Articles

From the judge’s bench of any family court, the view of the world is rarely a pretty one. It is of splintered dreams and tarnished vows and the frustration and fury that inevitably follows.

One day in 1999, Judge Robert Scandurra had a view of something else as well. A divorced couple had been squabbling over child support and time with their 11-year-old son, but what Scandurra saw more clearly was that their lawyers couldn’t stand the sight of each other.

So Scandurra did something he had never done before and has rarely done since. He asked if he could meet with the mother and father alone in chambers, and their lawyers, to his surprise, agreed.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

It is practically an article of faith among many therapists that self-understanding is a prerequisite for a happy life. Insight, the thinking goes, will free you from your psychological hang-ups and promote well-being.

Read the entire article on The New York Times

The holiday season brings many joys and, unfortunately, many countervailing dietary pitfalls. Even the fittest and most disciplined of us can succumb, indulging in more fat and calories than at any other time of the year. The health consequences, if the behavior is unchecked, can be swift and worrying. A recent study by scientists in Australia found that after only three days, an extremely high-fat, high-calorie diet can lead to increased blood sugar and insulin resistance, potentially increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes. Waistlines also can expand at this time of year, prompting self-recrimination and unrealistic New Year’s resolutions.

But a new study published in The Journal of Physiology suggests a more reliable and far simpler response. Run or bicycle before breakfast. Exercising in the morning, before eating, the study results show, seems to significantly lessen the ill effects of holiday Bacchanalias.Read the entire article on The New York Times

As recently as 2002, an international group of leading neuroscientists found it necessary to publish a statement arguing passionately that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was a real condition.

In the face of “overwhelming” scientific evidence, they complained, A.D.H.D. was regularly portrayed in the media as “myth, fraud or benign condition” — an artifact of too-strict teachers, perhaps, or too much television.

In recent years, it has been rarer to hear serious doubt that the disorder really exists, and the evidence explaining its neurocircuitry and genetics has become more convincing and more complex.Read the entire article on The New York Times

Alzheimer’s researchers are obsessed with a small, sticky protein fragment, beta amyloid, that clumps into barnaclelike balls in the brains of patients with this degenerative neurological disease.

It is a normal protein. Everyone’s brain makes it. But the problem in Alzheimer’s is that it starts to accumulate into balls — plaques. The first sign the disease is developing — before there are any symptoms — is a buildup of amyloid. And for years, it seemed, the problem in Alzheimer’s was that brain cells were making too much of it.Read the entire article on The New York Times

As recently as 2002, an international group of leading neuroscientists found it necessary to publish a statement arguing passionately thatattention deficit hyperactivity disorder was a real condition.

Read the entire article on The New York Times

MY husband and I recently celebrated a milestone. It was the day we’d been married for 13 years, 2 months and about a week: the day our marriage outlasted my parents’ marriage.

Read the entire article on The New York Times

A German researcher recently identified a gene that appears to promote generosity.

American scientists are finding that being big-hearted may trigger the brain’s pleasure centers.

And Jeff Bell and Jared Douglas Kant are convinced that helping others cope with obsessive-compulsive behaviors made the difference in their own treatment for the disorder.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

In the wake of several tragedies that have made bullying a high-profile issue, it’s becoming clear that harassment by one’s peers is something more than just a rite of passage. Bullied kids are more likely to be depressed, anxious, and suicidal. They struggle in school — when they decide to show up at all. They are more likely to carry weapons, get in fights, and use drugs.

But when it comes to the actual harm bullying does, the picture grows murkier. The psychological torment that victims feel is real. But perhaps because many of us have experienced this sort of schoolyard cruelty and lived to tell the tale, peer harassment is still commonly written off as a “soft” form of abuse — one that leaves no obvious injuries and that most victims simply get over. It’s easy to imagine that, painful as bullying can be, all it hurts is our feelings.

A new wave of research into bullying’s effects, however, is now suggesting something more than that — that in fact, bullying can leave an indelible imprint on a teen’s brain at a time when it is still growing and developing. Being ostracized by one’s peers, it seems, can throw adolescent hormones even further out of whack, lead to reduced connectivity in the brain, and even sabotage the growth of new neurons.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

The wedding of the 20th century, in 1981, celebrated a marriage that turned out to be a huge bust. It ended as badly as a relationship can: scandal, divorce and, ultimately, death and worldwide weeping.

So when the firstborn son of that union, Britain’s Prince William, set in motion the wedding of this century by getting engaged to Catherine Middleton, he did things a little differently. He picked someone older than he is (by six months), who went to the same university he did and whom he’d dated for a long time. Although she is not of royal blood, she stands to become the first English Queen with a university degree, so in one fundamental way, theirs is a union of equals. In that regard, the new couple reflect the changes in the shape and nature of marriage that have been rippling throughout the Western world for the past few decades.(See an album of British royal weddings.)Read the entire article on Time

It wasn’t the first time someone in a doctor’s office had asked Richard Cofield whether he drank or used drugs. But this was the first time he decided to answer.

“It was a surprise to me. You go there for some physical stuff and here comes somebody asking you about your life,’’ he said.

