Science of the Spirit
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Eye 1

Situational Awareness - Observe, Orient, Decide, Act

There's a scene at the beginning of The Bourne Identity where the film's protagonist is sitting in a diner, trying to figure out who he is and why he has a bunch of passports and a gun stashed in a safety deposit box. Bourne also notices that he, well, notices things that other people don't


That superhuman ability to observe his surroundings and make detailed assessments about his environment? It's not just a trait of top secret operatives; it's a skill known as situational awareness, and you can possess it too.

Comment: Another view The Myth of Situational Awareness

Bottom line, common sense is a good defense. Look up from your phone and pay attention to what's happening around you.


Pirates

Violence in media creates symptoms of PTSD despite no real-life exposure to trauma - study

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© Medpagetodaycom
Many of us turn to social media to keep up with the latest news. It has become an instant source of information, where photos and videos of news events are uploaded almost as soon as they happen. But a new study suggests that when it comes to viewing violent news events via social media, we should be cautious; it can trigger symptoms similar to those of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Study author Dr. Pam Ramsden, of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Bradford in the UK, and colleagues recently presented their findings at the Annual Conference of the British Psychology Society.

Past studies have found health care workers who help victims of traumatic events or situations may experience "vicarious traumatisation," in which they become psychologically and emotionally affected by victims' suffering.

But for their study, Dr. Ramsden and colleagues wanted to see whether exposure to violent and traumatic events via social media would have a similar effect.

"Social media has enabled violent stories and graphic images to be watched by the public in unedited horrific detail," says Dr. Ramsden. "Watching these events and feeling the anguish of those directly experiencing them may impact on our daily lives."

"In this study we wanted to see if people would experience longer lasting effects such as stress and anxiety, and in some cases post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSDs) from viewing these images."

Comment: See also:


Laptop

Excessive technology use causes decreased emotional sensitivity in children

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Researchers suggest children's social skills are declining as they have less time for face-to-face interaction due to their increased use of digital media, according to a UCLA psychology study. Scientists found that sixth-graders who went five days without even glancing at a smartphone, television or other digital screen did substantially better at reading human emotions than sixth-graders from the same school who continued to spend hours each day looking at their electronic devices.

The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, studied two groups of sixth-graders from a Southern California public school. One group was sent to the Pali Institute, an outdoor education camp in Running Springs, Calif., where the kids had no access to electronic devices. For the other group, it was life as usual.

Eye 2

Psychopaths feign emotion in order to take advantage of others - Study

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© Google Commons
Psychopaths are more convincing when demonstrating fear or remorse, because they have to practice the outward signs of the emotion, like facial expressions.
"The surface of the psychopath... shows up as equal to or better than normal and gives no hint at all of a disorder within. Nothing about him suggests oddness, inadequacy, or moral frailty," psychiatrist Hervey M. Cleckley wrote in his 1941 seminal work, The Mask of Sanity.

Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by impulsivity, manipulative behavior, and a lack of empathy, fear and remorse. However, new psychology research suggests that while psychopathic individuals don't feel these emotions as strongly as others, they can do a better job of pretending to display them than the average person.


Comment: A true psychopath won't feel empathy or remorse at all - that's what makes them psychopaths.


Comment: Also see:
  • Psychopathy: An important forensic concept for the 21st century
  • The hidden cost of smiling: Smiles brighten our lives, but what's lost in the glare?
  • How psychopaths see sex, and why



2 + 2 = 4

We don't need no education: Seven sins of compulsory schooling

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In my last post I took a step that, I must admit, made me feel uncomfortable. I said, several times: "School is prison." I felt uncomfortable saying that because school is so much a part of my life and the lives of almost everyone I know. I, like most people I know, went through the full 12 years of public schooling. My mother taught in a public school for several years. My beloved half-sister is a public schoolteacher. I have many dear friends and cousins who are public schoolteachers. How can I say that these good people - who love children and have poured themselves passionately into the task of trying to help children - are involved in a system of imprisoning children? The comments on my last post showed that my references to school as prison made some other people feel uncomfortable also.

Sometimes I find, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me and others feel, I have to speak the truth. We can use all the euphemisms we want, but the literal truth is that schools, as they generally exist in the United States and other modern countries, are prisons. Human beings within a certain age range (most commonly 6 to 16) are required by law to spend a good portion of their time there, and while there they are told what they must do, and the orders are generally enforced. They have no or very little voice in forming the rules they must follow. A prison - according to the common, general definition - is any place of involuntary confinement and restriction of liberty.

