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Could Mental Health Security System be the Future of Public Safety?

Could Mental Health Security System be the Future of Public Safety?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

If there are any other nerds out there like me, you may have come across an abstract animated series called Psycho-pass that rose in popularity a few years back in 2012. The show’s name fits firmly into the primary premise of the show, an authoritarian future dystopia, where omnipresent public sensors ceaselessly scan the mental states of every passing citizen. In the TV show, collected data on both present mentality and aggregated personality data is used to gauge the probability of an individual committing a crime, the rating referred to as that citizen’s Psycho-Pass. Law enforcement and public security utilizes technology tracking mental health of citizens in order to premeditate possible threats. The characters chase criminals who the system deems emotionally or psychologically at risk, and the show adds a few good twists of suspense and philosophical paradox.

Needless to say, I am a big fan of the series.

So of course, seeing a headline explaining a new research project that could make this kind of system a reality, it stirs up some curiosity. This abstract concept of machines reading the psychological profiles of everyday people as a security measure has jumped right out of the world of scifi-fantasy and could soon be another innovation that changes our world.

Could a mental health security system for the future of public safety?

How the Mental Health Security System Works

According to a new piece of research, published in the International Journal of Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, a mental health security system is being developed that gives an analyses of the user’s brainwaves.

Most modern security systems require a PIN or password. Other biometric-based systems require a fingerprint or scans of an iris or retina. We have already seen this kind of stuff in the movies; voice-activated locks, palm-print thermal safes and other cool high-tech gadgets. Now, Violeta Tulceanu of the University of Iasi is adding a truly unique aspect to security; the emotion detector.

Upon reading the brainwaves the system is designed to automatically determine whether the user is in a fit mental state. After the test is complete the system will grant access to resources, but only if deemed appropriate.

Violeta Tulceanu states:

“The true engine of motivation is our capacity to perceive pleasure and fear pain, and thus, reward and punishment,”

“Our ability to react to dangerous situations is directly related to our capacity to relate to our environment, and our sense of self-preservation.”

In the new approach, Tulceanu trains the system to recognize a user’s “emotional fingerprint” using the patterns of electrical brainwaves. The system measures the brainwaves they generate in the presence of specific, evocative stimuli. The system has to have a baseline mental signature to cross-reference. Each emotional response is matched to a given pattern and these are then associated with particular configurations of the mental health security system. So someone mentally stable will set the standard for their future readings.

Once the profile is complete it can allow or preclude access to given resources. So the next time someone tries to get access, the system simply measures the current electrical brain activity and if the result of processing the credentials matches the “emotional fingerprint” access is granted or refused accordingly.

This is amazing because it not just recognizes brainwaves to allow authorized access, but it also determines whether or not someone’s current mental health should keep them from having access.

Why a Mental Health Security System Could Matter

Based on the core concept, this could all matter a great deal to public safety. If someone is in a well-balanced emotional state, when faced with external factors they probably react according to:

  • Context
  • Group expectations
  • Education
  • Cultural background
  • Social norms
  • Personal inclinations

However, humans are emotional. We feel. Some of us more intensely, but all of us included. So our decisions can be subject to:

  • Our wants/desires
  • Lust
  • Greed
  • Happiness
  • Sadness

We can even be influenced by psychoactive chemicals that might make particular resources inappropriate or hazardous. Perhaps a safe with a gun locked inside should only be accessible by someone of a stable mental and emotional state.

With this kind of mental health security system there could be another step to control:

  • Entry to a building
  • Access to computer resources
  • Even the withdrawal of money from ATMs

The research actually indicates this mental health security system could also have applications in:

  • Military
  • Electronic learning
  • Healthcare

What Could the Mental Health Security System Change?

Many may not notice at first, but this is a huge deal and if it gained momentum it could change a lot about our world. Thinking about it, anyone can suffer from depression, stress, or anxiety, as well as substance abuse. Some of us may not even be aware of our own issues with mental health until something devastating has happened. We all have the capacity to make detrimental decisions, and sometimes we also have the capacity to do so while accessing sensitive resources.

