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Protected: The sound of the world realigning itself

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The sound of rising water

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Noah`s Ark is one of the big blockbusters from Hollywood, there is so much advertisement that I probably will see it myself, not so much because of Hollywood, but because I`m quite curious when it comes to the story. I have never read the bible, and just know what we learnt at school (but a lot of that is forgotten already). I still don`t know what I think about religion, but I`ve realized that no matter what you believe, stories have their own power, true or not. One of the most powerful stories I`ve ever read (it still lingers in my mind) is The Woman Who Stood Naked Before Her Lover, and even if I`m still not sure why I loved it so much, I think the was the mystery and how I felt it told me something profound about life.

I think stories in the bible are popular partly because they have some of the same honesty and lessons about life in them. The story of Adam and Eve is so profoundly human, and symbolically its a piece of art people immediately respond to even if they never understood art before.  

The church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer. This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love of God. God is not a judge but a friend and a lover of humanity. God seeks not to condemn but only to embrace. Like the fable of Adam and Eve, we see hell as a literary device. Hell is merely a metaphor for the isolated soul, which like all souls ultimately will be united in love with God” Pope Francis declared.In a speech that shocked many, the Pope claimed “All religions are true, because they are true in the hearts of all those who believe in them. What other kind of truth is there?

Second Vatican Council with Pope Francis

The reason that I wanted to write about Noah`s ark is because I saw a news channel this morning, talking about the Noah`s Ark  museum in Denmark. The point is to teach people the story, without saying if it`s true or not. Some people who went there, were described as silent when they left the exhibition. “We think many are surprised, not because they suddenly believe in the story, but because they are impressed by the story and everything they didn`t know”.

I think we all need a Noah`s Ark every now and then. A place to feel safe, where we can be protected when it feels like we`re drowning. We psychologist don`t need to be afraid integrating metaphors and images from stories like these. 

James Hillman, psychologist and director of studies at the Jung Institute in Zurich points out: “We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Therapy and the World’s Getting Worse”.

ike we literally might need some kind of Noah`s Ark soon, or tragedy will walk into everyone`s houses. The news of today could report that a Ebola virus has indeed been found, that is spreading without any vaccine available. I saw a documentary about the Ebola Virus once, and it scared me so much I couldn`t watch more of it. I thought: This is really dangerous. It spread like fire, and you died fast. They have no closed the boarders of Senegal to reduce the problem. It reminds me a bit of “Inferno” by Dan Brown that I finished a month ago. Another book (Nothing to envy) I`ve read (it was recommended from a friend in United Kingdom) wrote about the state of North-Korea, and the stories I read also scared me.


 This morning, the news could tell us that South and North-Korea has shot more missiles, and North-Korea has been clear on their unwillingness to cooperate. Another news item, was that FN Climate Panel had said that the changes we experience in the climate, will lead to more conflicts the next years. We have the problem with overpopulation, and the resources are dwindling. Russland is threatening Ukraine, and I`m afraid there will be less and fewer places where kindness is the norm.

Kind3

Yesterday I interviewed and talked about the kindness project with several people. I went to a couchsurfer dinner with6 others (for example Kirstine Desian) and they said that it wasn`t usual for a lot of people to come, especially not if alcohol was involved. I was a bit saddened by this. Is this the only way people interact? Another new`s story focused on mental health, and even if many Danish people have psychological issues, it`s still stigma when it comes to mental health.

9dc5c55d12fea65d951400569ba800a8I hope that the reader feel helpless after reading this, because some do. They think: The world is in a bad state and there is nothing we can do. But is that true? I was surprised by the kindness I met when walking around in Copenhagen, and when I interviewed random people. We feel good when we do good, and many found it easier to remember things they had done to others than kindness other`s had showed them. In other words: We do like to give, and our memories stores those experiences more readily than getting something from. 10 points to altruism if you ask me.

