Posts Tagged 'vacation'

London? Yes, London!

I’ll be traveling to London this week for both business and pleasure, arriving on Wednesday the 6th and leaving on Monday the 11th. Wed-Thu is business oriented, with meetings and events, and the weekend is pleasure of course – celebrating my birthday (April 9th)!

The entire trip is pretty packed, but I’ll be happy to meet and chat with anyone, if time permits. Thursday is probably the best day for those random meetups, so shout away – either comment here or better yet on Twitter, @dvirreznik.

My last visit in London was for Nokia World 2010, a very short one (60 hours, give or take), during which I saw very little of the British capital, so this time I expect to do more tourist stuff. Would love to hear your recommendations: good restaurants, theater and musicals, tourist attractions, music performances, what ever comes to mind. Again, comment here of reach out on Twitter.

Ph.D Dissertation Submitted – Vacation Time

Signing off the dissertation

Signing off the dissertation

If memory serves me well, this is the first post that is not focused on me. This post honors my significant other, D, who came one step closer to becoming a clinical psychologist by submitting her Ph.D dissertation earlier this week. The dissertation took 4.5 years (!) to complete, part of a very long process that has been going on for 10 years now, with 2 more years to go (equivalent of an internship). Considering we met some 6 years ago, this is quite a journey to go through as a couple.

D – I am in-love with you, deeply, and want to live with you forever.  And… NYC – here we come !

Ph.D Dissertation

Ph.D Dissertation

The abstract of her dissertation proposal is available hereunder. Enjoy.


Object Relations in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders: Assessment and Predictive Value for Symptoms, Functioning, and Quality of Life


In the last three decades schizophrenia spectrum disorders were studied extensively from a biological-genetic-structural perspective. This perspective had a significant contribution to our understanding of these disorders (e.g., Jaaro-Peled et al., 2009). However, inconsistency in research findings and the complexity associated with the interpretation of such findings suggest that biological, genetic and structural models may be insufficient for accounting for the variability in the symptoms associated with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Further, biological-genetic-structural models may be limited in their capacity of explaining individual differences such as coping skills, level of functioning, and chances of adjustment for people suffering from the same disorders on the spectrum (Bentall & Fernyhough, 2008; Harrow & Jobe, 2007). The current thesis aims to address these limitations by investigating schizophrenia spectrum disorders from a psychological perspective and more specifically from object relations theory perspective.

Object relations theories assume that early interpersonal relationships are internalized as mental representations of self-object interactions. These representations consist of cognitive, affective, and experiential information regarding the self, objects, and the interaction between them (Blatt, Auerbach & Aryan, 1998). Classical object-relations theories suggest that deficiencies in the early interactions may lead, in extreme circumstances, to psychotic disorders and schizophrenia in adulthood (Fairbairn, 1954; Winnicott, 1965).

Schizophrenic disorders were described by various theoreticians and researchers in terms of impaired (chaotic and primitive) self and object representations, boundary disturbances in mental representations and failure to achieve more integrated levels of object-relations development (Blatt & Wild, 1976; Guntrip, 1968; Ryan & Bell, 1984). In addition, object relations’ theories suggest that different psychiatric disorders may vary in their severity of object relations impairment. However, these theories do not explicitly address the heterogeneity of object relations’ developmental levels and quality within schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The current thesis attempted to examine whether these differences in object relations are linked with specific symptomatic and functional variations in these schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Specifically, in this thesis we examined the role of object relations and their benevolence and developmental level, in predicting severity of the symptoms, level of functioning, and quality of life of individuals suffering from schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

In order to address these important questions, 85 out-patients who met DSM-IV-TR (American Psychiatric Association, 2000) criteria for schizophrenia spectrum disorders, were assessed twice with a five-month interval between the two assessments. In order to evaluate the quality, complexity, and the developmental level of object relations, we used four central instruments in the field of object relations’ assessment. Two of these measures – SCORS and MOA, were derived from well known implicit psychological tests (TAT and Rorschach respectively). The other two measures – ORI and D-R – stem from a standard narrative procedure that includes spontaneous descriptions of significant others. We hypothesized that these measures would tap into the broad theoretical construct of object relations, each from a different perspective. A series of Pearson correlations confirmed this hypothesis. Consistent with current research, our analyses revealed two central components of the internalized representations: a cognitive-structural component and an affective-qualitative component (Blatt & Auerbach, 2000). Also as expected, without psycho-therapeutic intervention, object relations’ developmental level, their complexity and their benevolence, remained stable over the course of the 5-months interval.

Next, we examined whether measures of object relations at the initial wave of measurement (Time 1) predicted symptomatic and functional aspects, and perceived quality of life five months later (Time 2). A series of hierarchical regression analyses revealed that higher developmental level of object relations, as well as more benevolent and complex object relations were linked with lower severity of positive and negative schizophrenic symptoms, and better functioning and quality of life. These results remained significant while controlling for participants’ age and gender. When varied measures from different instruments of object relations were introduced in one model, each showed a unique contribution to the prediction of schizophrenia symptoms severity, functioning, and quality of life. This suggests that the consideration of various aspects of object relations may be important when assessing these characteristics of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. These findings also supported the hypothesis that the variance in the level of benevolence and development of object relations play a role in the explanation of symptomatic and functional heterogeneity that commonly characterize these disorders.

