Category : Psychology

(LA Times) Californians are losing their fear of the coronavirus, setting the stage for disaster

“Public health, when it does its work best, it’s not telling people what to do. It’s telling people how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe so people can make their decisions about how to do that,” Bibbins-Domingo said.

Lockdown fatigue is not a new phenomenon. During the 1918 flu pandemic, San Franciscans threw their masks into the air when they thought the pandemic was over, not realizing a new deadly wave of flu would hit within weeks, said Chin-Hong at UC San Francisco.

“People are afraid that history is going to repeat itself,” he said.

California’s exuberant optimism that the worst of the pandemic was behind us was fueled by the state’s early success. While many people in California might not know someone who died, Chin-Hong said, in New York, it seemingly felt like everyone knew someone who died.

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Posted in Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, State Government, Theology

(PRC) Public’s Mood Turns Grim; Trump Trails Biden on Most Personal Traits, Major Issues

With less than five months until the 2020 elections, Americans are deeply unhappy with the state of the nation. As the United States simultaneously struggles with a pandemic, an economic recession and protests about police violence and racial justice, the share of the public saying they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country has plummeted from 31% in April, during the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, to just 12% today.

Anger and fear are widespread. Majorities of Democrats and Republicans say they feel both sentiments when thinking about the country, though these feelings are more prevalent among Democrats. And just 17% of Americans – including 25% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 10% of Democrats and Democratic leaners – say they feel proud when thinking about the state of the country.

However, nearly half of adults (46%) say they feel hopeful about the state of the country, although a 53% majority says they are not hopeful.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General, Psychology, Sociology

(Gallup) U.S. National Pride Falls to Record Low

American pride has continued its downward trajectory reaching the lowest point in the two decades of Gallup measurement. The new low comes at a time when the U.S. faces public health and economic crises brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Although a majority of adults in the U.S. still say they are “extremely proud” (42%) or “very proud” (21%) to be American, both readings are the lowest they have been since Gallup’s initial measurement in 2001.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Psychology, Sociology

(Yorkshire Post) How Church can keep the faith in online era

…as Stephen Cottrell, the incoming Archbishop of York, becomes tasked with looking at the CoE’s vision and strategy for the decade ahead, his starting point should be on how the use of all buildings can be maximised as places of worship and the focal point of the varied communities that they strive to serve.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(C of E) Mental health: a hospital chaplain’s view

During Mental Health Awareness Week, Revd Jeremy Law, Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Coordinator at the Greater Manchester Mental Health (GMMH) NHS Foundation Trust, reflects on the impact that the coronavirus emergency has had on the mental health chaplaincy there.

He describes that “the impact of COVID-19 on people’s mental health and wellbeing has been enormous” and expects its effects to “continue for a long time.”

“Staff at GMMH have been caring for people at the end of life with dedication and professionalism” he says and “the effect of loved ones not being allowed to visit service users and accompany the dying has had a profound effect, both on relatives and staff.”

To help hospital staff deal with their emotional and spiritual needs, the chaplaincy team is planning to hold memorial services that staff are welcome to attend, with ongoing support.

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

(BBC) Coronavirus: Archbishop Justin Welby says austerity would be catastrophic

Mr Welby has spoken openly of his own mental health struggles. He revealed he was suffering from depression last year in a Thought for the Day broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and separately said he was taking anti-depressants.

Speaking this week to the BBC’s religion editor Martin Bashir, he described “an overwhelming sense the world is getting more and more difficult and gloomy”.

Explaining how his own mental health has affected his behaviour, he said: “You turn inwards on yourself a lot. You become, frankly, narcissistic. And when you have good friends or family who spot it, they can say ‘might it not be an idea to talk to someone’. Which I did.”

He added: “There is nothing pathetic about it. It is no more pathetic than being ill in any other way. And we just need to get over that.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Poverty, Psychology, Religion & Culture

Yesterday’s NYT front page–‘I Can’t Turn My Brain Off’: PTSD and Burnout Threaten medical Workers

Screw all of you now I see exactly why the only thing left to do is suicide. — a Facebook post by a St. Louis paramedic in April

After Kurt Becker, a paramedic firefighter in St. Louis County, saw that post, which included a profanity-laced screed of frustration and despair over the job, he sent a copy to the man’s therapist with a note saying, “You need to check this out.”

“I’m reading this, and I’m ticking off each comment with, ‘stress marker,’ ‘stress marker,’ ‘stress marker,’ ” said Mr. Becker, who manages a 300-person union district. (The writer is in treatment and gave permission for the post to be quoted.)

