Internet Mental Health

OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER






Internet Mental Health Quality of Life Scale

Big 5 Factors Of Mental Illness And Code For This Disorder
(The "6th Big Factor" of Mental Health, "Physical Health", Is Coded Normal or Green)

  • Had obsessions (anxiety-provoking, repetitive, unwanted thoughts) or compulsions (obsession-relieving, repetitive rituals).

  • This caused significant distress or disability.

  • Not due to a medical or substance use disorder.

Prediction

    Is episodic or continuous for years:
    • 80% have chronic waxing and waning course; made worse by stress
    • 15% have progressive deterioration in occupational and social functioning
    • 5% have an episodic course with minimal or no symptoms between episodes

Problems

Occupational-Economic Problems:

  • Causes significant impairment in academic, occupational and/or social functioning.

Negative Emotions (Negative Emotion):

  • Recurrent obsessional thoughts or compulsive acts

  • The obsessions or compulsions are time-consuming (e.g., take more than 1 hour per day) or cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning

Medical:
  • Not due to a medical or substance use disorder.

  • 35%-50% of adults with Tourette's Disorder have OCD, but only 6% of people with OCD have Tourette's Disorder

  • 20%-30% of adults with OCD have current or past tics

  • Hands may be red from excessive washing or use of caustic cleaning agents



Explanation Of Terms And Symbols

Internet Mental Health Quality of Life Scale

Fear, Generalized Anxiety, Phobia, Panic, Obsession, and Compulsion

Fearful avoidance is part of our instinctual "flight" response to adversity.

Our ancestors learned to fear dangerous things (e.g., snakes), and this harm avoidance saved their lives.

However, fear can spiral out of control. For example, an individual can develop a phobia to snakes in which the fear becomes excessive. This phobia can develop into an obsession in which the individual spends much of the time thinking about snakes, and how to avoid them. The obsession can develop into a compulsion in which the individual spends much of the time doing superstitious, compulsive, ritual behaviors aimed at avoiding snakes.

There are stages in the escalation of fear:

  • Normal Fear:
    Fear is normal if it is in proportion to the actual danger posed by the specific object or situation, and this fear doesn't cause significant distress or disability.

  • Generalized Anxiety:
    Fear can become excessive, and generalized with excessive anxiety and worry about a number of objects or situations. This anxiety is often associated with avoidance of the feared objects or situations and irritability. Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder have an increased risk of developing generalized anxiety disorder.

  • Phobia:
    Fear can become excessive, and specifically attached to specific objects or situations (e.g., fear of flying). This phobic fear is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by these feared objects or situations, and the individual desperately tries to avoid whatever triggers the phobia. This phobic fear causes significant distress or disability. Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder have an increased risk of developing social anxiety disorder (social phobia) and specific phobias.

  • Panic:
    Phobic individuals can develop a full-blown panic attack if exposed to whatever triggers their phobia. In panic disorder, individuals experience panic attacks that occur spontaneously, and that are not triggered by any phobic stimulus. Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder have an increased risk of developing panic disorder.

  • Obsession:
    If the individual develops persistent, unwanted thoughts about the phobia; this is defined as an obsession. An obsession is an unwanted, recurrent, persistent, fear-provoking intrusive thought. In obsessive-compulsive disorder, these obsessional thoughts are involuntary and often repugnant. They are almost invariably distressing and the individual often tries, unsuccessfully, to resist them. They are, however, recognized as his or her own thoughts. Obsessions are a core feature of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

  • Compulsion:
    If the individual develops a superstitious ritual aimed at reducing the anxiety associated with the obsession; this is defined as a compulsion. A compulsion is a fear-relieving avoidance behavior. The individual feels driven to perform these compulsions. Some of these superstitious rituals may spawn other, illogically related compulsions (e.g., "I must avoid stepping on sidewalk cracks because that will injure my mother"). Such irrationality is the hallmark of superstitious learning. Compulsive rituals in obsessive-compulsive disorder are not enjoyable, nor do they result in the completion of inherently useful tasks. Their function is fearful avoidance - to prevent some objectively unlikely event which the individual fears might otherwise occur. Usually, superstitious rituals are recognized by the individual as pointless or ineffectual. Anxiety is almost invariably present. If these superstitious rituals are resisted the anxiety gets worse. Compulsions are a core feature of obsessive-compulsive disorder.



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Click Here For Free Diagnosis

Limitations of Self-Diagnosis

Self-diagnosis of this disorder is often inaccurate. Accurate diagnosis of this disorder requires assessment by a qualified practitioner trained in psychiatric diagnosis and evidence-based treatment.

However, if no such professional is available, our free computerized diagnosis is usually accurate when completed by an informant who knows the patient well. Computerized diagnosis is less accurate when done by patients (because they often lack insight).

Example Of Our Computer Generated Diagnostic Assessment

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 300.3

This diagnosis is based on the following findings:
  • Had obsessions (persistent, intrusive, inappropriate thoughts) (still present)
  • Obsessions were not simply excessive worries about real-life problems
  • Obsessions were unwanted and resisted
  • Obsessions weren't imposed from without (as in thought insertion)
  • Had compulsions (persistent, intrusive, inappropriate rituals) (still present)
  • Compulsions were aimed at reducing distress or preventing some dreaded harm
  • Obsessions or compulsions were recognized as being excessive or unreasonable
  • Obsessions or compulsions caused clinically significant distress or disability (still present)
  • Obsessions or compulsions were not symptoms of another mental disorder
  • Obsessions or compulsions were not due to a general medical condition
  • Obsessions or compulsions were not due to substance use or other treatment

TREATMENT GOALS:

  • Goal: prevent obsessions (persistent, intrusive, inappropriate thoughts).

  • Goal: prevent compulsions (persistent, intrusive, inappropriate rituals).


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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder F42 - ICD10 Description, World Health Organization

The essential feature is recurrent obsessional thoughts or compulsive acts. Obsessional thoughts are ideas, images, or impulses that enter the patient's mind again and again in a stereotyped form. They are almost invariably distressing and the patient often tries, unsuccessfully, to resist them. They are, however, recognized as his or her own thoughts, even though they are involuntary and often repugnant. Compulsive acts or rituals are stereotyped behaviours that are repeated again and again. They are not inherently enjoyable, nor do they result in the completion of inherently useful tasks. Their function is to prevent some objectively unlikely event, often involving harm to or caused by the patient, which he or she fears might otherwise occur. Usually, this behavior is recognized by the patient as pointless or ineffectual and repeated attempts are made to resist. Anxiety is almost invariably present. If compulsive acts are resisted the anxiety gets worse.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder - Diagnostic Criteria, American Psychiatric Association

An individual diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder needs to meet all of the following criteria:

  • Presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both:

    Obsessions are defined by both of the following:

    • Recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and unwanted, and that in most individuals cause marked anxiety and distress.

    • The individual attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, urges, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action (i.e., by performing a compulsion).

    Compulsions are defined by both of the following:

    • Repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting, repeating words silentl) that the individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.

    • The behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing anxiety or distress, or preventing some dreaded event or situation; however, these behaviors or mental acts are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize or prevent, or are clearly excessive. Note. Young children may not bbe able to articulate the aims of these behaviors or mental acts.

  • The obsessions or compulsions are time-consuming (e.g., take more than 1 hour per day) or cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

  • The obsessive-compulsive symptoms are not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or another medical condition.

  • The disturbance is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., excessive worries, as in generalized anxiety disorder; preoccupation with appearance, as in body dysmorphic disorder; difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, as in hoarding disorder; hair pulling, as in trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder); skin picking, as in excoriation [skin picking] disorder; stereotypies, as in stereotypic movement disorder; ritualized eating behavior, as in eating disorders; preoccupations with substances or gambling, as in substance-related and addictive disorders; sexual urges or fantasies, as in paraphilic disorders; impulses, as in disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders; guilty ruminations, as in major depressive disorder; thought insertion or delusional preoccupations, as in schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders; or repetitive patterns of behavior, as in autism spectrum disorder).

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Diagnostic Features

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is often a severe anxiety disorder that affects approximately 2% of the population. This disorder is characterized by: (a) obsessions (unwanted, disturbing, and intrusive thoughts, images, or impulses that are generally seen by the patient as excessive, irrational, and ego-alien), and (b) compulsions (repetitive behaviors and mental acts that neutralize obsessions and reduce emotional distress). These obsessions and/or compulsions are time consuming (take more than 1 hour per day), or cause marked distress or life impairment.

Complications

Compulsive, repetitive behavior is seen throughout nature (e.g., birds have repetitive songs and mating rituals). Animals can be quickly taught "superstitious behavior" (e.g., only giving a bird food when it lifts one wing results in the bird learning to walk around with one wing always elevated). Humans also have a high propensity to acquire unwanted, repetitive, "superstitious" thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). Individuals with obsessions try desperately to suppress them by performing a compulsion (e.g., contamination obsessions lead to hand-washing compulsions). The obsession is unwanted and unpleasant, and the compulsion is performed to reduce the unpleasantness associated with the obsession. Compulsions are not done for pleasure. Some individuals with this disorder compulsively hoard objects, and fill their homes with objects they can not discard. When confronted with situations that trigger obsessions and compulsions, individuals with this disorder experience marked anxiety, disgust, or even panic attacks. Situations that trigger obsessions and compulsions are avoided (e.g., restaurants, public restrooms, public transportation, social gatherings). There is a striking similarity in the presentation of OCD throughout the world. It usually involves cleaning, symmetry (putting everything in its proper place), hoarding, taboo thoughts, or fear of harm. OCD can cause severe social and occupational impairment.

Comorbidity

The majority (76%) of individuals with OCD have an Anxiety Disorder (e.g., Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobia), and 63% have a Depressive or Bipolar Disorder. Up to one-third of individuals with OCD also have Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. Surprisingly, up to 30% of individuals with OCD have a tic disorder. The combination of OCD, tic disorder, and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder occurs in children. Tourette's Disorder, Trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder), Excoriation (skin-picking) Disorder are also comorbid with OCD. Rates of OCD are elevated in Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder (12%), Eating Disorders, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

Associated Laboratory Findings

No laboratory test has been found to be diagnostic of this disorder.

Prevalence

The 1-year prevalence rate of OCD is 1.2%, with women in adulthood slightly more likely to develop this disorder than men.

Course

One-quarter of OCD cases start by age 14, and the mean age at onset in America is 19.5 years. Onset after 35 is unusual. OCD develops earlier in males than females. Nearly 25% of males have onset before age 10. Onset is usually gradual (but sudden onset does occur, especially after infections). In adulthood, untreated OCD has a chronic course with only a 20% recovery rate after 40 years. However, 40% of individuals with onset of OCD in childhood or adolescence recover by early adulthood.

Familial Pattern

First-degree relatives of adults with OCD are twice as likely than normal to have OCD. However, first-degree relatives of individuals with onset of OCD in childhood or adolescence are 10-times more likely than normal to have OCD. Research is showing that dysfunction in the orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and striatum is strongly implicated in OCD.

Effective Therapies

The average amount of time that lapses between onset of symptoms and appropriate treatment is 17 years. Yet the sooner OCD is treated, the better the outcome.

Behavioural or cognitive-behavior therapy alone appears to be an effective treatment for OCD in children, adolescents and adults. It is as effective as medication alone and may lead to better outcomes when combined with medication compared to medication alone. There is a lack of research on the long-term effectiveness of psychological treatments.

