Saturday, September 20, 2014


Top 10 Movie Drownings

Publisher: bhakragani - Saturday, September 20, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014


Why Do You Want To Change Me?

Book Description
Accept the question of ‘change’ and let the magic and marvel unravel. The question of change is the key, which opens the doors of life-living wellness and personal excellence. The book is about unleashing your potential by simply unlocking the consciousness. Won’t you open the doors, if someone knocks to deliver the Christmas Cake! Innocence of reception is beauty. Be beautiful and bountiful.
Publisher: bhakragani - Friday, September 19, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

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Comparing depression to cancer doesn't help anyone

Comparing depression to cancer doesn't help anyone

By David Pilgrim, University of Liverpool

Robin Williams’s suicide has led many to open up about depression in an effort to raise awareness about how many people are living in misery. One of the most common themes in this public discussion has been that depression is a disease like any other.

In the days after the news of Williams’s death broke, Tony Blair’s former communications director, Alistair Campbell, wrote:

Depression has nothing to do with how popular or famous, unpopular or unknown, you are. It just is. Like cancer is. Like asthma is. Like diabetes is. Some people get it, some people don’t. It is a truly horrible illness, and must be viewed and treated as such.

But is depression just like cancer, asthma or diabetes? Making these comparisons can be useful in a personal sense, but if the analogy is not backed up by research, it may be standing in the way of helping people in need.

To be clear at the outset, some of us some of the time are so profoundly distressed about our lives that we may consider suicide or carry it through. Most of us at some time in our life will experience distress and that experience might include low mood and a pessimistic outlook. Some people inhabit that distressed state from time to time, others will experience it chronically. Some of us experience it more profoundly and more often than others.

This social-existential spectrum can be called a disease. But to call something a disease is only worthy if it illuminates our humanity rather than dims our sense of what it is to be human and if turning profound sadness into a medical condition brings with it the prospect of corrective action.

So before we medicalise misery consider the following things.

No test for depression

Depression has no blood test to validate it as a medical condition. Like other psychiatric diagnoses it is defined using presenting complaints (symptoms) to make the diagnosis. The problem is, these symptoms are then explained by the existence of the putative disease. This circular logic goes something like this:

Q: How do we know that this woman is depressed?
A: Because she has very low mood and a deeply pessimistic outlook on life.
Q: Why is she so miserable?
A: Because she is suffering from depression.

The diagnosis of depression is now so common that it has entered the vernacular, and so it has become a self-evident fact for us all. However, as American psychologist Martin Seligman famously commented, “depression is the common cold of psychiatry, familiar yet mysterious.”

The problem of definition

Depression commonly occurs in conjunction with other symptoms, especially anxiety. Some psychiatrists now argue that another diagnosis of common neurotic misery would be more valid. Until the late 20th century, neurotic misery was not even designated by many psychiatrists as a proper mental illness. Now even bereavement is being designated by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder called depression.

Depression has been framed by medicine sometimes as a form of madness (psychosis) and sometimes as common misery (neurosis).

Do the drugs work?

Depression can be treated medicinally but the outcome is unpredictable. If a person with type 1 diabetes receives insulin, their distressing symptoms disappear and their measurable blood sugar alters at once. Without insulin they soon die. If a person with a diagnosis of depression is prescribed an antidepressant it may or may not have a beneficial impact. Sometimes it does and sometimes it does not. Sometimes the adverse effects of the drugs make patients feel worse.

According to research, those treated with a combination of drugs and psychological therapy are more likely to improve, but relapse is common, even in optimally treated cases. Some who improve still report low grade misery in their lives.

Other ways to help

All of this suggests that human misery is common, recurring and fairly impervious to clinical intervention. It ebbs and flows, mainly because it relates to personal circumstances, such as poverty, bereavement, divorce, job loss or the development of painful illness. A simple diagnosis of depression as a matter of “brain chemistry” can render the complex politics of daily life irrelevant. Poverty, domestic violence, child abuse, insecure employment can be ignored as sources of distress and dysfunction in troubled lives.

Depression is bound up for us all in the condition of being alive among inequality, oppression and multiple forms of recurring loss. Why would we expect to convert all of that complexity into a simple disease that can be measured and manipulated by medical technology just like diabetes or asthma?

