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Ban needed on ‘torturous’ electroconvulsive therapy

Electroshock’s brutal and sordid history ranges from its use to help slaughter pigs, to punishment, painful “aversion therapy” on homosexuals, inflicting brain damage on children and others, and to torture humans.

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Mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) International announced that a ban of electroshock treatment — the practice of up to 460 volts of electricity to the brain to “treat mental disorder” — should be imminent in light of increasing reports of patients being damaged and deaths.

In Texas in the US, the only state to record deaths within 14 days of electroshock being administered, reported a death rate in recent years that represents an estimated 300 deaths nationally each year. The most frequent causes of death have been cardiac events and suicide, according to one study [1].

Electroshock’s brutal and sordid history ranges from its use to help slaughter pigs, to punishment, painful “aversion therapy” on homosexuals, inflicting brain damage on children and others, and to torture humans.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never obtained a single clinical trial from the manufacturers of the electroshock devices proving their safety and efficacy. Under Section 516 of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, the FDA has a duty to ban devices that present “substantial deception or unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury.” Electroshock, also called electroconvulsive therapy or ECT, can cause brain damage, long-term memory loss and death, constituting more than a “substantial risk” and is far from safe and effective, according to thousands of survivors’ complaints.[2] Ignoring these dangers, the FDA has instead limited bans under this Section to prohibiting the use of powdered gloves in medical or surgical procedures and prosthetic hair fiber implants that may trigger inflammation and hypersensitivity reactions, the latter, the FDA says, were misrepresented in marketing as “safe, effective and causing little or no discomfort.”

While the FDA allows the ECT device to remain on the market, it doesn’t regulate how it is used, giving psychiatrists a free-for-all to administer it to whomever they choose. This has meant that children younger than five and toddlers have been subjected to the violence of this shock procedure in at least five states that CCHR has established through Freedom of Information Act requests. Despite a report from the United Nations committee on Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment that warns electroshock without consent constitutes torture, ECT continues to be given to involuntary patients without consent.[3]

Pregnant women and their unborn babies are also not protected from ECT, despite the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiology saying that ECT is “absolutely contraindicated” in pregnancy.[4] Researchers of Maine Medical Center have found brain damage in a baby whose mother had undergone ECT while pregnant.[5] The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine also warns of potential spontaneous abortion, placental abruption, cardiac arrhythmias, fetal burn and intrauterine fetal death when a pregnant woman experiences general electrical shock.[6] Yet, the APA claims that it’s safe during all trimesters.[7]

Jan Eastgate, president of CCHR International, said: “Electroshock is mental euthanasia, with a long history of being used for torture and abuse. Electric shock eradicates memory. It should never be condoned or permitted because quite apart from its inhuman aspects, patients consider it bluntly criminal, especially when forced on them. Psychiatrists and the FDA pass off electric shock machines as wonderful, even though they can kill patients.” Sign CCHR’s Petition to Ban the Electroshock (ECT) Device.

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The impact of any electrical shock upon a body for any purpose is very dangerous. Researchers from the University of Montreal have shown that any electric shock above 120 volts can “cause neurologic and neuropsychological symptoms in humans. Following an electrical injury, some patients may show various emotional and behavioral aftereffects, such as memory loss and symptoms of depression.”[8] ECT uses up to 460 volts, deliberately inducing a grand mal seizure that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) says can last up to 30 minutes.

ECT: Slaughters Pigs and Tortures

ECT was invented in fascist Italy in 1937 by psychiatrist Ugo CerlettiDarius Rejali, author of Torture and Modernity, wrote of Cerletti “having killed a few dogs by experimentation” and then “discovered that Roman slaughterhouses used electrocution to slaughter pigs.” Cerletti “discovered that pigs could be shocked several times and would revive after a few minutes.” He then applied ECT to humans, his first victim screaming that it was “deadly.” “The torture and ‘treatments’ of the insane” historically has derived from the “application to animals in abattoirs,” Rejali stated.[9]

Cerletti’s device very rapidly pressed into political service, Rejali said. In August 2017, a paper published in History of Psychiatry documented how “The Nazi political and medical establishment” regarded ECT as a means “to empty psychiatric institutions, thereby relieving the state of the burden…” Psychiatrist Emil Gelny “added four extra electrodes to existing ECT machines, which were attached to patients’ wrists and ankles to deliver the lethal shocks after patients were knocked unconscious by the initial current applied to the head.”[10]

