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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘Health’

Vulnerability to Stress #2

ART 2 Life events and stress For most people life can be very challenging at times. Everybody experiences major ‘life events’ or ‘life changes’ which can prove acutely stressful and bring about illness – eg: marriage, divorce, death of a close friend or family member, etc, etc. Even Christmas can be acutely stressful! And stress-related illness can contribute to further illness. The idea of ‘life events’ causing stress to the point of illness had begun in 1919 with the ‘life chart’ work of Adolph Meyer. His work became the foundation for the Schedule of Recent Events developed by N G Hawkins, R Davies & Thomas Holmes in 1957; this looked at the cumulative effect of life events in causing stress. (Amusingly Holmes’ interest in the relationship between stress and illness came from finding his mother-in-law’s visits so stressful that he developed a cold every time she came to stay!) In 1967 Thomas Holmes & Richard Rahe added the idea of the magnitude of different life events – measured in ‘life change units’ (LCUs) – to get a more precise understanding of the cumulative effect. They examined the medical records of over 5,000 medical patients as a way to determine whether stressful events might… Read More

Vulnerability to Stress

Updated: 31 March 2020 Clearly some people become stressed more easily than others and some have the experience of stress – fight or flight  – more strongly than others. So what are the factors that influence these phenomena? A vMEMETIC approach One way of looking at this is to take a Maslowian viewpoint – ie: people have needs and having those needs unfulfilled causes stress. The vMEMES identified via the work of Clare W Graves are then the drivers to fulfil those needs. Of course, Graves held that motivational systems (vMEMES) emerge in symbiotic interaction with the life conditions in the environment – an internal response to external stressors and almost certainly the first emergence of a vMEME is an example of epigenetic modification. Graves’ position has been upheld completely by Chris Cowan (2004). However, Don Beck (2002a), with his concept of the prime directive, does imply that there is a maturational factor in the emergence of vMEMES. He has not said explicitly that vMEMES are programmed to emerge in sequence as someone develops through life, irrespective of the life conditions; but the implication that maturation matters is inescapable. The position Beck appears to be working towards is perhaps best represented… Read More

Stress & Illness

Updated: 27 January 2020 Stress can make you ill! Stress can even kill you! Hans Selye (1936) was arguably the first theorist to carry out scientific research linking illness to chronic stress. Selye noted that the rats in his experiments and hospital patients showed a similar pattern which he termed the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) because it represented the body’s attempts to cope in an adaptive way with stress. GAS has 3 stages – see graphic below. Stage 1 involves increased activity in both the SAM and the HPA systems. In the case of elongated stress, the Alarm reaction occurs 6-48 hours after the trigger of fight or flight and includes loss of muscle tone, drop in body temperature and decreases in size of the spleen and the liver. Stage 2 involves the body adapting to the demands of the environment, with activity in the HPA. As this stage proceeds, the parasympathetic system requires more careful use of the body’s resources to cope. The system is being taxed to its limits, with an increase in the size of the adrenal glands and a decrease in certain pituitary activity such as the production of growth hormones. If the stress is not too… Read More

‘Jasmine’

Updated: January 2005 ‘Jasmine’ was a heroin addict. At 23 years old she had been taking the drug since shortly before her fifteenth birthday. Although her parents had separated when she was quite young, Jasmine came from what most people would consider a professional middle class family. Her mother, ‘Myra’, had remarried while Jasmine was still pre-teen and the stepfather, ‘Joe’, was generally accepting of his new wife’s daughter. Things changed little even when Myra and Joe had their own child, ‘Belinda’. When I was asked by Myra to try some therapy with Jasmine, the 3 of us mind-mapped the young woman’s life. While there might have been some questions around damage to her PURPLE need for attachments with the departure of her biological father and the loss of all contact with him, there was nothing obvious to indicate the kind of need heroin could fill. Joe had proved about as good a stepfather as Jasmine could have wished for. It seemed that Jasmine had simply experienced a powerful surge of RED self-expression in her early teens while hanging out with the ‘wrong crowd’ and had got drawn into first alcohol and marijuana and then heroin. Paradoxically she remained a high… Read More

