Tag Archives: psychology

Hoarding disorder: why is it hard to part with stuff?

“I’m fascinated by why people love objects so much,” says Dr Melissa Norberg, Director of the Behavioural Science Laboratory at Macquarie University.

Melissa wants to know what makes objects so appealing. Credit: Chris Stacey, Macquarie University
Melissa wants to know what makes objects so appealing. Credit: Chris Stacey, Macquarie University

“What is it about the items (or the person) that makes objects so appealing?”

While we’re all guilty of holding on to a few sentimental things, Melissa’s interest is in studying those who meet the criteria for hoarding disorder.

With Associate Professor Jessica Grisham at the University of New South Wales, Melissa has been investigating how mood affects peoples’ ability to throw things out.

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Helping patients cope with cancer

Pairing psychology with cancer treatment has a profound impact on the wellbeing of patients, Associate Professor Maria Kangas and her team at the Centre for Emotional Health have found.

CBT helps give patients the skills to cope with the challenges of cancer diagnosis. Credit: Chris Stacey
CBT helps give patients the skills to cope with the challenges of cancer diagnosis. Credit: Chris Stacey

In a recent clinical trial, head and neck cancer patients were offered weekly cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sessions concurrent to their radiation therapy appointments.

After just seven sessions, patients reported a significant decline in cancer-related anxiety and/or depression. And after a year, 67 per cent were no longer experiencing any anxiety or depression and were doing better than the control group who had received regular counselling, but not CBT.

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Cool Kids goes bush – helping rural children with anxiety

Just under half the children in Australia with a mental health issue aren’t receiving the appropriate treatment, and one third of their parents say the main impediment is a lack of access to treatment options.

Lauren is using technology to help rural children with anxiety. Credit: Chris Stacey
Lauren is using technology to help rural children with anxiety. Credit: Chris Stacey

“We’ve got all these great programs that we know work, but kids in rural Australia have just not been getting access to them,” says Dr Lauren McLellan, a clinical psychologist and Research Fellow at the Centre for Emotional Health.

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Starving cancer and other stories

Prostate cancers are made up of hungry, growing cells. Now we’ve discovered how to cut off their food supply thanks to a study published in Cancer Research and supported by Movember. More below. Also Australian science discoveries you may have missed from the past week. Heart cells growing in a test-tube – Melbourne How birds [...]

Preparing for the worst

Fire fighters should identify what are potentially the worst-case events and prepare for them, even if they are extremely unlikely to occur, says Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre psychology researcher Claire Johnson.

Preparing for the worst
Fire fighters need to be prepared for the worst that can happen. Credit: Queensland Fire and Rescue Service
“A failure to consider worst-case scenario possibilities has been implicated in a number of high-profile investigations into Australian bushfire disasters,” says Claire, who submitted her PhD thesis on worst-case scenario planning to La Trobe University in Melbourne in March this year.

For instance, the inquiries following the Canberra bushfires in 2003 and the Wangary fires on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula in 2006 both suggested lack of considering the worst contributed to an underestimation of the threat posed.
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Thirty new languages discovered in China

Credit: Jamin Pelkey
Credit: Jamin Pelkey

Thirty new languages in China have recently been described by Assoc. Prof. David Bradley and Dr Jamin Pelkey of La Trobe University and reported by the journal Science.

Jamin described 18 new Phula languages based on work carried out from 2005 to 2006 in 41 mountain villages in Yunnan Province, Southwest China for his PhD. They are now recognised by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

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Breast reconstruction using your own cells

A new approach to breast reconstruction
A new approach to breast reconstruction

Researchers in Melbourne will trial a new procedure to reconstruct breasts in patients following mastectomy. The procedure will use the women’s own stem cells instead of silicon.

Focusing on the treatment and recovery of women with breast cancer, the new technique known as Neopec involves the insertion of a customised biodegradable chamber which is contoured to match the woman’s natural breast shape. The chamber acts as a scaffold within which the woman’s own stem cells are used to grow permanent breast fat tissue.

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Imaginary friends, real benefits

Credit: Marina Adinolfi
Credit: Marina Adinolfi

Children with imaginary friends are better at learning to communicate than those who do not have one, according to psychologist Dr Evan Kidd at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

In a study of 44 children, Evan and his colleague Anna Roby showed that the 22 children who had imaginary friends were able to get their points across more effectively when talking.

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