We are already many in the kindness group, who have committed ourselves to reflect on and do small things for others.

People can even make a video about kindness, and send it to forfreepsychology@gmail.com or you can post it in the kindness group.

One lecturer told us: If we`d helped only one person with mental health issues, to get better, we`d already paid for our studies. That is encourgaing, and shows the potential of kindness and helping others

its the... little things

its the… little things by MaxiKohan

Remember pay it forward? It might go slow in the start, but if everyone started to do one kind act in a month, what could that lead to? How many turn off the lights when earth hour comes?I`ve made a podcast, and if someone would like to join in, you`re very welcome. My dream is to pay people for doing interviews and writing about kindness, and I am not so far away from reaching that goal.

It can feel like the world is going under, and that Noah`s Ark can`t save us anymore, buy is there any harm in trying? I have seen so many people, ready to drown, that start to swim and find paradise on the other side. 

The podcast: 

Breaking news: Live from a mental institution

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sickAn anchor woman holds her microphone steady as she reports live from ‘We have the power’ , an old mental institution where the walls should have been painted decades ago. Her voice intermingle with twenty other reporters looking seriously into the camera, pointing occasionally to the building behind them. The anchor woman turns her voice dramatically down when she arrives at the conclusion.

“Sources tell us that in this mental institution, often just keep patients long enough to give them medication before they send them back. They sometimes don’t arrive at the right diagnose, and it is rumored that they don’t take enough time with traumatized victims or that they even consciously decide not to talk about what they have experienced. Only 30% report that they felt better or had hope for the future after being released, and surveys show that staggering 20 % of the patients will be readmitted after not receiving the help they wanted”

Her face is now full of rage. Her mother killed herself after being hospitalized in a mental health clinic. When she had read through her mother’s journal she saw how many pills she was on, barbiturates strong enough to knock out a mammoth. When she tried to find therapy notes where her mother could process her traumatic past, she only found short conversations where the doctors wanted to know if she slept well, eat what she should or if she felt a bit better after taking another pill. She shouldn’t even be reporting, but she manages to do her job, t is important for her to get it all out there.

Another reporter talks with the direction, who promises that they will do everything to make this right. They will look into their routines and see what they can do to make sure this will never happen again.

The news report goes viral. Oprah dedicate her next show to the cause, and Internet users on Twitter have started protest demonstrations, venturing into the street with their fists pumping in the air as they chant: ‘Stop this, stop this, stop this’. They bring posters where with personal accounts: ‘My mother only got three days in the institution, when her depression intensified they said they have done everything they could so she was not prioritized. Take mental health seriously!” Some write messages to the government. ‘We want that our tax payers money go to mental health care for the 450 billions who needs better treatment” or “Why only research on drugs?”.  The protesters don’t make to much of a fuss. They don’t shout out obscenities, but they gather in every city, staying put and showing their support. They have started a peaceul war.

Why don’t we see this in the real world? Where is the public outcry over the state of unsatisfactory mental health care? When someone breaks a leg, we demand full treatment until the injury is fully treated. We never take off the bandage after three weeks instead of six, telling our patient that they can come back if the leg breaks again as it will because it simply was not healed. We protest when the plumber does a bad job, demanding to sue them if they don’t come back and fix it. When politicians have done something wrong, news papers write about it for days, as they do when an actress have broken down and been sent to rehab. But where are the headlines after it thousands of citizens have been ignored by the health care system? Where are the depth interviews with families who’ve seen their loved ones break down after unsuccessful treatment?

In my future news scenario, the media would focus on mental health daily. They would write nuanced articles on every subject relating to how we suffer and what our options are when we do. There would be demonstrations to so that we get what we need.

We would all be small Ghandies, damanding justice. We wouldn’t close our eyes, we would engage and try to change things. The media would not ignore us.

In my future utopia, the mental institution ‘We have the power’ would change their ways. They would give the power back to their patients, not giving up before they had tailor made the treatment that was right for them. They would listen to them and find their resources.

