On the problems of living, writers John Boyne, Ernest Hemingway, and E. Michael Helms. Some preliminary thoughts on overcoming in life, just a sketch by mjp

After having spent five years reading news stories of child abuse in the U.S. and around the world I found a book that helped me with this research and put it all together.

John Boyne has written a book that I should have read five years ago. It would have helped me deal with having been abused during early and mid- childhood and maybe given me some insight into why it happened. He has written the book “A History of Loneliness,” This book deals with child abuse problems in the Catholic Church, specifically In Ireland. I am writing a review of the book and will publish that when It is finished. I read that Boyne likes to alternate reading and writing during his daily work schedule and I have been doing that too and finding it works well. So I have used his latest book to read and let my mind freshen between writing and working on edits.

I did not go to Amazon to get Boyne’s book I went to the public library and I felt sad that I don’t do that more and happy that the library was even there. We must keep the libraries available.

I should have waited until today to write this, but I was too wound up from all that is happening and too excited about issues, books, re-writes, friends books, etc. to be able to calm down. So I published a preview.

I found that I could not deal with all I had planned to deal with last night and will take this up again later today and this weekend. The writers I have named have written books that greatly influenced me regarding how they lived through great difficulties and how they managed to heal and to what degree.

I checked out a book of short stories in the library that contained “My Old Man”, a short story by Hemingway.  After his manuscripts had been stolen – after he had lost the feeling that he should write, he wrote this.  Many people have fathers who have been horrible to them. Men need men to become men of quality, men of strength. We need such men in a world where we have lost our moorings in a terrifying way.

This leads me to “The Proud Bastards…” a book of war written by a man who suffered from too many things for me to try to recount here and who overcame and turned difficulties that could have destroyed him into powerful books that have helped me personally deal with my own problems.

More later, I am tired but I want to share more. I had a few pictures for this last night, but more will follow. I send my love to you all and my wishes for your victory. Men are obviously essential and even if they have destroyed your life, there are others who will help rebuild it.  Men are filled with mystery and a strong nature, They are not perfect but there will be no solutions in life without them. If you know my story you will regard these words. the private war of corporal henson coverEMH Proud Bastards CoverCOVER OF BLOOD AND BROTHERS BY E. MICHAEL HELMSpope sadblue eye wheat hair

What Happens in the Brain When Music Causes Chills? The brains of people who get chills when the right song comes on are wired differently than others Smithsonian.com By Jason Daley

For some people it’s David Bowie. For others it’s Franz Liszt. But regardless of the genre, when the right chords combine, many people will get goose bumps or a chill up the spine.

Somewhere between a half to two-thirds of the population have this reaction, yet scientists have long debated why. Past research has shown that when experiencing “the chills,” the neurotransmitter dopamine floods through the body. But a new study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience details what happens in the brain when the soprano hits the high note, reports Ian Sample for The Guardian.

These reactions are known as frissons—an aesthetic chill also sometimes called a “skin orgasm,” Mitchell Colver, doctoral student at Utah State University, writes for The Conversation. Though they are usually associated with listening to music, some can even get the willies while looking at art or watching a movie.

To investigate what happens in the brain during the chills, a group of researchers from Harvard and Wesleyan University selected ten people who claimed that they regularly experience a frisson while listening to music. He also selected ten subjects who never experienced the phenomenon.

The researchers then looked at the brains of the test subjects while they listened to chill-inducing music using a method called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which shows how well regions of the brain are interconnected, reports Sample. The choices ranged from Coldplay and Wagner to marching band music from the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps.

The researchers found that the brains of individuals who occasionally feel a chill while listening to music were wired differently than the control subjects. They had more nerve fibers connecting auditory cortex, the part of the brain that processes sound, to their anterior insular cortex, a region involved in processing feelings. The auditory cortex also had strong links to parts of the brain that may monitor emotions.

