Friday, 29 November 2013

Hacking Our Senses To Boost Brain Power

Some schools are pumping music, noises and fragrances into the classroom to see if it improves exam results – could it work?
What did your school smell like? Was it noisy or peaceful?

It might not seem important, but a growing body of research suggests that smells and sounds can have an impact on learning, performance and creativity. Indeed, some head teachers have recently taken to broadcasting noises and pumping whiffs into their schools to see whether it can boost grades. Is there anything in it? And if so, what are the implications for the way we all work and study?

There is certainly some well-established research to suggest that some noises can have a detrimental effect on learning. Numerous studies over the past 15 years have found that children attending schools under the flight paths of large airports lag behind in their exam results.

But general noise seems to have an effect too. Bridget Shield, a professor of acoustics at London South Bank University, and Julie Dockrell, now at the Institute of Education, have been conducting studies and advising politicians on the effects of all sorts of noises, such as traffic and sirens, as well as noise generated by the children themselves. When they recreated those particular sounds in an experimental setting whilst children completed various cognitive tasks, they found a significant negative effect on exam scores. “Everything points to a detrimental impact of the noise on children’s performance, in numeracy, in literacy, and in spelling,” says Shield. The noise seemed to have an especially detrimental effect on children with special needs. `

Shield says the sound of “babble” – the chatter of other children, is particularly distracting in the classroom. Architects that fashion open-plan classrooms in schools would do well to take this on board. “People are very distracted by speech – particularly if it’s understandable, but you’re not involved in it.” This phenomenon is also known as the irrelevant speech effect, she says, adding that “it’s a very common finding in open-plan offices as well.”

Whether background sounds are beneficial or not seems to depend on what kind of noise it is – and the volume. In a series of studies published last year, Ravi Mehta from the College of Business at Illinois and colleagues tested people’s creativity while exposed to a soundtrack made up of background noises – such as coffee-shop chatter and construction-site drilling – at different volumes. They found that people were more creative when the background noises were played at a medium level than when volume was low. Loud background noise, however, damaged their creativity.

This makes sense for a couple of reasons, says psychologist Dr Nick Perham, at Cardiff Metropolitan University in the UK, who studies the effect of sounds on learning but was not involved in the study. Firstly, he says, sounds that are most distracting tend to be very variable. A general hum in the background suggests a steady-state sound with not much acoustical variation. “So there’s not much there to capture your attention – nothing distracting the subjects,” he says. At the same time, the background noise might cause the subjects to be in a slightly heightened state of arousal, says Perham. You don’t want too much or too little arousal. “Medium arousal is best for good performance. So it might be that a general hum in the background gives an optimum level of arousal.” With that in mind, Perham suggests there may be some benefit to playing music or other sounds in an art class or other situations where creativity is key.

Many teachers all over the world already play music to students in class. Many are inspired by the belief that hearing music can boost IQ in subsequent tasks, the so-called Mozart effect. While the evidence actually suggests it’s a stretch to say classical music boosts brainpower, researchers do think pleasant sounds before a task can sometimes lift your mood and help you perform well, says Perham, who has done his own studies on the phenomenon. The key appears to be that you enjoy what you’re hearing. “If you like the music or you like the sound – even listening to a Stephen King novel – then you did better. It didn’t matter about the music,” he says.

However, it’s worth considering that music is not always helpful while you’re trying to work. Trying to perform a task which involves serial recall – for instance, doing mental arithmetic – will be impaired by sounds with acoustic variation, which includes most types of music, says Perham. (Except a few, like extreme death metal.) Songs with lyrics, on the other hand, are more likely to interfere with tasks that involve semantics – such as reading comprehension. “The task and the sound are important, when you have both of them using the same process then you get problems,” he says.

So, it seems that schools that choose to screen out disturbing noises and create positive soundscapes could enhance the learning of their students, so long as they make careful choices.

This isn’t the only sense being tweaked to affect learning. Special educational needs students at Sydenham high school in London are being encouraged to revise different subjects in the presence of different smells – grapefruit scents for maths, lavender for French and spearmint for history.

Less research has gone into the idea of whether scents can help with cognitive performance, although there have been intriguing findings. In 2003, psychologist Mark Moss, at Northumbria University, carried out a range of cognitive tests on subjects who were exposed either to lavender or rosemary aromas. “Rosemary in particular caught my attention as it is considered to be arousing and linked to memory,” he says, whereas lavender is considered to be sedating. Moss found that those who were smelling lavender performed significantly worse in working memory tests, and had impaired reaction times for both memory and attention-based tasks, compared to controls. Those in the rosemary group, on the other hand, did much better than controls overall in the memory tasks, although their reaction times were slower.

Why might this be? It’s perhaps not surprising that smells affect memory, given that the brain’s olfactory bulb is intimately linked to the hippocampus, which deals with learning. But Moss suspected there was more to it. To explore the pharmacological effects of rosemary on the body, he drew blood samples from volunteers who had just undergone cognitive tests in a rosemary-infused room, and found that they had elevated levels of a compound called 1,8-cineole in their blood. Previous research has shown that this compound increases communication between brain cells, which might explain how it improves brain function.

So, as you finish reading this story, take a moment to tune into your senses. Close your eyes and take a few nice deep breaths. What can you hear and smell? The answer, it seems, may affect how much you learnt in the past few minutes.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Where And How To Get Started With Hypnotherapy

A question I have had many times from clients is where they can begin with hypnotherapy. Sometimes people have nothing in particular 'wrong' with them they just don't feel quite right or they want to simply explore hypnosis in general, or they have several different problems that culminate together as one dark cloud hanging over them, both mentally and physically.

My answer is that a good place to start is Self Hypnosis.

Self hypnosis is much like meditation, its a relaxing experience involving breathing, concentration, visualisation and letting yourself gently slip away from your conscious mind. It is also free, you can do it completely alone and involves little time to get started.

Many of life's problems stem from stress, and namely our inability to manage stress easily. Stress and anxiety cause a number of ill effects, it can make us more susceptible to physical symptoms, namely as various forms of illness, bodily dysfunction, aches and pains and high blood pressure, and mental symptoms such as depression, emotional problems and mood changes.

The very act of entering into hypnosis (via self hypnosis or with a therapist) promotes calm and balance of mind and reduces stress levels significantly, and if it is practiced on a regular basis stress levels remain low with long term effects. When stress is removed or at least significantly lowered, our body and mind function better and other symptoms will be eliminated without being targeted directly.

