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Kathy Marshack News

New Gene Research Reveals Possibly Eight Different Types of Schizophrenia

Thursday, October 02, 2014

genetic research uncoding link to schizophreniaSchizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that, according to the American Psychiatric Association, affects about 1% of the population. Thankfully ongoing genetic research is unlocking the mysteries of complex diseases like schizophrenia. According to new findings from researchers at Washington University in St. Louis there may be eight different classes of schizophrenia. Other doctors, like Dr. Charles Raison, professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona, say this may only be the tip of the iceberg.

The breakthrough came when they began looking for gene clusters rather than at individual genes. Dr. C. Robert Cloninger, one of the study's senior authors, explained, “Genes don't operate by themselves. They function in concert much like an orchestra, and to understand how they're working, you have to know not just who the members of the orchestra are but how they interact." And co-author Dr. Dragan Svrakic stated, "What was missing was the idea that these genes don't act independently. They work in concert to disrupt the brain's structure and function, and that results in the illness." As the researchers analyzed the DNA, they matched any gene variations they found in the DNA with individual symptoms.

It’s been known that the risk for schizophrenia is inherited. Now they are beginning to identify the gene clusters that are responsible for specific symptoms. They found that “some gene clusters were responsible for hallucinations and delusions, other gene clusters disorganized speech and behavior, while still other gene clusters affect lack of initiative, problems organizing thoughts or making the connection between emotions and thoughts.”

Why is this gene research so exciting?

Previous studies have linked genetic mutations in older fathers with mental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. The more they can identify the cause at the genetic level, the greater the chance of predicting who might get it and, more importantly, finding a highly targeted therapy and medication for treating each individual.

Today, psychotherapy is an effective means of treatment mental disorders. As a psychologist with 30 years of experience in counseling families, I also see how important it is for caretakers to get therapy when they have the ongoing stress of caring for someone who is seriously mentally ill. Please contact my Portland office and set up an appointment if you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA.

For more information: Read CNN writer Jacque Wilson’s article, Study: Schizophrenia is 8 diseases.

Muse Headband – New Technology Could Help Us Stay on Top of Mental Health

Friday, September 26, 2014

new technology - muse headband- could help us stay on top of mental healthFor a number of years, people have been able to travel to brain scanning facilities and find out how their brains respond to stimulation in a clinical setting. It hasn’t been possible for everyone to see how the brain is really responding to situations in every day life. 

Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could monitor your brain activity at home, at work, or at the shopping center? If you found that something was bothering you more than you really expected, then you could focus on changing your responses and gain greater control of your life immediately. The idea of everyone being able to do this isn’t as farfetched as it sounds. 

Ariel Garten CEO of interaXon, was interviewed by CNN about a computer headband they’ve developed that tracks the brain’s electro-signals. It’s called Muse. She said,We're very interested in creating solutions that help you calm yourself; that can help you stay grounded, choose what to focus your attention on, and understanding and managing your own mind and response to the world so that people can be more productive in life.” 

While Muse isn’t a medical device, it has fantastic possibilities for controlling stress, helping those with ADHD to increase their abilities to focus, and providing cognitive recognition of negative thinking patterns so you can turn them into positive ones. It tracks your brain activity and then sends that information to your computer, smart phone or tablet, giving you real time feedback. 

While I haven’t tried this product out myself, I’m interested in the possibilities that a product like this could have for helping people gain greater control of their emotions, thoughts, and activities. I’m happy to keep you current on the latest technological advances that could contribute to greater physical and mental health. 

Being able to identify your self-condemning internal dialogue and self-defeating attitudes and actions in the instance of them occurring doesn’t give you the skill to automatically overcome them. It’s helpful to seek the guidance of a psychotherapist who can help you learn the skills to deal with the frustration and anger from years of unresolved emotions and to feel better about yourself. A psychotherapist can also build on the strengths you have so you can cope with daily problems and learn alternative ways to handle your emotions.

Are you ready to gain control of your life with the help of a trained psychotherapist? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, contact my office to make an appointment. 

