Thursday, 26 February 2015

Eating Disorders Awareness Week

During Eating Disorders Awareness Week, we take the opportunity to list some useful resources for people who want to know more about what it is like to live with an eating disorder and what can be done to help.

B-eat, the UK charity for eating disorders, has organised an event for tomorrow, called "Sock it to Eating Disorders": you can wear silly socks for a day! B-eat has also just released a report of the costs of eating disorders to the UK economy, which you can read about and download here.

The Mental Health Foundation website and the website of Mind, the mental health charity, are a good source of information about eating disorders in general. The MHF features the story of Casey that illustrates the difficulties of people facing eating disorders in receiving adequate support. Mind features the story of Hope, who writes about her time in an adolescent psychiatric unit.

There are several blogs dealing with eating disorders from different perspectives you may want to visit. Here is a small sample: Eating Disorders Blogs, Does Every Woman Has an Eating Disorder?, Laura's Soap Box, Make Peace with Food.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Fakers and Fanatics Revisited: A Response to Anna

Neil Van Leeuwen
I would like to thank Anna for her insightful response to my latest blog. I’m delighted to respond to her response.

The dialectic so far is this.

I maintain that psychology and epistemology should posit a cognitive attitude I call religious credence. This attitude is not the same as ordinary, mundane factual belief. But it is also not the same as fictional imagining, the attitude that underlies pretend play and cognition of fiction.

I hold this position for a number of reasons. But the motivation I gave in my blog is that most ordinary religious 'believers' are not full-blown fanatics (like Joan of Arc), nor are they fakers, who merely pretend to be religiously committed. Since ordinary religious people are in-between (that is a rough way of speaking), we should posit an attitude that captures their underlying mental state; so I posit religious credence. (See the full paper for a more thorough set of empirical and theoretical motivations.)

Anna responds that she agrees that ordinary religious 'believers' do not have factual belief attitudes toward their religious doctrines, as she’s argued before. But she does not agree that an additional attitude of religious credence needs to be posited. Rather, she thinks imaginings of various sorts can do the explanatory work needed to capture the behaviours of ordinary religious people.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Remembering, Imagining, False Memories, and Personal Memories

This is the fourth in our series of posts on the papers published in a special issue of Consciousness and Cognition on the Costs and Benefits of Imperfect Cognitions. Here Catherine Loveday summarises her paper, co-written with Martin Conway, 'Remembering, Imagining, False Memories and Personal Memories'. 

Ogwo David Emenike once wrote, 'Our imagination goes ahead of us, bringing our yesterday's imaginings into present realities'. This beautifully encapsulates the extraordinary capacity and need that humans have for mental time travel but, more than that, it illustrates the inextricable relationship between memory and imagination. When we remember we imagine and when we imagine we use our memory. Both are mental constructions based on past experience and there is significant evidence to suggest that the same brain structures are involved when we remember and when we imagine.

The building blocks for both remembering and imagining are semantic memory – the knowledge we have of our world – and episodic memory – sights, sounds, smells, thoughts, and feelings that we have experienced. These are used to create a conscious experience that takes us out of the present moment and into another place that may be anywhere in the future or the past. So for example, I can easily call to mind the last time that I met a particular friend but by using much of the same knowledge and experience I can also imagine what a future encounter with the same friend might be like.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Aimee Wilson on BPD

Aimee Wilson
This post is part of our series of accounts by experts by experience. Roberta Payne wrote about schizophrenia and outsider art in December, and Ellen White about OCD in January. Today Aimee Wilson tells us about BPD.

Hi! I am Aimee and I blog over on I’m currently in recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder, after a six year long battle with the illness and a two year admission in a specialist hospital. When Lisa emailed me asking if I would write a post about the positive aspects of the things that have been deemed symptoms of BPD, I was intrigued. I guess, naturally, I’d only ever moaned and ranted about these things especially when they are the things that cause me to be hospitalised or to self-harm and attempt suicide.

So, to think of positives sounded like a good challenge.

When I was diagnosed with BPD, the diagnostic criteria were to have at least five of nine possible symptoms, and it was widely agreed by professionals that I had all nine. So, I will break this post up into each symptom and it’s positives:

Unstable mood: The depths of depression make me all the more grateful for my happiness and good moods. It means I make the most of the time when I feel good by taking all of the opportunities that come my way.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Borderline Personality Disorder: New Perspectives on a Stigmatizing and Overused Diagnosis

In this post, Jacqueline Gunn and Brent Potter present their recent book Borderline Personality Disorder: New Perspectives on a Stigmatizing and Overused Diagnosis (Praeger Publishers Inc). Dr Gunn is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in New York, specializing in Eating Disorders, Trauma, Interpersonal Problems as well as a variety of other psychological disorders. Dr. Brent Potter is a psychotherapist and wellness specialist with 20 years of direct clinical service. He is the Director for the Society for Laingian Studies, based in Thousand Oaks, California.

When you are reading our book, be prepared to challenge your view of what is called “borderline personality disorder” and even the way you see all so-called psychiatric ‘disorders’. This is what we have done as co-authors. We sound a little strong at times, but we really believe in what we are presenting.

We take you through exactly why we take this approach, give you historical context and also explain some experiences with real people who are suffering. To this end, client’s stories at the end along with a few narratives written by clients themselves along the way. We stick faithfully to the experiences themselves rather than upon theoretical constructs and other abstracted materials. Our approach is not experience-near, but experientialist; we don’t hypothesize, abstract, nor construct theories from human experience.