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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Now in Book Form, a Professor's 'Last Lecture' Describes How to Live and Die With Grace by Jeffrey R. Young

Today's *Chronicle of Higher Education* includes an article about the new book that emerged from Professor Pausch's Last Lecture, which thankfully he has (unexpectedly) lived long enough to see published.

Here's the article:

"Now in Book Form, a Professor's 'Last Lecture' Describes How to Live and Die With Grace"
by Jeffrey R. Young

Randy Pausch, a 47-year-old professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who in 2006 received a diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, has hung on longer than his doctors predicted -- long enough to see the publication of the book version of the inspirational "last lecture" that he delivered at the university and that continues to make him a media sensation.

The book, released this week, turns out to be a how-to guide to living, and to leaving life gracefully. It mixes decidedly practical advice (such as this tip on time management: stand while talking on the phone for work so that you'll be encouraged to make calls shorter) with moving stories about what it's like to go through each day knowing it's one of your last.

It's a thoughtful adaptation of the lecture, which was seen by millions of people on YouTube. Mr. Pausch essentially dictated more stories and advice for the book to his co-author, Jeffrey Zaslow, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Over the past several months, Mr. Pausch talked with Mr. Zaslow via cellphone each day while the professor took long bike rides to try to stay in shape as his body struggled with the effects of chemotherapy.

He talks about his strategies, which show an engineer's love for efficiency, for how to get the most out of his last days with his wife, Jai, and their three young children.

In an e-mail interview this week, Mr. Pausch said one of his favorite parts of the book concerns his relationship with his wife. "In the book, it seemed more appropriate to talk about how Jai and I have handled the many challenges (pre and post cancer) that we've faced as a couple," he wrote. "And I greatly enjoyed sharing those, as they may be helpful to other people facing their own challenges."

In the book, for instance, Mr. Pausch describes a scene that took place during his now-famous last lecture, in which he invited his wife on stage and asked the audience to sing happy birthday to her (he spoke on her birthday). After the song, they embraced as the crowd applauded.

"As we held each other, Jai whispered something in my ear. 'Please don't die.' It sounds like Hollywood dialogue. But that's what she said.

"I just hugged her more tightly."

International Conference: Social and Psychological Perspectives on Terrorism and Extremism at Islamabad

International Conference

Social and Psychological Perspectives on Terrorism and Extremism

National Institute of Psychology, Islamabad cordially invite all students to participate in this event as audience or as registered participants for paper and poster presentation.

Registration fee: Rs.1000/ (for NIP Students only) and Rs.1500/ (for all other students) and Rs.5000/ (for organization nominees).

Date: 15th -18th Oct 2008

Venue: Auditorium, Dept of Earth Sciences, QAU, Islamabad.

Host Dept: National Institute of Psychology.

For details contact:
Dr.Rubina Hanif
Sadaf Tariq

Kindly contact Sadaf Tariq Tele:051-90644118 for more info.

And Behind Door No. 1, a Fatal Flaw by John Tierney

This morning's *New York Times* includes an article: "And Behind Door No. 1, a Fatal Flaw" by John Tierney.

Here's the article:

The Monty Hall Problem has struck again, and this time it's not merely embarrassing mathematicians. If the calculations of a Yale economist are correct, there's a sneaky logical fallacy in some of the most famous experiments in psychology.

The economist, M. Keith Chen, has challenged research into cognitive dissonance, including the 1956 experiment that first identified a remarkable ability of people to rationalize their choices. Dr. Chen says that choice rationalization could still turn out to be a real phenomenon, but he maintains that there's a fatal flaw in the classic 1956 experiment and hundreds of similar ones. He says researchers have fallen for a version of what mathematicians call the Monty Hall Problem, in honor of the host of the old television show, "Let's Make a Deal."

Here's how Monty's deal works, in the math problem, anyway. (On the real show it was a bit messier.) He shows you three closed doors, with a car behind one and a goat behind each of the others. If you open the one with the car, you win it. You start by picking a door, but before it's opened Monty will always open another door to reveal a goat. Then he'll let you open either remaining door.

Suppose you start by picking Door 1, and Monty opens Door 3 to reveal a goat. Now what should you do? Stick with Door 1 or switch to Door 2?