Finally, classical object-relations theories (e.g.,: Fairbairn, 1954; Winnicott, 1965) suggest that the level of deficiencies in an individuals’ primary environment influence the level of psychopathology and therefore symptom severity of various mental disorders. The severity of symptoms is then believed to be linked with impairment in the level of functioning. Consequently, we assumed that object relations are only indirectly linked with individuals’ level of functioning. Using a mediation model (Shrout & Bolger, 2002), our finding supported this hypothesis.

The current thesis expanded our knowledge of the associations between object relations and schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Beyond the theoretical contribution of the current study, the finding that higher developmental level and benevolence of object relations predict better outcomes for patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and gives hope and optimism regarding the prognosis of these patients. Even in these severe mental disorders, in which there is a strong genetic or biological basis, more benevolent and developed representations of interpersonal relations may play an important role in positive prognosis regarding the severity of symptoms, level of functioning, and quality of life of the individuals suffering from the disorders.

The findings of this thesis have practical clinical implications. In accordance with our findings, several recommendations regarding the choice of measures to evaluate object relations developmental level, benevolence, and complexity were suggested. These recommendations have the potential to enable clinicians or researchers to optimally choose the most efficient and informative combinations of various measures of object relations when addressing the prognosis of patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Finally, the results of the current study may be suggestive of the need to integrate object relations’ interventions with conventional psychiatric interventions when treating this population.

The current study aimed to promote a meaningful dialogue between the clinical psychology world and the psychiatric world. The findings of the study demonstrated that combining these worlds may lead to a more profound and more broad comprehension of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. It is our hope that the current study will lay the foundations for expanding the research of mental representations and object relations in schizophrenia spectrum disorders, as well as in other psychiatric disorders.

A beginner’s guide to Prague

Following our trip to Prague last week, I decided to write a post, A beginner’s guide to Prague, that would provide additional information to all those considering traveling to Prague and want to get some first hand impressions. This post covers what we did and saw, how we traveled, what cultural activities we went to, etc. If you have specific questions, feel free to comment below (or email privately) and I’ll respond. Our photos from the trip are available on facebook (friends only, sorry).

General information
We had 6 full days in Prague, Mon-Sat (April 6-11), landing at 10am and departing at 11pm.
We bought the full package from Israel, including flight, pickup from/to airport and hotel voucher (BB). I strongly recommend to cross-reference your hotel location with Metro linesour hotel was 1min from a metro station, and 2 stops from City Center – saved us a lot of time and money on transportation. Also remember that the Metro/Trams run from 5am till midnight, after that it’s only taxis, and those are expensive (and have designated stops to pick passengers). We used the 18CZ tickets, good for 20km or 30min (Metro/Tram – 5 stops max). Note that Police are doing random inspections and can also question tourists – the fine for NOT having a valid ticket is 700CZ (35 US$). Prague is relatively flat (except Prague Castle area) and covering it walking is easy.

Before arrival
Check the weather of course, but be prepared for anything. Weather was excellent, 7c-20c most of the week we were there, sunny, although it was only the beginning of the Spring and people told us to pack warm clothes. I walked with a t-shirt and jeans every day, Dina had a long shirt and jacket in the bag. We had 2 short periods (30min) of rain, afternoon of day 2 and 3, so remember to bring a mini-umbrella with you.
Prepare what you want to see, and check online for city resources, either the official site or other travel guides. A map of the city and public transportation are also important, but you can get those at Prague. While you’re online, verify what holidays, local vacations, renovation work, etc are planned. If you’re into Opera, Drama or Ballet, check Narodni Divadlo (National Theater) to see what’s showing the days you’re there. There are 3 theaters at Prague, beautiful buildings – worth the visit even if you’re not into the performance itself.
If you’re students, bring your card with you. Most sites have a discounted rate for student, which can save you 50% on the ticket – we paid 15 US$ for 2 tickets to see Don Giovanni on the last day.
We had 2 books with us: Michelin Green Guide to Prague and an Hebrew version of Globetrotter travel guide to Prague. Most of the time we used the Hebrew book, sorted by quarters (unlike Michelin which was alphabetically) and easier to follow.

Day 1 (arrival)
Although we arrived early (10am), we were tired from not sleeping the night before – 2 hours sleep on the place don’t count. So only in the afternoon we head to Stare Mesto (old town), walking the streets towards the Old Town Sqaure. We found this cute cafe at Na Prikope st., towards Mustek station, inside an inner patio of some sort – very American and they had free wi-fi, one of the few places I noticed.

