Thursday, February 28, 2013

Day 311: Feel Good Nation

What is the purpose of psychology?
Why does it exist?
How did it come to exist?
Is it truly a product of our curiosity - or of something else entirely...?

If we look at how psychology works - the theories used, the methods used, the types of people interested in it - we will see an interesting thing: psychology very rarely truly supports people. Before I elaborate, I must set the parameters for what I mean by the word "support".
  • Support: To aid in bringing about that which is best for a being 
 Everything about psychology is about justifying that which we accept as human nature - it encourages us to feel good about ourselves, even when we commit atrocities. It's all about removing shame from our lives, so that we can more fully enjoy that which we have (that which most others do not have) - 'cos let's face it, if we can afford psychology, then we are the Haves and not the Have-nots.

Psychology is all about keeping us existing within our little illusory worlds, because the goal of psychology is to make money and not to make a difference. Psychology depends on making rich people feel good, because people don't want to pay lots of money to feel ashamed for the world they allow to exist - people want the illusion that everything is fine and that it's ok to be selfish and self involved because that is apparently in our nature and cannot be changed. Apparently.

So we go to psychologists to talk about our problems and be the center of attention for a while and we like it - we feel good. The psychologist will then proceed to tell us that it is ok to be as we are and may offer some exercise for us to do to develop some weird inner force or confidence or something. We will then go home, thinking more about our problems and how we now can suppress them away, or exercise them away, or divert attention from them. Next week, we're back at the same place, seeking approval and acceptance from some person in order to validate who we are - because if no one validates us, then our life was worthless and meaningless and maybe we did it wrong.

The only way we should be able to live life wrong is by allowing abuse to exist. Psychology is just another tool to keep people distracted and complacent, while the world is plundered and pillaged and our bodies and homes are poisoned by the very air we breathe. If psychology really wanted to help people, it would have been designed differently, in a way that shows people exactly why and how they are who they are - and how to change themselves. Theories are not acceptable - simply because they leave room for abuse to shoulder its way in and impose itself upon unsuspecting beings, causing them to value opinion more than common sense.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 310: Why Does Psychology Ignore Blatant Evidence?

So I am studying Abnormal Psychology, which looks at the possible reasons why abnormal behaviour/syndromes exist. One theory considers sociocultural factors as being the primary influence on the development of people, including gender, culture, socioeconomic class and race/ethnicity. It is clearly stated in the book I am reading from that the journal of Psychological disorders, the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders, has identified 25 culture-bound syndromes - meaning syndromes that are unique to a specific culture. For example, there is a Japanese disorder called taijin kyofusho, where the affected person fears that his/her body parts/functions are offensive to other people due to appearance, odor, or movements. Another one is Ataque de nervios, specific to Latinos from the Caribbean and includes symptoms like uncontrolled shouting, seizure-like episodes, trembling and crying. The book continues to say that it is clear that people's cultural experiences are important factors in the manifestation of mental disorders. Way to downplay the importance of this realization: that we are shaped by that which surrounds us.

The other theories include biological, psychological and social factors. The problem with these other theories is that they do not consider that these factors, aside from possibly the biological, are consequences, or manifestations deriving from the environmental influences. Our thoughts are shaped by our environments, and therefore psychological factors which influence behaviour are secondary to the environmental factors. Social factors are a part of our environments (family, friends, school etc) and so those could just be merged together.

Biological considerations is where this may get tricky. Yes, the "sins of the fathers" are passed down to each generation - but this can be overcome, and therefore it comes back down to environmental influences which may or may not support the individual to not manifest the inherited "disorders".

So why do psychologists not recognize this simple truth, which some of them have already touched on? Could it be because they are so wrapped up in their own opinions and ideas of what psychology should be about that they refuse to consider any other option? Might it be because the environment that shaped them did so in such a way that their opinions and beliefs were only ever going to be a certain way? Might it be because the things that shape all of us, do so in a way that we will only ever consider that which is beneficial to us and that will allow us to continue living the belief we have of ourselves and the world?

