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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 27th June 2014 07:58
Psychology is a subject that is closest to Islamic mysticism.

The world has a lot to learn from us in this field.

It is not unthinkable that Allah (SWT) might have granted knowledge of some things to non-Muslims.
We should not be ashamed of availing that.

Rasoolallah (SAW) did not hesitate while getting Muslim kids tutored by Jewish learned men.
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#2 [Permalink] Posted on 27th June 2014 08:00
The Secret To Dealing With Passive-Aggressive People

Amanda L. Chan in Huff Post

Ah, passive aggression. The best way to handle conflict.

Not.

There's a reason why passive-aggressive behavior gets such a bad rap. Not only is it supremely frustrating for both parties involved, but it's also incredibly unproductive to the passive-aggressive person -- because his or her needs aren't actually ever acknowledged or addressed.

And for the target of the passive aggression, experiencing this kind of behavior can "make you feel like a crazy person," explains Scott Wetzler, Ph.D., vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Montefiore Medical Center and author of Living With the Passive-Aggressive Man. "You're being told what's happening isn't happening, and there's something very withholding about the interaction. You know something is going on, and he's denying it."

At its heart, the behavior "really is a sugar-coated hostility," Wetzler tells HuffPost. "So instead of someone who's actually going to assertively reject something you ask them for, these folks ... indirectly don't do what's expected of them."

Passive-aggressive behavior, while expressed in many different ways, has the same roots: There is an underlying fear and avoidance of direct conflict, yet a feeling of powerlessness and helplessness. The result? An unspoken power struggle, that can appear in several different ways. Some potential manifestations:

Sarcasm

The silent treatment

Withholding of intimacy

Withholding of praise

Being critical

Sabotage

Running late

Not doing something that's asked of him/her

Sometimes these passive-aggressive behaviors are intentional -- because the passive-aggressive person wants the other person to engage in conflict first -- but other times, it's not intentional at all, says California-based therapist Andrea Brandt, Ph.D., author of 8 Keys to Eliminating Passive-Aggressiveness and Mindful Anger: The Emotional Path To Freedom. "They find people who enable them," Brandt explains to HuffPost. They act passive-aggressively toward people who won't call them out, she says, and who have very weak boundaries.

Sometimes people are passive-aggressive because of how they grew up, Brandt says. For example, people who grew up in a family where one parent is dominant and the other is subservient may be more likely to engage in passive-aggressive behavior. "They learn that powerful and volatile people cannot be approached directly, but it's OK to lie to them, or keep secrets to get what you want," she explains. "For example, we've all heard this: 'We won't tell your father.' That's passive-aggressive behavior."

While everyone exhibits passive-aggressive behavior from time to time -- all you have to do is think about the last time you said "yes" when you meant "no" -- there are some types of people who seem more likely to engage in it. People who are avoidant and afraid of conflict are more likely to be passive-aggressive, as are people who are low in self-esteem and self-confidence "because you've never been given permission to have your feelings, especially your anger," Brandt says.

So how can you best deal with a passive-aggressive person?

1. Identify the behavior for what it is: hostility. "The big thing there is to recognize the phenomenon, the behavior, for what it is -- to see it as a kind of hostility and not be fooled by the innocuousness, the sugar-coatedness of it," Wetzler advises. "Once you recognize it's a sign of hostility, it emboldens you to deal with it."

The biggest mistake people make is to be lenient. Once you give in to passive-aggressive behavior, you lose your options, he explains. "It's critical to see it as a power struggle, and then use the typical tactics one might use in a power struggle."

2. Set limits -- and then follow through. Make it clear that you won't tolerate being mistreated, Wetzler says. If a person is constantly late and it bothers you, make it clear to the person that next time she is late meeting you for a movie, you're just going to go in without her. "That's a kind of limit-setting," Wetzler says. "It's also [a way of saying], 'I'm not going to pay the price for your behavior.'"

3. Talk specifically -- not generally. If you're going to confront a passive-aggressive person, be clear about the issue at hand. A danger of confrontation is that statements turn too global -- phrases like "You're always this way!" won't get you anywhere -- so it's important to confront the person about a specific action. For instance, if the silent treatment is what gets on your nerves, explain that a specific incident where you were given the silent treatment was considered a hostile move. "Call a spade a spade," Wetzler says.

