Monday, November 30, 2015

Paraphilic Disorders

Paraphilias are sexual behavior patterns in which unusual objects, rituals, or situations are required for full sexual satisfaction. And yes, believe it or not, paraphilic disorders are diagnosable in the DSM-5. But in order to have a disorder, you can't just be turned on by unusual situations - it has to involve suffering or humiliation of yourself or others. (Though unfortunately, the suffering may be caused by stigma within society.) I will list several paraphilic disorders and discuss each: 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November 2015 Review

This was a good month. I had three Thanksgiving celebrations: one with my cousins in Iowa, one with my boyfriend's family, and one with my own family & boyfriend. They were all a wonderful time. I'm pleased with my progress in my Abnormal Psychology class, work is going uneventfully, and I was very active on my blog. I tried to alternate between "lecture" posts and book review posts this month.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Shada, by Douglas Adams and Gareth Roberts

Shada: Doctor Who, the Lost Adventure
By Douglas Adams and Gareth Roberts
Narrated by Lalla Ward and John Leeson

Shada is a novel tie-in to the popular TV series Doctor Who. Specifically, it is based on the screenplay (written by Douglas Adams) of an unbroadcast eighth doctor story arc.  The Doctor, Romana, and K-9 go to visit an old friend, Professor Chronotis, after receiving a distress signal. It turns out that Chronotis had stolen a dangerous book: The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey. All the Time Lords have heard of this book, but none of them quite seem to remember what it's for. When the book is accidentally borrowed by a post-doc, the Doctor and Romana must find the book and keep it out of the hands of Skagra, an evil genius bent on becoming the universe. (Important distinction here - he's not taking over the universe; he's becoming it.) 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

To supplement my post about borderline personality disorder (BPD), I'll comment on a highly effective therapy developed especially for BPD. I, myself, have been through DBT and can attest to its wonderful results. DBT is a modified form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on addressing cognitive distortions (thoughts that assume negative reasons for a potentially neutral situation) and practicing changing the way you think about the situation. DBT focuses on accepting the way you think, but changing the way you react to the thoughts. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders

Somatic symptoms are medical complaints that arise from mental illness. In my experience, such symptoms are shrugged off by the general public as "oh, that's not a real symptom, it's just somatic." Well, let me tell you: the symptoms feel very real to the suffering individual.(Something I learned in my work at a suicide hotline and my own intensive outpatient therapy is that what you feel is a real feeling, regardless of what others say.) And sometimes (in fact, maybe a lot of the time) symptoms are due to a "real" medical problem caused by the mental illness. Read my post about the physiological effects of anxiety if you don't believe me.

I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

I Am Malala: The Girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban
by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
narrated by Archie Panjabi
I am Malala is Malala Yousafzai's memoir about her time in Pakistan promoting education for girls. She begins by discussing her family - from her grandparents, to her parents, and then to herself. She discusses the major political and geological forces that impacted her childhood and led up to her eventually being shot by the Taliban. She finished the book talking about how she felt when she awoke in England not knowing what had happened or where her family was. It is truly an amazing story. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Reading the Bible as Literature

Reading the Bible As Literature Event
Hosted by Roof Beam Reader

Number 14 on my Classics Club list is the Holy Bible, so imagine my delight when I heard that Roof Beam Reader is hosting a Reading the Bible as Literature Event next year. Despite repeated promises to myself that I will not sign up for any more year-long blogging events (I already have 3 and that's probably more than I can handle), I need to participate in this event. I have been watching for such an opportunity for a few years now, but whenever I find one, it is generally a very conservative or charismatic group - which I wouldn't fit into - or it's half-way done. Or, people are just crazy mean to each other. I have high hopes for this one.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is in Cluster B, but I didn't discuss it in my Cluster B post because I think BPD deserves a post of its own. People with BPD have high impulsivity, drastic mood swings, terror of abandonment, and extremely volatile relationships. Such individuals also have self-images that vary significantly from one moment to the next. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Evil Hours, by David J. Morris

The Evil Hours, by David J. Morris
Narrated by Michael Chamberlain

In this important work, Morris traces the history of what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even back into the ancient days. He begins the book with his own experiences with PTSD. He experienced many traumatic events when he was a war journalist in Iraq, most notably "the time he was blown up." He remembers shortly before, one of the men asked him tentatively "Have you ever been blown up, sir?" Although the rest of the group chastised the man, it was too late. Morris had been "cursed." When he was "blown up," one of the men turned to him and yelled "What are you doing here?! We all want to go home and you're here voluntarily?! What are you doing here?" Morris couldn't answer that question. He understood that this moment had torn a rift between himself and this angry soldier - because Morris had chosen to put himself in danger. To be honest, I've often felt that way about war correspondents. Not that they deserve PTSD, no one deserves that. But if they repeatedly and purposely put themselves in danger, something will eventually happen.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dissociative Disorders