Of course specific problems can be concentrated on in hypnotherapy, but as a general rule if you are relaxed and calm your body and mind are on a great platform to perform at their optimum and achieve your daily and long term life goals.

Below are links on how to get started with hypnosis, if you have any questions send an email or leave a comment.

What is hypnotherapy?
How to hypnotise yourself to reduce stress
Part 2
Part 3

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

11 Differences Between Dating A Woman And A Girl

The website lists these 11 differences between dating a woman and a girl. Is this the same for a man and a boy? How many other differences are there?

1. A girl throws tantrums. When displeased, upset or angry, she reacts just as she did as a child when she didn’t get her way with her parents. This often consists of screaming, pouting, giving the silent treatment, being passive aggressive and/or punishing. A woman still feels the emotions of being upset/displeased, but has cultivated the skill of responding versus reacting. She comes to the table as an adult, and communicates clearly what is bothering her.

2. A girl perceives herself as a princess and believes people should treat her like so. She is entitled and feels that she is owed and therefore expects more than she appreciates. A woman, has standards (what she holds herself to) not expectations (what she projects on to others).

3. A girl uses her physical beauty as her currency and basis of value. A girl may be so used to feeling validated through her looks and sexuality, that she uses this as her primary tool to get what she wants in life. A woman, knows her worth is beyond her physicality. A woman bases her value on her intelligence, her strength, her integrity, her values, her contributions, her humanity.

4. A girl banks on a man to be her financial strategy. A woman plans to be financially independent – she banks on… herself. And if she so happens to enter a relationship dynamic where it makes sense for her partner to be the primary breadwinner, it’s considered a bonus, not the expected life line.

5. A girl sees the world from a place of lack and scarcity. She competes and will even tear down another in order to secure resources or a mate. A woman helps other women. She knows that there’s plenty enough to go around and takes the high road of integrity to get what she wants.

6. A girl cannot be bothered with anything domestic and is proud of the fact that she cannot cook or clean. A woman understands that being domestic is not a duty, but understands that it is one way of taking care of herself and others. She also understands that in the event she wants to create a family, having a person in the household who can contribute domestically is important.

7. “A girl wants attention, a woman wants respect. A girl wants to be adored by many. A woman wants to be adored by one.” -anonymous

8. A girl does not respect her body. She has not yet understood that her body and heart are sacred, and that it’s important to be mindful of how she treats it and who she shares it with. “A girl cherishes handbags, diamonds and her shoe collection as her prize possessions. A woman cherishes her health, her sense of self, and her talents as her greatest assets.” – N. Mah

9. A woman takes the time to reflect on the type of human she wants to be, the example she wants to leave and the vision for her life. She has put thought into her values and what she stands for. A girl has not established her moral compass or values and consequently, is often inconsistent. “After spending time with a girl, you feel exhausted because she takes more than she gives. After spending time with a woman, you feel invigorated, because she empowers you with possibility, and a passion for life.” – N. Mah

10. A girl has a checklist that prioritizes superficial qualities above anything else. Here is an example of how this checklist may look: Hot, popular, wears skinny jeans, over 6 feet tall, rich.. This is the checklist of what a woman may look for: High integrity, intelligent, kind, good communicator, emotionally available…

Now, a lot of these differences require taking the time to know someone to figure out if the apple of your eye is indeed a mature woman, or someone with an immature mindset. However, one of the quickest filters that you can notice from the beginning is this:

11. A girl plays games. A woman doesn’t.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

VIDEO Beat Stress With Breath

Friday, 22 November 2013

What Is Ancient Sound Therapy? Could It Work?

What is Sound Therapy?
Sound Therapy is a powerful, effective treatment that uses evocative sounds produced by the Ancient Himalayan Singing Bowls and a Gong to drastically reduce and eliminate stress, emotional or physical pain, and bring back the original frequency of health on the cellular level. It happens when we hear the sounds from the instruments and we attune ourselves to them that our brain waves patterns instantaneously shift. We move from the engaged beta state into alpha, theta, and even delta – the states of deep relaxation, exceptional insight, deep healing and regeneration of the whole body.

What is Sound Therapy’s application?
Sound Therapy has a wide spectrum of uses including:
  • Back pain
  • Migraines
  • Hyperactivity (ADHD)
  • Conception aid
  • Injury recovery
  • Pain management
  • Aid for cancer prevention and recovery
How does Sound Therapy work?
Sound can stimulate healing when used appropriately. Chanting, singing, playing bells, singing bowls, gongs, drums, chime tree positively affects our mind and body. The tendency of using these modalities is toward harmony in nature.

Everything that exists consists of energy. Starting with an atom of a leaf, going through internal organs and finishing with an elephant – all of these are forms of energy vibrating with specific frequencies. Thoughts, feelings, and words are more subtle forms of energy. All these various forms of energy create a universal harmony in which they function separately, yet they contribute to the whole.

The entire universe is in continuous motion. Treating our physical body like a smaller universe and observing it, we can see that every organ, blood circulation, breathing, beating of our heart, and any other process that occurs in it, has its individual rhythm.

If a person experiences stress, fear, anger or anxiety over extended period of time, these feelings, with their own specific rhythms, burden the system on so many different levels and change the healthy frequencies of a particular part in the body or organ that is the most sensitive to the pattern that they carry. As the result, the disharmony that occurs in the part of the body or organ finally manifests on the physical level as a disease or pain.

The Himalayan Singing Bowls and a Gong used during Sound Therapy produce the sounds that change the discord, wherever it is, and tunes up the frequencies to the original frequencies of health and wellbeing.

The instantaneous result of Sound Therapy session is the deep state of relaxation, rejuvenation and general “feeling of lightness.”

However, depending on the person and a number of sessions, sound is a powerful tool in treating any disease. 

“Sound can play a role in virtually any medical disorder, since it redresses imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning (…). Moreover, it’s my belief that sound works on the physical level because it so deeply touches us and transforms us on the emotional and spiritual planes.” – Mitchell L. Gaynor, M.D. , Director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine Center in New York and author of “The Healing Power of Sound”)

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Halo Effect

If we see a person first in a good light, it is difficult subsequently to darken that light

The existence of the so-called halo effect has long been recognised. It is the phenomenon whereby we assume that because people are good at doing A they will be good at doing B, C and D (or the reverse—because they are bad at doing A they will be bad at doing B, C and D).

