Category : Psychology

(Gallup) Americans Step Up Their Social Distancing Even Further

Americans this past weekend stepped up their already considerable efforts to engage in social distancing in response to the novel coronavirus. Seventy-two percent of U.S. adults now say they are avoiding public places like stores and restaurants, well ahead of the 54% reporting this last week. Nearly as many (68%) are forgoing small gatherings of friends and family, up from 46%.

These shifts are notable because they suggest that the unprecedented efforts by federal, state, local and private-sector leaders to get the public’s attention — a combination of formal closures of transportation, schools, and workplaces, as well as public appeals for voluntary efforts — are working.

Even larger percentages of Americans are avoiding events with large crowds (92%) and are staying away from air travel or mass transit (87%). Most Americans were already avoiding these activities last week as businesses en masse began shuttering their doors, and widespread government and corporate travel bans took hold.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Sociology

(USA Today) Midwest farmers face a crisis. Hundreds are dying by suicide.

Heather Utter, whose husband’s cousin was the third to die by suicide, worries that her father could be next. The longtime dairy farmer, who for years struggled to keep his operation afloat, sold the last of his cows in January amid his declining health and dwindling finances. The decision crushed him.

“He’s done nothing but milk cows all his life,” said Utter, whose father declined to be interviewed.

“It was a big decision, a sad decision. But at what point do you say enough is enough?”

American farmers produce nearly all of the country’s food and contribute some $133 billion annually to the gross domestic product….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Suicide

(TLC Covenant) John Bauerschmidt–Sympathetic Imagination

We need the capacity for sympathetic imagination, and not just if we are historians or novelists, or students of these genres. We live in a time of stunted imagination, in the midst of the clash of civilizations and the culture wars of our own society, where the virtue of sympathy itself languishes. Imagine the novels of Dickens, peopled by the caricatures of each other that populate our political discourse! Oliver Twist would be tedious and unreadable, containing a succession of stick-figure bad guys, instead of being full of three-dimensional evil doers like Bill Sikes and Fagin and their associates. Aren’t we glad that the Artful Dodger survives his brush with the law? These figures are tragic precisely because we have sympathy with them. Dickens himself recognized and countered the criticism that came with a sympathetic treatment of what was morally disturbing. Sympathy does not make us sympathizers in the sense of political dupes or fellow travelers, but it does allow us to connect.

Sympathetic imagination is not only historical and literate; it is humane. Christians ought to be seasoned practitioners of the art of imaginative insight, able to make connections with others and to imagine their lives and values. A sympathetic imagination doesn’t make us traitors to our own fundamental commitments as human beings, or as Christians, but it does allow us to extend ourselves to others in ways that make for graceful connection. We must not settle for disconnection. A sympathetic imagination is essential to understanding, not only distant times and places, but also to living with our neighbors here and now.

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Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Psychology

(USA Today) Alia E. Dastagir–How to find a therapist if you’re suicidal

If you’ve ever been suicidal and talked openly about it, you’ve probably heard someone say — maybe gently, maybe emphatically — that you should see a therapist.

But many therapists have limited training in suicide, so finding the right one can be difficult.

“A lot of people go into this thinking a therapist is going to be able to support them through these crises, and they end up coming out incredibly disappointed,” said Dese’Rae L. Stage, a suicide survivor and founder of Live Through This, a project that amplifies the voices of attempt survivors.

Whitcomb Terpening, a licensed clinical social worker and founder of The Semicolon Group, a therapy practice in Houston that works exclusively on suicide, said suicidal people tend to fall into two buckets: Those who want help but haven’t been exposed to breakdowns in the mental health system, and those who’ve tried to seek help but have been turned off by the system because of “traumatizing experiences.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

(EF) Pablo Martinez–“Turning the truth into a matter of personal opinions, inexorably leads to loss of hope”

Question. We went from ‘I think therefore I am’, to ‘I feel therefore I am’, and then to post-truth. What is the reference that will be an anchor to human beings in this new decade?

