Never bite the hand that feeds you ; It is a political issue, so a political solution is required

By Ingrid Melander and Renee Maltezou

ATHENS | Tue May 8, 2012 9:00pm EDT

(Reuters) – Radical leftist Alexis Tsipras meets the leaders of Greece’s mainstream parties on Wednesday to try to form a coalition government, an effort seen as doomed after he demanded they first agree to tear up the country’s EU/IMF bailout deal.
An inconclusive election on Sunday has left Athens in political disarray, with no clear path to form a government, a new election likely within weeks and speculation escalating that Greece could be pushed out of Europe’s single currency bloc.
Voters enraged by economic hardship repudiated the two parties which led Greece for decades – conservative New Democracy and Socialist PASOK – the only groups that back the 130 billion-euro bailout which saved Greece from bankruptcy.
The remote chance of Tsipras forming a coalition faded even further on Tuesday when New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras promptly rejected his demand to scrap the bailout, warning such a move could drive the debt-choked country out of the euro.
“Mr. Tsipras asked me to put my signature to the destruction of Greece. I will not do this,” Samaras said. “The country cannot afford to play with fire.”
Tsipras’s leftist party placed second on Sunday, while New Democracy and PASOK – which between them had 77 percent of the vote just three years ago – saw their combined share fall to just 32 percent and PASOK reduced to third place.
Samaras was given the first chance to form a government but failed. On Tuesday Tsipras was given three days to try. He will meet Socialist PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos at 1500 GMT on Wednesday and Samaras at 1600 GMT.
If, as increasingly seems likely, no politician is able to cobble together a majority in the 300-seat parliament, a new election would have to be held in 3-4 weeks. Samaras may be hoping Greeks will give him a stronger mandate in a new vote.
“After Samaras’s response to Tsipras today, that particular bridge (the chance of a coalition deal between these parties) has been exploded, burned,” said Theodore Couloumbis, political analyst for Athens-based think-tank ELIAMEP.
Rivals for decades, New Democracy and PASOK had been ruling jointly in an uneasy coalition that negotiated last year’s bailout, which saw lenders demand ever-deeper spending cuts in a country already suffering five straight years of recession.
Most Greeks say they want to keep the euro currency – widely seen as impossible without the bailout – but they are furious with the two mainstream political parties they blame for the recession, record high unemployment and endemic corruption.
Most believe spending cuts demanded by the EU and International Monetary Fund are only making the situation worse by increasing unemployment and preventing economic recovery.
Even with a system that gave first-placed New Democracy an extra 50 seats – designed to make it easier to form stable governments – it and PASOK together fell short of a majority to renew their coalition, with only 149 seats between them.
On the streets of Athens, voters voiced exasperation over the lack of a deal between parties.
“They are all saying they don’t want to cooperate with anyone else. What does this show? All they care about is being prime minister, nobody cares about the country,” said Vasilia Konidary, who voted for Drasi, a tiny liberal party.
Theoretically, it could still be possible for Tsipras to form a left-leaning coalition with PASOK, if New Democracy abstained in a confidence vote rather than opposing it.
Such a scenario seems extremely unlikely, but PASOK leader Venizelos left the door slightly open on Tuesday by renewing calls for all the country’s pro-European parties to form a coalition and avoid a second round of elections.
“The Greek people asked for two things: For Greece to stay safely in Europe and the euro and at the same time to seek the best possible change in (bailout) terms so that citizens and growth can be helped,” Venizelos said.
If Tsipras fails, the president will give Venizelos, whose party was the biggest loser in the election, the last chance to try to form a government. If he should fail, new elections loom.
ELIAMEP’s Couloumbis said many Greeks may still be hoping Europe will bail them out and keep them in the euro zone, even if they reject the austerity demanded by the EU and IMF.
“Many here think Europe cannot afford to let Greece go down that path – that all we have to do is tell them we’ll jump from the 10th floor and they will have a safety net for us,” he said. “I say: ‘Beware, you may hit the ground and break into many pieces.'”
(Additional reporting by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Peter Graff)
Do you expect the EU/IMF bailout for Greece is without conditions and you expect a free handout? This expectation is only meant for kids asking for sweets from their parents. If you play with fire, expect to face the music and the results will be Greece will default on the terms of EU/IMF fundings and everything will stop there, an irregular default will sent Greece out of the Eurozone and the economy will be in shambles, there is enough firepower to isolate the rest of the Eurozone from a Greece exit, do you think austerity measures on a road to recovery is a safer bet? This is a political issue and you need a political solution, no use gathering votes when you cannot compound the problem.
– Contributed by Oogle. 

