Cryonics Shall One Day Bring Dead People Back Into Life (Medicine)

Cryonics is the practice of preserving life by pausing the dying process using subfreezing temperatures, with the speculative hope that resurrection may be possible in the future.

©Alcor

“At the point where the current legal and medical system gives up on a patient, they aren’t really dead.” said Eliezer Yudkowsky.

What is Death?

The definitions of death change over time as medical understanding and technology improve. Someone who would’ve been declared dead decades ago may still have a chance today. Death used to be when a person’s heart stopped, then when their heart couldn’t be restarted, and is now being extended further.

The most accurate definition of death is that death only permanent when the structures encoding memory and personality (necessary for consciousness) have become so disrupted that it becomes theoretically impossible to recover the person. This is called “information-theoretic death”. Any other definition of death is arbitrary, and subject to revision.

What i have to say is that death is a process. It is not like a switch which turns or and off. When someone is dying, the transition from alive to dead is not instantaneous. It takes time to die. Doctors can use this time to try and save the person, and are often successful. When it is impossible or inappropriate to reverse the dying process… this is when cryonics becomes relevant.

Cryonics is currently the best-known method for pausing the dying process in a way that allows for potentially restoring good health with medical technology in the future. Cryonics is an ambulance to the future.

“The concept of cryonics is optimistic…many leading experts on nanotechnology anticipate that it will make it possible to reanimate cryonics patients.” said Nick Bostrom.

The science

Cryonics sounds like science fiction, but it’s based on modern science. Cryonics is an experiment in the most literal sense of the word. The question you have to ask yourself is this: would you rather be in the experimental group, or the control group? The cryonics group has a chance, but the control group has none.

Life can be stopped and restarted if its basic structures can be preserved. Human embryos are routinely preserved for years at very low temperatures. Adult humans have survived being cooled for up to an hour at temperatures that stop the heart, brain, and all other organs from functioning.

Vitrification can preserve biological structure very well – much better than freezing. Vitrification is the transformation of a substance into a glassy solid. High concentrations of cryoprotectants permit biological tissue to be cooled to very low temperatures with little to no ice formation. It is now possible to physically vitrify organs as large as the human brain, achieving excellent structural preservation without freezing.

© Alcor

Methods for repairing biological structure at the molecular level can now be foreseen. Nanotechnology will lead to the capability of extensive tissue repair and regeneration, including repairing individual cells one molecule at a time. This future nanomedicine could theoretically recover any cryopreserved person where the structures encoding memory and personality remain inferable.

“I hope you’ll do it [cryonics] the same way I’d hope you’d take a shot with an experimental drug if you were sick and it were the one chance you had. Because it’s worth a try.”, said Tim Urban.

What It’s Ideal Procedure?

1-7 Days Before
Standby
The quality of a cryopreservation depends on how soon the procedure can begin. Preferably, a cryonics standby team is waiting near a dying person up to a week in advance, so they may begin almost immediately after cardiac arrest.

0 Hours
Legal Death
The cryopreservation process should begin as soon as a dying person experiences cardiac arrest and can be declared legally dead. While the patient is legally dead at this point, they are still early in the dying process, with cells and organs still viable.

0-2 Hours
Stabilization
Blood circulation and breathing are artificially restored temporarily, to protect the brain, and so protective medications can be administered intravenously. The patient is then cooled in an ice water bath, and their blood is replaced with an organ preservation solution.

0.5-24 Hours
Transport
The cooled patient is carefully transported to Alcor’s operating room in Arizona. Many Alcor members choose to retire and/or enter hospice near Alcor for shorter transport time and better procedural outcome.

1-24 Hours
Perfusion
Cryoprotectants are perfused into the bloodstream to reduce and even prevent freezing. Uncontrolled freezing would cause damage to the blood vessels, brain, and other organs. Perfusion prepares the patient for cryopreservation.

5-7 Days
Deep Cooling
The patient is cooled down to -196° C, which cryopreserves the patient in a solid state. The patient is now protected from deterioration for theoretically thousands of years, and the dying process has been effectively stopped.

Decades
Long-Term Care
The patient is stored in a vacuum-insulated metal dewar at subfreezing temperatures using liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen is topped up regularly, and the dewars require no electricity. The patient will remain in long-term care until revival becomes possible.

Future
Revival
No cryonics organization can currently revive a cryopreserved patient, but we at Alcor have confidence revival may be possible. Nanotechnology and other future medical technologies are expected to have very broad capabilities.

Provided by Alcor

When Light And Atoms Share a Common Vibe (Quantum)

Scientists from EPFL, MIT, and CEA Saclay demonstrate a state of vibration that exists simultaneously at two different times. They evidence this quantum superposition by measuring the strongest class of quantum correlations between light beams that interact with the vibration.

©EPFL

An especially counter-intuitive feature of quantum mechanics is that a single event can exist in a state of superposition – happening both here and there, or both today and tomorrow.