Answer. The two great anchors of human beings are truth and hope. Both come together, they are inseparable and make the backbone of human existence. These two do not vary with time, we need them today just like twenty centuries ago. What changes is the relationship, the attitude of Man towards these two anchors. That’s where the origin of the current deep crisis of values lies. The replacement of ‘the Truth’ by ‘my truth’ has broken one of the anchors, dragging the other one, hope, with its breakup. In his best known work From Dawn To Decay, the renowned French historian Jacques Barzun, already warned that ‘the postmodern assault on the idea of truth could lead us to the destruction of 500 years of civilisation’.

The root of the conflict is not cultural or ideological, it is a moral one. Ultimately, it is not a matter of a new philosophy, but a matter of who has the authority in my life and in the world. Does anyone rule up there or can I rule?

A strong earthquake has shaken the foundations of Western civilisation, because in the last 30 years the foundation and nature of the truth have amazingly changed. The change is summed up in one sentence: ‘Truth is dead, long live to my truth!’

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology

(FB) Charles Lehman–The Curious Case of America’s Suicide Crisis

To the extent that we know what works, suicide prevention efforts face legislative and funding limitations. Singer pointed to research on “comprehensive community-based suicide prevention,” including support for community “gatekeepers,” which was shown to reduce teen suicide rates, in particular in rural communities. But rates crept back up when the program was defunded. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has called for expanded suicide assessment and intervention training for medical professionals, which was required by just nine states as of 2018.

But the bigger problem is that there is a great deal that we do not know about preventing suicide. Andrews said that there is a lack of consensus around what works best, or even what works at all.

“One of the reasons that we don’t understand it really well is that understanding, the research, the amount of time and effort we put into understanding changes in the suicide rate, is abysmal,” he said.

Dr. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research for the AFSP, made a similar call for more funding, both for suicide research and suicide prevention.

“Until we scale up intervention efforts at the community, state, and national levels, we will likely continue to see an increase in suicides in the United States,” she said. “As a nation, we need to significantly increase our investment in the science, education, and advocacy, in order to expand effective suicide prevention efforts. The lives of millions of Americans depend on it.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Suicide

(Gallup) Record-High Optimism on Personal Finances in U.S.

Americans’ views on their personal financial situation have been climbing since 2018 and are now at or near record highs in Gallup’s trends. Nearly six in 10 Americans (59%) now say they are better off financially than they were a year ago, up from 50% last year.

These data come from Gallup’s annual Mood of the Nation survey, conducted Jan. 2-15. The survey was completed after months of historically low levels of unemployment and as the Dow Jones Industrial Average neared the 30,000 mark for the first time.

The current 59% of Americans who say they are better off financially than they were a year ago is essentially tied for the all-time high of 58% in January 1999. That was recorded during the dot-com boom, with conditions similar to the current state of the economy — a stock market rocketing to then-record highs and unemployment at multidecade lows — though GDP growth was higher at that time.

From 1998 to 2000, at least half of Americans rated their financial situation better than that of a year ago. However, in most surveys from 2001 to 2018, the percentage saying their personal finances were better off than the previous year was under 50% — with a low of 23% in May 2009, during the Great Recession.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Personal Finance & Investing, Psychology, Sociology

(Memphis Commercial Appeal) Why the Enneagram of Personality is becoming popular with Christians and other faith groups

Sandra Smith isn’t sure why the Enneagram has taken off so recently among faith communities. Maybe it’s because of social media, or perhaps it’s because of the popularity of categorizing one another, she said.

But it’s not a typing system, said Smith, a certified consultant and teacher of the Enneagram.

“It’s about, ‘how do I block my heart from giving and receiving love?’”

On Thursday, a group of spiritual directors and clergy gathered at Church Health for a workshop to learn more about the Enneagram, a tool that maps out nine personality types, delving into the strengths, struggles and dominant emotions of each type.

The Enneagram isn’t a new system. Parts of it, including its symbol with nine points in a circle, are ancient. But in the past few years, the system has taken off among faith communities who are using it in Bible studies, in therapy sessions, on retreats and in individual spiritual practice.

