Tag Archives: Psychology

Panic attack info and first aid guidelines

Capture d’écran 2016-02-02 à 10.27.26

Sudden shortness of breath, choking, racing heartbeat, pain in the chest, nausea, sweating, shaking, feels like dying, completely losing it… What is happening ? It might well be a Panic attack.

Although very impressive, panic attacks are often not as dangerous as they look, manageable, reversible, and can be avoided in the future. Much of the terror they bring can be controlled by understanding what is actually going on in the body and mind of the person. Whether it’s you or friend. So, in times of peace and quiet, do a bit of research on that extreme physiological state, so you are able to help yourself or someone when the attack attacks. Also, when the emergency has passed, it is important to consider the personal context in which the attack(s) took place, identify, maybe, some triggers. Only then can remedies be found in life and lifestyle that will prevent such challenging crisis from happening again.

Here are some suggested reading:

>> Panic attacks information sheets, Centre for Clinical Intervention

>> Panic attack first aid guidelines, Mental Health First Aid Australia

 

Police infiltration, traumatized trust

“The news that people we knew, trusted, worked with and loved are not who we thought they were, has come as a shock to many people. For some, it has meant that close and intimate relationships were not what they seemed, representing a massive personal betrayal. Others may not have known the police infiltrators so closely, or even at all, but the news can still have a big impact on us, as individuals, groups and movements.”

Read Activist Trauma Support leaflet on the sickening effects of police infiltration, how to heal, support each other – and find more resources (on PTSD, self-care in activism..), contact info, on their website.

+

Watch “Lily”, Harry, and Jason’s talk about their experience at Chaos Communication Camp 2015:

“Resisting surveillance: It’s not just about the metadata. The infiltration and physical surveillance of activists.

 

SENG: Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted

“SENG’s mission is to empower families and communities to guide gifted and talented individuals to reach their goals: intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

SENG envisions a world where gifted, talented and creative individuals are supported to build gratifying, meaningful lives and contribute to the well-being of others. To this end, SENG reaches out to diverse communities that share our mission across the nation and the globe. ”

Check the Resource Library !!

 

Depression in gifted individuals

This article explores depression in gifted individuals and offers suggestions on how to help, notably through touch, a powerful sensory response to emotional difficulties, and bibliotherapy, where reading about history and others people’s great struggles and achievements can bring support.

>> Existential Depression in Gifted Individuals, James T. Webb

“A particular way of breaking through the sense of isolation is through touch. In the same way that infants need to be held and touched, so do persons who are experiencing existential aloneness. Touch seems to be a fundamental and instinctual aspect of existence, as evidenced by mother-infant bonding or “failure to thrive” syndrome. Often, I have “prescribed” daily hugs for a youngster suffering existential depression and have advised parents of reluctant teenagers to say, “I know that you may not want a hug, but I need a hug.” A hug, a touch on the arm, playful jostling, or even a “high five” can be very important to such a youngster, because it establishes at least some physical connection.” 

24/7 : Late capitalism and the end of sleep

24-7_PB_CMYK-4092354c9cd5d94d7da1965d77bd9585

>> 24/7: Late Capitalism and the end of sleep, by Jonathan Crary (a Verso Book)

“24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep explores some of the ruinous consequences of the expanding non-stop processes of twenty-first-century capitalism. The marketplace now operates through every hour of the clock, pushing us into constant activity and eroding forms of community and political expression, damaging the fabric of everyday life.

Jonathan Crary examines how this interminable non-time blurs any separation between an intensified, ubiquitous consumerism and emerging strategies of control and surveillance. He describes the ongoing management of individual attentiveness and the impairment of perception within the compulsory routines of contemporary technological culture. At the same time, he shows that human sleep, as a restorative withdrawal that is intrinsically incompatible with 24/7 capitalism, points to other more formidable and collective refusals of world-destroying patterns of growth and accumulation.”

All the President’s Psychologists

AMABush

All the president’s psychologists

Description:

A new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists argues that the American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror.

>> Full document HERE

Read

>> American Psychological Association bolstered CIA torture programme, report says – James Risen, NY Times, April 30 2015

>> First, Do harm, Justine Sharrock, Motherjones, July 14 2009

Towards Holistic Security – Tactical Tech

Find out about great Tactical Tech project for Holistic Security

>> Towards holistic security for rights advocates

“Human rights defenders, journalists, and activists continue to operate in a terrain fraught by ever-evolving risks to their physical and psychological integrity, along with those of their family, friends and associates.

The great proliferation of digital devices and information and communication technologies such as the internet, email, social networking tools, mobile and smartphone devices, has had a profound impact on the dimensions of these threats, both in broadening the kinds of surveillance and harassment to which HRDs can be subjected, and providing new and innovative ways for them to communicate, organise, take action and stay safe, both psychologically and physically.”

Suicide as Escape from Self (Baumeister, 1990)

Suicide as Escape from Self, is a theory developed by psychologist R. Baumeister, exposed in the 90’s journal article accessible here.

Article abstract :

“Suicide is analyzed in terms of motivations to escape from aversive self-awareness. The causal chain begins with events that fall severely short of standards and expectations. These failures are attributed internally, which makes self-awareness painful. Awareness of the self’s inadequacies generates negative affect, and the individual therefore desires to escape from self-awareness and the associated affect. The person tries to achieve a state of cognitive deconstruction (constricted temporal focus, concrete thinking, immediate or proximal goals, cognitive rigidity, and rejection of meaning), which helps prevent meaningful self-awareness and emotion. The deconstructed state brings irrationality and disinhibition, making drastic measures seem acceptable. Suicide can be seen as an ultimate step in the effort to escape from self and world”

 

Jesse Bering in Scientific American, sums up and comments on Baumeister’s theory: “According to Baumeister, there are six primary steps in the escape theory, culminating in a probable suicide when all criteria are met.”

