The Situationist

Archive for April 30th, 2008

B.F. Skinner’s Turning Pigeon

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 30, 2008

In this 85-second video, B.F. Skinner conditions a pigeon to make a complete turn (narrated by B.F. Skinner).

Posted in Classic Experiments, Uncategorized, Video | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Disturbing Mental Health Situation of Returning Soldiers

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 30, 2008

The military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to over 4,700 deaths of U.S. soldiers (in addition to over 1.2 million deaths of Iraqi and Afghan people) and tens of thousands of physical injuries to U.S. soldiers. As we know too well, some of those injuries are catastrophic.

The mental health of returning soldiers has received much less attention, no doubt in part because those injuries are less apparent, because many people still view mental illness as less serious than physical illness, and because of choice myth in the context of mental illness: there is a common presumption that mental illness reflects a weak will (as opposed to biological impairment) of the person and that it can be corrected by the person, if the person so chooses.

Given the horrific conditions of warfare, however, perhaps the mental illness of soldiers will receive more credibility. New revelations about the number of veterans attempting suicide will certainly draw attention to the issue: although the Veterans Health Administration recently claimed that 800 veterans are attempting suicide each year, newly-uncovered e-mails from government officials indicate the actual number of veterans attempting suicide each year is closer to 12,000.

Just released data about the number of soldiers who have returned, and will return, from Iraq and Afghanistan with very serious mental health-related problems should also raise public consciousness. A new study by the RAND Corporation entitled “Invisible Wounds of War,” indicates a truly jaw-dropping figure: 1 out of every 5 returning soldiers–or about 300,000 total soldiers to date–suffers from either post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. Below we excerpt an article by Lizette Alvarez of the International Herald Tribune on this topic.

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One in five service members who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, but little more than half of them have sought mental health treatment, according to an independent study of United States troops.

The service members and veterans who reported these symptoms represented about 19 percent of the 1.6 million service members who have deployed to war in the last five years, a figure consistent with the most recent findings by military researchers. A 2007 survey of combat army soldiers who had been home for several months found that 17 percent of active-duty troops and 25 percent of reservists had screened positive for symptoms of stress disorder.

The study, released on Thursday by the RAND Corporation, reported that about 19 percent of the troops said they might have experienced a traumatic brain injury, usually the result of powerful roadside bombs, yet a majority of those troops had never been evaluated for such an injury.

The 500-page study is the first exhaustive, private analysis of the psychological and cognitive injuries suffered by service members. The study sought to determine the prevalence of these injuries, gaps in treatment and the costs of treating, or failing to treat, the conditions.

RAND researchers conducted a telephone survey from last August to January 2008 with 1,965 service members, reservists and veterans who had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan in the last five years. Some respondents had deployed more than once. The researchers also gathered data from focus groups. The survey was conducted in 24 communities with high concentrations of service members, reservists and veterans.

The Defense Department said that it was heartened that the data reflected its own findings on the prevalence of mental injuries, and that the study helped highlight the hurdles the military faces in helping veterans.

“We’re on a long journey, and we’ve come a long way, but we’ve got a long way to go,” said Colonel Loree Sutton of the army, head of the new Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Lisa Jaycox, a senior behavioral scientist at RAND and a co-author of the new study, “Invisible Wounds of War,” said the findings also served to underscore the barriers, some of them self-imposed, that troops face in getting help. War veterans say they are often reluctant to seek treatment, in part out of fear that their medical information will be used to derail their careers. Commanders typically have access to a service member’s military medical records.

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For the rest of the article, click here. To access “Invisible Wounds of War,” click here. For related Situationist posts on the military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, see The Situation of Soldiers, Our Soldiers, Their Children: The Lasting Impact of the War in Iraq,” “The Situation of a “Volunteer” Army,” “From Heavens to Hells to Heroes – Part I,” and “Looking for the Evil Actor.” For related Situationist posts on mental health, see “The Situation of Racial Health Disparities” and “Guilty or Not Guilty? Law & Mind Meet Hamlet.”

Posted in Choice Myth, Public Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Situationism in the Blogosphere – March 2008 (Part III)

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 30, 2008

Josh Radovan & Digital Methods Initiative

Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during March. (They are listed in alphabetical order by source.)

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From Neuromarketing: “B2B Marketing: Play Fair, Maximize Profit

“Businesses are often portrayed as rapacious partners, seeking to squeeze every penny out of their deals. Indeed, some are… the result is often a relationship between defined by a fat contract that seeks to protect both parties against bad behavior by the other. New research, which draws on both conventional research and brain-scan driven neuroeconomics studies, reaches the surprising conclusion that fairness is the key to maximizing profits.” Read more . . .

From Overcoming Bias: “Ancient Political Self-Deception

“I’ve been saying for years that people prefer democracy mainly because they think it raises their social status – being ruled by a king makes you lower status relative to people who “rule themselves.” We can’t quite fool ourselves into thinking a king is just a “steward”, but we apparently can think we really rule because we elect our rulers. . . . Nazi Hermann Göring: ‘Oh, [democracy] is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.'” Read more . . .

From PsyBlog: “Whistlestop Tour of Research on the Psychology of Money

“In recent years psychologists have uncovered all kinds of fascinating and strange new things about the psychology of money. It is a huge and ever-growing topic with new research coming out all the time, so let’s take a quick look around and spot some of the major themes and headline findings.” Read more . . .

From PsyBlog: “The Attitude-Behavior Gap

“It’s only natural to think a person’s attitudes and behaviours are directly related. If someone says, while truly believing it, that they’re not a racist, you’d expect them to behave consistently with that statement. Despite this, psychologists have found that the link between a person’s attitudes and their behaviours is not always that strong. In fact people have a nasty habit of saying one thing then doing the opposite, even with the best of intentions.” Read more . . .

From PsyBlog: “Why Psychology is Not Just Common Sense

“If you want to see a psychologist’s head explode, tell them psychology is just common sense. It’s not that surprising as it’s like saying that they’ve been wasting their time all these years and needn’t have bothered studying all that claptrap in the textbooks. While psychology is, of course, more than common sense, there is certainly an intersection between the two, and anyone denying it should have their head examined.” Read more . . .

From The Splintered Mind: “Situationism and the Self-Centeredness of Virtue Ethics

“Most philosophers have been concerned whether situationism discredits virtue ethics, a recently popular ethical theory which underscores the importance of character traits to structure guide one’s conduct and lead to a flourishing moral life. Situationism, by contrast, claims that character traits are rather inefficacious when compared to the influence of external, situational variables. . . . To me, the real lesson of situationism lies in how it shows, in striking fashion, that no person is an island–that all our behavior is heavily interconnected, and that what I do really affects what you do, and vice-versa.” Read more . . .

From Of Two Minds: “Are Mac Owners More Pretentious?

“. . . it is with great interest that I read a provocative report by Mindset Media comparing the behavior of Mac-owners vs. PC-owners–specifically, who was snobbier? Mindset surveyed 7500 Mac and PC-owners and found that Mac users were more self-important, intellectually curious, and felt themselves to be extraordinary and superior.” Read more . . .

From We’re Only Human: “Slicing the Economic Pie

“the brain finds self-serving behavior emotionally unpleasant, but a different bundle of neurons also finds genuine fairness uplifting. What’s more, these emotional firings occur in brain structures that are fast and automatic, so it appears that the emotional brain is overruling the more deliberate, rational mind. Faced with a conflict, the brain’s default position is to demand a fair deal.” Read more . . .

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For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click on the “Blogroll” category in the right margin.

Posted in Blogroll, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

 
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