Faculty Spotlight: Dr. James Hoelzle

   By: Lauren Gallagher

Personal History:

Dr. Hoelzle began his psychology career as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois where he worked in two research labs that focused on child psychopathology and sibling relationships.  After applying to graduate programs in pediatric psychology, his interests led him to the University of Toledo.  There, he discovered his love for assessment. Dr. Hoelzle had always been interested in the fields of medicine and psychology but was unsure how to combine these interests. The answer was neuropsychological assessment. With the support of his advisor, he was allowed to pursue this interest. They remain in contact today and periodically collaborate on projects.

Dr. Hoelzle’s next dilemma was deciding whether he wanted to work in an academic environment or at an academic medical center.  Although he knew he wanted to live in a metropolitan city for personal reasons, he wondered if he would be able to find an academic environment that was a good fit?  The perfect combination was discovered at Marquette. Here, Dr. Hoelzle gets to work with students (which he loves!) and can share stories of his clinical work, for which he has an obvious passion.

Classes Taught:

Principles of Psychological Testing
Adult Assessment

Also oversees graduate students as a clinic supervisor.


When Dr. Hoelzle is not attending to the needs of his students, he is working on his own research.  He is mostly interested in learning how assessment data gives possible warning signs to clinical outcomes.  In his lab, functioning adults are tested to learn about the strengths and limitations of neuropsychological tests. Dr. Hoelzle is also interested in how neuropsychological measures relate to one another and can be used in the diagnostic process.  For example, adults being evaluated for ADHD might be administered multiple neuropsychological tests  and it is unclear which performances are most helpful to consider so that an accurate diagnosis is made. His goal is to lead clinicians to more cost-effective and better-focused assessment.

Favorite Part About Teaching at Marquette:

“Seeing students think about future plans and how they will make contributions to society.  It is exciting to see them take the next step.”

Future Aspirations:

In the near future, Dr. Hoelzle hopes to further develop relationships with the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee VA Medical Center to do more collaborative work.  He values the skills of working on a team and thinks that his research at Marquette will benefit greatly by working with others.  Dr. Hoelzle has enjoyed settling into the Milwaukee community and looks forward to making it his long-term home.


MCW                                                                                       Milwaukee

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The Incredible Shrinking Patient and the Origins of a Research Program

Steve Saunders, phD.

The Incredible Shrinking Patient and the Origins of a Research Program

Stephen M. Saunders, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology

My research program can be traced to one of my first clients. Billy was 18 and living on his own, sometimes sleeping in his friend’s car and sometimes managing a few nights with his parents. He fascinated and frightened me. When I first met him, he was tall and stocky. He wore tight t-shirts that showed off his muscles, and he bragged about being able to “toss around thousand pound barrels” when helping at his uncle’s garage.

Billy stared and Billy smiled. When he was speaking, he would stare at me. When I was speaking, he would stare at me. He smiled nearly continuously, even when relating strange and painful experiences. The only time he stopped smiling was when thinking about something I said. Then he would tilt his head, gaze into the air above my head, and try to look pensive. Then he would look at me again, nod, smile, and stare.

I refer to Billy as “my incredible shrinking patient.”

With the help of a supervisor, over the weeks of meeting with Billy, I was able to gather my wits about me. She helped me realize that Billy was quite ill. The peculiar smiles, the odd presentation, the refusal to establish stable living—these were indications of a mind devolving into severe confusion. As this sunk in with me, Billy started to shrink. Turns out he was neither tall nor particularly muscular. He still smiled and talked about his incredible strength. But as I began to understand what his life was like and why he needed to impress others with his strength and confidence, he got smaller and less intimidating.

Billy no longer frightened me, but he increasingly fascinated me. I became fascinated that Billy came to see me. Just recently I had read the results of the Epidemiological Catchment Area (ECA) nationwide survey of the prevalence of mental illness. One in 5 persons in the U.S. experiences a diagnosable mental illness in any given year. But less than half of those persons get any treatment, and less than half of those half see a mental health professional (i.e., someone who actually knows how to help!). I knew many people needed mental health care. They were well-educated, knew others in therapy, and were ensconced in loving social networks, but they never sought it.

Billy had. He was 18, was sleeping in his friend’s car, had not graduated from high school, had neither friends nor family except an uncle prone to violence, and felt a need to flex his muscles when talking about the difficulties he faced. Yet Billy had made it into the mental health treatment system.

I wanted to know how he had done it. If we could know how Billy and others got the help they needed, perhaps we could convince others to do the same.

I’ve been doing research in the area of help-seeking ever since.

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Does this Blog Make Me Look Fat?