They are :

1. Falling short of standards

2. Attributions to Self

3. High Self-awareness

4. Negative affect

5. Cognitive deconstruction

6. Desinhibition

 

Live and help live

Thoughts on suicide and the importance of taking care of each other, here in REMEMBERING AARON BY TAKING CARE OF EACH OTHER, by Clay Shirky –

Extract:

“The warning signs are well known. Persistent withdrawal. Mood swings. Previous attempts or family history. Talking about it. Self-erasure. The American Association of Suicidology has a good overview. There’s no perfect checklist, but we are better at knowing the signs in general than we are at acting on them in specific cases. Ask yourself “Whose suicide would sadden but not surprise me?”

The useful responses are well-known too. Reach out. Ask. Listen. Take casual mentions of suicide seriously. Be persistent about checking on someone. Don’t try to cure or fix anyone; that’s out of your league. Just tell them you care, and point them to professional resources. Wikipedia has a list of English-language suicide prevention hotlines. Help Guide has a good overview of what we know about prevention generally, and how to help the potentially suicidal.

We need to remember Aaron by supporting free culture, and by limiting prosecutorial abuse. But we also need to remember Aaron by taking care of each other. Our community is unusually welcoming of people disproportionately at risk, but we are also unusually capable of working together without always building close social ties. Github is great for distributing participation, but it is lousy for seeing how everyone is doing.

We need to remember Aaron by thinking of those among us at risk of dying as he did. Most of them won’t be martyrs — most of them will be people like Ilya and Will — but their deaths will be just as awful. And, as with every cause Aaron stood for, we know how to take on this problem. What we need is the will to act.”

DSM5 Oppositional Defiant Disorder

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health, a.k.a DSM5, published in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association, has a chapter of its section 2 dedicated to the diagnosis of “Disruptive, Impulse-control, and Conduct Disorders”. These refer to “conditions involving problems in the self-control of emotions and behaviors”. They are are “unique in that these violate the rights of others and/or bring the individual into significant conflict with societal norms or authority figures”.

Within the disruptive disorders group is the rather irritating ODD, namely Oppositional Defiant Disorder : “A pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least 6 months as evidenced by at least four symptoms from any of the following category, and exhibited during interaction with at least one individual that is not a sibling”.

ODD

The DSM warns that individuals with ODD will “typically not regard themselves as angry, oppositional or defiant. Instead, they often justify their behavior as a response to unreasonable demands or circumstances.” Also “it appears to be somewhat more prevalent in males than females, prior to adolescence”.

These types could seem like sound, possibly even brilliant, people we like to meet. Some in the profession have spoken against potentially debilitating categorizations.

For psychiatrist Bruce Levine, for instance, ODD is part of an arsenal of diagnoses which pathologize, to better neutralize, anti-authoritarian individuals.

See his “Why anti-authoritarians are diagnosed as mentally ill”, on Mad in America :

“In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by (1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially anti-authoritarians, and (2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not.

Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority. And when anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—sometimes aggressively and sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes wisely and sometimes not.

Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.”

(continue reading here)

EFF : Facing the challenge of online harassment

” In the nearly 25 years that EFF has been defending digital rights, our belief in the promise of the Internet has only grown stronger. The digital world frees users from many limits on communication and creativity that exist in the offline world. But it is also an environment that reflects the problems in wider society and grants them new dimensions. Harassment is one of those problems.

Online harassment is a digital rights issue. At its worst, it causes real and lasting harms to its targets, a fact that must be central to any discussion of harassment. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to craft laws or policies that will address those harms without inviting government or corporate censorship and invasions of privacy—including the privacy and free speech of targets of harassment. But, as we discuss below, there are ways to craft effective responses, rooted in the core ideals upon which the Internet was built, to protect the targets of harassment and their rights.

This post explains our thinking about combating online harassment, and what we hope EFF’s role can be in that effort given the scope of our work. It isn’t our last word, nor should it be; this is not a simple issue. Instead, we want to outline some of the things that we consider when looking at the problem and sketch out some elements for effective responses to it.

Continue reading HERE

Keeping in Touch

Touch is a bonding agent, a means of pain relief and perhaps most importantly, a way to say, “I care.” The inherent human need for touch has always been a part of our story, and it continues to this day. “

“Touch takes place on the canvas of human experience. Healthy, positive touch is intended to help and to heal, and the application of healthy touch takes many forms. Massage, for example, is the structured form of applied touch, administered with purpose and by way of thoughtful techniques based on knowledge.”

In  “The power of Touch: A basic human need”, by Judi Calvert on Massage today

The “chilling effects” of surveillance on freedom of speech

In 1975 psychologists P. Zimbardo (also known for the Stanford Prison Experiment) and G. White exposed the results of an experiment designed to test psychological side effects of surveillance, and more precisely, the negative effects of surveillance on freedom of speech. Their focus was on subjects “de-individuation” which refers to someone giving up on their individuality, inhibiting their self-expression, and “reactance”, which is defined as an “aversive motivational state experienced when a person thinks one of his freedom has been threatened or eliminated”.

The authors not distinguishing between psychological integrity and actual constitutional rights is in part what makes that article still so relevant today, 40 years and a considerable extension of the domain of surveillance later.

In the introduction of their paper, the authors don’t take detours to make clear that:

If people are inhibited by surveillance, the first amendment has at least been psychologically breached. If so, courts and legislatures may need to consider these effects in order to specify more narrowly those conditions that justify surveillance and those where surveillance violates important rights of citizens”

This research, they conclude, demonstrate that surveillance does indeed tamper with freedom of speech, and not only that, but that these “chilling effects” also come “at a price of increased disrespect for the government and society itself “. That sounds counter-productive, doesn’t it ?

