How Loneliness Affects Your Brain

sanoop (CC BY 2.0)

sanoop (CC BY 2.0)

It seems that loneliness can make us more “defensive,” which may perpetuate the cycle.

via PsyBlog:

Loneliness makes the areas of the brain that are vigilant for threat more active, a new study finds.

This can make people who are socially isolated more abrasive and defensive — it’s a form of self-preservation.

This may be why lonely people can get marginalised.

Professor John Cacioppo, an expert on loneliness, speaking about an earlier study on the marginalisation of the lonely, said:

“We detected an extraordinary pattern of contagion that leads people to be moved to the edge of the social network when they become lonely.

On the periphery people have fewer friends, yet their loneliness leads them to losing the few ties they have left.

These reinforcing effects mean that our social fabric can fray at the edges, like a yarn that comes loose at the end of a crocheted sweater.”

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Brain Imaging Reveals Psychiatric Disorders are Not Neurological Disorders

Areas affected in neurological disorders (a) and psychiatric disorders (b). From The British Journal of Psychiatry

Areas affected in neurological disorders (a) and psychiatric disorders (b). From The British Journal of Psychiatry

More proof that psychiatric disorders are still a big mystery.

via Mad in America:

Some researchers have been arguing to reclassify all psychiatric disorders as diseases of the brain and nervous system, similar to epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease. Neuroimaging research, however, reveals that psychiatric disorders appear to be distinct from neurological disorders, according to a new study published in this month’s issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

“We acknowledge that the distinction between the fields of psychiatry and neurology involves multiple factors, ranging from social and historical to biological and that any new classification should ultimately reflect an improvement in clinical outcomes,” the authors wrote.

In recent years, noting that neurological disorders can often lead to symptoms similar to psychosis and that many psychiatric disorders have accompanying physical and motor symptoms, some specialists, known as “distinction abolitionists,” have pushed for eliminating the distinction between these two classifications.

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Injection rooms for addicts to open next year in Ireland

Todd Huffman (CC BY 2.0)

Todd Huffman (CC BY 2.0)

Can you imagine this happening in the US? Me neither. But it probably should.

Kitty Holland via The Irish Times:

Drug users will be able to use supervised injecting rooms in Dublin next year, followed shortly afterwards by Cork, Galway and Limerick, according to the Minister in charge of the National Drugs Strategy.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who is set to announce the radical move in a speech to the London School of Economics on Monday, told The Irish Times that medically supervised injection rooms “will happen next year”.

In his address he will also outline plans to decriminalise the possession of small amounts of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and cannabis, for personal use, as part of a “radical cultural shift” in the approach to drug addiction.

“I am firmly of the view that there needs to be a cultural shift in how we regard substance misuse if we are to break this cycle and make a serious attempt to tackle drug and alcohol addiction,” said Mr Ó Ríordáin.

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Real Life Submission: French Jews Exodus To Israel

Reading the just-published English edition of Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission over the last week has been quite surreal given the real-life events in Paris. (For those unfamiliar with the book, literary gadfly Houellebecq envisions a scenario where France becomes an Islamic nation upon the victorious national election of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2022.)

One of the effects of the changeover from a secular to an Islamic state is the exodus of Jews from France to Israel. Recent events have accelerated the process greatly, reports the Observer:

Birthright Israel, the charity founded in 1999 to bring young Jews on trips to Israel, has witnessed an unprecedented increase in participation among French citizens over the past two years.

The Observer has learned that 2500 French Jews will have visited Israel as part of the program this year—more than double the 1100 who went last year and a stunning 2400% increase over the 98 who visited as program participants in 2013.

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The Bloodiest Century on Earth and the Fifth Miracle

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core.

Beyond M31 is another very similar galaxy – its spiral arms slowly turning once every quarter-billion years.  This is our own Milky Way, seen from the outside.  This is the home galaxy of the human species.  In the obscure backwaters of the Carina-Cygnus spiral arm, we humans have evolved to conscience and some measure of understanding.  Concentrated in its brilliant core and strewn along its spiral arms are four-hundred-billion suns.  It takes light a hundred-thousand years to travel from one end of the galaxy to the other.  Within this galaxy are stars and worlds and, it may be, an enormous diversity of living things and intelligent beings and space-faring civilizations… In the Milky Way galaxy, there may be many worlds on which matter has grown to consciousness.  I wonder: are they very different from us?  What do they look like?   What are their politics, technology, music, religion? 

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Why are these 32 symbols found in ancient caves all over Europe?


There’s something about caves — a shadowy opening in a limestone cliff that draws you in. As you pass through the portal between light and dark, you enter a subterranean world — a place of perpetual gloom, of earthy smells, of hushed silence.

Long ago in Europe, ancient people also entered these underground worlds. As witness to their passage,they left behind mysterious engravings and paintings, like this panel of humans, triangles and zigzags from Ojo Guareña in Spain. You now walk the same path as these early artists. And in this surreal, otherworldly place, it’s almost possible to imagine that you hear the muffled footfall of skin boots on soft earth, or that you see the flickering of a torch around the next bend.

When I’m in a cave, I often find myself wondering what drove these people to go so deep to brave dangerous and narrow passageways to leave their mark?Read the rest

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More Than 1 In 4 Americans Believe Government Is The Enemy

Views-of-govt-7Is that all? Judging by the political rhetoric at the Republican debates you’d expect at least half of all Americans think of their government as the enemy! From CBSDC:

More than 1 in 4 Americans believe that the government is the enemy, according to a new poll.

Pew Research Center found that 27 percent of registered voters say they think of government as an enemy, up 8 points since 1996. The latest poll looked at general public opinion regarding the federal government.

The findings suggests that 57 percent of voters feel frustrated with the government, while 22 percent feel angry and 18 percent feel “basically content.”

The majority of Americans feel the federal government has room for serious improvement, with 59 percent saying the government needs “very major reform.” Only 37 percent of voters felt that way in 1997…

[continues at CBSDC]

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Nominee to Oversee Wall Street Works at Think Tank Dedicated to Blocking Regulation

DonkeyHotey (CC BY 2.0)

DonkeyHotey (CC BY 2.0)

The Koch Bros have once again infiltrated politics, this time with the nomination of Hester Maria Peirce, a member of the think tank, Mercatus Center. Guess who funds it?

Lee Fang via The Intercept:

President Barack Obama recently nominated Hester Maria Peirce to fill a Republican seat on the Securities and Exchange Commission.

His announcement included her formal title — senior research fellow and director of the Financial Markets Working Group at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University — which sounds a lot like an academic post.

But Peirce, new disclosures show, received 98 percent of her salary directly from the Mercatus Center, a “think tank” that provides an academic façade to a radical anti-regulatory agenda. The Center’s so-called research reflects the lobbying priorities of its corporate funders — chief among them, Koch Industries.

Asked about any potential conflicts of interest given her work for the Mercatus Center, Peirce told The Intercept, “I appreciate you reaching out but I cannot comment at this point.”

The Mercatus Center has been described by the Wall Street Journal “as a coordinating center for lobbyists trying to block a flurry of regulations.” Congressional records show the think tank routinely cited in over a dozen hearings over the last two years by lawmakers seeking to roll back regulations on business interests.

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