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Posted in Anthropology, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(Kate Bowler) The Burden of Love

Says Lewis, “There is nothing we can do with suffering, except to suffer it.”

We know that advice from other people can sound a lot like well-meaning white noise. Or like a line separating the grieving from everybody else in the normal world. It makes me wish we learned a bit more from cultures who carve out space for mourning, like the Jewish custom of “sitting Shiva” where friends and family gather for seven days together in silence. Or how people in Greece and Portugal encourage widows to wear black for months, creating a reminder for others of their loss.

We all need a bit of permission to allow ourselves time and space to feel the weight of loss, and move through it in our own way. My friend and former cello teacher lost her husband last year, and the week after the funeral, to the chagrin of those thought she should be taking a break, there she was at the piano accompanying the services as she always did. That was her way of living through her loss, with keys under her fingers, helping others the way she always did.

So my dears, what can then be said of grief except that is the burden of love? It can’t be defined or drawn, only suffered. But what must be said, what must be given, is the permission to feel it. All of it. Not as a state, but as a process. No one can tell you what that process must be for you, just now. So gently, gently, let it lead you through.

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Posted in Anthropology, Books, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(Guardian) ‘Schools are killing curiosity’: why we need to stop telling children to shut up and learn

Young children sit cross-legged on the mat as their teacher prepares to teach them about the weather, equipped with pictures of clouds. Outside the classroom, lightning forks across a dark sky and thunder rumbles. Curious children call out and point, but the teacher draws their attention back – that is not how the lesson target says they are going to learn about the weather.

It could be a scene in almost any school. Children, full of questions about things that interest them, are learning not to ask them at school. Against a background of tests and targets, unscripted queries go mainly unanswered and learning opportunities are lost.

Yet the latest American research suggests we should be encouraging questions, because curious children do better. Researchers from the University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital and the Center for Human Growth and Development investigated curiosity in 6,200 children, part of the US Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. The study is highlighted in a new book by Judith Judd and me, How to Succeed at School. What Every Parent Should Know.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Theology

(CEN) Bishop Alan Smith wants inquest law to focus on gambling

The Coroners (Determination of Suicide) Bill 2020 received its first reading in the House of Lords last Thursday.

“I have introduced this common-sense piece of legislation so the Government can begin to get a handle on the consequences of gambling-related harm,” Bishop Smith told the House of Lords.
“This new legislation will mean, for the first time, each instance where gambling is a factor in suicide coroners will record it in conclusions.

“I have met far too many families whose lives have been destroyed by the loss of a loved one, often young adults who have their entire lives ahead of them.

“As there is no accurate, up-to-date, data linking gambling with suicide, their desire to get the Government to take action has often been stymied,” he said.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Gambling, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Suicide

(CHE) The Big Lie–A professor schemed to get a raise and win his department’s respect. Instead, he wrecked his career

Brian and Stacey McNaughton had bought their single-family home in Fort Collins, Colo., six years earlier for $525,000. It was the sort of place, situated on an oversize corner lot in a neighborhood filled with doctors and lawyers, that projected the kind of solid middle-class status that the couple had achieved after years of study. Brian McNaughton, once a first-generation college student, was on the tenure track at Colorado State University, and his wife was a nurse anesthetist.

But all of that risked being torn asunder because of the big lie — a lie that they shared, and that Stacey McNaughton was now threatening to expose. She would recount to the police how she had signaled plans to call her husband’s boss, reveal his deception, and derail his career. The couple struggled for control of a phone, and the professor pleaded with his wife to reconsider, before Stacey McNaughton ran out the back door screaming for help. She jumped a fence and took refuge with some neighbors who were having a backyard campfire.

On that night and many thereafter, Brian McNaughton feared that his wife would tell people at Colorado State how he had fabricated a job offer from another university. It was a simple scheme, one designed to earn him the kind of money and respect that is often so elusive for early-career professors. As McNaughton had hoped, the fake letter spurred a counteroffer, forcing his dean and department chair to reconsider what he might be worth.

