Epigenetics and nurturing, more exposé on antidepressants, and forbidden and twisted: Saturday news and blogs

  • Epigenetics and the Importance of a Nurturing Society — The Primate Diaries — Miller shows that, so far, the evidence to support a direct epigenetic connection between a stressed population and societal problems has yet to be clearly demonstrated. However, this research suggests that how resources are distributed can have long-lasting effects on the next generation.
  • MIND Reviews: The Emperor’s New Drugs : Scientific American — Expose about antidepressantsKirsch reveals some unsavory pharmaceutical company practices. He reports that drug companies frequently manipulate scientific data—by cherry-picking positive results, withholding negative findings from publication, and “salami slicing” (publishing positive data multiple times). For instance, in the 1990s Glaxo SmithKline conducted several trials on the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil, which showed the drug was no more effective than a placebo. The trials also revealed some dangerous side effects, including a possible increased risk of suicide. GSK, however, decided not to release most of the negative data to the public. When this negligent behavior was later uncovered, the company was sued by the New York attorney general for engaging in “repeated and persistent fraud.” The company was forced to make all the data public.
  • Forbidden Thinking | Psychology Today — Have you ever thought of cheating on your spouse? What about slapping an obnoxious colleague? Or ramming some jerk on the freeway? Have you ever had thoughts about taboo or wild sex? Or divorce? Or leaving home? What about harming someone close? Or even harming yourself? Then there are the tamer varieties: Do you not fantasize about food, for example, when you are on a diet? Who has not gloated over someone else’s misfortune or coveted a neighbor’s house, car, or flashy lifestyle when we want to picture ourselves as perfectly content? — Few of us would dispute the notion that humans spend a great deal of time thinking thoughts we’d rather not have. — Most of us will never act out our forbidden impulses. Yet just the fact that we can think such thoughts may be so disturbing that we make Herculean efforts to repress them, to keep them secret. “I couldn’t even tell my husband,” recalls Beth, a gentle West Coast mother of three, after experiencing vivid thoughts about hurting her own children. “I spent a lot of time asking myself, ‘What does this mean? Am I sick?'”
  • Typically Twisted | Psychology Today — Wood has found that monitoring normal behavior is one of the important ways we continue to grow and mature. But off-key qualities often have their own reason for being. They can even have unexpected upsides. Besides, they’re what make us endlessly fascinating—and essentially human.

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