Archive for October, 2009

Part Three: Teenage Mood Swings I

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
Teenage emotions are real

Teenage emotions are real

Because this aspect of understanding teen behavior and what makes teenagers “tick” is so important, I have decided to divide this segment into two posts.

In all likelihood, every parent who has ever raised—or who is currently raising—a teenager can relate to the remark, “One day my kid was a fairly nice, cheerful, silly kid…but when he became a teenager, he became this sullen, defensive, and ornery back-talker that doesn’t even resemble the child I knew before.”

Most of us parents can commiserate with each other about such a statement.   If your teen is some sort of fluke, dream child that either hasn’t made that transformation [yet] or never did, well…good for you, or…just WAIT!

But for the average parents who have teens and are grappling with the tell-tale symptoms of adolescence and frustrating, teenage behavior, teen angst is surely of the most mysterious if not downright aggravating aspects of parenting such strange beings who are suspended between childhood and adulthood.  And while  parents are often in the habit of rolling our eyes at the often-melodramatic displays from teenage mood swings, we would all be wise to treat teenage emotions with seriousness, respect, and compassion.  After all, feelings and emotions are subjective…and are very real to the teens.

And the reason teenage behavior and teen emotions are such a mystery to parents—let alone teens, themselves—is because the changes teenagers undergo while coming into their teenage years, particularly physiological changes within in their brains, up until just recent years, even to scientists, have been largely misunderstood…and underestimated.

If you find you are still skeptical, scientists really know and/or understand much more about the human brain than what has been accepted for past decades, I invite you to think again.

With Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) and, more recently, Magnetoencephalography (MEG), brain-scanning technologies, scientists can witness—and learn—much more about how “normal” brains, or even mentally insane [such as schizophrenia and other disorders] brains differ from one-another.  And these technologies have brought tremendous, measurable, understandable evidence particular to the functions of the brains of people of all ages, suffering from no brain afflictions, at all…to many.

One of the most important things for parents of teenagers to remember is not to attempt to control your teen(s).  Be firm, yes.  Set rules, yes.  Hold them to expected standards of appropriate behavior, YES.

But unless you want your teenager to rebel and go out and do or try the very things you tell them they are “forbidden” to do, or they “better not do”, it’s the wise parent that will be sympathetic to the tremendous, [normal] changes teens go through, along with informed understanding of the MUCH greater peer pressures they endure than mom and dad ever typically had to.

According to scientists, drastic mood—and even behavior—swings are to be expected, in most teens, and can change at a moment’s notice.  It’s said the acuteness of these tend to settle down a year or two into puberty. There are times to leave your teenager alone, and then there are those times when to find out what’s bothering him.

It’s just very important for parents who love and long to positively direct their teenagers, to remember: teenagers DO NOT have the control over their emotions [which are keenly attached to their moods and behavior] as parents might suppose.

Teen emotions and moods are driven by the physiological and chemical changes occurring in their brains; changes that, depending on how positive or negative external influences in the teenager’s life are, can lead the adolescent to develop into either an exceptionally exemplary citizen…or a devastatingly troublesome—or non-productive—character society doesn’t much care for.  And that’s where parents’ roles are most crucial.

Next post: Common Parental Mistakes to Avoid With Teen Emotions.

Part Two: The Teenage Brain

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Part Two: The Teenage Brain

There IS a whole lot going on in your teen's mind!

There IS a whole lot going on in your teen's mind!

In my previous post, I touched upon some of the most recent findings in science about understanding teenage behavior in our modern age, and how, contrary to popular [parental] belief, teenagers don’t have as much control over their behavior, emotions, thoughts, or words, as parents would like to suppose.  These assertions of “mine” I based on personal research supported by brain scientists and psychiatrists.  A recent PBS program entitled Inside the Teenage Brain, shed some further light on these hard-to-accept truths.

In this post, I comment on how much of the inexplicable—and invariably frustrating—behavior, moods, etc, of “your typical teen today” CAN be understood [better] by first understanding the actual physiological changes that occur within the teenage brain; radical changes even scientists and doctors hadn’t quite realized to their fullest degree until just recently.

