May 25, 2017
May 25, 2017
October 12, 2013
In a world of omnipresent screens, it can be easy to forget the simple pleasure of curling up with a good book. In fact, a HuffPost/YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 28 percent hadn’t read one at all in the past year.
But the truth is that reading books can be more than entertainment or a high school English assignment. A study released earlier this month suggests that enjoying literature might help strengthen your “mind-reading” abilities. The research, published in the journal Science, showed that reading literary works (though, interestingly, not popular fiction) cultivates a skill known as “theory of mind,” which NPR describes as the “ability to ‘read’ the thoughts and feelings of others.”
And that’s hardly the only way being a bookworm can boost your mind and well-being. Below, six more science-backed reasons to swap the remote for a novel.
Reading can chill you out.
Stressed out? Pick up a paperback. Research conducted in 2009 at the University of Sussex showed that reading was the most effective way to overcome stress, beating out old favorites such as listening to music, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee and even taking a walk, The Telegraph reported when the findings were released. Measured by evaluating heart rate and muscle tension, it took the study participants just six minutes to relax once they started turning pages.
“It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination,” study researcher Dr. David Lewis told The Telegraph.
It could help keep your brain sharp.
A lifetime of reading might just help keep your brain in shape when you reach old age, according to research published in the online issue of the journal Neurology. The study, which included 294 participants who died at an average age of 89, found that those who engaged in mentally stimulating activities, such as reading, earlier and later on in life experienced slower memory decline compared to those who didn’t. In particular, people who exercised their minds later in life had a 32 percent lower rate of mental decline compared to their peers with average mental activity. The rate of decline amongst those with infrequent mental activity, on the other hand, was 48 percent faster than the average group.
“Our study suggests that exercising your brain by taking part in activities such as these across a person’s lifetime, from childhood through old age, is important for brain health in old age,” study author Robert. S. Wilson of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago said in a statement. “Based on this, we shouldn’t underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves and our parents or grandparents.”
And it might even stave off Alzheimer’s disease.
According to research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2001, adults who engage in hobbies that involve the brain, like reading or puzzles, are less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease, USA Today reported at the time. However, the researchers identified only an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship: “These findings may be because inactivity is a risk factor for the disease or because inactivity is a reflection of very early subclinical effects of the disease, or both,” they wrote in the study.
“The brain is an organ just like every other organ in the body. It ages in regard to how it is used,” lead author Dr. Robert P. Friedland told USA Today. “Just as physical activity strengthens the heart, muscles and bones, intellectual activity strengthens the brain against disease.”
Reading may help you sleep better.
Many sleep experts recommend establishing a regular de-stressing routine before bed to calm your mind and cue your body up for shut-eye — and reading can be a great way to do so (as long as the book isn’t a page-turner that’ll keep you up all night). Bright lights, including those from electronic devices, signal to the brain that it’s time to wake up, meaning reading your book under a dim light is a better bedside bet than a laptop.
Getting lost in a good book could also make you more empathetic.
According to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, losing yourself in a work of fiction might actually increase your empathy. Researchers in the Netherlands designed two experiments that showed that people who were “emotionally transported” by a work of fiction experienced boosts in empathy.
“In two experimental studies, we were able to show that self-reported empathic skills significantly changed over the course of one week for readers of a fictional story by fiction authors Arthur Conan Doyle or José Saramago,” they wrote in the findings. “More specifically, highly transported readers of Doyle became more empathic, while non-transported readers of both Doyle and Saramago became less empathic.”
So go ahead, let yourself get caught up in a particularly compelling story, or swept away by a powerful character — it’s good for you!
Self-help books, on the other hand, can ease depression.
Self-help books may really help you help yourself. A study published in the journal PLOS ONE showed that reading self-help books (also called “bibliotherapy”), combined with support sessions on how to use them, was linked with lower levels of depression after a year compared to patients who received typical treatments. “We found this had a really significant clinical impact and the findings are very encouraging,” study author Christopher Williams of the University of Glasgow told the BBC. “Depression saps people’s motivation and makes it hard to believe change is possible.”
Self-help books may even work in cases of severe depression. According to a University of Manchester meta-analysis published in 2013, people with severe depression can benefit from “low-intensity interventions,” including self-help books and interactive websites, as much or more than those who are less severely depressed.
