“Some psychopaths can be treated”

In Mind
Tuesday, 23 October 2012 14:18

Although the claims are preliminary, the first results of his research on patients involuntarily committed for psychiatric treatment (TBS patients) are promising. David Bernstein, professor of Forensic Psychotherapy, may have found a treatment for even the worst cases of psychopathy: schema therapy. “The social benefits could be enormous”, he says.

The traits of different types of aggressors

Could you describe your research?
I study different types of aggression. What triggers it, what happens at that particular moment in an individual’s body and mind, how to measure aggression in a lab situation, those sorts of questions. Broadly speaking, there are two types of aggression: impulsive and planned.

How overestimating your learning performance gets in the way

Could you describe your research?
I study the extent to which people are able to assess their own learning. This skill is known as metacognition. Generally speaking, students – particularly the poorest performing students – tend to greatly overestimate their performance when asked how they think they scored on a test. Overestimation leads to less learning, and thus to worse performance.

If we thought of mass shootings as an American phenomenon, 9 April 2011 proved we needed to change our minds. On that day, Tristan van der Vlis (24) took three firearms into a shopping mall in Alphen aan de Rijn, killing seven people including himself. Several months earlier, Robert M. had been arrested in Amsterdam suspected of what has now become the biggest case of child sex abuse in our country. Serious crimes like these shock the public and call for an explanation. At Maastricht University (UM), professor of Forensic Psychology Corine de Ruiter is looking for that explanation.

In 1907, representatives of more than 35 countries assembled for the first international conference on psychiatry, neurology, psychology and asylum nursing in Amsterdam. The first country in the world to allow female nurses into male wards and men into nursing education, the Netherlands was nothing but revolutionary. “And this is characteristic of the early development of the psychiatric nursing tradition in our country”, says Cecile aan de Stegge, who wrote her PhD dissertation on the history of this often ill-understood profession. After 12 years of research, the result is a book of no fewer than 1088 pages.

Our choices are often not ours

In Mind
Saturday, 12 May 2012 15:18

Deception looms everywhere, and we might be misled by our own perception most of all. Psychology and law researcher Anna Sagana researches the phenomenon of choice blindness in eye-witnesses, particularly with the identification of perpetrators in a line-up. "The consequence is that an innocent person appears before the court."

Three months after their introduction, the cutbacks in the Dutch mental healthcare system (GGZ) seem to be on target. That people have to pay an excess (eigen bijdrage) of up to €200 to consult a secondary care provider raises the threshold for this more intensive type of psychiatric care. But GGZ professionals have serious doubts about the new system: are patients still getting the treatment they need? “People now just try to cope with their problems for longer than necessary, which makes things worse”, says Bart Rutten, a secondary care psychiatrist at PsyQ and researcher at Maastricht University. Here he discusses the cutbacks, and his research on what makes people susceptible to psychosis and other disorders.

“Life sucks, deal with it”

In Mind
Wednesday, 15 February 2012 08:33

According to Jim van Os, professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology, psychological vulnerability is part of the human condition. Calling on professionals to help deal with every manifestation of this vulnerability is thus not only futile, but also unaffordable. “This is partly about accepting your vulnerability and learning to live with it. Or as Freud said: ‘The art is to be equally unhappy as everyone else, not unhappier.’ The expectation of always being happy plays tricks on people.”

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