Hello, Sky Dancers!
This will be a quick post. All three of us bloggers are under the weather. JJ has bronchitis, I was up all night with a stomach virus, and Dakinikat is understandably overwhelmed with family issues.
So here we go . . . .
The sh** has really hit the fan down in Dallas. Last night, a group named National Nurses United held a press call in which they revealed that, for the nurses who cared for Ebola patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, “there were no protocols” for dealing with the highly infectious disease. From CNN:
“The protocols that should have been in place in Dallas were not in place, and that those protocols are not in place anywhere in the United States as far as we can tell,” National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said. “We’re deeply alarmed.”
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said the claims, if true, are “startling.” Some of them, he said, could be “important when it comes to possible other infections.”
Some of the complaints made by anonymous nurses to National Nurses United:
On the day that Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted to the hospital with possible Ebola symptoms, he was “left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area where other patients were present,” union co-president Deborah Burger said.
Up to seven other patients were present in that area, the nurses said, according to the union.
A nursing supervisor faced resistance from hospital authorities when the supervisor demanded that Duncan be moved to an isolation unit, the nurses said, according to the union.
Nurses were given protective gear that didn’t cover their necks, and when they complained they were told to wrap medical tape around their necks.
“There was no one to pick up hazardous waste as it piled to the ceiling,” Burger said. “They did not have access to proper supplies.”
“There was no mandate for nurses to attend training,” Burger said, though they did receive an e-mail about a hospital seminar on Ebola…
According to DeMoro, the nurses were upset after authorities appeared to blame nurse Nina Pham, who has contracted Ebola, for not following protocols.
“This nurse was being blamed for not following protocols that did not exist. … The nurses in that hospital were very angry, and they decided to contact us,” DeMoro said.
And they’re worried conditions at the hospital “may lead to infection of other nurses and patients,” Burger said.
And today this headline tops the news: Second Health Care Worker Tests Positive for Ebola. CNN reports:
A second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan has tested positive for Ebola, health officials said Wednesday – casting further doubt on the hospital’s ability to handle Ebola and protect employees.
The worker reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated, health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said.
The preliminary Ebola test was done late Tuesday at the state public health laboratory in Austin, and the results came back around midnight. A second test will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
It gets worse. CNN again: 2nd U.S. health worker with Ebola flew the day before symptoms.
The second Dallas health care worker with Ebola was on a flight from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday — the day before she reported symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. Because of the proximity in time between the Monday evening flight and the first report of her illness, the CDC wants to interview all 132 passengers on her flight — Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth, which landed at 8:16 p.m. CT Monday, the CDC said.
The worker, a woman who lives alone, was quickly moved into isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, authorities said Wednesday.
The news cast further doubt on the hospital’s ability to handle Ebola and protect employees. It’s the same hospital that initially sent Thomas Eric Duncan home, even though he had a fever and had traveled from West Africa. By the time he returned to the hospital, his symptoms had worsened. He died while being treated by medical staff, including the two women who have now contracted the disease.
Get this: hospital administrators are still claiming they have everything under control.
“I don’t think we have a systematic institutional problem,” Dr. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer of Texas Health Resources, told reporters Wednesday, facing questions about the hospital’s actions.
Medical staff “may have done some things differently with the benefit of what we know today,” he said, adding, “no one wants to get this right more than our hospital.”
Is that so? Well, you know the old saying, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” According to Vargas, 75 health care workers are still being monitored for symptoms.
The most recent Ebola case has just now been identified as 26-year-old Amber Vinson, according to USA Today.
Vinson, who was described as living alone without pets in a Dallas apartment, was identified by Martha Schuler, the mother of Vinson’s former stepfather, WFAA-TV reports.
Vinson was among the workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas who helped care for Ebola patient Thomas Duncan, who died of the virus in October.
At an early morning news conference, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he could not rule out more cases among 75 other hospital staffers who cared for Duncan and were being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are preparing contingencies for more and that is a real possibility,” Jenkins said.
In other news,
It seems there were some weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after all, and the Pentagon covered it up. The New York Times broke the story last night: The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons.
The soldiers at the blast crater sensed something was wrong.
It was August 2008 near Taji, Iraq. They had just exploded a stack of old Iraqi artillery shells buried beside a murky lake. The blast, part of an effort to destroy munitions that could be used in makeshift bombs, uncovered more shells.
Two technicians assigned to dispose of munitions stepped into the hole. Lake water seeped in. One of them, Specialist Andrew T. Goldman, noticed a pungent odor, something, he said, he had never smelled before.
He lifted a shell. Oily paste oozed from a crack. “That doesn’t look like pond water,” said his team leader, Staff Sgt. Eric J. Duling.
The specialist swabbed the shell with chemical detection paper. It turned red — indicating sulfur mustard, the chemical warfare agent designed to burn a victim’s airway, skin and eyes.
All three men recall an awkward pause. Then Sergeant Duling gave an order: “Get the hell out.” ….
From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.
In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Read the whole depressing thing at the link.
Here’s the Washington Post’s take on the Times’ story: Pentagon ‘suppressed’ finds of chemical weapons in Iraq and related U.S. casualties.