Much like the rapid growth of infants just after birth [which scientists USED to assert made up the majority of significant brain growth and changes in life], does the teenage brain undergo BIG “growth spurts of cellular production…” just behind the frontal cortex [“gray matter”] of the brain.  These changes are primarily a thickening of the gray matter—the frontal cortex handles reasoning and cognitive thoughts.   By age 6, the human brain is 95% of its adult size, but coming into the teen years, the teen brain develops many, additional connections.

Scientists say this growth is like a rapidly growing tree.  At first, there’s a “flurry of growth” and then a “pruning back” of cells as the brain determines what’s needed.   If a teen, for example, is being exposed to much academia or music, and that exposure continues past adolescence, then that teen will—more than likely—adhere to those things as the brain has “locked into” those established inclinations.

Acquired and practiced skills will establish certain neural pathways in the brain.  Those skills, combined with genetically transferred traits will “set” the individual as to what he or she will [most likely] become.   These facts should give new meaning to Proverbs 22:6, which reads:

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Unfortunately, this truth also goes for bad choices as well as negative or less-desirable influences!

My wife and I unwittingly “trained” our son to develop a strong affinity for [video and PC] gaming; something I’m sure many parents WON’T attribute to themselves.  But we parents are usually culpable to a great extent in the development of these habits in our teens.

We bought our son a used Nintendo 64 when he was perhaps 4, and allowed him to play much of the time when either of us was busy with “other things,” and when we wanted to keep him “out of trouble.”

After years of training his brain to want those visual changes that typically occur in video and PC games, he surely has become quite skilled at Jedi Knight Academy or various PlayStation games, but he also is easily caught up in them to the extent he hates to log off, and often will skip eating meals, if left to him self.  The key, here, is the duration throughout the developmental process [years].  And PLEASE don’t preach to me about how, “Kids’ TV, computer, and gaming time should be closely monitored and restricted.” BELIEVE ME: WE KNOW!!!  We’ve found out the hard way!

During the teenage years, the pre-frontal cortex is being “hard-wired.”  Teens are capable of enormous cognitive and intellectual accomplishments.  These are the years parents must be diligent in applying firm—but loving, patient—pressure on their teens to stick with worthwhile pursuits, particularly academic AND athletic or physical [I’ll touch upon the importance of physical exercise and activity to cerebral development in a subsequent post].

Scientists refer to this period of opportunity as the “use it or lose” period in teenage brain development.  Those cells utilized will “survive” while those NOT will be lost, or “wither and die.”

All of this significant brain advancement also, ironically, explains the common inclination for teens to act with MUCH less caution; often taking greater risks we adults would never take.  By the same token, as these tendencies are the most prevalent during adolescence, teens are much more likely to experiment with drugs and/or alcohol; potentially affecting their brains for the rest of their lives.

I’m not saying parents should give up striving to be a positive influence in their teens’ lives, because teens don’t have the kind of control over themselves as we would desire.  On the contrary, the thing—believe it or not—most teens, when privately interviewed, say they want most of all in their lives is for their parents to [help] keep them from danger and destruction, and to give them honest, useful advice in life—something I know was lacking in my life, during my teenage years.

Coming up next: Teenage Mood Swings.

Give to Help Needy Families in the Philippines

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Just a quick post, here, to let you know if you’d like to donate, via the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to needy families in the Philippines, my first missionary companion, Nick Belnap, commented on my previous post, Contributions Needed for Typhoon Deaths In Philippines, on Facebook, and he provided this helpful link for those who would like to give charitable contributions through the Church.

Here’s the link Nick so thoughtfully passed along: Humanitarian Services.  You simply click that link, scroll down and click the “Contribute Online” button.

Remember to DIG DEEP and give GENEROUSLY! Thanks again, Nick!


Part One: Teenage Behavior

Thursday, October 15th, 2009


Back before he became the mega movie star he is today, actor/singer/songwriter, Will Smith, wrote and performed a comedic rap song entitled “Parents Just Don’t Understand”.   I can still picture in my mind many of the goofy scenarios in the music video, especially the comical representation of a mother with her hair in curlers, wagging her bossy finger at the ‘misunderstood’ teen.

Throughout the video, the teenagers are made to look cool and “down with it” while each of the parents or adults in the video are characterized as clueless dolts in need of lessons on how to “get a grip” on what it’s all about to be a teenager in today’s world.   It’s a funny video…and a pretty catchy song, too.   The song, in fact, did much to launch Will Smith’s career into television and later…feature films.