The phrase was first coined by Edward Thorndike, a psychologist who used it in a study published in 1920 to describe the way that commanding officers rated their soldiers. He found that officers usually judged their men as being either good right across the board or bad. There was little mixing of traits; few people were said to be good in one respect but bad in another.

Later work on the halo effect suggested that it was highly influenced by first impressions. If we see a person first in a good light, it is difficult subsequently to darken that light. The old adage that “first impressions count” seems to be true. This is used by advertisers who pay heroic actors and beautiful actresses to promote products about which they have absolutely no expertise. We think positively about the actor because he played a hero, or the actress because she was made up to look incredibly beautiful, and assume that they therefore have deep knowledge about car engines or anti-wrinkle cream.

Recognition that the halo effect has a powerful influence on business has been relatively recent. Two consultants, Melvin Scorcher and James Brant, wrote in Harvard Business Review in 2002:
In our experience, CEOs, presidents, executive VPs and other top-level people often fall into the trap of making decisions about candidates based on lopsided or distorted information… 
Frequently they fall prey to the halo effect: overvaluing certain attributes while undervaluing others.

This is to consider the halo effect in the context of recruitment. But the effect also influences other areas of business. Car companies, for instance, will roll out what they call a halo vehicle, a particular model with special features that helps to sell all the other models in the range.

In his prize-winning book “The Halo Effect”, published in 2007, Phil Rosenzweig, an academic at IMD, a business school near Lausanne in Switzerland, argued:

Much of our thinking about company performance is shaped by the halo effect … when a company is growing and profitable, we tend to infer that it has a brilliant strategy, a visionary CEO, motivated people, and a vibrant culture. When performance falters, we're quick to say the strategy was misguided, the CEO became arrogant, the people were complacent, and the culture stodgy… 

At first, all of this may seem like harmless journalistic hyperbole, but when researchers gather data that are contaminated by the halo effect – including not only press accounts but interviews with managers – the findings are suspect. That is the principal flaw in the research of Jim Collins's “Good to Great”, Collins and Porras's “Built to Last”, and many other studies going back to Peters and Waterman's “In Search of Excellence”. They claim to have identified the drivers of company performance, but they have mainly shown the way that high performers are described.

Further reading

Rosenzweig, P., “The Halo Effect … and the Eight Other Business Delusions that Deceive Managers”, Free Press, 2007

Scorcher, M. and Brant, J., “Are You Picking the Right Leaders?”, Harvard Business Review, February 2002

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

VIDEO Scientific Power of Music

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Different Scientific Theories of How Hypnosis Works

The question of how hypnosis actually works is a huge one, and one not currently fully answered. There are however several different theories explained in the following article in some depth. Read the full article here:

"any satisfactory theory of hypnosis should also be a theory bearing on psychology at large" (Hilgard, 1991)

For over a century scientists and clinicians have proposed mechanisms to explain the phenomenon associated with hypnosis. The key theories of hypnosis, historical and current, are presented here. For the more recent models some knowledge of cognitive psychology is useful. Within psychology most current models of how the mind works what is termed 'executive function' make use of the concept of an executive control system (Norman & Shallice, 1980, 1986) (a description of what is meant by executive control is given on this page).

A key debate in hypnosis throughout the twentieth century has been between 'state' vs. 'non-state' theories, properties of these types of theories are given below. Recently attempts have been made to integrate findings from both of these positions.

State non-state theories of hypnosis

TheoryKey AuthorsDescriptionType
Neodissociation theory
Hypnotic phenomenon are produced through a dissociation of high level control systems.
State, Dissociation
Integrated dissociative theory
Woody & Sadler (1998)
A re-integration of dissociated experience and dissociated control theories.
Socio-cognitive theory

Response expectancy theory / Social cognitive theory
Kirsch (1985, 1991, 1994), Lynn
An extension of social learning theory. How a participant expectssuggestions to change their subjective experience lead to a change in experience, and can generate involuntary responses.
Role theory

Integrative cognitive theory
Brown, Oakley

Cold control theory
Dienes, Perner
Draws a distinction between:
  • being in a mental state
  • being aware of being in that state
Argues that successful response to hypnotic suggestion can be achieved by forming the intention to perform an action, without forming higher order thoughts about intending that action
Ego psychological theory

Conditioning and inhibition theory

Friday, 15 November 2013

The Science Behind Reiki Healing Treatment

New age healing practices are often scoffed at by conventional doctors. But how do these often ancient healing arts stay in practice if they do not work? The following article offers some scientific findings on the science behind Reiki, and what actually happens during treatment.

Independent research by Dr. Robert Becker and Dr. John Zimmerman during the 1980's investigated what happens whilst people practice therapies like Reiki. They found that not only do the brain wave patterns of practitioner and receiver become synchronised in the alpha state, characteristic of deep relaxation and meditation, but they pulse in unison with the earth's magnetic field, known as the Schuman Resonance.

During these moments, the biomagnetic field of the practitioners' hands is at least 1000 times greater than normal, and not as a result of internal body current. Toni Bunnell (1997) suggests that the linking of energy fields between practitioner and earth allows the practitioner to draw on the 'infinite energy source' or 'universal energy field' via the Schuman Resonance. Prof. Paul Davies and Dr. John Gribben in The Matter Myth (1991), discuss the quantum physics view of a 'living universe' in which everything is connected in a 'living web of interdependence'. All of this supports the subjective experience of 'oneness' and 'expanded consciousness' related by those who regularly receive or self-treat with Reiki.

Zimmerman (1990) in the USA and Seto (1992) in Japan further investigated the large pulsating biomagnetic field that is emitted from the hands of energy practitioners whilst they work. They discovered that the pulses are in the same frequencies as brain waves, and sweep up and down from 0.3 - 30 Hz, focusing mostly in 7 - 8 Hz, alpha state. Independent medical research has shown that this range of frequencies will stimulate healing in the body, with specific frequencies being suitable for different tissues. For example, 2 Hz encourages nerve regeneration, 7Hz bone growth, 10Hz ligament mending, and 15 Hz capillary formation. Physiotherapy equipment based on these principles has been designed to aid soft tissue regeneration, and ultra sound technology is commonly used to clear clogged arteries and disintegrate kidney stones. Also, it has been known for many years that placing an electrical coil around a fracture that refuses to mend will stimulate bone growth and repair.

