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Why Did So Many Women Vote for Roy Moore?

Posted by on Dec 27, 2017 in Food for Thought | Comments Off on Why Did So Many Women Vote for Roy Moore?

Why Did So Many Women Vote for Roy Moore?

On Monday, December 13, 2017, it became known that Doug Jones, a Democrat, had defeated Roy Moore, a Republican, in the traditionally Republican state of Alabama, for a seat in the US Senate. Mr. Moore seems to be, let’s charitably say, a colorful character.

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Cancer and the Power of Placebo

Posted by on Jan 2, 2014 in Featured, Food for Thought | Comments Off on Cancer and the Power of Placebo

Cancer and the Power of Placebo

An interview with author Dr. Paul Offit gives us some insight into the placebo effect, and its place in alternative medicine, complementary medicine and traditional, evidence-based medical treatment…

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Why We Shop

Posted by on Dec 4, 2013 in News | Comments Off on Why We Shop

I recently read an article about shopping (on Medscape.com) and the psychology of consumption that I think is very relevant to life in our modern world. The article was an interview with consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow, PhD., who talks about the neuropsychological influences of shopping. As the holiday season commences and shopping is a fact of life for many of us, I think the points she makes are important to keep in mind. Dr. Yarrow specializes in the study of consumers and the psychology behind shopping, and she has published her findings in a recent book entitled “Decoding the Consumer Mind”. (Available here on Barnes & Noble). One of the most important points Dr. Yarrow makes is this one: The motivation for almost everything we buy has something to do with connecting with other human beings. Even when it comes to practical purchases, the particular brand or product we choose relates to our connections with other human beings. She goes on to say that there has been a shift in our society towards loneliness, anxiety, societal anger and individualism… all emotions which are relieved in the shopping process. She says that as a society, we have more anxiety and less support from our community. This creates an environment of anxiety when we are shopping, and in that type of environment, we process information differently. People tend to start from a position of mistrust, and the vendor has to do more than ever before to win our loyalty and attention. Dr. Yarrow goes on to say that we tend to use shopping as a way to calm our anxiety and prepare for events. As we shop, we visualize our future with the product we are shopping for and this is almost like an athlete who is visualizing to enhance his or her performance. She says that shopping is also a way to express creativity. When we shop online, it’s a way to take a break from our everyday world as well. And then there is the hunt for bargains. Dr. Yarrow validates that there is a dopamine spike… a pleasurable experience… that comes from shopping and finding a bargain. That can account for the addictive quality that some people feel with shopping. When asked about the Black Friday shopping phenomenon, she says there are some people that see shopping almost as a competitive sport and go out looking for the fabulous bargain. But most people, she says, are either using shopping as a way to connect with family (it’s a tradition to go shopping together), or if they are alone, it’s a way to get out and connect with other people. Dr. Yarrow points out that in a Black Friday shopping situation, the stress and excitement put the shopper in a vulnerable position due to “the autonomic nervous system arousal that accompanies being in crowded, stressful places or experiencing a fear of missing out.”  She always encourages people to wait 20 minutes before they buy something, allowing their brain to re-engage and their emotions to subside. Vendors are wise in the ways of attraction and how the brain works these days. They use odors, music and symbolic clues to attract the buyer and get them to make a purchase. They know that people are more likely to buy something if...

