Category : Psychology

(Washington Post) Bryce Ward–Americans are choosing to be alone. Here’s why we should reverse that.

According to the Census Bureau’s American Time Use Survey, the amount of time the average American spent with friends was stable, at 6½ hours per week, between 2010 and 2013. Then, in 2014, time spent with friends began to decline.

By 2019, the average American was spending only four hours per week with friends (a sharp, 37 percent decline from five years before). Social media, political polarization and new technologies all played a role in the drop. (It is notable that market penetration for smartphones crossed 50 percent in 2014.)

Covid then deepened this trend. During the pandemic, time with friends fell further — in 2021, the average American spent only two hours and 45 minutes a week with close friends (a 58 percent decline relative to 2010-2013).

Similar declines can be seen even when the definition of “friends” is expanded to include neighbors, co-workers and clients. The average American spent 15 hours per week with this broader group of friends a decade ago, 12 hours per week in 2019 and only 10 hours a week in 2021.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(Front page of yesterday’s NYT) As Gen X and Boomers Age, They Confront Living Alone

In 1960, just 13 percent of American households had a single occupant. But that figure has risen steadily, and today it is approaching 30 percent. For households headed by someone 50 or older, that figure is 36 percent.

Nearly 26 million Americans 50 or older now live alone, up from 15 million in 2000. Older people have always been more likely than others to live by themselves, and now that age group — baby boomers and Gen Xers — makes up a bigger share of the population than at any time in the nation’s history.

The trend has also been driven by deep changes in attitudes surrounding gender and marriage. People 50-plus today are more likely than earlier generations to be divorced, separated or never married.

Women in this category have had opportunities for professional advancement, homeownership and financial independence that were all but out of reach for previous generations of older women. More than 60 percent of older adults living by themselves are female.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Children, Economy, Health & Medicine, Housing/Real Estate Market, Marriage & Family, Psychology

(VA) Shane Whitecloud–What Veterans Day means to me

I was sent back to Hawaii where I went to my chain of command to report the incident again. I was placed on restrictive duty for violating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I was discharged from the Navy in 1995 with a General Under Honorable Conditions discharge.

There weren’t a lot of resources for Veterans back then and the ones I heard about I was leery of. I fell into homelessness, drugs, and eventually incarceration. I was lost and alone. I didn’t want to be found. I attempted suicide twice before I turned 21. I used to tell people I’d never live to see 30.

I found that singing was my way of saving $40 on a shrink and I sang for touring rock bands for the next 20+ years. Something was still missing though. I never had that feeling of accomplishment.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, History, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Suicide

(C of E) How words of familiar prayers or hymns help people with dementia

Residents at Westview House in Totland Bay, on the Isle of Wight might be living with dementia – but they could remember the words to the Lord’s Prayer.

As Anne Powell started to lead the informal service in the care home, several seemed initially confused about what was going on.

But when Anne started to lead them in the words of the Lord’s Prayer, something amazing happened. Long-term memories kicked in, as many of them recited the words they had learnt decades ago. Something similar happened as they started to sing ‘All things bright and beautiful’.

This is the kind of ministry that Anne Powell offers regularly, as an ‘Anna Chaplain’.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(IE) Could Dementia be prevented by restoring and normalizing protein clusters?

Dementia is a disease that impairs memory and decision-making skills. The clean-up of toxic protein clumps could prevent neurodegenerative diseases, according to a new study.

The study was led by researchers from the Queensland Brain Institute. The research team discovered that focusing on the relationship between two key enzymes could prevent dementia. The proteins the researchers studied were the enzyme Fyn and the protein Tau. They studied the area of the brain that causes frontotemporal dementia, a form of brain disorder that forms when parts of the frontal and temporal lobes are damaged, affecting behavior, language and movement.

The study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

The research team was led by Professor Frederic Meunier and Dr. Ramón Martínez-Mármol of the Queensland Brain Institute. Researchers found that Fyn, an enzyme that plays a significant role in learning and memory, became active when it was immobilized within the synapses – a link between two nerve cells – that connected hubs between neurons, where the enzymes normally communicate.

