Thursday, March 27, 2008

Brains in the News: Brain Research, Immunology, and Arts Education

3/27/08. The Dana Foundation provides the latest information about Brains in the News. In this issue, for example, a research consortium reports on the new evidence linking arts and learning.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Regrowing Limbs?

3/21/08. Many years ago I witnessed the following as a counselor at a camp. An 8 year old one-armed boy was getting a drink at a drinking fountain. When he finished, the boy behind him asked him if his arm would grow back. The one-armed boy said, "I was born this way. I don't think it grows back."

This Scientific American article on regenerating limbs addresses this question.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

National Institutes of Health MedlinePlus Magazine

3/19/08. N.I.H. MedlinePlus Magazine:

Coping with a Chaotic World

3/19/08. When Anna Freud --- daughter of Sigmund Freud and a gifted therapist in her own right --- was eighty-five, a depressed young man sent her a lament about the chaotic state of the world, and she sent him a succinct statement of her credo:

I agree with you wholeheartedly that things are not as we would like them to be. However, my feeling is that there is only one way to deal with it, namely to try and be all right with oneself, and to create around one at least a small circle where matters are arranged as one wants them to be.

How does the brain produce the mind?

3/19/08. Short answer: We don't know how the brain produces the mind - or how consciousness flows from brain tissue.

This brain-mind discontinuity is unlike conceptual dilemmas faced by other health care professionals who stay at the level of physical understanding, relying on knowledge of biology, chemistry, anatomy, physical development, and so on.

To circumvent this brain-mind gap in our knowledge and to organize and clarify our knowledge and treatment approaches to the complexity of people, we can approach understanding people from four perspectives: diseases, dimensions, behaviors, and life-stories. We can understand psychological disorders as life under altered circumstances (see Paul McHugh and Philip Slavney, Perspectives of Psychiatry, 1998). Life can be altered by what a person "has" (diseases such as bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder), what a patient "is" (dimensions such as very shy and exceptional intellectual abilities), what a patient "does" (behaviors such as uses alcohol to excess or starves herself) or "encounters" (life-stories such as death of a loved one, a victim in a violent crime).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Staring at the Sun

3/18/08. The psychiatrist Irvin Yalom has written, "Staring at the Sun. Overcoming the Terror of Death." I recommend this thoughtful discussion about confronting our terror of death in a way that gives meaning to life, fortifies courage, and rubs in reality with the gentleness, understanding, and honesty of a gifted therapist.

Monday, March 17, 2008


3/17/08. In the April 3, 2008 New York Review of Books, Sue M. Halpern reviews 5 new books on happiness. Since Martin Seligman, Ph.D. launched "Positive Psychology" in 1998, the number of investigations about character, virtue, and positive emotions have skyrocketed. Happiness, one might say, is a serious topic. Psychology now is developing a manual of the sanities --- looking not just at the origins of psychopathology, but at the origins of a psychologically healthy life.