Abstract :

Americans are becoming more aware that one’s private life may be under surveillance by government agencies and other institutions. Two social- psychological theories are discussed that can be applied to the effect of potentially aversive surveillance on opinion inhibition. The deindividuation- individuation hypothesis predicts that people will avoid opinion expression, while the psychological reactance hypothesis predicts opinion assertion and attack upon threatening agents. To test these notions, a reactance-arousing threat (videotaping of marijuana opinions which would be sent to the FBI) was orthogonally crossed with actual performance of the threatened action. The results are reported.

Access article here

How will surveillance and privacy technologies impact on the psychological notions of identity ?

After discussing the developments of surveillance and privacy technologies (with privacy protection lagging behind), Ian Brown (Oxford University) argues that they are likely to :

> Bring about Distrust in personal relationships and technology

“Control of information disclosure is an important part of managing personal relationships. Between partners and friends, controlled disclosure builds intimacy and trust, while the ability to tell “little white lies” can be essential to smooth over conflict. If new surveillance technologies do not come with adequate privacy features, this disclosure control will be damaged. This could erode social ties and potentially contribute to family breakdowns and fewer quality relationships. ”

> Negatively affect Social mobility and cohesion

“Private and public-sector surveillance and profiling will lead to individuals increasingly being offered differentiated products and services based on past behaviour, and to a more targeted exercise of power in areas such as criminal justice and social security (Anderson et al. 2009). Unless approached carefully, this could significantly reduce aspiration and social mobility. It may also cause a reduction in social cohesion, if levels of common experiences and the perception of equal treatment are reduced.”

> Create Conformity and stigma 

“The Internet has given individuals greater freedom to explore different identities, reducing constraints on finding information about and participating in online discussion with similar others (McKenna 2007). Greater surveillance could constrain such “potential” selves, and force the revelation of stigmatised identities and interest in fringe ideologies – as well as reinforcing feelings of isolation, difference and shame”

> “Criminalize” citizens and be counter-productive in catching criminals : (mis) Judgment by authority

“While the use of privacy technologies (such as e-mail encryption) remains relatively unusual, users could be wrongly identified with those attempting to hide criminal activities. ”

> Disable the Plural society 

“Surveillance can have a significantly constraining effect on political debate and protest, and hence reduce the broader public debate on socially contested issues, and the ability of weaker groups to resist power.”

“Despite the technological opportunities for sousveillance, Ullrich and Wollinger (2011) note that power asymmetries remain for protestors. Police are “better equipped, outfitted with public legitimacy, more trusted by courts, in possession of other preventive and repressive instruments,” and can also seize protestors’ recordings for their own use (Ullrich and Wollinger, 2011: 24). They conclude that “a technical arms build-up of open and concealed surveillance… signals the encroachment of authoritarian concepts of the state and is a potentially dangerous attack on political participation from below” (p.33). ”

ACCESS THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

 

 

 

TOR Solidarity against online harassment

“One of our colleagues has been the target of a sustained campaign of harassment for the past several months. We have decided to publish this statement to publicly declare our support for her, for every member of our organization, and for every member of our community who experiences this harassment. She is not alone and her experience has catalyzed us to action. This statement is a start.

The Tor Project works to create ways to bypass censorship and ensure anonymity on the Internet. Our software is used by journalists, human rights defenders, members of law enforcement, diplomatic officials, and many others. We do high-profile work, and over the past years, many of us have been the targets of online harassment. The current incidents come at a time when suspicion, slander, and threats are endemic to the online world. They create an environment where the malicious feel safe and the misguided feel justified in striking out online with a thousand blows. Under such attacks, many people have suffered — especially women who speak up online. Women who work on Tor are targeted, degraded, minimized and endure serious, frightening threats.

This is the status quo for a large part of the internet. We will not accept it.”

 Full statement here 

Navigating Crisis Handout

Here is Navigating Crisis, another sensible handout from the Icarus Project, a community dedicated to helping each other and oneself “navigate the space between brilliance and madness”

Useful facts about psychological crash, crisis response suggestions, how to write down advance directives for friends / carers ..

” When you or someone close to you goes into crisis, it can be the scariest thing to ever happen. You don’t know what to do, but it seems like someone’s life might be at stake or they might get locked up, and everyone around is getting stressed and panicked. Most people have either been there themselves or know a friend who has been there. Someone’s personality starts to make strange changes, they’re not sleeping or sleeping all day, they lose touch with the people around them, they disappear into their room for days, they have wild energy and outlandish plans, they start to dwell on suicide and hopelessness, they stop eating or taking care of themselves, or they start taking risks and being reckless. They become a different person. They’re in crisis.

The word “crisis” comes from a root meaning “judgment.” A crisis is a moment of great tension and meeting the unknown. It’s a turning point when things can’t go on the way they have, and the situation isn’t going to hold. Could crisis be an opportunity for breakthrough, not just breakdown? Can we learn about each other and ourselves as a community through crisis? Can we see crisis as an opportunity to judge a situation and ourselves carefully, not just react with panic and confusion or turn things over to the authorities? ”

Le “santé-mentalisme”, outil du néolibéralisme – Entretien avec le psychiatre Mathieu Bellahsen

santémentaleBook

Entretien vidéo avec le psychiatre Mathieu Bellahsen auteur de “La Santé Mentale – Vers un bonheur sous contrôle” (Ed. La Fabrique), sur Mediapart par Sophie Dufau.

http://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/210614/mathieu-bellahsen-la-sante-mentale-est-devenue-un-outil-du-neoliberalisme

