dreamer_easy: (Default)
You know that thing where evolutionary psychologists come up with explanations for the way things are - "just so stories" which can't be tested, and which make cultural phenomena, usually to do with sex and gender, sound like the innocent products of nature? Well, this isn't an example of that, but I did smile and thought of the evo psych boys when reading a 1998 article on the hemispheres of the brain. The author, Michael S. Gazzaniga, describes the way the brain (specifically the left hemisphere*) will come up with explanations, even when they're nonsense, because one of its jobs is to create narratives.

This is shown with picture-matching tests on epilepsy patients whose hemispheres have been "split", so that they operate independently. Show the left eye (the right brain) one set of pictures, and the right eye (left brain) a different set of pictures: the left hand points to a shovel, which matches a picture of snow, and the right hand points to a chicken, matching a picture of a chicken foot. Now ask the patient why they chose the shovel; the left brain has no idea why the right brain picked what it did, so invents the explanation, plausible but false, that the shovel could be used to clean out the chicken shed. I've read about similar stuff in Oliver Sacks' writing, where, for example, a stroke patient who lacks insight into their condition - a side effect of the stroke damage - will explain they didn't raise their arm when asked because they didn't feel like it: again, plausible, but false.

Gazzaniga writes that even though the brain is "a collection of devices that assists the mind's information-processing demands", "a collection of highly specialized modules", that's not how we feel - our conscious experience is "integrated and unified". He suggests that's because "the left hemisphere seeks explanations for why events occur" (unlike the right brain, which "does not try to interpret its experience"). Pleasingly, that's exactly what Gazzaniga is doing when he puts forward an evolutionary story about the brain - albeit one that could be tested, I think, unlike many of the "just so stories" of evo psych.

* In right-handed people, like me. For simplicity I've stayed with this anatomical set-up through this posting.

Gazzaniga, Michael S. The Split Brain Revisited. Scientific American [no] July 1998 35-39.
dreamer_easy: (*cosmic code authority)
내면에 감춘 분노들을 말해 봐

I really shouldn’t be posting when I’m hypomanic, but I can’t be the only 미친 여자 out there who has had an episode triggered by a Kpop song. I once turned up at a doctor’s appointment exploding out of my skin after listening to FT Island’s Hit The Sands on the bus. This afternoon it was VIXX and Hyde. I was abruptly so absurdly high that I had a little trouble functioning in the supermarket.

I’ll be OK: this is just the cumulative effect of jetlag, anxiety, PMS, and, above all disrupted sleep. But I realised there was another factor at work as well - which inevitably led to an explosion of thoughts, which I’ll try to get down here.

Now, VIXX’s MVs are sometimes at odds with the lyrics of their songs. For example, the six-voiced protagonist of 저주인형 (VOODOO DOLL) threatens his ex’s faithless lovers - “Open the doors of hell / sinners who made her cry / (you will) cry tears of blood”, but the band themselves portray those sinners. In Hyde, the narrator (once again a single character shared between six bodies and voices) puts up a tormented struggle, verbally and physically, against his own aggression - but at the end, those big, black wings come bursting out, and he displays them without shame to the faceless girl, who holds him, wings and all, in her heart.

It’s tempting to smile or even laugh at the melodrama of it all, but adolescent feelings are real and overwhelming, and what’s more, teenage boys are surely both the most alluring and the most dangerous - literally - things in the lives of most heterosexual teenage girls. Songs and MVs like this (and fan fiction, too) must be a place where young women can safely work through some of their complicated feelings about young men.

More importantly, they may be a place where girls can work through their own negative feelings, especially feelings of aggression, which we are taught to swallow, not show. The boyfriend of VOODOO DOLL is willing to endure his lover’s anger, without ending the relationship: “Sing the curse song of / tell me the fury hidden inside you / my body is an offering to you / I’ll devote myself to your happiness” (and the one in Chained Up (사슬) is willing to be the recipient of dark sexual fantasies). The protagonist of Hyde protests over and over that he is not a bad person, but ultimately he admits and owns the “other person inside me who is not me” (as we see in LR’s Beautiful Liar, he can control :), and that person is accepted and loved.

You can be a bad person, and survive! Even a kimchi-molesting pervert like me. XD No wonder my mood jumped through the ceiling in the space of three minutes and twenty-one seconds.

