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All new reviews (so far) this month at
Oxford Guide to the Mind
by Geoffrey Underwood (editor)
Review by John Lee, Ph.D. on 1 Sep 2001.
Oxford University Press; 2001 (ISBN: 0198600836)
The Science of Sentiment
by Dylan Evans
Review by Havi Carel on 1 Sep 2001.
Oxford University Press; 2001 (ISBN: 019285433X)
The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters
by Matt Ridley
Review by Maria Trochatos on 1 Sep 2001.
Harpercollins; 2000 (ISBN: 0060932902)
Individual Differences in Conscious Experience
Advances in Consciousness Research, Volume 20
by Robert G. Kunzendorf and Benjamin Wallace (editors)
Review by Marcel Scheele on 1 Sep 2001.
John Benjamins Publishing; 2000 (ISBN: 1556194366)
Why God Won't Go Away
Brain Science and the Biology of Belief
by Andrew Newberg, Eugene G. D'Aquili, and Vince Rause
Review by Aaron Holland on 1 Sep 2001.
Ballantine; 2001 (ISBN: 0345440331)
Evolution and the Human Mind
Modularity, Language, and Meta-Cognition
by Peter Carruthers and Andrew Chamberlain (editors)
Review by James Sage on 1 Sep 2001.
Cambridge University Press; 2000 (ISBN: 0521789087)
I of the Vortex
From Neurons to Self
by Rodolfo R. Llinás
Review by Andrew Bailey, Ph.D. on 1 Sep 2001.
MIT Press; 2001 (ISBN: 0262122332)
The Barmaid's Brain
And Other Strange Tales from Science
by Jay Ingram
Review by Vincent Scordo on 1 Sep 2001.
W H Freeman & Co.; 2000 (ISBN: 0716741202)
The Debated Mind
Evolutionary Psychology Versus Ethnography
by Harvey Whitehouse (editor)
Review by Keith S. Harris, PhD on 1 Sep 2001.
Berg; 2001 (ISBN: 1859734324)
The Shattered Self
The End of Natural Evolution
by Pierre Baldi
Review by John Caulfield, Ph.D. on 1 Sep 2001.
MIT Press; 2001 (ISBN: 0262025027)
States of Mind
New Discoveries About How Our Brains Make Us Who We Are
by Roberta Conlan (editor)
Review by Nicholas Shea on 1 Sep 2001.
John Wiley & Sons; 1999 (ISBN: 0471399736)
by David Lodge
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on 1 Sep 2001.
Viking Press; 2001 (ISBN: 0670899844)
Home Page: http://www.dowling.edu/faculty/cperring
Editor of Metapsychology Online Review: http://mentalhelp.net/books/
Philosophy of Psychiatry Links:
Contributing Editor to The Philosophers' Magazine: http://www.philosophers.co.uk
Office Phone/Fax: (631) 244-3349 / 589-6644
Dept Philosophy, Dowling College, Oakdale, NY 11769, USA
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Temper tantrums in children 'linked to adult violence'
Psychiatrists say tantrums in children as young as three point to an increased
risk they will grow up to be violent or criminal.
Research on more than 800 children shows signs of later criminal activity were
present before the start of school.
A paper in the British Journal of Psychiatry found behavioural problems were
more of an indication of later problems than family and social circumstances.
Children likely to offend in the future tended not to get on with brothers and
sisters, had high levels of activity but poor concentration, would refuse to go
to bed and were more likely to wet the bed.
Researchers Jim Stevenson, of Southampton University, and Robert Goodman, of
King's College, London, took a random sample of children born in 1969 and 1970
in the London borough of Waltham Forest, reports The Daily Telegraph.
The families were interviewed about the child's behaviour and development and
the results measured against criminal convictions - 81 out of 828 had police
The researchers warn their findings need careful appraisal, saying since the
level of adult offending is so low it does not mean incidence of pre-school
tantrums will necessarily lead to criminal behaviour.
Story filed: 12:59 Saturday 1st September 2001
Patterns of affective illness change from childhood to adolescence
Last Updated: 2001-08-31 14:53:22 EDT (Reuters Health)
By Michelle Cooke
WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) - Young children with affective illness do not
typically present with the same symptoms as older adolescents, according to a
report in the August issue of the Journal of Child Neurology. Being aware of
these differences may help physicians and other pediatric healthcare providers
to recognize and treat affective illness earlier in this population, leading to
better long-term outcomes.
Dr. Warren A. Weinberg, a researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern
Medical Center, in Dallas, and colleagues examined the presentation of
affective illness in 100 consecutive patients, ages 2 to 20 years, who were
evaluated in a single pediatric behavioral neurology program. Of these
patients, 65 were prepubertal children and 26 were fully pubertal adolescents
(nine patients were classified as Tanner stage 2, an intermediate stage of
The researchers identified seven patterns of affective illness. Of these,
hypomanic/manic symptoms predominated in the prepubertal children (47 of 65
subjects) and depressive symptomatology predominated in adolescents (16 of 26
Lure of the Sinister: The Unnatural History of Satanism|
Gareth J Medway
27 August 2001
In league with the Devil
A study that debunks tales of Satanic abuse
WHEN I was young, I lived two doors away from a witch: or so my friends and I
believed. The old woman's house was large and dilapidated, set in grounds where
weeds grew to a tremendous height, the better to entrap trespassing children.
It never occurred to us that the house was in disrepair and the garden
overgrown because the 80-year-old widow lacked the energy or perhaps the means
to maintain them: we invested her with all kinds of evil intentions, and then
avoided her (with fear in our hearts) as though we had actual experience of her
Of course, I soon put such childish things away. But the temptation to justify
one's unreasonable fears by claiming that they derive from a dangerous reality
is a perennial one. Moreover, the division of the world into indisputable good
and unspeakable evil has the advantage of making it psychologically manageable:
moral ambiguity unsettles us and makes us uncomfortable. Witches, or their
equivalents, have their uses, especially when they are accused of crimes of
which we ourselves are guilty or which we might like to commit.
This, at least, is the theory that underlies Mr Medway's ill-organised but
still interesting account of the recent upsurge of belief in the existence of
Satanic ritual abuse of children. Drawing parallels with the witch-hunts of the
15th, 16th and 17th centuries, he establishes that there is no evidence
whatever of such Satanic abuse of children ever having taken place anywhere in
the world, any more than that there is evidence that old women flew by night on
broomsticks for rendezvous with the Devil.
Discovery could lead to pills for anxiety
By Robert Uhlig
CLAUSTROPHOBICS, the anxious and the terminally shy could soon be taking
mood-altering pills to combat their fears, according to scientists who have
discovered a genetic mutation linked to most panic attacks and anxiety
A Spanish team that was studying families with a history of problems such as
panic disorders, agoraphobia and social phobia discovered most shared a common
In nine out of 10 of the affected family members, a small region on chromosome
15 was duplicated, said Xavier Estivill, who led the research at the Centre for
Medical and Molecular Biology in Barcelona.
When the researchers then double-checked their findings with 70 unrelated
people who suffered anxiety attacks, they found that even more - 97 per cent -
had the characteristic, which they christened DUP25.
Naughty children 'born from anxiety'
By David Derbyshire, Science Correspondent
ANXIETY during the last few weeks of pregnancy can affect an unborn baby's
developing brain, increasing the chances of children becoming hyperactive or
Researchers say the connection is almost certainly due to exposure to chemicals
in the womb and not the result of "bad" parenting. The results come from
Children of the 90s - an ongoing study of thousands of women and children
living in Avon.
The women's stress levels were assessed at 18 and 32 weeks of pregnancy, and
their children were assessed for behavioural and emotional problems just before
they turned four.
Prof Vivette Glover and Dr Tom O'Connor, of Imperial College London, looked at
women who were anxious before the birth of their child, but not afterwards.
