• Protecting children from online erotica/pornography
    Protecting children from online erotica/pornography
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    Nearly every school system in North America is beginning to debate the use of the internet in schools. Wifi has become ubiquitous, LTE connections are in nearly every student’s backpack and the hand wringing and panic over what children are surfing has reached epic levels.

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  • Breaking through the stigma of miscarriage.
    Breaking through the stigma of miscarriage.
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    As many as 75% of all pregnancies result in a miscarriage before the woman knows she is pregnant. Once the woman has tested positive on a pregnancy test, there is still a one in five chance of an early miscarriage. Later in the pregnancy, while quite uncommon, miscarriage still occurs about 1% of the time though, for some women, it may repeatedly occur.

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  • Focus: Can you master your own mind?
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    In my mind, the award for the most incorrectly labeled disorder ever goes to the generalized mayhem that is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

    Think about it: We have a disorder that we know is the result of the brain continually searching for external sources of stimulation. We further know that children suffering with such can be treated with stimulant medications and that stimulant, paradoxically, calms the child — likely by providing enough internal stimulation.

    Clearly, it’s not a deficit of attention — if anything, there’s far too much attention being paid to nearly everything at once. (Well, other then the less exciting tasks the child should be focused upon…) Even a momentary glance at an ADHD child playing video games demonstrates that their attention can be stunningly focused and that the problem is much more a question of the regulation of attention.

    Since 1955, the treatment of focus problems or Attention Deficit Disorder has been dominated by one simple strategy: Drugs. Though, in recent years, non-stimulant medications have been tried, the dominant treatment still is the same psychostimulant Ritalin (methylphenidate) or derivatives of such used in 1955.

    But, things are changing. Driven by speculation that children can learn to control impulses and that there exists more then enough stimulation within one’s own self if attended to, more and more mindfulness based training is beginning to be tried with this disorder.

    And, it may be a much more effective strategy:

    In their (rather statistics heavy) paper, the researchers simply tried teaching ADHD children Tai Chi. The result?

    These results converge to suggest that tai chi training may help improve attention in healthy young adults.

    That’s typical academic understatement. The Tai Chi actually offered quite significant improvements in a remarkably short period of time.

    While the authors do caution that:

    Further studies are needed to confirm these results and to evaluate tai chi as therapy for individuals with ADHD.

    The truth is that there already is a substantial pile of studies already saying exactly the same thing. It is becoming increasingly clear that focus, self regulation and the ability to re-regulate a dis-regulated and disorganized mind can be taught along with the ability to simply learn to shut down and reboot your brain.

    Drugs are one option, but they are NOT the only option.

    And yes, we do work with ADHD — especially in adults. Contact us!

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  • Giving hugs later doesn’t help…
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    Science Daily

    “If you believe that you can shake your children or slap them across the face and then smooth things over gradually by smothering them with love, you are mistaken,” wrote lead researcher Jennifer E. Lansford on the Child and Family Blog. Lansford is a research professor at the Social Science Research Institute at Duke University. “Being very warm with a child whom you hit in this manner rarely makes things better. It can make a child more, not less, anxious.”

    The blog is a joint project of the Future of Children at Princeton University and the Applied Developmental Psychology Research Group at the University of Cambridge.

    Lansford calls it “one of many worrying findings” in the multicenter research about corporal punishment. They interviewed more than 1,000 children and their mothers, from eight different countries, asking about levels of physical punishment and also about anxiety and aggressive behavior on the part of the children.

    They found that while maternal warmth can lessen the impact of “low levels of corporal punishment” among children ages 8 to 10, both anxiety and aggression still remain — just not quite as much. It doesn’t typically diminish the negative impact of high levels of physical punishment. Lansford said countries with a more authoritarian parenting style, like Kenya and Colombia, see less effect on the children than other countries.

