Tag Archives | Psychology

Fear is the Mind Killer

Fear-is-the-mind-killer-Dune

Via Don Hazen at AlterNet:

“Fear is the mind-killer” – Frank Herbert, Dune

People cannot think clearly when they are afraid. As numerous studies have shown, fear is the enemy of reason. It distorts emotions and perceptions, and often leads to poor decisions. For people who have suffered trauma, fear messages can sometimes trigger uncontrollable flight-or-fight responses with dangerous ramifications.

Yet over time, many interlocking aspects of our society have become increasingly sophisticated at communicating messages and information that produce fear responses. Advertising, political ads, news coverage and social media all send the constant message that people should be afraid—very afraid.

In addition, television and film are filled with extreme violence and millions of fictional deaths, far out of proportion to what happens in real life, as researchers have pointed out. And more recently, we have witnessed the massive militarization of local police departments with equipment, gear and attitudes that treat citizens as if they were terrorists, as recently evidenced by events in Ferguson, Missouri.

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Unemployment and Suicide

Porsche Brosseau (CC By 2.0)

Porsche Brosseau (CC By 2.0)

via PsyBlog:

One in five suicides around the world is caused by this and the figure is rising.

Unemployment is linked to 45,000 suicides around the world each year, a new study finds.

This represents around one in five of the total number of global suicides.

The research, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, gathered data from 63 countries between 2000 and 2011 (Nordt et al., 2015).

They found that the risk of suicide due to unemployment had risen between 20 and 30 per cent across all regions of the world.

Also, since the period included the start of the recession in 2008, they were able to look at its effect.

Dr. Carlos Nordt, who led the study, said:

“After the crisis year in 2008, the number of suicides increased short-term by 5,000 cases.

Therefore, suicides associated with unemployment totaled a nine-fold higher number of deaths than excess suicides attributed to the most recent economic crisis.”

It’s not just the unemployment itself that is linked to suicide, it’s the period leading up to it when employees can face an uncertain and stressful few months, or even longer.

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How to Survive a Slasher Film

If you’re at all interested in slasher films, I recommend checking out the mockumentary, “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.” It does an excellent job deconstructing slasher movie tropes and themes, while also being wholly entertaining (and funny).

Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D writes at Psychology Today:

Ever since John Carpenter’s horror classic film, Halloween first premiered in 1978, the slasher film has been a familiar staple for horror movie viewers. In the decades that followed, there have been an astonishing number of slasher films though they all tend to follow the same basic formula.

This includes scenes of graphic violence, usually featuring a (typically female) protagonist attempting to stay alive while a faceless evil stalked and killed all the other victims, often in bizarre and creative ways. Despite the gratuitous violence and  stereotypical cliches relating to sexism, slasher films have a strange popularity with movie audiences and have even made unlikely film stars out of relentless killers such as Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees.

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The Psychology of Doing Nothing

This lecture explores decision avoidance in business. Why is costly inaction attractive? Why do individuals (and organisations) sometimes hesitate even though they know they probably have more to lose by not taking a risk? We also explore the other side of the coin: when is inaction the highest form of action?The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website.

h/t Reddit.

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How Time Tricks Our Minds

(Photo: darrentunnicliff/Flickr)

(Photo: darrentunnicliff/Flickr)

Rick Paulas via Pacific Standard:

“Time passes slowly up here in the mountains / We sit beside bridges and walk beside fountains / Catch the wild fishes that float through the stream / Time passes slowly when you’re lost in a dream”  —Bob Dylan, “Time Passes Slowly”

No, Bob. It doesn’t.

Time doesn’t pass slowly or quickly, unless you happen to be near a black hole. (Even then, it’s more time relative to other people’s experience of time, not time itself.) Time just passes, same as always, one second at a time. But there are certain instances when, despite this knowledge, it just doesn’t feel that way. Back in school, those last 20 minutes before the bell rung just seemed … to … take … forever. Or when you’re at an amazing party, and it’s over before you know it.

Last week, I experienced a subtle time shift of my own.

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Warning: Thoughts Can Kill

To die, sometimes you need only believe you are ill, and as David Robson discovers at BBC Future, we can unwittingly ‘catch’ such fears, often with terrifying consequences:

Beware the scaremongers. Like a witch doctor’s spell, their words might be spreading modern plagues.

Vudu

We have long known that expectations of a malady can be as dangerous as a virus. In the same way that voodoo shamans could harm their victims through the power of suggestion, priming someone to think they are ill can often produce the actual symptoms of a disease. Vomiting, dizziness, headaches, and even death, could be triggered through belief alone. It’s called the “nocebo effect”.