Dissociation is when an individual is able to go through complex cognitive processes without explicit knowledge of what they are doing. Someone might suddenly become self-aware while in a completely unfamiliar place without having any idea of how they got there. The DSM-5 recognizes several types of pathological dissociation: depersonalization/derealization disorder, dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, and dissociative identity disorder.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Quiet, by Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking,
by Susan Cain
Quiet is Cain's celebration of introversion. She discusses how America is a world of extroverts and that introverts are encouraged to be extroverts against their personalities. This is a society that does not appreciate introverts. Through interviews and personal experience, she provides scientific and anecdotal evidence that introverts can provide just as much (or more) to society as extroverts. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness, by Pete Earley

Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness,
by Pete Earley, Narrated by Michael Prichard 

When Pete Earley's son was diagnosed with schizophrenia Earley was devestated. His son's potential career was on the line, he wasn't willing to accept treatment, and he was generally unpredictable and very unsafe. When Earley tried to get his son into the hospital, his son was turned away because he didn't want to be treated - and laws say that unless someone is an immediate threat to himself or others, he can not be treated involuntarily. Earley had to pretend his son was a threat to Earley's well-being to get his son hospitalized. Then Earley went to a commitment hearing to make sure his son stayed in the hospital until he was better. Early was appalled by his son's defense lawyer who did her best to defend Earley's son despite his son's clear mental illness. In her own defense, the lawyer said it was her job to defend the rights of someone who did not want to be committed. Earley's son won the case and was released. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Stress and Your Body: An introduction

Great Courses: Stress and Your Body, by Professor Robert Saplosky,
narrated by Robert Saplosky
Robert Saplosky is a professor of biological sciences, neurology, and neurosurgery at Stanford University. His lab focuses on how stress affects the nervous system. He also has extensive field work, studying a particular population of wild baboons in East Africa - where he examines how social rank, personality, and sociality affect vulnerability to stress-related disease. He is a fantastic lecturer, and if you get the chance to watch a YouTube video of him lecturing, go for it. 

Saplosky and The Teaching Company developed the course Stress and Your Body to teach us about the detrimental effects of stress on our health. The primary textbook is his own Why Don't Zebras Get Ulcers? Which, as far as I can tell from chapter 1 versus lecture 1, is pretty much verbatim with his lectures.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Black Five, by J. Lynn Bailey

Black Five, by J. Lynn Bailey
In exchange for a fair and honest review,
I received an advanced release copy of this book through NetGalley

in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Penelope Jackson has had a hard life. Her earliest memories were living with her crack-addicted adopted mother - who died when she was 8. Scarred by horrible memories of that time, Penelope moved to live with her aunt JoAnne. Life for the next almost-10-years went pretty calmly. She wasn't popular in school, but she had her couple of good friends, and her loving aunt. But then everything changed. She found out that she'd been lied to her whole life. That she was a special immortal being called a "black five." She was the only one who could save the world from an evil tyrant. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Nonfiction in Audiobooks

The discussion post for the third week of Nonfiction November is to discuss "nontraditional nonfiction." I admit, I'm a really slow reader and by the time I'm relaxing at home with a book, I'd rather be reading fiction. Therefore, my "traditional" nonfiction reading is pretty much at a snail's pace. But I get a lot of nonfiction read through audiobook. In fact, I alternate fiction with non-fiction when I'm listening, so I get a lot of nonfiction "read" this way. I can't recommend a specific book, because there are just too many, and I'm  not all that picky - as long as the reader is reasonably good, I'm happy. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Little House Read-Along 2016

Little House Series Readalong
Cohosted by An Armchair by the Sea
Cohosted by Smoke and Mirrors

Ok, I'm doing it again. Signing up for another 2016 reading challenge. But I think I can handle this one. I've been eyeballing the Wilder 9-book box-set at Barnes and Noble for at least a year. I've never read these books. And since I'm now signed up for a Women's Classic Literature Event, and I need more women's classics, I guess this is a great time to break down and buy those books. 

Here's my brand new set, isn't it pretty? 

The Biological Effects of Anxiety on the Body

Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc upon your body. It can lead to problems with childhood physical development, and affect the immune, endocrine, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular systems. It can exacerbate diabetes. Stress affects the mind as well, a tragic example being PTSD, where an individual might relive a traumatic event over and over. 

Stress can be either good or bad event - such as marriage or a divorce. Low levels of stress can actually be a good thing - for instance, a small amount of stress might help you prepare for an upcoming exam better than you otherwise would have. But sometimes stress becomes overwhelming, and biological systems in your body that would usually only slightly increase during "good stress," go into overdrive - potentially on a long-term basis. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Women's Classic Literature Event 2016

Women's Classic Literature Event
Hosted by the Classics Club

Ok. I've broken down and decided to join the Women's Classic Literature Event with the Classics Club. "Why do you say 'broken down'" You ask? Because I'm trying to only join events that will supplement my personal reading goals or introduce me to bloggers with common interests. After thinking about it, I've decided that this challenge fits those needs. I'm starting today. 