Becker explains that 'brain waves' are not confined to the brain but travel throughout the body via the perineural system, the sheaths of connective tissue surrounding all nerves. During treatment, these waves begin as relatively weak pulses in the thalamus of the practitioner's brain, and gather cumulative strength as they flow to the peripheral nerves of the body including the hands. The same effect is mirrored in the person receiving treatment, and Becker suggests that it is this system more than any other, that regulates injury repair and system rebalance. This highlights one of the special features of Reiki (and similar therapies) - that both practitioner and client receive the benefits of a treatment, which makes it very efficient.

It is interesting to note that Dr. Becker carried out his study on world-wide array of cross-cultural subjects, and no matter what their belief systems or customs, or how opposed to each other their customs were, all tested the same. Part of Reiki's growing popularity is that it does not impose a set of beliefs, and can therefore be used by people of any background and faith, or none at all. This neutrality makes it particularly appropriate to a medical or prison setting.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Flotation Tank: Sensory Deprivation Technology

On Fringe, a sensory deprivation tank can activate your mental powers and even open a gateway to another universe. But what can floating in a dark warm tank do for you in real life? And why would people even want to do such a thing?
The sensory deprivation tank — a temperature-regulated, salt-water filled, soundproof, lightproof tank that can isolate its occupant from numerous forms of sensory input all at once — has gone by many names over the years, but its overall design and purpose have remained largely unchanged: to find out what your brain does when it's shoved into a box all by itself and left alone for a while. Here's the complete lowdown on sensory deprivation tanks.

Back in the old days, if you wanted to experience sensory deprivation you wore a blindfold or stuck your fingers in your ears like everybody else. But that all changed in 1954, when neuroscientist John C. Lilly dared to question what would happen if the mind was deprived of as much external stimulus as possible.

In the original deprivation tank, you were suspended in 160 gallons of water with everything but the top of your head completely submerged. A nightmarish-looking "black-out" mask supplied you with air and blocked any light from reaching your eyes. The water and air temperature were kept at the same temperature as your skin, roughly 34 degrees celsius.

The masks were eventually done away with (apparently people found having their heads wrapped in latex distracting), and the requirement of total submersion along with them; instead, the water was saturated with 800 pounds of Epsom salt, which made the water so dense that you could float with your entire body at or near its surface in spite of its shallow depth.

Inside the tank there is no light, and therefore no sense of vision. You experience the kind of quiet that allows you to hear your muscles tense, your heart beat, and your eyelids close. The extreme buoyancy of the water lends your environment an almost zero-gravity quality. The lack of a temperature differential plays with your ability to perceive where your body ends and where the water and air begin.

But then what happens? What do people experience while they're in the tank? Can an isolation chamber really transport you to a parallel universe like it does on Fringe?

The first man in the tank
The answer to every one of these questions (yes, even the one about Fringe) depends on where you look and whom you ask, as the vast majority of available evidence regarding the effects of sensory deprivation tanks exists in the form of personal accounts.

But before we can talk about these accounts and the research that may help support them, it would be helpful to gain some understanding of the mind that first conceived of the tank.

While John C. Lilly is certainly well known for developing the world's first isolation tank, he was by no means a stranger to revolutionary, albeit sometimes strange and uncharted, areas of medical and scientific innovation.

Lilly was a pioneer in the field of electronic brain stimulation. He was the first person to map pain and pleasure pathways in the brain. He founded an entire branch of science exploring interspecies communication between humans, dolphins, and whales; conducted extensive experimentation with mind-altering drugs like LSD (personally); and spent prolonged periods of time exploring the nature of human consciousness in the isolation tank.

It bears mentioning that Lilly's experiments with interspecies communication, personal LSD use, and sensory deprivation often overlapped.

All this is to say that calling John C. Lilly eccentric would be akin to calling the Beatles a popular band – somehow "eccentric" just doesn't do the man justice.

What really happens in the tank?
Bearing these things in mind, it's safe to say that Lilly is probably the closest that reality has ever come to producing a real-life version of Fringe's Walter Bishop, which brings us back to to the subjects of isolation tank experiences and parallel universes.

In Fringe, Walter's sensory deprivation tank serves as a bridge between two alternate realities. Lilly believed that his experiences in the tank could produce a similar effect.

Lilly claimed that the sensory deprivation tank allowed him to make contact with creatures from other dimensions, and civilizations far more advanced than our own. He would forever refer to his very first encounter with entities from another dimension as "the first conference of three beings," the details of which are recounted in great detail on Lilly's website and are really worth the read.

Lilly's, however, is an experience that others who use tanks have rarely reported.

By comparison, characterizations of sensory deprivation like this one by comedian Joe Rogan begin to sound downright grounded — and Rogan's descriptions of hallucinations, heightened levels of introspection, and the sensation that the mind has left the body are actually among the most commonly reported experiences among tank users. Even renowned physicist Richard Feynman described having hallucinations and out-of-body experiences while using sensory depravation chambers.

Reports of a heightened sense of introspection and out-of-body experiences by tank users mirror those of people with extensive experience in meditation, and both practices have been linked to decreased alpha waves and increased theta waves in the brain — patterns most typically found in sleeping states.

Other investigations have demonstrated that deprivation of even one form of sensory input can have hallucinatory effects. And while there is very little research done today that examines sensory deprivation at the level that it's experienced in an isolation tank, a study conducted in 2009 showed that just 15 minutes of near-total sensory deprivation was enough to trigger vivid hallucinations in many of its test subjects.

Having said that, it's worth pointing out that the scientists selected test subjects who scored in either the upper or lower 20th percentile on a test called the "Revised Hallucinations Scale," which basically scores the predisposition of an otherwise healthy person to see things that aren't really there.

Not surprisingly, participants selected from the bottom 20% were more likely to report hallucinations.

If there's a take-home message from all of this, it's that sensory deprivation tanks are something of a mixed bag. Depending on your proclivity for psychoactive drug use, they can offer anything from a means to achieving relaxation and reflection to a vehicle that can aid you in your travels through time and space. And if you should feel the itch to explore what sensory deprivation might be able to offer you, you can seek out nearby tank centers over at Float Finder.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Is It Possible To Regrow A Limb Using Only Hypnosis?

A reader, Angry Doctor, has posed a question - if you have lost a limb, can it grow back? And can you use your mind to help it do so?

