|Belgium passes law extending euthanasia to children of all ages
||Parliament votes 86-44 in favour of including terminally ill 'unbearably suffering' children under euthanasia legislationBelgian lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to extend the country's euthanasia law to children under the age of 18. The 86-44 vote in the House of Representatives, on Thursday, with 12 abstentions, followed approval by the senate in December.The law lifts Belgium's age restrictions on euthanasia and can sanction it where children have a terminal and incurable illness, are near death, and suffering "constant and unbearable physical" pain, and where parents and professionals agree to the choice.The law was opposed by some Belgian paediatricians and the country's leading Roman Catholic cleric.The law will come into effect when signed by Belgium's monarch, King Philippe, who is not expected to oppose the measure.The decision to proceed with each proposal of euthanasia will also have be agreed by a treating physician and an outsider brought in to give a second opinion.Children will have to be interviewed by a paediatric psychiatrist or psychologist, who must determine that the child possesses "the capacity of discernment", and then certify that in writing.The child's physician must meet the parents or legal representatives to inform them of the outcome of the consultation and ensure they are in agreement with the child's decision. The request for euthanasia, as well as the agreement by parents or legal representatives, must be delivered in writing, and the child and family must be given psychological care if wanted.Gerlant van Berlaer, a paediatric critical care specialist at University Hospital Brussels, suggested that any steps towards euthanasia could take weeks or months.A federal commission, half of whose 16 members are medical doctors, was created by the euthanasia law passed in 2002 to examine all cases of euthanasia in Belgium and to ensure the procedures established were respected.BelgiumEuropeChildrenDoctorsPsychologytheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
|How memory, schizophrenia are connected
||Many psychiatric disorders are accompanied by memory deficits. Scientists have now identified a network of genes that controls fundamental properties of neurons and is important for human brain activity, memory and the development of schizophrenia.
|Healing Toxic Anger
||Many people have habitual and uncontrollable anger. Their anger is selfish. It-s an automatic response to things not going their way. It could involve rage, explosion of temper, shouting, verbal abuse, and physical violence.When I met Lito, he was easily enraged and quick to explode at his wife and children. In various situations, even with slight irritation, he-d unleash the earthquake of his temper and rock them with aftershocks. He hurt them a lot yet he confessed how he felt so powerless to take control his anger problem.
|Call to scientists: Stop excluding left-handed people from scientific studies
||Left-handed people really do have different brains and genes from right-handed people. Yet left-handed people are almost never included as study subjects in scientific research. Therefore in a new article, a call is launched for more research into left-handed people.
|Common infections may increase risk for memory decline
||Exposure to common infections is linked to problems with memory and cognitive skills. The cognitive decline may be evident even when the infection is not.
|Dreams of 'self-discovery' destroying marriage, claims psychologist
||High divorce rates and low marital satisfaction are a direct result of partners' inability to meet 'psychological expectations'Time was when a roof over your head, food on the table and occasional bouts of sexual activity were the hallmarks of a successful marriage. Not any more. According to a US psychologist, the modern marriage must fulfil far deeper demands, and most couples are struggling to cope.Eli Finkel, director of social psychology at Northwestern University in Illinois, said couples today looked to their marriages to help them "grow as individuals", and support them through "voyages of self-discovery". But their expectations are rarely met, he said, because of the investment of time and effort involved.Finkel claims that persistent high divorce rates and low levels of marital satisfaction are a direct result of couples being unable to meet the psychological expectations of their partners. While overall demands on marriages have not changed much over time, he said, the nature of the demands has shifted and they require more time and effort to satisfy."In the past, you married someone who helped you meet your basic needs, but over time, love increasingly conquered marriage. Now people are looking to their spouses to help them discover who they are, and to achieve the best version of themselves," Finkel said.Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Chicago, Finkel said that most couples struggle because the change in demands calls for more investment in marriage in an age when many people have less time on their hands."People used to marry for basic things like food and shelter. In the 1800s, you didn't have to have profound insight into your partner's core essence to tend to the chickens or build a sound physical structure against the snow," Finkel said. "Back then, the idea of marrying for love was ludicrous.""In 2014, you are really hoping that your partner can help you on a voyage of discovery and personal growth, but your partner cannot do that unless he or she really knows who you are, and really understands your core essence. That requires much greater investment of time and psychological resources," he said.A blissful minority are in marriages that fulfil these deeper demands, and those marriages are better than the best marriages of yesteryear, Finkel claims. But the average marriage falls short because the time and effort required were impossible for most to meet.Finkel arrived at his theory – which has not met with universal approval – after reviewing studies on the psychology, history and sociology of marriage. He said marriage had gone through a series of distinct transitions