Speed – Facing Our Addiction To Fast & Faster And Overcoming Our Fear Of Slowing Down by Dr. Stephanie Brown Ph.D. is a thought-provoking and timely book. The author’s premise is that society is addicted to the fast-paced-no-matter-the-consequences type of lifestyle and this has caused many individuals to become addicted to the high speed of modern times.
This book is split up into two parts. Part one covers much of what addiction entails and how this modern issue has come about. Part two offers a pragmatic approach for individuals to regain control of their life by employing proactive solutions. However, initially, the individual must be willing to change. Without the acceptance of a problem, no solution can ever be had, no matter how perfect that solution may be.
With a sensible and practical approach, Brown not only shows a healthy dose of examples about how addiction to speed plays out in everyday life, but also hones in on many things individuals can do to take back control of their life.
Streamlining her approach using the concept of AA, Brown carries out a veritable top-down, user-friendly [syn.] process in which individuals can be their best helpers, become their best selves. Not only does the author consistently speak about the perils of instant gratification that modern fast-paced life brings about, but she’s also cognizant of the limits that we all have. But mainly, Brown makes it a point to show why the immediate access to information [i.e. phones, cpus, google, etc.] has made many individuals addicts more than they know.
Dr. Brown herself cautions that the addiction to Speed:
“…is outstripping people’s ability to manage, to fulfill all of their responsibilities, and even to cope. The idea that we literally have at our fingertips the tools to do so much more than we actually have the capacity to do well has created an impossible bind that leads to chronic stress and a sense of failure. You do not have the ability to be on 24/7 like a computer, but you believe you should be able to keep going, and that you will be able to do so if you only try harder. And so you push yourself incessantly, creating an addictive spiral.”
Likewise, this kind of addiction has spawned what is called dichotomous thinking, which is best exemplified by:
“The belief that you are either a success or failure, a winner or loser, will drive you to stay in motion. If you are caught in dichotomous thinking, you might think you are being asked to embrace the opposite of frenzied speed with no limits. You’ll tried to do everything before you so you’ll do nothing. This thinking, often believed to be the way smart people operate, is actually false and dangerous when you’re growing up living in a complex world. Very few complicated decisions can be boiled down to yes or not without careful thought to multiple factors involved and the potential costs.”
Such are the perils part of modern fast-paced society is fraught with, and individuals that need help, if they are to regain control of their lives, not only need to pump the breaks, but need to reset – create a whole new approach.
Dr. Brown doesn’t pretend that it’s going to be easy either, as she cautious the reader to be mindful of the fact that relapse does take place. That said, being cognizant of what to expect is one way to be ready for what life throws at you, and those preparations will definitely help bring about change as long as one stays the course.
All in all, although the book can be quite repetitive at times given that it speaks of addiction, it does have ample information from which individuals can gain insights from. In a world where nigh nobody ever stops to take a deep breath, and smelling the roses might make some people give an individual askance glances, we stand much to gain from the knowing of this book.
If part of society doesn’t realize that the go-go-go fast-paced life that never stops for anything has addiction at its core, then it stands to bottom out once it blindly torpedoes into the next obstacle. That’s why it would be prudent to keep in mind the information in this book, because odds are we ALL know at least ONE person, if not many, that would benefit from this information.
 Dr. Stephanie Brown Ph.D., Speed – Facing Our Addiction To Fast & Faster And Overcoming Our Fear Of Slowing Down, p. 5.
 Ibid., p. 277.
This article is free and open source. You are encouraged and have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.
About The Author:
Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, researcher, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, humanitarian, and freelance writer who studies and mirrors regularly subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.
His own personal blog is BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com where his personal work is shared, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information usually ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.
Or how Sigmund Freud, his nephew and a box of cigars forever changed American marketing.
December 2009, Vol 40, No. 11
Who knew that Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis and critic of all things American, was an unwitting contributor to the rise of Western consumer culture?
Women sporting cigarettes as a symbol of female empowerment and the ubiquitous bacon-and-egg breakfast were two public relations campaigns inspired by Freudian ideas. The link between theory and practice was Edward L. Bernays, the acknowledged father of public relations and nephew of Sigmund Freud.
Bernays was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1891 but grew up in New York City. His mother was Freud’s sister and his father was the brother of Freud’s wife, Martha Bernays. He maintained contact with his uncle, and the family often joined Freud for summer holidays in the Alps. Bernays began his career shaping public opinion by creating a media campaign to raise awareness of venereal disease and sexual hypocrisy. But his application of psychoanalytic principles to public relations and advertising came only after reading Freud’s “General Introductory Lectures,” a gift from Freud to his nephew in thanks for a box of Havana cigars.