The interesting thing about that video is that it’s true: parents really DON’T understand teenagers, adolescent behavior, teen angst, and the perpetually confounding personality changes that often occur in your average teenager.   And the disconcerting—or perhaps somewhat comforting, depending on how you look at it—thing is: neither do teenagers!

This past week, I watched a fascinating PBS program called Inside the Teenage Brain,” which goes in depth about what scientists have learned—and are still learning— about how teenage minds work, and how to better interact with teens and, more importantly, how to maintain a stable, positive, position of influence in the lives of adolescents.

I took pretty extensive notes from the program, and have decided to write about the subject from my notes, and, in an effort to avoid to write one REALLY long post, I’ll be breaking my posts into several [six] different parts, for easier reading.

About this PBS program: I was so impressed by the pertinence of the most recent findings in relation to the teenage brain, I am forwarding the link to all educators I know, as well as all parents I know who have teens or kids that will become teens in the future, with my own words of strong exhortation to watch the program, together, with their kids.

Part One: Teenage Behavior

First of all, for you parents who like to tell yourselves—and your teens—you understand [understood] how it is to be a teenager…don’t kid yourselves.

Today’s communications world is radically different from even 15 years ago [let alone 20, 30, or 40], and the hailstorm of stimuli into the brains of today’s teenagers has far greater influence than anything we parents had to deal with in our time.

What’s more, the permeating influence(s) of the Internet and the proliferation of the porn industry have generated such a drastically heightened sexual awareness in today’s youth, the pressures our teens face today are WAY more prevalent [teenage girls, for example, in today’s age, are usually the sexual aggressors] than during their parents’ teenage years.   These potent influences have everything to do with the teen angst and mood swings that are typically ever-present in your average adolescent; pressures and subject matter(s) MANY teens have to deal with, but weren’t ever an issue a few decades ago except for “really loose” girls or “really bad” boys.

So you [we] parents can give up that incorrect argument as justification to badger our teenagers!

Perhaps the #1 complaint most parents today with teenagers have is regards to bad, inexplicable teen behavior.  It seems the moment they turn thirteen, and even in some cases part of their twelfth year, some strange alien takes possession of the teenage brain, and we hardly recognize our kids afterward.  From what scientists know about the brains of teenagers, their brains are in a constant, tumultuous state of growth and development not understood until very recently, but still only to a degree.

The radical changes that occur in the brains of teenagers are equivalent in magnitude to that in the brains of little babies…only WAY different as far as emotional development, behavioral control, and cognitive capacity are concerned.

During the teenage years, adolescent brains are at their PEAK—developmentally-speaking.  Their brains are somewhere in between childhood and adulthood.  By and large, that aggravating, inexplicable teenage behavior so familiar to parents today can be attributed to the changes occurring within the teenage brain, according to scientists.

Even teens really don’t know why they feel the way they do, why they act the way they act, or even why they say the things they say!  Furthermore, [and this one is going to be really hard for old-fashioned, old-timer type parents] teens CANNOT “just control their behavior” or “simply ‘choose’” right behavior.  Chock up all of that makes-you-want-to-throw-your-hands-up-in-the-air behavior so many–if not most–teenagers exhibit to NORMAL changes taking place in their rapidly developing brains.

Sorry, mom…sorry, dad…your teenager’s sullen, contradictory nature IS typical of teenagers in general; however, it’s not because they’re wanting to be pains in the rear!  They really are driven by chemical and physiological changes happening in their adolescent brains; changes that are, for all intents and purposes, impossible for them to control.  So find solace in these truths, and know your kid isn’t a problem child, after all.

That’s right.  The shouting, the complaining, the zoning out, the forgetting to do things they’re supposed to do [which SO many parents accuse their kids of merely “choosing” to forget to do, which really isn’t true, but I’ll address that in another part of this series], the negative attitude, the feeling down about everything (and nothing)…these are all NORMAL aspects that go with the phenomenal, accelerated changes taking place in the brains of teenagers around the world!

In fact, there are so many changes taking place in their young, intelligent, insightful brains, if we parents were to be suddenly thrust back into teenage years, with all of the concerns of this day and age life as a teen, for most of us adults, would be unbearable.

This is where the old idiom “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” might have great, relevant meaning.  You might still be adhering to your long-held beliefs [that] anyone who is “normal” can control their behavior, “if they set their mind to it.”

