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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 differenc...e to how we approach our work or other areas of our lives. More

ADHD, and good and bad attention

This week’s New York Times had an interesting piece about wandering minds. It noted that there seems to be a huge diminishment in the capacity to pay attention, concentrate and focus. Mindfulness quite rightly was mentioned as something that helps and once again things were said about the increasing speed of modern society, the rushing and short attention spans and the inability to step out of the whirlwind to reflect and be thoughtful.

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Osborne, Philpot, cuts, fairness and Maggie T

These are baffling times, with many issues to the fore that were central to the controversy around Maggie Thatcher. In a week when we have seen huge tax cuts for the wealthy, we have also seen massive cuts  in income for the disabled and those on housing benefits,  and we also hear increasingly vociferous language being used to condemn those on benefits. The Guardian reported an analysis showing that the government has been using increasingly judgemental, loaded and pejorative  language to attack those on welfare, with many statements about ‘dependency cultures’, ‘addictions’ and describing the issues as ‘entrenched’ (click for article), George  Osborne’s use of the Philpot’s case to support his arguments, linking shocking and perverse acts with a ‘benefits culture’, while condemned by many, might well be an effective ploy. 

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Mental health downturns, the recession and services

Suicide rates in Britain in 2011 were the highest seen for 10 years, at 6047, according to the Office for National Statistics, an 8% raise in just one year. The increase is mainly seen in men, and in fact in men between their late 30’s and 40’s (23.5 deaths per 100,000 population in 2011), an age where one’s economic position is increasingly important. Although the data is not available  with these particular  statistics, other studies suggest very clearly that at times of economic stress suicide rates increase, and it would be surprising if the economic crisis was not implicated in some serious way. This is something seen in any number of public documents ( eg The World Health Organisation or a major European parliament Report (click for link) which argued that the evidence was unequivocal, in terms of the rise in mental health issues such as depression, even suggesting that for every 1% rise in unemployment one would expect an increase in suicides of .8%.

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Invisibilty, and doing the right thing

This week the BBC’s moral maze  (http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/moralmaze)  provocatively asked about the role of individual conscience and whether people act less morally when they are unseen,  This came  on the back of scientists possibly having invented a Harry Potterish  ‘invisibility cloak’ capacity to become invisible by bending light etc. The program raised crucial matters relevant to issues currently in the news,  such as the banking scandals and what the likes of Bob Diamond  felt they should be able to ‘get away with’, as well as the shocking behaviours in mid-Staffordhsire NHS trust and in care homes where elderly residents were  abused. The 2 key issues  being debated were whether we need more regulation (eg of banks or hospitals) or   should moral acts by led by individual conscience, because externally imposed ‘targets’ and expectations in fact make people less personally motivated to do the right thing. These are thorny issues.

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cooperating and helping others reduces stress and improves health

A couple of very interesting studies came out in the last few weeks which might surprise those who believe that monetary and material success is the best way to health and happiness. One huge new study is just published by the American Psychological Association. This was led by Lara Aknin [1] who has done a massive amount of research on altruism and wellbeing. Amazingly this found a positive relationship between personal well-being and spending on others in 120 of 136 countries covered in the 2006-2008 Gallup World Poll. The survey comprised 234,917 individuals, half of whom were male, with an average age of 38. The link between well-being and spending on others was significant in every region of the world, irrespective of factors like income, social support, perceived freedom and national corruption.

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Child care ratios, attachment and emotional health

A government document, called,  in 1984 style double-speak ‘More Great Childcare’  is suggesting that it is fine to increase staff-child ratios for childminders and nurseries (click for link to document) .  This is a huge worry to many who work with children and families, and particularly those who work in the area of infant and child mental health.  The proposals have sparked a huge wave of protest, including one petition which had a week ago already attracted over 20,000 signatures (see report).

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