Alcohol Addiction: Brain Disease or Behaviour Problem?

Prof. Matt Field

Matt Field (@field_matt) is Professor of Psychology at the University of Liverpool, where he heads up the Addiction Research Group, investigating the cognitive, biological and social processes involved in addiction, with a focus on problem drinking and cigarette smoking.

He is co-author of Essential Abnormal and Clinical Psychology, and a regular contributor to the Mental Elf and other online resources on the topic of addiction. In 2009 he was the recipient of the British Psychological Society Spearman Medal, and since 2014 he has been an advisor for Alcohol Concern’s Dry January campaign.

In today’s episode we discuss the topic of alcohol abuse and addiction, and it’s relationship to mental health.

So, what exactly is the difference between alcohol abuse and addiction? Does alcohol addiction run in families, and who is most susceptible? We discuss the alcohol paradox; that is, why people in deprived communities have higher levels of alcohol-related ill health than people in non-deprived communities, despite drinking the same amounts of alcohol.

We discover why stopping drinking is only half the battle in overcoming alcohol addiction. What you can do, as a friend or relative, to help somebody with a drinking problem. What the government could – but seemingly won’t – do to help reduce the amount of alcohol related harm. We also tackle the most controversial question of all: whether or not is alcohol addiction a brain disease or a disorder of choice?

Want to see whether or not YOU are drinking too much? Check out this 7-day unit calculator from DrinkAware which will calculate how much alcohol you consume over an average week and indicate whether or not your intake could be affecting your health.

 

 

SHOW NOTES

 

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Image courtesy: Matthias Ripp

Priests, Potions, Prisons, and Prozac: The History of Mental Illness

Prof. Greg Eghigian

Greg Eghigian, is Associate Professor of Modern History and former Director of the Science, Technology, and Society Program at Penn State University.

He is the editor and author of numerous books, including “From Madness to Mental Health: Psychiatric Disorder and its Treatment in Western Civilization“, and the forthcoming “Routledge History of Madness and Mental Health“. He is also co-founding editor of the scholarly blog, H-Madness, and Section Editor for Psychiatric Times History of Psychiatry.

In today’s episode we trace the history of mental illness from ancient Palestine, and the Greek physician Hippocrates, right the way up to Prozac and self-help gurus.

On the way we encounter exorcisms, bloodletting, witch doctors, magic spells, Islamic hospitals, mental asylums, country house retreats, Sigmund Freud, the advent of pharmacology, deinstitutionalization and the rise of psychotherapy.

Special thanks to Allison Foerschner whose brilliant article “The History of Mental Illness: From Skull Drills to Happy Pills” inspired this episode.

 

 

SHOW NOTES

Gregs Recommended Links

H-Madness – A blog exploring the history of madness

Books Mentioned in This Episode

          

 

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Dying to be Thin: Anorexia and Bulimia

Prof. Ulrike Schmidt

Ulrike Schmidt is Professor of Eating Disorders at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, and Consultant Psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

She’s the recipient of the King’s College London Graduate School Supervisory Excellence Award 2012-13, and a National Health Service Innovation Award for the development of a computerised intervention for young people with anorexia nervosa and their carers.

Ulrike has written over 160 academic papers, around 50 chapters for standard textbooks, and co-author of the popular self-help book “Getting Better Bite by Bite: A Survival Kit for Sufferers of Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorders”.

In today’s episode we discuss the three main eating disorders, anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.

Are eating disorders a illness peculiar to young white women, or is anybody susceptible? What causes somebody to develop an eating disorder? Is it all about looking good, or are there deeper issues at play? We discuss the stigma and misconceptions surrounding eating disorders, the long term physical consequences, and we even delve into the bizarre world of Pro-Ana and “Thinspiration” web sites web sites where eating disorders are both promoted and celebrated.

 

This episode is also available as a video podcast on YouTube.

SHOW NOTES

Ulrikes Recommended Links

Kings College London Eating Disorders Research Group

Freed from Eating Disorders on Twitter: @FREEDfromED

Books Mentioned in This Episode

          

 

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Foundations of ACT and the Limits of CBT

Steven C. Hayes, PhD

Steven C. Hayes, PhD (@stevenchayes) is Foundation Professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is the developer of Relational Frame Theory (RFT), an analysis of human language and cognition, and the creator of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

He’s the recipient of numerous awards including the Nevada Psychological Association Psychologist of the Year Award, a B. F. Skinner Award from Palo Alto University, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

He’s the author of more than 530 scientific articles and 38 books, including the  #1 selling “Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life“, and his TEDx talks “Psychological flexibility: How love turns pain into purpose” and “Mental Brakes to Avoid Mental Breaks” have racked up 150,000 views and counting.

In today’s episode we talk about the foundations ACT and the limits of CBT. What exactly is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and how does it differ from, and improve upon traditional CBT?