    “Generally, childhood anxiety actually gets worse when parents are very loving alongside using corporate punishment,” she wrote. The researchers aren’t sure why, but she said it might be “simply too confusing and unnerving for a child to be hit hard and loved warmly all in the same home.”

    There is truth here — and a rather clear example of simple ideological spin…

    The truth part of it is that the majority of the discipline tactics taught within the hallowed halls of fundamentalism are, in fact, child abuse and no amount of good intention or loving acts after, “Giving you a slap across that filthy mouth,” is going to lessen the impact of such. The hold of aggression and anxiety will remain the same and the abuse will only increase the chances of the same behavior occurring again.

    The spin?

    Note how the wording above changes from slapping kids across the face to corporal punishment. Because those are one and the same?


    Yet, you read nearly any writing on corporal punishment and you see this exact error replicated nearly constantly.

    Two obvious facts remain:

    (1). Corporal punishment is still in huge use around the world and across North America by people who, plainly, think these researchers are idiots.

    (2). We definitively KNOW that corporal punishment is largely ineffective and, at best, a short term solution.

    People still really do trust science and can be persuaded — by scientists that they see as having no axe to grind and no willingness to warp their language to accomplish such.

    We need more then a few of them in this field or people are forever going to read, “Spare the rod,” (Which was the expensive and fragile hooked tool used to steer and rescue sheep,) as, “Spare the staff.” (The straight fighting weapon used to violently defend sheep from marauding agents.)

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  • The real reason parents refuse to vaccinate their kids…
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    Mind Hacks

    There are other psychological factors at play in the decisions taken by individual parents not to vaccinate their children. One is the rational selfishness of avoiding risk, or even the discomfort of a momentary jab, by gambling that the herd immunity of everyone else will be enough to protect your child.

    Another is our tendency to underplay rare events in our calculation about risks – ironically the very success of vaccination programmes makes the diseases they protect us against rare, meaning that most of us don’t have direct experience of the negative consequences of not vaccinating. Finally, we know that people feel differently about errors of action compared to errors of inaction, even if the consequences are the same.

    Many who seek to persuade anti-vaxxers view the issue as a simple one of scientific education. Anti-vaxxers have mistaken the basic facts, the argument goes, so they need to be corrected. This is likely to be ineffective. Anti-vaxxers may be wrong, but don’t call them irrational.

    Rather than lacking scientific facts, they lack a trust in the establishments which produce and disseminate science. If you meet an anti-vaxxer, you might have more luck persuading them by trying to explain how you think science works and why you’ve put your trust in what you’ve been told, rather than dismissing their beliefs as irrational.

    Science was always a rather agenda driven sport with very few scientists ever really able to have been considered practitioners of, “Pure Science.” It always was driven by the need for funding and the interests of those who would fund it. And, though this may offend those who hold science so dear it almost approaches a faith, no one should ever have blindly trusted the pronouncements that came from such.

    True, there were times — the Apollo missions for example — where the funding source was purely public in origin and some of that research tended to be shockingly unbiased. But, in truth, those were rare and, currently, are even more so.

    But, even up to only very recent times, the general public still placed enormous trust in the voices of science. When the scientific community spoke, people listened and they followed the recommendations of such.

    Today, not so much.

    Science, of course, is engaged in rumination that, bluntly, boils down to if it should adopt the polemic style of those the public seems to be listening to. But, that’s ignoring the real problem.

    And, it’s not that the level of corruption, massaged research findings, statistical manipulation, warped confidence intervals, shameless agendas and brazen shilling for the wealthy and powerful are any higher then they ever were or that the pronouncements of the scientific community are any less valid then they were either.

    It’s just that, in the past, so few people in the general public knew what was really going on behind the curtain. Today, all of the above is plastered all over the internet — and a new one hits nearly daily.

    Oh, the same thousands of properly peer reviewed pieces of legitimate research are still getting published and acknowledged — but the never ending streams of scandal have convinced a good part of the public that the emperor really is completely starkers anyway… (And, yes, they still believe that even if the last thing they heard happens to be true…)

    Science, of course, has many members furiously mocking faith and claiming that the internet will ultimately allow so much information about the hypocrisy of religious leaders to flow out that religion will be erased.

