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Monday, October 31, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
The Myth: Somebody who avoids social interaction is “antisocial”.
This is mostly a semantic error, which is why I put it in tenth place. Many people refer to someone who is reluctant to participate in social situations as “antisocial”. In fact, these people are often pro-social, even unusually so.
Antisocial Personality Disorder is diagnosed in adults who consistently ignore the rights of others by behaving violently, lying, stealing, or generally acting recklessly with no concern for the safety of themselves or others. They are often extroverted and very much the opposite of the type of people who are so often called “antisocial”, who usually care very much about other people’s feelings. These people are usually just shy or have some form of autism, depression, social anxiety disorder, or avoidant personality disorder (AvPD). AvPD, which is diagnosed in people who avoid social interaction because of an intense fear of being rejected, is probably part of the reason for this confusion. The two personality disorders, after all, have pretty similar names, even if they are entirely different things.
The Myth: People with Dissociative Identity Disorder radically change their behavior and lose their memory of what has just been happening when they switch personalities.
Some people would say that DID itself is the myth, since it’s, suspiciously, much more commonly diagnosed in North America than anywhere else, but let’s assume for today that it does exist.
People with DID have anywhere from two to over a hundred different personalities that alternately take over their bodies. These alternate personalities (“alters”) usually, but not always, form due to childhood trauma. The alters don’t always cause huge, noticeable changes in appearance or behavior, so observers might not even notice their existence. Many people with DID (“multiples”) realize that various alters are present and know who those people are, even before therapy, which wouldn’t work very well if they had no memory of switching. It’s possible that one personality has no knowledge of what happened while one of their alters was in charge, causing a sense of amnesia, but they might be entirely aware of what is happening and just not actively involved. The group of alters can usually communicate to some degree, and might even work together to hide the fact that they are multiple. Some multiples prefer not to have therapy to choose one personality and stop switching, because they are perfectly fine living as a team. [Image Source]
The Myth: All people with dyslexia are unable to read because they see letters in the wrong order.
This is actually two myths in one, but still only two of many myths about dyslexia. The first is that dyslexic people can’t read. Actually, most do learn to read, but if they don’t get appropriate help, they often learn slowly and stay well below their grade level in speed and comprehension. But even that’s not always true: many dyslexic children figure out how to cover up their difficulty reading until third or fourth grade or even longer. And if they are taught by someone who understands dyslexia, they can learn to read perfectly well.
The other half of this myth is that the problem dyslexics have with reading is because they see words backwards or out of order. This can seem to be the case because, in their confusion while they try to figure out a word, they mix up letters or sounds, and some dyslexic people confuse left and right or have a lot of trouble spelling. However, this is not the cause of their problem. Dyslexia is much more to do with a unique way of thinking than a problem with processing visual information.
The Myth: Schizophrenic people hear voices in their heads.
We all know about schizophrenia, and we’ve all read jokes about “the voices in my head”. But, contrary to what a lot of people believe, not all people with schizophrenia hear voices in their heads. Auditory hallucinations are very common in schizophrenic people, but they are more likely to hear voices coming from some object outside of their body than inside their mind. Plus, not everyone with schizophrenia experiences the same symptoms. They may have hallucinations (actually seeing or hearing things that don’t exist), delusions (believing unrealistic ideas), disordered thoughts, lack of affect (no appearance of emotions), or, in catatonic schizophrenia, even a lack of desire to move at all. Schizophrenia is a complicated disorder with a wide range of possible symptoms. (Note that alternate personalities is not one of the symptoms. We already covered that disorder.)
The Myth: Autism is a devastating disorder that will stop someone from ever being able to function in society.
There are many myths and even more potential/disputed myths about autism, but this seems to be one of the most common. Many people hear “autism” and imagine children who are permanently in their own world where they can’t talk or interact with anyone else, who throw tantrums for no apparent reason, and who will never be part of normal society. However, autism is called a spectrum disorder for a reason: autistics range from people who are unable to communicate in any way with others, all the way to people who live ordinary, productive lives and just seem a bit eccentric to the rest of us.
