a positive mindset anymore that could help to gain ground again. Instead, you as a ‘burned out’ person might make your situation even worse by trying harder to succeed or to gain control again.

Basically, every strategy to deal with the burnout process must relate to reducing the workload and to find balance again. But for that, quite dramatic turns might be required, like to take some time off or maybe even a ‘sabbatical’ leave.It might also turn out that organizational changes or adaptations to one’s self-management might be required in order to avoid ending up in the same situation again. Often enough, it doesn’t help to blame a company or a ‘situation’ for one’s burnout since to a very high extent, it is actually our own psyche that makes us vulnerable and causes us to have a tendency to drift towards boreout or burnout. It is also us who have to find means to find back to happiness again. From a professional standpoint, it is essential to do that as soon as possible (instead of waiting for irreversable damage to one’s health), and ideally, to get professional support for it as this can remarkably reduce the time required to regain stability and to find balance again.

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2011; Image credit: thelocal.de)

Dec 19

“Burnout in Thailand? Impossible!”

That’s probably what most of us would think. But symptoms of ‘burnout‘ are not always linked to high workload alone, they can also have other causes. I have identified 3 groups of people that are vulnerable to symptoms of burnout, even in a sunny, tropical country like ‘mai bpen rai’ (‘everything up to you’) Thailand, but of course also other tropical countries abroad:

First, there are the foreigners who try to make a living here and who are employed by foreign or local companies. Often, they have to face high amounts of work-related pressure and stress right from the beginning of their assignments, while having arrived completely unprepared for the cultural changes they would have to face. Many are surprised and overwhelmed by how hard it can be to ‘juggle’ giving up the old life, finding and adapting to a new home, new colleagues and their work ethics, and learning how to get around and at the same time, to meet all the expectations they put on themselves.

Then, there are foreigners who try to start their own business in an Asian country like Thailand. These expat entrepreneurs are completely on their own, having thought that their experiences as tourists should have prepared them well enough. Soon, however, they face all kinds of obstacles in building up a successful business venture here as foreigners. Many things don’t work out as they would have back home with the same effort and money put into the project. Many little annoyances might gradually not only take the fun out of their dream of working in an Asian country, but lead to outright frustration and the feeling of never reaching a point where everything runs smoothly. And I haven’t even mentioned dealing with governmental institutions and paperwork.

Finally and probably surprisingly, even retiring in Thailand (but just as well in any other tropical country) can lead to ‘burnout’. I already mentioned the huge changes a migration to another country involves, and even if everything started happy and smoothly, after some time, the excitement might gradually fade away, perforated by disturbing or even annoying little experiences, social isolation or conflicts with other people. Also, many Westerners suffer from a lack of challenge and communication: they are bored out by the daily routine that kicks in after a while and feel stuck between meals, drinks and hanging around without any kind of challenge. Even finding someone to talk to at a certain nouveau level might prove difficult. But being ‘bored out’ has many physical similarities to burnout and might gradually make us just as sick and depressive. So it is important to take these signs seriously and fight them at an early stage before one gets overwhelmed by his or her own negativity.

In an followup entry of my blog, I will write a bit more about typical symptoms of burnout and boreout, and also outline strategies on how to deal with them.

(This short article is the blog-adapted version of an article dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues that was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2011; image credit: Shiho Fukada, NYT)

Dec 08

Women treated for severe psychiatric conditions including major depression shortly after giving birth were more likely to be diagnosed as bipolar later in life compared to those whose first psychiatric episode happened at any other time, in a new study from Denmark.

Researchers said they didn’t know if some postpartum depression or schizophrenia-like episodes were actually misdiagnosed bipolar disorder — or if more women with those initial diagnoses developed bipolar disorder over time.

“We’re looking at severe psychiatric episodes,” said study author Trine Munk-Olsen, from Aarhus University. She noted that while “postpartum blues” are relatively common, severe depression and other acute psychiatric episodes requiring inpatient or outpatient clinic care only occur in about one in 1,000 new moms.

“The severe episodes are rare, but they are serious episodes and of course they should be taken seriously. You want these women to get help, no doubt,” she told Reuters Health.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by alternating swings between severe depression and “mania,” when a person is overly excited, happy and energized. It can be treated with medications including mood stabilizers and talk therapy.

The condition most often manifests in early adulthood, and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates six percent of the U.S. population has the disorder at some point in life. Previous studies have suggested giving birth may act as a trigger for a first overt episode of bipolar disorder. But few women are actually diagnosed as bipolar in the weeks after having a baby.