Has anyone ever considered that psychologists are just like everyone else: clueless as to how the world works and how the human functions and why? It seems not. If anyone has asked about this, their words will most likely have been silenced or ridiculed as "extremist" and "conspiratorial" so that the collective illusion we exist within is not shattered.

Is this all there is to life? Will we really continue believing that what "experts" say must be true, because they spent years being brainwashed - I mean trained?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Day 309: Politicians Party While Citizens Starve

At a wedding of 550 of a country's most influential government officials and business people, one can expect the event to be extravagant and expensive - really expensive. One event like this probably costs more money than you or I will ever see in our entire lives. If we were to include the clothing and accessories of the guests... well, then it would be twice that amount.

South Africa is a country of stark contrasts - most of which are economic. Government officials wear Louis Vuitton shoes and the unemployment rate in the country is 25%. Nurses are appointed as directors while half of the country lives in poverty. Statistics show that 26% of South Africans live on less than R305 per month - that's 10% of the poverty line.

A key finding was that between 2008 and 2009 about 26,3% of population lived below the food poverty line of R305 per person per month (the amount that an individual will need to consume enough food in a month); 39% were living below the lower-bound poverty line of R416 and 52% were living below the upper-bound poverty line of R577 per person per month. Using the international poverty lines, 10,7% of the population were living on less than $1,25 per day and 36,4% were living below the $2,50 per day poverty line. The poverty gap, using the food poverty line was 8,5% and the severity of poverty was 3,8. - Advocacy Aid

 There was an article in a local newspaper a while back showing how the minimum wage, government handouts and pensions are not enough to ensure that even one person is able to buy nutritional food in a month. Oh, and that the government regularly "loses" or "parties away" millions of Rands.

The actions of government officials who have the power, money and position to make changes really don't care - they are more interested in their own needs. If the president of a country really wanted to do good for his/her country, he/she would actually spearhead efforts to find and implement a solution to poverty and inequality - instead, government officials just pander around, posturing and partying and generally having a good time.

What is interesting is that the people living in poverty support these government officials wholeheartedly, simply because they represent some kind of ideal and inflame passions with their speeches. We still believe that the government cares and that they are improving our lives somehow, when they are in fact only improving their own lives.

What is more important: money or life?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Day 308: Raise Rates To Increase Profits

The owner of British Gas faces a consumer backlash amid reports it is about to announce a 15 per cent increase in profits, taking the figure to some £2.8billion.
Figures to be announced by Centrica on Wednesday point to a profits bonanza on the back of spiralling bills for struggling customers.
The profits at British Gas, which put up prices by six per cent in the teeth of the winter chill, are predicted to be up by some 10 per cent to around £580million for 2012.
The company is also under fire over payments to the departing British Gas boss, Phil Bentley, who is predicted to walk away with a package of pay, shares and a pension pot together worth more than £10million.
Centrica has tried to pre-empt the furore by publishing a study boasting about its beneficial effects on the wider UK economy in terms of employment, investment and the tax it pays.
Chief executive Sam Laidlaw said its contribution to the economy was equivalent to a city the size of Manchester, and its tax bill amounted to £158 for every UK household.
‘At a time of uncertain economic prospects, our activities across the UK are even more important to secure employment, put the supply chain to work and contribute our fair share of tax,’ he said.
The company employs some 33,000 people in the UK, while total tax paid is expected to rise from £891m in 2011 to around £1.1 billion in 2012.
Unlike most energy firms operating in the UK, it is wholly British and pays its taxes in this country. Most of its major rivals for UK customers are foreign owned by German, French and Spanish utility firms.
While that may appeal to the patriotism of its 10 million UK consumers, it does not make the pain of paying for heat and light any easier to bear.
The national average gas and electricity bill is approaching £1,300, while millions face a nightmare choice during cold spells between heating and eating.
British Gas claims a profit margin of some 5per cent - around £65 a year – which it insists is modest when compared to other businesses, such as supermarkets.
The industry blames rising wholesale costs for higher bills, while it also points to expensive government ‘green’ initiatives, such as subsidising the building of wind farms and the installation of free insulation into the homes of vulnerable customers.
The official customer body, Consumer Focus, says the public remain sceptical about whether they are paying a fair price.
Executive director at consumer champion, Which?, Richard Lloyd, said: ‘At a time when spiralling energy bills are consumers’ top financial worry, people are bound to question whether they’re paying a fair price for their energy when they see big profits announcements from the energy giants.
‘Centrica’s analysis won’t change that view as record-high bills land on millions of doormats in the coming weeks.’
The Prime Minister has announced that energy firms will be required to simplify their tariffs and move customers to the cheapest option. - Mail Online