For more information read on my website: Psychotherapy Options.

How Having a Child Changes Dad’s Brain

Friday, September 12, 2014

dad bonding with his daughter

There are a growing number of stay-at-home dads – up to 2 million in 2012. According to Pew Research Center 8% of homes have single fathers. Can a father bond with his child as strongly as the maternal bond at birth? And does it matter if the child is his biological child?

These questions were asked and answered in CNN’s story, Dads' brains are ready to bond with kids. It discusses the finding from the largest parental brain study to date. The scientists wanted to determine how male and female brains function differently as parents, and more specifically, how men's brains are changed by fatherhood. What did they discover?

The amygdala, which regulates emotional response and allows the maternal bond to occur quickly, became highly active in mothers after giving birth. The months of pregnancy accelerate this connection.

Secondary caregiving fathers' brains showed a strong response in the neural network that regulates social cognitive processing.
Primary caregiving fathers activated both of the above-mentioned areas of the brain after a short time.

Being the primary caregiving parent activated the most response. Professor of psychology and lead researcher, Ruth Feldman concluded, "There's something really strong that makes mothers bond with the infant right when they're born. Fathers need a little more work for that to happen."

Across the board, they found that fathers, whether primary and secondary caregivers, increased amygdala activation when they increased their time taking caring of the child. It didn’t matter if the child was biological or adopted.

Ever one of the five key areas of being a good parent takes time – listening, consistency, teaching, modeling, and loving. Now we have scientific proof that it takes time to change the brain in order to form that close bond with your child. If you don’t feel close to your children today, perhaps it would be good to ask yourself, “How much time am I spending with each child?”

Read more on my website: Adoptive Families and Parenting.

Mapping the Brain – What This Means for Mental Health

Monday, August 11, 2014

brain mapping and what this means for mental healthIn 2013, President Obama launched a $100 million initiative to unlock the mysteries of the brain so that brain disorders can be better understood and treated. Now, one year later, the journal Nature reports on the progress toward understanding the function of the brain.

For many years researchers have focused on only certain areas of the brain, so it’s been impossible to sift through these widely dispersed findings and see the function of the brain as a whole. Now a new project is underway to map how the entire brain is connected and how it functions. Once they understand what a normal brain looks like, they can compare diseased brains and see what areas are affected by that particular disease.

To date, they have successfully completed a map of the brain of a mouse. Often rodent brains are the first line of examination since they possess only 75 million neurons, whereas the human brain possesses 86 billion neurons. This map is called the Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas and is publicly available.

Because of the advances in computer and imaging technology, the Human Brain Project, an European initiative now feels confident that they can map the entire human brain. See a 3-D view of the connections that have already been discovered here.

This is good news for those who suffer behavioral problems, brain injuries and brain disease. Once the damage is understood, better treatments can be developed. For now, the use of medicines, whole foods, vitamins and supplements can often help heal the brain. This is the type of holistic health regimen that I often use with clients.

Learn more about holistic healing on my website – Mind and Body: Holistic Health.

For more information about the brain – Type the word brain into the search box on my blog and scroll through my previous articles about the fascinating things that have already been discovered.

New Research into the Link between Autism and Suicidal Thoughts

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

autism and suicidalityRecently I was interviewed by Sarah DeWeerdt for an article, Suicidal thoughts alarmingly common in people with autism. At the suggestion of Dr. Oren Shtayermman, PhD, MSW, she spoke with me about what it’s like to have an autistic child express suicidal thoughts. I shared with her the story of my daughter, who used to beg me to kill her so that we both wouldn't suffer any more. She was in so much emotional pain, and that was the only way she could tell me that she felt helpless. While this is a painful topic, I was glad that I could contribute to further understanding an issue that has for too long been ignored.

The alarming statistics show that both children and adults with autism have a much higher likelihood of suicidal thoughts and behavior. One study the article quoted says that “two-thirds of a group of adults diagnosed with Asperger syndrome said they had thought about committing suicide at some point, and 35 percent had made specific plans or actually made an attempt.” Research is showing that the very cognitive patterns that people with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome possess make them more vulnerable to suicidal tendencies.

