Category : Psychology

(Barna) Who Are the Lonely in America?

Science has shown that people who have close friendships are happier, more successful and even more physically and emotionally healthy. And in our hyper-connected culture, it may seem like it’s never been easier to make and maintain relationships. But is that true? How do Americans meet their friends? Who is most likely to feel lonely? In the infographic below, Barna explores new data about the care and keeping of friends.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(ABC) Digital addiction? Michigan teen who skipped school to play video games goes through treatment in the wilderness

By the time Al and Christine’s son Josh was 14 years old, he was so consumed with playing video games that he stopped going to school.

“He just said, ‘Hey, I’m dropping out,'” his father Al told ABC News “20/20.”

Josh would stay up late to play well into the night and sleep in late the next day. His mother said he would often play for as many as 12 hours straight, for as much as 60 hours in a week. They tried to talk to him, Al said, but made little progress.

“It’s like, ‘You’ve got to stop … you’ve got to close it down,'” Al said. But he said his son replied, “I can’t.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Science & Technology

(WSJ DS) Betting markets started pricing in a small but rising probability that Donald Trump could lose the presidency

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

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Psychology

(ABC Aus.) Katie Sutherland–Sesame Street’s Julia and moving autism on TV beyond the genius stereotype

Isolation is of particular concern for children on the autism spectrum, who may have difficulty making friends and are prone to bullying, often leading to mental health issues.

One study indicated that 63 per cent of children on the spectrum had been bullied in their lifetime, with 38 per cent bullied in the past month.

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation behind Sesame Street, states that bullying was a key motivator for the introduction of Julia.

It also claims that nearly every family is affected by autism in some way.

In Australia, it is estimated that one in 100 people (around 230,000) have an autism spectrum disorder, while in the United States, this figure sits at around one in 68 people.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(NYT Op-ed) Robert Jones–Are we Witnessing the Collapse of American Identity?

The profoundness of the American experiment, …[Chesterton] argued, was that it aspired to create “a home out of vagabonds and a nation out of exiles” united by voluntary assent to commonly held political beliefs.

But recent survey data provides troubling evidence that a shared sense of national identity is unraveling, with two mutually exclusive narratives emerging along party lines. At the heart of this divide are opposing reactions to changing demographics and culture. The shock waves from these transformations — harnessed effectively by Donald Trump’s campaign — are reorienting the political parties from the more familiar liberal-versus-conservative alignment to new poles of cultural pluralism and monism.

An Associated Press-NORC poll found nearly mirror-opposite partisan reactions to the question of what kind of culture is important for American identity. Sixty-six percent of Democrats, compared with only 35 percent of Republicans, said the mixing of cultures and values from around the world was extremely or very important to American identity. Similarly, 64 percent of Republicans, compared with 32 percent of Democrats, saw a culture grounded in Christian religious beliefs as extremely or very important.

These divergent orientations can also be seen in a recent poll by P.R.R.I. that explored partisan perceptions of which groups are facing discrimination in the country. Like Americans overall, large majorities of Democrats believe minority groups such as African-Americans, immigrants, Muslims and gay and transgender people face a lot of discrimination in the country. Only about one in five Democrats say that majority groups such as Christians or whites face a lot of discrimination….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President, President Donald Trump, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(Dow Jones new 2017 site Moneyish) Millennials are going bald from too much stress

At age 18, John figured out he was balding from a photo on Facebook.

Growing up, John — now a 28-year-old San Francisco public relations professional who asked that we withhold his real name — prided himself on his luscious locks. “I had always had a thick, full head of hair — I’m of Middle Eastern/Jewish ancestry,” he says. “That was closely associated with my identity.” But as a freshman in college, he discovered that he was losing his hair when a friend posted a photo of him on Facebook. “I was kind of stunned. It was really brutal,” he says, noting it was the thinning hair around his temples that gave it away. “I just assumed [balding] was something that magically happened at 45.”

For Mabel it was a clogged shower drain that alerted her to the problem. Already stressed by the pressures of college (she was a premed major and had picked up a minor), and feeling homesick for her family in Hawaii, Mabel, then 19, says the hair loss was devastating. “I thought, oh my god, am I really losing my hair,” she says. “It was crushing. Hair is a very feminine thing.”

Experts say they’re seeing more people like John and Mabel: men and women as young as 18 who are freaking out about going bald. San Francisco dermatologist Andrea Hui says balding millennials are coming to her more than ever, asking her for everything from natural supplements like Nutrafol to more invasive procedures like PRP, which involves injecting your own plasma into your scalp.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Stress, Young Adults

Facing the future without fear, together: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks speaks at TED2017

“These are the times that try men’s souls, and they’re trying ours now,” begins Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, quoting Thomas Paine, in an electrifying talk about how we can face the future without fear if we face it together.

