Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Ukrainian Orthodox Church wanted to break ties with Russia – updated 12 October 2018

UPDATE

Ukraine secured approval yesterday to establish an independent church in what Kiev says is a vital step against Russian meddling in its affairs, but the Russian clergy fiercely opposes as the biggest split in Christianity for a thousand years.

A three-day synod presided over by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul, seat of the global spiritual leader of roughly 300 million Orthodox Christians, endorsed Ukraine’s request for an “autocephalous” (independent) church.

The synod will “proceed to the granting of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine,” a statement said.

The synod took several decisions to pave the way for Ukraine to set up its church, including rehabilitating a Ukrainian patriarch excommunicated by the Russian Orthodox Church for leading a breakaway church in the early 1990s. (source Reuters)

ORIGINAL POST FROM 25 SEPTEMBER 2018

People can’t fail to have noticed  that President Vladimir Putin has found God. For a former KGB chief and a presumably a hard-line communist back in the day this is truly his road to Damascus. Or is it?

Like the Tsars he has used religion as a “soft power” approach to influence all the orthodox followers in the former Soviet Union using Patriarch Krill as his go-to church man. He is said to have his own confessor (that must be an interesting experience) and was recently seen wading in ice-cold water at Epiphany (but then he’s always bearing his chest isn’t he?).

But the Ukrainians have had enough and want to break from Moscow. They accuse the Russians of hacking and even an assassination attempt on Patriarch Filaret who has been particularly critical of Putin using the church for political advantage.

He accused him of using the church to spread “propaganda that defends Russia and Putin” on a visit to America last week. After Russia invaded eastern Ukraine he called Putin a “cynical liar” who would suffer “eternal damnation in hell“. In return his superiors in Moscow excommunicated him in 1997.

Sunday Times picture

Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the head of the orthodox church is expected to grant the Ukrainians self-governance (autocephaly) at next month’s synod. He too has been the subject of the hacking of his e-mails.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is very pleased about the chance of freedom from the Moscow and said he hoped that “no-one will try to turn it back”.

Moscow is understandably very unhappy, furious in fact, promising to cut off links with Constantinople (Istanbul) the heart of the orthodox faith for over a thousand years when it was capital of the Byzantine empire.

Patriarch Krill has suspended communications with Constantinople and has said he will no longer mention Patriarch Bartholomew in his prayers.

But that would be cutting off his nose to spite his face. Half of the orthodox followers – 100 million – are in Russia. Perhaps more worrying is that Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk ((similar to an arch-bishop) who is in charge of external relations in the Russian church has warned that “bloodshed would follow. Very christian!

But the former American Ambassador to Kiev, John Herbst, said that there are legitimate fears about how Russia would react as it would reduce Moscow’s “soft power”. And Moscow hasn’t just got Ukraine to worry about. Similar moves have been started in Belarus with the risk of it spreading to other former republics like Moldova and the Caucasus region. Archbishop Sviatoslav of Belarus said “Moscow has been doing everything to prevent the Ukrainian and Belorussian churches form receiving autocephaly“.

One of the reasons Moscow is worried that Ukraine will block access to Moscow’s control of holy sites including the monasteries in Kiev, the birthplace of Russian orthodoxy. There are many beautiful churches in Kiev – St Andrew’s, St Michael and Saint Sophia cathedral among others.

But the heart of it all is in the “Cave monastery” or the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. 

The Greek St Antony founded this lavrain 1051, after Orthodoxy was adopted as Kyivan Rus’ official religion.

It contains numerous architectural monuments, ranging from bell towers to cathedrals to the catacombs which St Antony and his follower Feodosy progressively dug out  and  where they and other reclusive monks worshipped, studied and lived.

When they died their bodies were naturally preserved, without embalming, by the caves’ cool temperature and dry atmosphere. The mummies survive even today, confirmation for believers that these were true holy men.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a guided tour of it with pilgrims from all over the world. Walking through narrow corridors hewed from the rock with only candles to light the way is not for the claustrophobic. You can see boxes and earthenware pots (marked with a stick-man symbol with upraised arms) of relics behind grilled alcoves as you walk along and hear monks chanting from somewhere in the depths – where only priests are allowed to go.

The main attractions of the Lavra include the Great Lavra Belltower, and the Dormition Cathedral, destroyed in World War II, and fully reconstructed in recent years. 

