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Some recent research supporting the long held belief that money can’t buy us love, uh, I mean happiness? Well, actually, there is money involved here. This research is saying that “life-experience purchases” are more important than strictly material purchases. So what’s the difference between a life-experience purchase and a material purchase? It may ways it appears to be in the way you view it.  You must look at the experience that you are buying and not the material item itself. For instance, a CD is more than a disk, it’s a listening experience. A plane ticket is more than a piece of paper and some anxiety, it’s an adventure. A meal at a restaurant is more than just not having to cook, it’s gastronomically pleasing……..you get the point. So, no need to shy away from purchasing things to make you happy, just take a look at what you are purchasing and ask yourself – can I have an experience here. From the viewpoint of a cognitive-behavioral therapist, I like this….

http://www.livescience.com/culture/purchase-happiness-experience-100304.html

This piece from This American Life chronicles what happened behind the scenes that lead to the decision to take homosexuality out of the DSM; thereby destigmatizing it in the medical community. It is told by Alix Spiegel, granddaughter of then president of the APA who also happened to be a gay psychiatrist. It is a fascinating story and a very important piece of history. We all know that this happened, but what went on by a brave group of Psychiatrists to bring it to fruition is seldom heard. This story is timely for two reasons. Homosexuality has entered a new and important phase in it’s history, that of the right to marry. In addition, the DSM-V is expected to debut in 2013 and the current revisions have been recently released for discussion.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=204

Is this woman just Debbie Downer, or yet another example that the Positive Psychology movement is increasingly under fire and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is taking over? Although not a clinician herself, she challenges many well-accepted therapeutic techniques widely used in offices today and is spurring more debate against Martin Seligman’s Positive Psychology Movement. And again, I am seeing more and more evidence coming out in support of ACT. She does not name her opinions as such, but if you are familiar with it, you will hear many similarities. This 3rd generation CBT is a therapy to watch, folks.

Barbara Ehrenreich has PhD in Cell Biology but is described on Wikipedia as “an American feminist, democratic socialist, pop sociologist and political activist”. She is also the author if nearly 20 books and many columns and essays in prestigious publications.

Regardless of your stance on this, she raises some interesting questions.

http://fora.tv/2010/01/11/Smile_or_Die_The_Tyrany_of_Positive_Thinking

Possibly in response to the New Yorker article questioning the legitimacy of  depression, this article argues that not only is depression a real biological illness, but that it may have vast benefits to society. For instance, they alleged that Charles Darwin possibly suffered from it, enabling him to write one of the most significant and controversial tombs in history. It also argues that treating the illness with anti-depressants may take-away from these “beneficial effects”.  I think the controversy here lies with situational sadness and melancholy being called depression.  Yes, in my teen and early adult angst, and through some normal life changes, sadness has propelled me to some great learning and realizations; however, to someone suffering from clinical depression, is there really an upside?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/magazine/28depression-t.html?pagewanted=1&hpw

Let’s start this blog off with a big debate happening in the field right now. Thanks to a new and widely publicized study pointing to the fact that SSRI’s are no more effective in treating mild to moderate depression than placebo’s  (see original study here: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050045 ), a controversy is brewing.  Here is an interesting piece from the New Yorker that boldly asks, is depression even a real illness?

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2010/03/01/100301crat_atlarge_menand