Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

A scathing indictment of the (highly artificial) sports culture

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Somehow it reminds me of nothing so much as factory farming: playing music to the cows to increase milk production in the “whatever it takes” spirit. Or the way slaughterhouses are now designed by animal behaviorists to minimize problems due to the cattle becoming fearful or angry: soothing and reassuring environments right up until the hammer falls. Or how casinos have no windows, no clocks, and seating only at the game tables. Free/cheap booze, though…

All examples of how the behavior of animals must be managed to improve corporate profits.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 October 2014 at 5:32 pm

Interesting idea: Who you are lies not in your memes but in your decisions

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I sort of like that simply from a process viewpoint; perhaps it is more accurately stated, “We are the residue of our decisions.” Here’s the article.

Carla Needleman, in her excellent book The Work of Craft, writes… well, this is your assignment: go to the link, click the “Look Inside” link, and start reading. (The specific thing that brought it to mind is her anecdote about finishing a pot too quickly because she wanted certainty too much: she aborted the incubation period.)

Written by LeisureGuy

18 October 2014 at 4:56 pm

Addictions: The Internet, work, Google Glass

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I thought this article Jordan Pearson at Motherboard was quite interesting. From the article:

. . . Google Glass can be used in ways that aren’t necessarily harmful, like providing real-time closed captioning for the hearing impaired. In a high pressure environment that rewards ever-increasing efficiency, however, it can be abused to the point of harm.

“What technology does is deliver information at such a high, rapid pace, that if we’re not careful, this could be a reward mechanism that can be abused,” Doan said. “When you get new information, your brain sends dopamines and you get an adrenaline arousal, similar to when you watch movies or when you find new information. There’s shorter and shorter obligatory rest periods between the events, hence people who sit on their computer or have a wearable device, and wear it day in and day out.”

Doan noted that it’s important not to blame the addicted person when it comes to the abuse of drugs or technology. Instead, we have to understand why addictive behaviour occurs: quick rewards with a short rest period, compounded by underlying psychological distress. With Glass in the workplace, these ingredients are certainly present.

The psychological effects of workplace pressure are well-documented andrecognized by the World Health Organization, the American Psychological Association, and myriad other organizations. The pressure to perform tasks more quickly and with greater efficiency has always been a major stressor, one that is exacerbated by technologies like Google Glass.

The media theorist John Tomlinson characterized the connection between speed, work, technology, and psychology as emblematic of “fast capitalism.” Digital technology gives us access to instantaneous flows of information and communication, speeding up the pace of life.

The result, Tomlinson writes in The Culture of Speed, is a psychological working-over resulting in a new kind of person suited to the age of speed, and an increasingly exhausted and harried one at that, dependent on the devices that accelerate work in the first place. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

15 October 2014 at 11:48 am

Why does the US rely on prisons as the main treatment for the mentally ill?

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Brave New Films has a series Over-Criminalized, the first part of which is a look at defining mental illness as a crime worthy of prison time. Another film in the series looks at how homelessness is also a crime in much of the US. It’s as if the state and federal government and policymakers, have decided that the police are best equipped to deal with social problems, by locking people away, much as in international affairs the US relies mostly on its military to deal with the challenges of international relations. If your primary reflex is armed response, every problem looks like an enemy and every approach to solving it is treated as a war.

The first film in the series, shown below, is only 8 minutes long, and it’s worth watching. Their blurb:

Instead of helping the mentally ill, police often put them behind bars. Watch how one police department is making a positive difference.

It’s simple. Diversion programs work better than incarceration – for everyone. In cities like Seattle, San Antonio, and Salt Lake City, we see that successful solutions are a viable option to help end serious social problems. These services alter the course of people’s lives in a positive way and save taxpayers huge amounts of money. We cannot continue to isolate and imprison people who suffer from mental illness, substance abuse, or homelessness. We must treat them with compassion and care to better serve our communities and our pocketbooks.