My Inventions will create jobs for thousands of programmers

More than 100 international technology companies have interest in becoming residents of a floating city located in international waters outside of Silicon Valley. The project, called Blueseed, was co-founded by Max Marty and Dario Mutabdzija and lead by venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. The company is looking to either convert a cruise ship or remodel a barge in into a pirate island that would provide living accommodations, working space and entertainment facilities for approximately 1,000 customers paying between $1,200 and $3,000 each per month. Read on for more.
The vessel will be stationed 12 nautical miles from the coast of California, in international waters, and it will have a crew of 200 to 300 people. The location would enable non-U.S. startup entrepreneurs to work close to Silicon Valley without the need for a U.S. work visa.
Research released by Blueseed revealed demand from interested U.S.-based companies sat at 20.3%, while Indian and Australian companies made up 10.5% and 6% respectively. The company also found that across the U.S., nearly 7,000 computer science Master’s and PhD graduates each year are foreign nationals, and many encounter difficulties finding jobs before being forced to go home. Blueseed is looking to change that when it launches in the third quarter of 2013.
My Timeline is such that I maybe able to complete my 3D search engine with intelligent search capabilities within 1 year, but I need at least 80-100 programmers and leaders working fulltime to assemble the billions of codes, funding by the government may not be enough, but the completed product will be worth hundred of billions, even greater than Facebook IPO, so I suppose there will be private equity willing to invest. My Intelligent Software will be a greater challenge, not only I have to wait for the high level Intelligent Programming language to be invented by someone, the hardware vendor’s invention of the next quantum computer’s specifications, to be able to finalised the Intelligent OS, so I guess it will take about 5 years, to complete the prototype. There is no way I can do this alone, so I will definitely need partners to collaborate, to create the greatest machine for problem solving for mankind.
There is no way I can participate in hundreds of other research projects with relates to the brain and solving sickness and diseases, but I have already provided the spark, and many have already succeeded from the leads I provide, and I will continue to provide the spark, until it becomes an inferno, until there is no longer any problem to solve, to ultimately solve Hunger and Poverty, Death and Disease for the UN, for peace and prosperity for everyone.
Since my objectives is not about money, and I do not require great riches to maintain myself, I can help the world solve problems without a single cost, only the resources you need yourself.
– Contributed by Oogle. 

Psychiatry's "Bible" Gets an Overhaul

By Ferris Jabr  | May 7, 2012 |
Editor’s Note: Read our blog series on psychiatry’s new rulebook, the DSM-5.
Psychiatry’s diagnostic guidebook gets its first major update in 30 years. The changes may surprise you

In February 1969 David L. Rosenhan showed up in the admissions office of a psychiatric hospital in Pennsylvania. He complained of unfamiliar voices inside his head that repeated the words “empty,” “thud” and “hollow.” Otherwise, Rosenhan had nothing unusual to report. He was immediately admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Between 1969 and 1972 seven friends and students of Rosenhan, a psychology professor then at Swarthmore College, ended up in 11 other U.S. hospitals after claiming that they, too, heard voices—their sole complaint. Psychiatrists slapped them all with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and stuck them in psychiatric wards for between eight and 52 days. Doctors forced them to accept antipsychotic medication—2,100 pills in all, the vast majority of which they pocketed or tucked into their cheeks. Although the voices vanished once Rosenhan and the others entered the hospitals, no one realized that these individuals were healthy—and had been from the start. The voices had been a ruse.
The eight pseudopatients became the subject of a landmark 1973 paper in Science, “On Being Sane in Insane Places.” The conclusion: psychiatrists did not have a valid way to diagnose mental illness.
Rosenhan’s experiment motivated a radical transformation of the essential reference guide for psychiatrists: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The revamped DSM, dubbed DSM-III and published in 1980, paired every ailment with a checklist of symptoms, several of which were required for a diagnosis to meet the book’s standards. Earlier versions of the DSM contained descriptive paragraphs that psychiatrists could interpret more loosely. This fundamental revision survives today.
The APA is now working on the fifth version of the hefty tome, slated for publication in May 2013. Because the DSM-IV was largely similar to its predecessor, the DSM-5 embodies the first substantial change to psychiatric diagnosis in more than 30 years. It introduces guidelines for rating the severity of symptoms that are expected to make diagnoses more precise and to provide a new way to track improvement. The DSM framers are also scrapping certain disorders entirely, such as Asperger’s syndrome, and adding brand-new ones, including binge eating and addiction to gambling.
In the past the APA has received harsh criticism for not making its revision process transparent. In 2010 the association debuted a draft of the new manual on its Web site for public comment. “That’s never been done before,” says psychiatrist Darrel Regier, vice chair of the DSM-5 Task Force and formerly at the National Institute of Mental Health. The volume of the response surprised even the framers: 50 million hits from about 500,000 individuals and more than 10,000 comments so far.
Critics swarmed the drafts. Some psychiatrists contend that the volume still contains more disorders than actually exist, encouraging superfluous diagnoses—particularly in children. Others worry that the stricter, more precise diagnostic criteria may inadvertently give insurance companies new ways to deny medication to patients who need it.
The debates surrounding the manual’s revisions are not merely back-office chatter. Although many psychiatrists do not sit down with the DSM and take its scripture literally—relying instead on personal expertise to make a diagnosis—the DSM largely determines the type of diagnoses clinicians make. Insurance companies often demand an official DSM diagnosis before they pay for medication and therapy. Many state educational and social services—such as after-school programs for kids with autism—also require a DSM diagnosis. Consequently, psychiatrists cannot dole out diagnoses of their own invention. They are bound to the disorders defined by the DSM.