The researchers theorized that a severe psychiatric episode shortly after giving birth could be a signal of underlying bipolar disorder. So they tracked women in Denmark for 15 years after their first psychiatric episode to see whether the timing of that episode — shortly after childbirth or not — predicted who would later get a bipolar diagnosis. Using Danish registries, they found 120,000 women treated in an inpatient hospital or outpatient clinic for their first bout of severe depression or another psychiatric condition starting around 1970. Of those, 2,900 had those episodes within a year after giving birth to their first child. That didn’t include women with an initial diagnosis of bipolar disorder, since the researchers were interested in women with other psychoses that later became bipolar.

Over the next decade and a half, close to 3,100 of all women initially given a different diagnosis were ultimately diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Of women who had their initial psychiatric episode in the first month after giving birth, 14 percent were eventually diagnosed as bipolar. That compared to between four and five percent of women who were first treated in the rest of the year after giving birth or at any other time.

“It is likely that some of the women were misdiagnosed — we cannot rule that out — but it is likely that some of the women develop bipolar over time,” Munk-Olsen said.

The results translate to a four-fold increase in the probability that a severe psychiatric episode in the month after giving birth, versus one that happens at some other time, will ultimately lead to a bipolar diagnosis. Among those with such early postpartum episodes, the patients admitted for inpatient psychiatric treatment were also twice as likely as those treated as outpatients to later be diagnosed as bipolar.

“Clinically these findings make absolute sense,” said Dr. Verinder Sharma, an obstetrician and gynecologist who studies bipolar disorder at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. “We have seen that childbirth is a potent and specific trigger of bipolar disorder.” Sharma, who wasn’t involved in the new study, told Reuters Health that hormone changes that occur during this time, as well as sleep loss, might trigger some women to develop bipolar symptoms, which could be misdiagnosed as depression or an anxiety disorder.

However, he said, there are still many questions about the role that having a baby plays in a woman’s chance of becoming bipolar. “We don’t know whether these women have the illness because of childbirth, and if they didn’t have children they would have gone without any episode of bipolar whatsoever,” he said. The findings also can’t prove that postpartum depression, or giving birth itself, causes bipolar disorder, and the researchers didn’t measure whether less severe, more common postpartum blues are linked to bipolar symptoms.

Still, they wrote Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry that severe psychiatric symptoms which first show up soon after a woman has a baby should be added to the list of features that could increase the risk of bipolar disorder.

Doctors, Munk-Olsen told Reuters Health, should “think about when women have their onset, and you might have an indication that there is an underlying bipolar disorder. We want these women to be diagnosed correctly, in order to help them in the best way.” In particular, Sharma added, doctors who are treating women with new psychiatric symptoms after childbirth should rule out bipolar disorder before they think about simply treating with antidepressants, which could make certain bipolar symptoms worse.

“It’s really important to think about the diagnosis of not just depression but of severe depression and definitely bipolar disorder in new moms who present with a sudden onset of mood symptoms,” agreed Dr. Dorothy Sit, who studies mood disorders in women, including postpartum psychoses, at the University of Pittsburgh and wasn’t involved in the new report.

(Sources: Reuters; Psychiatric Disorders With Postpartum Onset: Possible Early Manifestations of Bipolar Affective Disorders in: Arch Gen Psychiatry. Published online December 5, 2011. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.157. Image credit: drop.ndtv.com)

Dec 08

An interesting study conducted by researchers of the University of Wroclaw has found that people are able to guess a person’s type of personality to a reasonable extent, simply by smelling them, or their clothes. The team did some testing with volunteers, as they describe in their study published in the European Journal of Personality, and found that people could guess another’s personality through odors at least as well as they could when shown videos of people in action.

To find out just how well people can gauge personality types through smelling odors given off by other people’s bodies, the team asked 60 people, half men and half women to wear plain white t-shirts while they slept, for three nights in a row. Each was asked to not use perfumes, soap or deodorants and to not smoke or eat or drink things that affect body odor, such as onions or garlic. Each of the participants were also given personality tests before the t-shirt wearing part of the study began, to asses personality types.

At the end of the three days, the t-shirts were all collected and put into non-clear, labeled plastic bags. Then, two hundred volunteers, half men and half women, were enlisted to sniff the bags and offer their opinions on personality type based on nothing but the odors wafting from the bags. Each volunteer sniffed just six bags to avoid becoming inured presumably and each bag was sniffed by twenty sniffers to get a large enough sample to avoid coincidence.

After all was said and done, those doing the sniffing were able to guess whether the person who had emitted the odor was anxious, outgoing or dominant at least as well as people in a previous study had been able to do watching videos of people interacting with others. Also interesting was that the sniffers were particularly adept at picking up dominate personality types from odors that came from someone of the opposite gender.

