25 Dec 2012

Give your mind a break

You may want to read an article by Matthew E. May in Harvard Business Review about the more recent discoveries neuro-science has made on the benefits of meditation.

It seems that meditation, pulsing and day dreaming are powerful tools to boost creativity. They also keep your brain younger helping prevent dementia and slowIng the aging process.




22 Dec 2012

Wishes for 2013


In the Lisbon Clinic we prize well-being and mental health. What's mental health?, you may ask.

Being mentally healthy doesn't mean never to be sad or even depressed. Or angry, or very upset. It means to acept your own emotions and deal with them without harming yourself (and preferably anyone else).

Freud used to say that it meant to be able to love and work. Being able to enjoy small pleasures in life and of course big ones. And deal with what comes in a minimally traumatic way. Being able to learn through life.

Another thinker, Hannah Arendt, wrote once: "This is the precept by which I have lived: Prepare for the worst; expect the best; and take what comes".

In a time of recession and rising economic difficulties, we're again put to the test. It takes flexibility, creativity and resilience to be able to go on fighting for quality of life. We have to count on our inner strenghts to cope with these hard times. We must teach our children how important emotional skills - not only academic - are for their future.

Have a better year.


8 Dec 2012

Our Self: how to connect with it

We are what we are and not what others think of us. The connection with our Self is the subject of this article by Peter Bregman, on the site of Harvard Business Review. Peter Bregman is a consultant to CEOs and companies and knows how important it is to have a strong and cohese self. In the absence of it, we go adrift as he so well describes.

The good news are that a you can learn how to build a strong self. In fact, that's a purpose of any well conducted psychoterapy: building and asserting your identity.



4 Dec 2012

PTSD: an anxiety disorder that needs to be dealt with

Natural disasters, traffic accidents or random acts of violence are present in the everyday lives of modern society and constitute potentially traumatic and stress-inducing events with deep physical and psychological consequences. Post traumatic stress-disorder (PTSD) is at the core of modern psychopathology and requires a focused, specialized intervention and treatment. Common symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, feelings of intense distress, physical reactions (pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea…), loss of memory, difficulty falling or staying asleep or even difficulty concentrating.

Sometimes the symptoms include different signs of avoidance: emotional numbing (feeling as though you don't care about anything), showing less of your moods, feeling detached, not able to remember important aspects of the traumatic event, lacking interest in normal activities, avoiding places, people, or thoughts that remind you of the event, feeling like you have no future.

All those are signs thay you need to consult with a psychotraumatologist, someone who specializes in this anxiety disorder.


25 Nov 2012

Baraka and Kecak

Baraka is an ancient Sufi word, which can be translated "as a blessing, or the breath, or the essence of life from which the evolutionary process unfolds."
It is also the title of an extraordinary documentary by Ron Fricke, universal as only an unspoken movie can be, with wondrous imagery.

You can see it in full with the link below, at 1080p quality, which it well deserves!

Personally, I was particularly moved by the 13 minute time-frame. As far as I could research, it is called "Kecak", a dance/musical drama from Bali, also known as the Ramayana Monkey Dance and it portrays a specific episode of their mystical history and is executed as a form of exorcism.

How about you? What moved you most?


11 Nov 2012

Code tapping to survive

Big think.com has an interesting article on how prisoners of war manage to survive and keep sane in the harshest conditions. Code tapping on the wall to communicate with other prisoners kept in isolation seem to be essential to survival. The example was taken from the horrible experience of James Stockdale who was a POW in Vietnam for eight years. In a more normal life, the author says, it's essential to communicate and share feelings with friends. Resilience builds up on facing the challenge with optimism.

According to Charney, everyone needs a tap code. In other words, "everybody needs a set of individuals in their life that they can count on, that they can share their feelings with, that they can ask for advice in terms of facing a trauma." That is why Charney recommends you should develop a network of friends and relatives who you can share your emotions with.


3 Nov 2012

Wishing for change

We're all afraid of change. Yet we wish for it. How can you explain the paradox? I think the human species is quite prone to habits (as animals are) and on the other hand as a thinking species we thrive for change.

Changing mean losses but it also means new opportunities. Change means anxiety and fears but also hope.

Lots of people keep saying: "I want to change. I really do. But...". This ambivalence is quite normal. You know you need to change but you stick to old habits and pattern of thoughts and behaviour.

The most frequent question is: "Tell me how I can change". There's no answer to that question specially if you are an adult. When you're a child you are supposed to ask parents and other authorities for directions. Not anymore when you're a grown-up. You can ask for professional help which is not the same thing. A psychotherapist doesn't give directions. Its job is to help you thinking not to point to solutions. The path to change has to discovered by the person if possible with the help of a professional, be him a psychotherapist or a coach. Transformations happen within people and sometimes they are not noticed right away. Change is about hope for progress. Do you really want it?