Severe autism is not a life sentence, either. Even very low-functioning autistics can lead a perfectly happy life. There are also stories of low-functioning autistic children improving with therapy and almost entirely recovering from any autism-related problems they had, and many people and organizations are searching for a cure for autism. Unfortunately, those organizations pushing for a cure are usually the ones who spread this particular myth by only focusing on issues related to low-functioning autism, and almost entirely ignoring the existence of high-functioning autism and autistic people who would never want to be “cured”.
The Myth: People with ADHD are unable to pay attention to anything.
ADHD is a disorder that has been becoming pretty famous in recent years, so I’m sure you all know what it is. For those of you who aren’t sure, people with ADHD have trouble concentrating on tasks and can be hyperactive or impulsive. But it isn’t true, as it sometimes seems, that people with ADHD just can’t pay attention. Many of them can pay attention to something that they find genuinely interesting, the same way all of us are much more willing to be distracted from a dull task than an enjoyable one. And, in fact, some people have trouble focusing because they actually pay too much attention. They think about all the sights, sounds, and smells around them, not just the task at hand. They have to learn to deal with all the other interesting stimuli and keep most of their attention on what is important.
The Myth: Somebody with selective mutism is either refusing to speak, or has been abused or traumatized in the past.
This is the only disorder on the list that you may have never heard of by name before, though I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of it and its myths. I don’t know of another disorder with myths more commonly believed, not just by society as a whole but actually by professionals.
Selective Mutism (formerly Elective Mutism) is a disorder that almost always first appears in early childhood. Someone with selective mutism can, and often does, speak perfectly well, but doesn’t speak, and sometimes doesn’t even communicate in other ways, in specific situations. A very large number of parents, teachers and psychologists who work with selectively mute people believe that these people are choosing not to speak, maybe in an attempt to control other people. However, it turns out that most selectively mute people do want to talk, but don’t because they’re actually afraid to. An overwhelming majority of selectively mute people also suffer from social anxiety disorder, and silence seems to be one way that they cope with stressful situations. Punishing a child for not speaking, as many people who believe in this myth do, paradoxically makes the child even more anxious and therefore even less likely to speak.
But if you don’t know someone with selective mutism, chances are you still believe in a myth very common in the media: some children and teenagers stop talking entirely, or to everyone but one or two people, because they were traumatized or repeatedly abused. While some people do become mute after trauma, this usually lasts a few weeks, not months or years. Most people do not develop selective mutism in later childhood or because of any kind of trauma or abuse.
The Myth: People who intentionally cut, burn, or otherwise injure themselves are either trying to kill themselves or looking for attention.
Many people, particularly teenagers, who suffer from a variety of mental disorders cope with their inner pain by physically harming themselves, most commonly by cutting. Self-injury seems to be becoming more common and well-known these days, but myths about the self-injurer’s intentions have not gone away.
No matter what it looks like, self-injury is not a failed suicide attempt. Some self-injurers harm themselves over and over for years without having a single injury that would threaten their life, which would be an amazing record of failure if they were actually trying to die. Many people who self-injure are actually trying to avoid suicide by letting out their feelings in a (somewhat) safer way.
Many people also believe that self-injurers are just seeking attention. This is true of a few people, especially since self-injury is becoming more well-known and almost popular, but most self-injurers actively try to hide their injuries by wearing long sleeves or pants, or by cutting in a place that is usually covered by clothing, like their upper thighs or stomach. Some self-injurers desperately want someone to find out about their behavior so they can get the help they need, but even many of them are too frightened of another person’s reactions, and ashamed of themselves, to actually point out their injuries. Besides, even if someone decided to injure themselves to get attention, shouldn’t you be very concerned about be what problem could be causing them to need attention so badly that they harm themselves to get it? [Image Source]
The Myth: People with OCD are always obsessed with the danger of germs, and usually are very particular about neatness.