Let us look at just a few ways this could be a really big deal.

  • Public Safety

In the interest of public safety, we could consider access to an airport or a school. With the history of shootings and other attacks on citizens being perpetrated by people deemed to be in the grips of mental illness, could this new technology have the capacity to save lives by blocking off those who it perceives to be a threat?

Tulceanu suggests this mental health security system could ensure the safety and security of individuals and those around them that might be at risk if access is granted to particular resources.

  • Anti-theft

The mental health security system might be able to assess whether a person is acting responsibly and of their own accord. So if someone is being forced to access something, the security system could measure this emotional response as well and act further on the behalf of someone who could be being robbed or held hostage.

Is a Mental Health Security System Morally Just?

Here comes the philosophical debate. When looking at the possibilities of this technology, we also have to ask ourselves the same questions that crop up in the scifi stories; is this moral? Specifically, if it became a government tool, does it violate privacy or civil rights? Really ask yourself- is this a brighter, safer future? Or could it be misused for subliminal, psychological oppression?

Seriously, this is a tough call. It does sound like it could save a lot of lives. But some would ask- who has the right to say whether or not I’m mentally or emotionally stable enough to get my own money from the bank? Or to get on a plane? Who decides when you are too emotionally or mentally compromised to go to work? What if years from now you aren’t allowed to live in a certain neighborhood because of your place on the brainwave scale?

Would this kind of restriction on people based on an analyses of mental health be reinforcing the stigmas attached to mental health? If so, would people be discriminated against for mental health issues? In the TV show I referenced earlier, people with moderately risky mental health ratings were lawfully mandated to therapy; would that become part of the normal practice if a more comprehensive mental health security system was put into place?

These days, modern research techniques show that far from being indefinable, emotion is completely neurological. Emotion lives at the core of all learning mechanisms. This makes it possible to treat emotion more objectively. All this new research is extremely fascinating. Without being too sure which way to lean, I simply wonder what the world would think of a mental health security system.

The importance of mental health care and substance abuse treatment is paramount. As technology grows so does our understanding of how complex and critical these issues are. There is help for those who are struggling with dual diagnosis, and holistic healing is an empowering way to make a transformation that could change everything.

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4 Meditation Tips for More Mindfulness

4 Meditation Tips for More Mindfulness

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

When we think of meditation and mindfulness we often have a certain image or experience in our mind. Some people think it must be a profound and extremely disciplined experience every time. Our misconceptions about what meditation really is often deter us from actively practicing it. However when we do practice, we realize the benefits of mindfulness. Regardless of how you imagine meditation should be, give yourself plenty of opportunity to try it out and see what is could be.

Here are 4 meditation tips for more mindfulness.

  1. You’re NOT “bad” at meditation

When the concept of meditation is suggested, some people immediately assume they are “bad at it.” They allow their preconceptions of what meditation is supposed to mean tell them can’t successfully use it to find serenity. The very simplicity of meditation can itself present a challenge because the mind’s habitual nature prefers stimulation through distraction over intense focus.

It is as if you find yourself in a quiet space, sit in silence and then continuously ask yourself- “am I meditating yet?” or “Is this how I’m supposed to do it?”

The reality is meditation is not strictly limited to sitting in full-lotus with candles everywhere and yogi music playing. Meditation is about the practice of drawing awareness to the present, and some people meditate through activities or exercise.

Yoga, for example, is described by many as a moving meditation. So, don’t trouble yourself with wondering if you’re meditating ‘right’ or if you are ‘bad at it,’ because your practice is yours. The more you practice, the more it will grow into whatever you need it to be.

  1. The goal is NOT to be “good” at meditation

Just like with the assumption that you can be ‘bad at it,’ if you approach meditation with the goal of “I want to be good at this” you’re probably going to be disappointed. There are no gold medals for meditation… at least, not that I know of. But anyone can just go buy a gold Buddha if it’s really that important to them.