So why do so many get the chills when the music is just right? “The chills is a sensation we get when we’re cold. It doesn’t really make sense that your hair would stand on end, or that you’d get these goosebumps in response to music,” Matthew Sachs, an author of the paper, tells Sample. “We think that the connectivity between the auditory cortex and these other regions is allowing music to have that profound emotional response in these people. It’s very hard to know whether or not this is learned over time, or whether these people naturally had more fibers. All we can say is there are differences that might explain the behavior we see.”

Colver, who has also studied the phenomenon, says that previous research shows that the ability to experience a frisson is related to a personality trait called Openness to Experience. But his research suggests that those who experience the chills while listening to music weren’t always those having a deep emotional connection. Instead, his study showed that people engaged in the music more intellectually, like trying to predict the melody or putting mental imagery to the music, were more likely to get a shiver when the music deviated from their expectations in a positive way.

But not everyone is so enthusiastic about the idea of discerning beauty from brain scans. Philip Ball writes for Nature News“Although it is worth knowing that musical ‘chills’ are neurologically akin to the responses invoked by sex or drugs, an approach that cannot distinguish Bach from barbiturates is surely limited.”

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/researchers-look-what-happens-brain-when-music-causes-chills-180959481/#GuXuHIRVa05uRYrj.99
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ASMR: When Music Creates a “Brain Orgasm” Jesse Sendejas Jr. |HoustonPress

I was especially bad at science in school. I failed chemistry twice and third-time-charmed my way to finally passing with a C.

So now, of course, I enjoy anything with a scientific bent and listen to excellent podcasts, like Radiolab and This American Life, that present the scientific world in a way even a dodo-brain like me can understand.

Recently, I was listening to a piece by American Life contributor Andrea Seigel, where she related having a specific sensation to the sound of a whispering voice. She described it as “this tingling throughout my skull… it was like starbursts in my head, starbursts that open on the crown and then sparkle down to the nape, like this warm, glittering water rushing under your scalp.”

As I listened, I learned there’s a name for this feeling. It’s called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, ASMR for short. It’s a feeling I’ve personally experienced since youth and one recent weekend, while mowing the grass and listening to Justin Timberlake sing “Suit & Tie.” That part where he’s all like, “lemme show you a few things…lemme show you a few things…” It sets a trillion tiny, euphoric, graceful-as-Fred-Astaire dancing ants in motion. My scalp is their happy dance floor.

Seigel’s piece focuses on her particular ASMR “trigger,” the gentle sounds of a soft voice. But, my trigger has almost always been associated with singing voices. The better the voice, the stronger the feeling.

Turns out I’m not alone. There are people all over the world submitting to — and even seeking out — ASMR triggers. A good portion of them have this sublime, relaxing and mysterious sensation induced by music. Many are trading notes and sharing stories on social media and through work done by the research organization, asmr-research.org.
“ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is a response to stimuli — sight, sound, etc. It’s usually pleasurable and is characterized by a tingling sensation on the scalp, down the spine, and even in other areas of the body, such as the limbs. This is also accompanied by feelings of euphoria and relaxation,” says Andrew MacMuiris, an outreach agent with the site’s research team.
“People wanted to know what it was, where it came from, why we experienced it,” he continues. “There was a lack of answers to be found. We like to think of Research & Support as a place where people can come and discuss ASMR and learn more about it. We have a forum for just this purpose.”

The organization created a Facebook community three years ago and the group has grown to nearly 5,500 members from across the globe. MacMuiris lives in Cape Town, South Africa, and says his musical triggers are diverse and include Leonard Cohen, instrumental guitar, even the whistling of the family’s gardener.

“For me, ASMR is almost always pleasurable, and it makes me want to sit or lay there and listen to whatever is triggering it for a long time, if not forever,” he says. “I find that I listen much more intently to the song playing, paying particular attention to the bits that trigger the sensations.”

The sensation is so pleasurable, people search for it and others do their best to help them. Seigel’s piece was about whisper-induced triggers. She introduced listeners to “ASMRtists,” people who post YouTube videos and create whisper podcasts to delight listeners. The feeling is so overpoweringly good it’s even been described as a “brain orgasm.”