I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people say that they’re OCD because they’re very neat or careful about cleanliness. Most people seem to think that people with OCD are neat freaks and/or germophobes, not realizing that it’s a lot more complicated than that.
OCD is an anxiety disorder with two characteristics. First, people with OCD have recurring unwanted thoughts (obsessions), usually of something they find disturbing or not at all in their character. It’s common to have an obsession about germs or contamination, or of not having properly locked their doors so burglars can’t get in, but it’s also common to have thoughts about something terrible happening to their families, about hurting or even killing someone, doing something forbidden in a religion they strongly believe in, or any other undesirable idea. Second, these people think that doing some certain ritual will get rid of the danger. It could be washing hands, keeping their house in perfect order, checking that the door is locked, thinking certain words, avoiding odd numbers, or just about anything imaginable. Doing this compulsion doesn’t make the thoughts go away for very long, so the ritual is repeated.
Not everyone who has OCD cares about germs, or does the rituals that we usually hear about. Not everyone even has compulsions an observer would actually notice, since a lot of them are mental. And perfectionism or neatness? While some people with OCD are perfectionists, this is more associated with another disorder. If you liked the first entry, you’ll love this: the disorder is called Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, and it’s actually a different thing. One major distinction is that people with OCPD consider their habits to be part of themselves and desirable, while people with OCD are often very disturbed by their disorder.
The Myth: Mental disorders and illnesses are all in your head, and you can just get over them if you really want to.
This earned the number one spot, not only because it’s general, but because it’s probably the most damaging myth on this list, since it can stop people from getting the support they need. Some people still believe that mental illnesses are all imagined by their sufferers, or that people who suffer from mental illness can’t really be having that much trouble and/or just don’t care enough about getting over it. People are especially likely to be dismissive if the illness isn’t well-known, and so many of them, even common ones, are not.
The fact that the same symptoms have been experienced by so many different people should prove that are real — they can’t all be independently inventing the same symptoms. Any mental disorder, by definition, seriously affects the lives of the people who suffer from it, usually for the worse, or it would not be considered a disorder. And they are certainly not easy to get over. Most mental disorders are caused at least in part by a difference in the brain or an imbalance of chemicals. Even when it comes to the non-physical reasons, it’s very difficult to un-learn a thought pattern or habit — just choose any habit and try it. Plus, the disorder itself may stop someone from trying to get help: people with depression might think no therapist will be able to help them, and be too tired to try to find one, anyway. If we could overcome mental illnesses just by wanting to, the world would be full of much happier and more productive people.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Death is a part of every person’s life; in this article we explore ten of the strangest deaths that have occurred in recorded history.
1. Francis Bacon (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626)
Manner of death: Stuffing snow into a chicken
Francis Bacon; statesman, philosopher, creator of the English essay, and advocate for the scientific revolution (he established “The Scientific Method” still used today), was one of very few people to die as a result of one of their own experiments.
In 1625, whilst gazing out the window at a snowy afternoon, Sir Francis Bacon had an epiphany of sorts. Why would snow not work as preservative of meat in much the same way salt is used? Needing to know and unheeding of the weather, Bacon rushed to town to purchase a chicken, brought it home and began the experiment. Standing outside in the snow, he killed the chicken and tried to stuff it with snow. The experiment was a failure; the chicken didn’t freeze, and as a consequence of standing around in the freezing weather, Bacon developed a terminal case of pneumonia. Trying to stave off the inevitable, Bacon roasted and ate the chicken. That too was a failed experiment. He died.
2. Horace Wells (January 21, 1815 – January 24, 1848)
Manner of death: Used anesthetics to commit suicide
An American dentist, born in Vermont and educated in Boston, Horace Wells was one of the pioneers in the field of anesthesia. Weary of screaming patients, (it was known to upset him terribly, he often debated leaving the field of dentistry altogether), he was one of the first practitioners to see the value of nitrous oxide or laughing gas as an anesthetic.