Does this Blog Make Me Look Fat?

Dr. Steve Franzoi

 Body esteem has been a “hot” topic in the media for many years, and it also is an important area of research in psychology. Up until the mid-1980s, researchers considered body esteem to be a unidimensional construct, meaning that you could measure people’s evaluations of their physical selves by assigning them an overall score on the degree to which they liked or disliked their bodies. Then, in 1984, Dr. Stephen Franzoi and Dr. Stephanie Shields published the Body Esteem Scale. Based on their factor-analytic research involving numerous samples of young adults, Franzoi and Shields’ new measure of body esteem represented a significant departure in the way social scientists thought about and measured this aspect of self-concept.

One thing that was different about the Body Esteem Scale was that it was gender specific, meaning that women’s and men’s body esteem were conceived of as being qualitatively different from one another. The researchers arrived at this conclusion because their analysis of women’s and men’s evaluations of their body parts and body functions indicated that they often assign different meanings to various body aspects. For example, while women tend to evaluate their appetite, waist, and thighs in terms of an overall sense of “weight concern,” men are more likely to evaluate these same body aspects in terms of an overall sense of “physical condition.”  Another thing that was different about the Body Esteem Scale was that it did not assume that people typically evaluate their bodies as a whole (“I like my body or I don’t like my body”), but rather that they evaluate it in terms of different dimensions (“I feel like I’m good looking, but I don’t like my physical fitness). The 35-item Body Esteem Scale identified three distinct dimensions of body esteem in women and three distinct dimensions of body esteem in men. In later research, Franzoi described the different ways in which women and men evaluate their bodies as being a “body as beauty object” outlook for women and a “body as instrument of action” outlook for men.

Over the past quarter century, the Body Esteem Scale has been used by many researchers throughout the world to study such issues as physical fitness, social physique anxiety, physical attractiveness standards, eating disorders, cultural influences on body esteem, and surgical effects on body image.

Recently, Dr. Franzoi and one of his doctoral students, Katherine Frost, have been working to prepare the Body Esteem Scale as a valuable research instrument for the next quarter century. Ms. Frost’s dissertation research involves a multi-study factor analysis of the Body Esteem Scale to determine whether the manner in which women and men think about and evaluate their bodies has changed since the 1980s. Preliminary findings suggest that while the manner in which young American women evaluate their bodies has not markedly shifted over the past 25 years, young American men’s body views have become more objectified, meaning they are more likely to be attentive to and concerned about their physical appearance than previous generations of men. One possible explanation for this cultural shift is the increased focus on the male body as a beauty object in our culture, perhaps partly fueled by women’s increased financial independence from men and their resulting increased expectation that men—as potential romantic partners—need to be more attentive to how their bodies look as beauty objects. If this reasoning is correct, men in the 21st century are more likely to increasingly have some of the same body-esteem issues that women have experienced for many generations.

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A Conversation with Dr. Anees Sheikh

Anees Sheikh, Ph.D.

A Conversation with Dr. Anees Sheikh
By student Mitchell Nyffeler

Quick Facts:

Professor at Marquette for 46 years
Born in India and later moved to Pakistan
Originally was a pre-med student
Completed Ph.D. at the University of Western Ontario

Over the years, Dr. Sheikh has taught about 20 different graduate and undergraduate courses, ranging from Experimental Psychology to the Psychology of Happiness.  In recent years he has taught primarily Psychology of Fantasy and Imagination, Psychology of Happiness, and Psychology of Death and Dying.  He said that this last course allows him to delve into deeper issues, like the meaning of life.  He feels that in coming to terms with our impermanence, we value our life more.  To illustrate the point, he quotes George Santayana, who said, “The dark background that death supplies, brings out the tender colors of life in all their purity.” On the very first day, Dr. Sheikh told us one of his favorite stories written by the late Anthony De Mello, an Indian Jesuit priest.  This story set the tone for the class:

All questions at the public meeting that day were about life beyond the grave.  The Master only laughed and did not give a single answer.  To his disciples, who demanded to know the reason for his evasiveness, he later said, “Have you observed that it is precisely those who do not know what to do with this life, who want another that will last forever?”  “But is there life after death or is there not?” persisted the disciple.  “Is there life before death? – That is the question!” said the Master enigmatically.

In response to my question about his philosophy of teaching, he said, “If we roughly divided teaching into two major categories: relationship-based and technique-based approaches, I would like to be included in the first camp.  I believe that compassion, kindness, and forgiveness are key to finding happiness and physical and emotional health.  I try my best to bring these values to my classroom.  I firmly believe that within each student a treasure of wisdom already exists.  In addition to imparting information, I attempt to bring students to the threshold of their own mind.”