They would use money on educating their employees, giving their patient the very best care. We do it with cancer patients, we even do it at Starbucks to make sure that the customers are a hundred percent satisfied with their coffees. I dream about a world where surveys about how satisfied their patient are with their treatment. Why shouldn’t we give mental health all of our attention? When almost a fourth of us have psychological issues, stigma should be lifted by never ignoring our troubled minds.

We should not be afraid to speak up.

More:

Demonstations

Mental health research in India

 Stigma | Mental Health Commission of Canada

Readmission Rates for Mental Health Patients – NBRHC

Strategies for reducing stigma toward persons with mental illness 

Just like a pill

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Psychiatric drugs are doing us more harm than good

As with benzodiazepines in the 1980s, the UK is prescribing SSRI antidepressants at a staggering rate – and to no good effect
'More than 53m prescriptions for antidepressants were issued in 2013 in England alone.'

‘More than 53m prescriptions for antidepressants were issued in 2013 in England alone.’ Photograph: travel-and-more/Alamy
We appear to be in the midst of a psychiatric drug epidemic, just as we were when benzodiazepines (tranquilisers) were at their height in the late 1980s. The decline in their use after warnings about addiction led to a big increase in the use of the newer antidepressants, the SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors).
Figures released by the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry, which was set up to challenge many of the assumptions commonly made about modern psychiatry, show that more than 53m prescriptions for antidepressants were issued in 2013 in England alone. This is almost the equivalent of one for every man, woman and child and constitutes a 92% increase since 2003.
Sales of antidepressants have skyrocketed everywhere and are now so high in my own country, Denmark, that – if the prescriptions were equally distributed – every citizen could be in treatment for six years of their life. The situation is even worse in the US, where direct advertising of prescription drugs to the public is permitted and where more psychiatrists were “educated” with industry hospitality than any other medical discipline.
I began to realise the scale of the problem when I was persuaded seven years ago to become a tutor for a PhD thesis on whether history was repeating itself, by comparing benzodiazepines (“mother’s little helper”) with SSRIs. This research has established that people get as hooked on SSRIs as they did on benzodiazepines, and 37 of 42 withdrawal symptoms were the same for SSRIs as for benzodiazepines.
It is hard to believe that so many people have become mentally disturbed and that these prescription increases reflect a genuine need, so we need to look for other explanations. There seem to be three main reasons for the huge growth.
First, the definitions of psychiatric disorders are so vague that many healthy people can be diagnosed inappropriately. Second, some of the psychiatrists who wrote the diagnostic manuals were on the industry’s payroll, and this may have also led to significant diagnostic inflation. Third, the companies’ behaviour has been worse in psychiatry than in any other area of medicine, with billion-dollar fines paid for the illegal marketing of psychiatric drugs for non-approved uses. The rise in sales reflects patient dependency on these SSRIs: they may have great difficulty stopping even when they taper off the drugs slowly. Withdrawal symptoms are often misdiagnosed as a return of the disease or the start of a new one, for which drugs are then prescribed. Over time, this leads to an increase in the number of drug-dependent, long-term users.
Another major problem with psychiatric drugs is that they can cause the symptoms they are supposed to alleviate. Unfortunately, psychiatrists tend to increase the dose or add another drug when a patient reports negative effects.
The problem is that many of these drugs simply do not work as people suppose. The main effect of antidepressants is not the reduction of depressive symptoms. They are no better than placebo for mild depression, only slightly better for moderate depression, and benefit only one out of 10 with severe depression. In around half of all patients, they cause sexual disturbances. The symptoms include decreased libido, delayed orgasm or ejaculation, no orgasm or ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. Studies in both humans and animals suggest that these effects may persist long after the drug has been discontinued.
The US Food and Drug Administration has shown that antidepressants increase suicidal behaviour up to the age of 40, and many suicides have been reported even in healthy people who took the drugs for other reasons (for example, for stress or pain). Another report also said that, among people over 65, antidepressants are believed to kill one out of every 28 people treated for one year, because they lead to falls and hip fractures. Indeed, it is not clear whether antidepressants are safe at any age.
My studies of the research literature in this whole area lead me to a very uncomfortable conclusion: the way we currently use psychiatric drugs is causing more harm than good. We should therefore use them much less, for shorter periods of time, and always with a plan for tapering off, to prevent people from being medicated for the rest of their lives.

