Cutting Edge Psychology

Cutting Edge Psychology presents regular updates of reseach in psychology and the health field in general, with a particular emphasis on studies and views which relate broadly to chronic pain and closely associated topics. Readers are invited to offer their views of the topics and information presented, and to enter a dialogue if interested.

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Childhood trauma

Posted on March 25, 2015 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (15)

We live in a culture which is in a state of denial about the endemic nature of trauma. Instead, we have had decades of marketing branches of big pharma telling us that emotional problems are the result of aberrant brain chemicals (which obviously require their drugs to 'balance'). Why is our culture so reluctant to acknowledge trauma? Part of must be to do with the remnants of British Victorian era stoicism (which probably resulted from upper class kids being brutalised and sent off the board...

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Hearing voices

Posted on March 25, 2015 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (1)

Goping crazy is one of the main fears which people report to having. Popular culture tells us that hearing voices is an indicator of serious mental disorders. However, the evidence suggests that not even hearing voices is a sign of being crazy- most of us have this experience, most of the time. When voices are experienced as problematic and/or troublesome, then this indicates a need to tune into what it may mean, rather than just drugging it out of awareness. It will often reflect traumatic e...

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Understanding psychosis

Posted on March 25, 2015 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (1)

Conventional psychiatric wisdom suggests that experiences covered under the term psychosis (eg. hearing voices and other hallucinations, appearing out of touch with 'consensus reality', experiencing things in different ways, etc) result from brain disorders- genetically determined aberrations in various brain chemicals. This has been a hypothesis for many decades, and despite vigorous efforts to find either a 'mental illness gene' or any guilty neurotransmitter, even just one reliable biologi...

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Half of mentally ill- really??

Posted on October 10, 2014 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

 This week has seen my favourite broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), run a range of discussions and programs to coincide with mental health week. in Australia We have been inundated with the statistic that nearly 50% of the population are suffering from one form of mental illness or another. I can’t help but wonder what are the motives behind such an alarming (and alarmist) statement? Does it actually reflect reality, rather than reality bending driven by big...

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What causes ADHD?

Posted on September 3, 2014 at 1:45 AM Comments comments (1)

ADHD is casused by out of control brain chemicals- that is why drugs are given to kids, right? Well- no, actually. Despite the stunning success of drug companies in selling this hypothesis to not just the medical profession, but also to society at large, there is scant evidence in its support. Parents and schools, often pushed to the brink of their ability to cope by difficult behaviour from children, are very eager to believe that the child is suffering from aberrant brain chemicals- the dru...

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Anticipation of pain worse than pain

Posted on September 3, 2014 at 1:10 AM Comments comments (5)

In the final chapter of 'The Hidden Psychology of Pain', i discuss the importance of the psychological sense of time, and being in the present moment. When pain has become chronic, expectations of it always being there become well entrenched- this is not neurotic, but is based on one's experience up to that point in time. As with any unfavourable circumstance, we tend to build a narrative or story around the experience. It usually has three components:- our current experience (i am in pain no...

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Unconscious perception

Posted on September 2, 2014 at 1:40 AM Comments comments (0)

How real is the 'unconscious mind'? In 'The HIdden Psychology of Pain', i state that the brain is able to perceive an eight hairy-legged object moving in our peripheral field of vision and react to it with alarm, even if we have no conscious awareness of there being a large spider near us. This phenomenon demonstrates that much of what goes on within the brain occurs at a level for which there is no knowledge- some neuroscientists suggest that as much as 98% of brain functioning is largely un...

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Childhood trauma and chronic pain

Posted on September 2, 2014 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (0)

In 'The HIdden Psychology of Pain' I make a case for the relevance of early life experiences, such as trauma, and the experience of chronic pain in adulthood. Apart from being a plausible sounding theory, there is plenty of research evidence which demonstrates this link- childhood trauma is way over-represented in the chronic pain population. While the 'pain industry' (eg. medicine, physiotherpay and a range of other physical treatment approaches) state  that chronic pain results from st...

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How important is sleep?

Posted on July 15, 2014 at 11:40 PM Comments comments (1)

In The HIdden Psychology of Pain, i dedicate a chapter to problems relating to sleep as this is often a major side effect of chronic pain. There are many things which people can do to improve their quality of sleep, and these are detailed in the book.


But how important is it to get good sleep? Researchers in the UK have recently demonstrated the psycological harm which can accrue to people who are deprived of even one night of sleep. Subjects in the research study began to s...

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Memory reconsolidation for pain erasure

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 6:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Memory reconsolidation is a phenomenon of neuro-plasticity, or the ability of the brain to change itself. This capacity is good news for people who suffer from all sorts of psychological problems, as it creates the possibility of erasing the cognitive and emotional aspects of such problems while leaving the autobiographical memory intact. Coherence Therapy is an example of a psychotherapeutic approach which overtly and deliberately attempts memory reconsolidation, while many other approaches,...

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