19 06 2007

I am officially on leave from teaching for the summer — first time in years I have had any extended time to do anything else but teach or research (or have major gut-rending surgery, but that’s another story).

I will take leave from posting on this blog at the same time, because it is primarily for the benefit of my students. I’ll be back in September. In the meantime, I will catch up on reading, learning how to relax, and a bit of vacationing.

In the meantime, check out the postings over at Mind Hacks, Cognitive Daily, and Developing Intelligence. Click on the links over to the right —->

Pornography and Agency

15 06 2007

The excellent sex-related blog, Figleaf’s Real Adult Sex, has a posting about the relationship between enjoyment of pornography and whether you imagine being an “agent” or being an “object” in the porn. I added a couple comments, giving some references to studies which indicate he’s onto something.

Agency, erotic appreciation, and advertising, in Pornography, on Figleaf’s Real Adult Sex:

I think the predominantly women’s call for plot and motivation comes not from an *intrinsic* requirement for that, it’s just that *since* mainstream porn is so male-agency oriented, *when* an effort is made to add depth to the characters or stories it increases the chances that some potential opportunity for women’s agency will emerge.

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Trephination history from Neurophilosophy

14 06 2007

In Introduction to Psychology, we finished up talking about treatments for psychological disorders, and I mentioned trephination as one of the psychosurgery methods used from the supernatural perspectives. Mind Hacks pointed me toward the blog Neurophilosophy, where there is an extensive historical background on the procedure.

An illustrated history of trepanation:

There is a great deal of speculation about why ancient civilizations used trepanation, but it is almost certain that all the peoples who used it did so because they somehow linked the brain with behaviour. Some anthropologists suggest that trepanation was performed as part of tribal or superstitious rituals. Other researchers believe that the procedure was used as a treatment for conditions such as headaches, epilepsy, hydrocephalus and mental disorders. These were presumably attributed to possession by evil demons; making a hole in the skull would therefore have provided the spirits a passage for escape.

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Article on a Cuban Sexologist

9 06 2007

The New York Times has an article on the work of a granddaughter of Fidel Castro, who is a sexologist:

A Castro Strives to Open Cuban Society’s Opinions on Sex – New York Times:

While her father is known for his strait-laced bearing, Ms. Castro has a more down-to-earth air. A mother of three who is married to an Italian photographer, she speaks of topics that might make others blush.

“Sexuality does not just have a reproductive function,” she declared in an interview on the front porch of a Havana mansion, where the center is located, noting that sex is also about love and pleasure and discovery and experiment. “Human beings are much more diverse than we think.”

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Suicide problems among Native youth

9 06 2007

We finished up Introduction to Psychology last week, with discussions about mental health, including suicide. The NY Times has an article about recent waves of suicides on American Indian reservations.

Indian Reservation Reeling in Wave of Youth Suicides and Attempts – New York Times:

more young people have tried to kill themselves — a total of 144 so far this year, at doctors’ best count; the computer used for recordkeeping was down for six weeks. In May, seven youths who tried hanging, poisoning or slashing themselves to death were admitted to the reservation hospital in one 24-hour period.

What is happening at Rosebud is all too common throughout Indian Country. American Indian and Alaska Native youth 15 to 24 years old are committing suicide at a rate more than three times the national average for their age group of 13 per 100,000 people, according to the surgeon general. Often, one suicide leads to another. For these youths, suicide has become the second-leading cause of death (after accidents). In the Great Plains, the suicide rate among Indian youth is the worst: 10 times the national average.

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The Tortured Lives of Interrogators –

4 06 2007

This week in Introduction to Psychology, we are covering psychological disorders. The Washington Post has an article on three military interrogators — British, Israeli, and American. We often see articles on torture, but not so much the emotional and psychological toll on the interrogators. One, at least, suffers from anxiety.

The Tortured Lives of Interrogators –

Alone in his apartment, awake most nights, he sits in rumpled jeans and desert combat boots, throwing his Gerber knife at his coffee table. Dirty clothes and beer cans litter the floor. His refrigerator is bare, but his footlocker is full of empty bottles of pills the military doctors prescribed for anxiety.

“It feels like fear. Of what? I’m not sure,” Lagouranis said. “You know what I think it is? You don’t know if you’ll ever regain a sense of self. How could Amy love me? I used to have a strong sense of morals. I was on the side of good. I don’t even understand the sides anymore.”

Next to a mattress on the floor where he sleeps hang his dog tags. Beside it, in the closet, lies a thick brown rope. He has tied it into a noose.

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