Sometimes meditation can be boring. In our world on smartphones and constant connection, we rarely have to be bored anymore. Just because you get bored doesn’t mean you have to be better at meditating, it is just a thought we all feel. Recognize it, reflect and move on. Even people who have been meditating a long time can still get bored with it.

When meditation is offered to many of us in early recovery we may have this thought that once we ‘master’ meditation we will begin to see results right away. We are the type to thrive off instant gratification after all. We want it to help us get well right away, but it doesn’t always work like that. Just remember, there are no trophies for meditation… I think.

  1. Don’t criticize your mind

We utilize the practice of meditation to set an intention and focus, but also to notice when the mind loses focus, and to see where it goes. The mind is good at wandering, but you should never criticize yourself for it. Being the witness to the wandering mind is part of the practice. If you begin to think on other things, just be aware of those things as they present themselves.

Just as a random example- If my intention in meditation is on my gratitude, and suddenly my mind has drifted off into the dynamics of my relationships with my family, I should take notice. Maybe my mind is trying to tell me how grateful I am for my family. Maybe it is telling me how gratitude brings them to mind. I acknowledge the thought and come back into focus. I should not criticize my mind for drifting off topic, or criticize the thoughts themselves.

Sometimes we beat ourselves up because the mind will take us so far from our intention we forget how we got there. We begin to feel we are ‘bad at it’ again, or that we are wasting time. Don’t let these frustrations or the nature of the wandering mind make you critical. Be present to your mediation without judgment.

  1. Let go of the outcome of your meditation

Once we’re aware of the benefits of meditating, we might set expectation on every experience. You might trick yourself into thinking you must feel a certain way, but expectations can be down-payments on disappointments. We may expect to feel calm and relaxed; clarity and serenity, and when we don’t get the outcome we anticipate we can get frustrated.

In reality meditation will lead you to several different experiences. Sometimes the experience will change multiple times within a single session. Part of the practice is letting go of the outcome. Approach your meditation with an open heart and mind. Waiting for a specific result can also distance us from the present moment.

Again, meditation is about being aware and in tune with the present. It is not about judging our experience. Meditating to be “good at it” is like saying you watched TV for hours just to make sure the remote works. Your mind and the present are already there, meditation is just about taking the time away from your overactive or analytical mode to notice them. Don’t expect answers all the time, just be aware and listen.

Meditation can reform the mind in the most incredible ways, and it is often one of the best medicines for people in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. It can be used for mental, emotional and even physical fitness. Holistic recovery is about a lot more than removing drugs and alcohol; it is also about rewiring our thinking. If you or someone you love is struggling, find out how holistic healing can help.

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5 Symptoms of Self-Disrespect You Should Stop NOW

5 Symptoms of Self-Disrespect You Should Stop NOW

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Who among us has not been warned in our lifetime that we should treat others how we want to be treated, and that in every relationship the way we behave with others is a subconscious but very realistic reflection of how we treat ourselves. Self-esteem and self-respect have a lot to do with the conversations we have with ourselves, and those thoughts and emotions translate easily into the way we communicate in all relationships. Self-disrespect can easily cloud our interactions with others as we project those feelings of inadequacy, distrust and negativity outward for the hurt we are pouring inward.

When we listen to ourselves with love and acceptance, it becomes acutely more organic and authentic with others. And when we respect ourselves, the lives we lead become more fulfilling and less deprecating.

Here are 5 symptoms of self-disrespect you should stop now to be happier and have healthier relationships.

  1. You get angry a lot

Some would say that anger is a chaotic expression of our ego, typically boiling up beyond our control in the face of being dissatisfied with a current situation.

Anger comes from the ego getting fed up with the fact its needs are not being met, emotionally or psychologically, and your mind is either imploding on itself or erupting onto others in unhealthy ways. Letting go of being angry can seem impossible at times, but in order to stop disrespecting your worth and better serve yourself you have to stop being so angry with the circumstances and take responsibility for what you can do to change them.