In July 2015, police responded to a domestic disturbance at the McNaughtons’ home. An officer’s body camera captured interviews with the couple and a secret recording that Stacey McNaughton had made of their argument.

Not long before, Stacey McNaughton had started secretly recording all of the couple’s conversations. In audio from that summer night, which she shared with an officer, she can be heard saying, “You wrote that letter, Brian — that lie. I told you don’t submit it.”

But he had done it, and there was no turning back.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Psychology, Science & Technology

David French–‘And No One Will Make Them Afraid’ When Jews are under violent attack for building a home in this land, it repudiates the American promise

Indeed, it’s not only the most American of stories—of people welcome nowhere else coming to a land that promised them liberty, it’s a story of unique resonance to American Jews dating back to our nation’s founding. As New York Times editor and writer Bari Weiss relates in her outstanding and moving book, How To Fight Anti-Semitism, George Washington wrote to a Rhode Island Hebrew congregation all the way back in 1790 that American Jews “possess alike liberties of conscience and immunities of censorship.”

America is Israel’s closest ally. America is the home of the second-largest population of Jewish people in the world, behind only Israel. And now, in communities where Jews have lived and thrived for generations, they don’t know if they’re safe. They don’t know if they’ll be victimized by random, vicious attacks. Even worse, those attacks aren’t coming from a single movement that can be identified, isolated, and defeated. They come from radical left and radical right. They come from Americans black and white. The ancient hatreds have re-emerged to such an extent that I’ve heard more than one friend question whether this land can truly remain their home.

In fact, one of the central political, cultural, and spiritual challenges of our time is reassuring Americans increasingly divided by religion and still divided by race that this nation is, indeed, home.

That’s America’s 400-year challenge with an African-American population that endured 246 years of slavery, 99 years of widespread legal discrimination following Appomattox, and has lived only 56 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

That’s America’s challenge as increasing diversity is accompanied by increasing cultural clashes, and the omnipresent human will to power prefers victory and domination over pluralism and accommodation.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Judaism, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Violence

(NYT Op-ed) Richard A. Friedman–Why Are Young Americans Killing Themselves?

Teenagers and young adults in the United States are being ravaged by a mental health crisis — and we are doing nothing about it. As of 2017, statistics show that an alarming number of them are suffering from depression and dying by suicide. In fact, suicide is now the second leading cause of death among young people, surpassed only by accidents.

After declining for nearly two decades, the suicide rate among Americans ages 10 to 24 jumped 56 percent between 2007 and 2017, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And for the first time the gender gap in suicide has narrowed: Though the numbers of suicides are greater in males, the rates of suicide for female youths increased by 12.7 percent each year, compared with 7.1 percent for male youths.

At the same time, the rate of teen depression shot up 63 percent, an alarming but not surprising trend given the link between suicide and depression: In 2017, 13 percent of teens reported at least one episode of depression in the past year, compared with 8 percent of teens in 2007, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

How is it possible that so many of our young people are suffering from depression and killing themselves when we know perfectly well how to treat this illness?

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

Friday Mental Health break–(NBC) Airport Pig Spreads Holiday Cheer In San Francisco

Posted in Animals, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Travel

(Globe+Mail) Dan Werb–How doctors discovered the true causes of drug addiction

With physicians more likely to become addicted to drugs, compared with the general population, it became a lot more difficult to argue that a drug-dependent person was a “classic psychopath” or inherently “immature and pseudo-aggressive.” The situation was particularly untenable given that, during the fifties and sixties, physicians were the people running most epidemiologic studies and authoring the scientific manuscripts about drug use. They were, unsurprisingly, loath to suggest that the high prevalence of drug addiction among members of their vocation was caused by the fact that doctors are all psychopaths.

And so, instead of blaming that same collective form of psychopathology that they had diagnosed as innate to African-Americans, Latinos and women, epidemiologic papers about addicted doctors quietly gravitated toward different language to talk about drug use and its effects.