That would rule out mothers whose anxiety was "rubbing off" on their children.
BBC NEWS ONLINE
Friday, 31 August, 2001, 05:01 GMT 06:01 UK
Gulf War Syndrome fear persists
Nearly one in five veterans believes they have Gulf War syndrome, research has
A team from the Gulf War Research Unit at King's College London sent
questionnaires to a large random sample of British service personnel who served
in the 1991 Gulf War.
Of 2,961 respondents, 17% believed they had Gulf War syndrome.
If this sample is representative, about 9,000 of 53,000 British service
personnel believe they have contracted it.
The existence of Gulf War syndrome is hotly disputed in medical circles.
The term has been used to describe a variety of symptoms and illnesses
experienced by veterans of the conflict.
Due to the variety of symptoms reported by veterans, some believe that Gulf War
Syndrome may be a collection of different illnesses with different causes
rather than a single one.
The symptoms include insomnia, fatigue, headaches, confusing, joint and muscle
pain, nausea, swollen glands and fevers.
The researchers found that those people who thought they had Gulf War syndrome
were in a poorer state of health than those who did not.
They also found that personnel who thought they had Gulf War syndrome were more
likely to know someone else who also believed they had the condition.
The New England Institute
Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology
The New England Institute is an initiative by the University of New England to
foster research and education into the interdisciplinary nexus of cognitive
science and evolutionary psychology. Cognitive science investigates the deep
structure of mental processes. Evolutionary psychology understands the mind in
the context of its biological origins. A sustained dialogue between these
disciplines is long overdue and timely.
NEI provides a platform of international scope for constructive debate and
disparate views on issues by offering a varied program of seminars, courses,
workshops, conferences , and talks for academics, researchers, practitioners,
and the general public. In offering these programs, NEI will provide a forum
for academics, practitioners, and the public to learn from distinguished
scientists and practitioners to keep abreast of recent developments in
research, theory and practice.
For further information, or to be placed on our mailing list, contact:
The New England Institute, University of New England, Department of Social and
Behavioral Sciences, 11 Hills Beach Road, Biddeford, Maine, 04005, USA. Email:
TheInstitute@... ; Phone:(207) 283-0171, ext. 2237; FAX: (207) 282-6379
David Livingstone Smith, PhD (University of New England)
Robert E. Haskell, PhD (University of New England)
Christopher R. Badcock, Ph.D. (LSE)
Wilma S. Bucci, Ph.D. (Adelphi University)
Linda A. W. Brakel, M.D. (University of Michigan)
Noam Chomsky, Ph.D. (MIT)
Richard Dawkins, Ph.D. (Oxford University)
Daniel C. Dennett, Ph.D. (Tufts University)
Edward Erwin, Ph.D. (University of Miami)
Paul Gilbert, Ph.D. (University of Derby)
Nicholas Humphrey, Ph.D. (LSE)
John Lemons, Ph.D. (University of New England)
Steven Mithen, Ph.D. (University of Reading)
Randolph M. Nesse, M.D. (University of Michigan)
Steven Pinker, Ph.D. (MIT)
Arthur Reber, Ph.D. (CUNY)
Mark Solms, Ph.D. (University of London)
Robert L.Trivers, Ph.D. (Rutgers University)
Mark Turner, Ph.D. (University of Maryland)
Risks from having a small head
31 August 2001 16:30 EST
by Apoorva Mandavilli, BioMedNet News
Linking head size to disease may smack of ancient phrenology and quack science
but there is increasing evidence that head size is a risk factor in neurologic
disease, scientists say. Among people who are genetically predisposed to
Alzheimer's disease (AD), for example, smaller head size carries a
significantly higher risk of the disease, claim researchers at the University
of South Florida (USF).
Scientists have previously shown in independent studies that head size and the
E4 allele of the apolipoprotein (Apo) E gene are both risk factors for AD, but
the results remain controversial.
Amy Borenstein-Graves and her colleagues at USF studied the interaction between
the E4 allele and head size (or brain reserve) and, unusually for neurological
studies, the research was prospective rather than retrospective. The
researchers divided individuals into three groups based on head circumference
and followed them for an average of 3.8 years.
Individuals in the lowest tertile, and with one or more E4 alleles, have a
14-fold increase in AD risk, Borenstein-Graves, professor of epidemiology and
biostatistics at USF, told BioMedNet News. The work is due to be published in
the October issue of Neurology.
Prozac scandal 'besmirches' Canadian university
The University of Toronto's decision to shun a British academic has cast doubts
over the integrity of its scientific research, reports Anne McIlroy
Monday September 10, 2001
Canada's largest and most prestigious university and has come under fire from
two Nobel laureates and 25 other internationally respected scientists for
withdrawing a job offer to a UK researcher after he questioned the safety of
antidepressants like Prozac.
In a letter, the 27 scientists say the decision to send Dr David Healy packing
violated the principles of academic freedom, "besmirched" the name of the
University of Toronto and "poisoned the reputation" of the centre for addiction
and mental heath (CAMH), an affiliated teaching hospital.
Dr Healy, who works at the University of Wales, had been courted by the centre
for more than a year to direct its mood and anxiety disorders program. But the
job offer was hastily withdrawn last November after he gave a speech in which
he said Prozac and similar antidepressants may trigger suicide or violent
behaviour in some patients. He also said that Eli Lilly, the drug company who
has sold the product to 40m people, has known about the problem for years.
Eli Lilly is a major corporate donor to the CAMH. Its officials say they
dropped the scientist because of his "extreme" views, but deny the decision had
anything to do with Eli Lilly. The company also denies any involvement, and
says Prozac is safe.
But critics say Dr Healy's job offer appears to have been rescinded in order to
avoid offending the corporate giant, or for fear it would make it more
difficult to solicit donations or research partnerships in the future.
This week, 27 experts in Dr Healy's field of neuropsychopharmacology weighed in
on the side of the critics, denouncing the Univerity of Toronto and its
teaching hospital. The experts included Dr Arvid Carlsson, this year's Nobel
prize winner in medicine and Julius Axelrod, the 1970 winner.
They said Dr Healy's views are not extreme, and that the last-minute decision
to revoke his job offer will have a chilling effect on researchers whose
findings are not pleasing to drug companies.
The incident has raised questions in Canada about the growing influence of
pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies at the country's cash-strapped
The pharmaceutical industry now funds 42 per cent of all medical research in
Canada, and accounts for between 16 and 30 per cent of the funding at major
medical schools. The Canadian government has fostered these close ties,
following the trend in the US, where universities are even more dependent on
Universities in the UK and Europe are less dependent, but experts say many are
eyeing the North American approach.
No one at the University of Toronto teaching hospital would speak publicly in
defence of Dr Healy, though privately many said they were outraged by what had
happened. He was surprised by the silence, and says if the incident had taken
place in the UK, his fellow academics would have spoken out.
"I wouldn't have expected the party discipline - as it were - to be quite so
rigid, to have to have quite the cagey fearful response there has been," he
All in the Mind
Facts are only facts until they are not, especially in medicine. That people
who suffer from all sorts of illnesses generally improve when they get a sham
treatment has been a fact since at least 1955. That year Henry K. Beecher
published a study called "The Powerful Placebo" in the Journal of the American
Medical Association. Reviewing 15 clinical trials, Beecher claimed that on
average about one out of three patients found relief from placebos alone.
Although some specialists have challenged the placebo effect for years, in the
minds of most physicians and in the public consciousness, it remained a
fact--until this past May.
That's when Peter Gøtzsche and Asbjørn Hróbjartsson of the University of
Copenhagen concluded in the New England Journal of Medicine that "there is no
justification for the use of placebos" in medical practice. They had pooled
data from 114 previously published clinical trials that compared patients who
received placebos with those who got no treatment whatsoever. Sifting the
numbers through statistical sieves, the doctors found no significant overall
difference in how the two groups fared. The media responded to the Danish study
by gleefully vivisecting the placebo effect. "It's a scam," sneered the Boston
Globe. "More myth than science," pronounced the New York Times. Within several
weeks, a new medical fact was born: placebos don't do diddly.