“Using super-resolution microscopy, we can now see these enzymes individually and in real-time, moving around randomly in live neurons,” said Dr Martínez-Mármol, lead author on the study.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology

(Gallup) Americans Less Optimistic About Next Generation’s Future

Americans have as little optimism as they have had at any time in nearly three decades about young people’s chances of having greater material success in life than their parents. In all, 42% of U.S. adults think it is very (13%) or somewhat (29%) likely that today’s youth “will have a better living standard, better homes, a better education and so on.” This marks an 18-percentage-point drop since June 2019 and is statistically tied with the previous low in 2011.

Since 2008, Gallup has been gauging Americans’ assessments of the next generation’s likelihood of surpassing their parents’ living standards, and before that — from 1995 through 2003 — the question was asked by The New York Times and CBS News. The highest percentage of U.S. adults expecting better lives for the next generation was 71% in 1999 and 2001.

While the latest 42% combined very/somewhat likely reading, from a Sept. 1-16 poll, is two points below the prior low in 2011, the current 13% who are very likely to feel optimistic about the next generation’s achievements matches the 2011 and 2012 readings and is slightly above the lowest on record, 11% in 1995.

Twenty-eight percent say it is somewhat unlikely that today’s youth will have better lives than their parents, while 29% — two points above the prior high from 2011 — say it is very unlikely.

Read it all.

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

(Economist) Most people on antidepressants don’t need them–Time to wean them off

Almost 35 years ago American drug regulators approved Prozac, the first in a series of blockbuster antidepressants known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (ssris). Prozac and its cousins were lauded by patients and doctors as miracle drugs. They lifted low moods quickly and seemed to have no drawbacks. Divorce, bereavement, problems at work—a daily pill was there to help with that, and anything else which made you sad. Many people have stayed on these drugs for life. In Western countries today between one person in seven and one in ten takes antidepressants.

The shine of ssris has worn off. A growing number of studies show that they are less effective than thought. Drug companies often publish the results of clinical trials selectively, withholding those in which the drugs turn out not to work well. When the results of all trials submitted to America’s medicines regulator between 1979 and 2016 were scrutinised by independent scientists, it turned out that antidepressants had a substantial benefit beyond a placebo effect in only 15% of patients.

Clinical guidelines have been revised accordingly in recent years. No longer are drugs the recommended first line of treatment for less severe cases of depression. For these, self-help guidance, behavioural therapy and recommendations for things like exercise and sleep are preferable. For work burnout, a sick note for time off may suffice. The drugs are to be reserved only for more severe depression, where they can be truly life-saving.

Read it all.

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

(London Post) The Bishop of London joins calls for Government to publish Health Disparities White Paper

On Monday 10th October, the Health Inequalities Action Group (HIAG), a multi-faith initiative led by the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, to explore London’s health inequalities and how faith groups can and do contribute to the health of their communities, published its report: ‘On Faith, Place and Health: Harnessing the Power of Faith Groups to Tackle London’s Health Inequalities’.

At an event at The Old Deanery near St Paul’s Cathedral, Bishop Sarah presented the report, which makes a series of recommendations aiming to tackle health inequalities. These include supporting the development and integration of an Interfaith Health Council with national health structures to represent faith communities.

The publication comes a few weeks after reports of the Government shelving the long-anticipated Health Disparities White Paper, which led to a coalition of over 155 medical organisations writing to the Health Secretary Thérèse Coffey, urging her to maintain the Government’s commitment to publish its white paper by the end of this year. In her remarks, Bishop Sarah restated those calls and pointed to the HIAG report as a further sign of the urgent need to address the rampant health inequalities faced not only in the Capital, but across the United Kingdom.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Health & Medicine, Psychology

World Mental Health Day: Church-run course giving support to people living with depression

Hope in Depression is a registered charity and has been running courses through churches since 2013. People attending the course explore the causes and symptoms of depression and anxiety, learn about brain chemistry and medication, hear about counselling and discover ways that have been clinically shown to aid recovery and continued wellbeing.

Christ Church’s course leader Denise Morris has run the online course twice a year since 2019. She says, “Hope in Depression is suitable for adults of all ages – we’ve had 18-year-olds and 80 year-olds on the course and men and women of all ages in between.  Many people who have done the course have reported improvements in their mood and ability to cope day to day. It really can help make a difference.”