    And, there is lots of evidence for such.

    But, if the current Measles epidemic sweeping the USA proves nothing else, it proves that hypocrisy is hardly in short supply within the hallowed halls of science either and it’s just as good at eroding trust in institutions of science as in institutions of religion.

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  • Can you understand the teenage mind?
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    She is passionate, for example, about the madness of an 8.30/9am school start time. ‘It’s the middle of the night for a teenager!’ she says. Teenagers release melatonin (the sleepy hormone) a couple of hours later in the day than adults and so are able to stay up later, but then they need more sleep in the morning. ‘It’s like getting us up at 5.30am,’ Blakemore elaborates. Teenagers experience ‘social jet-lag’ as a result, hence the long lie-ins at the weekends (this is absolutely not slothfulness, she says, but their bodies catching up after being forced to awaken so early).

    Teenage brains are also capable of immense creativity, Blakemore says, rather like the way a child under the age of one is receptive to learning languages. Secondary schools, she says, often don’t plug into such creativity. When she advised government aides in 2011 (brought in by Willetts), it was with the aim of trying to broaden their outlook, away from a sole focus on the Charlie and Lola generation (a catchphrase for the under-fives). ‘There is such a large amount of new information about teenage brain development, which should be taken into account when politicians are considering evidence-based policy,’ she explains. ‘Traditionally policy has focused on the early years; the new research suggests that investment into adolescence is important too.

    ‘The teenage brain is very capable of learning,’ she continues, ‘and this is absolutely the wrong time to stifle creativity. They can do amazing things, and yet schools haven’t changed that much for 400 years. The more I learn about how plastic and changing the teenage brain is, the more I question whether [what we have] is the right learning environment for teenagers. One of the things I’ve often thought is that if teenagers were allowed to design schools, maybe they would look completely different.’

    And their changes? ‘Maybe more peer-to-peer learning,’ she says, ‘and more creative timetabling. Open-plan spaces, less making them sit at a desk all day, and more self-initiated learning rather than being spoon-fed stuff all the time.’

    The full article is just brilliant. Read it. (Especially if you have just about had it with your teen…)

    This researcher gets it — and she especially grasps how much teens need the parents they are pushing away.

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  • Understanding semi-permanent birth control
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    Huffington Post

    If you’ve considered birth control over the past few years, chances are you’ve had at least one friend wax enthusiastic about an intrauterine device, or IUD. The method, which is the most effective reversible form of contraception on the market, has grown exponentially in popularity over the last decade, despite low national rates.

    There’s now even a small sub-genre of personal essay related to choosing IUDs, ranging from testimonials to tales of medical misadventure.

    Laura MacIsaac, M.D., an ob-gyn and director of the Family Planning Division at Beth Israel Hospital in New York, says that she’s noticed a big uptick in women asking about and selecting IUDs. That’s partially through word of mouth — women recommending them to friends (or writing about them on the Internet) — but it’s also related to a shifting demographic among doctors: A generation ago, most ob-gyns were men, but now, according to MacIsaac, 80 percent of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists fellows under 40 are women. And 40 percent of female gynecologists who use contraception choose the IUD, compared with just 6 percent of the general population of women.

    The full article is a simple, no frills assessment of the various types of IUDs out there — one of the few forms of birth control that is teen proof. (That is, it doesn’t place you in the position of expecting an inherently irresponsible and obviously omniscient creature to responsibly take a pill daily…)

    It’s not politically correct to post this. It certainly doesn’t fit with the ideals of abstinence most evangelical circles promote. IUDs have been aggressively subjected to a smear campaign as causing abortion (THEY DO NOT!!!) and, like every other form of birth control, wrongly regarded as encouraging promiscuity.

