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Sat, 22 Jan 2022
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


People with severe mental illness 12 times more likely to commit suicide

People with psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, are 12 times more likely to commit suicide than average, according to research released today by King's Health Partners.

The research found that the rate of suicide was highest in the first year following diagnosis (12 times national average) and that high risk persisted - remaining four times greater than the general population ten years after diagnosis, a time when there may be less intense clinical monitoring of risk.

Neither the risk of suicide nor the long-term risk of suicide, as compared to the general population, have been studied and measured in this way before. And the findings show that doctors must always remain vigilant when assessing a patient's risk of suicide regardless of time since first diagnosis.

2 + 2 = 4

Brain Development: How Much TV Should Children Watch?

© Thinkstock
The brains of the infant, toddler and preschooler are genetically programmed to develop most effectively when exposed to an environment which has remained essentially unchanged over the past tens of thousands of years. During this period of our evolution, early childhood was characterized by specific types of social interaction, including language exposure, social experiences leading to an understanding of self-awareness and one's role in society, as well as virtually limitless opportunities for physical play, imaginative play and creativity.

We now live in a society where these types of experiences, so critical for appropriate brain development, have been usurped by television and other electronic media. In the United States, the average time television is on in the home each day approaches seven hours. We live in a society where the number of downloads or DVDs rented each day is six million, while only three million books are checked out of libraries. The average U.S. household has 2.24 televisions, with 66 percent of U.S. homes having three or more televisions. The typical American child spends 1680 minutes watching television each week, while more than 70 percent of day care centers also have the television playing during a typical day. The average American youth spends 900 hours in school each year, but watches 1500 hours of television.


'Only losers get bullied in the office' - Says Who?

It is probably not the advice that anyone who has dealt with a workplace bully wants to hear.

But conflict resolution expert Gavan Podbury says that people who call themselves bullying victims are "losers" who need to learn how to resolve their own disputes.

Mr Podbury, a social Researcher and presenter, has conducted seminars around Australia teaching individuals and corporations how to communicate more effectively and deal with conflict.

"A lot of people talk about bullying these days (and) I'm going to be contentious and say that only losers call themselves victims," Mr Podbury said.

Comment: Anyone who is not equipped with the necessary knowledge to deal with pathological behaviour is a potential victim. That knowledge will have to include: the nature of the individuals and how they function; the methods they use to deceive and manipulate; effective strategies for defending oneself against them.

Everyone must take personal responsibility to educate themselves to this effect. However this same knowledge is consciously suppressed in our society by just those psychopaths who wish to take advantage of our ignorance. So calling those who have been denied this knowledge 'losers' is tantamount to blaming the victim.

Comment: We recommend reading 'In Sheep's Clothing' by George K Simon Jr, for a more comprehensive set of strategies for dealing with bullying or manipulative behaviour.

Here is a synopsis of the major points for 'redefining the terms of engagement':
Accept no excuses. Don't buy into any of the many reasons (rationalisations) someone may offer for aggressive, covertly aggressive behaviour, or any other inappropriate behaviour. If someone's behaviour is wrong or harmful, the rationale they offer is totally irrelevant. The ends never justify the means. So, no matter how much an "explanation" for a problem behaviour seems to make sense, don't accept it. Remember that the person offering an excuse is trying to maintain a position from which they should be backing away (...)

Judge actions not intentions. Never try to "mind-read" or second-guess why somebody is doing something, especially when they are doing something hurtful. There is no way for you to really know, and in the end, it's irrelelevant. Getting caught up in what might be going on in an aggressor's mind is a good way to get sidetracked from the really pertinent issue. Judge the behaviour itself. If what a person does is harmful in some way, pay attention to and deal with that issue. (...)

Make direct requests. When asking for things, be clear about what you want. Use "I" statements. Avoid generalities. (...) Making requests direct and specific has two payoffs. First, it gives the manipulator little room to distory (or claim they misunderstood) what you want or expect from them. Second, if you don't get a direct, reasonable response to a direct, reasonable request, you already know that the manipulator is fighting with you (...)