In this case, a cigar did prove to be much more than a cigar. The marriage of psychoanalysis and public relations, facilitated by the box of Havanas, made Bernays a very wealthy man.
Intrigued by Freud’s notion that irrational forces drive human behavior, Bernays sought to harness those forces to sell products for his clients. In his 1928 book, “Propaganda,” Bernays hypothesized that by understanding the group mind, it would be possible to manipulate people’s behavior without their even realizing it. To test this hypothesis, Bernays launched one of his most famous public relations campaigns: convincing women to smoke.
In 1929, it was taboo for women to smoke in public and those who flouted convention were thought to be sexually permissive. Bernays’ client was George Washington Hill, president of the American Tobacco Company, who envisioned breaking this taboo to broaden the market for his Lucky Strike brand. Bernays asked Hill for permission to consult with New York’s leading psychoanalyst and Freud disciple, Dr. A.A. Brill, and was granted this unusual request.
This was the first but not the last time Bernays would consult with psychoanalysts to help shape his public relations campaigns. When asked what cigarettes symbolized to women, Brill’s response was that cigarettes were symbolic of male power.
Equating smoking with challenging male power was the cornerstone of Lucky Strike’s “Torches of Freedom” campaign, which debuted during New York’s annual Easter Parade on April 1, 1929. Bernays had procured a list of debutantes from the editor of Vogue magazine and pitched the idea that they could contribute to the expansion of women’s rights by lighting up cigarettes and smoking them in the most public of places—Fifth Avenue. The press was warned beforehand and couldn’t resist the story. The “Torches of Freedom Parade” was covered not only by the local papers, but also by newspapers nationwide and internationally. Bernays was duly convinced that linking products to emotions could cause people to behave irrationally. In reality, of course, women were no freer for having taken up smoking, but linking smoking to women’s rights fostered a feeling of independence.
Bringing home the bacon
Given Freud’s addiction to cigars, his link through Bernays to women smoking is not altogether surprising. Understanding Freud’s connection to the successful marketing of cured meat is more of a stretch. The Beechnut Packing Company was suffering lagging sales in one of its key meat products: bacon. In “Propaganda” (1928), Bernays wrote about his campaign to increase bacon sales and contrasted Freud’s group psychology with behaviorist principles. An “old style” behaviorist campaign would repeat a stimulus to create a habit—inundate consumers with full-page ads and follow up with an incentive or reward by offering discount coupons. But in creating the new Freudian-style campaign, Bernays asked himself, “Who influences what the public eats?” His answer was to survey physicians and ask them whether they would recommend a light breakfast or a hearty breakfast. Physicians overwhelmingly recommended a hearty breakfast, paving the way for Bernays to convince Americans to swap their usual juice, toast and coffee for the now-ubiquitous, all-American “hearty” breakfast of bacon and eggs.
Was Freud aware of how his nephew was using psychoanalytic principles to, as Bernays termed it, “engineer consent?” From all accounts, he knew very little, but what he did know failed to impress. When Bernays sent Freud a copy of his first book, “Crystallizing Public Opinion” (1923), Freud’s terse response was “I have received your book. … As a truly American production it interested me greatly” (as cited in Justman, 1994, p. 465).
His veiled sarcasm notwithstanding, when facing financial ruin in Vienna, Freud was forced to ask his nephew for help. Bernays responded to Freud’s request by arranging to publish his works in America, which provided Freud with much-needed American dollars. And while Freud coveted fame, he drew the line at publicity. When Bernays suggested he promote himself in America by writing popular articles for Cosmopolitan, Freud was appalled by the idea. Even the father of public relations couldn’t engineer Freud’s consent to participate so openly in American popular culture.
Lisa Held is a doctoral student in the History and Theory of Psychology program at York University in Toronto.
Dr. Kelly Brogan M.D.
February 7, 2017
Source: Dr. KellyBrogan M.D.
November 28, 2016
Dr. Kelly Brogan M.D.
November 8, 2016
We know that all drugs have side effects. That’s just part of the deal right? But is it really possible that an antidepressant can cause a sane person to act like a cold-blooded criminal?
I imagined my audience would be wondering as much as I arrived to an unseasonably chilly day at King’s College in London. I was there to share what I have learned about the medications that I so dutifully and faithfully prescribed during the early part of my career, and also about the deep potential for healing depression in simple, safe ways, according to the latest science.