Therefore, psychiatrists cannot ignore the new manual and go about business as usual. They must adapt, especially if they want to be sure that their patients keep receiving affordable treatment. Yet this diagnostic bible is a work in progress. In fact, although the revisions are 90 percent complete, the APA may still make significant changes and even delay the book’s official release. Even after its publication, the DSM will remain a snapshot of a field in flux—an ambitious attempt to capture an evolving, often ambiguous science.
Diagnosing the DSM
Psychiatrists have been kicking around the DSM-5 in a scientific scrimmage that dates back to 1999, when the APA and the NIMH sponsored a meeting to jump-start planning. More than 13 joint conferences later, committees of psychiatrists and psychologists have churned out dozens of white papers outlining how best to overhaul psychiatry’s bible. In April 2006 the APA appointed clinical psychologist David Kupfer and Regier as chair and vice chair, respectively, of a team of 27 scientists assigned to digest the research literature and propose revisions to this historic volume.

Right away researchers fingered several major failings of the DSM-IV. First, many of the symptom checklists were so similar that many patients left a psychiatrist’s office with several official diagnoses rather than just one. It is unlikely that large numbers of patients each have a variety of different disorders, says Steven Hyman, a task force member. Rather, he suggests, a single cognitive or biological process—maladaptive thought patterns, for instance, or atypical brain development—may manifest itself in symptoms of more than one ailment. To address this problem, curators of the new book eliminated over a dozen less distinct disorders, in some cases merging them into larger categories of illness, such as the autism spectrum [see “Psychosis Revisited”].
Patients and their psychiatrists often struggle with the opposite problem, too: a person’s symptoms might be fewer or milder than those listed in the DSM or simply do not match any disorder in the manual. As a result, psychiatrists slap large factions of their clientele with a “disorder not otherwise specified” label. The most frequently diagnosed eating disorder is “eating disorders not otherwise specified.” The predominant autism spectrum disorder? By most estimates it is “pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.” The third most common personality disorder is, you guessed it, “personality disorder not otherwise specified.” Health professionals rely so heavily on catchall diagnoses because the current DSM has some serious gaps in its diagnostic offerings and has some superfluous entries.
In addition to eliminating ailments, the DSM-5 will encourage psychiatrists to collect more detailed information about patients’ symptoms. With more data to consider and more complete descriptions in the manual, the theory goes, psychiatri
sts are more likely to find a proper match between a patient and an illness.

Degrees of Dysfunction
To improve diagnoses, the DSM-5 asks doctors to grade the severity of their clients’ symptoms. A verdict of major depression, for example, will include a rating for each symptom—insomnia, say, or thoughts of suicide. Similarly, a child who is diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder would also receive an assessment of her ability to focus, ranging from poor to excellent.

This ideological shift signals a step away from the simplistic notion that mental illnesses are discrete conditions wholly distinct from a healthy state of mind. Instead the new volume reflects the idea that everyone falls on a spectrum that stretches from typical behavior to various shades of dysfunction. Where you land on that scale determines whether your symptoms merit treatment. This approach might assist, for example, psychiatrists evaluating a patient’s attention problems, which can seem almost ubiquitous in younger children. Considering an individual in the context of others can make it easier to flag the neediest cases. Psychiatrists, of course, already use many scales and questionnaires in their practice. The DSM-5 will standardize such ratings so that doctors use the same scales to measure a given disorder and increase the chances they will reach similar conclusions about comparable patients.

These detailed assessments should allow treatments to become more tailored. For example, a patient with mild signs of depression is more likely to benefit from therapy and lifestyle changes than from antidepressant medication, which recent findings suggest is more
effective for severe depression. Psychiatrists and patients will also gain a new way to track improvement. A shift in the depression gauge from “severe” to “moderate” may in itself lift a patient’s spirits, motivating him to stick to the regimen propelling his progress.