The paramedics are part of a “warrior culture,” Mr. Becker said, which sees itself as a tough, invulnerable caste. Asking for help, admitting fear, is not part of their self-image.

Mr. Becker, 48, is himself the grandson of a bomber pilot and son of a Vietnam veteran. But his local has been hit by a dozen suicides since 2004, and he has become an advocate for the mental health of its members. To maintain his equilibrium, he works out and sees a therapist.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(NPR) With School Buildings Closed, Children’s Mental Health Is Suffering

[Dimitri ] Christakis says the serious effects of this crisis on children like Phoebe have been overlooked.

“The decision to close schools initially, and now to potentially keep them closed, isn’t, I think, taking the full measure of the impact this is going to have on children,” he told NPR. “Not just the short term, but the long term.”

The problem, Christakis says, isn’t just learning loss, which is expected to fall particularly hard on low-income children with unequal access to distance learning. Recent research from a large testing association on the “COVID-19 slide” suggests children may return in the fall having made almost a third less progress in reading, and half as much progress in math, compared with what they would have in a typical school year.

Mental health and social-emotional development, Christakis argues, have been less discussed: “The social-emotional needs of children to connect with other children in real time and space, whether it’s for physical activity, unstructured play or structured play, this is immensely important for young children in particular.” A new study in JAMA Pediatrics, he says, documents elevated depression and anxiety among children under lockdown in China.

A third major risk, says Christakis, is child abuse.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Science & Technology

(CJ) The Therapeutic Campus–Why are college students seeking mental-health services in record numbers?

“I don’t know anyone [at Yale] who hasn’t had therapy. It’s a big culture on campus,” says a rosy-cheeked undergraduate in a pink sweatshirt. She is nestled in a couch in the subsidized coffee shop adjacent to Yale’s Good Life Center, where students can sip sustainably sourced espresso and $3 tea lattes. “Ninety percent of the people I know have at least tried.” For every 20 of her friends, this sophomore estimates, four have bipolar disorder—as does she, she says.

Another young woman scanning her computer at a sunlit table in the café says that all her friends “struggle with mental health here. We talk a lot about therapy approaches to improve our mental health versus how much is out of your control, like hormonal imbalances.” Yale’s dorm counselors readily refer freshmen to treatment, she says, because most have been in treatment themselves. Indeed, they are selected because they have had an “adversity experience” at Yale, she asserts.

Such voices represent what is universally deemed a mental-health crisis on college campuses. More than one in three students report having a mental-health disorder. Student use of therapy nationally rose almost 40 percent from 2009 to 2015, while enrollment increased by only 5 percent, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University. At smaller colleges, 40 percent or more of the student body has gone for treatment; at Yale, over 50 percent of undergraduates seek therapy.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Young Adults

(IFS) Rob Henderson–Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Ended the Tinder Era of Relationships?

In December 2019, the height of the Tinder era, women and men were setting up multiple dates on the same day. People were sexually carefree, spinning the digital slot machine in their hands, wondering who they would match with next.

Fast forward to December 2020. People will be more careful about who they date because, now, they have to be more careful.

As I wrote in the recent IFS symposium, new relationships and casual hookups will likely decline during this pandemic because of the difficulty to enter the dating scene as bars, clubs, and restaurants have closed. But even after social distancing practices ease up, many people will continue to be vigilant about their sexual partnerships.

When people feel safe, they are willing to take more risks. But when safety is threatened, such as during a disease outbreak, people become more cautious. Indeed, research led by evolutionary psychologists Mark Schaller and Damian Murray found that in countries where pathogens are more pervasive, people are less extraverted and less open to new experiences. They also more strongly urge one another to adhere to social customs.

Furthermore, experimental evidence by Laith Al-Shawaf at the University of Colorado and his colleagues showed that people who read about a parasitic infection expressed less willingness to sleep with someone they just met compared with a control condition. In the world we lived in until very recently, more people were willing to jump into bed with a stranger. In this widely-read Vanity Fair piece about Tinder, for example, a man tells the author that he slept with “30 to 40 women in the last year.” But a recent study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine discovered that people are reporting a decline in the number of sexual partners, as well as a decline in sexual frequency. Additionally, they found that “most individuals with a history of risky sexual experiences had a rapid reduction in risky sexual behaviors.”

In the future, people may be more vigilant about coming into sexual contact with an unknown person. At least for now, Coronavirus has killed the era of ‘Netflix and chill.’