But it is now becoming clear just how easily those dangerous beliefs can spread through gossip and hearsay – with potent effect. It may be the reason why certain houses seem cursed with illness, and why people living near wind turbines report puzzling outbreaks of dizziness, insomnia and vomiting.

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Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) on Reddit

Screen shot 2015-02-12 at 11.42.01 AM

The folks at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) did a Reddit AMA yesterday. I’ve curated some of the more informative questions and answers, but you can read the entire thread here.

MAPS introduces themselves with this lengthy but informative opening:

We are the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and we are here to educate the public about research into the risks and benefits of psychedelics and marijuana. MAPS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1986 that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.

We envision a world where psychedelics and marijuana are safely and legally available for beneficial uses, and where research is governed by rigorous scientific evaluation of their risks and benefits.

Some of the topics we’re passionate about include;

  • Research into the therapeutic potential of MDMA, LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca, ibogaine, and marijuana
  • Integrating psychedelics and marijuana into science, medicine, therapy, culture, spirituality, and policy
  • Providing harm reduction and education services at large-scale events to help reduce the risks associated with the non-medical use of various drugs
  • Ways to communicate with friends, family, and the public about the risks and benefits of psychedelics and marijuana
  • Our vision for a post-prohibition world
  • Developing psychedelics and marijuana into prescription medicines through FDA-approved clinical research

List of participants:

  • Rick Doblin, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, MAPS
  • Brad Burge, Director of Communications and Marketing, MAPS
  • Amy Emerson, Executive Director and Director of Clinical Research, MAPS Public Benefit Corporation
  • Virginia Wright, Director of Development, MAPS
  • Brian Brown, Communications and Marketing Associate, MAPS
  • Sara Gael, Harm Reduction Coordinator, MAPS
  • Natalie Lyla Ginsberg, Research and Advocacy Coordinator, MAPS
  • Tess Goodwin, Development Assistant, MAPS
  • Ilsa Jerome, Ph.D., Research and Information Specialist, MAPS Public Benefit Corporation
  • Sarah Jordan, Publications Associate, MAPS
  • Bryce Montgomery, Web and Multimedia Associate, MAPS
  • Shannon Clare Petitt, Executive Assistant, MAPS
  • Linnae Ponté, Director of Harm Reduction, MAPS
  • Ben Shechet, Clinical Research Associate, MAPS Public Benefit Corporation
  • Allison Wilens, Clinical Study Assistant, MAPS Public Benefit Corporation
  • Berra Yazar-Klosinski, Ph.D., Clinical Research Scientist, MAPS

For more information about scientific research into the medical potential of psychedelics and marijuana, visitmaps.org.

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Schizophrenia, Depression and Addiction All Linked to Similar Loss of Brain Matter

Jon Olav Eikenes (CC BY 2.0)

Jon Olav Eikenes (CC BY 2.0)

via PsyBlog:

Could there be an underlying biological cause for many mental illnesses?

Diagnoses as different as depression, addictions and schizophrenia are all linked to a similar pattern of gray-matter loss in the brain, a new study finds.

The results hint at an underlying biological cause for these mental illnesses.

Dr Thomas Insel, commenting on the study, said:

“The idea that these disorders share some common brain architecture and that some functions could be abnormal across so many of them is intriguing,”

The research, published in JAMA Psychiatry, pooled data from 193 separate studies, which included brain imaging from 7,381 patients (Goodkind et al., 2015).

Patients were experiencing all sorts of different mental illnesses, including depression, schizophrenia, OCD and some anxiety disorders.

Despite this, the researchers identified three structures in the brain which had shrunk across all the different diagnoses.

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Night Terrors In Adults: When Sleeping Turns To Terror After Dark

Jeffrey (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Jeffrey (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Lizette Borreli via Medical Daily:

Like clockwork, every night at 2 a.m. the house would ring out with gasps for air, cries for help, and screams. My parents, all too familiar with these frightening sounds, would brace themselves for what would be one of many sleepless nights. Those nights filled with terrifying images and haunting sounds never went away for me.

Fourteen years later, I found myself within the confines of the Sleep Disorder Institute in New York, looking for answers to why I still wake myself up screaming in terror.

1. Night Terrors Exposed

The rare sleep disorder goes by many names: night terrors, sleep terrors, pavor nocturnus, or AXIS I: 307.46 (The DSM’s code). It remains a medical mystery. What medical researchers do know is that night terrors are caused by an over-arousal of the central nervous system (CNS) during sleep. In children, this may be the result of the CNS still maturing — it has long been believed that the CNS’s maturation process ends in early childhood (although several recent studies suggest it may continue to develop through around age 25).

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