Where does all the money go? Certainly not into our households. These big companies claim to be "helping" the economy... Where? Newspapers report on how people are having to choose between heating and food, or people dying in their homes from exposure because they couldn't afford to turn on their heating - so how the hell can any company claim to be doing "good" when the people who are forced to support the company can not even support themselves?

Of course the company will claim that them earning more money is in some way beneficial to the world or to the country - they want  to keep making more money and take home big bonuses. I reckon that about 99% of the human population would do exactly the same if they were to be placed in the position of a big company bigwig.

There are many reasons thrown around for the state of the world, for the fact that so many starve and live in poverty. "It's the governments faults!"; "Blame the illuminati"; "No it's the corporations"; "It's because of debt"; oh and the best one: it's human nature. 

Please. It's the nature of greed, not of humans. We are the products of society and society was shaped and guided by people who were brutal and motivated enough to do the unbelievable - the things everyone thought no one was capable of doing. Being stupid and selfish is not a part of our natures. Consider the feral child. If one were to look at a feral child as the one and only example of humanity, one could not claim any of our current traits as being a part of that child's nature. Feral children are the proof that human nature is simply what it is molded to be.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day 307: Do We Really Know What Our Medications Will Do?

An acne pill banned in parts of Europe has been linked to the deaths of seven British women.
Dianette is still prescribed to thousands of women in the UK for severe skin conditions. Yet an investigation has been launched in France after four women who took it died.
The latest data from the UK’s medicines regulator reveals that during the past three years, seven women in the UK have died while taking the drug, and there have been 83 reports of suspected side effects such as depression and hair loss.
Dianette, which is prescribed only to women because of the hormones it contains, is known to increase the risk of blood clots. However, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has insisted it has ‘no new concerns’ and that women should continue taking it.
Six of the deaths were attributed to blood clots or other vein blockages and one was as a result of a fall. None of the deaths or side effects has been directly attributed to the drug, but all have been reported to the MHRA through  its ‘yellow card’ scheme, which allows doctors and patients to record suspected drug reactions.
Last month, regulators in France, where the pill is also prescribed as a contraceptive, announced they were suspending the use of Dianette after data linked it to the deaths. The European Medicines Agency, which regulates medicines across Europe, has also launched a review of its safety.
Charlotte Porter, 17, died in March 2010 of a deep-vein thrombosis after taking Dianette for acne. - Mail Online

Do we really know all of the side effects of all of the drugs we take that have been declared as "safe"? We hear whispers of "rare cases" where medication kills or maims a person in some arbitrary fashion, but are we really aware of the reality? We hardly know a thing about how the human body functions and here we are, playing around with drugs intended to alter our physiology in a small or large way.

We don't really know what drugs do to us - in the short term or in the long run. 90% of the horror stories of "severe and rare reactions" to drugs are never publicized, so we never hear about them - but those are still the most obvious of the side effects. What about the side effects that take years, or decades to manifest? What about the side effects that will affect our future generations? What about the side effects that will influence nature or animals in some way?

There are some documentaries and organizations that try to expose some of these not yet widely realized side effects, but no one is interested in hearing about how the contraceptive pill and other hormone containing drugs are influencing the fish living in rivers and dams that have sewage fed into them by making the fish smaller and more feminine, therefore influencing their fertility and ability to procreate.

How arrogant we are, that we dare play at being gods without even fully understanding what kind of consequences we will manifest through such actions. We do not even care - because, let's face it, we know that what we are doing is detrimental to ourselves, our children, nature and animals. Any kind of medication that has any kind of possible side effect is reckless and simply irresponsible - never mind the medications that list death as a possible side effect.

The other thing that we all know, but choose not to act on, is that all the regulating bodies of medicine are run or funded by the big head pharmaceutical guys. How much more conflict of interest could possibly happen in one topic?

