Thursday, 31 December 2015

10 Ways Your Smartphone Can Help You Keep New Years Resolution This Time

1. Lose Weight — Losing weight is the top New Year’s Resolution. Every year after the holiday season comes to a close, millions of people hit the gym and start counting calories. Then motivation starts to lag because people don’t feel that they are accomplishing anything. Apps like Happy Scale and Lose It! help monitor your progress by tracking your weight over time. MyFitnessPal is also a useful tool for tracking progress towards your fitness goals with its free calorie counter. Losing weight is a slow process, and these apps are a great way to hold yourself accountable, as well as keep motivation high as you hit your milestones.

2. Get Healthy — Weight is only one small indicator of overall health. There are scores of other metrics that matter, but are frequently ignored, such as cholesterol levels, bone density, and vitamin intake. WellnessFX is making this type of information easily accessible by analyzing data from blood tests and presenting a more holistic look at your overall health, as well as personalized clinical advice. Another way to improve your health is with movement trackers. On average, people sit for nearly 8 hours a day. This is bad for the body, and a one-hour workout is not enough to counteract the effects. I’ve found that wearables like Fitbit, UP, and Android Wear are extremely useful for reminding me to move more, which improves my physical health and productivity.

3. Manage Your Schedule– Getting organized is the second most popular New Year’s Resolution, and a good calendar app is necessary to achieve that goal. Today’s calendar apps, like Sunrise, go beyond logging and reminding you of all your appointments by providing extra, useful information that helps you stay on schedule. For example, Sunrise automatically adjusts your appointment times to different time zones when you travel. Sunrise also syncs multiple calendars, making it easier to balance work and personal life. Last year, many of my friends’ resolutions was to be home in time to put their kids to bed. Having an event on the calendar helped them live up to that promise.

4. Train your Brain– Brain health drives our ability to concentrate, problem-solve, and be creative. It is an important, but often overlooked, component of success. Elevate is an app with research-backed games that train 25 skills designed to boost productivity, earning power, and self-confidence. Users select the skills they’d like to improve on and receive a personalized training program. Elevate presents a new set of challenges each day and gets smarter over time. It also tracks your performance across skill groups, so you can see what areas you need to work on.

5. Stick to a Budget — After losing weight and getting organized, spending less and saving more is the most common resolution people make. Two-thirds of Americans do not budget, according to a Gallup poll, and yet budgeting is an important part of developing positive financial habits and building wealth. Level is a mobile money meter that takes the pain out of budgeting, by automatically tracking your spending and updating spendable cash each day. It presents a clear, real-time picture of whether you are within your budget, and helps you create a connection between everyday decisions and larger financial goals.

6. Be Happy — People who are happy often have more success achieving other goals, like higher productivity, better health, and are even more successful in work and love. However sometimes happiness can be difficult to achieve. Happieris a social app for sharing happy moments with others. It helps people appreciate the things they have in their life and provides short lessons that teach the tips, tricks, and habits that are scientifically proven to help people focus on what makes them happier. The idea is that happiness is a mindset that can be cultivated and sustained, and the app helps you do just that.

Be Calm — In today’s always-on, compulsively busy world, finding calm and peace of mind can seem impossible.Nearly half of Americans saying stress has a negative impact on their personal and professional life. It lowers productivity, causes people to make bad decisions, and is damaging to health. The good news is that something as simple as taking a few minutes each day to be quiet and still, to reflect and tune out the world, can have a powerful effect on stress levels and wellbeing. Calm is a guided meditation app that encourages people to meditate and helps them along the way. It is essentially a mental workout that promotes peace and positivity.

8. Get More Sleep — Related to the stress epidemic is the lack of sleep epidemic. 40 percent of Americans don’t get enough sleep, and sleep deprivation is linked to depression, weight gain, early ageing, and irritability, which is in turn linked to more disagreements and greater dissatisfaction. SleepCycle is an app that tracks your REM cycle as you sleep and wakes you up at the time that is optimal for you. The result is you feel more alert better understand your own sleeping patterns. An added benefit of more sleep is it helps achieve other goals, like weight loss and organization.

9. Fall in Love — While you can’t resolve your way into falling in love, there are a number of apps out there that can help you meet someone special. Hinge is a mobile startup that lets you meet people in your extended social circles every day. It uses a “romance graph” to pair you with friends of friends that may be a good match. If you express interest in someone and they express interest back, Hinge will introduce you. From there, it is up to you.

10. Push Your Boundaries — The New Year is a great time to make a big decision you’ve been holding back on, or take a risk. For just about any action you can think of, there is an app out there that can help. Kickstarter provides the infrastructure and support you need to start a business, or at least test if there is interest in your idea. Skyscanner is a quick way to compare cheap flights, hotels, and car hires so you can take a trip to your favorite travel destination, or discover someplace new. Thinking of buying a house? Zillow puts all the resources you need at your fingertips. There is no time like the present to jump into the unknown.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Scientists Find Vessels That Connect Immune System And Brain

In contradiction to decades of medical education, a direct connection has been reported between the brain and the immune system. Claims this radical always require plenty of testing, even after winning publication, but this could be big news for research into diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS) and Alzheimer's.
It seems astonishing that, after centuries of dissection, a system of lymphatic vessels could have survived undetected. That, however, is exactly what Professor Jonathan Kipnis of the University of Virginia claims in Nature.
"It changes entirely the way we perceive the neuro-immune interaction,” says Kipnis. “We always perceived it before as something esoteric that can't be studied. But now we can ask mechanistic questions."
MS is known to be an example of the immune system attacking the brain, although the reasons are poorly understood. The opportunity to study lymphatic vessels that link the brain to the immune system could transform our understanding of how these attacks occur, and what could stop them. The causes of Alzheimer's disease are even more controversial, but may also have immune system origins, and the authors suggest protein accumulation is a result of the vessels failing to do their job.
Indeed, Kipnis claims, "We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role.”
The discovery originated when Dr. Antoine Louveau, a researcher in Kipnis' lab, mounted the membranes that cover mouse brains, known as meninges, on a slide. In the dural sinuses, which drain blood from the brain, he noticed linear patterns in the arrangement of immune T-cells. “I called Jony [Kipnis] to the microscope and I said, 'I think we have something,'" Louveau recalls.
Kipnis was skeptical, and now says, "I thought that these discoveries ended somewhere around the middle of the last century. But apparently they have not." Extensive further research convinced him and a group of co-authors from some of Virginia's most prestigious neuroscience institutes that the vessels are real, they carry white blood cells and they also exist in humans. The network, they report, “appears to start from both eyes and track above the olfactory bulb before aligning adjacent to the sinuses.”

