Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ruth Hess Lutman Enamel Plates

Here are some Midcentury Modern enameled copper plates created by my dad's cousin, Ruth Hess Lutman. I was lucky enough to win one for my collection recently -- on eBay.

This is the piece I won on eBay.

Infographic: The Intestinal Microbiome and Mental Health

Of particular concern among scientists and the public is the effect that gut flora may have on mental health, as a mounting body of research suggests that gut bacteria can have a significant impact on the way we think, feel and behave, and also on the development of neurological conditions. Last year, a major neuroscience symposium called the investigation of gut microbes a "paradigm shift" in brain science.

A number of diseases and disorders have been linked to abnormalities or instability in gut flora, and the microbiome is an important area of research for these conditions. However, it's important to note that while research has linked these conditions to alterations in the microbiome, it does not mean that in every case gut bacteria is the cause of the problem.

Here are a handful of physical and mental health problems that have been linked to imbalances and abnormalities gut bacteria.

Monday, February 2, 2015

In the Blogs: Myths About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Myth: PTSD only affects veterans

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a condition that affects people who've been through a significant trauma. Humans have long been haunted by trauma, but it was only in 1980 when psychologists made PTSD an official diagnosis. Civil War soldiers who were plagued by what we'd know call anxiety and panic attacks, symptoms of PTSD, were diagnosed with "irritable hearts." Troops in World War I had "shell shock," or "combat fatigue." The American Psychiatric Association added PTSD to its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders after soldiers came back en masse from Vietnam with symptoms of the condition.

The perception of the disorder has historically been centered around soldiers, but anyone can develop PTSD. Combat, child abuse, a physical assault, or a car crash can cause PTSD to develop. About 7 percent of the US population has PTSD some point in their lives, according to the National Center for PTSD. It's a small portion of the number of people who go through a trauma, because most people who experience some sort of significant distress don't develop PTSD. Women are more than twice as likely to develop PTSD as men, with 10 percent of women and about four percent of men having it some point in their lives.

Myth: People suffer symptoms of PTSD right after a trauma

Symptoms often show up in the first few months after a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms don't appear until years after the event. It's different for everyone who develops PTSD.

Many people with PTSD re-experience their traumas through nightmares, flashbacks, or frightened or angry thoughts. They might make a concerted effort to avoid anything that might trigger those recurring feelings of trauma. People with PTSD might feel alienated or lose interest in things they enjoyed before a trauma. They might become more aggressive, self-destructive, or hypervigilant. PTSD is diagnosed when multiple symptoms have lasted for more than a month.

Myth: Everyone has some sort of PTSD

Certainly, most people will go through some sort of trauma in their lives. About 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women experience at least one trauma in their lives. But a much smaller percent of people actually develop PTSD. About 10 percent of women and 4 percent of men develop PTSD at some point in their life.


People who experience a trauma but don't develop PTSD might still develop a symptom of PTSD. But the American Psychological Association has a strict outline for what qualifies as PTSD. To be diagnosed with the disorder, a person has to have a combination of symptoms that last for over a month. So while it's common to experience a trauma, it's relatively rare to develop PTSD.

Myth: PTSD isn't treatable

It's actually quite treatable, even if it isn't completely curable in everyone. PTSD is frequently treated with drugs, behavioral therapy and other approaches. Writer P. K. Phillips had PTSD that caused her terrible flashbacks and nightmares, and left her unable to sleep alone in her own home. She started taking medication and going through behavioral therapy when she was diagnosed. Now, she says, she has control of her life again.

"For me there is no cure, no final healing. But there are things I can do to ensure that I never have to suffer as I did before being diagnosed with PTSD. I'm no longer at the mercy of my disorder," she writes.

There are several forms of counseling that have proven effective in treating PTSD, including talk therapy, exposure therapy, and behavioral therapy. The FDA has also approved two medications to treat PTSD: sertraline and paroxetine (Zoloft and Paxil). 

They're both antidepressants, and can help control emotional symptoms of PTSD like sadness, anger, and anxiety. There's evidence that meditation can help those with PTSD as well. Treatments are different for everyone, and sometimes people need to try different combinations to find what works.

Myth: Symptoms of PTSD go away as a person heals from trauma

Symptoms of PTSD can come and go, and can vary in intensity over time. Like with an anxiety disorder, being stressed in general can exacerbate a person's PTSD symptoms. Reminders of the trauma, even many years later, can cause long-dormant symptoms to reappear.


It's called re-experiencing a trauma, and it's common in people with PTSD. They might experience the same emotions or even physical sensations they felt during a trauma. Mentally re-experiencing a trauma is commonly out of a person with PTSD's control.

Myth: PTSD causes violent behavior

The majority of people with PTSD aren't dangerous. PTSD is associated with an increased risk of violence, but most people with it haven't ever acted violently. Research shows that when risk factors correlated with PTSD are taken into account, the association between PTSD and violent behavior drops significantly. There's a wide variety of risk factors, like alcohol abuse, drug misuse, and other psychiatric disorders, that play into the relationship between PTSD and violence.