L’originalité de cet essai réside aussi dans la personnalité de son auteur. Psychiatre des hôpitaux (ex-président des internes en psychiatrie et cofondateur d’Utopsy), il suit au quotidien les malades d’un secteur de la banlieue parisienne. Fort de cette pratique, Mathieu Bellahsen est allé voir aux sources du concept de santé mentale pour comprendre son évolution. Le décryptage de textes essentiels – émanant de l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS), de l’Europe ou du Centre d’analyse stratégique (service dépendant du premier ministre) – permet de saisir combien l’intention humaniste du milieu du XIXe siècle s’est muée, au début du XXe siècle et sous un vocabulaire positif, en norme impérative des comportements :

– « La santé mentale et le bien-être mental sont des conditions fondamentales à la qualité de la vie, à la productivité des individus, des familles, des populations et des nations, et confèrent un sens à notre existence tout en nous permettant d’être des citoyens à la fois actifs et créatifs », écrit l’OMS en 2005

– « Une personne en bonne santé mentale est quelqu’un qui se sent suffisamment en confiance pour s’adapter à une situation à laquelle elle ne peut rien changer », estime le Centre d’analyse stratégique en 2010.

– La prise en compte de la santé mentale permet « d’améliorer la disponibilité des ressources économiques », peut-on lire dans le Livre vert de l’Union européenne, publié en 2005.

 

First Aid For Emotional Trauma (Icarus Project Info sheet)

Read / Download / Share FIRST AID FOR EMOTIONAL TRAUMA, An Icarus Project Information sheet.

Excerpt: 

Feeling Body Sensations: Key to Trauma First Aid    

Trauma cuts us off from our bodies. When we are in overwhelming danger, we dissociate or ‘leave our bodies’ as a protective measure. Later this protective mechanism becomes stuck and counterproductive. The key to healing trauma is to return to our bodies, by feeling our physical sensations and making our bodies safe and alive again.

Ask, “How do you know that you are sad? Is there tightness in your chest or throat? How do you know you are afraid? Is there a cold feeling, or a sinking feeling in your stomach? Feel it fully. How large is the feeling? Is it changing? What do you feel next?” Listen without interruption and give plenty of time to feel and respond. Grounding and resourcing yourself will also help the other person.

Keeping eyes open usually is best for focusing on body sensations.

If the person can’t feel their body at all, ask, “Can you feel your feet on the ground? Your pelvis sitting on the chair?” Grasp their hand or shoulder and say “Can you feel my hand?” Always ask before touching. If lying down, ask them to sit up. Ask to walk around slowly and feel their legs and feet. Or gently hold & press their feet to the ground.

MAPS’ Psychedelic Harm Reduction manual

Go to MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) for psychedelic harm reduction resources and download manual !

“This year, millions of people will use psychedelics outside of supervised medical contexts, many of them for the first time. Many psychedelic users are unprepared to tend to a psychedelic-induced difficult experience if one were to arise. As part of our efforts to minimize harm related to the non-medical use of psychedelics, on this page we provide advice for helping someone having a difficult psychedelic experience”

MAPS PSYCHEDELIC HARM REDUCTION

Self-care in times of psychological distress

michelleBlade2

Some states of psychological distress can be more severe than others. Some might not require that you seek assistance from friends and/or health-care professionals, some can wait a little before you do, others are emergencies. Some might require medication, even hospitalization, others not necessarily or better not.

When / if your physical and mental integrity are critically at stake, you should seek competent assistance immediately (If you are a friend of such person, stay with them always and seek assistance ASAP)For example, you have been experiencing symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, depersonalization (feeling of being unreal), you have attempted suicide, are thinking about it, or have engaged in other self harming/ dangerous behaviors. A variety of symptoms can come with psychological distress, affecting your overall state, from insomnia to lack of appetite, to apathy, agression, lack of enthousiasm, increased vulnerability to infections, memory loss and other forms of cognitive impairement, and more… Your need for outside help will of course depend on the intensity and chronicity of these manifestations (or the absence of thereof, for that matter). In any case, you should maybe start taking (extra) care of yourself.

Following are some advices for self-care (still valid even if someone else is also taking care of you) to go through such times, based upon my knowledge and experience with myself and others. Please bear in mind that I am NOT a doctor nor a psychology clinician. Like I said, if your symptoms are very intense and/or long going and your mental and physical integrity are at stake, you should seek competent assistance immediately.

For more informations about mental health and what to do in specific situations, you can also look for mental health care “educational” handouts that I have posted from specialized organizations (it can be a good idea to distribute them in your community).

Mental health first aid guidelines, by MHFA Australia

Mental health care handouts, from Icarus project.

michelleBladePalmTree

SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW TO HELP and CARE FOR YOURSELF IN TIMES OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS ?

* NURTURE YOUR BODY, don’t let it down or put extra stress on it by neglecting your “vitals”. Make sure you get what you need in water, nutrients, sleep, rest / activity. Don’t tire your system more with junk food, excitants, alcohol. Re-install regular cycles for eating, sleeping… Wash. Change clothes. Get some fresh air and light. Get a massage. Use your senses, smell good smells, listen to good sounds. Get moving if you’ve only been resting, get some rest if you’ve only been running. If possible, don’t drop out of your favorite sport or hobby; that is of course, assuming you are eating, drinking water, sleeping, and that you have no injuries or disease (otherwise, physical activities might actually be harmful). In any case, don’t overdo it, your body is probably weaker. Also, in times of adversity, certain holistic disciplines (like yoga or others), practiced safely and softly, can reveal their core-lessons: your learn that you can carry yourself through life. If it has become impossible to look after yourself, consider moving in with someone nice whom you can be inspired by, and or having good people over (for example for meals), until you are able to take good care of yourself and/or taken care of by a professional.

