Saturday, April 20, 2013

Recent Publications Review, Part 1 - 4.20.13: Psychology of Terrorism: The Psychology of a Boston Marathon Terrorist - National Journal | What Makes a Terrorist Terrorize? PolicyMic | Brothers in Arms: Sibling Psychology and the Bombing Suspects - TIME

Recent Publications Review, Part 1 - 4.20.13


Psychology of Terrorism (link to GS)


The Psychology of a Boston Marathon Terrorist - National Journal

Victims of explosions are facing a long road ahead - Boston Globe

The Boston Bombings: Peculiar Benefits of the 9/11 Wars
TIME
“The field of disaster psychiatry and disaster mental health has progressed immensely since 9/11,” says Elspeth “Cam” Ritchie, who before retiring as an Army colonel in 2010 spent her final years in uniform as the service's top psychiatrist. Instead of ... 


What Makes a Terrorist Terrorize? 

PolicyMic
“The popular image of the terrorist as an individual motivated exclusively by deep and intransigent political commitment obscures a more complex reality,” explains Dr. Martha Crenshaw of Stanford University in a report, Psychology of Terrorism ...


Brothers in Arms: Sibling Psychology and the Bombing Suspects
TIME
Proximity is a critical element in what psychologists call “delinquency training” among siblings. This is true for lower-grade risk behaviors like smoking or drinking, since a younger sibling, who typically picks up the habit later than an older one ...
Bomb Suspects Now Mysterious to Those Who Thought They Knew ThemBloomberg
Boston Marathon Manhunt: Are the Tsarnaev Brothers a New Type Of 'All ...PolicyMic

all 5,326 news articles »


Huffington Post

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, brothers, have been identified by authorities as the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. Details are emerging about them online and from interviews with family and neighbors -- but there's little to explain how they wound up as suspects in a terrorist attack.

Liana Woskie told The Huffington Post that she went to the Cambridge Rindge & Latin School with Tamerlan Tsarnaev and was in his high school graduating class of '06. He was on the volleyball team, she said.

More...






Letter to a Foreign Psychiatrist - Psychiatric Timeswww.psychiatrictimes.comBein...
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Letter to a Foreign Psychiatrist - Psychiatric Times
www.psychiatrictimes.com
Being foreign can be an advantage. Only an outsider sees assumptions that insiders take to be self-evident.

The Psychology of a Boston Marathon Terrorist - National Journal
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The Psychology of a Boston Marathon Terrorist
National Journal
The two brothers actually fit into an emerging trend, according to G.I. Wilson, a retired Marine Corps Reserve officer and militancy expert who specializes in counterterrorism, criminal behavior andforensic psychology. “Terrorists are not psychotics ...

and more »

Key developments in Boston bombings investigation - CNN
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Key developments in Boston bombings investigation
CNN
Law enforcement personnel swarm the campus, which is located just west of New Bedford and about 60 miles south of Boston. -- Numerous activities scheduled for Friday night are canceled around ... Dzhokar Tsarnaev's friends expressed shock about his ...

and more »

Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing; Current and Future Worldwide ... - Power Engineering Magazine
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Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing; Current and Future Worldwide ...
Power Engineering Magazine
However, a more radical group might form to inflict more systemic impacts--such as disrupting financial networks--or accidentally trigger unintended consequences that could be misinterpreted as a state-sponsored attack. Cybercriminals also ... However ...

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What's in a name? | Critical Psychiatry, Critical Mass.
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The cyclingsocialworker on psychiatry, politics, philosophy...and pedalling.

Critical Psychology: Contributions to an Historical Science of the ...
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GO Critical Psychology: Contributions to an Historical Science of the Subject Author: Charles W. Tolman, Wolfgang Maiers Type: eBook. Language: English Released: 2006. Publisher: No Page Count: 284. Format: pdf ...

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Sport and Exercise Psychology | idrottsforum.org
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A strong educational approach, emphasizing critical reflection” – this summarizes Sofia Bunke's opinion of Sport and Exercise Psychology, written by Joanne Thatcher, Melissa Day and Rachel Rahman.

Therapeutic legislating | Critical Psychiatry, Critical Mass.
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The cyclingsocialworker on psychiatry, politics, philosophy...and pedalling.

What is Critical Psychiatry? - cope-yp
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There are important differences between the antipsychiatry of the 1960s and present-day critical
psychiatry; there are also important points of convergence, but the two nonetheless are quite different. Some of these similarities ...