    Frankly, no one really wants to even have to think about the reality of their child going into teen rebellion + promiscuity — fewer yet want to think about the consequences of such. We would just like it to go away…

    Yet, the failure to think honestly and then act proactively so often means that what would normally be a few years of teen melodrama can sometimes end up as a lifetime of poverty, relational heartache and a second generation of children most likely doomed to the same.

    Ideals are good, healthy choices are even better and encouraging children to save themselves for the one person who will be with them, “As long as they both shall live,” is an excellent and beautiful idea — but it can’t come at the expense of common sense and pragmatism when a teen decides to pursue anything but.

    (And, no, it doesn’t prevent STIs any more then the pill does — but refusing a solution because it only fixes half of the problem isn’t exactly the definition of wisdom…)

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  • How we make our children depressed.
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    Huffington Post

    More than half of the 47 preschoolers diagnosed with depression displayed pathological guilt, compared with 20 percent of the non-depressed preschoolers. The researchers found that the children with high levels of guilt, even if they weren’t depressed, had smaller anterior insula volume — which has been found to predict later occurrences of depression. Children with smaller insula volume in the right hemisphere, related to either depression or guilt, were more likely to have recurring episodes of clinical depression when they got older.

    The finding, published last month in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, is the first to correlate childhood guilt with physical changes in the brain. Of course, the direction of causality is not yet known: While childhood guilt might give rise to these changes in the brain, it’s also possible that children predisposed to depression are also more likely to experience excessive guilt.

    Ok, yes, correlation does not prove causation. But, sometimes, it can still slap you in the face in its obviousness…

    Researchers are desperate to find some sort of genetic or physical cause for depression — it’s tied to a growing realization that our current anti-depressants are not anything close to an effective solution and an even stronger desire to make depression into a purely medical problem.

    But, in spite of this being trumpeted as the next physical cause, it’s accomplishing exactly the opposite.


    (1). The brain is plastic. It adapts to whatever is thrown at it.

    (2). When the brain adapts, it causes physical and chemical changes. Parts that are over-used grow while other parts shrink.

    (3). No one is more plastic then a child and no environment has greater effect on a person then the environment of a child. (Parents can often talk a child into or out of guilt in seconds.)

    (4). If you have a guilt based child, then someone taught that child guilt — usually through some code of law and it’s associated judgment and religion.

    What this really demonstrates is not a physical cause for depression.

    It demonstrates what we do to a child’s brain when we heap our religious guilt and condemnation on him or her instead of walking that child into real grace and freedom.

    It’s called, “Brain damage.”

    (BTW: Read the full article and notice the careful spin… Interesting how no one would like to mention that it’s equally possible that the guilt and shame we train into children both damages their brains and makes them depressed…)

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  • What keeps you doing such crazy things?
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    Much of what Siegel wants us to consider can be condensed into a simple phrase: “what fires together, wires together.? The idea is that when a set of neurons are stimulated, they link up with all those other neurons that are simultaneously firing. Whether the groups of neurons that are linking make sense to us as observers on the outside is beside the point. Odd pairings can occur, strange juxtapositions of feelings and sensations that, outside of the experience of a particular individual, seem almost impossible to the rest of us. I’m reminded of a narrative in the old DSM-IV casebook that describes an individual who had come to associate sexual arousal with being covered in insects. As a child, that individual had been locked into closets for unimaginable amounts of time, and during those times, bugs would frequently fill the space and crawl on him. The child, trying to seek some sort of escape from the reality of his experience, found comfort only in sexual release, even though he was too young to even know what sex was or meant. His body knew only that it felt good, and it provided the only possible escape available to him. It soothed in the midst of trauma. Those associations—comfort through sex and the sheer, incomprehensible horror, fear, and rage at being locked away in a closet full of insects—became in that mind, quite literally, wired together, so that sex, horror, pleasure, rage, and insects, became bundled as a mass of neurons that shared the same communication pathway. Siegel wants us to become aware of those types of associations and, just as importantly, types that are more mundane and quotidian. They are as much physical as they are “mental,? and they can be anything from unsurprising to astonishing. Sexual gratification and bugs, it turns out, can go together, despite what most of us imagine.