I think he meant to be sarcastic, but it really is quite an interesting question. So I decided to check it out to see how this might be possible.

Firstly, I typed "How to Grow A Limb" into Google. It turns out that there ARE scientists working on this question (and no, they aren't studying starfish or salamanders).

Here's a quick excerpt from one article:

Talkin’ ‘Bout Regeneration
Growing human arms in test tubes isn’t science fiction. It’s the future of medicine.

When David Gardiner first began researching regenerative medicine two decades ago, many of his fellow biologists told him he was wasting his time on a science that would never produce results. Regenerating human hearts and lungs for transplant? Fantasy. Creating entirely new limbs for amputees? Ridiculous.

Five years ago the reaction changed slightly to, “Well, maybe. Just not any time soon.” But recently, with high profile cases like Dolly the cloned sheep and Christopher Reeve reporting he has recovered some use of his central nervous system, the regenerative medicine field has been blown wide open. Now, anything is considered possible.

“We’ve gone from this mainstream science view that regeneration is just kind of a fascinating thing that some animals do,” says Gardiner, a researcher at UC Irvine. “And that’s completely changed. Now everybody’s going, ‘Well, how come we haven’t done it already. What’s taking so long?’”

While Gardiner does caution that limb regeneration is “a long, long, long way away,” he sees no reason why it couldn’t happen in his lifetime. “I think, of course, it’s going to happen. It’s not that difficult. So many of the cells and the tissues in our arm have the ability to regenerate,” he says.

“These aren’t magical properties. Regeneration is not magic. What’s missing is the ability to get them to do the right thing, at the right time and in the right place. So, it’s like the orchestra with no conductor. You have all the bits and pieces and what’s missing is the blueprint.”

If researchers can figure out the blueprint, re-growing a limb could become a routine procedure that would go something like this: A person comes into the hospital with an arm severed at the shoulder. The doctor creates some kind of signal, electrical or biological, which tells the body that instead of forming scar tissue, it should instead form a blastema, the first nub of regeneration.

Well, this scientist seems pretty certain that it's just a matter of time. The process, it seems, is to send an electrical or biological signal that tells the body to grow a new limb, instead of forming scar tissue.

I'm no doctor. But I do know that electrical signals are sent around the body by the central nervous system. The central nervous system includes the brain. In fact the brain uses the nervous system to send electrical signals around the body to tell it what to do.

Theoretically, if the brain sends out the right electrical signals, what the article mentioned should be achievable. The blastema will form. A new limb will grow. It all depends on whether you can manipulate your brain in the right way.

Theoretically, if the brain gets involved in generating the right biological signals, what the article mentioned should be achievable too. The blastema will form. A new limb will grow. It all depends on whether you can manipulate your brain in the right way.

Is this really astounding? Hmmm. It's interesting, but it's not such a far stretch, The brain is of course involved in hormone production processes (actually, I'm not sure if there's hardly any human biological process in which the brain is NOT involved) which means it is always involved in sending biological signals.

And we already know that hypnosis can help flesh wounds and broken bones to heal significantly faster - this study by Harvard Medical School says so. That means that the mind is quite able to influence matters at a cellular level.

Yes, yes. But is it really possible to think your way to a new arm? I don't know, maybe. Maybe not now, but maybe in future, we'll figure it out. I mean, through genetic engineering, we've already got mice to grow human ears. Would it be really amazing if humans could grow human arms? And if humans could kickstart, speed up or control that process with their thoughts? I don't think so. I mean, yogis have already demonstrated their ability, under clinically controlled laboratory experiments, to manipulate supposedly non-voluntary (autonomic) bodily processes. Like Swami Rama:

"He amazed scientists by his demonstration, under laboratory conditions, of precise conscious control of autonomic physical responses and mental functioning, previously thought to be impossible. Under these scientific conditions, Swami Rama demonstrated his ability to stop his heart from pumping blood for seventeen seconds, to produce a ten-degree difference in temperature between different parts of the palm of his hand, and to voluntarily produce and maintain specific brain wave patterns on demand. He first generated brain wave patterns that were predominately characterized by beta waves; then he produced alpha waves, which are generally associated with a relaxed state. Finally, he was able to demonstrate the production of theta waves. Theta waves are associated with unconscious states, in contrast to alpha and beta wave, which are associated with conscious states. While producing theta waves, Swami Rama appeared to be in a state of deep sleep. However, he was able to recall everything that had transpired in the room during that period."
 Link.Who knows, maybe HE would have some idea of how to grow a new limb.

Side note: did you know that children aged 2 and below who lose their fingertips in accidents can consistently grow them back? I learned that from this article. Unfortunately, such regrowth is rare in adult humans, but scientists are now experimenting to see whether they can use certain pig extracts to get injured soldiers to grow new fingers.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Feederism: Beware Of The Office Feeder

Claire Hill has been dieting for seven months. She attends a weekly weigh-in at her local gym and has seen the scales drop by almost 16 lb to 10 st since she started.  Fastidious about counting calories, Claire, 42, walks to work every day and jogs on the treadmill twice a week. Yet she feels her progress has been hindered considerably by what she refers to as her 'biggest dieting liability': the office feeder.
Every morning when Claire arrives at the offices of the marketing company where she works in Manchester, a female colleague has placed freshly-baked croissants on a desk in the open-plan area where they sit.

'She watches to see who is having one and harangues you until you pick one up,' Claire says. 'I wrap it up and put it in my bag to throw away later, but she comes over and asks if I have eaten it.
'At 11am, she brings out the biscuits or butter shortbread. Yet she never touches a crumb herself.'

If Claire's predicament sounds all too familiar, it is because the behaviour of the office feeder has become virulent, their insidious calorie-pushing cropping up in workplaces around the UK. Part of a once-rare proclivity, they derive intense pleasure from over-feeding or intentionally trying to fatten up colleagues and friends. For those targeted, the temptations proffered by feeders can be difficult to resist.
On a Weight Watcher's website discussion dedicated to the issue of office feeders, 26-year-old Sarah-Jo, from Suffolk, says there is a constant supply of cakes and biscuits from a particular colleague.

'I've told her I am on a Weight Watchers programme and trying to lose weight, but that just makes the person worse,' she says.
'In front of everyone else she says: 'Go, on - just one won't hurt,' and I am put on the spot. I really feel she is just being so mean.'