Before I tell you the answer, I have a request. No matter how convinced you are of my idiocy, do not immediately fire off an angry letter. In 1991, when some mathematicians got publicly tripped up by this problem, I investigated it by playing the game with Monty Hall himself at his home in Beverly Hills, but even that evidence wasn't enough to prevent a deluge of letters demanding a correction.

Before you write, at least try a few rounds of the game, which you can do by playing an online version of the game. Play enough rounds and the best strategy will become clear: You should switch doors.

This answer goes against our intuition that, with two unopened doors left, the odds are 50-50 that the car is behind one of them. But when you stick with Door 1, you'll win only if your original choice was correct, which happens only 1 in 3 times on average. If you switch, you'll win whenever your original choice was wrong, which happens 2 out of 3 times.

Now, for anyone still reading instead of playing the Monty Hall game, let me try to explain what this has to do with cognitive dissonance.

For half a century, experimenters have been using what's called the free-choice paradigm to test our tendency to rationalize decisions. This tendency has been reported hundreds of times and detected even in animals. Last year I wrote a column about an experiment at Yale involving monkeys and M&Ms.

The Yale psychologists first measured monkeys' preferences by observing how quickly each monkey sought out different colors of M&Ms. After identifying three colors preferred about equally by a monkey -- say, red, blue and green -- the researchers gave the monkey a choice between two of them.

If the monkey chose, say, red over blue, it was next given a choice between blue and green. Nearly two-thirds of the time it rejected blue in favor of green, which seemed to jibe with the theory of choice rationalization: Once we reject something, we tell ourselves we never liked it anyway (and thereby spare ourselves the painfully dissonant thought that we made the wrong choice).

But Dr. Chen says that the monkey's distaste for blue can be completely explained with statistics alone. He says the psychologists wrongly assumed that the monkey began by valuing all three colors equally.

Its relative preferences might have been so slight that they were indiscernible during the preliminary phase of the experiment, Dr. Chen says, but there must have been some tiny differences among its tastes for red, blue and green -- some hierarchy of preferences.

If so, then the monkey's choice of red over blue wasn't arbitrary. Like Monty Hall's choice of which door to open to reveal a goat, the monkey's choice of red over blue discloses information that changes the odds. If you work out the permutations (see illustration) , you find that when a monkey favors red over blue, there's a two-thirds chance that it also started off with a preference for green over blue -- which would explain why the monkeys chose green two-thirds of the time in the Yale experiment, Dr. Chen says.

Does his critique make sense? Some psychologists who have seen his working paper answer with a qualified yes. "I worked out the math myself and was surprised to find that he was absolutely right," says Daniel Gilbert, a psychologist at Harvard. "He has essentially applied the Monty Hall Problem to an experimental procedure in psychology, and the result is both instructive and counter-intuitive."

Dr. Gilbert, however, says that he has yet to be persuaded that this same flaw exists in all experiments using the free-choice paradigm, and he remains confident that the overall theory of cognitive dissonance is solid. That view is shared by Laurie R. Santos, one of the Yale psychologists who did the monkey experiment.

"Keith nicely points out an important problem with the baseline that we've used in our first study of cognitive dissonance, but it doesn't apply to several new methods we've used that reveal the same level of dissonance in both monkeys and children," Dr. Santos says. "I doubt that his critique will be all that influential for the field of cognitive dissonance more broadly."

Dr. Chen remains convinced it's a broad problem. He acknowledges that other forms of cognitive-dissonanc e effects have been demonstrated in different kinds of experiments, but he says the hundreds of choice-rationalization experiments since 1956 are flawed.

Even when the experimenters use more elaborate methods of measuring preferences -- like asking a subject to rate items on a scale before choosing between two similarly-ranked items -- Dr. Chen says the results are still suspect because researchers haven't recognized that the choice during the experiment changes the odds. (For more of Dr. Chen's explanation, see TierneyLab.)

"I don't know that there's clean evidence that merely being asked to choose between two objects will make you devalue what you didn't choose," Dr. Chen says. "I wouldn't be completely surprised if this effect exists, but I've never seen it measured correctly. The whole literature suffers from this basic problem of acting as if Monty's choice means nothing."

"Whenever there is a simple error that most laymen fall for, there is always a slightly more sophisticated version of the same problem that experts fall for."
--Cognitive psychologist Amos Tversky (1937-1996)

Psychologists/ Counsellor Job Offer from YoungBuzz India

YoungBuzz India with over 40 full time psychologists and a dedicated research team, requires Psychologists / Counsellors for Mumbai / Hyderabad / Banglore

Job Description/ Responsibilities: Career Guidance & Counselling
School Life Skill Development Workshops
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Corporate Training
Learning disability- Diagnosis / Remediation
Study Abroad Counselling

Note: freshers will be trained in the above areas.