To conclude, I wanted to mention the line in Hyde I was thinking about the other day. It’s this: 겁을 먹어버린 그 눈빛 이러지마. You’ll see it translated around the Web as “Don’t give me those scared eyes”, but (disclaimer: my Korean sucks)  the adjective 먹어버린 is “eaten completely”, so it might be better rendered “Don’t give me that fear-devoured glance”. Wow!
dreamer_easy: (Default)
Spotted in the latest issue of Scientific American Mind: Some People Suffer from Face Blindness for Other Races.You won't be stunned to hear that the study in question was about the failure of white Australians to recognise Asian faces:

"They asked 268 Caucasians [sic] born and raised in Australia to memorize a series of six Asian faces and conducted the same experiment, involving Caucasian faces, with a group of 176 Asians born and raised in Asia who moved to Australia to attend university. In 72 trials, every participant was then shown sets of three faces and had to point to the one he or she had learned in the memorization task. The authors found that 26 Caucasian and 10 Asian participants—8 percent of the collective study population [9.7% of the white people and 5.7% of the Asian people] —did so badly on the test that they met the criteria for clinical-level impairment."
It's not hard to imagine why white people in Australia, where the population is overwhelmingly white, might be less skilled at telling Asian faces apart: we seldom have to bother. Not only are there few Asian faces around, so we don't get much practice, but the consequences of a screw-up are less likely to be serious - not true for an overseas student who fails to recognise their lecturer or tutor. (The other studies mentioned in the SA piece tend to back this up.)

Before Kpop, I'm sure I would have been one of that 9.7%. For a start, I'm not too crash hot at remembering white faces. I once shared a hotel room with someone who, as part of a costume, donned a wig; when she started talking to me in a hallway, it took me long, confused minutes to work out who she was! In TV shows, I persistently confuse white actors and forget their characters' names in TV shows. Thank heavens for Jon or "Game of Thrones" would be incomprehensible. This problem spills over into my writing - I don't know how to describe faces, so I use other descriptions for characters, like their hair or clothing.

Kpop forced me to learn how to tell Asian faces apart. Even now, when I see a photo or a video, my brain whirrs into action. How many boys? Five? That's probably SHINee, then. Next a scan for my favourite member, Taemin. Wait - or is that Onew? I tend to confuse them when they have similar hair. No, look at the width of the mouth, and the size of the eyes - that's Taemin, all right. And there - those cheeks could only belong to Onew.

I'd been doing this quite automatically for a long time when Jon and I happened to sit down and watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of Mighty Jack (a Japanese series edited into a movie by Sandy Frank, who also brought you Battle of the Planets). I was startled to realise that my tell-the-Asian-boys-apart neurons had kicked in: I was sitting there memorising which uniformed, short-haired young man was which.

The most interesting thing is, perhaps, the sheer variety of Asian eyes: Minho from SHINee's are large and "double-lidded"; actor Lee Joon-gi's eyes are long; Onew's eyes vanish when he smiles. Looking at fan edits of the band's faces, showing just their eyes, it's simple for me to tell them apart. But I didn't become consciously aware of this until I very recently read Describing Asian Eyes and followed some of the links there.

To sum up, although I think I'm not good at recognising faces in general, I've learned to recognise Asian faces (well, the faces of young Korean men, mostly) as a skill. That bodes well for my ability to remember peoples' faces in real life, and to describe my own characters better.

(One thing I'm not sure of is whether the six faces used in the study were only East Asian. In Australia, this is what we'd usually mean by "Asian" - Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and so forth.)
dreamer_easy: (*feminism)
Reproductive Freedom

I made it to the pro-choice rally yesterday, late as usual, but in time to join the march to Parliament House. (In fact, I'm briefly visible in the video from it here. :) The speakers really put into context for me the need for women, for any person with a uterus, to be able to control this most basic aspect of our lives: sexual assault, domestic violence, homelessness, poverty, homophobia and transphobia, the denial of sex education, the constant attacks on services - to Women's Legal Service Victoria. Illegal and/or inaccessible terminations, and harassment at clinics and hospitals, are just part of the continual assault on our well-being. Or to put it another way: Never mind America, access to abortion is a 'nightmare' for many Australians.

The Greens are introducing a Bill to remove abortion from the criminal law in NSW, where it's still technically illegal, which means that women's reproductive freedom is always in danger, perhaps more so now than ever. Read about the Bill and email your representative at http://www.end12.org.au/.