Special Thematic Section on “Decolonizing Psychological Science”
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We welcome contributions not just from perspectives of cultural psychology, liberation psychology, or social and political psychology, but also from such related perspectives as community psychology, critical psychology...

Choosing a College When Mental Health Is an Issue | Psychology ...
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The quality of the psychological services offered at the school is clearly of critical importance. Find out whether the school has a Counseling and Psychological Services (sometimes referred to as “CAPS”) office or its ...

Novel, Effective Antidepressant Still Not Ready for Prime Time - Medscape
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Medscape

Novel, Effective Antidepressant Still Not Ready for Prime Time
Medscape
With most antidepressants taking weeks to have effect, the availability of a novel, rapid-acting antidepressant could be of critical value to patients with severe, treatment-resistant depression, but Dr. Murrough cautioned that the understanding of ...


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Critical Voices: Shutting Them Down | Psychology Today
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Don't let self-criticism run and ruin your life By Robert Taibbi, L.C.S.W....

Clutching at genetic straws for impersonal treatment
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Jeremy Laurance in The Independent says that a study led by Hugh Gurling has opened up the prospect of so-called personalised treatment of bipolar disorder with drugs targeting the metabotropic glutamate receptor 3 (mGluR3). This is based on a finding that the Kozak sequence variant of the glutamate receptor 3 (GRM3) gene, which encodes for mGluR3, was overrepresented in a sample of bipolar disorder cases compared with controls. As the paper concludes, confirmation of this finding is needed before accepting this potential marker. It could just be a chance finding based on screening until a significant result is found.

As the paper also points out, "The GRM3 gene has been investigated in bipolar affective disorder as part of several genome-wide association studies (GWASs) but failed to reach genome-wide significance in any of these investigations." Still research goes on with this gene because it is assumed the failure to find genetic association is "probably the result of the presence of low-frequency disease alleles and the high degree of etiologic genetic heterogeneity".  Actually it's more likely that there's no genetic link.

I haven't forgotten Hugh Gurling's false claim in Nature in 1988 that he'd found strong evidence for the involvement of a single gene on chromosome 5 in the causation of schizophrenia. Jeremy Laurance shouldn't be so easily taken in by claims for so-called personalised (actually there's nothing personal about it in the sense of relating to patients) psychiatry.

Critical psychiatry: Clutching at genetic straws for impersonal treatment
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Critical psychiatry. Critical comment and debate about psychiatry. Saturday, April 13, 2013. Clutching at genetic straws for ... Critical psychiatry website links. Articles critical of psychiatry · Book recommendations. Followers. Follow by Email ...

Book Review: Humanizing Psychiatrists by Niall McLaren, M.D. - Blogcritics.org (blog)
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Blogcritics.org (blog)

Book Review: Humanizing Psychiatrists by Niall McLaren, M.D.
Blogcritics.org (blog)
Humanizing Psychiatrists also has many valid points, although its approach is more critical and somewhat mocking of the profession to the point where it may be off-putting to readers and even offensive to some. That said, if readers can look past ...


Evolution Marketing Research Grows its Practice with Addition of Three Key ... - PR Newswire (press release)
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Evolution Marketing Research Grows its Practice with Addition of Three Key ...
PR Newswire (press release)
Earlier in his career, Fureman supported research and training initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania Psychiatry Department. ... As Field Coordinator, Sesa leverages her strong skills related to pharmaceutical research and project management ...


The New School: Critical Psychology: Fix Event Spreads New Hope ...
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The New School: Critical Psychology. Reporting, commentaries and opinion pieces on current events, politics, arts, media and contemporary issues viewed through a critical psychological lens.

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The New School: Critical Psychology: See what all the hoo-hah is ...
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The New School: Critical Psychology. Reporting, commentaries and opinion pieces on current events, politics, arts, media and contemporary issues viewed through a critical psychological lens.

Wage Theft in the US - UC Los Angeles
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Wage Theft in the US
UC Los Angeles
Annette Stanton, UCLA professor of psychology and of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, was interviewed Friday on BBC Radio about expressive writing, a therapeutic technique that involves writing about one's emotions to improve one's health ...


German Center for Forensic Psychiatry Relies on Intelligent Ascom Technology - Business Wire (press release)
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German Center for Forensic Psychiatry Relies on Intelligent Ascom Technology
Business Wire (press release)
At the core of our service offering is the creation of added value for the customer through the support and optimization of his mission-critical processes. Customers include the health care system (hospitals, psychiatric facilities), the manufacturing ...