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Men, Psychology, Women, Young Adults

Tim Harford–Why we fail to prepare for disasters

Part of the problem may simply be that we get our cues from others. In a famous experiment conducted in the late 1960s, the psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley pumped smoke into a room in which their subjects were filling in a questionnaire. When the subject was sitting alone, he or she tended to note the smoke and calmly leave to report it. When subjects were in a group of three, they were much less likely to react: each person remained passive, reassured by the passivity of the others.

As the new coronavirus spread, social cues influenced our behaviour in a similar way. Harrowing reports from China made little impact, even when it became clear that the virus had gone global. We could see the metaphorical smoke pouring out of the ventilation shaft, and yet we could also see our fellow citizens acting as though nothing was wrong: no stockpiling, no self-distancing, no Wuhan-shake greetings. Then, when the social cues finally came, we all changed our behaviour at once. At that moment, not a roll of toilet paper was to be found.

Normalcy bias and the herd instinct are not the only cognitive shortcuts that lead us astray. Another is optimism bias. Psychologists have known for half a century that people tend to be unreasonably optimistic about their chances of being the victim of a crime, a car accident or a disease, but, in 1980, the psychologist Neil Weinstein sharpened the question. Was it a case of optimism in general, a feeling that bad things rarely happened to anyone? Or perhaps it was a more egotistical optimism: a sense that while bad things happen, they don’t happen to me. Weinstein asked more than 250 students to compare themselves to other students. They were asked to ponder pleasant prospects such as a good job or a long life, and vivid risks such as an early heart attack or venereal disease. Overwhelmingly, the students felt that good things were likely to happen to them, while unpleasant fates awaited their peers.

Robert Meyer’s research, set out in The Ostrich Paradox, shows this effect in action as Hurricane Sandy loomed in 2012. He found that coastal residents were well aware of the risks of the storm; they expected even more damage than professional meteorologists did. But they were relaxed, confident that it would be other people who suffered.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Psychology

(Local Paper) South Carolina state mental health centers are predicting a rise in patient calls when pandemic slows

Although state mental health centers in the tri-county area haven’t seen an increase in the number of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant rise is likely just around the corner.

“Where that rise ends, we just don’t know,” said Matthew Dorman, executive director of the S.C. Department of Mental Health’s Berkeley County center.

During any type of crisis, whether it’s an intense hurricane or shooting, South Carolina’s mental health experts have found that the influx of patients doesn’t come until immediate problems have cleared.

After a hurricane, if a home needs repairs, the owner is likely to address that first prior to any mental health concerns. Mental health experts say the same is happening during the pandemic, where residents are immediately facing issues around unemployment and managing child care.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(Gallup) Americans tilt optimistic about GDP and stock market going forward

Americans are concerned about the present state of the economy and believe conditions are worsening, but their six-month predictions for specific aspects of the economy are less dire — particularly in terms of the stock market and economic growth.

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

(Church Times) Clergy tell of the effects of the ‘unknown enemy’ for people with mental-health problems

People who are used to being in control are among those most affected by the stress of the coronavirus lockdown: they can feel helpless in the face of a problem that they cannot deal with, a psychotherapist and studies have said.

One priest who works as a group analytic psychotherapist, the Revd Dr Anne Holmes, said that the “underlying angst is a very hard thing for people who are normally high-functioning. Adjusting puts a strain on them.” Describing the virus as the “unknown enemy”, she continued: “Because everyone is aware this is a unique situation and unknown to our usual living experiences, people with important positions have tended to downgrade themselves and might not be asking for help for themselves because it is not important in the great range of things.

“Those whose identity is tied up with being the one in charge are at risk of grandiosity and are likely to falter when faced with a situation over which they have no control.”

She compared the current crisis to her experiences as an army wife living in Belfast during the Troubles. “In Ireland, you got used to checking the car and having your handbag searched. You knew what you were dealing with. The difficulty with this is that it could be anywhere, on anything. People even worry about their shopping.”

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Psychology

(RNS) Yale’s popular happiness class gains an online following among the socially distanced

“It’s a huge opportunity for introspection, spiritual renewal and creativity,” said Arthur Brooks, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School who taught Tabrizi in the happiness and leadership class and has also begun a column in The Atlantic on happiness. “These opportunities don’t come along that often.”

Brooks, a practicing Christian, said happiness shouldn’t necessarily be the highest goal of life.

“We need a full range of emotions and experiences,” he said.