It’s a fateful moment in history. We’ve seen divisive elections, divided societies and a growth of extremism — all of it fueled by anxiety, uncertainty and fear. The world is changing faster than we can bear, and it’s looking like it’s going to continue changing faster still. Sacks asks: “Is there something we can do to face the future without fear?”

One way into this question is to look to what people worship. Some people worship many gods, some one, some none. In the 19th and 20th centuries, people worshiped the Aryan race, the Communist state and many other things. Future anthropologists, Sacks says, will take a look at the books we read on self-help, at how we talk about politics as a matter of individual rights, and at “our newest religious ritual: the selfie” — and conclude that we worship the self.

This worship of the self conflicts directly with our social nature, and with our need for friendship, trust, loyalty and love. As he says: “When we have too much of the ‘I’ and not enough of the ‘we,’ we find ourselves vulnerable, fearful and alone.”

Read it all.

Posted in Globalization, History, Judaism, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Max Fisher+Amanda Taub: Populism, Far From Turned Back, May Be Just Getting Started

As if Western politics were not volatile enough, a wave of recent elections seemed to offer contradictory evidence as to whether populism is advancing or receding.

It triumphed in the British vote to leave the European Union and in the American presidential race, fell short in the Dutch elections, and won its greatest-ever success in France’s first presidential round and faces likely humiliation in the second round.

But these results may not be as contradictory as they seem. Populism, research suggests, has been steadily growing since the 1960s. It is now reaching a size that is often too small to win outright, but is large enough to shape and, at times, to upend the politics of a country.

Whether populist parties win or lose depends not just on the level of popular support — which appears surprisingly consistent across countries — but also on the nature of the political system.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Immigration, Politics in General, Psychology

(Wash Post) Kay Warren–Who pastors the pastor? Even ministers suffer from suicidal thoughts

Wayne is not the only pastor or faith leader to experience mental illness, addiction, financial difficulty and thoughts of suicide. Sometimes the media blares the news of a pastor who dies by suicide, but often, they die quietly, unnoticed by many outside of their church and local community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every completed suicide in the general population, there are 25 attempts, and thousands more who think seriously about ending their lives. Pastors are not exempt from these statistics.

Wayne devoted countless hours to the duties of a pastor — preaching, teaching, marrying, burying, visiting the sick, showing up in the wee hours of the night for those in need. Every step of the way Lynn was right by his side, working as tirelessly as they could to care for and nurture the congregations they loved. His sons, Rusty and Dusty, knew they could count on their dad to be at countless tennis matches and soccer games, no matter what was happening at church. He was fiercely proud of his boys and frequently told them so.

But over time, his life slowly began to change. Sometimes pastors and congregations don’t mesh well, even when there’s nothing really wrong, and Wayne and Lynn were asked to resign from a church they were serving. For the first time in his adult life, Wayne was no longer a pastor. Still in his late 50s with many years ahead of him, he was rudderless. He had never been great with money management, and he began to overspend, taking on more debt than they could handle. He started drinking too much. He found employment as a chaplain for a funeral home, but it just wasn’t the same as being a pastor.

Read it all.

Posted in Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Suicide

(Daily Beast) Want to Raise Kids with Your BFF? Move to Canada

Can you legally parent with a close friend? In Canada it is possible.
Natasha Bakht and Lynda Collins are making history. They have become the first women in a non-romantic relationship to legally co-parent a child.
Collins decided to help Bakht when her son, Elaan, was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia. Elaan appeared healthy at birth, but doctors quickly found parts of his brain were dead.
After the diagnosis, it was clear Bakht was going to need more help than she had originally planned. “So I had the appetite to help and she had the need and so I was over here a lot, day in, day out. What we found is that we’re really happy parenting together,” Collins tells BBC News.

After a two-year long legal battle, Bakht and Collins became “co-mommas” in November and could not be more thrilled.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Canada, Children, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Women

(Guardian) Carol Birch–Reject the cruelty of a me-first age that renders lonely people invisible

A staple of self-help dogma is that to protect ourselves from negativity we should give up our more needy friends. Surround yourself with positive people, we are told. Back off from the emotional drains, the sad saps; they really must not be allowed to bring you down. And so those most in need of a friend are abandoned.

Jo Cox, the MP murdered last year, initiated a cross-party campaign to tackle the problem of loneliness. Now her family and some MPs are taking this forward. Research for the Jo Cox Commission published last week shows that almost three-quarters of older people in the UK are lonely. Quite apart from the huge strain this puts on the health service (chronic loneliness is as bad for the health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day), the weight of untold sadness is enormous. As well as highlighting how the government’s massive underfunding of social care causes older people’s isolation, the campaign encourages people to get involved with “befriending” services: to knock on a door, pick up a phone, join the forgotten army of volunteers and good neighbours.