“It starts in my brain — I swear I can feel it in my right brain a lot of times,” said Kelly Fuller, a South Carolinian who is part of the ASMR Facebook group. “It starts tingling and then radiates out, down my neck, down my arms, sometimes legs. I’ll often get chill bumps as a result. It really is almost like an orgasm in the way it builds and tingles, but it’s not sexual at all. I can see why people describe it as a brain orgasm, though.”

Let’s talk about sex in… the Arab world by Graeme Green

 

no condoms
condoms.jpg

A reluctance to use condoms has helped lead to a rise in HIV infections in the Arab world. Paul Keller under a Creative Commons Licence

Sex in the Arab world is the opposite of sport. This is what a gynaecologist in Egypt told me. Everyone talks about football but hardly anyone plays it; whereas everyone is having sex but no-one wants to talk about it.

I spent five years travelling across the Arab region talking about sex, including Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Lebanon. My problem was not getting people to talk about sex, but getting them to stop. People were very eager to ask questions and to speak openly about their experiences. I think that was because I come from a background of public health – I’m an immunologist – and also I’m half-Egyptian and a Muslim, but I look Western. Often women don’t speak openly because they’re afraid of being judged and they thought, with me coming from the West, they could speak with no judgement.

The problem in the Arab region is the gap between appearance and reality. It’s not that people aren’t doing what people are doing all over the world. It’s that they feel reluctant to speak openly about it. Between 30 and 60 per cent of young men will say they’ve had sexual relations before marriage, but upwards of 80 per cent of young women say they haven’t. Which begs the question: who are all these young men having sex with?

The reality is there’s recourse to sex workers – it’s a booming business in the Arab region. But also people don’t want to admit to sex before marriage because women are expected to be virgins on their wedding night. It’s a double standard.

Virginity is defined as a piece of anatomy, an intact hymen, so many young people are engaging in alternative forms of sex: anal sex, oral sex or ‘superficial relations’. I met a woman in Morocco who had had a one-night stand. They had superficial relations and the man had ejaculated on her legs. When she went to a doctor, she had absolutely no idea she was pregnant. The thing she kept saying to me, which was her point of pride, was: ‘I am still a virgin.’ Even though she was pregnant.

The problem is that virginity is defined in this quite superficial way. It leads young people into deeply unhealthy behaviours. An NGO in Morocco was trying to encourage HIV prevention by offering young female sex workers condoms, but they said, ‘We don’t need condoms. No way are we going to become pregnant. We only have oral or anal sex because we want to get married.’ So, in the name of an intact hymen, they were opening themselves to HIV.

Many people are under the impression that there is no HIV in the Arab world, but it is one of only two regions where HIV infections are still on the rise. Taboos around sex are a huge obstacle to rising to the challenge of the epidemic.

There is also the issue of same-sex relations in the Arab world. Of course, these are alive and well. Roughly two to three per cent of the population engages in same-sex activity. That’s on a par with global averages. But it’s a question of being able to acknowledge it to yourself, to your family, let alone the wider community.

I talk about a scenic route to democracy – it’s a long road, full of detours, emergency stops and bumps along the way. But you do see movement. In 2007, no woman would speak out about sexual harassment or being raped. Fast forward to 2014, and you find women in Egypt speaking out about their experiences.

We’ve gone through a dark period in the Arab region since the 1950s, a closing down on politics, economic thought, cultural thought. Sex is one part of that. A lot of arguments have been hijacked by Islamic conservatives. People have become incredibly conservative, not just Muslim but also Christian and Jewish conservatives. They wrap sex up in religion and use it as a tool of control. This creates a whole climate where everything is haram (forbidden), ayb (shameful).

We have a long history as Arabs of being very open on sexual matters within the context of Islam. My biggest hope is that we can reclaim the spirit of our ancestors, for whom sex was not just a problem but also a pleasure. And it was not just a pleasure for men, but also for women. If we can reclaim that spirit, a lot of the battle will have been won. That will set us on a good path to deal with many other issues in the generation to come.

Journalist, author and immunologist Shereen El Feki talked to Graeme Green.

New Internationalist issue 470 magazine cover This article is from the March 2014 issue of New Internationalist.
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