Friday, November 21, 2014

Adolescents and Secrecy

You know (referring to all three of my readers), every so often I run across an article that gets my mind going. The reason I say that it's only "every so often" is because much of what I read seems to be repetitive; therefore, when I come across something that really catches my interest I like to talk about it.

In my job for the University I have the unending privilege to review dozens of student responses per week online. Most of them include article reviews. Today, I read one that reviewed an article on the correlation between parent invasion with adolescents and adolescent secrecy. It indicated that there is a positive correlation between the two behaviors. In other words, the more parents pry with their adolescents, the higher the chance that the adolescent will engage in acts of secrecy. Now, I did not follow through with reading what types of secrecy, so in the case of my comments that will not be addressed. It wasn't so much the results of the study that intrigued me or got me thinking. It was more the idea of why an adolescent feels or believes that secrecy must be used when a parent asks "what is going on?" Moreover, I would want to know what type of interaction the parents had with the child long before they progressed into adolescence and how that interaction played into the adolescents' perceived need for secrecy? What was being taught in the home? What kinds of principles were encouraged and modeled for them? Now, I do understand that a child, once they grow into an adolescent is trying to build an identity. Erik Erikson was very clear on that with his psychosocial stages of development. I am also not implying that if a child is taught principles of transparency and integrity that they won't "experiment" when they become an adolescent. That happens! I am simply curious what happened before the child became an adolescent and what would be considered statistically significant if deeper research were done.

My thoughts may seem archaic and maybe even a little outdated, but as a mental health clinician, and as a father myself, I prefer the idea that if you teach children and even adolescents correct principles to live by, then the likelihood of inter and intrapersonal integrity is increased. I do know that there are those out there that follow evolutionary and developmental models who might disagree with me. They may say that it is part of an adolescent's developmental and genetic make-up to experiment and make mistakes and that it is only by those mistakes that they will learn. Because I have only three readers or maybe even three-hundred, I argue that it is not necessary, but it does happen. One can learn how to live with integrity without the need for secrecy. Those are just my thoughts.

Dr Law

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Here We Go Again...More Trauma Thoughts...

Recently, while reviewing a few discussions with my job with Capella University, I came across a really great thread and it got me thinking. No one will ever read this, so I will leave it "as is" without editing it.

This discussion got me thinking about trauma, as a general area of study and treatment, and how my opinion and viewpoint of it has changed drastically over the years. I remember originally finding the trauma response as being an invasive and tragic experience for clients. Biochemically speaking, their lymbic system super-cedes their prefrontal cortex  due to the situation creating a survival response (freeze, fight, flight). Then, due to the severity or consistency of the trauma, their lymbic system tells the autonomic nervous system to remain in a hyper-alert response in order to prepare for possible traumas in the future. The experience thus results in poor sleep, anxiousness, avoidance, dissociation to some extent (sometimes), and intrusive symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, or even reliving the trauma.

However, as time went on and after I had worked with many clients, I began to see it in a different light. I didn't see it as invasive any longer. I realized that invasiveness was akin to a victim role that someone might not overcome. I began to see it in an existential light, in that "life sometimes throws things at us, every hour of every day, and asks us 'what are you going to do with this now?'" I realized that most of the strongest people in history have pasts that are wrought with pain and heartache, yet they survived and even thrived. It didn't mean that they didn't struggle. They almost began to find a purpose in their existence and even meaning from the trauma. I realized, in my view, that it had to do with viewpoint and mindset. Many of the clients I worked with that WANTED to overcome it succeeded. Those that didn't want to, or didn't believe they could, or didn't believe they were worthy of it had a harder time.

