Psychology and the soldier

“At a congressional briefing in September, a panel of psychologists reviewed new psychological research with battlefield implications.

They presented research across diverse psychology subfields, but with one major commonality: all of the findings apply to improving U.S. military operations at home and abroad. Their presentations spanned human factors, training, recruitment and retention.” —APA Monitor The article does not mention one of the most insidious trends in Pentagon-commissioned psychological research, about which I have previously written here — efforts to subvert the natural human response (‘post-traumatic stress disorder’) to exposure to stress beyond the pale of the human organism’s design capabilities in order to preserve the shellshocked soldier’s efficiency as a warfighting machine on the battlefield.


‘Apples and Oranges’ Dep’t.

Patients recovering from depression with talk therapy show a ‘distinct’ pattern of brain changes: “An imaging study by neuroscientists in Canada has found that patients who recover from depression with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) show a pattern of brain changes that is distinct from patients who recover with drug therapy.

It’s an important finding because it shows — for the first time with definitive imaging evidence — that the depressed brain responds ‘differently’ to different treatments. It may also help doctors better understand why a particular treatment might work for one patient and not another.” —EurekAlerts! I have a problem with framing the talking cure and medication treatment of depression as separate but equal treatments. I have often said to my patients that medication is like a bicycle; it will get you somewhere you need to go, but you still need to do the pedaling. It is just a very efficient way to use your energy. In contrast, therapy is like learning how to ride, how to plan where you want to go, how to navigate, obey the rules of the road and learn how to keep your injuries minimal if you ever fall… to push the metaphor. Of course, brainscan patterns of beneficiaries of the two treatments would show they affect different parts of the brain!


Human Nature in Utopia

Book Review: Human Nature in Utopia: Zamyatin’s We: “Human Nature in Utopia argues a startling hypothesis about utopian systems. Building a society on a completely rational model is not just a political mistake but a scientific and philosophical one. A rational society is just not what we are evolved for, so the critique of hyperrationalist societies in Brave New World (Huxley), 1984 (Orwell), and Evgenii Zamyatin’s We can be understood anew from the viewpoint of evolutionary science.” —Human Nature Review I recall being scared out of my wits by Zamyatin’s little-known dystopian novel as a high school student with, of course, no inkling of evolutionary biology.


Real offers new tech, song store

“Net multimedia company RealNetworks announced a sweeping overhaul of its digital audio and video software Wednesday, along with a digital song store aimed to compete with Apple Computer’s leading iTunes service.

Real is betting that the flexibility of its RealPlayer 10 music-playing software–the latest entry in an increasingly crowded digital-download market–will distinguish it from rival stores and software packages.

To this end, the company has created a jukebox that will play all the media formats used by its own and other song stores–including secure downloads from the iTunes store.” —CNET News


Beatle’s Estate Sues Doctor Over Breach of Privacy

“Shameless self-promotion” is alleged in the lawsuit by the estate of George Harrison against a seemingly scummy New York oncologist who treated him in his final days in 2001. The suit alleges that the doctor, who has been promoting himself with national media publicity for caring for the dying Beatle and has already been sanctioned by medical authorities for professional misconduct, coerced the enfeebled Harrison into signing deathbed autographs for his children over his objections. —New York Times


Stigmata of Inferiority

I seriously raised at least one FmH reader’s hackles last week in passing on Rafe Coburn‘s proposal about their lack of empathic capability being one of the defining characteristics of rabid conservatives. Now, with delight, I’m reproducing another of his comments of a similar ilk, but this time he casts his lot, and thus in turn I do, with a consummate curmudgeon:

“I’m currently reading a collection of H L Mencken’s essays, The Vintage Mencken. In one essay, ‘The National Letters,’ Mencken describes George W Bush (err, the American plutocracy circa 1920), thusly:

It is badly educated, it is stupid, it is full of low-caste superstitions and indignations, it is without decent traditions or informing vision; above all it is extraordinarily lacking in the most elemental independence and courage. Out of this class comes the grotesque fashionable society of our big towns, already described. Imagine a horde of peasants incredibly enriched and with almost infinite power thrust into their hands, and you will have a fair picture of its habitual state of mind. It shows all the stigmata of inferiority–moral certainty, cruelty, suspicion of ideas, fear.

Mencken’s argument is that what’s needed is a real aristocracy. I’m not sure I buy into that necessarily, but his description of the American plutocracy then and now is dead on.” [thanks to walker]


The hippie kitchen’s long strange trip

. . . into your local supermarket: “Hippie cuisine has come of age and, ironically, has become very big business. The past 10 years have witnessed an explosion in the organic and natural foods marketplace with sales of organic food growing five times faster than food sales in general, according to the Organic Trade Association. With national standards in place, organic producers will continue to supply a hungry market that is expected to continue growing up to 25 percent a year. Most surprisingly, a recent survey conducted by Prevention magazine and the Food and Marketing Institute (FMI) found that 53 percent of all organic food is now purchased at conventional supermarkets.” —Chicago Tribune