4. Practice assertive communication. There's aggressive communication, there's passive communication, and there's passive-aggressive communication. None of these is as effective as assertive communication, Brandt says.

Assertive communication means being assertive and nonreactive, yet respectful. "You have a sense of confidence, you're collaborative, [there's a sense that] you both want to resolve the problem, in a 'win-win' sort of way," she says. It's also important to listen and not inject accusations or blame into the conversation. "It's not just about getting your way, but taking the other person into consideration as well. Acknowledge the person and validate their feelings, which doesn't mean you have to agree with them."

OK, so everyone can be passive-aggressive sometimes. When you find yourself resorting to this behavior, how can you stop?

Mindfulness, mindfulness, mindfulness, says Brandt. By listening to your body and how you're feeling, you can identify when you're disconnecting your actions from what you think or feel (which is how passive aggression gets stirred up in the first place), she says.

Getting people to recognize that the behavior is a form of self-sabotage is also key. "They don't link the fact that they didn't get the project in on time, or the fact that they didn't get the promotion, with their passive-aggressive behavior," Wetzler says. "They think, 'Oh, the boss is being arbitrary and unfair,' but [don't] think it has to do with their work."

It's also important to recognize that the emotion of anger -- at its root -- is not a bad thing. "Anger has many positive qualities: It tells us when something is wrong, it can help you in terms of getting you to focus, evaluate your values and goals and strengthen your relationships and connections," Brandt explains. So when you feel anger about something, it's OK to express it and directly address it with whom it concerns (using assertive communication, of course).

In that same vein, confronting fear of conflict can go a long way in minimizing passive aggression. In fact, in trying to tamp down on this behavior, you might actually experience more conflict, Wetzler says. "Hopefully that overt conflict can be negotiated and resolved, but it'll be increased because what's swept under the rug [ends up being surfaced] because there actually is a disagreement with something," he explains. "So now you have to have it come to the surface and hash it out. So to some degree, it's being more assertive, willing to engage in confrontation and conflict and being more willing to do things that are constructive that actually may take effort."

Ultimately, stopping passive-aggressive behavior comes down to figuring out what you want, and tuning out all the rest. Some people are so overly aware of what other people think and expect of them, so they just go along with it -- at their own expense. "They're not thinking of what they actually want; it's all about the other party's agenda ... they're not willing to say, 'But this is what I want.'"

The solution, then, is to listen to your own voice. "[Turn] down the volume on the external voice," Wetzler says. "Then you have a sense of direction."

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#3 [Permalink] Posted on 27th June 2014 08:26
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I find passive-aggressive people to be very manipulative. I recently received information on passive, aggressive and passive-aggressive behavior.

The thing that struck me the most was people who are either one of the above, don't know they fit into one of these categories. Until the person themselves are not willing to accept their is an issue they cannot address issues.

Br.Maripat is it possible for you to post definition of all 3 extremes...because I was only sent information when I stated I didn't know the difference between them all....and where a person should be in balance.

I have found many practicing brothers and sisters either oppressing or being oppressed due to not knowing the limits or exceeding in either passive or aggressive behavior due to not balancing between them. At the end of the day it has a knock on effect in the way we live and in being able to fulfill the rights of people. An extremely important subject in my opinion.

جزاك الله خيرا
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#4 [Permalink] Posted on 27th June 2014 12:02
Insha'Allah looking forward to the Islamic take & solution to this as the recommended strategies are to individual focused it would seem.

~~~

Quote:
People who are avoidant and afraid of conflict are more likely to be passive-aggressive, as are people who are low in self-esteem and self-confidence "because you've never been given permission to have your feelings, especially your anger," Brandt says.


Speaking as a woman, sadly I see many Muslim women dealing passive aggressively with each other, breaking the spirit of sisterhood, breaking hearts, breaking trust, and leaving others frustrated, confused and hurt.

"...everyone can be passive-aggressive sometimes."

Those on the receiving end too.

Also, some "environments" seem to be better suited for such tactics. Unfortunately forums are one such environment.

May Allah Ta'aala help us and grant us understanding. Ameen.
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#5 [Permalink] Posted on 29th June 2014 06:36
Taalibah wrote:
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Ladies usually take a pragmatic view of the things and sister you have done the same in above post. (This statement is meant as a complement.)

But you have missed a subtle point.
There are passive people. This tendency, at the end of the day, is disadvantageous.

Then there are aggressive people.
These people are nuisance.

The third category that Amanda Cahn is talking about is completely different from the two constituting categories enumerated above.

So while looking at passive aggressive people we need not go into the details of the behaviour of passive people and aggressive people.

The task is how to deal with such people as well as how avoid from falling into this pit ourselves.

That is the task we face in our life - Muslims or non-Muslims.

As Muslims we face an additional task. We must know the Islamic solution to this problem. We should not forget that psychology, as it stands today, is completely influenced by atheistic values because of mainly Freud but he was not the only atheist influencing this important academic and practical tool.

Lord Most High willing I shall keep adding my on views on the matters but I invite all interested people and particularly the trained people, trained either in mysticism or in psychology or both, to contribute.

At SF I missed Dr Abdul1234 who was a trained psychiatrist as well as a concerned person and I miss him here.
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#6 [Permalink] Posted on 29th June 2014 06:46
Acacia wrote:
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Women's world is a world in itself - with all its diversities, disasters as well as opportunities. But the trouble created by men using the passive-aggression tool is not insignificant. The night before last I got a call from a close family member and he drained me completely in less than a minute. My most dynamic cousin died in an accident but the caller had different designs. He wanted me to acknowledge that the affect of the tragedy on him is more significant than the tragedy itself.
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#7 [Permalink] Posted on 29th June 2014 10:50
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Yes this was explained in this manner due to dealing with special needs children/adults who are vulnerable due to being passive by nature. Passive people generally being at the end of vulnerability due to their nature. I understood passive and aggressive, but not passive aggressive...I have been reading up on it which has been a great insight, and at present dealing with a passive aggressive person, traits are more noticeable and easy to iidentify. Yes definitely a nuisance not only to themselves but also to others around them. Hence the word 'manipulative' was used, whether it's done with intent, Allahuallam.

Which leads to my next question do passive aggressive purposely manipulate, lie, deceive....do they act and speak with awareness of their own behaviour, especially when they are practicing and fully aware of the consequences of such behavior.
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#8 [Permalink] Posted on 19th March 2015 08:44
Make a crying face


In the supplications chapter we are told to make a crying face even if we can not actually cry.

Some people might say what is the use of this play acting if you are not feeling like crying?

Hear it from Paul Ekman, world's foremost expert on micro-emotions.

When you make facial expression relevant for an emotion you start feeling that emotion.

Our Elder's point proven scientifically.
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#9 [Permalink] Posted on 19th March 2015 12:58
Maripat wrote:
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And this is precisely why the Prophet (saw) was always smiling, it has an effect on oneself. The facial muscles effect the way we become and how we feel etc etc.

This too has been proven by science.
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#10 [Permalink] Posted on 20th March 2015 06:12
Stephen Fry on American Humour


(1) Americans refuge to see themselves in negative light.
(2) In an American book shop bar far the biggest section is on self-help and improvement.
(3) Americans believe that life can be refined and improved.
(4) They believe in doing things by texts as opposed to doing by submission.
(5) American comic hero is a wise cracker and above the idiots around him. He is a smart cookie.
(6) British comic wants to play the failure, the baffoon. They are not upper echelons, they try to be decent.
Their lack of dignity is embarassing.
(7) Comedy is the microcosm that allows us to compare two cultures ( American and British.)
(8) American comic is a winner while we celebrate our failure.

I am interested in the selp-help segment of above argument.

Source : YT
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#11 [Permalink] Posted on 10th December 2015 10:59
Psychology of Leadership


We are not the first Muslims to mull and pondr over the problems of Muslim Ummah.
People have been doing that all the time.
For example in india the talk usually centres around the lack of leadership amongst Muslims.
People say, and non-Muslims agree, that the problems of Muslims remain unsolved because they do not have leaders to solve them.

In reality you can create leaders only if you have an ideology for leadership.
That is a significant step towards solving our problems.
There was Allam Iqbal who was a mighty intellectual of his times.
Yet he was no leader in the sense of mass leadership on the political ground.
He relegated and delegated that task to Muhammed Ali Jinnah.
That is how things get done.

(One may not talk of this paradigm in India - the antagonism towards Pakistan is phenomenal here.)

So armchair activism, keyboard activity might look useless but it is extremely potent.
Never underestimate it.
Create your ideological basis so that your would be leaders can take up the task on the ground level.

Do you task and then expect others to do theirs.

Madarsa/Khanqah/Tabligh people have done their task. We have not. Go about it.
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#12 [Permalink] Posted on 18th October 2016 05:52
Lie to Me: Season 1 Episode 12


Psychology was always important in human life.
In todays times it has become much more important and extremely important in many ways.
We Muslims should have been the foremost in this field because of our ages old expertise in things spiritual.
To protect our life space from encroachment we must pay special attention to this discipline.
Unfortunately our efforts in this direction are the least.
Psychology is not my prime specialization. I keep hopping between a zillion different topics that are of interest for the Ummah of beloved Prophet PBUH because I consider them all important for her future.
Hence I dabble in psychology too.

I exhort the youth of the Ummah to take up this discipline as their specialization.
And to use their abilities to bolster the defences of the Ummah.
To enrich the Ummah.

In this post I discuss Episode 12 of Season 1 of an American TV series called Lie to Me. (IMDB, Wikipedia, Photographs, ) It was aired on May 6, 2009.

Comments by Paul Ekman



Season 1, Episode 12 “Blinded” (Source )

“Blinded” – Liar or Sociopath?

Foster calls Jenkins a pathological liar; and so does Lightman later in the program. I think the portrayal of Jenkins better fits a sociopath: anti-social, manipulative and exploitive of others for his own entertainment, and charmingly socially skilled. Sociopaths only lie when it suits their purposes, they are not compelled to lie. Just such a compulsion reputedly is what characterizes pathological liars, who are said to lie even when the target knows they are lying, even when they don’t benefit from the lie. I have examined a few people who claimed to be pathological liars but I was not convinced they had no choice. I doubt there really are such people.

“Blinded” – Baseline

Jenkins cleverly lies about everything to prevent the establishment of a baseline — a standard of what he is like when he is truthful. Changes from the baseline are crucial for spotting lies. Jenkins knows this and that is why early in the program he never tells the truth; it is not that he is compelled to lie, he chooses to lie to defeat Lightman’s team.

“Blinded” – Nostril Flare

The prison guard’s nostril flair could be a sign of fear, but it also occurs with anger and sadness. The only way to tell which emotion it is would be by the expression on the face, but the actor playing the guard doesn’t show an expression of any emotion that I could see when he flared his nostrils.

“Blinded” – Look Away

Looking down and away can be a sign of shame but it also occurs in disgust. Which it is could be revealed by the facial expressions but the guard again doesn’t show much.

“Blinded” – Onset of Anger

Anger can come on slowly, but sometimes genuine anger can be abrupt; it depends on the person and the circumstance. But false anger often has a jagged or stepped, rather than smooth onset onto the face.

******************* Comments Over ***************

The series is based on the work of American psychologist Paul Ekman. (Wikipedia, Facebook, MicroExpressions)

He specialises in something called micro expressions, these are the expressions that leak for very short duration on our faces when we try to hide our true feelings.

He has based his work on past experts. First there is a lesser known work of Charles Darwin ( The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, 1872), then the work of a French psychologist Duchenne De Boulogne whose work was published decade prior to Darwin.

Internet says that Paul Ekman is world's foremost human decption expert. We shall allow Paul ekman to defend that.
The series Lie to Me is applied version of that.
Clearly these episodes are made up stories.
Brainy as well as slightly obtuse but not devoid of interest entirely.

Above mentioned episode is about dealing with a psychopath/sociopath in action.
Like corruption ( refer to a quotation by Edward Gibbon) sociopaths/psychopaths are gift of democracy to mankind.
In non-democratic system sociopaths/psychopaths do not thrive. Every trouble maker is a threat to the top man in non-democratic systems and such trouble makers are taken care of at a very early stage. And when the top man is weak a psychopath rises rather quickly to the top. Caligula, Vlad the Dracula are the examples. In democracy their climb is even easier.

Modern society has to be alert about the dangers posed by the sociopaths/psychopaths.
We all have met them.
But we try very hard not to remeber them - they are sheer bad news that we simply do not want to confront.
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#13 [Permalink] Posted on 13th June 2017 12:16
On Psychopaths



We think of psychopaths as killers, alien, outside society. But, says the scientist who has spent his life studying them, you could have one for a colleague, a friend – or a spouse

There are a few things we take for granted in social interactions with people. We presume that we see the world in roughly the same way, that we all know certain basic facts, that words mean the same things to you as they do to me. And we assume that we have pretty similar ideas of right and wrong.

But for a small – but not that small – subset of the population, things are very different. These people lack remorse and empathy and feel emotion only shallowly. In extreme cases, they might not care whether you live or die. These people are called psychopaths. Some of them are violent criminals, murderers. But by no means all.

Professor Robert Hare is a criminal psychologist, and the creator of the PCL-R, a psychological assessment used to determine whether someone is a psychopath. For decades, he has studied people with psychopathy, and worked with them, in prisons and elsewhere. “It stuns me, as much as it did when I started 40 years ago, that it is possible to have people who are so emotionally disconnected that they can function as if other people are objects to be manipulated and destroyed without any concern,” he says.

Our understanding of the brain is still in its infancy, and it’s not so many decades since psychological disorders were seen as character failings. Slowly we are learning to think of mental illnesses as illnesses, like kidney disease or liver failure, and developmental disorders, such as autism, in a similar way. Psychopathy challenges this view. “A high-scoring psychopath views the world in a very different way,” says Hare. “It’s like colour-blind people trying to understand the colour red, but in this case ‘red’ is other people’s emotions.”

At heart, Hare’s test is simple: a list of 20 criteria, each given a score of 0 (if it doesn’t apply to the person), 1 (if it partially applies) or 2 (if it fully applies). The list in full is: glibness and superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, cunning/manipulative, lack of remorse, emotional shallowness, callousness and lack of empathy, unwillingness to accept responsibility for actions, a tendency to boredom, a parasitic lifestyle, a lack of realistic long-term goals, impulsivity, irresponsibility, lack of behavioural control, behavioural problems in early life, juvenile delinquency, criminal versatility, a history of “revocation of conditional release” (ie broken parole), multiple marriages, and promiscuous sexual behaviour. A pure, prototypical psychopath would score 40. A score of 30 or more qualifies for a diagnosis of psychopathy. Hare says: “A friend of mine, a psychiatrist, once said: ‘Bob, when I meet someone who scores 35 or 36, I know these people really are different.’ The ones we consider to be alien are the ones at the upper end.”

But is psychopathy a disorder – or a different way of being? Anyone reading the list above will spot a few criteria familiar from people they know. On average, someone with no criminal convictions scores 5. “It’s dimensional,” says Hare. “There are people who are part-way up the scale, high enough to warrant an assessment for psychopathy, but not high enough up to cause problems. Often they’re our friends, they’re fun to be around. They might take advantage of us now and then, but usually it’s subtle and they’re able to talk their way around it.” Like autism, a condition which we think of as a spectrum, “psycho­pathy”, the diagnosis, bleeds into normalcy.

We think of psychopaths as killers, criminals, outside society. People such as Joanna Dennehy, a 31-year-old British woman who killed three men in 2013 and who the year before had been diagnosed with a psychopathic personality disorder, or Ted Bundy, the American serial killer who is believed to have murdered at least 30 people and who said of himself: “I’m the most cold-blooded son of a bitch you’ll ever meet. I just liked to kill.”


But many psychopathic traits aren’t necessarily disadvantages – and might, in certain circumstances, be an advantage. For their co-authored book, “Snakes in suits: When Psychopaths go to work”, Hare and another researcher, Paul Babiak, looked at 203 corporate professionals and found about four per cent scored sufficiently highly on the PCL-R to be evaluated for psychopathy.

Hare says that this wasn’t a proper random sample (claims that “10 per cent of financial executives” are psychopaths are certainly false) but it’s easy to see how a lack of moral scruples and indifference to other people’s suffering could be beneficial if you want to get ahead in business.

“There are two kinds of empathy,” says James Fallon, a neuroscientist at the University of California and author of The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain. “Cognitive empathy is the ability to know what other people are feeling, and emotional empathy is the kind where you feel what they’re feeling.”

Autistic people can be very empathetic – they feel other people’s pain – but are less able to recognise the cues we read easily, the smiles and frowns that tell us what someone is thinking. Psychopaths are often the opposite: they know what you’re feeling, but don’t feel it themselves. “This all gives certain psychopaths a great advantage, because they can understand what you’re thinking, it’s just that they don’t care, so they can use you against yourself.” (Chillingly, psychopaths are particularly adept at detecting vulnerability. A 2008 study that asked participants to remember virtual characters found that those who scored highly for psychopathy had a near perfect recognition for sad, unsuccessful females, but impaired memory for other characters.)

Fallon himself is a case in point. In 2005, he was looking at brain scans of psychopathic murderers, while on another study, of Alzheimer’s, he was using scans of his own family’s brains as controls. In the latter pile, he found something strange. “You can’t tell just from a brain scan whether someone’s a psychopath,” he says, “but you can make a good guess at the personality traits they’ll have.”

He describes a great loop that starts in the front of the brain including the parahippocampal gyrus and the amygdala and other regions tied to emotion and impulse control and empathy. Under certain circumstances they would light up dramatically on a normal person’s MRI scan, but would be darker on a psychopath’s.

“I saw one that was extremely abnormal, and I thought this is someone who’s way off. It looked like the murderers I’d been looking at,” he says. He broke the anonymisation code in case it had been put into the wrong pile. When he did, he discovered it was his own brain. “I kind of blew it off,” he says. “But later, some psychiatrist friends of mine went through my behaviours, and they said, actually, you’re probably a borderline psychopath.”

Speaking to him is a strange experience; he barely draws breath in an hour, in which I ask perhaps three questions. He explains how he has frequently put his family in danger, exposing his brother to the deadly Marburg virus and taking his son trout-fishing in the African countryside knowing there were lions around. And in his youth, “if I was confronted by authority – if I stole a car, made pipe bombs, started fires – when we got caught by the police I showed no emotion, no anxiety”.

Yet he is highly successful, driven to win. He tells me things most people would be uncomfortable saying: that his wife says she’s married to a “fun-loving, happy-go-lucky nice guy” on the one hand, and a “very dark character who she does not like” on the other. He’s pleasant, and funny, if self-absorbed, but I can’t help but think about the criteria in Hare’s PCL-R: superficial charm, lack of emotional depth, grandiose sense of self-worth. “I look like hell now, Tom,” he says – he’s 66 – “but growing up I was good-looking, six foot, 180lb, athletic, smart, funny, popular.” (Hare warns against non-professionals trying to diagnose people using his test, by the way.)

“Psychopaths do think they’re more rational than other people, that this isn’t a deficit,” says Hare. “I met one offender who was certainly a psychopath who said ‘My problem is that according to psychiatrists I think more with my head than my heart. What am I supposed to do about that? Am I supposed to get all teary-eyed?’” Another, asked if he had any regrets about stabbing a robbery victim, replied: “Get real! He spends a few months in hospital and I rot here. If I wanted to kill him I would have slit his throat. That’s the kind of guy I am; I gave him a break.”

And yet, as Hare points out, when you’re talking about people who aren’t criminals, who might be successful in life, it’s difficult to categorise it as a disorder. “It’d be pretty hard for me to go into high-level political or economic or academic context and pick out all the most successful people and say, ‘Look, I think you’ve got some brain deficit.’ One of my inmates said that his problem was that he’s a cat in a world of mice. If you compare the brainwave activity of a cat and a mouse, you’d find they were quite different.”

It would, says Hare, probably have been an evolutionarily successful strategy for many of our ancestors, and can be successful today; adept at manipulating people, a psychopath can enter a community, “like a church or a cultural organisation, saying, ‘I believe the same things you do’, but of course what we have is really a cat pretending to be a mouse, and suddenly all the money’s gone”. At this point he floats the name Bernie Madoff.

This brings up the issue of treatment. “Psychopathy is probably the most pleasant-feeling of all the mental disorders,” says the journalist Jon Ronson, whose book, The Psychopath Test, explored the concept of psychopathy and the mental health industry in general. “All of the things that keep you good, morally good, are painful things: guilt, remorse, empathy.” Fallon agrees: “Psychopaths can work very quickly, and can have an apparent IQ higher than it really is, because they’re not inhibited by moral concerns.”

So psychopaths often welcome their condition, and “treating” them becomes complicated. “How many psychopaths go to a psychiatrist for mental distress, unless they’re in prison? It doesn’t happen,” says Hare. The ones in prison, of course, are often required to go to “talk therapy, empathy training, or talk to the family of the victims” – but since psychopaths don’t have any empathy, it doesn’t work. “What you want to do is say, ‘Look, it’s in your own self-interest to change your behaviour, otherwise you’ll stay in prison for quite a while.’ ”


It seems Hare’s message has got through to the UK Department of Justice: in its guidelines for working with personality-disordered inmates, it advises that while “highly psychopathic individuals” are likely to be “highly treatment resistant”, the “interventions most likely to be effective are those which focus on ‘self-interest’ – what the offender wants out of life – and work with them to develop the skills to get those things in a pro-social rather than anti-social way.”

If someone’s brain lacks the moral niceties the rest of us take for granted, they obviously can’t do anything about that, any more than a colour-blind person can start seeing colour. So where does this leave the concept of moral responsibility? “The legal system traditionally asserts that all people standing in front of the judge’s bench are equal. That’s demonstrably false,” says the neuroscientist David Eagleman, author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain.

He suggests that instead of thinking in terms of blameworthiness, the law should deal with the likelihood that someone will reoffend, and issue sentences accordingly, with rehabilitation for those likely to benefit and long sentences for those likely to be long-term dangers. The PCL-R is already used as part of algorithms which categorise people in terms of their recidivism risk. “Life insurance companies do exactly this sort of thing, in actuarial tables, where they ask: ‘What age do we think he’s going to die?’ No one’s pretending they know exactly when we’re going to die. But they can make rough guesses which make for an enormously more efficient system.”

What this doesn’t mean, he says, is a situation like the sci-fi film Minority Report, in which people who are likely to commit crimes are locked up before they actually do. “Here's why,” he says. “It's because many people in the population have high levels of psychopathy – about 1 per cent. But not all of them become criminals. In fact many of them, because of their glibness and charm and willingness to ride roughshod over the people in their way, become quite successful. They become CEOs, professional athletes, soldiers. These people are revered for their courage and their straight talk and their willingness to crush obstacles in their way. Merely having psychopathy doesn't tell us that a person will go off and commit a crime.”


It is central to the justice system, both in Britain and America, that you can’t pre-emptively punish someone. And that won’t ever change, says Eagleman, not just for moral, philosophical reasons, but for practical ones. The Minority Report scenario is a fantasy, because “it's impossible to predict what somebody will do, even given their personality type and everything, because life is complicated and crime is contextual. Once someone has committed a crime, once someone has stepped over a societal boundary, then there's a lot more statistical power about what they're likely to do in future. But until that's happened, you can't ever know.”

Speaking to all these experts, I notice they all talk about psychopaths as “them”, almost as a different species, although they make conscious efforts not to. There’s something uniquely troubling about a person who lacks emotion and empathy; it’s the stuff of changeling stories, the Midwich Cuckoos, Hannibal Lecter. “You know kids who use a magnifying glass to burn ants, thinking, this is interesting,” says Hare. “Translate that to an adult psychopath who treats a person that way. It is chilling.”

At one stage Ronson suggests I speak to another well-known self-described psychopath, a woman, but I can’t bring myself to. I find the idea unsettling, as if he’d suggested I commune with the dead.

Source : Telegraph
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#14 [Permalink] Posted on 2nd May 2018 08:11
I am reading Pankaj Mishra's already famous article Jordan Peterson and Fascist Mysticism.

I realize that Jordan Peterson has become so famous in the west that he is being touted as the most famous public intellectual there.

Sadly he has used or rather misused his psychology training to ascend to this exalted position.

Once upon a time there was Paul Feyeraband, the French philosopher, who tried to tell us that there is no scientific method. effectively he was saying that all science is bunkum.

It took a physicist called Alan Sokal to demolish the whole nefarious anti-science coterie that included the above mentioned philosopher.

Now we have a psychologist who wants to lead the west using his psychological mumbo-jumbo.

Good for the west.

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#15 [Permalink] Posted on 19th December 2018 07:00
Dr Huda Akil's Work on Resilience Issues


Opinion
How to Be More Resilient

Some people are just genetically tougher. But you can train your brain to better handle stress.


By Richard A. Friedman

Dr. Friedman is a psychiatrist and a contributing opinion writer.

Dec. 15, 2018



As a psychiatrist, I’ve long wondered why some people get ill in the face of stress and adversity — either mentally or physically — while others rarely succumb.

We know, for example, that not everyone gets PTSD after exposure to extreme trauma, while some people get disabling depression with minimal or no stress. Likewise, we know that chronic stress can contribute to physical conditions like heart disease and stroke in some people, while others emerge unscathed. What makes people resilient, and is it something they are born with or can it be acquired later in life?

New research suggests that one possible answer can be found in the brain’s so-called central executive network, which helps regulate emotions, thinking and behavior. In a study published last month, Gregory Miller, a psychologist at Northwestern University, and colleagues there and elsewhere used M.R.I. to study the brains of a racially diverse group of 218 people, ages 12 to 14, living in violent neighborhoods in Chicago. They reported that the youths who had higher levels of functional connectivity in the central executive network had better cardiac and metabolic health than their peers with lower levels of connectivity.

What Dr. Miller and his colleagues discovered was that when neighborhood homicide rates went up, the young people’s cardiometabolic risk — as measured by obesity, blood-pressure and insulin levels, among other variables — also increased, but only in youths who showed lower activity in this brain network. This was true even when the researchers controlled for other factors, like psychological distress, economic status, race or ethnicity. No link was found between brain connectivity and cardiometabolic health for youths in neighborhoods with low levels of violence.

One plausible explanation is that greater activity in this network increases self-control, which most likely reduces some unhealthy behaviors people often use to cope with stress, like eating junk food or smoking.

What’s curious is that the more medically hardy young people were no less anxious or depressed than their less fortunate peers, which suggests that while being more resilient makes you less vulnerable to adversity, it doesn’t guarantee happiness — or even an awareness of being resilient.

Of course, this is an observational study, so it cannot prove that the correlation between brain connectivity and health is causal. (It is possible, for example, that baseline cardiometabolic status affected brain connectivity, but it would be hard to understand why this would be observed only in high-violence areas.)

Still, there is good reason to believe the link may be causal because other studies have found that we can change the activity in the self-control network, and increase healthy behaviors, with simple behavioral interventions. For example, mindfulness training, which involves attention control, emotion regulation and increased self-awareness, can increase connectivity within this network and help people to quit smoking.

In one study, two weeks of mindfulness training produced a 60 percent reduction in smoking, compared with no reduction in a control group that focused on relaxation. An M.R.I. following mindfulness training showed increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and prefrontal cortex, key brain areas in the executive self-control network.
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Clearly self-control is one critical component of resilience that can be easily fostered. But there are others.

Huda Akil, a neuroscientist at the University of Michigan who studies the biology of stress and resilience, said in a recent speech: “Active resilience happens when people who are vulnerable find resources to cope with stress and bounce back, and do so in a way that leaves them stronger, ready to handle additional stress, in more adaptive ways.”

Dr. Akil discovered that there are brain molecules that endow us with resilience. For a paper published in 2011, she and colleagues studied the brains of depressed patients who died. They found that the most disrupted genes were those for growth factors, proteins that act like a kind of brain fertilizer.

“We came to realize that depressed people have lost their power to remodel their brains. And that is in fact devastating because brain remodeling is something we need to do all the time — we are constantly rewiring our brains based on past experience and the expectation of how we need to use them in the future,” Dr. Akil said.

Once again, it seems resilience is related to brain connectivity.

Dr. Akil and colleagues at the Pritzker Neuropsychiatric Disorders Research Consortium found that one growth factor that is depleted in depressed brains, called fibroblast growth factor 2, also plays a role in resilience. When they gave it to stressed animals, they bounced back faster and acted less depressed. And when they gave it just once after birth to animals that had been bred for high levels of anxiety and inhibition, they were hardier for the rest of their lives.

Another growth factor, BDNF, promotes neurogenesis in animals and may enhance resilience in humans. The good news is that we have some control over our own brain BDNF levels: Getting more physical exercise and social support, for example, has been shown to increase BDNF.

There is much still to learn about the science of resilience. Perhaps someday we might be able to protect young people exposed to violence and adversity by supplementing them with neuroprotective growth factors. We know enough now to help them by fortifying their brains through exercise, mindfulness training and support systems. And of course we should do all we can to makes these stressful environments less harmful.

Some people have won the genetic sweepstakes and are naturally tough. But there is plenty the rest of us can do to be more resilient and healthier.

Source : NYT
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