In the 1950s, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) expressed considerable interest in ECT devices. In 1951, Project Artichoke, then MK-ULTRA under Deputy CIA Director Richard Helms in 1953, aimed to control human behavior through hallucinogenic drugs and electroshock.[11] Dr. Ewen Cameron, the first president of the World Psychiatric Association, while professor of psychiatry at McGill University in Canada in the 1950s and 60s, developed his own version of shock treatment, using the UK Page-Russell electroshock device invented in 1948. Cameron called his shock technique “de-patterning” deliberately wiping out patient memories by the use of intensive ECT. The CIA funded his work.[12] He described the procedure on a patient to the 2nd World Congress of Psychiatry in 1957, stating: “There is complete amnesia for all events of his life.”[13]

Electroshock ‘took away her soul’

In 2017, 60 years after Cameron’s experiments left her mother damaged for life, Alison Steel obtained a $100,000settlement from the Canadian government over Cameron’s experiments. “She was never able to really function as a healthy human being because of what they did to her,” Steel stated. “Her emotions were stripped. It took away her soul.”[14]

Electroshock is also used for torture, including on prisoners of the French during the 1954-62 Algerian War.[15] Journalist Gordon Thomas reported that in 1961, Moroccan king Hassan II’s security service was fully staffed with doctors who supervised a wide range of tortures of political detainees using several Page-Russell electroshock machines.[16] Chinese dissidents and members of the religious group The Falun Gong are still subjected to electroshock and “other barbaric forms of torture designed by prison guards to humiliate and inflict maximum pain.”[17]

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Until 1973, when the APA de-classified homosexuality as a mental disorder, electroshock treatment was used in an effort to prevent or eliminate homosexual behavior.[18] Other forms of shock included jolts of electricity administered to the skin and body, sometimes directly to the genitals.[19] Voltage of such devices ranged anywhere from 150-200 volts and on children for behavioral control, 300-400 volts.[20] Allegations that psychiatrists and any others recommending ECT to treat the LGBT community today are homophobic and cruel, CCHR says.[21]

Brain Damage and Memory Loss

Yet the FDA and APA continue to ignore the perils of ECT.

  • In March 2016, a coroner from Sunderland County in the UK determined Elsie Tindle died after electroshock triggered an epileptic fit which caused irreparable brain damage.[22]
  • A 2012 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported a considerable “decrease in functional connectivity” between the prefrontal lobes of the brain and other parts of the brain after ECT. The most extensive long-term follow-up study indicates that “most ECT patients will never recover from the damage in the form of persistent severe mental deficits.”[23]
  • Austin, Texas, psychologist John Breeding, who heads the Coalition for the Abolition of Electroshock, said, “The bottom line is that ECT ‘works’ to the extent that it damages and disables the brain.”[24] Breeding dispels psychiatric theories that the procedure is safer today than its “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” days in the 60s. He says that ECT has more potential for harm than ever. Much higher voltages are employed in the modern procedure because muscle relaxants and anesthetics raise the seizure threshold, with more electricity required to produce a seizure. The greater heat and electricity themselves cause more brain cell death, he says. He concludes “Given what we know about the resulting brain damage, I think this is a form of assault…”[25]
  • Leading ECT researcher and advocate, psychologist Harold Sackeim admitted in an editorial in The Journal of ECT that “virtually all patients experience some degree of persistent and, likely, permanent retrograde amnesia.”[26] In a January 2007 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology, Sackeim and colleagues acknowledged that ECT may cause permanent amnesia and permanent deficits in cognitive abilities, which affect ability to function.[27]
  • In 2005, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Denise de Bellefeuille ruled that a psychiatrist and Santa Barbarapsychiatric facility deceived its patients by failing to tell them that ECT causes irreversible memory loss. The psychiatrist (who had performed shock treatment for over 20 years), admitted that neither he nor anyone else understands how shock treatment works, and that the consent form Johnson provided to patients was “decidedly misleading in a critical regard,” concerning the permanency of memory loss.[28]

Last year, psychologist John Read, professor of clinical psychology at the University of East London concluded from a comprehensive review of 91 studies on ECT that “Given the well-documented high risk of persistent memory dysfunction, the cost-benefit analysis for ECT remains so poor that its use cannot be scientifically, or ethically, justified.”[29]

Eastgate says, “To treat mental problems by electric shocks is brutality in the name of mental health care. The high death rate, severe memory loss and the brain atrophy and damage ECT causes warrants it being banned under existing FDA law.”