Instead of making depression a disease like any other, to be treated with a technological fix, we must stand back and find a way of appreciating the role of suffering in human life and of helping ourselves and others when we are miserable.
The Conversation

David Pilgrim does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

photo credit: Helga Weber via photopin cc
Publisher: bhakragani - Sunday, September 14, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

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Airstrikes on IS in Syria's backyard are high-risk if Assad objects

Airstrikes on IS in Syria's backyard are high-risk if Assad objects


By Ben Rich, Monash University

The expansion of airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) into Syria announced yesterday by US President Barrack Obama marks a predictable, if necessary, escalation of coalition operations against the Jihadist insurgent group. Debates over the wisdom of the operation aside, any military campaign aiming to cripple IS (also known as ISIL or ISIS) as an organisation must target its core logistical and command and control hubs. Most of these appear still to be based in Syria’s east.

The Syrian government, however, remains understandably suspicious of coalition intentions in its backyard. A senior minister in the Assad government, Ali Haidar, warned that any action undertaken without the approval of Damascus would be considered “an aggression against Syria”.

Haidar’s statement reflects a common concern among Assad loyalists. They view the prospect of any coalition activity inside Syria proper as a potential precursor to direct intervention and regime change. But after three-and-a-half gruelling years of war, is the Syrian regime still in a position to resist outside aerial encroachment and threaten coalition operations?

Down but not out

The simple answer is yes. The civil war has taken a heavy toll on the ground troops and air power of the Syrian Arab Armed Forces (SAAF), but its air defences have remained largely unaffected. While not the most advanced in the world, Syrian anti-air systems still pose a considerable threat.

According to the annual defence report of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Damascus has access to modern Russian platforms. These include the Pantsir-S1, the Strela-10 and the likely culprit in the MH17 tragedy, the Buk/Buk-M2. Despite repeated discussions over the potential deployment of the formidable theatre-level S-300 system, its status in Syrian hands remains ambiguous.

Such weapons were responsible for the downing of a Turkish warplane along the Syrian periphery in 2012, sparking a minor diplomatic crisis. Closer to home and several decades earlier in 1983, the SAAF used similar platforms to down two US Navy aircraft in Lebanese airspace, much to the consternation of the Reagan administration. Last year, Israel had concerns over the deployment of the Buk in southern Syria and its potential transfer to Lebanese Hezbollah. The IDF launched a devastating airstrike near Damascus to destroy the weapons before they could reach their destination.

Syria has the air-defence capabilities to threaten coalition aircraft.
EPA/Syrian News Agency

The Syrian regime couldn’t hope to fend off a direct assault by the US and its partners. However, it could disrupt an operation against IS. This could have severe political consequences and lead to a rapid escalation and regionalisation of the conflict.

Given IS' positioning inside Syria, coalition air strikes will likely be centred on the eastern city of Raqqah, where the group has made a serious effort to establish itself. While SAAF forces have lost considerable ground since 2011, they nevertheless hold territory within 50 kilometres of the city. This counts much of the government arsenal out, but still leaves systems like the Buk as a credible threat to coalition aircraft.

As the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia showed, even the stealthiest of aircraft can be downed by relatively low-grade Russian and Soviet equipment.

Dealing with the devil

Until now, the US and its allies have been able to engage IS in Iraq with impunity. The greatest threats they face have been pilot error and equipment failure. Syria is not Iraq, however, and the replication of such invulnerability in Levantine airspace is predicated on an understanding between the Assad government and intervening forces.

Given that much of the coalition has spent the past three years calling for the regime’s immediate dissolution and has just committed to expanding support for its opposition, this is a daunting task on both sides of the aisle.

Some may bank on the regime simply taking a step back and allowing one enemy to kill another. It seems to have been more than happy to employ this strategy against warring factions in the opposition. Yet not securing some form of information-sharing relationship between Washington and Damascus leaves far greater room for mishap.

With a considerable portion of the international community now committed to direct involvement in the Syrian conflict, the possible ramifications of such avoidable errors are dire.
The Conversation

Ben Rich does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Publisher: bhakragani - Friday, September 12, 2014


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