Individuals with OCD receiving SSRI antidepressants are nearly twice as likely as those receiving placebo to achieve clinical response (defined as a 25% or more reduction in symptoms). SSRI medications are similar in their effectiveness, but differ in their adverse effects. 40 - 60% of all patients with OCD respond to serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

There is some evidence that adding quetiapine or risperidone to antidepressants increases efficacy, but this must be weighed against less tolerability.

Ineffective therapies

Vitamins and dietary supplements are ineffective for this disorder. There is a lack of evidence for the effectiveness of benzodiazepines, transcranial magnetic stimulation or meditation therapy in the treatment of OCD.

A Dangerous Cult


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Which Behavioral Dimensions Are Involved?

Research has shown that there are 5 major dimensions (the "Big 5 Factors") of personality disorders and other mental disorders. There are two free online personality tests that assess your personality in terms of the "Big 5 dimensions of personality". Although not computerized online, the Big Five Inventory (BFI) is a 44-item test often used in personality research.

This website uses these 5 major dimensions of human behavior to describe all mental disorders. (This website adds one more dimension, "Physical Health", but our discussion will focus on the first 5 major dimensions.)

These major dimensions of human behavior seem to represent the major dimensions whereby our early evolutionary ancestors chose their hunting companions or spouse. To maximize their chance for survival, our ancestors wanted companions who were agreeable, conscientious, intelligent, sociable, emotionally stable, and physically healthy.

    Dimensions of Human Behavior That Are Impaired in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

    THE POSITIVE SIDE OF THE "BIG 5" PERSONALITY DIMENSIONS THE NEGATIVE SIDE OF THE "BIG 5" PERSONALITY DIMENSIONS DESCRIPTION (Where red = this disorder)
    Agreeableness Antagonism       Agreeableness
    Conscientiousness Disinhibition       Conscientiousness
    Openness/Intellect Low Openness/Intellect       Openness/Intellect
    Sociability (Extraversion) Detachment       Sociability (Extraversion)
    Emotional Stability Negative Emotion       Negative Emotion

The 5 Major Dimensions of Mental Illness

The Big 5 Factors or dimensions of mental illness each has a healthy side and an unhealthy side. Thus the Big 5 Factors are: (1) Agreeableness vs. Antagonism, (2) Conscientiousness vs. Disinhibition, (3) Openness/Intellect vs. Low Openness/Intellect, (4) Sociability (Extraversion) vs. Detachment (Introversion), and (5) Emotional Stability vs. Negative Emotion.



The Following Pictures Are From The 2/6/2018 SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch

AGREEABLENESS VS. ANTAGONISM
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Agreeableness (Agreeable)
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Description: Agreeableness is synonymous with compassion and politeness. Compassion reflects empathy, sympathy, and caring for others. Politeness reflects respect for others. Agreeable people are interested in others, and they make people feel comfortable. The Agreeableness dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of JUSTICE (fair, honest, and helpful behavior - living in harmony with others, neither harming nor allowing harm). (This dimension appears to measure the behaviors that differentiate friend from foe.)
Descriptors: Compassionate, polite, warm, friendly, helpful, unselfish, generous, modest.
Language Characteristics: Pleasure talk, agreement, compliments, empathy, few personal attacks, few commands or global rejections, many self-references, few negations, few swear words, few threats, many insight words.
Research: Higher scores on Agreeableness are associated with deeper relationships. *MRI research found that Agreeableness was associated with increased volume in regions that process information about the intentions and mental states of other individuals.
"I am helpful and unselfish with others."
"I have a forgiving nature."
"I am generally trusting."
"I am considerate and kind to almost everyone."
"I like to cooperate with others."
"I don't find fault with others."
"I don't start quarrels with others."
"I am not cold and aloof."
"I am not rude to others."
"I feel other's emotions."
"I inquire about others' well-being."
"I sympathize with others' feelings."
"I take an interest in other people's lives."
"I like to do things for others."
"I respect authority."
"I hate to seem pushy."
"I avoid imposing my will on others."
"I rarely put people under pressure."
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Antagonism (Antagonistic)
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Description: Antagonism is synonymous with competition and aggression. Antagonistic people are self-interested, and do not see others positively.
Descriptors: Manipulative, deceitful, grandiose, callous, disrespectful, unfriendly, suspicious, uncooperative, malicious.
Language Characteristics: Problem talk, dissatisfaction, little empathy, many personal attacks, many commands or global rejections, few self-references, many negations, many swear words, many threats, little politeness, few insight words.
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* Callousness:
"It's no big deal if I hurt other people's feelings."
"Being rude and unfriendly is just a part of who I am."
"I often get into physical fights."
"I enjoy making people in control look stupid."
"I am not interested in other people's problems."
"I can't be bothered with other's needs."
"I am indifferent to the feelings of others."
"I don't have a soft side."
"I take no time for others."
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* Deceitfulness:
"I don't hesitate to cheat if it gets me ahead."
"Lying comes easily to me."
"I use people to get what I want."
"People don't realize that I'm flattering them to get something."
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* Manipulativeness:
"I use people to get what I want."
"It is easy for me to take advantage of others."
"I'm good at conning people."
"I am out for my own personal gain."
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* Grandiosity:
"I'm better than almost everyone else."
"I often have to deal with people who are less important than me."
"To be honest, I'm just more important than other people."
"I deserve special treatment."
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* Suspiciousness:
"It seems like I'm always getting a “raw deal” from others."
"I suspect that even my so-called 'friends' betray me a lot."
"Others would take advantage of me if they could."
"Plenty of people are out to get me."
"I'm always on my guard for someone trying to trick or harm me."
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* Hostility:
"I am easily angered."
"I get irritated easily by all sorts of things."
"I am usually pretty hostile."
"I always make sure I get back at people who wrong me."
"I resent being told what to do, even by people in charge."
"I insult people."
"I seek conflict."
"I love a good fight."
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("Agreeableness vs. Antagonism" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.




CONSCIENTIOUSNESS VS. DISINHIBITION
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Conscientiousness (Conscientious)
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Description: Conscientiousness is synonymous with being self-disciplined, industrious and orderly. The Conscientiousness dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of SELF-CONTROL - organizing and controlling one's behavior in order to achieve one's goals. (This dimension appears to measure the behaviors that differentiate behavioral order and inhibition from chaos and disinhibition.)
Descriptors: Industrious, self-disciplined, rule-abiding, organized
Language Characteristics: Many positive emotion words (e.g. happy, good), few negative emotion words (e.g. hate, bad), more perspective, careful to check that information is conveyed correctly, straight to the point, formal, few negations, few swear words, few references to friends, few disfluencies or filler words, many insight words, not impulsive.
Research: Higher scores on Conscientiousness predict greater success in school and at work. *MRI research found that Conscientiousness was associated with increased volume in the lateral prefrontal cortex, a region involved in planning and the voluntary control of behavior.
"I do a thorough job. I want everything to be 'just right'. I want every detail taken care of."
"I am careful."
"I am a reliable hard-worker."
"I am organized. I follow a schedule and always know what I am doing."
"I like order. I keep things tidy."
"I see that rules are observed."
"I do things efficiently. I get things done quickly."
"I carry out my plans and finish what I start."
"I am not easily distracted."
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Rigid Perfectionism (Excessive Conscientiousness)
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"Even though it drives other people crazy, I insist on absolute perfection in everything I do."
"I simply won't put up with things being out of their proper places."
"People complain about my need to have everything all arranged."
"People tell me that I focus too much on minor details."
"I have a strict way of doing things."
"I postpone decisions."
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Disinhibition (Disinhibited)
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Description: Disinhibition is synonymous with being distractible, impulsive and disorganized.
Descriptors: Distractible, impulsive, irresponsible, disorganised, unreliable, careless, forgetful
Language Characteristics: Few positive emotion words, many negative emotion words, less perspective, less careful, more vague, informal, many negations, many swear words, many references to friends (e.g. pal, buddy), many disfluencies or filler words, few insight words, impulsive.
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* Irresponsibility:
"I've skipped town to avoid responsibilities."
"I just skip appointments or meetings if I'm not in the mood."
"I'm often pretty careless with my own and others' things."
"Others see me as irresponsible."
"I make promises that I don't really intend to keep."
"I often forget to pay my bills."
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* Impulsivity:
"I usually do things on impulse without thinking about what might happen as a result."
"Even though I know better, I can't stop making rash decisions."
"I feel like I act totally on impulse."
"I'm not good at planning ahead."
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* Distractibility:
"I can't focus on things for very long."
"I am easily distracted."
"I have trouble pursuing specific goals even for short periods of time."
"I can't achieve goals because other things capture my attention."
"I often make mistakes because I don't pay close attention."
"I waste my time ."
"I find it difficult to get down to work."
"I mess things up."
"I don't put my mind on the task at hand."
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* Reckless Risk Taking:
"I like to take risks."
"I have no limits when it comes to doing dangerous things."
"People would describe me as reckless."
"I don't think about getting hurt when I'm doing things that might be dangerous."
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* Hyperactivity:
"I move excessively (e.g., can't sit still; restless; always on the go)."
"I'm starting lots more projects than usual or doing more risky things than usual."
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* Over-Talkativeness:
"I talk excessively (e.g., I butt into conversations; I complete people's sentences)."
"Often I talk constantly and cannot be interrupted."
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* Elation:
"I feel much more happy, cheerful, or self-confident than usual."
"I'm sleeping a lot less than usual, but I still have a lot of energy."
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("Conscientiousness vs. Disinhibition" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.




