Sunday, 19 November 2017

You Probably Have the Wrong Impression About Schizophrenia

a post by Teodora Zareva for the Big Think blog

About 51 million people around the world suffer from schizophrenia, yet half of the general public doesn’t understand what schizophrenia really is. A UK non-profit Rethink Mental Illness conducted a survey amongst 1,500 and found that misconceptions about the illness abound – a reality that can make life even worse for those who suffer from the condition and have to live amongst family, friends and colleagues who harbor prejudices or are unaware of the inequalities people who have the illness face.

50% of the surveyed people, for example, mistakenly think that schizophrenia means you have a ‘split’ personality. 26% wrongly believe that schizophrenia makes you violent and 23% incorrectly think that someone with schizophrenia needs to be monitored by professionals at all times. In fact, most who live with the condition have various coping mechanisms, but unfortunately may not be able to openly seek help from their loved ones or even from professionals.

Penn State student Cecilia McGough gave an emotional TEDx talk this year titled “I Am Not A Monster”  sharing her own experience with the illness. She talks about how she had to battle with the prejudices of her own mother, who didn’t want her to look for professional help out of fear of stigmatizing her entire family.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder: The Silent Season

a post by Silvi Saxena for the World of Psychology blog

It’s that time again. The days are getting shorter and the air is getting colder. The leaves are beginning to change colors and delicately fall. We pull out our scarves and gloves and drink warm cider. To many, the change in season is received with a warm welcome and open arms. To others, they begin to settle into the knowledge that their least favorite season is among them.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that emerges during autumn and well through the winter months. Some commonly mistake SAD with the general feeling of laziness during the winter months as symptoms tend to include increased sleep, withdrawal from people and feeling chronically fatigued. SAD is not an a symptom of disliking winter and not to be confused with major depressive disorder – but rather a specific type of depression that comes around seasonally.

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Is the housing market blind to religion? A perceived substitutability approach to homophily and social integration

an article by Nema Dean (University of Glasgow, UK) and Gwilym Pryce (University of Sheffield, UK) published in Urban Studies Volume 54 Issue 13 (2017)


Housing markets are unlikely to be impervious to the preferences and prejudices associated with urban segregation.

For example, two neighbourhoods with very different religious attributes are unlikely to be perceived as close substitutes by homebuyers that have a strong preference for neighbours of a particular religion.

This paper offers a new framework for the conception and measurement of social integration, defined in terms of perceived homophily. Homophily is the tendency for links to form between similar nodes in a network and we can think of perceived homophily as the tendency for any pair of neighbourhoods to be considered by the housing market to be close substitutes.

Textbook economic theory suggests that we should expect the degree of perceived substitutability to affect cross-price elasticities. These can be measured empirically to reveal discontinuities in the network of perceived substitutability of different housing locations. Applying homophily coefficients to substitutability measures allows us to estimate perceived religious homophily between neighbourhoods.

The approach can be applied to any city or region that has geocoded house transactions and socio-demographic data. We illustrate the method using data on Glasgow and find strong evidence of religious homophily.

This suggests an underlying lack of social integration/cohesion and implies that the Glaswegian housing market is by no means blind to religion.

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Overcoming Defensive Thinking: If You Try to Avoid Criticism, Read On

a post by Lars Nielsen for the Tiny Buddha blog

“We are used to thinking of thinking as a good thing, as that which makes us human. It can be quite a revelation to discover that so much of our thinking appears to be boring, repetitive, and pointless while keeping us isolated and cut off from the feelings of connection that we most value.” ~Mark Epstein

I grew up with parents who seemed to love me until I was eight but then turned on me inexplicably.

Suddenly, my father would hit me, two knuckles on top of my head, yelling, “Why don’t you listen?”

My parents gave me grudging credit for my large vocabulary, remarkable memory, and precocious reading, so I invested everything in my mind, but it didn’t make much of a difference. I had no real approval, escape, or safety. As a result, I became trapped in my head, always looking for ways to gain their validation and protect myself from the pain of their disapproval.

I later learned that I was engaging in “defensive thinking” – attaching to favorable situations and trying to avoid anything that might bring criticism.

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I used to think social media was a force for good. Now the evidence says I was wrong

an article by Matt Haig for the Guardian

More and more, it’s clear these platforms create divisions, exploit our insecurities and risk our health. They’re as bad as the tobacco industry

Illustration by Thomas Pullin
Illustration by Thomas Pullin

I used to think social media was essentially a force for good, whether it was to initiate the Arab spring of 2011, or simply as a useful tool for bringing together like-minded people to share videos of ninja cats. Having spent a lot of time thinking about mental health, I even saw social media’s much-maligned potential for anonymity as a good thing, helping people to open up about problems when they might not feel able to do so in that physical space we still quaintly call real life.

