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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Forensic Psychology: Inside the Killer’s Mind

After Dr. Malinek’s talk last week about forensic psychology, I decided to dig this clip up from Investigative Reports. It features Dr. Dorothy Lewis, a psychiatrist who has devoted her life to studying serial killers, and her theories about what makes a serial killer. She says that a combination of brain injury, abuse, and mental illness creates a lethal cocktail which can potentially turn someone into a killer. 
The clip features Terrence Wainright, a 42 year old who had no previous history of violence, but suddenly snapped one day and killed his 15 year old daughter and wife. You will see Dr. Lewis’s testimony for the defence. 
She also testified for Arthur Shawcross, who killed 13 women and children. This is in part 3. 
Try to watch part 5 of the clip! It shows current research being done on brain scans of convicted murderers compared to normal controls. What’s really interesting is that Dr. Raine, the researcher at the forefront of finding patterns in brain scans of killers, had his brain scanned and it was virtually identical to a serial killers. 

Take home message from Dr. Lewis is: abuse has to be identified early and prevented if we are going to decrease the number of killers out there! 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Contagious Laughter = Mass Hysteria ?

On my walk home today, I was listening to the Radiolab podcast on laughter. They mentioned this contagious laughter disease that spread in Tanzania soon after the country gained independence and it was so interesting. A producer of the show went to investigate and explained that this "disease" may not have been caused by a specific pathogen but rather a psychological response to independence and new culture. Check it out for yourself!

Click here to read the article that was put out about it in 1963 from the Central African Medical Journal.

Click here to listen to the entire podcast about laughter (and I highly recommend this podcast in general).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Art Therapy Among Refugees in Uganda

While procrastinating today, I became interested in mental health initiatives for refugees and came across this video on youtube. While on the one hand, I think that this program is fantastic, I would also like to assume a critical eye for a moment to ask whether this is a quick fix, something unsustainable? I'd be curious to learn more about programs like this and to see the long term benefits, as well as to see the psychotherapy that happens behind these scenes.

Anyways - enjoy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Yemen- A Nation on Drugs

Yemen has been in the news lately, so here’s a clip showing the widespread use of Khat in Yemen. Khat is a plant used as a stimulant which has become part of the Yemeni culture. It’s a drug that takes up alot of land, water, and human resources. The WHO has described Khat as a drug of abuse. 
The drug takes over peoples’ lives; 90% of men chew khat and up to 50% of women chew in less public displays. The drug is said to increase alertness, decrease appetite, and cause euphoria. 
When I was in Ethiopia last summer, I was offered this stuff left, right, and center. Here’s an old article which demonstrates the khat dilemma in Ethiopia:
Along with the lingering al-Qaeda presence, Khat has become a symbol of all that ails this poor nation with one of the lowest literacy rates in the world.