Science of the SpiritS

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How to spot the next mania: Each new panic follows the same playbook

© Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images
In the late Eighties and Nineties, the psychiatric profession became infatuated with "recovered memory", which was conceived in the US but also captivated Europe, including Britain. Practitioners claimed that patients sexually abused as children would naturally repress any recollection of their suffering as too painful, but therapists could employ specialised techniques to retrieve these terrible experiences and so heal the patients' trauma. As a profusion of books, articles and documentaries cultivated a larger cultural fascination, the recovered memory juggernaut resulted in countless adults "remembering" early childhood abuse, usually by parents. Patients would exhume recollections of having been subject to parental rape or oral sex when they were babies. Accusations followed. Families were torn apart.

In hindsight, it's now accepted that the therapists were frequently implanting these "memories" in their suggestible patients. Recovered memory was a social mania — a.k.a. a moral panic, social contagion, mass formation psychosis, or mass hysteria. In the throes of the popular delirium, many people found this exercise in psychic archaeology wholly convincing (and no little titillating). For a few years, recovered memories were even accepted as factual testimony in American courts. Only from a distance does the sordid psychological dowsing look barmy.


Flashback Best of the Web: Israel's Biblical Psychopathy

netanyahu torah israel gaza
© TV7 Israel NewsBenjamin Netanyahu
I am tired of reading that Netanyahu is a psychopath. He most certainly is not. I see no reason to consider him, or any other Israeli leader, as psychopaths in the psychiatric sense. They have a collective psychopathy, which is a very different thing.

The difference is the same as between a personal neurosis and a collective neurosis. According to Freud, religion (and he meant christianity) is a collective neurosis. Freud did not mean that religious people are neurotic. On the contrary, he observed that their collective neurosis tends to immunize religious people from personal neurosis.[1] I do not subscribe to Freud's theory, I just need his backing to introduce my own theory: Zionists, even the most bloodthirsty of them, are not individual psychopaths; many of them are loving and even self-sacrificing persons within their own community. Rather, they are the vectors of a collective psychopathy, which means a special way (we may call it inhuman) by which they collectively see and interact with other human communities.

This is a crucial point, without which we can never understand Israel. Calling their leaders psychopaths is not helpful. What we need is recognize Israel as a collective psychopath, and study the origin of this unique national character. It is a matter of survival for the world, just as it is a matter of survival for any group to recognize the psychopath among them and understand his patterns of thinking and of behavior.

Snakes in Suits

Snakes in the grass

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© CopyrightNever lose a debate again! Get yours here.
Idealism vs. materialism. Free will vs. determinism. Theism vs. atheism. Conspiracy vs. coincidence. LIHOP vs. MIHOP.1 Aliens vs. weather balloons. These are the dichotomous debates of our lives. And they rage on. Dip your toe into any one of them, and chances are you'll be cut by the respective razors of Occam or Hanlon at one point or another. As a kitchen-table veteran of all of the above wars of words, I have an all-purpose weapon I think well suited to the task at hand.

In this case, however, my target is Hanlon, whose razor is etched with the words: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." The razor may be sharp, but it is thin and brittle, and it only cuts in one direction. For lack of a better name, enter Koehli's battle-axe. It cuts both ways. On one blade's edge is etched "both"; on the other, "and." And for this battle it is inscribed with the runes: "Unchecked incompetence inevitably breeds malevolence." Or, simply to rephrase Hanlon: "Some amount of stupidity will always be accompanied by malice."


The new (hard) science of death

near death experience tunnel light
© Gaia Moments/AlamyNew research into the dying brain suggests the line between life and death may be less distinct than previously thought
'There's something happening in the brain that makes no sense'

Patient One was 24 years old and pregnant with her third child when she was taken off life support. It was 2014. A couple of years earlier, she had been diagnosed with a disorder that caused an irregular heartbeat, and during her two previous pregnancies she had suffered seizures and faintings. Four weeks into her third pregnancy, she collapsed on the floor of her home. Her mother, who was with her, called 911. By the time an ambulance arrived, Patient One had been unconscious for more than 10 minutes. Paramedics found that her heart had stopped.

After being driven to a hospital where she couldn't be treated, Patient One was taken to the emergency department at the University of Michigan. There, medical staff had to shock her chest three times with a defibrillator before they could restart her heart. She was placed on an external ventilator and pacemaker, and transferred to the neurointensive care unit, where doctors monitored her brain activity. She was unresponsive to external stimuli, and had a massive swelling in her brain. After she lay in a deep coma for three days, her family decided it was best to take her off life support. It was at that point - after her oxygen was turned off and nurses pulled the breathing tube from her throat - that Patient One became one of the most intriguing scientific subjects in recent history.

Comment: A pity Mr. Blasdel had to spoil an interesting article by injecting his own materialist opinion into it.
Medical scientists take Near Death Experiences seriously now
Text Mining Analysis Study gets up close with near-death experiences
The startling psychological and physiological after-effects of near death experiences
Combat veterans and near death experiences
Life After Death? This is what people experience as the brain shuts down


Memories are made by breaking DNA — and fixing it, study in mice finds

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When a long-term memory forms, some brain cells experience a rush of electrical activity so strong that it snaps their DNA. Then, an inflammatory response kicks in, repairing this damage and helping to cement the memory, a study in mice shows.