In one study from 1966 that compared 100 physicians treated for addiction with 100 matched controls, the authors – physicians themselves, of course – wrote, with a level of subtlety absent in studies of drug use among black Americans, that they found “no correlation between psychiatric diagnosis and drug used” and the study’s participants. As far as the researchers were concerned, doctors couldn’t be crazy, even the ones that overindulged. In a lingering sign of the times, though, the factors the authors deemed most likely to increase the risk of drug use reflected myopic ideas about the root causes of addiction. These included whether participants were married, whether they were Protestant and whether they came from the American South.

Another study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1970, reported that after 20 years of following a group of college students, half of whom had gone into medicine, twice as many of the physicians had used drugs as the group of people who, one assumes, found less respectable careers. Here, the authors again included variables they assumed most relevant to addiction: having had a feeding problem in infancy, having had a private-school education and scoring badly on a math test. Today this kind of paper wouldn’t even make it to a scientific journal editor’s desk, let alone get published.

What these mid-century epidemiologists overlooked about substance use among doctors were the high levels of stress, anxiety and lack of sleep that characterize the medical profession. Coupled with ready access to highly addictive pharmaceutical drugs and a culture of intense competition, doctors were primed to self-medicate.

Having pragmatically turned themselves into their own guinea pigs, doctors had inadvertently revealed their own heightened drug use and, with it, the fatal flaw behind the racist and sexist addiction science they had popularized. This led to only one conclusion: If morally upstanding, intellectually sophisticated white men were succumbing to addiction in droves, then it could not be a disease of the mind. The upshot was that the kinds of variables included in addiction models expanded beyond an individual’s personality or upbringing.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, History, Psychology

(CLJ) Tim Kelleher–A Divided Society Is Already Conquered

There is an insight that would seem to get us fairly close to the heart of things. It goes like this: in the philosophy of the East, what needs to be proved is the existence of the self. In the West, it is the reverse; a la Descartes, with Berkeley doubling down, the self is the reality outside of which all else, including the world and other beings, is dubious till proven otherwise.

At this point, we’re painfully aware of the cultural snare, oddly dubbed, identity politics. Like Penny Lane, it is very much in our ears, and in our eyes. And, with barely a squint, the connection between it, and that Western view of self, racks to revealing focus. Identity politics, it turns out, is a sad irony. For what passes as identity here is, in fact, inherently, radically, self-insistent. With each new grievance a new sub-identity emerges, indicting enemies from a pool of usual suspects, as well as those amazed to be cast, suddenly, in the part. Indeed, yesterday’s confederate becomes today’s foe with dizzying regularity. To the less inflamed eye, the syndrome is, in truth, a hunger. One that grows ravenous on its present fare — and in a pattern similar to cancer, whose cells, unlike their healthy counterparts, divide without stopping.

In this case, the agents of division are human. The insistence may be confused, but it is willful, and as potentially hazardous. No stardust here. With little to build on, or with, it is, rather, a race to a dead-end of identity, shrunk beyond meaning. More benevolently: Wile E. Coyote, the moment he realizes he has overshot the cliff. Less benevolently: he is taking us with him. Nothing that has been said should be mistaken for a dismissal of injustice, the individuals and groups burdened by it, or the need for genuine remedy.

I do suggest that, if remedy is what we are really after, the modus operandi of identity politics is not just the wrong way to it, it is no way to it at all. What it lacks is gaping, and fatally flawed, namely, acknowledgement of personal culpability, in the first instance, on the part of everyone, in every social wound. It is the default position of authentic humility, upon which noble things can be built.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Politics in General, Psychology

(WSJ) Erica Komisar–We need to be reminded of the great value faith traditions have for our children

As a therapist, I’m often asked to explain why depression and anxiety are so common among children and adolescents. One of the most important explanations—and perhaps the most neglected—is declining interest in religion. This cultural shift already has proved disastrous for millions of vulnerable young people.

A 2018 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology examined how being raised in a family with religious or spiritual beliefs affects mental health. Harvard researchers had examined religious involvement within a longitudinal data set of approximately 5,000 people, with controls for socio-demographic characteristics and maternal health.