This is badly needed. It’s important, however, not to underestimate the scale of the problem. “Happy to chat” badges will not work for an unreachable demographic: the painfully shy, the stiff, the awkward, the unprepossessing, the unhappy young. Loneliness is common among students, the ones who don’t click with anyone during freshers’ week and thereafter walk alone. They are the naturally introverted, uprooted, changing, alienated. People sleepwalk into loneliness on social media, deluded into thinking the size of their following means they’re connected.

Read it all.

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

Time Magazine Cover Story–Beyond ‘He’ or ‘She’: The Changing Meaning of Gender and Sexuality


When it comes to the array of lesser-known identities young people are embracing, the big question is whether this is just kids experimenting or whether it reflects true variance that has long existed but went unexpressed in past generations. The answer may be both.

In the GLAAD survey, conducted by Harris Poll, more than three-quarters of the roughly 2,000 respondents said it feels like “more people than ever” have “nontraditional” sexual orientations and gender identities. But older Americans were more likely than younger people to say they were uncomfortable with those who “do not conform to traditional ideas about gender” and that LGBTQ people who “blend in” deserve more respect.

Kyle Scotten, a 21-year-old from Texas who identifies as a gay man, says he did not come out until he went to college in part because attitudes were different even a few years ago. “I remember hearing the word gay being thrown around a lot when I was kid,” he says, “and it wasn’t really used as an endearing term.” Like many of his peers, Scotten has come to see sexuality as a spectrum: “I totally believe there are a 100, 200 shades in the middle.” And he tends to have an open mind even when he doesn’t understand the nuances his peers are talking about when it comes to their gender. “It makes sense to them, in their own head,” he says, “and that’s enough.”

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Sexuality

(RZIM) Q&A with Sam Allberry: Same-Sex Attraction, Synod Remarks, and Why The Gospel Is Truly Good News For All

Yes, you described yourself as “same-sex attracted.” What do you mean by that?

The debate was limited to just three minutes per speaker, so I only had time to flag certain things up without the opportunity to properly explain what I meant by them.

When I describe myself as same-sex attracted, what I am saying is that the only sexual desires and feelings I have ever experienced are toward other men, rather than women. I’m not justifying those desires or seeking to validate them. The Bible says that as sinners all our desires are disordered, so it’s actually the case that all of us are fallen and broken in our sexuality. For most, that fallenness will be manifest in an opposite-sex direction; for me (and not a few other believers), it is seen in same-sex attraction.

Some wonder how it is possible to be a Christian and yet experience these things. My answer is that any inappropriate desire is a form of temptation that needs to be fought. Temptation is different to sin. Jesus tells us to pray we’d be delivered from temptation but be forgiven for our sin. Temptation itself is not sin. It is striking that the Bible nowhere promises that temptation will be completely removed in this life; simply that God will enable us to stand faithfully under it.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Anti Self-Help books: I’m Not O.K. Neither Are You. Who Cares?

Granted, reading a book that coaches you on how to reject self-help is like downing a shot of Patrón to get the nerve to stop drinking. But it appears to be working. Both “A Counterintuitive Guide to Living a Good Life,” by Mark Manson, and Sarah Knight’s “How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have With People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do” were best sellers. (Those are the subtitles. The titles use a pointedly vulgar phrase synonymous with “not caring one bit.”)

Now comes one of the better-written entries in the genre, “Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze,” which made its author, Svend Brinkmann, a psychology professor in Denmark, a media star there.

“Our secular age is shot through with fundamental existential uncertainty and angst, and this makes it difficult to stand firm,” writes the erudite Mr. Brinkmann, who, compared with his profane and jokey American colleagues, is the Max von Sydow character in this Woody Allen movie. Mr. Brinkmann’s book, like Mr. Manson’s, takes the stand that life is hard and you’re not special, so instead of focusing on shallow quantities like happiness or success as defined by others in our culture of constant acceleration, you should acknowledge your limitations and learn to love your morning bowl of pebbles.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(NYT) Why We Can’t Look Away From Our Screens

Q. What makes you think that people have become addicted to digital devices and social media?

A. In the past, we thought of addiction as mostly related to chemical substances: heroin, cocaine, nicotine. Today, we have this phenomenon of behavioral addictions where, one tech industry leader told me, people are spending nearly three hours a day tethered to their cellphones. Where teenage boys sometimes spend weeks alone in their rooms playing video games. Where Snapchat will boast that its youthful users open their app more than 18 times a day.

Behavioral addictions are really widespread now. A 2011 study suggested that 41 percent of us have at least one. That number is sure to have risen with the adoption of newer more addictive social networking platforms, tablets and smartphones.

Read it all.

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