The following is also posted at http://www.behavior.net/forums/evolutionary
along with supplemental essays.
Imo and Frans Wrote a Book
A review of: De Waal, F. (2001) The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural
Reflections of a Primatologist. NY: Basic Books. 433 pp., $26 list.
James Brody, Ph.D.
Editor, Evolutionary Psychology & Clinical Sociobiology
We each build our own nest with our lives, one that suits us and no one
else. The Ape and the Sushi Master is part of de Waal's nest, another
expression of his fascination with kindness, cooperation, and the emergence
of social order in primates and other species, a vital exploration of our
sameness with other life.
He challenges the distinction between "human" and "animal" and develops his
case through finding human traits that occur in animals. Some of our most
cherished ones such as culture, kindness, and even art are material in de
Waal's case. De Waal anchors his case with biographies that both
demonstrate the polarities that concern him and make his story easier to
enjoy and to remember.
Culture, instinct, and imitation
De Waal introduces us to Kinji Imanishi and the Japanese traditions that
expect continuity and cooperation between living forms. Japanese scientists
give apes and monkeys individual names and study their social context;
westerners missed those things in wild chimpanzees when we looked for
abstractions such as dominance. That same difference in tradition opened
Japanese minds to the phenomenon of cultural transmission.
We meet Imo, the first known creature to be both a potato washer and a
rhesus. She touches the future through a wonderfully Lamarckian trick, the
transmission of an acquired characteristic across generations but within
kinship lines. As de Waal puts it: "...the Lamarckian idea that acquired
characteristics can be inherited has found its realization not in the
physical characteristics he was thinking of, but in behavior. Genetic
predispositions feed into culture, culture affects survival, and survival
and reproduction determine which genotypes (and cultural tricks, JB) spread
in the population. Order emerges more quickly than genes can arrange." De
Waal and Imo accomplish the same thing, Imo by teaching her kin how to wash
potatoes and de Waal by writing a memorable book.
Seven chimpanzee sites have been studied for a total of 151 years (See
Whiten, et al., 1999). Each site has its own tools and some of the
Lamarckian chimp tricks are: nut cracking (younger chimpanzees train for
years with no evident rewards), grooming methods, louse removal (a skill
that varies with family), and even self medication. In their interface with
humans, apes have posed with books in their laps, brushed their teeth, used
saws, hammers and nails, strung hammocks, and put on T-shirts. We got a
verb, "to ape," from their skills: the ethologists have shown us the
survival value of imitation, that imitation and culture finish the work
started in utero, that of adjusting individuals and niches to each other.
The non primates are also pretty busy adjusting their worlds. Even Skinner
(1966) talked about a bird, the African honey guide, in a manner that
suggests cultural transmission for the cooperative gambits between it and
humans. House cats open doors, blue tits teach each other how to remove
bottle caps from milk containers, and bears teach each other that
windshields and doors from some tourist vehicles are easy to pop open by
bouncing on the roof. Much as chimps crack nuts, both species want to get
at the meats inside. (The concepts of "in" and "out" must be very old.)
"The fact that primates sometimes duplicate behavior, such as the rubbing
together of stones or a special drinking technique, that confers zero
advantages is extremely telling. It teaches us that cultural learning is
not about rewards, but about fitting in (emphasis added, JB)...We can now
assume these tendencies, which underlie all forms of cultural transmission,
to be far older than our own tenure on the planet." (p 238.)*
De Waal briefly discusses BIOL (bonding and identification-based
observational learning) but also echoes Matt Ridley's arguments (Ridley
2000) against cultural determinism :"In the minds of many people, culture
is associated with freedom.... But doesn't culture restrict our freedom as
much (or as little) as biology? And where do our cultural capacities come
from? Don't they spring from the same source as the so-called instincts?"
(p. 236). De Waal, thus, endorses the idea of a culture that is generated
Kindness and selfishness:
De Waal reinforces several recent, popular books on animal compassion (von
Kriesler, 2001; Linden, 1999) and extends his earlier ones, Good Natured
(De Waal, 1996) and Peace Making Among Primates (De Waal, 1989). For
example, female dogs will nurse and rear tiger cubs, later dwelling safely
in the cage with their adult adoptees who stalk humans. Blue jays give
alarm calls, the famous gorilla, Binti Jua, returned a human child to its
mother, dolphins drive sharks away from humans in the sea, lady bats serve
as midwives for their conspecifics, and rescue dogs need to find a living
human among the dead. Otherwise, the dogs fade into apathy and depression.
Even our brats pick up kindness as if it were an adaptation, in Geoff
Miller's words, "easy to learn, often fun to do, and seen in every normal
individual (Miller, 1999)."
De Waal does not postulate a noble savage but starts with Edward
Westermarck, who introduced social science to Darwinism while arguing, in
Kropotkin's tradition, for a "natural good" in us animals. Westermarck was
immediately discredited by Freud and by Levi-Strauss who needed incest as a
prime example of human culture's overcoming human nature. If we're
naturally good, why do we need either Freud or a super ego?
De Waal sketches a tradition from Thom Huxley and Thomas Hobbes and through
Freud to modern characters such as George Williams, Richard Dawkins, Matt
Ridley or Bob Wright: we are naturally bad and we overcome our nature by
our willful spinning of culture and kindness. Most of these people,
however, are more complex than the caricature that de Waal draws on top of
them. Bob Wright, for example, is a moralist by family history and career
and possibly a gene. His most recent book, Nonzero: The Logic of Human
Destiny, (Wright 2000) traces for cultures the cooperative ventures that de
Waal finds for individuals.
We remember gossip better than data (Sugiyama, 2001; Dunbar, 1994) and de
Waal gives us balanced morality tales about arrogance and humility,
persistence and wisdom. There is also death in de Waal's stories: oblivion
IS a form of dying, often arranged by ridicule or silence whether towards
Lorenz or towards Gould, whether by school girls or by the next generation
of ethologists, and whether on the playground or in conferences.
Similar plots occur in Greek drama, Kabuki, American westerns, and Star
Trek. Kirk and Spock are replaced by Lorenz, Tinbergen, Carpenter,
Halstead, Imanishi, Gould, Skinner, Dawkins, Thom Huxley, George Williams,
Westermarck, and even cameos filled by Matt Ridley, Bob Wright, and one
anonymous behaviorist. (No women!) Robert Ardrey is credited with the
hypothesis of language's replacing grooming. (Dunbar who wrote a book on
this theme doesn't mention Ardrey and de Waal doesn't mention Dunbar!)
Thanks to de Waal my list of heroes is reordered and expanded.
Lorenz and Tinbergen
The younger de Waal fed on Lorenz' irrepressible ideas and style; the older
de Waal recognized that his hero was swept, as energetic people often can
be, into applications of untested ideas about human evolution, group
selection, and sacrificing individuals for group benefit. Thus, Lorenz
joined the faculty at the University of Konigsberg and became an active
participant in the scientific publicity of the Third Reich. He contrasts
Lorenz the dynamo who saved ethology from behaviorism with Lorenz the
contributor to Nazi social agendas.
Niko Tinbergen eventually shared the Nobel Prize with Lorenz and von Frisch
in 1973. Tinbergen was methodical and worked by systematic replication, a
collaborator with Lorenz before and after the wary but a contrast and
complement to him both in war record and scientific style. During the war
Lorenz and Tinbergen sought and found different niches and responded to
different audiences, becoming more like their respective audiences and less
like each other. Reunited after the war, they inspired and magnified each
other, neither would have accomplished quite so much if alone.
