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Wed, 21 Nov 2018
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Beware the Workplace Psychopath

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© Unknown
Workplace bullying victim ... Brodie Panlock.
The Victorian government announced plans this week to introduce a jail term of up to 10 years for workplace bullying. But until it becomes law - and probably afterwards, too - terror at the hands of the workplace psychopath will continue for many victims. Apparently, they can't be stopped. Or cured.

John Clarke is the author of Working with Monsters, which provides readers with information on how to protect themselves. I asked him whether workplace psychopaths are aware they're psychopathic.

"They wouldn't recognise themselves as a psychopath but the behaviour is always conscious and intentional," he says. "Some of the ones I've spoken to don't really see why it's such a big issue because they see it more as a strategy they need to use to survive. It's survival of the fittest."

Info

Childhood Music Lessons May Provide Lifelong Boost In Brain Functioning

Piano lessons
© Unknown

Those childhood music lessons could pay off decades later - even for those who no longer play an instrument by keeping the mind sharper as people age, according to a preliminary study published by the American Psychological Association.

The study recruited 70 healthy adults age 60 to 83 who were divided into groups based on their levels of musical experience. The musicians performed better on several cognitive tests than individuals who had never studied an instrument or learned how to read music. The research findings were published online in the APA journal Neuropsychology.

"Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging," said lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, PhD. "Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older."

While much research has been done on the cognitive benefits of musical activity by children, this is the first study to examine whether those benefits can extend across a lifetime, said Hanna-Pladdy, a clinical neuropsychologist who conducted the study with cognitive psychologist Alicia MacKay, PhD, at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Info

Do We Have a Soul? A Scientific Answer

Does your cat or dog have a soul? What about a flea?

In the last century, science has undergone several revolutions, with profound implications for answering this ancient spiritual question.

Traditionally, scientists speak of the soul in a materialistic context, treating it as a poetic synonym for the mind. Everything knowable about the "soul" can be learned by studying the functioning of the human brain. In their view, neuroscience is the only branch of scientific study relevant to one's understanding of the soul. The soul is dismissed as an object of human belief, or reduced to a psychological concept that shapes our cognition and understanding of the observable natural world. The terms "life" and "death" are thus nothing more than the common concepts of "biological life" and "biological death."

Of course, in most spiritual and religious traditions, a soul is viewed as emphatically more definitive than the scientific concept. It is considered the incorporeal essence of a person or living thing, and is said to be immortal and transcendent of material existence.

The current scientific paradigm doesn't recognize this spiritual dimension of life. The animating principle in humans and other animals are the laws of physics. As I sit here in my office, surrounded by piles of scientific books and journal articles, I cannot find any reference to the soul or spirit, or any notion of an immaterial, eternal essence that occupies our being. Indeed, a soul has never been seen under an electron microscope, nor spun in the laboratory in a test tube or ultra-centrifuge. According to these books, nothing appears to survive the human body after death.

While neuroscience has made tremendous progress illuminating the functioning of the brain, why we have a subjective experience remains mysterious. The problem of the soul lies exactly here, in understanding the nature of the self, the "I" in existence that feels and lives life. But this isn't just a problem for biology and cognitive science, but for the whole of Western natural philosophy itself.

What we have to understand is that our current worldview −- the world of objectivity and naïve realism -- is beginning to show fatal cracks. Of course, this will not surprise many of the philosophers and other readers who, contemplating the works of men such as Plato, Socrates and Kant, and of Buddha and other great spiritual teachers, kept wondering about the relationship between the universe and the mind of man.

Family

Insane Psychiatrists Redefining Process of Mourning - Proposal Would Label Grief a Mental Disorder

Grief
© Unknown
"This is a disaster," says Frances, a renowned U.S. psychiatrist who chaired the task force that wrote the current edition of the DSM

Human grief could soon be diagnosed as a mental disorder under a proposal critics fear could lead to mood-altering pills being pushed for "mourning."

Psychiatrists charged with revising the official "bible" of mental illness are recommending changes that would make it easier for doctors to diagnose major depression in the newly bereaved.

Instead of having to wait months, the diagnosis could be made two weeks after the loss of a loved one.

The current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - an influential tome used the world over - excludes people who have recently suffered a loss from being diagnosed with a major depressive disorder unless his or her symptoms persist beyond two months. It's known as the "grief exclusion," the theory being that "normal" grief shouldn't be labelled a mental disorder.

But in what critics have called a potentially disastrous suggestion tucked among the proposed changes to the manual, "grief exclusion" would be eliminated from the DSM.

Family

A little responsibility can go a long way: For family violence among adolescents, mattering matters

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© Mike Cohea/Brown University
Above all else: the need to matter. Do others know you exist? Do they invest time and resources in you? Do they look to you as a resource? Greg Elliott asserts that “mattering” is the fundamental motivation in human beings.
Adolescents who believe they matter to their families are less likely to threaten or engage in violence against family members, according to a new study led by Brown University sociologist Gregory Elliott. The research s published in the Journal of Family Issues.

A relatively new concept, "mattering" is the belief persons make a difference in the world around them. Mattering is composed of three facets - awareness, importance, and reliance. Do others know you exist? Do they invest time and resources in you? Do they look to you as a resource? Elliott asserts that mattering is the fundamental motivation in human beings. "Above all else, there's a need to matter," he says.

The data for this analysis comes from telephone interviews with a national sample of 2,004 adolescents, age 11-18, as part of the 2000 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Controlling for age, gender, race, religiosity, and family socioeconomic structure and size, the findings reveal that failing to matter to one's family increases the probability of violence, whereas a strong feeling of mattering is likely to protect the adolescent from engaging in violent behavior toward a family member.