The result? Children or teens who reported attending a religious service at least once per week scored higher on psychological well-being measurements and had lower risks of mental illness. Weekly attendance was associated with higher rates of volunteering, a sense of mission, forgiveness, and lower probabilities of drug use and early sexual initiation. Pity then that the U.S. has seen a 20% decrease in attendance at formal religious services in the past 20 years, according to a Gallup report earlier this year. In 2018 the American Family Survey showed that nearly half of adults under 30 do not identify with any religion.

Nihilism is fertilizer for anxiety and depression, and being “realistic” is overrated. The belief in God—in a protective and guiding figure to rely on when times are tough—is one of the best kinds of support for kids in an increasingly pessimistic world. That’s only one reason, from a purely mental-health perspective, to pass down a faith tradition.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(NYT) First Comes Snapchat, Then the Bachelor and Spinster Ball

“It’s hard finding love,” Rippy said, noting that his wife of 30 years was somewhere nearby. “I’d hate to be single again. It’s scary, dead set.”

But that’s why the balls matter, he added. Along with the awkward singles, the free-flowing beer and the backfiring pickup trucks, or “utes,” turned on and off to create fiery explosions called key bangs, there are people who connected at balls and come back to socialize.

“Who here is a couple?” Rippy yelled, meandering through the crowd.

Within a minute, Jess and Matt Chown emerged. He works on sheep farms; she works at an aged-care home for veterans.

“We met at a ball in 2011,” Ms. Chown said. “I laid eyes on him and it was love at first sight.”

“You know why I come? To do things I can’t do in church,” Mr. Chown said. Standing at least 6-foot-3 and wider than a tree cut for timber, he kicked a trash bin, making a loud clang.

Everyone laughed, including his wife.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Australia / NZ, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Women

(CT) Kay Warren: Moms of Kids with Mental Illness Need Christ and Community

With all the advocacy and educational work that you do on mental health issues, why was doing a retreat for moms a priority?

After Matthew died, I talked to hundreds of parents who have kids with mental illness. And it slowly began to dawn on me that not only did parents not have enough support, they didn’t have good community.

There are a lot of reasons for that. There’s stigma and discrimination against people living with mental illness. In the Christian community, there’s a standard that we feel like we have to measure up to—you know, perfect marriages, perfect families, always “things are good, things are good.” And when your life isn’t good, you end up hiding how difficult your life really is.

When there is serious mental illness, there can be extreme chaos, violence, or threats of violence. There is extreme dysfunction. There can be homelessness, substance abuse, and a sense of helplessness. And so parents don’t have a place where they can really say, “This is what my life is like.” And I just kept thinking, what can I do, what can I do? How can I help make a place for others, particularly moms, where they can be real, where they can tell their story, where they can find community?

Then a really good friend—you!—said early this year, “Have you ever thought about doing a retreat for moms?” And my response was “Uh, no, but I will.” It became crystal clear to me that that was exactly what I was supposed to do.

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Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Mental Illness, Pastoral Care, Psychology

Archbishop Justin Welby gives the ‘Thought For The Day’ on mental health

Good communities are places where mental health issues do not prevent people from having authentic and honest relationships. Good communities are able to hold pain, honour and acknowledge it, whilst putting it within the wider story of God and His hope for His people.

Christians believe we have a saviour, a rescuer, who knows intimately what it means to suffer. Amidst all the brokenness, Christ weeps with us. In his resurrection, I believe Christ restores us. Not necessarily in the way we expected, but he makes us whole in a way that makes sense.

It is my prayer today that anyone who is walking in darkness knows this: you are not alone. You are truly valued and deeply loved. Reaching out and talking to someone can be the first step back into the light.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT) Getting a Handle on Self-Harm

The sensations surged up from somewhere inside, like poison through a syringe: a mix of sadness, anxiety, and shame that would overwhelm anyone, especially a teenager.

“I had this Popsicle stick and carved it into sharp point and scratched myself,” Joan, a high school student in New York City said recently; she asked that her last name be omitted for privacy. “I’m not even sure where the idea came from. I just knew it was something people did. I remember crying a lot and thinking, Why did I just do that? I was kind of scared of myself.”

