Human-ities · Science · Vital-Edible-Health

Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems

Dr. Marlene Winell is a human development consultant in the San Francisco Area. She is also the daughter of Pentecostal missionaries. This combination has given her work an unusual focus. For the past twenty years she has counseled men and women in recovery from various forms of fundamentalist religion including the Assemblies of God denomination in which she was raised. Winell is the author of Leaving the Fold – A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion, written during her years of private practice in psychology. Over the years, Winell has provided assistance to clients whose religious experiences were even more damaging than mine. Some of them are people whose psychological symptoms weren’t just exacerbated by their religion, but actually caused by it.

Two years ago, Winell made waves by formally labeling what she calls “Religious Trauma Syndrome” (RTS) and beginning to write and speak on the subject for professional audiences. When the British Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Psychologists published a series of articles on the topic, members of a Christian counseling association protested what they called excessive attention to a “relatively niche topic.” One commenter said, “A religion, faith or book cannot be abuse but the people interpreting can make anything abusive.”

Is toxic religion simply misinterpretation? What is religious trauma? Why does Winell believe religious trauma merits its own diagnostic label?

Excerpt from an interview with Dr. Marlene Winell by Valerie Tarico at IEET. Continue THERE

Animalia · Human-ities · Science

One of Us: On Animal Consciousness

These are stimulating times for anyone interested in questions of animal consciousness. On what seems like a monthly basis, scientific teams announce the results of new experiments, adding to a preponderance of evidence that we’ve been underestimating animal minds, even those of us who have rated them fairly highly. New animal behaviors and capacities are observed in the wild, often involving tool use—or at least object manipulation—the very kinds of activity that led the distinguished zoologist Donald R. Griffin to found the field of cognitive ethology (animal thinking) in 1978: octopuses piling stones in front of their hideyholes, to name one recent example; or dolphins fitting marine sponges to their beaks in order to dig for food on the seabed; or wasps using small stones to smooth the sand around their egg chambers, concealing them from predators. At the same time neurobiologists have been finding that the physical structures in our own brains most commonly held responsible for consciousness are not as rare in the animal kingdom as had been assumed. Indeed they are common. All of this work and discovery appeared to reach a kind of crescendo last summer, when an international group of prominent neuroscientists meeting at the University of Cambridge issued “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Non-Human Animals,” a document stating that “humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.” It goes further to conclude that numerous documented animal behaviors must be considered “consistent with experienced feeling states.”

Excerpt from an essay written by John Jeremiah Sullivan at Laphan’s Quarterly. Continue HERE

The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Non-Human Animals

Human-ities · Social/Politics

BBB: Big Babies Behaviour

Historically, the right wing in America has favored force and manliness. Extremists like Goldwater and silver-tongued liars like Reagan at least looked solid. George W. Bush was the best jogger we’d ever had as President. Mitt Romney, this election season’s candidate, is a crash test dummy fitted with a strong jaw and impressively realistic hair. (Bonus: interchangeable beliefs.) Yet flying in the face of this preference for the Strong Man is the personality type and cultural style of the contemporary right-wing commentator. The real standard-bearer of Republican discourse in the past decade, he has turned juvenile, impish, and wounded. In short, he is Big Baby.

It’s not news. But in the past six months, the babyishness has taken a new turn for the malevolent with the intensifying Republican war on women. We know that the right can be psychosexually perverse, and these days its depths are most visibly reflected on shiny, blubbery surfaces. Newt Gingrich seemed to be the first Big Baby in 1994, but then his divorces, affairs, and violation of every Congressional ethics rule during his few years as House Speaker temporarily made him seem like an adult. Rush Limbaugh was definitely the second Big Baby and real founder of the line. He seemed sui generis until Glenn Beck proved that whistle-cut, chubby, racist megalomaniacs — Dennis-the-Menace mischievous unless they were suddenly on the verge of self-pitying tears — defined a new right-wing style. Bear in mind that Big Baby is strangely moving in both his euphoria and his mawkishness; it’s hard not to feel the emotional tug beneath his hatefulness. As if Big Baby were America’s collective, clumsy, retributive, asocial child, we can’t help but think: Big Baby may be reading Birther apocalyptic conspiracy tracts, but at least he’s reading.

Text via the Editors at n+1. Continue HERE

Bio · Science

The Eye Limits the Brain’s Learning Potential

The concept of a critical period for visual development early in life during which sensory experience is essential to normal neural development is now well established. However recent evidence suggests that a limited degree of plasticity remains after this period and well into adulthood. Here, we ask the question, “what limits the degree of plasticity in adulthood?” Although this limit has been assumed to be due to neural factors, we show that the optical quality of the retinal image ultimately limits the brain potential for change. We correct the high-order aberrations (HOAs) normally present in the eye’s optics using adaptive optics, and reveal a greater degree of neuronal plasticity than previously appreciated.

Read this scientific report at Nature

Human-ities · Philosophy · Science · Technology

Now Morality can be modified in the lab by disrupting a specific area of the brain with magnetic pulses

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Photograph: Suzanne Kreiter/Getty Images

They identified a region of the brain just above and behind the right ear which appears to control morality.

And by using magnetic pulses to block cell activity they impaired volunteers’ notion of right and wrong.

The small Massachusetts Institute of Technology study appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lead researcher Dr Liane Young said: “You think of morality as being a really high-level behaviour.

“To be able to apply a magnetic field to a specific brain region and change people’s moral judgments is really astonishing.”

The key area of the brain is a knot of nerve cells known as the right temporo-parietal junction (RTPJ).

The researchers subjected 20 volunteers to a number of tests designed to assess their notions of right and wrong.

In one scenario participants were asked how acceptable it was for a man to let his girlfriend walk across a bridge he knew to be unsafe.

After receiving a 500 millisecond magnetic pulse to the scalp, the volunteers delivered verdicts based on outcome rather than moral principle.

If the girlfriend made it across the bridge safely, her boyfriend was not seen as having done anything wrong.

In effect, they were unable to make moral judgments that require an understanding of other people’s intentions.

Previous work has shown the RTPJ to be highly active when people think about the thoughts and beliefs of others. Text by BBC News. Continue HERE