Accept only direct responses. Once you've made a clear, direct request, insist on a clear, direct answer. Whenever you don't get one, ask again. Don't do this in a hostile or threatening way, but respectfully assert the issue you raised is important and deserves to be forthrightly addressed. (...)

Stay focussed in the here and now. Focus on the issues at hand. Your manipulator will probably try to throw you off track with diversionary and evasion tactics. Don't let these tactics steer you away from the problem behaviour you're trying to confront. (...)

When confronting aggressive behaviour, keep the weight of responsibility on the aggressor. This may be the most important thing to remember, If you're confronting an aggressor about some inappropriate behaviour, keep the focus on whatever they did to injure, no matter what tactics they might use to shift the ball back into your court. Don't accept their attempts to shift blame or responsibility. Keep asking what they will do to correct their behaviour. Ignore whatever rationalisations they might make and don't let them sidestep the issue. (...)

When you confront, avoid sarcasm, hostility, and put-downs. Aggressive personalities are always looking for an excuse to go to war. So they will construe any sort of hostility as an "attack" and feel justified in launching an offensive. Besides, attacking their character "invites" them to use their favourite offensive tactics such as denial, selective inattention or blaming others. Don't back away from necessary confrontation, but be sure to confront in a manner that is up-front, yet non-aggressive. Focus only on the inappropriate behaviour of the aggressor. (...)

Be prepared for consequences. Always remain aware of the covert-aggresive's determination to be the victor. This means that, if for any reason, they feel defeated, they're likely to try anything in order to regain the upper hand, and a sense of vindication. It's important to be prepared for this possibility and to take appropriate action to protect yourself. (...)

Be honest with yourself. Know and "own" your own agendas. Be sure of what your real needs and desires in any situation are. Its bad enough that you can never be sure what a manipulator is up to. But decieving yourself about your own needs can really put yourself in double jeopardy. (...)


Is Infidelity Genetic? Study Suggests Brain Chemistry Plays a Role in People's Ability to Commit

© Unknown
Genes associated with sensation-seeking behaviors, such as drinking alcohol or gambling, may also be associated with sexual promiscuity and infidelity, according to a new study.

Researchers led by Justin Garcia, an investigator and SUNY Doctoral Diversity Fellow at the State University of New York in Binghamton, looked at possible biological mechanisms behind the compulsion to be unfaithful to one's partner or to be sexually promiscuous. They interviewed 181 young adults, asked them about their sexual behavior and relationships, and took samples of their DNA. Seventy-seven percent of the group reported a history of sexual intercourse.

The findings suggest that genetic variation may indeed influence sexual behavior.


Season of Birth May Have Long-Term Effects on Personality

The season in which babies are born can have a dramatic and persistent effect on how their biological clocks function.

© iStockphoto/Sean O'Riordan
Crying newborn being held by doctor.
That is the conclusion of a new study published online on Dec. 5 by the journal Nature Neuroscience. The experiment provides the first evidence for seasonal imprinting of biological clocks in mammals and was conducted by Professor of Biological Sciences Douglas McMahon, graduate student Chris Ciarleglio, post-doctoral fellow Karen Gamble and two undergraduate students at Vanderbilt University.

The imprinting effect, which was found in baby mice, may help explain the fact that people born in winter months have a higher risk of a number of neurological disorders including seasonal affective disorder (winter depression), bipolar depression and schizophrenia.

"Our biological clocks measure the day length and change our behavior according to the seasons. We were curious to see if light signals could shape the development of the biological clock," said McMahon.

In the experiment, groups of mouse pups were raised from birth to weaning in artificial winter or summer light cycles. After they were weaned, they were maintained in either the same cycle or the opposite cycle for 28 days. Once they were mature, the mice were placed in constant darkness and their activity patterns were observed.