I wonder what we will say when we realize our immense stupidity: "Oops, my bad!", or maybe "We'd better make some new drugs that counteract the effects of the old drugs"? We can be quite certain that we will keep in character by remaining willfully ignorant of our own sense of responsibility and will point all sorts of fingers at all sorts of people/companies/monkeys/governments and so on.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day 306: How The Rich Drive Poverty

Darkness has descended on the murderous Mexican border city of Tijuana, and the drug cartels and people traffickers are furtively plying their trade.

And in a hillside ghetto, a five-year-old girl toils with her mother in another, more subtly exploitative industry.

Stumbling through the pot-holed front yard of their wooden hovel in Tijuana, I find Monica Villegas and her daughter Stephanie in a dimly-lit kitchen crammed with all manner of craft materials: boxes of tinsel and coloured tissue paper, star-shaped cartons, saucepans filled with white sticky paste.

Mother and daughter are making pinatas — those colourful cardboard figures filled with sweets which cascade out when their cardboard casing is broken with a stick. They have become a popular source of amusement at middle-class birthday parties, weddings and other celebratory events in Britain.

Among the companies that sell them in sizeable quantities is Party Pieces, the Berkshire-based business run by the Duchess of Cambridge’s family, which offers more than 40 types on its website, in all manner of designs, from lions and castles to Minnie Mouse.

Since Carole and Michael Middleton have never been slow to cash in on their royal connection (last year they launched a range of regally-themed trinkets to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee), they now include giant pinatas in party packs called Little Prince and Little Princess: blue for a boy, pink for a girl.

Can it be pure coincidence that their daughter is expecting her own little prince or princess?

Such matters are of small concern to 38-year-old Monica Villegas and her daughter. Each week, she must make a set number of pinatas, which varies according to how big they are and how intricate the design.

They are among the many thousands shipped to Britain via a chain of distributors and sold to retailers including Party Pieces.

To meet her target, Monica invariably works ten hours a day, seven days a week — and even then she needs the help of her 18-year-old son, Jonathan, and little Stephanie, who assists her after nursery school by sticking on the bar-codes and labels.

While the Middletons sell their pinatas for £12.99 each, Monica sometimes earns as little as 10p an hour. - Mail Online

Poverty is not a natural occurrence - it is man made. So say a few prominent people and a whole lot of Facebook walls. The article above is a perfect example of how the elite are actually creating and perpetuating poverty in 3rd world countries. Obviously it is much cheaper for the elite to have their production line in a country that does not impose health & safety regulations or a decent minimum wage. Cheaper manufacturing means a larger profit margin, which means that the rich get richer.

Obviously the elite have the power and influence to improve living and working conditions for the poor in these third world countries, but that would not benefit the rich in any way - oh no, it would probably cost them a pretty penny - and that is not what they want. They want to continue living their luxurious lives with private jets and expensive cars.

What do you think would happen if the elite were to increase the wages (and improve on health and safety regulations) for the currently impoverished workers they employ? Well, the products being manufactured would have to be sold at a substantially higher price in order to cover the increased production expenses. The worker making the products may improve their living conditions - but this is subject to what kind of ripple effect may or may not happen due to the increased production costs. Say then that the company goes bankrupt because no one is able to afford to buy the high-priced products, then all the workers lose their jobs and are even worse off than their current position. It is simply impossible for the prices of products to remain as they are if the workers making them were to receive decent living wages.

This is a common dilemma, which is becoming more and more common, especially in the "1st world countries" that previously did not have this problem (well, at least they didn't have it so extensively). Look at America now: How many employed citizens are earning minimum wage, with no chance of ever having better prospects? Just because they live in a first world country does not mean they are not living in poverty.

So what kind of solution would be best in our situation, one that the current elite could help to promote and implement? Obviously we need a total overhaul, because the current system simply does not allow for equality in living standards (or even opportunity). We have had some decent ideas in our history (I will include capitalism in here), the problem is that these ideas always get corrupted by greed and the self interest of a few (power hungry mongrels). We just assume that greed is in our nature and that we have no control over the success, or even the management of a system that we implement. This is the first thing that must change: we must realize that we are all responsible and must therefore all play our part in the successful implementation of a system that is best for all of us.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Day 305: Why Do Asylum Seekers Exist?

