Laura’s Psychology Blog

One Professor’s Observations of the World of Psychology….   

June 30, 2010

Nightline Tonight: Psychiatric Torture or Treatment?

Filed under: autism,General Psychology,Psychology — Laura Freberg @ 11:13 am

My friends at mindfreedom.org passed along an important news release to me about tonight’s Nightline show. Given my late brother’s connection with Nightline (Leroy served as Executive Producer for many years), I am more than happy to do so. 

The issue under discussion is the use of restraint and electric shock on children and adults with severe disabilities. Back in the 60s, UCLA’s Ivar Lovaas came under considerable fire for suggesting electric shock used in operant condition to stop self-injurious behavior. Dr. Matthew Israel’s rebuttal to the MDRI’s concerns on behalf of the Judge Rotenberg Center, linked below, presents a similar view.

As the parent of a daughter with autism, this is a very painful topic, as I can’t imagine allowing anyone to hurt my child. In 2010, we have to find better ways of managing problem behavior. At the same time, I have not had to face the challenges of the parents and families served by the JRC.

You can read the Judge Rotenberg rebuttal to the MDRI here.

Washington, DC – June 30, 2010 – Mental Disability Rights 
International’s (MDRI) latest report and “urgent appeal” to the United 
Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, to demand the United States 
government end the torture of people with disabilities immediately, 
will be the topic of tonight’s ABC Nightline.

Torture not Treatment: Electric Shock and Long-Term Restraint in the 
United States on Children and Adults with Disabilities at the Judge 
Rotenberg Center (JRC), documents the use of electric shocks on the 
legs, arms, torsos and soles of feet of children and adults with 
disabilities – for weeks, months and sometimes years. JRC uses 
punishments as treatment and US advocates have been trying for decades 
to close the school and end these practices.

Nightline host, Cynthia McFadden, interviewed MDRI Executive Director 
Eric Rosenthal, JD and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on 
Torture, Manfred Nowak for the piece.

Laurie Ahern, President of MDRI and author of the report, states, “The 
cruelty perpetrated against children and adults at JRC is 
psychological and physical abuse, couched in the name of ‘treatment.’ 
The severe pain and suffering leveled against residents there violates 
the United Nations Convention against Torture.”

MDRI is an international human rights organization dedicated to the 
rights protection and full participation in society of people with 
disabilities worldwide.

ABC Nightline airs at 11:30 pm EST, following your local news. Be sure 
and check your local listings.
###

June 29, 2010

readings in psych for June 29th 2010

Filed under: a current story,Biological Psychology,Psychology — Laura Freberg @ 2:21 pm
are we alien food?

Like in "Galaxy Guest", Stephen Hawking warns that a few of these species might be intelligent and threaten Earth. Contact with such species might be devastating for humanity. What do you think?

Here are a few of my favorite readings for today:

age doesn’t necessarily affect decision making

But a new study from North Carolina State University shows that when it comes to making intuitive decisions — using your “gut instincts” — older adults fare as well as their juniors.”

why couples fight

“All couples in committed relationships have disagreements and arguments, and most fights are driven by two fundamental concerns, new research finds.”

working together to kick the habit

“…The two-year project is an example of innovative ‘action research’, where researchers address issues and solve social problems in tandem with the local community.”

a pacemaker for your brain?

‘”We are attaching the chip to the brain to stimulate relatively simple brain behaviors,” says Prof. Mintz. A controlled treatment for drug resistant epilepsy, based on the team’s technology, could be only a few years away, he says.’

June 28, 2010

Where Neuromarketing and Politics Meet…

Here in California, we just finished another primary election, and I find it personally refreshing to get a short break from the phone calls and mailers, at least until November rolls around. As I watch little if any network television (with the notable exception of college football), I am at least spared the indignity of having all of this negativity spewed into my own living room.

For those of us who find contemporary politicking unpleasant at best, neuroscience offers a solution! You don’t like politicians’ speeches you say? Well, enter the experts at MindSign, who promise to “take your political speech, both video and or audio and compare it to our database to see if speech is more or less activating than the average brain response for all similar speeches over each and every demographic and political affiliation.”  Oh, they will evaluate your print ads, television ads, and website, too, for $2000 per participant hour plus time needed to prepare reports (they recommend a minimum of 16 participants). So if you don’t like one speech, hey–no worries–they’ll come up with another one you’ll love, tailored to whatever “political affiliation” niche you occupy!

What Exactly Does "Brain Activation" Mean?

Now the word in all of this that catches my eye is “activating.”  I’m sure the MindSign website is a bit dummied down (couldn’t find much in the way of technical data there or published reports), but to me, “activation” of the brain can mean many things–maybe the brain is “activated” because you really hate something.

I understand the need to get the most “bang for the advertising buck,” but shouldn’t politicians be sharing their real views with voters instead of whatever they think we want to hear? I find it somewhat disturbing that the political services page on MindSign is called “Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Once again, technology races along far ahead of any type of discussion about the ethics of its use.

Psychology readings for June 28th 2010

Filed under: a current story,Biological Psychology — Laura Freberg @ 8:13 am
My daughter Karla's excellent drawing of a 'snake' with reference

My daughter Karla's excellent drawing of a 'snake' with reference

Here are a couple of fun things to read for today!

Psychotropic medications can cause birth defects

“A new study shows that use of psychotropic medications during pregnancy increase the probability of birth defects.”

the ‘moon illusion’ and the recent eclipse

“According to Nasa, low-hanging Moons look “unnaturally large when they beam through trees, buildings and other foreground objects”. The reason for this is not understood.”

sighted and blind person’s brain location for tool manipulation is the same in the brain

“Blind people think about manipulating tools in the same regions of the brain as do people who can see, according to a new study.”

June 24, 2010

my readings for June 24th 2010

Filed under: a current story,Biological Psychology — Laura Freberg @ 5:00 pm
CLICK on picture to review my 2nd edition of Discovering Biological Psychology

CLICK on picture to review my 2nd edition of Discovering Biological Psychology

Here are a few articles that I found interesting:

young children are skilled negotiators

“Young children are skilled negotiators when it comes to relationships and the content of play, reveals a thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.”

Loneliness and poor health appear to be related

“Hoarding friends on Facebook — or followers on Twitter — won’t do much to stave off loneliness if those relationships lack any kind of strong connection, new research finds.”

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-------- Nietzsche

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