Science of the Spirit

2 + 2 = 4

Anxiety in the classroom

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


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.


New study shows painkiller acetominophen (Tylenol) kills both positive and negative emotions

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Painkilling drugs taken every week by almost a quarter of Americans also kill positive emotions.

Acetaminophen — also known as Tylenol (or paracetamol outside the US) — kills positive emotions, a new study finds.

Studies have already shown that the painkiller blunts both physical and psychological pain.

But this is the first time anyone has thought to test the popular painkiller's effect on both negative and positive emotions.

Acetaminophen is such a popular drug that it is found in over 600 different medicines.

Geoffrey Durso, the study's lead author, said:
"This means that using Tylenol or similar products might have broader consequences than previously thought.

Rather than just being a pain reliever, acetaminophen can be seen as an all-purpose emotion reliever."
The study had half the participants take a dose of 1000 mg of acetaminophen, which is a regular amount (often taken as two 500 mg pills).

The remainder were given an inactive placebo.

Comment: Studies have also shown that social support and contact is a most effective pain reliever:
"For some, social exclusion is an inescapable and frequent experience," the authors conclude in a 2010 issue ofPsychological Science. "Our findings suggest that an over-the-counter painkiller normally used to relieve physical aches and pains can also at least temporarily mitigate social-pain-related distress."

The effect breaks both ways. In another report from Psychological Science, published in 2009, a research group led by Sarah Master of University of California, Los Angeles, found that social support could relieve the intensity of physical pain - and that the supportive person didn't even have to be present for the soothing to occur.

Master and colleagues recruited 25 women who'd been in relationships for at least six months and brought them into the lab with their romantic partner. They determined each woman's pain threshold, then subjected her to a series of six-second heat stimulations. Half of the stimulations were given at the threshold pain level, half were given one degree (Celsius) higher.

Meanwhile the woman took part in a series of tasks to measure which had a mitigating effect on the pain. Some involved direct contact (holding the partner's hand, a stranger's hand, or an object) while others involved visual contact (viewing the partner's photo, a stranger's photo, or an object). In the end, contact involving a romantic partner - both direct and visual alike - led to significantly lower pain ratings compared to the other tasks. In fact, looking at a partner's picture led to slightly lower pain ratings than actually holding his hand.

At least for all the hurt love causes, it has an equally powerful ability to heal."

Why love literally hurts

Snakes in Suits

No strings on me: Is there a psychopath in your life?

© Nestor Galina
"Psychopaths feel few if any emotional ties to anyone"

I've got no strings
So I have fun
I'm not tied up to anyone
They've got strings
But you can see
There are no strings on me!

Lyrics from Pinocchio: 'I've got no strings'

What is a psychopath? Do you know one? Ever been the victim of one? The chances are that the answer is yes, even if you may not realize it. The scientific consensus is that one in a hundred people is psychopathic and this breaks down evenly between men and women. (1) Scary thought, huh? What is your idea of a 'psychopath'? A serial killer? A crazy person foaming at the mouth? Think again.

Comment: Surviving the office psychopath
How psychopaths see sex and why
What is a psychopath?
Psychopaths Among Us
How to tell if there is a psychopath in your life and what to do about it

People 2

Be careful who you sleep with: Study shows women carry the DNA of sexual partners

Scientists have discovered that a sizeable minority of women have Y-chromosome gene sequences in their blood. This is interesting because as you may know, Y-chromosomes are the chromosomes that belong to men, so ladies, what are they doing there, and where did they come from?

An obvious answer would be from pregnancy with a male son, every woman who has been pregnant still carries cells from her fetus within her bloodstream. Cells from the pregnancy will reside within the mother's bloodstream and organs for the rest of her life. Even if the pregnancy was terminated or if there was a miscarriage these said genes would remain with the Mother. There is a name for this so-called condition, it is called microchimerism (1), which is named after the Greek chimera, a mythical, monstrous fire-breathing animal that is composed of the parts of three animals a lion, a snake and a goat. Okay so that explains it, well at least it does for the women who have given birth to sons. But what about the women without sons that still had male cells in their bloodstream?