The course has received positive feedback from attendees who highlight the relaxed, safe and caring environment.

As one explains: ‘Meeting others, knowing there are so many of us who experience depression – knowing I’m not alone. It’s so very important that this course is available to as many people as possible.’

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(FT) ‘A self-inflicted lockdown’: how the global the cost of living crisis puts lives on hold

When Sarah, a 29-year-old North American, quit her job in the film industry and came to study law in London, she hoped to put her life on a firmer financial footing. Two years on, that goal seems further away than ever.

Interest payments on a bank loan have gone up; she has lost weight having cut back on groceries; and feels isolated because going out costs too much. A soaring energy bill has forced her to move out of her previous flat-share.

And with earnings as a research assistant working out at £6.65 an hour, Sarah says it is “impossible to imagine” planning for the future.

“I’m fixing the problem directly in front of me, not building a long-term game plan,” she says. “Every relationship and facet of my life has been impacted . . . It’s as if you’re climbing a staircase and you don’t know if the next step is going to be there [or] if you’re going to fall through.”

Sarah is one of countless casualties of a global cost of living crisis that is forcing people around the world to put their lives on hold — forgoing social lives, scrapping house moves and weddings, hesitating to start a family or delaying retirement because of the financial pressures caused by high inflation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance, Psychology

(CT) Robert Tracy McKenzie reviews Bonnie Kristian’s book ‘ Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community’

In sum, we’ve always canceled social transgressors. We’ve always been drawn to simple answers to complex questions. We’ve always been susceptible to emotional manipulation. What is new is the speed with which vast volumes of information—true and false, balanced and distorted—can be generated with such astonishing ease. This trend only magnifies tendencies to which we are already prone. Gradually remade by the devices that mesmerize us, we become less and less willing to listen, less and less tolerant of dissent, less and less able to engage constructively and charitably with others in pursuit of a common good.

In recent years, writers across the spectrum have noted the detrimental effect of social media on our politics and connected political dysfunction to a larger epistemic crisis. Christian observers like Stetzer and Daniel Darling are among those examining how social media is corrupting Christian witness. What distinguishes Kristian is the sheer comprehensiveness of her examination and, above all, her demonstration that the knowledge crisis may harm the church even more than democracy.

At the heart of Untrustworthy is a clarion call for Christians to awaken to how this crisis is wreaking havoc on our churches and tarnishing our testimony. Kristian grieves over the division of churches; the estrangement of families; and, most poignantly, her pain while watching helplessly as a Christian colleague succumbed to the power of “fearmongering falsehoods.” When we can’t agree on basic facts, conversation becomes futile, intimate connection impossible, and real Christian community unattainable. “If we can’t talk to one another,” Kristian asks plaintively, “how do we worship together?”

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Corporations/Corporate Life, Philosophy, Psychology, Science & Technology

(Unherd) How Turbo-Wokism broke America

So who does control the new American system? The answer isn’t broke woke-ists. It’s the monopolists who own the platforms where the woke-ists live. Elon Musk and Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett and Sergei Brin and Larry Page and Lorraine Jobs don’t care about mean tweets. They care about the hundreds of billions of dollars in their bank accounts, their lavish mansions and private jets, and pursuing rich person hobbies like colonising Mars. Their primary political goal, as a class, is to prevent the state from ever getting strong enough to tax their fortunes, break up their monopolies, or interfere with the supplies of cheap immigrant and offshore labour from which they profit. The more fractured, dejected, and heavily surveilled the America public is, the less likely a strong state is to emerge.

In the contest between the oligarchs and the fading Rooseveltian state, the woke is a useful tool— not an independent power. Its members are the foot soldiers of the Democratic Party, whose job it is to organise the dispossessed into groups that are narrow, factional, and divided enough that they can’t come together into a force that threatens oligarchical control. Its discontent with the Turbo-Capitalist order can be usefully turned against anyone who refuses to follow the ever-changing party line — beginning with the “deplorables” who are now regularly portrayed as murderous, undemocratic racists and fascists, and extending to JK Rowling and Margaret Atwood. The result is a closed circuit in which Turbo-Capitalist oligarchs and Woke activists make common cause against formerly independent institutions like universities, professional associations, and the press. All of these institutions rely on guarantees of individual and collective rights by the state, which the Turbo-Capitalists and the Woke seek to capture and use as an instrument to enforce their own privatised social bargain: everything within the Party, nothing outside the Party, nothing against the Party.