Monday, 21 December 2015

VIDEO Asleep in 60 Seconds

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Kickboxing Mum Credits Debut Victory to Hypnosis

Mother of three Summer Reedy stormed to victory on her kickboxing debut.

Organised by Yeovil Fight Academy's Giles Richards and held at Club Neo, the hypnotherapist beat opponent Helen Ivey in the first round with a knockout blow after only 39 seconds.

Reedy's triumph is all the more impressive considering she trained from scratch in just 12 weeks.

"I had taken a course in self defence at Yeovil Fight Academy but I was surprised when Giles Richards suggested I train for a fight," she said.

"I love competing and enjoyed watching boxing and Mixed Martial Arts, but never in my life had I been in a fight. I love new challenges so I said yes."

Reedy had to learn the martial art K1, a form of kickboxing which permits blows to the legs and the head. No helmets are worn but she had no apprehension about fighting; her main preoccupation being mastering a complex sport and dealing with her own reactions to being punched and kicked.

"I was worried about how much I could take before I fell down and how I would react during the fight," Reedy said.

"In training I got blows to the stomach, a black eye and a bloody nose - but I had to take it in order to learn. Failure is the way to the techniques of success."

Reedy credits her victory to the hypnotherapy she uses with her clients. "After training, I would come home and practice self-hypnosis, putting myself into a relaxed state of heightened awareness," she said.

"Some might think of it as meditation or mindfulness, or even as prayer. In that state, I would visualise my trainer Giles doing the combination of moves I had learned that day, then visualise myself doing the same - a bit like a tennis player imagining themselves doing Roger Federer's serve.

"Then I would practice imagery, performing that combination in my head, feeling every muscle do what it was supposed to. I think this is what helped me improve so fast."

Self-hypnosis also played an important part in Reedy's preparation on the day itself. As well as anticipating her opponent's fight plan, controlling nerves was a vital part of her strategy.

Read full article:

Sunday, 13 December 2015

VIDEO 10 Myths of Psychology

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Hypnotherapy Facts and Stats!

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Psychological Warning Signs of Drug Abuse

The Psychological Warning Signs of Drug Abuse

If you have noticed that someone you care about has been acting strangely and you are concerned that they may have fallen victim to drug addiction and abuse, there are certain signs that you can look for to confirm your suspicions. In particular, there are several psychological warning signs that would indicate an individual is struggling with addition. To learn more, continue reading.
Changes in Personality and Mood
One of the first indicators of drug abuse is a change in overall attitude or personality. If your friend or family member suddenly starts behaving differently than the norm, you should consider this a potential sign that they are using drugs. For example, if your friend was usually a happy and positive person but is suddenly really depressed or negative, you may want to talk to them and find out what's going on to see if you can help.
Another sign of drug abuse could be sudden changes in mood. A person may go from laughing, sometimes at nothing at all, to exhibiting an angry outburst. An individual may swing from one mood to the next rapidly, such as from hyperactivity to agitation, or there could be strange moods and irritability that are not the norm for that person.
Lack of Motivation and Drive
Another psychological sign of substance abuse could be a lack of motivation or a lack of drive. Your friend may no longer be interested in the same things that they used to enjoy, and may therefore only want to stay home and avoid doing anything fun or different.
An individual who is addicted to drugs may also appear spaced out or lethargic more often than not. This, too, makes it harder for them to be motivated about things and people that they used to care about.
Also, those who abuse drugs tend to have an inability to remain focused, which could make it difficult for them to stay in school or succeed at work. Suddenly not performing as successfully as before could be a sign of substance abuse.
Exhibiting a Lot of Negative Emotions
A lot of negative emotions can also indicate drug use. For example, individuals may find themselves feeling really anxious, fearful, or even paranoid, even if there aren't apparent reasons to feel that way. People who are addicted to drugs may also appear more withdrawn than usual and may end up keeping to themselves more often than spending time with others. Ultimately, these negative emotions can come out of nowhere, but they take over the addict's personality and are easily recognized by those around them.


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

10 Things a Hypnotherapist Should Never Do...

1.Hypnotize Someone Without Their Consent

Hypnosis is a form of two-way communication between you and your client – and is anything but a causal relationship that should be entered lightly!
Unless someone really wants to be hypnotized, and they ask to be, there’s very little point.
Aside from a multitude of reasons why you should never break this deadly sin, as a “professional” you also run the risk of getting a bad reputation for trying to pull a fast one.

2. Use Hypnosis Unethically, Or To Your Advantage

The purpose of hypnosis is to be a force for good and help people deal with problem areas in their lives.
To give them the means to cope with difficulties, or to enable them to eliminate those difficulties completely.
It’s not designed to be used for personal gain or to take advantage of another human being.
So, for instance, you should never use hypnosis to profit from a business deal. Likewise, it isn’t meant to be a shortcut to seducing someone.
And let’s face it, it’d be a pretty sad state of affairs if you had to resort to tactics like that to get another person interested in you.

3. Offer Pain Relief Without Knowledge Of The Facts

This sounds counterintuitive, but it isn’t.
When someone is in pain, that pain is often a signal pointing to a bigger issue.
It’s the body’s way of warning you that something’s wrong. So to simply take the pain away, without being aware of the full picture, could have devastating consequences.
Instead, make sure you get crystal clear instructions from your client’s doctor. If pain relief is advised, then feel free to provide it. If not, or if you’re uncertain in any way, then just don’t do it.
Contact the doctor’s office and ask for written confirmation. That way, you’ll know for sure that you’re doing what’s in the best interests of your client. And you won’t get into hot water further down the road.

4. Set Up A Professional Practice Without Formal Training

In this case, “professional” means charging clients for your efforts. If you don’t have any formal training, any certificates, or any diplomas, then you’re not really a professional.
You might be an amazing hypnotherapist, but without the credentials to back you up, how can you prove it?
Naturally, anyone who promotes themselves as a professional should be able to say “Look, I graduated from the Such-and-Such Hypnosis Academy.”
Your clients should be able to see the proof of your qualifications hanging on your wall. You wouldn’t let a doctor or a dentist do any work on you unless they’d been rigorously trained, would you?
Same should go for you and your hypnotherapy.
Of course, the laws governing whether or not you’re entitled to practice vary from country to country, and even from state to state in the US. Regardless of that, hypnosis is a powerful tool that can prove life-altering in the right hands.
At the end of the day, the onus is on you to get the training and certification you need to meet all local and national criteria. And that applies even if your country or region doesn’t specify what their requirements are. Look at it this way: the more qualifications you have, the better hypnotherapist you’ll be.
The more success you’ll have, and ultimately the more clients you’ll attract.
Sounds like a win-win scenario, doesn’t it?

