Anyone who can think for themselves will realize that there are at least, and I mean, AT LEAST, two sides to any given argument. That’s why it’s important to consider these 7 links. They basically show another side to the near hegemonic discourse about global warming.
Wow. It’s been a long time since I’ve updated this. Not since February 18, 2011, to be exact!
Today I want to share my latest discovery. It’s a free program that transfers media files (including video) from PC to iPad and other iOS devices—without having to jailbreak.
Amazing. I really don’t want to spend 35 dollars (before tax) to do this with Apple’s camera connection kit. I think it’s outrageous that Apple is so controlling when it comes to the iPad. Moving files around should be no big deal. And I don’t want to go through iTunes because, I figure, this involves bandwidth usage. Which could mean more money.
So I searched around and found Syncios:
After reinstalling iTunes (uninstalled some months ago) on my old, test monkey computer, I got it to work… beautifully!
But don’t take my word for it. Read about it at CNET.
However, one word of caution. Read all the comments at CNET. Basically, if you’re not careful the installer will put a lot of potentially unwanted software on your computer. Some companies are cannier than others at trying to get you to install extra software. And some companies can be a bit confusing, possibly because of a language barrier. But if you know how to avoid all that, this program is a clean install.
I was only going to list one new program. But another comes to mind: RevoUninstaller. When this page was last updated, I was just testing Revo. Well, the test is over. This program is AWESOME. I used to hesitate testing new software because junk files usually stay on a PC after the usual Windows uninstal.
RevoUninstaller goes deep. I can’t recommend it strongly enough. It also comes in a portable version if you really want to keep a lean machine.
Well, that’s about it for now. Happy computing! :-)
And remember, Earthpages.org is not affiliated with any these companies, organizations or projects.
Update: I just remembered one more recent tryout. Krita. See Image Editing/Digital Painting below for details, and since writing the above, Making Music/Audio Production, Music Listening and Get News with RSS have all been updated.
VideoLAN – VLC media player Ever wanted to capture a still image from a video? Most free media players won’t do it. After searching the web and reading all sorts of complicated do’s and don’ts, I stumbled upon this free program, which does it effortlessly. VLC also formats DVD playback in a variety of screen ratios, which can be nice. And, it plays FLAC audio files.
Bink Video (RAD Video Tools) Converts digital video files into different formats. Especially useful if your digital camera writes Quicktime .MOV files. Bink/RAD will convert them into .AVI files, which Windows Movie Maker can import!
Blinkx Not really freeware because there’s nothing to download. But it’s free and a good alternative to YouTube and Google video searches.
Image Editing/Digital Painting
- Krita – Someone just recently tipped me off about this. I don’t see any text function. But it might be in there somewhere. Digital artists should give this a try. I can’t draw my way out of a wet paper bag. So this one isn’t too useful for me.
- Pixlr – This has three versions, each different. I like it way better than Instagram.
PhotoFiltre One of my favorite free photo editors with plug-ins, highlighting and “fade last effect” feature, much like Photoshop version 4. PF doesn’t handle multiple layers like the GIMP but it’s light and tasteful. Don’t confuse this with PhotoFiltre Studio, which is not freeware.
PhotoScape This is a fantastic program with some great filters, fun photo stuff and useful text effects. I use this to rotate/level photos as I find it’s faster, easier and does a better job than anything else I’ve tried.
The GIMP GIMP stands for “GNU Image Manipulation Program.” The GIMP just keeps getting better and better; features include text, drop shadow, bevels, layers, color replacement and lots of fine filters.
- Gimphelp.org Some cool filters for the Gimp. While Photoshop 8bf filters may still be the industry standard, I find that using freeware opens me up to different graphics and artistic approaches that I’d otherwise never try. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to install these filters. Just read the instructions and enjoy!
Virtual Photographer This is a great program for enhancing photos, compatible with the GIMP and other commercial software.
Picasa IMHO the strongest thing about this photo editor is the excellent color, lightness and contrast fixing. And it’s very user friendly. Photo rotation is a bit blurry. I use PhotoScape for that.
Photo Pos Pro Visually nice to look at, has some good effects and handles layers.
