Thursday, January 18, 2018

Brain Scans, 2

Brain Scans on individuals identified as having an Anxious (A) attachment style showed increased activation in brain areas associated with emotional arousal and decreased activation in areas that exercise control over emotional arousal. When asked to stop thinking about the situation, each group used a different strategy. Those with an Anxious (A) attachment style thought about a similar (although different) situation that continued the emotional arousal. Individuals identified as have an Avoidant (B) attachment style thought about something neutral that did not trigger emotional arousal. Individuals with a Secure (C) attachment style focused their thoughts on a happy experience or a time when they were in a “happy place” or environment. Compared with those were secure, the scans also revealed that people who were highly insecure had a smaller hippocampus, similar to that seen in the brains of individuals who experience PTSD from traumatic events. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Brain Scans

One of the studies reported by Dr. Gillath involved fMRI studies on the brains of individuals as they were asked to “imagine” a variety of situations that increased from neutral to high anxiety. For example, they were asked to imagine five different situations in sequence, to think about one situation for two minutes and then stop thinking about it for two minutes before moving on to the next situation). The situations were:
  1. A neutral driving experience
  2. A relatively neutral experience with their partner or best friend such as grocery shopping
  3. An experience where they argues or fought with their partner
  4. An experience of seeing their partner packing preparatory to leaving the relationship
  5. An experience where the police came with information that their partner had just been killed

Researchers noted what portions of the brain were activated in each situation.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

“Nature” Contributors

Your genetic composition also plays a part in the Adult attachment style you may have developed. For example, in a study of saliva analysis, an Anxiety (A) attachment style was associated with dopamine receptors. You may recall that dopamine is a neurotransmitter that powers pathways in the extroverted brain (as opposed to acetylcholine that powers pathways in the introverted brain). Dopamine is often referred to as the “feel better” brain chemical, involved with addictive behaviors and the Brain Reward System, helping to manage emotions (50% is found in the GI System). An Avoidant (B) attachment style was associated with serotonin receptors. Serotonin is touted as both a hormone and a neurotransmitter. It acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and nervous system impacting mood and sleep. In the GI system it can impact gastric secretions among other things (90% is found in the GI system).

Monday, January 15, 2018

Three Styles of Adult Attachment, 2

An Avoidant (B) attachment style is characterized by avoiding others and closeness with others. Contributors to an Avoidant attachment style include being raised in a cold or rejecting environment, if not punitive and outright abusive. Due to the emotional pain loaded into the child’s brain, the adult struggles with issues of security, closeness, and trust. They search for safety by “avoiding” close relationships, settling for superficial connections and/or a “friends with benefits” sexual alliance that is basically devoid of deep sharing and commitment. The Secure (C) attachment style is characterized by a tendency to find it easier to develop and maintain close relationships. It is more likely to be achieved by those who grew up in a supportive environment with a responsive parent or parents. In some studies 55%, of respondents indicated that they came from this type of environment. That leaves 45% who reported they did not experience this type of supportive and responsive environment during their growing-up years. Presumably, therefore, they would fall into either the Anxious attachment style or the Avoidant attachment style in adulthood. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Styles of Adult Attachment

For purposes of this discussion, three main attachment styles can be outlined as:

A - Anxious
B - Avoidant
C - Secure


The style you tend to develop is impacted by Nature: your genetic makeup. It is also impacted by Nurture, the type of parents you received from your parents (Nurture) At first blush this might sound like it is cast in stone but nothing could be further from the truth. Since at least a portion of your style is learned, identifying your primary style at this point in your life gives you the opportunity to take steps to relearn a style that is more beneficial. An Anxious attachment style is characterized about worry and anxiety about your attachment relationships. Contributors to an anxious attachment style (A) includes being parented in an environment of inconsistency, or where your parents exhibited anxiety, or where they tried to force their views on you and you felt pressure to conform (at least outwardly) to their perspectives. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Adult Attachment and Health