The Devil in History - FrontPage Magazine
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The Devil in History
FrontPage Magazine
Initially, I was attracted, like so many in my generation, to neo-Marxist, or humanist Marxist theories, including the Frankfurt School's Critical Theory. Later .... Marx failed to comprehend humanpsychology, or, better said, the human soul. A great ...


William Newsome to co-chair $100 million brain-research initiative - The Stanford Daily
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William Newsome to co-chair $100 million brain-research initiative
The Stanford Daily
Two of these members — Associate Professor of Biology and Applied Physics Mark Schnitzer and Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Karl Deisseroth Ph.D. '98 M.D. '00 M.F. '03 — are also from Stanford. The committee has ...


Gay therapy is not just sticks and stones: Opinion - NJ.com (blog)
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NJ.com (blog)

Gay therapy is not just sticks and stones: Opinion
NJ.com (blog)
As a psychiatric expert critical of sexual conversion “therapies,” I understand the editorial board's concerns. I even shared similar views with a Star-Ledger reporter last fall after California passed its own ban. I was skeptical about legislation as ...


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Victims of explosions are facing a long road ahead - Boston Globe
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Boston Globe

Victims of explosions are facing a long road ahead
Boston Globe
As of Tuesday night, 70 of the injured remained in Boston hospitals, 24 of them in critical condition. In the months and years ahead, ... She plans to attend Middlesex Community College in the fall and wants to study psychology. She survived one major ...

and more »

The Boston Bombings: Peculiar Benefits of the 9/11 Wars - TIME
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TIME

The Boston Bombings: Peculiar Benefits of the 9/11 Wars
TIME
“The field of disaster psychiatry and disaster mental health has progressed immensely since 9/11,” says Elspeth “Cam” Ritchie, who before retiring as an Army colonel in 2010 spent her final years in uniform as the service's top psychiatrist. Instead of ...


and more »

Optimism can lead to unrealistic voter expectations in elections - PhysOrg.com - Phys.Org
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Optimism can lead to unrealistic voter expectations in elections - PhysOrg.com
Phys.Org
To better understand what fuels voter optimism, Krizan and Kate Sweeny, a psychology professor at the University of California-Riverside, led a study published online in Psychological Science to see how voter expectations changed in the month leading ...


Mind-body duality outdated - Toronto Star
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Mind-body duality outdated
Toronto Star
Mr. Lungo did recognize that cyberbullying is harmful; but he made what he called the “critical” distinction that it “primarily relates to conduct that harmfully affects the psyche, and not the person.” In doing this, he displayed his adherence to the ...


Dealing With CyberBullies - Mesquite Citizen Journal
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Dealing With CyberBullies
Mesquite Citizen Journal
Bullying cannot be solved by law or psychology or medication. Our children require ... These women are trying to educate us to the fact two parents, alone cannot get the critical job accomplished of raising a well rounded child safely into adulthood ...

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The Propaganda System That Has Helped Create a Permanent Overclass Is ... - Truth-Out
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The Propaganda System That Has Helped Create a Permanent Overclass Is ...
Truth-Out
The development of psychology, psychoanalysis, and other disciplines increasingly portrayed the “public” and the population as irrational beings incapable of making their own decisions. The premise was simple: if the population was driven by dangerous ...


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Integration of alternative therapies shows promise in PTSD treatment - Healio
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Integration of alternative therapies shows promise in PTSD treatment
Healio
“Integrating [complementary and alternative medicine] therapies with sound evidence-based practice allows the provider to tailor treatments to the needs of their individual patients,” study researcher Lt. Cmdr. Paul D. Sargent, MD, told Psychiatric ...


Relationship expert gives couples tips to strengthen bond - The Desert Sun
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Relationship expert gives couples tips to strengthen bond
The Desert Sun
Campbell, who is also an assistant professor of psychology at Cal State San Bernardino, is fascinated by the factors that keep couples together. Love is also a subject of her research, looking at how feelings of euphoria amplifies or curtails ...


Thomson Reuters Identifies 100 Key Scientific Research Fronts - Wall Street Journal
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Thomson Reuters Identifies 100 Key Scientific Research Fronts
Wall Street Journal
Specifically, the effects of climate change are present in the areas of Agricultural, Plant and Animal Sciences; Ecology and Environmental Sciences; Geosciences; and, Economics, Psychology and other Social Sciences. Data from Thomson ... We combine ...