Abortion is also illegal in Queensland. QLD Coalition MPs oppose reform, so a proposed Bill decriminalising abortion was withdrawn earlier this year, but has been sent to the Law Reform Commission in the meantime.

The Northern Territory has just decriminalised abortion and legalised RU486, as well as providing safe access zones around clinics and hospitals. RU486 still can't be legally used by women in South Australia and the ACT (as you may imagine, this isn't stopping its use).

Medical abortion access restricted by cost, distance and knowledge (SMH, 23 January 2017). "The study recommends policy attention is put toward preventing unwanted pregnancies and advocates for increasing medicare rebates to lessen financial burden, particularly for women beyond their first trimester."

Women going without food to pay for abortions: study (SMH, 23 January 2017). About a third of the women surveyed experienced financial difficulties.

Sexual and Domestic Violence

Fact file: Domestic violence in Australia (ABC FactCheck, 15 April 2017) | Australian police handle 5,000 domestic violence matters a week, up 7 per cent (ABC, 22 April 2016) - that's over a quarter of a million every year. | National Legal Aid calls for more funding after new figures reveal domestic violence a factor in 79pc of family law cases (ABC, 18 April 2017)

More than third of sexual assaults, homicides linked to domestic violence, ABS data shows (ABC, 13 July 2016) | Half the men who kill partners have history of domestic violence (SMH 29 April 2017)

Aboriginal mothers 17 times more likely to die from homicide, WA study finds (ABC, 13 July 2016). Indigenous mothers in WA are 6.5 times more likely to die from all preventable causes, including car crashes and suicide.

Hidden victims: Women on visas feeling trapped after domestic violence abuse (ABC, 5 April 2017)

Family violence a bigger health risk for women than smoking, drinking, obesity: study (ABC, 1 November 2016). "The burden of disease is a calculation of the impact of particular diseases and risk factors on an entire population. It is a measure of both fatal and non-fatal health impacts, which take into account the severity and duration of health conditions. The study found partner violence was among the top ten risk factors contributing to disease burden among all adult women... Among women 18 to 44 years, it was the biggest single risk factor when violence in all intimate relationships was included, bigger than smoking, alcohol use or being overweight or obese. When considering only violence by live-in partners, in this age group, partner violence ranked second only to alcohol use."

Sexual assault on Australian campus is a serious problem. Compounding it: University sexual assault policies are often 'inconsistent' and 'confusing' (ABC, 2 March 2017). In fact, the group End Rape on Campus Australia accuses unis of active cover-ups of rape. An opinion piece asks: Sexual assault: What is your university doing to prevent it? (ABC, 25 February 2017)

In NSW, accused domestic violence perpetrators are allowed to cross-examine their alleged victims, a deeply traumatising experience.

'Life-saving' Victorian domestic violence pet shelter program struggling to meet high demand (ABC, 28 February 2017) Safe Steps has a list of temporary pet care for Australians fleeing domestic violence.

Explainer: What happens when someone applies for a domestic violence protection order (SMH, 1 February 2017)

Female domestic violence victims being punished for acting in self defence, say advocates (ABC, 6 July 2016)

How 'Disney dads' are making life hell for their partners (SMH, 23 October 2017): how financial abuse can worsen after separation.

Direct link between sexual objectification of girls and aggression towards them (Medical Xpress, 24 January 2017)

Men who kill female partners, as opposed to strangers, get lighter sentences, Canadian study finds (CBC News, 22 November 2015) "'This may mean that women killed by male partners are still seen as property,' researcher says".

ETA: Technology-facilitated abuse: The new breed of domestic violence (ABC, 27 March 2017)


Women using IVF to choose the sex of their children break silence on 'gender disappointment' (Lateline, 27 February 2017).

Compare and contrast: 'We don't know if your baby's a boy or a girl': growing up intersex (GA, 2 July 2017). "'My entire pregnancy, I'd worried that I wasn't going to be able to love my baby because it wasn't a he and it wasn't a she,” she recalls. But when Jack was born, he was blue and floppy. 'Although it was awful at the time, it was the best thing that could have happened: I would have done anything to have made sure he was breathing again.' Her eyes fill with tears. 'Quite quickly, he was crying. The relief was unbelievable. He was a baby and he needed feeding. Making sure that he was cared for was my priority, not poking around in his nappy.'

