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September 26, 2017

It turns out that the 'soft-shelled crab' is not a distinct species like I thought it was.  All those Thai restaurant menus have been misleading me for years!   It refers, instead, to a stage in a crab's life where it sheds its hard shell, and grows a new one.  For those few days, the crab is more vulnerable until it can develop a new, solid shell to protect it from the elements once again.  It happens several times in a little crab's life, and is part and parcel of its journey from babyhood to a ripe old age.

During my counselling training, I came across the work of Douglas C. Kimmel, who focused on the life stages we humans go through. He likened life's great transitions to that of the soft-shelled crab.  When we reach a period of significant change in our lives, we shed a part of ourselves, the part that no longer fits.  We adapt and grow...that's the hope, in any case.    Whether we are consciously choosing to make a change, or we feel that a...

September 15, 2017

In an article by Robert H Lustig about his new book ‘The Hacking of the American Mind,’ there were some intriguing revelations about the impact of modern society’s constant need for instant gratification.

The bad news:

It makes for sober reading – depression and suicide rates are on the increase in the UK, as well as in the US, Germany and China.   Prescriptions for antidepressants in the UK are up by 108% from 10 years ago.  Diabetes, heart disease, dementia and fatty liver disease are snowballing into epidemic proportions.

How is our pursuit of pleasure to blame for all of this?  It’s precisely how we seek to feel happier that is contributing to the upsurge in these conditions.  Our addictions to tobacco, alcohol, sugar and, more recently, technology (which can lead to sleep deprivation) have been shown to be major factors in the development of these diseases and can also be link to ballooning rates of depression.

The science bit:

We derive pleasure from dopamine, whose pro...

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CLAIR NEILL

Counselling & Psychotherapy