The unprecedented reach of the technologies that the new oligarchy commands has already destroyed the press and replaced it with a government-corporate censorship regime that has no parallel in peacetime America. Combined with what appears to be a healthy appetite for humiliating others, this power does not bode well for the future of social peace in America, or for the health of the next American Republic.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Politics in General, Psychology

(BU School of Medicine) Andrew Budson develops a New Explanation for Consciousness

A Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine researcher has developed a new theory of consciousness, explaining why it developed, what it is good for, which disorders affect it, and why dieting (and resisting other urges) is so difficult.

Headshot of Dr. Budson“In a nutshell, our theory is that consciousness developed as a memory system that is used by our unconscious brain to help us flexibly and creatively imagine the future and plan accordingly,” explained corresponding author Andrew Budson, MD, professor of neurology. “What is completely new about this theory is that it suggests we don’t perceive the world, make decisions, or perform actions directly. Instead, we do all these things unconsciously and then—about half a second later—consciously remember doing them.”

Budson explained that he developed this theory along with his co-authors, philosopher Kenneth Richman PhD, at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and psychologist Elizabeth Kensinger, PhD from Boston College, to explain a series of phenomena that could not be easily understood with prior theories of consciousness.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Psychology

(Gallup) U.S. Public Opinion and the Election: the Economy

The importance of the economy in the upcoming election is underscored by measures showing how poorly Americans rate economic conditions today. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is at one of its lowest points over the past 30 years (although not as low as in 2008). About eight in 10 Americans rate the economy as “only fair” or “poor,” and over two-thirds say the economy is getting worse, not better.

Americans’ low confidence in the economy persists despite the fact that about seven in 10 U.S. adults say it is a good time to find a quality job, among the highest such readings across Gallup’s history of asking this question.

That seeming contradiction — inflation and the economy as major concerns at a time when employment is recognized as being robust — highlights one of the difficulties in assessing what the public wants to be done about the economy. I will have more on that below.

Surveys show that Americans are personally feeling the negative effects of inflation, highlighting its potency as an issue this fall. My colleague Jeff Jones recently summarized Gallup data on the personal impact of inflation, noting that “a majority of Americans now say they are experiencing financial hardship from higher prices.” Jeff goes on to review a variety of actions the public is having to take in efforts to deal with the issue, including cutting back on spending and reducing travel.

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted earlier this month similarly shows that twice as many Americans say their personal finances have gotten worse over the past year as say they have gotten better. And over seven in 10 report they “have had to cut back on, at least, one necessity or nicety in the past six months to meet their monthly expenses.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Psychology, Sociology

(NYT front page) Health Panel Recommends Anxiety Screening for All Adults Under 65

A panel of medical experts on Tuesday recommended for the first time that doctors screen all adult patients under 65 for anxiety, guidance that highlights the extraordinary stress levels that have plagued the United States since the start of the pandemic.

The advisory group, called the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, said the guidance was intended to help prevent mental health disorders from going undetected and untreated for years or even decades. It made a similar recommendation for children and teenagers earlier this year.
The panel, appointed by an arm of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, has been preparing the guidance since before the pandemic. The recommendations come at a time of “critical need,” said Lori Pbert, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, who serves on the task force. Americans have been reporting outsize anxiety levels in response to a confluence of stressors, including inflation and crime rates, fear of illness and loss of loved ones from Covid-19.