Languages Preferred: English, Hindi, Telgu and kannada

Educational Qualification
MA in Applied Psychology (Counselling, Clinical, Industrial, Social) from a recognised university / Bachelors Degree with a postgraduate diploma in Psychology / counseling / Master’s Degree in Human Development.

YoungBuzz India Ltd
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Tel 24903017/ 24903019 / 24903015 Fax: 24961273
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YoungBuzz India Ltd is India’s Premier Career Guidance and People Development Company. Our products and services include Career Guidance, Study Abroad Counselling, Diagnosis and Remediation for students with Learning Disabilities and Personality and Soft Skill Development Programs. Launched in April 2001 we have conducted programs in over 180 cities covering more than 600,000 individuals in over 6 different languages . Over 350 Education Institutes and more than 30 corporate houses including Fortune 500 companies use our services. We are in the Limca Book of Records for being the first company in the organized sector into Career Guidance. YoungBuzz has a Young, Dynamic, Customer focused team determined to improve the quality of education in the country. With over 40 full time psychologists and a dedicated research team, we use best-in-class technology to implement our programs.

The Mental Health Squeeze

This morning's *Inside Higher Education* includes an article:
"The Mental Health Squeeze" by Andy Guess.

Here's the article:

For years, college counselors have seen increasing numbers of students arrive to campus with serious mental health problems and prior treatment histories. The reasons are still partly a mystery, but the fact persists. The real question is what to do about it, but many counseling center directors have found themselves limited in their options by tight budgetary constraints.

Colleges across the country are responding to the higher demand with either longer waits or shorter appointments, and some counseling centers have adopted a phone-based "triage" approach to quickly screen severe cases. Some smaller institutions, meanwhile, have continued to refer patients to other providers. In many cases, the institutions are aware of the problem and are monitoring the response in order to weigh longer-term solutions such as hiring additional counselors or increasing hours. But the reality many counseling centers face is a limited budget and fewer, not more, available resources.

"I do know people have definitely seen an increase in demand and more serious problems over time at counseling centers here and across the country," said Sherry Benton, director of the University of Florida Counseling Center.

But her center is one of the lucky ones. While the volume of patients has increased, the university has been able to add additional counselors with the help of a student health fee. "A lot of centers are dealing with [the increased volume] in different ways. Having a waiting list is not very satisfactory as a way to deal with it, though," she said.

In last year's annual survey of counseling center directors sponsored by the American College Counseling Association, fully 91.5 percent reported observing the "recent trend toward greater number of students with severe psychological problems" on their campuses, while 87.5 percent said they noticed a growing number of students arriving on campus already on medication. They reported that 23.3 percent of "clients" at counseling centers are on psychiatric medication, up from 20 percent in 2003 and 17 percent in 2000. In 1994, the number was even lower, at 9 percent.

At the same time, among the greatest concerns to counseling center directors was meeting the growing demand for services without any additional resources. That priority was eclipsed only by how to deal with students who have long-term or severe problems, illustrating an observed increase in such cases over the past several years as well.

"First and foremost, I think students coming to college are bringing issues with them from the home environment, from the high school environment, that we're just seeing an increase in the level of students that need some type of counseling services," said Gregg Heinselman, associate vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. But colleges have also gotten better at identifying students who need help and referring them for counseling. "Part of that we've created for ourselves, for obvious reasons, and part of that is just the dynamics of the American college student," he said.

The upshot at River Falls, a predominantly residential university with three full-time counselors for 6,400 students (2,500 of whom live on campus), is that "the numbers are working against us right now," a pattern Heinselman said is playing out across the University of Wisconsin system. "The waits have increased; on our campus, depending upon the severity of the situation, it may be three weeks before a student can get in to see a counselor. Are we excited about that, absolutely not, but it's just the level of workload we're dealing with."

The problems are compounded by the campus's location, where mental health resources are limited in the surrounding community. For students without health insurance, moreover, there is often nowhere else to turn. The university recognizes the problem, but funding hasn't been forthcoming so far; the center has proposed a student fee (along the lines of the University of Florida model) to raise additional revenue. It will hire a fourth counselor next year, Heinselman said, but it needs at least five or six to cover its current case load.