Additionally, I began to change my worldview on what is painful and what is fair when it comes to equality. Due to life's struggles I began to think that all people despite race, ethnicity, culture, SES status, country of birth, background, etc. had pain and happiness and that what made us equal was not any of the aforementioned things, but that we all came into this world in a similar fashion, we all strive for similar goals (some semblance of happiness or joy), that we all struggle in our own individual ways, and that we ultimately leave the earth in the same way (i.e. our heart stops beating, our lungs stop filling with air, our organs cease to function) and that it makes us very similar. Therefore, I had the capacity to help others in all kinds of pickles, because I understand it to some extent what it means to be happy and to struggle. Thus, trauma has taught me a lot and I hope to continue learning from it.
Dr Law

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

OCD: Obsessive Type and Scrupulosity

A few years ago I had the privilege of speaking to an expert in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I was informed that there are sub-types of OCD that the Diagnostic Manual did not address at the time. The two types that really stuck out to me were the "Obsessive Type" and "Scrupulosity."

In order to understand either, let's talk briefly about OCD. OCD is an anxiety disorder that has a few distinct symptoms: anxiousness (emotional, cognitive, and physical); and compulsion (can include rituals, outward and inward behaviors to decrease the anxiousness). There must be both of these symptoms in order to have a diagnosis. Anxiety is obsessive and continuous worry that has little or no foundation or reason to it (i.e. stressing over finances because you're broke does not count). It is worrying about things that may not be true or rational. However, to the person with OCD, it feels real in every sense and evidence is often sought to support the obsessive thoughts and worries. When the anxiousness increases, the individual can get stuck in an anxious thinking loop; then, the desire to decrease the anxiety begins and the individual engages in compulsive behaviors. We have all heard of the obsessive hand-washing, counting, touching objects, etc. compulsions; however, with the other two types, the compulsions may be different. The "Obsessive Type" is when the anxious thinking is tied to the compulsion. The individual gets stuck in a "thought loop" where they feel compelled to continue thinking about the anxious thoughts in order to control them or to change them--or perhaps to come to a new conclusion. The thoughts feed on themselves and the compulsion to think more and to analyze more feeds anxiousness. It results in heightened anxiety and can even lead to depression.

Scrupulosity is an interesting type as it can be a part of perfectionistic patterns of behavior and to spiritual and/or religious beliefs. For example, an individual can believe that if they do not pray enough or long enough or a specific amount of time, then God will smite them or harm someone else or will not bless them. This can lead to trying to live "perfectly" without flaw or fault, which ultimately can lead to disappointment, depression, and disillusionment with beliefs of who God is.

Now, the main issue is how to deal with OCD in all of its complexities. First off, if you struggle with it, remember that it is a diagnosis and not a label. It's interesting how people will say "I'm OCD" as if it is a name or an identifying feature. Typically speaking, obsessive thinking and compulsions actually have more to do with biological processes in the brain than the person or their personality. Secondly, when an individual is engaging in the obsessive and compulsive thinking and behaviors, it means that the brain is "stuck" in the loop and needs to be redirected. The expert I spoke to indicated that the brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Therefore, focusing on something else (such as reciting a long poem from memory) will pull the brain out of the loop. This may need to be done more than once, and that's okay! After the individual is out of the loop, then they can begin to think rationally through the process that has just occurred. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be a big help at this point, as well. OCD requires management and maintenance. The goal of treatment is to decrease the symptoms over time, but this requires consistent work on the individual.

If any of my three readers are interested in more information, feel free to leave a comment.

Jamison Law

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Brief Spiritual Reminder



For a short time I had the privilege of working as the director of a 12 step-based inpatient facility with clients who were in substance dependence recovery. I had never worked with the 12 steps before as I had been inundated with Cognitive Behavioral Methods for several years. What attracted me to working at this facility was the idea that I could combine a spiritual-based approach with trauma-focused treatment. The prior director had begun developing a trauma-focused spiritually-based approach for recovery. It was fascinating! What I found to be very helpful for clients was the following:

1. Client needed to learn to give up control and surrender themselves to a Higher Power. It didn't matter what their idea of a Higher Power was, either. This could result in a state of humility (i.e. teachability) and trust (in their Higher Power, the facility, the other clients, and the clinical/administrative staff). It was a fascinating process to see clients with severe problems, typically co-morbid disorders, to begin to progress and recover.