5. Breach Client Confidentiality

If there was ever a way to guarantee failure as a hypnotherapist, this is it.
Your clients come to you with all sorts of issues. In some cases it may have taken them months or even years to work up the courage.
The last thing they expect is for you to share their private and personal details with anyone else.
Laws regarding client confidentiality may vary from place to place, but that’s not really the point. It’s more a question of respect.
If you don’t treat your clients with respect, and that includes the things they say and do during sessions, then it won’t be long before you don’t have any clients left.
Suppose you went to your doctor with an embarrassing problem. It happens, right? What would you do if you suddenly heard people talking about it outside the doctor’s office?
Or maybe laughing about it?
You’d be furious, that’s for sure.
You’d probably give the doctor a piece of your mind. You might even take matters further, writing a letter to his superiors. Or firing off a petulant tweet.
And no-one would blame you.
Because that kind of behavior is unprofessional in the extreme – and likely to lead to all kinds of unpleasantness, complications, and seriously bad publicity.

6. Enter A Session In A Bad Mood

This can be tough to achieve.
After all, everybody has bad days.
So there will be times when you’re just not feeling 100%. If that’s the case, and you simply can’t shake it off, cancel the session.
Say you’re not well.
Make an excuse if you have to, but don’t continue in the hope that things will be fine.
Because they won’t. Also remember not to take your own personal judgments into a session with you.
If you’re depressed or upset, or in any other kind of negative mental state, then you know what’s likely to happen.
You should always “go first” to lead your client through a session. But if you’re feeling low or pessimistic, or there are some bad vibes drifting out from you, then your client will pick up on it.
And when that happens, hypnosis isn’t likely to work.
Canceling an appointment might cost you a few bucks. But what will it cost you in the long run if you go ahead, knowing that your attempts will likely be futile?
You won’t win any prizes for being the hypnotherapist who can’t deliver the goods.

7. Use The Same Scripts Or Techniques For Every Client

What might your client list consist of?
Short people, tall people, skinny people, fat people, young people, old people, males and females. Some working, some retired or between jobs.
They’re all people, but what else have they got in common?
Apart from the need or desire to see a hypnotherapist, not very much.
Imagine a doctor giving every patient the same medication, regardless of their condition. Regardless of their age, size, and medical history.
You don’t have to be a genius to know that at least three things will happen as a result:
1) The medication will only work on some people
2) The medication could have serious side-effects for other people
3) The doctor will get into big trouble, which could range anywhere from a substantial lawsuit to being struck off altogether
One of the great things about hypnosis is that it has variety built in. There’s no need to be a one-trick pony, because the options are nearly endless.
Combine that with the individuality of the people you see, and it only makes sense that you should tailor your sessions to meet their specific needs.

8. Neglect To Bring A Subject Safely Out Of Trance

As mentioned above, hypnosis provides you with a variety of techniques to help people.
Depending on your client’s situation, your sessions can get very emotional, particularly when dealing with sensitive issues.
Or when you’re doing regression work. Sessions such as these can be both exhausting and liberating in equal measure.
But the last thing you want is to leave your client hanging. So make sure you bring them safely out of a trance and confirm that they’re feeling well.
Guide them gently back to consciousness, and give them some time to recover before they leave.
You want them to feel refreshed and good about the session, so that hopefully they’ll be keen to come back for more.
IMPORTANT: Whatever you do, don’t let your subject drive until they’re fully back to normal waking consciousness!

9. Make False Claims About Your Skills

Hypnosis is a powerful tool, but it has its limitations.
You can’t make skyscrapers disappear or turn frogs into princes. Be realistic about your abilities and your clients will value your honesty.
The truth is that you can’t hypnotize everyone right away.
Some people need multiple sessions to learn to be a good hypnotic subject, and others might resist your attempts.
Even if coming to see you was their own idea. So don’t be afraid to let them know if you can’t help them, or if it might take several sessions.
Tell people the truth about what you might be able to help them achieve, and make sure they know it isn’t a 100% guarantee of success.
That way they’ll be armed with all the facts and be better able to decide for themselves if they want to try hypnotherapy.
Of course, the other side of the coin is pretending you can do miracles, which might lead to a whole stack of problems you’ll find yourself having to talk your way out of.

10. Practice Hypnosis Just To Make Money

If you’re a professional, it’s only natural that you charge for your services.
You may have come to hypnotherapy as a second or third career and rely on it to put food on the table. That’s absolutely fine and exactly the way it should be.
But as you probably know, hypnotherapy is one of the caring professions.
It demands patience, compassion, understanding, and the ability to deal with people in a non-judgmental way.
If you practice hypnotherapy in order to help people lead a more rewarding and fulfilling life, then you’re a star.
If you’re only in it for the money, then you’re something else entirely. But don’t be fooled. People aren’t stupid. They can spot a fake a mile away.
Even if it takes them a while, they’ll soon work out where your priorities lie.
And when they do, they’ll spread the word.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Computer Controlled By The Mind Research

A team of researchers led by Angelika Lingnau, from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London has been able to predict participants' movements just by analysing their brain activity.

The research, which is published in the Journal of Neuroscience, is the first human study to look at the neural signals of planned actions that are freely chosen by the participant and could be the first step in the development of brain-computer interfaces.

Dr. Lingnau and her team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while participants planned and performed simple hand movements inside the scanner. Crucially, participants freely chose which of three hand movements to select. Using machine learning algorithms, the researchers then determined whether they were able to predict which movement the participant was going to perform on the basis of the brain activity measured during the planning phase.

Dr Lingnau said: "We are very excited by our findings because it is the first time a human study of this kind has been carried out where the participants were able to choose a movement by themselves and were the only ones who knew what they had planned to do. We were successfully able to predict what action they were going to carry out just from analysing their brain signals."

"This opens up huge possibilities for the future including the development of technology you can control with your mind as well as enabling the development of methods for helping those with paralysis to have direct brain control to the affected areas."

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

VIDEO BBC How You Really Make Decisions

Friday, 20 November 2015

How to Develop Mental Endurance and Strength

By Remez Sasson

We all face various challenges each day, at home, at work, at the store and on the street. Many of them are just minor challenges, with which we deal automatically and easily, but some of them require strategy, thinking and mental endurance.

You need mental endurance if you work in a congenial environment, or have a demanding boss. You also need mental endurance when dealing with your teenagers, taking care of elderly parents, or when you do business with difficult people.

As we undergo changes in our life, we must learn to build mental endurance on a daily basis. Mental endurance does not mean passivity or suffering; it means mental strength. It is the ability to exercise inner strength, and the ability to deal effectively with all challenges. This requires a certain degree of willpower, self-discipline, and the ability to persevere with what you are doing.