Such superpositions are hard to create, as they are destroyed if any kind of information about the place and time of the event leaks into the surrounding – and even if nobody actually records this information. But when superpositions do occur, they lead to observations that are very different from that of classical physics, questioning down to our very understanding of space and time.

Scientists from EPFL, MIT, and CEA Saclay, publishing in Science Advances, demonstrate a state of vibration that exists simultaneously at two different times, and evidence this quantum superposition by measuring the strongest class of quantum correlations between light beams that interact with the vibration.

The researchers used a very short laser-pulse to trigger a specific pattern of vibration inside a diamond crystal. Each pair of neighboring atoms oscillated like two masses linked by a spring, and this oscillation was synchronous across the entire illuminated region. To conserve energy during this process, a light of a new color is emitted, shifted toward the red of the spectrum.

This classical picture, however, is inconsistent with the experiments. Instead, both light and vibration should be described as particles, or quanta: light energy is quantized into discrete photons while vibrational energy is quantized into discrete phonons (named after the ancient Greek “photo = light” and “phono = sound”).

The process described above should therefore be seen as the fission of an incoming photon from the laser into a pair of photon and phonon – akin to nuclear fission of an atom into two smaller pieces.

But it is not the only shortcoming of classical physics. In quantum mechanics, particles can exist in a superposition state, like the famous Schrödinger cat being alive and dead at the same time.

Even more counterintuitive: two particles can become entangled, losing their individuality. The only information that can be collected about them concerns their common correlations. Because both particles are described by a common state (the wavefunction), these correlations are stronger than what is possible in classical physics. It can be demonstrated by performing appropriate measurements on the two particles. If the results violate a classical limit, one can be sure they were entangled.

In the new study, EPFL researchers managed to entangle the photon and the phonon (i.e., light and vibration) produced in the fission of an incoming laser photon inside the crystal. To do so, the scientists designed an experiment in which the photon-phonon pair could be created at two different instants. Classically, it would result in a situation where the pair is created at time t1 with 50% probability, or at a later time t2 with 50% probability.

But here comes the “trick” played by the researchers to generate an entangled state. By a precise arrangement of the experiment, they ensured that not even the faintest trace of the light-vibration pair creation time (t1 vs. t2) was left in the universe. In other words, they erased information about t1 and t2. Quantum mechanics then predicts that the phonon-photon pair becomes entangled, and exists in a superposition of time t1andt2. This prediction was beautifully confirmed by the measurements, which yielded results incompatible with the classical probabilistic theory.

By showing entanglement between light and vibration in a crystal that one could hold in their finger during the experiment, the new study creates a bridge between our daily experience and the fascinating realm of quantum mechanics.

“Quantum technologies are heralded as the next technological revolution in computing, communication, sensing, says Christophe Galland, head of the Laboratory for Quantum and Nano-Optics at EPFL and one of the study’s main authors. “They are currently being developed by top universities and large companies worldwide, but the challenge is daunting. Such technologies rely on very fragile quantum effects surviving only at extremely cold temperatures or under high vacuum. Our study demonstrates that even a common material at ambient conditions can sustain the delicate quantum properties required for quantum technologies. There is a price to pay, though: the quantum correlations sustained by atomic vibrations in the crystal are lost after only 4 picoseconds — i.e., 0.000000000004 of a second! This short time scale is, however, also an opportunity for developing ultrafast quantum technologies. But much research lies ahead to transform our experiment into a useful device — a job for future quantum engineers.”

References: Santiago Tarrago Velez, Vivishek Sudhir, Nicolas Sangouard, Christophe Galland. Bell correlations between light and vibration at ambient conditions. Science Advances 18 December 2020, Vol. 6, no. 51, eabb0260 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb0260 https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/51/eabb0260.full

Provided by EPFL

Muddying The Waters: Rock Breakdown May Play Less of a Role in Regulating Climate Than Previously Thought (Earth Science)

The weathering of rocks at the Earth’s surface may remove less greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than previous estimates, says new research from the University of Cambridge.

“People have spent decades looking on the continents for weathering – so maybe we now need to start expanding where we look”, – said Ed Tipper.

The findings, published in PNAS, suggest Earth’s natural mechanism for removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere via the weathering of rocks may in fact be weaker than scientists had thought – calling into question the exact role of rocks in alleviating warming over millions of years.

The research also suggests there may be a previously unknown sink drawing CO2 from the atmosphere and impacting climate changes over long timescales, which researchers now hope to find.

Weathering is the process by which atmospheric carbon dioxide breaks down rocks and then gets trapped in sediment. It is a major part of our planet’s carbon cycle, shuttling carbon dioxide between the land, sea and air, and influencing global temperatures.