  1. You seek outside validation

When we feel like something is missing in us, we often look to external elements to fill this void. With some of us that became drugs and alcohol, gambling or other addictions; people do the same with other people. Seeking validation from others constantly is self-disrespect because it is almost another way of saying you and your own standards aren’t good enough.

Seeing this form of self-disrespect for what it is we realize we are the cause and effect; we are both sides of the coin. Seeking the validation from within lets you love yourself. Believe that how you measure your worth is the only gratification you need.

  1. You pass a lot of judgment

People who judge are often people who are deflecting something about themselves that makes them uncomfortable. I can’t be the only one who has ever heard that expression that we often judge others harshly when they remind us of things we resent about ourselves.

We all have darker shades of the self, and sometimes we lash out at others because we can catch a peak of our own shady side when we see someone do something we oppose. Accepting that we are all flawed and taking notice of the issue as an aspect of your own humanity can help you heal. Don’t feed into self-disrespect and the disrespect of others by looking down on anyone, including yourself.

  1. You let others make your decisions

This one almost goes hand in hand with seeking outside validation. Needing the approval of others in the choices you make in your life is another form of self-disrespect that we have to overcome in order to honor ourselves more in life.

It’s ok to get advice from friends, family and professional peers. We need to be inspired and educated at times. But the point is you cannot let the opinions and perspectives of others dictate your life. Be mindful of your own intuition and experience in your decisions and, again, accept that they are valuable. Stop doing thing you don’t believe in or don’t like- be it in professional or in your relationships or whatever- and start making decisions that break the cycle.

  1. You don’t live from the heart

Your heart is the most remarkable and powerful muscle in your body. It pumps all the life-force into the rest of you and fuels the feelings that set fire to every nerve in the conscious mind for what you want in your life. The issue of self-disrespect comes when you bury that fire out of fear, doubt or simply neglect.

Give yourself the healthy space to evaluate what you feel, because feelings can often distort and hinder what it is you truly want. But the inner knowing of who you are in your heart and what you want should be trusted. This intrinsic expression isn’t there to hurt you; it is there to show you the best of yourself, even when you see those darker shades in the reflection.

Whatever you do in life, don’t let it lead to self-disrespect. It is ok to question your feelings and your thoughts, and it is ok to get help and appreciation from others, but do not lose sight of your own worth. Do not let the negative ego deter you from knowing who you really are, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Part of self-respect is to make better choices in order to change your life. For some that means getting help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

3 Factors of Emotional and Mental Health for Men

3 Factors of Emotional and Mental Health for Men

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Mental health impacts everyone. Men and women are equal parts of the great whole that is humanity, but there are always going to be differences for reasons of nature and nurture- women of course being the superior sex (in my opinion) as mothers of this world.

Our culture has created archetypes that we are often benumbed to as we try to fit in, without noticing how they may hinder our self-expression or personal development as individuals. We are given preconceptions and misconceptions that steer our thoughts and feelings, or our responses to them, and sometimes they do us an injustice.

Emotional and mental health for men is important, no matter how many men would like to believe their emotions don’t dictate their behavior or would even deny they need them to function, those feeling make all the difference in the world. Here are 3 factors to remember for emotional and mental health for men.

  1. Emotional Male Role Models

Male emotionality, vulnerability, and sensitivity is different than a woman’s, and one of the greatest injustices to men is that often times these qualities have been socialized out of him. He has been trained with the stigma of not needing to be vulnerable or sensitive.

A lack of emotional male role models makes it difficult for a man to recapture these assets of who they are, because in society men far too frequently hear encouragement to be vulnerable, sensitive, or emotional in ways that mimic or are associated with a female version, which can make the experience seem uncomfortable.

Having a strong male role model who is also emotionally mature and in tune with their feelings can give men an outline of vulnerability and sensitivity they can internalize without feeling like they are crossing a line into the female psychological territory… because guys have feelings too. Mental health for men may not be the first thing they think of when they find a male role model, but they might not even realize that is what stands out the most about that person. Set yourself up with some men in your life who not only excel in careers or hobbies, but also who navigate the tides of the heart with perseverance and compassion.