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REFERENCES:

[1] “An Analysis of Reported Deaths Following Electroconvulsive Therapy in Texas, 1993-1998,” 1 Aug 2001https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ps.52.8.1095.

[2] Jonathan Emord & Associates, Citizens Petition filed with the FDA Commissioner, 14 Aug. 2016, pp. 14, 27 and 42, http://emord.com/blawg/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/1-ECT-Citizen-Petition.pdf.

[3] A/HRC/22/53, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez,” United Nations, General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Twenty-second Session, Agenda Item 3, 1 Feb. 2013, p. 1, Summary.

[4] https://www.wfsahq.org/documents/306%20Anaesthesia%20for%20Electro-convulsive%20Therapy%20ECT.pdf.

[5] http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/mental-health-abuse/electroshock/pregnancy-study, citing Jacquelyn BlackstoneMichael G. PinetteCamille SantarpioJoseph R. Wax, “Electroconvulsive Therapy in Pregnancy.” Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2007, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, http://greenjournal.org/cgi/content/short/110/2/465.

[6] “Electric shock in pregnancy: a review,” The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, Vol. 29, 2014, Issue 2, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/14767058.2014.1000295?journalCode=ijmf20.

[7] https://www.healthyplace.com/depression/articles/electroconvulsive-therapy-during-pregnancy.

[8] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080515113311.htmUniversity of Montreal. “Electric Shocks Can Cause Neurologic And Neuropsychological Symptoms.” ScienceDaily16 May 2008https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080515113311.htm.

[9] Darius Rejali, “Electricity: The Global History Of A Torture Technology,” http://www.reed.edu/poli_sci/faculty/rejali/articles/History_of_Electric_Torture.htmlPetr Skrabanek, PhD., “Convulsive Therapy – A Critical Appraisal of its Origins and Value,” Irish f’.’lcdicaIJourIlo,, June 1986, Volume 79, No. 6.

[10] https://psmag.com/news/nazis-ruin-everything; G Gazdag, GS Ungvari, and H Czech, “Mass killing under the guise of ECT: the darkest chapter in the history of biological psychiatry,” History of Psychiatry, Sage Publications, 2017.

[11] Stephen Lendman, “Meet Maryam Ruhullah: A Victim of MK-ULTRA,” Countercurrents.org16 Feb. 2010https://www.countercurrents.org/lendman160210.htm.

[12] Leonard Roy Frank, “Electroshock: Death, Brain Damage, Memory Loss, and Brainwashing,” The Journal of Mind and Behaviour, Summer and Autumn 1990; Leonard Roy Frank, Editor, “The Electroshock Quotationary,” June 2006http://www.endofshock.com/102C_ECT.pdfhttp://www.brown.uk.com/brownlibrary/FRANK.htm.

[13] Op. cit.Leonard Roy Frank, “The Electroshock Quotationary.”

[14] https://stillnessinthestorm.com/2017/11/canadian-government-quietly-compensates-daughter-of-mkultra-victi/.

[15] Leonard Roy Frank, Editor, The History of Shock Treatment, 1978.

[16] Gordon ThomasJourney Into Madness, The True Story of Secret CIA Mind Control and Medical Abuse, (Bantam Books) 1989.

[17] https://www.news.com.au/world/asia/extreme-torture-inside-chinas-correctional-facilities/news-story/7e4a796bc1401d593f5cc58d7fd32ecb.

[18] Patrick Strudwick, “This Gay Man Was Given Repeated Electric Shocks By British Doctors to Make Him Straight,” Buzz Feed30 Sept 2017https://www.buzzfeed.com/patrickstrudwick/this-gay-man-was-given-repeated-electric-shocks-by-british?utm_term=.orlQxe4JR#.coV1dRZOn.