“Weathering is like a planetary thermostat – it’s the reason why Earth is habitable. Scientists have long suggested this is why we don’t have a runaway greenhouse effect like on Venus,” said lead author Ed Tipper from Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences. By locking carbon dioxide away in sediments, weathering removes it from the atmosphere over long timescales, reducing the greenhouse effect and lowering global temperatures.

The team’s new calculations show that, across the globe, weathering fluxes have been overestimated by up to 28%, with the greatest impact on rivers in mountainous regions where rocks are broken down faster.

They also report that three of the largest river systems on Earth, including the neighbouring Yellow and Salween Rivers with their origins on the Tibetan Plateau and the Yukon River of North America, do not absorb carbon dioxide over long timescales – as had been thought.

For decades, the Tibetan plateau has been invoked as a long-term sink for carbon and mediator of climate. Some 25% of the sediment in the world’s oceans originate from the plateau.

“One of the best places to study the carbon cycle are rivers, they are the arteries of the continents. Rivers are the link between the solid Earth and oceans – hauling sediments weathered from the land down to the oceans where their carbon is locked up in rocks,” said Tipper.

“Scientists have been measuring the chemistry of river waters to estimate weathering rates for decades,” said co-author Victoria Alcock “Dissolved sodium is one of the most commonly measured products of weathering – but we’ve shown that it’s not that simple, and in fact sodium often comes from elsewhere.”

Sodium is released when silicate minerals, the basic building blocks of most of Earth’s rocks, dissolve in carbonic acid – a mix of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and rainwater.

However, the team found not all sodium comes from this weathering process. “We’ve found an additional source of sodium in river waters across the globe,” said co-author Emily Stevenson. “That extra sodium is not from weathered silicate rocks as other studies assume, but in fact from very old clays which are being eroded in river catchments.”

Tipper and his research group studied eight of the largest river systems on Earth, a mission involving 16 field seasons and thousands of lab analyses in search of where that extra sodium was coming from.

They found the answer in a soupy ‘gel’ of clay and water – known as the cation exchange pool – which is carried along by muddy river sediment.

The exchange pool is a reactive hive of cations – positively charged ions like sodium – which are weakly bonded to clay particles. The cations can easily swap out of the gel for other elements like calcium in river water, a process that can take just a few hours.

Although it has been described in soils since the 1950s, the role the exchange pool plays in supplying sodium to rivers has been largely neglected.

“The chemical and isotopic makeup of the clays in the exchange pool tell us what they are made of and where they’ve come from,” said co-author Alasdair Knight. “We know that many of the clays carried by these rivers come from ancient sediments, and we suggest that some of the sodium in the river must come from these clays.”

The clays were originally formed from continental erosion millions of years ago. On their journey downstream they harvested cations from the surrounding water – their exchange pool picking up sodium on reaching the sea. Today, after being uplifted from the seafloor, these ancient clays – together with their sodium – are now being eroded by modern rivers.

This old sodium, which can switch out of the clays in the exchange pool and into river water, has previously been mistaken as the dissolved remnants of modern weathering.

“Generating just one data point took a huge amount of work in the lab and we also had to do a lot of maths,” said Stevenson. “It’s like unmixing a cake, using a forensic approach to isolate key ingredients in the sediments, leaving behind the exchange pool and the clays. People have used the same methods for a really long time – and they work – but we’ve been able to find an extra ingredient that provides the sodium and we need to account for this.”

“It’s thanks to the hard work of many collaborators and students over many years that our samples had the scope to get to grips with this complex chemical process at a global scale,” said Tipper.

Scientists are now left to puzzle over what else could be absorbing Earth’s carbon dioxide over geological time. There are no certain candidates – but one controversial possibility is that life is removing carbon from the atmosphere. Another theory is that silicate dissolution on the ocean floor or volcanic arcs may be important. “People have spent decades looking on the continents for weathering – so maybe we now need to start expanding where we look,” said Tipper.

Reference: Edward T. Tipper et al. ‘Global silicate weathering flux overestimated because of sediment–water cation exchange.’ PNAS (2020). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2016430118

Provided by University of Cambridge

How Do We Perceive Beauty Without the Ability to See? (Neuroscience)

A new study helps us understand the contextual clues of beauty.

The concept of facial beauty is universally and intuitively understood, yet defining beauty is challenging. For centuries, people have attempted to define “beauty” using a variety of mathematical models. Recent social science research has identified four key components that make up beauty: symmetry, averageness, sexual dimorphism and youthfulness.

One common underpinning for these ideals is the necessity for visual input to assess them. This raises the question: how do those with impaired vision perceive beauty in others? A recent study published just this month suggests that nonvisual cues trigger processing in parts of the brain that can reliably detect beauty when the ability to see is hindered.

