Science of the Spirit
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2 + 2 = 4

Who is delusional? The answer is: We all are

"Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you" - Carl Jung

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Still from "What Dreams may Come"
Within the mental health profession, clinicians and researchers who value a system of categorical illnesses and individual defects too often proclaim that the major feature delineating "real psychosis" from other "disorders" is the presence of delusions. Two recent articles in the New York Times exemplified for me how skewed this assertion is. It also led to a greater awareness, more specifically, of how problematic it is to view so-called delusions as meaningless indicators of disease . . . for we all experience delusion. How one experiences the self, the world, and relationships (usually based on our relationships with our caregivers) determines the level with which one must cling to seemingly irrational ideas in order to maintain a sense of order and meaning in the world. Let me explain . . .

Magic Wand

Communication from the future: Is it already here?

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Did you know that there was a study conducted to see if someone from the future was here present in our time? Yes, it's true! Astrophysicists - Robert Nemiroff and Teresa Wilson at Michigan Tech University did just that as reported in 2014. They figured that if someone from the future traveled back to our time, there may be trace evidence. Someone may have done internet searches of future events. The search dates would have been prior to the events and would stand out that way. Enough of them traced to one user would reveal a pattern of advanced knowledge.

After exhausting their funds, the results of that study remained inconclusive. However, in response to a question posted on one website asking: "Do you believe communication through time would be possible?" I replied that "I believe it has already happened." Only because I believe that our near future thinkers will be quantum computers with artificial intelligence. I believe that not only would they be able to figure it out, but man has figured it out already.

Comment: For more on an ongoing experiment in superluminal communication see: The Cassiopaea Experiment Transcripts 1994 (Volume 1)


Family

Mindfulness cognitive therapy works just as well as medication in treating chronic depression


Klia Bassing (L), director of Visit Yourself at Work, a mindfulness meditation center, leads a meditation session at the American Psychological Association (AFP)
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) may be just as effective as anti-depressants in helping prevent people with chronic depression from relapsing, scientists said on Tuesday.

Depression is one of the most common forms of mental illness, affecting more than 350 million people worldwide. It is ranked by the World Health Organization as the leading cause of disability globally.

Treatment usually involves either medication, some form of psychotherapy or a combination of both. Yet many patients fail to get better and suffer recurring bouts of illness.

MBCT was developed to help such people by teaching them skills to recognize and respond constructively to thoughts and feelings associated with relapse, aiming to prevent a downward spiral into depression.

Comment: Since anti-depressant medications bring numerous unpleasant side effects, and studies have found that these drugs provide little or no benefit over the effect of a placebo, this study is good news for those who would welcome an alternate solution.


Heart - Black

The lack of gentle platonic touch in men's lives is a killer

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In preparing to write about the lack of gentle touch in men's lives, I right away thought, "I feel confident I can do platonic touch, but I don't necessarily trust other men to do it. Some guy will do something creepy. They always do." Quickly on the heels of that thought, I wondered "Wait a minute, why do I distrust men in particular?" The little voice in my head didn't say, "I don't necessarily trust people to not be creepy", it said, "I don't trust men."

In American culture, we believe that men can never be entirely trusted in the realm of the physical. We collectively suspect that, given the opportunity, men will collapse into the sexual at a moment's notice. That men don't know how to physically connect otherwise. That men can't control themselves. That men are dogs.

There is no corresponding narrative about women.

Comment: Hugging as form of social support protects people from getting sick
The physiological benefits of hugging


Magnify

Why do we murder the beautiful friendships of boys?

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© BDC
It's completely normal, and healthy, for boys to love one another so why do we make it so taboo?
An epidemic of loneliness is killing millions of American men. Here's why.

On a cold February night a few weeks ago, Professor and researcher Niobe Way presented findings from her book Deep Secrets here in New York. (Her book is available on Amazon.) She was hosted by Partnership With Children, a groundbreaking organization doing powerful interventions with at risk children in the New York's Public Schools. Both Way and Partnership With Children's work have produced reams of hard statistical data proving that emotional support directly impacts every metric of academic performance. And, as it turns out, every other part of our lives as well.

That night, as my wife Saliha and I made our way down the snow-blown streets towards Fifth Avenue, I was feeling the somber weight of the third month of dark Northeast winter, wondering how many days remained until Spring would come. "It's February. Don't kid yourself," the answer came back. My charming and lovely wife was to take me to dinner after Way's presentation. It was my birthday.

Comment: Researchers shed new light on connection between brain and loneliness
Social isolation affects DNA


Handcuffs

Breaking the chain of shame and quieting the voice that says you suck

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Shame is the most powerful master emotion. It's the fear that we're not good enough." Brene Brown.


When Jake began therapy, he came to his sessions on time and immaculately dressed. As he spoke, he would whisk away imaginary lint while sitting ramrod straight. He described his friends as somehow beneath him and was frequently angry toward his co-workers for being incompetent. But as we teased out his thoughts, it emerged that he was even more intensely critical of himself.