* BE WISE ABOUT (FURTHER) ALTERING YOUR STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS  Consider strong psychological distress as an already altered state of consciousness, a painful one, with its own special chemistry. Maybe it is wiser not to fiddle with it more, at least without competent supervision. Avoid self-medication. Beware of alcohol. Remember what Bob Marley said ? Alcohol just gets you drunk man. Be wise with psychedelics: If you are unexperienced and/or without the supervision of someone who is (preferably not just in the recreative department), then you should maybe avoid them altogether (you can also look for psychoactives / psychedelik knowledge and wisdom through MAPS and/or Erowid resources). If you’re already with a habit of say, smoking pot or drinking, try not to do more, and beware of taking on a new habit you didn’t have before. Also, know that lack of sleep can play serious tricks on your mind too. Careful with sur-stimualtion of your intellect and senses. Get a rest once in a while from your computer (or other sources of mental input) and all it is feeding your burned-out-intellect with.

* IDENTIFY AND STOP SELF HARMYou are aching. You are vulnerable. With vicious logic, you might engage in behaviors that will, more or less directly and quickly, lead to more harm to yourself. Like what ? Like intoxicating yourself, not eating, over-eating, over spending, betting, taking stupid risks, cutting yourself, punching doors, being aggressive towards strangers, driving fast, not wearing a helmet, trusting the wrong persons, disclosing information, lying about your health, sabotaging or destroying your work etc. These behaviors will only make things worse. All aches will ache more eventually. You may be depressed, but if you don’t limit self-harm, then one morning you wake up and you still have a depression + liver damage + weight loss + infection + injuries + brand new addiction + no friends + your work has disappeared + god knows what. Disengage from this process.

* COME OUT about your psychological distress. Say how you are feeling, what your are going through, to your family and/or friends and/or co-workers, without ambiguity, in your own simple words, without minimizing nor exaggerating. You need not go into details, certainly not with everyone. What you want is to make sure that the persons around you and/or whom you trust, become aware that your condition is serious and that you are engaging in a process of taking extra care of yourself. If they are smart and they care about you, from then on they will not take you on crazy binge-drinking sessions on saturday nights, or drop pills down your throat screaming “you gonna be oookaay “. They will not say “I hear you”, then hand you a ten tons file to work on over the weekend. If they still do that after you’ve told them how you are, they might be ignorant/stupid and/or toxic to you, at least for now (see below): Make yourself clear once more and/or maybe avoid them…

* CAREFUL WITH THAT EXTRA LOAD OF WORK / DECLINE MORE RESPONSABILITIES ? Note -and make others note- that if you are not well, it could be irresponsible on your part to accept more responsabilities, especially when OTHER people depend on your good shape for their health and safety. Desist. Don’t raise the probability of “human-error” being made, it’s bad enough as an expression.

* ACCEPT GENUINE HELP from others, whether your know them well or not, when it comes your way. It can be that someone you didn’t think cared about you proposes to drive you somewhere you need to go. It can be a smile or a conversation with a stranger. Something warm, simple, gently destined to you. How do you know if a helping gesture is genuine and good for you ? You feel it, mostly. Of course it has a certain consistency with observable facts. As for feeling, you should feel more free, a little more alive, when you accept/receive the gesture coming from that person, not the contrary. You can know when a hand is lifting you up, or pushing you down. Trust your instinct. That said, beware of full-on saviors invading your life/privacy, especially if their personal life is a total mess !

* ACCEPT THAT HELP MIGHT NOT COME FROM WHERE YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD. We are all different, and all striving at times not to lose it. Your intense state of distress might be to hard to deal with for some, who will tend to protect themselves from it. And maybe they should, so respect that. Let them be, let go of any resentment or disappointment. Who knows, they might start providing help at other stages of the sometime long process of psychological recovery, they might help in ways you don’t recognize yet, they might not help at all. You’ll see if you can catch up with them later. DO KICK them out of your life, though, very far, if they start attacking you, being nasty or clearly disrespectful to you (see below “avoid toxic people”).

Know that when you start REDEFINING yourself, for example through therapy or even self-care, it is not unusual that your relationships, the world around you, start redefining themselves too. It can be an interesting, healthy, and pacific process, with familiar faces moving a bit afar and new faces entering your life. It is OK, it is often for the better, and it doesn’t mean the end of old good things/partnerships. Everyone gets an opportunity to change/update when you do (that they will or will not take, it’s not your call).

* SEEK GOOD COMPANY especially if being alone makes you more at risk of neglecting/hurting yourself. Ask if you can stay with someone close and/or have someone stay over and/or come for meals with you (that will make it easier to actually think about eating). Surround yourself with good harmonious lovely loving beings, inspiring, talented, and caring. Yes, some persons have all qualities and some of them are even your friends. Rub your face in these friendships. Tell them you love them.

* AVOID TOXIC PEOPLE.
I have already mentionned above the full-on savior-invader with fucked-up personal life, well, that’s one type of toxic people. There are plenty. They feed on you, they parasite or pollute you, they irritate, manipulate, exhaust or confuse you, or they make you feel like shit when you’re trying to feel better. Generally, you recognize that someone is kind of toxic to you when you feel somehow worse after they’ve “helped” you or after you’ve been with them than before. And maybe they, on the contrary, strangely look all pumped up, kind of invigorated, by your torments…

* IMPROVE / CARE FOR YOUR IMMEDIATE SURROUNDINGS/ HOME: Keep or make a clean, tidy home. Take the trash out. Open the windows once in a while, let light and air in. Have distinct spaces for distinct activities, if possible (if not possible, you can invent some sort of code/ritual to transition between space/activities). Remember what grandma said: You make the bed you wake up in. You don’t need to master Feng-shui or even “believe” in it to understand that a certain state of things in the house creates a certain flow, a certain circulation, a certain vibe, around the house, around you, that will both reflect and affect you, that will “attract” certain situations, thoughts, feelings, more than others. Well, you know what to do. Help yourself, materialize well.