We must learn to keep our mind focused upon what we are doing, and not let ourselves be mentally distracted. We should also not give in to unreasonable or unjust demands from the people we are dealing with. We must learn to stay on the road to our goals, no matter how tough the going is.

When we build mental endurance, we teach ourselves to never quit. Our mental endurance keeps us going, even when our body is tired or wants to quit. Our inner strength can keep us going, irrespective of the difficulties and challenges we face.
Tips on How to Develop Mental Endurance and Strength

You can improve your mental endurance, in much the same way that an athlete improves his physical endurance, through practice and exercises. Mental exercises challenge the brain, strengthen it, and build endurance. They also strengthen the concentration and the memory.

There are various ways in which you can exercise your brain and mind and develop mental endurance. One way is through solving puzzles and crosswords, since they require that you use your head, and remember facts, vocabulary and details.

Certain video games can also challenge your mind and brain, as well as games that require you to use your memory or plan ahead, such as Sudoku or chess.

Physical exercises are important not only for the body, but also for the brain, since they send more oxygen and blood to the brain.

Focusing on what you are doing, improves your concentration, self discipline and your mental endurance. Rather than dividing your attention between work and daydreaming, reading a book and watching TV, doing your homework and listening to music, focus on one thing. Don't try to do so all day long, because you will fail and get disappointed. Rather, focus on one thing for a few minutes at a time, and gradually extend the time.

Challenge yourself to do things you never did before, using common sense of course. Do things that you usually do, but in a different way. Learn new things, develop new skills, or start a new hobby. All these things make your mind work, and therefore, improve its strength and endurance, develop willpower and self discipline, and impart you with the inner strength and mental endurance necessary for dealing with the challenges of daily life.

By developing mental endurance and strength, in the way outlined above, you gain brain and mental strength, which you can use whenever you need, and for whatever purpose.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Are We Ex-Apes? A Story Of Human Evolution

"We are biocultural ex-apes trying to understand ourselves," declares biological anthropologist Jonathan Marks in his new book, Tales of the Ex-Apes:How We Think About Human Evolution.

That term — ex-apes — get emphasized in the book a lot by Marks, as does "human exceptionalism." Marks really doesn't want to be an ape — and he delivers his argument in a book that's fresh (in all senses of the word), funny and full of rigorous anthropological scholarship. His argument pushes back against my tendency — even while working within the same discipline as Marks — to emphasize not ape-human boundaries but ape-human continuities.

There are two central themes, as I see it, in Marks' Tales.

First, human meaning-making is centered on kinship. Unlike other animals, we decide to whom we're related based as much on our shared ideas as on the fact of our shared genes. Consider first cousins. In some societies, your mother's brother's offspring and your mother's sister's offspring, though equally genetically related to you, may be considered to be in two wildly different categories of kin, such that one is a perfectly acceptable mating partner and the other would be a scandalously incestuous choice.

Second, because science is everywhere and always a cultural enterprise, this meaning-making extends to the ways we make sense of human origins. It's notoriously hard to distinguish one extinct species from another, which means that species are units of cultural thought as much as of biological fact. The inevitable conclusion is that in studying human evolution, weimpose upon fossil finds more than discover from them trees of relatedness that attempt to draw connections among various ancestral species.

Marks concludes that ancestry "is an origin myth. It takes the world of biological data and emphasizes some things, invents others, and relates the present to the past in a meaningful way."

So far, so good.

But what about that next step, the one that carries us firmly into the territory of human exceptionalism? Sure, humans make meaning in ways that chimpanzees don't. But why push hard to wall us off as ex-apes from these smart, savvy primates who make meaning in their own ways?

And push hard Marks does. Making a cultural decision of his own, he portrays chimpanzees as a kind of dumb cousin.

Chimpanzees don't speak. Instead, Marks notes, "one ape goes 'oo-oo-oo,' and the others join in." Lacking graveside rituals for their dead, when a companion is unresponsive, chimpanzees are limited to understanding only that "once Boo-Boo has ceased to move, he is not going to start moving again." Chimpanzees, in fact, "have small, weak brains."

Marks doesn't, of course, deny that this way of framing chimpanzees is a cultural framing — that would go against all his conclusions. I asked him this week by email if scientists who study chimpanzees might find his language to be pretty obviously biased, an explicit attempt to stretch the ape-human divide. He replied in this way:

"Yes, absolutely! My point is precisely that nobody can say 'You're being political/ideological/biased and I'm not.' Given the subject, it is all bio-political, and that is what we need to acknowledge — this is not like fruit-fly genetics."

So, then, what is my bio-political take on our "dumb" cousins?

Even though chimpanzees neither speak nor bury their dead, they're not so dumb at all. In their dynamic fission-fusion communities, chimpanzees communicate with meaningful vocalizations and gestures, express both lethal violence and also empathy and grief, and show nifty levels of cognition by keeping track of complex social relationships, hunting collaboratively and making tools (used in precise sequence) that increase their foraging success.

Aren't we apes, in the same way that we are mammals? On this point, Marks holds firm. He told me:

"Let's differentiate between taxonomic terms and descriptive ones. We are mammals, because that is a classificatory term whose defining properties we possess. We are also hominoids; that is a classificatory term and we have the defining properties (no tail, Y-5 molars, rotating shoulder, etc.). Those are statements about what kinds of animals we are most similar to, and are taxonomic.

"Apes is not a taxonomic category, but a descriptive category. By exactly the same criteria that would lead you to say we are apes (i.e., phylogeny), you would also have to say that we are fish. But we don't say that we are fish (because it would be stupid). There are certainly thing we can learn about our biology by coming to grips with our fish ancestry, but we aren't fish. Rather, we say that our ancestors were fish, but they evolved into land-dwelling, air-breathing tetrapods. Likewise our ancestors were long-armed, small-brained, and hairy (i.e., 'apes'), but they evolved into short-armed, big-brained, glabrous creatures.

"If evolution is descent with modification, then to say that we are fish would be to invoke descent without modification — just descent. That is the same situation for apes."

Point to Marks: We don't want to invoke descent without modification. Biological anthropologist John Hawks stresses the value in invoking precise phylogeny when he says, too, that humans aren't apes.

Yet, seeing ourselves as apes (and mammals, and even as fish, too) invites us to acknowledge the trajectory by which humans evolved to be who we are. We carry — in a very nondeterministic fashion — parts of our ancestral past with us; today we aren't so far apart from other animals as people sometimes think.

Marks and I agree on the big things. Humans shared a common ancestor with today's apes. The human lineage evolved over the past 6 or 7 million years in unprecedentedly bio-cultural ways.

