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Exclusive: Discovery, Catholic Church Team for Exorcism Series

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© Warner Bros.
Max von Sydow as the priest in the 1973 film The Exorcist.
Discovery Channel is teaming with the Vatican for an unprecedented new series hunting the deadliest catch of all: Demons.

The Exorcist Files will recreate stories of real-life hauntings and demonic possession, based on cases investigated by the Catholic Church. The project includes access into the Vatican's case files, as well as interviews with the organization's top exorcists - religious experts who are rarely seen on television.

"The Vatican is an extraordinarily hard place to get access to, but we explained we're not going to try to tell people what to think," says Discovery president and GM Clark Bunting.

Bunting says the investigators believe a demon can inhabit an inanimate object (like a home) or a person. The network executive says he was initially skeptical when first meeting the team but was won over after more than three hours of talks.

Butterfly

D.C. Wants to Teach Juvenile Delinquents Yoga, Tai-Chi

The District's troubled juvenile justice agency is looking for a yoga teacher, or maybe a tai-chi instructor, to work with some of the city's most dangerous youths. The idea for the new Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services programming comes from interim deputy director Barry Holman. Late last month, Holman e-mailed the agency's staff to see if they have "hidden talents that might be tapped to further our work with the young people in our care." In the e-mail obtained by The Washington Examiner, Holman said his primary interest was in finding among the staff an instructor certified in yoga, tai-chi, or another "mind-body connection discipline."

Heart - Black

The empathy gap in bullying

bullying

Research has shown that students involved in bullying experience more mental health difficulties and display higher levels of cognitive distortions.
Taunted, harassed and pushed to a deadly breaking point. Last year, stories of teen bullying brought to life the heartbreaking consequences of young lives cut short by ruthless and unchecked behavior. Recent media coverage of these violent acts has heightened the awareness of the deadly consequences of bullying, but has done little to stop it from happening.

According to a new Kellogg School study, people fail to understand the consequences of the social trauma experienced by victims of bullying, teasing and ostracism. This "empathy gap" can be devastating because it means victims often do not get the support, intervention or advocacy they need.

"Everyone knows that social trauma is unpleasant, but people are often blind to the full severity of these experiences and therefore don't do enough to protect or intervene when victims suffer," said study leader Loran Nordgren, assistant professor of management and organizations. "News stories in recent months centered around bully victims who took their own lives out of desperation and fear, whether harassed physically in school, or emotionally via text message, online or through social networks. Only by having a heightened sense of empathy to victims' true suffering can we begin to pave the way for reform and new policies."

Bulb

Gesturing While Talking Helps Change Your Thoughts

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© Unknown
Sometimes it's almost impossible to talk without using your hands. These gestures seem to be important to how we think. They provide a visual clue to our thoughts and, a new theory suggests, may even change our thoughts by grounding them in action.

University of Chicago psychological scientists Sian Beilock and Susan Goldin-Meadow are bringing together two lines of research: Beilock's work on how action affects thought and Goldin-Meadow's work on gesture. After a chat at a conference instigated by Ed Diener, the founding editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science, they designed a study together to look at how gesture affects thought.

For the study, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Beilock and Goldin-Meadow had volunteers solve a problem known as the Tower of Hanoi. It's a game in which you have to move stacked disks from one peg to another. After they finished, the volunteers were taken into another room and asked to explain how they did it. (This is virtually impossible to explain without using your hands.) Then the volunteers tried the task again. But there was a trick: For some people, the weight of the disks had secretly changed, such that the smallest disk, which used to be light enough to move with one hand, now needed two hands.

Book

When the Body Says No: How Emotions Can Cause or Prevent Deadly Disease

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© Alternet
Physician Gabor Maté argues too many doctors ignore what was once a commonplace assumption, that emotions are implicated in the development of illnesses and in their healing.

Editor's note: the following is an interview with Canadian physician and bestselling author Gabor Mate, on the relationship between emotions and the body.

Dr. Maté came on Democracy Now! this year to discuss his book When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection. Based on medical studies and his own experience with chronically ill patients at the Palliative Care Unit at Vancouver Hospital, where he was the medical coordinator for seven years, Dr. Maté argues that stress and individual emotional makeup play critical roles in an array of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and arthritis. Speaking to us this time from Vancouver - it was actually during the Vancouver Olympics - Dr. Maté began by explaining his analysis of the mind-body connection.

Heart - Black

Mark Twain: The War Prayer

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spreads of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country and invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpouring of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.


