Albert Ellis On Guilt and Shame

Albert Ellis is one of the most influential therapists, and he founded the first of the cognitive and behavioral therapies called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. This lecture (audio only) on guilt and shame is pretty fantastic.

As I was listening to it, I thought of the clients I’ve seen who feel guilt and shame regarding their obsessions and compulsions, e.g. “I’m a bad person for thinking [insert images or fears of murder, pedophilia, etc], and people will hate me if they find out about what goes on in my head.” And of course, “I have no reason to be depressed.” (I don’t need to expand on that one) Typically guilt and shame are not justified (meaning they fit the facts) in these sorts of cases. And if guilt and shame do fit the facts – you did in fact do something that went against your values (guilt) and you will be ostracized if anyone finds out (shame) – acknowledge it, make amends with yourself/those harmed/your higher power, accept what happened, and don’t do it again.



Can Social Media Stop Pro-Ana?

The Internet is a beautiful thing. It’s an expansive repository of information on any subject. A massive emporium of anything one could want, from Apple seeds to Zebra pelts (Yes, you can buy zebra pelts on the Internet). And it’s a means of social connection.

This Buzzfeed article outlines the current state of attempts by social media companies to thwart pro-eating disorder (i.e. pro-ana and pro-mia) groups, blogs, and photos. I first heard about pro-ana back in the late 90’s when every middle schooler with an Internet connection had a Geocities page. I saw pro-ana sites again late into college, when a friend of mine was doing research on eating disorders for a psychology class and read a few posts on a pro-ana forum aloud to me in horror. Now it’s 2016, and people are still forming support communities based on a collection of deadly behaviors and maladaptive personality traits. Companies have been trying to shut down these communities with mediocre results like it’s 1999.

The latest effort by some is to strategically place recovery-oriented advertising and messages on pro-eating disorder media. I’m not entirely certain if there is evidence to back up this practice, though it’s probably not harmful. The site visitor is given a prompt to call the National Eating Disorders Association or talk with a trained volunteer online.

Here’s part of what it’s like to have an eating disorder: loneliness, feeling disconnected from others, self-loathing, shame, isolation, sadness, anger, and more self-loathing, shame, and loneliness. The well-known perk of pro-ana sites is the same as any other online support group: When you enter, you’ve found your people.

Social media can’t fully control what people post, try as they might. Continuing to try is the responsible thing to do. Social media is more complication than cause of the development and continuation eating disorder symptoms.What is especially problematic is how variable in real life support for individuals with eating disorders can be in the US, as well as a need for trained health professionals, and of course underfunding for researching causes and treatment.


Minocycline for OCD

If you have ever had bad acne, MRSA, and/or gonorrhea, you may be familiar with minocycline. Minocycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that kills all sorts of nasty pathogens. It also affects glutamate, the most abundant neurotransmitter in the brain which serves multiple functions. Glutamate is the current target for innovation in psychiatric medication, because the whole dopamine and serotonin business hasn’t panned out as well as the mental health community would like. Minocycline is a convenient drug to study given that it has been in use for a long time and is relatively safe to use in both adults and children.

Apparently, it helps some people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) be less obsessive and compulsive. A Google search will produce multiple articles on the topic. For something that isn’t super jargony, check out the third article in the series titled Brain Hacking in the Washington Post.

People with OCD are stereotyped as orderly, perfectionist, and rigid. The OCD stereotype is inaccurate. The disorder is not characterized by personality traits, though people with OCD can struggle with them (perfectionism particularly). When I read about a medication for Leprosy that also treats OCD, I do wonder if the personalities of these folks changes somewhat – to what extent does personality reinforce OCD behaviors, and vice versa.

Frankly, I hope researchers find a magic pill for some of these things. As much as I love my job, I’d probably be content as a librarian or something. In the meantime…