Archive | August, 2012

Book Review: The Female Brain

29 Aug

The Female Brain by Dr Brizendine

The Female Brain By Dr Louann Brizendine,  ISBN 9781407039510,  Transworld Publishers, London 2007

This book is a fascinating read, it introduces some of the more recent research and ideas in neurophysiology.  It is a helpful book for all those who want to understand the human brain whether you are male or femaleBrizendine compares the differences between the male and female brain throughout the brains development and into old age. Each chapter discusses the impact of neurological growth and hormonal impact on the female developing brain at different ages.

She explains how hormones affect the female brain and the impact they have on our behavioural tendencies. She discusses why the female incidence of depression is far greater and that the divergence begins at female puberty.

We are given interesting facts, for example, that 99% of male and female genetic coding is exactly the same and there is only a 1% variation between the sexes.

Until the 1990’s very little research was carried out on the female brain as scientists thought it was just a smaller version of the male one!  In 1994 Brizendine founded the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California.  In hers and others’ continuing research we are beginning to uncover that the differences between the male and female brain are complex and widespread, albeit with only a 1% genetic difference.

It is only with the advancement of technology that these differences are now observable. Advances from the fields of genetics, molecular neuroscience, fetal and pediatric endrocrinology, cognitive neuroscience and psychoneuroendrocrinology are all gathering evidence that explain the differences that we as men and women have all been aware of for years.

Brizendine mixes scientific research and a wealth of case studies in an engaging style to explain some of the more complex scientific findings, making this book eminently readable and enjoyable.    It informs men and women alike on our differences enabling and understanding of how our chemistry and neurophysiology influences our behaviour.

I have recommended this little gem of a book to many of my clients to read and the feedback is that it has been hugely helpful to both men and women alike.

 

Review by Maggie Chapman Director and Co-Founder of CCBH

 

Book titles If you have enjoyed or found a book particularly informative, please share the title, author and a few comments, if you wish, with us, so we can share it with our students and readers. Email info@ccbh.org.uk

60 Second interview with Maggie Chapman, Director and Co-Founder of CCBH

29 Aug

1. What inspired you to become a therapist?

I always had an interest in psychology and started volunteer work at 17 with mental health patients. It was in my early thirties when I was inspired to get involved in trauma and bereavement counselling after a family tragedy that refocused my career.

 

2. When did you first hear about REBT?

Initially about 20 years ago when studying the behaviourists in depth and then Avy reintroducing me to the elegance of the model 10 years ago or so.

 

3. Ellis or Beck and why?

I prefer Ellis.  His theory has a philosophical basis that spans time, from the early Vedic writings of the Upanishads through to Buddhism, the Stoics and Shakespeare to now.

 

4. Favourite Ellis (or other) quote?

Cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am) – Rene Descartes

 

5. What element of the CBH philosophy most resonates with you?

The construction of thoughts and how they inform our lives is what most resonates with me.   6. What inspires you?

Children and their laughter.  Their ability to view the world in a clear, uncluttered way, their energy, curiosity and wonder.

 

7. If you weren’t a therapist, what would you be?

An activist for children’s human rights.

 

8. How do you unwind at the end of the day?

I reflect on my day in a relaxed state and then go to sleep!

Of cold pizza and life’s recurrent demands

24 Aug

Guest Blog Article by Luke Shaw

 

So, picture me if you will, twenty years younger, several pounds lighter and full of the unbridled optimism that both these characteristics imbue. I had completed my three year acting course at LAMDA and our final day of term was spent in the prestigious Duke of Yorks theatre in London’s West End, giving our all (twice) in individually prepared and lovingly rehearsed solo speeches. My vision was naturally one of being cascaded with agents’ calling cards, all dying to represent me, and being waltzed off into the sunset. As I picked my way through the cold finger buffet that my dear Alma mater had spared every expense on, and waited for the inevitable tap on the shoulder, it eventually came just as I was picking bits of ham off the ‘non-meat’ pizza. I turned in anticipation and was greeted by one of London’s leading agents, “Hi, were you in the show?”, not a promising opening but I gamely responded in the affirmative, “Could you tell me where I might find Paul Hickey?”. And that, as they say, is show business!

Cold Pizza anyone?

The next day I was now considering life through the prism of having no agent and having to be master of my own destiny. My weighty life choices were balanced finely between whether to dress up as a dog for fifty quid for a mate or temporarily suspend any form of responsibility in finding a job by donning a backpack and disappearing round Europe for a month. A few weeks later and fifty pounds richer (woof!), as I was being strip searched on the Swiss-French border, I took a moment to reflect on how significantly 24 hours had changed how I viewed my life. On my last day of term as I marched confidently up as speech number 43 in front of a bored and diminishing audience, I had been a feckless and carefree drama student, safely cosseted in the lovingly protective arms of his nurturing college, the next day I was a wretched and troubled unemployed actor.