Although most psychiatrists support the idea of measuring severity, practitioners have also voiced various concerns. Placing several previously distinct disorders under the umbrella of autism, for example, has ignited fears that autistic people with less severe symptoms will no longer qualify for a diagnosis or treatment. Questions have also been raised about how insurance companies will respond: Could these scales create barriers to treatment? A simple diagnosis of depression may no longer be enough to qualify a patient for anti­depressants—insurance companies may demand that a patient’s depression meet a certain severity level.
The new procedures will require patients to complete more evaluations and surveys than ever before, culminating in larger amounts of paperwork and more time spent on every diagnosis. Some psychiatrists worry the extra effort will deter their peers from using the DSM properly—and a few have even proposed doing away with the severity ratings altogether. More broadly, psychiatrists have also objected to the addition of certain disorders that they consider dubious.
A Primitive Guide?
A second sweeping change to the DSM is the way it clusters disorders. The DSM-IV was organized around three categories of illness. One group captured all major clinical disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Another section encompassed all personality and developmental disorders. The third category contained “medical” problems that might play a role in mental illness: diabetes or hypothyroidism, for instance, can exacerbate depression. The DSM-5 throws these relatively arbitrary divisions out the window. Instead it arranges diseases chronologically, starting with illnesses that psychiatrists typically diagnose in infancy or childhood—such as neurodevelopmental disorders—and moving toward those frequently found in adults, such as sexual dysfunctions. When evaluating a toddler, for instance, a psychiatrist can focus on the front of the DSM-5 or the beginning of a chapter, say, on depressive disorders, where he or she will find the types of depression most likely to afflict children.

As genetic and neuroimaging studies improve our understanding of the relations among ailments, the DSM will be able to swiftly adapt. The APA plans to publish the new manual in print and as a “living” electronic document that can be updated frequently as version 5.1, 5.2, and so on. (The APA dispensed with Roman numerals to make this labeling practical.)
Eventually researchers aim to root the DSM in the biology of the brain. Someday scientists hope to find useful “biomarkers” of mental illness—genes, proteins or patterns of electrical activity in the brain that can serve as unique signatures of psychiatric problems. Lab tests based on such markers would make diagnosing mental illness easier, faster and more precise.
“The DSM has always been a primitive field guide to the world of psychological stress because we know very little about the underlying neural chemistry of psychological symptoms,” says psychiatrist Daniel Carlat of the Tufts University School of Medicine. “But over the past 60 or 70 years the categories have become more reliable and meaningful.” No one argues that the DSM flawlessly mirrors mental illness as people experience it, but every revision sharpens the reflection—and with it, people’s understanding of themselves. 

Fast Facts: A New Guide to Your Psyche
1.The fifth version of psychiatry’s bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, slated for publication in May 2013, represents the first substantial change to psychiatric diagnosis in more than 30 years.

2.In 2010 the American Psychiatric Association debuted a draft of the new manual on their Web site that has so far received 50 million hits from about 500,000 individuals, many of them critics.
3.The revised manual will very likely scrap psychiatry staples such as Asperger’s syndrome and paranoid personality disorder.
4.Additions to the diagnostic menu are likely to include an ailment for children marked by severe temper tantrums and for adults a type of sex addiction.
Psychosis Revisited
Schizophrenia is characterized by a tenuous grasp of reality, difficulty thinking and speaking clearly, and unusual emotional responses. In today’s diagnostic manual, the DSM-IV, this complex disorder is split up into the following “types”:

  • Paranoid: delusions and auditory hallucinations but normal speech and emotional responses.
  • Disorganized: erratic speech and behavior and muted emotions.
  • Catatonic: unusual postures and movements or paralysis.
  • Residual: very few typical symptoms but some odd beliefs or unusual sensory experiences.
  • Undifferentiated: none of the other types.

Yet another form of the illness is shared psychotic disorder: when someone develops the same delusions as a friend or family member with schizophrenia.
Soon you can forget all these variants. As with certain personality disorders, there is little evidence for the existence of these discrete categories. Catatonia, for instance—an intermittent “freezing” of the limbs—also accompanies bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Therefore, psychiatrists say it makes little sense to call it a form of schizophrenia. Catatonia also does not respond well to the antipsychotic medications used to treat schizophrenia.
Even as it sheds these subtypes, the DSM-5 embraces novel forms of psychosis. The most contentious is attenuated psychosis syndrome, a cluster of warning signs that some researchers think precede the frequent delusions and hallucinations that characterize the full-blown disorder. Its purpose is to catch young people at risk and prevent this insidious progression. Critics contend, however, that two thirds of the children who qualify for the at-risk criteria never develop real psychosis and may unnecessarily receive powerful drugs [see “At Risk for Psychosis?” by Carrie Arnold; Scientific American Mind, September/October 2011]. After all, about 11 percent of us sometimes hear voices or engage in moments of intense magical thinking with little or no distress.
Another controversial addition is disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, a diagnosis for kids that carries less stigma than its predecessor, childhood bipolar disorder. Since about 2000, diagnoses of pediatric bipolar disorder have jumped at least fourfold in the U.S. Many psychiatrists, however, argued that their peers were mislabeling a condition that was not bipolar disorder at all and treating children with strong drugs before knowing what really ailed them.
Very few people younger than 20 develop true bipolar disorder, in which moods swing between depression and mania. The vast majority of the kids who received the label did not, in fact, oscillate in this way. Instead they were in a bad mood all the time and frequently exploded in anger and physical violence, even in response to a minor offense. Because of these differences, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder describes a child (younger than 10) who is constantly irritable and has extreme temper tantrums about three times a week.