- Photobie I don’t use this one too much but it has some good filters and is under steady development. Like anything else, software preference is a pretty personal thing. Definitely worth a try.
- LightBox Solid performer. Free version touches up pics nicely with minimum of effort.
- UnFREEz Creates animated gifs almost effortlessly, preserves transparency, and does a much better job (in terms of image quality) than MS gif animator.
- Easy Thumbnails This easily creates good, sharp thumbnails.
- Vector Magic Not free but you can evaluate for free with saving disabled.
- Inkscape Good for making banners, working with fonts and converting bitmap to vector graphics.
AntiVirus, Junk and Spyware Removal
AntiVir A nice antivirus program from Germany with frequent free updates.
AdAware A ‘too good to be true’ program for detecting and cleaning invasive ads and malware that can slow down your computer. With free updates and lots of options.
- Advanced SystemCare This was recommended by a visitor and it seems very powerful. But some may find it too aggressive and Gizmo’s Freeware says some have reported errors after using. I’ve tested this out and so far have had no probs with WinXP. It gets stuff CCleaner doesn’t, and vice versa.
CCleaner Fantastic program for cleaning junk files from your hard drive with frequent updates. Also useful for fixing registry integrity and blocking unwanted Windows startup programs. Use with extreme caution and don’t even think about going past the default settings unless you know what you’re doing!
- Glary Utilities Recommended by a visitor; still testing…
- Malwarebytes This is handy if by chance the other stuff listed here can’t help you.
- Panda Cloud Antivirus Antivirus is available in cloud format, so say goodbye to those irritating virus definition updates.
- Revo Uninstaller Great! See opening comments.
FileZilla FTP freeware. This is another “too good to be true” program with frequent updates. It just seems to be getting better and better.
Making Web Pages
- Free Gifs and Animations Lots of good stuff.
- KomPozer Apparently some techies didn’t like the fact that the buggy but very promising Nvu went into stasis. So they continued where Nvu left off. Great job! From my preliminary test it seems this might be the best totally free WYSIWYG editor around.
Amaya A free WYSIWYG html editor. It’s a good, straightforward product that would probably fit the needs of basic to intermediate users. Also has some cool special characters.
Evrsoft First Page is a free WYSIWYG editor (with a 5 sec. nag screen). It has advanced features but, as others have said, the last version I tested was a touch slow and, on my computer, a bit buggy. Still, I’ve used it with great results. (And it might have been updated since I wrote this particular entry in May 2008).
Making Music / Audio Production
Kristal Audio Engine This is a great program for sound recording in a multi-track format. It’s like a software version of the old Fostex and Tascam cassette recorders. Handles up to 16 audio tracks with effects, copy/cut and paste, bouncing and room for expansion. Although Kristal has been criticized for tracks not being in sync, spending a bit of time at the friendly user forum solved the issue for me.
- Audacity – This is THE program for freeware sound recording. Check it out.
- Reaper Reaper isn’t free but is a 60 day demo. After that, a nagscreen reminds you that it’s not free. But it continues uncrippled because the developers believe that crippling their demo is not the best way to go. This is a great program for music producers if you are willing to look elsewhere for VST plugins (like KVR, Vst4Free or the very helpful Bedroom Producer’s Blog). It handles midi and conventional recording. Automation lanes. And a whole lot more.
- FL Studio Somewhat like Reaper, FL Studio isn’t free but some features continue to work in the demo version. The cool guitar plugin Slayer, for instance, seems to work without limitation in the free demo version. Other plugins cut in and out. Last I heard, Avicii uses FLS. So it’s gotta have something going for it!
- LMMS This seems really promising. It used to only work on Linux (which is beyond me). But it’s now Windows-friendly. LMMS is mostly about midi, but you can import recorded audio files as samples. So vocalists might want to try Audacity first, or something like that. This program is fairly basic but has its own charm. I did a really quick, silly thing (posted here) while learning it. I never got much further than that!
- Asio4All So you’re new to audio production and your tracks are out of sync, or there’s way too much delay between hitting your MIDI keyboard and hearing a sound (called “latency”). Enter Asio4All. The genuine Asio driver is made, I believe, by Steinberg and is copyright material. But many people seem to use Asio4All, which I guess is some kind of approximation of the real thing. Perhaps it’s like generic drugs vs. name brands. It comes bundled with the FL Studio demo and is at CNET, so it’s got to be okay.