As I look back on it now I can laugh at the naiveté I displayed in my expectation of employment, like there was almost some entitlement to a living. Ha! Pathetic! I can hear the demands now, “I should have a job!”, “I have to be successful”, “I must do better than Paul Hickey!”. Even now I feel a growing wave of tension as I recall the historic catastrophising (how could anything in the world be worse than this?!). Of course now I am more mature and sanguine about such events, whereas at the time I naturally went out and blew lots of money getting paralytic and attempting to sleep with anyone who’d let me…. Ah halcyon days!

Fast forward to the present day and the safety of a new college, where my major discomforts were where to sit in the class each month and who will notice if I have too many of the biscuits that Beverley has lovingly provided. Of course I’m not trying to diminish the potentially troubling journey through the diploma, but as a comparison to actually qualifying and plying one’s trade in the same way, it is, when I look back, (even to the depths of weekend 7 when I spent most of Saturday blubbing like baby (apologies if you haven’t done that one yet!)), a considerably easier time. And so again having travelled the Rubicon through those critical 24 hours spent re-evaluating my circumstances during which I went from a cocky and largely comfortable CCBH student to just another troubled unemployed therapist, I have to report that the greatest challenges lie beyond the completion of the course. As I look back on it now I can laugh at the naiveté I displayed in my expectation of employment, like there was almost some entitlement to a living. Ha! Pathetic! I can hear the demands now, “I should have a job!”, “I have to be successful”, “I must do better than Paul Hickey!”…. wait a minute… something seems familiar here….

So my message, for anyone who cares, (and of course I don’t if you don’t, in a fallible way of course not a nasty way), is to enjoy the course, it is truly fantastic. And suspend any awfulising until after graduation (or better still, dispute the hell out of it before then!). Meanwhile I’m off to challenge my  limiting beliefs around self promotion and the procrastination that prevents me from trying to.

Luke Shaw (Class of 2011)

 

 

Emotional Blog Series #5: Hurt and Disappointment

23 Aug

Another common emotion we have all experienced and experience from time to time is hurt.  Hurt is an unhealthy negative emotion provoked by holding an unhealthy belief about being treated badly, let down or betrayed by someone (and you think you do not deserve such treatment).  It can also be provoked by unhealthy belief about someone who appears to hold your relationship less dearly than you thought.  Disappointment is the healthy version of hurt and is provoked by holding a healthy belief about being treated badly, let down or betrayed.

Disappointment is the healthy version of hurt

You feel hurt or disappointment when you have an emotional connection to another person.  They can be felt within different relationships such as family, friendships, intimate, special interest group and work relationships.  They are emotions associated with lack of care.  It is less common to experience hurt or disappointment towards a stranger.

When you feel hurt, you tend to exaggerate the unfairness of the other person’s behaviour towards you and you think the other person doesn’t care about you.  You will see you yourself as someone who is uncared for and you will recall other times when you have been hurt.  Your mind will also be focused on how the other person should put things instead of you.  As a result, you will tend to sulk and shut down communication as well as criticise the other person without telling them that feel hurt.

Disappointment is the healthy version of hurt.  When you feel disappointment, you will be more realistic in your judgement about the other person’s behaviour.  You won’t automatically jump to the conclusion that you are uncared for.  You will tend to judge the insensitive behaviour rather than personalise it.  You won’t see yourself as alone and uncared for and you won’t think of other times when you have been hurt.  You will explain to the other person how you feel and won’t shut down communication and criticise them unnecessarily.  So the mind set and behaviours that trigger disappointment are more balanced, realistic and assertive.

An emotion often associated with hurt is anger.  This combination is known is Anger-Hurt.  Hurt is directed towards the self because the person thinks they are alone and uncared for and anger is directed towards the other person and the other person is damned as bad.  The anger emotion is the most obvious and the most expressed emotion out of the two.  Hurt tends to be held under the surface emotion of anger.

 

Tips

  1. Take responsibility for your emotions and explain how you feel but do not make the other person the cause of your feelings.  Use expressions like ‘I felt hurt when you ignored me’ rather than ‘you hurt me when you when ignored me’.
  2. Ask but do not demand change from the other person.
  3. Do not pay the other person back by being overly critical about other things they are doing.  Express your feelings in a balanced way.
  4. Focus on the incident that you felt most hurt about and refrain from bringing past hurts into the same conversation.

Considering a change in career

10 Aug

Many of us would like a change in career direction, and autumn is a key time when we reflect on our current career path.  But equally many of us don’t feel brave enough to make the desired changes in our lives. The prospect of looking and trying to find something different is far too daunting. There are so many things to consider. So many questions spring to mind, such as, why do I want to change career (maybe the most telling question), what work do I really want to do, what skills and abilities do I have and….