Another correspondent, Lorna, from Glasgow, says: 'My office feeder is very clever and knows all my weaknesses - she loves nothing more than feeding people, and my willpower can't take it.'

Research has shown that the workplace presents ample opportunity for weakening of resolve when it comes to weight loss.
Professor Brian Wansink, an eating behaviourist who is director of nutritional science at Cornell University, and the author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We think, found that female secretaries ate 5.6 times more chocolates if they were placed on a nearby desk than if they had to stand up and walk two metres to get it.
In another experiment, he showed that office workers sitting near glass dishes filled with sweets ate 71 per cent more - or 77 calories a day - than those sitting near white, opaque dishes of the same confectionary.
Over the course of a year, the clear dish would have added more than 5 lb of extra weight.
Wansink says that, typically, we eat 30 per cent more calories in company than we do alone, and that women are more likely to be influenced by the diet patterns of co-workers than men.
'When we put two women together, regardless of whether they are friends or not, they end up mimicking the eating habits of the other person,' Wansink says. 'And if the person next to them is eating fast, they will match her pace.'
But what drives office feeders to fatten up others? Susan Ringwood, chief executive of the eating disorders charity Beat, says they are likely to be harbouring an unhealthy relationship with food themselves.
'It is often assumed that people with eating disorders such as anorexia are not interested in food and don't feel hungry. But, in fact, the opposite is true,' Ringwood says.
'They like to see others eating, because it reinforces their own sense of mastery and self-will, and they feel good about avoiding calories when someone else is consuming them in front of their eyes."

For some feeders, however, there is more at play than a straightforward transference of guilt about eating.
An internet search on the subject of feeders or 'feederism' brings up dozens of sites devoted to what some enthusiasts consider to be a sexual appeal of the practice.
Fuelled by calls for greater fat acceptance within society, people obsessed with gaining weight themselves, known as gainers, or in taking control of the eating habits of others, so that they become physically incapacitated by fatness (feeders or feedies), are coming out of the closet in droves.
Ringwood says that the phenomenon is not an eating disorder in itself as, unlike anorexics and bulimics, 'gainers' claim they are happy with their bodies.
'There's no clear cut explanation for why someone would want to gain weight themselves or to assist someone else gain weight,' she says.

It is clearly abnormal behaviour in the extreme.
With the risks of obesity so widely known, why would someone encourage their partner or friend to eat themselves to ill health?
Professor Peter Rogers, head of experimental psychology at the University of Bristol, says there are many possible underlying reasons, but one could be that it allows the 'feeding' partner to gain control within a relationship.

'There's some evidence that men, in particular, encourage female partners to over-eat in order to make them less physically attractive to potential rivals,' Rogers says.
'In a bizarre way, they are attempting to protect themselves from the pain associated with a split.'

Sexual complexities can play a part in the office feeder's motivation, too.
Although no statistics are available for this emerging phenomenon, it is thought that, like most disordered relationships with food, office feeders are mostly women.
Driven by a desire to appear more attractive than her female colleagues to men in the office, a feeder sometimes uses food as a weapon to help her achieve the goal.
'There can often be some sexual jealousies, or other factors that might prompt someone to behave in this way,' says psychologist Dearbhla McCullough of Roehampton University.

'Food is often used as a competitive tool and slimness seen as the ultimate sign of self-control and perfection.'

Certainly, this was true in the case of Samantha F from London, who reports in a revealing blog on a dieting and weight-loss website with a thread of comments on dieting jealousy that 'someone at work, who had made no secret of the fact that she fancied my boyfriend before we started going out together, tried to befriend me by bringing in Reese's Peanut Buttercups every day.

'I once said I liked them and she told me it was because she had cravings for them, too, yet she never let one pass her lips. She was the ultimate competitive feeder.'

For Claire Hill, there is no obvious trigger for her office feeder's behaviour.

'There are times when I think she really is out to get me fat,' says Claire.
'But then I wonder if she's just someone that likes to care for people, loves food and always has a full fridge at home.
'It does cross my mind that maybe she just likes me.'

Friday, 8 November 2013

Famous People Who Have Used Hypnotherapy

Many actors have used hypnosis to improve their lives. It helps them remember who they really are and detaches themselves from the roles they play. Great actors will physically and emotionally become the characters they are playing. They have bypassed that logical, conscious part of their mind and truly believe they have become that character. They are, in fact, in an altered state of consciousness - a hypnotic state.
Because the mind can't tell what is imagined and what is real, the lines of the actor's true identity and that of his character can become blurred. This can become a problem especially if the character played has a dark or negative side.
Hypnosis is very popular in Hollywood to help actors detach themselves from past roles. And also to help actors get into that "Hypnotic Acting State" often resulting in Oscar Winning performances.
And famous celebrities are, after all, still normal, natural people who have normal, natural problems. just like you and me. And they have used hypnosis to overcome these problems (and if they have, so can you!). For example:
Matt Damon used hypnosis to quit smoking. Interviewed by Jay Leno, he said, "Using hypnosis was one of the greatest decisions of my life!"
Other celebrities to quit smoking through hypnosis are:
Barry Moore, Billy Joel, Drew Barrymore, Britney Spears, Ellen Degeneres, Ashton Kutscher, Charlize Theron and Ben Affleck
Celebrities who have used hypnosis to lose weight are:
Lily Allen, Sophie Dahl, Geri Halliwell and Chuck Clausen
Sarah Ferguson (Fergie) used hypnosis to stop biting her fingernails and for weight loss.
Orlando Bloom's mother called in a hypnotist to deal with Orlando's addiction to chocolate when he was a child.
Sylvester Stallone used self hypnosis to help him write the script for "Rocky". He then used hypnosis daily to overcome over 900 rejections for his script. During each day of filming "Rocky" he used hypnosis tapes. "Rocky" became an overnight success.
Kevin Kostner flew his personal hypnotist to Hawaii to cure him of sea sickness while filming "Water World".
Hollywood actor Aaron Eckhart credits hypnosis for changing his life forever after being able to give up smoking and alcohol.
Tony Curtis used hypnosis to overcome his fear of flying and to improve his career.
James Earl Jones famous actor and voice of Darth Vader (Star Wars) and Mufasa (Lion King) used hypnosis to overcome stuttering.
Bruce Willis used hypnosis to overcome stuttering.
Other famous actors/ celebrities who have used hypnosis to improve their lives are:
Samuel L Jackson, Sean Penn, Sean Connery, Martha Stewart, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin
Princess Diana used hypnosis for public speaking and confidence.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis used hypnotherapy to let go of past tragic events, including her husband's assassination.
Albert Einstein was known to have hypnosis sessions every afternoon. His theory of relativity came to him in one of those sessions. He often used trance states to develop his ideas.
Sir Winston Churchill used post-hypnotic suggestions in order to stay awake all night and avoid tiredness during World War II.
Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud developed psychotherapy as a result of learning about and practicing hypnosis.
Mozart composed the famous opera "Cosi Fan Tutte" while hypnotized.
Lord Tennyson Alfred wrote complete poems in a hypnotic state.
Seigei Rachmaninoff composed his "Second Piano Concerto" following a post-hypnotic suggestion given by Nikolai Dahl, a pioneer in hypnosis. Today, after over 100 years, this concerto still remains one of the most exquisite and deeply moving pieces of music ever written.
Tiger Woods has his mental coach hypnotize him to block out distractions and to focus on the golf course.
Steve Hooker won the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal in pole vaulting after his hypnotist helped him visualize his success.
Jimmy Connors is said to have used hypnosis to practice his winning tennis strokes prior to the US Open.
Kevin McBride, the celebrated Irish heavyweight boxing champion, prior to every fight, gets his personal hypnotist to hypnotize him into the right frame of mind.
Jack Niklaus, champion golfer, credits hypnosis and visualization techniques as the sole reason for his improved concentration.
Other sporting celebrities to have used hypnosis are:
Shaquille O'Neal (basketball) and Pat Cash (tennis)
The good news is .. it doesn't matter if you are famous or not so famous. Hypnosis has helped others and it can help you! The good news is you don't have to be a celebrity to be helped with hypnosis, whatever your problem is! The good news is... hypnosis can and will make a difference!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Psychology of Stalking: Inside The Mind of A Stalker