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Depression Types

Posted by on Aug 25, 2013 in Depression | Comments Off on Depression Types

Here is my personal view of the different personalities of depression, and possible treatments for each of them. The most prescribed antidepressants today belong to a group of medications called the SSRIs. To this group belongs Prozac, Effexor, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil and others. Depression (excluding psychotic depression) seems to come in two flavors: low energy depression or its anxious cousin. The type of depression you are experiencing should dictate your choice of medication. In addition to recommending psychotherapy, which is a crucial treatment component for sufferers of depression, when you come to me as a patient, I may decide to prescribe one of the SSRIs. In my view, it is important to match the pharmacologic effect of a particular medication with the type of depression being experienced. The SSRIs each have their specific spectrum of effects. Prozac and Effexor tend to energize patients. Paxil, on the other hand, often has a calming effect. Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro produce a more neutral effect. They may energize or calm, depending on a patient’s own biochemistry and sensitivity. Therefore, if you come to me with an anxious depression, I would probably prescribe one of the middle-of-the-road antidepressants or I might prescxribe Paxil to calm your anxiety. Taking a more calming antidepressant may also keep you from having to take a sedating medication such as Ativan, Xanax, Buspar or Valium, as the calming effect you are looking for is already built into those particular SSRIs. For the low energy depression, on the other hand, Prozac and Effexor might work better. Usually, I try to avoid giving an anxious patient an energizing SSRI because they may experience the energizing effect as an increase in anxiety. Obviously, this is something we will try to avoid. Despite the science involved, prescribing psychiatric medications is still an art where intuition and experience play an important role in making the right choice. Every physician will approach this task differently and each patient’s body and mind will respond differently. It is important to keep this in mind as you and your physician search for the correct medication that will relieve your unwanted symptoms of depression. In the end, your body and mind will make the best...

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Anxiety, A Stumbling Block

Posted by on Nov 18, 2012 in Depression | Comments Off on Anxiety, A Stumbling Block

Anxiety, A Stumbling Block

Anxiety: The Secret Stumbling Block in Depression Therapy Depression ranges in severity from mild and transient to severe and persistent. The most severe form of depression is called Major Depressive Disorder and may be difficult to treat and resolve. It poses a number of severe risks, not the least of which is that of possible suicide. Depression is also associated with significant medical problems such as heart disease and pain syndromes, to name a few. For this and other reasons, successful treatment is crucial. There are several theories as to what causes this debilitating mental illness. Life stress, anxiety and a predisposing vulnerability are thought to be contributing factors. An additional component is the biochemical changes in the brain, particularly changes in neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Serotonin depletion and its reversal is the rationale for the use of SSRI class of medications. An important component in the origin and course of depression is anxiety.  Anxiety is reported by patients on a routine basis but is easily and commonly overlooked. In practice, this component of depression must be addressed if treatment is to succeed. I often wonder how many treatment failures are due to this oversight. An indicator that this oversight is common is the number of patients who are placed on antidepressants such as Prozac or Effexor for treatment of depression. These medications are known to be energizing; they can act like several cups of very strong coffee, not a welcome effect for someone who is already anxious. These two medications in particular are usually more appropriate for someone with a low-energy depression rather than an anxious depression. The anxiety component of depression is often not recognized, or even if recognized, is not taken into account in treatment. Resolution of anxiety can often be an essential component of treatment before depression can be...

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Client Testimonials: Two Daughters

Posted by on Nov 10, 2012 in Featured, Testimonials | Comments Off on Client Testimonials: Two Daughters

Client Testimonials: Two Daughters

Two teenage girls have received many benefits from the work they have done with Dr. Berndt…

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Thoughts to Ponder…

Posted by on Oct 26, 2012 in Food for Thought | Comments Off on Thoughts to Ponder…

Here are some random thoughts about therapy…   Every patient has within herself a physician or healer that is much more competent than the best psychotherapist. As the patient hears herself speak in therapy her mind listens and reconfigures itself, at its own pace, into a more integrated whole. The historical details of past trauma are often forgotten consciously but the body will always remember. A good therapist is primarily a listener who supplies the patient with a non-judgemental space to speak into. Therapy is an primarily an educational process that supports the patient’s own inner therapist. . The only way out of past trauma is to talk it out over and over until all the feelings connected with the trauma are completely spent. Sometimes the things that cause us most trouble with others are unacknowledged issues within ourselves. If you wish to start a revolution start with changing your inner self. When there is a conflict between will and feelings it is feelings that always win. Mother Nature is very generous but she gives you only two choices in some areas. One of these is in the area of relationships. You can try to have it your way always or you can have good relationships. You can have only one of two alternatives but not both. You choose....

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Why Meditate?

Posted by on Oct 14, 2012 in Food for Thought | Comments Off on Why Meditate?

Why Meditate?