- Synthmaster Player I mention this by itself because it really stands out. It’s free, uncrippled, and great. You may not like my freaky music or limited ability. But I used this synth for the bubbly “Berlin Bass” in the tune On a Star.
- VST Resources There are a lot of really good sites out there telling about great free VST plugins. If you really want to find them all, try Google. But the three sites I use most are KVR, Vst4Free, and Bedroom Producer’s Blog. BPB narrows down many plugins to his favorites. And I usually agree with his point of view. He’s also open to new suggestions. So it’s a “must visit” site.
- Songza There are lots of services out there. This one is my favorite. I like it so much, I made several playlists for all to enjoy! (shameless plug) ;-)
iTunes You don’t have to purchase media with this software. iTunes comes with fantastic, free streaming radio and a 10-band equalizer and preamp with great presets. Travel the world through talk and music!
Winamp Music and video player with a 10-band equalizer and preamp to make music come alive. I don’t know what’s going on with Winamp these days. But I used to like it.
Live 365.com No download streaming radio portal. Impressive selection of genres.
- RadioTime Provides links to many streaming radio stations.
AudioGrabber Handles WAV and MP3 formats. Audiophiles will probably know that WAV files sound better but are huge. MP3’s are “sonically acceptable” and take up less space for iPods, etc. There are several free grabbers out there but I find this one sounds bigger and fatter than the others I’ve tested. Some audiophiles may like that, others may not.
- Xrecode This is great for converting to FLAC (a “lossless” format that sounds just as good as WAV with about 45% smaller file size) and many other formats, including Mp3.
Create RSS Feeds
FeedSpring Web publishers can use this to generate their own RSS feeds.
Get News with RSS
RSS Reader Get news stories from all over the web. This is a super program. But a while back I tested a beta version requiring net framework 2.0 and wasn’t impressed. About a third of my RSS feeds didn’t work. So I reverted to version 18.104.22.168 with net framework 1.1 and everything works great.
- Feedreader Google Reader is no more. I never liked it much anyhow. Doing RSS online is too slow for me. But here’s a program that I use sometimes. It has a good “lookup” feature for specialized articles.
- FreeMeter Since I’m a regular web cam user, I wanted to know which web cam software is most efficient. Enter FreeMeter.
Scanning, File Conversion, PDF
- Bullzip This easily converts Windows documents to pdf. Lots of options. Fantastic.
Scan2PDF – scan documents to PDF format Scan anything and convert to .pdf (for Acrobat Reader). Also open image files from your hard drive and convert to .pdf. I found that it works best if in “options” you enable the scanner interface to be seen. That way you can adjust the resolution and get really good results.
Open Office I tested out the word processor on this suite in 2008 and found it satisfactory, although the English thesaurus was weak, and downloading/installing more dictionaries was a hassle. It was also a bit slow to load and felt heavier on my machine than commercial products. Open Office easily converts to pdf, however, and supports a wide number of languages. And I believe there’s a more recent version.
Primo PDF Primo converts Windows documents to pdf.
- Always on Top I use this with WinXP to keep an application window visible while working with other applications. Examples could be keeping MS Word or maybe a Google chat contact visible while surfing or blogging. This program is very light and works great.
- Syncios Transfers media files (including video) directly from PC to iPad and other iOS devices—without having to jailbreak.
The software and online content mentioned in this post may be incompatible with your hardware and/or software. By clicking on any of the links mentioned in this post, you agree that Earthpages.org | Earthpages.ca is not liable for any damages that may be incurred from visiting these links or downloading the software.
Lucid dreaming is the process of dreaming while you are still awake or at least consciously aware that you are dreaming. This is different than daydreaming, which is simply a short-term attachment of one’s immediate surroundings where it looks the subject is simply ‘dazing off’ or has a blank stare. Unlike lucid dreaming the subject is awake and alert during a daydream and they can easily be brought back to reality.
