The Croatian Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the Ministry of Health following the announcements of upcoming amendments Of the Law on Restricting the Use of Tobacco Products.The amendments to the Act do not envisage significant changes in the additional restriction of tobacco products, but the main intention is to harmonize with the directives and regulations of the European Union.The only important change regarding the restriction of the use of tobacco products is the possibility of declaring a free zone from smoking by local self-government units, and in that zone the ban would also apply to smoking in catering facilities. This means that it is possible that one city, say the city of Split, declared a no-smoking zone, which would have a direct impact on all catering facilities in the city.Such a measure can directly affect the freedom of the market, and in order to apply to the tourism sector, we do not even want to think.
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share Pinterest Email LinkedIn Men and women in the U.S. had lower odds of depression diagnoses and better mental health during the Great Recession of 2007-09 compared to pre-recession according to a University of Maryland (UMD) study published in the journal PLOS ONE. Post-recession, however, women were more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders, while men were less likely to suffer from psychological distress, as measured by a standard test called Kessler 6–post-recession compared to pre-recession. Led by Dr. Rada K. Dagher, assistant professor of health services administration in the UMD School of Public Health, this large, national study is the first in the U.S. known to examine the association between the Great Recession and mental health at the population level.“Research has consistently found that women are twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder than men and these gender differences may have persisted throughout the recession and the post-recession period,” Dr. Dagher said. “Interestingly, our study found that women who lived in the Northeast or the Midwest, were unemployed, or had low household income were most likely to have higher rates of anxiety diagnoses. This information could help policymakers craft targeted responses to future economic downturns.”The research team, which included co-authors Jie Chen, assistant professor, and Stephen B. Thomas, professor, also in the Department of Health Services Administration, stated that past research on the effect of macroeconomic conditions on mental health have yielded mixed findings, although they did not predict that the recession would bring lower depression diagnoses and better mental health for men and women. “Future research should investigate whether the decreased rate of depression diagnoses and better mental health among men and women stems from decreased mental healthcare utilization or increased social support and time for recreational activities,” Dr. Dagher said. The study notes that annual spending on mental healthcare by private health insurance was around 7 percent in 2004-07, but decreased to 2.1 percent during 2007-09 in the U.S.The study utilized 2005-2006, 2008-2009, and 2010-2011 data on 81,313 adults, aged 18 to 64 years old, from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to designate the pre-recession, during recession, and post-recession periods. The MEPS is a nationally representative survey of the U.S. civilian population. The authors studied the association of the recession with five mental health measures: depression diagnoses, anxiety diagnoses, self-reported mental health, the 12-item Short Form Mental Health Summary (SF-12 MCS) measure, and the Kessler 6 (K6) scale of non-specific psychological distress.The analyses showed consistent findings in regards to lower depression diagnoses and better mental health during the recession across the four different regions of the U.S., and by employment status, income, and health care utilization. After the recession, both men and women identified as “non-users” of health services for anxiety or depression diagnoses had worse mental health compared to pre-recession. These findings highlight certain vulnerable groups, such as unemployed and low income women and non-users of health services, whom policymakers should take into consideration when designing economic and social policies to address economic downturns. The Affordable Care Act might help these disadvantaged groups that have no access to health services through its mandates for state-insurance exchanges to have a base-level package that includes mental health coverage and for insurers to cover depression screening for free, as well as expansions of eligibility in Medicaid programs.The findings of lower odds of depression diagnoses for males and females during the recession may signify decreased visits to mental health providers. A previous study by the authors showed that physician visits for treatment of anxiety or depression significantly decreased during the Great Recession. However, given also the findings of better mental health during the recession for both genders, an alternative explanation could be that during economic downturns people have more leisure time to spend on family, friends and exercise. The passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 may have facilitated access to mental health care in a timely fashion which might have prevented serious mental illnesses. Future studies should research these potential explanations and ascertain which one is at work, using state-specific unemployment rates.