* PROJECT YOURSELF,  VALUE LIFE. You like what you do ? If you don’t like what you’re doing with your life well then, no wonder you are distressed… Maybe it should be the first thing you consider changing ?! But let’s assume you really like what you do, and maybe that you are even very good at it, and maybe that you know it is very important for others – You want to be able to keep doing it, right ? As best as possible ? Is that very clear to you ? I repeat, is that very clear to you ?

* BE COURAGEOUS ! Yesit takes a load of courage, patience and dedication to get oneself through a crisis, and grow from it. And your own demons and weaknesses can be real hard to face. But guess what, once you start doing that, caring for yourself, you will have plenty more energy free to fight other fights. You will become able to help others better, and maybe in more ways, both simple and sophisticated ways. Remember : COURAGE IS CONTAGIOUS. Help yourself, help others.

Michelle Blade today

(This article was reviewed 06/05 by a friend qualified psychotherapist – It was not changed after except the section avoid toxic people was just shortened a bit not to inspire too much “paranoid” feelings – THANK YOU/HER

Art ©Michelle Blade – gathering into being

Psychological functions of privacy

What are the psychological functions of privacy ? What do the psychologists and “academicians” who have looked into it actually have to say about it ? Can we be inspired by some of their findings to better protect privacy, and/or maybe fix the “argumentative gap” with a public too prompt to resolve the problem with the “I have nothing to hide” argument ?

Researching the socio-psychological functions of privacy through its literature in social sciences I find that the works of Westin, Pedersen, Altman seem to have been influentials, ever since they were published already some years ago. Their “models” and understanding of the complex concept of privacy have inspired researchers after them.

Alan Westin, for instance, author of Privacy and Freedom, identified 4 types of privacy : solitude, intimacy, anonymity and reserve – and 4 functions of privacy : personal autonomy, emotional release, self-evaluation, and protected communication 

Darhl M Pedersen, contributed numerous research on the subject in social psychology, starting with The Psychological Functions Of Privacy, where he empirically identified 5 functions of privacy: contemplation, autonomy, rejuvenation, confiding and creativity.     

Environmental psychologist Irwin Altman also researched and wrote about personal space and privacy.

I came across a Literature review on the subject of privacy inside another article TOWARDS A PRIVACY FRAMEWORK FOR INFORMATION SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT, by Peter J. Carew and Larry Stapleton.

Here it is below.

2. PRIVACY: A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

The concept of privacy appears in the literature of several disciplines. There is no universal definition for privacy, and numerous authors have highlighted the difficulties in producing such a definition (cf. Burgoon, 1982; Leino-Kilpi, et al., 2001; Newell, 1998). Theorists argue over whether privacy is a condition, a process or a goal (Newell, 1998). While privacy may be a difficult concept to characterise concisely, the various definitions do have substantial commonalities. One group of definitions emphasise seclusion, withdrawal, and avoidance of interaction with others. The second group puts more emphasis on the control individuals have over their lives.

There are a number of formal models of privacy in the literature, but the theories of Alan Westin (e.g. Westin, 1970) and Irwin Altman (e.g. Altman, 1976) are considered authoritative. Their theories and ideas have stood the test of time and have been the basis of research for many subsequent authors (Margulis, 2003; Pedersen, 1999, 1997; Petronio, 1991). The remainder of this section provides an aggregated overview of some of the core aspects of privacy compiled from the most influential literature. These core aspects set out the theoretical background against which any ISD privacy theory must be constructed.

TOWARDS A PRIVACY FRAMEWORK FOR ISD

3 2.1. Privacy Types, Functions and Mechanisms

People experience and desire several states, or types, of privacy. These include the four identified by Westin (1970): solitude, intimacy, anonymity and reserve. Solitude means to be alone and free from observation by others. Intimacy refers to being alone with a small group to the exclusion of others (e.g. family), and concerns close relationships. Anonymity refers to being unrecognised in a public place – to be inconspicuous and blend into the crowd. Reserve is based on a desire to limit disclosures to others. Pedersen (1997, 1999) extended Westin‟s model by adding isolation (i.e. using physical distance to be alone) and splitting intimacy into intimacy with family and intimacy with friends. Burgoon (1982) identified the following broad dimensions of privacy: social, physical, informational and psychological.

Privacy functions refer to why individuals seek privacy. Westin (1970) identified four functions of privacy: personal autonomy, emotional release, self-evaluation, and limited and protected communication. Personal autonomy relates to independence and self-identity. It is the desire to avoid being manipulated, dominated or exposed by others. Emotional release refers to freedom from the tensions of social life, and being able to deviate from social norms, roles, rules and customs safely. Self-evaluation refers to integrating experience into meaningful patterns, and the opportunity to plan and assess future actions (i.e. self-reflection and assessment). Limited and protected communication provides the opportunity to share personal information with trusted others. Altman (1976) describes three functions of privacy: interpersonal, the interface to the self and the social world, and self-identity. Pedersen (1997, 1999) empirically identified five basic functions of privacy: contemplation, autonomy, rejuvenation, confiding and creativity. From a systems point of view, Newell (1998) argues that privacy provides an opportunity for restabilisation, system maintenance (i.e. healthy physiological and cognitive functioning) and system development (i.e. towards autonomy and self-actualisation). Individuals may seek to protect their privacy to avoid e.g. embarrassment, harassment, ridicule, shame, scrutiny or discrimination (Shapiro and Baker, 2001).