If imitation is about fitting in then an unappreciated reciprocity gambit,
raise the stakes, (Roberts & Sherrat, 1998) can make it dangerous. That is,
open small and if matched, increase your next bet. It works in
conversations and it works in computer simulations, easily beating
tit-for-tat and similar strategies. RTS is sometimes dangerous because it
is a positive feedback system that makes small agreements, agreements
either to love or to hate, large to the point of addiction or intolerance.
RTS describes the resonance between Lorenz and his wartime audiences and,
ironically, contemporary reactions either to Lorenz or to Gould. Dopamine
circuits show similar multiplier effects (see Waelti, et al, 2001).
Music and painting
We learn about animal music and art. No surprise, many dogs and birds don't
like Schoenberg and prefer slower compositions to those of Frans Liszt.
Conversely, we write poems about bird songs and the melody for one of
Mozart's compositions was taken from his pet starling. (Were Audrey and
Dunbar wrong? Did language emerge not from grooming but from singing and
mate recruiting? After all, some dogs howl when their owners sing. Pain or
mating? See Miller, 2000.)
Pigeons can sort art by artist and by school: train them to choose Renoir
and they generalize to other impressionists and can identify paintings by a
individual artist with greater accuracy than most humans. (Humans prefer
symmetry in their partners. Does a female pigeon prefer symmetry in a male
pigeon? Can pigeons sort humans by symmetry?) Chimpanzees are persistent
with their painted compositions, produce orderly work, and reach a stage of
completion, firmly resisting editors and their corrections.
De Waal missed a couple of opportunities. First, humans are not the only
species to terraform (Brody, 2000). From lugworms, crickets, and coral to
New York architects---organisms pick, modify, and construct environments.
They not only use tools to extend opportunities, to widen their environment
in a particular setting, but to stabilize it. This phenomenon, that
environments statistically compete to be selected, cuts at 180 degrees to
standard neoDarwinism. Turner (2000) has magnificent engineering data and
species-niche products that make this point (See also Lewontin, 2000.)
Second, I would have enjoyed his giving us a chapter on religion. If there
is continuity between us and other species in all things, then religion
will not be peculiar to humans. The same views and arguments that apply to
art, goodness, and culture surely could inform us about elephant, dolphin,
or chimpanzee superstitions and animism. (De Waal spooked two of the
Arnheim chimps into resurrecting their old alliance: he showed them a film
clip of their former, long dead, nemesis. One chimp immediately ran to the
lap of the other. If the movie and some ground shaking were associated with
a specific section of the enclosure, would the chimps systematically avoid
it? Would they convince other chimps to do likewise? Would they start to
National Geographic had a cover photograph of Koko, a gorilla, cradling a
black and gray, tiger-striped kitten. She asked for it with sign language
and gave it a name, "All Ball." Any reasonable person could accept the
photograph and the story as final proof our similarity to Koko. The Ape and
the Sushi Master is also for reasonable people, the one-third who already
accept the idea and the second third that are open to thinking about it. In
this sense, de Waal preaches to the choir and we are lucky to be in it.
His conviction is that kindness is as much a part of our nature as
selfishness. I agree and find The Ape and the Sushi Master a magnificent
argument. He tells us to lighten up a bit, we're not so special and other
creatures are more creative and "moral" than we credit them. His closing
words before the Epilogue, p 357:
"...the child is not going against its own nature by developing a caring,
moral attitude, and civil society is not like an out-of-control garden
subdued by a sweating gardener. We are merely following evolved tendencies.
How refreshingly simple!"
One must imagine de Waal happy.
* We think and move within physical as well as biological nature:
dichotomies are part of us perhaps for statistical reasons and two
millennia later, we may have enough data to become Pythagoreans (See Sole
and Goodwin, 2001; Ball, 1999; Kauffman, 1995). Computer simulations
suggest that order (cooperation and kindness?) can evolve from chaos
(selfish autonomy?), that chaos can evolve from order (Kauffman, 1995). By
apparent logical necessity evolution must work in a "phase transition"
between the two just as every one of us operates in a phase transition when
we float in a pool of water or travel in the first feet of earth's
We should not be surprised if genes also follow statistical payoffs, our
problem is in identifying the conditions for those payoffs. Imitation may
someday be shown to have statistical benefits that are more rapid but
similar to those achieved from mutation and natural selection. Our sense of
kindness and cooperation might do for social order what electron bonds do
If so, then genes are our navigators, kindness our sensed appreciation of
making order, and approach-avoidance conflict our anchor, one that keeps us
near our sense of "maybe." Selfishness points us one direction, guilt and
kindness in the opposite; sexual and natural selection are their oars and
rudders (Brody, in press). Thus, neither de Waal nor anyone else will
eliminate dichotomies. Nonetheless, he and others might increase our
awareness of how narrow our distinctions and how short our yardsticks as we
negotiate other life both for life and for wisdom.
Ball, P. (1999) Transitions still to be made. Nature, 402: 73-76.
Brody, J. (2000) Active Darwinism offsets mismatch. Paper given at the
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Lewontin, R. (1998/2000) Triple helix: Gene, organism, environment.
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Miller, G. (1999) "Human Language and Intelligence as Sexually Selected
Fitness Indicators" Paper given at the Hunter School of Social Work,
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Ridley, M. (2000) Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters.
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Waelti, P., Dickinson, A, & Schultz, W. (2001) Dopamine responses comply
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Whiten, A., Goodall, J., McGrew, W., Nishida, T., Reynolds, V., Sugiyama,
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Tuesday September 11 6:56 AM ET
Icelandic Group Maps Obesity and Anxiety Genes
By Ben Hirschler, European Pharmaceuticals Correspondent
LONDON (Reuters) - Researchers studying the Icelandic population's medical
records said on Tuesday they had mapped two genes linked to obesity and
Reykjavik-based deCODE Genetics Inc and Swiss group Roche Holding AG, whose
scientists made the discovery, now aim to develop drugs to tackle two of the
Western world's fastest-growing health problems.
If successful, the partners could revolutionize healthcare -- but worried
overweight folk hoping for a quick fix to their problems are likely to be
``If there was a drug on the market as a result of these findings by the end of
the decade, that would be good going,'' said Ian Smith, biotechnology analyst
at Lehman Brothers.
DeCODE has bought exclusive access to Iceland's health records and is analyzing
the population's unique composition, which has remained stable since the
Vikings arrived in the ninth and 10th centuries, to uncover disease-gene links.
Public release date: 10-Sep-2001
New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine
Brain PET scans point to future memory impairment
A new three-year study by New York University School of Medicine researchers
predicted which healthy elderly men and women would develop memory impairment
based on scans of their brains.
The study, led by Dr. Mony J. de Leon, Director of the Center for Brain Health
and Professor of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, shows that metabolic
changes occur in particular regions of the brain years before there are any
clinical signs of memory loss. The study demonstrated these changes with PET
(positron imaging tomography), a brain scan that employs radioactively labeled
glucose to show the brain at work.
The brain scan, along with other tests, may one day provide physicians with the
tools to identify those individuals at risk for Alzheimer's disease.
"Our work extends the use of PET scanning to identifying in normal aging
subjects the earliest metabolic abnormalities that may lead to the memory
losses referred to as mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The diagnosis of MCI
carries a high risk for future Alzheimer's disease," says Dr. de Leon. "The
results will allow us to distinguish individuals at increased risk of memory
impairment, but it is still too early to apply the brain scans outside of a
research setting. We need to confirm our results with a larger group of
subjects and to identify the biological and physiological factors leading to
the metabolism losses. If we can identify these factors, then we may be able to
find a way to delay the onset of Alzheimer's or prevent it altogether."