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What Makes a Terrorist Terrorize? - PolicyMic
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PolicyMic

What Makes a Terrorist Terrorize?

PolicyMic
“The popular image of the terrorist as an individual motivated exclusively by deep and intransigent political commitment obscures a more complex reality,” explains Dr. Martha Crenshaw of Stanford University in a report, Psychology of Terrorism ...


KAZAKHSTAN: Imprisoned atheist mad, bad, or neither? - Forum 18
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KAZAKHSTAN: Imprisoned atheist mad, bad, or neither?
Forum 18
Imprisoned atheist Aleksandr Kharlamov is due to undergo a second officially-ordered psychiatricexamination since his 14 March arrest, as Kazakhstan's prosecutors seek to jail him on criminal charges of "inciting religious hatred". He rejects the ...


Psychologists and Torture: Accountability Still Awaits - OpEdNews
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Psychologists and Torture: Accountability Still Awaits
OpEdNews
Included as well is a critical appraisal of the American Psychological Association's 2005 "PENS Report" on psychological ethics and national security. The Report on Detainee Treatment notes that the PENS Task Force, while asserting that it is ethical ...


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The Importance of Storytelling as a Tool in the Practice of Law - Law.com - The National Law Journal
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The National Law Journal

The Importance of Storytelling as a Tool in the Practice of Law - Law.com
The National Law Journal
Numerous other disciplines, from neuroscience to psychology to literature, have focused their attention on these issues, and have much to teach about why certain tales matter more than others. The findings of these studies would allow us to better ...


The Huge Mistake Apple Investors Are Making - Motley Fool
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The Huge Mistake Apple Investors Are Making
Motley Fool
Whenever you draw an arbitrary line in the sand for a particular financial metric such as a stock price or index level, you're anchoring your perspective on that stock to your chosen number, even if it's based on nothing other than psychology ...

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Bush and Obama: Dangerous Narcissists - The Peoples Voice - The People's Voice
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The People's Voice

Bush and Obama: Dangerous Narcissists - The Peoples Voice
The People's Voice 

In 2005, Professor Psychiatry Justin Frank headlined "Bush on the Couch." He traced his character development from childhood through the
 .... If he's psychotic at critical times, that's all that matters. As president, even a second of psychosis is ...

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Sleeping on it helps memories stick - Futurity: Research News
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Sleeping on it helps memories stick
Futurity: Research News
Delphine Oudiette, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of psychology at Northwestern University and lead author of the study, designed the experiment to study how participants remembered locations of objects on a computer screen. A value assigned ...


Means, at the Ends of Ethics - Huffington Post (blog)
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Means, at the Ends of Ethics
Huffington Post (blog)
There are challenges related to tradeoffs between beneficial and adverse effects, particularly with high-risk surgical and critical care procedures. In this context, the question of ends justifying means comes up ... Psychology experiments famously ...


Boston Is One of the Best Prepared US Cities to Handle a Crisis - The Atlantic Cities
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The Atlantic Cities

Boston Is One of the Best Prepared US Cities to Handle a Crisis
The Atlantic Cities
The most serious casualties were distributed among area hospitals, a technique known to optimizecritical care during disaster events. Boston Marathon medical tents set up for fatigued runners were transformed within minutes .... "Government agencies ...


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Fear Shuts Down Boston - Huffington Post
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Fear Shuts Down Boston
Huffington Post
Yet another critical aspect of risk perception psychology playing out in this incredible moment is the importance of trust, and in that sense, the overreaction of law enforcement and the military is a good thing, not only now but down the road. We can ...


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The huge mistake Apple investors are making - ninemsn - Ninemsn
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The huge mistake Apple investors are making - ninemsn
Ninemsn
Whenever you draw an arbitrary line in the sand for a particular financial metric such as a stock price or index level, you're anchoring your perspective on that stock to your chosen number, even if it's based on nothing other than psychology ...

and more »

Brothers in Arms: Sibling Psychology and the Bombing Suspects - TIME
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TIME

Brothers in Arms: Sibling Psychology and the Bombing Suspects
TIME
Proximity is a critical element in what psychologists call “delinquency training” among siblings. This is true for lower-grade risk behaviors like smoking or drinking, since a younger sibling, who typically picks up the habit later than an older one ...
Bomb Suspects Now Mysterious to Those Who Thought They Knew ThemBloomberg
Boston Marathon Manhunt: Are the Tsarnaev Brothers a New Type Of 'All ...PolicyMic

all 5,326 news articles »

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Tamerlan Tsarnaev: Family, Acquaintances Describe Boston Bombing Suspects
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Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, brothers, have been identified by authorities as the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. Details are emerging about them online and from interviews with family and neighbors -- but there's little to explain how they wound up as suspects in a terrorist attack.