Report on new estimates of the size of the lesbian, gay and bisexual population of England (Medixal Xpress, 3 February 2017): somewhere between 2.5% and about 6%.

Sexual Orientation, Controversy, and Science (Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 25 April 2016). "The most contentious scientific issues have concerned the causes of sexual orientation—that is, why are some people heterosexual, others bisexual, and others homosexual? The actual relevance of these issues to social, political, and ethical decisions is often poorly justified, however."

Photos: Two-spirit people throughout history (NPR, 25 October 2014)

ETA: How AP tallied the cost of North Carolina's "bathroom bill" (Washington Post, 27 March 2017). The state's pointless bathroom fascism will cost it "more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years".

More stuff:

From the recent debate over "Obamacare": Male GOP lawmaker asks why men should pay for prenatal coverage. The same reason women pay for cover for prostate surgery. Follow the link for the simple explanation.

Also from Up Over: 4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump. A blogger's analysis of 4chan, gender, and Trump, "the loser who has won".

Unconscious bias is keeping women out of senior roles — can we get around it? (ABC, 8 March 2017). The vicious cycle of affinity bias and how it helps maintain the glass ceiling.

Unpaid work contributes $345 billion a year to Australia's economy. Women perform about three-quarters of that work, including child care and domestic work. Paid work in Australia is still about as gender-segregated as it was twenty years ago.

Sex differences in cognition are small

(Mind Hacks, 14 February 2017). Or, to put it another way, there are no male and female brain types.

Remembering Nüshu, the 19th-Century Chinese Script Only Women Could Write (Atlas Obscura, 16 February 2017)


Mar. 10th, 2017 07:43 pm
dreamer_easy: (*health)
The tranquillising effect of some of my antidepressants seems to be cumulative. Over the last couple of weeks I've been getting dopier and dopier, until today I've barely been functional. I'm going to have to wean myself off the Escitalopram, starting tomorrow.


Mar. 4th, 2017 10:33 pm
dreamer_easy: (*health)
Oops! Withdrawal, I guess. Really wasn't expecting that after just one day, and such a small dosage change. Fatigue, racing thoughts, tripping over my tongue, feeling a little spaced out. Keeping an eye on it.


Mar. 3rd, 2017 09:44 pm
dreamer_easy: (*health)
Dropping from 700 mg of Epilim to 500 mg tonight. Keeping the Brintellix and Escitalopram the same. I can't stand this fucking sanity any longer.


Feb. 25th, 2017 10:41 am
dreamer_easy: (*hooray!)
I flew from Sydney to Canberra this week without tranquillisers or panic. Achievement unlocked.
dreamer_easy: (*health)
How climate science deniers can accept so many 'impossible things' all at once (GA, 23 September 2016) No use being smug about it - every human brain is full of shortcuts, bugs, and quirks, and the best we can do is to be aware of them. And stay curious.

Who Will Debunk The Debunkers? (FiveThirtyEight, 28 April, 2016) "Does skepticism self-destruct?" Once again smugness is a trap for peeps like me who enjoy pulling the rug out from under fallacies: we can end up creating new ones.

The Devil's Wager: when a wrong choice isn't an error (Mind Hacks, 25 April 2016)

Born to Be Conned (NYT, 6 December 2016)

Living with social anxiety disorder (and how it differs from shyness) (ABC, 16 June 2016)

Australian Psychological Society issues official apology to Indigenous Australians (SMH, 15 September 2016). "Professor Patricia Dudgeon, who was Australia's first Indigenous psychologist, said the science of psychology relied on a Western, individualistic understanding of "self", which was fundamentally different to the communal sense of self experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.'You've got family, community, country, land, culture and spirituality. A patient sitting in front of you - you can't just see them as an individual removed from that.'"

Gambling is killing one Australian a day, but it rakes in billions in tax (SMH, 28 September 2016) Governments make $5.8 billion a year; this costs the community $4.7 billion and 400 lives.