“It’s a crisis in this country,” Dr. Pbert said. “Our only hope is that our recommendations throw a spotlight on the need to create greater access to mental health care — and urgently.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(Pzephizo) Peter Wyatt reviews Louise Perry’s ‘The Case Against the Sexual Revolution’

According to Philip Larkin, ‘sexual intercourse began in nineteen sixty-three’. Until today, this sexual revolution, brought about by more effective forms of contraception, has been hailed as an emancipation of human beings. No longer were we subject to the restraints of traditional morality as policed by religious faith, and family mores. Instead, they could act according to our desires, to find pleasure and happiness in any way they saw fit. Why should society have any opinion on what happened between the sheets, as Stephen Fry once said?

In her provocative new book, The Case Against the Sexual RevolutionLouise Perry argues that the picture is far from rosy. Instead of liberation, society has created new forms of oppression: rough sex, hook-up culture, and pornography to name a few. She argues that in all of these women have been the losers. In her view, the much-touted concept of “consent” as the answer to everything has failed and we have arrived at a situation that benefits a minority of men, at the expense of women. 

Her book is fearless in attacking the current orthodoxy, using her own experience as a campaigner in a rape crisis charity, along with extensive research, and she ends the book by quoting the radical feminist Andrea Dworkin (to paraphrase), that it is a lie to equate sexual freedom with freedom. Instead, she offers one piece of advice, ‘get married and stay married’. That is an incredible statement from a secular author! 

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Pornography, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Women

Hidden’s Brain’s Unsung Hero segment with a wonderful story about little things being anything but little

After Brandon, a teacher, learned that his new niece was delivered stillborn, his entire school was informed of the loss. None of his students talked to him the next day — except for one young student named Marissa

Take the time to listen to it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(CT) Younger Pastors More Likely to Say They Struggle With Mental Illness

Lifeway Research study explores US Protestant pastors’ experiences with mental illness and how well their churches are equipped to respond to those who need help.

A majority of pastors (54%) say in the churches where they have served on staff, they have known at least one church member who has been diagnosed with a severe mental illness such as clinical depression, bipolar, or schizophrenia.

Most of those pastors had experience with a small number of members: 18 percent say one or two and another 18 percent say three to five. Fewer pastors say they’ve known 6-10 (8%), 11-20 (5%) or more than 20 (6%). Around a third (34%) say none of their church members have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness, while 12 percent don’t know.

“There is a healthy generational shift occurring as younger and middle-aged pastors are much more likely to have encountered people in church with severe mental illness than the oldest pastors,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research.

Read it all.

Posted in Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Psychology

(TLS) Rhodri Lewis reviews Helen Hackett’s new book ‘The Elizabethan Mind’

As the second Elizabethan age drifts towards its close, Gloriana’s subjects sit uneasily with themselves – distanced from the senses of cultural, social, political, religious and even existential security that earlier generations could, it sometimes seems, take for granted. One of the many virtues of Helen Hackett’s new book is to remind us that, grim as all of this may be, there is little new under the sun.

Although Hackett is a professor of English, The Elizabethan Mind is a work of cultural and intellectual history. In it she reconstructs the nature and scope of the human mind as the sixteenth century understood them. Her source materials are what the early moderns referred to as “poetry” and what she calls “literature”: fictional writing in all its forms. As such, she has written a literary history too – one in which she juxtaposes the canonical and extra-canonical (the translator Anne Lock, the poet Isabella Whitney and the autobiographer Thomas Whythorne, among too many others to list) to illuminating and persuasive effect. But there is no disciplinary inwardness here. It is just that, as Hackett explains, “for the Elizabethans … it is arguable that greater advances were made in understanding the mind through literature than through science”.

By the end of this book the claim seems more than merely arguable. This is partly thanks to Hackett’s compendiousness, but chiefly because she shows that early modern works of literature were capable of grasping a problem theoretical accounts of the human mind worked hard to obscure: amid a range of competing and ostensibly authoritative explanations for the origins and nature of human cognitive power, it was all but impossible to determine which ones were true. In 1611 John Donne famously claimed that “new philosophy calls all in doubt”, but in 1599 Sir John Davies had already channelled a century or more of learned opinion in declaring that “All things without, which round about we see, / We seeke to know, and have therewith to do: / But that whereby we reason, live, and be, / Within our selves, we strangers are theretoo”. Hackett makes it clear that the early modern English had no need of Galileo to feel dazed and confused by their place in the world.