The prevalence of food advertising and adolescent obesity has increased dramatically over the past 30 years, and research has linked the number of television shows viewed during childhood with greater risk for obesity. In particular, considerable evidence suggests that exposure to food marketing promotes eating habits that contribute to obesity.Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the Dartmouth researchers examined brain responses to two dozen fast food commercials and non-food commercials in overweight and healthy-weight adolescents ages 12-16. The commercials were embedded within an age-appropriate show, “The Big Bang Theory,” so the participants were unaware of the study’s purpose.The results show that in all the adolescents, the brain regions involved in attention and focus (occipital lobe, precuneus, superior temporal gyri and right insula) and in processing rewards (nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal cortex) were more strongly active while viewing food commercials than non-food commercials. Also, adolescents with higher body fat showed greater reward-related activity than healthy weight teens in the orbitofrontal cortex and in regions associated with taste perception. The most surprising finding was that the food commercials also activated the overweight adolescents’ brain region that controls their mouths. This region is part of the larger sensory system that is important for observational learning.“This finding suggests the intriguing possibility that overweight adolescents mentally simulate eating while watching food commercials,” says lead author Kristina Rapuano, a graduate student in Dartmouth’s Brain Imaging Lab. “These brain responses may demonstrate one factor whereby unhealthy eating behaviors become reinforced and turned into habits that potentially hamper a person’s ability lose weight later in life.”Although previous studies have shown heightened brain reward responses to viewing appetizing food in general, the Dartmouth study is one of the first to extend this relationship to real world food cues — for example, TV commercials for McDonald’s and Burger King — that adolescents encounter regularly. The brain’s reward circuitry involves the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitter chemicals that give pleasure and may lead to addictive behavior.Children and adolescents see an average of 13 food commercials per day, so it isn’t surprising they show a strong reward response to food commercials. But the new findings that these heightened reward responses are coupled with bodily movements that indicate simulated eating offer a clue into a potential mechanism on how unhealthy eating habits are developed.“Unhealthy eating is thought to involve both an initial desire to eat a tempting food, such as a piece of cake, and a motor plan to enact the behavior, or eating it,” Rapuano says. “Diet intervention strategies largely focus on minimizing or inhibiting the desire to eat the tempting food, with the logic being that if one does not desire, then one won’t enact. Our findings suggest a second point of intervention may be the somatomotor simulation of eating behavior that follows from the desire to eat. Interventions that target this system, either to minimize the simulation of unhealthy eating or to promote the simulation of healthy eating, may ultimately prove to be more useful than trying to suppress the desire to eat.” Share on Facebook Pinterest Share on Twitter Email Share A Dartmouth study finds that TV food commercials disproportionately stimulate the brains of overweight teen-agers, including the regions that control pleasure, taste and — most surprisingly — the mouth, suggesting they mentally simulate unhealthy eating habits.The findings suggest such habits may make it difficult to lose weight later in life, and that dieting efforts should not only target the initial desire to eat tempting food, but the subsequent thinking about actually tasting and eating it – in other words, you should picture yourself munching a salad rather than a cheeseburger.The study appears in the journal Cerebral Cortex. A PDF is available on request. The study included researchers from Dartmouth College’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. LinkedIn
Share on Facebook Pinterest LinkedIn Share Share on Twitter Individuals near the middle of the social hierarchy suffer higher rates of depression and anxiety than those at the top or bottom, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Nearly twice the number of supervisors and managers reported they suffered from anxiety compared to workers. Symptoms of depression were reported by 18 percent of supervisors and managers compared to 12 percent for workers. Findings are online in the journal Sociology of Health & Illness.While social disadvantage related to income and educational attainment is associated with a higher risk of most adverse mental health outcomes, these latest findings show that people towards the middle of social hierarchies suffered higher rates of depression and anxiety based on their social class and position of power in the labor market.