After a failed experiment and falling out of favor with the medical community, Wells became a traveling anesthetic salesman and European expert for his former partner, Gardner Quincy Colton. His ‘investigations’ led to a chloroform addiction that would be his down-fall. In 1848, delirious and deranged after a week of self-experimentation, Wells ran into the street and assaulted two prostitutes with sulfuric acid. He was arrested and confined at New York’s infamous Tombs Prison. Recovering from the drug induced psychosis; the true horror of his actions came home to roost. Unable to live with this shame, Wells committed suicide by first inhaling a substantial dose of chloroform and then slitting his femoral artery.
3. Tycho Brahe (December 14, 1546 – October 24, 1601)
Manner of death: Didn’t get to the toilet in time
Famous as an alchemist and astronomer, Brahe’s pioneering observations of planetary motion paved the way for Sir Isaac Newton to develop the theory of gravity.
Unfortunately brilliance and common sense do not always go hand in hand, the manner of his death being the case in point. Known to have a weak bladder and knowing that it was very bad form to leave the banquet table before the festivities concluded, Brahe still neglected to relieve himself before dinner. To compound matters, he was known to drink excessively, and this particular banquet was no exception. Too polite to ask to be excused, his bladder strained causing a protracted (11 day), agonizing death. Whether he died of a burst bladder or hyponatremia (low levels of sodium in the blood) or mercury poisoning is now debated.
Note: this is very similar to an event in which a lady died recently in a competition entitled “Hold Your Wee for a Wii”. She died of hyponatremia.
4. Attila the Hun (406 – 453)
Manner of death: He got a nosebleed on his wedding night
History’s most brilliant tactician, warlord, and notorious villain, Attila the Hun conquered all of Asia by 450 AD. Using a combination of fierce combat and ruthless assimilation, Mongolia to the very edge of the Russian Empire fell to Attila and his armies.
Known for his frugal eating and drinking habits, Attila must have thought that his own wedding was an occasion to celebrate. Marrying a young girl named Ildico, in 453 AD; he over-indulged in both food and drink. Sometime after retiring for the evening, his nose started to bleed. Too drunk to notice, it continued to bleed, ultimately drowning him in his own blood.
5. Aeschylus [Αἰσχύλος] (525 BC/524 BC – 456 BC)
Manner of death: An eagle dropped a tortoise on his head
Considered the founder of tragedy, Aeschylus is the first of the three ancient Greek playwrights whose work still survives. He expanded the characters of a play so that there was conflict between them instead of actors solely interacting with the chorus. Sophocles and Euripides famously followed in his footsteps.
While visiting Gela on the island of Sicily, legend has it that an eagle, mistaking Aeschylus’ bald pate for a stone, dropped a tortoise on his head killing him. Some accounts differ, stating that a stone was dropped on his head, the eagle mistaking his shining crown for an egg. This is not as far-fetched as it seems. The Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture is native to the Mediterranean, and is known to drop bones and tortoises on rocks to break them open.
6. King Adolf Frederick of Sweden (May 14, 1710 – February 12, 1771)
Manner of death: Eating too much pudding
Adolph’s Frederick was the titular King of Sweden from 1751 – 1771. The omnipotent Riksdag or senate held the reins of power despite Adolphus’ best efforts to wrest it from them.
Another victim of personal excess, Adophus Frederick is known by Swedish children as “the king who ate himself to death”. On February 12, 1771, after partaking of a banquet consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne he moved on to his favorite dessert, Semla, a traditional bun or pastry made from semolina/wheat flour, served in a bowl of hot milk. One or two portions would have been sufficient; 14 servings was excessive. He died shortly thereafter of digestion problems.
7. Grigori Rasputin [Григо́рий Ефи́мович Распу́тин] (January 22, 1869 – December 29, 1916)
Manner of death: Drowning after being poisoned, shot, stabbed, and bludgeoned
The Mad Monk, Grigori Rasputin, was a peasant and mystic healer who found favor with the royal court of Russia by providing relief to Crown Prince Aleksey, a hemophiliac and heir to the throne.
