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Thu, 29 Sep 2016
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Christmas Tree

Why it's illegal: Study finds marijuana diminishes aggressiveness while alcohol increases it

If anyone needs a reminder on the absurdity of the U.S. approach to drugs, consider the fact that cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 drug with "no currently accepted medical use" and a "high potential for abuse," while alcohol is not even included in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Of course, alcohol is a drug, as any psychologist will tell you, with a high potential for abuse; and it's not used as a treatment for medical conditions. Moderate alcohol use may have some health benefits, but heavy use can bring a host of negative health impacts.

Still, alcohol is left to the states to regulate, untouched by the fateful 1970 CSA that began Nixon's War on Drugs and spawned the DEA. As we have reported, this war against freedom was targeted at blacks and "hippies" who drove the counter-culture force demanding an end to militarism.

That 60s mindset of peace and love was a threat to the establishment, as the movement was growing for a principle of non-aggression, in contrast to the rise of U.S. hegemony underscored by the Vietnam War tragedy.

People 2

Overcome relationship conflicts by focusing on the future

© Shutterstock.com
Thinking about the future helps overcome conflicts, according to a new study.

The findings have potential implications for understanding how prospection, or future-thinking, can be a beneficial strategy for a variety of conflicts people experience in their everyday lives.

Alex Huynh, a doctoral candidate in psychology and lead author of the study, said:
"When romantic partners argue over things like finances, jealousy, or other interpersonal issues, they tend to employ their current feelings as fuel for a heated argument. By envisioning their relationship in the future, people can shift the focus away from their current feelings and mitigate conflicts."
Huynh published the paper with Igor Grossmann from the University of Waterloo, and Daniel Yang from Yale University.

Christmas Tree

Spending time in nature boosts body appreciation

© Ben Seidelman/Flickr
Nature is good for us - surely nobody has missed that fact. These days, both scientists and policymakers agree about the importance of offering everyone access to green spaces, regardless of social background.

That's because easy access to nature encourages physical activity, which in turn has positive health effects. For instance, English populations with the most green space in their surroundings also have the lowest levels of mortality. The simple fact is that people tend to be healthier and live longer when they have easy access to nature.

Accessible green space is also good for our psychological well-being. For example, large-scale surveys in the Netherlands and UK have shown that individuals living in urban areas with more green space have lower rates of mental health distress and are more satisfied with life than those living in areas with less green space.

Comment: For more on the benefits of nature see:


Info

Knowledge protects: How to tell if your co-worker is a psychopath

Bullying isn't just for school kids on the playground.

Andrew Faas, a former senior executive with Canada's two largest retail organizations, found this out the hard way when he blew the whistle on a corrupt colleague, and subsequently had his phone and email hacked and even received an anonymous death threat.

To help others, Faas says in his new book, " The Bully's Trap," any worker being hired or promoted in a supervisory position should be required to take a psychological test.

What would it test for? The 20 signs listed in the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, as developed by renowned psychologist Robert Hare.

A psychopath may not show all the signs, but they will likely demonstrate at least some of them, Faas says.

Here are 13 sign that one of your coworkers may be a psychopath, from Hare's checklist, Faas, and articles we found on Psychology Today:

Comment: Trying to work in an environment where you are victimized by one of these predators can literally ruin your health and well-being. Yet, normal people often cannot imagine that there are people who are intentionally malevolent, and will often rationalize the predator's behavior, until their work-life becomes unbearable. The best form of protection is to educate yourself about the nature of these inter-species predators, as the odds are increasing that you or someone you know will encounter one at some point.


Butterfly

Spending time in nature calms and re-grounds us providing a sense of renewal

Nature provides people 'a sense of renewal' which lowers anxiety, new research finds.

People who feel connected to nature have lower levels of anxiety, recent research finds.

Nature seems to provide people an escape from busy urban environments — a way to let their minds recover.

It may be that it is not even necessary to be in nature to get the benefit, as long as one feels connected to it.

For the research people were asked about what nature meant to them.

Here are six of the themes that emerged when people talked about what nature gave to them:

Comment: Spending time in natural settings helps us regulate our moods and has also been shown to improve our natural immunity and cognitive function:


Family

The root of healing from addiction is connection

© Ultra Kulture
Do Stronger Human Connections Immunise Us Against Emotional Distress?

Right now an exciting new perspective on addiction is emerging. Johann Harri, author of Chasing The Scream, recently captured widespread public interest with his Ted talk Everything You Know About Addiction Is Wrong, where he concluded with this powerful statement:
"The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection."
- Johann Harri

These sentiments are augmented by a growing number of experts, including addiction specialist Dr Gabor Maté, who cites 'emotional loss and trauma' as the core of addiction. Compare this 'emotional loss' to Johan Harri's idea about lack of connection and it is clear they're talking about a similar emotional condition.

