Category: Special Guest Posts

How you can get addicted to Twitter, and how you can break an addiction

A few years ago I was at the park with my kids and I saw a dad swinging his baby daughter in a baby swing. The baby chuckled and looked engagingly at her father but he missed returning her happy look because he was looking at his phone.
A small moment in time with a powerful impact.

Guest post by Salma Saad

Self-esteem comes from internalizing parental attention. The baby who repeatedly gets the shaft in comparison to the cell phone internalizes shame and inadequacy instead of a sense of self worth.

What kind of impact will our technology addiction have on our children? I myself regret with sadness that I have not always been as present with my own children as I would have liked to have been.

I worked in advertising and all the big brands that I worked on were addictive substances: soft drinks, fast food, technology, tobacco to name a few. If you watch the documentary “Hungry for Change” you can see how the food industry adds addictive substances to almost everything we eat because this keeps us buying more even though it makes us unhealthier.

As a society we are highly vulnerable to being manipulated by addictive products.

What makes us vulnerable and why are some people easier targets than others?

I don’t have what most people think of as addiction but in therapy I realized that I use a great many mechanisms to distract myself from my emotions. These included chronic work/busyness, daydreaming, technology, caretaking, etc. Most of us know what emotional eating is but eating isn’t the only thing our emotions leave us vulnerable to.

Image by Flickr user Sam Wolff. Shared under CC2.0 license.

Image by Flickr user Sam Wolff. Shared under CC2.0 license.

Stuffed feelings are a marketers dream because this makes us prone to unconsciously seeking out all kinds of material things to distract ourselves from our inner pains. We check social media, or eat some French fries, and it provides us with some temporary pleasure. But this takes us down the slippery slope of becoming dependent on external substances to regulate our emotions and achieve validation.

Over-working and over-exercising are examples of addictions that are often viewed positively and social media/technology addiction, serial dating and unhealthy relationships are regarded as “less serious” than substance abuse.

The nitty gritty of what goes on in our brain and bodies

I know people who say quitting addiction is about will power. There are those who can simply quit smoking cold turkey, for example. But doing so is not the same as a real recovery.

“White knuckling,” as it is called, relies on pure will power without addressing the underlying problems that continue to cause the craving. In fact, it often results in one replacing one harmful addiction with another.

Someone who stopped smoking and became obsessed with Tinder instead didn’t become any healthier. Yes smoking has harmful health affects but becoming hooked on validation from a dating app can have a detrimental affects too, such as long term loneliness.

So what happens inside your brain and your body that makes you vulnerable to addictive products?

Under normal conditions when a person gets scared the sympathetic nervous system automatically increases their heart rate, and then when the threat recedes the parasympathetic nervous system calms their body down.

In people who have experienced chronic threats in childhood the calming affect doesn’t kick in and the body stays on alert longer that it needs to.

Then when the same type of threat comes up again the body doesn’t go into alert as it should. For example, a woman who experienced domestic abuse as a child will disassociate instead of getting angry in her adult relationship therefore allowing the abuse to happen instead of stopping it in the moment.

If your body is too tense/alert when it shouldn’t be and also not tense/alert when it should be then you are going to be an easier target for addictive products and processes.

How I got better

I have had a problem with being too submissive due to the culture I was raised in. I have become more assertive by simply noticing my lack of anger because his helps me to feel the anger and stand up for myself. This started out very hit or miss but after a few times this got much better. I’m finding my voice and my anger is showing up appropriately and I am very glad about this.

Becoming aware and changing the behavior rewires neurons in the brain so that the behavior becomes easier over time.
If you feel that people get away with treating you badly, or if you have trouble saying no, or if you fail to stand up for yourself then pay attention to the activation level in your body in the moment when this is happening to you. Noticing the internal lack of response (not getting angry when you should) will help you speak up.

As you become more assertive your relationships will become more authentic.

I also grew up in danger and so my body is often on high alert even when there is nothing scary going on. I often pause and feel my body and I notice tension, shallow breathing, accelerated heart rate and a closed throat.

You can calm your body down by visualizing tender moments with people you love, such as your children, when you feel a high level of fear or defensiveness in your body. I sometimes wake up at night and I feel restless. I know that my body is highly activated for no reason.