In 1989 at the age of 21, Rebecca Schaeffer was a successful television actress when a deluded fan with a gun took it all away from her with a single shot. Following this highly publicized murder, California passed the nation’s first anti-stalking statute in 1990, with other US states quickly following suit.

Stalking is defined as repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. In 2006, psychologist Brian Spitzberg at San Diego State University conducted large-scale representative studies of stalking behavior across three continents. He reported that 2–13% of males and 8–32% of females are victimized by stalking at some point in their adult lives, and in the majority of such cases, the person is stalked by someone they know.

The relentless neurotic nature of the stalker can take the form of harassing their targets, calling them repeatedly, as well as sending letters and gifts. If these are ineffective, the individual may escalate to more intrusive behaviors such as spying on, and unexpectedly confronting their victims. Research tends to focus on how violating it is to bear the brunt of stalkers’ obsessions, but there is little to explain what exactly motivates the stalker, and further, how to therapeutically treat these offenders.

Researcher Katrina Baum at the National Institute of Justice in Washington conducted a national stalking victimization study in 2009. Victims were asked what they thought motivated their stalkers to pursue them. Of 3,416,460 victims, 36.6% considered stalker motivations as “retaliation, anger or spite,” 32.9% replied “control,” and 23.4% said “mental illness or emotional instability.”

In reality, most stalkers do not suffer from hallucinations or delusions, although many do suffer from other forms of mental illness including depression, substance abuse, and personality disorders.

In 1993, Australian stalking expert Paul Mullen, clinical director and chief psychiatrist at Victoria’s Forensicare, a high security hospital for mentally ill offenders, analyzed the behavior of 145 diagnosed stalkers. Based on their analyses, Mullen and fellow colleagues proposed five stalker subtypes, in an attempt to facilitate diagnosis and treatment. These subtypes are currently the most extensively used categorization in classifying stalker behavior.

Mullen defined the rejected stalking type as an individual who has experienced the unwanted end of a close relationship, most likely with a romantic partner, but also with a parent, work associate, or acquaintance. When this stalker’s attempts to reconcile fail, they frequently seek revenge. The therapeutic focus is usually centered on the stalker ‘falling out of love.’ The individual is counseled on how to move on from an angry preoccupation with the past to the sadness of accepted loss.

The intimacy seeker identifies a person, often a complete stranger, as their true love and begins to behave as if they are in a relationship with that person. Many intimacy seeking stalkers carry the delusion that their love is reciprocated. In 2009, country star Shania Twain had a stalker who fit this profile and received numerous love letters from him. He even attended Twain’s grandmother’s funeral without an invitation. The focus of management of intimacy seekers is on the underlying mental disorder coupled with efforts to overcome the social isolation and the lack of social competence that sustains it.

The incompetent subtype like the intimacy seeker, hopes their behavior would lead to a close relationship, satisfying their need for contact and intimacy. However, this type of stalker acknowledges that their victim is not reciprocating their affection while they still continue their pursuit. Mullen views these stalkers as intellectually limited and socially awkward. Given their inability to comprehend and carry out socially normal and accepted courting rituals, the incompetent stalker uses methods that are often counterproductive and frightening. This was seen in 2004 when pop sensation Britney Spears’ stalker sent numerous love letters, e-mails, and photos of himself with frightening notes saying things such as “I’m chasing you.”

The resentful stalker experiences feelings of injustice and desires revenge against their victim rather than a relationship. Their behavior reflects their perception that they have been humiliated and treated unfairly, viewing themselves as the victim. It is has been found that resentful stalkers often regard their fathers as highly controlling. Mark Chapman, the notorious John Lennon stalker and murderer is a classic case of a resentful stalker. He described himself as the world’s biggest rock fan and admired Lennon and all his work, until he read a biography of the musician. Angered that Lennon would “preach love and peace but yet have millions [of dollars],” Chapman shot and killed Lennon on December 8, 1980. In later testimonials, Chapman described how his father “never told me he loved me; and he never said he was sorry.” The focus on a distressing past and the compulsive reliving of this pain can contribute to a mood disorder. Also, in a fortunate few there is a paranoid disorder that responds at least partially, to antipsychotic medication.

Finally, the predator stalker also has no desire for a relationship with their victims, but a sense of power and control. Mullen explains that they find pleasure in gathering information about their victim and fantasizing about assaulting them physically, and most frequently sexually. Predatory stalkers should almost always be managed within a sex-offender program, with the main focus being on the management of the paraphilia that is the driving force behind the stalking behavior.

