from the world's big
Best Way to Prevent Rare Massacres: Focus on 'Routine' Violence
In the wake of the awful events in Newtown, a "national conversation" seems to have started about both easy access to guns and the ways we deal (or don't deal) with mental illness. Naturally their focus is on how to prevent another one of these mass killings. If it's to accomplish much, though, that focus should probably be elsewhere.
This is because the vast majority of our gun and mental-illness problems don't involve mass murder. Americans' access to guns leads to thousands of deaths each year in accidents, suicides, fights and crimes—mass killings are a tiny fraction of the toll. So getting a national handle on our gun problem, if effective, will mostly be about preventing those mundane kinds of deaths, not the sort of catastrophe that occurred in Newtown. (And that's why getting that handle, as Jonathan Chait explains, won't be the triumphant passage of a single bill, but rather a hard, long-term political grind). Meanwhile, a conversation about how better to address mental illness shouldn't just focus on mass killing—because, again, only a infinitesimal number of mentally ill people commit murder—but rather on preventing common forms of misery and injury: The suffering of people with these conditions, and that of those who care for them. (The latter, by the way, is the suffering to which the I-gotta-be mental-illness crowd is blind.)
Why does it take a Newtown to get us to talk about our more diffuse but deadlier troubles? The human mind, being tuned to stories of individual experiences and feelings, isn't good at assimilating information about large numbers of undifferentiated individuals. For example, 55,000 Syrians are estimated to have died in the civil war now under way in that country. But I'm far more traumatized by the deaths of 27 people last week in Connecticut. I can imagine 27 individuals (it is, after all, just a roomful of people). Upwards of 50,000? Can't do it. As the psychologist Paul Slovic has observed here about our insensitivity to numbers, it often seems as if "the more who die, the less we care."
This week, many Americans are experiencing an impulse to act fast in order to forestall a rare danger. We can let that impulse pass, as most do—or we can channel it into a methodical, longer effort to address common and quite foreseeable dangers as well. That would prevent much death and misery, and there is no downside: Effective action would reduce the chances of another Newtown as well.
Moving away from our current hands-off, what-can-you-do? approach to seriously scary behavior would be one such effort. Here's an example of conversation that might be aborning: The struggles detailed in Liza Long's post about her troubled son, which has been all over the Internet.
That post has brought out some intelligent expressions of sympathy (like this one from Rebecca Schoenkopf) and some intelligent criticisms (like this one). It also, predictably, got Long accused of dehumanizing the mentally ill—just the kind of "you're not allowed to say that!" sentiment that Americans need to set aside.
POSTSCRIPT, 12/18/12: As time passes, I expect that the conversation about "mental illness and violence" will address a profound question I haven't touched on above. Which is: What does it mean to say mental illness caused someone to kill? In that obvious-sounding claim, there are a lot of steps left out between attribute (mental illness) and action (murder). Which is obvious if you substitute other states of being for "mentally ill": A statement like "he cooked rice because he is Armenian" or "she fired the mailroom because she's black" wouldn't make much sense, unless it came with a substantial explanation. This doesn't mean, as some have claimed this week, that we can't draw any connection between some aspect of mental illness and mass killing. It just means that when we make the bare claim, we're just saying there must be something there. Not the same as understanding what the "something" is.
Daniel Lende ponders the connection, or absence thereof, here at Neuroanthropology, referencing Vaughan Bell's piece on the same issue. (Both pieces date from nearly two years ago, and stemmed from a different massacre. Sigh)
I certainly see the problem with hand-waving ascriptions of violence to "mental illness." Yet it seems to me people ought to be able to respond to alarming behavior, whatever arguments we're having about the condition that might have caused it. And I think this desire is compatible with my knowledge that most mentally ill people are harmless. Think of it this way: If my Armenian neighbors start stocking assault rifles, shooting stray cats and talking up the end of the world, I'm entitled to think they should have their heads examined, no? If your reply is "let your neighbors be! how dare you cast aspersions on Armenians!" then I think you should have yours examined as well.
Photo: "Non-Violence" (also known as "The Knotted Gun") by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd at the United Nations in New York. Via Wikimedia.
Follow me on Twitter: @davidberreby
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.