At these times I visualize emotional moments with my kids or my kitten cuddling into my neck. Doing this calms my internal state very quickly and I am able to fall back asleep. I even had success with the practice of visualization during a stressful negotiation not long ago, and the result was very favorable for me.

People whose bodies are in a state of over- or under- arousal are not open to deep emotional connection and tend to have troubled relationships. My life has improved tremendously with respect to my relationships since I started therapy and mindfulness.

I’m not all better yet, rewiring the brain takes time but so much has already improved for me. I hope that sharing my experience will provide some value to others who are struggling with similar issues to myself.

Salma works in technology and is a mother to two boys and two cats. She enjoys writing on many different topics including parenting, technology, her upbringing in the Muslim culture, PTSD from growing up in the third word and other life experiences. You can find more of her blog posts on Medium.

How abortion laws that force women to give birth to babies with severe disabilities hurts families

The midwestern U.S. state of Indiana recently banned abortion based on sex, following in the footsteps of Oklahoma, Arizona, Kansas, North Dakota, but the state also added a ban on abortions on the basis of disability. These add to over 200 restrictions put on abortion rights at the state level between 2011 and 2015, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that supports abortion rights.

Katherine McHugh, an obstetrician/gynecologist in Indianapolis, agreed to let Bombs and Dollars share an op-ed she wrote about why this law will hurt patients and families:
Even after years of education, training and experience as an obstetrician/gynecologist, I am never prepared to deliver the news that a pregnancy is abnormal. There is no good way to tell a pregnant woman — a woman who may already be wearing maternity clothes, thinking about names and decorating the nursery — that we have identified a fetal anomaly that can lead to significant, lifelong disability or even her baby’s death.

In such situations, physicians have two responsibilities. First, we must always be supportive of the mother or family who has suddenly been confronted with the loss of an imagined ideal pregnancy and child. And second, we help them understand that they have options, one of which is the termination of the pregnancy.

Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case here in Indiana. A new law signed by Gov. Mike Pence (R) punishes doctors if they perform abortions for women because of their fetus’s race or sex, or after a diagnosis of disability. Indiana’s state government is intruding on the doctor-patient relationship at one of its most vulnerable, sensitive times. Which means that not only does the new law encroach on women’s rights to control their own reproduction, it is also bad medicine.

Indiana already has one of the harshest laws in effect on mandated counselling, one of four states that forces women who want an abortion to undergo in-person counseling in advance.

Indiana already has one of the harshest laws in effect on mandated counselling, one of five states that forces women who want an abortion to undergo in-person counseling in advance.

As a mother as well as a doctor, I am acutely aware of the intensity and fear of the unknown inherent in pregnancy and childbirth. Indiana now expects women who live here to experience them without trusting their doctors’ knowledge and with strict limits on how doctors may treat patients — limits driven not by science or research, but by politics.

Supporters of the new law, such as Pence, say the measure “affirms the value of all human life.” And yes, some women do choose to carry abnormal pregnancies to term. I am honored to care for them and their babies. I have held and comforted babies as they died, because their mothers were too grief-stricken to bear it. I have cried with families as we watched their babies breathe their last breath.

Not every woman can handle such horror. In the United States,

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GUEST POST: What to Look for In a Publisher (and a Contract) – Dr Laura Sjoberg

From the Editor: We at Bombs and Dollars were planning for a while to have academics and policy mavens write guest posts, which we thought will be good for early career researchers.

We present the first post, by Dr Laura Sjoberg, Associate Professor, at the Dept. of Political Science, University of Florida. You can follow her on Twitter @DrLauraEsq


What to Look for In a Publisher (and a Contract)

About a week ago, I posted about book publishing in academia. I’ve gotten responses from a number of people, both interested in more information and happy for the first post. If its useful to even one person, I want to answer as many questions as I can with the information that I have – so I’m making this a follow-up post. I’ll focus it around two main question that I got in response to the first post – what should I look for in a book publisher, and what should I look for in a contract.

The bad news is that there’s not one answer to either question. The good news is that there are both some strategic things that it is useful to know and some shortcuts to finding out your answers to the questions.

So, first, what do you want in a publisher? This, of course, depends. Like I talked about briefly in the last post, there are some universals about this. You never want a publisher you have to pay to publish your book, and you always want a publisher that has a genuine interest in your project as a project and you as an author. But beyond that, it depends on where you are, what options you have, and what you need from it.

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