They generally happens at night when the subject is attempting to sleep. The primary factor of lucid dreams that sets them apart from regular dreaming is the subject has full control and influence over their dream. In this manner they can essentially ‘control’ their dreams. It has been extensively researched by the scientific community and there has been much debate about its existence, although current scientific theory is that it does exist and can be controlled to some extent.
However, the results cannot be achieved by everyone. It can be a very difficult process to initiate a lucid dream and actually control the dream once you’ve established one. The most common type of lucid dream occurs when the user is already sleeping and they start dreaming. At some point during the dream the subject becomes aware that they are sleeping but also dreaming at the same time. While the subject is not ‘awake’ per se, they are able to exhibit some degree of control over the dream and control the subject matter.
The other type which is much less common is called wake-imitated lucid dreaming. This of it is much more difficult to achieve and can only be achieved with practice, determination and meditation. There is no apparent lapse in consciousness (such as falling asleep) upon entering a wake-induced lucid dream. Instead, the subject simply goes from being awake to dreaming while at the same time being aware of their surroundings, the time of day, where they are, who they are, etc. Scientifically a wake-induced lucid dream occurs when a subject enters R-E-M sleep mode without even realizing it. This phenomenon is known as losing self-awareness when exiting the waking state and entering the dream realm.
It can be very difficult to achieve but the results from doing so can be incredible. Oftentimes people use lucid dreams to find out their path in life, fix nightmare problems, determine their future and recover from past issues in their life that may be haunting them.
About the Author
John Wonder – Please Visit: What-Is-Lucid-Dreaming
By John Prytz
There is an ongoing PBS TV series (also several books and also a website) called “Closer To Truth”. It is hosted by neuroscientist Robert Lawrence Kuhn. He’s featured in one-on-one interviews and panel discussions with the cream of the cream of today’s cosmologists, physicists, philosophers, theologians, psychologists, etc. on all of the Big Questions surrounding a trilogy of broad topics – Cosmos; Consciousness; Meaning. The trilogy collectively dealt with reality, space and time, mind and consciousness, aliens, theology and on and on and on. Here are a few of my comments on one of the general topics covered, ESP and related psychic subjects.
Does ESP Make Sense 1?
Does ESP make sense? Well if ESP made any sense, if say telepathy actually existed, then I probably wouldn’t be here writing this in the here and now. Why? If most people sensed and knew what I was thinking about them, especially drivers, they would have long since beaten me about the head and body until I was a bloody pulp. In a more general vein, I’m not aware of any assault or any crime involving violence that can be attributed to anyone reacting to what anyone else was thinking. I mean what if you walked down the street of some fundamentalist Islamic town thinking all sorts of nasty things about Allah and company. Nothing would happen. As the saying goes, “you can’t go to jail for what you are thinking” because thoughts are private. Given the number of people thinking nasty thoughts that would seriously offend other people, probably millions of such occurrences per day, yet nothing transpires as a result, would seem to discredit the idea of ESP or telepathy as a viable phenomena.
Does ESP Make Sense 2?
If ESP made any sense, how could teachers guard against students cheating on exams? How could the military protect highly classified documents? How could you protect yourself from others finding out the most intimate details of your love letters, you bank account numbers, the contents of your will, and associated privacy issues? There’s been a lot of angst recently displayed over the issues of electronic snooping, but I don’t seem to recall any concern over ESP as being part of the everyday tool-kit used for terrorism; diplomatic, corporate or military espionage; or as a ways and means used by criminals to further their get-rich-quick schemes. If ESP were legit, well blackmail would really be rampant.
Does ESP Make Sense 3?
If ESP/Telepathy/Remote Viewing and related psychic phenomena really existed it would make for an absolutely level playing field since all knowledge and all secrets would be in theory equally available to all. Even your most private thoughts wouldn’t be private any more. We don’t seem to have a level playing field – never have; not now; never will.
There are various absurdities of things that would have to have been documented but haven’t been, like levitation. What hasn’t been documented is prisoners floating out of their prison courtyards to freedom. Surely that should of happened at least once!