  1. We Really Want to be Useful

A lot of us men get a sense of identity in feeling like we are useful, especially in a variety of aspects of life such as:

  • Making a spouse happy
  • Providing for family/household
  • Helping others
  • Making others feel safe

A lot of men instinctively want to be given a purpose and responsibility, especially when it comes to providing for the family or being strong for others. A lot of us men seem to expect of ourselves to want to provide financially for a family with infinite needs without facing feelings of struggle, indecision, or anxiety- but this misconception just sets us up to disappoint ourselves for not living up to unrealistic goals, harboring feelings of inadequacy.

We have to remember being strong is about a lot more than fist-fighting wolves in the woods or beating up Russian mobsters to save our kidnapped daughter (eh-hem… thanks, Liam Nesson). Being strong emotionally and mentally as a man is also a huge deal, and serving a purpose for others in that aspect can make a man feel uniquely useful.

In a relationship men are often willing to rise to the challenge of carrying an emotional burden, because in a way it makes us feel useful again. To be respected is likened to being loved for many men, and sometimes we feel a strong need for respect than love.

To help your emotional and mental health, find a purpose and put some ambition into it. The experience can only add wisdom and emotional growth; win or lose.

  1. “Being a Man” is Truly Being Yourself

One statement is repeatedly said to pretty much every man throughout their life that stunts emotional growth and stigmatizes the mind. It is seemingly so simple and innocent, yet can be so corrupting to mental health for men – “act like a man”… or “man up.”

So what exactly is that supposed to mean?

The truth is, acting like a man is nothing more and nothing less than having the courage to be who you are in your heart. “Being a man” is truly being yourself and having the bravery to be vulnerable and be authentic in spite of the skewed view of society or those who would judge you for it.

The real test for most men in this modern age of surface/material values, aggressive comparison and competition, and disinformation is to understand the truth of who he is at his essence and then to conquer whatever fears would prevent him from taking actions in his life that are aligned with that intention for his life.

A man disconnected from the universe of emotions and thoughts inside him is a man who has forgotten who he is. Emotional and mental health are not something men should shrug off, and they are not only for the ladies. Far too many men overlook the most basic aspects of their life that obstruct their emotional and mental health- which ultimately undermines their progress. This is as true as it is in any regular life, as it is for a man in recovery.

Put the MEN back in MENTAL HEALTH, be who you are and let yourself feel whatever is in your heart.

Mental health and addiction typically offer up plenty of emotional issues. Thankfully dual diagnosis treatment is out there, and Palm Partners takes pride in an outstanding dual diagnosis program. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

How Angry Music Makes Happy People

Can Angry Music Make Happy People?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Ever have someone ask you why you’re so angry? Naaaah, me neither.

Not because you are, but because of the music you listen to? Have you at least had people look at you sideways because they never figured you would be the one blaring heavy metal, punk rock or even rap music in the car? I know people are typically surprised when I have Bring Me the Horizon at full blast in my headphones during my workday, and they always say “you seem like such a calm guy.” Well, reading online all morning about a dress and how no one knows what color it is gets a little frustrating.

What if I told you that a lot of times that so-called ‘angry music’ is usually listened to, and even made by some of the calmest and most cool minded people? Or, in fact… that the theory about listening to ‘angry music’ for positive results is actually backed up in a recent study conducted by Maya Tamir and Brett Ford, researchers from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Tell Me How You Really Feel

The study about the science of loud and ‘angry music’ was conducted using 175 people, who were asked to participate in role-playing exercises where they had to either confront a person (one example of these imagined scenarios was a cop interrogating a suspect) or they were asked to collaborate with someone. The music came in before the role-playing began, when the subjects were allowed to choose from a selection of music to aid in evoking the emotions they would need, including the basics:

  • Anger
  • Happiness
  • Neutrality

The subjects of the study were also asked questions about other factors about their personalities, such as:

It was up to them to decide on the music they would hear before beginning the exercise with the other individual. Tamir stated,

“Music is often used as a way to manipulate emotions, I just had people decide how to manipulate their own emotions,”

In all reality, it is not that abstract of a concept for someone to pump themselves up with aggressive music before engaging in a tough task: Like sports teams or professional fighters playing loud aggressive music to make dramatic entrances. So it should come as no surprise that the individuals who chose ‘angry music’ had no problem completing their tasks. But that’s just one side of the coin.