And in taking up different emphases when describing modern humans' relationships to the apes, we embody the very heart of Marks' book. The interpretation of our own origins is a profoundly cultural process.

Friday, 13 November 2015

VIDEO The Secrets of Sleep

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

How Sport is Learning From Special Forces

By Alec Fenn BBC Sport

Snipers and Navy Seals would appear to have little in common with Premier League footballers, but techniques used by the US Special Forces to perform better under pressure are helping world-class athletes gain a mental advantage over their rivals.

Technology used to train the elite military to stay calm as they pull the trigger has been adopted by an Olympic gold medal-winning Team GB athlete, while several clubs in English football's top flight have bought a brain-training device normally used to help improve the peripheral vision of marksmen in battle.

Scanning the brains of Navy Seals has also revealed the power of meditation in developing the mental muscle of both combatants and athletes, and a new piece of naval-funded research could help solve the mystery of unfulfilled talent in sport in the years ahead.

The battle for marginal gains has never been as fierce.

The brain war

For the past six years, sports psychologist and applied sports scientist Dr John Sullivan has assisted America's elite military and law enforcement to optimise the performance of the brain through advanced training to gain an advantage over the enemy.

One aspect of Sullivan's approach is aimed at helping a soldier to track several targets at the same time.

"It's the same on the pitch; we're processing multiple pieces of information at once," Sullivan told BBC Sport.

"Where is the ball going to end up? Where are my team-mates? Where is the opponent? Where am I going to play the ball? This is what Lionel Messi does incredibly well - he has a quicker processing speed than everyone else. But we can train it."

Sullivan, who has also worked for an unnamed NFL team for the past 15 years and as a consultant with the Football Association and several Premier League football clubs and Premiership rugby union sides, uses a tool called Neurotracker to enhance this skill with soldiers and athletes.

The training system requires the user to sit in front of a screen while wearing a pair of black 3D glasses and track four balls among a moving pack of eight for 30 seconds. The speed is then adjusted dependant on the individual's score, with a typical training session lasting eight minutes and performed a minimum of twice a week.

Manchester United bought the software towards the end of Sir Alex Ferguson's time in charge of the club, where Park Ji-sung recorded the single highest score, although Paul Scholes was consistently the best performer on the device. Southampton have also used Neurotracker as part of a wider assessment to evaluate the mental skills of their players.
Staying calm like a sniper

Much of Sullivan's work with the US Special Forces involves training snipers to stay calm after each round of fire. The techniques he uses have helped Team GB skeleton star Lizzy Yarnold to keep her nerves in check, and assess the temperament of some of Chelsea's biggest names.

"We start by teaching them to train their mind, because their mind is their biggest weapon," Sullivan added.

"Sensors are attached to a sniper's head to read brain activity in a training situation using live fire. The signals are then compared to the ideal patterns required during combat - a level of arousal that ensures an individual is alert without becoming anxious - with specific sounds indicating when a sniper is in this mental state."

In 2009, Frank Lampard, John Terry and the rest of Chelsea's first-team squad underwent a similar procedure inside a laboratory called the Mind Room at the club's training ground.

Each player took part in a number of tests, including solving a mathematical problem under time restrictions, to measure how they performed under stress, with the results detecting greater nervousness in youngsters compared to senior players.

With the military, Sullivan attaches sensors to a sniper's body to measure the length of time between each heart beat in real time. Stressful situations can result in erratic changes but can be controlled through a technique called tactical breathing.

"I teach snipers to drop their heart rate in two breaths," said Sullivan. "The recoil on a weapon hits back. If you're on that system for an hour, you'll be hit multiple times. It's just like taking a hit in rugby or American football, so the operator has to recover after every shot and drop their heart rate to conserve energy to improve decision making."

In the build-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, Yarnold integrated the same approach into her training regime. "I wanted complete control of my nerves and how my heart responded under pressure so we used it multiple times every training session," she told BBC Sport.

"In skeleton you have to be really aggressive like a sprinter to get your speed up. You need a high heart rate, but then you have to become a completely different person who thinks very carefully and makes quick decisions.

"My heart rate is about 140 beats per minute during the race, but I've learnt to control it even as I'm sprinting which allows me to think very clearly in stressful situations." Yarnold won gold in Sochi before becoming world and European champion.
Clive Woodward's war room

A key member of Yarnold's support team is sports psychologist Charlie Unwin. He served as a platoon commander in the Royal Horse Artillery in Iraq before becoming a Team GB pentathlete and now uses his experiences to help performers operate under pressure.

"One thing the Army do really well is teach you about mental rehearsal," he said. "They don't call it that - they call it priming - but you're constantly encouraged to play out possible scenarios in your head.

"The problem-solving doesn't necessarily happen in the moment - it happens in training because you have no idea when a roadside bomb might go off or what resources you'll have available."

Unwin passed on those lessons of war to Yarnold. "Visualisation was very powerful," she said. "You do a certain amount of practice runs, but I do hundreds of runs in my head prior to competing. It's true that when the mind leads the body follows."

Former England rugby union coach Sir Clive Woodward prepared his players for the 2003 World Cup by creating a 'war room' - a term borrowed from the military for a command centre where battles are planned.

The squad were gathered inside the dressing room with a map laid out detailing possible positions of both sets of players. A clock displayed how much time had elapsed in the fictional game, with the scoreboard also set to replicate a possible scoreline.

Woodward then selected a player at random to stand up and say exactly what they would do in that situation and what they would expect from their team-mates. The process was repeated multiple times a week over several years to ensure the players thought and solved problems quickly in the same way under pressure. England won the tournament with a dramatic 20-17 victory over Australia in the final.
Training athletes like Navy Seals

The US Special Forces are continuing to invest in identifying and improving areas of the brain that are vital for performance - and their findings have already made an impact on sport.

In 2009, the professor of psychiatry at the University of San Diego in California, Dr Martin Paulus, and his team began a piece of naval-funded research which involved scanning the brains of Navy Seals, elite adventure racers and normal civilians during a restricted breathing test.

Each participant lay down inside a brain scanner before being told their breathing would be interfered with through masks they were wearing. They were only told this between eight and 12 seconds before the interference.

Paulus said: "With the Seals and racers, there was a lot of activity in the area of the brain which is important for resilience and is essentially the link between the brain and the body.

"During and after the test, there was a lot less activity. They were able to anticipate the danger very well and then return to normal quickly. This is an elite response to difficult conditions."

However, a number of civilian participants panicked and had to be removed from the scanner. It prompted Paulus to question whether this part of the brain could be trained like other muscles in the body.

