Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Why should I trust you? AMBIT: helps where it’s hard to help

Teachers to nurses, youth workers to psychiatrists, psychotherapists to social workers—you name it, we are legion; the “helping professions”. We’ve made progress over the past century, finding effective ways to help many – perhaps most – of the difficulties our clients face, but we shouldn’t be complacent. Even the most “evidence-based” of our interventions are only effective for 50-60% of the cases that they are used with.

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Reducing the harm done by substances: key strategies

The most recent data on life expectancy for the United States show stagnation over the past three years. This stagnation has happened at a time when the most important causes of death, such as cardiovascular diseases or cancers, have decreased. So, what causes of death are responsible for the stagnation in life expectancy?

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Why do I wake up every morning feeling so tired?

The alarm rings, you awaken, and you are still drowsy: why? Being sleepy in the morning does not make any sense; after all, you have just been asleep for the past eight hours. Shouldn’t you wake up refreshed, aroused, and attentive? No, and there are a series of ways to explain why. The neurobiological answer: During the previous few hours before waking in the morning, you have spent most of your time in REM sleep, dreaming.

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Bipolar disorder and addictions

Bipolar disorder consists of two major types. Bipolar disorder, type I is the classical and well-known disorder, which used to be called manic-depressive illness. Episodes of hypomania and depression tend to alternate, with each phase lasting for days or weeks. Bipolar disorder, type II, is characterized by shorter-lived episodes of abnormal mood (it is sometimes termed “rapid cycling”) and there is a predominance of depressive phases.

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Is suicide rationalizable? Evidence from Italian prisons.

After cancer and heart disease, suicide accounts for more years of life lost than any other cause of death, both in the United States and in Europe. In 2013 there were 41,149 suicides (12.6 every 100,000 inhabitants) in the US. To contextualize this number just think that the number of motor vehicle deaths was, in the same year, around 32,719 (10.3 every 100,000 inhabitants).

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Police violence: a risk factor for psychosis

Police victimization of US civilians has moved from the shadows to the spotlight following the widespread adaptation of smartphone technology and rapid availability of video footage through social media. The American Public Health Association recently issued a policy statement outlining the putative health and mental health costs of police violence, and declared the need to increase efforts towards understanding and preventing the effects of such victimization.

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Mental health at all ages

This May, Mental Health Awareness Month turns 68. To raise awareness of the fact that mental health issues affect individuals at all stages of the life course, we have put together a brief reading list of articles from The Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences Series B. These articles also explore aspects of mental health that may be under-appreciated in the traditional social psychological literature.

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Adult ADHD: myths and reality

One out of every 5-10 adult psychotherapy clients probably has attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Key studies and writings emerged in 1995 supporting the idea of adult ADHD, but it took many years of reading and research to confidently recognize and appropriately treat adult ADHD. It continues to be underrecognized by mental health clinicians, even when clients with ADHD are already in treatment for other mental illnesses, and considerable misinformation is circulated.

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The impact of intergenerational conflict at work

Recently, several colleagues and I noted that conflict in the workplace can emerge as a result of perceptions of differences related to what members of various generations care about, how they engage in work, and how they define self and others. We also noted several ways in which these conflicts might be resolved including achieving results, managing image in the workplace, and focusing on self in challenging interactions.

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Reflections on Freud, the first “wild analyst”

Sigmund Freud was a more radical and speculative thinker than many have been willing to concede. This is apparent in his many discussions of childhood sexuality. For example, few really understand how Freud’s conclusions about childhood sexuality predate by decades the clinical observations of actual children – later done by dutiful analysis, most often by women analysts like Melanie Klein and Freud’s own daughter Anna Freud

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Johnny had Parkinson’s…and music helped him walk

One day we stumbled upon something that would end up helping Johnny on this twice daily haul. Given our shared history as musicians, it’ll come as no surprise that Johnny and I often talked about music. As Johnny was prepping to take the first step, we joked about singing a march so he could march his way down the hall. It was Johnny’s idea to use Sousa’s Stars and Stripes, a march he liked.

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Slipping expectations for child outcomes

Certainly we should be happy that kids from “at risk” environments graduate from high school and do not end up in prison for life. But is this enough to aim for? We may not score their life outcome as minus 5 (on a -10 to +10 scale), but Chiron’s life outcome does not warrant much more than a zero. Why? Because his intelligence, unique gifts, and potential were not fostered (which would go on the plus side of zero).

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Celebrating 100 years of Urie Bronfenbrenner

n the United States, currently, about 15 million children (almost a quarter of the global child population) live in families whose income falls below the federally established poverty level. The damaging effects on children’s and families’ development were something that was a life-long concern of Urie Bronfenbrenner.

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Modern life and clinical psychology

It’s a sad but very modern paradox. Despite the many wonderful opportunities and options like education, technologies, internet resources and travel that are open to young people today, young people’s mental health today has never been so fragile. In contrast to the frequently portrayed images of happy, successful, and socially connected millennials in selfies, in fact many millennials seem to feel more empty and lost than ever.

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Managing stress: body

Stress, anxiety, and tension can be regulated by changing your perspective on forthcoming events or using techniques such as mental imagery or meditation, but they can also be controlled by what you physically do with your body. Techniques such as muscle relaxation, relaxed breathing, and exercise can all be used to decrease the impact of your stress response.

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Managing stress: mind

Techniques such as mental imagery and meditation can be used to decrease your stress response. In mental imagery, relaxation is achieved by a few minutes of deep focus on a peaceful scene, often somewhere in nature. In meditation, relaxation is achieved by a few minutes of mental repetition of a word or phrase, usually in conjunction with relaxed breathing.

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