1 Nov 2012

Obstacles and learning

It seems that the easier the learning the less it stays. Listen to this:

Robert Bjork from the University of California talks of "desirable difficulties" to describe the counter-intuitive notion that learning should be made harder. Spacing sessions further apart so that students have to make more effort to recall what they learnt last time had better results in the long term. Research has found that the bigger the obstacles the deeper the learning.

Professor Virginia Berninger at the University of Washington found that handwriting activated more of the brain than keyboard writing, including areas responsible for thinking and memory.

Psychologists at Princeton found that students remembered reading material better when it was printed in an ugly font.

Researchers in the University of Amsterdam found that when people are forced to cope with unexpected obstacles they react by increasing their "perceptual scope"—taking a mental step back to see the bigger picture.

Maybe we should re-think the way we've been educating our children for the last thirty years.





20 Oct 2012

How do you focus?

There's an old saying about the glass being half-full or half-empty. It's true that some of us opt for seeing the bad side of experiences and events forgetting about the good things.

What people do (some people)d is to focus unhealthily on one negative detail, excluding a host of positives that surround it. That kind of person is usually more prone to depression and you don't need a Psychology graduation to see why.

Our contemporary way of life doesn't help. Being more about having than being, underligns appearances and tends to make us blind to small and pleasureable details in our lives. The ancient Greek philosophers were aware of this nasty tendency and took pains to caution people about it.

If you don't feel like reading Plato or Aristotle - and they can give you great moments of reflexion - there are contemporary authors who write about the same issues in a more modern way. Alain de Botton and A. C. Graylings come to mind immediatly. Both can be found in Amazon.


Finding moments of happiness (note I wrote "moments of happiness" and not happiness) is not a question of being merry and oblivious to reality. It's a question of intelligence.


14 Oct 2012

Social anxiety

I believe social anxiety is one of most spread types of anxiety. It can range from a certain awkwardness to real panic. I know of young people that don't just go anywhere socially speaking out of fear of not knowing how to behave.

Of course these fears are very much augmented but that's not the point. The point is that one needs to feel all right with herself/himself to be able to enjoy being with others, chatting, etc. It has to do with self-confidence. Psychotherapy and life-coaching are quite useful - you can get visible results in a few months (unless you're severely depressed or have another psychiatric condition).

Now, and in a more lighter vein, check out this funny advice from buzzfeed.com and have a good laugh:




12 Oct 2012

Being ourselves

Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, spent years of her research on subjects like vulnerability, shame, human connection and authenticity.
In this TED video she talks about the temptation to numb our emotions and about being (or: daring to be) ourselves.


5 Oct 2012

Photography: plane and moon

Photography is the art of the efemerous. You'll never find another moment exactly like that one.

The photographer is unknown. I found it via Likecool.com.


The video in St. Pancras

Art and creativity

Our colleague Helena Meadows is a psychologist and hypnoterapist who lives in London but comes every month to Lisbon. She asked me to post this for her, about a very interesting event taking place in St. Pancras:

"London is a place where art and creativity are in every corner.

And the pianos installed recently on the concourse at St Pancras International rail station are just one example of this vibrancy:  they are there for anyone who wants to play them.

This passenger stops to play "The Girl from Ipanema", his partner waits.  And then they continue on their journey to who knows where, whilst jollied on their way.

Definitely, it is not just the destination that counts."

Check out the video

25 Sept 2012

One-Moment Meditation

Martin Boroson brings us a fresh and challenging new approach to meditation, that eliminates all those old excuses we make for ourselves as to why we aren't meditating.
Check it out:


22 Sept 2012

The path

Expressive and succint illustration of the path to sucess (or self-realization, if you prefer).
[from massivemov]


Curiosity isn't usually mentioned as a "soft skill". By curiosity I mean the capacity to take an interest in issues, to want to know more, go further. It's essential for our own growth to ask, to iquire, to research, to question. Always, without fearing critiques. An open mind that wants to learn is a guarantee for performance and progress.

Seth Godin is a man who thinks out of the box. His blog is full of very interesting ideas and concepts. This post is about curiosity. Take a look:



15 Sept 2012


The image of politicians gets worse by the day. This is a funny cartoon from The Times.


9 Sept 2012

Let's bike!


Bikes are invading cities in Europe and America. Here in Lisbon bit by bit their number is increasing. We have got a wonderful climate, there are no excuses not to ride a bike. It's healthy, good exercise and cheap. There are some dangers, of course, but we need to be cautious in all situations.