The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels, by Alexander Heidel

This classic book published in 1946 begins with a short introduction to The Epic of Gilgamesh, gives Heidel's translation of the Epic, and finally provides a comparison of the Epic of Gilgamesh, and other Mesopotamian tablets with similar stories. Heidel's translation is organized into tablet format, with fragments and unsure translations represented with an ellipsis and brackets. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Martian, by Andy Weir

The Martian, by Andy Weir, narrated by R. C. Bray

When a team of Mars explorers runs into some problems while on Mars, they think that astronaut Mark Watney has died. The rest of the crew avoid the storm by immediately heading back home to Earth. Unknown to them, Watney is still alive and must survive on Mars alone with meager supplies left behind by the Mars expedition. With his extraordinary resourcefulness, he manages to survive while desperately hoping that Earth will realize that he's still alive and come to rescue him. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Biology of Desire, by Marc Lewis

The Biology of Desire, by Marc Lewis, narrated by Don Hagen
Neuroscientist and former addict Marc Lewis writes an engaging study of the biological changes that occur in an addicted brain, complete with personal stories about himself and several addicts that he interviewed. Lewis points out that there are two major models for addiction - the disease model and the choice model - and argues why he believes the disease model has outlived its use and is now harming rather than helping addicts. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Gilgamesh Translations

When I chose to read Epic of Gilgamesh, I had a difficult time choosing which translation to use. Did I want a prose translation which flowed freely instead of showing me all the sections that were questionable and fragmented? Did I want a translation which showed me how the tablets were separated and where the fragments were? Luckily, I had access to both types of translation, and read both of them. In addition, I also listened to an adaptation of the various translations. There were pros and cons of each approach. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Personality Disorders - Cluster A

As mentioned in my opening post about personality disorders, personality disorders are split into three clusters: A, B, and C. This post will discuss the cluster A personality disorders. Cluster A disorders are characterized by distrust, suspiciousness, and social detachment. Often, people with cluster A personality disorders are considered eccentric or odd.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Dark Eden, by Chris Beckett

Dark Eden, by Chris Beckett; narrated by Matthew Frow, Jayne Entwistle, Ione Butler, Robert Hook, Heather Wilds, Nicholas Guy Smith, Hannah Curtis, Bruce Mann

When a group of four people have to land on an unknown planet to regroup and repair their ship, they decide to split into two groups - a man and woman who do not want to risk the flight back remain on "Eden" alone, and the two others set back off for Earth with promises to send a rescue ship as soon as possible. Generations later, the people of Eden are still waiting. Still hanging out in exactly the same crash-landing spot. Still following the matriarchal rules structured by the mother of all. But their small area is becoming too crowded. They have to forage farther and farther for food. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Personality Disorders - Clusters and Dimensions

Personality disorders are a difficult topic for me. For one thing, they are highly stigmatized. And I think the term "personality disorder" encourages that stigma by suggesting that there is something terribly wrong with a person's identity, rather than implying that people with these disorders respond to the world in a highly ineffective manner that creates problems for themselves and others. In fact, Butcher describes "personality disorder" in his textbook Abnormal Psychology as: characterized by "chronic interpersonal difficulties and problems with one's identity or sense of self." This description is good as long as we accept that the "problem with one's identity" is that one's self-esteem and view of one's relationships with others is unstable. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Noonday Demon, by Andrew Solomon

The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression,
by Andrew Solomon, narrated by Barrett Whitener 

Noonday Demon is Andrew Solomon's amazing memoir / history of depression - it's a must-read for anyone who wants to delve deeply into the causes and effects of depression. Solomon begins with his own journey through several severe depressive episodes. For a broader personal understanding of depression, he intermittently includes stories of "depressives" that he's interviewed. In his research for this book, Solomon explored many standard therapies for depression (i.e. medicine, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, electroconvulsive therapy, etc.); but he also explored some very atypical therapies such as an African ritual in which he lay naked and covered in goat blood while people danced around him with a dead chicken. (He actually found it very cathartic.) 

Monday, November 2, 2015

My Year in Nonfiction - Nonfiction November 2015

This month I will be participating in Nonfiction November, hosted by Doing Dewey, Sophisticated Dorkiness, I'm Lost in Books, and Regular Rumination. In this event, people will be reading and blogging about nonfiction. The event kick-off question is hosted by Sophisticated Dorkiness. 

To date this year, I have read or listened to 51 books, 13 of which were nonfiction (unless you count the Epic of Gilgamesh, of which I've read three different translations - hopefully to be reviewed on Friday). So approximately a quarter of my books were nonfiction. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Depression - an overview

Depression is a surprisingly common mental health issue, affecting 17% of Americans at some point throughout their lifetimes. Depressions almost always are a result of a stressful life event, though not all of these depressions are severe enough or long enough in duration to be considered a mood disorder.