Science of the Spirit

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Bad Bosses: The Psycho-path to Success?

Patrick Bateman
© Lion's Gate Films
Think you suffer from a "psycho" boss? A small but growing body of global research suggests you might be right.

Call it the "Psycho-path to Success."

Psychopaths -- narcissists guided without conscience, who mimic rather than feel real emotions -- bring to mind serial killers such as Ted Bundy or fictional murderers such as Hannibal Lecter or Dexter, the anti-hero of the popular Showtime TV series. But psychologists say most psychopaths are not behind bars -- and at least one study shows people with psychopathic tendencies are four times more likely to be found in senior management.

"Not all psychopaths are in prison -- some are in the boardroom," said Dr. Robert Hare, a Canadian psychologist who is co-author of the book Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work.

Is your boss a 'psycho'?

And British researcher Clive Boddy goes further: He thinks the 2007-2008 financial crisis may have resulted in the growing proliferation of psychopathic personalities in the corner office -- an offshoot of the erosion of single company employment in the last generation.
2 + 2 = 4

When it Comes to Accepting Evolution, Gut Feelings Trump Facts

gut feeling graphic
© n/a
For students to accept the theory of evolution, an intuitive "gut feeling" may be just as important as understanding the facts, according to a new study.

In an analysis of the beliefs of biology teachers, researchers found that a quick intuitive notion of how right an idea feels was a powerful driver of whether or not students accepted evolution - often trumping factors such as knowledge level or religion.

"The whole idea behind acceptance of evolution has been the assumption that if people understood it - if they really knew it - they would see the logic and accept it," said David Haury, co-author of the new study and associate professor of education at Ohio State University.

"But among all the scientific studies on the matter, the most consistent finding was inconsistency. One study would find a strong relationship between knowledge level and acceptance, and others would find no relationship. Some would find a strong relationship between religious identity and acceptance, and others would find less of a relationship."

Toxic Couple Relationships

PART 1 - Five Protective Neural Patterns & Role Scripts

"Becoming" by Jennifer Main
Love that turns toxic is neither healthy nor genuine, though the intentions of each partner are often well-meaning.

A couple relationship can be described as toxic when, due to intense emotional reactivity and defensive interaction patterns, it no longer promotes, and instead harms the individual mental, emotional, and physical, well-being and growth of each partner. The relationship is increasingly off balance, a factor that is affected by, and directly affects the individual inner sense of balance, health and safety of each partner.

In contrast, genuine love is an empathic connection that recognizes the authentic other and self as separate and unique beings, even encouraging the individuality of each as essential to the formation of healthy intimacy in a relationship.

Neurological findings in the last decades show that we are wired for certain early protective behaviors in life, and that these become habitual responses automatically activated throughout life, often without conscious awareness. Intense emotional experiences in childhood can alter the structure of the brain and have enduring effects in adulthood.

Statin Associated Memory Loss


OBJECTIVE: To obtain and examine Medwatch reports of cases of cognitive impairment associated with atorvastatin.

METHODS: A FDA database of Medwatch reports of atorvastatin-associated adverse events was searched for terms that included the word amnesia. This search revealed reports listed as transient amnesia, transient global amnesia, wandering amnesia, anterograde amnesia, dissociative amnesia and retrograde amnesia. No reports were uncovered using the terms memory loss, memory disturbance, or memory disruption, yet memory impairment revealed multiple reports. Searches were directed at only serious cognitive events. Minor events such as forgetfulness or confusion were not sought, and it is possible that we missed an occasional serious event listed under a mild symptom. The well-known Naranjo probability scale was applied to 50 randomly selected, case reports of Lipitor associated cognitive dysfunction.

RESULTS: Six hundred and sixty-two Medwatch reports were received of atorvastatin-associated cognitive impairments. Of these, 399 were cases of amnesia, and 263 were cases of memory impairment. The number of reports per year increased from 1997 through 2006. Random analysis of individual Medwatch reports demonstrated that most were definitely or probably caused by atorvastatin. The average atorvastatin dosage of cases 1997-2001 was 15 mg/day, whereas the average dosage in 2006 was 22 mg/day. Earlier research suggests that the number of Medwatch reports for statin-linked adverse events greatly underestimates the scope of the problem. Other research suggests that statin drugs may cause subclinical yet important cognitive impairments in all patients receiving statins.

CONCLUSION: The findings of the present study coupled with earlier research demonstrate the urgent need for further research regarding the frequency and severity of cognitive impairments in patients receiving statin drugs.

Study Abstract: Total Serum Cholesterol Level and Violent Criminal Offences

Total serum cholesterol level, violent criminal offences, suicidal behavior, mortality and the appearance of conduct disorder in Finnish male criminal offenders with antisocial personality disorder.