That just isn’t true for teenagers.

Soon to follow…Part Two: The Teenage Brain. A closer “look” into the “wiring” of the teenage brain, and how it dramatically differs from that of younger children and adults.

Contributions Needed for Typhoon Deaths In Philippines

Monday, October 12th, 2009

This post will probably not be typical of the kind of subject matter I will most likely be visiting on this site, but the nearly 700 deaths resultant from the devastating flooding due to recent, especially violent typhoons in the Philippines has particular poignancy for me.

I have relatives in the Philippines.  I married a Filipina, speak the national dialect, Tagalog, and regularly interact with Filipino’s [other than my wife and daily contact with in-law’s who live right across the street from us].  The nearly 9,000 mile distance from Texas to the Philippines hasn’t kept this from hitting close to home for me.

Two massively destructive typhoons hit the Philippine islands—back-to-back—within the past two weeks, causing widespread flooding in many of the northern provinces, as well as in the Manila area.

The first of the pair of typhoons, tropical storm Ketsana [known as Ondoy in the Philippines; the other typhoon is Parma, aka Pepeng], has been called the worst of its kind in over 40 years.  Ondoy, in several hours, dropped more than what would be a month’s worth of rain for this time of year, which is typically known as the “rainy season.”  Philippines Asia Storm

Flooding due to seasonal typhoons is a normal part of life for many Filipinos during the typhoon season, but imagine getting one month’s worth of rain within a just a few hours!  In some areas, floodwaters have been as deep as twenty feet!

I’ve personally experienced the rainy season, in the province of Pangasinan [one of the hardest hit of provinces by Ondoy], in late 1993, when I was serving as a missionary for my church.  I remember (trying to) riding our bicycles in water four 4 feet deep in the streets!  I’ve seen homes virtually submerged, crops destroyed, and neighborhoods swept away by floodwaters during the rainy season.  We’re talking about desolation equal to that experienced during hurricane Katrina, but happening to people far poorer than what most Americans ever actually see in their life times.

In low-lying areas just at the base of mountains, massive landslides often occur, whisking away many homes, and even entire villages in some cases.  It is the opinion of many Filipinos the severity of the damage from the tremendous amount of rainfall in these areas is amplified by shady logging companies who plunder trees without regard for the ecology, giving kick-backs to corrupt government officials who turn a blind eye to the loggers’ activities.  Heavy rains then easily wash huge segments of ravaged mountainside, stripped of trees and other foliage, away during the rainy season.  And those people living in the path of those landslides become the casualties.

Those who would like to help out by making contributions for relief or aid to help the nearly 3 million displaced [now homeless, even town-less] people should be especially cautious in giving to disaster relief causes, as widespread corruption is yet another obstacle to ensuring contributions and aid will actually reach intended recipients.

Contributors desirous to give financial aid through organizations like the Red Cross might feel a certain degree of reluctance in giving money for disaster relief, as it is difficult to feel confident funds will actually help those in need.  If you belong to a church that organizes humanitarian relief, then that might be your best bet: give through your church, which will probably have people on site to distribute relief personally.  Non-profit organizations, like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [recognized by the U.S. federal government as one of the top contributors, worldwide, for disaster relief] are the best way to go to be sure your donations actually benefit the people you hope to help.

As if to magnify the sorrow of these calamities is the fact the Philippines, being a third-world country, is so poor as to have terribly limited resources for providing aid to citizens suffering from these horrible events.  Many cannot afford to bury their deceased loved ones.  Many more cannot find loved ones suspected—yet unconfirmed—dead.

Not surprisingly, a number of my wife’s relatives, still living in the Philippines, have been directly affected by the destruction wrought in parts of the Manila and even some of the surrounding provincial areas.  One particular family—cousins of my wife—is suffering from the father having recently been murdered [shot], leaving the wife alone, without work, and three children at home.   We will be sending them money to help them out with expenses consequential to their circumstances brought on by the father’s death as well as their losses sustained by the flooding.

So what about you?  Have you been moved with compassion upon seeing these kinds of devastation?  Or do you rationalize, “That’s life. Things happen. There’s suffering all over the world.” If so, I would have to agree with all three of those statements.  But that doesn’t change the fact there are still people in need of relief and aid.  Giving a generous financial contribution won’t go to waste, believe me.

