Showing posts with label psychology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label psychology. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

"Temporary Insanity" Is a Legal Term But Not A Valid Psychological Concept

This is a short summation of the circumstances surrounding the first ever implementation of the legal defense known as "temporary insanity:"


George Reimus built a massive bootlegging empire during prohibition. His wife was by his side during his ascent to becoming a major kingpin and he provided her with anything she ever wanted.
Reimus gets sent to prison for a short 2 year prison term. He left her in charge of his entire empire while he was incarcerated. She was his soulmate and he trusted her completely, without hesitation.
His wife starts sleeping with a new man. Within 6 months, she sold all of her husband's assets, stole all his money, and filed for divorce.
Upon his release, George was driving to his divorce hearing when he spotted his wife in another car. He forced her car off the road, then shot and killed her. He immediately turned himself in and admitted to the murder.
At his trial, he pleaded temporary insanity and won. He said this afterwards: 
It was a duty I owed society. She who dances down the primrose path must die on the primrose path. I'm happy, this is the first piece of mind I've had in years - George Reimus

The problem with this defense is the fact that it's simply not real. 

"Temporary insanity" is a legal term but isn't at all a real psychological phenomenon. In fact, in reality, there is no sanity or insanity or even a "real you." There are just moment to moment brain states which are a result of biological, chemical, physiological, environmental, etc factors.

That guy wasn't "temporarily insane." His behaviour was the end result of a specific set of factors which were in play the moment he saw his wife; the reason he had never acted that way before was simply because he has never been in that situation before. Just like when an otherwise "friendly dog" attacks someone. They aren't insane in that moment; they were acting on circumstances that hadn't been in play prior to that moment.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Taking Reality for Granted?

Taking Reality for Granted?

We all have senses, and we use our senses to perceive the world around us. The sum total of our sensory perception is the input to which we ascribe the characteristic of reality. When we do this, we are effectively saying that what we sense around us is what exists around us, and we use this information to guide us as we move about the world in which we live. However, there is a problem inherent within this methodology, as philosophers have been noting for millenia: We cannot be certain that reality is as we perceive it, since the perceptions that we cite as evidence are necessarily subjective, and are devoid of external, independent confirmation of their accuracy. Or are they? This is the question I'd like to address.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Parenting: On Yelling and Hitting

My daughter is 7 now and I can count the times I have legitimately yelled at her on one hand. I have always talked to her, reasoned things out, etc. I prioritize her psychological health over anything else- us being late, me being tired, whatever. And I NEVER hit her. Or "spank" her (which is hitting, stop pretending otherwise).

I have always had a policy of "treat her like I'd like to be treated." No one would want to be yelled at or hit by someone six times their size, so why would we expect fragile little children to tolerate that? It's totally unfair (but I get it!!!! they don't understand our job and how they unintentionally make it harder and what we feel/go through, especially as single parents; we're tired, stressed, dissatisfied, etc....I do get it!).

People around me try to convince me to "toughen up" as they think sometimes things "take too long" (just yell and she'll do it right away, they say) but again my priority is her not me or them. Everyone always uses the running on the road example (what if she ran onto the road without looking, you're going to "talk" it out?) but she never does anything like that and she listens very well. She respects me because I treat/see her as a real person and I make sure to care about how she is feeling. In turn she doesn't want to disappoint me so she tries her best to be a helpful girl.

I know it's tough. We're tired, we're frustrated, the list of things to do never ends. But you have to keep in mind the nature of children, understand it and work with them- don't hold them responsible for their nature (they had nothing to do with it). Ask yourself why you yelled or hit and you'll realize your answers don't actually justify the response. It's always "we were going to be late or I said it four times already!" which really means "it didn't happen when I wanted it to" which is never worth even a minuscule amount of fear, anxiety, or hit to self confidence that they can (and do) experience. They are fragile and they need us to be on their side.