Day 2
Day 2 was all about Hradcany and the amazing Prague Castle. Had to change metro lines to get there, but the 18 CZ ticket (20km or 30min) still sufficed. Spent more than half a day at the castle and its surroundings, but you can easily spend a full day, even more. There are several types of tickets – we got the semi-full that grants access to the Cathedral and Basilica, The Story of Prague Castle (which was closed for renovation) and The Golden Lane (don’t miss it) including The Black Tower (Daliborka) which served as a prison. Second half of the day we walked down towards Mala Strana (lesser quarter), checked out the gardens and headed east to Charles Bridge and Stare Mesto again. Before crossing the bridge, make sure you visit Kampa Island, a small piece of land south of the bridge – beautiful and peaceably neighborhood with a great view of the other side.

Day 3
Since it was Pesach Eve we decided to visit Josefov (Jewish quarter), the Old-New Synagogue, the Old Jewish Cemetery and other attractions in the area. The Old-New Synagogue was built at 1270 (!) and is still being used by the local community. The tombstones at the old cemetery are very crowded, the result of multi-layered burial, right until the end of the 18th century. That evening we went to St. Nicholas Church in Stare Mesto, and bought tickets to its Easter Festival, hosting Praga Sinfonietta Orchestra that played Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart.

Day 4
Since it was my birthday, we decided to stay close to our hotel, and unlike other days, do an afternoon break/nap at the hotel. So, we walked 15min and arrived to Vysehrad (which means ‘castle in the mountains’), the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul and the old (and very prestigious) cemetery, the resting place to some of Czech’s most famous citizens. Make sure you head down to the streets (Neklanova and Vratislavova) below the castle – 3 examples of Cubism architecture awaits your eyes.
Vysehrad gardens are also the place I proposed to my girlfriend :-)) She agreed. In the evening we had dinner at Mlynec – an excellent Asian fusion restaurant (huge thanks to Ariela!).

Day 5
The 5th day was dedicated to Nove Mesto (new town) and its sights: Fred and Ginger, National Theater, The Botanical Garden, Slav (Sofin) Island and others. We stayed away from the Wenceslas Square which we walked in all week, and focused on the eastern and southern portions of the new town, closer to the Vltava River. At that evening we reached Nardoni Divadlo and bought tickets to Causa Carmen, student of course, 10 US$ each.

Day 6
Last day at Prague was spent at Stare Mesto and was dedicated (mostly) to shopping and relaxation. We were under no pressure to see any sights and even got to see Don Giovani at the 2pm performance.

Final thoughts
Walking the streets of Prague, seeing the massive castles and basilicas, you can understand why Prague is considered one of the beautiful cities in the world. It’s a classical European capital that actually lets you touch and feel its past. All you need to do is close your eyes and imagine yourself in the 13th or 15th century, walking the same streets, in an entirely different attire. Too bad the Holodeck is still reserved to Star Trek fleet only. Although we had the option, we decided not to go on tours outside of Prague. We came to see the city, a true classical European capital, and we left with a strong desire to return.

Being green in Prague

We stayed at an excellent hotel last week in Prague, Corinthia Towers Hotel, which like many hotels these days, has boarded the green train. Other than the usual towels procedure (put in the tub to change or leave hanging to keep), we saw this gray card on our bed:

Protect. The choice is yours. We’ll serve your room every day. Your bed linen will be changed only when this card is placed on the bed in the morning.

Being green (Dina disconnected all the power cables at home before leaving, and we disconnect some stuff during the day as well) and all, we put the card on the bed only one time – changing linen once in 3 days is more than enough. In the days we didn’t put the gray card, we got another card – green of course – saying thank you:

Protect. Your choice makes a difference. Thank you. Upon your request we did not change your bed linen. Should you choose to have your bed linen changed tomorrow, please place the gray card on the bed.

Lots of business and service providers are looking to be more green, in various ways. What I liked about the Corinthia way is that extra step towards to guests – not just giving you the choice, but also acknowledging it by saying ‘thank you’. One might ask, like CNN’s Ayesha Durgahee, are hotels doing enough or is it just a marketing thing, but for me, saying thank you, is a step in the right direction.

How green are green hotels?


It’s been a great week folks, filled with interesting stories, announcements and news, but I missed out on most of them, being away on vacation in Prague. So first off, I wish to congratulate Hillel and Racheli, Ahuvah and Ouriel for the newest additions to their families. Secondly, big THANK YOU to all of you for remembering I turned 31 last week, and wishing me Happy B’day, in various methods.

I have lots of stuff to share with you from my 6 day visit to Prague, so stay tuned. It’s also been the first time I borrowed my brother‘s Nikon D50 – which put out awesome pictures, over 400 of them. Will post later this week ‘Beginners Guide to Prague’, covering the sights we saw, places we visited and liked, places we visited and didn’t like, where we ate, relaxed and drank warm wine and anything else that I’d feel like sharing.. 😉

In the meantime, a taste from Prague:
Prague Castle (largest castle in the world) and St. Vitus Cathedral

Church of our Lady Before Tyn (at the Old Town Square)

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