Therapeutic interventions for stalkers are directed first at their mental disorders. Stalkers as a group, have an impressive capacity to rationalize, minimize and excuse their behaviors. Mullen explains that in almost all stalkers there is a need both to improve interpersonal and social skills, and to instill a more realistic understanding of the impact of their behaviors on victims. Stalkers should be managed individually, with group work avoided. Like sex offenders, stalkers can readily establish networks of mutual support and information-sharing within the group, sustaining the behavior being treated.

In those stalkers motivated by a vengeful resentment, there is often an acute sensitivity to the confusion, distress and fear produced by their activities. Because of this sensitivity, programs developed to enhance victim empathy can be readily adapted for use with these individuals. It is uncommon to encounter a stalker with adequate interpersonal and social skills. Difficulties establishing or maintaining intimate relationships lie at the basis of many stalking episodes. Improving this area of function can contribute not only to resolving the current stalking but also to reduce the chances of reoffending. Many stalkers have narrowed their daily activities to being entirely focused on the victim. Encouraging even limited social activities can be helpful.

Mullen’s research suggests that professionals should focus not on the stalkers as criminals but as vulnerable, distressed individuals whose behaviors reflect, at least in part, the influence of a serious underlying mental disorder. The most important step in the management of stalkers is to see them as individuals in need of psychological help.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

School Bullies: New Studies and New Ideas

Everyone knows that school bullies torment their peers to compensate for low self-esteem, and that they are scorned as much as they are feared.

But "everyone" got it wrong, according to Jaana Juvonen, a professor of developmental psychology whose decade of groundbreaking research on mean kids and their hapless victims is changing the way parents and schools think about bullying.

Most bullies have almost ridiculously high levels of self-esteem, Juvonen’s research has found. What’s more, they are viewed by their fellow students and even by teachers not as pariahs but as popular — in fact, as some of the coolest kids at school.

Juvonen shared highlights of her myth-busting research earlier this week with a rapt audience of faculty and staff colleagues at the Faculty Center as this year’s featured lecturer in the Emerging Research Series. A collaborative effort among the Academic Senate, Staff Assembly and Campus Human Resources, the series began four years ago as a way to bring faculty and staff together for an engaging, educational forum.

Bullying — which runs the gamut from physical aggression to the spreading of nasty rumors via cyberbullying — is a a subject of growing public concern. Yet Juvonen recalled that when she and her UCLA colleagues began their research a decade ago, "it was very much a challenge for us to convince our audiences that bullying is a problem. Ten years ago — and even today in some parts of the country and in some families — there was a belief that bullying is just part of growing up … and that these experiences are even needed [by the victims] because they ‘help build character.’"

To the contrary, she said, "we have learned that bullying can have devastating consequences" — most tragically, those cases where victims of bullying have committed suicide.

Given such grim realities, how can there possibly be a connection between bullying and popularity? Juvonen and her colleagues came upon this intriguing dynamic in a study of more than 2,000 sixth graders from ethnically diverse public middle schools in the Los Angeles area. Students and teachers were asked to identify [anonymously] which kids were the bullies and who were the victims. But the students and teachers were also asked — without knowing who had already been named as bullies and victims — to identify the most and least popular kids. That’s where it got interesting.

The research found that "bullies are, by far, the coolest kids," Juvonen said. "And the victims, in turn, are very uncool."

Digging deeper, the researchers expanded their observations to 4th and 5th graders in elementary school and 6th, 7th and 8th graders in middle schoolers. The bully-coolness connection, they found, is virtually nonexistent in elementary school and suddenly appears in the sixth grade, the first year of middle school.

"Clearly, there’s something about the school environment that makes bullies more valued among their peers in sixth grade," said Juvonen. That "something," she speculated, has to do with the turbulence of transition. "Think about all the changes that kids go through when they transfer from elementary school to middle school. The school not only becomes an average seven times larger than their elementary school, but now they go from one [class] period to the next, having a different teacher in each and also different classmates."

Floundering and frightened, not knowing where they fit in "probably calls forth a primal tendency to rely on dominance behaviors," Juvonen suggested. The bigger, stronger kids create a social hierarchy and appoint themselves the leaders. The bullies are clearly in charge, gaining power and status that translate to a bigtime ego boost.

Juvonen answers questions from Becky Spiro, on staff at the UCLA Library as a photo cataloguer, after the lecture.Juvonen and her colleagues have also taken a close look at the victims of bullies: Friendless and lonely, they don’t know how to say ‘Stop it!’ when a bully attacks. Worse still, many victims blame themselves, imagining that there must be something inherently wrong with them for this to be happening.

All this, Juvonen said, can add up to a vicious cycle. The shy kid who gets picked on, for example, becomes even more withdrawn. When bullied, he responds submissively and becomes increasingly vulnerable. Eventually he reaches the point where "he starts showing all over his face and all over his body that he is indeed a good target, just waiting to be pounced on."

Schools have had success with policing and disciplining individual bullies, Juvonen said. "But bullying is not a problem of specific individuals. Bullying is a collective problem. We need to address the social dynamics.

"Bullies can stop being bullies, and victims can stop being victims," Juvonen said. "What we’ve learned is that these are temporary social roles, not permanent personality characteristics."

Teachers and school administrators, she suggested, might start by thinking differently — even empathetically — about bullies. "Think if there might be another way to provide them with a sense of control and power other than being mean to others," she suggested. "I’ve seen some very clever teachers do that. When they see a kid who’s constantly on the case of other kids, these clever teachers give this kid a special role" that channels the bully’s energies more positively.

Schools should also do a better job of helping the victims, who are often forgotten in the larger drama of reining in the bullies. "Victims can learn new ways to perceive their plight and their suffering," Juvonen said, "realizing that it’s not something about them that causes this" and developing effective social skills.

Helping kids — bullies and victims alike — foster friendships can also make a difference.

"We have not come to appreciate the power of friendships," Juvonen said. "Sometimes school administrators and teachers really think that friendships among kids are a nuisance. They want to separate friends because they’re causing trouble."

For lonely kids with a propensity for becoming victims, having just one friend may be enough to protect them.

"We have to start thinking about meaningful buddy programs that connect them with somebody," Juvonen said, "to make sure that there’s somebody at the school who says ‘Hi!’ in the morning rather than punching them."