OPENNESS/INTELLECT vs. LOW OPENNESS/INTELLECT
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Openness/Intellect (Open-Minded)
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Description: Openness/Intellect (or "Openness To Experience") is synonymous with being open-minded and creative. The Openness/Intellect dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of WISDOM - having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. (This dimension appears to measure the behaviors that differentiate open-minded from close-minded individuals.) Open-minded people are usually creative, sophisticated, intellectual, curious and interested in art.
Descriptors: Receptive to new ideas, curious, imaginative, creative, unconventional
Language Characteristics: Many positive emotion words (e.g. happy, good), high meaning elaboration, more perspective, politeness, few self-references, complex sentence constructions, few causation words, many inclusive words (e.g. with, and), few third person pronouns, many tentative words (e.g. maybe, guess), many insight words (e.g. think, see), few filler words and within-utterance pauses, stronger uncommon verbs.
Research: Higher scores on Openness/Intellect are associated with greater creativity and general intelligence. *MRI research found that Openness/Intellect did not have any significant correlation with the volume of any localized brain structure.
Relationship To General Intelligence: Research has shown that Openness/Intellect can be separated into 2 factors: Openness and Intellect. Intellect was independently associated with general intelligence (g) and with verbal and nonverbal intelligence about equally. Openness was independently associated only with verbal intelligence.
Example: This video shows how we see what we want to see. What we pay attention to (or what we believe about the world) blinds us to reality. (Exit YouTube after first video.)
"I am original, and come up with new ideas."
"I am curious about many different things."
"I am quick to understand things."
"I can handle a lot of information."
"I like to solve complex problems."
"I have a rich vocabulary."
"I think quickly and formulate ideas clearly."
"I enjoy the beauty of nature."
"I believe in the importance of art."
"I love to reflect on things."
"I get deeply immersed in music."
"I see beauty in things that others might not notice."
"I need a creative outlet."
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Closed To Experience (Low Openness/Intellect)
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Description: Low Openness/Intellect (or "Closed To Experience") is synonymous with being closed-minded and uncreative. Low Openness/Intellect is associated with narrow-mindedness, unimaginativeness and ignorance.
Descriptors: Narrow-minded, conservative, ignorant, simple
Language Characteristics: Few positive emotion words, low meaning elaboration, less perspective, less politeness, few positive emotion words, many self-references, simple sentence construction, many causation words (e.g. because, hence), many third person pronouns, few tentative words, few insight words, many filler words and within-utterance pauses, milder verbs.
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"I prefer work that is routine."
"I have difficulty understanding abstract ideas."
"I think slowly."
"People find it hard to follow my logic or understand my thoughts."
"I avoid philosophical discussions."
"I avoid difficult reading material."
"People find it hard to follow my logic or understand my thoughts."
"I have few artistic interests."
"I seldom notice the emotional aspects of paintings and pictures."
"I do not like poetry."
"I seldom get lost in thought."
"I seldom daydream."
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Cognitive Impairment
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* Memory Impairment:
"I have difficulty learning new things, or remembering things that happened a few days ago."
"I often forget a conversation I had the day before."
"I often forget to take my medications, or to keep my appointments."
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* Impaired Reasoning:
"My judgment or ability to solve problems isn't good."
"I have difficulty understanding abstract ideas."
"I think slowly."
"People find it hard to follow my logic or understand my thoughts."
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Psychoticism
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Description: Psychoticism is the state of being psychotic or of being predisposed to develop psychosis.
Descriptors: Unusual beliefs and experiences, eccentricity, perceptual dysregulation.
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* Eccentricity:
"I often have thoughts that make sense to me but that other people say are strange."
"Others seem to think I'm quite odd or unusual."
"My thoughts are strange and unpredictable."
"My thoughts often don’t make sense to others."
"Other people seem to think my behavior is weird."
"I have several habits that others find eccentric or strange."
"My thoughts often go off in odd or unusual directions."
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* Unusual Beliefs and Experiences:
"I often have unusual experiences, such as sensing the presence of someone who isn't actually there."
"I've had some really weird experiences that are very difficult to explain."
"I have seen things that weren’t really there."
"I have some unusual abilities, like sometimes knowing exactly what someone is thinking."
"I sometimes have heard things that others couldn’t hear."
"Sometimes I can influence other people just by sending my thoughts to them."
"I often see unusual connections between things that most people miss."
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* Perceptual Dysregulation:
"Things around me often feel unreal, or more real than usual."
"Sometimes I get this weird feeling that parts of my body feel like they're dead or not really me."
"It's weird, but sometimes ordinary objects seem to be a different shape than usual."
"Sometimes I feel 'controlled' by thoughts that belong to someone else."
"Sometimes I think someone else is removing thoughts from my head."
"I have periods in which I feel disconnected from the world or from myself."
"I can have trouble telling the difference between dreams and waking life."
"I often 'zone out' and then suddenly come to and realize that a lot of time has passed."
"Sometimes when I look at a familiar object, it's somehow like I'm seeing it for the first time."
"People often talk about me doing things I don't remember at all."
"I often can't control what I think about."
"I often see vivid dream-like images when I’m falling asleep or waking up."
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("OPENNESS TO EXPERIENCE vs. BEING CLOSED TO EXPERIENCE" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.




SOCIABILITY (EXTRAVERSION) vs. DETACHMENT
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Sociability (Sociable)
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Description: Sociability (Extraversion) is synonymous with being enthusiastic and assertive. Assertiveness encompasses traits relating to leadership, dominance, and drive. Enthusiasm encompasses both outgoing friendliness or sociability and the tendency to experience and express positive emotion. Extraverts tend to engage in social interaction; they are enthusiastic, risk-taking, talkative and assertive. The Extraversion dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of SOCIABILITY - seeking and enjoying companionship. (This dimension appears to measure the behaviors that differentiate approach from avoidance.)
Descriptors: Sociable, gregarious, reward-seeking, talkative.
Language Characteristics: Many topics, higher verbal output, think out loud, pleasure talk, agreement, compliment, positive emotion words, sympathetic, concerned about hearer (but not empathetic), simple constructions, few unfilled pauses, few negations, few tentative words, informal language, many swear words, exaggeration (e.g. really), many words related to humans (e.g. man, pal), poor vocabulary.
Research: Higher scores on Sociability (extraversion) are associated with greater happiness and broader social connections. *MRI research found that Sociability (extraversion) was associated with increased volume of medial orbitofrontal cortex, a region involved in processing reward information.
"I'm talkative"
"I'm not reserved."
"I'm full of energy."
"I generate a lot of enthusiasm."
"I'm not quiet."
"I have an assertive personality."
"I'm not shy or inhibited."
"I am outgoing and sociable."
"I make friends easily."
"I warm up quickly to others."
"I show my feelings when I'm happy."
"I have a lot of fun."
"I laugh a lot."
"I take charge."
"I have a strong personality."
"I know how to captivate people."
"I see myself as a good leader."
"I can talk others into doing things."
"I am the first to act."
.
Attention Seeking (Excessive Sociability)
.
"I like to draw attention to myself."
"I crave attention."
"I do things to make sure people notice me."
"I do things so that people just have to admire me."
"My behavior is often bold and grabs peoples' attention."
.
Detachment (Detached)
.
Description: Detachment is synonymous with being reserved and quiet.
Descriptors: Withdrawn, anhedonic (pleasureless), intimacy avoiding, Detached, shy, passive, solitary, moody
Language Characteristics: Single topic, doesn't think out loud, problem talk, dissatisfaction, negative emotion words, not sympathetic, elaborated sentence constructions, many unfilled pauses, formal language, many negations, many tentative words (e.g. maybe, guess), few swear words, little exaggeration, few words related to humans, rich vocabulary.
.
* Social Withdrawal:
"I don’t like to get too close to people."
"I don't deal with people unless I have to."
"I'm not interested in making friends."
"I don’t like spending time with others."
"I say as little as possible when dealing with people."
"I keep to myself."
"I am hard to get to know."
"I reveal little about myself."
"I do not have an assertive personality."
"I lack the talent for influencing people."
"I wait for others to lead the way."
"I hold back my opinions."
.
* Intimacy Avoidance:
"I steer clear of romantic relationships."
"I prefer to keep romance out of my life."
"I prefer being alone to having a close romantic partner."
"I'm just not very interested in having sexual relationships."
"II break off relationships if they start to get close."
.
* Anhedonia (Lack of Pleasure):
"I often feel like nothing I do really matters."
"I almost never enjoy life."
"Nothing seems to make me feel good."
"Nothing seems to interest me very much."
"I almost never feel happy about my day-to-day activities."
"I rarely get enthusiastic about anything."
"I don't get as much pleasure out of things as others seem to."
.
* Restricted Emotions:
"I don't show emotions strongly."
"I don't get emotional."
"I never show emotions to others."
"I don't have very long-lasting emotional reactions to things."
"People tell me it's difficult to know what I'm feeling."
"I am not a very enthusiastic person."
.
("Sociability vs. Detachment" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.




EMOTIONAL STABILITY VS. NEGATIVE EMOTION
.
Emotional Stability (Emotionally Stable)
.
Description: Emotional Stability is synonymous with being calm and emotionally stable. The Emotional Stability dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of COURAGE - having calm composure and endurance when confronting adversity. (This dimension appears to measure the behaviors that differentiate safety from danger.)
Descriptors: Calm, even-tempered, peaceful, confident
Language Characteristics: Pleasure talk, agreement, compliment, low verbal productivity, few repetitions, neutral content, calm, few self-references, many short silent pauses, few long silent pauses, many tentative words, few aquiescence, little exaggeration, less frustration, low concreteness.
"I am relaxed, and I handle stress well."
"I am emotionally stable, and not easily upset."
"I remain calm in tense situations."
"I rarely get irritated."
"I keep my emotions under control."
"I rarely lose my composure."
"I am not easily annoyed."
"I seldom feel blue."
"I feel comfortable with myself."
"I rarely feel depressed."
"I am not embarrassed easily."
.
Negative Emotion (Negative Emotions)
.
Description: Degree to which people experience persistent anxiety or depression and are easily upset. (This could be thought of as high threat sensitivity or low stress tolerance.)
Descriptors: Emotionally unstable, anxious, separation-insecure, depressed, self-conscious, oversensitive, vulnerable.
Language Characteristics: Problem talk, dissatisfaction, high verbal productivity, many repetitions, polarised content, stressed, many self-references, few short silent pauses, many long silent pauses, few tentative words, more aquiescence, many self references, exaggeration, frustration, high concreteness.
Research: Lower scores on Emotional Stability are associated with unhappiness, dysfunctional relationships, and mental health problems. *MRI research found that Low Emotional Stability (= Negative Emotion or Neuroticism) was associated with increased volume of brain regions associated with threat, punishment, and negative emotions.
.
* Emotional Instability:
"I get emotional easily, often for very little reason."
"I get emotional over every little thing."
"My emotions are unpredictable."
"I never know where my emotions will go from moment to moment."
"I am a highly emotional person."
"I have much stronger emotional reactions than almost everyone else."
"My emotions sometimes change for no good reason."
"I get angry easily."
"I get upset easily."
"I change my mood a lot."
"I am a person whose moods go up and down easily."
"I get easily agitated."
"I can be stirred up easily."
.
* Anxiety:
"I worry about almost everything."
"I'm always fearful or on edge about bad things that might happen."
"I always expect the worst to happen."
"I am a very anxious person."
"I get very nervous when I think about the future."
"I often worry that something bad will happen due to mistakes I made in the past."
"I am filled with doubts about things."
"I feel threatened easily."
"I am afraid of many things."
.
* Separation Insecurity:
"I fear being alone in life more than anything else."
"I can't stand being left alone, even for a few hours."
"I’d rather be in a bad relationship than be alone."
"I'll do just about anything to keep someone from abandoning me."
"I dread being without someone to love me."
.
* Submissiveness:
"I usually do what others think I should do."
"I do what other people tell me to do."
"I change what I do depending on what others want."
.
* Perseveration:
"I get stuck on one way of doing things, even when it's clear it won't work."
"I get stuck on things a lot."
"It is hard for me to shift from one activity to another."
"I get fixated on certain things and can’t stop."
"I feel compelled to go on with things even when it makes little sense to do so."
"I keep approaching things the same way, even when it isn’t working."
.
* Depressed Mood:
"I have no worth as a person."
"Everything seems pointless to me."
"I often feel like a failure."
"The world would be better off if I were dead."
"The future looks really hopeless to me."
"I often feel just miserable."
"I'm very dissatisfied with myself."
"I often feel like nothing I do really matters."
"I know I'll commit suicide sooner or later."
"I talk about suicide a lot."
"I feel guilty much of the time."
"I'm so ashamed by how I've let people down in lots of little ways."
"I am easily discouraged."
"I become overwhelmed by events."
.
("Emotional Stability vs. Negative Emotion" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.


The "Big 5 Factors" of Personality as Shown In Dogs

The same "Big 5 Factors" of personality found in humans can be found in dogs. This makes sense because dogs, like humans, are a social species.



AGREEABLENESS VS. ANTAGONISM
.
Agreeableness ("Friend")
.
Dog is friendly towards unfamiliar people.
Dog is friendly towards other dogs.
When off leash, dog comes immediately when called.
Dog willingly shares toys with other dogs.
Dog leaves food or objects alone when told to do so.
.
Antagonism ("Foe")
.
Dog is dominant over other dogs.
Dog is assertive with other dogs (e.g., if in a home with other dogs, when greeting).
Dog behaves aggressively towards unfamiliar people.
Dog shows aggression when nervous or fearful.
Dog aggressively guards coveted items (e.g., stolen item, treats, food bowl).
Dog is quick to sneak out through open doors, gates.