The APA says this pediatric entry will “provide a ‘home’ for these severely impaired youth,” but some critics worry doctors will dole out the diagnosis like lollipops to droves of tantrum-prone toddlers. The treatment is the same, despite the new name: a mixture of mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, anti­depressants and stimulants. —F.J.
Personality Problems
To a psychologist, a personality consists of persistent patterns of thought, emotion and behavior. Someone with a personality disorder has rigid and dysfunctional patterns that disrupt his or her ability to maintain healthy relationships. The current encyclopedia of mental illness, the DSM-IV, describes 10 such conditions. These include paranoid personality disorder—the inability to trust others and an irrational belief that people are out to get you—and narcissistic personality disorder, an exaggerated sense of self-importance, a need for constant admiration and excessive envy of others.

Suspiciously, between 40 and 60 percent of all psychiatric patients are diagnosed with a personality disorder, hinting that symptoms of at least some of these “disorders” resemble typical behavior too closely. In addition, psychiatrists often diagnose the same patient with more than one ailment, suggesting significant overlap. For example, people with both histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders insist on being the center of attention, take advantage of their families and friends, and have trouble reading others’ emotions.
The upshot: DSM-5’s editors nixed histrionic personality disorder. Paranoid, schizoid and dependent personality disorders are also gone. Your personality can still, however, be narcissistic, antisocial, avoidant, borderline, obsessive-compulsive or “schizotypal.” —F.J.
Good-bye to Asperger’s?
Certain behavioral quirks have long been thought to distinguish Asperger’s syndrome from other autistic disorders. “Aspies,” as people with this affliction sometimes call themselves, tend to develop intense fascination with very specific objects or facts—the wheels of toy cars or the names of constellations—in the absence of a general interest in, say, automotive mechanics or astronomy. Now the diagnosis will disappear, and Aspies may find an important part of their identity stripped away.

Currently Asperger’s is one of five so-called pervasive developmental disorders, along with autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and the lesser-known Rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD). All these problems are characterized by deficits in communication and social skills as well as by repetitive behaviors. Indeed, the APA has decided that four of the five disorders—autistic disorder, Asperger’s, CDD and PDD-NOS—are so similar that they should all be placed into a new category called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Psychiatrists using the new DSM will give anyone on the spectrum a diagnosis of ASD, along with a rating of illness severity.
Children whom psychiatrists would previously have diagnosed with CDD fall at the more severe end of the spectrum. They typically experience an almost complete deterioration of social and communication skills starting sometime between the ages of two and 10. Asperger’s patients will land on the milder end. They generally do not show language delays and, in fact, often display excellent verbal skills. Rett syndrome, in which known genetic mutations stunt physical growth, along with language and social skills, is gone from the manual entirely. Ironically, the APA is eliminating it because a genetic test for the condition makes diagnosis so precise and straightforward. For now the DSM prefers to limit itself to a blunter diagnostic measure: behavior.

Statistical studies published in 2011 and 2012 confirm that the DSM-5 criteria for autism are more accurate than those penned in the DSM-IV. The revised guidelines practically guarantee that anyone told they have the disorder really has it. To qualify as autistic by the new manual, a patient must meet five of seven symptoms—a higher bar than the six-of-12-symptom cutoff in the DSM-IV.
Some psychiatrists say the new rules are too strict: they worry some high-functioning autistic people, such those now diagnosed with Asperger’s, may not meet the criteria and may miss out on educational and medical services as a result. On the other hand, if people with milder autismlike symptoms do make it onto the spectrum, the lack of an Asperger’s label could benefit them. States such as California and Texas now provide educational and social services to people with autism that they deny to those with Asperger’s. Some parents argue, though, that limited resources should go to kids with more severe symptoms before anyone else. —F.J.
Craving Cash, Food and Sex
Several new types of addiction may appear in the upcoming version of psychiatry’s bible, the DSM-5. Gambling disorder is one. In the past decade studies have shown that people get hooked on gambling the same way they become addicted to drugs and alcohol and that they benefit from the same kind of treatment—group therapy and gradual withdrawal. Neuroimaging research has revealed that the brains of drug addicts and those of problematic gamblers respond to reminders of drugs and monetary rewards in similar ways: their reward circuits light up, much more than casual gamblers or one-time drug users. The DSM-5 may also include obsessions with food and sex:

Binge Eating Disorder
Consuming “an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people wou
ld eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances” and lacking control over what, how much or how fast one eats.

