Dr. Sharon Gerstenzang died in a horseback riding accident March 7, 2012. An avid horseback rider, Dr. Sharon died doing what she loved best, riding her horse, Orange. She is dearly missed. You can visit her website www.surfyoursoul.com to find more of Dr. Sharon’s work.

Thank you for visiting her blog.

[Parade magazine, February 12, 2012] : Because being in love means we are, literally, addicted to love, recovering from being dumped has some strategies appropriate to recovering from addiction. 1. Says Professor Helen Fisher, author of “Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love”, “If you’re trying to give up alcohol, you don’t leave a bottle of vodka on your desk.” So, store letters, pictures, gifts of/from your ex out of sight, and out of reach. Remove his/her contact information from cell, e-mail, IM buddy list, etc. Don’t go past his/her residence, work station, etc. Re-route. 2. Do novel things. “Whether it’s travel, new restaurants, new hobbies [or re-engaging in old favorites], seeing people you haven’t seen in a while [or making new friends],” Fisher says, “novelty significantly elevates activity of dopamine in the brain [dopamine rushes you used to automatically get from your lover].” 3. Do happy things, from a form of exercise you enjoy, to getting a massage, to hugging people and other animals.   


Breast cancer devastates the woman who is diagnosed as well as her friends and daily acquaintances. When you hear your friend has breast cancer, you may be so sad and worried that you are afraid you’ll cry if you talk to her. You may be so afraid of saying “the wrong thing” that you avoid her. She is sad and vulnerable and will be hurt by those who avoid her although she may understand the rationale behind the avoidance. She doesn’t want to have an emotional meltdown in public any more than do you. Try to behave as normally as possible. Greet her as you always have. It’s OK to ask her how she’s doing or how is chemo going. Accept what she says, taking the conversation to where she guides and then move on. Talk about the things you used to discuss, how the kids are doing in school, what’s for dinner, did she see that movie. She has the same interests that she used to and will welcome the normalcy of the daily comfortable communication between friends. At the end of the conversation, if you want, you can offer some concrete help. Offer to have her son for a sleepover, offer a ride to a Dr.’s appointment, take her dry cleaning in with yours or pick up some groceries when you go to the market. Her life has become much busier and she is tired but she is concerned about keeping up with responsibilities of home and kids. She wants to insulate her children as much as possible so offers to include her kids in normal fun kid activities is great when she doesn’t have the energy. Let her know that if she ever wants to talk, you would love to listen.

Blogged by Karen Allen PhD RN, Dr.KarenAllenRN@gmail.com

We’ve all heard that gossip is an vice in which we should not engage. But it turns out that certain types of gossip can be beneficial. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908074502.htm Rumor-mongering can have positive outcomes such as helping us police bad behavior, prevent exploitation and lower stress. “Prosocial” gossip is the more beneficial kind, warning others about untrustworthy or dishonest people, as opposed to “voyeuristic” gossip about the ups and downs of tabloid celebrities. In an experiment, participants engaged in an economic trust game witnessed one player cheating. http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/01/17/gossip/ Heart rates rose at those moments. Then, when they were able to send a warning to a new player of the cheater’s dishonesty, heart rates calmed. The higher participants scored on being altruistic, the more negative emotions they experienced after witnessing the cheating, and the more they tried to warn others. Feinberg said.” Participants went so far as to forgo pay in order to warn new players of participant’s cheating. This self-imposed policing of what was perceived as dishonest behavior through gossip was a pleasant surprise to the study’s designer, Robb Willer, who is interested in the way in which prosocial behavior and sentiments allow us to sustain social order.”

Blogged by Karen Allen PhD RN, Dr.KarenAllenRN@gmail.com


GOOD AND BAD: Narcissists will be thrilled to hear that as a group they are rated as more attractive and likable than everyone else at first appearance. They are, as a group, significantly more stylishly clad, cheerful and physically appealing at first sight, exuding more competence,  interpersonal warmth, and humor than those who score lower in narcissism. On the dark side, people scoring higher in narcissism also engage, on average, in more disagreeable verbal behaviors: drawing conversations back to themselves, “glazing over” when others speak, talking loudly, arguing and cursing more—and using more sexual language. Both their charming and their disagreeable behaviors can be seen as aimed at maintaining power in an interaction without having to cooperate. On the other hand, some see it a more as an effort to gain social influence than actual intention to exploit or dominate others. Seeking admiration is a like a drug for narcissists’ self-image, and putting  others down may be an accidental side effect of that pursuit. Research by Lorna Otway and Vivian Vignoles suggests that creation of a narcissist may indeed occur as Freud long ago suggested: from a whiplash combination of parental coldness alternating with excessive parental admiration. Non-narcissistic people everywhere inadvertently reinforce this dynamic by being overly positive at first impressions so that fading of interest is felt by the narcissist as punishment all over again. Getting positive feedback at first but then being devalued in the long term would certainly be irritating…a possible explanation for the narcissist’s prickly side. [taken from Scott Barry Kaufrman, PhD, personality psychologist at New York University, “The Peacock Paradox” in July/August 2011 Psychology Today]  BAD INTO GOOD: To help a narcissist (and yourself) out of the alienating dance, be dignifying of yourself by expressing curiosity and interest more than enthusiasm and (overzealous) admiration over their charm and energy. Be firmly and respectfully honest and committed to vocalizing your own thoughts and disagreements (think iron hand, kid glove). Narcissists at their cores (albeit often unconsciously) crave honesty, understandingly delivered, to make sense of the roller coasters of their own unfortunate social cycles. Handling a narcissist with respect and dignity for both yourself and him/her will grow both you and the narcissists you love or hate—or both—deeper and wiser.           


In a recent study from Science, researchers may have found a way to use opiates in a new way that will not merely keep pain at bay for four hours at a time. The new high dose, short-term therapy with opioids  actually causes the reversal of cellular changes which are thought to play an important role in pain memories, therefore possibly eliminating one of the causes of chronic pain. High doses of intravenous opioids over the course of an hour — normally opioids are delivered at moderate doses over a longer period — were able to completely resolve. The memory trace for pain was therefore deleted and the pain amplifier switched off. This study may hopefully signal a paradigm shift in treatment of chronic pain.

ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 16, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2012/01/120113204933.htm  Original article: R. Drdla-Schutting, J. Benrath, G. Wunderbaldinger, J. Sandkuhler. Erasure of a Spinal Memory Trace of Pain by a Brief, High-Dose Opioid AdministrationScience, 2012; 335 (6065): 235 DOI: 10.1126/science.1211726

Blogged by Karen Allen PhD RN, Dr.KarenAllenRN@gmail.com

Botox may hinder people’s ability to recognize other people’s emotions. The reason seems to be that empathy relies heavily on our ability to reflect emotional expressions in our own faces that we see in other people’s. If we can’t move our muscles to match, we have a much harder time knowing what another person is feeling.

In one study, the 31 women who had received either Botox or Restylane were FAR LESS ABLE to identify emotions shown in facial images than non-injected women. In the second experiment, the 95 men and women received a gel application to amplify facial muscle signals to the brain were FAR BETTER at reading emotions than non-gel-application participants. Buyers beware! http://naturalsociety.com/botox-may-deaden-perception-study-says/