Australian suicide deaths rising among women and teenage girls, ABS figures show (ABC, 29 September 2016)

Dogs understand both language and intonation, making their brains similar to humans' (ABC, 31 August 2016)
dreamer_easy: (*writing)
Every time I think this novel has made me work harder than I have ever worked on a piece of writing, it makes me work harder still. But somehow, despite all the crap my meds have thrown at me over the last couple of months - the sedation, the depression, the withdrawal - I have managed to defeat Chapter bloody Seven of Strange Flesh. *stands on its corpse, brandishing its entrails*


May. 8th, 2016 08:37 pm
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
Something that has bugged me slightly forever is the bit in "Four to Doomsday" where Adric and Nyssa are bitching at each other about mathematics. Tegan is irked about having to wait to get home. Adric suggests that, in the meantime, she reads Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell's Principia Mathematica. Tegan is less than keen. Adric, with astonishing venom, responds: "That's the trouble with women. Mindless, impatient, and bossy. " Nyssa, who's reading Russell's book, retaliates: "You mean this? Mindless!"

I thought of Nyssa's harsh dismissal of the Principia when I was reading Douglas Hofstadter's I Am A Strange Loop. Obviously she's partly just repeating Adric's words back at him, and partly unimpressed with what, to an alien from an advanced civilisation, must seem like a pretty basic text. I'm not an alien from an advanced civilisation, but luckily Hofstadter had explained it in Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, which I read many years ago. Very simply put, Russell and Whitehead were trying to lay out the formal logic that underpins all of mathematics, and Russell discovered what Hofstadter punningly calls "a terrible loophole".

Russell had been using set theory to explain maths. You might imagine "the set of all even numbers" or "the set of all pink elephants" (an "empty set"). But what happens if you define "the set of all sets that don't contain themselves"? If that set contains itself, then it doesn't belong to the set of sets that don't contain themselves, but if it doesn't contain itself, then the set is not the set of all sets that don't contain themselves. If it gives you a headache, imagine what it did to Russell. (The paradox which the Doctor gives BOSS in The Green Death is similar: "If I were to tell you that the next thing I say will be true, but that the last thing I said was a lie, would you believe me?")

Russell "solved" this by banning paradoxes, self-references, or loops, whatever you want to call them, from maths. But Hofstadter challenges this in many ways (he might like the sentence "This sentence was not posted on Livejournal"), and more to the point here, he talks about self-reference as being the basis of consciousness. IIUC, we are literally self-aware. He says that a mosquito probably doesn't know it has a head, that a dog probably has a pretty good idea of "that's my tail", "that's my paw", and that human beings know they have brains and minds. That's why the book's called "I Am A Strange Loop".

If self-reference is what makes a mind, and the Principia Mathematica excludes self-reference, then it is literally "mindless". :)

... good gods, I hope this makes some sort of sense to someone else.
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
Reading an Analog magazine from a few years ago and was reminded of the dangers of being scientific, superior, and smug. The editorial: "many, if not most, people neither understand nor care about evidence or logic." Why? Because they believe "faith" is a "virtue".

Maybe Analog doesn't publish a lot of SF based on neuropsychology and its insights into the irrational mechanisms of the brain - mechanisms which mislead rational, intelligent, educated people just as much as the unwashed masses. Unless I am very much mistaken, people who hold irrational beliefs haven't rejected evidence or logic - as far as they're concerned, they're putting them to good use.

It's dangerous to think of ourselves as superior thinkers, for many reasons. In the same issue's letcol, a contributor speculates that Americans "nuke" their food because they think "nuclear radiation" and "microwave radiation" are the same, and the editor bemoans how "poorly educated" Americans are and "how sloppy their thinking [is]". Both of them miss the obvious possibility: it's a joke.


Sep. 27th, 2015 11:24 am
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
Why have I bookmarked all this stuff about language? Oh well, now it's your problem!

People of secrets: The slave sanctuary anti-language

Languages are dying, but is the internet to blame?

How societies learn to count to 10

Want to influence the world? Map reveals the best languages to speak

New signs of language surface in mystery Voynich text - this darn thing is a riot. Statistics and entropy and such suggest it's not just a hoax, but contains a coded message.

Real Talk - "For decades, the idea of a language instinct has dominated linguistics. It is simple, powerful and completely wrong."

Babbler birds use primitive language to communicate with meaning, study shows

Music a universal language? Not quite

How to learn thirty languages - ye gods! I'll settle for one. (Welll, maybe two.)


Aug. 22nd, 2015 01:06 pm
dreamer_easy: (*ZOMG!!)
Be wary of studies that link mental ill health with creativity or a high IQ (Guardian 21 August 2015). "The idea that genius and madness are intertwined is an ancient one. But in truth, in this desperately underfunded field, we don't even have objective tools to diagnose disorders of the mind, let alone back up claims such as this." The main effect of Bipolar II Disorder on writing, in my case, is the inability to actually do it.

