Tag Archives: Brain

Choosing Electric Shocks Over Silent Contemplation

Hell, it turns out, isn’t other people.

According to some recent research, published in well-respected journal Science, a whole bunch of people would rather suffer through a self-administered electric shock than spend a measly fifteen minutes sitting quietly alone in a room by themselves with nothing to do.

As hard as it is to believe, yes, I’m completely serious here. I’m not sure I even could make up something as wacky as this.

 ouch2The authors found that “simply being alone with their own thoughts for 15 min was apparently so aversive that it drove many participants to self-administer an electric shock that they had earlier said they would pay to avoid.”

Would it, no pun intended, shock you to learn that of those those choosing shock over self reflection, there were many more men than women? If so, maybe you dudes should try and pay a bit more attention to what’s going on around you.

I mean, it’s long been a joke popular with the less-refined comedians that men have the sensitivity and feelings of a particularly large and dense specimen of rock. But still. . .

What are these people so afraid of? Is it being alone with their own thoughts? Possibly being disconnected from their auxiliary brains (or, as most folks know them, smartphones) for a while? Having no one else there to break the silence?

Considering that it was the entire purpose of this paper, the authors of said work do have a few opinions on the subject. (Okay, sure. It sometimes seems as if some of these papers are published merely so we’ll have someone new at whom to point and laugh, but definitely not in this case.)

“Research has shown that minds are difficult to control…and it may be particularly hard to steer our thoughts in pleasant directions and keep them there. This may be why many people seek to gain better control of their thoughts with meditation and other techniques, with clear benefits. Without such training, people prefer doing to thinking, even if what they are doing is so unpleasant that they would normally pay to avoid it. The untutored mind does not like to be alone with itself.”

So, in essence, what the study authors are saying is that people are so desperate to avoid thinking unhappy thoughts that they would rather subject themselves to electricity shooting painfully through their bodies.

If I can’t be constantly happy and thinking continuous happy thoughts, I’d rather be in pain.

That’s just. . . I mean, dudes. That’s crazy, right?

I can’t be the only one who thinks these people are in desperate need of a psychiatric intervention, can I?

Now, I know — KNOW — I’m not the most psychologically stable person around, dudes, but even I would have no problem sitting alone in a white room for a quarter of an hour. I mean, if all else fails, I’d probably just fall asleep.

Fifteen minutes? Sure. No problem. It’s when we begin to talk longer periods of time in solitary confinement that things start to get more than a little scary.

It makes me wonder if these people have ever managed to mature out of childhood, when a time out was one of the worst punishments that could be inflicted on a little dude.

You don’t have to love yourself (although you should), but at least learn to tolerate yourself.

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Consider A Medication Vacation For Your Child

Summer’s here and the time is right for taking a vacation.

Whether it be a (and I can’t believe I’m about to use this word) stay cation at home or a vacation somewhere less-than exotic, most of us look forward to a few days off work so we can relax and enjoy ourselves.

But what about your ADHD child? Most school-age ADHD children take some form of medication to help them alleviate the symptoms of distraction or hyperactivity. These medications allow those taking them to sit still and think straight for long enough that they can actually learn something  in the classroom and during homework.

ADHD medication, whether it be stimulant-based or otherwise, is designed to do one thing: alter behavior. The medication is supposed to allow the child to behave in a more situationally correct manner and it achieves this by suppressing natural behaviors.

Taken out of context, that probably sounds like a horrible idea. It’s only when we begin considering that the natural behaviors are counter productive and disruptive both socially and academically that we understand changing the natural order is, in this case, a good thing.

However, change does not come without a cost. Consider the child who doesn’t take her medication one morning. More often than not, she will come home from school in a foul mood, cross and angry with the world. This is because her brain no longer has its expected pharmaceutical buffer supporting her cognitive processes.

It’s jagged and jarring and can make life difficult for both the ADHD child and anyone around him.

And yet, here I am suggesting that you might want to consider taking your child off her medications during the summer. While I might still be considered an idiot by some, I’m on the right track with this idea.

I will say, as a sort of fair warning, the pediatrician our young dudes still see does not believe in medication vacation for summer as a matter of course. However, there are certain circumstances under which she will give her go ahead.

You might consider a medication vacation as a way of assessing whether your child can do without medication for good. Because children are growing, the effect medication has on them will change over time. It could be that your child would do better on a different medication or no medication at all.

The only way to figure that out is to stop the current medication. ADHD isn’t something you age out of. However, some folks with the disorder can find ways to circumvent the disorder so they won’t need the medication.

A lot of that has to do with maturity. When younger, most kids don’t have the mental discipline necessary to do what needs to be done to help them overcome the hardships imposed by ADHD.

