Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Grief isn’t a pathology. It’s an altered state of mind.

Grief is real. Give it time.

BJ MILLER: Let's talk about grief for a minute. It's an incredibly powerful and important subject that gets short shrift. We don't know what to do with grief. It kind of smells like depression, all sorts of things. So let's talk about it for a second. If I think there's one thing that we can take away from the fact that we get sick, the fact that we die, the fact that we are vulnerable, And looking at all the pain in the world right now-- I don't know what your politics are. It doesn't matter. I don't care. But we are aware that the world is in pain in all sorts of ways. I don't think that's a shocking statement. So how to metabolize all of that, how to process all that? One way is to shrink your world view and try to ignore all that stuff so life stays manageable. I don't recommend that path.

That's sort of the normal path. The slightly harder path, but in the long run, way easier path, would be for us to develop the skill of grieving. Maybe in the modern consciousness, since the 1960s, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross gave us the stages of grief, the "Five Stages of Grief." But those have been debunked as a strict science. We don't progress through our grief and in a linear way like this. And people have very different experiences of grief. She gave us one lens for it. But what she really did for us was she opened up the subject and made it a lot more interesting and nuanced and layered. And she normalized it for us. And so let's not take any of that away from her. And what is true about grief is it is the surreal is real.

It's when the world, the contours of the world all of a sudden can look different. We can feel out of our body. And you start realizing that the way we experience daily life as human beings is predicated on a bunch of assumptions. And things have to be in their certain place to be recognizable, so we can know what's in, what's out, and we can navigate the planet, and we can know where our safety is, and where the harms are. But that's a construction. And sometimes, if someone dies or something happens or you lose something or someone who's very important in your fabric, you rip that piece out, and then the whole thing kind of collapses. It's like the world melts. I don't know how else to put it. And It can feel crazy-making. If no one's supporting you through this or no one has normalized this, has made it OK, you will feel something is wrong with you. And I guess the point we're trying to make here is, "No, there is nothing wrong with you."

This is just how intricate and exquisite life is as a sentient human being, and how the tendrils of our relationships and the things we love and care about and rely upon-- we're so dependent on these things just to get through the daily life. Or honestly, in modern psychiatry, if you're grieving, if you're sad for more than two weeks that you lost someone, then we pathologize that: We call that depression. That's not depression. That's grief. Grief takes months and years to wind its way through us. So I just want to sort of sound the call. Grief is real. Give it time. What we're clear on now-- so in cultures, we've lost a lot of ritual-- so hanging crepe or wearing black for six months or for a year. Older cultures, perhaps wiser cultures, had these traditions because they knew you were going to be in an altered state not for a week or two, but for months or maybe even years.

And as a society, that was honored. That was protected. You didn't demand so much from someone in their grief. You let them find their way. And in a sense, they have to kind of re-equilibrate and re-establish a world view where that loss has been internalized, and the contours of daily life had been regained, and the mourning process ends, and you can come through it. If you don't roll with it, it will roll with you one way or another. Grief will turn into just unabated anger or bitterness or shut down-ness if you don't let it move its way through you. So I would counsel people to let it come. Let it go, too. But that's going to take a long, long time. And I would say, to usher it in, just remember, it's deeply, deeply entwined with love.

If you don't love, If you don't care about someone, you don't care to lose them. The fact that you grieve is a testimony to your love. And make that link in yourself, making that sort of conceptual link, I think, helps us own our grief rather than kind of run away from it.

  • When it comes to moving forward, the slightly harder path — but in the long run, the way easier path — would be for us to develop the skill of grieving.
  • Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's theories about the five stages may be off, but she gave us a lens from which to come to understand the process of grieving.
  • The fact that you grieve is a testimony to your love.

A new hydrogel might be strong enough for knee replacements

Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
  • The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
  • The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
Keep reading Show less

Predicting PTSD symptoms becomes possible with a new test

An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.

Image source: camillo jimenez/Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
  • Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
  • Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.

The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.

In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.

That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

70 data points and machine learning

nurse wrapping patient's arm

Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash

Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:

"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."

The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.

Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."

Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.

Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.

On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.

Going forward

person leaning their head on another's shoulder

Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash

Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."

"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.

The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.

Hints of the 4th dimension have been detected by physicists

What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?

Two different experiments show hints of a 4th spatial dimension. Credit: Zilberberg Group / ETH Zürich
Technology & Innovation

Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.

Keep reading Show less

How often do vaccine trials hit paydirt?

Vaccines find more success in development than any other kind of drug, but have been relatively neglected in recent decades.

Pedro Vilela/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Vaccines are more likely to get through clinical trials than any other type of drug — but have been given relatively little pharmaceutical industry support during the last two decades, according to a new study by MIT scholars.

Keep reading Show less
Quantcast