In this study, a total of 8 blind and 10 nonblind male subjects were enrolled and asked to rate 6 different female models on a 1 to 10 scale. One by one, the 6 models entered a secure room without any outside noise or distractions and were seated 3 feet across from the subjects for 30 seconds without any interactions. There was no talking, physical contact or communication between the model and blind/nonblind subjects and ratings were provided after the models were out of the room. The models were instructed to not wear makeup, perfume, scented soaps or shampoos, loud jewelry or high heels. This process was then repeated until each subject rated each of the models. Following this, both the blind and nonblind subjects were blindfolded and the same process was repeated with the models entering in a different random order.

The results of the study showed that the models the sighted participants rated as beautiful were consistent with those the blind rated as beautiful. The sighted but blindfolded subjects, however, did not have this same ability to accurately detect beauty when their sense of vision was removed. Notably, the sighted and non-blindfolded subjects had an inter-class correlation of beauty ratings of 0.900 while not masked but then significantly decreased to 0.458 when masked. The ability of these sighted individuals to judge beauty thus decreased from excellent to poor simply by masking. This indicates that sighted observers do not have the skills for detecting beauty without vision that blind observers do.

There are two main ideas that may help us understand the results of this study: survival and pheromones. Functional MRI studies of blind individuals have shown that both danger and beauty have been shown to activate the amygdala, a part of the brainstem. From an evolutionary perspective, it would make sense that the same pathways that detect danger could also detect beauty, because both things can be important to survival and procreation.

The second part of the explanation for these results suggests that pheromones drive the ratings of beauty for blind observers. This association of beauty and body scent has long been established. In this study, the model with the highest beauty rating from both the blind and nonblind was in her mid-ovulatory cycle and not on oral contraceptives suggesting that her expressed pheromones signaled her ovulation.

This recent study provides an important perspective on the definition of beauty. While many of us focus on body ratios and facial proportions as the hallmarks of attractiveness, we now have scientific data confirming the wisdom of the ages: beauty is more than skin deep.

Reference: Dayan SH, Cristel RT, Gandhi ND, Fabi SG, Placik OJ, Montes JR, Kalbag A. Perception of Beauty in the Visually Blind: A Pilot Observational Study. Dermatol Surg. 2020 Oct;46(10):1317-1322. doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000002327. PMID: 31977501.

Copyright of this article totally belongs to Michael Reilly, who is an associate professor and Keon Parsa, who is a resident in the department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at Georgetown University Medical Center. This article is republished here from psychology today under common creative licenses

How to Find The “Self”? (Philosophy)

Finding yourself is a journey worth embarking on. This is where to start.

There is a defined path to find the self “quickly,” though the process could still hardly be described as quick. Many people are swift to dismiss Eastern modalities as outdated, unusual, and unworkable. But the fact is that in terms of finding the self, Vedic philosophy occupies a distinct position of respect. To proceed with finding Self, you will need:

1. A silent and serene location
2. The ability to meditate on the heart chakra
3. The ability to severely restrict diet
4. The ability to leave behind all technology and distractions.

© Crushpixel

In many ways, it is simple and straightforward. Get to a silent location and meditate on loving the self. Restrict your diet, so you are not eating any meat, processed food, caffeine, or alcohol. Avoid technology and eliminate all mental, physical, and emotional distractions.

Though this can be difficult to do, the results will be immense. It is the ideal healing modality. About three to seven days is enough for significant changes to occur with the above protocol. It can be repeated as often as necessary, and while you won’t succeed the first or even the tenth time, it is enough to fully rejuvenate you from the stresses of modern living in a big way.

Ironically, the quickest way to find the self is to do absolutely nothing at all. Your body, mind, and soul will heal if you stop eating, thinking, and reading garbage all the time. You will be in a perfect state of health if you stop doing things that put you in a depressed mood and environment. The grand irony of it all is that people need to ‘do something’ to fix an illusory problem. This leads to fad diets, liposuction, gender changes, unhappy relationships, and unaffordable mortgages.

Vedic philosophy has by no means a monopoly on silent retreats and fasting. But it really cuts to the heart, emphasizing these things and its constant focus on finding the self. There are hundreds of other esoteric modalities such as crystal bowls, visualization, spinning, manifestation, lucid dreaming, chakra work, and many more. While they might bring many benefits and even some paranormal effects, they do not cut to the core of finding the self. This involves letting go of everything you have learned to step into new dimensions.

The pinnacle of self-esteem ultimately culminates in self-realization, a state of being discussed in practically every piece of spiritual literature of note. This state goes beyond the typical human experience to full-bodied bliss and understanding. However, self-realized people are still flesh and blood, live to tell their experiences, have written books, and can be found by those who actively search for them.

Other Methods to Help Find the Self

There are more ways to try and find who you really are. It is best likened to the peeling of an onion where only the true self is left. A good place to start is to review all of what has happened to you in this lifetime and the major events. The point is not to wallow in them or take pride in their achievements. Just draw a linear map of the major events that happened, their effect on you, and try to see the bigger picture. This will help to build a degree of objectivity.