The concluding two chapters are marked by a change in focus. Rather than early modern beliefs about what the mind is or could be said to be, their subject is one of the things that it does – and that the early moderns helped it to do better. That is, the form of applied cognition that we call writing. One chapter looks at the experimental forms of selfhood made possible through autobiography, sonnet sequences and prose fiction such as Sidney’s Arcadia; Hackett is especially strong on the Christian inflections of writing the mind, as the pious subject seeks introspectively to write his or her way to cognizance of having been touched with grace. The last chapter turns to Hamlet. It was Matthew Arnold who first proposed that, in the play’s soliloquies, we observe “the dialogue of the mind with itself”. Hackett is interested both in the dynamics of this dialogue, and in the ideas that it seeks to articulate. If she sometimes treats the soliloquies as if they can be abstracted from the dramatic whole of which they are a part, her approach never feels gratuitous. She needs Hamlet to do certain things in rounding out her history, and she ensures that it does them.

One surprise is that Hackett largely overlooks the debate about the boundary between human beings and, to borrow a phrase, beasts that want discourse of reason. After Vesalius had demonstrated that there was nothing distinctive about the anatomy of the human brain (no special place for the rational soul), this dividing line came to look ever more porous. Montaigne could amuse himself with the notion that his cat was playing with him because he knew that only one of them would be writing essays about their time together; because only one of them enjoyed the liberating benefits of language and Christian belief as Montaigne construed them. Others were less sure of the exceptionalism with which the human condition was conventionally framed. Lear’s anguished “Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life / And thou no breath at all?” is a fine case in point; Descartes’s cogito (like his bête machine) is another.

As it stands, The Elizabethan Mind is an outstanding achievement: broad-ranging, intelligently synthetic and written in unflaggingly lucid prose.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Psychology

(NYT front page) The story of one Kentucky man who built a big house with a bunker, entered politics, and ended up having his giant residence attacked and his daughter killed

Jordan, 32, told her father she had come to feel unsafe at the house. In February of this year, she was hired by a law firm in Lexington and planned to move as soon as possible to an apartment in the city. “She must have sensed that she was being watched,” he said.

Someone had been watching, marking the house’s entry points and taking detailed notes on the family’s movements. Early on the morning of Feb. 22, prosecutors say, the watcher, Shannon V. Gilday, a 23-year-old former soldier who lived in the Cincinnati suburbs, climbed up to a second-floor balcony and began his attack.

“He stood and looked at me without any emotions, like he was programmed,” Mr. Morgan said of the moment he first encountered Mr. Gilday in the foyer. At that point, Jordan was dead.

Now Mr. Morgan was the target.

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Children, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Psychology, Science & Technology, State Government, Violence

(Washington Post) Russia sending teachers to Ukraine to control what students learn

Russia has promised hundreds of teachers big money to go to occupied Ukraine and give students there a “corrected” education — with Russia’s take on Ukraine’s history — in the coming school year.

For some teachers in Chuvashia, a republic about 400 miles east of Moscow, the offer seemed tempting. The average monthly salary in the region is around $550, but the prospective salary posted by a school director on a Chuvashia teachers’ chat group was for more than $2,900 a month.

“Urgent,” his June 17 message said. “Teachers needed for [Zaporizhzhia] and Kherson regions for the summer period. 8600 rubles a day. The job is to prepare schools for the new school year. Transportation there and back — free. Accommodation and food — under discussion.”

An hour later, the director added: “Dear teachers, is there anyone else who wishes to help colleagues? It is safe in those regions. Please respond fast.” Both solicitations were shared with The Washington Post by the Alliance of Teachers, an independent group in Russia….

Read it all.

Posted in Education, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Russia, Ukraine

([London] Times) Cambridge University culture blamed for spate of student deaths

Friends of a student believed to have taken his own life at Cambridge University have claimed that a high-pressure academic culture has contributed to worsening mental health on campus.

With five suspected suicides in the past four months, the university has set up a rapid response group involving health professionals to review the recent deaths. The first has been confirmed as suicide by a coroner; the rest remain subject to inquests.