The new study followed a group of 48 healthy men and women between the ages of
60 and 80. At the beginning of the study, everyone scored within the normal
range on a battery of tests typically used to detect early loss of memory and
other mental skills. However, PET scans revealed a reduction in glucose
metabolism in an area of the brain called the entorhinal cortex among 12
people. Three years later, 11 of these people had experienced MCI and one
developed Alzheimer's disease. The individuals with normal PET scans did not
show any signs of mental decline at the three-year follow-up.
Moreover, among the group whose mental acuity declined, carriers of the
apolipoprotein E4 gene, a biomarker linked to Alzheimer's, showed large
reductions in brain metabolic activity over the course of the study. Such
metabolic changes may account for the increased risk for Alzheimer's associated
with the gene, says Dr. de Leon.
The study is published in the September 11 issue of The Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences.
Over the years, Dr. de Leon's laboratory has used PET and MRI (magnetic
resonance imaging) brain scans to study normal aging of the brain and
Alzheimer's disease. His team was the first to demonstrate with MRI scans that
deterioration of the hippocampus in MCI patients predicts future Alzheimer's
Along with Antonio Convit, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry at NYU
School of Medicine, and Susan DeSanti, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor of
Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, Dr. de Leon has been characterizing the
changes in brain architecture and metabolism that may point to future losses in
memory and intellectual ability. They are also studying biomarkers, such as
forms of a protein called tau, which accumulate in the cerebrospinal fluid.
They hope that the brain scans and biomarkers will one day provide a sensitive
test to identify people at risk for Alzheimer's.
"We want to learn how the brain becomes vulnerable to this disease," says Dr.
de Leon. Alzheimer's is a progressive illness that destroys neurons in the
brain. It initially causes memory loss and eventually dementia, and there is no
way to predict who will develop the disease. Alzheimer's afflicts four million
older adults in the United States and perhaps three times as many individuals
suffer milder forms of the disease that incapacitate memory.
In addition to Drs. de Leon, Convit, and DeSanti, the authors of the study are:
O. T. Wolf; Y. Tarshish; H. Rusinek; W. Tsui; E. Kandil; A. J. Scherer; A.
Roche; A. Imossi; E. Thorn; M. Bobinski; C. Caraos; P. Lesbre; and B. Reisberg;
from NYU School of Medicine; and D. Schlyer; J. Poirier; and J. Fowler; from
Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Gene Therapy Reduces Drinking in "Alcoholic" Rats
UPTON, NY - Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National
Laboratory have shown that increasing the level of a brain protein important
for transmitting pleasure signals can turn rats that prefer alcohol into light
drinkers, and those with no preference into near teetotalers. The findings,
published in the first September 2001 issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry
(Vol. 78, No. 5), may have implications for the prevention and treatment of
alcoholism in humans.
"This is a preliminary study, but when you see a rat that chooses to drink 80
to 90 percent of its daily fluid as alcohol, and then three days later it's
down to 20 percent, that's a dramatic drop in alcohol intake - a very clear
change in behavior," said Panayotis Thanos, the lead researcher. "This gives us
great hope that we can refine this treatment for future clinical use."
The protein in question is the so-called D2 receptor for dopamine, a chemical
that transmits brain signals necessary for experiencing feelings of pleasure
and reward. Without receptors for dopamine, the signals get "jammed," and the
pleasure response is blunted.
The enlarged insets in this image of a rat's brain show increased expression of
dopamine D2 receptors in the nucleus accumbens on the left side, which was
injected with the D2 gene, compared with the right side, which was not injected
with the receptor gene. >Hi-res version (300 dpi TIF)
Previous studies have shown that alcohol abuse and other addictive drugs
increase the brain's production of dopamine. But, over time, these drugs also
deplete the brain's D2 receptors. This research has suggested that alcoholics
increase their intake to try to override the blunted pleasure response, and
that people with low levels of D2 receptors may be predisposed to alcohol
abuse. These ideas led the Brookhaven researchers to hypothesize that
increasing the level of D2 receptors might decrease alcohol intake.
The researchers tested this hypothesis in experimental rats by injecting a
virus that had been rendered harmless and altered to carry the D2 receptor gene
directly into the rats' brains. The idea behind this gene therapy is that the
virus acts as a vector or mechanism to deliver the gene to the brain cells in
the nucleus accumbens, the brain's pleasure center, so the cells can make the
receptor protein themselves.
To see if the D2 receptor levels actually did increase, the scientists studied
the brains of one group of rats using sophisticated imaging techniques. They
used a radiotracer, a signal-emitting chemical designed to bind to the D2
receptor protein, then detected the signals in brain images called
autoradiographs. The strength of the signals indicated that rats injected with
the D2 gene did have higher levels of D2 receptors. The levels peaked three to
four days after injection and gradually returned to near baseline after eight
Then the scientists examined how the injected genes affected the drinking
behavior of rats that had been previously trained to self-administer alcohol.
Rats that showed a preference for alcohol over water during training were
analyzed separately from those that had no preference.
Among the rats that initially preferred alcohol, those that had received the D2
gene showed a 43 percent drop in their preference for alcohol and drank 64
percent less alcohol than rats that received only a placebo virus with no
genes. Even the rats that initially had a low preference for alcohol showed
significant reductions in both their preference for and intake of alcohol after
treatment with the D2 gene.
"This is the first evidence that overproduction of D2 receptors reduces alcohol
intake and suggests that high levels of D2 may be protective against alcohol
abuse in humans," Thanos said.
The reduction in drinking preference and behavior in both groups was transient,
with both measures returning to baseline levels by eight days after treatment.
But a second treatment with the D2 genes produced the same dramatic effect.
"This is just a first step," said Thanos, who is working with Brookhaven
biologist Paul Freimuth to produce a better gene-delivery system that will have
a longer-lasting effect.
This work was funded by the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
and the U.S. Department of Energy, which supports basic research in a variety
of scientific fields.
Note to local editors: Panayotis Thanos lives in Port Jefferson, New York.
The other authors on this paper are: Nora Volkow and Paul Freimuth, Brookhaven
National Laboratory; Hiroyuki Umegaki and Hiroyuki Ikari, University of Nagoya
School of Medicine, Japan; George Roth and Donald Ingram, National Institute on
Aging; and Rogert Hitzemann, Oregon Health and Science University.
A copy of the full paper can be obtained by contacting Karen McNulty Walsh
(631) 344-8350, kmcnulty@... .
Other addiction research programs at Brookhaven
Medical journals tackle "excessive control" of drug companies
12:46 10 September 01
Thirteen of the world's leading medical journals have published new guidelines
to combat excessive control of research by pharmaceutical companies.
Recent cases of drug companies controlling the design of a study, analysing and
interpreting the data and blocking publication of unfavourable results have all
been reported, says the British Medical Journal.
Last year, for example, a University of California, San Francisco team
published research showing that an HIV drug developed by Immune Response
Corporation in California did not have any additional benefits to patients
already receiving conventional treatment. Immune Response Corporation, which
had argued against publication, sued the university, claiming it had damaged
The problem of excessive control by the corporate sponsor of a study is "very
widely prevalent," says Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet. Instances of
submitted papers being hyped to back the drug being investigated are common, he
BMJ 2001;323:561-563 ( 8 September )
Education and debate
Usefulness and validity of post-traumatic stress disorder as a psychiatric
Gillian Mezey, senior lecturer in forensic psychiatry a, Ian Robbins,
consultant clinical psychologist b.
a Forensic Psychiatry, St George's Hospital Medical School, Jenner Wing, London
SW17 0RE, b Traumatic Stress Service, South West London and St George's Mental
Health NHS Trust, Clare House, St George's Hospital, London SW17 0QT
Correspondence to: G Mezey, gmezey@...