Liana Woskie told The Huffington Post that she went to the Cambridge Rindge & Latin School with Tamerlan Tsarnaev and was in his high school graduating class of '06. He was on the volleyball team, she said.

More...



How to Survive a Quarter-Life Crisis
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We've all heard of a mid-life crisis, yet the quarter-life crisis may not be quite so well-known. However, according to research, the majority of twenty- and thirty-somethings will face one.

2013-04-18-huffpost.jpg


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Lesbians' Relationships: Fetishes, Formality and Forward Assumptions
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When I moved into my current apartment, I was moving in with my other half. We'd been dating for some time and had decided to take that bold step many couples make and simply move in together. We found an apartment, small and slightly dingy though it may appear, that suited our needs. As the only women in the building we felt a little odd. Surely people would see on the tenant board the information about two women living together and assume we were a couple.

Not too long after moving day, my partner met the man in the flat above in the hallway. They ended up speaking briefly and he invited us to both head up for tea and coffee later that day. With only £20 to our name at the time we were delighted. Heading upstairs I met him for the first time. He seemed a friendly enough neighbour to have and so we sat down and began speaking. Since he and I both have facial piercings we started on the topic of body modification. My partner made a comment about how I didn't want her to get any sort of facial piercings because I find her to have such a classically beautiful face.

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Behavioural aspects of terrorism - Leistedt SJ. - Forensic Sci Int. 2013 May 10;228(1-3):21-27


 2013 May 10;228(1-3):21-27. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2013.02.004. Epub 2013 Mar 6.

Behavioural aspects of terrorism.

Source

Laboratory of Psychiatric Research, Forensic Psychiatry Unit - Department of Psychiatry, Erasme Academic Hospital - Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Route de Lennik, 808, 1070 Brussels, Belgium. Electronic address: samuel.leistedt@erasme.ulb.ac.be.

Abstract

Behavioural and social sciences are useful in collecting and analysing intelligence data, understanding terrorism, and developing strategies to combat terrorism. This article aims to examine the psychopathological concepts of terrorism and discusses the developing roles for behavioural scientists. A systematic review was conducted of studies investigating behavioural aspects of terrorism. These studies were identified by a systematic search of databases, textbooks, and a supplementary manual search of references. Several fundamental concepts were identified that continue to influence the motives and the majority of the behaviours of those who support or engage in this kind of specific violence. Regardless of the psychological aspects and new roles for psychiatrists, the behavioural sciences will continue to be called upon to assist in developing better methods to gather and analyse intelligence, to understand terrorism, and perhaps to stem the radicalisation process.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
PMID:
 
23597734
 
[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]




Geir Lippestad, who defended convicted terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, has published his memoirs - The Foreigner



Breivik counsel publishes trial memoirs

Published on Friday, 19th April2013 at 17:25 under the news in brief category, by Ben McPherson.
Geir Lippestad, who defended convicted terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, has published his memoirs.
Geir Lippestad, Anders Behring Breivik
Defence counsel and client at one of the 22 July Oslo District Court trial daysGeir Lippestad, Anders Behring Breivik
Photo: ©2013 Ben McPherson/The Foreigner