    A huge amount of text and then:

    The animal brain of the child is quite sensitive to touch of all sorts. It recognizes the safety of a hug as well as the danger of a slap without the slightest bit of explanation, and it learns rather quickly that certain behaviors can lead to danger and a red ass. The problem, for folks like Siegel and Bryson, is that children enter a world of emotional chaos when their attachment figure, from whom they are wired to seek safety and security, becomes the figure who also inflicts physical harm. The animal brain, the one that seeks fight or flight, is at that moment conflicted, confused, and, probably downright pissed off. As the brain stem and limbic system instinctually tells the child that danger is coming and that he needs to seek safety and security in the embrace of the attachment figure, the limbic system also confronts the reality that the attachment figure is, in fact, the source of danger. Safety and danger conflated. Brain chemistry roundly fucked up. You might picture Curly running around in circles looking for a place to find safety from Moe, who pops him repeatedly on the forehead. Like poor Curly, lizard brain has very few ways to decipher what is happening and so just circles round and round, occasionally slapping anything or anyone (presumably Larry) nearby.

    This internal conflict can lead to what neuropsychologists call “dysregulation.? The neurons start forging relationships that don’t make sense to the more advanced parts of our brain, and as the mind tries to integrate the information, it seeks out solutions, associations, and meaning. When that meaning is hard to discern, as in the case of spanking or even the threat of spanking, the child brain becomes increasingly frustrated, and it essentially dis-integrates. Melt-down ensues. More importantly, it is difficult to construct a coherent meaningful lesson and skills have not been built to make the child more adaptive next time. It has gained no new ways to interpret information, nor has it gained any new ways of making sense of the world with the cortex part of the brain. Instead, the brain-stem and the limbic area stay in charge, and the child, unable to process the conflict, learns a temporary, if also momentarily effective, lesson: if I do X, dad whips my tail. This is not insight or learning or skill-building, this is lizard logic.

    The above linked is an enormous article — it’s brilliant, but it’s huge. It’s mainly focused on child discipline, spanking, time outs and saner alternatives to such. And, well worth the read.

    But, the above is striking. And, it begs a simple question:

    Exactly how much of the behavior of panic and anxiety attacks is really just an adult version of the exact same childhood dysregulation?

    Food for thought…

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  • A kiss is just a kiss?
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    National Post

    Kissing activates a very large part of the brain associated with sensory information because we’re at work making sense of the experience in order to decide what to do next. Kisses work their magic by setting off a whirlwind of neurotransmitters and hormones through our bodies that influence how we think and feel.

    If there’s real “chemistry? between two people, a kiss can set the stage for a new romance. A passionate kiss puts two people in very close proximity — nose to nose. We learn about each other by engaging our sense of smell, our taste buds and sense of touch. And through that information all sorts of signals are being sent to our brain informing us about the other person. In fact, the scent of man can provide subconscious clues about his DNA to his partner.

    Evolutionary psychologists at the State University of New York at Albany found that 59% of men and 66% of women say they have ended a budding relationship because a kiss didn’t go well. It’s nature’s ultimate litmus test, nudging us to be most attracted to the people who may be the best genetic partners.

    Research by Swiss biologist Claus Wedekind found that women are most attracted to the scents of men who carry a different genetic code for their immune system in a region of DNA known as the major histocompatibility complex, or MHC.

    Scientists suspect that when a couple carry distinctly different genetics for fighting disease, their children are likely to benefit by having a strong immune system. We may not exactly be thinking about parenthood when we connect with someone at the lips, but kissing provides clues to help us decide whether to take a relationship further.

    Maybe the elevated divorce rate associated with those who self identify with fundamentalist branches of Christendom could be instantly cured by a little making-out???


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