Behavioural mechanisms are used to achieve a desired level of privacy. These mechanisms include verbal, paraverbal (e.g. tone), non-verbal (e.g. gestures), environmental behaviour (e.g. personal space and territoriality), and cultural norms and customs (Altman, 1976; Pedersen, 1999). Personal space is an invisible zone surrounding the human body, separating people from one another (Leino-Kilpi, et al., 2001). Territoriality refers to a perceived ownership of areas, objects, knowledge or status. These privacy mechanisms function as an integrated system, supporting and substituting each other as appropriate (Altman, 1976).

2.2. Circumstance, Individuality and Culture

Privacy interests vary in both content and magnitude across situations and individuals. What may be trivial to one individual may be significant to another (Shapiro and Baker, 2001). Relevant personal factors include the individual‟s need for privacy, personal attractiveness, interpersonal skills, personality variables, and ability to use privacy control mechanisms effectively (Pedersen, 1999). Personality variables include extraversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, openness to experience, and conscientiousness (Zweig and Webster, 2003). Gender also can impact on privacy preferences (Newell, 1998; Pedersen, 1999). Some cultures have a stronger preference for privacy and more privacy needs than others (Kaya and Weber, 2003). The need for privacy is universal but manifestations and privacy mechanisms are culturally specific (Margulis, 2003; Newell, 1998). For example, local culture has been shown to affect people‟s perceptions of crowding (Hall, 1966).

2.3. Intrusion and Privacy Violation

Intrusion essentially is when the desired level for privacy is higher than the actual level being enjoyed (Altman, 1976). Altman‟s process oriented model for social interaction is useful for further describing what is meant by intrusion or privacy violation. In Altman‟s theory, privacy has five properties: units of privacy, the dialectic nature of privacy, the non-monotonic nature of privacy, privacy as a boundary control process, and privacy as a bi-directional process (Altman, 1976). Units of privacy refer to the fact that privacy applies at the individual and group levels, and differences exist in privacy dynamics for various social units (Altman, 1976; Margulis, 2003). The units of privacy can be person-to-person, person-to-group, group-to-person or group-to-group (Leino- Kilpi, et al., 2001). The dialectic nature of privacy refers to the fact that individuals continuously change their desire for interpersonal contact. There are two opposing forces at work at all times – one drawing individuals together, and another pushing them apart. Privacy can, thus, be viewed as a dynamic, dialectic process where the need for solitude and the need for interpersonal contact are constantly in opposition. The desired level of privacy depends on which of the two opposing forces is strongest at a given time. The non-monotonic nature of privacy refers to the fact that there is an optimal level of privacy at a given time, and people can have too much privacy (e.g. social isolation) or too little privacy (e.g. crowding). Privacy as a boundary regulation process offers the notion of a flexible barrier between the self and non-self, which can be opened or closed depending on circumstance (Altman, 1976; Petronio, 1991). Finally, privacy can be viewed as a bi- directional process, involving controlling inputs from others and outputs to others.

In terms of Altman‟s model, intrusion therefore depends on a number of factors. Different social units have different privacy needs (e.g. family, work group, individual), these needs change frequently, and it is possible to have too much or too little privacy. While too much interaction may be experienced as an invasion of privacy, too little may be experienced as loneliness or alienation (Pedersen, 1999). Being forced to interact (i.e. receive input or provide output) beyond the level of interaction desired in a given circumstance is an intrusion as the forced participation implies an attempt to break through the flexible mental barrier (cf. Altman, 1976). The ability to control interactions is essential for privacy management.

Technology has long been recognised as posing a significant threat to the privacy of personal data. The following section looks at some of the privacy related ethical issues in the information society. It shows how ICT is shaping society and the workplace and highlights some dilemmas facing the ethical ISD professional.

P. Carew, and L. Stapleton (2005). „Towards a Privacy Framework for Information Systems Development‟, in O. Vaselicas, W. Wojtowski & G. Wojtowski (eds.), Information Systems Development: Advances in Theory, Practice and Education, Kluwer Academic Press/ Plenum

MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID: Free guidelines to download from MHFA Australia

Mental health first aid has been defined as the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate professional treatment is received or until the crisis resolves. Training courses started to be developed in Australia by Betty Kitchener, and Anthony Jorm in 2001, then spread to other countries (…)”. It aims apparently to “increase mental health literacy, expand knowledge on how to help someone in a psychological crisis, connect individuals with professionals, and reduce stigma”.

But then MHFA stems from a medical model which can have its limits. It has been argued that it could in fact result in more stigma, if not more alienation, through the use of clinical labels, prompt resort to medical authorities / psychiatric services, and medication. These points are addressed in Three reviews of mental health first aid on the Mad In America website:

Edward Duff: Mental Health First Aid is pretty good if you ignore the labeling system and just pay attention to the very gentle form of peer support, harm-reduction, and listening they advocate. This is a big IF since the main response of the program is to lead people into psychiatric services. It’s also a form of response short of an emergency hospitalization/capture scenario. This can be a very good thing to avoid, for sure.”  

With this in mind, you can explore MHFA Australia material on how to pick up signals, how to approach and help someone with depression, psychosis, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, panic attacks, drug or alcohol use problems… or help returning to work after depression. Also, it has guidelines adapted to different cultures.

* MHFA Australia free GUIDELINES * 

“In order to improve the quality of the mental health first aid techniques being taught to the public, MHFA Australia and researchers in the Mental Health Literacy Research Team lead by Professor Tony Jorm (now the Population Mental Health Group at the University of Melbourne) have developed guidelines on what constitutes best practice first aid, as informed by expert consensus (i.e., consensus-based guidelines). (…) Guidelines in the following areas have been developed, and are available for free download below.

How to use these guidelines 

These guidelines are a general set of recommendations about how you can help someone who may be experiencing ———. Each individual is unique and it is important to tailor your support to that person’s needs. These recommendations therefore will not be appropriate for every person who may have ———-.