In terms of finding self, you do not want to be dependent in any way. Look at all the ways you are emotionally, mentally, physically, or financially dependent on other people and things. Become as self-sufficient as possible. This could entail eliminating cigarettes or bad food and finding a new job where you work for yourself. It will be different for everybody.

Finding self is an individual process. Nobody has ever self-realized themselves together. It is just not the way that the universe works. Groupthink is the antithesis of individual empowerment. Because even in groups, solutions only come from one individual with one spark of inspiration. There is no way to share creativity or ingenuity because it comes from within. This means that when you find the self, the practices that you use, and the philosophy that you adopt will be yours alone. If you copy what others are doing, you are already disempowered and will never find yourself. Without making decisions of your own volition, you are not giving yourself any power.

This article is originally written by Sarah-Len Mutiwasekwa who is a mental health advocate whose efforts are invested in breaking the stigma around talking about mental health and increasing awareness of these issues in Africa. This article is republished here from psychology today under common creative licenses

The Science of Stress (Neuroscience)

What causes stress reactivity and how can it be managed?

Consider these two statements:

1) Stress is good for you: Stress motivates you and helps you stay alert and focused.
2) Stress is the silent killer: Stress causes irritability, fatigue, sickness, and death.
Which of the above is true?

The answer depends not just on the stressors themselves but also on how we react to stress.

© Gettyimages

In this article, Arash Emamzadeh summarize key points from a paper by Kiecolt-Glaser et al., published in the October 2020 issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, which reviews factors affecting stress reactivity. He end by discussing effective coping and techniques for managing stress reactivity.

Good stress and bad stress

Lets begin with a question: What is the stress response (aka the fight-or-flight response)?

The fight-or-flight response is the body’s response to stress. Mediated by the sympathetic nervous system, the fight-or-flight response is associated with a series of complex physiological reactions, like increased breathing rate, higher blood pressure, reduced heart rate variability (HRV), redirection of blood flow to skeletal muscles, elevated blood sugar, and changes in the levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and other hormones.

An optimal stress response is one that occurs quickly, is proportional to the threat, and halts soon after the challenge has been met. To illustrate, a response to a knife-wielding maniac is adaptive only if it quickly prepares the body to fight or run away, and if it subsides soon after the threat is gone.

In contrast, when, say, a hurtful comment triggers long-lasting and intense physiological or psychological reactions, the stress response is dysfunctional and maladaptive.

When this maladaptive stress response occurs regularly, it causes health conditions associated with chronic stress.

How? In part through increased inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to numerous health conditions: Heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, chronic pain, depression, and metabolic syndrome—high abdominal obesity, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.

Individual stress reactivity

A variety of individual-level factors affect stress activity.

For instance, depression worsens stress reactivity; however, the opposite also occurs: Greater stress reactivity increases inflammation and worsens depression.

Even a history of depression is linked with greater stress reactivity. Why?

The scar theory of depression suggests major depressive episodes (e.g. in reaction to the loss of a parent) leave behind “scars.” These scars sensitize the individual and increase the likelihood that comparably minor events (e.g. changing schools) will trigger episodes of depression.

Mood disorders may, when combined with heightened stress response, influence other aspects of well-being as well. For instance, they can result in weight gain. Kiecolt-Glaser found that adults with a history of mood disorders who were more hostile during marital conflict discussions as well had decreased postmeal resting energy expenditure—equivalent to a weight gain of nearly eight pounds (if sustained for a year).

Other individual-level influences on stress include cognitive factors: Rumination, worry, and anticipatory anxiety. These often prolong or worsen physiological arousal, meaning they result in higher blood pressure and cortisol levels, and worse HRV reactions.

Last, in terms of the effects of early life adversity, the Biological Embedding Model suggests stressful experiences like childhood abuse and trauma are “programmed” into immune cells involved in the inflammatory response, making them more reactive to stress. Therefore, individuals who have experienced childhood abuse might have greater stress reactivity even many years after the maltreatment ended.

Interpersonal stress reactivity

People also influence the stress reactivity of others, such as their romantic partners. How?

During interactions, romantic partners’ stress levels may synchronize, and, over time, partners could begin to respond in a more similar way to the same stressors.

Of course, couples can influence each other positively too. Positive relationships are characterized by mutual validation and support, which help reduce stress reactivity. In contrast, negative relationships are characterized by frequent conflict and hostility (e.g., eye-rolling, sarcasm). And, as it occurs in some unhappy marriages, sometimes romantic partners become stuck in a negative cycle of violence and abuse, which results in increased stress reactivity and a greater chance of developing a mental illness.

Research by the authors of the current review found that compared with less hostile pairs, newlyweds who expressed more hostility during marital discussions showed higher levels of stress hormones such as epinephrine. More importantly, “Postconflict epinephrine in the first year of marriage was 34% higher in couples who subsequently divorced than [ones] still married 10 years later.”