Magic Wand

Narcissism and Spiritual Materialism: The New Age Legacy

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© Unknown
Recently, I went for a walk with a close friend in a nearby town. It was a beautiful day and the town was one of those places where there is an abundance of antique stores, craft shops, book stores and the like. As we walked along I spotted a sign in a window that said "Zen" and "Tai Chi." Curious what the "zen" reference involved, we entered the establishment.

Immediately we were assailed by the distinctive "odor" of New Age -- that sweet smell of candle perfume combined with cheap, saccharine Indian incense. The ubiquitous CD was playing in the background, permeating the store with a soothing rather mysterious ambient music, very "spacey." The store was filled with books, posters, crystals and assorted materials.

We spent some time looking at the books, a large assortment of topics ranging from angels to zen. Their selection of Buddhist books was fairly decent. A copy of Chogyam Trungpa's Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism was prominently displayed. I could not help flashing on the sly little smile that would have crossed Rinpoche's face had he been there and seen his book displayed in such an establishment.

Leafing through the books and looking at the titles, I was struck by the heavy emphasis on the notion that the vast majority of them were offering people something other than reality. The theme of altered, higher, better states of consciousness occurred repeatedly. I was surprised at the number of books dedicated to "angels." The recurrent thread throughout was that of personal entitlement, getting something, reaching or attaining something. All of it seemed demeaning in a way, a tacit acknowledgment that there was something missing, that an individual could find and possess by reading the book. I could not help noticing some of the customers browsing the titles, most appeared to be dissatisfied people desperately seeking some sort of answers.

Heart

Serotonin: A critical chemical for human intimacy and romance

seratonin
© Unknown
The judgments we make about the intimacy of other couples' relationships appear to be influenced by the brain chemical serotonin, reports a new study published in Biological Psychiatry.

Healthy adult volunteers, whose levels of serotonin activity had been lowered, rated couples in photos as being less intimate and less romantic than volunteers with normal serotonin activity.

The approach involved giving amino acid drinks to two groups of volunteers in order to manipulate blood concentrations of the amino acid tryptophan, which is a vital ingredient in the synthesis of serotonin. One group received drinks that contained tryptophan. The other group received drinks that did not contain tryptophan. They were then asked to make judgments about sets of photographs of couples. Differences in the judgments made by the two groups reflected changes in their serotonin activity.

"Serotonin is important in social behavior, and also plays a significant role in psychological disorders such as depression," explained Professor Robert Rogers of Oxford University, who led the research. "We wanted to see whether serotonin activity influences the judgments we make about peoples' close personal relationships."

Attention

Boy, two, is first person in the world to be born with an extra strand of DNA

A two-year-old boy has become the only person in the world to be diagnosed with an extra strand in his DNA.

Brave Alfie Clamp was born blind and with severe disabilities, which led doctors to carry out various tests.

They revealed his seventh chromosome has an extra strand of material which has never been documented anywhere in the world before.

Doctors are baffled at his condition, which is so rare it does not have a name.

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© Manchester Evening News Syndication
Baffling: Alfie Clamp, two, has an extra 'arm' on one of his chromosomes.

Heart

Mental health professionals use horses for therapy

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© Rik Jesse / Florida Today
Curtis Arnett participates in equine-assisted psychotherapy at Forever Florida near St. Cloud. He was able to build trust and establish boundaries with one particular horse. The West Melbourne man was rendered a paraplegic in 2005 after a motorcycle accident.
Mental health professionals incorporate equine therapy into approach

Chris Hamrick still is haunted by the memories.

It was Feb. 27, 1991, during the first Gulf War. His platoon leader stepped on a land mine, injuring the sergeant, killing his best friend and blowing off part of Hamrick's left leg.

"It don't ever go away," said the 44-year-old Palm Bay resident, who sees a therapist once, sometimes twice a week, for post-traumatic stress disorder. "You learn how to cope better. It helps just to be able to vent."

Recently, instead of sitting in an office and talking about his feelings, he tried something different -- a therapy involving a three-legged horse named La Nina , who lost one of her hind legs when it got wrapped in a wire fence several years ago. The session was at the Equine Education Center at Forever Florida near St. Cloud.

"The three-legged horse intrigued me," Hamrick said. "That's a pretty heavy animal to try to get around on three legs and develop a gallop. It takes a will to survive. I went through quite a bit myself, complications off and on, being an amputee. You got to decide that you are willing to accept the struggle and keep on going. It's interesting to see how an animal deals with it."

A growing number of mental health counselors are incorporating horses into their sessions, using the animals to treat a host of mental health issues ranging from eating disorders to substance abuse to post-traumatic stress disorder. NARHA, formerly known as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, has been offering equine-facilitated psychotherapy and learning since 1995 and calls them fast-growing disciplines in the equine industry.

Bad Guys

The Genetics Of Tyranny: Psychopathology, Parasitism, and Totalitarianism

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© Richard William Posner
Whilst doing research online I sometimes come across some really fascinating, albeit unrelated, information. One small joy of life in a world that becomes grimmer each day.

While scrolling down any given web page, reading an article for information pertinent to the current research, I may notice a heading or a phrase with a link to another page, which I find intriguing even though it's not specifically relevant. Often it's just a waste of time, sometimes it's so enticing that I abandon what I'm doing and become engrossed in the new find.

Just Lucky I Guess

In some of my writing and in comments I have made on the writing of others, I have alluded to my opinion that the psychopathic condition of people who seek dominance over all others is the result of a genetic aberration. It now seems my conjecture may not have been without merit.