In the Aschehoug-released book about the case, ‘Det vi kan stå for’ (What We Represent), Lippestad talks about the dilemma of representing the man responsible for the worst peacetime atrocity in Norway since WWII.  Breivik had asked for Lippestad by name.
“There was a lot of hatred after 22nd July”, said Lippestad in an interview with his publisher, “some of it was directed towards me, but most of it was at Breivik.”
“People wanted him gone. But public opinion shifted very quickly as soon as we began to speak about what democracy and the rule of law mean for us here in Norway.”
It was Lippestad’s wife Signe, a nurse at Oslo's Rikshospitalet, who persuaded him take the case. She argued that they would have no choice but to treat Breivik if he had arrived injured at hospital, him. The same rules applied.
Lippestad never doubted he had made the right choice.
“Not after I said yes, and certainly not after the first client meeting,” he explained in the interview. “I thought that what I have been proud of for the last 25 years in this profession is indeed the rule of law.”
Lippestad, who never disguised his own views about his client’s actions, was highly praised during the trial for providing an impeccable defence for Breivik according to the killer’s wishes. 
It was Breivik who insisted on arguing that he was criminally sane. For Lippestad this meant arguing against his original conclusion of insanity he aired in preliminary press statements. 
“We demonstrated human dignity in the 22nd July case. We treated Breivik with dignity, and we gained by that as a nation,” declared Lippestad.
“What sort of people would we be if we had treated him as he could have been treated in some countries and killed him in the street? What would it have cost us as a nation?”


David Tarloff’s lawyers had argued that he was too mentally ill to be held criminally responsible for a murder five years ago - NYT


Mistrial Declared in Murder Trial of David Tarloff »
David Tarloff’s lawyers had argued that he was too mentally ill to be held criminally responsible for a murder five years ago.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

US proposes $100m for brain research - FT.com - Science



US proposes $100m for brain research
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President says project could stimulate the economy and keep the US competitive in the race for innovation with other countries

Europe's financial crisis leads to suicide surge - LONDON (AP)


Europe's financial crisis leads to suicide surge
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LONDON (AP) -- The harsh spending cuts introduced by European governments to tackle their crippling debt problems have not only pitched the region into recession - they are also being partly blamed for outbreaks of diseases not normally seen in Europe and a spike in suicides, according to new research....

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Political Personology - Links

Political Personology - Links



3.13-14.13


Personology - GS

Personality psychology - W

Political Personology - GS

political personality - GS

Political psychology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_psychologyCached - SimilarShare
Shared on Google+. View the post.
Jump to Personality and politics‎: The study of personality in political psychology focuses on the effects of leadership personality on ...
 
 
 
 
 
-

C.I.A. Profiling Delves Into the Minds of Global Leaders - NYTimes.com


www.nytimes.com/2011/03/29/science/29psych.htmlShare
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Mar 28, 2011 – ... prepared by analysts at the C.I.A. and the Department of Defense. ... act virtually without constraint,” said Dr. Jerrold Post, a psychiatrist who ...


jerrold post - GS

jerrold post cia - GS

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Notes

static, dynamic, field (politics) specific


______________________________________________________

Articles

________________________

Teasing Out Policy Insight From a Character Profile



 
He is a delusional narcissist who will fight until his last breath. Or an impulsive showman who will hop the next flight out of town when cornered. Or maybe he’s a psychopath, a coldly calculating strategist — crazy, like a desert fox.
      

