Sibling Bullying: What’s the Big Deal?

Sibling bullying is a type of violence that is prevalent in the lives of most children, but little is known about it, researchers say.

Clemson University psychology professor Robin Kowalski said the phenomenon has been overlooked.

Kowalski and and co-author Jessica Skinner explored the extent to which sibling bullying is viewed to be normal and the perceived differences between victims and perpetrators. They recently published their findings in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

The purpose of the study was to profile sibling bullying by examining prevalence rates, the extent to which siblings perceive sibling bullying to be normative and victim-perpetrator differences in perceptions of sibling bullying.

Seventy-five percent of the participants in the study reported being bullied by a sibling and 85 percent reported bullying a sibling.

Full story of sibling bullying at Science Daily

ADHD Linked To Inner Ear Problems; Could Studying Poor Hearing Lead To New, Innovative ADHD Treatment?

According to Discovery Fit & Health, an inner ear dysfunction in children could cause neurological changes that lead to behavioral abnormalities related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Therefore, adolescents who suffer from inner ear problems could be at risk of developing ADHD, according to a recent study.

ADHD Linked to Inner Ear ProblemsFindings published online in the journal Science reveal that children and adolescents with severe inner ear problems could develop behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity. When a Ph.D. student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine noticed that some mice in a laboratory were continuously chasing their own tails, researchers — including Dr. Jean Herbert, a neuroscience and genetics professor at the college — decided to examine if poor hearing and restlessness were caused by a faulty gene in animals and humans,reports the Daily Mail. Inner ear problems typically derive from genetic defects, though they can also stem from infection or injury.

The scientists took healthy mice and deleted the gene associated with poor hearing from either the inner ear, various parts of the brain that control movement, or the entire central nervous system (CNS). Patients of severe inner ear problems have a mutation of the gene Slc12a2, which mediates the transport of sodium, potassium, and chloride molecules in various tissues, including those in the inner ear and CNS, according to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

Full story of ADHD and ear problems at Medical Daily

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Mental Health in High School: Teach Students Link between Thinking Patterns, Emotions & Behavior

Adding a mental health component to school-based health education programs could enhance health behaviors, reduce depression and improve grades.

Teaching Students Links in Their Mental HealthResearchers from The Ohio State University College of Nursing found that a program called COPE: (Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment) Healthy Lifestyles TEEN (Thinking, Emotions, Exercise, Nutrition) had a beneficial outcome for several health and behavioral factors.

The high school health classes used an intervention that emphasized building cognitive behavioral skills in addition to nutrition and physical activity.

Participants had a lower average body mass index, better social behaviors, higher health class grades and drank less alcohol than did teenagers in a class with standard health lessons.

Symptoms in teens who were severely depressed also dropped to normal levels at the end of the semester compared to the control group, whose symptoms remained elevated.

Full story of high school mental health at PsychCentral

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Psychology’s answer to trolling and online abuse

Psychology Answers Online AbuseDo we each harbor a dark passenger? A malevolent psychopath? A fragile narcissist? Contrary to popular belief, decades of psychological research shows that anyone is capable of aggression, cruelty and violence. The “self” is a murky mixture of light and shade.

Lately the dark side seems to be winning. On Thursday, Downing Street called for a boycott on the website following the tragic death of Hannah Smith. Meanwhile, the barrage of threats directed at Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creasy has led to several arrests and forced Twitter to work on better ways of handling abuse. Beyond triggering action and debate, these cases have fuelled the growing realization that online abuse is disturbingly common, especially for young girls and women with public profiles.

While most of us agree there is a problem, much less has been said about possible solutions. Are our only options punitive or regulatory? As law blogger David Allen Green explains, simply banning or criminalizing a behavior doesn’t make it magically disappear. Could there be more effective ways to quell online abuse without stifling freedom of speech or censoring society’s most vulnerable?

Psychology may hold a big piece of the puzzle. Nearly 10 years ago, the American psychologist John Suler argued that online environments unleash aspects of our personality that we normally keep under guard – a phenomenon he referred to as the online disinhibition effect.

Full story of psychologies answers to online abuse at The Guardian

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9 Signs You’re At Risk For Domestic Violence

Risk Signs of Domestic ViolenceLast weekend, celebrity abusers Chris Brown and Oscar Pistorius popped up in headlines again, but this time it wasn’t for their respective assault convictions and murder trials. Instead, Brown was lauded for his performance at the Billboard Music Awards. Brown’s ex-girlfriend Rihanna, whom he attacked during an argument in 2009, skipped the show. Pistorius, meanwhile, announced through his manager that he will not compete in races for the rest of the year. His decision was covered by the BBC, which dedicated almost 80% of the article to Pistorius’s storied athletic career. His former girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, whom Pistorius shot dead in February, was also mentioned briefly. Media coverage like this might lead you to believe our society condones domestic violence. It doesn’t — it can’t. Despite the prevalence of intimate-partner violence around the world and the hesitance of some journalists to decry abusers, there are extraordinary survivors, advocates, and organizations out there who are ready to support any young person at risk of being hurt.