Monday, April 13, 2015

In Defense Of 'Crazy' Stay At Home Moms

We all know the trope of the 'crazy' suburban mom; you know,  the one who screams at her kids and husband all day despite being medicated to the gills with pharmacological agents and vodka coolers and while I have done my share of sneering at them to myself and others (shitty behaviour around kids is hard not to sneer at) I have been thinking a lot about these women and what might be at the root of the problem and I think that "they're just crazy" isn't fair and what really may be going on is totally not their fault but actually the fault of the way we engineered post-industrialization/post-agricultural societies.

If you travel back in time to say 50,000 years ago, what was the life of a mother like? Were they alone, separated into individual houses, or together as a community, dealing with everyone's' kids all at once?

It was the latter.

Assuming we all agree on this point, (and how can't we; I'm always right after all, right C-man? fuma!) what can we take from this? Well, it logically follows that evolving to raise kids in a community would lead women of future generations to basically needing said communities for support and ultimately, optimal mental health. So, separating into houses all along a street and living in their own little worlds with their kids and hubbies (when home from work) could possibly be setting them up for failure. Living contrary to ones' nature is a recipe for mental illness, right?

If we think about the nature of women, are they more oriented towards being solitary or in groups? I think we all know the answer. They are definitely wired towards being hive minded. Men are generally the more solitary creatures. So, in the interest of fairness here, is it really any wonder that once they are separated into individual homes alone with their kid(s) all day that they go "crazy?" They are living without the social support networks they evolved to need!

I always think/talk about how the way this culture is engineered is really bad for men, but I am starting to consider the possibility that it's bad for women as well. It's bad for all of us, I think. One day I'll stop being so lazy and really dig into this idea and post a detailed, cogent, thought out piece about it. I really think there's a lot about the way we are living that we need to rethink. I'm just so lazy.....damn culture's fault!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Re: On Labeling Women 'Crazy' (Thoughts From a Discussion I Had)


I see both sides of this. women getting irrational and hyper emotional is pretty much a staple of female behaviour, so on that one I am with you guys 100%. On the other hand, there are guys (and girls, yes feminists, chicks do this too) who "gaslight" their partners by essentially doing shit and then denying it when the person reacts and then furthermore telling them that they are "crazy" or "oversensitive." They do this even though the person is right and that can really fuck with someone psychologically.

P.S. Just the word "oversensitive" alone should give you guys pause. Who determines what is an acceptable level of sensitivity? Are we really going to deny that a lot of guys act like dicks, or do something shady and then when the girl reacts to it they shut them down, not because the chick is wrong but simply because they don't want to actually have to consider their own behaviour or just "don't want to hear it?" Sure, a lot of the time they are being "crazy" and making a mountain out of a molehill, but let's not lose sight of the fact that a lot of people out there are horribly self involved and don't give a shit about other people especially if it inconveniences them to do so. That shit exists and I have even faced it as a male.

An example: person insults the other. Other person gets hurt and mentions it. First person says "I was just kidding, jesus. You're too sensitive!" Too? As determined by who? I see absolutely no pausing to consider the other person's feelings there, and that's because people are a) apt to assume everyone is wired just like they are and b) don't want to have to admit fault or actually consider their behaviour.

When it comes to this "acting crazy" thing, is that if you ask first, and their response is pretty well, crazy, then okay. Bitches be crazy. A lot of guys though, they don't even ASK. Just immediately write it off. "Oh, you're crazy, relax!" The author is just saying, "hey, why not investigate a little before writing them off? Sometimes you're writing off legitimate feelings." And btw, when guys do that, guess what that leads to over time? More "acting crazy" which they further chalk up to the chick being "nuts" and don't ever stop for a minute to consider their part. I can't understand how anyone can deny that this happens. It's super common, and not even just with guys/girls and romantic relationships. ALL relationships (friends, family, etc) are fertile ground for this. I myself have had this happen numerous times over my life. A lot of it because of my own parents and their abuse. Or friends in the past, being total dicks. I tell them how I feel about what they did/do and I'm just "too sensitive" or "making a big deal out of nothing." Not one second to consider their (shitty) actions or how I could be affected. Just quickly write you off and move on.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Irony is, They Aren't Teaching Girls Equality

They're giving them a complex about it. My daughter (she's 5) sang this part of a song this weekend for the first time "boys can *insert whatever action* and girls can too!" So she'll skip along and sing "boys can skip and girls can too!" or "boys can jump and girls can too!" etc. I asked her where she learned this song and she said it was at school last year (SK, she starts grade 1 tomorrow, which seems insane but that's for another topic). Now, on the face of it, this seems like a great message to be sending little girls. And my initial though actually was in this vein "oh, cool, they start early with the equality now, that's good." Something to that effect. I mean, a main focus of my parenting style is to avoid limiting her; encourage her interests and objects of curiosity- never repress them.