Other churches and cathedrals of the Lavra include: the Refectory Church, the Church of All Saints, the Church of the Saviour at Berestove, the Church of the Exaltation of Cross, the Church of the Trinity, the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin, the Church of the Conception of St. Anne, and the Church of the Life-Giving Spring. The Lavra also contains the St. Nicholas Monastery, and the Kiev Theological Academy and Seminary andstrong stone fortification walls..

When I visited Kiev and toured this 28 hectare site I was intrigued to learn that all the revenue from tourists goes to the Russian church not to the Ukrainian one.

And it is big business. Apart from the usual tourist memorabilia (I bought a “Keep me safe ring”) they sell bibles, priests’ robes and all the paraphernalia used by orthodox priest. They even sell the onion domes to put on the church roofs.

So apart from a religious disconnect there are probably financial implications too.

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Helicopter parenting isn’t helpful for child’s development but nurseries are!

A recent study of more than 400 children, starting at the age of two, suggests that helicopter parenting harms a child’s emotional well-being. 

This is a term used to describe parents who become over-involved in their children’s activities.

Toddlers whose mothers intervened more frequently in their play grew up to be less able to control their emotions and behaviour.

At age two the children were filmed playing and tidying up with their mothers. The activity was scored on how controlling the mother was – was she helping or intervening when the child became frustrated?

Over the next eight year the researchers returned to see how the children were developing. They interviewed them and teachers and parents and measured behaviour such as emotional control.

“When mothers are too controlling at age two and don’t allow their children to experience a range of emotions and practise managing tim, the child loses out on an important learning opportunity” said Nicole Perry from the University of Minnesota who carried out the study published in the journal Development Psychology..

The ability to regulate emotions ( a key component of emotional intelligence) was linked to a host of adaptive outcomes, including mental and physical health, greater peer likability, healthier social relationships, positive teacher-student relationships, and greater academic adjustment.

If parents want better outcomes they should send their children to a nursery. A recent French study has found that children sent to nurseries have better social skills and behaviour than those kept at home by parents.

Opportunities for socialisation and stimulation offered by quality centre-based childcare might prevent children from developing emotional difficulties, according to an observational study of 1,400 children who were tracked from birth to the age of eight.

Parents were asked to complete questionnaires at three, five-and-a- half, and eight years of age. They were asked how easily their children made friends, their behaviour and social skills. At four, eight, and twelve months of age parent were asked what childcare support they used.

The researchers found that for psychological development a nursery or crêche staffed by professionals was better than being cared for informally by family, friends, or a childminder.

Children who had been to a nursery, daycare centre or crêche – formal childcare (26%)- had lower odds of poor social skills, difficult relationships with peers, and behavioural problems, compared to those who received informal childcare (30%) or went to a childminder (45%).

If they had been in formal childcare for a year the odds were even lower. In contrast those who had been cared for by a childminder appeared more likely to have behavioural problems.

It seems girls do better than boys which they say is because formal childcare is about internalising behaviour, more common in girls than boys.

The study doesn’t prove cause and effect and the families were better educated and more affluent than average and the researchers couldn’t assess the quality of the childcare.

However the researchers concluded that “Access to high quality childcare in the first years of life may improve children’s emotional and cognitive development, prevent later emotional difficulties, and promote pro-social behaviours”.

In France 97% of children start school at three (in contrast to Scandinavian countries where they start later than in the UK) and formal childcare provision is open to everyone.


10 Tips for better health

According to  the Chief Medical Officer these are the ten things you should be doing to look after yourself (and others).

  1. Don’t smoke. If you can’t stop cut down
  2. Follow a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables
  3. Keep physically active
  4. Manage stress by talking things through and making time to relax
  5. If you drink alcohol do so in moderation
  6. Cover up in the sun and protect children from sunburn
  7. Practise safer sex
  8. Take up cancer-screening opportunities
  9. Be safe on the roads. Follow the highway code
  10. Learn the First Aid ABC: airways, breathing, circulation

And as a Macmillan nurse once said “Be kind to yourself

 


Social media makes young people more lonely than the elderly

This comes as no surprise to me as I first blogged about this eight years ago – and a couple of times since.

The evidence is out there: social media is not good for your mental health. The survey linked the increase in loneliness directly to social media.

A new survey of 55, 000 people was conducted by BBC4’s All in the mind programme led by Professor of Psychology Pamela Qualter at the University of Manchester said “the response to the BBC Loneliness Experiment has been significant. People have provided valuable insights into when and how loneliness is experienced, how it relates to age, being alone, carrying responsibilities, employability and discrimination”.