After some time we were able to define his psychological state as shame, because his sense of himself was that he was to blame and it was because he was deficient. This feeling of inadequacy caused him to compensate for his deficiency by trying to be perfect, and when that failed (as it always did), it led to self-criticism, which triggered anxiety and depression.

Comment: The Key to Overcoming Shame is Making Connections


Wolf

Tail-waggers and their people share hormonal bond through mutual gazing

© FRED THORNHILL/Reuters
A cross country skier watches as the sun rises with a dog, on a snow covered lake in the Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario in this March 10, 2015 file photo.
Dogs are called "man's best friend" - women's, too - and scientists say the bond between people and their pooches may be deeper than you might think.

Researchers in Japan said on Thursday oxytocin, a hormone that among other things helps reinforce bonds between parents and their babies, increases in humans and their dogs when they interact, particularly when looking into one another's eyes.

They described a series of experiments that suggest that people and their canine companions have mutually developed this instinctual bonding mechanism in the thousands of years since dogs were first domesticated.

Sometimes called the "love hormone," oxytocin is made in a brain structure called the hypothalamus and secreted from the pituitary gland. It is involved in emotional bonding, maternal behavior, child birth, breast-feeding, sexual arousal and other functions.

"Oxytocin has many positive impacts on human physiology and psychology," said Takefumi Kikusui, a veterinary medicine professor at Japan's Azabu University, whose research was published in the journal Science.

In one experiment, dogs were put in a room with their owners. The researchers tracked their interaction and measured oxytocin levels through urine samples. People whose dogs had the most eye contact with them - a mutual gaze - registered the largest increases in oxytocin levels. The dogs also had an oxytocin spike correlating with that of their owner.

Comment: "The dog's agenda is simple, fathomable, overt: I want. "I want to go out, come in, eat something, lie here, play with that, kiss you. There are no ulterior motives with a dog, no mind games, no second-guessing, no complicated negotiations or bargains, and no guilt trips or grudges if a request is denied." - Caroline Knapp


Lemon

You can never win in a relationship with a narcissist

We've all met one at some point. A man or woman who seems to believe they are the center of the universe. Arrogant, callous and manipulative, they force the world around them to accommodate this belief.

Self-important and conceited, the narcissist exaggerates accomplishments, requires endless praise, and has an uncanny ability to quash the achievements of others. They lack empathy and don't seem aware that you are a whole person with your own needs. In fact, you're only a useful tool, something to extract admiration from. The narcissist believes they're entitled to everything, including your time, your emotions and your self-esteem.

The dramatic attempts to hold your attention make your life seem tragic and fraught with anxiety. Being perpetually cut down so that the narcissist can be "better than," destroys self-confidence and eventually leads you down a spiral of gloom.

Comment: The best way to protect yourself from the depredations of narcissists is to learn how to spot them before you become entangled in their web. Learning how to set healthy boundaries and being able to say No to their outrageous demands will make you unpopular with them and help you escape from a toxic relationship.


2 + 2 = 4

Anxiety in the classroom

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Sometimes anxiety is easy to identify—like when a child is feeling nervous before a test. Other times anxiety in the classroom can look like something else entirely—an upset stomach, disruptive or angry behavior, ADHD, or even a learning disorder.

There are many different kinds of anxiety, which is one of the reasons it can be hard to detect in the classroom. What they all have in common, says neurologist and former teacher Ken Schuster, PsyD, is that anxiety "tends to lock up the brain," making school hard for anxious kids.

Comment: What may also be helpful is gradual immersion into social situations that are supportive of children as well as creating environments that foster self acceptance and provide tools that help with emotional regulation.
The effects of anxiety on your brain and what you can do to help yourself

Trickle-Down Anxiety: Study Examines Parental Behaviors that Create Anxious Children
Daytime Nap Has Benefits Beyond Rest for Kids
Children need more meditation and less stimulation


Rainbow

Learning to step-back from intense emotional experiences helps youth deal with negative emotions

Adolescence is a time of frequent and intense emotional experiences, but some youth handle their emotions better than others. Why do some young people react adaptively while others ruminate? A new study of adolescents shows that youth who mentally take a step back from their own point of view when thinking about something troubling can deal with negative emotions more effectively and become less upset by them.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan, appears in the journal Child Development.

The researchers looked at 226 African American 11- to 20-year-olds from an urban public school in Washington, D.C., asking them about a recent event that made them extremely angry (such as a fight). The youth then reflected on their experiences and why they felt angry, then told researchers about how they felt and thought about the experiences. For example, the researchers assessed self-distancing by asking the youth: "When you saw the fight again in your imagination a few minutes ago, how much did you feel like you were seeing it through your own eyes versus watching the fight happen from a distance (like watching yourself in a movie)?" and "When you saw the fight again in your imagination a few moments ago, how far away from the fight did you feel?"

Comment: People who are able to use their emotions constructively are much more competent at solving problems and completing other cognitive tasks. Fortunately, these skills can be learned and practiced on a daily basis so that when major emotional upheavals occur, you will be much more able to cope. One excellent way to control emotions is through breathing exercises utilizing the Éiriú Eolas Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program.