Not long after this though, my (fuckin unstoppable and often annoying) need to question goddamn fucking everything woke up from its nap and started the process. It's tentative conclusion? That this might be doing less teaching about equality and more introducing the idea of gender inequality, leading to an immediate (and gender wide) inferiority complex. The central question here then, if my goal is to find out if I am on the right track or not, is simply is there an inherent, ingrained idea of gender inequality amongst young children which necessitates this kind of teaching, or does the post feminism practise of teaching equality from a young age actually just introduce the idea of inequality in them and do the opposite of what it tries to?

What do you think?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Parenting Rules To Live By

My daughter is five. Here's a list of some of my parenting rules: (I try to stick to them as much as possible)

-If she gets dramatic/emotional to manipulate me into doing something, a) do not do it for her; b) call her out on it (with humour).
-No yelling or "spanking." There's no lesson that needs to be bullied into a kid in order to reach them.
-Say no but say it when it matters so it's not a pointless word that just starts battles.
-Think about her as a person. Empathize. Remember her age, remember her brain's limits. Don't just expect her not to be who she is because it's inconvenient or makes it hard for me to have control. Cut ego OUT as much as possible.
-Wrestle/playfight often. Don't go easy on her the whole time. Let her have some wins but mix in some moments of high challenge (build self confidence, teach her to overcome obstacles and stay persistent, increased physical strength and capabilities, exercise, bonding).
-Share jokes, and ask her opinion on things.
-Have fun
-Do things outside. Be in nature. Explore.
-Don't say no to things just because I, as an adult, no longer enjoy them. She's a kid, not an adult. If she wants to jump in a puddle, LET HER. Her shoes get wet, oh no! They'll dry, and she'll have a great childhood moment. Or, just have her take her shoes off. Think outside the box
-Like I said, think outside the box
-Question things, and have her do the same
-Try to show more than tell
-Share my love of learning and my awe of (and passion for knowing) the universe
-Engage her in things.
-Challenge her. Mentally and physically
-If she asks me to get her something for no reason other than laziness, decline. She can do it herself.
-If she tries to get something making sexy poses, point it out to her, and then ask her if perhaps there might be a better way. Never indulge it, but never shame her either. She did not choose her animal nature, so don't make her pay for it.
-If she falls, know the difference between real hurt and not so real. Attend to the first, handle the second with amusement and try to bring her into that frame. End result: hopefully she laughs off the not so bad ones instead of sits there vying for attention. (By the way, it worked. She "walks it off" and we talk/laugh about it or just keep playing. If she is really hurt I immediately know the difference and giver her the hugs and soothing that she needs.)
-TV isn't the end of the world, but don't have her in front of it for hours and hours either

That's good for now.

My goal is to have a confident, open minded, critical thinking daughter who isn't ashamed of her sexuality but doesn't wield it like a weapon. Ditto her emotions. It would be nice if she worked through problems, had some measure of self reliance and autonomy, and didn't just cry on facebook when something mild goes wrong. Nice, caring and empathetic but not a pushover and physically capable. Just an all around cool chick. Possible? I dunno. Signs are promising. She's a badass five year old. Then again she's only five. Grade one starts next month and along with it a year's worth of other kids and their influences. And those influences only grow with each passing year. For now I just do what I can.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Self Help and Social Anxiety

The Problem I have with self help when it comes to social anxiety:

There is no answer.

The fundamental reality is that social anxiety and the lack thereof are arrived at by equal (and opposite) roads, and the only way one could morph into the other type of person is by having new experiences opposite to the old that would in effect, reprogram the person to feel differently around others. Can someone with SA work on it? Sure, and well have some agency over our own behaviour, but let's not invalidate years of learned behaviour. A person with social anxiety will only truly be cured through positive experience with others. Of course, one does have some room to self improve in ways that would give them a higher chance of having said positive experiences, and for that self help material can be useful, but not in the way it is advertised. it always seems to put the onus on the self while ignoring the fundamental fact that good experiences with others throughout ones life=confidence and vice versa. A non confident person can get there, sure, but it's like asking a confident person to suddenly feel anxious around others- it ain't happening unless the people around them suddenly start responding differently to them.

Friday, April 25, 2014

On "Manning Up"

NOTE: This post has now been published (in a more fleshed out format of course) on the website A Voice For Men. The link is HERE is you wish to read it in its updated format.

-Social anxiety?
-Self confidence issues?
-Struggling with something?

"Just get out there and do it."
"Get over it"
"Just be you and start feeling confident."
"Suck it up."
"Deal with it."
"You're x age and still doing this/feeling this way? Come on/it's time to grow up."

Basically, "man up." 

I was just reading a forum post about anxiety written by someone with really bad social anxiety and of course the replies were full of those quotes above and others like them. Any time anyone ever says something to that effect (which includes me at some points in my life, either to others or to myself) I think to myself "okay, can you do the opposite?" When you say "man up" to someone, what you are basically saying is "be not like you."

Well, I have a question for you. Can you "man down?" If you are confident can you be anxious and insecure instead?

No?

So what makes you think someone else can "man up?" If you are who you are why aren't they afforded the same sort of leeway?

Now, I'm not at all saying that people can't get past things, but sometimes I think people (myself included at times) downplay how strongly other people are who they are in the exact same way they are who they are, but just in the opposite direction. Next time someone acts like "manning up" is the easiest thing in the world to do, ask them if they could just as easily "man down." When they invariably say no, ask what the difference is. I've done this before and people usually get totally stumped because they've never thought of it like that before.

The thing is, the part that everyone always misses with this stuff is that most of the time, the anxiety, lack of confidence, whatever, comes from past experience and past experience is instrumental in making us who we are. If you have good experiences with people, you'll be fine looking them in the eye/feeling adequate socially. If, however, you have had bad experiences with people that made you doubt your self worth, you won't. It's not as easy as "being confident" or "finding your balls." You being uncomfortable around them is as much a result of your genetics, psychology and experience as them being comfortable in those situations is a manifestation of their genetics, psychology and experience.

That being said, this isn't necessarily it forever. A series of positive experiences and some practise can change this for the person affected negatively by their past. I know about this from experience and man; it isn't easy to change but it can be done.

Just not by being told to "man up."

P.S. In some instances, people really DO need to 'man up.' I'm just arguing against it being used in situations in which it's really not at all applicable, helpful and most importantly, fair.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The World Would Be a Better Place If We All Studied Psychology

I'll (briefly, for both your sake and mine) present my case and you then tell me if I'm deluded or onto something here (it can't be anything else; I like my thinking black and white, like a coffee made by a supernatural barista):

Psychology as an academic discipline deals with many things. A few of those things are pertinent to this discussion, the first of which is introspection, the art of internal investigation. A process through which we examine our own minds and come to learn about and then manage, if we so choose, our reactions, emotions, thought processes, and even, ideally, our biases and our pride. Our ego. I could spend hours talking about how terrible a role the ego plays in this world on a daily basis, but I digress so let's move on.

Psychology deals with interpersonal relations. How we deal with others and why we do so. How we relate to them- and they to us.

So basically you study psych and you learn about us, humans, and yourself, both as standalone entities and in relation to others. Well, it seems like a good time to ask what it is in life exactly that these things are made relevant by? Hmmm....emotions, biases, thought processes, pride, relations with others....oh ya, how about damn near everything? Relationships with family and friends, dealing with people at school. People at work. Dealing with loss, success, competition, grief. How we handle and react to day to day life. How we assess the, as we see them, motives and desires of others? Hell, how about diplomacy?! And I don't mean as a mediator in a divorce. I mean foreign f'n policy!

All of the above is heavily related to the psychology of humans and their understanding of both themselves and one another. Yet almost none of us receive education in the field of study that deals with this- psychology. I only got the opportunity to do so in university. Now imagine if everyone on Earth that received a primary education studied psychology as part of their curriculum? Ah.....better relations, better understanding of ourselves and one another.....better everything. A better world.

Call me crazy but I really am concluding that I think if we studied psychology throughout our formative years we would be more adjusted and in control of our emotions, our thoughts....our minds. Ourselves. And if this were the case, then it would naturally follow that things made up of people, like say corporations, or even *gasp* governments, might function at a higher level than they do now, with a net effect of more positivity in this world, and consequently, less of the opposite.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Response to Psychology Today Article About "Fat Shaming"

In a Psychology Today article entitled The #1 Worst Thing to Say to Your Fat Friend the author, Harriet Lerner, Ph.D discusses an article written by another writer, a woman named Natalie Kusz. Ms. Kusz is an overweight woman writing about "fat shaming" and in her article she talks about instances of shaming enacted upon her by strangers and she contends that, while they are certainly hurtful, the moments during which she feels the most shamed is "the well-intentioned disapproval of a friend--the one who leans a narrow hand on your arm and murmurs, “I hope this doesn't hurt your feelings, but I love you and I'm concerned about your weight." Both authors contend that this friend is acting in a harmful, rather than beneficial manner when they make such statements to their overweight friends (I wonder if they would feel this way if it was gambling/alcohol, etc rather than obesity being discussed).

Well, I strongly disagree with the contention made by both of these authors and what follows is the comment I submitted for publication on the site.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Urge To Smash Break and Destroy

NOTE: This is a post I had saved (but never published) and I decided to put it up now since I think it could be the catalyst for an interesting follow up/update since things in my life have changed rather significantly since I wrote this nearly three years ago. I will ruminate on things for a bit and if I believe a follow up is warranted I will write one, post it and link the two articles to one another. 

From time to time, I get the urge to break things. To vandalise. To destroy. I don't follow up on these impulses (although I admit that I did a couple of times when I was a kid/teenager, although nothing serious) but when I have them they are pretty strong.

I'm not sure why I have these inclinations. It may be related to the society in which I live, as it feels restrictive, and these feelings are a response to this? I dunno. Maybe there's some sort of biological reason? Like I am supressing my innate destructive 'manly' urges throughout my 21st century, 'cultured' 'modern' and 'civilized' lifestyle, and my inner caveman makes an attempt to break free every now and again, an attempt that manifests as an ure to tear down the social order, the 'establishment.'

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Being Single Is Selfish....Sure, But Relationships Are Just As Selfish

Find that shocking? Ridiculous? Demeaning? Insulting, even? Okay, tell me: Why do YOU get into relationships then? Why does anyone?

(Note: This is a follow up of sorts to an earlier post I did regarding the selfishness of having kids. Click HERE if you want to read that one.)

 Here are some (arguably) selfless reasons (I say arguably given the selfish altruism theory popular in some psychology circles):

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dichotomy Between People's Actions and Their Self Perceptions

What do you call a person that eats meat? A meat eater.
What do you call a person that kills? A killer.
What do you call a person that cheats? A cheater.
What do you call a person that loves? A lover.
What do you call a person that hates? A hater.
What do you call a person that rapes? A rapist (not a raper...I wonder why?)

etc.

Basically, the above examples were made to illustrate a simple point. Said point being that most, if not all, people define other people by their actions. So far we are all in agreement? Okay, so here is where things get interesting. The farther out from someone's social circle is the more likely they are to be defined, in that person's mind, by their actions. The closer they are to that person the less likely (or at least the less intensely)  they are defined by their actions. There seems to be an inverse relationship between the degree to which one is defined, in the minds of others, by one's own actions and their social proximity to the other person/people. The rate of adherence to the rules of defining people vary with this proximity.

In the examples given above, one would assume that the people in question are people on the periphery of one's social group. Most people would refer to someone they read about in a magazine cheating on their significant other as a cheater. However, in the event that their best friend had an affair, would they be as likely to apply the cheater label? Taking this to the furthest point on the inverse end of this relationship is the judgement passers  themselves. What do most people call themselves when they do x or y?

I posit that they are quite unlikely to define themselves by these specific actions and instead are more likely to grant themselves psychological/moralistic leeway in the form of a statement such as "I'm not that kind of person," "I don't know what I was thinking- I don't do things like that" or "that's not me; I'm not really like that." Furthermore, I contend that you the reader have yourself done this, as, I will readily admit, have I, your gracious host and sexually proficient blog author.

So why the dichotomy?

Well, for the same reason that (in my opinion) most negative aspects of humanity exist: Ego.

Ego is a motherfucker. Ego is an incredibly strong motivator for much of the world's population; one that can be bested (or at least mitigated to a certain degree) but in order to learn to do so one must undertake a measure of study and practise. For most people, this process is unknown to them, and therefore out of their reach, regardless of their readiness to partake in it. This unreadiness/unwillingness to tackle the inhibiting effects of the ego (and the maintenance thereof) keep people in the default state in which they are prone to bending the truth (or at the very least use whatever techniques/tricks that are available to them in order to  maintain a certain narrative in their minds-a narrative regarding themselves and who they are as a person).

It is this psychological phenomenon that is responsible for the shift from actions being held to be the defining characteristic of a person's character to there being an essential "self" that exists outside of one's actions. The logical question is thusly evident, although the answer to it is not:

What are the criteria by which this essential self is judged? 

The answer, it seems to me, is partly past actions, partly the moral code that the person assimilated throughout their upbringing (a code that nearly no one follows at all times) and partly an idealized version of the self that is congruent with both a person's culture and the attributes they ascribe to a self actualized, idealized 'hero' character. Basically, we define ourselves by who who want to be, not who we are as would be judged if we were to be judged as we judge others; that is, solely by our actions.

The problem with this is that it can't be both. People either are the sum total of their actions or they are not. So which is it? Just remember that whichever choice you make applies to both you and everyone else. One interesting aspect of this fact that just struck me as I am writing this is that this choice basically comes down to either being harder on yourself or easier on everyone else. I'm not sure what people would rather do but I do know that either one comes down to the same unavoidable implication: You and everyone else will be held to the same standard. The exact thing that I believe sparks this problem in the first place.

I have a saying that applies here, and it as follows: You will be judged not by your actions but by the perceptions of your intent. Unless those doing the judging aren't you ;)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Greg Horn (Father Filmed Horribly Beating His Daughters) Arrested! And My Thoughts On People Defending Him

Language Warning: This situation has infuriated me so expect a bunch of swearing.

Greg Horn aka "The Asshole Who Whipped His 12 and 14 Year Old Daughters On Camera" has been charged with child endangerment and corporal punishment. Link:

http://abc22now.com/shared/news/top-stories/stories/wkef_vid_12329.shtml

Here is a picture of the piece of shit child abuser:

magx01 the thoughtful gamers

For those not in the know what happened is two sisters (aged 12 and 14) were making a 'twerk' video ('twerking' definition) to post on Facebook when their father walked into the room and proceeded to whip them with an audio/video cable while they screamed, cried and pleaded for mercy. Here is the video of the event in question (warning: it's fucking disturbing, probably doubly so if, like me, you have a daughter):


Nice, eh? (Yes, I'm Canadian). So he beats them and gets arrested. He will likely end up in jail (especially give that this is not his first child abuse charge.....classy). Disgusting, but at least it's over now, right? We saw it, we felt the emotion, maybe discussed it with friends/family, and now we, along with the news cycle, can move on, right?

Well, no. Not me. This whole thing is driving me absolutely batshit insane and I can't stop thinking about it. I have been reading comments from people about this situation posted on various websites, and discussed it a bit myself on a forum/message board I frequent, and even though I knew it was going to happen, I still found myself feeling absolutely astonished at the fact that there are actually people, large numbers of them even, defending this scumbag's actions! This horrifies and infuriates me of course, as we are talking about the vicious beating of two little girls by the person who is supposed to be nurturing and protecting them, but what I feel even more strongly than the horror/anger is a profound sadness at just how little people seem to think/know about/understand their own  kids (or just kids in general).

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Self Interest

Here are some questions that I sometimes ask myself: Are all actions driven entirely by self interest? Even altruistic ones? What about on a non individual level, like the actions of entire countries with respect to other existing nations, aka foreign policy? Is literally everything we do selfish?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Treatable STD Scarier Than Fatal Flu

http://www.livescience.com/18461-treatable-sti-scarier-fatal-flu.html


Passing someone a sexually transmitted infection is viewed as worse than giving them the flu — even if the flu turns out to be fatal, a new study finds. The stigma surrounding STIs can keep people from getting tested, discussing testing with partners or disclosing to partners that they do have an infection, Moor said. She and her colleagues wanted to understand how much stigma really influences people's perceptions of these diseases. To do so, the researchers gathered 1,158 volunteers via the Internet and had each read a short paragraph about someone transmitting either the H1N1 flu, also called swine flu, or chlamydia to another person. Though H1N1 usually causes nothing more than a few days of misery, people with compromised immune systems, the elderly and the very young can die of it.



In every scenario in the study, "Christina" or "James" feels a little ill, but shrugs off the symptoms, goes to a party and has sex with a fellow partygoer. In some cases, this sexual encounter transmits chlamydia to their partner. In other cases, it transmits H1N1. After reading one of these scenarios, each participant answered a series of questions about how selfish, risky and all-around irresponsible they would rate either Christina or James.


Keeping a sexual mode of transmission constant was meant to control for any automatic "sex is taboo" reactions from participants, Moor said. But despite the fact that the characters James and Christina acted sexually identically in all scenarios, chlamydia seemed to strike extra fear into participants' hearts.When Christina or James were said to have transmitted chlamydia, people judged them harshly, ranking them as almost as selfish and risky as was possible in the survey. When H1N1 was the disease in question, however, people rated the transmitter much more generously. Even when the sexual partner actually died of H1N1, transmitting chlamydia was seen as much more risky and irresponsible than transmitting the flu.


"It's quite confusing," Moor said. "If sex is taboo and that's why people are thinking STIs are so stigmatized, we just nipped that in the bud. We're showing that you can get H1N1 through sex, but it's still not stigmatized."

This is something that I have considered for some time, and I am glad it is finally garnering attention in the scientific community. While the findings seem to concur with my feelings on the subject, I do have one criticism to make: They say that it is inexplicable that people view STI's in a harsher light than they do say the flu, even if both are transmitted sexually. They say that they controlled for the "sex is taboo" factor by making sexual activity the mode of transmission in each scenario. However, I think they are missing one crucial point: STI's are linked, in people's minds, with sex, while the flu is not. And this is quite likely directly resultant of the taboo nature of sex in North American culture.

Thoughts?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Taking Reality for Granted?

Taking Reality for Granted?

We all have senses, and we use our senses to perceive the world around us. The sum total of our sensory perception is the input to which we ascribe the characteristic of reality. When we do this, we are effectively saying that what we sense around us is what exists around us, and we use this information to guide us as we move about the world in which we live. However, there is a problem inherent within this methodology, as philosophers have been noting for millenia: We cannot be certain that reality is as we perceive it, since the perceptions that we cite as evidence are necessarily subjective, and are devoid of external, independent confirmation of their accuracy. Or are they? This is the question I'd like to address.

Monday, May 16, 2011

RANT: Religion and Masturbation

I recently watched a movie entitled 'Teeth.' The movie (which wasn't very good but I digress), an indie horror with some comedic elements (it mostly failed on both fronts....some of it was amusing, none of it was scary, but again, digressing...), is about a very religious teenage girl who has taken a vow of 'purity' (aka abstinence) and goes around to other schools prattling on to younger kids and other teens about the 'evils' of sex and how it's only right to save your 'gift' until marriage, and blah blah.