Possible blood test for Alzheimer’s

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Alzheimer’s blood test edges closer

By James GallagherHealth and science reporter, BBC News

29 July 2013 Last updated at 02:02

Dementia patient
Alzheimer’s is a growing problem as people live longer

Researchers believe they are closer to developing a blood test that could diagnose Alzheimer’s.

There is no definitive test for the brain-wasting disease. Doctors rely on cognition tests and brain scans.

A technique published in the journal Genome Biology showed differences in the tiny fragments of genetic material floating in the blood could be used to identify patients.

The test was accurate 93% of the time in trials on 202 people.

One of the main goals of Alzheimer’s research is to find ways of detecting the disease earlier.

It starts years before symptoms appear and it is thought that future treatments will need to be given before large parts of the brain are destroyed. This will require new ways of testing for the condition.

The team at the Saarland University, in Germany, analysed 140 microRNAs (fragments of genetic code) in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and in healthy people.

They found 12 microRNAs in the blood which were present in markedly different levels in people with Alzheimer’s. These became the basis of their test.

Early trials showed it was successful and was “able to distinguish with high diagnostic accuracies between Alzheimer’s disease patients and healthy” people.

However, more research to improve accuracy and to see whether it would work in the clinic is still needed before the test would be considered as a way of diagnosing patients.

Dr Eric Karran, from the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This is an interesting approach to studying changes in blood in Alzheimer’s and suggests that microRNAs could be playing a role in the disease.

“The findings highlight the importance of continuing research efforts to understand the contribution of microRNAs to Alzheimer’s, but the translation of this into a blood test for Alzheimer’s in the clinic is still some way off.

“A blood test to help detect Alzheimer’s could be a useful addition to a doctor’s diagnostic armoury, but such a test must be well validated before it’s considered for use. We need to see these findings confirmed in larger samples and more work is needed to improve the test’s ability to distinguish Alzheimer’s from other neurological conditions.”

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Can psychopaths switch their empathy on?

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Psychopathic criminals have empathy switch

By Melissa Hogenboom

Science reporter, BBC News
NeuronsMirror neurons in the brain fire both when you watch someone in pain and when you experience it yourself

Psychopaths do not lack empathy, rather they can switch it on at will, according to new research.

Placed in a brain scanner, psychopathic criminals watched videos of one person hurting another and were asked to empathise with the individual in pain.

Only when asked to imagine how the pain receiver felt did the area of the brain related to pain light up.

Scientists, reporting in Brain, say their research explains how psychopaths can be both callous and charming.

The team proposes that with the right training, it could be possible to help psychopaths activate their “empathy switch”, which could bring them a step closer to rehabilitation.

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The study

a participant being slapped on the hand to localize brain regions sensitive to pain
  • Placed in an fMRI scanner, 18 criminals with psychopathy and 26 control subjects were asked to watch a series of clips without a particular instruction
  • The clips showed one hand touching the other in a loving, a painful, a socially rejecting or a neutral way
  • They were then asked to watch the same clips again but this time try and feel what the subjects in the clips felt
  • In the third part of the study they were slapped with a ruler to localise the pain region of the brain

Mirror neurons

The ability to empathise with others – to put yourself in someone else’s shoes – is crucial to social development in order to respond appropriately in everyday situations.