I’ve heard it once said the reason there are so many poor people in the world, is [because] those given the opportunity to render aid…those who have the means to help out…aren’t rising to the [God-given] occasion, but instead justify selfish indulgence with such rationale as “I made my money by myself, through my own hard work. Why should I give to someone else who hasn’t worked as hard as I have?”

That’s why it’s so important to be cautious in giving charitable contributions.  If you give through your church, you’re not likely to have given in vain.  Reputable organizations, like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are trustworthy and honest, and go to great lengths to ensure those sacred funds go to those in the greatest need—without a single penny going to the Church.

So dig deep.   A wise king once said, “We are all beggars before God.”

Most of us can give something.

Parents Create ADD and ADHD Kids

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

**This piece was originally posted October 7, 2009, under the title ADHD-TV. I felt it was worthy of a re-post. Interesting, but when I posted this originally, I was met with a few mildly contradictory comments from friends, etc. Well, now, more and more doctors, such as psychiatrists, brain scientists, and psychologists are agreeing more and more: TV and video gaming, if started early in life CAUSES ADD/ADHD in kids that [likely] would not have developed it, as well as solidifying it in those born with the predisposition. The advent of television began the slow–no, wait…NOT so slow–decline of children’s [general] ability to pay attention to formal education and ordinary life. It’s a FACT. Please read on, and follow this link for a very informative article:

ADD and TV

Image borrowed from the Internet

Broadcast media, aka, television is responsible for ADHD and ADD.  You read that right.   The neurological disorders [as they’re not psychiatric] known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD] and attention deficit disorder [ADD] have been implicated by numerous scientists and psychiatrists as being at the heart of these attention disorders, which are more prevalent than any of us deemed likely in recent, past years.

Now before you write me off as some wacko, you have to know my statement above is based on findings in psychiatry and “brain science” that is only coming to light.  ADHD/ADD—and perhaps many other “learning” disorders were [largely and most likely] caused or came about with the advent of television and other broadcast media [but most especially television].

And gaming, along with the Internet, is only making things worse.  The rapid changes of scenery and stimuli found in most television programming, and now even more so with computer and video gaming, “train” the brain to become increasingly unable—or unwilling—to tolerate the far less exciting and slower-moving pace of real life, creating attention deficit in those most exposed.

What makes me say such a “loony” thing?

Well, I recently finished reading Dr. Norman Doidge’s book, “The Brain That Changes Itself,” and the eye-opening findings “rogue” scientists have been asserting about brain plasticity [the brain’s ability/nature for extraordinary change—continually, throughout life…yes…even into old age] for generations; findings, which are only more recently being accepted in their accuracy by the scientific community.

In generations past the scientific community has said the human brain is “hardwired” in its functions; specific segments or lobes of the brain “handled” certain tasks and that was “just the way it was.”  For hundreds of years, the brain was said to be unchanging after adolescence had passed.

But the fact of the matter is the scientific community, in this regard, has been extraordinarily WRONG for all of these many generations.  The human brain, as proven many times over by brilliant scientists, and as mentioned in “The Brain That Changes Itself,” is ever in a constant “state” of change and we can actually  change our own brains, physiologically, with our thoughts and by those external stimuli to which we—or someone else chooses—to subject us [our brains] to.

I highly recommend this book to everyone—that’s right everyone, except for, perhaps, young children and  those under high school age—to read, study, and understand regarding just how susceptible our brains are to what we are exposed to in life, particularly as children, over long periods of time.  I would advise all new parents to read, if not study, this book and seriously ponder on exactly how they wish to [hopefully, positively] influence their children’s minds; the sooner/the younger, the better.

The Brain That Changes Itself” explores how this knowledge of brain plasticity is being used to cure autism, restore paralyzed body parts after years of immobility due to stroke, turn “learning disabled” people into above average thinkers, and even cause people who are blind to see…via receptors in their tongues!  That’s no joke.  Buy and read the book, or follow the link leading to the documentary about the book, and see for your self.

Even the religious or spiritual person, such as myself [I’m LDS, aka “Mormon”] can gain a greater appreciation, in his or her given faith, of God’s unfathomable power and glory with the markedly increased understanding of how our brains work after reading this most extraordinary book.  I know I did.