as countries and individuals grew wealthier and cultural transformations played out. Since the 1850s, marriage had become less about basic needs and more about love and companionship.In the 1960s, love and companionship remained central to marriage, but these were joined by other factors, including the personal growth of the couple. In modern marriages, people look to their partners "to help them find themselves, and to pursue careers and other activities that facilitate the expression of their core self", he said.Despite naming his theory the "suffocation model of marriage", Finkel maintains he is optimistic about the institution. He said couples could improve the quality of their marriages by allowing them to breathe, for example by lowering their demands on the relationship in hard times, such as when the couple had young children or faced work or money problems. "Some people will realise they are asking a lot of their marriage given the 30 minutes a week they spend talking to their wife," he said. "The irony is that asking less of the marriage when resources are scarce will actually make the marriage stronger."Lynne Jamieson, who studies the sociology of families and relationships at Edinburgh University, said that the demands on marriages vary hugely over time and between people from different social and economic backgrounds. "The argument that we now spend less time on relationships is not so clearcut," she said.Scores of factors come into play. While couples tended to have more children in the past, she said, more households now have two working parents. Both are a demand on time. People today live longer, which also adds to the pressure in marriages. In the past, more families would lose a parent while children were still growing up.Having a deeper understanding of each other might not be the whole story, Jamieson suggested. "Making somebody a cup of tea as a gesture, especially first thing in morning, is very important to people. Those little gestures can be as important as profound conversation," she said. "Sometimes actions do speak louder than words."PsychologyMarriageRelationshipsFamilyAAASUnited StatesIan Sampletheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
|Understanding basic biology of bipolar disorder
||Instead of only using a standard clinical interview to determine whether individuals met the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder, researchers combined the results from brain imaging, cognitive testing, and an array of temperament and behavior measures. Using the new method, they and their collaborators have identified about 50 brain and behavioral measures that are both under strong genetic control and associated with bipolar disorder. Their discoveries could be a major step toward identifying the specific genes that contribute to the illness.
|Blue Light Can Improve Alertness and Attention Day or Night
||Exposure to blue light can improve reaction times, attention and boost brain waves, according to a new study.With so many people working indoors--and with natural light lacking in the winter months--a new study could have important implications for the design of artificial lighting.
Continue reading - - >
â†’ Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is
"Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
|Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Quit
||The hardest part of starting over is the period of transition between leaving where you've been and getting to where you're going. Before you set sail, you must ask and answer these five questions first.read more
|Wisdom and Narcissism: What Makes a Good Leader?
||It seems that rather than knowing anything or being able to do anything or understanding life's changing complexities, what we want from a leader is simply the ability to courageously march into the unknown and make it safe for the rest of us to follow.read more
|Dissecting relationships for Valentine's Day | Tauriq Moosa
||Tauriq Moosa: Despite the omnipresence of Valentine's Day, human relationships are far from set in stoneTauriq Moosa
|Sleep apnea common among stroke-related brainstem injuries
||People whose brainstems are affected by their stroke have a significantly higher prevalence of sleep apnea than those who have stroke-related injury elsewhere in the brain, according to new research. Sleep apnea is marked by interrupted breathing during sleep and can lead to serious health problems including heart disease and stroke.
|Mathematical beauty activates same brain region as great art or music
||People who appreciate the beauty of mathematics activate the same part of their brain when they look at aesthetically pleasing formula as others do when appreciating art or music, suggesting that there is a neurobiological basis to beauty.
|Two Parents with Alzheimer's Disease? Disease May Show up Decades Early on Brain Scans
||People who are dementia-free but have two parents with Alzheimer's disease may show signs of the disease on brain scans decades before symptoms appear, according to a new study.
|What If Your Ambivalence Can't Be Resolved?
||There's a common belief that with the right mind set virtually all conflicts are resolvable. But in many instances, making such an assumption is simply unrealistic: a fiction, a fantasy. As a therapist, over the years I've encountered many situations in which a client was struggling mightily with ambivalence. And no simple resolution to their dilemma existed.read more
|New pathway for fear discovered deep within brain
||Fear is primal. In the wild, it serves as a protective mechanism, but for humans, fear is more complex. A normal amount keeps us safe. But too much fear, like PTSD, can prevent people from living healthy lives. Researchers are working to understand how the brain translates fear into action. Today, scientists announce the discovery of a new neural circuit that links the site of fear memory with a brain area that controls behavior.
|Possibility of Selectively Erasing Unwanted Memories
||Could memories of drug abuse or trauma be selectively erased?For some people--those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or substance abuse problems--erasing unwanted memories is more than just an idle wish.