Criminals with psychopathy characteristically show a reduced ability to empathise with others, including their victims. Evidence suggests they are also more likely to reoffend upon release than criminals without the psychiatric condition.

Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterised by superficial charm, pathological lying and a diminished capacity for remorse.

Now scientists have found that only when asked to empathise did the criminals’ empathy reaction, also known as the mirror system, fire up the same way as it did for the controls. Without instruction, they show reduced activity in the regions of the brain associated with pain.

This mirror system refers to the mirror neurons in our brain which are known to activate when we watch someone do a task and when we do it ourselves. They are thought to play a vital role in the ability to empathise with others.

‘Bleak prospect’Christian Keysers from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, and senior author of the study, said it could change the way psychopathic criminals were viewed.

“The predominant notion had been that they are callous individuals, unable to feel emotions themselves and therefore unable to feel emotions in others.

“Our work shows it’s not that simple. They don’t lack empathy but they have a switch to turn it on and off. By default, it seems to be off.”

The fact that they have the capacity to switch empathy on, at least under certain conditions, could have a positive side to it, Prof Keysers said.

“The notion psychopaths have no empathy at all was a bleak prospect. It would make it very hard for them to have normal moral development.

“Now that we’ve shown they have empathy – even if only in certain conditions – we can give therapists something to work with,” Prof Keysers told BBC News.

Brain activation in individuals with psychopathy was greater when asked to imagine pain (foreground) Brain activation in criminals with psychopathy was greater when asked to empathise (foreground)

But he explained that it was not yet known how this wilful capacity for empathy could be transformed into the spontaneous empathy most of us have.

Million-dollar questionEssi Viding from University College London, who was not involved with the study, said it was an extremely interesting finding, but that it remained unclear whether the psychopathic criminals’ experience of empathy felt the same as that of the controls.

“It’s dangerous to look at brain activation and say that it means they’re empathising. They are able to generate a typical neural response, but that doesn’t mean they have the same empathetic experience,” Prof Viding told BBC News.

“We know they can generate the same response but they do that in an active and effortful way. Under free-viewing conditions they don’t seem to. Just because they can emphasise, doesn’t mean they will.

“Psychopathic criminals are clearly different. The million-dollar question is whether we can devise therapeutic interventions that would shift them do this more automatically.”

Randall Salekin, from the University of Alabama, US, who works with youth offenders said: “These findings fit with much of the treatment I am doing using a mental model program, whereby youth are informed about how the brain works and then asked to make specific plans for improving their lives.

“This study is impressive because it actually shows the brain mechanisms or neural networks involved in activating the inmates’ empathy.”

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Let us change the world

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in Norway we are on 2 place when it comes to overall happiness. So why don`t we do more for others?

When you think about the world today, its easy to get overwhelmed. We see news every day, where the current themes are war, unemployment, hunger, extreme weather and people dying of different diseases. I am lucky, and live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. In rankings, Norway are number 2 when it comes to overall happiness, only surpassed by Switzerland. We have it all.

I remember a friend in United Kingdom (a wonderful man who doesn`t realize it himself) shaking his head because we actually GET paid (some of it we have to pay back, but to a very low rent) for studying, and we can study for 8 years before we have to start working. He worked from early morning to late in the evening, and he was lucky, because it is so hard to actually find a job in London. Here this would lead to outrage (in a recent top-news story, the paper wrote about a doctor  who had worked for several years without a proper summer-holiday). We are also a country that contributes a lot to the welfare of other countries and we often give of our own money for a good cause. But we still should do so much more.

Of course its easy to feel a bit miserable and overwhelmed when you live in luxury while you know that so many people don`t. When we throw away food, because it doesn`t look good, while somebody could kill another man for just one bite, our view on ourselves as good human beings, falter. Therefore, we have to create an explanation for not doing more, and here, I think, is where our brains help us.