“Contradictory class locations are those that embody aspects of both ownership and labor, and using this construct we found patterns of depression and anxiety that are not easily detected or explained with standard approaches,” said first author Seth J. Prins, MPH, a doctoral student in Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and fellow in the Psychiatry Epidemiology Training Program. “We explored how social class might in?uence depression and anxiety in ways that may be masked or incompletely explained by standard socioeconomic status measures.” Email The researchers based their findings on the largest representative population data set ever used to test these hypotheses directly: the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a nationally representative survey of the U.S. population age 18 and older, interviewed in person. This study used data on the 21, 859 participants who were full-time workers. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule DSM-IV was used to assess DSM-IV psychiatric disorders.The researchers estimated the prevalence and odds of any lifetime and previous 12-month depression and anxiety by occupational class categories, income, and education. Class designations were made by sorting respondents into three categories: owners, who identified as self-employed and earned greater than $71,500; managers and supervisors, who occupied executive, administrative or managerial positions; and workers, who were defined by various occupation categories in the NESARC including farmers and laborers.“We chose to focus on depression and anxiety because the average age of onset is older than age 18, and these disorders are likely to arise after entry in the workforce,” said Katherine Keyes, PhD, assistant professor of Epidemiology.Prior research has shown that work stress and job strain are important risk factors in developing depression. Workers with little opportunity for decision-making and greater job demands show higher rates of depressive symptoms.“Our findings highlight the need for population health research to both conceptualize and measure social class in ways that go beyond the standard measures of socioeconomic status,” said Lisa M. Bates, ScD, assistant professor of Epidemiology, “Standard measures are most readily available, but can mask important complexity in the relationship between social class and population health.”
Share Share on Facebook When faced with a change to our environment, we have to make appropriate decisions, which usually involves the orbitofrontal cortex. Yet unexpectedly, scientists at the Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives d’Aquitaine (INCIA, CNRS/Université de Bordeaux) have discovered that a brain region located in the thalamus also plays a crucial role in using these evolved skills. Tested in the rat, this work is published on 23 September 2015 in The Journal of Neuroscience.All living organisms must take appropriate decisions to meet their own needs. In particular, the ability to take account of abrupt environmental changes represents a significant challenge for the survival of a species. Such decision-making is considered as an evolved cognitive function. It involves the orbitofrontal cortex, one of the most developed brain structures, known to perform decision-making processes.The “Décision et Adaptation” team at the INCIA first of all focused on the brain regions connected to the orbitofrontal cortex. Using a labeling technique, the scientists evidenced a specific area, the thalamic submedius nucleus, which is closely linked to the orbitofrontal cortex and whose functional role is unknown. Pinterest Email Share on Twitter LinkedIn The team then tested the role of these two brain structures (the submedius thalamic nucleus and orbitofrontal cortex) in decision-making and adaptive behavior. To achieve this, they studied three groups of rats: the first presented lesions to the orbitofrontal cortex, the second had lesions on the submedius nucleus and the third was made up of lesion-free control animals. The objective was to test their ability to establish a link between an auditory cue and obtaining a food reward.The experiment was organized in two phases. The initial learning phase allowed the animals to learn that two different sounds (S1 and S2) each signaled a specific food reward. The three groups of animals thus visited the food dispenser as soon as an auditory stimulus was perceived. The lesions did not prevent the animals from learning that an auditory stimulus predicts a reward. During the second phase, the procedure remained unchanged for the first cue, but for S2, the scientists distributed food rewards during, and mostly outside, cue test periods. This sound thus lost its predictive value and lesion-free animals started to take no account of the S2 auditory stimulus, only visiting the dispenser when they heard S1. On the other hand, animals with a lesion – of either the orbitofrontal cortex or the submedius thalamic nucleus – proved incapable of making this distinction, and thus of adapting.This study therefore identified the existence of a circuit between the thalamus and the cortex, which proved crucial to adaptive decision-making. The originality of this discovery lies in the key role that scientists attribute to the submedius thalamic nucleus, a structure hitherto poorly known in the field of adaptive behavior. These findings suggest that numerous functional circuits underlying this type of behavior may involve a contribution from the thalamus. The team is now planning to explore these “thalamocortical” circuits, whose understanding could shed light on numerous diseases, such as schizophrenia or addiction.