Speaking of prisoners, if there were really such a thing as mind-over-matter then prisoners could mentally unlock their handcuffs and prison cell doors. You could mentally pick door-locks and bank vault safe locks, or maybe just float valuables from where they are to where you are. The law could never trace murder to you if you murdered at a distance by say giving your victim a mind-over-matter heart attack. There’s no shortage of criminal mischief you could get up to. I don’t recall any court cases where mind-over-matter was established as the ways-and-means of doing the crime.
If there were such a thing as precognition then we’d all be billionaires. Or, perhaps one might like to argue that all billionaires past and present have had or currently have precognition and they just like to keep that their little family secret.
In short, you could take any of the various individual phenomena that collectively make up all things psychic and come up with things that could and should eventuate as a consequence, yet don’t.
Does ESP Make Sense 4?
Let’s explore the notion that mind-over-matter exists. What sort of things might we expect to have been the case if such a concept were really true and a property of the mind that is part and parcel of each and every one of us, especially if it were non-physical and could violate the laws, principles and relationships of physics.
Well one question that comes to mind is why NASA didn’t employ mind power instead of chemical rockets to send humans into space and to the Moon? It would have saved the taxpayer millions and millions. Related, why do planes require aviation gas or jet fuel? Surely the pilot could just use mind power to get passengers or cargo from place A to place B. In fact you could commute to work in your car on an empty tank!
I gather you could supply all the energy requirements for your home, supply the heat and light the lights, just cause those electrons to flow, all with just a flick of your mental power and abilities. For that matter, what need of the Large Hadron Collider when physicists could accelerate and slam particles together using just their minds?
If your mind had control over chemistry, there would be no excuse for the obesity epidemic. You could smoke without fear and drink like a fish. For that matter, you could turn lead into gold!
Sports wouldn’t be very sporting-like. A routine fly ball would be willed by the batter to become a home run. A baseball pitcher would be invincible game after game since his mind would control the twisting flightpath of the ball instead of relying on aerodynamics. In golf every shot would be a hole-in-one; in tenpin bowling every ball bowled would be a strike; in basketball every toss would go through the hoops. Chess on the other hand might still be aboveboard.
Any condemned convict could ensure their execution would be negated. The rope breaks; the rifle bullets miss; the lethal cocktail of chemicals turn into harmless substances; the neck is mightier than the sword or the guillotine.
If you were so inclined, you could change the wording on documents to benefit you, change a one dollar bill into a one hundred dollar bill, or alter the actual appearance of playing cards and thus never loose a game.
History would certainly be different. If Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan had applied mind-over-matter abilities to their war efforts, they would have won World War Two in a matter of just weeks – or less.
Seriously, all these ‘what if” scenarios imply that mind-over-matter must have a physical mechanism since in each and every case matter and energy is being manipulated. If you do believe in ESP and related psychic phenomena, like mind-over-matter, yet you can’t come up with a physical explanation that independents can verify, well okay, you do have an escape clause. You could be a virtual being in a simulated universe and all psi phenomena is just programmed software.
Does ESP Reveal the Nonphysical?
For ESP to reveal something about the non-physical, one must first demonstrate that ESP actually exists. Since ESP has not been so demonstrated in any peer-reviewed scientific journal, since if it had been there would be no need to have these discussions on “Closer to Truth”, then the bona-fide existence of ESP is still up for grabs. While there is a near total lack of evidence for the establishment of ESP, there is lots of evidence that points in the direction that ESP doesn’t exist. There has to be an actual mechanism that links the sender or the target with the receiver. Claiming that there is a non-physical mechanism that is beyond detection is a cop-out. One can claim all manner of phenomena but when asked to put-up-or-shut-up one just says that it has a non-physical explanation which nobody can actually pin down. As to what that non-physical mechanism is, it’s just pure pie-in-the-sky mysticism. It’s not scientific to a scientist; it’s not acceptable to the average layperson either. It’s like claiming to have an invisible friend but not being able to convince anyone because nobody else, including the claimant, can actually see, touch, taste, smell or hear anything tangible about this invisible entity. Okay, there has to be an actual physical mechanism for ESP if ESP is to claim to have some sort of validity. Alas, as has been more than adequately pointed out, if our brain/mind can detect ESP signals then it must be possible to construct an artificial detector that does the same thing. Further, we can build detectors vastly more sensitive than anything the human sensory apparatus, hence the brain/mind, can detect. Results to date equate to absolute zero. Resorting to a non-physical mechanism is a cop-out; nothing that can be construed to be a physical mechanism can be independently verified.