A friend of one of the students said she believed that Covid, combined with a pervasive culture to be a good academic, had contributed to the deaths. “Welfare support at Cambridge is quite strange,” she said. “They prioritise the academic so much that welfare is all about ‘what can we do to make you get better grades’. [My friend] who died, there are a lot of things the college probably did wrong, that I think they should change.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Stress, Suicide, Young Adults

(WSJ) Caitlin Macy–The Age of Emotional Overstatement

From the modest, anodyne “Have a nice day” I remember growing up with in the ‘80s, in the last decade a giant lovefest has taken over our day-to-day interactions so thoroughly that to abstain from appending heart emojis to everything that comes your way leaves you feeling sidelined and defensively out of tune. Remember “Mean Girls”—the movie, yes, but also the phenomenon? Nowadays the average teenage selfie post is met with reactions that run the gamut from “Luuuuuv!” to “Beauty!” to heart emojis to “Worship!”

I confess I wasn’t prepared for society to speed its way to the love shack. I’d been on a journey to somewhere else entirely. In college, I majored in classics, a field then populated, even in the U.S., by Oxbridge dons. Giving me notes on a scholarship-application essay I’d written that went on and on about my passion for this and my life’s desire for that, a professor remarked mildly, “Sometimes…less is more.”

His remark stayed with me—and not solely as the mother of all writing tips. The essence of adulthood, I suddenly grasped, was internalizing understatement. It meant sublimating one’s raw, emotional insides to something drier on the outside, something more even-tempered and hence more sophisticated. To put aside childish things, one had to ditch not only the tantrums of the toddler years but the gushing of the early teens.

Read it all (registration or subscription).

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(NYT front page) Troubling Signals, Yet Still Cleared to Buy Guns

The suspect in the shooting, Robert E. Crimo III, 21, had drawn police attention more than once, and despite warnings about his troubling behavior, had gotten a firearm license and bought several guns.

How a young man who had sent troubling signals managed to end up with a semiautomatic rifle in Illinois is a question that is haunting not only the survivors of Monday’s deadly massacre in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb. It is also a question of federal importance, coming just days after President Biden signed into law the most significant gun legislation passed in decades.

As details of Mr. Crimo’s past continued to emerge, and as a judge ordered him held without bail on murder charges on Wednesday, it remained unclear whether the horrific episode revealed weaknesses in state restrictions on guns, or in the limits of even potent safeguards in a system that ultimately relies on the judgments of people — the authorities, families, observers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Psychology, State Government, Violence

(Local Paper front page) How one rural SC school district is tackling the in-school therapist shortage

Christina Cody has a tireless, we-can-make-it-work attitude.

No matter the problem, she’s the kind of person who will offer up ideas one after another until she finds one that works.

Cody is a health and wellness specialist for Cherokee County Schools, a small, rural school district in the northwestern part of South Carolina. Over the past few years, she has been confronted with the growing youth mental health crisis at every turn. The reports from her colleagues filled her with worry. They would despair week after week as more students threatened to hurt themselves or others.

Some students were stabbing themselves with pencils or scissors. Others tore apart pencil sharpeners to get the blades and cut themselves. When the last school year started, there were seven mental health therapist positions to serve the district’s 8,000 students. None were filled. Without them, educators did the best they could to help in a job they weren’t trained to do.

Students’ mental health needs were increasing well before the COVID-19 pandemic began. The needs have only grown since. More than a third of high school students nationally experienced poor mental health during the pandemic, with half feeling persistently sad or hopeless, according to a Centers for Disease Control Disease Control and Prevention study. In South Carolina, children’s emergency room visits for mental health needs are up nearly a third since March 2020, state officials have said. Suicide attempts also increased, particularly among teenage girls.

“That’s just a lot of pressure,” Cody said. “You can’t lose a kid. You can’t. It’s not an option.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Education, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(Gallup News) World Unhappier, More Stressed Out Than Ever

Emotionally, the second year of the pandemic was an even tougher year for the world than the first one, according to Gallup’s latest annual global update on the negative and positive experiences that people are having each day.

As 2021 served up a steady diet of uncertainty, the world became a slightly sadder, more worried and more stressed-out place than it was the year before — which helped push Gallup’s Negative Experience Index to yet another new high of 33 in 2021.