Wielding much influence on the royal court, the unkempt, vulgar, and amazingly resilient Rasputin made many political enemies. He had to go; much easier said than done. The conspirators first tried poison, enough poison to kill a man three times his size, but he seemed unaffected. Next they snuck up behind him and shot him in the head. This should have done it, but no; while one of the assassins was checking his pulse, the mystic grabbed the conspirator by the neck and proceeded to strangle him. Running away, the would-be assassins took up the chase, shooting him 3 times in the process. The gunshots slowed him down enough to allow his pursuers to catch-up. They then proceeded to bludgeon him before throwing him in the icy cold river (Russian winter). When his body was recovered an autopsy showed that the cause of death was drowning.
8. Isadora Duncan (May 27, 1877 – September 14, 1927)
Manner of death: Strangulation and a broken neck
Isadora Duncan is widely considered as the mother of Modern Dance. Born in San Francisco, California, Dora Angela Duncan was the product of divorced parents; her father a disgraced banker and her mother and pianist and music teacher. Her free form style was never very popular in her home country, but she found great success after immigrating to Paris. She founded three schools of dance and her likeness is carved over the entrance to the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.
Isadora Duncan died of a broken neck and accidental strangulation when her scarf caught on the wheel of a car she was traveling in. The New York Times, succinctly and brutally described it thusly:
“The automobile was going at full speed when the scarf of strong silk began winding around the wheel and with terrific force dragged Miss Duncan, around whom it was securely wrapped, bodily over the side of the car, precipitating her with violence against the cobblestone street. She was dragged for several yards before the chauffeur halted, attracted by her cries in the street. Medical aid was summoned, but it was stated that she had been strangled and killed instantly.”
9. Christine Chubbuck (August 24, 1944 – July 15, 1974)
Manner of death: Suicide on live TV
Christine Chubbuck was the host of “Suncoast Digest” a well regarded public affairs program on WXLT-TV in Sarasota, Florida. Breaking format, her guest was waiting across the studio at the news anchor’s desk; Christine read eight minutes of national news stories before the tape reel malfunctioned while describing a shooting at the Beef and Bottle restaurant. Seemingly unfazed by the technical glitch, Christine looked into the camera and said:
“In keeping with Channel 40′s policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts, and in living color, you are going to see another first: an attempted suicide.”
Taking a revolver out from under her desk, she placed it behind her left ear and pulled the trigger (she learned this was the most effective way to commit suicide from the police while researching a project for her show). She tumbled violently forward as the technical director slowly faded to black. Some viewers called 911 while others called the station to see if it was real. Camerawoman Jean Reed later stated that she didn’t believe it to be genuine until she saw Christine’s body twitching on the floor.
10. Sharon Lopatka (September 20, 1961 – October 16, 1996)
Manner of death: Volunteered to be tortured and murdered
Sharon Lopatka was an internet entrepreneur and one sick puppy. Living in Hampstead, Maryland, USA, Sharon was killed by Robert Frederick Glass in a case of consensual homicide.
While advertising unusual fetishist pornography on her web site, Sharon began her hunt for a partner willing to torture and kill her for their mutual sexual gratification. After many false starts, of course most replies were not serious, she finally found Robert Glass; more than willing to fulfill her fantasy. They exchanged many messages, culminating in their meeting in North Carolina. Glass tortured her for several days before strangling her with a nylon cord. He was later convicted of voluntary manslaughter and possession of child pornography.
5. Miroslaw Magola: Moves objects with his Mind
“Remember, there is no spoon”. Just like that kid from “The Matrix” movie, Miroslaw Magola –The “Magnetic Man”– defies laws of gravity with an extraordinary ability — applying the power of psycho kinesis he can raise anything from metal pans to marble statues, transport them through the air to affix to his body, then creates a force to keep them there — simply using mind control.