Is ESP a Window on a Larger Reality?
For ESP to be taken as a window on a larger reality, one must first prove in an accepted peer-reviewed manner that ESP (and related bits and pieces) actually exists. Now there are some phenomena that don’t sit still, phenomena that are so random that it is difficult for investigators to come to terms with their reality or non-reality. Examples are UFOs, ghosts, Bigfoot (Sasquatch), and related. However, ESP doesn’t fall into that category. ESP sits still. You have target A and person B or person A and person B and they are both fixed and static. They can be tested again and again. There’s nothing hit-or-miss or random about this. Now what is telling about all of this, quite apart from the idea that nobody has an actual clue what the ESP (and related) mechanism is, is that despite thousands of experiments and millions of “I know what I experienced” events, despite the elapse of hundreds of years of these sorts of investigations, nothing has been set in stone. You would think that by now, if there was any structure and substance to the entire validity of the ESP field, that issues would have been settled long ago. The fact that this debate over ESP and the nature therefore of a theoretical larger reality is still going on, is suggestive that nothing is going on. If there were any nuts-and-bolts reality to this whole area of parapsychology, it would have long since been documented and written up in the textbooks and taught to students with as much conviction as the teachings of the reality of those laws of gravity and of motion.
About the Author
Science librarian; retired.
Special to Earthpages.org
Hindus want “Dutch Black Pete” to go.
Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was time for this negative, offensive, racist and discriminatory caricature to vanish from annual traditional festivities in cities and towns throughout the Netherlands in November-December.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that “Dutch Black Pete” might be a popular Dutch tradition but it appeared to be a racist throwback to the slavery era.
Rajan Zed further said that it was absolutely baffling that racist stereotypes like “Dutch Black Pete” continued to exist in 21st century world, which should have been extinct many decades ago. Was not Netherlands famous for promoting equality? Zed asked.
Zed urged His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands to urgently intervene to put an end to the character of “Dutch Black Pete”. Country of Rembrandt and Van Gogh which has a long history of social tolerance and which hosts International Court of Justice should not be in the business of negative stereotyping.
Zed suggested His Holiness Pope Francis to also come out with a strong statement against “Dutch Black Pete” tradition as religions were supposed to speak against racism.
Zed urged Netherlands to also make efforts to end frequently complained workplace discrimination.
Black Pete (Zwarte Piet) is a traditional jolly sidekick to Dutch Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas (Dutch version of Santa Claus); dressed in a gaudy medieval costume with blackened face, thick red lips, earrings and curly Afro wig; often showed as servile, clumsy and dumb; in the annual parades and festivities in Amsterdam and other cities/towns of Netherlands. It first appeared in an 1850 book by Jan Schenkman.
This article is a good example of how the Catholic Church understands many psychiatric issues. I almost didn’t post it because imo a few points are simplistic. Mental health and illness is a complicated topic, and I think the power of the scientific ethos can have a deleterious effect on some individuals when it is uncritically (or incompetently) applied. Having said that, we must begin the discussion somewhere. And Brother Christopher makes a good stab at it, given the reservations just mentioned. — MC
Once called manic-depressive illness, Bipolar Disorder it affects around 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6% of the population in the United States. According to the literature most people will start to see symptoms of bipolar when they are around 25 years of age or older. Race, creed, culture, gender, social class, and age do not seem to have any bearing on the diagnosis.
According to the study done by the National Institute of Mental Health, more than two thirds of people living with Bipolar Disorder will have a history of bipolar disorder within their family, which typically includes at least one close relative who has the diagnosis or unipolar major depression.
Statistically there are three times as many women over men who experience rapid cycling bipolar. Other studies show that women tend to have more depressive episodes and more mixed episodes than men do.
When it comes to children with bipolar and the teens who present with it, they usually have one parent who has the disorder. Children who have parents with this illness will have a risk of 15% to 30% to be diagnosed with Bipolar. If both of the parents have it then the risk will be increased to 50% to 75%.