Post-traumatic stress disorder has attracted controversy and scepticism since
its first appearance in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders in the 1980s.1 Over the years the diagnostic criteria have been
refined and revised, but the causal relation between the diagnosis and an
external trauma has remained fundamentally unchanged. Post-traumatic stress
disorder is associated with clinically important distress that transcends
ordinary misery and unhappiness as well as with disruption and impairment of
daily functioning. We argue that the diagnosis is valid and important for both
patients and doctors.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a valid and useful diagnosis but is not the
only psychiatric response to trauma
Prevalence in the general population is estimated between 1% and 7.8%
The disorder is associated with high rates of psychiatric comorbidity and
impairment in social and occupational functioning
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be differentiated from other psychiatric
diagnoses by biochemical, neuroanatomical, and phenomenological characteristics
Concerns about the diagnosis in victims of chronic and lifelong trauma could be
resolved by further refinement of the diagnostic criteria
Times Literary Supplement
Edward Skidelsky wonders whether governments will ever be able to
control narcotic pleasure, in his review of four new books on drug
policy. He finds that "the two great engines of . . . 'the psychoactive
revolution' have been technology and intercontinental trade". To read
more, go to
Date Posted : 12 Sep 2001 Contact Details
+44 (0) 20 7611 4076
Increased Depression Risk Among US Women
Increasing prevalence of childhood violence in girls and young women in the USA
could explain why women are more likely to be depressed than men in adulthood,
suggest authors of a population-based study in this week’s issue of THE LANCET.
Major depressive disorder is a significant cause of illness among women in the
USA. Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression, although
no known risk factors can account for this sex difference. Lauren Wise from the
Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA, assessed violent childhood
victimisation as a risk factor for depression in adult women.
The investigators studied women aged 36-45 years from seven districts of
Boston, USA. Of 732 women, Depression scales identified 236 cases (women with
depression) and 496 controls (women without depression). Lifetime exposure to
violent victimisation was ascertained by a self-administered postal
50% of the women reported experience or fear of abuse as a child or adolescent.
Women who reported childhood abuse were two and a half times more likely to be
depressed in adulthood, and over three times more likely to be depressed if
they experienced both physical and sexual abuse.
Lauren Wise comments: “Our results show the importance of encouraging
health-care providers to inquire about and document any history of violence.
Although we cannot assume that patients will willingly and accurately report
violent events, victimisation screening should be routinely used in medical
assessments to treat and prevent health conditions emanating from violent
experiences. Data obtained from routine violent-victimisation screening could
also inform efforts to develop violence-prevention programmes, to be
implemented in health-care settings and in the broader community.”
Notes for Editors
Contact: Ms Lauren Wise, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public
Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA ; T) +1 617 734 6013, ext
132; F) +1 617 738 5119;
Peer reviewed publication and references
The Lancet, 15 September 2001
September 9, 2001
Contact: Public Affairs Office
AGING DOESN'T ALWAYS HURT MEMORY. STUDIES LINK WEAKER SOURCE MEMORY TO
FRONTAL-LOBE CHANGES THAT HAPPEN ONLY TO SOME PEOPLE, AND SUGGEST A SIMPLE
Integrating Memories With Context Can Help Improve Later Recognition
WASHINGTON - At the University of Arizona, new psychological research gives
hope to people who fear they'll lose their memory as they age. Elizabeth L.
Glisky, Ph.D., Susan R. Rubin, M.A. and Patrick S. R. Davidson, M.A. have found
that contrary to popular belief, only some people over 65 suffer greater losses
in "source (contextual) memory" than in memory for facts and items. The brain's
frontal lobes seem to be the culprits, but only some people suffer frontal-lobe
impairment as they age. What's more, despite this age-related brain deficit,
people may be able to learn to improve their source memory. The findings appear
in the September issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning,
Memory, and Cognition, published by the American Psychological Association
Glisky, Rubin and Davidson conducted four experiments that compared the memory
performance of healthy adults over the age of 65 from the Tucson area, with
that of college undergraduates (subjects in the four-experiment series numbered
32 older and 24 younger adults in Experiments 1 and 4; and 24 older and 24
younger adults in Experiments 2 and 3). First, they assessed frontal-lobe
efficiency with a battery of neuropsychological tests. Then, they studied the
association between frontal-lobe strength and efficiency in remembering source
(contextual) information, which is harder than storing and retrieving items.
Source memory is memory for the broad contextual aspects -- perceptual,
spatio-temporal, emotional, social -- surrounding an event, such as who was
speaking, or whether you learned something from a book or TV. It's a more
demanding mental process than remembering facts because it involves more
details and decisions, even as it links these surrounding details to the item
or event at their core.
The researchers found that half of their subjects with above-average
performance on frontal-lobe tests did not show significant impairments in
source memory (as a group). The other half of the sample, with below-average
performance, tended to have impaired source memory (as a group). The data
revealed that source-memory problems are not an inevitable consequence of
aging, as has been widely thought, but rather are a function of frontal-lobe
efficiency. The proportion of older adults who experience frontal-lobe decline,
at what ages, and to what degree, is unknown at this time. What's clear is
this, says Glisky: "The better one's frontal-lobe function, the better the
source memory performance." Older adults with good frontal lobe function
performed source-memory tasks as well as young adults.
What's more, when researchers required people to consider the relation between
an item and its context (source), age differences in memory performance
completely disappeared. "It seems important for older adults to try to
integrate several aspects of an experience in order to remember the experience
as a whole," says Glisky. "For example, it's not enough to remember your car
and that you parked it somewhere in the shopping-mall parking lot. It's
important to attend specifically to the relation between your car and its
location in the parking lot. Older people may have to make a specific effort to
encode these relations in order to remember them later."
In short, source memory problems may happen only to a subgroup of older adults
who are aging cognitively in different ways, and even then, they can be helped
to learn to remember the context better.
Article: "Source Memory in Older Adults: An Encoding or Retrieval Problem?"
Elizabeth L. Glisky, Ph.D., Susan R. Rubin, M.A., and Patrick S. R. Davidson,
M.A., University of Arizona, Tucson; Journal of Experimental Psychology -
Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Vol 27. No.5
Elizabeth L. Glisky can be reached by email at glisky@... or by phone
at (520) 621-9289.
Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office and at
The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest
scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United
States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's
membership includes more than 155,000 researchers, educators, clinicians,
consultants and students. Through its divisions in 53 divisions of psychology
and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial
associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and
as a means of promoting human welfare.
Ian Pitchford (ian.pitchford@...) has sent you a Yahoo! News Full Coverage page
Emergency and Relief Information in Wake of Terrorist Attack On U.S.
