News 03.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 03.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 03.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 03.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Your boss is demanding that you work on a document even though your workday is over. Suddenly, you find yourself bursting into tears or struggling to catch your breath. Or the kids are fighting again, and you lose it, yelling at them to stop, and immediately you’re beating yourself up for losing your temper. You don’t know what to do with these feelings, so you end up just stuffing them away, or burying them with your unhealthy distraction of choice.

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry, you’re not alone. At times, we all have strong emotional reactions that we struggle with – that’s just part of being human. But, for some people, the inability to manage emotions in healthy, effective ways can be a pervasive problem, and this can come with a lot of negative consequences.

In the right amounts, emotions serve a useful purpose. They provide us with information, influence our decisions, and compel us to act. For example, if you experience fear when you’re walking alone at night and you hear footsteps nearby, your brain automatically mobilises you to get ready to run in case there’s danger. Or if you’re being treated in an unfair way, anger will motivate you to make changes so that people treat you more fairly.

Read the rest of this article at: Psyche

News 03.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Balmoral in Chestnut

Shop the Balmoral in Chestnut
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South of downtown Columbus, Ohio, lost on the way to a tailgate, I saw the road sign bearing his name. The brown aluminum placard flashed between passing cars. I’d been holding my phone, listening to directions, and I dropped it. I could hardly make out the words on the sign, and then it disappeared behind semis, but I knew what they said: Army Specialist Nicholaus E. Zimmer Memorial Highway. Fifteen years earlier, when he’d been killed by a rocket-propelled grenade near Kufa, Iraq, I was on a base four hours north, staring at dark hills and crooked coils of concertina wire during a quiet 12–4 a.m. guard-duty shift.

I thought about merging into the right lane to pull over. A guy from our basic-training platoon, now a truck driver, had stopped on this freeway years back and taken a selfie with the sign. A bunch of us “liked” it on Facebook. Guys typed things like “RIP Nick” and “Miss you brother.” I always told myself I’d go see the sign. I never had.

As I moved with the hundreds of other vehicles, I was angry to be among the anonymous mass passing his name. No one here fucking knows Zimmer, I thought. I also sensed a self-deprecating awareness: Yes, how sad, I’d seen the name of a dead friend on a road sign and now felt a numb indifference to the rest of the day—to the first football game of the season for the nationally ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 03.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 03.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In the fall of 1972, a psychiatrist named Salvador Roquet travelled from his home in Mexico City to the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, an institution largely funded by the United States government, to give a presentation on an ongoing experiment. For several years, Roquet had been running a series of group-therapy sessions: over the course of eight or nine hours, his staff would administer psilocybin mushrooms, morning-glory seeds, peyote cacti, and the herb datura to small groups of patients. He would then orchestrate what he called a “sensory overload show,” with lights, sounds, and images from violent or erotic movies. The idea was to push the patients through an extreme experience to a psycho-spiritual rebirth. One of the participants, an American psychology professor, described the session as a “descent into hell.” But Roquet wanted to give his patients smooth landings, and so, eventually, he added a common hospital anesthetic called ketamine hydrochloride. He found that, given as the other drugs were wearing off, it alleviated the anxiety brought on by these punishing ordeals.

Clinicians at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center had been studying LSD and other psychedelics since the early nineteen-fifties, beginning at a related institution, the Spring Grove Hospital Center. But ketamine was new: it was first synthesized in 1962, by a researcher named Calvin Stevens, who did consulting work for the pharmaceutical company Parke-Davis. (Stevens had been looking for a less volatile alternative to phencyclidine, better known as PCP.) Two years later, a doctor named Edward Domino conducted the first human trials of ketamine, with men incarcerated at Jackson State Prison, in Michigan, serving as his subjects. At higher doses, Domino noticed, ketamine knocked people out, but at lower ones it produced odd psychoactive effects on otherwise lucid patients. Parke-Davis wanted to avoid characterizing the drug as psychedelic, and Domino’s wife suggested the term “dissociative anesthetic” to describe the way it seemed to separate the mind from the body even as the mind retained consciousness. The F.D.A. approved ketamine as an anesthetic in 1970, and Parke-Davis began marketing it under the brand name Ketalar. It was widely used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, and remains a standard anesthetic in emergency rooms around the world.

Roquet found other uses for it. After his lecture in Maryland, he offered experiential training to the clinicians there. “I was introduced to the strangest psychoactive substance I have ever experienced in the 50 years of my consciousness research,” the psychiatrist Stanislav Grof recalls in “The Ketamine Papers,” a book edited by the psychiatrist Phil Wolfson and the researcher Glenn Hartelius. Grof subsequently experimented with ketamine personally, and found himself inhabiting the perspectives of a wet towel hanging on a railing overlooking the ocean, petroleum filling the cavities of the earth, and the prisms of a diamond. “In one of my ketamine sessions, I became a tadpole undergoing a metamorphosis into a frog, and in another one, a giant silverback gorilla claiming his territory,” Grof writes.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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News 03.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In May 2021, Twitter, a platform notorious for abuse and hot-headedness, rolled out a “prompts” feature that suggests users think twice before sending a tweet. The following month, Facebook announced AI “conflict alerts” for groups, so that admins can take action where there may be “contentious or unhealthy conversations taking place.” Email and messaging smart-replies finish billions of sentences for us every day. Amazon’s Halo, launched in 2020, is a fitness band that monitors the tone of your voice. Wellness is no longer just the tracking of a heartbeat or the counting of steps, but the way we come across to those around us. Algorithmic therapeutic tools are being developed to predict and prevent negative behavior.

Jeff Hancock, a professor of communication at Stanford University, defines AI-mediated communication as when “an intelligent agent operates on behalf of a communicator by modifying, augmenting, or generating messages to accomplish communication goals.” This technology, he says, is already deployed at scale.

Beneath it all is a burgeoning belief that our relationships are just a nudge away from perfection. Since the start of the pandemic, more of our relationships depend on computer-mediated channels. Amid a churning ocean of online spats, toxic Slack messages, and infinite Zoom, could algorithms help us be nicer to each other? Can an app read our feelings better than we can? Or does outsourcing our communications to AI chip away at what makes a human relationship human?

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.