Ok let’s stop there and use this blog post to analyze these concerns in a little more detail (thanks to jobs.ac.uk for some of this info).

When we look at the question of why we want a career change, there seems to be a multitude of possible reasons –  boredom, feeling undervalued, loss of interest, feeling trapped, conflict with fellow workers or your boss, work having a negative impact on your life, or just something as simple as needing a new stimulus.

So, how to go about something as important and challenging as a change in your career?

It is good to take time to think about what you want to achieve and to explore your own values. It may be helpful to write these down. You may have more than you think! You may enjoy the benefits of doing good and contributing to the welfare of others and making a difference, rather than the incentive of a large remuneration.  Consider what your ideal job would entail on a day-to-day basis, what would make your working life more enjoyable? Things like, would you enjoy working in a smaller team or for yourself, outdoors, from home, spending less time travelling? You may find achieving your career change may mean retraining. This can have implications for you and your family. You may have to start from square one again and live with the consequences of that, such as lack of status and money!

Once you have established the new career you are aiming for, create a plan about what you need to do to start moving towards it. So when thinking about your career change ‘plan of action’, remember, it is important to be positive. You are the one in control of your life and you can make any changes you want to it.

If you think you might be interested in training in therapy/hypnotherapy remember to check out www.ccbh.org.uk for more information

Emotion Blog Series #4: Guilt and Remorse

2 Aug

Guilt is an unhealthy emotion

Guilt is the fourth unhealthy negative emotion in our Emotions series.  We experience guilt when we hold unhealthy beliefs about transgressing our own moral code, do not live up to our moral code or hurting the feelings of a significant other.

 

Guilt is mostly created by the rigidly held beliefs that you “absolutely shouldn’t have” thought or done something or that you “absolutely should have” done something.

For example, you may believe “I have done something morally wrong and I absolutely should not have done that wrongdoing and I am a bad person for doing that”

You can feel guilt about many things.  You may feel guilty about being depressed believing “I shouldn’t be depressed, it’s wrong to feel this way when I have so much, I should be grateful for what I have”.  This belief would lead to the self damning belief “I am a bad person” which perpetuates the cycle of guilt and depression.  You may experience guilt about some behaviour, for example infidelity, telling lies, getting unhealthily angry with a loved one, keeping secrets and so on.

 

Remorse is the healthy negative emotion that partners guilt, which occurs when you hold healthy or rational beliefs about breaking your own moral standards or about hurting the feelings of a significant other. For example, a healthy belief would be “I have broken my moral code and I wish I hadn’t done that wrongdoing and I accept that I have done something I perceive as morally wrong. I accept myself as a worthwhile and fallible human being even though I have done something wrong.  I will make amends and ask for forgiveness for what I have done.”

 

How do you know if you are guilty or remorseful?

When you think you are guilty you believe you have committed the sin and you tend to take all the responsibility for the transgression and tend not to think others have any responsibility.  For example, imagine you had promised to record your best friend’s favourite programme whilst she was away on a business trip and you failed to do so.  If you hold an unhealthy belief that, “I absolutely should always do what I am say I am going to do” you will disturb yourself over this failure to act in accordance with this belief.   You may tend to over apologise or compensate by buying a disproportionately extravagant gift to make amends or you may try to avoid contact with your friend.

If you held the healthy belief that” I strongly prefer to act in accordance with what I say I am going to do but I don’t absolutely have to” then you will experience remorse and will more than likely apologise  for your failure to your friend without begging for forgiveness.

When we experience guilt we also believe we will be punished in some way for that sin.

To escape the pain of guilt we try and escape the feeling in self defeating ways, avoiding situations or people so you are not confronted by your feeling of guilt, you may use alcohol or recreational drugs to suppress the feelings

When we feel guilty we may feel like begging for forgiveness and agreeing to never commit the sin again, we may even feel like punishing ourselves taking physical penance or by acts of deprivation.

If you are experiencing the healthy negative emotion of remorse you will be able to think of your behaviour in context, with an understanding and self acceptance as a “fallible human being”.  With remorse you do not think there will be some kind of retribution for your sin and you are able to keep perspective and recognise your responsibility as well as others in the given situation.

When feeling remorseful you make appropriate amends for your poor behaviour without making excuses and face up to the healthy discomfort.  Instead of begging for forgiveness as in guilt you ask for forgiveness and have no desire to punish yourself or become defensive about your actions.

 

TIPS

  • Become and remain aware of your values and the moral code you wish to apply to your life but don’t hold your values rigidly.  No one is perfect.
  • Take responsibility for your actions and acknowledge any transgression and then ask for forgiveness, make amends and learn from it.

 

If asking for forgiveness or making amends is no longer an option, then forgive yourself and accept that you are a fallible human being who has made a mistake.  Learn from it.