Heard of cognitive dissonance before? If not, please read this before continuing: Cognitive Dissonance & Self-JustificationThe basics are: If we do something that don`t fit our view of ourselves, we find an explanation for not doing the “good” thing. For example, if we know smoking is bad for us, but still not quit, it must be because “we know a lot of people who haven`t died from smoking”. That is one of the reasons they include a phone number on cigarettes, so people feel they actually can DO something with the problem, since research show, that when we have the possibility to do good, we often do so. Especially if we see others “do the right thing”. Maybe that`s why exercising together with friends, or quitting smoking together with your partner, might be extra motivating. We are often more concerned by what others think about our will to commit, then we are if we break our own mental “standards”.da7832b904a8707dd7b944d4723b5f7c

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So, what is the reason that I write about this at all? If we so easily give up, why bother at all? That might be a conclusion, an actually an example of cognitive dissonance. Because something seem to be hard, doesn’t mean it’s impossible to change it. We see the effect of one person gathering people who care all the time (but maybe don`t hear to much of it in the news) and if more people started to actually believe in themselves and at least try to do something, I don’t think this necessarily would take a lot of time. Think about how popular earth hour has become. For 1-2 hours the whole world turn of their light, and this small and easy effort done by everyone, helps the environment so much. What if all persons were supposed to at least ONE time during the year, not take the car for work, but a bus/cycle or walk instead, would not everyone want to contribute? In the oil crisis in -73 people started to talk together so that they had to share cars, thereby decreasing traffic, and even getting more social as an extra bonus (main complaint from a lot of patients I see: They feel lonely and unconnected to th8dd9e94b2822927172ef658f516ad7bee world). A lot of people know how influenced our climate gets by pollution, but since we do nothing to change it ourselves, cognitive dissonance sets in (our contribution is just a drop in the sea, anyway). But all these small drops can have an enormous effect! A lot of hotels these days, have some kind of information about saving energy and water; by installing environmental friendly equipment for the shower or putting up a request for guest to use their towel twice, to save water.

C. P. Pierce says it like this:

As soon as we start thinking about making a donation, we start thinking of reasons not to do it. Money’s too tight at home. The person to whom we’ll give it will spend it unwisely. The buck in the envelope is just a drop in the bucket. Oh, Lord, the problem’s so big and my wallet is so small. The modern reflex seems to be that the worst thing we can do for a problem is to “throw money at it,” even though very few problems ever get solved for free.In fact, as much as we inveigh against it biblically, or deplore the heedless pursuit of it, money is one of the few things that truly unites us. Our common currency is, well, common currency in almost all our essential interactions, including our most beneficent ones. Warren Buffett, eBay founding president Jeff Skoll, and the Google people seemed to realize this over the past couple of years. By giving away their money, they cement together some vital elements of our commonwealth. dec5872938ddb5d7f7a59ad79cae526eSmaller transactions have the same effect. Over this past holiday season, a management group in Rhode Island gave its employees money on the express condition that the employees then give it away to someone else in need. The company then asked their employees to share the stories of their charity at a company meeting. Thus does the act of giving away money form a kind of oral history, from giver to recipient and then to the people to whom the story is told. There is a spark of the collective consciousness in that, which hearten not only those people involved in the transaction but those who hear the story and pass it along. When giving away your money, it helps to think of it as more than bits of paper and scraps of metal. That’s not a $20 bill you’re slipping into the envelope there. It’s a bag with flour for the poor. It’s soup or a blanket or a bottle of medicine. That handful of euros transforms into rice and welfare. Giving away money can be the most selfish thing you do. With a father and four of his siblings dead from the same disease, I can look at the check I send to the Alzheimer’s Association and see something that is every bit as therapeutic as any new therapy that money may help create. I see new drug trials, and a light against enveloping darkness.

There is nothing more visceral than cynicism, nothing more brutish than greed. These are reflexes, common and unremarkable, of the undeveloped spirit. But charity in its finest sense is always an act of the creative imagination.