In a TED talk, Dr. Gillath indicated that the way to happiness goes through love. The #1 predictor of happiness is loving someone and being loved in return. This also impacts one’s health and longevity. Without this level of attachment, one’s health can negatively be impacted even more adversely than can occur with smoking, heavy drinking, inactivity, or obesity. Adult attachment can be described as a strong emotional tie that bonds you to another individual. It doesn’t require marriage or living together; it does require reciprocal connection, communication, sense of security, and trust with a minimum of characteristics involving anxiety, worry, and avoidance. In other words, it is a two-way street. One person can love another and not even tell the individual about it. Achieving adult attachment that positively impacts your health and longevity, however, requires ongoing connection to enhance the attachment. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Brain & Adult Attachment, 3

What happens when individuals develop a “disposable attitude” toward objects in a mobile society? Unfortunately, this seems in many cases to translate to a disposable attitude toward friendships. The brain tends to view them as replaceable, as well. And turning to close adult friendships, including romantic relationships, most individuals in a survey indicated they’d just move on if things got difficult rather than investing time and energy into trying to make this works. According to Dr. Gillath, these types of attitudes can be psychologically unhealthy. He says: “Only deeper high-quality ties provide us with the kind of support we need like love, understanding, and respect. You need these very close ties to feel safe and secure and function properly. If social ties are seen as disposable, you’re less likely to get what you need from your network, which can negatively affect your mental and physical health as well as your longevity.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Brain & Adult Attachment, 2

Researcher and social neuroscientist, Omri Gillath PhD, is associate professor in the Department of Psychology and the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center at the University of Kansas. His work focuses on human pair-bonding, the effects of personality on cognition and behavior, adult attachment, and the way to happiness. Some of his findings are outlined in his book Adult Attachment: A Concise Introduction to Theory and Research. Studies indicate that the more people have moved around the country, the more they tend to have a disposable view of both objects and close social ties. Dr. Gillath was quoted as saying: “We found a correlation between the way you look at objects and perceive your relationships. If you move around a lot, you develop attitudes of disposability toward objects, furniture, books, devices, basically whatever merchandise you have at home, even your car.” More tomorrow.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Brain & Adult Attachment

Many people say they want to be happy. Many also say they want to be in a close relationships, to love someone and to be loved in return. Achieving this, however, can be somewhat elusive, especially in today’s electronic and mobile styles of living. In fact, some say that achieving close adult friendships is becoming even more difficult. The reason? In this modern era, mobility is often required: relocating for school, relocating for work, relocating due to ill or dependent family members, relocating for a better job or just to start over again somewhere else. When people move around a great deal, they tend to develop somewhat of a “disposable” attitude toward objects. New research has found that this disposable attitude may also carry over into the area of friendship, making even close social ties also seem more disposable. More tomorrow.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Brain Defrazzled, 4

What is your track record with celebration frazzlement? I figure ‘a rat race is for rats only,’ and although a family member called me a ‘rat’ for failing to meet expectations, I’m way past any angst. It was just that brain’s opinion and has little or nothing to do with mine. In ‘The world According to Mister Rogers,’ Fred Rogers handed everyone a gift when he calmly reminded children as well as adults: In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers. In fact, there is no answer until you’ve identified and asked the question . . . I asked the questions about what celebrations really mean to me and how I wanted to observe or participate in them. Then I answered those questionsand that has made a difference. In the final analysis, living defrazzled—in a state of defrazzlement—is fabulous. It’s De-Lovely, De-Lightful

