Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy
Showing posts with label Interventions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Interventions. Show all posts

Sunday, March 17, 2024

The Argument Over a Long-Standing Autism Intervention

Jessica Winter
The New Yorker
Originally posted 12 Feb 24

Here are excerpts:

A.B.A. is the only autism intervention that is approved by insurers and Medicaid in all fifty states. The practice is widely recommended for autistic kids who exhibit dangerous behaviors, such as self-injury or aggression toward others, or who need to acquire basic skills, such as dressing themselves or going to the bathroom. The mother of a boy with severe autism in New York City told me that her son’s current goals in A.B.A. include tolerating the shower for incrementally longer intervals, redirecting the urge to pull on other people’s hair, and using a speech tablet to say no. Another kid might be working on more complex language skills by drilling with flash cards or honing his ability to focus on academic work. Often, A.B.A. targets autistic traits that may be socially stigmatizing but are harmless unto themselves, such as fidgeting, avoiding eye contact, or stereotypic behaviors commonly known as stimming—rocking, hand-flapping, and so forth.


In recent years, A.B.A. has come under increasingly vehement criticism from members of the neurodiversity movement, who believe that it cruelly pathologizes autistic behavior. They say that its rewards for compliance are dehumanizing; some compare A.B.A. to conversion therapy. Social-media posts condemning the practice often carry the hashtag #ABAIsAbuse. The message that A.B.A. sends is that “your instinctual way of being is incorrect,” Zoe Gross, the director of advocacy at the nonprofit Autistic Self Advocacy Network, told me. “The goals of A.B.A. therapy—from its inception, but still through today—tend to focus on teaching autistic people to behave like non-autistic people.” But others say this criticism obscures the good work that A.B.A. can do. Alicia Allgood, a board-certified behavior analyst who co-runs an A.B.A. agency in New York City, and who is herself autistic, told me, “The autistic community is up in arms. There is a very vocal part of the autistic population that is saying that A.B.A. is harmful or aversive or has potentially caused trauma.”


In recent years, private equity has taken a voracious interest in A.B.A. services, partly because they are perceived as inexpensive. Private-equity firms have consolidated many small clinics into larger chains, where providers are often saddled with unrealistic billing quotas and cut-and-paste treatment plans. Last year, the Center for Economic and Policy Research published a startling report on the subject, which included an account of how Blackstone effectively bankrupted a successful A.B.A. provider and shut down more than a hundred of its treatment sites. Private-equity-owned A.B.A. chains have been accused of fraudulent billing and wage theft; message boards for A.B.A. providers overflow with horror stories about low pay, churn, and burnout. High rates of turnover are acutely damaging to a specialty that relies on familiarity between provider and client. “The idea that we could just franchise A.B.A. providers and anyone could do the work—that was misinformed,” Singer, of the Autism Science Foundation, said.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Not all skepticism is “healthy” skepticism: Theorizing accuracy- and identity-motivated skepticism toward social media misinformation

Li, J. (2023). 
New Media & Society, 0(0). 


Fostering skepticism has been seen as key to addressing misinformation on social media. This article reveals that not all skepticism is “healthy” skepticism by theorizing, measuring, and testing the effects of two types of skepticism toward social media misinformation: accuracy- and identity-motivated skepticism. A two-wave panel survey experiment shows that when people’s skepticism toward social media misinformation is driven by accuracy motivations, they are less likely to believe in congruent misinformation later encountered. They also consume more mainstream media, which in turn reinforces accuracy-motivated skepticism. In contrast, when skepticism toward social media misinformation is driven by identity motivations, people not only fall for congruent misinformation later encountered, but also disregard platform interventions that flag a post as false. Moreover, they are more likely to see social media misinformation as favoring opponents and intentionally avoid news on social media, both of which form a vicious cycle of fueling more identity-motivated skepticism.


I have made the case that it is important to distinguish between accuracy-motivated skepticism and identity-motivated skepticism. They are empirically distinguishable constructs that cast opposing effects on outcomes important for a well-functioning democracy. Across the board, accuracy-motivated skepticism produces normatively desirable outcomes. Holding a higher level of accuracy-motivated skepticism makes people less likely to believe in congruent misinformation they encounter later, offering hope that partisan motivated reasoning can be attenuated. Accuracy-motivated skepticism toward social media misinformation also has a mutually reinforcing relationship with consuming news from mainstream media, which can serve to verify information on social media and produce potential learning effects.

In contrast, not all skepticism is “healthy” skepticism. Holding a higher level of identity-motivated skepticism not only increases people’s susceptibility to congruent misinformation they encounter later, but also renders content flagging by social media platforms less effective. This is worrisome as calls for skepticism and platform content moderation have been a crucial part of recently proposed solutions to misinformation. Further, identity-motivated skepticism reinforces perceived bias of misinformation and intentional avoidance of news on social media. These can form a vicious cycle of close-mindedness and politicization of misinformation.

This article advances previous understanding of skepticism by showing that beyond the amount of questioning (the tipping point between skepticism and cynicism), the type of underlying motivation matters for whether skepticism helps people become more informed. By bringing motivated reasoning and media skepticism into the same theoretical space, this article helps us make sense of the contradictory evidence on the utility of media skepticism. Skepticism in general should not be assumed to be “healthy” for democracy. When driven by identity motivations, skepticism toward social media misinformation is counterproductive for political learning; only when skepticism toward social media is driven by the accuracy motivations does it inoculate people against favorable falsehoods and encourage consumption of credible alternatives.

Here are some additional thoughts on the research:
  • The distinction between accuracy-motivated skepticism and identity-motivated skepticism is a useful one. It helps to explain why some people are more likely to believe in misinformation than others.
  • The findings of the studies suggest that interventions that promote accuracy-motivated skepticism could be effective in reducing the spread of misinformation on social media.
  • It is important to note that the research was conducted in the United States. It is possible that the findings would be different in other countries.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Gender-Affirming Care for Cisgender People

Theodore E. Schall and Jacob D. Moses
Hastings Center Report 53, no. 3 (2023): 15-24.
DOI: 10.1002/hast.1486 


Gender-affirming care is almost exclusively discussed in connection with transgender medicine. However, this article argues that such care predominates among cisgender patients, people whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. To advance this argument, we trace historical shifts in transgender medicine since the 1950s to identify central components of "gender-affirming care" that distinguish it from previous therapeutic models, such as "sex reassignment." Next, we sketch two historical cases-reconstructive mammoplasty and testicular implants-to show how cisgender patients offered justifications grounded in authenticity and gender affirmation that closely mirror rationales supporting gender-affirming care for transgender people. The comparison exposes significant disparities in contemporary health policy regarding care for cis and trans patients. We consider two possible objections to the analogy we draw, but ultimately argue that these disparities are rooted in "trans exceptionalism" that produces demonstrable harm.

Here is my summary:

The authors cite several examples of gender-affirming care for cisgender people, such as breast reconstruction following mastectomy, penile implants following testicular cancer, hormone replacement therapy, and hair removal. They argue that these interventions can be just as important for cisgender people's mental and physical health as they are for transgender people.

The authors also note that gender-affirming care for cisgender people is often less scrutinized and less stigmatized than such care for transgender people. Cisgender people do not need special letters of permission from mental health providers to access care whose primary purpose is to affirm their gender identity. And insurance companies are less likely to exclude gender-affirming care for cisgender people from their coverage.

The authors argue that the differences in the conceptualization and treatment of gender-affirming care for cisgender and transgender people reflect broad anti-trans bias in society and health care. They call for a more inclusive view of gender-affirming care that recognizes the needs of all people, regardless of their gender identity.

Final thoughts:
  1. Gender-affirming care can be lifesaving. It can help reduce anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.  Gender-affirming care can be framed as suicide prevention.
  2. Gender-affirming care is not experimental. It has been studied extensively and is safe and effective. See other posts on this site for more comprehensive examples.
  3. All people deserve access to gender-affirming care, regardless of their gender identity. This is basic equality and fairness in terms of access to medical care.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

The Emerging Science of Suicide Prevention

Kim Armstong
Originally published 28 FEB 22

The decisions leading up to a person’s death by suicide are made under conditions unlike almost any other. Although we may spend weeks or even months considering whether to purchase a home, change jobs, or get married, the decision to attempt suicide is often made in the spur of the moment amid a crush of emotions, according to Brian W. Bauer and Daniel W. Capron (University of Southern Mississippi). A person may live with suicidal thoughts for years, yet anywhere from 25% to 40% of suicide attempts may take place less than 5 minutes after the individual decides to take their life, Bauer and Capron wrote in a 2020 Perspectives on Psychological Science article. 

These circumstances make people experiencing suicidal ideation uniquely vulnerable to common cognitive biases that can result in irrational decision-making, causing them to act against their own self-interest. We are particularly bad at predicting how our emotional state may change in the future and tend to value short-term relief over long-term outcomes, Bauer and Capron noted. Both of these tendencies can contribute to the decision to end severe psychological pain through suicide despite the strong possibility that those feelings will change given time. 

Nudges could offer some hope to people in crisis. Based in behavioral economics, these microinterventions are designed to push people toward making choices that align with their own self-interest, such as conserving energy or getting vaccinated, by providing easily digestible information about the benefits of those choices (e.g., stickers on washing machines reading “Fuller laundry loads save water”) or even removing barriers to making those choices (e.g., offering walk-in vaccinations instead of requiring appointments). 

Nudges have been used in mental health contexts to help people cut back on their drinking and enroll in treatment programs. In the case of suicide prevention, pre-crisis interventions can occur at several levels, Bauer said in an interview with the Observer.  

Public safety campaigns, for example, might advise gun owners to store their firearms and ammunition separately, creating a barrier to impulsive self-harm, and encourage them to save the number for a local crisis hotline in their phone. In clinical care settings, reframing education on coping skills as a way to assist peers, rather than oneself, may increase patients’ willingness to complete safety plans and participate in suicide prevention workshops. And for individual patients, smartphones may offer an avenue for effective “just-in-time” interventions. 

Unfortunately, no nudge is a one-size-fits-all solution, Bauer said. 

Monday, February 7, 2022

On loving thyself: Exploring the association between self-compassion, self-reported suicidal behaviors, and implicit suicidality among college students

Zeifman, R. J., Ip, J., Antony, M. M., & Kuo, J. R. 
(2021). Journal of American college health
J of ACH, 69(4), 396–403.


Suicide is a major public health concern. It is unknown whether self-compassion is associated with suicide risk above and beyond suicide risk factors such as self-criticism, hopelessness, and depression severity. 

Participants: Participants were 130 ethnically diverse undergraduate college students. 

Methods: Participants completed self-report measures of self-compassion, self-criticism, hopelessness, depression severity, and suicidal behaviors, as well as an implicit measure of suicidality. 

Results: Self-compassion was significantly associated with self-reported suicidal behaviors, even when controlling for self-criticism, hopelessness, and depression severity. Self-compassion was not significantly associated with implicit suicidality. 

Conclusions: The findings suggest that self-compassion is uniquely associated with self-reported suicidal behaviors, but not implicit suicidality, and that self-compassion is a potentially important target in suicide risk interventions. Limitations and future research directions are discussed.


Clinical implications

Our findings suggest that self-criticism and self-compassion are uniquely predictive of self-reported suicidal behaviors.  Therefore, in addition to the importance of targeting self-criticism, self-compassion may also be an important, and independent, target within suicide risk interventions. Indeed, qualitative analysis of interviews conducted with individuals with borderline personality disorder (a psychiatric disorder characterized by high levels of suicide risk) and their service providers, identified self-compassion as an important theme in the process of recovery.  Interventions that specifically focus on fostering self-compassion, by generating feelings of self-reassurance, warmth, and self-soothing, include compassion-focused therapy and mindful self-compassion. Compassion based interventions have shown promise for a wide range of populations, including eating disorders, psychotic disorders, personality disorders, and healthy individuals.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Memphis psychiatrist who used riding crop on patients now faces new charges

Brett Kelman
Nashville Tennessean
Originally published October 27, 2019

Here are two excerpts:

A Memphis-area psychiatrist whose license was suspended last year for using a riding crop on patients could now lose her license again due to an ongoing dispute with state health licensing officials.

Dr. Valerie Augustus, who runs Christian Psychiatric Services in the suburb of Germantown, was forced to close her clinic last June after a medical discipline trial proved to the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners that she had used a riding crop or a whip on at least 10 patients. The clinic was permitted to re-open six months later after Augustus agreed to professional probation, but she continued to fight the case in court.


Augustus, 57, ran her clinic for 17 years without any discipline issues before her license was suspended last year. A board order states that, in addition to using the whip and riding crop on patients, Augustus kept the items “displayed in her office” and “compared her patients to mules.”

The government’s attorney, Paetria Morgan, argued at the medical discipline trial that Augustus hit her patients if they did not lose weight or exercise. In addition to the whip and riding crop, Morgan alleged Augustus hit patients with a “four-foot stick of bamboo.”

“Her defense is that she hit them in jest,” Morgan said. “When did hitting become funny? Hitting isn’t hilarious. Hitting isn’t helpful. Hitting isn’t healing.”

The info is here.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Shouldn’t We Make It Easy to Use Behavioral Science for Good?

Manasee Desai
Originally posted September 4, 2018

The evidence showing that applied behavioral science is a powerful tool for creating social good is growing rapidly. As a result, it’s become much more common for the world’s problem solvers to apply a behavioral lens to their work. Yet this approach can still feel distant to the people trying urgently to improve lives on a daily basis—those working for governments, nonprofits, and other organizations that directly tackle some of the most challenging and pervasive problems facing us today.

All too often, effective strategies for change are either locked behind paywalls or buried in inaccessible, jargon-laden articles. And because of the sheer volume of behavioral solutions being tested now, even people working in the fields that compose the behavioral sciences—like me, for instance—cannot possibly stay on top of every new intervention or application happening across countless fields and countries. This means missed opportunities to apply and scale effective interventions and to do more good in the world.

As a field, figuring out how to effectively report and communicate what we’ve learned from our research and interventions is our own “last mile” problem.

While there is no silver bullet for the problems the world faces, the behavioral science community should (and can) come together to make our battle-tested solutions available to problem solvers, right at their fingertips. Expanding the adoption of behavioral design for social good requires freeing solutions from dense journals and cost-prohibitive paywalls. It also requires distilling complex designs into simpler steps—uniting a community that is passionate about social impact and making the world a better place with applied behavioral science.

That is the aim of the Behavioral Evidence Hub (B-Hub), a curated, open-source digital collection of behavioral interventions proven to impact real-world problems.

The info is here.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Professors lead call for ethical framework for new 'mind control' technologies

Medical Xpress
Originally published July 6, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

As advances in molecular biology and chemical engineering are increasing the precision of pharmaceuticals, even more spatially-targeted technologies are emerging. New noninvasive treatments send electrical currents or magnetic waves through the scalp, altering the ability of neurons in a targeted region to fire. Surgical interventions are even more precise; they include implanted electrodes that are designed to quell seizures before they spread, or stimulate the recall of memories after a traumatic brain injury.

Research into the brain's "wiring"—how neurons are physically connected in networks that span disparate parts of the brain—and how this wiring relates to changing mental states has enabled principles from control theory to be applied to neuroscience. For example, a recent study by Bassett and colleagues shows how changes in brain wiring from childhood through adolescence leads to greater executive function, or the ability to consciously control one's thoughts and attention.

While insights from network science and control theory may support new treatments for conditions like obsessive compulsive disorder and traumatic brain injury, the researchers argue that clinicians and bioethicists must be involved in the earliest stages of their development. As the positive effects of treatments become more profound, so do their potential side effects.

"New methods of controlling mental states will provide greater precision in treatments," Sinnott-Armstrong said, "and we thus need to think hard about the ensuing ethical issues regarding autonomy, privacy, equality and enhancement."

The article is here.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Is There a Duty to Use Moral Neurointerventions?

Michelle Ciurria
Topoi (2017).


Do we have a duty to use moral neurointerventions to correct deficits in our moral psychology? On their surface, these technologies appear to pose worrisome risks to valuable dimensions of the self, and these risks could conceivably weigh against any prima facie moral duty we have to use these technologies. Focquaert and Schermer (Neuroethics 8(2):139–151, 2015) argue that neurointerventions pose special risks to the self because they operate passively on the subject’s brain, without her active participation, unlike ‘active’ interventions. Some neurointerventions, however, appear to be relatively unproblematic, and some appear to preserve the agent’s sense of self precisely because they operate passively. In this paper, I propose three conditions that need to be met for a medical intervention to be considered low-risk, and I say that these conditions cut across the active/passive divide. A low-risk intervention must: (i) pass pre-clinical and clinical trials, (ii) fare well in post-clinical studies, and (iii) be subject to regulations protecting informed consent. If an intervention passes these tests, its risks do not provide strong countervailing reasons against our prima facie duty to undergo the intervention.

The article is here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Identity change and informed consent

Karsten Witt
Journal of Medical Ethics
Published Online First: 20 March 2017.
doi: 10.1136/medethics-2016-103684


In this paper, I focus on a kind of medical intervention that is at the same time fascinating and disturbing: identity-changing interventions. My guiding question is how such interventions can be ethically justified within the bounds of contemporary bioethical mainstream that places great weight on the patient's informed consent. The answer that is standardly given today is that patients should be informed about the identity effects, thus suggesting that changes in identity can be treated like ‘normal’ side effects. In the paper, I argue that this approach is seriously lacking because it misses important complexities going along with decisions involving identity changes and consequently runs into mistakes. As a remedy I propose a new approach, the ‘perspective-sensitive account’, which avoids these mistakes and thus provides the conceptual resources to systematically reflect on and give a valid consent to identity-changing interventions.

The article is here.

Editor's note: While this article deals with medical interventions, such as Deep Brain Stimulation, the similar concerns might be generalized to psychotherapy and/or psychopharmacology.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Clinicians’ Expectations of the Benefits and Harms of Treatments, Screening, and Tests

Tammy C. Hoffmann & Chris Del Mar
JAMA Intern Med. 
Published online January 9, 2017.


Do clinicians have accurate expectations of the benefits and harms of treatments, tests, and screening tests?


In this systematic review of 48 studies (13 011 clinicians), most participants correctly estimated 13% of the 69 harm expectation outcomes and 11% of the 28 benefit expectations. The majority of participants overestimated benefit for 32% of outcomes, underestimated benefit for 9%, underestimated harm for 34%, and overestimated harm for 5% of outcomes.


Clinicians rarely had accurate expectations of benefits or harms, with inaccuracies in both directions, but more often underestimated harms and overestimated benefits.

The research is here.

Friday, December 2, 2016

An Improved Virtual Hope Box: An App for Suicidal Patients

Principal Investigator: Nigel Bush, Ph.D.
Organization: National Center for Telehealth & Technology

One of the key approaches in treating people who are depressed and thinking about suicide is to help them come up with reasons to go on living, and one of the ways that mental health specialists have traditionally done this is to work with their patients to create a “hope box”—a collection of various items that remind the patients that their lives are meaningful and worth living. The items can be anything from photos of loved ones and certificates of past achievements to lists of future aspirations, CDs of relaxing music, and recordings of loved ones offering inspirations thoughts. The hope box itself can take various forms: a real wooden box or shoe box, a manila envelope, a plastic bag, or anything else that the patient chooses. The patient is asked to keep the hope box nearby and use its contents when it seems hard to go on living.

But it is not always easy to keep such a hope box close at hand. A depressed Veteran or service member might find it inconvenient to take the hope box to work, for example, or might forget to bring it along on a trip. For this reason Nigel Bush and his colleagues at the National Center for Telehealth and Technology have designed a “virtual hope box,” a smartphone app that allows the patient to keep all those reasons for living close by at all times.

The entire app description is here.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Can Psychedelics Make Us More Moral?

Derek Beres
Big Think
Originally published August 22, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

Could a moral drug enhancement instill empathy in such a person? If so, should it be used? Earp is not ignorant of the ethics of such a drug. Looked at from a broader social perspective instead of an individualist mindset is one important factor. If there’s a possibility that a psychopath could harm members of a society, would such a drug be beneficial, especially if the person desires it? What if they don’t?

Psychopathy is a small but very real instance. What about extending this idea of moral neuroenhancement to people with depression? Anger management issues? Excessive anxiety? This does not imply that a person needs a daily dose. Research has shown that psilocybin has an effect even after one episode...

The article is here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Moral enhancements 2

By Michelle Ciurria
Moral Responsibility Blog
Originally published June 4, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

Here, I want to consider whether intended moral enhancements – those intended to induce pro-moral effects – can, somewhat paradoxically, undermine responsibility. I say ‘intended’ because, as we saw, moral interventions can have unintended (even counter-moral) consequences. This can happen for any number of reasons: the intervener can be wrong about what morality requires (imagine a Nazi intervener thinking that anti-Semitism is a pro-moral trait); the intervention can malfunction over time; the intervention can produce traits that are moral in one context but counter-moral in another (which seems likely, given that traits are highly context-sensitive, as I mentioned earlier); and so on – I won’t give a complete list. Even extant psychoactive drugs – which can count as a type of passive intervention – typically come with adverse side-effects; but the risk of unintended side-effects for futuristic interventions of a moral nature is substantially greater and more worrisome, because the technology is new, it operates on complicated cognitive structures, and it specifically operates on those structures constitutive of a person’s moral personality. Since intended moral interventions do not always produce their intended effects (pro-moral effects), I’ll discuss these interventions under two guises: interventions that go as planned and induce pro-moral traits (effective cases), and interventions that go awry (ineffective cases). I’ll also focus on the most controversial case of passive intervention: involuntary intervention, without informed consent.

The blog post is here.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Stopping the revolving prison door for the mentally ill

by Courtenay Harris Bond
Originally posted May 10, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

But the unfortunate reality right now is that many people with serious mental illness who commit even minor infractions are locked up, making over-crowded prisons and jails responsible for mental health services they are ill equipped to deal with.

“The police are called on to do too much, and the health care system is not doing enough,” Sisti said. “The whole idea that the police are now front-line mental health workers shows that we’ve abdicated our responsibilities as health care professionals.”

“The police in their best efforts aren’t equipped with the tools”—psychiatric medications, for example, that only physicians and nurses can administer­—“to de-escalate some of these situations,” added Cyndi Rickards, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Justice Studies at Drexel.

Dr. Philip Candilis, director of the forensic psychiatry fellowship at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, described a jail diversion program in Arlington, Va., where courts work with social service agencies to aid people struggling with mental illness who find themselves in trouble with the law. Mental health courts in Philadelphia and Washington function in a similar way.

The article is here.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Epigenetics in the neoliberal 'regime of truth'

by Charles Dupras and Vardit Ravitsky
Hastings Center Report - 2015

Here is an excerpt:

In this paper, we argue that the impetus to create new biomedical interventions to manipulate and reverse epigenetic variants is likely to garner more attention than effective social and public health interventions and therefore also to garner a greater share of limited public resources. This is likely to happen, we argue, because of the current biopolitical context in  which scientific findings are translated. This contemporary neoliberal “regime of truth,” to use a term from the historian and philosopher Michel Foucault, greatly influences the ways in which knowledge is being interpreted and implemented. Building on sociologist Thomas Lemke’s Foucauldian “analytics of biopolitics” and on literature from the field of science and technology studies,  we present two sociological trends that may impede the policy transla-tion of epigenetics: molecularization and biomedicalization. These trends,  we argue, are likely to favor the clini-cal translation of epigenetics—in other words, the development of new clinical tools fostering what has been called “personalized” or “precision” medicine.

In addition, we argue that an over-emphasized clinical translation of epigenetics may further reinforce this biopolitical landscape through four processes that are closely related to neoliberal pathways of thinking: the internalization and isolation (liberal individualism) of socioenvironmental determinants of health and increased opportunities for commodification and technologicalization  (economic liberalism) of health care interventions. Hence, epigenetics may end up promoting further the mobilization of resources toward technological innovation at the expense of public health and social strategies. Our analysis therefore first presents how the current biopolitical landscape may bias scientific knowledge translation and then circles around to explain how, in return, the outcome of a biased translation of epigenetics may strengthen our contemporary neoliberal “regime of truth.”

The paper is here.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Way more Americans are drinking themselves to death. Here's why.

By German Lopez
The Vox
Originally published on December 28, 2015

Here are two excerpts:

For one, Americans are drinking more. According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number of Americans who reportedly drank in the previous month slightly increased as alcohol-induced deaths did: from 51 percent of all persons 12 and older in 2006, when deaths began to climb, to 52.7 percent in 2014.


So for the US, boosting alcohol prices 10 percent could save as many as 6,000 lives each year. To put that in context, paying about 50 cents more for a six-pack of Bud Light could save thousands of lives. And this is a conservative estimate, since it only counts alcohol-related liver cirrhosis deaths — the number of lives saved would be higher if it accounted for deaths due to alcohol-related violence and car crashes.

Aside from raising taxes, a 2014 report from the RAND Drug Policy Research Center suggested state-run shops kept prices higher, reduced access to youth, and reduced overall levels of use. And a 2013 study from RAND of South Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety Program, which briefly jails people whose drinking has repeatedly gotten them in trouble with the law (like a DUI) if they fail a twice-a-day alcohol blood test, attributed a 12 percent reduction in repeat DUI arrests and a 9 percent reduction in domestic violence arrests at the county level to the program.

The article is here.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

What happened when Portugal decriminalised drugs

The Economist
Originally published June 11, 2015

Economist Films: For 20 years The Economist has led calls for a rethink on drug prohibition. This film looks at new approaches to drugs policy, from Portugal to Colorado. “Drugs: War or Store?” kicks off our new “Global Compass” series, examining novel approaches to policy problems.

Economist Films is a new venture that expresses The Economist’s globally curious outlook in the form of short, mind-stretching documentaries.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Withstanding moral disengagement: Attachment security as an ethical intervention

By Dolly Chugh, Mary C. Kern, Zhu Zhu, and Sujin Lee
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 51 (2014) 88–93.


• We propose an ethical intervention with the potential to reduce unethical decision-making.
• We challenge the relationship between moral disengagement and unethical decision-making.
• We use attachment theory as the basis for the ethical intervention.
• Individuals primed with attachment anxiety experience the usual effects of moral disengagement.
• However, individuals primed with attachment security are able to withstand moral disengagement.


We propose an ethical intervention leading to improved ethical decision-making. Moral disengagement has long been related to unethical decision-making. We test an ethical intervention in which this relationship is broken.  Our ethical intervention consisted of priming individuals to be securely-attached, in which they recalled a past instance of relational support and acceptance. We predicted and found an interaction between attachment state and moral disengagement, in which individuals primed with attachment security were able to withstand moral disengagement.
In Study 1, we demonstrate that the securely attached behave more ethically than the anxiously attached in an achievement context. In Study 2, we show that secure attachment overrides one's natural propensity to morally disengage. In Study 3, we find that secure attachment minimizes the impact of the propensity to morally disengage through the mechanism of threat construal. Within both student and working adult samples and using both judgment and behavioral dependent variables, we show that the priming of secure attachment is a relatively simple and effective intervention that managers, educators, and organizations can use to reduce unethical behavior.

The entire article is here.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

What Are The Real Effects Of Cyberbullying?

Originally published on Oct 31, 2014

Cyberbullying is a serious issue, and the effects it can have on a person can last a lifetime. Join Trace as he discusses the extent of the negative effects.

The three-minute segment is video worth watching.  It includes issues related to kids as well as adults.