Hypersexual Disorder
Having unusually intense sexual urges for at least six months or spending excessive amounts of time having sex in response to stress or boredom, without regard for physical or emotional harm to oneself or others, de­spite the fact that it interferes with social life and work.

Absexual Disorder
Feeling aroused by moving away from sexuality or behaving as though moralistically opposed to sex. As sex educator Betty Dod­son told Canadian news­paper Xtra! West, these are “folks who get off complaining about sex and trying to censor porn.” —F.J.

This article was published in print as “Redefining Mental Illness.”

Psychopaths and ASPD

Updated 12:21 PM May 08, 2012
LONDON – Scientists who scanned the brains of men convicted of murder, rape and violent assaults have found the strongest evidence yet that psychopaths have structural abnormalities in their brains.
The researchers, based at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, said the differences in psychopaths’ brains mark them out even from other violent criminals with anti-social personality disorders (ASPD), and from healthy non-offenders.
Dr Nigel Blackwood, who led the study, said the ability to use brain scans to identify and diagnose this sub-group of violent criminals has important implications for treatment.
The study showed that psychopaths, who are characterised by a lack of empathy, had less grey matter in the areas of the brain important for understanding other peoples’ emotions.
While cognitive and behavioural treatments may benefit people with anti-social personality disorders, the same approach may not work for psychopaths with brain damage, Dr Blackwood said.
“To get a clear idea of which treatments are working, you’ve got to clearly define what people are like going into the treatment programs,” he said in a telephone interview.
Prof Essi Viding, a professor in the psychology and language sciences department of University College London, who was not involved in Dr Blackwood’s study, said it provided “weighty new evidence” about the importance of distinguishing psychopathic from non-psychopathic people rather than grouping them together.
The findings also have implications for the justice system, because linking psychopathy to brain function raises the prospect of arguing a defence of insanity.
Interest in what goes on inside the heads of violent criminals has been sharpened by the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who massacred 77 people last July.
Two court-appointed psychiatric teams who examined Breivik came to opposite conclusions about his mental health. The killer himself has railed being called insane.
Dr Blackwood’s team used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of 44 violent adult male offenders in Britain who had already been diagnosed with anti-social personality disorders.
The crimes they had committed included murder, rape, attempted murder and grievous bodily harm.
Of the 44 men scanned, 17 met the diagnosis for ASPD plus psychopathy and 27 did not. The researchers also scanned the brains of 22 healthy non-offenders.
The results showed that the psychopaths’ brains had significantly less grey matter in the anterior rostral prefrontal cortex and temporal poles than the brains of the non-psychopathic offenders and non-offenders.
These areas of the brain are important for understanding other people’s emotions and intentions, and are activated when people think about moral behavior, the researchers said.
Damage to these areas is linked with a lack of empathy, a poor response to fear and distress and a lack of self-conscious emotions such as guilt or embarrassment.
Research shows that most violent crimes are committed by a small group of persistent male offenders with ASPD.
There are clear behaviour differences among people with ASPD depending on whether they also have psychopathy. Their patterns of offending are different, suggesting the need for a separate approach to treatment.
“We describe those without psychopathy as ‘hot-headed’ and those with psychopathy as ‘cold-hearted’,” Dr Blackwood explained.
“The ‘cold-hearted’ psychopathic group begin offending earlier, engage in a broader range and greater density of offending behaviors, and respond less well to treatment programs in adulthood compared to the ‘hot-headed’ group.”

My theories are all correct, one day, the study of the brain will cure all kinds of addictions and diseases; smoking, alcohol, drugs, sex and gambling are vices which can be easy subdued, and even hardcore criminals and mental illnesses like dementia etc can one day be all cured. There is a definite link between Behaviour Science and Mental Illness. The invention of  a portable MRI scanner will reveal all the secrets of the brain, where every single process can be observed and documented. 
– Contributed by Oogle. 