Adrift on the high seas without food or water for a month, the bodies of scores of starved asylum seekers who had been trying to reach Australia were thrown overboard from a ‘ship from hell'.
Their starving and dehydrated companions, almost too weak to lift the dead from the disabled vessel as it drifted in the Indian Ocean, were rescued by the Sri Lanka navy – but several were today struggling for life after being brought ashore.
Only 32 of the original 130 Burmese on board were alive when naval ships reached them, many of the emaciated passengers too weak to stand.
Describing the vessel as a ‘ship from hell’, a Sri Lankan government spokesman said the group had set out from Burma two months ago to sail to Indonesia and then on to Australia, where they planned to ask for asylum.
But a few days later the vessel broke down and began what for most of those on board was to prove to be a fatal drift with the ocean currents.
They had set out with enough food and water to last for a month, but when no rescue came and their supplies ran out, the passengers began to collapse with hunger and dehydration as the days and weeks went by.
When they began dying and the stifling conditions under the tropical sun made living with the dead intolerable, their fitter companions had no other choice but to throw the bodies overboard.
The survivors told the Sri Lankan authorities, who found the boat drifting 380 miles off the country’s eastern coast, that they were Muslims from a border village lying between Burma and Bangladesh.
‘Their captain and 97 others have died due to deydration and starvation,’ said Sri Lankan police spokesman Mr Prishantha Jayakody.
‘They said they had thrown the dead bodies into the sea.’
Australia’s Immigration Minister, Brendan O’Connor, who has received a briefing from the Sri Lankan authorities, said the tragedy underlined the danger of getting on people smugglers’ boats and making the perilous journey to Australia.
‘It is the people smugglers who have lured people onto unseaworthy vessels,’ he told Fairfax Radio today.
‘It’s the people smugglers who peddle lies to these people, take their life savings, sometimes sadly take their lives. That’s where I target the blame.’
Mr O’Connor, who took the immigration role only earlier this month, added: ‘A lot of people are just disappearing, out of sight, out of mind. Boats disappearing – it’s very hard to put a number on it. Too many.’
Mr O’Connor said stopping boats carrying desperate asylum seekers could not be done quickly.
Under the previous Liberal government of John Howard the number of boats heading to Australia was just a trickle because word had got out among people smugglers that the vessels would be turned away from Australian waters and those on board would be sent to other nations for processing.
But under the Labour government, elected in November 2007 and headed today by British-born Prime Minister Julia Gillard, more than 33,000 people have arrived by boat on Australia’s outlying islands.
Mr O’Connor said boat arrivals were a ‘constant pressure’ for successive governments. ‘This cannot be done overnight. It can only be done over time,’ he said. - Mail Online

Why does this happen? Why do asylum seekers exist? Why does discrimination happen? Why does poverty exist? Why do we so easily accept and allow abuse? Why do we allow war? Why do we allow corruption? Why do we allow incompetence? Why do we allow deforestation? Why do we allow exploitation? Why do we allow domestic violence? Why do we allow drinking and driving? Why do we allow child soldiers?

The answer to each of these questions is, either directly or indirectly, related to money.

I don't want to lose my money

I don't want to risk losing my money by changing the system

My life is stable, why should I risk that

It would really be inconvenient to find and implement a solution

I don't like economic inequality, but I like my position too much to give it up

It would cost too much

No one else will want to give up their money

I don't have enough money to effect a change

My money gives me freedom

Essentially, all the reasons also involve the almighty "I", which is the major contributing factor. We just don't want to give up what we apparently have. This is the real reason why the world is still in shambles: we don't want to let go of our precious safety nets. We know that real change would mean real change - the world and our lives would never be the same - this is simply too far out of bounds for us. There is no guarantee that the change that comes will be any more comfortable than the lives we have now, so why risk it? Yeah, there's all the rape, torture, abuse, wars, poverty and whatever - but I am not responsible for all that, I just need to look out for myself - that's the best I can do.