40% (4 in 10) people aged between 16 and 24 sat they are often lonely compared with 30% over-65s. These are people with more so-called friends on Facebook – who they don’t know face-to-face -than they have in real life. They say that being told to get out more and date is the least helpful advice they receive because they can still feel lonely in company.

A similar exercise carried out earlier this year by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) also found loneliness is much more common among the young rather than the older generations.

The government actually appointed a minister for loneliness, Tracery Crouch. It sounds like something out of a sci-fi story.

There have been behavioural changes in the younger “sensible generation” less drinking and drug-taking, fewer pregnancies and this is probably because they are spending more times connected through phones and tablets and less time socialising (down 30 minutes a day since 2,000).

Professor Qualter also said “.. the stigma of loneliness… suggest we need to be kinder to ourselves when we feel disconnected from others“.

Just stay off social media and get a real life

Previous posts

Loneliness and health

Friends

Young people not communicating


First Facebook now Instagram envy – and despair?

Just as Facebook makes people feel less satisfied about their lives as they look at exaggerated posts and touched-up selfies it seems Instagram is having the same effect.

It’s become a popular place to get ideas about your home decor with perfect pictures of the new extension or bathroom or anything else in the home considered of interest.

A recent survey by a window manufacturer found that after viewing these beautiful settings half of the of 1,500 UK adults it asked, felt dissatisfied with their homes after seeing other people’s.

And one in ten felt disappointed with their homes “several times a day” after looking at others’ on social media.

Dr David Lewis, a well-known psychologist, describes this as Home Dysmorphic Disorder or HDD. Now Dr Lewis has a flair for publicity and labels but he has a point. People with OK homes can be made to feel dissatisfied as they look at all these perfectly staged pictures. Just like scrutinising Facebook.

There’s no doubt that many people will get good ideas for making over their homes and according to the Sunday Times these are the key elements:


Most popular babies’ names in 2017

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the most popular names last year were:

For Boys (28,222 different names)

  1. Oliver – for the fifth year running
  2. Harry – for second year in a row
  3. George – for second year in a row
  4. Noah
  5. Jack
  6. Jacob
  7. Leo – new entry in the top ten
  8. Oscar
  9. Charlie
  10. Muhammed – top name in London, West Midlands and Yorkshire

Least popular boys’ names were Ajax, Reese, and Ripley (only 3 of each)

For Girls (35,475 different names)

  1. Olivia
  2. Amelia
  3. Isla
  4. Ava
  5. Emily
  6. Isabella
  7. Mia
  8. Poppy – has replaced Jessica in top 10
  9. Ella
  10. Lily

Other new girls’ names in the top 100 include Aurora, Orla, Edith, Bonnie, Lyla, and Hallie.

Least popular girls’ names include October, Success and Zamora.

And Sarah has dropped out of the top 100 for the first time in over a hundred years!

Previous posts on this topic


Women more likely to be addicted to their smartphones

Do you never leave a room without your phone in your hand? Do you check Facebook or other social media in your bedroom at night? Tell fibs about how long you spend on it?

If so you could be a victim of smartphone or internet addiction.

Women are more likely to have this problem and are far more reliant on their devices than men according to research by UK Addiction Treatment, the largest company of its kind in the UK.

It has recorded a 160% rise in women needing help for internet-based addiction in the past two years. Last year it treated almost a third of the it’s private and NHS patients for the problem and most were women who find themselves unable to stop using social media or playing games on their phones or computers.

They feel anxious, irritable or depressed when they can’t use the internet and put it before basic needs. Last year the company helped 475 women and 375 men, up from 180 women and 220 men in 2015.

They are not sure why there is a gender difference but it could be because women are more likely to be at home with children or unemployed.

Most patients were in their 30s or 40s, younger people understand the internet better, said Eytan Alexander the company’s founder. “It’s about escapism and we see female patients using drugs to enable them to stay up into the night to play games on their phones or stay on social media”.

The World Health Organisation recently declared that “gaming disorder” was a new mental health condition.

The government is also concerned about the effect of this  on children who see their parents, and particularly their mothers, as role models.

They are advising parents to leave their phones in the kitchen at night to set a good example to their children. They also advise that all computers should be turned off two hours before bedtime and no internet in the bedroom! And that applies to smart phones too which should be a no-no in kids’ bedrooms.

They want parents to be stricter to combat mobile phone addiction and show them how to use the internet safely. By 2020 young children from age 4 will be taught in schools about the perils of social media.

I’ve posted may times before about the dangers of social media and the way it effects your health and the clever ways designers use to get you addicted e.g. likes and streaks, just like a slot machine randomly reinforcing you behaviours.