An avid enthusiast of the phenomenon of psychic energy, Miroslaw has developed his skill to manipulate lifeless objects in mid-air to obey his will, even forcing them spin around or shake. His mental powers are so keen that he can jump around while an object is stuck to his head without losing his mental grasp of the item. Miroslaw explains how he employs psycho kinetics to perform these uncanny feats, “It works because I load myself with energy (I connect myself to it) and at the same time I wish for the object to raise.” Miroslaw has undergone numerous tests for his perplexing skill which remains unexplained by conventional science to date. Although Miroslaw Magola is gifted with some of the strangest abilities in the world which are generally regarded as paranormal, his book is filled with protests against exactly this form of categorization. He deals with and discusses things ‘beyond our world,’ yet describes himself as a radical rationalist and insists on his normality.
4. Manjit Singh: Pulls a Jet with his Ears
57 year-old Manjit Singh, called the “Ironman”, holds more than 30 world records including pulling a double decker bus with his hair, lifting 85 kg with his ears, and of course, pulling a Jet also with his ears! On April 2007, Ironman pulled the aircraft -weighting approximately 7.4 tonnes- 12ft along the apron at East Midlands Airport, UK.
Speaking after the record attempt, he said: “I don’t feel too bad, I have a little bit of pain around the ears but I’m ok.” The attempt raised money for his charity Manjit Fitness, which aims to get children living in his native Mahilpur, India involved in sport.
3. Ru Anting: Writes with his Tears
56 year-old Ru Anting, Luoyang in China, has a very special talent: he can write calligraphy with water he shoots from his eyes. After sucking up some water with his nose, he then sprays it through his tear ducts, ending up on the paper.
Ru discovered his unusual talent as a child while swimming in the river. “Sometimes I would swallow water while swimming, and once I accidentally discovered the water I swallowed could be shot out through my eyes. My friends were all shocked to see it,” he said.
But it wasn’t until the 1990s, when Ru lost his job in a local fertilizer factory after more than 20 years, that he began to develop his unusual talent. After three years of intensive training, he found he could shoot water accurately up to 10ft from his eyes at will.
2. Michel Lotito: Eats Everything
French entertainer Michel Lotito SaveFrom.net is known as Monsieur Mangetout (Mister Eat-it-all). As a famous consumer of undigestables, Lotito’s performances are the consumption of metal, glass, rubber and so on in items such as bicycles, televisions, a Cessna 150, and smaller items which are disassembled, cut-up and swallowed. The aircraft took roughly two years to be ‘eaten’ from 1978 to 1980. He began eating unusual material while a child and has been performing publicly since 1966.
Lotito does not often suffer from ill-effects due to his diet, even after the consumption of materials usually considered poisonous. When performing he consumes around a kilogram of material daily, preceding it with mineral oil and drinking considerable quantities of water during the ‘meal’. He apparently possesses a stomach and intestine with walls of twice the expected thickness, and his digestive acids are, allegedly, unusually powerful, allowing him to digest a certain portion of his metallic meals.
1. Thai Ngoc: Needs no Sleep
Sixty-four-year-old Thai Ngoc, a vietnamese farmer, is known around the world for a unique talent: he needs no sleep. After getting a fever in 1973, we hasn’t been able to sleep and has counted infinite numbers of sheep during more than 11,700 consecutive sleepless nights. “I don’t know whether the insomnia has impacted my health or not. But I’m still healthy and can farm normally like others,” Ngoc said. Proving his health, the elderly resident of Que Trung commune, Que Son district said he can carry two 50kg bags of fertilizer down 4km of road to return home every day.
Ngoc currently lives on his 5ha farm at the foot of a mountain busy with farming and taking care of pigs and chickens all day. His six children live at their house in Que Trung. Ngoc often does extra farm work or guards his farm at night to prevent theft, saying he used three months of sleepless nights to dig two large ponds to raise fish.