As it does every year, Gallup asked adults in 122 countries and areas in 2021 if they had five different negative experiences on the day before the survey — and compiled the results into an index. Higher scores on the Negative Experience Index indicate that more of a population is experiencing these emotions.

In 2021, four in 10 adults worldwide said they experienced a lot of worry (42%) or stress (41%), and slightly more than three in 10 experienced a lot of physical pain (31%). More than one in four experienced sadness (28%), and slightly fewer experienced anger (23%).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(Local Paper) Mental health experts say deep TMS therapy should have a larger public health impact

He and his wife had just welcomed a new baby boy. Life was supposed to be good, he thought.

“I found myself, in the moments that should’ve been the most joy-filled moments in my life, just feeling absent or despondent,” Hogan said.

Hogan is part of an estimated 10-30 percent of patients with major depression who don’t respond to typical antidepressant medications like Zoloft or Prozac.

But since starting a rather new therapy in 2020, deep transcranial magnetic stimulation, he’s felt better than he ever has.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(TLS) Norma Clarke reviews William Leith’s ‘The Cut That Wouldn’t Heal’

Just as I’m thinking “This sounds like Holden Caulfield. Is he channelling J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye?”, William Leith mentions Karl Ove Knausgaard. Knausgaard’s series of books, My Struggle, chronicles his thoughts and feelings, beginning with his father’s death. Leith orders the series, and when it arrives in the post he is terrified – he feels “dread”, wants to put the books on a high shelf with the spines facing the wall. Then, when he begins reading the first volume, A Death in the Family, he is gripped. Leith often depicts himself having two opposed reactions. In his earlier memoir, The Hungry Years: Confessions of a food addict (2005), he writes: “I am always too empty, and yet too full. I am always too full, and yet too empty”. There’s quite a lot of that here.

Leith came early to the confessional writing game. A Guardian article published in 2005, by which time his tortured relationship to food, drink, money and drugs had become a staple of his journalism, described him as the “poster boy of binge living”. His binge living was driven by anxiety, and the writing about it, displaying his appetite for self-harm and honing his expertise in liking himself less and less, gave him a living. The Cut That Wouldn’t Heal has a present-tense immediacy, beginning ten seconds before his father’s death, but some of the material is recycled from earlier writings. The “cut” of the title is on his father’s leg, and Leith doesn’t press the obvious metaphorical application to himself. Beginning with his birth, which his father didn’t welcome, and continuing through a childhood in which his father was mostly absent, physically and emotionally, Leith charts the many ways he failed to be good enough. His father, a psychologist, apparently didn’t notice or didn’t care that his son was bleeding.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Children, Marriage & Family, Psychology

(CNN Business) Most CEOs are bracing for a Recession

CEO confidence has tumbled to the weakest level since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, The Conference Board said Wednesday.

For the first time during the economic expansion, CEO confidence is now in negative territory.

Worse, business leaders are bracing for a potential downturn caused by the Federal Reserve’s quest to tame inflation.

A staggering 68% of CEOs surveyed by The Conference Board expect the Fed’s war on inflation will eventually trigger a recession. The survey, fielded between April 25 and May 9, measured responses from 133 CEOs of mostly public companies.

The good news is that just 11% of CEOs anticipate a so-called hard landing, marked by a deep recession. The rest expect a “very short, mild” recession.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Psychology

(Lifeway) 5 Areas of Life as a Pastor You Can’t Ignore

As you’re reading this, you probably have a commitment hanging over your head or a relentless deadline that won’t stop nagging you. Chances are, you’re tired. You’re a human being, not a human doing. But the Father loves your being more than your doing.

Some recent findings from Lifeway Research’s Greatest Needs of Pastors study show half of U.S. Protestant pastors say they need to focus on time management. Slightly more (55%) believe over-commitment is an issue they need to address.

Based on these findings, most of us in ministry need this reminder: If you never close another gap in your leadership, if you never take your game up a notch, God’s love for you remains full, like a gas tank that never empties no matter how far you drive. Former Lifeway president Jimmy Draper said, “God did not call us first to His service, He called us first to Himself.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology