Stage 4 sleep video

20 08 2006

When we go into deep sleep (stages 3 and 4), we lose all connection to the external world (otherwise known as “sensation”). One sense that does persist is pain, but absent a painful stimulus, we don’t wake up. Video Rambler points out an online video showing a cat that seems to be in a very deep stage 4 sleep. You can manipulate its limbs, and even shake it a little, before it takes a violent shaking to wake up.

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Compulsive behaviors do have some socially desirable consequences…

16 08 2006

This quotation came across my screen today…

People often write me and ask how I keep my wood floors so clean when I live with a child and a dog, and my answer is that I use a technique called Suffering From a Mental Illness.

Heather Armstrong, Dooce, 07-07-06

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Eugenics and “mental defectives” in New Zealand ca. 1925

14 08 2006

Project Gutenberg recently released an interesting (but horrifying) report from a New Zealand commission in 1925, which met to suggest solutions to the problem of the “feeble-minded” and sexual offenders. Basically, the question was apparently what to do with such folks, before their genes infected the better classes (and created a social disaster, according to the authors). The solution: create a “Eugenics Board” which would be charged with maintaining a “registry” of mental defectives, to keep them from marrying and (GASP!) reproducing. Here are some quotes for your consideration:

For a considerable time there has been a growing feeling of anxiety among the public owing to the number of mental defectives becoming a charge upon the State, and also the alarming increase in their numbers through the uncontrolled fecundity of this class. Furthermore, owing to the frequency of sexual offences, many of a most revolting character, there was a strong demand that some action should be taken to prevent further acts of this nature; it being suggested that the law should be altered to make it possible for surgical operations to be performed upon these offenders.

YIKES! One of the concluding paragraphs sounded frighteningly like something Hitler would come up with, and illustrates how he wasn’t too wacky in his time, after all (emphasis mine):

New Zealand is a young country already exhibiting some of the weaknesses of much older nations, but it is now at the stage where, if its people are wise, they may escape the worst evils of the Old World. It has rightly been decided that this should be not only a “white man’s country,” but as completely British as possible. We ought to make every effort to keep the stock sturdy and strong, as well as racially pure.

In the section titled “A Menace to Modern Civilization,” the committee had this gem of wisdom to offer:

The Committee are of opinion that the unrestricted multiplication of feeble-minded members of the community is a most serious menace to the future welfare and happiness of the Dominion, and it is of the utmost importance that some means of meeting the peril should be adopted without delay. The position is the more serious because, while the feeble-minded are extraordinarily prolific, there is a growing tendency among the more intellectual classes for the birth-rate to become restricted.

Regarding the feeble-minded, the important thing is to not let them reproduce (emphasis mine)…

It is, of course, most essential that they should not be allowed to reproduce their kind, thus further enfeebling and deteriorating the national stock, adding to the burden of the community and to the sum of human misery and degradation. “To produce but not to reproduce” sums up the best scheme of life for these unfortunates.

One of the main problems? Those pesky mentally defective girls!

There are many cases of mentally defective girls, liberated from institutions in New Zealand for the purpose of engaging in domestic service or other work, returning afterwards the mothers of illegitimate children, probably also mentally defective. Unless such are to be maintained for years as wards of the State in institutions, should they ever again be allowed their liberty unless they undergo the operation of sterilization?

[um, why put the onus on the girls? What about the men who impregnated these girls?]

Well, here’s one of those men (the evidence offered in the report is mostly case studies like this one):

Martin Kallikak was a youthful soldier in the Revolutionary War. At a tavern frequented by the militia he met a feeble-minded girl by whom he became the father of a feeble-minded son. In 1912 there were 480 known direct descendants of this temporary union. It is known that 36 of these were illegitimates; that 33 were sexually immoral; that 24 were confirmed alcoholics; and that 8 kept houses of ill-fame. The explanation of so much immorality will be obvious when it is stated that of the 480 descendants 143 were known to be feeble-minded, and that many of the others were of questionable mentality.

A few years after returning from the war this same Martin Kallikak married a respectable girl of good family. From this union 496 individuals have been traced in direct descent, and in this branch of the family there were no illegitimate children, no immoral women, and only one man who was sexually loose. There were no criminals, no keepers of houses of ill-fame, and only two confirmed alcoholics. Again the explanation is clear when it is stated that this branch of the family did not contain a single feeble-minded individual. It was made up of doctors, lawyers, judges, educators, traders, and landholders.

Aside from some case studies, the report cites some numbers from the USA in justifying sterilization of “mental defectives.” Geee… why didn’t I read about this in my American history books?

Up to the 1st January, 1921, the latest date dealt with by the most recently published work on the subject, there have been 124 State institutions legally authorized to perform operations for sterilization, of which thirty-one have made more or less use of their authority, while ninety-three have not. The total number of operations performed up to the date mentioned was 3,233, divided into classes as follows: Feeble-minded, 403; insane, 2,700; criminalistic, 130. Of this total of 3,233 operations the State of California contributed no less than 2,538, and in this State a single institution (the State Hospital for the Insane at Patton) is responsible for no fewer than 1,009 cases.

Notice how the Harvard graduates “reproduce,” while the Roumanians “breed” (emphasis mine):

The biologist Davenport calculated that at present rates of reproduction 1,000 Harvard graduates of to-day would have only fifty descendants two centuries hence, whereas 1,000 Roumanians to-day in Boston, at their present rate of breeding, would have 100,000 descendants in the same space of time.

Here’s the crux of social engineering:

… we must promote and encourage parenthood on the part of the best and stablest stocks, and do everything in our power to discourage, or in the extreme cases even to prevent, proliferation of unfit and degenerate strains.

Oh, and watch out for those depravedpicture-shows:”

As the Committee are called on to deal specially with the problem of increasing manifestations of sexual depravity they cannot pass by the fact that in the course of the last twenty years the younger members of the community have been spending a steadily increasing proportion of their time, during the most impressionable period of life, in what are liable to prove forcing-houses of sexual precocity and criminal tendencies. There is every reason for regarding the habit of “going to the pictures” without adequate restrictions as contributing seriously to precocious sexuality, and also to weakening the powers of inhibition and self-control in other directions–powers which are the distinctive attributes of the higher human being.

In its conclusions, the report makes a claim that seems not to have borne itself out: I have a hard time seeing the “dreadful consequences.” It provides a similar quote from MacDougall:

… unless the multiplication of the feeble-minded is to be allowed to go on in an ever-increasing ratio, with consequences dreadful to contemplate …

Professor William MacDougall, the noted psychologist of Harvard University, speaking at Toronto recently in reference to the disregard of eugenic methods in America in maintaining and improving the national stock, said: “As I watch the American people speeding daily with invincible optimism down the path that leads to destruction I seem to be watching one of the greatest tragedies of history.”

The conclusion: Let that Eugenics Board handle these degenerates! (emphasis mine)

This is the question: Can the propagation of mental defect by mental defectives and the debasing of the race thereby be greatly checked if not completely prevented? The answer is assuredly, Yes, by segregation and by sterilization.

The Committee recommends that both methods be placed in the hands of the Eugenic Board, with powers to discriminate as to which method is the more suitable for each individual case. The two methods are complementary, not antagonistic, and suitable safeguards for the liberty of the subject are provided.

In the opinion of the Committee it is of the utmost importance that mental defectives should be prevented from reproducing. No person who has been placed on the register should be allowed to marry until the Eugenic Board has given its consent by removing the name from the register.

Title: Mental Defectives and Sexual Offenders: Report of the Committee of Inquiry Appointed by the Hon. Sir Maui Pomare, K.B.E., C.M.G., Minister of Health
Author: W. H. Triggs, Donald McGavin, Frederick Truby King, J. Sands Elliot, Ada G. Patterson, C.E. Matthews and J. Beck
Release Date: July 29, 2006 [EBook #18932]

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PsySR press release on psychologists and interrogations

14 08 2006

The American Psychological Association Council of Representatives met at APA to deal with the APA Executive Council’s approval of psychologists being involved in interrogations and, as a consequence, torture. Click here to read the press release from APA on the resolution.
Here’s the press release by PsySR (an independent organization of psychologist activists) regarding the resolution, and how it does not go far enough, soon enough. I’m not sure how we can advocate setting aside “normal procedures” for stopping the participation any more than the president of APA did when he established the policy endorsing it in the first place… The issue goes both ways… Anyway…


For Immediate Release
Contact: Anne Anderson (202) 262-0989


PsySR to APA: Don’t Stop Now — Declare Emergency
“No Participation” Policy in National Security Interrogations

Psychologists for Social Responsibility urges the American Psychological Association not to mistake the start it made this week for the kind of conclusive action still needed to prevent psychologists from enmeshing themselves in psychological abuse at U.S.-operated detention centers. Given the urgency of ending the potential for abuse immediately, PsySR calls on the APA to set aside its normal procedures and immediately declare an emergency “No Participation” policy for psychologists in national security or military interrogations at this time.
PsySR welcomes the new, stronger resolution passed by the APA Council of Representatives this week that ties APA’s ethics code to international human rights standards regarding torture and abuse. But that resolution is just the first step — not the end of the matter. PsySR urges the Council to take emergency action Sunday to set a “No Participation” policy while APA deliberates on how to implement the resolution.

“We encourage APA to demonstrate its commitment to this new policy by placing an immediate moratorium on psychologists’ participation in national security or military interrogations,” said Richard Wagner, president of PsySR. “The secrecy surrounding the interrogations makes it very difficult — possibly impossible — for psychologists to be able to effectively monitor and prevent torture, abuse, and other forms of cruel or degrading treatment.”

Michael Wessells, a member of both PsySR’s Steering Committee and former member of APA’s Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS) added: “The passage of this resolution is an important step forward because it establishes international human rights standards as the foundation of APA ethics guidance for working on issues of national security. However, the statement is only a first step and, by itself, is seriously incomplete.”

“Human rights standards become actionable only when coupled with clear operational guidance and effective systems of monitoring, reporting, and action. These do not exist at present. The APA needs to provide on an urgent basis the specific operational guidance needed to define what psychologists can and cannot do in national security work and whether it is ethically appropriate for psychologists to work at or support detainment sites such as Guantanamo Bay that operate outside the spirit and letter of the law established by the Geneva Conventions and other human rights standards. Also, the APA should denounce the systematic use of specifically psychological methods of interrogation and take steps to insure that psychologists have the support and protections needed to be effective whistleblowers. Most important, without these additional elements, psychologists remain at serious risk of violating human rights, and psychology as a profession will not have fulfilled its obligation to protecting human rights.

We appreciate the hard work and commitment of all of our colleagues who have helped to prepare and pass the new Resolution this week and urge the Council to call a halt to participation by psychologists in any way in national security or military interrogations at this time.

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