To test this, he prescribed a course of meditation - 20-minute sessions twice a week for 12 weeks - to trainee Royal Marines, who were also subjected to the same breathing test as the Navy Seals.

Paulus added: "We scanned their brains before and after the training and found they modified in the direction we'd seen with the Seals."

Paulus was contacted by the coach of the USA's Olympic BMX team, James Herrera, who wanted to see if meditation could have the same effect on his riders. After winning three medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, they won none at 2012, which Herrera thought might be attributed to a psychological issue.

"We did some scanning before and after the mindfulness training and the changes to their brains were pretty profound," said Paulus. Weeks afterwards, members of the team finished first, second and third at the 2014 USA Cycling Elite BMX National Championships - an annual competition contested by the nation's top 20 riders.

Paulus' vision for the future is an exciting one: "We want to use brain scanning to predict someone's future performance within the military and sport and we're beginning research and setting up experiments around that.

"We hope to be able to scan the brains of athletes and see how their brains react under various conditions and then follow them up to see how their performances relate back to what we see in the scanner.

"There are examples of brilliant junior athletes who don't do well as professionals. We want to solve that mystery."

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Harvard Hypnotists Help Regrow Brain Cells With Meditation


A group of Harvard University students spent eight weeks doing mindfulness mediation as test subjects for a Massachusetts General Hospital study in January of 2011.

The meditating test subjects were examined by Harvard neuroscientists who read MRI scans and found that mindfulness practices change the brain’s gray matter.

“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” said Massachusetts General Hospital’s Sara Lazar, who wrote the study.

According to Feelguide magazine, the test subjects would mediate for about a half hour every day. The scientists found that the practice increased the “gray matter density in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.”

“This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing,” Lazar, who teaches psych at a Harvard Medical School and is part of MassGen’s Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program.

The study found that meditation effects how the brain functions even when someone is not actively meditating. Previous neuroimaging studies found that meditation appeared to decrease activation of the amygdala, which helps process memory and emotion. It had been believed that those changes only happened while people were meditating.

“Previous studies from Lazar’s group and others found structural differences between the brains of experienced meditation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, observing thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. But those investigations could not document that those differences were actually produced by meditation,” said study co-author Sue McGreevey.

“Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time,” wrote McGreevey.

“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” first author of the paper Britta Hölzel, said.

Hölzel is from the Giessen University in Germany and is a research fellow as Mass Gen.

Meditation and hypnosis use similar relaxation techniques. Meditation quiets the mind. Hypnosis reprograms the mind.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Alternative Medicine Cartoon

Friday, 30 October 2015

Virtual Reality Pain Relief for Burn Victims

The volume of the pain is hard for Randy McAllister to describe.

"You get to the threshold where you can't stand it, then find out it can hurt a lot more," says the 60-year-old farmer from The Dalles. He was severely burned while trying to save equipment from a fire in wheat field in August.

During five weeks at the Oregon Burn Center at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, McAllister needed repeated rounds of wound care to remove dead tissue from his extensive burns.

"It's just the most painful thing," he says. "More painful than the fire."

He was ready to try anything when a nurse told him about SnowWorld, a computer game designed to help burn patients escape from agonizing pain. During his next wound care session, McAllister wore headphones and looked through virtual reality goggles. He found himself floating through an icy canyon rendered almost three-dimensional by the wrap-around goggles. By tapping on a computer mouse, McAllister fired snowballs at animated penguins, snowmen and dolphins in the canyon to a soundtrack of upbeat Paul Simon songs.

Strangest of all, the virtual world made his real world pain less overwhelming.

It's one of the most successful examples of non-drug pain management techniques to emerge from the work of psychologists and neuroscientists. The search for non-drug options has gained urgency amid a worsening epidemic of overdoses linked to prescription opioid pain relievers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, which killed 14,800 Americans in 2008 – more those killed from heroin and cocaine overdoses combined.

In clinical trials, burn patients using SnowWorld reported 35 to 50 percent reductions in pain. The system was developed at the University of Washington by research scientist Hunter Hoffman and psychologist David Patterson, with input from burn care experts at Harborview Burn Center in Seattle.

Virtual reality therapy isn't a substitute for opioids and other pain-relieving medications, but it can boost the effectiveness of drugs – and possibly reduce the dosage. Researchers who developed the technology say it may also help people with chronic pain syndromes, although those clinical trials are incomplete.

Theresa McSherry, burn and wound care coordinator at the Oregon Burn Center, says burn patients desperately need more options. Pharmaceutical research has provided safer and more effective anesthetics and opioid pain relievers, but drugs have limits.

View full sizeBruce Ely / The OregonianRandy McAllister, a 60-year-old farmer who suffered severe burns in August, works with occupational therapist Helen Christians at the Oregon Burn Center along with his wife, Mary. McAllister says the painful recovery was made easier when he entered a virtual reality game designed to distract his mind from the excruciating pain of burn treatments."You just can't safely give burn patients enough to provide adequate pain relief," says McSherry, a registered nurse who has worked with burn patients for more than 10 years. A grant from the Legacy Foundation allowed the Oregon Burn Center to buy the $66,000 virtual reality system in August. About a dozen are being used worldwide.

Preventing pain not only relieves immediate suffering, but also seems to help burn patients weeks and months later. Patterson, the UW psychologist, says the amount of pain during treatment is a stronger predictor of depression, anxiety and distress six months to a year later than the extent of burns or the length of hospital stay.

"If you can control more of the acute pain, it can result in better long-term outcomes," he says.

Scientists have known for decades that the human brain can interpret the same signal transmitted by a pain receptor as painful or not, depending on what a person is thinking. During World War II, a physician named Henry Beecher observed that soldiers seldom required morphine despite horrific combat wounds. Civilian patients with comparable wounds were much more likely to require morphine. Beecher concluded that there was no direct relationship between the severity of the wound and the intensity of pain. He was among the first to propose that the meaning our minds give to an injury greatly determines the level of pain. For soldiers, he theorized, the wound meant surviving combat and returning home.

Mood and expectation also play a big role. German researchers recently showed that a sad mood consistently makes people experience more pain. In another recent experiment, tricking people to think time passed more quickly reduced perception of pain

Hoffman reasoned that entering a rich, three-dimensional and sound-filled virtual reality could command so much of the brain's attention resources that less would be available to process pain.

"We're taking advantage of the malleability of human perception to deliberately divert mental resources away from the pain," he says.

Pain by association

Burn patients come to associate the sights and sounds of the wound treatment room with excruciating pain so that just entering the room can amplify the suffering, Hoffman says. Putting on headphones and goggles blocks the anxiety-stirring sights and sounds.