Associations between low total serum cholesterol (TC) levels and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), violent and suicidal behavior have been found. We investigated the associations between TC levels, violent and suicidal behavior, age of onset of the conduct disorder (CD) and the age of death among 250 Finnish male criminal offenders with ASPD. The CD had begun before the age of 10 two times more often in non-violent criminal offenders who had lower than median TC levels. The violent criminal offenders having lower than median TC levels were seven times more likely to die before the median age of death in the study material. The violent offenders having lower than median TC levels were eight times more likely to die of unnatural causes. The mean TC level of these male offenders with ASPD was lower than that of the general Finnish male population. Low TC levels are associated with childhood onset type of the CD, and premature and unnatural mortality among male offenders with ASPD. The TC level seems to be a peripheral marker with prognostic value among boys with conduct disorder and antisocial male offenders.

Does Low Serum Cholesterol Cause Psychopathy?

Strange as it may seem, low cholesterol could be a significant factor, maybe even the cause, of psychopathy.

I got to thinking about this as a result of reading an article about psychopathy in the current New Yorker, in which we learn about a psychological researcher named Kent Kiehl, who is using MRI scans to study the brains of imprisoned psychopaths.
To date, Kiehl has scanned ninety adult psychopathic brains with the portable scanner. The data, he says, confirm his hypothesis that psychopathy corresponds to a deficit in the paralimbic region. "If you put the pictures of the psychopaths' brains next to the control group, it's obvious," he told me.
The paralimbic region of the brain is responsible for memory formation as well as mediating negative emotional states, such as guilt.
2 + 2 = 4

How the Modern Lifestyle Breeds Depression and Distress

Mental illness is a steadily rising epidemic. With nearly half of all Americans set to receive some form of diagnosis for a mental disorder, it's hardly something that can be glossed over.

Mental health, however, is in a highly compromised state due to all forms of societal changes and technological advances over the last century.

In this modern age, many simple truths about human nature are overshadowed by our demanding lifestyle, and our propensity to gravitate toward forms of instant cures and gratification.

The Amazing Power of Regret to Shape Our Future

© Nasrul Ekram
Why people are reluctant to exchange lottery tickets, but will happily exchange pens.

Regret might not make a list of the most powerful emotions. It would probably include things like anger, happiness, jealousy, sadness and especially for us English, embarrassment.

We tend to think of regret as essentially a backward-looking emotion. We regret things in the past, like not trying hard enough in school, how we treated a friend or the things we said to our partner in the heat of an argument. In this sense you might argue that it's useless: why regret something you can't change?

But regret isn't just a backward-looking emotion, it also looks forward and it can be a terribly powerful emotion which affects our behaviour in the here and now. That's because we also have the power to anticipate feeling regret in the future, which we naturally try to avoid. My favourite example involves a simple study about lottery tickets and pens.

Would you swap the ticket?

In this study participants were given lottery tickets - not real ones, but organised by the researchers so that one person could win. Then they were asked if they would be willing to exchange them for another one which had an identical chance of winning (Bar-Hillel & Neter, 1996). To encourage them to switch tickets, they were offered a tasty truffle. Even though there was no difference between the tickets and there was a treat as an incentive, less than 50% of participants agreed.

Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking

Aspects of creative thinking that are not usually taught.

© Unknown
  1. You are creative. The artist is not a special person, each one of us is a special kind of artist. Every one of us is born a creative, spontaneous thinker. The only difference between people who are creative and people who are not is a simple belief. Creative people believe they are creative. People who believe they are not creative, are not. Once you have a particular identity and set of beliefs about yourself, you become interested in seeking out the skills needed to express your identity and beliefs. This is why people who believe they are creative become creative. If you believe you are not creative, then there is no need to learn how to become creative and you don't. The reality is that believing you are not creative excuses you from trying or attempting anything new. When someone tells you that they are not creative, you are talking to someone who has no interest and will make no effort to be a creative thinker.

Imagine that: How you envision others says a lot about you in real life

© Unknown
Employees who imagine confident, positive coworkers are more productive in real life, study finds.

Quick, come up with an imaginary co-worker.

Did you imagine someone who is positive, confident, and resourceful? Who rises to the occasion in times of trouble? If so, then chances are that you also display those traits in your own life, a new study finds.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers have found that study participants who conjured positive imaginary co-workers contributed more in the actual workplace, both in job performance and going above and beyond their job descriptions to help others.

The results showed that your perceptions of others - even ones that are made up - says a lot about what kind of person you really are, said Peter Harms, UNL assistant professor of management and the study's lead author. Imagining coworkers instead of reporting on how you perceive your actual coworkers produces more accurate ratings of having a positive worldview, he said, because it strips away the unique relational baggage that one may have with the people they know.