Because those on the Autism Spectrum can’t express their feelings well, it’s been assumed that they don’t feel depressed. When they are asked if they feel depressed, they may say “No”. Yet at that same moment, they may be harboring thoughts of wanting to end their lives. They don’t make the connection. As a result, I am so grateful that research into this connection between autism and suicide is increasing.

It’s important to note that our autistic loved ones may have these suicidal feelings, but be unable to express them. It’s imperative then that we be alert and sensitive to hear their unusual way of crying for help.

Asking for help is another social skill that those with autism may be lacking. If you or someone you know is struggling with hopelessness or deep sadness, I urge you to get help immediately. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and set up an appointment. I assure you no matter how bleak your life looks, it can get better.

Read more on my website – Overcoming Depression and Asperger Syndrome.

A New Tool Reveals How the Internet Defines Your Personality

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

technology for how internet defines our personalityThe internet is gathering data on you. It looks at the websites you visit and the items you purchase as its algorithms try to decipher which ads to put before you to entice you to buy. Now, according to a recent New York Times article, "Your Personality Type, Defined by the Internet" there’s a new parameter that they’re tracking…Your personality through the choice of words you use when posting to Social Media.

A Berkeley CA. company, Five Labs, has created a new tool that links to Facebook posts and analyzes the way we write in relation to five personality attributes: openness, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism. The majority of people who have tried it think it’s fairly accurate.

This is interesting in more than one way. Psychological research has shown that the words we use reflect our personality and frame of mind, so this tool probably is pretty accurate. This little device could become very useful to us, especially when we have difficulty seeing ourselves as we really are. It could be used to help people see areas of their personality that they can change for the better. It also confirms that if we change our words, we can change our attitude and emotions toward life.

What if the results leave you feeling like you need to change? You may want to explore Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It’s a communication technology that has applications in any setting involving human interaction. NLP works because it eliminates the guesswork. Goal setting, negotiating, problem solving, creativity are more streamlined when you know the structure to follow. Consider working with a therapist trained in NLP to assist you in resolving a personal problem or developing your potential. Contact my office to set-up an appointment or to learn more.

Based on my Facebook posts, they classify me as inventive, efficient, sensitive, analytical, and outgoing. Join me on my Facebook page, ( as we discuss the results you get, how accurate it is and how you feel about this.

Shining the Spotlight on Women Suffering from Concussions

Monday, December 09, 2013

female athletes suffer from concussions tooWhen the news reports on sports concussions, often it discusses male football players. Seldom, if ever, are female athletes mentioned. Yet they suffer concussions as well. Katherine Snedaker, MSW of and Dr. Jimmy Sanderson and Dr. Melinda Weathers, two researchers from Clemson University, are gathering applicants for a national study of female athletes 18 years and older to research the past and present affects of concussions. These can be sports or non-sports concussions. Also being researched is why these incidents are being underreported. This is important research and I encourage you to check it out to see if this research is appropriate for you or someone you know.

Brain trauma can cause dementia, headaches, light sensitivity, memory loss and encephalopathy. It can also be responsible for changed behavior, such as irritability, anger, depression, suicidal thoughts and actions, learning problems, poor decision-making skills and subsequent substance abuse. But you don’t have to accept that this is what you have to endure for the rest of your life.

Much of the damage caused to the brain can be rehabilitated. If you or someone you love is experiencing mental side effects after a concussion, speak to your doctor immediately. A holistic approach to the health of the mind and body can put you back in control of your life. You can learn how to use your own natural healing power to regain health. Couple this will good nutrition, regular exercise and changing negative lifestyle behaviors and you’ve begun your journey to optimal health and wellness.

The mind and body are in a state of constant communication. What the mind thinks and experiences is sent from the brain to the rest of the body and vice versa. If you want to improve your mind-body communication, consult a NET practitioner who can remove the blocks so your body can repair itself. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, contact my office and set up an appointment so your healing can begin.

Learn more about Mind and Body Health on my website – Holistic Health.

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