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Recent research: a mixed bag of studies on personality, paranoia, burnout, somatization, and relationships

This week's recent research post is a mixed bag of six studies covering the physiological & psychological changes triggered by being separated from one's partner, why similar levels of anxiety & interpersonal sensitivity can lead to social anxiety in some individuals and paranoia in others, how difficulty identifying feelings is associated with increased somatization, the frequency of burnout in family doctors around Europe, personality factors that predict a longer life, and how wrong the old saying is that "Sticks & stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"!  

Life review, traumatic memories & therapeutic writing

The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice

- Martin Luther King

This section includes charts to help clarify life history, traumatic events, childhood experiences, and therapeutic writing.  It overlaps with some of the handouts given in the linked "PTSD assessment, images, memories & information" section .  I use "therapeutic" writing as a general term covering all types of writing that have been shown to be helpful & "therapeutic".  When describing the form of therapeutic writing, developed by Jamie Pennebaker and other researchers, that focuses particularly on writing one's "deepest thoughts & feelings" about life traumas & difficulties, I tend to use the term "expressive" writing (to distinguish it, for example, from other forms of therapeutic writing focusing on diverse topics such as "best possible selves", "intensely positive

Relationships, self-esteem and health - first posting

Poor relationships damage our health.  Recent research powerfully demonstrates this point (Stinson, Logel et al. 2008).  In these studies, relationships were assessed in three different ways - relationship quality (closeness, trust, satisfaction), number of friends, and relationship stress.  Sheldon Cohen (Cohen 2004) has argued that these three aspects of relationships are all important in the relationships-health link - emotional closeness, broader social network, and low interpersonal conflict.  In this Stinson et al research, all three aspects were assessed and all three predicted subsequent health.  In the team's second study, they showed relationship stress (function) and number of friends (structure) were independently linked to health outcomes - the former a bit more strongly than the latter.  More stress and fewer friends both predicted more health difficulties.  Health difficulties too were assessed in three different ways - simply by asking participants whether they had developed any health problems during the study period, by asking about time off work, and by asking about visits to doctors.  Poor relationships led to increases in all three of these health indicators.

Some interesting articles from February ‘08

Here are details and links for a couple of dozen mainly February articles that I found interesting. Most of these articles (and many others) are also listed on my searchable Connotea online database.

Barbui, C. M. D., T. A. M. D. Furukawa, et al. (2008). "Effectiveness of paroxetine in the treatment of acute major depression in adults: a systematic re-examination of published and unpublished data from randomized trials." CMAJ 178(3): 296-305. [Abstract/Full Text]
Blakely, T., M. Tobias, et al. (2008). "Inequalities in mortality during and after restructuring of the New Zealand economy: repeated cohort studies." BMJ 336(7640): 371-375. [Abstract/Full Text]
Bradley, R. G., E. B. Binder, et al. (2008). "Influence of Child Abuse on Adult Depression: Moderation by the Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone Receptor Gene." Arch Gen Psychiatry 65(2): 190-200. [Abstract/Full Text]

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