These were not the “weapons of mass destruction” the George W. Bush administration used to justify invading Iraq in 2003. Rather, the Times said, the troops were injured when they stumbled across old, often corroded shells and warheads procured for use in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.
The weapons were not the military threat to the United States described by the Bush administration. But the deadly sarin and mustard gas agents troops found were potent enough to cause injury, the paper reported. Unaware of the munitions’ content — which sometimes spilled on to their clothes and skin — as many as 17 soldiers were exposed, and some received haphazard, inadequate medical care.
The Times story suggests the Pentagon suppressed information about the chemical weapons because of the injuries, because it would have highlighted the massive intelligence failure surrounding the war and because the weapons were “built in close collaboration with the West.”
“The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm’s way and from military doctors,” wrote C.J. Chivers. “The government’s secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war’s most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds.”
A few more stories that might be of interest, links only:
Christian Science Monitor, Michelle Obama viral turnip video: Will it sell healthy food?
11Alive.com, Exclusive Poll: Nunn leads Senate race by 3%.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and enjoy your Wednesday.
There are some things you just can’t make up. This would include Republican Senator John McCain telling CNN’s Candy Crowley that Obama needs to appoint an “Ebola Czar”. Wasn’t one of the main right wing talking points a few years ago that Obama was czar happy? Also, why wasn’t McCain asked about the stalled appointment of our US Surgeon General?
Remember a couple years ago how President Barack Obama had eighty million czars and it was bad because czars = Russia? Well czars are good now.
“From spending time here in Arizona, my constituents are not comforted,” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told State of the Union host Candy Crowley Sunday morning. “There has to be more reassurance given to them. I would say that we don’t know exactly who’s in charge. There has to be some kind of czar.”
Hard to see what good a czar would do, given that McCain added that he “was impressed” with Crowley’s panel of experts, in the sense that he nonetheless didn’t believe them.
Currently the U.S. does not have a permanent surgeon general. President Barack Obama nominated Dr. Vivek Murthy to fill the spot last November after the previous surgeon general vacated the position.
Murthy’s nomination has been tied up in the Senate since March amid concerns from conservative gun rights group, the National Rifle Association, that the Harvard and Yale educated doctor would seek to implement restrictions on the Second Amendment if he were confirmed for the position.
British-born Murthy is a supporter of President Obama’s efforts to reduce gun violence by restricting the sale of certain firearms.
In October of 2012 he sent the following tweet out from his twitter account: ‘Tired of politicians playing politics w/ guns, putting lives at risk b/c they’re scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue.’
The NRA and it’s powerful lobbying arm pounced on the statement after Murthy, who also co-chaired a group called Doctors for Obama, was nominated and warned Senators that they would punish them if they voted to confirm the 36-year-old doctor as the spokesman for the government’s public health initiatives.
At a nomination hearing before a Senate subcommittee in February, Murthy testified that his views on gun control would not affect his ability to serve as surgeon general
‘My concerns with regard to issues like gun violence have to do with my experience as a physician, he further explained and ‘seeing patients in emergency rooms.’
But that didn’t quell the NRA’s concerns that he may allow his political beliefs to seep into his medical work.
In mid-March a spokesman for the organization told the New York Times that ‘given Dr. Murthy’s blatant activism on behalf of gun control, that’s not a gamble we’re willing to take.’
As a result, Murthy’s nomination has still not come for a vote before the Democratically-controlled Senate – more than six months later – as vulnerable Democrats in conservative-leaning states have tried to distance themselves from anti-gun efforts ahead of November’s federal elections.
Two weeks ago in the Senate, committees on Appropriations and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions convened a hearing to “discuss” what kind of resources are necessary to address, and stop the virus from spreading. According to the director of the CDC National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Dr. Beth Bell, the epidemic could have been stopped if more had been done sooner to build global health security.
Bell asserted that if the Republican sequester had not cut aid budgets and global health programs indiscriminately by $411 million, and USAID by $289 million, the epidemic could been reduced to a manageable situation if not stopped altogether. Bell said, “If even modest investments had been made to build a public health infrastructure in West Africa previously, the current Ebola epidemic could have been detected earlier, and it could have been identified and contained. This Ebola epidemic shows that any vulnerability could have widespread impact if not stopped at the source.” Now it has the possibility of impacting Americans.
Despite warnings from economic experts and myriad agencies across the government, Republicans parlayed their fear-mongering about deficits, debt, and “foolish, wasteful, out-of-control, and unnecessary spending” into a devastating sequester that put a major dent in the CDC’s budget that is bearing exactly the fruit experts warned Republicans about. NIH representative Anthony Fauci reiterated Bell’s conclusion and told the committees, “honestly it’s (the sequester) been a significant impact on us. It has both in an acute and a chronic, insidious way eroded our ability to respond in the way that I and my colleagues would like to see us be able to respond to these emerging threats. And in my institute particularly, that’s responsible for responding on the dime to an emerging infectious disease threat, this is particularly damaging.”