Also, the guidelines are designed to be suitable for providing first aid in developed English-speaking countries. They may not be suitable for other cultural groups or for countries with different health systems.

Although these guidelines are copyright, they can be freely reproduced for non-profit purposes provided the source is acknowledged.

Please cite these guidelines as follows:
Mental Health First Aid Australia. Psychosis: first aid guidelines. Melbourne: Mental Health First Aid Australia; 2008. Enquiries should be sent to: 

Mental Health First Aid Australia email: mhfa@mhfa.com.au 

GO TO the DOWNLOAD PAGE 

sources: wikipedia, mhfa.com.aukeccs.org, mad in america.

“Navigating the space between brilliance and madness” : The Icarus Project

icarus_youarenotalone

The Icarus Project is a “radical mental health support network, online community, and alternative media project by and for people struggling with extreme emotional distress that often gets labeled as mental illness.” You can read their mission statement, here. Principles like access, transparency, looking beyond the medical, self and/or alternative education, all guide a relaxed yet resolute, diffracting yet convergent, initiative for the well-being of extra-ordinary people. Browsing through their pages you’ll find they provide a lot of resources (articles, forums, etc.) to help one “navigate the space between brilliance and madness”. It will speak to whoever is confronted to “madness” at some point in their life, one way or another, in a world that is constantly LOSING IT in many aspects.

Taking care of oneself or helping someone in a psychological crisis can be tricky. Not everybody is experienced or comfortable in dealing with different, awkward, or extreme states of consciousness. As a matter of fact, many people it seems become clueless when confronted to psychological distress, even their own… Some psychological states are indeed impressive, and some can actually threaten a person’s mental and physical integrity. But with appropriate reactions (often rather simple ones, like keeping the voice down or introducing oneself), informed attention, kindness and clear intentions, a little help can go a long way in supporting recovery or preventing harm. Even better is the care we can provide as a group, attentive, resilient, aware and creative, because it will be more sustainable, and so the recovery or at least the safety of the person will stand more chances too in the long term.

So how to take care of oneself when the mind is troubled ? How to take care of friends, of strangers, of friends who suddenly become strangers ? Breaking the taboo around “madness” in one’s community can be a good start, making a safe space, becoming a bit more literate in psychology / caregiving, aware and confident… By not being afraid to do good ?

Following is a small selection of handouts, information sheets, guides and zines I found on Icarus website relative to psychological care. They are all interesting to read, print, post, share. They can give you insight and clues and confidence. All Icarus Project material is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND.

NAVIGATING CRISIS handout

“Someone’s personality starts to make strange changes, they’re not sleeping or sleeping all day, they lose touch with the people around them, they disappear into their room for days, they have wild energy and outlandish plans, they start to dwell on suicide and hopelessness, they stop eating or taking care of themselves, or they start taking risks and being reckless. They become a different person. They’re in crisis. The word “crisis” comes from a root meaning “judgment.” A crisis is a moment of great tension and meeting the unknown. It’s a turning point when things can’t go on the way they have, and the situation isn’t going to hold. Could crisis be an opportunity for breakthrough, not just breakdown? Can we learn about each other and ourselves as a community through crisis? Can we see crisis as an opportunity to judge a situation and ourselves carefully, not just react with panic and confusion or turn things over to the authorities? “

CRISIS PLANNER pdf

“Noticing and responding to symptoms early reduces the chances that you will find yourself in crisis. But it is important to confront the possibility of a crisis because in spite of your best planning and assertive action in your own behalf, you could find yourself in a situation where others will need to take over responsibility for your care. (…) Writing a clear crisis plan when you are well, to instruct others about how to care for you when you are not well keeps you taking responsibility for your own care.”

HELP GETTING TO SLEEP information sheet

“Not sleeping for long periods of time is extremely dangerous for physical and emotional 

FIRST AID FOR EMOTIONAL TRAUMA information sheet 

“Trauma (or post-traumatic stress disorder) is the emotional “shock” after a life-threatening, violent event. Anything that makes our body panic and go into a fight/flight/freeze response can leave us traumatized. The effects may be immediate or take time to surface, and can be felt for the rest of our lives. “

HURTING YOURSELF zine

“how to take care of yourself when you feel the urge to hurt yourself ”

* HARM REDUCTION GUIDE TO COMING OFF PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS 

Excerpt : “Applying harm reduction philosophy to mental health is a new but growing approach. It means not always trying to eliminate “symptoms” or discontinue all medications. It recognizes that people are already taking psychiatric drugs, already trying to come off them, and already living with symptoms — and that in this complicated reality people need true help, not judgment. It encourages balancing the different risks involved: the harm from extreme states, as well as the harm from treatments such as adverse drug effects, disempowering labels, and traumatic hospitalization.

Making harm reduction decisions means looking honestly at all sides of the equation: how drugs might help a life that feels out of control, how risky those same drugs might be, and the role of options and alternatives. Any decisions become a process of experimentation and learning, including learning from your own mistakes and changing your goals along the way. Harm reduction accepts all this, believing that the essence of any healthy life is the capacity to be empowered.”

 

 

Le ventre notre deuxieme cerveau

Le ventre notre deuxieme cerveau

– Marie-Odile Monchicourt, France info, info science – 11 Juin 2012

S’il réagit aux antidépresseurs, il peut aider à prévenir la maladie de Parkinson… Depuis quelques années, la recherche accumule les indices qui font de cet organe rien de moins qu’un deuxième cerveau. Avec Michel Neunlist, directeur de l’unité 913 de l’INSERM. “Il possède autant de neurones que la moelle épinière et pourtant, il ne loge pas sous notre crâ^ne, mais dans notre ventre ! Lui, c’est le “système nerveux entérique” ou SNE, un réseau dense de neurones étroitement connectés entre eux, qui enveloppe tout l’intestin.