Andrew Medichini/Associated Press
LIBYA Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi considers himself an outsider.
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Multimedia
The endgame in Libya is likely to turn in large part on the instincts of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and any insight into those instincts would be enormously valuable to policy makers. Journalists have formed their impressions from anecdotes, or from his actions in the past; others have seized on his recent tirades about Al Qaeda and President Obama.
But at least one group has tried to construct a profile based on scientific methods, and its conclusions are the ones most likely to affect American policy. For decades, analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense have compiled psychological assessments of hostile leaders like Colonel Qaddafi, Kim Jong-il of North Korea and President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, as well as allies, potential successors and other prominent officials. (Many foreign governments do the same, of course.)
Diplomats, military strategists and even presidents have drawn on those profiles to inform their decisions — in some cases to their benefit, in other cases at a cost.
The political profile “is perhaps most important in cases where you have a leader who dominates the society, who can act virtually without constraint,” said Dr. Jerrold Post, a psychiatrist who directs the political psychology program at George Washington University and founded the C.I.A. branch that does behavioral analysis. “And that has been the case here, with Qaddafi and Libya.”
The official dossiers are classified. But the methods are well known. Civilian psychologists have developed many of the techniques, drawing mostly on public information about a given leader: speeches, writings, biographical facts, observable behavior. The resulting forecasts suggest that “at-a-distance profiling,” as it is known, is still more an art than a science. So in a crisis like the one in Libya, it is crucial to know the assessments’ potential value and real limitations.
“Expert profilers are better at predicting behavior than a blindfolded chimpanzee, all right, but the difference is not as large as you’d hope it would be,” said Philip Tetlock, a psychologist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the author of “Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?” (Princeton University, 2006), who has done profiling of his own. “There’s no secret sauce, and my impression is that often the process can be rushed,” as a leader suddenly becomes a person of intense interest.
The method with the longest track record is modeled on clinical case studies, the psychobiographies that therapists create when making a diagnosis, citing influences going back to the sandbox. The first one on record, commissioned in the early 1940s by the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the C.I.A., was of Adolf Hitler; in it, the Harvard personality specialist Henry A. Murray speculated freely and luridly about Hitler’s “infinite self-abasement,” “homosexual panic” and Oedipal tendencies.
Analysts still use this clinical-case approach but now ground it far more firmly in biographical facts than on Freudian speculation or personal opinion. In a profile of Colonel Qaddafi for Foreign Policy magazine, Dr. Post concludes that the dictator, while usually rational, is prone to delusional thinking when under pressure — “and right now, he is under the most stress he has been under since taking over the leadership of Libya.”
At his core, Colonel Qaddafi sees himself as the ultimate outsider, the Muslim warrior fighting impossible odds, Dr. Post argues, and he “is indeed prepared to go down in flames.”
Characterizations of this type have been invaluable in the past. In preparation for the Camp David peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt, the C.I.A. provided President Jimmy Carter with profiles of both nations’ leaders, Menachem Begin and Anwar el-Sadat. In his memoir “Keeping Faith,” Mr. Carter credited the profiles with giving him crucial insights that helped close a peace deal.
The brief on the Egyptian president, “Sadat’s Nobel Prize Complex,” noted that Sadat “sees himself as a grand strategist and will make tactical concessions if he is persuaded his overall goals will be achieved,” and added, “His self-confidence has permitted him to make bold initiatives, often overriding his advisers’ objections.”
Yet the assessments can also be misleading, even embarrassing. Profiles of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq that circulated in the early 1990s suggested that he was ultimately a pragmatist who would give in under pressure. And in 1993, the C.I.A. reportedly provided lawmakers with a brief alleging that the Haitian leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide had a history of mental illness, including manic depression.
Mr. Aristide furiously denied it, and the report was soon discredited. In a 1994 review of the episode in Foreign Policy, Thomas Omestad wrote that the profile was “light on facts and heavy on speculation; it came closer to character assassination than character analysis.”
Intelligence specialists have learned to hedge their bets over the years, supplementing case histories with “content analysis” techniques, which look for patterns in a leader’s comments or writings. For instance, a software program developed by a researcher at Syracuse University, Margaret Hermann, evaluates the relative frequency of certain categories of words (like “I,” “me,” “mine”) in interviews, speeches and other souces and links the scores to leadership traits.
A technique used by David G. Winter, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, draws on similar sources to judge leaders’ motives, in particular their need for power, achievement and affiliation. The sentence “We can certainly wipe them out” reflects a high power orientation; the comment “After dinner, we sat around chatting and laughing together” rings of affiliation.
“Combine high power and high affiliation, the person is likely to reach out, whereas power and low affiliation tend to predict aggression,” said Dr. Winter, who has profiled Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton, among many others. “That’s the idea, though of course you can’t predict anything with certainty.”
At least one group of political profilers has incorporated that flaw itself — uncertainty — into its forecasts. Peter Suedfeld, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia who has worked with Dr. Tetlock, sifts through a leader’s words to rate a quality called integrative complexity. This is a measure of how certain people are, how confident in their judgments, whether they have considered any opposing points of view.
In a series of studies, the researchers have compared communications leading up to the outbreaks of World War I and the Korean War with those that led to a peaceful resolution, like the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. And the higher the level of acknowledged uncertainty, the less likely the leader is to pursue war, Dr. Suedfeld said.
He has not yet analyzed Colonel Qaddafi’s comments, but it doesn’t take an expert to observe that the Libyan leader sounds very certain, if not always coherent.
What is missing amid all this number crunching and modeling is any sense of which methods are most useful when. In an exhaustive review of intelligence analysis published this month, a prominent panel of social scientists strongly agreed: psychological profiling and other methods intelligence analysts use to predict behavior are sorely in need of rigorous testing.
And new ideas. In an unusual move, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which commissioned the report, has sponsored a kind of competition (http://goodjudgment.info), inviting people to test their own forecasting techniques, to improve intelligence analysis.
Given the challenge of predicting what leaders like Colonel Qaddafi might do, think of it as a plea for help.