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Brain Defrazzled, 3

“Defrazzled? Is that a word?” Of course! It describes a state of being neither weary nor exhausted nor anxious nor distressed. I’ve been using it for several years whether or not it’s listed in any dictionary. And then there’s the word defrazzle. After all, if you can frazzle you can take steps to defrazzle. That’s what I did when I finally got the picture of how to live a healthier Longevity Lifestyle. Defrazzle, Defrazzled, Defrazzlement . . . I could go on. Anyway, these words make me laugh. When I became serious about defrazzling (there’s another one), I bit the bullet with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote: The ancestor of every action is a thought. What were my thoughts? Basically, the critical importance of trying to meet—if not exceed—expectations, including trying to keep everyone happy (which can never happen) whether or not that allowed for my life to stay in balance. I had to de-link from those all-too-predictable expectations. And an ounce of think-ahead prevention turned out to be worth 100 pounds of cure after the fact.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Brain Frazzled, 2

There was a time when I, too, lived, breathed, and slept brain frazzled, and it didn’t always have to do with year-end celebrations, either. You can only get out of a trap when you figure out that you’re in one—and take steps to change that. As I learned more about brain function I decided enough was enough. (And avoid texting me to say it’s impossible to get out of the trap. If I could do it—the way I was raised—anyone can!) In a nutshell, the term brain frazzled has everything to do with expectations; yours as well as those of others. It often results from running on the treadmill of life and failing to take time to analyze not only what is really important to you personally but also how you can extract the meaning of a celebration without getting immersed in all the merchandizing, decorating, and partying melodrama. The paradox is that being brain frazzled can occur from following ‘traditions,’ giving little if any thought to whether or not they work for you—if ever they did.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Brain Frazzled

By request ...  The phone rang and the voice asked, “Aren’t you completely brain frazzled?” I chuckled. “If your definition of ‘frazzled’ is a state of being weary or exhausted or anxious or distressed, the answer is no. I definitely am not brain frazzled. “But it’s New Year’s eve!” the voice continued. “So it is, so it is,” I replied. “And your point would be?” A loud sigh by way of response, quickly followed by: “I’m always unmitigatedly frazzled as the year end approaches. It happens annually. I’ve just come to expect it. Nothing I can do about it.” Another large sigh. “Well,” I responded, “if you are expecting frazzled, your brain will bend over backwards to give you frazzled. It can only do what it thinks it can do and apparently you’ve taught it that it can be frazzled.” Now the voice blazed: “I called to get some sympathy and all I’m getting is ‘Brain Talk.’” I chuckled again—couldn’t help it. You have my empathy, but Brain Talk’ has saved my life. Try it. You just might like it. More tomorrow.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Brain Scans, 2

Brain Scans on individuals identified as having an Anxious (A) attachment style showed increased activation in brain areas associated with emotional arousal and decreased activation in areas that exercise control over emotional arousal. When asked to stop thinking about the situation, each group used a different strategy. Those with an Anxious (A) attachment style thought about a similar (although different) situation that continued the emotional arousal. Individuals identified as have an Avoidant (B) attachment style thought about something neutral that did not trigger emotional arousal. Individuals with a Secure (C) attachment style focused their thoughts on a happy experience or a time when they were in a “happy place” or environment. Compared with those were secure, the scans also revealed that people who were highly insecure had a smaller hippocampus, similar to that seen in the brains of individuals who experience PTSD from traumatic events. 

Happy New Year!

It’s actually New Year’s and all through the house,
Excitement is high—of course there’s no mouse!
Just the sound of my brain texting “Old year is past,
Imagine new opportunities vast!”

My stocking once hung from the mantle with care,
Is back on the foot that was formerly bare.
The sun shining brightly has dispelled the fog,
A very good thing as it looked like eggnog!

Another good meal is about to be served,
From left-overs that were carefully preserved.
The reheated dishes from holiday fare,
Account for the wonderful smells in the air.

It’s been a very productive year,
And I’m sure we’ll do even more, no fear.
As life is uncertain with no guarantee,
Please know how I value what you are to me.

Make time to remember, take time to renew,
It’s a brand new page for the you-who-is-you!

So here is my wish for this upcoming yearspend quality time with those you hold dear.