The Republicans’ precious sequester required the NIH to cut its budget by $1.55 billion in 2013 across the board that had the desired result of affecting every area of medical research within the agency. Bell agreed with Fauci that her department is leading the U.S. intervention in West Africa, but complained the agency is being hamstrung by a $13 million sequester cut that a minuscule increase in 2014 and 2015 is not going to make up in time to effectively stop the virus’s inevitable spread.
Stopping the spread of the disease means stopping the disease in West Africa. However, Republicans won’t approve money to do this because the money would go to Africa. Yup, the usual suspects are also holding up Ebola aid.
A Republican senator is urging his colleagues to hold up the $1 billion the White House has requested to combat the Ebola virus in part because the plan “focuses on Africa.”
“I ask you to oppose fully allowing the additional $1 billion in reprogramming requests until previously requested additional information is available for members of Congress to be fully briefed,” Louisiana Senator David Vitter wrote in a letter to members of the Senate Appropriations and Armed Services committees. The $1 billion that the administration has requested would be redirected from funds from the war operations budget to pay for the construction of medical facilities, supply distribution, medical training and for military and civilian personnel. Most of the money has been held up for nearly a month, as Republicans on key committees demand more details from the administration.
While Vitter criticized Obama for not fully presenting a plan, he apparently knows enough about it to be concerned that it “focuses on Africa, and largely ignores our own borders.” Vitter wants the United States to bar noncitizens traveling from countries affected by Ebola from entering the country.
While Congress delays, world leaders are pleading for assistance. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Thursday that twenty times more aid was needed in West Africa to fight the epidemic. Speaking at the same World Bank conference, the director of the Centers for Disease Control called for swift action. “Speed is the most important variable here,” Thomas Frieden said. “This is controllable, and this was preventable. It’s preventable by investing in core public health services.”
Senator Chris Murphy, in an interview on MSNBC on Thursday morning, called the delay in Congress “unconscionable.” He said the committees should release the full funds this week. Murphy acknowledged that some of the questions committee members have about the administration’s plan are “legitimate,” but noted that his colleagues only selectively care about missing details.
“In contrast to the lack of questions we asked when we made a decision to get involved in a war in the Middle East that’s going to cost us $10 billion a year, we seem to have a different level of inspection when it comes to questions being asked about money that’s going to protect the United States from a very real and very present threat of Ebola,” Murphy said.
Many lawmakers (and the media) are in a frenzy about the prospect of Ebola spreading through the United States, but there’s a conspicuous lack of urgency when it comes to doing more to treat the epidemic where it’s already having a devastating effect. Members of Congress have been far quicker to criticize the president for inaction than their colleagues. On Thursday, twenty-six lawmakers wrote to Obama asking him to “take aggressive action to combat and prevent the spread of this disease in the United States,” specifically by banning travel to the US by citizens of affected countries. Meanwhile, the congressional committees that have to approve the redirected funds have blocked most of it until they get a more detailed plan from the administration.
Here’s a few quick things to read that might interest you. If you watched American Horror Story: Coven last year, you know about the mythical axman. Here’s some information about the real axman murders in New Orleans and the infamous mass murderer.
It was the screaming that awakened Esther Pepitone.
The woman and her husband, Michel “Mike” Pepitone, had turned in for the night at their Mid-City home. They operated a corner store at the front of their building at South Scott and Ulloa streets, and with a circus on Tulane Avenue just a block away that weekend, their day had been busy.
She woke up shortly before 1 a.m. on October 27, 1919, when she heard her husband’s cry, “Oh my God!”
Esther Pepitone found her husband unconscious. Their mattress was saturated with blood. A picture of the Virgin Mary that hung above the bed was specked with crimson, and the walls were splattered from the floor nearly to the ceiling.
Mike Pepitone’s head had been bashed 18 times with at least one weapon. But it was hard to tell just what had happened because his skull was so badly damaged. “It was battered into an almost unrecognizable mass,” reported The Times-Picayune.
Esther Pepitone told police she had caught a glimpse of two shadowy figures in the darkened bedroom, but she could not identify the men. The two wordlessly slipped toward the back of the house, she said, through the room where the Pepitones’ six children were sleeping, and exited through the back door, heading down South Scott Street toward Canal.
Mike Pepitone was in agony. “Every time he turned his head, blood came from his head and face,” Esther Pepitone was quoted as saying by the New Orleans States. “It simply poured over the bed.”
She threw open a window and began screaming, too, and their 11-year-old daughter ran outside to get help.
The first one on the scene was Ben Corcoran (or Cochran, depending on the source), a sheriff’s deputy who lived on the block and who was on his way home from work. He found Mike Pepitone mortally wounded and a weapon, described alternately as a large bolt with a heavy nut attached to it and as a stake used to secure a tent at the circus, sitting on the chair next to him. Five of the Pepitone children were still in bed, fast asleep. The door to the back yard and the gate that opened onto South Scott Street remained ajar.
Mike Pepitone, 36, was rushed to Charity Hospital. Within two hours he was pronounced dead.
His savage murder was never solved. It was the last in a string of attacks commonly attributed to a now-mythical serial killer known as the Axman.
I’ve started watching this year’s American Horror Story: Freak Show which is visually interesting but hasn’t really grabbed me yet. It’s all about those freak shows of old times. If you’re watching it, let me know what you think. The sociopathic killer in this season’s horror story is scary clown Twisty. It appears that Bakersfield, California is also experiencing an invasion of scary clowns.
Reports of creepy clowns carrying knives and other weapons have been scaring people in the California city of Bakersfield for the past week, police said on Sunday.
In the latest incident, a person telephoned the Bakersfield Police Department on Saturday night, reporting a clown armed with a firearm, said watch commander Lieutenant Jason Matson.
“We’ve been having sightings all over the city,” Matson said. “They range from anywhere from a guy carrying a gun to a guy carrying a knife running up to houses.”
The Bakersfield Californian newspaper reported earlier in the week that at least some of the reports were hoaxes. Matson said he did not know whether the incidents were pranks.
At least one of the reports was not a hoax – police arrested a teen on Friday who had dressed up as a clown and was chasing children on the west side of town, Matson said. The juvenile, whose name was not released, said he was doing it to perpetrate a hoax he had seen online.
He was arrested on suspicion of annoying a minor and booked into the Kern County Juvenile Hall, Bakersfield police said in a news release.
A child who had been chased “was clearly scared,” the release said.
This is is an open letter to the Christian terrorists living in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Since I don’t know you, and there’s no threat of you leaving notes in MY mailbox — “We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work.” — I’m not going to be as polite as the atheist you’ve decided to persecute with “God’s love.” Go to hell — whatever form that concept takes inside your sick brain, just pull up a chair and stay while. There’s not one chance in a million you actually understand the “love and message of the Lord” you claim to follow.
Those voices inside your head? That’s not God, Allah, Yahweh or any other monotheist notion of an eternal being. He (or She) who tells you “I am who I am,” is most likely just an auditory hallucination — a symptom of a schizophrenic disorder, manic depression or psychosis. Look, if talking to your inner voice gives you peace of mind — God bless. Did those voices tell you to harass a neighbor and threaten their children? A qualified psychiatrist will most likely prescribe some pretty heavy-duty tranquilizers; the bad news is, medication probably won’t rid your diseased mind of the voices.
Jon Jeffels, whose family received the anonymous notes, is handling this as well as he possible can. He reported the messages to the police and moved the other members of his family to an undisclosed location for the time being. Jeffels also wants to reiterate that this appears to be the work of one or two people, certainly not representative of the religious population at large.
Frankly, if I wanted to put up pictures of the real freak show it would mostly contain Republican Presidential Candidates of the last few elections and their buddies.
Anyway, wouldn’t want you to get too scared! Just scared enough to vote on Novemeber 4th!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Shall I tell you what lurks under the sickly hallows of my bedclothes?
Something ghastly, directly out of a Roger Corman Film….I am thinking of one of those lovely family portraits in The House of Usher, 1960:
You remember that scene…don’t you?
Actually, I think those paintings may be too healthy looking. This image from The Pit and the Pendulum is more like it:
Yup, that is how I feel and exactly how I look.
Especially around the eyes…and since this is a bad ass sinus infection, the open mouth, gasping for air is for real!
The sickness has a hold on me. So this is just an open thread….with lots of cool pictures.
If my Z-Pak kicks in later today, I will post a real thread, but for now…adios!
Various horror images from Pinterest, some are movie posters, actors or stills, there are vintage photos, actual graves…or real life horrors. Then others are just comic vulgarities and sprinkled about….are a few…masterpieces:
This is the time of year when lots of people get the urge to watch old horror movies, and I’m one of them. Actually, I love horror movies any time of year, but October is when the TV programmers provide the most opportunities for horror fans to indulge their cravings.
I love to watch old Hitchcock movies like Psycho and The Birds. They never seem to get old. And then there are the cheesy slasher movies like Halloween and Friday the Thirteenth that are still kind of fun to sample this time of year.
I love George Romero’s classic zombie films like Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, and dystopian films from the 1950s like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I’ve enjoyed more recent zombie classics too–28 Days Later comes to mind. Old creature features are fun too–have you ever seen Them? It’s a 1954 film about giant ants in the New Mexico desert created by radiation from atomic tests.
Of course there are plenty of new horror offerings these days too. Dakinikat recommended a couple of TV shows that I plan to try over this long weekend: American Horror Story on FX and Z Nation on the Syfy Channel. These days there is plenty of real-life horror going on, so I don’t know why so many people like to escape into horror films and TV shows, but it seems they do. There’s also The Walking Dead on AMC. I watched the first season, but kind of lost interest after that because I find the characters so unlikable.
It’s interesting that zombies and vampires have been very much in vogue in the 21st Century. Why is that? Do they somehow reflect our culture like the movies of the 1950s and ’60s seemed to comment on the cold war and fears of nuclear disaster?
Anyway, since it’s Saturday and long weekend (Monday is Columbus Day, a horror story in itself), I’m going to devote this post to the psychology of horror–why are some of us so drawn to it? Believe it or not, psychologists have systematically studied this. Here’s a survey article published in The Psychologist, a UK psychology magazine: The Lure of Horror (pdf). There’s an easier-to-read version here.
Fear coils in your stomach and clutches at your heart. It’s an unpleasant emotion we usually do our best to avoid. Yet across the world and through time people have been drawn irresistibly to stories designed to scare them. Writers like Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker continue to haunt the popular consciousness. Far longer ago, listeners sat mesmerised by violent, terrifying tales like Beowulf and Homer’s Odyssey.
‘If you go to your video store and rent a comedy from Korea, it’s not going to make any sense to you at all,’ says literature scholar Mathias Clasen based at Aarhus University, ‘whereas if you rent a local horror movie from Korea you’ll instantaneously know not just that it’s a horror movie, but you’ll have a physiological reaction to it, indicative of the genre.’
So horror is a universal language recognized by our brains?
Clasen believes the timeless, cross-cultural appeal of horror fiction says something important about humans, and in turn, insights from evolutionary psychology can make sense of why horror takes the form it does. ‘You can use horror fiction and its lack of historical and cultural variance as an indication that there is such a thing as human nature,’ he says.
This nature of ours is one that has been shaped over millennia to be afraid, but not just of anything. Possibly our ancestors’ greatest fear was that they might become a feast for a carnivorous predator. As science writer David Quammen has put it, ‘among the earliest forms of human self-awareness was the awareness of being meat’. There’s certainly fossil evidence to back this up, suggesting that early hominids were preyed on by carnivores and that they scavenged from the kill sites of large felines, and vice versa. Modern-day hunter-gatherers, such as the Aché foragers in Paraguay, still suffer high mortality rates from snakes and feline attacks.
Such threats have left their marks on our cognitive development. Research by Nobuo Masataka and others shows that children as young as three are especially fast at spotting snakes, as opposed to flowers, on a computer screen, and all the more so when those snakes are poised to strike. Modern-day threats, such as cars and guns, do not grab the attention in this way. That we’re innately fearful of atavistic threats is known as ‘prepared learning’. Another study published just this year by Christof Koch and his team has shown how the right amygdala, a brain region involved in fear learning, responds more vigorously to the sight of animals than to other pictures such as of people, landmarks or objects.
Viewing the content of horror fiction through the prism of evolutionary evidence and theory, it’s no surprise that the overriding theme of many tales is that the characters are at risk of being eaten. ‘Do we have many snakes or snake-like creatures or giant serpents in horror fiction?’ Clasen asks. ‘Yes we do: look at Tremors – they were really just very big snakes with giant fangs’. In fact, many horror books and movie classics feature oversized carnivorous predators, including James Herbert’s The Rats, Shaun Hutson’s Slugs, Cat People, King Kong, and the Jaws franchise, to name but a few. Where the main threat is a humanoid predator, he or she will often be armed with over-sized claws (Freddie Krueger in Nightmare on Elm Street) or an insatiable taste for human flesh (e.g. Hannibal Lecter in the 1981 novel Red Dragon).
Still, horror is a minority taste. Why are some people–like me–so attracted to it, while others are simply grossed out?
Who are these people who pay out money to be scared? A meta-analysis of 35 relevant articles, by Cynthia Hoffner and Kenneth Levine published in 2005 in Media Psychology, highlights the principal relevant traits: affective response; empathy; sensation seeking; aggressiveness; gender; and age.
The more negative affect a person reports experiencing during horror, the more likely they are to say that they enjoy the genre. Media experts like Dolf Zillmann make sense of this apparent contradiction as a kind of conversion process, whereby the pleasure comes from the relief that follows once characters escape danger. This explanation struggles to account for the appeal of slasher films, in which most characters are killed. Part of the answer must lie with meta-emotion – the way we interpret the emotional feelings we’re experiencing, with some people finding pleasure in fright. Another possibility is that, for some, pleasure is derived from the sense that film victims are being punished for what the viewer considers to be their immoral behaviour. Consistent with this, a 1993 study by Mary Oliver found that male high school viewers who endorsed traditional views on female sexuality (e.g. ‘it’s okay for men to have sex before marriage, but not women’), were more likely to enjoy horror movie clips, especially if they involved a female victim portrayed with her lover.
Other findings: people with low self-reported levels of empathy and younger people tend to be more attracted to horror. Neither of those explains my interest–I score high on empathy, and I’m an old lady. So what’s my problem?! Maybe I just never really grew up?
Read much more at the link. Since it’s a scholarly article, there are references to research articles too.
Here’s another interesting article at Filmmaker IQ: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SCARY MOVIES.
There’s something about horror that speaks directly and instinctively to the human animal. Millions of years of evolutionary psychology have ingrained in our minds certain fear triggers – a survival instinct – Fear of the Dark where predatory animals might be laying in wait – Fear of animals with large sharp teeth who would make a quick meal of us. Fear of Poisonous Spiders who can kill with one bite. So ingrained into our developmental psychology that research done by Nobuo Masataka show that children as young as three have an easier time spotting snakes on a computer screen than they do spotting flowers. Research by Christof Koch show that the right amygydala, the portion of the brain associated with fear learning, responds more vigorously to images of animals than to images of people, landmarks or objects even though those are much more dangerous in our civilized world.
This may explain the shape of our movie monsters: creatures with sharp teeth or snake like appearance. The fear of being eaten alive also explains the cannabilistic traits of human monsters like Dracula and Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
But brain scan research in 2010 by Thomas Straube at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena show that scary movies don’t actually activate fear responses in the amygdala at all. Instead, it was other parts of the brain that were firing – the visual cortex – the part of the brain responsible for processing visual information, the insular cortex- self awareness, the thalamus -the relay switch between brain hemispheres, and the dorsal-medial prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain associated with planning, attention, and problem solving.
So we’re not really being scared at the movies – at least not necessarily in the brain chemistry way… what’s going on?
Three things, according to Dr. Glenn D. Walters.
The first is tension – created through mystery, suspense, gore, terror, or shock. This is pretty straight forward elements of horror, the craft and technique of filmmaking.
The second factor is relevance. In order for a horror film to be seen, it has to be relevant to potential viewers. This relevance can take the form of universal relevance – capturing the universal fear of things like death and the unknown, it can take on cultural relevance dealing with societal issues. Audiences can find subgroup relevance – groups like teenagers which many horror films are about. Lastly, there’s personal relevance – either in a way that identifies with the protagonist or in a way that condemns the antagonists or victims to their ultimate fate.
The last factor, which may be the most counter intuitive is unrealism. Despite the graphic nature of recent horror films, we all know at some level that what we are watching is not real. Haidt, McCauley and Rozin conducted research on disgust, showing students in 1994 a series of gruesome documentary videos… few could make it to the end – and yet these same students would pay to see even worse acts conducted on a movie screen. Why? Perhaps its because when we walk into a theater we know what we’re seeing on screen is fabricated reality. Movies are edited from multiple camera angles with soundtracks and sometimes horror is tempered and made palatable with black humor – a sly wink that what you’re seeing on screen isn’t real. This also explains why we all remember that scary movie we saw when we were way too young but looks hokey now. Children have a harder time separating reality and fiction especially when its on a movie screen.
There’s much more to the article, including a brief summary of “8 incomplete theories on our attraction to horror.”
One eminent psychologist, Joseph LeDoux, a professor at NYU, has a particular interest in emotion and the brain and more specifically fear and the amygdala. Here’s the intro to a brief interview with him at Cognitive Neuroscience:
With Halloween around the corner, fear may be on your mind. As a basic emotion, fear develops when we react to an immediate danger.
Understanding exactly how our brains detect and respond to such danger has been a goal of Joseph LeDoux of the Center for Neural Science at New York University for much of his career. His pioneering work on “fear conditioning,” which he now calls “threat conditioning,” revealed the neurological pathways through which we react to threats.
This Pavlovian-type conditioning uses a neutral stimulus like an auditory tone at the same time as a painful event, and over time, this tone becomes associated with the discomfort and can trigger a fear response in the brain, specifically the amygdala. The neural processing in the amygdala causes chemical processes in the brain cells that lead to our natural defenses in the face of a threat – whether a spider or a robber.
LeDoux’s work has not only contributed to our understanding of these processes but also to ways we can work to overcome pathological fears, including through work on memory and fear.
Read the interview at the link. And here is an audio interview with LeDoux at ConstructingHorror.com.
LeDoux told the LA Times in October 2013 that intense emotions like fear stimulate the brain.
Arousing situations, “whether joyful or frightful, juice up the brain,” says Joseph LeDoux, a neuroscientist and director of New York University’s Emotional Brain Institute and author of “The Emotional Brain.”
Horror movies energize the system: Hearts pump faster, blood pressure rises and dopamine releases, as does norepinephrine (which readies the body for flight-or-fight response) and endorphins (which kill pain), Fanselow says.
But experts agree that children’s brains are too vulnerable for scary movies.
And some adults are vulnerable too. “There have been case reports of people having stress symptoms after watching ‘The Exorcist,’ ” says Richard J. McNally, a Harvard psychology professor. “But these folks already had histories of mental disorders and thus were vulnerable.”
And many people want nothing to do with Halloween frights. “Genetics, epigenetics, upbringing and all the other individual experiences they’ve had probably all contribute,” LeDoux says. “It’s a matter of degree.”
Read more about the effects of horror on the brain at the LA Times link.
A few more horror links:
The Atlantic, Horror-Movie Marathon: The Brilliant, Not-So-Scary Classics.
The Atlantic, How Clowns Became Terrifying.
What Culture, 10 Best Horror Movies Of 2014 Ranked.
Rolling Stone, Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Horror Movies of All Time.
The Washington Post, The sums of all fear: Horror makes a Hollywood comeback.
So . . . are you a horror fan? If so, what are your favorite horror movies and books? Why do you think you enjoy them? If you’re not a fan, why do you think that is?
Of course you should feel free to post links to real-life horrors or even good news stories if you can find them!
Every day it seems like Halloween has come early…it is even reflected on the cartoon editorials:
Luckovich has some good ones this week! More from him later.
Then you have the funnies that are poking at things that are not funny.
Lets have some fun…shall we?
Now, why does this next cartoon feature a thing that looks like a character from Fat Albert? Someone enlighten me.
He has a bling chain and stuff…is it a racial thing? But he also looks like a towel head…and he is next to the road, a flat road, like he is coming across the southern border? Am I reading too much into it?
This is an open thread…
The Ebola Virus and the epidemic in Africa is real. The right wing hysteria about the virus is rivaling the bad plots of the Zombie movies I’m watching during SyFy’s Countdown to Halloween. I thought I’d spend some time separating the facts from the conspiracy theories today. So let me start with one of the most outrageous Zombie Memes from one of the most vile women on the planet. Dementia or further evidence of the advanced stages of evil? It’s your choice.
In an interview with WorldNetDaily published today, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly weighed in on the unfounded theory gaining traction in the right-wing media that Central American young people are to blame for an outbreak of a childhood respiratory illness in the U.S.
“There are all kinds of diseases in the rest of the world, and we don’t want them in this country,” Schlafly told WND, adding that “of all the things [Obama has] done, I think this thing of letting these diseased people into this country to infect our own people is just the most outrageous of all.”
She went on to imply that President Obama is intentionally allowing people infected with Ebola into the United States because he wants America to be “just like everybody else, and if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too. That’s his attitude.”
Conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly – author of “Who Killed the American Family?” – said she agrees Obama is responsible for allowing diseases to enter the country.
“There are all kinds of diseases in the rest of the world, and we don’t want them in this country,” Schlafly said. “And it’s Obama’s job to keep them out.
“Out of all the things he’s done, I think this thing of letting these diseased people into this country to infect our own people is just the most outrageous of all.”
Schlafly said the government should screen immigrants for disease before they enter the country, as was done at Ellis Island a hundred years ago.
“That was the purpose of Ellis Island – to have a waiting place where it was decided whether people were healthy enough or responsible enough to come into our country,” she said. “The idea that anybody can just walk in and carry this disease with them is just an outrage, and it is Obama’s fault because he’s responsible for doing it.”
When asked why the current administration hasn’t done more to prevent diseased illegal aliens or Ebola carriers from Africa from entering the country, Schlafly said Obama wants to make the U.S. more like the rest of the world.
“Obama doesn’t want America to believe that we’re exceptional,” Schlafly said. “He wants us to be just like everybody else, and if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too. That’s his attitude.”
Yup, it’s despicable She. Still foaming at the mouth after all these years too.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told a top-level forum in Washington, D.C., that the Ebola outbreak is unlike anything he’s seen since the AIDS epidemic.
“I would say that in the 30 years I’ve been working in public health, the only thing like this has been AIDS,” Frieden said before the heads of the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund, according to AFP.
Frieden added: “We have to work now so that it is not the world’s next AIDS.”
Frieden’s comments come as the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. died Wednesday despite intense but delayed treatment. The U.S. government also announced it was expanding airport examinations to guard against the spread of the deadly disease.
The checks will include taking the temperatures of hundreds of travelers arriving from West Africa at five major American airports.
The new screenings will begin Saturday at New York’s JFK International Airport and then expand to Washington Dulles and the international airports in Atlanta, Chicago and Newark. An estimated 150 people per day will be checked, using high-tech thermometers that don’t touch the skin.
The White House said the fever checks would reach more than 9 of 10 travelers to the U.S. from the three heaviest-hit countries — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
President Barack Obama called the measures “really just belt and suspenders” to support protections already in place. Border Patrol agents now look for people who are obviously ill, as do flight crews, and in those cases the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is notified.
It’s unlikely a fever check would have spotted Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola in a Dallas hospital Wednesday morning. Duncan wasn’t yet showing symptoms when he arrived in the U.S.
There are the facts about the state of the Ebola crisis. In West Africa, more than 8,000 people have contracted the disease and nearly half have died. In the U.S., there’s just one confirmed case—that of Thomas Duncan, the Liberian man who passed away in Dallas on Wednesday. Experts say that the caseload in West Africa is likely to get much, much bigger. As many as 1.4 million people could get the disease, with a large fraction of them dying from it. The same experts expect no similar outbreak here, even if a few more cases appear, because we have the personnel and the resources to limit exposure.
But all of the news on Wednesday was about developments here in the U.S.—in particular, new screening efforts at five major U.S. airports, Duncan’s death, and reports of possible new cases in the U.S., including one in Dallas. You could tell by the questions that Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, fielded during a late afternoon press conference. He got more than a dozen of them. Only two were about the situation abroad. (And one of them, it so happens, came from me.)
The preoccupation with what’s happening here, as opposed to what’s happening over there, is perfectly understandable. On Tuesday, a Gallup poll revealed that Americans today are as worried about contracting Ebola as they were about contracting H1N1, the swine flu, during that outbreak two years ago. By that time, millions of people had gotten H1N1 and thousands had already died. But people die from flu all the time, usually because they are very young or very old or already otherwise infirmed. It’s a threat that people have factored into their daily lives, if at all. Ebola is quite literally a foreign menace, one to which almost nobody gave much thought until a few weeks ago. The virus kills about half the people who get it, with little regard for age or health status of the person infected.