[19] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-scot/shock-the-gay-away-secrets-of-early-gay-aversion-therapy-revealed_b_3497435.htmlhttps://www.madinamerica.com/2014/09/fda-panel-rejects-aversive-therapy-shock-devices/https://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/07/inside_judge_rotenberg_center.html.

[20] https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/09/fda-panel-rejects-aversive-therapy-shock-devices/https://books.google.com/books?id=qpcuDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT137&lpg=PT137&dq=aversion+therapy+electroshock+used+70+volts+of+electricity&source=bl&ots=3dqOdCCa7X&sig=-ddCLbjl6FUOI6LspJdjZEBm4-M&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiawZX-p8fcAhWWFjQIHf8ACNk4ChDoATADegQIAxAB#v=onepage&q=aversion%20therapy%20electroshock%20used%2070%20volts%20of%20electricity&f=false.

[21] Emily Reynolds, “The cruel, dangerous reality of gay conversion therapy,” Wired7 July 2018https://www.wired.co.uk/article/what-is-gay-conversion-therapy.

[22] Petra Silfverskiold, “Electric shock therapy led to Sunderland patient having permanent fit,” Daily Mail (UK), 10 Mar. 2016http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/electric-shock-therapy-led-to-sunderland-patient-having-permanent-fit-1-7786233.

[23] Peter Breggin, “New Study Confirms Electroshock (ECT) Causes Brain Damage,” Huffington Post, 9 Apr. 2012https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-peter-breggin/electroshock-treatment_b_1373619.html.

[24] John Breeding, Ph.D., “Electroshocking Children: Why It Should Be Stopped,” Mad in America11 Feb. 2014https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/02/electroshocking-children-stopped/.

[25] Op. cit.John Breeding, Ph.D., “Electroshocking Children: Why It Should Be Stopped”; John Breeding, Ph.D., “Chapter 9: Electroshock,” http://www.wildestcolts.com/psych_opp/d-electroshock/1-shock.html.

[26] IbidJohn Breeding, Ph.D., “Electroshocking Children: Why It Should Be Stopped.”

[27] Ibid., citing, Sackeim et al., “The Cognitive Effects of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Community Settings” Neuropsychopharmacology, Volume 32, Number 1, 2007.

[28] Charles D. Morgan, “Milestone case: Hospital ordered to cease shocking patients,” https://suemypsychiatrist.wordpress.com/category/ect/.

[29] John ReadChelsea Arnold, “Is Electroconvulsive Therapy for Depression More Effective Than Placebo? A Systematic Review of Studies Since 2009,” Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry Volume 19, Number 1, 2017, pp. 5-23(19), http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/springer/ehpp/2017/00000019/00000001/art00002.

Health & Wellness

Lesbian, gay and bi adolescents at elevated risk for engaging in polysubstance use

Lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents were more likely than heterosexual adolescents to be polysubstance users versus non-users across multiple classes of use: experimental users, marijuana-alcohol users, tobacco-alcohol users, medium-frequency three-substance users, and high-frequency three-substance users.

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Lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents were more likely than heterosexual adolescents to be polysubstance users versus non-users across multiple classes of use: experimental users, marijuana-alcohol users, tobacco-alcohol users, medium-frequency three-substance users, and high-frequency three-substance users. In general, sexual orientation identity differences in polysubstance use class membership were larger for females, especially bisexual females, than for males.

These are the findings reported in “Latent Classes of Polysubstance Use Among Adolescents in the United States: Intersections of Sexual Identity with Sex, Age, and Race/Ethnicity”, an article published in LGBT Health, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

The study by Robert W.S. Coulter, Deanna Ware, Jessica N. Fish, and Michael W. Plankey aimed to estimate latent classes of concurrent polysubstance use and test for sexual orientation differences in latent class memberships with representative data from adolescents (in this case, living in 19 US states). The researchers also tested whether sex, race/ethnicity, and age moderated the sexual identity differences in polysubstance use class memberships.

The researchers analyzed data from 119,437 adolescents who participated in the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Latent class analysis characterized polysubstance use patterns based on self-reported frequency of lifetime and past-month use of alcohol (including heavy episodic drinking), tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco), and marijuana. Multinomial logistic regression models tested differences in latent class memberships by sexual identity. Interaction terms tested whether sex, race/ethnicity, and age moderated the sexual identity differences in polysubstance use class memberships.