Techniques for managing stress reactivity

In summary, greater stress reactivity results in physiological dysregulation, which is associated with chronic diseases like heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and clinical depression. These conditions often have a negative effect on stress reactivity. This results in a vicious cycle that worsens systemic inflammation, immune functioning, and chronic diseases, and contributes to frailty, accelerated aging, and possibly early mortality.  See Figure 1.

Source: Arash Emamzadeh (adapted from Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2020)

What can we do to break this vicious cycle?

Managing stress reactivity requires learning about factors that influence the stress response, and then identifying and altering modifiable influences on stress, such as unhealthy thinking patterns (e.g., rumination, worry) and dysfunctional communication patterns (e.g., sarcasm, insults).

As for reducing stress reactivity more directly, one possibility is to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (e.g., using breathing techniques) to counterbalance the effect of the sympathetic nervous system.

Popular stress management techniques—contemplative practices such as yoga and mindfulness meditation—may also reduce stress reactivity.

For instance, in one investigation, experienced yoga practitioners had lower levels of IL-6 (an inflammatory marker) when compared to yoga practitioners with less experience. And a meta-analysis concluded meditation is associated with reduced markers of stress—reduced cortisol, blood pressure, and C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker).

Last, as the authors note, aside from meditation, “exercise, a healthy diet low in sugar and saturated fats, and regular high-quality sleep may also reduce stress reactivity as well as depressive symptoms.”

Copyright of this article totally belongs to Arash Emamzadeh. This article is republished here from psychology today under common creative licenses

Feel Like Life Has Dealt You a Bad Hand? Use Hope to Cope (Psychology)

Hope may offset maladaptive behaviors associated with “relative deprivation.”

To me, it’s a mentality of never giving up, and that goes beyond just competition. That goes to life in general. It doesn’t matter what cards you’re dealt. It’s what you do with those cards. Never complain. Just keep pushing forward. Find a positive in anything and just fight for it.”
—Baker Mayfield (“Never Give Up” interview, May 4, 2018).

Are you currently feeling hopeful, hopeless, or somewhere in between? Do you have a sense of “relative deprivation” marked by the belief that you have fewer resources and opportunities in comparison to others? In the era of COVID-19, have you been deprived of something desirable you had in the past that others seem to possess now?

New research suggests that the combination of hopelessness and a sense of relative deprivation is a double whammy that may increase someone’s odds of acting out via risky behaviors such as substance abuse, gambling, or over-eating. The good news: Hope seems to offset the correlation between relative deprivation and risky/maladaptive behaviors. These findings (Keshavarz, Coventry, & Fleming, 2020) were published on December 16 in the Journal of Gambling Studies.

What Is Hope?

Before diving into the latest research on the ability of hope to reduce risky behaviors when someone feels a sense of relative deprivation, let’s define hope. Broadly speaking, hope is an optimistic belief that things are going to get better in the future.

Charles Richard Snyder’s “Hope Theory: Rainbows in the Mind” (2002) posits that being a so-called “high hoper” isn’t synonymous with being an unrealistic “wishful thinker.” Snyder found that high hopers tend to have a sense of agency characterized by goal-directed energy that helps them identify pathways that lead to overcoming obstacles and achieving their goals.

“Hope is defined as the perceived capability to derive pathways to desired goals, and motivate oneself via agency thinking to use those pathways,” Snyder wrote.

Snyder’s theory frames hope as a “positive motivational state” that harnesses agency-thinking and “reflects the ability to produce plausible alternate routes when pursuing desired goals.” The odds of experiencing the pitfalls of “false hope,” which often leads to disappointment, are diminished when someone’s hopefulness is accompanied by a get-up-and-go attitude that fortifies their motivation to proactively tackle challenges and overcome obstacles.

In general, “high hopers” aren’t inclined to simply cross their fingers and hope something good will happen; they tend to take action and, to borrow from the lines of a rah-rah underdog anthem by Mariah Carey, they “make it happen.”

Another song that captures the essence of hope theory is “High Hopes” by Frank Sinatra. In this song, the protagonist isn’t sitting around waiting for some type of divine intervention to change his fate; instead, Sinatra takes a theory of mind approach by putting himself in the shoes of different perseverant creatures such as a “little old ant” (who moves a large plant) and a ram that keeps “buttin’ that dam.”

Just what makes that little old ant think he’ll move that rubber tree plant? Anyone knows an ant can’t move a rubber tree plant. But he’s got high hopes; he’s got high apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes. So any time your gettin’ low ‘stead of lettin’ go, just remember that ant. Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant.” —Frank Sinatra, “High Hopes” (Lyrics by Sammy Cahn)

Hope theory infers that being hopeful can make destiny seem like it’s in your locus of control. Even if you believe that life’s been dealing you a rotten hand lately, hope can put you in the driver’s seat by giving you the self-belief to turn things around.

Decades of hope-based research by the late Rick Snyder (1944-2006) suggests that having higher amounts of hope and using goal-directed, agency-thinking promotes better mental health and physical well-being, as well as improved academic and athletic performance.

The latest research (2020) on relative deprivation and hope by Shahriar Keshavarz, Kenny Coventry, and Piers Fleming of the University of East Anglia’s School of Psychology (UK) suggests that hopefulness may help people who feel dissatisfied with their lot in life avoid self-destructive behaviors.

“Relative deprivation can trigger negative emotions like anger and resentment, and it has been associated with poor coping strategies like risk-taking, drinking, taking drugs, or gambling,” Keshavarz explained in a news release. “But not everyone scoring high on measures of relative deprivation makes these [maladaptive] life choices. We wanted to find out why some people seem to cope better or even use the experience to their advantage to improve their own situation.”

“There is a lot of evidence to show that remaining hopeful in the face of adversity can be advantageous, so we wanted to see if hope can help people feel happier with their lot and buffer against risky behaviors,” he added.

Across two laboratory-based gambling experiments using a novel risk-taking task (N = 101) and a third real-world experiment (= 122), the UEA researchers found that “increased hope was associated with decreased likelihood of loss of control of one’s gambling behavior in relatively deprived individuals.” Although this research has some limitations, the researchers conclude that “our findings across all three experiments indicate that hope can protect the relatively deprived from engaging in risky behaviors.”

More specifically, the researchers found that agency-thinking appears to reduce maladaptive risk-taking behavior among gamblers who feel relatively deprived compared to others. As the authors sum up: “To conclude, we believe that our findings should encourage scholars to conduct intervention-based studies to examine whether hope can be used as an intervention in cases of problem gambling and similar maladaptive behaviors.”

References: (1) Shahriar Keshavarz, Kenny R. Coventry, and Piers Fleming. “Relative Deprivation and Hope: Predictors of Risk Behavior.” Journal of Gambling Studies (First published; December 16, 2020) DOI: 10.1007/s10899-020-09989-4 (2) C. R. Snyder. “Hope Theory: Rainbows in the Mind.” Psychological Inquiry  (2002) DOI: 10.1207/S15327965PLI1304_01

This article is originally written by Christopher Bergland who is a world-class endurance athlete, coach, author, and political activist. This article is republished here from psychology today under common creative licenses

When Your Partner Won’t Change (Psychology)

Have you said something like this about your partner? “He really wants to change; he just can’t seem to.”

Sometimes we begin relationships with people we hope will change. If we go into it with our eyes open, it’s on us if change doesn’t happen. We knew what we were getting into.

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But sometimes a partner’s troubling behavior doesn’t show up right away. And when it does, it can threaten the future of the relationship.

The most obvious example is aggression.

If your partner starts being physically or verbally aggressive toward you, that needs to change if you’re going to stay together. Nobody deserves to be abused by someone they’re in a relationship with.

With deal-breaking behavior like aggression, it’s reasonable to ask your partner to change. If she knows the relationship is on the line, it will give her an opportunity to address something that clearly needs her attention.

But once you’ve asked for change, that’s when the rubber either meets the road or keeps on spinning in the air.

Can’t vs. Won’t

The reasons why people don’t change are complex. But it’s safe to say that both ability and willingness to change are influenced by our mental and emotional health.

If your partner seems to really want to change but keeps falling back into the same old habits, that seems more like a matter of “can’t” than “won’t.”

He would if he could, right? He’s even said things like, “If I could snap my fingers and be different, I would do it.”

You don’t doubt his sincerity. But it raises a question. If your partner shares your desire for change but can’t deliver, what then?

For some people, just knowing your partner genuinely wants to change is enough. You’ll put up with unwanted behavior for an unspecified period of time, as long as he’s trying.

But that puts both of you in an unhappy position. You’ve got a partner who’s not behaving well, and he’s got a partner he’s regularly disappointing.

And because there’s no deadline for change, this can go on for years. It’s a bumpy ride, with bad times and better times, and occasionally even wonderful times.

But ultimately, you’ll still wish your partner would change.

The fact is, if your partner’s poor behavior isn’t changing, it doesn’t matter whether it’s because she won’t or she can’t. You’re not obligated to stay with someone who’s trying (and failing) to do the right thing.

Motivation itself will not fix the problem. Only better behavior can fix poor behavior.

Require Change

Sometimes the only way to get change is to require it. Again, we’re talking about deal-breaking behaviors here, so don’t assume you’re being demanding if the change you’re requesting isn’t optional.

If your partner’s behavior is hurting you, then change should be required.

You don’t have to make demands. All you need to do is be clear that change is required if the relationship is to continue. And hold that boundary.

Keep these three things in mind:

Set a deadline. If you don’t, your partner could be “working on changing” for years to come. For some behaviors, a deadline is a reasonable compromise.

But if the behavior is extremely harmful, you don’t have to stick around until an arbitrary date. Make it a one-strike-and-you’re-out deal instead. This is totally reasonable when it comes to abuse.

Be specific. Make it clear that a particular behavior (describe it so it’s clear to your partner) is unacceptable.

Create consequences. Tell your partner what you’ll do if the above behavior happens again. Then follow through if necessary.

If your partner won’t change, and you don’t require her to, it’s not your partner’s fault if you’re continually mistreated. Take charge of your experience by setting and holding healthy boundaries.

You can be compassionate with a partner who’s trying, unsuccessfully, to change. But allowing him to continue to hurt you every time he fails is not helpful for either of you.

Sometimes the only thing to do when your partner can’t or won’t make reasonable changes is to walk away.

This article is originally written by Tina Gilbertson, who, is the author of Reconnecting with Your Estranged Adult Child and Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings By Letting Yourself Have Them. She hosts the Reconnection Club Podcast for parents of estranged adult children and offers consultation by distance. This article is republished here from psychology today under common creative licenses

The Biggest Reason Why Relationships Fail (Psychology)

Jeffery Bernstein shed light on biggest reason. He said, “The demise of relationships is obvious yet ironically lurks below the surface.”

Have ever gone to a high school reunion? Or, did you ever become reacquainted with a long-lost friend? If so, or if you have heard about these situations from others you trust, you probably can vouch that most of us have personalities that pretty much stay the same.

While we can usually accept that people, in general, are who they are, when it comes to our intimate partner’s less than desirable traits, we tend to want to change them. Yet, trying to change someone is detrimental to a loving relationship.

The following scenario sheds light on the partners wanting to push for change: “I’ve been frustrated and miserable for years,” complains Seth. “I keep asking Linda to give me space, but things don’t appear to be changing. It feels like all the life is getting sucked out of me.” Linda reflects, “Seth likes to have his softball team friends almost over to our house every weekend. He’s clueless about my needs and I feel so alone.”

When Time For Change–Meets Time For Reality

“Your partner is likely not going to change! Loving someone (even pleading with them) just isn’t enough to change a person’s basic personality. If, for example, your partner is emotionally reserved and you are more outgoing and need outwardly expressive of affection to feel secure, you’ll feel consistently dissatisfied.”, wrote Jeffery Bernstein.

That famous song, You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, includes the lines:

“And now you’re starting to criticize little things I do. It makes me just feel like crying. Cause baby, something beautiful’s dyin.”

This criticism of those “little things” usually follows on the heels of partners’ frustrations that neither one will significantly change. This is what really break down and erodes those loving feelings in your relationship.

The Fix: Stop Trying To Fix Your Partner

If you want your partner to change, start by accepting them for who they are. Noted psychologist, John Gottman says, “People can change only if they feel that they are basically liked and accepted the way they are. When people feel criticized, disliked, and unappreciated they are unable to change. Instead, they feel under siege and dig in to protect themselves.”

Many people stay in dysfunctional relationships with the unconscious desire to change their partner. So, stop being a change pusher. Instead of trying to change your partner, focus on improving your own life. Focusing on fixing your partner can prevent you from focusing on the issues at hand.

As Jeffery explained in his relationship book, Why Can’t You Read My Mind? , it is crucial to avoid toxic labeling and name-calling and don’t attack your partner personally. Remember anger is usually a symptom of underlying frustrations, hurt, and fear. Avoid defensiveness and criticizing or, even worse, showing contempt for your partner (rolling your eyes, ridicule, name-calling, sarcasm, etc..)

Changing Your Perspective Can Improve Your Relationship

When you change your view of things, your situation will change. This doesn’t mean you should acquiesce and tolerate abuse or disrespect. It means, though, that your thoughts, feelings, and consequent communication impact how you feel about your partner and their behaviors. In general, you will be satisfied or disappointed with your romantic relationship depending on how well your views of what is happening match your expectations.

Focusing On Change Can Cause Forgetting to Forgive

Trying to change your partner interferes with your ability to forgive them. Forgiveness isn’t the same as forgetting or ignoring the hurt done to you. But forgiveness does give the gift of allowing you to move on.

Give your partner the benefit of the doubt where possible. Accept that people do the best they can and try to be more understanding, at least within reason. If your relationship is basically healthy, develop a growth mindset of acceptance and forgiveness about daily disappointments. After all, none of us is perfect. The only perfect people, after all, are in the cemetery.

Take responsibility for your part in the conflicts and you will spread good will. Bottom line: Don’t let your partner’s limitations leave you overly focusing on the small irritants. For a relationship to be balanced, partners must be able to depend on one another and feel that they are needed and appreciated. Trying to change your partner can prevent you from connecting and staying connected and achieving true intimacy.

For more about Dr. Jeff, click here.

This article is originally written by Jeffrey Bernstein, who, is a psychologist and the author of seven books, including 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child. This article is republished here from psychology today under common creative licenses.