But distraction of attention appears to be the main way that virtual reality reduces pain. Hoffman's team has compared differing gear and found that the more realistic and "immersive" the gear, the greater the reduction in pain reported.

That matches McAllister's experience. His burned fingers made it difficult to hold the computer mouse during his SnowWorld experience. When the mouse slipped from his hand and he lost engagement with the snowball throwing, the pain of the procedure immediately intruded.

Randy McAllister suffered severe burns in August."Oh boy, yeah," he says. "Absolutely." McAllister expects to continue intensive physical therapy for several months to regain more use of his fingers and hands. He may need additional surgery to remove scar tissue and increase joint mobility. But he's optimistic about returning to work next year.

Patterson believes virtual reality can help treat chronic pain, too. The UW researchers also developed a virtual reality program that induces hypnosis. The goal is to use post-hypnotic suggestion to change the way the brain handles chronic pain signals long after therapy sessions.

In the virtual world, subjects descend through the air, viewing a series of numbers, until they find themselves floating over a lake in a hypnotic state. Some people are resistant to hypnosis, and Patterson speculates that virtual reality systems may help overcome that resistance. Use of virtual reality could make hypnosis more standardized and accessible, he says.

"Chronic pain is a much bigger challenge than acute pain," Patterson says. His group has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health for a controlled clinical trial of virtual reality hypnosis for chronic pain.

-- Joe Rojas-Burke

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

When Pop Psychology Goes Wrong

ARE women attracted to different men when they are fertile? Does handwashing make us feel excused from bad behaviour? Do we cling to our parents when we think about death?

If you quickly agreed with these statements, you might be drawing too much from the psychological experiments the media and self-help gurus regularly use to explain our behaviour.

In an unprecedented year-long project, psychologists from around the world attempted to replicate 100 major studies — and could only reproduce the original result 39 per cent of the time.

Alex Holcombe, associate professor of psychology at the University of Sydney, “Most of the science and health news you see in the media is based on individual studies. Those studies are rightly sometimes called ‘groundbreaking’ because they provide the first evidence. Unfortunately, as is now obvious, a single study is not enough. Possibly about half the studies reported in the media cannot be easily reproduced, which is very disappointing.”

It’s not just psychology that faces this problem, but many other areas where important research is being carried out.

“Concerns about replication have been raised in cancer biology, economics, political science, ecology, and other sciences,” said Dr Holcombe.

“Psychology was simply the first field to get its act together sufficiently to do a systematic, scientific study of how frequently its science replicates. The limited evidence we do have suggests that in cancer biology, reasonable attempts at replication also fail at least 50 per cent of the time.”

Here are some of the popular ideas that couldn’t be confirmed.


Men are known to see women as having greater sexual intent than other women see. A US study claimed this was because men are not as good at distinguishing between friendliness and flirtiness as women. That result couldn’t be replicated. Scientists said this could be because of cultural differences between the US and the UK (where the latest study was attempted), or because the images from the original 2008 test seemed ‘dated’. These caveats aside, there’s no reason to believe men don’t know when you’re flirting.


There’s a huge amount of interest in unconscious, unintentional learning, from hypnotherapy to listening to tapes while asleep. Psychologists showed that if people are primed with motivational, goal-directed words, they learn better without even realising it. They claimed participants learned more after completing a word search containing words like ‘ambition’, ‘progress’ and ‘success’, than after a neutral one. But this year’s experimenters found no such effect.


The original study said we denigrate ‘moral rebels’, i.e. those who take an unpopular, morally laudable stand, when that choice is different to our own behaviour and can be seen as threatening to our choice. It said that because we think they will look down on us, we consider them as a threat and perform a “pre-emptive strike” to lessen the anticipated sting. The replicated study found no such reaction.


The first study said task-switching interferes with ‘simultaneous working memory processing’. Our performance was thought to be affected by the difficulty in task-switching and its frequency.

But the new study found that increased switching between tasks doesn’t necessarily make us perform worse, although it may take us longer to process numbers. It suggests that multi-tasking may be fine, depending on what we’re doing.


A study on ‘terror management’ claimed parental attachment helps young adults manage their anxiety over mortality and the inevitability of death. It suggested that insecure individuals were more likely to rely on relationships with their parents for support, whereas secure individuals were more likely to rely on relationships with romantic partners. But the replication of the study did not find that our terror altered the time we allocated to parents, siblings, friends and partners, or affected that specific attachment.


Researchers said our response to communicated anger in a bargaining exchange depends on power and knowledge. They claimed that the party with the advantage in terms of information or power will become more determined not to give in and even increase demands in response to anger. The latest experimenters disagreed.


Psychologists said that individuals make less severe judgments when they are primed with the concept of cleanliness, or wash their hands after experiencing disgust. But the second-round researchers did not find that physical cleanliness reduced the severity of moral judgments, or that hand-washers could erase feelings of disgust. They also found no evidence for possible opposing predictions that physical self-cleansing would lead to more severe moral judgments.


Two original studies found reading an essay that undermined a belief in free will led to more cheating in an experimental task. While in the same direction as the original result, the replication result was not statistically significant. Researchers said that the lack of effect could be due to a failure to effectively manipulate free will.


This study claimed that women who are in a relationship prefer single men when they are ovulating and attached men when they are not ovulating. They suggested that attached women would only leave a relationship for a new partner who is capable of providing resources, whereas an ovulating women should be attracted to a single man who would be more available for sex. But a second attempt could not recreate the link between man’s availability, participant’s conception risk and participant’s partnership status.


The original study said when we are feeling lonely, we attach feelings to inanimate objects and pets. The researchers claimed that socially disconnected people show an increased belief in supernatural agents, a greater propensity to attach social traits to pets and be more likely to detect faces in ambiguous drawings. But the second set of researchers could not replicate any of the three claims.

What we can take away from this

Drawing conclusions from such results can be complicated by all sorts of factors, from tendencies to experiment on people from higher socio-economic backgrounds in the West, to different sample sizes or alterations in the testing environment.

Patrick Goodbourn from the University of Sydney was one of the 270 researchers from 17 countries to be involved in the project. He told the number of failures didn’t mean the original research was wrong, but scientists needed to be wary of small things that could affect results.

“The more surprising results were less likely to replicate, but you want a balance between innovative results and reliable or solid ones. There’s also a second stage, which is that you might disagree on what a study means for the human mind.

“It’s not the case that 61 per cent of studies are false. We were keen to make sure the original author was involved so there was no sense we were targeting them.”

While psychologists can find it harder to create large sample sizes than physicists looking at particles, m
Many fields deal with variability in results. There’s a high rate of variability in drug treatment, for example.