Why meditate? Well, there are many reasons to develop a meditation practice. Let’s start with this: Meditation sharpens your concentration and your thinking power.  A regular meditation practice will train you to think more clearly and more precisely. Gradually,  your own subconscious motives and mechanics will become clear to you as you think about your life. As the precision of your thought increases and you start to acquire a direct knowledge of things as they really are, without prejudice and without illusion. A daily meditation practice is also a time to relax and do something good for yourself. Our daily lives are so full of stress and activity, and often that activity is in the service of someone else… a parent, a spouse, a child, a boss. A daily time set aside for meditation is something you do for yourself. It is a solitary endeavor that increases your relaxation and reduces anxiety. Is this reason enough to bother? There is only one way you will ever know if meditation is worth the effort. You must do it. And it is not enough to just sit. There are techniques to the practice of meditation that make it maximally effective. I encourage you to try it for yourself. Mediation is a wonderful way to reduce stress, work on healing, and take time for yourself.  I can teach you meditation at my office or if you have a group of people at your work place, I can come to your business anywhere in The Woodlands. I am also available for consultation on the phone. Contact me if you are ready to take this important step in improving your life!  ...

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Life Transitions – Family Support is Crucial

Posted by on Oct 13, 2012 in Food for Thought | Comments Off on Life Transitions – Family Support is Crucial

<h2> Life is Full of Transitions</h2> If you are alive, you will experience many life transitions. You will graduate from school, perhaps you will move to another city. You’ll start and end relationships. You might get married, have children, get divorced or watch someone you love die. You might change jobs or even change careers. All of these are life transitions, and while they often signal improvements or growth in your life, they are almost always also accompanied by stress. Read this about family support during the transition to adulthood, for instance. The transition from child or teenager to adult is one of the hardest transitions we have to make as humans, but it is by no means the last one. Often we downplay the importance or the difficulty of certain transitions, such as changing jobs, moving to a new city or getting into a new relationship. Even if the transitions have a net positive effect on our lives, the transition itself can be stressful and anxiety-provoking. The support of your family, whether your family by birth or a chosen family of friends, is crucial to maintaining your mental health during times of transition. But more important than that is how you take care of yourself during that time. The most important care during time of life transition is self-care....

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Forgive and Forget

Posted by on Oct 12, 2012 in Food for Thought | Comments Off on Forgive and Forget

The topic of forgiveness comes up quite often in therapy. It is mentioned as a need or a wish by a patient who has been wronged or abused in their past. They are are often encouraged by friends or relatives to “just forgive” the wrong-doer. Some patients wonder about the concept of the turning of the other cheek. Let’s examine this topic from a psychological perspective, rather than from a religious one. When an abused person is told to forgive the abuser, the concerned loved ones usually say something like this: “It’s been a long time now, so why don’t you just get over it…” “he (or she) is too old, too sick or demented (or dead) and carrying a grudge does not really serve any purpose…” “if you hang on to this, it will just poison your life…” These are just some of the comments that a traumatized person might hear. While this type of advice is often well meant and not illogical, it is actually not helpful at best, and may in fact make the victim feel worse. Predictably the victim, for a variety of reasons, cannot “just get over” what happened. The reason for this difficulty in moving on is that forgiveness is not an event that can be implemented successfully by consciousness effort. The advice given is logical only, but does not address the emotional elements of events that are undigested and unresolved. To be successful, forgiveness has to take place on an emotional rather than an intellectual level. To attempt to make forgiveness an intellectually-based event will fail in every instance. Giving it time may work and, once the emotions have settled, a form of forgiveness may occur. Psychotherapy and psychological education is generally more effective in creating an environment for forgiveness. Therapy can help a person to grow so that feelings around the event can finally resolve. In psychotherapy, the patient is given the opportunity to express and communicate feelings that he or she was unable to express when the trauma occurred. Ideally, right after the traumatic event, someone would have listened to the patient speak until they had fully expressed their feelings and thoughts. Therapy is a space into which a patient can speak whatever needs to be spoken as long and as often as it needs to be said. In the process of recounting the injury, the patient also listens to himself or herself, and as he or she listens, his or her psyche develops its own understandings. There is often a sophistication and appropriateness to the insights that a patient develops that are often far beyond insights that a therapist might offer. In other words, every patient has their own inner therapist which is activated in the process of communicating to someone who listens with their full attention in an accepting atmosphere. It is the wise therapist that aligns herself with that powerful...

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