It’s time we got serious about pulling our money out of incarceration and putting it into systems that foster healthy communities. Hundreds of thousands of people are locked up not because of any dangerous behavior, but because of problems like mental illness, substance use disorders, and homelessness, which should be dealt with outside the criminal justice system. Services like drug treatment and affordable housing cost less and can have a better record of success.

This summer, news stories from around the nation provided the American people with a litany of issues about how police officers respond to community members. By highlighting programs like Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), and Housing First, OverCriminalized explores the possibility of ending incarceration for millions of Americans who, through successful intervention programs, can put their lives back on track.

OverCriminalized focuses on the people who find themselves being trafficked through this nation’s criminal justice system with little regard for their humanity and zero prospects for actual justice. They are victims of unwillingness to invest in solving major social problems, and the consequent handling off of that responsibility to the police, the courts, and the prisons. They are the mentally ill, the homeless, and the drug addicted. Sometimes they are all three.…

Quick facts on over criminalization:

  • Approximately 20 % of state prisoners and 21 % of local jail detainees have a “recent history” of a mental health condition.
  • Approximately 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness and an estimated 46% live with severe mental illness and/or substance use disorders.
  • In 2012, it was estimated that 23.1 million Americans needed treatment for problems that related to drugs or alcohol.
  • Pew Research finds that 67% of Americans say that the government should focus more on providing treatment for those who use illegal drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Just 26% think the government’s focus should be on prosecuting users of such hard drugs.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 October 2014 at 4:52 am

Feeling sad? Take an aspirin.

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It turns out that emotional pain activates the same receptors as physical pain, so anything that helps with latter (aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc.) will also help with the former. I suppose we knew this, in a way: abuse of alcohol and opiates has traditionally been associated with deadening emotional pain (e.g., a sense of failure). But I don’t recall taking it to the level of popping a couple of aspirin if you’re feeling depressed or rejected or whatever.

More here.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 October 2014 at 12:36 pm

How Much of Your Sensitive Personal Information Would You Trade for a Free Cookie?

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Quite a bit, as it turns out.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 October 2014 at 6:05 pm

Really, you see vital lies everywhere, once you start to look

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Euell Gibbons wrote in the introduction to Stalking the Wild Asparagus of how his gathering food from the wild made a noticeable contribution to the family diet, and so was important to him. He spotted some wild asparagus one spring, harvested it, and noticed that it was growing in the tangle of dead stuff from last fall’s asparagus.

So he studied it closely, very closely, taking his time—as if he were drawing it, is how closely he looked. Then, when he really knew what it looked like, he glanced around and saw three more patches immediately. He could now recognize it.

Daniel Goleman examines and explains in detail the ways in which attention and pain are related, and how pain is lessened as attention is withdrawn. This is true at every level from cellular to personal to social: by not giving attention to things pain/anxiety is lessened—at the cost of a blind spot.

Example, from this interesting article by Alexandra Ossolo in Motherboard. Among other things, it discusses the rapid decay of outrage on the celebrity nude photo hacking. She writes:

“The more people hear about something negative, the more they start tuning it out,” she said. “And that has negative implications for how we report on news in general.”

The media, no matter how well-intentioned it may be in raising awareness for an issue, may in fact make the public tire of a subject faster.

That is pretty clearly a description of the development of a blind spot on something that causes someone pain. (The article talks about how the initial release of celeb nudes aroused outspoken outrage, and by the third release it was, “Meh. So what?”

So blind spots deal with pain—but they also have some serious consequences. The paragraphs succeeding the above:

But is it our responsibility to keep caring? We hear about horrible things in the news every day, each event seemingly worse than the last. As passive Internet users, we rarely think that anything is in our control. All too often, Guadagno said, we defer responsibility of admonishment or punishment for morally reprehensible actions to others when others are around—something psychologists call the bystander effect. And on the internet, there’s always someone else around.

Now: rethink all that in terms of memes.

Interesting article.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2014 at 5:52 pm


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