Share on Facebook Meanwhile, the developers of websites and phone apps all exploit human behavioral tendencies, designing their products and sites in ways that attract our gaze – and retain it. Writing for Aeon, Michael Schulson points out:Developers have staked their futures on methods to cultivate habits in users, in order to win as much of that attention as possible.Given the Internet’s omnipresence and its various trappings, is it even possible to rein in our growing Internet consumption, which often comes at the expense of work, family or relationships?Psychological research on persuasion and self-control suggests some possible strategies.Tricks for clicksIt’s important to realize some of the tricks that Internet writers and web developers use to grab our attention.The strange number 22 in the headline is an example of the “pique” technique. Lists are usually round numbers (think of Letterman’s Top 10 lists or the Fortune 500). Unusual numbers draw our attention because they break this pattern. In a classic study, the social psychologist Anthony Pratkanis and colleagues found that passersby were almost 60 percent more likely to give money to panhandlers asking for US$0.37 compared to those who were asking for a quarter.People in the study also asked more questions of the panhandlers who requested strange amounts, compared to those who begged for a quarter. The same thing happened when I saw the headline. In this case, the skepticism that caused me to ask the question “How cute could they possibly be?” backfired: it made me more likely to click the link.An attention pique (such as asking for $0.37 or calling out photo #11) triggers us to halt whatever we’re doing and reorient to the puzzle. Questions demand answers. This tendency has been dubbed by psychologists as the rhetorical question effect, or the tendency for rhetorical questions to prompt us to dig deeper into an issue.These tricks exploit built-in features of our minds that otherwise serve us well. It’s clearly advantageous that unexpected stimuli capture our attention and engage us in a search for explanation: it might stop us from getting hit by a car, or alert us to sudden and suspicious changes to the balance in our bank account.So it wouldn’t make sense to turn off that kind of vigilance system or teach ourselves to ignore it when it sounds an alarm.Binding ourselves to the mastContent on the net isn’t only designed to grab our attention; some of it is specifically built to keep us coming back for more: notifications when someone replies to a posts, or power rankings based on up-votes. These cues trigger the reward system in our brains because they’ve become associated with the potent reinforcer of social approval.Not surprisingly, Internet use is often framed in the language of addiction. Psychologists have even identified Problematic Internet Use as a growing concern.So what can we do?Like Odysseus’ strategy for resisting the temptation of the sirens, perhaps the best trick is to commit ourselves to a different course of action in advance – with force, if necessary.Odysseus had his men tie him to the mast of their ship until they were out of the sirens’ range. This is an example of “precommitment,” a self-control strategy that involves imposing a condition on some aspect of your behavior in advance. For example, an MIT study showed that paid proofreaders made fewer errors and turned in their work earlier when they chose to space out their deadlines (e.g., complete one assignment per week for a month), compared to when they had the same amount of time to work, but had only one deadline at the end of a month.The modern-day equivalent of what Odysseus did is to use technology to figuratively bind oneself to the mast. Software packages such as Cold Turkey or the appropriately named SelfControl allow you to block yourself out from certain websites, or prevent yourself from signing onto your email account for a prespecified period of time.Research supports the reasoning behind these programs: the idea that we often know what’s best for our future selves – at least, when it comes to getting work done and staying free of distraction.Coming out with your commitmentIf you really must win a game of chicken, the best way is to accelerate to top speed, remove the steering wheel and brake from your car, and throw them out the window – all in view of your opponent.In a less dramatic fashion, precommitments can be much more effective when they’re announced in public. Researchers have found that people who publicly commit to a desired course of action such as recycling or being sociable are more likely to follow through than people who keep their intentions private. We are deeply social creatures with a fundamental need to belong, and publicly declaring a plan puts one’s reputation at stake. Between the social pressure to live up to expectations and any internal sanctions we self-impose, public precommitment can be a powerful two-pronged attack against self-control failure.More and more, scientists who study self-control are starting to see tools such as precommitment and software that blocks out websites not as “hacks” that circumvent the system but instead as integral pieces in the self-control puzzle.For example, a recent study tracked the everyday lives of a large sample of people on a moment-by-moment basis, asking them questions about their goals, temptations and abilities to resist them.Contrary to expectations, the people who were generally good at self-control (measured with a reliable questionnaire) were not the best at resisting temptations when the temptation presented itself. In fact, they were generally pretty bad at it.The key is that self-control and resisting temptation are not the same thing. Odysseus had one, but not the other.Instead, good self-control was characterized by the ability to avoid temptations in the first