Now, you may ask yourself what kind of bike you should ride. The picture shows the models available, their pros and cons.

I ride a foldable bycicle that I can carry into places, bus or car truck. They also have a lower gravity center which makes them easier to ride. Foldables are not the best option for great distances however.

If you want more info, go to:



7 Sept 2012

Relaxation tips

Good sensible advice to those that feel too stressed up. Of course stress is something that when excessive must be questioned. People may even get addicted to stress! Sometimes professional help is the best thing to do in the long run.

In the meantime take a look at these 40 suggestions from the greatist.com:



3 Sept 2012

Examples and inspiration

Our colleague Helena Meadows who just joined our team at Lisbon Clinic asked me to post the following text for her:

"Look up at the stars and not down at your feet” was the message from Prof Stephen Hawkins at the opening of the Paralympic Games 2012.

And that is exactly what these athletes do:

39 year old Martine Wright who lost both legs on the 2005 London bombing and went on to complete in the British volleyball team.

Marine Joe Townsend who lost both legs in separate bomb blasts in Afghanistan, as well as other 7 wounded servicemen and women are also part of the Paralympic Team GB 2012.

These and every other athlete have their own story to tell and are an example of the amazing qualities of human resilience and an inspiration to us all on how to cope with change in our lives.

25 Aug 2012

Ice photos

Photo: Olaf Otto Becker


Olaf Otto Becker spent days and days taking photos from a dingy out of Groneland's west coast. The result is truly awesome. See his other work, all beautiful at:



22 Aug 2012

Dare to disagree: A Ted Talk.

A wonderful talk by Margaret Hefferman about conflict.

Conflict is not necessarily evil. It may bring new ideas and change. Why do we prefer to have around us people that see eye to eye with us?

This and much more is brought up in another excellent Ted Talk.


18 Aug 2012


Two students have devised this awesome helmet that works like an airbag. It took them seven years! Genius!

Existing bicycle helmets are uncomfortable and most people (like me) give up using them. Which can be quite hazardous urban traffic being what it is.

This invention can mean a lot.

Here it is a video about it:

<iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/43038579" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/43038579">The Invisible Bicycle Helmet | Fredrik Gertten</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/focusf">Focus Forward Films</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>

15 Aug 2012


(photo from TGD by Brian Bloom)

From an interview with Seth Godin, the lecturer and entrepreneur:

I think “creativity” is better described as failing repeatedly until you get something right. I was encouraged by both my parents—my mom, who had a background in the arts, and my dad, who comes from both business and the arts—to always be putting on a show, doing an experiment, or trying something new, so I was failing from a very early age.

You can read the whole interview at:


9 Aug 2012


What an awesome photo! I saw it on the Facebook page of Surf at Lisbon Film Fest. Didn't say where it was taken or by whom but deserves to be shown around.

One may not enjoy surf but the beaches are 1/2 hour from Lisbon. Today a client of mine came with her hair wet from the sea and it was great to see how happy she was.



I was quite shocked when I read this: in Little Rock, the capital city of the American state Arkansas, it's forbidden to flirt in public! You might be sent to jail for 30 days...

Read more about some strange laws here: http://littlerock.about.com/cs/factsfun/a/strangelaws.htm

5 Aug 2012


And how's that for a different way of looking at it? Our brains as grids. Intriguing.

Read more at:



Alain de Botton, the English philosopher, wrote a book about status anxiety. He says that in modern world people can feel unhappy and demoralized by the tendency we have to judge others by the jobs they have. This annoying tendency to tribalize, ostracize and stigmatize is in the origin of much happiness.



2 Aug 2012

Beautiful clouds

Artist Berndnaut Smilde creates beautiful things...his project 'nimbus' lets clouds float inside deserted hotels or villas...it looks surreal!

See more at http://www.berndnaut.nl/works.htm

22 Jul 2012

Summer of Photography

A beautiful reason for a citytrip to Brussels: till the 16th of September there is a photo festival (´Summer of Photography´), showing photos of the best photographers of Europe.

See also the website: http://www.summerofphotography.be/

21 Jul 2012


Gizmodo is a site for geeks but a very smart one for that matter.

This recent article deals with the very old question: how should we break up with someone? Is it ok to do it by texting? We had the same doubts long ago, about writing, phone-calling or meeting with someone to tell him (or her) we didn't want them anymore in our lives.

So, nothing new on this front. One thing is different though: we communicate more and more by digital means, even with family. Texting is so common that one may wonder...

Read the article here and have fun and food for thought:


16 Jul 2012


A supernova exploded, it's shock wave trespassed the cosmic cocoon.
The image is awesome.