She felt relief as the swarm of distress dissolved, and she began to cut herself regularly, at first with a knife, then razor blades, cutting her wrists, forearms and eventually much of her body. “I would do it for five to 15 minutes, and afterward I didn’t have that terrible feeling. I could go on with my day.”

Self-injury, particularly among adolescent girls, has become so prevalent so quickly that scientists and therapists are struggling to catch up. About 1 in 5 adolescents report having harmed themselves to soothe emotional pain at least once, according to a review of three dozen surveys in nearly a dozen countries, including the United States, Canada and Britain. Habitual self harm, over time, is a predictor for higher suicide risk in many individuals, studies suggest.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology, Young Adults

(CC) Shelly Rambo–How Christian theology and practice are being shaped by trauma studies

Psychological trauma is not a new phenomenon, but it is newly studied. Flagged by pioneering psychoanalysts at the end of the 19th century as a wound of the psyche, the term trauma is a modern way of describing how violence impacts us psychologically and emotionally. Sigmund Freud noted that veterans of World War I did not simply recall the violence they had endured in the war but were reliving it in the present. That observation defied existing theories of time and experience. The veterans’ failure to delineate between then and now signaled to early theorists of trauma that the timeline of how we interpret experiences is profoundly shattered in cases of overwhelming violence.

In 1983, the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) entered the psychiatric diagnostic manual. Judith Herman’s 1992 book Trauma and Recovery brought trauma to further public attention by noting the similarities between the experiences of combat veterans and those of sexual abuse survivors. Studies of second-generation Holocaust survivors inaugurated collaborative work across disciplines and generated what is now referred to as trauma theory. These works widened the scope of study from an exclusively psychological framework to literary, historical, and philosophical accounts of experience, and they moved from the interpersonal to the collective realm. For example, Toni Morrison in her novel Beloved provides a specter of the unaddressed trauma of chattel slavery in the figure of a dead child whose ghost returns to tell truths about the past. Morrison understood that cycles of violence play out across generations. The wounds do not simply go away.

Experiences of pain, loss, and suffering are part of human experience, and in time many are able to integrate the suffering into their lives. But trauma refers to an experience in which the process of integration becomes stuck. Pastoral theologian Carrie Doehring identifies trauma as “a bio-psycho-spiritual response to overwhelming life events.” In traumatic response, there is a breakdown of multiple systems that we rely on to protect us from harm and to process harm. In these cases, our systems are not simply slow to integrate the impact; they fail to integrate it. Trauma marks a “new normal” in that there is no possibility of the person returning to who they were before. A radical break has occurred between the old self and the new one.

The therapeutic challenge facing someone who has experienced trauma remains that of integrating the experience into their life.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Violence

(MW) Millennials like Emma Watson aren’t necessarily ‘single’ — they’re ‘self-partnered’

Move over, conscious uncoupling — a new star-powered relationship status is in vogue.

Emma Watson — the actress best known for growing up on-screen as Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” movies — got personal about turning 30 in a cover story for British Vogue’s December issue.

“I never believed the whole ‘I’m happy single’ spiel,” she’s quoted as saying in the story. “It took me a long time, but I’m happy.”

She continues: ‘I call it being self-partnered.’

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Young Adults

(PBS) Youth suicide rates are on the rise in the U.S.

Suicides are on the rise among young Americans of all races, part of a grim national trend that has contributed to lower life expectancy overall, according to new federal data. But a separate study suggests that there are racial disparities in youth suicidal behavior, due in great part because some children lack access to vital resources.

While suicide was the 10th most common cause of death among Americans of all ages in 2017, it was the second leading cause of death among young Americans age 15 to 24, according to new data released [last] Thursday from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And no racial or ethnic group has been spared in this rising rate, said Sally Curtin, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics who has studied these suicide trends for years and served as the report’s lead author.

“The community at large needs to pay attention and figure out what’s going on, what’s driving these trends,” she said.

