Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Brain’s Failure to Appreciate Others May Permit Human Atrocities

From the 15 December 2011 Medical News Today article

A father in Louisiana bludgeoned and beheaded his disabled 7-year-old son last August because he no longer wanted to care for the boy. For most people, such a heinous act is unconscionable.

But it may be that a person can become callous enough to commit human atrocities because of a failure in the part of the brain that’s critical for social interaction. A new study by researchers at Duke University and Princeton University suggests this function may disengage when people encounter others they consider disgusting, thus “dehumanizing” their victims by failing to acknowledge they have thoughts and feelings.

This shortcoming also may help explain how propaganda depicting Tutsi in Rwanda as cockroaches and Hitler’s classification of Jews in Nazi Germany as vermin contributed to torture and genocide, the study said.

“When we encounter a person, we usually infer something about their minds. Sometimes, we fail to do this, opening up the possibility that we do not perceive the person as fully human,” said lead author Lasana Harris, an assistant professor in Duke University’s Department of Psychology & Neuroscience and Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. Harris co-authored the study with Susan Fiske, a professor of psychology at Princeton University.

Social neuroscience has shown through MRI studies that people normally activate a network in the brain related to social cognition — thoughts, feelings, empathy, for example — when viewing pictures of others or thinking about their thoughts. But when participants in this study were asked to consider images of people they considered drug addicts, homeless people, and others they deemed low on the social ladder, parts of this network failed to engage.

What’s especially striking, the researchers said, is that people will easily ascribe social cognition — a belief in an internal life such as emotions — to animals and cars, but will avoid making eye contact with the homeless panhandler in the subway.

“We need to think about other people’s experience,” Fiske said. “It’s what makes them fully human to us.”…

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December 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

High Blood Pressure May Lead To Missed Emotional Cues

 

Two people in a heated argument about religion...

Image via Wikipedia

From the 6 November 2011 Medical News Today article

A recently published study by Clemson University psychology professor James A. McCubbin and colleagues has shown that people with higher blood pressure have reduced ability to recognize angry, fearful, sad and happy faces and text passages.

“It’s like living in a world of email without smiley faces,” McCubbin said. “We put smiley faces in emails to show when we are just kidding. Otherwise some people may misinterpret our humor and get angry.”

Some people have what McCubbin calls “emotional dampening” that may cause them to respond inappropriately to anger or other emotions in others.

“For example, if your work supervisor is angry, you may mistakenly believe that he or she is just kidding,” McCubbin said. “This can lead to miscommunication, poor job performance and increased psychosocial distress.” …

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November 12, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

New Knowledge Path [Resource Guide]: Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Challenges in Children and Adolescents.

Maternal and Child Health Library - A virtual guide to MCH information

The MCH Library at Georgetown University presents a new knowledge path, Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Challenges in Children and Adolescents.  The knowledge path points to a selection of resources that analyze data, describe effective programs, and report on policy and research aimed at improving access to and quality of care for children and adolescents with emotional, behavioral, and mental heath challenges.

View the path online at http://www.mchlibrary.info/KnowledgePaths/kp_Mental_Conditions.html.

A new set of companion resource briefs are available, as follows:

For Families http://www.mchlibrary.info/families/frb_Mental_Conditions.html

For Schools http://www.mchlibrary.info/schools/srb_Mental_Conditions.html

Bullying http://www.mchlibrary.info/guides/bullying.html

Child Maltreatment http://www.mchlibrary.info/guides/maltreatment.html

Medications http://www.mchlibrary.info/guides/medications.html

Screening http://www.mchlibrary.info/guides/screening.html

Substance Use http://www.mchlibrary.info/guides/substanceuse.html

Suicide Prevention http://www.mchlibrary.info/guides/suicide.html

MCH Library at Georgetown University

Web site: http://mchlibrary.info

July 12, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources, Professional Health Care Resources, Public Health | , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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