You might also want to consider a medication vacation if your child has been suffering from side effects, such as a loss of appetite. Within days, you’ll discover that most kids will begin eating more once they no longer are taking their medication. This could help them catch up on their necessary weight gain.

If you do give your little dudette a medication vacation, understand that it’s not on a whim. It’s a good idea to assess the success or failure of the vacation as summer winds to a close.

It could be that impulse-control issues without medication made it a difficult time. Or you might notice that your child is exhibiting more defiance when off the medications. Regardless, it’s a good idea to sit down with your child, your partner and the child’s doctor to discuss what you learned during the vacation.

This information can be invaluable as you begin to plan for the school year ahead.

The main thing I want you dudes to take away from this is that you should never stand pat when it comes to your child’s health and welfare. They’re growing and changing all the time, which means your approach must be constantly evaluated to see if it can be changed or should stay the same.

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The Luckiest Unluckiest Day Ever

It wasn’t until later that I realized he was born on Friday the 13th.

Unluckiest of unlucky days in Western culture, Friday the 13th is a triskaidekaphobics worst nightmare. It rarely comes about, but when it does, it’s usually wielding a machete and wearing a hockey goalie mask.

But not this month. On June 13, Casa de Dude celebrates! We kick up our heels and dance and sing (although not as much these days for reasons that should become apparent in only a few moments) and just generally enjoy life because June 13, this year falling on a Friday, is the day our family became complete.

Friday the 13th of June is Hyper Lad’s birthday. This is the year he’s turning 15, which means he’s already got his grubby little paws held out and ready to take the car keys and go for a little spin. The fact that he has no learner’s permit because his driver education teacher still hasn’t gotten around to him yet. . . Well, that means little.

He’s fifteen. He’s ready to drive. At least in his mind.

I say our family became complete because Hyper Lad is the youngest of our three young dudes. He’s six years younger than our oldest and five years younger than our middle son. In fact, we weren’t supposed to have Hyper Lad at all.

My wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Getting Her Way, and I thought we were finished procreating (although not practicing) after Zippy the Travelin’ Boy. Eventually, though, she began to yearn for another female in the house. Once she said that, it became apparent that I really needed a daughter as well since I look darn good on the dance floor wearing a tux at a wedding.

Instead, we got lucky and didn’t get our wish. Instead of a girl, we got a Hyper Lad and we couldn’t be happier.

Our oldest son, Sarcasmo, had to suffer through first-child paranoia as his mom and I freaked out about anything and everything related to our darling. Our middle son, Zippy the Travelin’ Boy, stayed sheltered in the harbor of our good graces and had vigilant parents every on guard. Relaxed, but on guard.

By the time Hyper Lad came along, we were pretty much okay with him doing just about anything short of juggling the razor-sharp blades we kept in the open, unlocked drawers in the kitchen. And even that, provided he had a good reason for it.

Having older brothers, Hyper Lad has benefited from being around (slightly) more mature age cohorts for most of his life. He’s probably more emotionally mature at 15 than his brothers were when they were his age.

Since he was smaller than everyone around whom he wanted to hang, he had to develop a quick left and an even quicker wit to survive. And he has.

His teachers see the same things that we do: one of the sharpest minds, with one of the most wicked senses of humor to have come around in a long while. He’ll frequently make an offhand joke about current affairs we happen to be discussing that’s amazingly quick, amazingly on-target and blisteringly funny.

His mom and I will just turn and look at each other — once the laughter finally dies down — and trade astonished gazes.

While Hyper Lad lives up to his name (and his blog name here), he’s not constantly rushing around and ignoring everyone else. The young dude is consistently polite (to non-dad people) in almost every situation and looks for ways to help everyone he can.

Not to say he’s perfect, of course. I mean, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come thiiiiiiisssssss close to popping an aneurysm in my brain from the crap he will drop — literally drop — wherever it is he happens to be done with it. If that means he’s finished with a band-aid wrapper six inches from a trashcan. . . Then he drops the wrapper to the floor six inches from the trashcan.

And, being a teenager, he’s now discovered the joys of sleeping in until the sun warms up. . . say, sometime around 3 pm.

So, yeah, he’s got a lot of things to work on. But, here’s the deal about that: We’re just so glad we get a chance to watch as he does. It’s going to be an interesting experience.

Here’s to you, Hyper Lad! Have a happy birthday and know we love you. And we dearly want to live through you learning to drive, so please work on that.

 

We also take a moment to remember Hyper Lad’s Great Grandmother, my Grandmother, Irene Jones. A wonderful woman, my grandmother died three years ago. She and Hyper Lad were both born on June 13 and called each other Birthday Buddies. So here’s to you as well, Mama. You’re missed and loved.

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