That fear goes a long way to explaining why the U.S. is implementing the new screening process at the airports. Customs and Border Patrol agents were already on the lookout for people with visible signs of the disease. Now they will add another layer of scrutiny. They will use questionnaires to screen for people who have been in affected countries—and, then, subject these people to temperature tests and more questioning. People who have fever or show other Ebola symptoms will be evaluated by quarantine officers from the CDC, then referred to local health authorities who will decide how to handle the cases. The primary goal is to identify any passengers infected with Ebola before they leave the airport.
Of all the issues that you would think would be non-partisan, Ebola should be at the top of the list. The disease is just a mindless germ that doesn’t check your race, gender, social class, sexual orientation or party identification before it strikes, suggesting both liberals and conservatives have a stake in treating people exposed to the disease with compassion and care. And yet, to flip on Fox News or turn on any conservative media at all, you’d think that ebola was some kind of plague designed by the Democratic party in order to wipe out Republicans.
Blowing the threat of ebola out of proportion and trying to link it to Obama has been a constant theme on the right in recent days. Elisabeth Hasselbeck of Fox News literally demanded that we put the country on lockdown, banning all travel in and out. In a bit of race-baiting, Andrea Tantaros of Fox suggested that people who travel to the country and show symptoms of ebola will “seek treatment from a witch doctor” instead of go to the hospital. Fox host Steve Doocy suggested the CDC is lying about ebola because they’re “part of the administration”. Fox also promoted a conspiracy theorist who is trying to claim the CDC is lying when they caution people not to panic.
Other right wing media joined in. Tammy Bruce blamed ebola on the “Obama legacy”. Laura Ingraham said Obama was prevented from doing more to stop the disease because of his “core ties to the African continent”. Rush Limbaugh even went as far as to accuse Obama of letting the disease spread because he supposes liberals believe “we kind of deserve a little bit of this”.
Okay, so here’s a zombie mistake and a big one. Justice Kennedy’s Typo Accidentally Stops Same-Sex Marriage in Nevada.
Yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy stunned America when he ordered a halt on Nevada’s same-sex marriages, less than a day after the Court voted to overturn a ban on gay marriages in that state. Turns out that it was a total accident. Yes, a big ol’ “oops, my bad” incident.
According to SCOTUSBlog, what happened was the following: The Ninth Circuit recently heard challenges to same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada, who, for the purposes of convenience, had combined both of their challenges into a single case. In two different rulings, the federal appellate court struck down both of these states’ bans, allowing same-sex marriage in Idaho and Nevada, and issued a mandate on the ruling to immediately enforce the new law. In other words, the moment that the Ninth Circuit struck down the ban, gay and lesbian couples could get married immediately.
This did not make Idaho happy, so they filed a request to Justice Kennedy asking him to put a stop on same-sex marriage in Idaho, so that state officials could review their case before the Ninth Circuit. Kennedy allowed it, but in a total brain fart moment, issued an order that put a stop on weddings in both Idaho and Nevada, even though nobody in Nevada had asked for a review, either.
Thankfully, same-sex marriages can still occur in Las Vegas for the time being, but unfortunately, nobody knows what the eff is happening anymore. As a result, the Ninth Circuit has recalled its order implementing same-sex marriage in Idaho and are asking for briefs as to whether they need to do the same in Nevada.
Good job, Kennedy. Look how much confusion your typo has caused.
Oh, another Zombie Meme replacing Benghazi these days. It’s not only Ebola that’s Obama’s fault but also ISIL. It’s all about killing white people!!! Here’s some great links and proof from Politicus.
We have shown that for the GOP, the threat of Ebola exists only as an excuse to attack President Obama, that it’s all Obama’s fault (of course) and that, Oh my God! Oh my God! It’s going to kill us all! Cue to Rand Paul diving under his bed.
We have also been closely following the rise of ISIL in Syria and Iraq, and have tried to show you the contrast between the Republican and the Democratic reactions.
We have shown that for the GOP, the threat of ISIL exists only as an excuse to attack President Obama, that it’s all Obama’s fault (of course) and that Oh my God! Oh my God! They’re going to kill us all! Cue to Lindsey Graham diving under his bed.
It is surely significant that yesterday Time Magazine should profile the Republican response to the ISIL “scandal”: GOP Ad Claims ISIS Plot to Attack U.S. Via ‘Arizona’s Backyard.’
As Time’s Zeke Miller and Alex Rogers describe the ad, which was posted to YouTube yesterday,
The National Republican Congressional Committee ad opens with grainy footage of black flags and fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) holding rifles on military vehicles. “Evil forces around the world want to harm Americans every day,” an ominous voiceover states. “Their entry into our country? Through Arizona’s backyard.” The spot goes on to recount how Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), locked in a close re-election fight with Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, has voted against border security legislation, suggesting that she “leaves Arizona vulnerable.”
Chris Wallace of Fox News has already planted the suggestion in viewers’ facile minds that Ebola could come across our Southern Border and that it could be used as a weapon. It doesn’t matter after those words are spoken than an expert debunks them. The damage has been done.
The brain damage was done to any one that actually believes these things years ago.
So what’s on your reading and blogging list today?