U.S. Full Coverage
- updated Sep 16 4:36 AM EDT
|Emergency and Relief Information in Wake of Terrorist Attack On U.S. |
||Closings and Cancellations - Newsday (Sep 16, 2001)|
||School Opening Plan Announced - Newsday (Sep 15, 2001)|
||Cancellations and Postponements - Washington Post (Sep 15, 2001)|
||What's Canceled; How To Help - Miami Herald (Sep 15, 2001)|
||Washington area closures and delays - Washington Post (Sep 14, 2001)|
||TV's Emmy Awards rescheduled for Oct. 7 - Reuters (Sep 14, 2001)|
||Jetliners Return to Nation's Skies - AP (Sep 14, 2001)|
||New York Reopens Major Airports - AP (Sep 14, 2001)|
||NFL Decides Against Playing - Washington Post (Sep 14, 2001)|
||Baseball to Resume Play on Monday - NY Times (registration req'd). (Sep 14, 2001)|
We at Yahoo! are saddened by the tragic events of September 11. We're grateful to those who are contributing to the ongoing relief efforts, and our thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims.|
||Interactive Relief Rescue Map - helps to determine the location of medical sites, shelters, missing persons centers, area closures, phone/electric outages, and relief organizations. From URHere.|
||NYC Emergency Efforts - doctors who can provide assistance, call 518-431-7600; Medical personnel needed, call 1-800-628-0193.|
||Medical personnel willing to volunteer help - Medical personnel who wish to donate their services should contact their local American Red Cross office.|
||NY Relief - provides up-to-date information to New Yorkers about how they can volunteer and help the relief efforts for the WTC attack.|
||New York Blood Center - 1-800-933-2566; site has donation information and locations.|
||Supplies Needed for Relief Effort - lists supplies that can be donated to help in relief efforts, and where to direct donations. From NY Rock.|
||Federal Emergency Management Agency - if you are in NYC or D.C. and are in need of assistance, call FEMA: 1-800-426-9029. Includes suggested donation avenues to help the victims of the terrorist attacks.|
||Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund - call 1-800-446-0500, or visit the site for details on how to donate to help the families and loved ones of the roughly 700 Cantor workers that perished in the WTC.|
||B'nai B'rith - relief fund to aid the victims and their families of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.|
||Feed The Children - mobilizing to address emergency needs in New York. Includes online donation form.|
||Helping.org: American Tragedy|
||Housing Relief Fund - formed to help pay the mortgage and rental costs of the families devastated by the terrorist attacks in NYC and D.C. From the National Association of Realtors.|
||United Methodist Committee on Relief|
||World Vision - Christian organization partnering with NYC area churches to help families in need.|
||American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - includes an online donation form for those who wish to help afflicted animals.|
||National Disaster and Search Dog Foundation - appeal for funds to buy booties for the search and rescue dogs to help them walk in the glass and rubble.|
||Update On New York City’s Animals - contact information for giving or receiving help with animals orphaned or trapped in the World Trade Center area; from PETA.|
||New York Times 9/11 Neediest Fund - will help provide financial relief to rescue workers and civilians or their families.|
||Washington Post: Funds to Help Victims|
||Los Angeles Times Disaster Relief Fund|
||Newsweek: How to Help|
||Consumers Warned to Beware of Online Disaster-Relief Scams - tips on how to make sure your donations are used as intended. From Computerworld.|
A few questions :
- How can they compare rates between men and women by just
studying women ?
- How can they assess the direction of causality (from fear to
depression) by a self-administered questionnaire ? A
depressed person is more akin to suffer from fear than a non
depressed. How can they reject this direction ?
- Depression affecting the mood change the vision one has of
oneself. How then can a self-administered questionnaire be
And of course : how did they define "sexual abuse" ? "fear" ?
"physical abuse" ?
Philippe Gouillou - pg@... - http://www.evopsy.org
QI (IQ) - Intelligence - Douance : http://www.douance.org
L'emploi a Monaco : http://emploi.monaco.net !
Friday, September 14, 2001, 9:17:22 AM (in UTC +0100), Ian Pitchford wrote:
IP> Date Posted : 12 Sep 2001 Contact Details
IP> Richard lane
IP> The Lancet
IP> +44 (0) 20 7611 4076
IP> Increased Depression Risk Among US Women
Public release date: 17-Sep-2001
American Sociological Association
Study focuses on effects of communal bereavement
How does stress resulting from disasters such as the recent tragic events in
New York City and Washington affect health? Ralph Catalano, Professor of Public
Health at University of California, Berkeley and Terry Hartig, docent at the
Institute for Housing Research at Uppsala University in Sweden, conducted a
study focusing on the effects of communal bereavement in Sweden. An article
“Communal Bereavement and the Incidence of Very Low Birthweight in Sweden,”
reporting study findings will be published in the December issue of the Journal
of Health and Social Behavior, a journal of the American Sociological
Prime minister Olof Palme's murder in 1986 and the sinking of the ferry Estonia
in 1994 were stressful events for many Swedes, but did that stress affect
Using an interrupted time-series design to measure the association between
these events and the incidence of very low birthweight, the effects of male
unemployment, size of the birth cohort, and temperature were controlled in
analysis of data for the period 1973-1995. The incidence of very low
birthweight rose significantly in the months following the Palme murder and the
Events that trigger communal bereavement at the scale the authors study may
seem rare but they do occur (e.g., destruction of the World Trade Center and
attack on the Pentagon). Events with less visibility, moreover, may induce
communal bereavement in smaller populations defined by geography or
Ralph Catalano is Professor of Public Health at University of California,
Berkeley; he holds a Ph.D. from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. His
work focuses on the health and behavioral effects of ambient stressors. Direct
correspondence to Ralph Catalano, School of Public Health, University of
California, Berkeley, California 94720; electronic
mail:rayc@.... He may be reached at 510-658-4066.
Terry Hartig is a docent at the Institute for Housing Research at Uppsala
University in Sweden. He holds a Ph.D. in Social Ecology from the University of
California, Irvine and was a postdoctoral scholar in social epidemiology at the
University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the roles that
natural and residential environments play in restorative processes.
Date: September 17, 2001
Contact: Public Information
202- 383-9005, ext. 320
Brain scans may predict risk of cognitive impairment
Last Updated: 2001-09-17 14:35:22 EDT (Reuters Health)
By Amy Norton
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Brain scans that detect reduced metabolism in a key
brain region may someday be used to predict which older adults will develop
cognitive impairment, the results of a small study suggest.
In a study of 48 healthy elderly adults, researchers found that lowered glucose
metabolism in the brain at the study's outset accurately predicted which
individuals would develop some degree of cognitive impairment within 3 years.
But such scanning is not yet ready for "prime time," the study's lead author
told Reuters Health. The report is simply "the first demonstration that this
prediction can be made," according to Dr. Mony J. de Leon of New York
University School of Medicine in New York City. Whether the brain metabolism
changes observed are specific to Alzheimer's disease is one of several
remaining questions, Dr. de Leon said.
American Psychological Association
Managing Traumatic Stress: Tips for Recovering From Disasters and Other
Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the United States were the type of events we
thought could never happen. Like other types of disasters they were unexpected,
sudden and overwhelming. In some cases, there are no outwardly visible signs of
physical injury, but there is nonetheless a serious emotional toll. It is
common for people who have experienced traumatic situations to have very strong
emotional reactions. Understanding normal responses to these abnormal events
can aid you in coping effectively with your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors,
and help you along the path to recovery.
What happens to people after a disaster or other traumatic event?
Shock and denial are typical responses to terrorism, disasters and other kinds
of trauma, especially shortly after the event. Both shock and denial are normal
Shock is a sudden and often intense disturbance of your emotional state that
may leave you feeling stunned or dazed. Denial involves your not acknowledging
that something very stressful has happened, or not experiencing fully the
intensity of the event. You may temporarily feel numb or disconnected from
As the initial shock subsides, reactions vary from one person to another. The
following, however, are normal responses to a traumatic event:
Feelings become intense and sometimes are unpredictable. You may become more
irritable than usual, and your mood may change back and forth dramatically. You
might be especially anxious or nervous, or even become depressed.
Thoughts and behavior patterns are affected by the trauma. You might have
repeated and vivid memories of the event. These flashbacks may occur for no
apparent reason and may lead to physical reactions such as rapid heart beat or
sweating. You may find it difficult to concentrate or make decisions, or become
more easily confused. Sleep and eating patterns also may be disrupted.
Recurring emotional reactions are common. Anniversaries of the event, such as
at one month or one year, as well as reminders such as aftershocks from
earthquakes or the sounds of sirens, can trigger upsetting memories of the
traumatic experience. These 'triggers' may be accompanied by fears that the
stressful event will be repeated.
Interpersonal relationships often become strained. Greater conflict, such as
more frequent arguments with family members and coworkers, is common. On the
other hand, you might become withdrawn and isolated and avoid your usual
Physical symptoms may accompany the extreme stress. For example, headaches,
nausea and chest pain may result and may require medical attention.
Pre-existing medical conditions may worsen due to the stress.
How do people respond differently over time?
It is important for you to realize that there is not one 'standard' pattern of
reaction to the extreme stress of traumatic experiences. Some people respond
immediately, while others have delayed reactions - sometimes months or even
years later. Some have adverse effects for a long period of time, while others
recover rather quickly.