Singapore doesn't have a clue how to implement "Minimum Wage" without upsetting it's economy

May 4th, 2012 
Singapore’s Ambassador-at-large Dr Tommy Koh contended that Singapore’s practice of importing large numbers of cheap and unskilled labour has depressed wages in its service and non-tradable sectors.
He further noted that construction workers in Hong Kong are twice as productive as those in Singapore, and receive two-and-a-half times the income earned here.
Dr Koh was speaking on Thur (3 May) at a roundtable discussion on Singapore’s population trends at the Institute of Policy Study (IPS).
Dr Tommy Koh was not alone in expressing this view. His view also echoed those expressed by IPS senior adjunct fellow Yeoh Lam Kheong and LKY School of Public Policy dean Kishore Mahbubani earlier. Both Yeoh and Mahbubani have called for a refinement of the import of new citizens and PRs to target more skilled labour.
On wage gap issue, Dr Koh spoke of Prof Lim Chong Yah’s wage shock proposal as one of the three existing ways to narrow the income gap. However, while he did not agree with Prof Lim’s proposal, he agreed with the Prof Lim’s aim.
He said that the wage gap issue needed to be addressed “not through palliatives but by seeing what we can do to fundamentally alter the wages of the bottom 30 per cent of our people”.
He did not agree that the income gap is “part of globalisation and technological change”.
Ethen Jin-Chew:
The real hard truth, one that differs from LKY’s is as follows:
PAP had, in the decades passed, allowed the overall cost of doing business to increase directly through their adopted social economic policies. They did that in the name of gaining prosperity for Singapore.
Cost components such as transport (COE for cars, lorries, fuel tax, road tax, ERP etc); rentals of business premises such as office and warehouse; private condos prices and accommodation and power and electricity have all been increased to the level of being uncompetitive amoung ASEAN countries.
There is no way that PAP will allow LTA’s humongous tax revenue to be reduced. There’s no way that PAP will allow PUB’s revenue to be reduced by lowering power and electricity charges. There’s no way that PAP will ever let the labour ministry’s revenue be lowered by reducing domestic maid levies to facilitate young married couples to better cope with career and raising children. So please stop telling our young to have more children because it is just IMPOSSIBLE.
The fact that most of the cost increases are man-made and is linked to GLC’s income, the only way Singapore can still remain competitive, in the eyes of the PAP, is to disallow rational increase in wages for the low and middle income group, this include fresh graduates. This scenario has been allowed to persist without much notice until recent years. It is simply a trade off for a political agenda.
PAP only cares about how to grow the coffers of the GLCs and their tax revenue. Wage improvement of the low and middle income common Singaporean is the last thing they really care about. Singapore remains one of the very few countries in the world yet to implement minimum wage.
The choice of benefitting businesses over the well being of our less fortunate citizens tells plenty about the mindset of our labour policy maker – one with the smallest of heart for his people. When he enjoys the sight of his swelling bank account every end of the month he obviously does not spare a thought at all about the less fortunate Singaporean who have to support a family with SGD1200 or less a month, or the young graduate who is still stuck with SGD2500 to 3500 monthly salary 5 or more years after graduation.
Like the frog in a pot of water that’s gradually and slowly heating up, it won’t feel the distress and pain until it’s too late.
A country is like the growing up and maturing of a person, he who refuses to heed the wisdom of sincere advice and opinion is doomed to failure. It’s a sin for us, the concerned citizens and patriots, not to point out the dangers ahead.

PAP simply cares only for holding on to power and wealth.
You can mess around with my research, deny me fundings and try all kinds of nonsense, but time is not on your side, by end 2012, the entire state of affairs in Singapore will be in a big mess, and nobody will know how to solve it, except me, and with the “special” treatment you gave me, I am just returnng you the favour, better pray to God for help.
– Contributed by Oogle.  

No more Shanty towns beside rubbish heaps

No more Shanty towns beside rubbish heaps

One of the greatest nightmares
Is the creating of a rubbish heap
Where people dump their waste
Which should be burned in the incinerator
But governments did not do their duty
And allow the poor to live beside it
To pick up rubbish as food to survive
If I have a choice I will outlaw this in the UN
By building an incinerator instead
And relocate all the inhabitants to proper container build cities
When solar power is supplied to these containers
Which can be stacked up to four storey high
A proper building for toilets and baths and cleaning
Which can be coin operated for water supply
The inhabitants can be taught a skill by NGOs part-time
While they work part-time on machines
That supply energy to the local grid
Nothing is impossible if you set your mind
At least they have an income while they build their skills
This is the only way to break the poverty cycle
Or they will never have a future
To be productive citizens of the world to come.

– Contributed by Oogle. 

Insurance should cover every person who seeks coverage

Insurance should cover every person who seeks coverage, whether or not they suffer from pre-existing medical conditions, chronic diseases or congenital health conditions, said Singapore’s ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh.
Speaking on Thursday at an Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) roundtable on Singapore’s population trends, Koh, who is also special adviser to the IPS, said the government should step in to ensure that insurance coverage is fair and accessible for all.
He identified insurance as one area where Singapore “didn’t get it right”, touching also on the nation-state’s failure to achieve inclusive growth — more specifically in terms of plugging the income gap.
“We need to fix the equity of our existing healthcare system. We have a system at the moment that does not meet my standard of fairness,” he said.
“I think the state should intervene and require all insurance companies to insure people with prior medical conditions. There should be no one in Singapore who is not insured against a potential catastrophic disease,” he added, noting that, currently, insurance companies will not cover applicants who have pre-existing medical conditions.
Industry experts and veterans agreed with Koh’s sentiment, with some pointing out that the effects of not being insured go beyond simply affording medical treatment.
Chief executive officer of Fortis Healthcare Dr Jeremy Lim, who was present at Thursday’s roundtable, told Yahoo! Singapore that patients who suffer from chronic conditions like cancer and kidney failure face challenges in finding good jobs, over and above seeking coverage for treatment.
“Hence it is a double whammy — uninsurable with ongoing medical expenses, and tremendously reduced earning power,” he said.
Noting that one possible way to solve this problem is by establishing a national health insurance scheme, he said the decision would be more a moral one than an economic one, as the move to do so would promote social cohesion.
In a commentary published in The Straits Times Thursday last week, Lim said insurers should work to improve the health of the insured population so that they consume fewer healthcare services, instead of charging higher premiums, lowering payouts and excluding high-risk individuals.
“Learning from the experiences of other systems, we can offer national health insurance (either government-provided or government-mandated) and start coverage conservatively with ramping up as we gain more experience with truly national schemes,” he suggested as a start, referencing the English National Health Service, which began with greater ambition than it was able to afford.
Former NTUC Income chief executive Tan Kin Lian also weighed in on the issue, noting that MediShield, the government’s existing general coverage plan for most Singaporeans, currently excludes pre-existing illness and congenital conditions, as well as applicants who suffer from chronic diseases.
He said alternative measures include the exclusion of coverage of pre-existing conditions for a waiting period of between one and two years, and provide full coverage thereafter, or simply the charging of a higher premium for applicants with pre-existing conditions.
Tan recommended, however, that MediShield be reviewed to provide coverage for applicants with these illnesses so that under its “integrated scheme” with private insurance providers, the latter will automatically provide the same coverage as well.
“While the insurance scheme should be run on a viable basis, and appropriate risk management methods should be applied, the purpose should not be to maximise profits for the insurance company,” said Tan. “It should have its social purpose of providing cover to those who need it at an economic cost.”
Income gap is “socially unconscionable”
Turning to the wage gap, Koh spoke of economist Lim Chong Yah’s wage shock therapy as one of three existing ways to plug it, and that while he did not agree with Lim’s proposal, he agreed with the latter’s aim.
He said that the issue needed to be addressed “not through palliatives but by seeing what we can do to fundamentally alter the wages of the bottom 30 per cent of our people”.
Koh also opposed the view of economist Shandre Thangavelu, who was also at Thursday’s roundtable, that the income gap is “part of globalisation and technological change”.
The ambassador contended that Singapore’s practice of importing large numbers of cheap and unskilled labour depresses wages in its service and non-tradable sectors. He further noted that construction workers in Hong Kong are twice as productive as those in Singapore, and receive two-and-a-half times the income earned here.
His view echoed those expressed by IPS senior adjunct fellow Yeoh Lam Kheong and Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy dean Kishore Mahbubani earlier on Thursday, who both called for a refinement of the import of new citizens and PRs to target more skilled labour.
“There are many equity issues we need to look at in Singapore, although I agree that we have done many things right. We just need to improve on a tremendously successful story,” Koh concluded.
Should the existing MediShield and Medifund schemes be reviewed to accommodate the needs of chronically-ill and people with pre-existing medical conditions?
What might the government’s concerns be in doing such a review?

Insurance should cover every person who seeks coverage

I have a diabetes condition and I qualify to use my Medisave up to $300 a year for my chronic illness to see a doctor for my illness, but what I am more concerned, is the complications that arise from my diabetes condition like gum disease and rotting teeth, worsening eye condition, worsening kidney disease and erectile dysfunction. Will the government consider to let us use our Medisave for these associated conditions as well?
I do not need a comprehensive blood test as it is a waste of my Medisave money every month including tons of medications which only gives me side effects. A normal blood test to determine my blood/sugar level is sufficient, but if you require more than necessary, do not make me food the bill. I rather go to the polyclinic and pay $8 per visit rather than all this subsidised nonsense. What I really require is to manage my complications so that it will not worsen my main illness.
– Contributed by Oogle.