CONSCIENTIOUSNESS VS. DISINHIBITION
.
Conscientiousness ("Self-Controlled")
.
Dog works at tasks (e.g., getting treats out of a dispenser, shredding toys) until entirely finished.
Dog works hard all day herding or pulling a sleigh (if a "working dog" on the farm or in the snow). *
Dog is curious.
.
Disinhibition ("Disinhibited")
.
Dog is boisterous.
Dog seeks constant activity.
Dog is very excitable around other dogs.

OPENNESS/INTELLECT vs. LOW OPENNESS/INTELLECT
.
Open To Experience ("Open-Minded")
.
Dog is able to focus on a task in a distracting situation (e.g., loud or busy places, around other dogs).
.
Closed To Experience ("Closed-Minded")
.
Dog is slow to respond to corrections.
Dog ignores commands.
Dog is slow to learn new tricks or tasks.

SOCIABILITY (EXTRAVERSION) vs. DETACHMENT
.
Sociability ("Approach")
.
Dog is attention seeking (e.g., nuzzling, pawing or jumping up on family members looking for attention and physical contact).*
Dog seeks companionship from people.
Dog is affectionate.
.
Detachment ("Avoidance")
.
Dog is aloof.
Dog gets bored in play quickly.
Dog is lethargic.

EMOTIONAL STABILITY VS. NEGATIVE EMOTION
.
Emotional Stability ("Safety")
.
Dog tends to be calm.
Dog is relaxed when greeting people.
Dog is confident.
Dog adapts easily to new situations and environments.
.
Negative Emotion ("Danger")
.
Dog is anxious.
Dog is shy.
Dog behaves fearfully towards unfamiliar people.
Dog exhibits fearful behaviors when restrained.
Dog avoids other dogs.
Dog behaves fearfully towards other dogs.
Dog behaves submissively (e.g., rolls over, avoids eye contact, licks lips) when greeting other dogs.
.
Modified from Jones, A. C. (2009). Development and validation of a dog personality questionnaire. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Texas, Austin.

* New items added by Phillip W. Long MD


Personality Difference Between Dogs and Humans

Dogs and humans are strikingly similar on 4 of the "Big 5 Factors" of personality. However, dogs and humans are quite different on the "Conscientiousness" factor - because the canine brain is designed for hunting, not building. That's why dogs don't build dog houses.

The Brain and the "Big-5 Factors" of Personality In A Social Species

The "Big-5 Factors" of personality represent basic brain functions in social species. For example, when a male approaches a female, the female must: (1) decide whether the male is friend or foe ["Agreeableness"], (2) decide if this represents safety or danger ["Emotional Stability"], (3) decide whether to approach or avoid him ["Sociability"], (4) decide whether to be self-controlled or disinhibited ["Conscientiousness"], and (5) learn from this experience ["Openness to Experience"].

The "Big-5 Factors" of Human and Cat Personality

Cats are a social species, but less social than dogs. Nevertheless, cats also show the "Big 5 Factors" of personality.




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Treatment Guidelines

Treatment

Summary Of Practice guideline for the treatment of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. - American Psychiatric Association (2007)

Rating Scheme for the Strength of the Recommendations

Each recommendation is identified as falling into one of three categories of endorsement, indicated by a bracketed Roman numeral following the statement. The three categories represent varying levels of clinical confidence:

  • [I] Recommended with substantial clinical confidence.

  • [II] Recommended with moderate clinical confidence.

  • [III] May be recommended on the basis of individual circumstances.

Major Recommendations

  1. Psychiatric Management

    Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) seen in clinical practice is usually a chronic illness with a waxing and waning course. Treatment is indicated when OCD symptoms interfere with functioning or cause significant distress [I]. Psychiatric management consists of an array of therapeutic actions that may be offered to all patients with OCD during the course of their illness at an intensity consistent with the individual patient's needs, capacities, and desires [I]. It is important to coordinate the patient's care with physicians treating co-occurring medical conditions, other clinicians, and social agencies such as schools and vocational rehabilitation programs [I]. When OCD is of disabling severity, the psychiatrist may need to write on the patient's behalf to government agencies that control access to disability income, publicly financed health care, or government-supported housing; or to tax authorities, courts, schools, or employers [I]. OCD patients who are parents of young children may want advice regarding the genetic risk of OCD. It is important for clinicians to explain to such patients that the available data indicate an increased but modest risk of OCD in the children of affected individuals; patients wanting more information may be referred to a genetic counselor [I].

    1. Establishing a Therapeutic Alliance

      Establishing and maintaining a strong therapeutic alliance is important so that treatment may be jointly, and therefore more effectively, planned and implemented [I]. Steps toward this end include tailoring one's communication style to the patient's needs and capacities, explaining symptoms in understandable terms, and being both encouraging and comforting [I]. The excessive doubting that is characteristic of OCD may require special approaches to building the alliance, including allowing the patient extra time to consider treatment decisions and repeating explanations (a limited number of times) [I]. In building the therapeutic alliance, the psychiatrist should also consider how the patient feels and acts toward him or her as well as what the patient wants and expects from treatment [I].

    1. Assessing the Patient's Symptoms

      In assessing the patient's symptoms with the aim of establishing a diagnosis using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Text Revision IV (DSM-IV-TR) criteria, it is important to differentiate the obsessions, compulsions, and rituals of OCD from similar symptoms found in other disorders, including depressive ruminations, the worries of generalized anxiety disorder, the intrusive thoughts and images of posttraumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenic and manic delusions [I].

    1. Using Rating Scales

      The psychiatrist should consider rating the baseline severity of OCD symptoms and co-occurring conditions and their effects on the patient's functioning, using a scale such as the 10-item Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), since this provides a way to measure response to treatment [I]. If a rating scale is not used, it is helpful to document the patient's estimate of the number of hours per day spent obsessing and performing compulsive behaviors, and the degree of effort applied to trying to escape the obsessions and to resisting the behaviors [I]. Recording actively avoided items or situations also provides a useful baseline against which change can be measured [I]. Scales may also be utilized to rate other symptoms, such as depression or degree of disability.

    1. Enhancing the Safety of the Patient and Others

      The psychiatrist should evaluate the safety of the patient and others [I]. This entails assessing the patient's potential for self-injury or suicide, since individuals with OCD alone or with a lifetime history of any co-occurring disorder have a higher suicide attempt rate than do individuals in the general population. Although acting on aggressive impulses or thoughts has not been reported in OCD, and patients rarely resort to violence when others interfere with their performing their compulsive rituals, it remains important to inquire about past aggressive behavior. OCD patients who fear loss of control may engage in extensive avoidance rituals in an effort to contain their symptoms.

      The psychiatrist should understand that individuals with OCD are not immune to co-occurring disorders that may increase the likelihood of suicidal or aggressive behavior. When such co-occurring conditions are present, it is important to arrange treatments that will enhance the safety of the patient and others [I].

      Because OCD symptoms can also interfere with parenting, the clinician may have to work with the unaffected parent or social agencies to mitigate the effects of OCD symptoms on the patient's children [II].

    1. Completing the Psychiatric Assessment

      In completing the psychiatric assessment, the psychiatrist will usually consider all the elements of the traditional medical evaluation [I]. With regard to co-occurring conditions, the psychiatrist should pay particular attention to past or current evidence of depression, given its frequency and association with suicidal ideation and behaviors [I]. Exploration for co-occurring bipolar disorder and family history of bipolar disorder is also important in view of the risk of precipitating hypomania or mania with anti-OCD medications [I]. Other anxiety disorders are common in OCD patients, as are tic disorders, and may complicate treatment planning. Other disorders that may be more common and may complicate treatment planning include impulse-control disorders, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, alcohol use disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Past histories of panic attacks, mood swings, and substance abuse or dependence are also relevant [I].

      It is important to document the patient's course of symptoms and treatment history, including psychiatric hospitalizations and trials of medications (with details on treatment adequacy, dose, duration, response, and side effects) and psychotherapies (with details on the nature, extent, and response to all trials) [I].

      The psychiatrist should also assess the patient's developmental, psychosocial, and sociocultural history, including his or her primary support group and sociocultural supports, potential psychosocial stressors, educational and occupational history (including military history), sexual history, and capacity to navigate developmental transitions and achieve stable and gratifying familial and social relationships [I]. In addition, the psychiatrist should evaluate how OCD has interfered with academic and vocational achievement as well as familial, social, and sexual relationships [I]. Having evaluated the symptoms and their effects on well-being, functioning, and quality of life, the psychiatrist should assess the role of the patient's social supports in facilitating treatment and in maintaining or exacerbating symptoms [I].

      The psychiatrist should consider whether the OCD is a manifestation of a general medical condition [I]; document current medical conditions, relevant hospitalizations, and any history of head trauma, loss of consciousness, or seizures [I]; and record the presence and severity of somatic or psychological symptoms that could be confused with medication side effects [I]. Current medications and doses, including hormonal therapies, herbal or "natural" remedies, vitamins, and other over-the-counter medications, should be reviewed to assess the potential for pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic interactions with psychotropic drugs [I]. Allergies or sensitivities to medications should be recorded [I]. A mental status examination, including an evaluation of insight and judgment, should be performed to systematically collect and record data related to the patient's signs and symptoms of illness during the interview [I].

    1. Establishing Goals for Treatment

      Clinical recovery and full remission, if they occur, do not occur rapidly. Thus, ongoing goals of treatment include decreasing symptom frequency and severity, improving the patient's functioning, and helping the patient to improve his or her quality of life [I]. Treatment goals also include enhancing the patient's ability to cooperate with care despite the frightening cognitions generated by OCD, minimizing any adverse effects of treatment (e.g., medication side effects), helping the patient develop coping strategies for stressors, and educating the patient and family regarding the disorder and its treatment [I].

    1. Establishing the Appropriate Setting for Treatment

      The appropriate treatment setting may be the hospital, a residential treatment or partial hospitalization program, home-based treatment, or outpatient care. Treatment should generally be provided in the least restrictive setting that is both safe and effective [I].

    1. Enhancing Treatment Adherence

      To enhance treatment adherence, the psychiatrist should consider factors related to the illness, the patient, the physician, the patient-physician relationship, the treatment, and the social or environmental milieu [I]. Because the patient's beliefs about the nature of the illness and its treatments will influence adherence, providing patient and family education may enhance adherence [II]. Many patients with OCD benefit from educational materials and access to support groups provided by the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation (www.ocfoundation.org ). When a patient has insufficient motivation to participate effectively in treatment, motivational interviewing or other psychosocial interventions designed to enhance readiness for change may be helpful [II]. Because medications used to treat OCD have side effects, particularly at high doses, adherence may be enhanced by informing the patient about any likely side effects, responding quickly to side effect concerns, and scheduling follow-up appointments soon after starting or changing medications [I]. In describing cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), it is helpful to advise that it involves confronting feared thoughts and situations, though at a tolerable rate [I]. Practical issues such as treatment cost, insurance coverage, and transportation may need to be addressed. When a patient with OCD refuses or prematurely discontinues treatment, the clinician may wish to recommend that family members and others negatively affected by the OCD seek therapy to help develop strategies to mitigate the effect of the patient's OCD on their lives and to encourage the patient to obtain treatment [II].