Domestic violence is an international epidemic that hits our generation especially hard. Rihanna was 20 when Brown assaulted her before the Grammy Awards, while Reeva Steenkamp was murdered by Pistorius when she was 29. Their stories line up with the experiences of millions of Americans who are abused and thousands who are killed by their partners each year. Almost halfare first assaulted between the ages of 18 and 24. These survivors are us, our friends, and our families. If you fear you’re at risk, check out these nine signs of domestic violence from Safe Horizon. You may be in an abusive relationship if your partner…

Full story of domestic violence signs at PolicyMic

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People With Borderline Personality Disorder May Misinterpret Facial Emotions

Personality Disorder May Misinterpret Facial EmotionsSymptoms of borderline personality disorder often mimic traits of other psychiatric disorders, complicating diagnosis and treatment. But researchers in Canada say they have identified a characteristic that may be unique to borderline personality disorder: a tendency to misinterpret emotions expressed by the face.


“They have difficulty processing facial emotions and will see a negative emotion on a neutral face,” said Anthony Ruocco, a clinical neuropsychologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. “This is not seen in bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.”

Inaccuracies in recognizing anger, sadness, fear and disgust also were noted in Ruocco’s recent study, with greater deficits related to anger and disgust.

Although more research is needed to understand the brain mechanisms involved in these misperceptions and their significance, Ruocco called these “potentially important” deficits.

“There may be neurobiological factors that contribute to these biases in emotion perception,” he said. Pinpointing those factors might lead to better understanding of the illness and improved treatments.

Full story of personality disorders at US Health News

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12 Ways Your Pet Can Improve Your Mental Health!

Ways Your Pet Improves Your HealthWhen I am feeling down and weary, and I can barely lift myself off the couch, my dog comes to my rescue. She cuddles with me, then motivates me to get up, dressed, and out the door for a walk or some play time. Somehow my fur-baby even gets me to smile, no matter how miserable or stressed I feel.

I am not alone. It turns out that all pets, not just therapy pets, can help your mind, body, and spirit.

Here are a dozen reasons why:

1. They get you outside: Sun and fresh air elevate your mood and the sun gives you an extra dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D exposure helps fight physical and mental conditions, including depression, cancer, obesity, and heart attacks. Also, when you go outside with your pet, you are engaging with nature. Try taking a moment to listen to the trees rustling, feel the wind rushing past, and the sun upon your face. The sounds and feeling of nature can be incredibly calming.

Full story of pet improving mental health at Huffington Post

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Foster Care a Sound Choice for Some Maltreated Children

Foster Care for Maltreated ChildrenNewspaper articles, TV shows and books are filled with horror stories of children placed in foster care. A new study bucks that trend by showing out-of-home placements can improve the emotional health of some youths who have been maltreated by a parent.

The study, led by Ann-Marie Conn, PhD, general pediatric academic fellow at University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, will be presented Monday, May 6, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC.

Dr. Conn and her colleagues compared mental health problems in 281 children ages 3-18 years who remained at home after being maltreated, with 482 children who were placed out of their homes (e.g., in foster care). These children were from a nationally representative sample of children referred to child welfare.

Full story of foster care at Science Daily

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Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Not Just for Mental Illness

Behavior Therapy in Mental HealthWhen I was studying psychology in college, I remember having a particular distaste for the behavioral approaches of B.F. Skinner. Defining the sacred depths of being human by behavioral impulses akin to a mouse motivated by cheese was not for me. I was much more into psychoanalytic therapy and Jung.

How then later did I come to embrace cognitive behavioral and related therapies that spell out that we are, essentially, just a mess of behaviors (good and bad)?

If you dig into your family dynamic, and maybe establishing relationships with others from equally dysfunctional backgrounds, you are bound to have a change of heart about old Skinner. Maybe there is something to behaviorism after all, and it can jibe with the deeper therapies that ask you to reflect on early places of pain and identity-molding.

Full story of behavior therapy at Psych Central

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Using Texting to Improve Teen Health

Texting to Improve Teen HealthA new study leverages teens’ relationships with cell phones and text messages as a method to enhance health literacy and improve health behaviors.

According to the Nielsen consumer research group, U.S. teens receive an average of 3,417 text messages per month or a whopping 114 texts per day. Teens also have notoriously have poor diets, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that high school students’ consumption of fruit and vegetables is, on average, 1.2 times per day (much lower than the recommended 5 a day).

Given these factors, researchers studied the use of text messages to inform teens about health behaviors.

Investigators studied 177 teens for a one-year period. They discovered that in order to inform and motivate teens, text messages should address the reality of today’s adolescent lifestyles.

Investigators explored teens’ preferences for message content, format, style (or message ”voice”), origin, and frequency and mode of message delivery.

Full story of texting to improve health at Psych Central

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