January 2015 – What’s Hot and What’s Not in Psychology & Psychiatry

The fields of psychology and psychiatry kicked the year off with a hefty focus on child development research, action and news. Here are the latest and greatest up-to-the-minute developments in both the hot and not-so-hot topics this January.

HOT: Transgender Children are Not “Confused”: They Identify with their Gender as Clearly as Cisgender Kids

Who: Team led by psychological scientist Kristina Olson from University of Washington.
Where: Scheduled for publishing in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Why: Here’s an example of science stepping up to lend informational support where the previous response to the keystone question of parents of transgender children, “Should my child be in therapy to try to change what they say they are, or should they be supported?” was “We just don’t know!”— a totally unacceptable response to our collective scientific mind.

Olsen and her team have well and truly opened the door for generating a research-based understanding of both transgender and cisgender children’s gender identity that can help guide and support healthy and strong child and parent development. As such, Olsen has now launched the first large-scale, nationwide, longitudinal study of transgender children in the United States.

HOT: Virtual Reality used to Reduce Sexual Victimization of Teenage Girls

Who: Research team of Psychology Professors from Southern Methodist University, Dallas.
Where: In press in the journal Behavior Therapy from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
Why: Females who firmly resist unwanted advances stand a greater chance of escaping a sexually coercive situation, from which there are numerous immediate and long-term deleterious effects.

After completion of “My Voice, My Choice” virtual reality resistance training, girls in the study that had had higher rates of previous victimization experienced lower rates of psychological distress and psychological victimization, e.g. being yelled at or called names, or having a boy try to frighten or spread rumors about her.

“This finding is particularly noteworthy because other violence protection programs have generally been ineffective or less effective for previously victimized young women,” said Simpson Rowe, lead author of the study and Associate Professor and Graduate Program Co-Director of Psychology at SMU.

HOT: Global Mission to Help Child Victims of Trauma in Low Income Countries Around the World

Who: Professor of child psychiatry, Panos Vostanis, from the Greenwood Institute of Child Health based at the University of Leicester’s School of Psychology.
Where: Across a series of low-income countries throughout 2015, in Europe and beyond.
Why: To train volunteer workers and practitioners to effectively deliver aid to those most in need of it, including child mental health victims of drug abuse, poverty and medical illness. International universities, services and non-governmental organizations across the globe will establish new joint training programs for child mental health.

NOT: New Evidence of Mercury Containing Vaccinations Harming Child’s Mental Health

Who: Team of researchers from The Institute of Chronic Illnesses, USA.
Where: From the Biological Trace Element Research journal.
Why: The case control study reports that “routine childhood vaccination is an important public health tool to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with infectious diseases, but the present study provides new epidemiological evidence of a significant relationship between increasing organic Hg (mercury) exposure from Thimerosal-containing vaccines and the sub-sequent risk of PDD (pervasive developmental disorders) diagnosis in males and females… it is also a public health imperative to end the unnecessary addition of organic Hg to vaccines in the form of Thimerosal used as a preservative or otherwise.”

NOT: Common Pesticide may Increase Child’s Risk of ADHD

Who: Rutgers researchers and colleagues from Emory University, the University of Rochester Medical Center and Wake Forest University.
Where: Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
Why: The study reported that children with higher pyrethroid pesticide metabolite levels in their urine were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

“Although we can’t change genetic susceptibility to ADHD, there may be modifiable environmental factors, including exposures to pesticides that we should be examining in more detail,” says Richardson.


University of Leicester press release: Major project to help children traumatised worldwide. Accessed 2 Feburary 2015.

Geier DA, Kern JK, King PG, Sykes LK, & Geier MR (2015). A Case-Control Study Evaluating the Relationship Between Thimerosal-Containing Haemophilus influenzae Type b Vaccine Administration and the Risk for a Pervasive Developmental Disorder Diagnosis in the United States. Biological trace element research, 163 (1-2), 28-38 PMID: 25382662

Richardson JR, Taylor MM, Shalat SL, Guillot TS 3rd, Caudle WM, Hossain MM, Mathews TA, Jones SR, Cory-Slechta DA, & Miller GW (2015). Developmental pesticide exposure reproduces features of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology PMID: 25630971

Rowe, L., Jouriles, E., & McDonald, R. (2014). Reducing Sexual Victimization Among Adolescent Girls: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of My Voice, My Choice Behavior Therapy DOI: 10.1016/j.beth.2014.11.003

Image via Ollyy / Shutterstock.

Carla Clark, PhD

Carla Clark, PhD, is BrainBlogger's Lead Editor and Psychology and Psychiatry Section Editor. A scientific consultant, writer, and researcher in a variety of fields including psychology and neuropsychology, as well as biotechnology, molecular biology, and biophysical chemistry, you can follow her on Facebook or Twitter @GeekReports
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