place. We often think of self-control as the ability to white-knuckle our way through temptation, but studies such as this one indicate that self-control can also be as simple as planning ahead to avoid those traps.The next time you need to get something done, consider precommitting to avoiding the Internet altogether. Like Odysseus, realize that if you find yourself facing temptation directly, the battle may already be lost.By Elliot Berkman, Assistant Professor, Psychology, University of OregonThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Pinterest Email “22 of the Cutest Baby Animals,” the headline said. “You won’t believe number 11!”Despite an impending deadline – not to mention my skepticism (how cute could they possibly be?) – I clicked on the story. I’m only human, after all. Yet this failure in self-regulation cost me at least half an hour of good work time – as have other clickbait headlines, bizarre images on my Twitter feed or arguments on Facebook.The insidious, distracting suck of the Internet has become seemingly inescapable. Calling us from our pockets, lurking behind work documents, it’s merely a click away. Studies have shown that each day we spend, on average, five and a half hours on digital media, and glance at our phones 221 times. Share LinkedIn Share on Twitter
Share Within the last decade, advances in human genome studies have helped uncover several so-called common variations, but none of these variations alone have a large effect. Even more recently, the advent of rapid and relatively cheap next-generation gene sequencing technology has provided an opportunity to find rare variations that might individually have a large effect.“Common variations are thought to each individually have only a tiny impact – for example, increasing a person’s likelihood of getting a disease by 10 to 20 percent,” says James Potash, MD, UI professor and DEO of psychiatry, and senior author of the new study. “The hope with rare variations is that they individually have a much bigger impact, like doubling or quadrupling risk for disease.”Potash and his colleagues devised a two-pronged strategy, combining a case-control approach with family-based exome sequencing to maximize their chances of identifying rare variants that contribute to BD.The idea behind the case-control approach is simple: if a genetic variant is found more often in the group of individuals who have the disease compared to a control group of people without the condition, then the gene variation might be associated with increasing susceptibility to the disease. Very large datasets are key to the success of this approach.Exome sequencing of families affected by a disease is more sophisticated. Comparing exome sequences of related individuals, affected and unaffected by BD, can distinguish variants that “travel with” or segregate with the disease. This approach has long been used to identify gene variants or mutations that are passed from parents to children that cause disease.Overall the family study identified 84 rare variants (in 82 genes) that segregated with BD and that were also predicted to be damaging to the proteins encoded by those genes. The team then tested the likelihood that these rare variations might be involved in causing BD by looking for them in three large case-control datasets that included genome sequences from a total of 3,541 individuals with BD and 4,774 control patients.Despite the relatively large size of the combined datasets, the approach was not powerful enough to identify any of the individual rare variants as definitively associated with BD. However, 19 genes stood out as being over-represented in BD cases compared to controls.“The results were not strong enough for us to say ‘we have pinpointed the genetic culprits.’ But it was strong enough for us to remain interested in these genes as potential contributors to bipolar disorder,” says Potash, who also is the Paul W. Penningroth Professor and Chair of Psychiatry and a member of the Pappajohn Biomedical Institute at the UI.However, when the team considered the 19 genes as a group, they realized that several were also members of groups of genes that had been implicated in autism and schizophrenia.“It turned out that the schizophrenia and the autism genes were all more represented among our 82 genes than you would expect by chance,” Potash says. “And when we looked at our whittled down group of 19 genes, the autism genes continued to be unexpectedly prominent among them.“With studies like this we are finally, after decades of effort, making real progress in nailing down groups of genes and variations in them that play a role in causing bipolar disorder,” Potash adds. “The mechanistic insights we gain from identifying associated genes we hope will point us in the direction of developing new treatments to make a difference for the many people affected by this illness. LinkedIn Share on Twitter Pinterest Email Share on Facebook A new study suggests there may be an overlap between rare genetic variations linked to bipolar disorder (BD) and those implicated in schizophrenia and autism.The study, by researchers at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and published recently in JAMA Psychiatry, adds to the growing understanding that many psychiatric diseases share genetic roots, but is among the first to suggest a genetic overlap between bipolar disorder and autism.Bipolar disorder is one of the most important psychiatric illnesses because it is fairly common – affecting between 1 and 3 percent of the population – and quite debilitating. Although many patients are helped by treatments, such as lithium, about one third of people affected by BD do not do well with current therapies. Although it’s long been known that bipolar disorder is highly heritable, identifying specific genetic variants that contribute to the illness has proven difficult.
