Research Articles (Psychology)

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    Selective mutism and its relations to social anxiety disorder and autism spectrum disorder
    (Springer Nature, 2021-01) Muris, Peter; Ollendick, Thomas H.
    In current classification systems, selective mutism (SM) is included in the broad anxiety disorders category. Indeed, there is abundant evidence showing that anxiety, and social anxiety in particular, is a prominent feature of SM. In this article, we point out that autism spectrum problems in addition to anxiety problems are sometimes also implicated in SM. To build our case, we summarize evidence showing that SM, social anxiety disorder (SAD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are allied clinical conditions and share communalities in the realm of social difficulties. Following this, we address the role of a prototypical class of ASD symptoms, restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests (RRBIs), which are hypothesized to play a special role in the preservation and exacerbation of social difficulties. We then substantiate our point that SM is sometimes more than an anxiety disorder by addressing its special link with ASD in more detail. Finally, we close by noting that the possible involvement of ASD in SM has a number of consequences for clinical practice with regard to its classification, assessment, and treatment of children with SM and highlight a number of directions for future research
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    Help-seeking intention in obsessive-compulsive disorder: predictors and barriers in South Africa
    (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-09) Hathorn, Sarah Kate; Lochner, Christine; Stein, Dan J.; Bantjes, Jason
    Introduction: Many individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) delay seeking help, leading to greater illness severity, additional comorbidity, and increased functional impairment. Patterns of help-seeking for OCD have however not yet been described in South Africa, a low-and middle-income country with many health service challenges. Using the health belief model as a conceptual framework, study aims were to identify predictors of and barriers to help-seeking among South Africans with OCD. Methods: Fifty adults with OCD completed an online survey to assess (1) socio-demographic characteristics, (2) OCD symptom severity, (3) treatment barriers, (4) perceived treatment benefits, (5) self-efficacy, and (6) help-seeking intention. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to establish predictors of help-seeking intention. Descriptive statistics were used to determine the most endorsed help-seeking barriers. Results: 42.6% of the variance in help-seeking intention was explained by the investigated constructs (R2 = 0.426, F = 4.45 and p < 0.01). Perceived treatment benefits were the only significant predictor of help-seeking intention (B = 1.37, t = 5.16, and p < 0.01). More than a third (36%) of the sample endorsed wanting to handle the problem independently as a significant barrier, followed by treatment concerns (26%), affordability (22%), and shame (20%). Conclusion: An innovative analysis of help-seeking patterns suggested that perceived treatment benefits were the only significant predictor of help-seeking intention among South African adults with OCD. Psychoeducation and mental health literacy programmes may be useful in increasing public appreciation of the benefits of OCD treatment, and in mitigating key help-seeking barriers.
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    Symptoms of selective mutism in non-clinical 3- to 6-year-old children: relations with social anxiety, autistic features, and behavioral inhibition
    (Frontiers Media SA, 2021-05) Muris, Peter; Monait, Nona; Weijsters, Lotte; Ollendick, Thomas H.
    Selective mutism (SM) is a psychiatric condition that is characterized by a failure to speak in specific social situations (e. g., at school) despite speaking normally in other situations (e.g., at home). There is abundant evidence that anxiety, and social anxiety in particular, is a prominent feature of SM, which is the main reason why this condition is currently classified as an anxiety disorder. Meanwhile, there is increasing support for the notion that autism-related problems are also involved in SM. The present study examined the relations between SM and social anxiety, autistic features, and behavioral inhibition to the unfamiliar (i.e., the tendency to react with restraint and withdrawal when confronted with unfamiliar stimuli and situations). Parents of 172 3- to 6-year-old preschool children completed an online survey for measuring the relevant constructs. Results showed that there were positive and statistically significant correlations between SM and social anxiety, autistic features, and behavioral inhibition. Regression analyses revealed that (1) both social anxiety and autistic features accounted for a significant and unique proportion of the variance in SM scores, and (2) that both of these variables no longermade a significant contribution once behavioral inhibition was added to themodel. It can be concluded that while the involvement of social anxiety is unambiguous in SM, autism-related problems are also implicated. Furthermore, behavioral inhibition seems to play a key role in the non-speaking behavior of non-clinical young children.
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    Living under siege: resilience, hopelessness, and psychological distress among Palestinian students in the Gaza Strip
    (Cambridge University Press, 2021-10) Veronese, Guido; Pepe, Alessandro; Diab, Marwan; Jamey, Yasser Abu; Kagee, Ashraf
    Background. Moving from an approach oriented to adaptation and functioning, the current paper explored the network of cumulative associations between the effects of the siege and resilience on mental health. Methods. We sought to explore the impact of the siege on psychological distress (anxiety, depression, and stress) and the moderating effect of resilience and hopelessness in a sample of 550 Palestinian university students. We hypothesized that the siege effect would impact psychological distress so that the more people were affected by the siege, the more mental symptoms of common mental disorders they would report. We also expected that the siege would negatively impact both resilience and participants’ hopelessness. Results. Findings showed that higher scores on the scale measuring effect of the siege were associated with hopelessness. Furthermore, living under siege compromised participants’ resilience. The more the siege affected individuals, the lower resilience were protecting participants mental health and the more hopelessness was exposing them to anxiety, stress, and depression. Conclusion. Our findings draw attention to how the ongoing violation of human rights influences people’s mental health in Gaza. Implications for clinicians and policymakers are discussed.
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    'I don't have time for this' : stuttering and the politics of university time
    (Stockholm University Press, 2020) Isaacs, Dane
    Over the last four decades, increasing numbers of disabled students have entered institutions of higher education worldwide. Since 1994, the South African Government has been committed to transforming educational policy to redress the past oppression of disabled persons. Educational policies, legislation and interventions have been implemented to promote inclusive education. However, recent studies have found disabled students continue to be excluded and discriminated against at institutions of higher education in South Africa. In this analytical autoethnography, I describe my personal experiences of stuttering at two South African universities, exploring personal life stories through Felt’s (2017) concept of academic chronopolitics. I argue that chronopolitics, which exists in institutions of higher learning, acts as a barrier to inclusion and participation for disabled students, specifically those who stutter. I advocate for the creation of spaces that are enabling and inclusive for all disabled students.