  1. Choosing an Initial Treatment Modality

    In choosing a treatment approach, the clinician should consider the patient's motivation and ability to comply with pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy [I]. CBT and serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) are recommended as safe and effective first-line treatments for OCD [I]. Whether to utilize CBT, an SRI, or combined treatment will depend on factors that include the nature and severity of the patient's symptoms, the nature of any co-occurring psychiatric and medical conditions and their treatments, the availability of CBT, and the patient's past treatment history, current medications, capacities, and preferences. CBT alone, consisting of exposure and response prevention, is recommended as initial treatment for a patient who is not too depressed, anxious, or severely ill to cooperate with this treatment modality, or who prefers not to take medications and is willing to do the work that CBT requires [II]. An SRI alone is recommended for a patient who is not able to cooperate with CBT, has previously responded well to a given drug, or prefers treatment with an SRI alone [II]. Combined treatment should be considered for patients with an unsatisfactory response to monotherapy [II], for those with co-occurring psychiatric conditions for which SRIs are effective [I], and for those who wish to limit the duration of SRI treatment [II]. In the latter instance, uncontrolled follow-up studies suggest that CBT may delay or mitigate relapse when SRI treatment is discontinued [II]. Combined treatment or treatment with an SRI alone may also be considered in patients with severe OCD, since the medication may diminish symptom severity sufficiently to allow the patient to engage in CBT [II].

    Deciding whether to start or stop a psychotropic drug during pregnancy or breast-feeding requires making a risk-benefit calculation with the patient and her significant other; this process may be enhanced by providing clear information, seeking consultation from an obstetrician, and providing counseling over several sessions to help the patient come to terms with the uncertainty of the risks [I].

  1. Choosing a Specific Pharmacological Treatment

    Clomipramine, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, and sertraline, which are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of OCD, are recommended pharmacological agents [I]. Although meta-analyses of placebo-controlled trials suggest greater efficacy for clomipramine than for fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, and sertraline, the results of head-to-head trials comparing clomipramine and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) directly do not support this impression. Because the SSRIs have a less troublesome side-effect profile than clomipramine, an SSRI is preferred for a first medication trial [I]. Although all SSRIs (including citalopram and escitalopram) appear to be equally effective, individual patients may respond well to one medication and not to another. In choosing among the SSRIs, the psychiatrist should consider the safety and acceptability of particular side effects for the patient, including any applicable FDA warnings, potential drug interactions, past treatment response, and the presence of co-occurring general medical conditions [I].

  1. Choosing a Specific Form of Psychotherapy

    CBT that relies primarily on behavioral techniques such as exposure and response prevention (ERP) is recommended because it has the best evidentiary support [I]. Some data support the use of CBT that focuses on cognitive techniques [II]. There are no controlled studies that demonstrate effectiveness of dynamic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis in dealing with the core symptoms of OCD. Psychodynamic psychotherapy may still be useful in helping patients overcome their resistance to accepting a recommended treatment by illuminating their reasons for wanting to stay as they are (e.g., best adaptation, secondary gains) [III]. It may also be useful in addressing the interpersonal consequences of the OCD symptoms [II]. Motivational interviewing may also help overcome resistance to treatment [III]. Family therapy may reduce inter-family tensions that are exacerbating the patient's symptoms or ameliorate the family's collusion with symptoms [III].

  1. Implementing a Treatment Plan

    When treatment is initiated, the patient's motivation and adherence may be challenged by factors such as treatment cost and medication side effects. It is essential for the psychiatrist to employ strategies to enhance adherence, as described above in Section 1.h [I].

    1. Implementing Pharmacotherapy

      For most patients, the starting dose is that recommended by the manufacturer [I]. Patients who are worried about medication side effects can have their medication started at lower doses, since many SSRIs are available in liquid form or in pills that can be split [I]. Most patients will not experience substantial improvement until 4 to 6 weeks after starting medication, and some who will ultimately respond will experience little improvement for as many as 10 to 12 weeks. Medication doses may be titrated up weekly in increments recommended by the manufacturer during the first month of treatment [II], or when little or no symptom improvement is seen within 4 weeks of starting medication, the dose may be increased weekly or biweekly to the maximum dose comfortably tolerated and indicated [II]. This maximum dose may exceed the manufacturer's recommended maximum dose in some cases [III]. The treatment trial is then continued at this dosage for at least 6 weeks [II]. Since available trial data suggest that higher SSRI doses produce a somewhat higher response rate and a somewhat greater magnitude of symptom relief, such doses should be considered when treatment response is inadequate [II]. Higher doses may also be appropriate for patients who have had little response to treatment and are tolerating a medication well [I]. If higher doses are prescribed, the patient should be closely monitored for side effects, including the serotonin syndrome [I]. Experience with pharmacotherapy in the elderly indicates that lower starting doses of medication and a more gradual approach to dose increase are often advisable [I]. Medication side effects should be inquired about and actively managed [I]. Useful strategies to manage medication side effects include gradual initial dose titration to minimize gastrointestinal distress [I], addition of a sleep-promoting agent to minimize insomnia [I], modest doses of modafinil to minimize fatigue or sleepiness [III], and use of a low-dose anticholinergic agent to minimize sweating [III]. Sexual side effects may be minimized by reducing the dose [II], waiting for symptoms to remit [II], trying a once-weekly, one-day "drug holiday" before sexual activity [II], switching to another SSRI [II], or adding a pharmacological agent such as bupropion [II].

      The frequency of follow-up visits after a new pharmacotherapy is initiated may vary from a few days to two weeks. The indicated frequency will depend on the severity of the patient's symptoms, the complexities introduced by co-occurring conditions, whether suicidal ideation is present, and the likelihood of troubling side effects [I].

    1. Implementing Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies

      Cognitive-behavioral therapies have been delivered in individual, group, and family therapy sessions, with session length varying from less than 1 hour to 2 hours. One group has explored a computer-based approach coupled with a touch-tone telephone system accessible 24 hours a day. CBT sessions should be scheduled at least once weekly [I]. Five ERP sessions per week may be more effective than once-weekly sessions but are not necessarily more effective than twice-weekly sessions [II]. The number of treatment sessions, their length, and the duration of an adequate trial have not been established, but expert consensus recommends 13 to 20 weekly sessions for most patients [I]. Clinicians should consider booster sessions for more severely ill patients, for patients who have relapsed in the past, and for patients who show signs of early relapse [II]. When resources for CBT are not available, the psychiatrist can suggest and supervise the use of self-help treatment guides and recommend support groups such as those accessible through the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation [III] (see the Appendix in the original guideline document).

    1. Changing Treatments and Pursuing Sequential Treatment Trials

      First treatments rarely produce freedom from all OCD symptoms. When a good response is not achieved after 13 to 20 weeks of weekly outpatient CBT, 3 weeks of daily CBT, or 8 to 12 weeks of SRI treatment (including 4 to 6 weeks at the highest comfortably tolerated dose), the psychiatrist should decide with the patient when, whether, and how to alter the treatment [I]. This decision will depend on the degree of suffering and disability the patient wishes to accept. However, it is important to consider that illness can bring secondary gains and that depressed mood can diminish hopefulness; the psychiatrist may have to address issues such as these when patients are not well motivated to pursue further treatments despite limited improvement [I].

      When initial treatment is unsatisfactory, the psychiatrist should first consider the possible contribution of several factors: interference by co-occurring conditions, inadequate patient adherence to treatment, the presence of psychosocial stressors, the level of family members' accommodation to the obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and an inability to tolerate an adequate trial of psychotherapy or the maximum recommended drug doses [I].

      When no interfering factor can be identified, augmentation strategies may be preferred to switching strategies in patients who have a partial response to the initial treatment [II]. The psychiatrist should first consider augmentation of SRIs with trials of different antipsychotic medications or with CBT consisting of ERP, or augmentation of CBT with an SRI [II]. Combined SRI and CBT treatment may be provided when the patient has a co-occurring disorder that is SRI-responsive [I] or has a partial response to monotherapy [II]. Combined SRI and CBT treatment may also reduce the chance of relapse when medication is discontinued [II]. Another option in the case of partial response to ERP therapy is to increase the intensity of treatment (e.g., from weekly to daily sessions) [III]. Some evidence suggests that adding cognitive therapy to ERP may enhance the results, but this remains to be established [III].

      Patients who do not respond to their first SRI may have their medication switched to a different SRI [I]. A switch to venlafaxine is less likely to produce an adequate response [II]. For patients who have not benefitted from their first SSRI trial, a switch to mirtazapine can also be considered [III]. The available evidence does not allow one to predict the chance of response to switching medications. SRI nonresponders, like partial responders, have responded to augmentation with antipsychotic medications [II] or CBT [II].

      After first- and second-line treatments and well-supported augmentation strategies have been exhausted, less well-supported treatment strategies may be considered [III]. These include augmenting SSRIs with clomipramine, buspirone, pindolol, riluzole, or once-weekly oral morphine sulfate [III]. However, morphine sulfate should be avoided in patients with contraindications to opiate administration, and appropriate precautions and documentation should occur. If clomipramine is added, appropriate precautions should be utilized with regard to preventing potential cardiac and central nervous system side effects [I]. Less well-supported monotherapies to consider include D-amphetamine [III], tramadol [III], monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) [III], ondansetron [III], transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) [III], and deep brain stimulation (DBS) [III]. Intensive residential treatment or partial hospitalization may be helpful for patients with severe treatment-resistant OCD [II]. Ablative neurosurgery for severe and very treatment-refractory OCD is rarely indicated and, along with deep brain stimulation, should be performed only at sites with expertise in both OCD and these treatment approaches [III].

  1. Discontinuing Active Treatment

    Successful medication treatment should be continued for 1 to 2 years before considering a gradual taper by decrements of 10% to 25% every 1 to 2 months while observing for symptom return or exacerbation [I]. Successful ERP should be followed by monthly booster sessions for 3 to 6 months, or more intensively if response has been only partial [II]. In medication discontinuation trials, rates of relapse or trial discontinuation for insufficient clinical response are substantial but vary widely because of major methodological differences across studies. Thus, discontinuation of pharmacotherapy should be carefully considered, and for most patients, continued treatment of some form is recommended [II]. The data suggest that CBT consisting of ERP may have more durable effects than some SRIs after discontinuation, but the observed differences in relapse rates could be explained by other factors.