I also knew from my own experience that it could sometimes provide a happy distraction from the evil twins of anxiety and depression. I have made friends online. As an author, it’s also been a great way to test new ideas, and has taken storytelling from its castle in the sky back down to the metaphorical (now hashtag-heavy) campfire. As someone who often finds social situations mentally exhausting, social media seemed far more solution than problem.

Yes, I would occasionally feel that maybe staring at my Twitter feed near-continuously for seven hours wasn’t that healthy, especially when I was arguing with an army of Trump fans telling me to jump off a cliff. Yes, I’d see articles warning of the dangers of excessive internet use, but I dismissed these as traditional, reactionary takes. I saw social media naysayers as the first reviewers of Technicolor movies, who felt the colour distracted from the story, or were like the people who walked out on Bob Dylan at Newport folk festival for playing an electric guitar, or like those who warned that radio or TV or video games or miniskirts, or hip-hop or selfies or fidget spinners or whatever, would lead to the end of civilisation.

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How Your Job Hunt May Be Harming Your Privacy

a post by James Frew for the MakeUseOf blog

NOTE: You will quickly discover that this piece is written from an American viewpoint but that does not, I believe, mean that in the UK your personal information is any safer.

Gone are the days of grabbing the local paper and circling jobs in the classifieds section. In the internet age, the majority of job postings are online. It’s not just postings either, nearly the entire recruitment process happens at the command of a keystroke. Remote working has become more common, as the internet has opened up opportunities to work from anywhere in the world.

No longer do you head to your local job center, meet the hiring manager, and hand them a paper resume. Simply, the internet has changed everything. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better.

Here’s why the recruitment sector’s lax security, invasion of privacy, and lack of transparency could harm you in the long run.

Recruitment Security Soup

In our regular lives we wouldn’t walk up to a total stranger and recount our entire employment history, address, and interests. However, it’s what we are expected to do when it comes to online job searches. Instead of developing a relationship with your local recruitment manager, you are cajoled into sharing confidential and personal information on a recruitment website. In the modern employment marketplace, you have to go to where the jobs are, and because the market is fragmented there is no one central data repository.

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If you don't head off down the rabbit holes of different links then this could be a 9-minute read. Scared me.

Britain Works

a post by Jane Mansour for the Child Poverty Action Group blog

Work has been the biggest anti-poverty policy of recent decades, with support delivered under banners of ‘making work pay’, and calls for people to ‘work their way out of poverty’. However, people living in poverty are increasingly likely to be working. The UK’s wage fall since the 2008 financial crisis has been unmatched by any other large economy. This will be exacerbated by the Universal Credit roll out. Families are being pushed into financial hardship and work incentives damaged, particularly for second earners, single parents and those moving into self-employment.

Whether the focus is on stagnant or falling wages, rising prices, use of zero hour contracts, self-employment, impact of automation or retailers’ warehouses – work has barely been out of the news in recent years. The last decade has seen significant changes in the way we work at the same time as systems set up to provide support through social security payments and skills training have been cut. The most effective way to increase earnings is to move jobs, but doing so requires confidence in the social security safety net. A confidence that has been eroded by cuts and conditionality.

Employers are facing a number of competing demands from consumers, their employees, Government and the wider economic impacts of policy, particularly Brexit. Some sectors are under significant pressure from new businesses with new ways of working. Flexibility and insecurity are becoming interwoven as employers defend their on-demand payment models as facilitating flexible working. But they can also lead to a lack of breaks, below minimum wage earnings and, in some cases, to court.

Just over 1 in 5 (21% or 5.7m) people are in low paid work. New polling commissioned by Child Poverty Action Group, out today, shows that 47% of working parents with an annual household income under £30,000 say they don’t have enough money to support their families. The temporary workforce in the UK is also significant. Groups disproportionately represented in the ranks of the low paid include women, young people, part-time workers, temps, those in low-skilled work, and people in the retail, hospitality and care sectors.

Changes in support systems often appear to have been conceived in a vacuum – not taking into account changes in the labour market. There is also a lack of access to training, with many low-paid workers now expected to fund their own through loans. This ‘risk swap’ combined with significant cuts to the Further Education budget has seen a fall in the number of adults accessing education and training. As the gap between the two grows, so the lives of many people with a foot on both sides of this chasm become increasingly precarious.

The Taylor Review focused on ‘good work’. While there is significant evidence of the value of work for both physical and mental well-being, the quality of that work is central - ‘bad work’ is worse for health than unemployment. There is little analysis of the types of jobs people take and their impact on poverty. Carnegie Trust and the RSA are in the process of considering what national quality measures would look like.

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