Pinterest Other researchers have been looking at how MDMA can be used to help autistic people by reducing social anxiety and increasing social adaptability. MDMA-assisted psychotherapy also has been suggested to help with addictions, such as alcoholism.Longer-term effectsBut little research has investigated the longer-term impact of using MDMA on how we get on with other people. It’s important to understand this if we’re looking to use the drug in a therapeutic setting, as most psychological disorders involve difficulty in interacting with others. We also found in our study that mild MDMA users were no more distressed than alcohol users after being socially excluded, contrary to previous concerns that MDMA use would heighten social distress and anxiety in the long term.Our study involved 67 young people, 25 of whom used MDMA, 19 who used other drugs and 23 who only used alcohol. We assessed empathy by using a questionnaire and a computer task. In the questionnaire, the MDMA users rated higher in empathy and sympathy for others (known as “emotional empathy”) than the other drug users, who mainly used cannabis, cocaine and ketamine. During the computer task, the MDMA users were also better at correctly identifying the emotions of others (known as “cognitive empathy”).The MDMA users in our study used MDMA about once a month. This level of use is about the same as what could be used for therapy, so looking at this group is more informative than looking at heavy users to figure out the longer-term effects of MDMA as a treatment. But the people in this group were recreational users, meaning they bought MDMA off the street. Street MDMA is often contaminated with other substances, so it can vary in purity. In a therapeutic setting, MDMA would be used in its pure form. Alongside psychotherapy, patients would be given a standard dose in a controlled setting and would be closely monitored and guided by a therapist.The findings from our study do not mean that using MDMA makes people more empathetic as it is highly possible that more empathetic people who use drugs are drawn to MDMA due to its sociable effects (meaning that there could be preexisting differences in empathy). To truly see whether MDMA can increase empathy in the long term, a study would need to assess people before using drugs and would need to look at changes in empathy over time.Nevertheless, this study is important because understanding the longer-term effects of using MDMA is pivotal in determining whether it can be used as a viable treatment for mental health disorders.By Molly Carlyle, PhD Candidate, Addiction and Psychopharmacology, University of ExeterThis article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. If you’ve ever seen someone in a club on MDMA, it may not surprise you to hear it’s linked to a heightened ability to share other people’s feelings and emotions. Yet in our new study, we found that even when the effects have faded, mild MDMA users showed greater empathy than people who use other common recreational drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine and ketamine.MDMA (also known as “ecstasy” or “molly”) is used in rave culture because it increases energy and makes people feel euphoric and sociable. Recently, though, researchers have been looking at how the pure form of MDMA can be used in therapy to treat mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol addiction and more.Recent trials have shown that when used alongside psychotherapy, MDMA can treat post-traumatic stress in people who have not responded to any other treatments, and these improvements can still be seen many months after treatment. It is thought that the effect of MDMA enables patients to think about very difficult memories that are often too painful to address, helping them to recover. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Email LinkedIn Share