2. Clients focused on the 12 step process and were required to go through the steps in order to complete treatment. This forced them to focus on others rather than themselves. It's amazing what happens to people when they forget themselves and work to help others.

3. The trauma-focused portion involved multiple methods such as Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing; Ego-state-based therapy; Trauma-focused CBT; Mindfulness Meditation and more. The goal was to help a client recover from the trauma they had experienced which ranged from childhood abuse in all of its forms, domestic violence, rape, neglect, etc.

What I most enjoyed was the sense of peace that a client could experience, as well as the staff, in knowing that a Higher Power was in charge of their lives and that they could ultimately put their trust in a Being or Idea that was greater than themselves.

Just food for thought!

Dr. Jamison Law


Thursday, July 31, 2014

THE ADVENTURES OF SANCHO AND RUSIMUS: A KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN!




Hello fellow readers (all 3 of you)! 

I am not typically one to toot my own proverbial horn, but over the past two years I've had the crazy opportunity to develop a puppet show called The Adventures of Sancho and Rusimus. I've been doing it with my best friend, Russ Francis and we created two characters (Sancho del Chayito and Rusimus von Rusimus) who have crazy adventures. We have performed at Comic Con SLC in 2013, Comic Con SLC in 2014, The Art Festival 2014, and a few shows at The Pony Express Elementary School. What I have enjoyed the most is seeing how children, adolescents, and even adults lose themselves in their interactions with the characters. I have even used Sancho to talk to children who have lost pets or otherwise experienced some kind of emotional upheaval. We want to share them with the world! Now, we are creating an adventurous video game about their various fun activities. Please, look at the link below on Kickstarter and make a pledge today! We need the funds to pay for the back end of the programming. The game is also a part of a new curriculum with Broadview Entertainment Arts University (BEAU) where students will participate in the art development, story line development, and work with Track 36 Studios with motion capture and other various activities. Therefore, the campaign will cover entertainment, education, and many areas that can benefit students and consumers alike! Thank you for your time and your support! 

Cordially, 

Dr. Jamison Law
(AKA the heart and soul of Sancho del Chayito)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Anxiety, OCD, Depression, Panic Disorder: An Alternative Homeopathic Treatment!



Several years ago I had the privilege of speaking to an expert on obsessive compulsive disorder. Her name was Suze Harrington, LCSW and she had a small clinic in Salt Lake City, UT. She provided bio-behavioral mental health counseling for people who struggled with anxiety, OCD, and other related disorders. Those of you out there who struggle with obsessive thinking and compulsions understand well how difficult it is to be plagued by something you feel very little control over. Ms. Harrington informed me of a homeopathic treatment that had received medical trials called Inositol. Naturally, I went home and logged on to the medical journals and found a few articles. Sure enough, it had been reviewed and even had a few double-blind studies where it was one of the treatment methods along with Luvox and a placebo. The results were very promising and had little to no side-effects. Typically, when you review the dosage on a bottle of Inositol, it will say to take 250 mg per day. In the medical studies, it said that a therapeutic dose was 12-18 grams per day. Therefore, Ms. Harrington recommended that a person take 1-1.5 tbsp X 3 per day. That can bring it up to a full therapeutic dose. The medical studies agreed with the amount. Ms. Harrington turned my attention to www.iherb.com where it can be purchased for a fairly reasonable price. She indicated that Insoitol Powder, Jarrow Formula (8 oz. bottle) is what she recommended to her clients. Though this brief article is not a plug for iherb nor for Ms. Harrington, I have seen people have very positive results in using Inositol Powder as an alternative for a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) for depression, anxiety, OCD, or panic disorder.


Until next time...

Dr Jamison Law

P.S. When reading the medical journals, it indicated that the liver breaks down Inositol (which is derived from rice bran) into inositides. Inositides are involved in many functions, but in this case, their job is to help with cell-to-cell communication. It is also good for liver detoxification. If you want to learn more, here is a good blog article written simply to help people like you and I understand what it can do and how it works.

http://evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.com/2011/05/inositol-nervous-systems-pony-express.html