The findings, published on 27 March in Nature, are "extremely exciting," says Li-Huei Tsai, a neurobiologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge who was not involved in the work. They contribute to the picture that forming memories is a "risky business," she says. Normally, breaks in both strands of the double helix DNA molecule are associated with diseases including cancer. But in this case, the DNA damage-and-repair cycle offers one explanation for how memories might form and last.

It also suggests a tantalizing possibility: this cycle might be faulty in people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, causing a build-up of errors in a neuron's DNA, says study co-author Jelena Radulovic, a neuroscientist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.


A philosopher investigates near-death experiences

feather water near death experience
Recently at Psychology Today, psychotherapist Mark Shelvock asked some questions of philosopher Monika Mandoki, who has written a dissertation on near-death experiences (NDEs). Both are based at the University of Western Ontario. Here are two of the exchanges:
Shelvock: Do you think that near-death experiences are real?

Mandoki: I believe that a consciousness-only or mind-only reality works out better than any other types of philosophically-advanced theories because the uniformity of reality solves many difficult philosophical questions, such as the relationship of mind and body and the relationship of this world and the next. Therefore, its conclusion that consciousness or mind survives death and continues in an afterlife is the most convincing philosophical option.

Shelvock: How was your work received?

Mandoki: So far, it has been received very well. Firstly, I defended my dissertation successfully without having had to do any revision. Secondly, my dissertation in the past two years has been downloaded by close to 4,000 individuals.

"A philosopher on the possiility of Near Death Experiences and the afterlife," Psychology Today, February 11, 2024

Comment: If anecdotal evidence were properly taken into account, NDE's should be a burgeoning field of investigation.

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New study suggests 'woke' people more likely to be unhappy, anxious and depressed

A new psychological assessment has been developed to measure the endorsement of attitudes related to critical social justice. Findings from its application in a Finnish study reveal that stronger alignment with these so-called "woke" beliefs correlates with heightened instances of anxiety and depression, as detailed in a publication in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology.

The rise of critical social justice, which focuses on identifying and addressing systemic inequalities across various identity groups, has prompted discussions on its influence in academia, politics, and everyday life. This particular orientation towards social justice — often associated with concepts like intersectionality, antiracism, and, colloquially, "wokeness" — has been both lauded for its recognition of systemic barriers faced by marginalized groups and critiqued for its approach to identity and free speech.

Yet, despite the debate surrounding critical social justice, there has been a noticeable gap in empirical data regarding the extent and impact of it. Recognizing this, the author of the new study aimed to create a reliable tool for assessing critical social justice and to explore its prevalence and effects.


What deathbed visions teach us about living

death bed visions near death experience
© Amy Friend
Researchers are documenting a phenomenon that seems to help the dying, as well as those they leave behind.

Chris Kerr was 12 when he first observed a deathbed vision. His memory of that summer in 1974 is blurred, but not the sense of mystery he felt at the bedside of his dying father. Throughout Kerr's childhood in Toronto, his father, a surgeon, was too busy to spend much time with his son, except for an annual fishing trip they took, just the two of them, to the Canadian wilderness. Gaunt and weakened by cancer at 42, his father reached for the buttons on Kerr's shirt, fiddled with them and said something about getting ready to catch the plane to their cabin in the woods. "I knew intuitively, I knew wherever he was, must be a good place because we were going fishing," Kerr told me.

As he moved to touch his father, Kerr felt a hand on his shoulder. A priest had followed him into the hospital room and was now leading him away, telling him his father was delusional. Kerr's father died early the next morning. Kerr now calls what he witnessed an end-of-life vision. His father wasn't delusional, he believes. His mind was taking him to a time and place where he and his son could be together, in the wilds of northern Canada. And the priest, he feels, made a mistake, one that many other caregivers make, of dismissing the moment as a break with reality, as something from which the boy required protection.

Eye 1

Best of the Web: How to Fight the Censorship Mindset

sky field sunshine
© L.P. Koch
There's currently lots of hoopla about some crybabies who want daddy to keep Substack clean and safe.

They talk about "Nazis" on the platform, conveniently forgetting to define what they even mean, which, of course, is a feature, not a bug. Seriously, I doubt those who scream "Nazi" the loudest have ever read a serious book about the Third Reich or about Mustache Man. Not that this matters.

But what drives these people? Beyond being crybullies, I mean? I think there is a deeper point to make here about discomfort and wishing death upon those with different opinions.

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SOTT Focus: MindMatters: The Woke Psychopathology Taxonomy with David Abramowitz

David Abramowitz joins us once again, this time to discuss Michael Shellenberger and Peter Boghossian's Taxonomy of Woke Psychopathology. With Andrew Lobaczewski's Political Ponerology as inspiration, the taxonomy summarizes how certain Woke topics and causes express Cluster B personality disorder dynamics. While the topics themselves may not be pathological, the manner in which they're presented is, expressing such features as attention-seeking, grandiosity, emotional dysregulation, excess and lack of empathy, victimhood ideology, impaired reality testing, and splitting.

Join us as we take a broader look at political causes, the pathocratic function of ideology, and its role in creating a worldview that makes sense to the Cluster B personality. Pathocratic personalities then attempt to force everyone else to conform to the world they have created.

Running Time: 01:27:00

Download: MP3 — 119 MB