When asked of his most memorable moment in his professional life, he paused and then said, “In 1976, I received an invitation from a publisher to become the founding editor of a new periodical, Journal of Mental Imagery, which influenced my career in major ways.  I was its editor for four years. Its success gave me the opportunity to organize the first national and the first international conference on the subject.”  He has published 16 books on the topic of mental imagery and is recognized for his pioneering efforts in this field. Currently he is working on 2 books:  Pictures of Health: A Comprehensive Approach to Image Therapy and Lessons from Within.

When I asked him about the changes that he has witnessed at Marquette during his long tenure, he explained that the campus has been transformed beyond recognition.  The Psychology Department now has much better facilities, has developed a reputable Ph.D. program, and has a larger, more diverse and extremely productive faculty.  The favorite expressions of students have changed over the years.  Lately words that previously had negative connotations are used as a positive.  Dr. Sheikh recalled that some time ago, a comment on a student evaluation said, “Dr. Sheikh is a bad ass.”  Dr. Sheikh confessed, “I was taken aback to be called an ass and a bad one at that.  When I ran this by my children, they explained that being a bad ass is a good thing.  Who would have guessed!”

I wanted to know which psychologist he most admired and if he were to teach a new course, what would its title be.  Dr. Sheikh said that he has admired various psychologists over the years but the prize would have to go to Buddha.  If he were to develop a new course, it would be entitled Eastern and Western Approaches to Healing.  On my way out, I asked if he had any parting words of wisdom.  Dr. Sheikh advised, “Mitchell, always try to be kind.”

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Graduate Student Spotlight—Lucie Holmgreen


By: Lauren Gallagher and Chelly Calandra
Undergraduate Psychology Majors

Lucie Holmgreen has been part of the Marquette family for the last 6 years. She has found a home at Marquette because it is the crossroads where her passion and her interest meet. She is a Ph.D. student in Clinical Psychology anxiously waiting to discover her internship placement. Her research is focused on understanding the factors that make child sexual abuse survivors more vulnerable to sexual assault as adults.

Raised in Iowa, Lucie attended THE Ohio State University for her undergrad, where she majored in psychology. She spent time working in clinical and social psychology research labs. Her husband received his doctorate in chemical engineering from OSU. They were married in 2004 and currently live in Racine with their 3 hounds.

Lucie has always been passionate about social justice issues as well as politics. She found psychology to turn those interests into a science that she could investigate and tangibly share with others. She was driven by the experience of a close friend; she began her important research at Marquette. Her master’s thesis focused on sexual aggression within men and their attraction tendencies. She examined traits of women that sexually aggressive men were attracted to by having men read personal ads some of which included traits seen in previously abused women. Her findings suggested a tendency for sexually aggressive men to find more vulnerable women more appealing.

She is currently working on analyzing the data from her dissertation, which tests a model of sexual revictimization.  She is working under the guidance of Dr. Debra Oswald, who has focused on social psychology throughout her career.

Lucie believes in the research she is doing and hopes it will change the treatment of victims to ensure their protection by empowering the victims. Unfortunately, victims of early sexual assault are 2 to 3 times more likely to be victimized again in their lives and Lucie is hoping that her research can eventually inform treatment protocols for women which would reduce the risk of revictimization. She believes that attachment is an important focus of treatment to reduce reoccurrence rates.  She is sensitive to concerns that research examining victim characteristics may be perceived as “victim-blaming” but strongly believes that such research is instead vital to empowering women to protect themselves from future trauma.  Lucie’s research will help so many victims in their recovery. She is an important part of the Marquette community and continues its values of men and women for others.

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A Social Psychologist’s Perspective on Gun Violence

A Social Psychologist’s Perspective on Gun Violence: Isn’t It Time To Stop Our National Silence on Gun Control?

Stephen Franzoi

 Over the past few years, local television stations have regularly contacted me in the immediate aftermath of mass shootings in this country. Reporters always ask if I could provide advice on how their viewers can emotionally cope after learning of these tragedies. Lately, what I say to reporters is that while their question is worth asking and answering, a much more important question that news reporters need to be asking social scientists is whether there is social scientific research that can provide insights on how to reduce gun violence. These mass shootings account for only a very small percentage of the annual gun-related deaths that occur each year in our society. Yet to date, it appears that local news stations don’t want to inform the public about such research.