  • The nature, assessment, and treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. (2012) Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that affects between 1% to 2% of individuals and causes considerable impairment and disability. Although > 50% of individuals experience symptom onset in childhood, symptoms can continue to develop throughout adulthood. Accurate and timely assessment of clinical presentation is critical to limit impairment and improve prognosis. Presently, there are 2 empirically supported treatments available for OCD in children and adults, namely cognitive-behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy with serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
  • Deep brain stimulation for intractable psychiatric disorders. (2012) Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has virtually replaced ablative neurosurgery for use in medication-refractory movement disorders. DBS is now being studied in severe psychiatric conditions, such as treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and intractable obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Effects of DBS have been reported in ~100 cases of OCD and ~50 cases of TRD for seven (five common) anatomic targets. Although these published reports differ with respect to study design and methodology, the overall response rate appears to exceed 50% in OCD for some DBS targets. DBS was generally well tolerated in both OCD and TRD, but some unique, target- and stimulation-specific adverse effects were observed (e.g., hypomania).
  • Safety and efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder: a review. (2012) Promising findings regarding rTMS efficacy appeared for two structures based on recent controlled studies: the supplementary motor area and the orbitofrontal cortex. On the other hand, rTMS of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is not significantly effective when compared to sham rTMS.
  • Evidence-based pharmacotherapy and other somatic treatment approaches for obsessive-compulsive disorder: state of the art (2011) Meta-analyses of the randomized controlled trials (RCT) in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have clearly demonstrated that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the medication treatment of choice, while cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with exposure and response prevention is the psychotherapy of choice in OCD. Several guidelines emphasized that SSRIs are the first choice of medication in OCD. It has been noted that these agents may need to be given at a higher dose, and for a longer duration, than is usually the case in disorders such as depression. In the management of refractory patients, medication history should be carefully reviewed and adherence to the recommendations of the guideline established. Antipsychotics (risperidone, quetiapine, haloperidol) are currently the pharmacotherapy augmentation strategy of choice. In those OCD patients who fail to respond to a range of SSRIs and augmentation strategies combined with CBT, more unusual interventions (including deep brain stimulation) can be considered.
  • Diversity of obsessive-compulsive disorder and pharmacotherapy associated with obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders (2011) Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRI) are effective in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The response rate for SRI is approximately 50% and refractory OCD may exist. The effect of antipsychotics augmentation therapy has been established for this kind of patients. However, OCD is clinically and biologically heterogeneous neuropsychiatric disease and it will affect the response of pharmacotherapy. Several subtypes of OCD have been identified. Early onset OCD and hoarding symptoms dominant patients with OCD tend to resist SRI treatment. Antipsychotics augmentation with SRI is much effective for OCD with tic disorders. SRI is effective for patients with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) in preoccupation with body appearance or sensation subgroup.
  • Do it yourself? Self-help and online therapy for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. (2011) The current review identifies self-help, which is based on evidence-based concepts, as a promising clinical tool for the treatment of OCD. The current literature suggests that self-help can be a facilitator and aid to standard face-to-face interventions, rather than a rival.
  • Efficacy of antipsychotic augmentation therapy in treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder: a meta-analysis of double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trials (2011) Only 40 - 60 % of all patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) respond to serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs). Therefore, the evaluation of additive treatment in the presence of treatment resistance has high clinical relevance. All double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trials that evaluated the efficacy of a combination therapy of SRIs and antipsychotics in treatment-resistant OCD were identified by systematic literature searches and combined in a meta-analysis. After the augmentation, significantly more subjects in the intervention groups (SRI + antipsychotic) fulfilled the response criterion (reduction in the Yale-Brown obsessive compulsive scale [Y-BOCS] = 35 %) than in the control groups (SRI + placebo) (relative risk = 2.16). The subgroup analysis showed significant efficacy only for risperidone.
  • Pharmacological management of treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder. (2011) We review up-to-date evidence focusing on strategies for treatment-resistant OCD, including increasing the dose of SSRI, switching to another SSRI, augmentation with antipsychotics, and the use of serotonin noradrenaline (norepinephrine) reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and adolescents. (2011) Early-onset obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is one of the more common mental illnesses of children and adolescents, with prevalence of 1% to 3%. Its manifestations often lead to severe impairment and to conflict in the family. Obsessive-compulsive manifestations are of many types and cause severe impairment. Comorbid mental disturbances are present in as many as 70% of patients. The disease takes a chronic course in more than 40% of patients. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the treatment of first choice, followed by combination pharmacotherapy including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and then by SSRI alone.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and adolescents. (2011) Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), now widely recognized as the gold standard intervention for childhood OCD, relies on exposure and response prevention, and also includes psychoeducation, creation of a symptom hierarchy, imaginal exposures, cognitive interventions, and a contingency management system.
  • Pharmacotherapy of compulsive hoarding. (2011) SRIs appear to be as effective for compulsive hoarders as for nonhoarding OCD patients. Symptom improvement from pharmacotherapy of compulsive hoarding appears to be at least as great as that resulting from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). However, the combination of pharmacotherapy and CBT for compulsive hoarding is likely more effective than either treatment alone.
  • Psychotherapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder: what is evidence based?. (2011) Cognitive behavioural therapy with exposure and response prevention (CBT) is the most thoroughly investigated and most effective intervention, leading to a clinically significant symptom reduction in 60-70% of the patients. Correctly applied, this treatment can be equally effective as its combination with pharmacological management.


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Self-Help Resources For Panic Disorder


Improving Positive Behavior

Philosophers for the past 2,500 years have taught that it is very beneficial to start the day with goal-setting, and end the day with a brief review.

This habit of planning your day in the morning, and reviewing your day in the evening, is a time-proven technique for more successful living.

Note: When each of the following videos finishes; you must exit YouTube (by manually closing the window) in order to return to this webpage.



Morning Meditation (5-Minute Video)



Evening Meditation (5-Minute Video)



Life Satisfaction Scale (Video)



Healthy Social Behavior Scale (Video)



Mental Health Scale (Video)

Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid



The Philosophy Of Stoicism (5 minute video)

Stoicism 101 (52 minute video)



The Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius ruled from 161 to 180 A.D.

Inspirational Videos

  • His Holiness Pope Francis is one of the few world leaders that champions universal love, brotherhood, and peace (TED talk)

    Life Is About Interactions (His Holiness Pope Francis)

    Quite a few years of life have strengthened my conviction that each and everyone's existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.

    As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who face terrible hardships in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts, and to those, many of them young, who cannot find a job, I often find myself wondering: "Why them and not me?" I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like many other Italians, left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left with nothing. I could have very well ended up among today's "discarded" people. And that's why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: "Why them and not me?"

    First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us that we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent "I," separated from the other, and we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone. We don’t think about it often, but everything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state. Even the harsh judgment I hold in my heart against my brother or my sister, the open wound that was never cured, the offense that was never forgiven, the rancor that is only going to hurt me, are all instances of a fight that I carry within me, a flare deep in my heart that needs to be extinguished before it goes up in flames, leaving only ashes behind.

    Many of us, nowadays, seem to believe that a happy future is something impossible to achieve. While such concerns must be taken very seriously, they are not invincible. They can be overcome when we don't lock our door to the outside world. Happiness can only be discovered as a gift of harmony between the whole and each single component. Even science – and you know it better than I do – points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else.

    Social Inclusion (Solidarity)

    And this brings me to my second message. How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion. How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us. How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries. Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the "culture of waste," which doesn't concern only food and goods but, first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people.

    Solidarity is a term that many wish to erase from the dictionary. Solidarity, however, is not an automatic mechanism. It cannot be programmed or controlled. It is a free response born from the heart of each and everyone. Yes, a free response! When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being? In order to do good, we need memory, we need courage and we need creativity. Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough. Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The "you" is always a real presence, a person to take care of.

    Compassion

    There is a parable Jesus told to help us understand the difference between those who'd rather not be bothered and those who take care of the other. I am sure you have heard it before. It is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus was asked: "Who is my neighbor?" - namely, "Who should I take care of?" - he told this story, the story of a man who had been assaulted, robbed, beaten and abandoned along a dirt road. Upon seeing him, a priest and a Levite, two very influential people of the time, walked past him without stopping to help. After a while, a Samaritan, a very much despised ethnicity at the time, walked by. Seeing the injured man lying on the ground, he did not ignore him as if he weren't even there. Instead, he felt compassion for this man, which compelled him to act in a very concrete manner. He poured oil and wine on the wounds of the helpless man, brought him to a hostel and paid out of his pocket for him to be assisted.

    The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today’s humanity. People's paths are riddled with suffering, as everything is centered around money, and things, instead of people. And often there is this habit, by people who call themselves "respectable," of not taking care of the others, thus leaving behind thousands of human beings, or entire populations, on the side of the road. Fortunately, there are also those who are creating a new world by taking care of the other, even out of their own pockets. Mother Teresa actually said: "One cannot love, unless it is at their own expense." We have so much to do, and we must do it together. But how can we do that with all the evil we breathe every day? Thank God, no system can nullify our desire to open up to the good, to compassion and to our capacity to react against evil, all of which stem from deep within our hearts. Now you might tell me, "Sure, these are beautiful words, but I am not the Good Samaritan, nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta." On the contrary: we are precious, each and every one of us. Each and every one of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God. Through the darkness of today's conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.

    Hope

    To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope. Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naïve and ignore the tragedy humanity is facing. Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn't lock itself into darkness, that doesn't dwell on the past, does not simply get by in the present, but is able to see a tomorrow. Hope is the door that opens onto the future. Hope is a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree. It is like some invisible yeast that allows the whole dough to grow, that brings flavor to all aspects of life. And it can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds on hope is enough to shatter the shield of darkness. A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you. And then there will be another "you," and another "you," and it turns into an "us." And so, does hope begin when we have an "us?" No. Hope began with one "you." When there is an "us," there begins a revolution.

    Tenderness

    The third message I would like to share today is, indeed, about revolution: the revolution of tenderness. And what is tenderness? It is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands. Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid of the future. To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need.

    Tenderness is the language of the young children, of those who need the other. A child’s love for mom and dad grows through their touch, their gaze, their voice, their tenderness. I like when I hear parents talk to their babies, adapting to the little child, sharing the same level of communication. This is tenderness: being on the same level as the other. God himself descended into Jesus to be on our level. This is the same path the Good Samaritan took. This is the path that Jesus himself took. He lowered himself, he lived his entire human existence practicing the real, concrete language of love. Yes, tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other. There is a saying in Argentina: "Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach." You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness. Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power – the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.

    The future of humankind isn't exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a "you" and themselves as part of an "us." We all need each other. And so, please, think of me as well with tenderness, so that I can fulfill the task I have been given for the good of the other, of each and every one, of all of you, of all of us.

  • The Surgeon General’s prescription of happiness (TEDMED talk)

    The Surgeon General’s prescription of happiness (Dr. Vivek Murthy)

    Disagreement With This Video (By Editor, Phillip W. Long MD)

    I have been trained in public health as well as psychiatry, and I strongly disagee with those in public health, like the U.S. Surgeon General, who fail to mention that our greatest public health emergency is climate change. I believe that it is absurd to suggest, as the U.S. Surgeon General has, that severe public health problems (like childhood poverty causing poor academic achievement) can be fixed by simply teaching students gratitude and meditation. The Surgeon General mentions that this approach was tried at San Francisco's Visitacion Valley Middle School, and it was a great success. This is incorrect. Currently, 80% of San Fransisco's middle schools academically perform better than this school. I invite you to watch this video by the Surgeon General, then compare it to the next video given by Dr. Courtney Howard.

    Happiness Increases Health

    If there was a factor in your life that could reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, that could increase your chances of living longer, that would make your children less likely to engage in crime or use drugs, and that would even increase your success in losing weight, what would that factor be?

    It turns out, it would be happiness.

    By happiness, I don't mean the feeling that comes from indulgence or hedonism, I mean the long-term emotional well-being that comes from fulfillment, purpose, connectedness and love.

    Happiness affects us on a biological level. Happy people have lower levels of cortisol, a key stess hormone. They have more favorable heart rates and blood pressures. They have stronger immune systems, and they have lower levels of inflammatory markers, like c-reactive protein which has been linked to coronary heart disease.

    It turns out, even when you control for smoking, physical activity and other health behaviors, happy people live longer. There's something about happiness that seems to be protective.

    Now I want to be clear. White happiness is an important factor in improving health, it's certainly not the only one. We know that good nutrition, exercise, and sleep are essential tools for preventing illness. Whether we are living with depression or with diabetes, treatment is essential too. Yet among all these factors for improving health, happiness stands out as a largely untapped and unrecognized resource that has the potential to transform health for individuals and for communities...