The day before my flight, I had received an email from a man who I would choose to invite on stage with me that day. His name is David Carmichael and he wrote:
“I took the life of my 11-year-old son Ian on July 31, 2004 in a Paxil-induced state of psychosis and was charged with first degree murder. I was judged to be “not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder” in September 2005 and received an absolute discharge from the forensic psychiatric system (in Ontario, Canada) in December 2009. I’ve been off all prescription drugs since September 2010. Prior to our family tragedy, I was a physical active sports consultant with no history of violence or mental illness.”
He told an audience of clinicians and patients, that day, about how it is that a normal citizen, prescribed a seemingly safe medication for work-related stress, goes on to commit a heinous act of violence against his beloved child. This academic classroom was heaving with grief when he finished his description of events.
This must be rare, right? Totally anomalous?
It has become my contention that the Russian Roulette that is played with each new prescription of psychotropic medication violates the physician’s most primal tenet – first do no harm – and does so in the absence of anything approximating informed consent.
Thankfully, we are often given multiple chances to wake up to a greater truth. It’s becoming easier than ever. With grassroots platforms like madinamerica.com, the information is out there, when you are ready to look beyond main stream media to what the real victims are claiming.
The truth about antidepressants and violence is also in the most recently published literature, including a critical review, hot off the press, by Carvalho et al where the authors dive into the research on the supposed safety of SSRIs and SNRIs. In this document, they present an evidence-based horror menagerie of ways in which a simple antidepressant can derail your life if it doesn’t take it. Leaving patients with new medical diagnoses, antidepressants prescribed often for difficult transitions in life like divorces and deaths, carry documented risks that your doctor cannot possibly tell you about because if they knew of them, they would put down their prescription pad immediately.
Let’s take a tour. Neatly summarized here, the adverse effects of antidepressants can sound like that droning voice in TV ads that we are inured to because we have been told these “side effects are rare, and outweighed by the benefits.”
But the benefits are shockingly limited so, let’s take a closer look at those side effects…
Having always represented antidepressants as safe and effective to my patients, I put down my prescription pad after learning 3 facts about psychiatric medications:
These insights were apparently just the tip of the iceberg. Several years into the horror stories of patient experiences and new relationships with grassroots activists, I am left wondering. What on earth are these meds? How could biochemistry have ever manifested molecules capable of derailing, distorting, and suppressing the human experience to this extent?
With more unknowns than knowns at this point, the signal of harm is growing and patient alignment with this model of care, diminishing.
I pulled some choice phrases from the paper for your further enlightenment below but suffice it to say that many of these side effects are major gamechanging problems if not life-ending tragedies that render the placebo-level performance of these medications totally unacceptable.
Gut disturbance: “Some of the most frequently reported side effects associated with the use of SSRIs and serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) include nausea, diarrhea, dyspepsia, GI bleeding and abdominal pain.”
Liver toxicity: “Two main mechanisms may be involved in antidepressant- induced liver toxicity, namely a metabolic component and/or an immuno-allergic pathway. A hypersensitivity syndrome with fever and rash as clinical manifestations, as well as with autoantibodies and eosinophilia, and a short latency period (1–6 weeks) point to a predominantly immunoallergic pathophysiological mechanism, whereas a lack of hypersensitivity syndrome and a longer latency period (i.e. 1 month to 1 year) points to an idiosyncratic metabolic mechanism.”
Weight gain: “Notwithstanding the complexity of the clinical scenario, compelling evidence indicates that the use of most antidepressants may increase weight in a significant proportion of patients.”
Heart problems: “SSRIs and SNRIs may promote a decrement in heart rate variability (HRV). Although the impact of the effects of antidepressants on HRV remains to be established, data indicate that a lower HRV is a significant predictor of incident cardiovascular events.”
Urinary problems: “SSRIs can cause urinary retention by acting on central micturition pathways. Serotonin may increase the central sympathetic outflow leading to urinary storage, and at the same time inhibits parasympathetic flow, which affects voiding.”
Sexual dysfunction: “…a significant body of data shows that antidepressants may differentially affect sexual function in multiple aspects, leading to reductions in libido, arousal dysfunction (erection in males and vaginal lubrication in females) and orgasmic dysfunctions.”
Salt imbalance: “The mechanisms of SSRI-induced hyponatremia remain incompletely elucidated, but these agents can act by either increasing the release of antidiuretic hormone (ADH) or increasing the sensitivity to ADH resulting in a clinical picture similar to the syndrome of inappropriate secretion of ADH.”
