gmusic@nurturingnatures.co.uk

This blog is to critically introduce, and contextualise, new research findings from developmental research, neuroscience, attachment theory  and other areas of psychology that are topical or are likely to whet the appetite of  anyone interested. The aim is to discuss research which will feel relevant and which might even, if lucky, make a...

This blog is to critically introduce, and contextualise, new research findings from developmental research, neuroscience, attachment theory  and other areas of psychology that are topical or are likely to whet the appetite of  anyone interested. The aim is to discuss research which will feel relevant and which might even, if lucky, make a difference to how we approach our work or other areas of our lives.

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narcissism and superficality

Interesting but worrying new research has just been published by Jean Twenge who has been researching about the changes in the American character for several decades now. The trends that are being seen are an increase in narcissistic attitudes up 30% it seems in those few decades. At the same time more ‘prosocial’ (rather than antisocial) traits, like cooperativeness and understanding other people,  seem to be on the decrease  [1], [2].

In addition we are seeing a much bigger sense of entitlement, more overconfidence and belief in people’s own abilities, what popular psychology describes as self-esteem. While low self-esteem is obviously a problem, what in fact we are seeing is huge levels of over-confidence and a decrease in old fashioned values such as humility and modesty. Interestingly this increase in self-belief does not correlate with actual better performances, so it is delusional in some ways. Better performance in fact correlates with traits like being able to defer gratification and regulate ones emotions, as do all manner of things like holding down a good job or being in a relationship that lasts [3].

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New year, holidays and spreading loneliness or happiness

This blog arises as I, like many in my business, am all too aware of the fact that while the lucky ones in our society are and have been basking in the holiday closeness that Christmas and new Year brings, for all too many the experience can be one of loneliness and devastation. The children I work with who all are, or have been, in the care system, often find this time of the year the hardest of all as they are starkly in touch with what they do not have that others seem to.. While the data does not necessarily back up the belief that there is an increase in suicides at this time of the year, it is certainly a time when many feel the stark contrast between their lives and the happy relationships and families that the media constantly portray.

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Just Giving for Christmas

In our increasingly high octane and money/market oriented world it is sometimes hard to really believe in old fashioned human values such as altruism. Christmas of course challenges that. There is such a gluttonous consume and spend fest, and such a lot of anxiety about getting enough, buying the right thing, and a lot of confusion between what we really want to do as opposed to what we feel we have to do, and motives can get horribly jumbled.

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Guest — Asha Phillips
As usual Graham you are fascinating and bring research to life in easy to grasp and relevant form. Thank you
Tuesday, 25 December 2012 12:52
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Longevity, Olympians, high status and inequality

There were 2 articles in the BMJ this week about longevity and Olympic athletes. One of them  [1] found that those who won medals lived several years longer than those in the general population and longer than other athletes.  One assumption was that this is linked to fitness, but that is probably unlikely. Another study also published in the BMJ this very week found that high intensity exercise does not give a survival advantage [2]. I suspect that in fact the increased longevity comes from feeling better about themselves, which will do all kind of positive things for our immune system and overall health.

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Guest — Liz Anderson
This research raises yet more issues for those of us working therapeutically. If we accept that many of those who seek therapy fee... Read More
Sunday, 16 December 2012 09:51
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Psychoanlysis' demise is exagerated

Psychoanalysis has been getting a bad press for quite a while now. It is not uncommon to read about it as something that went out with the dinosaurs, as having no evidence base and as long past its sell-by date [1]. Working at the Tavistock Clinic, which continues to practice and teach about psychoanalysis, as well as other modalities, can leave one feeling somewhat under siege. What is maybe overlooked is how much evidence has recently come forward which bears out many of the ideas of Freud and his successors.

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Poverty and unemployment plays havoc with physical and mental health

A raft of studies are pointing to the worrying effects of poverty on worse physical and mental health. A new American study showed that being unemployed, even for a short period of time, increases the risk of heart attacks, and that having multiple job losses massively ups that risk. [1]. This was a big study, of over 13,000 Americans between 50 and 70 over nearly a decade. The risk of acute myocardial infarction after  job losses were very high, as great as seen in smoking, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

These processes seem to start very early. Rather frighteningly, a new study has even found that child poverty as well as stress as an adult, and living in poor neighbourhoods, can all have an effect on one’s gene expression, particularly in relation future immune responses. [2]. This study showed that people who had experienced childhood poverty had different gene methylation from those who hadn't, despite the fact everyone in the cohort had achieved the same socioeconomic status later in life. Early poverty left a detectable and lasting molecular mark on an individual's DNA.

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