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Recent research: articles from the winter journals

I read a lot of research.  When I find an article of particular interest I download it to my bibliographic database - Endnote - which currently contains close to 25,000 abstracts.  I also regularly tweet about emerging research, so following me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ (click on the relevant icon at the top of this web page) will keep you up to speed with some of what I'm finding interesting. Additionally you can view this highlighted research by visiting Scoop.it (click on the "it!" icon at the top of the page).  At Scoop.it, I stream publications into five overlapping topic areas: Cognitive & General Psychotherapy, Depression, Compassion & Mindfulness, Healthy Living & Healthy Aging, and Positive Psychology.

Personal social networks (5th post): the frequency of conflict

Personal social networks are hugely important for our health & wellbeing, as I've underlined in the first of this six post sequence - "Personal social networks (1st post): Dunbar's 5-15-50-150 model".  However our personal networks are also regularly affected by conflicts, especially with those we're close to.  It's not a surprise - if you're very close to someone, it's likely you'll sometimes step on each other's toes.

More to follow ...

Personal social networks (3rd post): assessing how we're doing

If you'd like to clarify and potentially look after your personal social network better, a good place to start is to chart it. You can download a simple blank chart here either in Word doc or PDF format.  Filling in the whole "Personal community map" can take a good hour or two, so possibly ... at this stage ... just put your support clique into the most central circle.

Personal social networks (2nd post): the sympathy group & the full active network

I recently wrote a blog post on "Personal social networks (1st post): Dunbar's 5-15-50-150 model".  I emphasised the huge importance of our social networks for improving life expectancy, protecting against psychological disorders, and boosting our happiness & wellbeing.  What's not to like?!  I went on to introduce Robin Dunbar's work and his layered model of personal social network structure.  I then talked about the key inner support clique layer.  Outside the support clique is the sympathy group or - stated possibly less awkwardly - outside our very closest relationships we have a layer of close relationships.

Personal social networks (1st post): Dunbar's 5-15-50-150 model

Relationships are immensely important for both our health and our wellbeing ... for how long we live, our resilience to psychological stress, and for our levels of happiness & life satisfaction.  This is crucially relevant for pretty much all of us.  The post "Strong relationships improve survival as much as quitting smoking" clearly links the state of our personal social networks to how long we're likely to live.

New study highlights potential value of dietary change in depression treatment

At the end of last month, a fascinating new research study was published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.  The article is "A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial)" and its abstract reads "Background The possible therapeutic impact of dietary changes on existing mental illness is largely unknown. Using a randomised controlled trial design, we aimed to investigate the efficacy of a dietary improvement program for the treatment of major depressive episodes.  Methods ‘SMILES’ was a 12-week, parallel-group, single blind, randomised controlled trial of an adjunctive dietary intervention in the treatment of moderate to severe depression.