Myth: PTSD is all in a person's head

PTSD is a real condition, that causes very real symptoms. Traumatic events can change how the brain functions. PTSD leads to measurable changes in the brain and body after a person has been exposed to a trauma.

Researchers have found three areas of the brain that are different in patients with PTSD than patients without the disorder: the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the media frontal cortex. The amygdala is where emotions meet reactions, and in people with PTSD, it overreacts to things that have to do with their trauma. In the hippocampus, which controls emotions, research shows that a PTSD patient's flashbacks might be due to a failure in their brains to control their reactions to trauma-related stress.

Myth: PTSD only affects weak people

It's not a question of strength, or emotional stamina. There are a number of factors that play into whether a person who's gone through a trauma develops PTSD. A person's risk of getting PTSD depends, in part, on a combination of risk factors and resilience factors, as researchers call them. Having a history of mental illness, for example, puts people at greater risk to develop PTSD. People with little to no support, such as those who don't tell anyone about what happened to them, are more likely to develop PTSD.


On the other hand, people who seek out support from friends or family after a trauma (considered a resilience factor) are less likely to develop PTSD. Other resilience factors that might stop PTSD from developing include learning how to cope in a healthy way, joining a support group, and feeling good about one's reaction to the trauma.

Myth: It's not an injury, so it doesn't require medical attention

Trauma can be physically damaging, but isn't always. You don't have to be physically hurt or wounded to develop PTSD. Many disaster workers who volunteered as part of the rescue crews after 9/11 developed the disorder, though they weren't physically hurt in the disaster.

Even without a physical wound, PTSD is a sign of an injury, and one that often requires medical attention. Some PTSD symptoms might be acute, and subside quickly on their own without help from a professional. But many people with PTSD find their lives disrupted by the symptoms, and require medical attention. It can cause people to lose function as their daily lives are interrupted by symptoms such as panic attacks and sleeplessness. PTSD isn't something people can necessarily get over on their own. It often takes time, support, and directed treatment. Seeking medical attention can help people with PTSD get control back over their lives.

To bust this myth, there's a campaign to end the stigma around PTSD by dropping the D from its name. Army Staff Sergeant Ty Carter has led the movement to change its name to PTS, because he wants people to start seeing it as more of an injury and less of a disorder.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Amy Morin: Correcting Thinking Errors with CBT Techniques In Order toBuild Mental Strength

Mental strength requires a three-pronged approach -- managing our thoughts, regulating our emotions, and behaving productively despite our circumstances. While all three areas can be a struggle, it's often our thoughts that make it most difficult to be mentally strong.

As we go about our daily routines, our internal monologue narrates our experience. Our self-talk guides our behavior and influences the way we interact with others. It also plays a major role in how you feel about yourself, other people, and the world in general.

Quite often, however, our conscious thoughts aren't realistic. Instead, they're irrational and inaccurate. Believing our irrational thoughts can lead to a variety of problems, including communication issues, relationship problems, and unhealthy decisions.

Whether you're striving to reach your personal or professional goals, the key to success often starts with recognizing and replacing inaccurate thoughts. The most common thinking errors can be divided into these categories, which are adapted from David Burns book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy.

All-or-Nothing Thinking 

Sometimes we see things as being black or white. Perhaps you have two categories of coworkers in your mind -- the good ones and the bad ones. Or, maybe you look at each project as either a success or a failure. Recognize the shades of gray, rather than putting things in terms of all good or all bad.


It's easy to take one particular event and generalize it to the rest of our lives. If you failed to close one deal, you may decide, "I'm bad at closing deals." Or if you are treated poorly by one family member, you might think, "Everyone in my family is rude." Take notice of times where an incident may apply to a specific situation only, instead of all other areas of life.

Filtering Out the Positive 

If nine good things happen, and one bad thing, sometimes we filter out the good and hone in on the bad. Maybe we declare we had a bad day, despite the positive events that occurred. Or maybe we look back at our performance and declare it was terrible because we made a single mistake. Filtering out the positive can prevent you from establishing a realistic outlook on a situation. Develop a balanced outlook by noticing both the positive and the negative.


We can never be sure what someone else is thinking. Yet, everyone occasionally assumes they know what's going on in someone else's mind. Thinking things like, "He must have thought I was stupid at the meeting," makes inferences that aren't necessarily based on reality. Remind yourself that you may not be making accurate guesses about other people's perceptions.


Sometimes we think things are much worse than they actually are. If you fall short on meeting your financial goals one month you may think, "I'm going to end up bankrupt," or "I'll never have enough money to retire," even though there's no evidence that the situation is nearly that dire. It can be easy to get swept up into catastrophizing the situation once your thoughts become negative. When you begin predicting doom and gloom, remind yourself that there are many other potential outcomes.

Emotional Reasoning 

Our emotions aren't always based on reality but, we often assume those feelings are rational. If you're worried about making a career change, you might assume, "If I'm this scared about it, I just shouldn't change jobs." Or, you may be tempted to assume, "If I feel like a loser, I must be a loser." It's essential to recognize that emotions, just like our thoughts, aren't always based on the facts.