One of the most valuable realizations I gleaned from the information presented in this very readable book is the fact we never know what drives people to behave or think the way they do, and [that] being judgmental of people is, at best, precarious ground to stand on. For me, as a Christian [yes, Mormon’s are Christian], it gives greater meaning to the council Christ gave when He said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

But I’m not here to turn this into a religious or even spiritually related post.

Personally, perhaps the most relevant of findings passed along by the numerous brain scientists and psychiatrists Dr. Doidge encountered during his research and writing of “The Brain That Changes Itself” are found in Appendix 1, regarding the effects the media, mainly television, began to have on the brain and—ultimately—our society.  It has become rather apparent to these scientists initial, reported cases of “hyperactivity” and “learning disorders” coincide with the introduction of broadcast media (namely television) into the American mainstream.

Now…this is scientifically documented, folks, not just my personal hypothesis or some leap I’ve made.

Time for some proof?  Well check this out.

In “The Brain That Changes Itself”, Dr. Doidge recounts:

“…a recent study of more than twenty-six hundred toddlers…[exposed] to early exposure to television between the ages of one and three correlates with paying attention and controlling impulses later in childhood.”

The study showed for every hour of TV watched each day, the toddlers’ chances of developing ‘serious attentional difficulties at age seven’ jumped by 10%!!  And approximately twenty years after the explosion of television into American society, teachers began to notice students started to show increased restlessness and trouble in paying attention.

Educator/author, Jane Healy, recorded in her book Endangered Minds, when those children, who were products of the proliferative media and television boom, finally reached college, their professors complained of having to “dumb down” courses with each successive new year, as the students grew increasingly less capable of paying attention, and more intimidated by reading [the printed word] for any length of time.  All the while, these developing problems were eclipsed or ignored as society’s hunger for more computers, greater RAM, and faster processors…all of which nurtured this growing brain malady…burgeoned.

Harvard psychiatrist, Edward Hallowell, who is an expert on attention deficit disorder (ADD), has linked the flourishing of attention deficit mannerisms to the electronic media.  Psychiatric brain genius, Michael Merzenich [“mertz-EN-ich”] had this to say about the brain-shaping role the Internet and media have in our brains’ lives:

“The Internet is just one of those things that contemporary humans can spend millions of ‘practice’ events at, that the average human a thousand years ago had absolutely no exposure to. Our brains are massively remodeled by this exposure…by television, by video games, by modern electronics….”

Without taking this post way too long, suffice it to say numerous other brain scientists who are expert on brain plasticity acknowledge the powerful changes prolonged exposure to these mediums have on the human brain, but most especially on the brains of children—especially those who may have inherited their temperament to ADHD or ADD from their parents.   Experts agree: video games are among the most powerful in molding the brain to these dispositions.

Experiments clearly show the human brain puts out what is called the “reward neurotransmitter”, dopamine [which is also triggered by addictive drugs] during gaming.  Is it any wonder people who are addicted to computer games [or Internet porn, for that matter], show all the other signs historically associated with other chemical addictions?

• Cravings when forced to stop.
• Neglect of other responsibilities or activities.
• Euphoria while gaming.
• Propensity to deny or downplay their actual predilection.

It’s the fast-paced action and scene cuts, according to experts, found in TV, video games, music videos, etc, [all of which occur at much faster rates of speed than real life] that train the brain, actually altering our brain structure, resulting in a general, overall boredom with reality!

A real quick comment on the differences between ADHD/ADD in children versus adults: there are some significant differences, which I’m aware of, but won’t go into now, for those who want to tout the benefits of diet and vitamins that have “worked” to “cure” their kids’ ADD, and recommend such for adults.  Bottom line: the two cannot be compared.   Those kids whose ADD has been identified early on, during childhood, very often times will grow out of the natural tendency, with professional attention to the problem.  Adults who suffer from adult ADHD or ADD will require significantly different approaches to overcome—we can’t compare kids and grownups, folks!

Some traumatic experiences in early childhood can also have a huge bearing on a person’s predisposition toward ADHD; even the way such individuals were cared for after the trauma.

A CARING WARNING: If you think ADHD and ADD aren’t real, or [that] these terms are a bunch of “hooey” or “fancy talk” for “kids just being kids”, or that scientists don’t really know if these things are real or imagined, or if you believe “it’s all just a matter of mind over matter…[or]…a matter of choice,” you’re simply ignorant to the reality.  People who suffer from these disorders, in their varying degrees of severity, are often tormented by very real, chemical compulsions that are almost impossible to control without help and counseling.