And reactions can change over time. Some who have suffered from trauma are
energized initially by the event to help them with the challenge of coping,
only to later become discouraged or depressed.
A number of factors tend to affect the length of time required for recovery,
The degree of intensity and loss. Events that last longer and pose a greater
threat, and where loss of life or substantial loss of property is involved,
often take longer to resolve.
A person's general ability to cope with emotionally challenging situations.
Individuals who have handled other difficult, stressful circumstances well may
find it easier to cope with the trauma.
Other stressful events preceding the traumatic experience. Individuals faced
with other emotionally challenging situations, such as serious health problems
or family-related difficulties, may have more intense reactions to the new
stressful event and need more time to recover.
How should I help myself and my family?
There are a number of steps you can take to help restore emotional well being
and a sense of control following a terrorist act, a disaster or other traumatic
experience, including the following:
Give yourself time to heal. Anticipate that this will be a difficult time in
your life. Allow yourself to mourn the losses you have experienced. Try to be
patient with changes in your emotional state.
Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen and
empathize with your situation. But keep in mind that your typical support
system may be weakened if those who are close to you also have experienced or
witnessed the trauma.
Communicate your experience in whatever ways feel comfortable to you - such as
by talking with family or close friends, or keeping a diary.
Find out about local support groups that often are available such as for those
who have suffered from natural disasters, or for women who are victims of rape.
These can be especially helpful for people with limited personal support
Try to find groups led by appropriately trained and experienced professionals.
Group discussion can help people realize that other individuals in the same
circumstances often have similar reactions and emotions.
Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with excessive
stress. Eat well-balanced meals and get plenty of rest. If you experience
ongoing difficulties with sleep, you may be able to find some relief through
relaxation techniques. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
Establish or reestablish routines such as eating meals at regular times and
following an exercise program. Take some time off from the demands of daily
life by pursuing hobbies or other enjoyable activities.
Avoid major life decisions such as switching careers or jobs if possible
because these activities tend to be highly stressful.
Become knowledgeable about what to expect as a result of trauma. Some of the
'Additional Resources' listed at the end of this fact sheet may help you with
this learning process.
How do I take care of children's special needs?
The intense anxiety and fear that often follow a disaster or other traumatic
event can be especially troubling for children. Some may regress and
demonstrate younger behaviors such as thumb sucking or bed wetting. Children
may be more prone to nightmares and fear of sleeping alone. Performance in
school may suffer. Other changes in behavior patterns may include throwing
tantrums more frequently, or withdrawing and becoming more solitary.
There are several things parents and others who care for children can do to
help alleviate the emotional consequences of trauma, including the following:
Spend more time with children and let them be more dependent on you during the
months following the trauma - for example, allowing your child to cling to you
more often than usual. Physical affection is very comforting to children who
have experienced trauma.
Provide play experiences to help relieve tension. Younger children in
particular may find it easier to share their ideas and feelings about the event
through non-verbal activities such as drawing.
Encourage older children to speak with you, and with one another, about their
thoughts and feelings. This helps reduce their confusion and anxiety related to
the trauma. Respond to questions in terms they can comprehend. Reassure them
repeatedly that you care about them and that you understand their fears and
Keep regular schedules for activities such as eating, playing and going to bed
to help restore a sense of security and normalcy.
When should I seek professional help?
Some people are able to cope effectively with the emotional and physical
demands brought about by a natural disaster or other traumatic experience by
using their own support systems. It is not unusual, however, to find that
serious problems persist and continue to interfere with daily living. For
example, some may feel overwhelming nervousness or lingering sadness that
adversely affects job performance and interpersonal relationships.
Individuals with prolonged reactions that disrupt their daily functioning
should consult with a trained and experienced mental health professional.
Psychologists and other appropriate mental health providers help educate people
about normal responses to extreme stress. These professionals work with
individuals affected by trauma to help them find constructive ways of dealing
with the emotional impact.
With children, continual and aggressive emotional outbursts, serious problems
at school, preoccupation with the traumatic event, continued and extreme
withdrawal, and other signs of intense anxiety or emotional difficulties all
point to the need for professional assistance. A qualified mental health
professional can help such children and their parents understand and deal with
thoughts, feelings and behaviors that result from trauma.
How may I use APA as a resource?
'Talk to Someone Who Can Help,' brochure about psychotherapy and choosing a
psychologist from the American Psychological Association can be ordered free of
charge. Call 800-964-2000
You can also call 1-800-964-2000 to be connected with the state psychological
association referral network in your area.
Local chapters of the American Red Cross may be able to direct you to
additional resources. Check your local telephone directory for the chapter
National Organization for Victims Assistance, 1757 Park Rd., N.W., Washington,
D.C. 20010; toll-free, 1-800-TRY-NOVA; in D.C. metropolitan area, (202)
Other materials available via Internet offer additional information about
coping with disaster:
'Emotional Reactions to Disasters' University of Illinois Cooperative Extension
Tuesday September 18 10:46 AM ET
Cigarettes May Function Like Antidepressant Drugs
By Melissa Schorr
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Cigarette smoking may have effects on the human
brain similar to those of antidepressant drugs, possibly explaining the high
rate of smoking among depressed people and their resistance to quitting, a team
of researchers reports.
``Chronic smoking produces 'antidepressant-like' effects on the human brain,''
lead author Dr. Gregory A. Ordway, a professor of psychiatry at the University
of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, told Reuters Health. ``This may
contribute to the high incidence of smoking and difficulty to quit in those who
Researchers have noted previously that depressed people are more likely to
smoke and are more resistant to quitting. However, it was unclear if nicotine
or other chemicals taken in during smoking directly affected the brains of
those who were depressed.
Ordway, along with lead collaborator Dr. Violetta Klimek, examined a portion of
the brain associated with depression known as the locus coeruleus. The
researchers compared a portion of this brain tissue taken after death from
seven people who had been heavy smokers and nine nonsmokers, all of whom had
been mentally healthy.
Schizophrenia common among college students
Lisa Hoffman Daily Staff Reporter
Abilities like holding a conversation, blocking out distractions and
showing emotion seem like trivial tasks, but for people coping with
schizophrenia, these everyday actions can be almost impossible.
Schizophrenia, a mental disorder that affects 6 percent of the population,
occurs most frequently in people ages 16 to 25 and is affected by stress.
“This typically starts during the college years, so a lot of times we’ll
see students at early stages of schizophrenia,” said Counseling and
Psychological Services interim Director Todd Sevig.
EXPERTS: HEALING WILL TAKE TIME
from The Boston Herald
The overwhelming mood of sadness that has engulfed the country for the past
week as a result of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and
Pentagon may not lift for a long time, experts say.
``It's not going to recede into the background,'' said Dr. Jerrold
Rosenbaum, chief of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. ``It's not
over. This is just a beginning. These are the first casualties of war.''
The feelings of grief and sadness being experienced by many Americans stem
from a combination of trauma and terror, he said.
``It's a national mood of grieving,'' Rosenbaum said. ``We're grieving the
loss of these lives. But we are also feeling terror. We're being stalked and
hunted. That's new.''
NIMH-funded researchers show better treatment for depression is cost-effective
Researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have
found that an inexpensive program that trains primary care providers to
work with patients and mental health specialists to diagnose and properly
treat depression can reduce the time that participating patients spend
clinically depressed. Over a two-year period, the program reduced the
duration of participating patients' depression by well over a month. The
training program cost less than $500 per depressed patient and increased
the time that the depressed patients spent employed during that two-year
period by about four workweeks.
NIMH Director Steven E. Hyman, M.D. said, "This study shows that reducing
the suffering that depression brings to nearly 19 million Americans a year,
in a cost-effective way, is an achievable goal."
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