My SAD Experience

A few weeks ago I self-diagnosed myself as experiencing a mild dose of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This milder form of SAD is known colloquially as ‘the Winter Blues’ and clinically as Sub-Syndromal SAD. Starting on the Sunday of that week, I grew increasingly miserable and even became tearful at times. Over most of the next week I was lethargic, missed the gym, couldn’t be bothered with going out and really struggled to put on ‘a happy face’ for my tutees and adult education evening classes. Sub-Syndromal SAD is estimated to afflict some 21% of the UK population while full-blown SAD reduces a further 8% to a dysfunctional state (Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, 2017) The influence of the seasons on health was recognised in ancient times – viz Hippocrates writing (c400 BC): “…whoever wishes to pursue properly the science of medicine…[must] consider what effects each season of the year can produce”. Over 2 millennia later Philippe Pinel (1806), one of the founders of modern Psychiatry, reflected Hippocrates when he encouraged medical students to ensure “due attention is paid to the changes in the seasons and the weather”. One of the earliest and most poignant descriptions of what we now know as SAD… Read More

Stages of Infant Attachment

Updated: 23 August 2016 Attachment can be defined as a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space (John Bowlby, 1969; Mary Ainsworth, 1973). Attachment does not have to be reciprocal.  One person may have an attachment to an individual which is not shared.  According to Bowlby, attachment is characterized by specific behaviours in children, such as seeking proximity with the attachment figure when upset or threatened. The process of attachment is clearly influenced by caregiver sensitivity, plus where both caregiver and child tend to locate on the Dimensions of Temperament – see Caregiver Sensitivity vs Temperament Hypothesis. However, other factors also have a major influence:- The PURPLE vMEME’S need to find safety in belonging This will be underpinned by a BEIGE/PURPLE vMEME harmonic using close proximity as a means to ensure survival, in terms of both sustenance and protection Perceptual development The baby needs to develop visual, auditory and kinaesthetic senses to recognise its mother/primary caregiver Cognitive development The baby needs to make sense of its perceptual input and relate it to its need to survive and develop through attachment In attempts to track the progress of attachment development, there are 2 principal stage… Read More

Cuba on the Cusp…?

10 days in Cuba in the first half of January was an astonishing experience. A ‘special’ holiday to celebrate wife Caroline’s 60th, there was little of the ‘Winter sun’ we had been led to anticipate. Rather, near-hurricane level winds and torrential rain lasted several days, with sun, cloud and lighter rain alternating for the rest. If the weather wasn’t enough of an experience in itself, then Cuban music, art, architecture and the people themselves left indelible impressions. The music is, of course, fabulous…seemingly a well-schooled salsa and/or rumba band on every street corner in Habana (aka Havana) and a stunning concert by a version of the world-famous Buena Vista Social Club in Varadero on our last night. In contrast to the agonised grimaces of many American and British musicians, their Cuban counterparts seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves and communicate that to their audiences. (There is plenty of healthy RED expressed in the way Cuban musicians so enjoy playing and PURPLE both in that musicians love to be in a band and the affection for their musical traditions.) The art is wonderfully expressive and the architecture awesome, even when it’s dilapidated. As for the people…. Cuba, is, of course, a victim… Read More

On Being Sane in Insane Places

Updated: 19 January 2018 David Rosenhan’s classic 1973 study remains one of the most important in the field of mental health. For all its faults – and there are a number of serious ones – it almost encapsulates the difficulties in trying to determine if someone is mentally ill. The last half of the 20th Century and the first decades of the 21st have witnessed virtual ‘epidemics’ of ‘mental illness’ inflicting themselves upon the Western world. These ‘epidemics’ have, in turn, spawned huge industries in mental health care and pharmacology – and there is increasing concern about the role of the pharmaceutical industry in influencing what is classified as mental illness and how such illnesses are treated. Lisa Cosgrove &  Sheldon Krimsky’s 2012 expose is just one of many focusing on just how many of the authors of the Diagnostical & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – latest version DSM-5 (2015) – more and more have financial interests in the pharmaceutical industry. Thus, to some, it looks like the ORANGE vMEME’s desire for profit is driving changes in DSM – the medicalisation of mental illness that can be cured, or at least managed, by chemotherapy. Opponents to this direction tend to favour GREEN’s motif… Read More