Comment: The Untold History of Modern U.S. Education
"In our dreams, people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present education conventions of intellectual and character education fade from their minds and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into men of learning or philosophers, or men of science. We have not to raise up from them authors, educators, poets or men of letters, great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, statesmen, politicians, creatures of whom we have ample supply. The task is simple. We will organize children and teach them in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.

~ First mission statement of the J.D. Rockefeller-endowed General Education Board in 1906



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Scientists reconcile three unrelated theories of schizophrenia

© Alan Ajifo (Creative Commons)
A new Duke University study in mice links three previous and, until now, apparently unrelated hypotheses about the causes of schizophrenia, a debilitating mental disorder appearing in late adolescence that affects how people think, act and perceive reality.

The brains of people with the schizophrenia show various abnormalities, including faulty neural connections or an imbalance of certain brain chemicals. However, it has been unclear whether such brain-based observations could be related to one another or could describe different types of schizophrenia.

Published May 4, 2015, in Nature Neuroscience, the new findings may eventually lead to treatment strategies targeted for the underlying causes of schizophrenia and related disorders, said the study's corresponding author Scott Soderling, an associate professor of cell biology and neurobiology in the Duke School of Medicine.

Hearts

How Dads influence teens' happiness

The influence of fathers on their teenage children has long been overlooked. Now researchers are finding surprising ways in which dads make a difference

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In 2011 administrators at Frayser High School in Memphis, Tenn., came to a disturbing realization. About one in five of its female students was either pregnant or had recently given birth. City officials disputed the exact figures, but they admitted that Frayser had a problem. The president of a local nonprofit aimed at helping girls blamed the disturbing rate of teen pregnancy on television.

She pointed to the MTV shows 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. "So much of our society is sexually oriented," she said, arguing that the fixation on sex was enticing girls to have unprotected sex earlier and more often. A lot of us might say the same thing. We know that teenagers are impressionable, and the idea that they would be swayed by MTV makes sense.

Hearts

Oxytocin: Why the love hormone is good for you

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© Getty images
I've written quite a lot about oxytocin, which also goes by the name of "love hormone," "cuddle chemical," "molecule of kindness," or any other affectionate term that implies something about bonding and connecting.

If you ever wondered about those names, it's because we produce oxytocin when we're feeling love or connection (with a human, animal, tree, spiritual diety) and also when we hug.

Here's a little summary of some of the healthy things that happen in our bodies when we produce oxytocin.

Comment: For more information about Oxytocin - a hormone released by the pituitary gland that affects both the body and the brain, read the following articles:


2 + 2 = 4

The six faces of maternal narcissism

What does the empty mirror reflect for you?

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The disorder of narcissistic parenting creates significant emotional damage to children. If not understood, children raised by narcissistic parents grow up in a state of denial, thinking it is their fault and they are simply not good enough. If good enough, they would have been loved by that parent. While this is a cognitive distortion about self, the myriad of internal messages gleaned from childhood have a haunting effect on adult children of narcissistic parents. "Will I ever be good enough?" "Am I lovable?" "Am I only valued for what I do and how I look?" "Can I trust my own feelings?" Sound familiar?

The word "narcissism" is becoming more of a household term, but is usually used in disparaging others. It is not funny, sometimes not understood, and often used to describe a haughty or arrogant person. The reality is, true narcissism is a serious disorder that harms children. I don't find the humor. Narcissists are truly all about themselves and cannot show genuine empathy. They have a limited capacity for giving unconditional love to their children. The alarming effects are cause for concern.

Info

Scientists closer to understanding the brain, teleportation

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© Arvid Guterstam
While participants lay in a brain scanner, they experienced the illusion that they were being "teleported" to different locations around the room.
What happens in the brain when a person has an out-of-body experience? A team of scientists may now have an answer.

In a new study, researchers using a brain scanner and some fancy camera work gave study participants the illusion that their bodies were located in a part of a room other than where they really were. Then, the researchers examined the participants' brain activity, to find out which brain regions were involved in the participants' perceptions about where their body was.

The findings showed that the conscious experience of where one's body is located arises from activity in brain areas involved in feelings of body ownership, as well as regions that contain cells known to be involved in spatial orientation, the researchers said. Earlier work done in animals had showed these cells, dubbed "GPS cells," have a key role in navigation and memory.

Comment: Interesting research in how our brain works.