So, what are the symptoms of Bipolar? Bipolar Disorder causes serious shifts in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior—from the highs of mania on one extreme, to the lows of severe depression on the other. More than just a fleeting good or bad mood, the cycles of bipolar disorder will last for days, weeks, or months. And unlike ordinary mood swings, the mood changes of bipolar disorder are so intense that they interfere with the ability to function in life’s day to day challenges. The initial symptoms can be subtle and confusing and many people with Bipolar Disorder are often overlooked or misdiagnosed—resulting in unnecessary suffering for all involved. But with proper treatment and support, everyone can lead an abundant and satisfying life.
During a manic episode (the high), a person might impulsively quit their job, charge up huge amounts on credit cards, or feel rested after sleeping only two hours sleep, if that. While during a depressive episode (the low), the same person might be too exhausted to get out of bed, and be full of a self-loathing and hopelessness temperament over being unemployed and in debt or just disgusted with life in general. These cycles of up and then down wreak havoc on not only the individual but the family and friends in his or her circle. And those friends and family, often stressed themselves by the actions of the individual’s disorder, often separate themselves from the afflicted over time. The causes of Bipolar Disorder aren’t completely understood, but it often it appears to be hereditary. A 2000 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry it was reported ‘in those with bipolar disorder, two major areas of the brain contain 30 percent more cells that send signals to other brain cells.’ This report theorizes that ‘the extra signal-sending cells may lead to a kind of overstimulation, which makes sense considering the symptoms of bipolar disorder.’ Other studies suggest that a low or high level of a specific neurotransmitter such as serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine is the cause of the illness; while other studies suggest that an imbalance of these substances is the real problem, i.e., that a specific level of a neurotransmitter is not as important as its amount in relation to the other neurotransmitters. And still other studies propose that they have identified evidence that a change in the sensitivity of the receptors on nerve cells may be the causing issue. In summation, researchers are quite certain that the neurotransmitter system is at least part of the cause of Bipolar Disorder, but further research is still required to verify the exact underlying cause. What we have determined is that research has found that stressful life events can lead to the onset of symptoms in bipolar disorder. These can range from a death in the family to the loss of a job; from the birth of a child to a move (stress affects each of us differently). The stressful event can be just about anything. Once the disorder is triggered and progresses it takes on a life of its own. Once the cycle begins both the psychological and biological processes take over and keep the illness active.
So to provide an exact cause of the illness the best explanation, according to the current research available, is what is termed the ‘Diathesis-Stress Model.’ (Diathesis meaning’ a physical condition that predisposes a person more than usually susceptible to certain diseases.) The Diathesis-Stress Model states that each person inherits certain physical vulnerabilities to problems that may or may not appear depending on what stresses occur in his or her life. The bottom line in the causality of Bipolar Disorder is something you were born with that lays dormant until something in your life sets it off; at least this is the working model until research finds something new.
There are different faces of bipolar disorder in which the medical community classifies the illness.
Bipolar I Disorder (mania or a mixed episode) – This is the classic manic-depressive form of the illness, characterized by at least one manic episode or mixed episode.
Bipolar II Disorder (hypomania and depression) – In Bipolar II disorder, the person doesn’t experience full-blown manic episodes. Instead, the illness involves episodes of hypomania and severe depression.
Cyclothymia (hypomania and mild depression) – Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder that consists of cyclical mood swings. However, the symptoms are less severe than full-blown mania or depression.
The most effective treatment for Bipolar Disorder is a combination of medications and counseling. Physicians often treat the mania symptoms associated with bipolar disorder with one set of medications, and use another set of medications drugs to treat the depression. Specific medications are also used for ‘maintenance care’ to maintain a stable mood over time. And although chemic al (medication) treatment is primary, ongoing counseling is important to help patients, and their families better cope with the disorder.
Today, the recommended treatments for Bipolar Disorder may include medications like lithium, anticonvulsant medications, antipsychotic medications, mood stabilizers, or a combination of any these medications they are prescribed with the goal of tempering moods without igniting the manic episode. It is important to take the medications exactly as prescribed and not to stop them. Should the patient feel the need to stop the medication both the patient and the family together should consult the doctor. Many of these medications have harmful effects if discontinued suddenly and should be tapered under the care of the prescribing physician.