According to Heather Kelly, a clinical psychologist with the American Psychological Association, there is an urgent need for more research to seek out evidence-based ways to prevent suicide and help those who struggle with thoughts of self-harm, especially among veterans, the LGBTQ community, youth and young adults.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Stress, Suicide, Teens / Youth, Theology, Young Adults

(NYT) Silicon Valley Goes to Therapy

“In Silicon Valley,” Mr. Seibel added, “we did not talk this much about mental health even three years ago.” He estimates that more than 50 related start-ups are coming onto the scene. His firm just funded three: Stoic; Quirk, an app that uses cognitive behavioral therapy to treat people with anxiety and depression; and Mindset Health, which creates hypnotherapy apps that it says can treat anxiety, depression and irritable bowel syndrome.

Mindset Health was founded by two brothers, Alex and Chris Naoumidis, who previously created a peer-to-peer dress-sharing app for women. When that app failed, the brothers felt overcome with anxiety.

“We fell into this period of mental health problems,” said Alex Naoumidis, 24.

The brothers tried some of the existing wellness apps — meditation products, mindfulness tools — but remained unmoored. Their father suggested in-person hypnotherapy. It gave them the idea for Mindset.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology, Secularism

(WSJ) The New Parental Obsession: Checking Kids’ Grades Online

Teachers report mixed feelings about online grade books. Sean Riley, a high-school teacher in Seattle, said students and parents can become so focused on the metrics that they lose sight of the bigger picture. “It starts to turn learning into a series of tasks to be completed instead of a process of exercises to learn more,” he said.

Obsessive grade-checking is also symptomatic of the desire, peculiar to a generation that has grown up with everything just a swipe away, to receive instant gratification. Mr. Riley said this can lead to anxiety and disappointment in some students.

The upside is when students use the information to advocate for themselves.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(ES) Jonathan Haidt: ‘Many people will soon find themselves mired in perpetual conflict over words’

“When the article came out we were braced for an enormous pushback. It was an explosive time, and things were beginning to get very strange politically in ways we’re only beginning to understand,” he says. “But the climate changed in early 2016, when the number of shutdowns and disinvitations grew, and everything got worse. Things were changing in ways that are really bad for what we do, so Greg and I decided we had to turn it into a book.”

Between the article and the book, which came out last year, Haidt’s research revealed a strong connection between Gen Z’s soaring rates of anxiety and depression (especially among girls), their emotional fragility and their upbringing . “Originally, we didn’t see how it all linked to childhood trends, such as fearful parenting and the decline of play. We also didn’t know, until research was published last year, that there was a sudden radicalisation among white progressives in 2014 about different types of inequality: feminism, racism, misogyny, white privilege, or any other term from the woke vocabulary.

“Another big shift came from changes in social media after 2012, through Twitter and Instagram. This new configuration has been much more effective at spreading outrage, because almost anything can be taken as an example of how awful the other side is if you strip it of context and put it out there.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Philosophy, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology, Young Adults

(Economist) Drawing the line between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel

One reason debate over Israel gets heated is that both sides question each other’s motives. Supporters of Israel note that anti-Semites often cloak their prejudice in criticism of the Jewish state. They say some views—like saying that Israel should not exist—are by definition anti-Semitic. Pro-Palestinian advocates retort that charges of Jew-hatred are intended to silence them.

Such mistrust has grown in Britain and America, as anti-Semitism has resurfaced at both political extremes. On the left, legislators in America have accused pro-Israel colleagues of dual loyalty, and implied that Jewish money bought Republican support for Israel. In 2012 Jeremy Corbyn, now the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, defended a mural depicting hook-nosed bankers.

The right has used similar innuendo, often by linking liberals to George Soros, a Jewish investor. Muddying matters more, Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has also denounced Mr Soros. In America right-wing anti-Semitism also takes a more explicit, occasionally violent form. In 2017 marchers in Virginia chanted “Jews will not replace us.” And in 2018 a shooter at a synagogue in Pittsburgh killed 11 people.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Israel, Judaism, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Violence

(IP) How some American Christians distort the gospel

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology