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Thoughts on the Police and NFL Scandals

February 18th, 2015

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

Thoughts on the Police and NFL ScandalsIn recent months we have been sensitized once again to the problem of police violence perpetrated against men in their custody. The most famous cases persist in one’s memory—Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Eric Garner in New York, Ezell Ford in Los Angeles. And then there was also the child shot in Cleveland. But there are the non-fatal cases as well that linger in memory: the woman kicked in the groin by a female officer while in custody; the man thrown on the ground with such force that his neck is broken. One reacts with revulsion to all these events.

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The Problem of Homelessness Among Veterans

February 18th, 2015

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

 

The Problem of Homelessness Among VeteransWhy is there a problem of homelessness among veterans? Indeed there is a shortage of affordable housing in Los Angeles, but that is not the real issue here. Rather, we are confronted with a problem of the brain. Homeless veterans are not able to sustain relationships, and eventually they find themselves out on their own. The downward slide may take years. When the Director of the Salvation Army Bell Shelter (the largest shelter for formerly homeless veterans West of the Mississippi) was asked recently about whether he was seeing a lot of veterans of the recent wars, his answer was, “not yet.” By and large, they have not yet worn out their familial and other connections. But among those still suffering from PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) years after return from combat, a gradual downward slide is the likely prospect.

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On Mindfulness

February 12th, 2015

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

 

On MindfulnessFormer governor Pete Wilson of California has been quoted as saying, “I tried introspection once, and I didn’t like it.” He had been a Marine in his earlier life, and it is not entirely surprising that the mentality of a Marine would not settle easily into a meditation routine. I actually have a certain sympathy for his attitude because I seem to face a similar barrier when trying the mindfulness thing. I enjoy the fact that my brain seems to bubble up ideas all the time that I then find entertaining to pursue. Turning that off is really not an option, as seasoned meditators know. All that one can do is choose how one reacts to the appearance of such kindlings of thought. The meditator has practice in just letting the thought go without pursuing it. And here is where the problem lies.

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Virtual Reality

January 15th, 2015

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

Virtual Reality
Developments in the virtual reality sphere were another highlight of the latest Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Matters were raised to a higher level of visibility even before the conference, when Facebook pumped $2B into Oculus. A billion here, a billion there; pretty soon you are talking about real money. As it happens, we took a look at an Oculus system a while back to evaluate its suitability for neurofeedback. It wasn’t long before each of us felt just a little woozy from the experience, and opted for going back to maneuver in the real rather than the virtual world.

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“The Next Big Thing”

January 7th, 2015

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

Next Big Thing
A common concern among those paid to worry about the society in general, and the economy in particular, is what we may expect to see as the main driving force for change in the near future. The emerging sharing economy may be one of the best candidates for transformative change. And within the sharing economy, the ride-sharing outfit Uber may be the most visible example. Uber has been in the news lately because it received an infusion of investor funds that placed the implicit value of the company at some $40B. This is doubly startling when it is viewed against the company’s sales last year of a mere $1B.

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BSC 2014: Sigi Hale on ADHD

December 11th, 2014

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

BSC Conference 2014
I n one fast-paced hour, Sigi Hale of the UCLA Department of Psychiatry recapitulated his graduate work, his postgraduate work, and his research since that time with reference to ADHD. The body of work was largely concerned with the lateralization of function, which yielded new insights on ADHD. The specifics are beyond the scope of this overview.

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