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A six-class model of polysubstance use fit the data best and included nonusers (61.5%), experimental users (12.2%), marijuana-alcohol users (14.8%), tobacco-alcohol users (3.8%), medium-frequency three-substance users (3.6%), and high-frequency three-substance users (4.1%). Gay/lesbian- and bisexual-identified adolescents had significantly higher odds than heterosexual-identified adolescents of being in all of the user classes compared with the nonuser class. These sexual identity differences in latent polysubstance use class memberships were generally larger for females than for males, varied occasionally by race/ethnicity, and were sometimes larger for younger ages.

“Compared with their heterosexual peers, gay/lesbian and bisexual adolescents—especially females—are at heightened risk of engaging in multiple types of polysubstance use,” the researchers concluded, recommending that “designing, implementing, and evaluating interventions will likely reduce these sexual orientation disparities.”

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Health & Wellness

Teens face health and safety risks exploring sex online

Online sexual experiences can predict whether they become victims of sexual assault one year later.

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Teens spend hours every day on internet-connected devices, where limitless opportunities to explore sexuality online. These opportunities don’t come without big risks, though. A researcher from Michigan State University found that online sexual experiences can predict whether they become victims of sexual assault one year later.

The findings, published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence and funded by the National Institutes of Health, are part of a study that is the first of its kind to investigate online sexual experiences using a person-centered approach, which identifies specific patterns of behaviors in sub-groups of people rather than general observations across a large group. This approach allowed researchers to track the girls’ online experiences – and subsequent offline experiences – more intricately than prior studies.

“It makes sense that engaging in risky behavior online would translate to offline risks,” said Megan Maas, research author and MSU assistant professor of human development and family studies at MSU. “But we were able to identify specific online behavioral patterns that correlated with susceptibility to different offline outcomes – which was never captured from conventional approaches before.”

Maas and colleagues assessed data from 296 girls between 14- and 17-years-old, who self-reported their online and offline sexual experiences over five years. Additionally, the girls would visit a lab each year for a trauma interview to measure experiences such as sexual abuse, assault or violence that may go undetected in a survey.

“By assessing the teens’ online sexual experiences using the person-centered approach, we were able to group the teens into four classes of experience patterns, which predicted sexual health and victimization outcomes one year later,” Maas said.

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The four classes were:

  • Online inclusive: These teens have a high probability of having several online sexual experiences, including looking at internet porn, chatting with strangers about sex, sending nude photos and posing provocatively on social media. This class often has strangers posting sexy comments on their social media accounts, requesting nude photos and soliciting them for sex.
  • Seekers: These teens purposefully seek out internet porn, chat with others about sex and post sexy photos on social media, but purposefully do not have a sexy profile picture and do not receive a lot of online attention from others.
  • Attractors: This class of teens gets attention from others online, though they’re not explicitly looking for it. They had a sexy social media profile, had people requesting nude photos, received comments about how sexy they are and have strangers solicit them for offline sex.
  • Online abstinent: This group had little probability in having online sexual experiences.

The goal was to pinpoint online patterns of sexual experiences related to three offline outcomes one year later: HIV risk, sexual assault and intimate partner violence, Maas said.

They discovered that attractors were more likely to be sexually assaulted than the seekers; online inclusive were likely to be sexually assaulted or engage in risky sex, especially if they’d experienced prior sexual abuse or assault; whereas, the seekers were more likely to have a physically violent romantic partner, especially if they’d experienced prior sexual abuse or assault.

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Maas explained that her findings demonstrate how critical it is for teens to receive education to understand how online sexual experiences may shape their offline experiences. Specifically, she hopes that schools and families will educate youth on sexual health and consent as well as healthy relationships, as their online experiences could have serious consequences.

“Rather than trying to tackle the impossible – like eliminating teens’ exposure to porn or ability to sext – we can and should educate them about these realities and risks and offer alternatives for learning about and expressing sexuality,” Maas said.

Maas hopes that her findings will inspire parents to proactively talk to their kids about risks they face online, as well as to establish rules early in their lives that can prevent girls’ from putting too much emphasis on their sexy social media presence.

“The best strategy for parents to follow is to limit time and space for internet usage,” Maas said. “Establish a time limit they can be on a device, and don’t allow screens in bedrooms. There are apps for parents that can help control screen time – and plenty of ways to involve their kids in activities that don’t rely on the internet at all.”

Next, Maas plans to explore why these online experiences predict offline risk and victimization. For instance, if teen girls feel obligated to engage in unwanted sexual activity if they have already sent a nude photo, or if boys feel entitled to sex from girls with sexy social media profiles. She hopes this follow-up study will clarify these findings to provide more specific guidance for sexual health and internet safety programming without attributing blame to survivors.

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Study suggests why some young adults may be more likely to engage in unsafe sex

A study found that heterosexual men tended to choose more passive strategies in condom negotiation (and were most likely to agree to sex without a condom); heterosexual women tended to choose more assertive strategies (like withholding sex); and MSM tended to aim for more verbal but selecting strategies that were not confrontational.

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Gender, sexual orientation, and the desire to form lasting romantic relationships appear to influence sexual risk-taking among young adults, according to a new research published in the Journal of Sex Research.

As far as the researchers are aware, this is the first study to directly compare how heterosexual men, heterosexual women, and men who have sex with men (MSM) differ in their approach to condom decision-making with a new sexual partner.

The findings may help explain why some young people engage in unsafe sex even though they are aware of the risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, cervical cancer, and unplanned pregnancy.

To explore this aspect of risk, researchers studied how heterosexual men (157 participants), heterosexual women (177), and MSM (106) aged 18-25 years, recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk system (a crowdsourcing marketplace) and a university in Canada, make decisions about using condoms.

Participants were presented with a vignette describing an encounter with a hypothetical new sexual or romantic partner and were asked to rate their attitudes and likelihood of choosing particular courses of action, as well as their relationship motivation.

Results showed that all three groups had a preference for different condom negotiation strategies– heterosexual men tended to choose more passive strategies (and were most likely to agree to sex without a condom); heterosexual women tended to choose more assertive strategies (like withholding sex); and MSM tended to aim for a balance, choosing more verbal strategies than heterosexual men, but selecting strategies that were not confrontational.

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The findings may also explain some of the motives and reasoning that influence risky behaviours. For example, the study suggests that heterosexual women may be more willing to take risks when they both have stronger relationship motivation and view their partner as having more relationship potential.

“Understanding what factors make it more difficult to recognize risk during a sexual encounter, such as the desire for a long-term romantic relationship and partner familiarity, can lead to better prevention”, says Dr. Shayna Skakoon-Sparling from the University of Guelph, Canada who led the research. “It is particularly striking that women had lower expectations that their partner would be interested in condom use–this highlights how challenging heterosexual women expect the negotiation of condom use to be.”

The authors conclude that the findings have important implications for policy and prevention and should inform the creation of more effective sexual health education programs and interventions.

This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect and the authors point to several limitations including that it did not involve women who have sex with women, or any other gender/sexuality minority groups, which could limit the generalisability of the findings. They also note that a hypothetical scenario may not invoke the same emotional response or reflect real-life behavior.

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Health & Wellness

Drugs used to enhance sexual experiences, according to study

While people of all genders and sexual orientations reported engaging in substance-linked sex, gay and bisexual men were more likely to have done so; homosexual men were 1.6 times as likely as heterosexual men to have used drugs with the specific intent of enhancing the sexual experience in the last year.

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Combining drugs with sex is common regardless of gender or sexual orientation. This is according to new research by UCL and the Global Drug Survey, which looked into global trends of substance-linked sex.

The findings, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, revealed that alcohol, cannabis, MDMA and cocaine are the drugs most commonly combined with sex.

Respondents from the UK were the most likely to combine drugs with sex, compared with the US, other European countries, Australia and Canada.

“While using drugs in combination with and to specifically enhance the sexual experience tends to be associated with gay and bisexual men, we found that in our sample, men and women of all sexual orientations engaged in this behavior. However, differences between groups did emerge,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Will Lawn (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences). “Harm reduction messages relating to substance-linked sex in general should therefore not only be targeted towards gay and bisexual men, as they are relevant to all groups.”

As part of the Global Drug Survey, roughly 22,000 people responded to online questions about which drugs they used in combination with sex, in addition to questions about whether they used drugs to specifically enhance their sexual experience, and how these drugs affect the sexual experience.

Alcohol, cannabis, MDMA and cocaine were most commonly used, while GHB/GBL and MDMA were rated most favorably. For instance, MDMA increased ’emotionality/intimacy’ the most, while GHB/GBL increased ‘sexual desire’ the most.

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While people of all genders and sexual orientations reported engaging in substance-linked sex, gay and bisexual men were more likely to have done so; homosexual men were 1.6 times as likely as heterosexual men to have used drugs with the specific intent of enhancing the sexual experience in the last year.

Alcohol, cannabis, MDMA and cocaine were most commonly used, while GHB/GBL and MDMA were rated most favorably.
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Drugs typically considered as ‘chemsex’ drugs – methamphetamine, mephedrone and GHB/GBL – were more commonly used by gay and bisexual men in combination with sex, which the researchers say highlights the continued need for certain targeted harm reduction messages.

As the survey respondents were self-selecting rather than a representative sample, the researchers say their estimates of prevalence will be substantially larger than the general population. However, relative differences between groups are expected to be reliable.

While country of residence was not asked specifically, currency was used as a proxy. This revealed that those from the UK were more likely to have combined all drugs, except for cannabis, with sex; this trend was particularly strong for mephedrone.

The researchers say that understanding how and why people use drugs is essential if we are to deliver harm reduction messages that are in touch with peoples’ lived experience.

“By engaging with your audience and accepting that drugs provide pleasure as well as harms, you can deliver harm reduction messages in a more trustworthy and nuanced manner,” said Lawn.

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Senior author Professor Adam Winstock, founder and director of the Global Drug Survey, added: “By appreciating how different drugs affect sex we can tailor our harm reduction messages. These pragmatic messages can save lives.”

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Health & Wellness

How easy is it to get on the Keto Diet train?

Our bodies know what’s going on when we are eating too much and thus, the digestive system begins to try and first hasten and then stabilize our metabolism. Eventually however, age will mean our bodies slow down whether we like it or not. You will put on more weight and easier, than when you were in your teenager years when you’re over 30.

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The majority of people don’t gain weight suddenly. It happens over a long extended period of time. Our bodies know what’s going on when we are eating too much and thus, the digestive system begins to try and first hasten and then stabilize our metabolism. Eventually however, age will mean our bodies slow down whether we like it or not. You will put on more weight and easier, than when you were in your teenager years when you’re over 30.

So how does this even happen? It’s the little things that eat away at your weight goals. The snacking between meals is definitely going to have an accumulative effect on our health. The bag of chips here and there will eventually pile up. Carbs are the thing you need to avoid or at least decrease in your overall diet. It’s not the butter on your toast that’s making you fat, it’s that plate of pasta or noodles that is doing the damage. The only modern solution when it comes to diets then is, the keto diet.

Do you want to know how you can jump aboard this train?

A leaner breakfast

For the most part the modern day breakfast is full of carbs. Take a look at your cereal box and for every 100 grams, check out the carbohydrates grams. It’s common for 100 grams of cereal to be made up of 40-50 grams of just carbs. That is a lot for just 100 grams and that should tell you what you’re up against. This normality of consuming so many carbs is astonishing in our culture. It should be the opposite whereby we focus on getting a leaner breakfast. If you’re unsure or are leaning towards not changing your breakfast habits, you’ll love this.

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Instead of a bowl of cheerios or granola, cook up 3 to 4 slices of bacon. Instead of a toast, cook yourself a French crepes omelette with chives, butter, tomatoes and some roast chicken. Rather than making yourself a bowl of oatmeal, make yourself a plate of smoked salmon and avocado. What’s not to like? What are you really missing out on if you didn’t have a big bowl of kellogs or weetabix this morning?

Not every meal is a hassle

Meals with carbs as the main part, are not as quick and easy to make as you might think. Pasta is by far the most popular dish when it comes to a carb-heavy meal. You might read on the back of a packet of rigatoni that it only takes 5 minutes to cook in boiling water, but how long will it take to bring the water up to a boil? In reality you’re looking at around 15 or 20 minutes to make a pasta dish with all the other ingredients. With a keto diet, you need only to begin cooking lean mean straight in a pan. Actually you don’t have to cook one meal out of your day. You can lower the risk of heart complications with KetoLogic which swaps one meal out for a KetoMeal that comes in the form of a milkshake. You’re not eating a meal that’s heavy in carbs but gives you some natural sugars, fats and proteins in one. This meal can be made in under a minute, so you have more time to get on with things in the day.