We discuss the concept of psychological flexibility and its role in either preventing or provoking the development of mental health issues. We ask whether or not there is value in addressing issues from your past, the importance of self-compassion during periods of psychological distress, how to discover your own personal values, and putting it all together, in Steve’s own words:

“How to back out of the war within, come into the present moment, focus on what we care about, and get on with the business of living.”

Steve’s website: stevenchayes.com

 

 

SHOW NOTES

 

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Why Procrastination Makes You Depressed (and Depression Makes You Procrastinate)

Dr. Tim Pychyl

Dr. Tim Pychyl (@procrastwitate) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, and the Director of the Centre for Initiatives in Education at Carleton University, in Ottowa, Canada. His psychological research is focused on the breakdown in volitional action commonly known as procrastination, and how it relates to personal health and wellbeing.

He is the recipient of numerous teaching awards including the 3M National Teaching Fellowship, a Graduate Mentoring Award and the inaugural recipient of the University Medal for Distinguished Teaching.

He is the author of “Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change“, the host of the iProcrastinate Podcast, writer of the brilliant Don’t Delay blog at Psychology Today, and founder of the Procrastination Research Group.

In today’s episode we explore how procrastination relates to things like depression and anxiety, we discuss the emotional factors that initiate and drive procrastination, and how it can affect not only your mental, but your physical health and wellbeing, by increasing your chances of things like coronary heart disease.

We discover why we’re terrible at forecasting our future moods and why you’ll never “feel like doing it tomorrow”, how to grease the wheels of productivity and boost your willpower, and why Homer Simpson might have something very profound to teach us about how we treat our future selves.

 

 

SHOW NOTES

Tims Recommended Links

Procrastination.ca – Home of the Procrastination Research Group

iProcrastinate Podcast

Don’t Delay – Tim’s blog at Psychology Today

Further Reading

Depression and Procrastination – Psychology Today

Weakness of Will – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

How Negative Emotions Lead to Self-Regulation Failure – Psychology Today

Procrastination can lead to heart problems – Science Alert

I’ll Feel More Like it Tomorrow – Psychology Today

It’s Time to Get Acquainted With Your Future Self – Science of Us

Forecasting the Future (Interview with Dan Gilbert) – Psychology Today

External Supports for Your Willpower – Psychology Today

Books Mentioned in This Episode

                                    

 

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The Fear of Fear: Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia

Prof. Vijaya Manicavasagar

What are panic attacks and why do they happen? Can panic attacks kill you? Can they make you lose your mind? Or are they just a completely harmless, albeit horrendous natural bodily function?

In today’s episode Prof. Vijaya Manicavasagar joins me to discuss the twin topic of panic disorder and agoraphobia. We discuss how panic disorder and agoraphobia are related, how and why the one develops into the other, and most importantly the various treatments options available, including a couple of self-help suggestions.

Vijaya is Director of Psychological Services and Director of the Psychology Clinic at the Black Dog Institute, associate Professor at the School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, and the lead investigator in a series of studies on the development and implementation of wellbeing programs in schools in Australia.

As well being in involved in the development of several apps and online programs with Digital Dog, a research group within the Black Dog Institute working to use technology the solve mental health problems, she is also co-author of the book Overcoming Panic and Agoraphobia.

 

 

SHOW NOTES

Vijayas Recommended Links

The Black Dog Institute – a world leader in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.

Digital Dog – Improving mental health through technology.

Spark –  a mobile phone application which identifies people’s values, describes them, and then provides steps to improve one’s life to be consistent with those values.

Further Reading

Books Mentioned in This Episode

     

 

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Social Anxiety Disorder: The Illness of Missed Opportunities

Dr. Emma Warnock-Parkes

Dr. Emma Warnock-Parkes (@EmmaWParkes) is a clinical psychologist, accredited BABCP CBT therapist, and a Senior Research Fellow in the Experimental Psychology Department at the University of Oxford and King’s College London, working alongside Professors David Clark and Anke Ehlers developing the models and treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

In addition to working as a trial therapist, carrying out research and supervising students she also lectures at a number of Universities across the UK.

Today we explore what is apparently the third largest mental health care problem in the world today, social anxiety disorder. So, what’s the difference between social anxiety disorder and plain old shyness? Are people really judging us, and staring at us, or is it just all in our heads? More to the point, why do we even care? What are the irrational thoughts that drive social anxiety? How does it come to affect people’s lives, and most importantly, what can we do to overcome it? All this and more in today’s episode.

 

 

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Image courtesy: Lee Haywood

Schizophrenia: A Journey Inside the Shattered Mind

Prof. Elyn Saks

When Elyn Saks was diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia as a young women, the doctors gave her a prognosis of “grave”. In other words, at best she could expect to live in residential care, and work at menial jobs.

Today, Elyn Saks is Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law; Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine; and Faculty at the New Center for Psychoanalysis.

She’s the author of four books related to mental health, including her best-selling 2007 memoir “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness“.

In 2009 she was awarded a fellowship by the MacArthur Foundation, a $500,000 prize commonly referred to as the genius grant, which she used to establish the Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics, at USC, and her 2012 TED talk “A tale of mental illness – from the inside“, is fast approaching 3 million views. There’s even an opera based on her memoir.