    (As a physician) the most common condition I treated was unhappiness. It stems from isolation, from lack of meaning, and from a loss of self-worth... (People) are constantly surrounded by news stories and narratives that only remind them time and time again of all the things they have to be worried about. All this unhappiness is important because unhappiness is a risk factor for illness.

    You may ask yourself does happiness really lead to better health? Isn't it the other way around? Doesn't happiness result from good health and favourable circumstances? We may sometimes think, I'll be happy if only I lose 15 more pounds, or if I get a better job, or if I make just a little more money. But the truth is happiness if far more driven by how we process life events than by the events themselves.

    So if happiness is protective, the key question is, can we create it. The answer is yes, and the way we do that is surprisingly simple, and it largely costs nothing.

    Gratitude

    The research tells us that gratitude exercises, meditation, physical exercise, and social connectedness are just a few of the tools we can use to increase happiness. Take gratitude for example, one study participants and randomized them to three different groups. In one group, the gratitude group, participants were asked to write down five things they were grateful for. In the second group, the hassle group, the participants were asked to write down 5 things that hassled them. In the third group, they were asked to write down five things that happened without a positive or negative slant.

    Now at the end of ten weeks, it turns out the participants in the gratitude group experience a greater level of optimism, and they had a more positive view of their life. But they also exercise by 1.5 hours more on average per week. They also slept better, and they had fewer physical symptoms like pain, nausea, and headaches.

    The simple practice of gratitude had the power to increase their happiness and to change their health behavior and their health outcomes.

    Meditation

    Perhaps one of the most powerful examples of cultivating happiness comes from Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco, California.

    Some years ago, Visitation was struggling. They were struggling with low test scores, with high suspension rates, and with so much community violence that they had to hire a full time grief counselor at the school. They tried all kinds of things to help. They started after-school programs, sports programs, peer counseling programs, but all without much luck.

    Then one day they decided to take a leap of faith. What if, they asked themselves, we use meditation as a tool to reduce stress and increase happiness for our students? So they created two 15-minute quiet time meditation sessions during each school day. They taught the teachers and the students how to meditate. They taught the administrators how to meditate as well.

    Within a year, something incredible happened. Suspension rates dropped by 45%. Teacher absenteeism dropped by 30%. Test scores and grade point averages rose markedly. The students reported they were less anxious and they were sleeping better.

    The self-reported happiness scores of the students went from one of the lower scores in San Francisco to the highest score in the entire district. As one student put it, "our school went from being a place of anger, sadness, and fear, to a place where we could be happy"....

    The Visitacion Valley Middle School model is being replicated at other schools now with comparable results. What is so striking about these tools for increasing happiness, meditation, gratitude, social connection, and exercise, is that they are simple and accessible.

    We have become accustomed to thinking that complex problems require complex solutions. But that's not always the case. Sometimes simple solutions can enable us to take on some of our most intractable problems. That's what happiness can do when it comes to health.

    Creating Happiness In The Lives Of Others

    If you think about it, all of us have the power to create happiness in our lives. But we also have the power to create happiness in the lives of others. If you need proof of this, I'd ask you to join me in a short exercise I learned from the legendary Mr. Rogers (host of a children's show).

    Close your eyes for 10 seconds with me and think about the people who have brought kindness, understanding, and joy into your life over the years - the people you remember that helped you to be happy. [audience pauses 10 seconds to do this]

    I remembered my wife Alice, my mother, my father, my sister. They have brought happiness, joy, and health into my life for so many years. Each of us has the power to touch other people's lives. Sometimes it's just a simple gesture or a kind word.

    Imagine if happiness and emotional well-being were prioritized in our schools as much as test scores and grades. Imagine if cultivating happiness was a priority in our workplaces. Imagine if our policymakers understood emotional well-being to be the fuel that enables us to be healthy, productive, and strong.

    So as we grapple with the challenges of how to create a healthier, stronger world, let us remember that happiness is a powerful tool for health. Let us remember that we can create happiness in our lives, and in the lives of the people around us. Let us call ourselves and each to action to ensure that emotional well-being is part of our policies, part of our institutions, and part of our way of life.

    If we do this, we will create a world that is full of joy, a world that is full of health, the world that our children deserve.

  • Healthy Planet, Healthy People: Dr. Courtney Howard (TED talk)

    This talk puts the previous talk by the U.S. Surgeon General to shame. Dr. Howard correctly states that our greatest public health emergency is climate change. If our environment collapses, and we start to starve, teaching people to count their blessings and to meditate will do little. Dr. Howard lists the many things we can do to decrease climate change. (However, we don't know if it is already too late, but at least we can try. P.S. In April 2018, Cape Town South Africa will run out of water and its citizens may thus be forced to leave. For years, there has been a devastating drought in all of East Africa, most of the Middle East, and from there over to Vietnam. This drought has decimated food production - now many of these nations are on the verge of starvation. All of this is the result of climate change.)

  • What the 1% Don't Want You to Know (Moyers & Company)

    Our society is becoming uglier: increased homelessness, increased poverty, increased drug addiction, deterioration of public education, increased political polarization, and increased income inequality. This video explains how much of this societal ugliness can be traced back to the rapidly increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few, extremely rich oligarchs. This interview is with the economist Paul Krugman, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics. (The fabulously rich oil- and coal-barons are denying climate change and are actively opposing restrictions on the burning of fossil fuels.)

  • Maybe we're dark: Andrew Brash (TEDx talk)

    Ambition can put the blinders on people, and drive us to sacrifice caring for others. Climber, teacher, and author Andrew Brash tells how he gave up his summit of Everest to save another climber's life. Looking back on this, Andrew now realizes the human cost of overarching ambition.

  • Medical miracle on Everest (TED talk)

    What makes this story so inspirational is that it is a story of heroism and self-sacrifice. How one climber could have survived, but instead died while trying to help his friend. How another climber knew that he was freezing to death, but chose to spend his final moments phoning his pregnant wife to say goodbye. How two climbers who were already in safety chose to climb back up Everest to rescue others. How one climber who was left for dead spent 36 hours covered by snow, then decided that he would not die this way, and actually made it down Everest to safety. This story illustrates just how noble people can be when they face death.

  • What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? (TED talk)

  • Fulfilling trauma's hidden promise (TEDMED talk)

  • What makes life worth living in the face of death (TEDMED talk)

  • Secrets of Centenarians (NHK Documentary)

    This documentary reports the findings of a scientific study on the factors that allow people to live past 100.

  • 10 ways to have a better conversation (TED talk)

    Ten ways to have a better conversation (Celeste Headlee)

    We've all had really great conversations. We've had them before. We know what it's like. The kind of conversation where you walk away feeling engaged and inspired, or where you feel like you've made a real connection or you've been perfectly understood. There is no reason why most of your interactions can't be like that.

    So I have 10 basic rules. I'm going to walk you through all of them, but honestly, if you just choose one of them and master it, you'll already enjoy better conversations.

    Number one: Don't multitask.

    And I don't mean just set down your cell phone or your tablet or your car keys or whatever is in your hand. I mean, be present. Be in that moment. Don't think about your argument you had with your boss. Don't think about what you're going to have for dinner. If you want to get out of the conversation, get out of the conversation, but don't be half in it and half out of it.

    Number two: Don't pontificate.

    If you want to state your opinion without any opportunity for response or argument or pushback or growth, write a blog.

    Now, there's a really good reason why I don't allow pundits on my show: Because they're really boring. If they're conservative, they're going to hate Obama and food stamps and abortion. If they're liberal, they're going to hate big banks and oil corporations and Dick Cheney. Totally predictable. And you don't want to be like that.

    You need to enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn. The famed therapist M. Scott Peck said that true listening requires a setting aside of oneself. And sometimes that means setting aside your personal opinion. He said that sensing this acceptance, the speaker will become less and less vulnerable and more and more likely to open up the inner recesses of his or her mind to the listener. Again, assume that you have something to learn.

    Bill Nye: "Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don't." I put it this way: Everybody is an expert in something.

    Number three: Use open-ended questions.

    In this case, take a cue from journalists. Start your questions with who, what, when, where, why or how. If you put in a complicated question, you're going to get a simple answer out. If I ask you, "Were you terrified?" you're going to respond to the most powerful word in that sentence, which is "terrified," and the answer is "Yes, I was" or "No, I wasn't." "Were you angry?" "Yes, I was very angry." Let them describe it. They're the ones that know. Try asking them things like, "What was that like?" "How did that feel?" Because then they might have to stop for a moment and think about it, and you're going to get a much more interesting response.

    Number four: Go with the flow.

    That means thoughts will come into your mind and you need to let them go out of your mind. We've heard interviews often in which a guest is talking for several minutes and then the host comes back in and asks a question which seems like it comes out of nowhere, or it's already been answered. That means the host probably stopped listening two minutes ago because he thought of this really clever question, and he was just bound and determined to say that. And we do the exact same thing. We're sitting there having a conversation with someone, and then we remember that time that we met Hugh Jackman in a coffee shop.

    And we stop listening. Stories and ideas are going to come to you. You need to let them come and let them go.

    Number five: If you don't know, say that you don't know.

    Now, people on the radio, especially on NPR, are much more aware that they're going on the record, and so they're more careful about what they claim to be an expert in and what they claim to know for sure. Do that. Err on the side of caution. Talk should not be cheap.

    Number six: Don't equate your experience with theirs.

    If they're talking about having lost a family member, don't start talking about the time you lost a family member. If they're talking about the trouble they're having at work, don't tell them about how much you hate your job. It's not the same. It is never the same. All experiences are individual. And, more importantly, it is not about you. You don't need to take that moment to prove how amazing you are or how much you've suffered. Somebody asked Stephen Hawking once what his IQ was, and he said, "I have no idea. People who brag about their IQs are losers."

    Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.

    Number seven: Try not to repeat yourself.

    It's condescending, and it's really boring, and we tend to do it a lot. Especially in work conversations or in conversations with our kids, we have a point to make, so we just keep rephrasing it over and over. Don't do that.

    Number eight: Stay out of the weeds.

    Frankly, people don't care about the years, the names, the dates, all those details that you're struggling to come up with in your mind. They don't care. What they care about is you. They care about what you're like, what you have in common. So forget the details. Leave them out.

    Number nine: Listen.

    I cannot tell you how many really important people have said that listening is perhaps the most, the number one most important skill that you could develop. Buddha said, and I'm paraphrasing, "If your mouth is open, you're not learning." And Calvin Coolidge said, "No man ever listened his way out of a job."

    Why do we not listen to each other? Number one, we'd rather talk. When I'm talking, I'm in control. I don't have to hear anything I'm not interested in. I'm the center of attention. I can bolster my own identity. But there's another reason: We get distracted. The average person talks at about 225 word per minute, but we can listen at up to 500 words per minute. So our minds are filling in those other 275 words. And look, I know, it takes effort and energy to actually pay attention to someone, but if you can't do that, you're not in a conversation. You're just two people shouting out barely related sentences in the same place.

    You have to listen to one another. Stephen Covey said it very beautifully. He said, "Most of us don't listen with the intent to understand. We listen with the intent to reply."

    Number 10: Be brief.

    "A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject." -- My Sister

    All of this boils down to the same basic concept, and it is this one: Be interested in other people.

  • An Example Of Mindfulness Meditation (10 minute video)

    In the 5th century BCE, Buddha spent 6 years of his life mastering mindfulness meditation. He then decided to look beyond meditation. Buddha concluded that simply emptying the mind of thought is calming, but otherwise it accomplishes little - since "You return to the same world". Instead, Buddha taught that we should change our world by seeking enlightenment through practicing compassion, and living a calm, peaceful, happy life.