Osteoporosis/Bone weakening: “The use of SSRIs has been associated with a reduction in bone mineral density (BMD) and a consistent higher risk of fractures.”
Bleeding: “All serotonergic antidepressants have been associated with an increased risk of bleeding. The most likely mechanism responsible for these adverse reactions is a reduction of serotonin reuptake by platelets, although other mechanisms have also been implicated.”
Nervous system dysfunction: “All kinds of EPS [extrapyramidal symptoms] are seen in patients taking antidepressants, but akathisia appears to be the most common presentation followed by dystonic reactions, parkinsonian movements and tardive dyskinesia…Headache was one of the most common side effects associated with the use of antidepressants in a large retrospective cohort of adolescents and adults.”
Sweating: “Most studies indicate that approximately 10% of patients on SSRIs may develop excessive sweating, although the incidence may be higher for paroxetine.”
Sleep disturbances: “The SSRIs and venlafaxine are associated with increased REM sleep latency and a reduction in the overall time spent in the REM phase while sleeping.”
Mood changes: “Many patients taking SSRIs have reported experiencing emotional blunting. They often describe their emotions as being ‘damped down’ or ‘toned down’, while some patients refer to a feeling of being in ‘limbo’ and just ‘not caring’ about issues that were significant to them before…Furthermore, an activation syndrome in which patients taking antidepressants may experience anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness and impulsivity in the first 3 months of treatment may ensue.”
Suicidality: “The incidence of suicide and attempted suicide has been a frequently underreported adverse outcome across antidepressant RCTs.”
Overdose toxicity: “Patients with MDD are at increased risk of suicide and overdosing of prescribed medications is a common method used to attempted suicide.”
Withdrawal Syndrome: “These symptoms include flu-like symptoms, tremors, tachycardia, shock-like sensations, paresthesia, myalgia, tinnitus, neuralgia, ataxia, vertigo, sexual dysfunction, sleep disturbances, vivid dreams, nausea vomiting, diarrhea, worsening anxiety and mood Instability.”
Eye disease: “A subset of patients taking SSRIs reports nonspecific visual disturbances…SSRIs may increase intraocular pressure and lead to the emergence of angle-closure glaucoma…A nested case-control study found a higher likelihood of cataracts after exposure to newer generation antidepressants.”
Hormonal imbalance: “Long-standing increases in peripheral prolactin levels are occasionally observed in patients using ADs, including SSRIs  ; hyperprolactinemia may have deleterious health consequences (e.g. a decrease in BMD [bone mineral density] and hypogonadism).”
Pregnancy/Breastfeeding risk: “Most of the data describing the presence of birth defects associated with SSRI use have been based on observational studies and drug registries. Therefore, the clinical significance of these data is questionable.”
Cancer risk: “Preclinical studies have found that antidepressants can increase the growth of fibrosarcomas and melanomas, and may also promote mammary carcinogenesis.”
Whew! Now that’s depressing. And why don’t you know about these? Because your doctor doesn’t. I recently learned of a patient who was prescribed an antidepressant simultaneous to an antibiotic “just in case the antibiotic caused depression or mood changes”. We are trained to treat these medications as a “why not” application of pharmacology, and the truth is that, as the authors state:
…the history of toxicology reminds us vividly of the lag that often occurs between the first approval of a drug for use in humans and the recognition of certain adverse events from that drug.”
Taking these risks seems all the more unecessary with the robust outcomes of lifestyle medicine – multimodal, multi-tier interventions that are low cost, immediately available, and side effect free. As the authors conclude:
The findings of this review suggest that long-term treatment with new generation ADs should be avoided if alternative treatments are available.”
I would have to agree and affirm that these “alternative” treatments are indeed available. These treatments offer not only resolution of symptoms and elimination/avoidance of meds, but an entirely new experience of self. This is not about getting “back to normal,” it’s about integration, evolution, and vitality. I’ve been working for several years to make self-healing toolkits available to everyone considering an antidepressant or looking to come off of one for less than the price of one doctor visit. Check it out!
© Kelly Brogan MD. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Kelly Brogan MD. For more articles, sign up for the newsletter at kellybroganmd.com.
Kelly Brogan, M.D. is a Manhattan-based holistic women’s health psychiatrist, author of the New York Times bestselling book, A Mind of Your Own, and co-editor of the landmark textbook, Integrative Therapies for Depression. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from MIT in Systems Neuroscience. View full bio. Want to share this article on your own blog? View our reposting guidelines.