In today’s episode we discuss what it like to have schizophrenia, the nature and content of delusions and hallucinations, Elyn’s experience in psychiatric hospitals in both the US and UK and how they differed, the stigma associated with schizophrenia and whether or not the name should be changed to something less stigmatizing, we talk about Elyn’s study of high functioning people with schizophrenia, such as PhD candidates, teachers, CEOs, and how a parrot played a pivotal role in Elyn eventually finding love.

Elyn’s Website: The Saks Institute

Special thanks to Chris Schneider, Program Associate at the Saks Institute, for fixing all our technical glitches while recording.

 

 

SHOW NOTES

Elyns Recommended Links

Supported decision-making for people with mental illness – Saks Institute research

Bring Change 2 Mind – Non-profit organization working together to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness

Further Reading

Common Difficulties for International Students – Keele University Guide

Psychiatry in the US vs UK – Diary of a Caribbean Med Student

American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) Position Statement on the Use of Seclusion and Restraint

Perception – American crime drama television series about a neuropsychiatrist with schizophrenia who assists the FBI on some of their most complex cases.

A Beautiful Mind – American biographical drama film based on the life of John Forbes Nash, a Nobel Laureate with schizophrenia.

A New Name for Schizophrenia? – PsychCentral

Elyn Saks discussing High Functioning Schizophrenics on Fox 11

Can you recover from schizophrenia? – Living With Schizophrenia UK

Books Mentioned in This Episode

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Image courtesy: Christiaan Tonnis

Childhood Mental Health and Raising Confident Kids

Prof. Sam Cartwright-Hatton

Samantha Cartwright-Hatton (@SamCH_ClinPsych) is Professor of Clinical Child Psychology and Senior Clinical Research Fellow at University of Sussex. She works as one of the clinical advisors to Anxiety UK, and in 2009 she received the British Psychological Society May Davidson Award in recognition of her research into childhood anxiety.

She’s the author of “Coping with an Anxious or Depressed Child: A Guide for Parents and Carers“, and “From Timid To Tiger: A Treatment Manual for Parenting the Anxious Child“.

In today’s episode we talk about depression and anxiety in preadolescent children, whether nurture or nature plays the biggest role in the development of childhood mental health, how you may be inadvertently teaching your child to be fearful of the world and how to stop doing so, why it’s more important to praise effort over ability, the seven confident thoughts that children need to grow up happy and confident, and why Sam is in favour of installing a communist dictatorship.

 

 

SHOW NOTES

Sam’s Recommended Links

Anxiety UK – National charity helping people with Anxiety.

Books Mentioned in This Episode

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Image courtesy: Guilherme Jofili

OCD: The Serious Issue of a Ridiculed Illness

Prof. Paul Salkovskis

Paul Salkovskis (@psalkovskis) is Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science, and Programme Director of the doctorate programme in clinical psychology at the University of Bath .

He is editor of the scientific journal “Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy”, a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and in 2006 he received the Aaron T. Beck Award for contributions to cognitive therapy.

Over the course of his academic career he has published over 250 scientific papers, which together boast more than 21,700 citations on Google Scholar, and he is also co-author of the book “Break Free from OCD: Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with CBT“.

In today’s episode we explore what it really means to have OCD, the various manifestations and corresponding behaviours, why OCD is an “affliction of the nice”, why the average sufferer waits 11 years before seeking treatment, why the media and general public think it’s okay to mock the condition, and why ultimately OCD is, in Paul’s words, an “unnecessary illness”.

Check out Paul’s blog: psychonoclast.wordpress.com

 

 

SHOW NOTES

Paul’s Recommended Links

University of Bath Clinical Psychology Department Homepage.

Participate in research at the University of Bath.

OCD Action – The UK’s largest OCD charity.

OCD-UK – Supporting children and adults affected by OCD.

Anxiety UK – National charity helping people with Anxiety.

No Panic – Helping you break the chains of anxiety disorders.

House of Obsessive-Compulsives – Link to episode 1.

All in the Mind – BBC Radio 4 programme exploring the limits and potential of the human
mind, presented by Claudia Hammond.

Karen Robinson – Mental health researcher and blogger.

Further Reading

A short history of OCD – via OCDHistory.net

A brilliant 24-page information booklet on OCD from OCD-UK.

Making CBT work: Working with your CBT therapist… Making your CBT therapist work for you – Slideshow presentation by Paul Salkovskis

Psychological treatment of Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder (includes visual diagram of the cognitive model of OCD) – Paul Salkovskis

Understanding and treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – Paul Salkovskis

Repeated checking causes memory distrust – Marcel van den Hout, Merel Kindt

Mental contamination in OCD – Anna E Coughtrey

OC Cleaners: Response from Professor Salkovskis – Paul’s communications with the producers of Channel 4’s Obsessive-Compulsive Cleaners.

Books Mentioned in This Episode

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Image courtesy: Sheila Sund