Science says: 13 ways to increase happiness

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Being stressed is now a big, unwanted, part of our life. There's no escape from the miserable feeling of stress, which not only hampers productivity at work but affects the quality of our personal space too. So much so, it can also lead to health risks such as depression.

But fret not, while it is omnipresent, science has provided us ways to help keep stress at bay. Most of these ways are easy to follow, so keep calm and read on...

Comment: Take a deep breath with a technique proven to reduce stress, and then read through another great list of things that anyone can do to take charge of their life and well-being.


Effective learners don't overthink what they are trying to learn - study

Neuroscientists find that the key to learning fast and efficiently may be the opposite of conventional wisdom.
People who learn quickest show the least neural activity, a new study finds.

The research flies in the face of the common myth that the key to learning is trying harder and thinking it through.

Instead, quick learners in particular showed reduced brain activity in the frontal cortex, an area linked to conscious planning.

In other words: good learners don't overthink what they are trying to learn.

Professor Scott Grafton, who led the study, said:
"It's useful to think of your brain as housing a very large toolkit.

When you start to learn a challenging new skill, such as playing a musical instrument, your brain uses many different tools in a desperate attempt to produce anything remotely close to music.

With time and practice, fewer tools are needed and core motor areas are able to support most of the behavior.

What our laboratory study shows is that beyond a certain amount of practice, some of these cognitive tools might actually be getting in the way of further learning."
In the study, participants were learning a simple game which involved playing sequences of notes.


Young adults less adept at dealing with workplace stress than older coworkers

© Getty Images
Take a look around your office. The most anxious employees in the room probably aren't the graying bosses—they're likely to be the millennials, new research shows.

For a report published on April 1, workplace-services firm Bensinger, DuPont & Associates found that about 30 percent of millennials—people born between 1978 and 1999—had workplace anxiety, more than any other age group. Among Generation X employees (born between 1965 and 1977), 26 percent reported anxiety. Around the same share of baby boomers (1946-1964) had anxiety on the job—25 percent.

Comment: With the world descending into a dystopian freak show, is it any wonder that those just coming into adulthood are increasingly uncertain about their place within it? Add to that the devolution of real human connections into a series of cyber-interactions, and it's amazing anyone can function at all.

Brick Wall

Education and the death of creativity

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Is it a coincidence that pretty much all children love to write stories, have fantastic imaginations, enjoy getting messy, painting, making music, inventing characters, acting out plays, drawing and making things? Why don't we carry this natural capacity throughout adulthood? Why would nature intend us to lose these gifts?

Eight years ago, a man named Ken Robinson made a TED speech that revolutionized the topic of education. It caused many parents to pull their kids out of school, it was a matter of hot debate among experts, and it has been watched on the TED website over 31 million times to date (not including over 7 million more times on YouTube). Many of you may be familiar with this lecture, but for those who aren't, we highly recommend you take the next twenty minutes to sit down and listen to what this man has to say.

Robinson is an expert on creativity and education, and he strongly believes that at the moment, the two concepts don't seem to co-exist. In this speech, Robinson argues eloquently and passionately that education is destroying our childrens' capacity to think outside the box. Ken Robinson led the British government's 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, an inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy, and he was knighted in 2003 for his achievements.

Comment: Formalized education is in place to produce obedient workers, not creative human beings. If a student manages to keep their creativity and non-conformity intact they're labeled as mentally ill.


Twelve ways to boost your emotional intelligence

People with high levels of emotional intelligence are able to recognize and regulate their own emotions along with the emotions of those around them. EQ, as emotional intelligence is called, is often thought to be more important than IQ in a person's overall performance. This is because people with high EQ are able to use their emotions constructively to solve problems and complete other cognitive tasks. They are also able to positively influence others' feelings.

Because EQ is intangible and harder to measure than IQ, many people don't know how much emotional intelligence they possess or how they can improve it. We've already covered how to know if you're emotionally intelligent. If your EQ doesn't look so high, don't worry: here are 12 practical ways everyone can increase their emotional intelligence today.