Limbic Resonance

If connection is the opposite of addiction, then an examination of the neuroscience of human connection is in order. Published in 2000, A General Theory Of Love is a collaboration between three professors of psychiatry at the University of California in San Francisco. A General Theory Of Love reveals that humans require social connection for optimal brain development, and that babies cared for in a loving environment are psychological and neurologically 'immunised' by love. When things get difficult in adult life, the neural wiring developed from a love-filled childhood leads to increased emotional resilience in adult life. Conversely, those who grow up in an environment where loving care is unstable or absent are less likely to be resilient in the face of emotional distress.

Comment: See also: Social connections and bonding: Everything we think we know about addiction is wrong


Book 2

Why we remember very little from early childhood

© Denis Omelchenko/Shutterstock
Most of us don't have any memories from the first three to four years of our lives - in fact, we tend to remember very little of life before the age of seven. And when we do try to think back to our earliest memories, it is often unclear whether they are the real thing or just recollections based on photos or stories told to us by others.

The phenomenon, known as "childhood amnesia", has been puzzling psychologists for more than a century - and we still don't fully understand it.

At first glance, it may seem that the reason we don't remember being babies is because infants and toddlers don't have a fully developed memory. But babies as young as six months can form both short-term memories that last for minutes, and long-term memories that last weeks, if not months. In one study, six-month-olds who learned how to press a lever to operate a toy train remembered how to perform this action for two to three weeks after they had last seen the toy. Preschoolers, on the other hand, can remember events that go years back. It's debatable whether long-term memories at this early age are truly autobiographical, though - that is, personally relevant events that occurred in a specific time and place.

Of course, memory capabilities at these ages are not adult-like - they continue to mature until adolescence. In fact, developmental changes in basic memory processes have been put forward as an explanation for childhood amnesia, and it's one of the best theories we've got so far. These basic processes involve several brain regions and include forming, maintaining and then later retrieving the memory. For example, the hippocampus, thought to be responsible for forming memories, continues developing until at least the age of seven. We know that the typical boundary for the offset of childhood amnesia - three and a half years - shifts with age. Children and teenagers have earlier memories than adults do. This suggests that the problem may be less with forming memories than with maintaining them.

Comment: See also: Why do childhood memories usually completely disappear?


Boat

We were made for these times

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My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

Lemon

Incivility is contagious: Working with jerks could harm your personal relationships

There's more to the relationship between your professional and personal life than setting a witty "away" message when you finally go on vacation. Like Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer would say, acting like there's a wall between your "work" and your "life" is misguided, since you're the same being, with the same consciousness, and the same needs, whether you have Slack open or not.

This comes into particular focus with a new study in the Journal of Management. A research team lead by Sandy Lim from the National University of Singapore finds that when people have hostile experiences at work, they're more likely to be angry or withdrawn when they get home. Lim and her colleagues had 56 participants — averaging 39 years old, 72 percent women — from a large public institution in Southeast Asia report their emotional states on an online survey in the morning and then again in the afternoon. Then, at night, their spouses would report on the way that they acted. This went on over two working weeks.

Comment: The corporate work culture is toxic to the human spirit


Brick Wall

Setting boundaries with your narcissistic parents

When adults realize they were the product of a narcissistic parent, it can shock them into a state of grief. Instantly, they go from idealizing the narcissist to grieving their lost childhood and the God-like image of their parent. Suddenly, the parent is transformed from larger than life to a deeply insecure human being. With the rose colored glasses off, the adult struggles to rewrite their history without a narcissistic perception.

It is not an easy process. It requires time to recall events and alter them to a newly discovered reality. It entails massive energy to reprogram the negative words and competitive actions of the narcissist. It necessitates motivation to complete the process until a new level of healthy is achieved. But now that this process is finished, what new boundaries can keep the adult from falling back into old habits?

Think before speaking. Before visiting or speaking to a narcissistic parent, the adult should remember the parent is a narcissist. It might be helpful to review some of their glaring characteristics so expectations can be more appropriately set. Once a person knows a lion is a lion, they should not expect a lamb. Thinking about the conversation before it begins allows the adult to plan accordingly. Boundary = I'm going to set reasonable expectations.

Comment: Learning to set boundaries is a key strategy in protecting oneself from the manipulations of narcissists. This is particularly important for those who have grown up in narcissistic families where they have never learned to discern what they need or how to express those needs because they have spent most of their lives tending to those of their narcissist parent.