At the moment, the campus's counseling center is trying to cope by limiting the number of visits for each student, referring students with insurance to outside providers and contracting some functions to a local clinic. But the increasing severity of mental health problems continues to place more stress on the system, especially, Heinselman noted, in the number of emergency detentions for students considered a threat to themselves or others.

"I do think we're seeing some national trends; we're concerned, it's going to continue to challenge higher education across the country."

A 2003 study co-written by Benton, based on a sample of 13,257 students followed over a 13-year period, revealed a marked increase in the number, complexity and severity of college students' mental health problems. In most areas, counselors reported a major increase in the number of students with difficulties. The number of students with depression who received counseling doubled over that period, while the number of those with suicidal tendencies tripled. If counselors' perceptions today are any indication, these trends are only worsening.

"We're seeing an alarming number of increases in detentions, and that takes followup work when a student returns to campus," Heinselman said, adding that "we want to make sure that we're closing that loop ... that they can come back to campus and be successful as a student."

He cited some of the usual culprits -- stress, the pressure of academics -- but singled out the phenomenon of "spiraling," in which students who were on medication in high school try to get on with their lives without it once they reach the new college environment.

All of those factors are being overshadowed this year -- at least on a visceral level -- by the Virginia Tech killing spree almost a year ago. Some institutions have seen a recent spike in demand on top of the past several years' mental health trends, and while there's no way to know for sure, it has been attributed to related anxiety among both students and parents. The ACCA -sponsored survey found that over 10 percent of respondents reported a "significant increase in students seeking counseling" in the weeks after the attacks, while almost 23 percent said they received more calls from concerned parents.

"I don't know what it means, but we certainly felt it," said John Miner, the co-director of psychological and counseling services at Williams College.

The counseling center at Williams is holding off for a year to see if the pattern continues before hiring additional staff to take on the extra case load, so for the moment, the college is resorting to reducing the length of appointments. Instead of 50-minute blocks every hour, counselors now see students for 40 out of every 45 minutes. With nine part-time counselors, Miner said, that amounts to an additional 40 slots every week.

"I think it's a little bit unique," he said of the approach, "but it depends on the size of the university and whether you have good community resources."

Miner added: "I think institutions will have to beef up their resources and I think they will also have to get better at providing brief, supportive treatment to those students that only need that and then provide more intensive psychotherapy for ... people that need more care."

"What can I do that isn't going to get done unless I do it, just because of who I am?"
--Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)

7 Essentials Ethics for Psychologists

Ethics for Psychologists: 7 Essentials
Kenneth S. Pope, Ph.D., ABPP

Here are 7 basic assumptions about ethics:
1) Ethical awareness is a continuous, active process that involves constant questioning and personal responsibility. Conflicts with managed care companies, the urgency of patients' needs, the lack of adequate support, the possibility of formal complaints, mind-deadening routines, endless paperwork, worrying about making ends meet, fatigue, and so much else can begin to block our personal responsiveness and dull our sense of personal responsibility. They can overwhelm us, drain us, distract us, and lull us into ethical sleep. It is crucial to practice continued alertness and mindful awareness of the ethical implications of what we choose to do and not do.

2) Awareness of ethical codes and legal standards is important, but formal codes and standards cannot take the place of an active, thoughtful, creative approach to our ethical responsibilities. Codes and standards inform rather than determine our ethical considerations. They can never substitute for thinking and feeling our way through ethical dilemmas, and cannot protect us from ethical struggles and uncertainty. Each new client, regardless of similarities to other clients, is unique. Each therapist is unique. Each situation is unique and constantly evolves. Our theoretical orientation, the nature of our community and the client's community, our culture and the client's culture, and so many other contexts influence what we see and how we see it -- every ethical decision must take account of these contexts. Standards and codes may identify some approaches as clearly unethical. They may identify significant ethical values and concerns, but they cannot tell us what form these values and concerns will take. They may set forth essential tasks, but they cannot spell out the best way to accomplish those tasks with a unique client facing unique problems in a specific time and place with limited resources.

3) Awareness of the evolving research and theory in the scientific and professional literature is another important aspect of ethical competence, but the claims and conclusions emerging in the literature can never be passively accepted or reflexively applied no matter how popular, authoritative, or seemingly obvious. A necessary response to published claims and conclusions is active, careful, informed, persistent, and comprehensive questioning.