Here is what I have told TV news reporters in past interviews that they have subsequently failed to broadcast to their viewers. Social scientific research finds that (1) the presence of firearms heightens the anger of already angry people and significantly increases the likelihood that they will behave aggressively—this is known as the “weapons effect”; (2) guns kept in the home for self-protection are 43 times more likely to kill someone you know than to kill in self-defense, (3) the death rate of American children from guns is 12 times higher than in 25 other industrialized countries combined, (4) almost half of all deaths among African-American male teens involve firearms, and (5) for households with guns, the risk of homicide is three times greater and the risk of suicide is five times greater than in households without guns. I have also mentioned that both Great Britain and Australia significantly reduced gun violence in their countries over the past 15 years by passing laws that banned semi-automatic rifles and pistols; they passed these laws following mass shootings in their countries.

What is deeply frustrating for me as a social scientist following these national tragedies is that our local news stations ignore stories on how to reduce firearm deaths that involve gun control, most likely because it is a controversial topic and it might anger certain segments of their viewership, most notably the National Rifle Association. So the only thing they think they can discuss with psychologists is how people are emotionally coping with the tragedy, which is similar to the passive response of most politicians to gun violence. In pondering this state of affairs, I see parallels between how we as a nation respond following such tragedies and how dysfunctional individuals respond to threats in their lives. If we had such individuals coming to us for therapy, seeking help in breaking their cycle of being regularly abused by someone close to them, would we be acting responsibly if we simply gave them advice on how to emotionally cope following each beating? Wouldn’t it be our responsibility to encourage these individuals to develop strategies to end their abuse? Isn’t it time that we as citizens also encourage—nay demand—that our politicians and our news organizations also act responsibly in facing our national gun tragedy?



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Diffusion Tensor Imaging: A New Frontier

Alex Zurek:  Undergraduate Psychology Major at Marquette University

Diffusion Tensor
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has risen to the forefront of neuropsychology in the past two decades. A modified type of magnetic resonance imaging, DTI produces images that depict the diffusion of water through white matter in the brain. White matter essentially consists of tracts that allow the brain to function as a coordinated unit. Efficient signaling is largely dependent on the unidirectional diffusion of water through white matter. DTI has been useful in examining such tracts, but there is still speculation as to what role those tracts play in the disease processes of disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. I spoke to Dr. Hoelzle, a Marquette Assistant Professor trained in clinical neuropsychology, to learn more about current issues regarding DTI.

What have we learned about white matter in the brain through the use of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)?
I’ve heard some people explain [white matter] in really simple terms as roads, ways that the brain communicates, and we had a decent idea about that. DTI gives us an opportunity to…look at a diseased brain and say, “Yes, the connectivity is not what we thought it would be.” We knew about connectivity but DTI is really a sophisticated technology to take a snapshot of what is going on there. 

How has the use of DTI impacted physicians’ ability to identify neural and psychological disease?
It is exciting to think that DTI will maybe give us an earlier sign that something is going on. As a neuropsychologist we look at the behavioral outcome of something. We ask people to complete a task; it might be a memory task, it might be a problem-solving task, it might be a visuospatial task. The idea is that once the person is not successful at completing that task it is related to some damage; the brain is not working in the way we might anticipate. DTI might be more sensitive. It might pick up that something is not right well before it manifests itself in observable behavior. There is that unique opportunity to get in there early and maybe make a difference.

Have physicians been able to use what we have learned from DTI to devise treatments?
I do not know of any treatments. There is the opportunity that if we are able to identify things in a more efficient way, more accurate way, then that is obviously going to help us develop targeted treatments. 

Is there anything you find interesting about DTI that you would like to add?
A lot of my research is using neuropsychological measures and things you can administer to someone when they are in their hospital bed…; we don’t need the big technology. In situations where there was a motor vehicle accident and the person is complaining of cognitive complaints after the fact, people are finding the neuropsychological evidence more compelling. When there is imaging data and something does not look right, but it doesn’t seem like it is impacting the person behaviorally…it is hard to say “They deserve to be compensated.” When the behavioral measures do not match up with imaging then you have to struggle with what data is right. We see some convergent validity across methods, but the methodology develops quicker than our understanding of it. It might not be that one data is right and one data is wrong, we just do not understand how they go together.

The use of DTI to develop new treatments and earlier diagnoses of neurodegenerative and psychotic disorders may not be far off. Compelling research implicates loose diffusion in white matter as the frontal disconnection that has been proposed as the basis for schizophrenia. Additionally, DTI scans are alreadyproving useful to physicians at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital who are now able to visualize the microstructure of tracts surrounding tumors, enabling physicians to individualize treatments more effectively. Dr. Hoelzle is right, “the methodology develops quicker than our understanding of it”, but as the understanding of DTI catches up to its methodology we are sure to continue seeing fascinating advancements in neuropsychology.

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