It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came - next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their faces alight with material dreams - visions of a stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! - then home from the war, bronzed heros, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation - "God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!"

People

On Primary Integration, Psychopathy and The Average Person

people
© Unknown
The concept of integration in psychology has predominantly positive connotations, usually describing a state conducive to coherent, predictable and effective functioning of an individual in his world. Disintegration, on the other hand, is typically considered a negative and undesirable aspect of human existence, characterized by lack of coherence, chaos and general ineffectiveness. Kazimierz Dabrowski's aim, one of many articulated in his Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD), was to show that both concepts as descriptions of psychological states can have either positive or negative meaning, depending on their role in individual development.

The term 'primary integration' denotes a type of a character structure and/or state of being not amenable to growth through positive disintegration. It is a concept derived from and of particular importance to developmental psychopathology. As Dabrowski writes, "The concepts of integration and disintegration are typical 'growing' concepts which develop in proportion to the development of psychology and psychopathology of higher mental functions." (Dabrowski et al., 1973, p. 45). Dabrowski designed the first level of development, level 1, the level of primary integration.

Chalkboard

Carrot and Stick of Primary Integration: Statistical Physics Offers Insight Into Moral Behavior

people
© Unknown
It seems a little strange for statistical physicists to consider questions of morality in behavior. However, that is is just what a study at ETH in Zurich, Switzeralnd, is doing. Led by Dirk Helbing, the study used game theory to consider how moral behavior arises from interactions with neighbors. Instead of moral behavior developing from an individual's interactions with society as a whole, Helbing's group discovered that there is a good chance that interactions with the individuals nearest to a person lead to the development of moral behavior.

The physicists considered different behaviors in society, including those who cooperate with the system, enforcers that punish those who aren't cooperating (moralists), free riders who ignore the common good, and even "immoral" free riders who punish other free riders. In order to set up the analysis, the physicists created a square lattice of tens of thousands of points, representing individuals. There were four possible strategies that each point could adopt: cooperate without punishing free riders; cooperate and enforce cooperation through punishment; take advantage of a free ride, but let others alone; or take advantage of a free ride and punish others in non-cooperation.

Compass

What, Me Care?

empathy symbol
© EmpathySymbol.com
A recent study finds a decline in empathy among young people in the U.S.

Humans are unlikely to win the animal kingdom's prize for fastest, strongest or largest, but we are world champions at understanding one another. This interpersonal prowess is fueled, at least in part, by empathy: our tendency to care about and share other people's emotional experiences. Empathy is a cornerstone of human behavior and has long been considered innate. A forthcoming study, however, challenges this assumption by demonstrating that empathy levels have been declining over the past 30 years.

The research, led by Sara H. Konrath of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and published online in August in Personality and Social Psychology Review, found that college students' self-reported empathy has declined since 1980, with an especially steep drop in the past 10 years. To make matters worse, during this same period students' self-reported narcissism has reached new heights, according to research by Jean M. Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University.

An individual's empathy can be assessed in many ways, but one of the most popular is simply asking people what they think of themselves. The Interpersonal Reactivity Index, a well-known questionnaire, taps empathy by asking whether responders agree to statements such as "I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me" and "I try to look at everybody's side of a disagreement before I make a decision." People vary a great deal in how empathic they consider themselves. Moreover, research confirms that the people who say they are empathic actually demonstrate empathy in discernible ways, ranging from mimicking others' postures to helping people in need (for example, offering to take notes for a sick fellow student).

Info

Similarities Between Anesthesia, Coma Discovered

Anesthesia
© RedOrbit

The biological effects of general anesthesia are more closely related to those of a coma than natural sleep, claims a new study published in Thursday's edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

While often times doctors and patients describe being under anesthesia as something similar to going to sleep, the researchers behind the new study have found "significant differences" between the two states, Julie Steenhuysen of Reuters reported on Wednesday. For example, while sleep usually involves different types of phases, a patient under general anesthesia typically only experiences one, which even at its lightest is typically far deeper than the deepest states of sleep.

"A key point of this article is to lay out a conceptual framework for understanding general anesthesia by discussing its relation to sleep and coma, something that has not been done in this way before," lead author Dr. Emery Brown of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, said in a statement.

"We started by stating the specific physiological states that comprise general anesthesia--unconsciousness, amnesia, lack of pain perception and lack of movement while stable cardiovascular, respiratory and thermoregulatory systems are maintained--another thing that has never been agreed upon in the literature; and then we looked at how it is similar to and different from the states that are most similar--sleep and coma," Brown added.