There are afflictions that affect organs without so much as altering the appearance of the afflicted organ.   A pancreas with diabetes, if you were to cut it out and place it on a table next to a healthy pancreas, wouldn’t look any different than a non-diabetic one.  A liver with sclerosis is radically different in appearance than a healthy liver.  These afflictions of the brain—ADHD and ADD—are REAL–not imagined–physiological afflictions.  There ARE disorders health experts know very little about.   This is one that has much in the way of laboratory evidence to squelch naysayers and doubters.

The science behind brain plasticity and how our brains are constantly changing has been asserted by many forward thinking scientists since as far back as Sigmund Freud, but has been strongly opposed for many generations by closed minds.  But fortunately minds are opening up…the mysteries and wonders of the human brain are, only now, just barely beginning to be revealed.

If you are one of the skeptical ones, you’re invited to open your mind and consider what you’ve long believed may very well have been based on false or incomplete information.  Just think about those who used to insist the world was flat instead of globular.

These comments have been provided by to breed greater awareness, and to generate open mindedness–as well as dialogue–about these less-than-benign disorders, which are permeating our society and undermining its future.

What’s Up With ‘That’?

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

What's Up With That?I am often amazed, while reading published, online or printed, [particularly non-fiction] works at the many pieces that pass for good, or acceptable, writing.  Now, to be fair, there is some excellent writing to be found, if you read long enough…whether it’s optimized web content, press releases, or journalism; you just have to be able to recognize it when you run across it.

That having been said, there is also a lot of slothful writing grabbing top ranks on Google—yes, even amidst the many articles of the major, online news sources. What’s most wearisome, for me, is the abundance of bad writing manifest through redundancy, poor structure, and just plain, [bad] style!  There’s more than enough insipidity to choke us all.  It’s doubtful the manna showered upon the Israelites became any less palpable than much of what meets the eyes of millions of readers seeking factually persuasive, much less stylistically enjoyable, content via their favorite search engines.

And although the writing of original, SEO content might not warrant—for many so-called journalists or bloggers—observance of basic Elements of Style sufficient to placate messieurs Strunk and White, you would think more self-proclaimed writers would at least own a copy of that indispensable, five-sixteenths-of-an-inch thick, writer’s resource!

Furthermore—should one dare to hope—it would be quite refreshing if said devotees of the craft would actually implement some of those jewels of wisdom and style found in that little book toward honing a more excellent technique and flair.

Of a truth, that rather thin, apparently unimposing reference (should) remain as ever-present in every writer’s work nook as…well…as a spare flash drive, or as pens and paper once were.   Even the greatest chess champion or the most skilled sniper regularly maintain their skills by revisiting “the basics” of what they do, or what they’re about.

This brings me to one of my pet peeves when it comes to (people not) observing basic guidelines of good writing is the annoyingly sophomoric (over) use of the word ‘that.’

If you’ve sat through more than a week of any English Composition class, you will surely have heard your professor say something, in reference to the almost hackneyed peppering of essays, term papers, or most basic of expositional writings with the word ‘that.’

This, what I like to call “crutch” word, is almost as prevalent in the writings of working professionals and authors as the word “like” is in the idiolect of your average, American teenager.   Bad speech habits due to immaturity and peer influences are understandable—even excusable, to a point.  However, poor writing style or ignorance of composition fundamentals, due to laziness or their simply being perpetuated by the public aren’t—or shouldn’t be—anymore than “text speak” should be tolerated in a term paper for a composition class!

I’m not saying this excessive insertion of the word is [necessarily] grammatically incorrect, but as far as writing style is concerned, the allowance, at least in my opinion, excludes those guilty of said “crime” from the ranks of true craftsmen…or craftswomen, if you must.

Quite frankly, it takes very little effort to excise “that” habit from one’s writing by simply observing examples [especially one’s own] of the offense, and then witnessing the improvement in readability. By so doing, reformed writers will also notice zero reduction in meaning but, in most cases, an actual boost in that “active voice” we all remember our English Comp teachers lecturing us about.