"Tell me about your mother": oxytocin evokes maternal memories

© Wikimedia Commons
Oxytocin, aka the "hormone of love" or "cuddle chemical," is a mammalian hormone that is released during labor and breastfeeding; in these contexts it induces uterine contractions and milk letdown. But it is perhaps better known for its alleged role in attachment bond formation.

The attachment bond between a mother and infant is essential to species survival; without it, a mother might not be disposed to care for her dependent newborn and said newborn would probably not live long enough to reproduce. The attachment bond can also color all future relationships the infant will go on to develop in life.

Red Flag

Female Soldiers Face Sharp Suicide Risk

© digitaljournal.com
Young female veterans are nearly three times as likely as civilians to commit suicide, finds the first general population study of suicide risk among women who've served in the military.

Among military women, those ages 18 to 34 had the highest risk of suicide, followed by the next oldest age group, 35 to 44, and the lowest suicide rate found among female veterans ages 45 to 64, the researchers said.

"Women veterans are more likely to complete suicide than nonveteran women," said Dr. Bentson McFarland, a professor of psychiatry in the Oregon Health and Science University's School of Medicine.


How to help (yourself)

helping hand
Giving to others just might help people in the treatment of their own aches and anxieties

A German researcher recently identified a gene that appears to promote generosity.

It's not biologically possible to be extremely anxious and extremely giving at the same time, says Dacher Keltner, a professor at University of California-Berkeley.

American scientists are finding that being big-hearted may trigger the brain's pleasure centers.

And Jeff Bell and Jared Douglas Kant are convinced that helping others cope with obsessive-compulsive behaviors made the difference in their own treatment for the disorder.


Narcissism No Longer a Psychiatric Disorder

© Scott Menchin

Narcissists, much to the surprise of many experts, are in the process of becoming an endangered species.

Not that they face imminent extinction - it's a fate much worse than that. They will still be around, but they will be ignored.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (due out in 2013, and known as DSM-5) has eliminated five of the 10 personality disorders that are listed in the current edition.

Comment: When you read the proposed changes to the DSM, narcissism is not simply removed, it's incorporated into a category referred to as antisocial/psychopathic. ALL the narcissism features are listed in there. It's actually a good thing as NPD is being upgraded into the psychopathic category. Although it's not listed NPD's SYMPTOMS are now part of the whole ASPD/psychopathic category which is where it belongs. This guy who wrote the article didn't do his homework!

For more information on narcissism see: Hurting you isn't something narcissists do by accident. Since it seems probable that narcissists are really just high functioning psychopaths, we have to wonder why this is being done. Maybe we're getting too close in being able to identify them.
Intraspecies Predator: How A Psychopath Sees The World


Inside the bullied brain: The alarming neuroscience of taunting

In the wake of several tragedies that have made bullying a high-profile issue, it's becoming clear that harassment by one's peers is something more than just a rite of passage. Bullied kids are more likely to be depressed, anxious, and suicidal. They struggle in school - when they decide to show up at all. They are more likely to carry weapons, get in fights, and use drugs.

But when it comes to the actual harm bullying does, the picture grows murkier. The psychological torment that victims feel is real. But perhaps because many of us have experienced this sort of schoolyard cruelty and lived to tell the tale, peer harassment is still commonly written off as a "soft" form of abuse - one that leaves no obvious injuries and that most victims simply get over. It's easy to imagine that, painful as bullying can be, all it hurts is our feelings.

A new wave of research into bullying's effects, however, is now suggesting something more than that - that in fact, bullying can leave an indelible imprint on a teen's brain at a time when it is still growing and developing. Being ostracized by one's peers, it seems, can throw adolescent hormones even further out of whack, lead to reduced connectivity in the brain, and even sabotage the growth of new neurons.

These neurological scars, it turns out, closely resemble those borne by children who are physically and sexually abused in early childhood. Neuroscientists now know that the human brain continues to grow and change long after the first few years of life. By revealing the internal physiological damage that bullying can do, researchers are recasting it not as merely an unfortunate rite of passage but as a serious form of childhood trauma.