Reading Shakespeare Has Dramatic Effect On Human Brain (Science Daily, 19 December 2006). "Shakespeare uses a linguistic technique known as functional shift that involves, for example using a noun to serve as a verb [causing] a sudden peak in brain activity and forces the brain to work backwards in order to fully understand what Shakespeare is trying to say."

Tips for working with someone with Aspergers (Penelope Trunk, 17 October 2012)

Kids Helpline: Increase in emergency interventions, more than one third of young people experiencing mental health issues (ABC 20 April 2015)

Australia's suicide rate could be halved in five years with European approach, researchers say (ABC 26 June 2015)

Nearly half of all patients hospitalised after suicide attempt receive no follow-up mental health treatment, research shows (ABC, 9 August 2015) | Black Dog Institute suicide attempt study finds that patients get no follow-up (SMH, 3 September 2015) |
Medical staff 'negative, angry and irritated' towards patients who have attempted suicide, report shows (ABC, 3 September 2015).

Mapping will be used to pinpoint areas of high male suicide and self-harm (ABC, 9 October 2014)

Studies confirm that the leading cause of death in young Koreans is suicide (Omona They Didn't, 30 April 2015)

Concern post-traumatic stress leading to an increase in number of veterans in prison (ABC, 16 October 2015)
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
(Been trying to get back to this for days!)

I'm reading a fascinating book called Incognito: the Secret Lives of the Brain, by David Eagleman. Weirdly, I came across not just an anecdote germane to yesterday's Thursday's posting about unclaimed bodies and medical research, but a bunch of relevant stuff about decision-making.

First, the anecdote, which Eagleman used to illustrate the idea that the brain has "circuits" which process short-term gain and loss, and others which process the long term. A university offered students $500 to leave their bodies to medical science. "It's an easy sell for the school: $500 now feels good, while death is inconceivably different." The detail which grabbed me was this: the students were given an ankle tattoo saying where to send their bodies after they'd died. Talk about a memento mori!

Second - well, first I need to explain the Trolley Problem, if you're not already familiar with it. (It's not a trick question, and you're not allowed to come up with clever solutions to get around it!)

You're standing on a railroad bridge beside a switch. Below, you see an out of control trolley hurtling towards five unsuspecting workers. You realise that if you throw the switch, the trolley will go down a different track - where there's only one unsuspecting worker. Do you throw the switch?

This time, there's only one track, and instead of the switch, there's a large stranger also standing on the bridge. You realise that if you push him off the bridge and onto the track, he'll be killed, but the trolley will be stopped and the workers will be saved. Do you push him off?

For the average brain, the first version is a rational problem - one life vs five lives - and logical decision making parts of the brain light up in a scanner if you ask the poor bugger in there to answer the question. But the second version is an emotional problem, and those brain bits light up. More variations on the puzzle led researchers to conclude that what switches on the emotional circuitry is when you have to touch (or imagine touching, at least) the other person.

As Eagleman points out, this was once pretty much our only way of killing someone - with our bare hands. He mentions a law professor who suggested implanting The Button inside a human being.

With me so far? Here's where we come back to the question of what to do with unclaimed bodies. I think the irate New Scientist letter-writer, who thought using them for medical research was obvious and couldn't believe than a "educated" person didn't agree, was judging the situation rationally. And I think I was judging it emotionally . Which is not to say my judgement was automatically wrong (think of the Button example) - just that it was proceeding from a different basis.

Perhaps I was even imagining touching the unclaimed body myself - or at least imagining touching it. It'd be interested to know if the letter-writer would change their opinion if they'd have to do the dissecting themselves. Come to think of it, does medical training and work inure people to that emotional response to touching bodies? If so, is that necessary for them to stay rational - or could it be bad for their (living) patients?
dreamer_easy: (*health)
The Federal Government has re-funded mental health services - but only for another twelve months. I'm not sure if I'm personally affected by this, but I'm furious that sick Australians and their families are once again being treated as unimportant - an afterthought at best, disposable at worst.

Many Australians ignorant of anxiety disorders

Returned Australian soldiers with PTSD plead for more help as Four Corners program reveals widespread depression and homelessness

This news report has all the fun statistics on suicide in Australia. Also a bundle of laughs: increasing self-harm by children. A ton of related issues come into play here, including bullying, homophobia and transphobia, and the continuing disaster of Indigenous health.