Share Share on Twitter Pinterest Share on Facebook LinkedIn The “Madonna-Whore Dichotomy” describes the belief that being nurturing and being sexual are mutually exclusive options for women. New research indicates that this belief is associated with ideologies that reinforce male dominance.But the findings, which appear in Psychology of Women Quarterly, suggest that endorsement of the Madonna-Whore Dichotomy can have personal costs for men as well.“One of the things that I find interesting is how some people react to the female body when it is portrayed in a sexualized versus a motherly context,” said study author Rotem Kahalon, a graduate student at Tel Aviv University and member of Nurit Shnabel’s “Improving Social Relations” Lab. Email “For example, why is it OK for some people (both women and men) to view sexualized women with revealing cleavages in sexualized commercials, yet when it comes to breastfeeding in public, they are repulsed. After all, it is the same breast.”“In other words, we wanted to understand why for some people it is hard to view the ‘tender’ and ‘sensual’ dimensions of women’s sexuality as united, and what are the consequences of such a dichotomous view of women,” Kahalon said.For their study, the researchers surveyed 123 Israeli heterosexual women, 242 U.S. heterosexual women and men, and 351 German heterosexual women and men regarding how they perceived a woman’s sexuality, whether being nurturing and sexual are mutually exclusive, and whether chaste women have more positive traits than others.Kahalon and her colleagues found that individuals who endorsed the Madonna-Whore Dichotomy also tended to endorse ideologies that reinforce inequality. In other words, both men and women who agreed with statements such as “A sexy woman is usually not a good mother” and “Women are typically either very liberal or very conservative sexually, but not in the middle” were more likely to also express sexual double standards and sexist attitudes.“Stereotypes men and women hold about women’s roles — whether they are positive, such as portraying women as ‘good,’ chaste, and pure ‘madonnas,’ or whether they are negative, such as viewing women as ‘bad,’ promiscuous, and seductive ‘whores’ — police women and limit their sexual freedom,” Kahalon told PsyPost.Men, however, were more likely than women to endorse the Madonna-Whore Dichotomy.In a previous study of 108 heterosexual Israeli men, the researchers found that the endorsement of the Madonna-Whore Dichotomy was associated with reduced relationship satisfaction. Their new study replicated those results among male — but not female — participants.“Ironically, a dichotomous view of women as belonging to one of these two roles can have personal cost for men, as men who view women in such a dichotomous way show lower levels of sexual and relationship satisfaction,” Kahalon said.“The positive lesson from our research, is that endorsing more egalitarian social ideologies and gender roles can predict more stable and sexually satisfying heterosexual romantic relationships. Our results suggest that reducing gender inequality, and the ideologies that support it, can be in the best interest of both women and men.”More research is needed, however, to confirm whether the Madonna-Whore Dichotomy causes men to have worse relationships or whether men with worse relationships become more likely to endorse the belief. Future research could also examine how men’s endorsement of the Madonna-Whore Dichotomy affects their romantic partners.“We hope that understanding the social psychological motivations underlying this dichotomous view of women could help address social phenomena, such as people’s tendency to accept the public display of women’s breasts when used in a sexualized manner (e.g., through media representations) but not maternal behaviors (such as breastfeeding),” Kahalon added.“We also hope that knowledge of the social construction of the MWD may reduce women’s feelings of guilt or shame about their bodies and sexuality, particularly those feelings that stem from cultural expectations regarding maternal modesty.”“Finally, we hope that our work will encourage both men and women to hold more complex and realistic beliefs about sexuality, which may allow them to experience more sexual freedom and more satisfying romantic relationships, even after the transition to motherhood (when the MWD can be especially problematic),” Kahalon said.“Sexual therapists and clinicians who work with couples or men who experience difficulties in their romantic relationships, could also use the knowledge gained in the current investigation to create helpful interventions to change existing beliefs about sexuality.”The study, “The Madonna-Whore Dichotomy Is Associated With Patriarchy Endorsement: Evidence From Israel, the United States, and Germany“, was authored by Rotem Kahalon, Orly Bareket, Andrea C. Vial, Nora Sassenhagen, Julia C. Becker, and Nurit Shnabe.