Continue reading - - >
â†’ Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is
"Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
|Sanfilippo B: Promising new therapy for devastating genetic disorder
||A promising new therapy has -- for the first time -- reduced damage to the brain that can be caused by Sanfilippo B (MPS IIIB), a rare and devastating genetic disease.
|Is Gestalt Therapy Ok?
||Gestalt Therapy, one of today-s popular psychotherapy approaches, is founded by psychotherapist Dr. Fritz Perls. The following well-known Gestalt prayer written by Dr. Perls in the 1960s captures the spirit of this therapeutic approach:
|Where to Find Love on Facebook
||What’s the most popular emotion in the world? Well, on Facebook at least, the answer is clear: It’s love.
How do we know that? Because the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center worked with Facebook to develop a new set of animated emoticons to express a broad range of 16 feelings, from sadness to awe to amusement to that queen of emotions, love. They were called “finches,” in honor of the birds studied by Charles Darwin.
In what nation are Facebook users most likely to express love through a finch? The answer may surprise you.
Love is a finch
People use emoticons everyday in online communications: They’re fun little graphics that allow us to infuse a written message with some extra feeling: a smile : ), a raised eyebrow smirk ; /, or a clownish frown :(
They’ve become so ubiquitous to compensate for the limitations that come with texting, emails, IMs, status updates, or tweets: These forms of communication preclude important signals that we always use when talking face-to-face, like expressions, tone of voice, gesticulations, and posture.
But the classic emoticon is a blunt instrument. Static yellow circles or keyboard character-features pale in comparison with the richness of real live emotion signals we use to understand each other every day.
In an effort to expand the palette of different feelings that people can share through emoticons, researchers from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center (including Emiliana, one of the co-authors of this article) worked with engineers at Facebook and a talented illustrator from Pixar, Matt Jones, to create a new, richer set of emoticons based on Darwin’s careful descriptions in his pivotal 1872 book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.
The scientists delivered research-based phrases like this one to the rest of the team: “Sadness: The eyelids droop as the inner corners of the brows rise and, in extreme sadness, draw together. The corners of the lips pull down, and the lower lip may push up in a pout.”
Based on these phrases, Jones created sketches for a new class and range of emoticons, which were turned into clever little animations and built into Facebook’s Sticker Store, for people to use for free anytime they wanted to send a message on Facebook—the Finches.
From Russia with love
To understand the use and impact of these emoticons, researchers from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and the University of Cambridge in the UK have looked at how many finch emoticons of every kind were sent on any given day from every geographical market that uses Facebook.
The research team plotted these patterns onto a geographical map. The most popular finch, they found, was love—which is appropriate, given that Valentines Day is coming up.
The map above represents 122 countries, showing the percentage of love fiches used within each country—the redder a country is, the more love its citizens expressed through a finch, relative to the other finches.
Around the world, love represented almost 15 percent of the 16 finches available. But the most hot-blooded country—the darkest red—is the one currently hosting the Winter Olympics: Russia.
It’s not that Russians are more loving than Canadians because they send more love finches. It’s that, given the choice of many emoticons to use, the Russians are choosing the one for love more frequently than the other emotions. In contrast, Canadians are choosing to send a more equal number of love finches alongside ones that express other emotions.
Why might this be the case? That needs more research.
How many finches does it take to make you happy?
But the analyses done to date might tell us something about Russians and Canadians—and reveal patterns that square with a great deal of emotion research.
For example, it turns out that using a more balanced proportion of emoticons—the Canadians are a good example—is associated with greater overall happiness.
“More expression is good, but not more positivity,” says Alex Kogan, a Lecturer at the University of Cambridge, who analyzed the patterns.
In other words, it’s not just a willingness to express emotions that is associated with happiness—those emotions need to be diverse, according to Kogan’s study of finch use. Too much of one feeling or another seems to be bad.
Russia actually lacks this emotional diversity, to its detriment. “While Russia is high on love,” says Kogan, “it’s not particularly high on life satisfaction from other measures—in fact, it tends to be pretty low!”
Not surprisingly, stability seems to also be a good thing. “Nations where there is more variability from day to day in terms of amount of emotional expression—people do worse in life satisfaction,” says Kogan.
So don’t stop sending those love finches, Russia. But remember to balance them out with some bemusement, surprise, anger, and sadness.