Tamir also found that the people who actually chose ‘angry’ or ‘aggressive’ music actually showed an over-all greater sense of well-being than the people who avoided feelings of unpleasantness or confrontation. So really the answer isn’t so black and white. Through this Tamir concluded,

“Rather than seeking happiness at all times, it may be important to seek happiness at the right time. Encouraging people to seek happiness and shun unhappiness irrespective of context may not necessarily be adaptive in the long run.”

So basically by constantly trying to shield ourselves from being unhappy or depressed we expose ourselves even more, becoming more vulnerable when the time comes that we have no choice but to hurt, when we are truly unhappy and we have no conditioning to face it.

So Many Feels

Tamir’s study actually reinforces the idea of engaging in what Frederic Luskin, a Stanford University professor and co-chair of the Garden of Forgiveness Project at Ground Zero, calls “constructive anger”. Professor Luskin has actually lectured on this very topic at great length, and he usually states that unlike destructive anger, constructive anger is the type of anger that aims to actually fix a problem.

“Constructive anger usually leads people to feel that they’ve accomplished something somehow. They’ve protected somebody or solved a problem.”

So when you listen to GWAR at top volume in the office until you finally ask your boss for a raise, that’s a form of constructive anger. You’re building a form of aggressive emotional leverage, and it gives you the courage to solve an issue.

But it’s not all sunshine and smiles, dude!

Luskin is careful to say there’s a line between listening to something that inspires aggression and actually acting out on that anger. Needless to say, he is one guy you won’t catch throwing elbows in a mosh pit anytime soon. Luskin believes that when you enter the mosh pit and start engaging in violence, no matter how fake it might be (or how understanding the people you punch are) that’s where the line between constructive and destructive anger is being crossed.

As far as pumping up the volume, Luskin says there could be some value in the idea that people who enjoy getting blasted by guitar riffs and drum solos while screaming at the top of their lungs in a crowd of thousands of other heavy metal fans are actively engaging with their anger in a safe, temporary and controlled way. He says,

“It could be nothing different than doing other sorts of thrill-seeking. When people go bungee jumping…it stimulates adrenaline, it gives them a sense of adventure. It serves as a wonderful discharge for certain energies. It’s different strokes for different folks.”

Emotions are essentially something that we humans know how to use strategically; I mean how many times, when you’re honest with yourself, have you wanted to feel a certain way and when the feeling came you kept it going with music or behavior, even if it was an angry or sad feeling? Essentially what we’re saying is that avoiding being angry or hurt and only seeking ‘happy thoughts’ really won’t get you anywhere.

I agree, because I know the times I feel more intense feelings are the times I grow the most. Tamir has stated,

“We all have a deeply ingrained belief that we want to feel emotions that feel good and avoid those that feel bad at any cost. But emotions do much more for us than merely provide pleasure and pain.”

In my opinion, there is something very enduring about cranking the volume on your headphones to something that shakes your heart like a house in a hurricane. The paradox is that sometimes the more we try and shelter ourselves from the bad feelings, the more sensitive we become to them. Then they have the potential to do more damage, because we can’t face them with a smile.

Truly experiencing the painful or vexatious feelings through music is a constructive way to identify the feeling; to let that honest expression pass through you can be cleansing, and ultimately letting it be guided into growth is an experience we chose for ourselves that can actually cultivate our resilience.

Say word?!

Music is one element of the outside world that can have some influence on how we feel, and sometimes separating ourselves from the things that hurt us the most means we need to change those elements. Learning to create healthy emotional responses is one way we train ourselves to be healthier people, but for addicts it often means a lot more. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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