Monday Miscellany: Value, Vocabulary, Voices

1. Malcolm on creating value for your friends. I think this blog post does what a lot of relationship building listicles do; you’ll notice that the suggestions Malcolm is making roughly sound like advice along the lines of “tell people you love them” and “affectionate touch”. What made me link to this, rather than any other version is that it tackles all the reasons you might not have acted on the last fifteen times you heard that advice, along with providing counterarguments. I’m also tickled by the fact that it’s explicitly about friends—I’m used to a strong priority being put on affection towards a spouse/partner.

2. What the hell is trauma anyways? PTSD? Having a bad thing happen to you? Why do we estimate that 70-80% of people had trauma in childhood?

3. Cognitive rehabilitation is really cool and quite effective for schizophrenia/psychotic disorders/other stuff with executive functioning issues. [emphasis mine below]

Cognitive Adaptation Training (CAT) is a compensatory approach using environmental supports and adaptations such as signs, checklists, medication containers with alarms, and the organization of belongings to prompt and sequence target behaviors such as taking medication and taking care of living quarters. Treatment strategies are based on a comprehensive assessment of cognitive functioning, behavior, and environment. CAT is based on the idea that impairments in executive functioning lead to problems in initiating and/or inhibiting appropriate behaviors. Using behavioral principles such as antecedent control, environments are set up to cue appropriate behaviors, discourage distraction, and maintain goal-directed activity. In addition, adaptations are customized for specific cognitive strengths or limitations in attention, memory, and fine motor control (eg, changing the color of signs frequently to capture attention, using Velcro instead of buttons for someone with fine motor problems). In 2 studies Velligan et al. randomized a total of 90 medicated individuals with schizophrenia to 1 of 3 treatment groups: (1) CAT, (2) a control condition involving home visits and environmental changes not related to functioning (eg, bedspreads), and (3) treatment as usual. Participants in CAT improved in severity of symptoms and level of adaptive functioning compared with the other treatments groups. Effect sizes for improvements in adaptive functioning were large (Cohen’s d > 8.0).

4. A few weeks ago I read Seeing Voices by Oliver Sacks. While the book is relatively short, it tops 100 pages, so I’ll link you to the best thing I learned about, the history of Gallaudet University.

5. And on that topic, how do new words get added to American Sign Language? (includes gifs!)

6. First the idea of companionship, now the gays: stuff that’s been threatening ‘traditional marriage’.

7. On polyamory vocabulary and abstractions. (I found the distinction between relationship insecurity and relationship jealousy to be particularly useful)

8. Giving the HPV vaccine to men. [n.b. the article is about Britain’s NHS]

“It makes absolutely no sense – we’ve got a vaccine that we know works, yet as a cost-cutting exercise the government is ignoring a whole cohort of people because they are just assuming that everybody is having sex with women, and if you’re not, then you are not protected at all.

“The virus is very infectious – even using condoms doesn’t protect you against it as it can enter from the base of the penis. Unless you have a condom that covers every part of the person you can still catch it.

“About 1,500 cases of anal cancer a year are directly related to HPV infection. The cost of that is estimated at between £70 million and £90 million. Whereas the cost to roll out the HPV vaccine would be £20 million. The government just thinks about saving money in the next budget. It’s disgraceful.


Stuff I read this week:
(I was on multiple planes, there was a lot of reading)

Without You, There Is No Us, Suki Kim
To visit North Korea, a journalist goes undercover as a missionary undercover as a teacher. The book narrates her two terms teaching North Korean university students. It’s…kind, rather than distant and clinical, and avoids the “look, look”, zoo-like writing style I find in many articles about the DPRK.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra
A (very, very good) story of Chechnya.

A Partial History of Lost Causes, Jennifer Dubois
The intersection of a disease I did a research project on and excellent historical fiction.

Wonder of Wonders, Alisa Solomon
A history of Fiddler on the Roof. I’ve never seen the whole musical, and I still loved the book.

Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
Everything I wanted but didn’t get out of Jane Austen.

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