Labeling involves putting a name to something. Instead of thinking, "He made a mistake," you might label your neighbor as "an idiot." Labelling people and experiences places them into categories that are often based on isolated incidents. Notice when you try to categorize things and work to avoid placing mental labels on everything.


Although none of us know what will happen in the future, we sometimes like to try our hand at fortunetelling. We think things like, "I'm going to embarrass myself tomorrow," or "If I go on a diet, I'll probably just gain weight." These types of thoughts can become a self-fulfilling prophecy if you're not careful. When you're predicting doom and gloom, remind yourself of all the other possible outcomes.


As much as we'd like to say we don't think the world revolves around us, it's easy to personalize everything. If a friend doesn't call back, you may assumea, "She must be mad at me," or if a co-worker is grumpy, you might conclude, "He doesn't like me." When you catch yourself personalizing situations, take time to point out other possible factors that may be influencing the circumstances.

Unreal Ideal 

Making unfair comparisons about ourselves and other people can ruin our motivation. Looking at someone who has achieved much success and thinking, "I should have been able to do that," isn't helpful, especially if that person had some lucky breaks or competitive advantages along the way. Rather than measuring your life against someone else's, commit to focusing on your own path to success.

Fixing Thinking Errors: 

Once you begin recognizing thinking errors, you can begin working on trying to challenge those thoughts. Look for exceptions to the rule and gather evidence that your thoughts aren't 100-percent true. Then, you can begin replacing those thoughts with more realistic thoughts.

The goal doesn't need to be to replace negative thoughts with overly idealistic or positive ones. Instead replace them with realistic thoughts. Changing the way you think takes a lot of effort initially, but with practice, you'll notice big changes -- not just in the way you think, but also in the way you feel and behave. You can make peace with the past, look at the present differently, and think about the future in a way that will support your chances of reaching your goals.

Dr. Barbara Markway Ph.D.: Reasons to Refrain from Judging People

Despite our best efforts, we all judge others. It might be over small things, like a co-worker who took too long of a lunch break. Or it might be over bigger issues, such as a person who behaves selfishly or hurts our feelings. 

Psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach frequently tells this story: Imagine you are walking through the woods and you see a small dog. It looks cute and friendly. You approach and move to pet the dog. Suddenly it snarls and tries to bite you. The dog no longer seems cute and you feel fear and possibly anger. Then, as the wind blows, the leaves on the ground are carried away and you see the dog has one of its legs caught in a trap. Now, you feel compassion for the dog. You know it became aggressive because it is in pain and is suffering.

What can we learn from this story? How can we become less judgmental? 

Don’t blame yourself. 

We are instinctively hard-wired for survival. When we see a dog (or a person) that might bite us (literally or metaphorically), of course we feel threatened. We go into fight-flight-freeze mode, and are unable to see the myriad possible reasons for another’s behavior. We get tight and defensive. This is a normal first reaction. The key is to pause before we act out of this mode.

Be mindful. 

Although judgment is a natural instinct, try to catch yourself before you speak, or send that nasty email and do any potential harm. You can’t get your words back. Pause. See if you can understand where the person may be coming from. Try to rephrase your critical internal thought into a positive one, or at least a neutral one. After all, like that dog in the trap, we really don’t know the reasons for someone’s behavior.


When someone disagrees with us or somehow makes our life difficult, remember that it’s typically not about us. It may be about their pain or struggle. Why not give others the benefit of the doubt? “Never underestimate the pain of a person," Will Smith said, "because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Some people are better at hiding it than others.”

Look for basic goodness. 

This takes practice, as our minds naturally scan for the negative, but if we try, we can almost always find something good about another person.

Repeat the mantra, “Just like me.” 

Remember, we are more alike than different. When I feel critical of someone, I try to remind myself that the other person loves their family just like I do, and wants to be happy and free of suffering, just like I do. Most important, that person makes mistakes, just like I do.


When someone does something you don’t like, perhaps think of it as they are simply solving a problem in a different way than you would. Or maybe they have a different timetable than you do. This may help you be more open-minded and accepting of their behavior. The Dalai Lama says: “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost.”
Look at your own behavior. 

Sometimes, we may be judging someone for something that we do ourselves, or have done. For example, the next time you find yourself yelling at someone while you’re driving, ask yourself, “Have I ever driven poorly?” Of course, we all have.

Educate yourself. 

When people do things that are annoying, they may have a hidden disability. For example, some people with poor social skills may have Asperger’s syndrome. So if someone’s invading your personal space (as someone with Asperger’s might), remember again, it’s not about you. Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” 

Give the person the benefit of the doubt. 

Someone once told me, no one wakes up in the morning and says, "I think I'm going to be a jerk today." Most of us do the best we can with the resources we have at the moment.

Feel good about you. 

Brene´ Brown says: “If I feel good about my parenting, I have no interest in judging other people's choices. If I feel good about my body, I don't go around making fun of other people's weight or appearance. We're hard on each other because were using each other as a launching pad out of her own perceived deficiency.”

And finally, remember that judging a person does not define who they are, it defines who you are.