But happiness studies can lead people to seek out meaning and purpose — a goal of working toward something bigger than the self, whether it’s religious — like faith — or secular, working toward the common good.

The irony of happiness studies, Brooks said, is that many people take the class for purely personal reasons but wind up learning that focusing on the self may not be the key to lasting happiness.

“If I live under the illusion I’m the only thing that matters, which is very easy to do,” Brooks said, “I become anxious and unhappy.”

Retraining the brain to think more broadly is the key to the class.

“This stuff is cool,” he said. “It’s serious and it matters.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Education, Psychology, Theology

(LARB) To Stop the Shrug: An Interview with Susannah Cahalan (author of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness)

In Nellie Bly’s chapter, you write of her experience: “the first day, she quickly learned what it was like to be discarded by humanity…” and end with: “Other than some money being thrown at the problem, nothing changed after Bly’s exposé […] one of the most sophisticated and moneyed cities in the world, now aware of such cruelty visited upon its citizens, simply shrugged. As we still do.” This is potent. Instead of shrugging, othering, or hastily diagnosing, in what ways would you like to see the psychiatric community shift in the coming years? What’s your hope?

There’s so much to be excited about from the research side, but as we wait for these interventions (and I remain an optimistic), I hope that psychiatry can really take a hard look at what it can offer to those suffering right at this very moment. Good care comes from truly listening and bonding to patients — the whole “laying of hands” that distinguishes mediocre doctors from great ones — using all the senses with the patient and maintaining an open mind, searching for answers outside of the immediately obvious. I think we’ve turned our back on the more artistic side of clinical care because it’s not lucrative and it’s difficult, because it’s much easier to write a script and call it a day, and the system itself does not reward this kind of interaction. So clearly things need to change within our broken medical system in general. But I think that at the very simplest: psychiatrists need the time and space to spend more time with their patients. And we need to figure out a way to force the system to give them that opportunity.

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Posted in Books, Health & Medicine, Mental Illness, Psychology

(NPR) Psychiatrists Lean Hard On Teletherapy To Reach Isolated Patients In Emotional Pain

Psychiatrist Philip Muskin is quarantined at home in New York City because he’s been feeling a little under the weather and doesn’t want to expose anyone to whatever he has. But he continues to see his patients the only way he can: over the phone.

“I’ve been a psychiatrist for more than 40 years; I have never FaceTimed a patient in my entire career,” says Muskin, who works at Columbia University Medical Center, treating outpatients in his clinical practice, as well as people who have been hospitalized. Normally, he says he walks patients to the door, shakes their hand or touches their arm or shoulder to reassure them. “Now I’m not doing that, and that’s weird to me. So it’s a whole new, very unpleasant world.”

The pandemic has already robbed many of his patients of their livelihood, or at least their sense of safety. People literally feel trapped, he says.

That, in turn, is leading to a spike in anxiety, depression and addiction — not just among Muskin’s patients, but across the U.S. To try to address those needs, physicians of all kinds are adopting the techniques and technology of telemedicine, which had been only slowly gaining wide acceptance — until the pandemic forced everyone to isolate themselves, mostly at home. The recent demand for telecounseling, as well as for other types of online medical visits, is causing backlogs of care for many providers who offer it.

There are now also even fewer in-person treatment options for some of the most acutely mentally ill in New York, Muskin says; the psychiatric wards at Columbia, where Muskin normally works, have all been converted to beds for COVID-19 patients.

“That means,” he says, “we have no place to send patients who need admission.”

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

(Miami Herald) Vivid ‘pandemic dreams’ and nightmares keep nation awake during coronavirus outbreak

The coronavirus has infected nearly 1.4 million people and killed nearly 77,000, including 11,000 in the United States, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University from April 7.

As a result, stay-at-home orders are forcing millions to stay isolated for weeks, store shelves are empty due to hoarding and jobs are laying people off due to lack of customers.

“The coronavirus pandemic has upended nearly every aspect of our waking lives — our routines, our job security, our hopes for the future,” The Cut reported in an April 2 story on pandemic dreams. “And our nights are changing, too: our sleep can be fitful, our dreams darker — and, for many, unusually memorable.”

This is worrisome to health experts because lack of sleep makes us more vulnerable to illnesses, including the coronavirus.

“Scientific evidence is building that sleep has powerful effects on immune functioning,” according to a CDC report. “Studies show that sleep loss can affect different parts of the immune system, which can lead to the development of a wide variety of disorders. … Sleep loss is also related to a higher risk for infection.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Health & Medicine, 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.

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