4) We believe that the overwhelming majority of therapists and counselors are conscientious, dedicated, caring individuals, committed to ethical behavior. But none of us is infallible. All of us can -- and do -- sometimes make mistakes, overlook something important, work from a limited perspective, reach conclusions that are wrong, hold tight to a cherished belief that is misguided. An important part of our work is questioning ourselves, asking "What if I'm wrong about this? Is there something I'm overlooking? Could there be another way of understanding this situation? Are there other possibilities? Could there be a more creative, more effective, better way of responding?"

5) Many of us find it easier to question the ethics of others than to question our own beliefs, assumptions, and actions. It is worth noticing if we find ourselves preoccupied with how wrong others are in some area of ethics and certain that we are the ones to set them right, or at least to point out repeatedly how wrong they are. It is a red flag if we spend more time trying to point out the supposed weaknesses, flaws, mistakes, ethical blindness, destructive actions, or error-filled beliefs of a colleague or group of colleagues than we spend questioning and challenging ourselves in positive, effective, and productive ways that awaken us to new perspectives and possibilities. It is important to question ourselves at least as much as we question others.

6) Many of us find it easier and more natural to question ourselves in areas where we are uncertain. It tends to be much harder --but often much more productive -- to question ourselves about what we are most sure of, what seems beyond doubt or question. Nothing can be placed off- limits for this questioning. We must follow this questioning wherever it leads us, even if we venture into territories that some might view as "politically incorrect" or -- much more difficult for most of us -- "psychologically incorrect" (Pope, Sonne, & Greene, 2006).

7) As psychologists, we often encounter ethical dilemmas without clear and easy answers. We confront overwhelming needs unmatched by adequate resources, conflicting responsibilities that seem impossible to reconcile, frustrating limits to our understanding and interventions, and countless other challenges as we seek to help people who come to us because they are hurting and in need, sometimes because they are desperate and have no where else to turn. There is no legitimate way to avoid these ethical struggles. They are part of our work.

Pope, K.S., Sonne, J.L., & Greene, B.G. (2006). What Therapists Don't Talk About And Why: Understanding Taboos That Hurt Us And Our Clients. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Pope, K.S., & Vasquez, M.J.T. (2007). Ethics in Psychotherapy and Counseling: A Practical Guide, 3rd Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass, An Imprint of Wiley.

Workshop on Notions of Identity - Exploring Definitions, Ideas and Practices

Gap Year College

invites you to a workshop

Notions of Identity
Exploring Definitions, Ideas and Practices

Friday, 18th April
Monday, 21st April 2008 (4 days)

As soon as the consciousness "I am" arises, it becomes impossible to escape the question: "Who am I?" Each act, each word, each thought, is an answer to this question. However, our responses are largely implicit and automatic. This workshop will seek to de-automate the processes by which identity is created.

We need to understand the processes behind the construction of identities because identities are what we work with all through our lives. Unconscious or unexamined identities make us do the things we do, think the way we think, feel the way we feel, and enter into conflicts in ways that are reflected in our world.

What is the need for identity? What are the conventional identities we work with? How can we usefully problematise old structures of identity? Are we addicted to the very idea of identity? What are the uses of the word 'I'? What is an 'identity crisis'? How do identity politics and conflict connect? What is the relationship between 'self' and identity?

This workshop is for: All sorts of people at different stages of their lives – students, professionals, artists, leaders, followers, mid-lifers, or the merely confused – questioning the very foundations of their ideas and practices – in other words, explorers.

Facilitator: Vipul Rikhi

Venue: SIDH campus, Kempty, (15 kms ahead of Mussoorie)

Vipul Rikhi has been a teacher of languages and literature, an editor, scriptwriter and author. He is currently engaged in writing a novel and is Writer-in-Residence at Gap Year College, SIDH, from April to June, 2008. He has been exploring notions of identity via diverse practices and traditions for quite a while now.

The workshop fee (inclusive of full boarding and lodging) for this four-day workshop is Rs 3000 per participant.
For registration please contact Chaiti / Karuna with your name, email, phone, address at and 01376-213060 ; 0135-6455203 ; 09837026144.
There are limited seats for the workshop, so please register as early as possible. A few need-based scholarships / partial fee waivers may be available.