While clearly not at a hundred percent, the researchers indicate the study shows that there is something going on regarding how much a person sweats and under what conditions as well as a correlation between the components in sweat and personality traits and that other people are able to pick up on those differences when in their vicinity. Thus, the results are actually two-fold. The first is that people apparently give off personality clues when sweating, and second, that people are able to not only smell the differences in people, but make judgments about them based on what they smell.

(Sources: PhysOrg.com</>; Does Personality Smell? Accuracy of Personality Assessments Based on Body Odour, Article first published online: 12 OCT 2011. DOI: 10.1002/per.848. Image credit: onsugar.com)

Dec 08

Image: WikiCommons licenseAdolescents who were abused and neglected have less gray matter in some areas of the brain than young people who have not been maltreated, a new Yale School of Medicine study shows. The brain areas impacted by maltreatment may differ between boys and girls, may depend on whether the youths had been exposed to abuse or neglect, and may be linked to whether the neglect was physical or emotional.

The results, published in the Dec. 5 issue of the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, show that 42 adolescent subjects who reported being either abused or neglected show a reduction in gray matter — the tissue containing brain cells — even though they had not been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.

“Here we have teenagers who may not have a diagnosable illness but still have physical evidence of maltreatment,” said Hilary Blumberg, associate professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Diagnostic Radiology and in the Yale Child Study Center, who is senior author of the study. “This could help to explain their trouble with school performance or increase their vulnerability to depression and behavioral difficulties.”

The reduction of gray matter was seen in prefrontal areas, no matter whether the adolescent had been physically abused or emotionally neglected. However, in other areas of the brain the reductions depended upon the type of maltreatment the youth had experienced. For example, emotional neglect was associated with decreases in areas that regulate emotions.

The researchers also found gender differences in patterns of gray matter decreases. In boys, the reduction tended to be concentrated in areas of the brain associated with impulse control or substance abuse. In girls, the reduction seemed to be in areas of the brain linked to depression.

Blumberg stressed these deficits found in adolescents are likely not to be permanent.

“We have found that the brain, particularly in adolescents, shows a great deal of plasticity,” she said (neuroplasticity; comment by R.L.Fellner). “It is critical to find ways to prevent maltreatment and to help the youths who have been exposed.”

(Source: YaleNews; E. E. Edmiston, F. Wang, C. M. Mazure, J. Guiney, R. Sinha, L. C. Mayes, H. P. Blumberg. Corticostriatal-Limbic Gray Matter Morphology in Adolescents With Self-reported Exposure to Childhood Maltreatment. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 2011; 165 (12): 1069 DOI: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.565)

Oct 31

Have you recently experienced someone acting completely out of line or losing control over themselves?

In Psychiatry, patterns of repetitive behavior during childhood and adolescence where the social norms or boundaries of others are violated are called ‘conduct disorder‘. I am not a particular fan of this term as it reminds me a bit of authoritarian teachers and governments. But what it actually describes if being used by psychiatrists and therapists, is a symptom range of over-aggressive behavior, bullying, lying, cruel behavior toward people and pets, destructive behavior, vandalism and stealing, that should give you an idea of what it actually means.

Often, affected children come from a difficult family background with abusive, aggressive or addicted parents. If the underlying problems aren’t resolved, these children might develop more serious personality disorders as adults: particularly antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorders or psychopathy . All of these increase the risk to cause or experience physical injuries, to suffer from depression, addiction, incarceration or even homicide and suicide, as they often intimidate others or initiate physical fights.

Antisocial persons don’t feel much of an inhibition to use weapons, and they have a tendency to deceit, con, steal or destroy property. While their behavior might seem confident and decisive at the outside, they can in fact feel very alone, anxious and hopeless, which often leads to alcohol abuse, depression or other problems.

One cause of the aggressive behavior of antisocial persons can be that they developed a ‘proactive’ but in fact mostly inappropriate, extreme form of self protection or need it as a valve to get rid of the emotional tensions they feel, not only inside themselves but also towards others. Unfortunately, in the case of psychopathic personality traits, this particular kind of relief is often combined with a lack of empathy and sympathetic concern for others, which reduces the hurdles to impose emotional or physical force on others. Thus, it is usually a good idea to avoid any open conflict with such aggressors. They would be unable to empathize with their victim or keep the conflict on a verbal level, let alone resolve it in a constructive manner. The best approach is usually to let them cool off and give them space and to give it another try at another day.

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2011; picture credit:www.corrupt.org)

22.03.20