Jan 28, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – Egypt’s health ministry has confirmed four new H5N1 avian influenza cases, which aren’t related although all had contact with sick and dead poultry and are recovering in stable condition, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.News of the four cases comes the same day researchers detailed the epidemiologic patterns of Egypt’s H5N1 cases in Eurosurveillance. The report suggests that children have been disproportionately affected as well as women, a group that is more likely to die from H5N1 infection. The new report also shows a connection between early treatment and recovery.The new cases include:A 20-year-old woman from Beni Suef governorate who got sick on Jan 6 and was hospitalized and started on oseltamivir (Tamiflu) on Jan 11; this case appears to be the same one reported on Jan 13 by Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response (SAIDR), an Egypt-based project funded by the US Agency for International DevelopmentA 1-year-old boy from Dakahalya governorate who got sick on Jan 7 and was hospitalized and treated with oseltamivir on Jan 12A 3-year-old boy from Assuit governorate who became ill on Jan 19 and was hospitalized and treated on Jan 12A 45-year-old man from Sharkia governorate who started experiencing symptoms on Jan 12 and was hospitalized and treated on Jan 19The four H5N1 cases bring Egypt’s total to 94, of which 27have been fatal. They are the first cases to be reported in 2010. Last year Egypt reported 39 avian flu cases, up dramatically from 8 in 2008. However, the number of deaths for both years was the same, at 4. The new cases raise the world’s H5N1 count to 471 cases, including 282 deaths.New reports of human infections appear to mirror a recent spike in poultry infections in Egypt. On Jan 19 animal health authorities announced that they had recently detected 17 household outbreaks across 8governorates as the result of increased passive surveillance in veterinary clinics.In today’s Eurosurveillance report, researchers from the National Veterinary Research Institute in Nigeria analyzed the first 3 years of H5N1 infections in Egypt, from March 2006through August 2009, which includes 85 cases and 27 deaths.In 2009 the disease seemed to take a growing toll on children. At the same time, Egypt’s H5N1 patients seemed increasingly more likely to survive their infections. Officials have suspected that earlier medical treatment has led to the drop in case-fatality rates, but some public health officials have wondered if other factors such as genetic changes in the virus have contributed to the different clinical outcomes in Egypt, where the virus is endemic in poultry.Females were more likely to be infected than males, though infected children were more likely to be male. Women aged 20 to 39 were more likely to die of their infections, and researchers speculated that they may have had more exposure to the virus, because Egyptian women do the bulk of culling, slaughtering, and defeathering.The investigators linked early hospitalization to an increased chance of recovery, and they noted that Egyptian children are hospitalized more quickly than adults, which could contribute to the lower deaths rates in children.Rising numbers of H5N1 infections in Egypt, plus continuing human infections in Vietnam and China despite intensive H5N1 control efforts in poultry, serve as a reminder of the virus’s pandemic potential, the researchers noted. They also said that cocirculation of H5N1 and pandemic H1N1 viruses in Egypt, where novel flu infections recently peaked, raises the possibility of coinfections and emergence of reassortant viruses.They noted that studies are needed to document levels of viral exposure in Egyptians who frequently handle poultry and explore levels of asymptomatic and unreported infections in African populations.Researchers also echoed concerns of global health experts that more efforts are needed in Egypt to change agricultural practices and people’s perceptions. They point out that studies in other African countries show farmers believe they are at little risk from poultry-handling activities such as slaughtering.Egyptians frequently keep poultry on rooftops and near living quarters, and the government doesn’t compensate for culled birds, making it less likely that bird owners will report outbreaks, the authors noted.See also:Jan 28 WHO statementJan 28 Eurosurveillance report