As a pastoral counselor our role is to be involved with the counseling aspect of the treatment. ‘Talk’ therapy is an important part of the treatment for Bipolar Disorder. During therapy those involved, both patient and family can talk over their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that are causing problems within their lives. It’s easy to feel alone and abandoned by God. But God has not abandoned his faithful. It is the person who abandoned God because of the way their disease performs. It is here that a program which includes not only mind and body approach, but an approach to strengthen the spiritual relationship with God; a renewal of faith must be part of the healing process.
Such a Christian approach to treatment is based on the belief that:
God who created us and loves us (Genesis 1:26)
-Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’
Jesus the Christ who redeems us (Isaiah 53:5)
-But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
The Holy Spirit who guides us (Acts 1:8)
-But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’
Within this approach the goal is to minimize symptoms, help individuals address life problems that they have in developing their lives, and to provide the tools to live a more fulfilling life. While God certainly has the ability to work miracles and cure any malady, He often allows us continue our journey with a ‘thorn in the flesh’ to remind us that He is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:7–9).
2 Corinthians 12:7–9
7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
If a Christian had diabetes or cancer, he would seek medical advice from trained doctors, take prescribed medications and treatments, and seek righteous counsel on how to deal with both his physical and emotional symptoms. The same must hold true for a believer with Bipolar Disorder. Because Bipolar Disorder affects the way a person thinks, finding spiritual counsel and spending time in God’s word are essential to reconnect to God. In order to do what is right, we must identify what is True. Bipolar Disorder alters a person’s perceptions of reality, so a strong and consistent foundation in truth is a necessity when dealing with its symptoms. Followers of the Christ should treat the afflicted with Bipolar Disorder with the same Jesus-like compassion they would show toward everyone else.
About the Author
Brother Christopher Bashaw OFD, RN, M.Div. is a professed Brother in the Franciscans of Divine Mercy, an Old Catholic Tradition within the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas. He is also enrolled in the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas Seminary studying for the permanent deaconate. Brother Christopher has worked as a RN since graduating nursing school in 1984, with nursing experience including drug and alcohol recovery/detox, psychiatric nursing, physical rehabilitation, pain care, military nursing, occupational health, nursing home care, and pediatric/camp nursing. He has brought these skills into the developing his ministry the Mother Mary Society and Franciscan Pastoral Counseling. In addition to holding a M.Div., he holds certificates in Biblical Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, and Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery (Level 3) with a Christian approach.
There’s an old saying that success is like a snowball. The more it rolls down the hill, the bigger it gets. This has certainly been the case with my use of Facebook.
Since opening my personal Facebook page to the public, I’ve met a lot of really interesting people. People who I’ll probably never meet in person but who are open to relating through the web. Not everyone has that kind of global perspective. Some want to keep their Facebook page private for known friends and family. And I can appreciate that. But I believe the broader perspective will become increasingly normal in the future (it already is with musicians, who collaborate with like-minded souls at a distance).
It’s only a matter of time before mankind’s little boundaries get bigger. And I want Earthpages to be at the forefront of that change.
Funny thing is, as I get to know my new Facebook friends (whom I haven’t met in person), the whole bunch starts to feel like an extended family. Or maybe a circle of acquaintances. We all have common interests. And many post vital stories that I want to share with the rest of my Earthpages visitors.
But still, there’s a slight tension – I’ll be honest – with my extended circle, on the one hand, and my old friends and family, on the other hand. I have to think before posting family photos or divulging somewhat personal info. So far, I’ve managed the two realms on one Facebook page pretty well.
But it’s time to break free and start up a whole new page. And that’s why I’ve launched a second Facebook page for Earthpages. It’s quite new and doesn’t have many followers yet. But I am delighted that the search engines have picked it up.
This new page contains cutting edge stories and alternative commentary. It won’t tell you how I feel today or if I brushed my teeth after dinner! That kinda stuff will be at my first Facebook page, which everyone is still welcome to join. My new page, simply called “Earthpages“, is about what’s happening now. And what will make a difference tomorrow.
Check it out! https://www.facebook.com/earth5569