Below, I’ve included a couple of examples of what I‘m talking about.  A college student wrote the first example, if you can believe it.  I took it from a blog on the Internet.   I have made a few editorial changes in regards to revealing information, but the over-use of the relative pronoun, “that,” [with a strike-through in each case] has been left just the way this student wrote it originally.  Note the bad grammar, as well. I was tempted to insert commas and other punctuation as needed (it was driving me crazy) but I refrained.

“…I love [program name] love science and love anybody who made this site come true to any [one] out there I am a college student and my life was just described in the example above believe me if I had money I would have joined [program name] 100% anyway, I have figured something out and it has worked and [is] still working for me but I don’t know how much would it last and that’s killing me inside my main goal is to avoid [addictive behavior] whenever I feel the urge I convince myself that I am not myself now that [good!] I am kinda drugged or something and once I [distract myself] (without [indulging in behavior) I will be back and it worked for me... so whenever I get the feeling that I will fail and won’t be able to control myself….”

Try reading this example, out loud, to your self and see if the content [if you can actually call it content] doesn’t flow better without the (over) use ‘that’ word!  The original paragraph has several more unnecessary that’s.

So you might be saying to yourself, “So what’s the big deal? It’s a blog!  Who cares about grammar, punctuation, let alone style, in a blog?”

Well, that’s precisely my point: too many people are either ignorant to this basic element of good writing, or our culture of texting, emails, and blogging have [seemed to] make it permissible to be lackadaisical when it comes to writing well.

And the bad habit is being taught to students [children] even today.  Here is an example I took from one of my child’s homework assignments just the other evening [I’ve now got my kids catching onto excessive “that” offense]!

“…the principal of the school told the children that it is against school rules to wear baseball caps while at school.   He told the students that if he lets one student wear a baseball cap, then he would have to let kids who want to wear cowboy hats wear those, too.  He explained that only on special ‘free-dress’ days would the students be allowed to wear hats of any kind.   He told the students that the school rules are very important to help keep the students safe and happy.”

Did you see that?  YIKES!

Now…go back and re-read the paragraph, skipping over those crossed-out ‘that’s’ and see how much more smoothly it reads.  What’s more, the use of the word in every instance didn’t add any value to the message conveyed, nor did the removal of the words detract from the meaning of the content.  If anything, the presence of the word only served to weaken it!

I realize my writing, here, is hardly the epitome of perfection.  I have written a few passive sentences, along with a fragment or two, perhaps.   But maybe if I get a few people “out there”, online, thinking about it, I will have rendered some valuable service that someone could use in writing a press release, blog, email, or letter, and make his or her optimized content that much more persuasive.

Copy Passion Copywriting!!

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Welcome to Copy PASSION Copywriting.

Not so much with a stream of consciousness as moved upon by my fancy, do I begin my [this] contribution to our world of words. I am a freelance copywriter, specializing in persuasive [usually sales] copy, aka, content. Much of what I write I do so from my heart–or, if you’d rather; my gut–as I am moved by my passion…thus, “Copy PASSION.” I AM available for “hire”…a “gun for hire” with words as my “weapon of choice.”

For now, there are no “main topics” I’m leaning toward at this precise moment…but that could change. I’m sure I’ll find a few major passions I’ll soon devote much, or most, of my time to. The more time I devote, the more passionate I am about said topic.

IF YOU DO HIRE ME to write SEO web content [another specialty of mine], or any other form of persuasive writing for whichever purposes you require, I vow to do all I can to convey the PASSION you require to persuade your prospective–or existing–clients/audience to think, or see things, “your way.” I’m skilled at pulling in high page rankings on Google, with my skills in writing optimized content [SEO content] typically resulting in Top 10 results, according to keyword usage.

Here’s a sample under the keyword phrase “short sale service new york“, for a client specializing in short sales to prevent foreclosure for homeowners: out of the top 10, #’s 5, 6, 7, and 8 are all pieces of mine. And those results aren’t a fluke. I just know the techniques that get results!

Very soon, I will include some examples of my writing for you to review, as well as links to works for some of my clients, to give you taste of my style. I can write in a sophisticated manner if it is appropriate for the subject manner, and I am also capable of “gearing” my language to appeal to “common folk”, if that’s what’s needed. I can write in ANY style, on ANY subject.

KEEP IN MIND: this site is a “work in progress” and is [fairly] newly created, so…come back often! I’ll be “jazzing” things up here as I feel is needed for increased value.

Stay passionate about what moves you!

Charles Pruett