Hello and welcome to another edition of Best 5 Reads. Lets begin!
Empathy. It’s a word we hear a lot in psychology, so readily invoked that we often don’t bother to seriously think about what it is and what makes it powerful. Carl Rogers, the founder of person-centered therapy, saw empathy as one of the core conditions for psychological growth. Empathizing, according to Rogers, “means that for the time being, you lay aside your own views and values in order to enter another’s world without prejudice.” (Rogers, 1980, p. 143)
Imagine empathizing—rather than repudiating, attacking, demeaning, or mocking—those with whom we disagree? Of course, empathizing sounds easy, but it isn’t.
In reporting a story about suicide and drug overdoses, a reporter’s thankless tasks include calling parents shocked by the sudden interest.
After years of discussing the feasibility of mobile health interventions delivered via smartphones, it is now time to move forward. The article in this issue by Dror Ben-Zeev, Ph.D., and colleagues represents a milestone for mobile mental health. Similar clinical outcomes were achieved in a 12-week randomized trial that compared the smartphone intervention with an in-person self-management group intervention led by trained facilitators with lived experience of mental illness, leaving little doubt about feasibility. But what comes next?
Psychiatrists are now dealing with three “epidemics” that have a profound impact on society—opioid dependence, depression, and suicide. We desperately need new treatments for depression, and for suicidality, while also reducing opioid dependence and abuse. In the setting of this “triple crunch” and the frantic search for breakthrough treatments, low-dose intravenous ketamine has emerged as a potentially rapid-acting antidepressant that also quickly reduces suicidality. Could the universe be so cruel as to make it so that a treatment for one or two of the epidemics actually fuels the other? Thus, the article by Williams and colleagues in this issue has potentially broad clinical and social implications, as it raises questions about all three.
Losing a parent during childhood is one of the most tragic life experiences, and one that can set the stage for later psychopathology (1). However, findings from cross-sectional studies cannot disentangle whether poor outcomes stem directly from the loss, from the lack of parental support in subsequent childhood years, or from risk factors present even before the parent’s death. Longitudinal studies are required to determine the timing and mechanisms by which these tragedies convey risk to children. This is critical information for planning how and when to intervene.
Thank you for your time and see you tomorrow for more articles!