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Sun, 17 Dec 2017
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Denzel Washington's point about fatherlessness is backed up by data

Denzel Washington
© Image Credit: Flickr-GabboT (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Americans are finding out that Hollywood *ahem* is infamous for many things. Being supportive of the traditional family structure, however, is not one of them. It is for that reason that actor Denzel Washington's recent comments on fatherhood are interesting.

Speaking about his role as a defense lawyer in the newly released film Roman J. Israel, Esq., Washington refuses to excoriate the criminal justice system for its treatment of American young people. Instead, he believes America's problem with crime starts at the most basic level of society. Here is what Washington said, according to The New York Daily News:

Comment: Children who have an active father figure have fewer psychological and behavioral problems

People 2

Ten reasons why you should try to keep your cool

Angry woman yelling into a mirror
© Greater Good Magazine
Last week The Mail on Sunday revealed that MP Paul Farrelly was being investigated after launching a foul-mouthed outburst at a fellow politician after a heated Brexit debate.

And it's not the first time the MP has been involved in a fracas. He made headlines in 2010 after leaving a newspaper seller bloodied and bruised during a fight in a House of Commons bar.

Unfortunately, keeping your cool is a problem for many people: almost a third of Britons polled say they have a close friend or family member who has trouble controlling their anger, while one in ten admit to having a problem with their temper. Here, we outline ten reasons why it's good to get anger under control...

Comment: Not all incidents of anger are negative. Directed, time-limited anger can lead to positive outcomes:


What makes Agatha Christie such an all-time favorite?

Murder on the Orient Express Kenneth Branagh
© IMDB.com
Kenneth Branagh in a still from the latest film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, which released this week.
When it comes to detective fiction, few can match Agatha Christie's spectacular success or her prolific oeuvre. In a career that lasted 55 years, Christie wrote 66 detective novels, 14 short story collections, including the world's longest-running play (The Mousetrap) and created two of the most famous detectives of the genre. According to her estate, she is outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Even four decades after her death on January 12, 1976, not only does she continue to be widely read, and taught in universities, she is also the most popular choice for screen adaptations.

Christie's diminutive Belgian cop-turned private detective - just as famous for his glorious moustache as he is for his "little grey cells" - has been played on screen by numerous actors from Peter Ustinov to Albert Finney. While David Suchet, star of the long-running TV adaptation, is probably the most memorable on-screen Poirot, actor-director Kenneth Branagh gives the eccentric detective his own twist in his adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, which released this week.


Blue reduces stress 3 times faster than other colors

chronisches erschöpfungssyndrom, stress, ausgelaugt, müde
© fotolia / leszekglasner
Blue light helps people to relax more quickly, new research finds.

Compared with regular white light, people are able to recover from a stressful experience three times quicker when sitting under blue light.

Regular stresses such as that caused by arguing with a friend or having a close deadline at work could be best tackled with blue light.

Heart - Black

Grieving the loss of your parents when orphaned in adulthood

grieving parents
The death of a parent is a loss like no other. Our relationships with our parents shape the fiber of who we are. Without them in our lives, a significant piece of our identity may irrevocably change. When unresolved feelings or even estrangement remains, the loss of one's parents can be even more complicated.

Becoming an adult orphan can be one of the hardest life transitions a person can experience. For me, the loss of my dad felt like the end of an era and the loss of my moral anchor. It was as if I had entered a new level of adulthood. A new path needed to be forged, and all of the familiar guideposts had suddenly shifted.


Huge dose of brain chemical dopamine may have made us smart

brain on dopamine
We may owe some of our unique intelligence to a generous supply of a signalling chemical called dopamine in brain regions that help us think and plan. Our brains produce far more dopamine in these regions than the brains of other primates like apes.

Dopamine is a brain signalling chemical that is vital for our control of movement. It is depleted in people with Parkinson's disease, leading to mobility problems, tremors and speech impairments. But it also plays a pivotal role in many cognitive abilities at which humans excel, including learning, concentrating, pleasure-seeking and planning ahead.

Nenad Sestan and André Sousa of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut and their colleagues measured the activity of individual genes in tissue samples from 16 brain regions, taken from six humans, five chimpanzees and five macaque monkeys.

They found elevated activities of two enzymes that make dopamine - tyrosine hydroxylase and DOPA decarboxylase - in two parts of the human brain, both vital for higher-level thought.

Comment: See also:


Study suggests even occasional marijuana use impairs motivation

© Mark Blinch/Reuters
Occasional cannabis users were tested along with those addicted to the drug.

A single 'spliff' is enough to reduce the motivation to work, new research finds.

It is the first study to show the problematic short-term effects of cannabis on motivation.

Comment: Chronic and heavy marijuana use shrinks brain's grey matter, says study

People 2

Small talk has emotional benefits

small talk
At an early age, you're taught not to talk to strangers. Originally meant to protect us from childhood harm, this rule follows most of us into adulthood.

We keep to ourselves in public places. We avert our eyes on public transport. We stand frozen in the corners of cocktail parties and extended family gatherings, preferring to chat to the few folk we know rather than risk a conversation with an unknown entity. When you're greeted with a rogue "Good morning!" as you pass the neighborhood fruit seller, you might jump, wondering what they want, or if you've spilled coffee down your front.

The power of community: Unless we connect with something greater than ourselves we are one step from disaster


'Avatar therapy' having success helping schizophrenics confront hallucinations

Avatar therapy
© King's College London
Avatar therapy for the treatment of schizophrenia.
Coming face-to-face with an avatar on screen may help schizophrenics cope with their hallucinations, a study found. Patients confronting avatars turned out to be less distressed and heard voices less frequently.

According to the research by King's College London (KCL), the new treatment for schizophrenic hallucinations could be twice as effective as counseling. The study, published in the Lancelot Psychiatry Journal, tested 150 patients. Of these, 75 who had been hearing voices for more than a year were given six sessions of avatar therapy, while another 75 got straightforward counseling.

Alarm Clock

The power of community: Unless we connect with something greater than ourselves we are one step from disaster

traditional village in
© Wiki
Village in Ogi Shirakawa-gō, Gifu, Japan
"It takes a village to raise a child" African Proverb

How do you identify yourself? What do you connect with that is greater than you? Is it your country, religion, state, town, college, or some other group or organization? By being part of a something bigger than ourselves helps our mental health. But the connection should go far beyond mental the bonds should be real and tangible.

I am a great admirer of the indigenous peoples of the United States. They had a society without poverty and homelessness while at the same time having very little crime and warfare. This was accomplished without the existence of prisons or psychiatric hospitals. What was the key to their success? I believe that their harmony in living was primarily from their deep spirituality and their strong cultural bonds.

The Native Americans in a sense thought of themselves as one large family. As a person who severely suffered from mental illness I was at a time in great need. I could not work to support myself. Fortunately my parents provided me with the food and shelter that I needed. I received medical care in the form of hospitalization, medicine, seeing a psychiatrist and attending a mental health center. Unfortunately these things weren't free but rather they came at a financial cost.