I'm gonna file this under "mental health" because (a) it's the latest attempt to provoke dysmorphia in women and (b) it's nuts: How the mons pubis became the new thigh gap

ETA: Treating mentally ill prisoners would save enormous sums: "Hundreds of psychotic inmates in NSW jails are not receiving any treatment."

Mood: good

Mar. 11th, 2015 10:14 am
dreamer_easy: (*health)
*&)^*^%)^ PMS! I'm much better now. :)
dreamer_easy: (*health)
I've switched from insulin to exenatide*, which is more complicated to take, but comes with the huge bonus of decreasing my appetite instead of increasing it. I'm not experiencing nausea, which is a common side effect; I'm eating slightly less at mealtimes and barely snacking at all, which is a major change.

I am concerned the stuff might be giving me a low mood, but as usual there are so many things that could be making me feel down that it's difficult to know which to blame. Bipolar? Sleep deprivation? Menstruation? Actual emotions? Who knows.

* Brand name: Byetta. Made from the saliva of the gila monster, one of the only two known venomous lizards. No joke.
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
The Underlying Psychology of Office Politics: much of which could apply to fandom, although we don't have formal leadership. I could've avoided a lot of drama in my time if I had recognised that people are not "creatures of logic but creatures of emotions". (This advice on evidence based debunking would have been come in handy too.)

Is public opinion rational?: No and yes.

A simple list of 15 Common Cognitive Distortions.

The Humane Interrogation Technique That Actually Works: "A study finds that confessions are four times more likely when interrogators adopt a respectful stance toward detainees and build rapport, instead of torturing." "In another study, regular people were found to be more supportive of torture if they were told the suspect was a terrorist — but not because they thought the suspect had more information." (See also: Snake oil salesmen selling torture.)

The bloody history of Australia's race riots: "On each occasion, decent Australia rises up, tells the rioters to pull their bloody heads in, and race relations actually improve afterwards. Race riots are one of the ways Australia reinvents itself." (If so, I hope it's also reflected into the generally measured response to the Martin Place siege.)

How to cope with traumatic news - an illustrated guide: "The era of 24-hour news brings traumatic events directly into everyone's lives. Here's how that can affect people, especially children, and some strategies for coping."

Boycott Halal movement in Australia set to escalate: these hatemongers spraypainted their opinion in large and child-unfriendly words across one of our local eateries. What I think they should eat is certainly haram.

From tragedy comes hope for Sydney's Muslim community: the President of the Lebanese Muslim Association discusses the challenges facing "a community under pressure".

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo mass murder, PEN International's survey Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers is a startling reminder that freedom of speech is not the West's most defining characteristic and cherished tradition.

My thoughts are also troubled by the many voices criticising the magazine for arguably racist attacks on minorities - "the opposite of satire", as one blogger put it. These voices are in no way offering excuses or justifications for the violence; rather, they're questioning the West's response to it. And they ask a hard question: if it wasn't for the murders, how willing would we be to say "Je suis Charlie"? (Others doubt whether free speech was the target at all.) (ETA: Plus many have asked why the massacre of thousands by Islamist militants in Nigeria gained less attention. Here's a backgrounder on French free speech and anti-clericalism.)

(Is irony the right word for this? So far, the cartoons I've seen in response to the atrocity have been witty and moving, unlike the Muhammad ones Charlie Hebdo printed, which were frankly rubbish.)
dreamer_easy: (*health)
The last time I saw my shrink, I asked if we could reduce my nightly dose of my mood stabiliser, Epilim, back to two pills from three. He suggested we try increasing my antidepressant instead. That's done nothing to address the problem which alarmed both [livejournal.com profile] outsdr and [livejournal.com profile] acelightning earlier this week: my nagging aphasia. Hell of a problem for a writer!

I've now confirmed from multiple reliable sources that memory and focus problems are common side effects of Epilim. It's doing its job of stabilising my mood, but what's the point of swapping one mental fog for another?!

So: balls to this. I'm going to step down the dose myself, back to two pills a night, starting last night and alternating two and three pills over the next week or so. (Can't cut 'em in half.) I'll probably have to do the same with the antidepressant (Cymbalta) to avoid becoming absurdly high.

(I'll be sure to see the shrink ASAP to discuss this - with luck, in a few weeks' time.)


dreamer_easy: (Default)

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