Massive study suggests dreams are really continuations of reality

Where do dreams come from? It's an age-old question, something people have been wondering and theorising about for millennia. Whereas ancient civilisations may have interpreted dreams as having supernatural or spiritual origins, in modern society, we're more likely to analyse our dreams in terms of our waking life, looking for meaningful connections linking the content of dreams with lived experiences from our day-to-day existence. "Research has repeatedly provided strong support for what sleep scientists refer to as the 'continuity hypothesis of dreams': most dreams are a continuation of what is happening in everyday life," researchers led by computer scientist Alessandro Fogli from Roma Tre University in Italy explain in a new study. "It turns out that everyday life impacts dreaming (e.g. anxiety in life leads to dreams with negative affect) and vice versa (e.g. dreaming impacts problem-solving skills)." These psychological...

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SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: Dark Triad Politics: The Psychology of the Far Left and Alt Right

Narcissism, machiavellianism and psychopathy are the three components of what psychologists and social scientists call the 'Dark Triad' - personality traits that inform how one thinks and what one does. And dark they are because these personality features represent some of the very worst that humanity has to offer itself. As we continue to see the chaos and destruction being savaged on Western society by far left groups who claim to be fighting for justice and equality, some new studies go to show that their "liberal" sentiments belie a deeper pathology. What these activists are actually doing is acting out their Dark Triad tendencies - which fly in the face of the very values they claim to espouse and closely resemble their supposed political 'enemies' on the far right. This week on MindMatters we delve into the world of extremist...

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What personality traits predict psychopathy and sex drive?

New research examines the link the "Dark Tetrad" and other characteristics. It's a fine line between sanity and insanity, or so they say. But what about personality? How big is the difference between traits such as psychopathy and more common and socially approved ones? New research published in the European Journal of Psychological Assessment may hold an answer. A team of psychologists led by Delroy Paulhus of the University of British Columbia conducted a study in which they sought to map the four aspects of what is referred to as the "Dark Tetrad" to the five best-known and most widely researched dimensions of personality — that is, extraversion, openness to experience, emotional stability, conscientiousness, and agreeableness. ...

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New guidance on brain death

When your brain stops working — completely and irreversibly — you're dead. But drawing the line between life and brain death isn't always easy. A new report attempts to clarify that distinction, perhaps helping to ease the anguish of family members with a loved one whose brain has died but whose heart still beats. Brain death has been a recognized concept in medicine for decades. But there's a lot of variation in how people define it, says Gene Sung, a neurocritical care physician at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. "Showing that there is some worldwide consensus, understanding and agreement at this time will hopefully help minimize misunderstanding of what brain death is," Sung says. As part of the World Brain Death Project, Sung and his colleagues convened doctors from professional societies around the world to forge a...

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Dark Triad traits and entitlement linked to both authoritarian political correctness and white nationalist beliefs

People with "dark" personality characteristics, such as psychopathy, as well as people with a greater sense of entitlement are more likely to be adherents of White Identitarianism or politically correct authoritarianism, according to new research that appears in the journal Heliyon. The findings suggest that those on the far-left and those on the far-right share some common personality dispositions. "I became interested in the topic during my undergraduate degree. In the social psychology courses I took, it was clear that there were things you were 'allowed' to say and things you were not," said study author Jordan Moss, a medical student at Sydney Medical School. "For instance, the blank-slate hypothesis was maintained, and any comments appreciating the genetic contribution to individual or group differences were met with incredible resistance. At the time, I became aware of Jordan Peterson in his...

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SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: First Sight, Polyvagal Theory, and Contemplative Practices

What does meditation or contemplation have to do with our physiology? And what is the possible connection between our autonomic nervous system and a coherent theory of psi? Today on MindMatters we bring together three topics: contemplative practice (see our interviews with Fr. Joseph Azize), first sight theory (see our interview with Dr. Jim Carpenter), and Stephen Porges's polyvagal theory, as discussed in a recent book by Stanley Rosenberg, Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve. Porges's work on the two branches of the vagus nerve, and the states of consciousness they are involved in, has important implications for physical and mental health. But the connections may go even further than that, into areas considered spiritual or even paranormal. The states facilitated by ventral vagus nerve activation have a lot in common with the conditions most conducive to eliciting...

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On escaping viral entrancement

There is an ancient principle of the common law, whereby it is held that the people may do everything except that which they have expressly forbidden, and the state may do nothing except that which the people have expressly permitted. How did this principle come to be unstitched and reversed in the past three months? How did the people come to agree to its reversal? In search of answers, I have been reflecting a lot on a phrase I transcribed into a notebook years ago from Martin Amis's Koba the Dread: " . . . a contagion of selective incuriosity, a mindgame begun in self-hypnosis and maintained by mass hysteria." While not discounting the impact of short-term welfare payments (buying the people's freedom with their own money) I have gotten to thinking that the answer maybe includes, as a primary...

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BEST OF THE WEB: John Waters: On escaping viral entrancement

There is an ancient principle of the common law, whereby it is held that the people may do everything except that which they have expressly forbidden, and the state may do nothing except that which the people have expressly permitted. How did this principle come to be unstitched and reversed in the past three months? How did the people come to agree to its reversal? In search of answers, I have been reflecting a lot on a phrase I transcribed into a notebook years ago from Martin Amis's Koba the Dread: " . . . a contagion of selective incuriosity, a mindgame begun in self-hypnosis and maintained by mass hysteria." While not discounting the impact of short-term welfare payments (buying the people's freedom with their own money) I have gotten to thinking that the answer maybe includes, as a primary...

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A mutilation of young lives: How the radical transgender bandwagon is wrecking girls’ bodies and destroying their mental health

A new book, Irreversible Damage, reveals how teenage girls are being duped into believing they want to be male, and are pushed into taking puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and undergoing double mastectomies. Whether it is a statement or a question, the title of this book conveys the necessary urgency of this desperately sad story. Amid the trans debate, seemingly a battle between grown adults, vulnerable children are prey to a malevolent ideology that survivors call a cult. In a superb piece of investigative journalism, Abigail Shrier focusses on teenage girls - most with no history of gender dysphoria - who become captivated by the belief that they are transgender. Behind the glittery exterior portrayed in the media, she encounters damaged children - many alienated from their families - in poor mental health and facing the prospect of infertility and medication...

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New theory of why we dream

Why do we dream? Psychologists and neuroscientists have been debating the function of dreams for centuries, but there is still no accepted answer. Now, David M. Eagleman​​ and Don A. Vaughn​ have proposed a new theory. Their preprint article, which has not yet been peer reviewed, is called The Defensive Activation theory: Dreaming as a mechanism to prevent takeover of the visual cortex. To my mind, it's a highly original and creative theory, but I'm not convinced by it. Here's Eagleman​​ and Vaughn​'s theory in nutshell: The role of dreams is to ensure that the brain's visual cortex is stimulated during sleep. Otherwise, if the visual system were deprived of input all night long, the visual cortex's function might degrade. We know that the visual cortex, in the brain's occipital lobe, can start to respond to non-visual signals if it...

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