(Photo: NASA)


Moodscope is an interesting site, specially for those who worry about mood changes (and who doesn't?).
Jon's posts are usually quite good. This one is about a bear and about us humans. Have a look:


15 Jul 2012

The emotional effects of an heart attack

Recent research from the Columbia University Medical Center has shown that approximately 1 in 8 of sufferers from a heart attack will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Read more about the symptoms and possible solutions here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/20/stress-disorder-pervasive-after-heart-attack-study-finds/


David Silverman is a writer, a teacher and a businessman. He argues about our natural verbosity.
Have a look at the chart. Did you know iTunes agreement had so many words?
It's amazing. Do they want to confound us or are just incapable of being synthetic? Food for thought.


8 Jul 2012


U Cam for short, a star in the  constellation of Camelopardalis, is dying.
But that's a long process. Every few thousand years, U Cam coughs out a nearly spherical shell of gas. 

Nothing gold stays, as Robert Frost wrote in his wonderful poem. Not even a star.

(photo by NASA)

30 Jun 2012

Flexible human beings

I always like to see how human beings can be so flexible and adaptive to their environments...
Hong Kong architect Gary Chang managed to squeeze 24 rooms in his little house and calls his house his “domestic transformer”.

See the video to understand why: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg9qnWg9kak

24 Jun 2012

Stress: 3 different types

A little bit of stress can be thrilling and stimulizing, but a lot of people nowadays are experiencing too much stress.

Stress can come in several ways, and depending on the type of stress, there are different ways to deal with it. Read more about the several kinds of stress (and...what to do about it!) here: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-kinds.aspx

20 Jun 2012

Higher educated cancer patients get better treatment?

Today the quite shocking results of a Dutch research (led by epidemiologist Mieke Aarts) were published: it appears that higher educated cancer patients get better treatments (and because of that: higher survival rates) than lower educated cancer patients.
Reason for this is probably that the higher educated patients are more often actively looking for more information and probable treatments, raising the chance that they will find those treatments also. Besides, they probably have better (more 'equal') conversations with their doctors: doctors will explain them more, and the patients dare to discuss more with their doctors.
Advices that the researchers provide are: doctors should treat every patient the same way, and they should empathize more with the patient so that they can adapt their way of communication.

14 Jun 2012

Most EU citizens support demotivation of the use of tobacco

An EU-wide survey, published by the European Commission, shows that a majority of EU citizens (60%) supports stronger tobacco control measures to make tobacco less visible and attractive, such as keeping tobacco products out of sight in shops or curbing the use of attractive flavours and colours. 
According to this study, despite decreasing numbers, still 28% of EU citizens aged 15 and over smoke...

12 Jun 2012

Heart attack or panic attack?

Approximately one sixth of the patients treated at Emergency Heart Care units is having a panic attack rather than heartproblems. Indeed a panic attack could have some of the same symptoms as a heart attack (for example: chestpain, heart palpitations, being short of breath).
In Holland, this was a reason for a psychiatrist to join the team of cardiologists, to screen every patient showing up at the Emergency Heart Care. This way, patients actually suffering from a panic attack could get the right treatment faster.

7 Jun 2012


Our colleague Mary Fowke asked me to post this text for her, since she doesn't handle the blogger dash (what a shame!)

Gabor Maté is a Hungarian - Canadian medical doctor who has thought provoking and unconventional perpectives on addictions that differ from currrent tendencies to attribute causes to genetics .He sees addictions not as distinct entities but rather as parts of a continuum with roots in childhood traumas and other environmental influences.His book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, presents addictions in this holistic, relational light, taking away their "otherness".  To him, an addiction is " any behavior that has negative consequences but that a person continues to crave and relapse into despite the negative consequences ." Maté has become a sought after speaker following the publication of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. The following is an interview in which he discusses how addiction changes the brain :http://youtu.be/oZ-FAX4Pz8I.

The origin of monogamy

Professor Sergey Gavrilets (Universiteit of Tennesse, U.S.A.) shares his theory about the evolution of monogamy in the latest edition of the journal ´Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences´. Bottom line is that lower-ranked males started using the alternative strategy of provisioning and caring, to compete with the higher-ranked males...

Read more about this interesting theory here: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/05/21/1200717109.abstract?sid=6bd33217-3cc3-4289-8e1a-9cb709b49a83

3 Jun 2012

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

A new research (performed by the University of California) has shown that some people could be more susceptible to develop a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after experiencing a life-threatening event than others.
This susceptability seems to be inherited: there are specific variants of two genes involved (TPH1 and TPH2). Probably these the specific gene variants produce less serotonin, which could explain why these people could be more vulnerable to develop PTSD.

More research about this needs to be done in the future, but for now you can read more at http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/ucla-study-identifies-first-genes-231248.aspx


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