Saturday, May 26, 2018

Continued Teenage Violence Part 2

This brings to mind research conducted by Harry Harlow with rhesus monkeys at the University of Wisconsin and the development of attachment. In a series of experiments, Harlow and associates constructed a wire-mesh “mother” and a wire- mesh “mother” covered with Terry cloth. Even though the wire mesh mother, had a bottle attached to its wire mesh chest, these infant monkeys preferred the terrycloth mother. With the terrycloth mother, the infant rhesus monkeys preferred them; it reduced their fear, and these monkeys were more likely to explore the open space around the strange and threatening wire- mesh mother. According to theory, attachment was not established with the wire meshed “mother.” Let’s apply infant attachment to humans and the psychological ability to develop a sense of trust and security. It’s my guess, that the 17-year-old perpetrator had a wire- mesh caretaker and thus was unable develop a sense of trust and developed a sense of mistrust Instead. When the development of trust is impaired, the humankind emotionally experiences an unhealthy degree of anxiety and insecurity. He can no longer expect that his safety and other needs are going to be met by significant others or by our institutions. This results in frustration and anger. The displacement of this anger can be directed toward self and others that have foreign ideas, beliefs and attitudes. This is coupled with the reliance on self to meet one’s needs. Thus, this personality type developed an unhealthy degree of narcissism. Unfortunately, this character type also developed emotional impairment, sadomasochistic tendencies and violent behavior patterns. Prior to the industrial civilization, we experienced a “we or us” psychological mentality. However, we have evolved, and currently the focus is on individuality, becoming all that you can be, striving to meet one’s potential, acquiring as much wealth as possible in the “ me” narcissistic culture. Just keep on buying, whether it’s that dream house, exotic vacation, latest app, fastest sports car or latest killing weapon. And remember, according to capitalism, greed and debt are good as they further, the economic dynamics of those in the 1%. However, there is widespread alienation, isolation, emotional disturbance among our population. The statistics on violence, suicide, drug abuse, accidents and economic variability are symptoms. There is a major gap between what once was “real” family and the current inability of the government and political system to take over all those necessary caretaking functions. These troubled homegrown killer- victims have fallen through the cracks and stand out like a sore thumb with their acts of violence. Society has not yet created the institutions for creating an emotionally close, safety net with ideal surrogate parenting for all.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Continued Teenage Violence

A 17-year-old shooter murdered 10 at his Santa Fe High School near Houston, Texas. This weaponized student, regardless of a security adult, created havoc. All it takes for death and destruction is one Rambo like figure with a killing weapon. We have glorified this protagonist type over and over again in fiction, TV scripts, video games, and on the big screen. Good and evil is played out, but the lines get blurred between what is appropriate and honorable versus what is bad and deplorable. Do the ends justify the means, as the hero performs numerous killings? Prior to the Industrial Revolution, we had “family. “ This meant that within a nuclear family, each member contributed to the welfare of the whole group. Sons worked alongside father daily without complaint and daughters assisted their mother as well. Education was provided in many different forms and ways. If a family member was sick, they were cared for by the family. If there was death to the father or mother, the eldest stepped in and took over the reins. Nurturance, support and child rearing was the job and task of the family members. Neighbors were good neighbors and if one neighbor experienced some form of hardship, other neighbors came to their aid. There was not an exchange of money for assisting with the building of a structure or with the planting and harvesting of crops. Altruism existed and one could expect, that in hardship, the neighborhood community would be there with hands-on help. On the other hand, if there was a killing, then that community would take care of the problem. There was no external police force or court system that would apply law and order. Nowadays, we have institutions that provide for education, social services, employment, police and military, incarceration, Social Security, health insurance, and other functions that were once handled by family. We now have foster care and babysitters to rear the children. We have psychologists, psychiatrists with psychotropic meds, and social workers to provide for remediating the emotional needs for those with interpersonal, social and individual difficulties. We have teachers, counselors, principles, providing assistance for mass, universal education. We have doctors, nurses, hospitals providing for the physically ill. To Be Continued

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Pill

I recently became aware, thanks to the February 26, 2018 edition of Time, of a relatively new antiaging product in this $250 billion industry. This molecule is found in all living cells and critical for regulating cellular aging and maintaining proper functioning of the whole body. It is called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide or NAD +. According to David Sinclair a co-director for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School, “It’s one of the most important molecules for life to exist, and without it, you’re dead within 30 seconds.” During aging, levels of NAD+ in people and animals diminish. Recently, researchers found that by increasing levels of NAD+ in older mice it resulted in them looking, acting younger and it increased their life expectancy. In fact, the NAD+ levels rose significantly, and in about a week, the tissues and muscles of the older mice looked similar to that of younger mice. Some testimonials of individuals taking NAD+ in pill form. “Sinclair…. does not experience hangovers and jetlagged like he used to, he talks faster, and feels sharper and younger. His father takes it to. He’s 78 and used to act like Eeyore … Now he is going on 6 day hikes and traveling around the world.” Another co-director Leonard Guarente “It’s not intended to extend people’s life spans, but to help them stay healthier for longer.” And Sir Richard Roberts, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine “the only difference I’ve noticed is that the skin on my elbows is smoother than it used to be. Whether it’s Basis [Name of the supplement] or something else, I have no idea.” By bringing Basis to the market as a supplement and not as a drug, it’s not required to undergo years of clinical research and FDA approval. Also, a number of Nobel laureates have endorsed the supplement, but have not reported whether or not they have been paid. Because I would like to run forever, this product interests me. I have entered a tough 10 mile trail competition this Saturday. Having a three month trial, I will compare my running time to previous races over the last five years. After this Coloma River Run, I’ll evaluate and determine whether or not I’ll continue taking this anti – aging product. Eliminating hangovers, jet lags, talking faster, and traveling around the world are not my priorities. However, being able to run daily is important for me. Remember, my motto is “keep moving. PS Tony is joining me on the Coloma River Run. He doesn’t believe in taking supplements. However, after the run, we will compare our running times, and likely laugh. Once my wife Linda heard about this aid and my intention, she said “I want to start taking this pill too.”

Friday, May 11, 2018

One Step In Front of the Other

I was disappointed with the article “Why Men Quit and Women Don’t” found in the April 22, 2018 edition of The New York Times. This article was based on the results of the 2018, Boston Marathon. In this 26.1 mile run, 5% of men did not finish compared to 3.8% women. The writer gave her opinion as to the difference. She cited old wives tale like women are tougher. She said women have higher pain tolerance because they give birth; and women may be better able to realistically evaluate their expectations based on the circumstances. This year’s run was wet and cold. She also stated that women have a higher ratio of body fat compared to men and females exhibit more nurturing behavior than males. However, she didn’t cite any reference sources to support these claims. First of all, the Boston Marathon is the most prestigious and oldest run in the United States. On the other hand, it’s not a particularly difficult marathon. It has limited elevation gain and an absence of natural obstacles like in a trail marathon. Second, the only conclusion that one can make is that this year 5% of men did not finish compared to 3.8% of the women in this particular marathon. We don’t know if those percentages/numbers are statistically significant or not. The outcome may be by based on chance alone. A simple test employing a .95 confidence level, would conclude that 95 times out of 100, we would have that numerical difference. Third, we don’t have a random sample of men and women, so we can’t conclude that women are tougher and don’t quit. Let’s face it, a random sample of men and women cannot run a marathon. In order to run the Boston Marathon, one has to qualify based on age parameters. Fourth, any race, over 26.1 miles is considered an ultra-run. So employing a 26.1 mile variable, for one particular race, on one particular day and using that to generalize the results is preposterous. Why not use a 50 K, a 50 miler, a 100 K or a 100 mile run? Then, employing a scientific method, one might be able to generalize the relationship between toughness and ultra-running. A friend and a three-time winner of the 100 mile Western States trail run, reportedly might quit that race if he is not likely to win. Another friend, a former US 100 K record holder, was pulled from the Western States trail run at 94 miles [No Hands Bridge] and spent the next few days in the hospital recovering. He was paced by another world class runner, a female nurse and friend. When age 63, in 2003, I pulled from the Western States trail run at 62 miles. At the time, I was unaware that I couldn’t stand up straight and had to hold myself up using my pacer as a support. I knew something was wrong, but couldn’t and didn’t understand what it was at that time. Quitting a running race, has to do with many variables, and tolerance to pain, maybe just one of them. Be careful about generalizing based on faulty assumptions as well as not employing a scientific method. To learn about mental toughness, I refer you to my book “Bo’s Warriors Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football. Chapter 10 is about Mike Keller, who was an All-American at the University Michigan and the number 64th pick by the world champion Dallas Cowboys. Mike, after his playing career ended, worked in the front office for both the Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks. He also worked in the front office for the Michigan Panthers of the USFL, as well as the Scottish Claymore Football Team in NFL Europe. His insights regarding the mental toughness of professional football players is second to none.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Healthy Aging

The February 16, 2018, edition of Time, raised the question “Do Religious People Live Longer?” This article identified studies or research related to church, temple and mosque attendance; and the use of prayer and its impact on longevity. In the initial section, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2016, was cited. According to the Time article, the results indicated that women that attended a religious service more than once a week had a 33% lower chance of dying during a 16 year study follow-up period. A second study published in PLOS One found that regular service attendance was linked to reductions in stress and even mortality. These worshipers were 55% less likely to die in the 18 year follow-up. A number of variables that may or may not have been addressed in these two studies come to mind. 1. There was statistical significance in the first study for women and apparently for both men and women in the second study. Why, the difference? 2. What were the worshiper’s ages in both studies? 3. What was the socioeconomic status of the worshipers? 4. The BMI index, pre health conditions and other health issues in both studies needs to be addressed in order to give some assessment as to the physical health of the subjects being studied. There is another significant variable that may be a valuable component in this research. Previous research studies regarding aging have identified that loneliness was a significant variable associated with health and longevity. As we are social animals, it is not surprising that being connected with and to other humans is important. Attending a group on a regular basis, significantly contributes to becoming a member. Perhaps, these two studies were measuring human connections provided by group affiliation and association. Studies attempting to evaluate prayer, disease outcomes, and long-term survival are inconclusive at this point. For example, a study published by the American Heart Journal, found a surprising result. In this study, people, undergoing heart surgery, were told that there were others praying for them. Unfortunately, these surgeries experienced more complications than a control group. Maybe, you can’t leave your praying to someone else before you have heart surgery. Praying can be thought of as self-talk. Positive self-talk or positive praying allows one to have a single focus, and can become associated with deep breathing or relaxation. We know that relaxation is beneficial for one’s health as it reduces stress, and eliminates external influences/noises and distractions. Deep breathing becomes yoga like .Furthermore, Yoga has been associated with decreases in both heart rate and blood pressure. I support yoga as well as positive self-talk messages. Prayers and going to church, temple or mosque may result in long-term aging and may have to do in meeting affiliative needs and combating loneliness. However, what good would long-term aging be for the mentally and physically unhealthy with conditions like depression, Alzheimer’s, dementia, diabetes, or some other discomfort? We know that some organizations are toxic and hateful. So join your groups carefully. For me, a more realistic pursuit would be creating a healthier lifestyle. In fact, I provided 7 such prescriptions in my book “It Has Nothing To Do With Age.”

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Trouble with Civilization Part 3

Before the birth of Christ, we had oral and written language that governed human behavior with its various consequences. Within the evolutionary development of man, with the creation of large groups of people, rulers surfaced and implemented strategies to correct, control and limit man’s food, sexual, aggressive, and dominance needs. Per the 10 Commandments, swearing, honoring the father and mother, not murdering and committing adultery, not stealing, not lying and not coveting were considered affronts to God if broken. Marriage and monogamy were created, established and expected to be the norm. How’s that working out? The United States currently has produced the most advanced killing operation ever. Doesn’t that fact contradict the Judeo-Christian “thou shall not kill” rule? The 10 Commandments and the Hammurabi code correlates with the establishment of civilization. Now, man’s inhumanity to man was exacerbated. Since 12,000 BC, group and individual violence has dramatically increased. Mythical reasons such as my God is the only true God; belief in one God; fighting for land or territory; fighting for national resources; fighting for national interests were some of the reasons given to go to war in order to kill. Nowadays, killing and maiming, has become more widespread by mentally sick sadomasochistic individuals. Start with man’s nature; thwart growth by creating an atmosphere of insecurity, hate and prejudice; market Second Amendment mythology; produce a plethora of guns and military weapons, and you have a recipe for evil. Man’s nature is man’s nature. At this juncture, man’s aggressive drive and cruelty toward others is the biggest threat toward peace within our civilization. I wonder, if it’s possible for this society to reduce mechanisms that produce inequality and transpose it into equality reforms between and among people? We must first take into account man’s insecurity, sexual and aggressive drives and needs for dominance and promote rationality. In other words, a society based on humanistic principles can be a start. For instance, it’s necessary to eliminate man made prejudicial distinctions, divisions, and/ or illusions such as upper, middle, lower, white and black; patricians and plebeians; male and female and the rich and the poor. Unregulated classifications and divisions between people would nullify the myths that justify making some people legally, socially, morally and politically superior. If man’s evolution does not occur, we can expect continued acts of violence against other humans. Extinction follows. Sources: Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud; Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Trouble with Civilization Part 2

12,000 years ago, man was able to communicate better than earlier man, and keep track and control the production and distribution of wheat, rice, etc. Thus, civilization gave birth to the creation of more negative interpersonal conflicts. Man likely had to lie, steal, and cheat, in order to survive. Because of the conflict between man living in a civilization, leaders devised a system to combat and keep track of foodstuffs. The Sumerians about 3500 BC and 3000 BC established a base 6 numbering system. Now, accountants, or bureaucrats were able to record various transactions called writing. With writing, came rules with more attempts to regulate and control man. This development resulted and interfered with man’s ability to resolve conflicts and interfered with the fulfillment of his need and drive structure. Along came King Hammurabi in 1776 BC of Babylon, overseeing the world’s largest city at that time. He established the first significant written code for inappropriate behavior with consequences. Within this system, Individuals were either divided as superiors, commoners or slaves. According to the code, the Gods Anu, Enlil, and Marduk appointed Hammurabi to make justice and eliminate evil. Within this three tier approach, the consequences for broken rules varied. For example, “if a superior took the eye of another superior, they should blind his eye. If a superior took the eye of a commoner, then, they should pay and deliver 60 shekels of silver. If the superior took the eye of a slave, he shall deliver one half of the slave’s value in silver.” This code was not justice for all, even if was established by the God’s. These guys were prejudiced. Yes, man created illusions, which are followed like the blind leading the blind. According to the Old Testament, the 10 Commandments were given to Moses by God. 10 Commandment references can be found in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. However, these 10 principles initially did not have clear consequences, other than displeasing God. Consequences came later with the holy day of Rosh Hashanah. To Be Continued