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No ditching the deserts

Contrary to almost every other diet out there, the keto diet doesn’t say you need to cut out deserts. In fact a cheesecake is quite within the normal boundaries of this diet. A lemon strawberry cheesecake is more than going to satisfy your cold sweet tooth. You can chop some fresh strawberries on top as well. Some whipped cream is also okay to have with it. Dairy ice cream is also allowed by this diet as really, you’re eating frozen fat and protein anyway. Butter chocolate tiffins are another great choice. The fat from the butter and the sugar from the chocolate is better than a slab of carbs such as a slice of cake. The only thing you need to take care of is though, is your calorie count. Don’t have a desert if it means you’re going to go over your limit.

The keto diet is incredibly inviting. You’re not missing out on anything. You get your fats and proteins from the bacon and eggs in the morning. You can take some salmon and salad with you to work. And still after dinner, enjoy a cheesecake or dairy ice cream. It’s little wonder that more people haven’t adopted this as their go-to diet.

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Health & Wellness

The benefits of sustained happiness

Maintaining a happy state of mind is not the easiest thing to do, but it does have some major benefits. We look at how happiness affects your body.

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Photo by Lidya Nada from Unsplash.com

The benefits of being happy…

For most people, happiness is an elusive state of being, a transitory experience that sneaks up on you on an idle Tuesday when you are drinking coffee and staring out the window. For a prejudiced community, or someone who is labelled as different, happiness can be even more fleeting.

The truth is that happiness is a skill that can be learned. Research has proven that levels of happiness can fluctuate depending on mental and physical input. Like any skill, it can be learned and perfected as long as you put in the time and effort to maintain a healthy mental state. The benefits of being happy are only now being researched and clinically proven. Here is how happiness can improve your quality of life.

STRONGER IMMUNE SYSTEM

The link between body and mind has long been discussed and debated on. Today, clinical experiments have proven that people exposed to the common cold are less likely to get sick if they are in positive emotional state. Researchers found that people who people who experienced longer periods of calmness, humility and happiness didn’t get sick and if they did, their recovery time was much shorter. They also found that if a person is depressed, moody or angry, their immune system was more vulnerable to attack.

Researchers found that people who people who experienced longer periods of calmness, humility and happiness didn’t get sick and if they did, their recovery time was much shorter.

BETTER HEART HEALTH

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It may sound clichéd, but happiness really is good for your heart, and that’s why having fun and playing at the mobile casinos Canada has to offer can actually keep you healthier! Multiple experiments have been done on heart health and happiness. The most significant research was done over a 10-year period where people were asked to rate their happiness levels every month while their blood pressure and cholesterol levels were tested. The data shows a direct correlation between a happy disposition and lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

IMPROVED PHYSICAL FUNCTION

While more research needs to be done in this area, some data shows that being happy can reduce the amount of pain you feel from inflammation or physical ailments. The feedback loop then kicks in allowing you to be more physically active which releases endorphins, which makes you feel happier and healthier. Just improving your outlook on life can change how you look on the outside.

LONGEVITY

Research into happiness and longevity is still on going but initial data shows that happier people tend to lead a more active and productive lifestyle, which in turn leads to a longer life.

The truth is that happiness is a skill that can be learned. Research has proven that levels of happiness can fluctuate depending on mental and physical input.

HOW TO KICK START YOUR HAPPINESS?

There are a few simple ways to boost your mood and get you on the path to sustained happiness.

  • Eat a healthier diet – Research has shown that eating more fruits and vegetables improves your diet, your mood and your health.
  • Get a good night’s sleep – Sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy body and mind. If you want to boost your mood, get a solid 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
  • Get out into nature – Studies have shown that being outside, in a park or in nature can boost your mood and your mental outlook. Just five minutes in nature can do more for your body than most prescription drugs.
  • Get active – Daily physical activity is the key. Do something physical every day and you body will thank you for it. Not only will you be physically stronger, you will also feel happier and more alive.
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