Earlier this year, a young woman working as a health promotion advocate walked into the exam room while he was waiting to see a Boston Medical Center doctor about shoulder and arm pain. She asked his permission to talk about alcohol and other drugs.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

Part of an ongoing series on obesity in America

If you’re among the two-thirds of Americans who are overweight, chances are you’ve had people tell you to just ease up on the eating and use a little self-control. It does, of course, boil down to “calories in, calories out.”Read the entire article on National Public Radio

It’s one of the more puzzling observations in medicine: The vast majority of chronic pain patients are women. Women suffer disproportionately from irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, headaches (especially migraines), pain caused by damage to the nervous system, osteoarthritis, jaw problems like TMJ, and much more. Women also report more acute pain than men after the same common surgeries.

In the lab, when researchers ask male and female volunteers to subject themselves to experimental pain — increasingly hot stimulation on the inner arm, immersion of the hand in very cold water, electrical jolts to the skin — women show lower pain thresholds (that is, they report pain at lower levels of stimulus intensity) and lower tolerance (they can’t bear intense pain as long).

Women are also better able to detect small gradations in pain stimuli. And they respond differently to certain opioid — painkilling — drugs. (It’s not clear whether men and women differ in sensitivity to cancer pain.)Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

Lost in the shuffle of university admission and graduation rates is a reality that those statistics often mask: about 1 in 3 students who enroll in either a four-year or two-year college will probably transfer  at some point. This, to me, is the takeaway statistic in a report issued Tuesday by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

For readers of The Choice, the most valuable information in the report may be the results of a survey asking college admissions officers what criteria they most prize in a transfer applicant. “The postsecondary grade point average is clearly the most important factor for transfer admission,” the researchers report.

 Read the entire article on The New York Times

(CNN) — The sensation began in Melanie Thernstrom’s neck the same day she went for a long swim. It flowed down through her right shoulder to her hand, as if she had a blistering sunburn underneath her skin.

Thernstrom, 32 at the time, had a couple of doctor’s appointments about it, but went along with a neurologist’s suggestion that it would get better on its own.Read the entire article on CNN

Inflammation is “hot” topic in medicine. It appears connected to almost every known chronic disease — from heart disease to cancer, diabetes to obesity, autism to dementia, and even depression. Other inflammatory diseases such as allergies, asthma, arthritis, andautoimmune disease are increasing at dramatic rates. As physicians we are trained to shut off inflammation with aspirin, anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil or Motrin, steroids and increasingly more powerful immune suppressing medication with serious side effects. But we are not trained to find and treat the underlying causes of inflammation in chronic disease. Hidden allergens, infections, environmental toxins, an inflammatory diet, and stress are the real causes of these inflammatory conditions.

Autoimmune diseases, specifically, now affect 24 million people and include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. These are often addressed by powerful immune suppressing medication and not by addressing the cause. That’s like taking a lot of aspirin while you are standing on a tack. The treatment is not more aspirin or a strong immune suppressant, but removing the tack.

It you want to cool off inflammation in the body, you must find the source. Treat the fire, not the smoke. In medicine we are mostly taught to diagnose disease by symptoms, NOT by their underlying cause. Functional medicine, the emerging 21st paradigm of systems medicine teaches us to treat the cause, not only the symptoms, to ask the question WHY are you sick, not only WHAT disease do you have.Read the entire article on Huffington Post

Does your husband or wife constantly forget chores and lose track of the calendar? Do you sometimes feel that instead of living with a spouse, you’re raising another child?

Your marriage may be suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.Read the entire article on The New York Times

An estimated 14 percent of Americans will experience a serious bout of depressionduring their lifetime, and 20 percent will experience an anxiety disorder. The ubiquitous advertisements forantidepressant drugs suggest that pills are the only answer—and that they work for everyone. Neither is really true, but you don’t have to take our word for it: We surveyed more than 1,500 respondents toConsumer Reports‘ 2009 Annual Questionnaire who had sought professional help for depression, anxiety, or both.

Our results provide a window onto mental-health treatment as it’s practiced in the real world, as opposed to the carefully controlled environment of clinical trials of psychiatric drugs.

Among our key findings:Read the entire article on Consumer Reports

It runs counter to our instincts as parents, but a new book suggests that making your kids your top priority may be doing them more harm than good.

An Episcopal minister and family coach, David Code suggests that parents who focus first on maintaining a strong marriage end up having happier, better-adjusted children than those who make their kids their top priority.

“The truth is, we often find it easier to be with our kids than our partners,” Code said in an interivew. “This seems child-friendly, but we don’t realize we’re using our kids as an escape from our spouses.”Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

College students who want to boost their grades can start by boosting their level of exercise, new research suggests.

A report presented on Thursday at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 57th annual meeting in Baltimore finds that college students who regularly engage in vigorous exercise get better grades. Although a link between physical activity and higher academic achievement has been shown in middle-school students, it hasn’t been clear whether exercise is associated with better grades among older students.

To find out, researchers at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan tracked the grades and exercise habits of 266 undergraduates. They found that students who regularly participated in vigorous physical activity had higher G.P.A.’s.Read the entire article on The New York Times

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