  • 100 People: A World Portrait (TEDMED talk)

  • Mindfulness Training: A simple way to break a bad habit (TEDMED talk)

  • If we can’t cure the patient, can the community do it? (TEDMED talk)

  • What if "it's the environment, stupid"? (TEDMED talk)

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  • The best summary on bad research is given by Laura Arnold in this TEDx lecture. If you read nothing else about research, you owe it to yourself to watch this short video - it is excellent!

  • The power of asking "what if?"

  • The active placebo effect: 2300 years ago, the Greek Stoic philosophers taught that it is not the objective event, but our subjective judgment about the event, that determines our behavior. The active placebo effect bears witness to this ancient wisdom.

  • Criteria For High Quality Research Studies

  • It is troubling that a recent study found that two-thirds of important psychological research studies couldn't be replicated. High quality research must meet the following criteria:

    • Randomized Controlled Trial:
      Ask: Was the trial randomized? Was the randomization procedure described and was it appropriate? The best research design is to have research subjects randomly assigned to an experimental or control group. It is essential that confounding factors be controlled for by having a control group or comparator condition (no intervention, placebo, care as usual etc.).

    • Representative Sample:
      Ask: Do the research subjects represent a normal cross-section of the population being studied? Many psychological research studies using university students are flawed because their subjects are not representative of the normal population since they are all W.E.I.R.D. (White, Educated, Intelligent, Rich, and living in a Democracy).

    • Single Blind Trial:
      Ask: Was the treatment allocation concealed? It is essential that the research subjects are kept "blind" as to whether they are in the experimental or control group (in order to control for any placebo effects).

    • Double Blind Trial (Better Than Single Blind Trial):
      Ask: Were blind outcome assessments conducted? In a double blind study, neither the research subjects nor the outcome assessors know if the research subject is in the experimental or control group. This controls for both the placebo effect and assessor bias.

    • Baseline Comparability:
      Ask: Were groups similar at baseline on prognostic indicators? The experimental and control groups must be shown to be comparable at the beginning of the study.

    • Confounding Factors:
      Ask: Were there factors, that weren't controlled for, that could have seriously distorted the study's results? For example, research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness cognitive therapy in preventing depressive relapse forgot to control for whether the research subjects were also simultaneously receiving antidepressant medication or other psychological treatments for depression.

    • Intervention Integrity:
      Ask: Was the research study protocal strictly followed? The research subjects must be shown to be compliant (e.g., taking their pills, attending therapy) and the therapists must be shown to be reliably delivering the intervention (e.g., staying on the research protocol).

    • Statistical analysis:
      Ask: Was a statistical power calculation described? The study should discuss its statistical power analysis; that is whether the study size is large enough to statistically detect a difference between the experimental and control group (should it occur) and usually this requires at least 50 research subjects in the study.

      Ask: Are the results both statistically significant and clinically significant? The results should be both statistically significant (with a p-value <0.05) and clinically significant using some measure of Effect Size such as Standardized Mean Difference (e.g., Cohen's d >= 0.33). The summary statistics should report what percentage of the total variance of the dependent variable (e.g., outcome) can be explained by the independent variable (e.g., intervention). In clinical studies, the study should report the number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome (NNTB), and the number needed to treat for an additional harmful outcome (NNTH).

        Number Needed To Benefit (NNTB): This is defined as the number of patients that need to be treated for one of them to benefit compared with a control in a clinical trial. (It is defined as the inverse of the absolute risk reduction.) Note: Statistically, the NNTB depends on which control group is used for comparison - e.g., active treatment vs. placebo treatment, or active treatment vs. no treatment.

        Number Needed To Harm (NNTH): This is defined as the number of patients that need to be treated for one of them to be harmed compared with a control in a clinical trial. (It is defined as the inverse of the absolute increase in risk of harm.)

        Tomlinson found “an NNTB of 5 or less was probably associated with a meaningful health benefit,” while “an NNTB of 15 or more was quite certain to be associated with at most a small net health benefit.”

      Ask: Does the researcher accept full responsibility for the study's statistical analysis? The researcher should not just hand over the study's raw data to a corporation (that may have $1,000 million invested in the study) to do the statistical analysis.

    • Completeness of follow-up data:
      Ask: Was the number of withdrawals or dropouts in each group mentioned, and were reasons given for these withdrawals or dropouts? Less than 20% of the research subjects should drop out of the study. The intervention effect should persist over an adequate length of time.

    • Handling of missing data:
      Ask: Was the statistical analysis conducted on the intention-to-treat sample? There must be use of intention-to-treat analysis (as opposed to a completers-only analysis). In this way, all of the research subjects that started the study are included in the final statistical analysis. A completers-only analysis would disregard those research subjects that dropped out.

    • Replication of Findings:
      Ask: Can other researchers replicate this study's results? The research study's methodology should be clearly described so that the study can be easily replicated. The researcher's raw data should be available to other researchers to review (in order to detect errors or fraud).

    • Fraud:
      Ask: Is there a suspicion of fraud? In a research study, examine the independent and dependent variables that are always measured as a positive whole number (e.g., a variable measured on a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from "1 = definitely false to 5 = definitely true" etc.). For each of these variables, look at their sample size (n), mean (M) and standard deviation (SD) before they undergo statistical analysis. There is a high suspicion of fraud in a study's statistics:

      • If the M is mathematically impossible (online calculator): This is one of the easiest ways to mathematically detect fraud. The mean (M) is defined as "the sum (Sum) of the values of each observation divided by the total number (n) of observations". So: M = Sum/n. Thus: (Sum) = (M) multiplied by (n). We know that, if a variable is always measured as a positive whole number, the sum of these observations always has to be a whole number. For these variables to test for fraud: calculate (M) multiplied by (n). This calculates the Sum which MUST be a positive whole number. If the calculated Sum isn't a positive whole number; the reported mean (M) is mathematically impossible - thus the researcher either cooked the data or made a mistake. A recent study of 260 research papers published in highly reputable psychological journals found that 1 in 2 of these research papers reported at least one impossible value, and 1 in 5 of these research papers reported multiple impossible values. When the authors of the 21 worst offending research papers were asked for their raw data (so that its reliability could be checked) - 57% angrily refused. Yet such release of raw data to other researchers is required by most scientific journals. (Here is an example of a research paper filled with mathematically impossible means.)

      • If the SD is mathematically impossible (online calculator): When researchers fraudulently "cook" their data, they may accidently give their data a mean and standard deviation that is mathematically impossible for a (normally distributed) strictly positive variable (because the "cooked" M and SD would mathematically require the strictly positive variable's range of data to include negative numbers). For a normally distributed sample of size of 25-70, this occurs when the SD is greater than one-half of the M; for a sample size of 70+, this occurs when the SD is greater than one-third of the M [using these formulas].

      • If the SD/M is very small (i.e., the variable's standard deviation is very small compared to the mean suggesting data smoothing).

      • If the SD's are almost identical (i.e., the variables have different means but almost identical standard deviations).

      • If the 4th digit of the values of the variables aren't uniformly distributed - since each should occur 10% of the time (Benford's Law).

      • If the researcher is legally prevented from publishing negative findings about a drug or therapy because that would violate the "nondisclosure of trade secrets" clause in the research contract (i.e., it is a "trade secret" that the drug or therapy is ineffective - hence this can not be "disclosed"). Approximately half of all registered clinical trials fail to publish their results.

      • If the researcher refuses to release his raw data to fellow researchers (so that they can check its validity). In order to be published in most scientific journals, a researcher must promise to share his raw data with fellow researchers. Thus a researcher's refusal to do so is almost a sure indicator of fraud.

      • If the research study's data contradicts the study's own conclusions - surprisingly, this often occurs.

  • Calling Bullshit In The Age of Big Data - "Bullshit is language, statistical figures, data graphics, and other forms of presentation intended to persuade by impressing and overwhelming a reader or listener, with a blatant disregard for truth and logical coherence." Reading the syllabus of this university course should be required reading for every student of mental health. This syllabus is absolutely fantastic!

  • Statistical Methods in Psychology Journals: Guidelines and Explanations - American Psychologist 1999

  • Not All Scientific Studies Are Created Equal - video

  • The efficacy of psychological, educational, and behavioral treatment

  • Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science

  • Psychologists grapple with validity of research

  • Industry sponsorship and research outcome (Review) - Cochrane Library

  • 'We've been deceived': Many clinical trial results are never published - (text and video)

  • Junk science misleading doctors and researchers

  • Junk science under spotlight after controversial firm buys Canadian journals

  • Medicine with a side of mysticism: Top hospitals promote unproven therapies - Are some doctors becoming modern witchdoctors?

  • When Evidence Says No, But Doctors Say Yes


Research Topics

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder - Latest Research (2016-2017)

Cochrane Review (The best evidence-based, standardized reviews available)

Strong evidence of effectiveness:
  • Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) versus placebo for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) (2009) (This review summarises all the available evidence for one class of antidepressant drugs, the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (including citalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine and sertraline) compared to placebo in the treatment of OCD in adults. The review included 17 studies (3097 participants), and showed that SSRIs were effective in reducing the symptoms of OCD. Based on 13 studies (2697 participants), the review showed that people receiving SSRIs were nearly twice as likely as those receiving placebo to achieve clinical response (defined as a 25% or more reduction in symptoms). Indirect comparisons of effectiveness suggested that although individual SSRI drugs were similar in their effectiveness, they differed in terms of their adverse effects. The most common adverse effect reported by participants was nausea.)

Some evidence of effectiveness:
  • Second-generation antipsychotic drugs for obsessive compulsive disorder (2010) (This review found some trials comparing the effects of adding second-generation antipsychotic drugs or placebo to antidepressants in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). There were only 11 trials on three second-generation antipsychotic drugs (olanzapine, quetiapine and risperidone). The available data of the effects of olanzapine in OCD are too limited to draw any conclusions. There is some evidence that adding quetiapine or risperidone to antidepressants increases efficacy, but this must be weighed against less tolerability and limited data.)
  • Behavioural and cognitive-behavioural therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in children and adolescents (2010) (This review identified eight randomised controlled trials involving 343 participants, evaluating the benefits of behavioural and cognitive-behavioural therapy. The results show that, compared to a wait-list or pill placebo, BT/CBT is an effective treatment for reducing OCD symptoms and lowering the risk of having OCD after treatment. Based on three studies that directly compared BT/CBT with medication, there was no current evidence to suggest that either BT/CBT or medication was superior to the other. When combined with medication, BT/CBT produces better outcomes than medication alone. Although based on a small number of studies, these findings provide support for the value of BT/CBT in the treatment of children and adolescents with OCD.)
  • Psychological treatments compared with treatment as usual for obsessive compulsive disorder (2009) (We found eight studies, which together suggested that cognitive and/or behavioural treatments were better than treatment as usual conditions at reducing clinical symptoms. Baseline OCD severity and depressive symptom level predicted the degree of response. However, the conclusions were based on a small number of randomised controlled trials with small sample sizes. There were no trials of other forms of psychological treatment such as psychodynamic therapy and client-centred therapy, and a lack of available evidence for the long-term effectiveness of psychological treatments.)

Not yet possible to draw any definite conclusions due to insufficient evidence:
Note: The Cochrane Reviews are the best in psychiatry, but they do not cover all psychiatric topics. Thus it is essential that you also read Research Review Articles.

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