What we need to see now is other disciplines doing the same replication work, science journals enforcing more rigorous testing and the public responding with more scepticism. Then maybe we can get a little closer to understanding complicated human beings.

Friday, 23 October 2015

VIDEO Steve Peters and The Chimp Brain

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Brain Trauma Widespread in American Football

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Football is a dangerous sport. Even with the best protective gear, sprained knees, pulled muscles and an occasional broken bone are part of the game. But seven years of research into the impact of head trauma in high school players points to new dangers that parents will find extremely alarming.

"We are seeing changes in brain activity even without a diagnosed concussion, even without any sign or symptoms showing up and that that occurs in a large population of our subjects," Larry Leverenz, a Clinical Professor of Health and Kinesiology at Purdue University.

More than half of the players participating in the trials showed signs of altered neurological function and dramatic changes to the wiring and biochemistry of their brains, according to a series of studies published by the Purdue Neurotrauma Group. They focused their research on pre-concussive head injuries which up until now went largely ignored due to lack of symptoms such as dizziness or disorientation associated with a concussion.

"It's not just the neurons that get damaged, it's the glial cells, it's the vasculature," said Eric Nauman, Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University.

"Basically in football and woman's soccer about half the team is experiencing these kinds of things, these kinds of changes. Some of them heal and some of them don't by the time they start playing their next season and that was the thing that really got us nervous," he added.

The researchers placed sensors on the athletes to record impact forces and coupled that data with brain scans and cognitive tests to track neurological function over the course of the trial.

They found hits to the head that up until now were considered less dangerous may be the most dangerous of all because they go unnoticed, occur more frequently and cause damage that could result in long lasting neurological problems.

Based on their results, the researchers are developing equipment that better protects the head from high force impacts.

"You're not going to change the game. You are not going to get rid of the game, at least. So how can you make changes that keep the spirit of the game there, keep players enjoying, keep fans enjoying the game but at the same time be safe," said Leverenz.

They say the technology to make these games safer exists. But to get them out of the laboratory and on to the field requires a general consensus that these sports are a lot more dangerous than previously thought.

Friday, 16 October 2015

'Skully' Gillian Anderson used Hypnotherapy

Gillian Anderson had hypnotherapy before returning to the stage this year.

The 46-year-old actress has won rave reviews for her performance in 'A Streetcar Named Desire' at London's Young Vic theater but had to seek specialist help before her run started after suffering panic attacks brought on by a fear of forgetting her lines.

She said: "I was terrified because I've had panic attacks on stage before so deciding to do this was a lot of pressure.

"I went to a couple of different hypnotists to deal with the anxiety because about six months before I started I was already projecting the fear of the future onto really small moments and struggling to even give a thank you speech.

"I think the combination of hypnotherapy and working my a*s off so that I was comfortable with the material meant that it hasn't been an issue."

Gillian - who has children Piper, 20, Oscar, eight, and Felix, six, from previous relationships - has previously suffered from panic attacks so bad that she "hallucinated".

She recalled in an interview with Stylist magazine: "There was a period of time when I was pregnant with my daughter where I started having panic attacks and they pretty much happened every day for well over a year.

"And it was absolute hell - like hallucinatory - really bad."

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Hypnosis Therapeutic Value

For some time now, medicine has had an interest in the potential of hypnosis. Existing for hundreds of years, hypnosis has always seemed to have an intriguing and almost unbelievable hold on the mind, suggesting its capability to help the human psyche and body alike. But as hypnosis seems to become more relevant in medicine, used in psychological settings, as an alternative anesthetic and a way to reduce symptoms of disease, researchers are wondering if there is a way to test its efficacy. In a new study by researchers from INSERM, a team under lead author Bruno Falissard looked into how effective hypnosis has been in some of its popular applications. Among its many uses, researchers looked at hypnosis involving women’s health, digestive ailments, surgery, and psychiatry. They also looked into the potential risks associated with hypnosis.
According to the researchers, hypnosis exists in between sleep and wakefulness as a state of altered consciousness. When examining the effect hypnosis has on the brain, imaging techniques like MRIs have found that hypnosis creates a change; past researchers have observed differences in brain activity of certain regions of the brain when someone is undergoing hypnosis.
As of now, there are a few common uses of hypnosis in a medical setting. The first is hypnoanalgesia, or using hypnosis as a potential pain reliever. Others include hypnosedation, which uses both anesthesia and hypnosis to sedate a patient, as well as hypnotherapy which utilizes hypnosis in a psychiatric setting. Along with hypnosis, the researchers looked at Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EDMR), a form of therapy developed from hypnosis used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
Falissard and his team faced several obstacles when conducting their research; because hypnosis training in France can be offered both by universities and private organizations, the qualifications of hypnotists and who can be certified to become a hypnotist are not fixed. Keeping this in mind, researchers selected the conditions they sought to evaluate and looked at the results of 52 clinical trials, along with 17 trials involving EDMR therapy.
When examining the trials, the researchers first observed that hypnotherapy often yielded an improvement in symptoms for patients with irritable bowel syndrome; many reported the reduction of abdominal pain, bloating, and episodes of diarrhea. It then examined the results of hypnosis used in conjunction with anesthesia. Specifically, the team looked at surgical procedures like wisdom tooth extractions, breast biopsies, transcatheter procedures and pregnancy terminations, which were often accompanied by the use of painkillers. Overall, they found that when hypnosis was used along with surgeries, patients’ use of painkillers afterward was reduced.
Even though hypnosis’s benefit for PTSD patients is still questionable, many have previously found that EDMR therapy can be very effective. Out of all the other applications of hypnosis-based therapies, the researchers found that EDMR targeting trauma-centered cognitive behavioral therapies showed the most beneficial outcome. But, so far the team has only observed the potential of EDMR therapy in adults, because very few trials have examined children and adolescents.
Though the team had planned to examine how hypnosis impacts other medical practices, the trials they examined could not produce conclusive data. The INSERM team thus could not determine whether hypnosis was effective in pain management during childbirth, preventing post-partum depression, and helping those with schizophrenia.
When searching for safety repercussions, the researchers found some promising results in the trials; there were no serious, negative effects associated with hypnosis in these environments. They warn, however, that adverse effects are still a possibility, even though the incidence of them was observed to be low.
Though researchers found that medical practitioners are interested in hypnotherapy, the legal standards as they are now must be reexamined. Currently, French laws regarding hypnosis allow health professionals and non-health professionals alike to practice hypnosis. As hypnosis is already an unconventional practice, it is important that it be professionally and safely executed in a medical setting, especially when used in conjunction with anesthesia.

Study: Falissard B, Barry C, Hassler C, et al.  Assessment of the effectiveness of hypnosis. 2015.