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Apr
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4.18.13 … bombs = terrorism … “And this warping of perspective is exactly what terrorists aim to achieve. “Terrorists are trying to induce fear and panic.”

terror, brain science:  “And this warping of perspective is exactly what terrorists aim to achieve.  ‘Terrorists are trying to induce fear and panic.’”

“When people are terrorized, the smartest parts of our brain tend to shut down,” says Dr. Bruce Perry, Senior Fellow of the ChildTrauma Academy. (Disclosure:  he and I have written books together).

When the brain is under severe threat, it immediately changes the way it processes information, and starts to prioritize rapid responses. “The normal long pathways through the orbitofrontal cortex, where people evaluate situations in a logical and conscious fashion and [consider] the risks and benefits of different behaviors— that gets short circuited,” says Dr. Eric Hollander, professor of psychiatry at Montefiore/Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York.  Instead, he says, “You have sensory input right through the sensory [regions] and into the amygdala or limbic system.”

Every loud sound suddenly becomes a potential threat, for example, and even mundane circumstances such as a person who avoids eye contact can take on suspicious and ominous meaning and elicit an extreme, alert-ready response. Such informational triage can be essential to surviving traumatic experience, of course.  “Severe threats to well-being activate hard wired circuits in the brain and produce responses that help us survive,” explains Joseph LeDoux, professor of psychology and neuroscience at New York University, “This process is the most important thing for the organism at the moment, and brain resources are monopolized to achieve the goal of coping with the threat.”

But once the immediate threat has passed, this style of thinking can become a hindrance, not a help. “The problem is that often people have these intense reactions and are not able to think about the situation or concept more realistically,” Hollander says.  The fear can become generalized so that ordinary experiences like being in a crowd or seeing a backpack trigger intense anxiety.

And this warping of perspective is exactly what terrorists aim to achieve.  “Terrorists are trying to induce fear and panic,” says Hollander, noting that media coverage that repeats the sounds and images of the events maximizes their impact. The coverage keeps the threat alive and real in people’s minds, and sustains the threat response, despite the fact that the immediate danger has passed. The marathon attacks were particularly damaging, he says, because “All of sudden, there’s trauma associated with what had been a meaningful, communal event.”

It doesn’t help that the most common coping mechanisms can make matters worse. People who live in fear tend to want to sleep, drink alcohol or turn to sedatives to ease their anxiety. But, says Hollander, “It turns out that you are better off staying up than trying to go to sleep.” Sleep tends to consolidate and lay down traumatic memories. And that’s partly why the Israeli army, for example, tries to keep traumatized soldiers awake immediately after a difficult experience and engage them in warm social contact, both of which help reduce the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Fortunately, our brains are designed to modulate fear responses and at least 80% of people exposed to a severe traumatic event will not develop PTSD. Studies show that the more support, altruism and connection people share, the lower the risk for the disorder and the easier the recovery. Because such interactions aren’t always easy in the immediate aftermath of a harrowing experience, Hollander is investigating whether medications based on oxytocin— a hormone linked with love and parent/child bonding— might help to ease this connection.

If fear short circuits the brain’s normally logical and reasoned thinking, social support may be important in rerouting those networks back to their normal state. Which is why the selflessness and altruism we see in the wake of terror attacks is often the key to helping us to process and overcome the shock of living through them.

via How Terror Hijacks the Brain | TIME.com.

 terrorism, vocabulary, linguistics:  murky word?

But, in the public discussion, there was already a palpable hunger for the term. “All the right words but one,” was the headline of an analysis by the Defense Media Network. “Only safe assumption: It was terrorism,” another editorial was headlined in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.Within hours of Axelrods remarks, and with no suspects or motive announced, Obama said: “Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terror.”In times of tension and uncertainty, words can become malleable vessels — for cultural fears, for political agendas, for ways to make sense of the momentous and the unknown. In 2013 America, the word “terrorism” exists at this ambiguous crossroads. And the opinions youll find about it — this week in particular — often transcend mere linguistics.Obamas conclusion about bombs and terror made perfect sense to Jay Winuk, whose brother, a lawyer and volunteer firefighter, died on September 11, 2001 while trying to evacuate the World Trade Center after it was attacked by fanatical Muslims.”Based on what we know so far, I do consider it an act of terrorism,” Winuk said Wednesday, before news broke of a possible suspect in the case. “I dont know that for me personally, political motivation is part of the equation.””Whoever did this, it seems clear that their intention was to harm, maim, kill innocent people en masse who are going about their normal activity. To me, thats terrorism,” said Winuk, a co-founder of “My Good Deed,” a group that has established 9/11 as a national day of service.

“The problem we have is that the term has been so freighted with politics, it’s taken on a life that it probably really shouldn’t have,” said Andrew McCarthy, a former U.S. attorney who prosecuted the terrorists responsible for the 1993 Trade Center attack and is now a senior fellow at the National Review Foundation.

Without the context of Fort Hood and Benghazi, McCarthy said, how to define what happened in Boston “would have been a big nothing.” He agrees that the Boston attack was terrorism, noting that the bombs were filled with nails and ball bearings to cause maximum carnage.

And yet, he said: “Terrorism has to have a logical purpose.”

Part of the reason Boston feels like terrorism without knowing the motive is that bombs were used, rather than the guns used in recent mass murders, like the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo.

via Is it ‘terrorism’? Anatomy of a very murky word

comfort, Rev. Dr. Eric D. Barreto, Love and Hope in the Wake of Boston:  Well said …

 And we didn’t stop hoping yesterday when a moment of victory for runners and spectators was shattered by crude violence. First responders and onlookers alike rushed to the aid of others in the midst of potential danger. My Facebook wall lit up with prayers and cries of hope. In response to casual cruelty, the world reacted with compassion.

Why?

It may be that despite the many instances of malice that seek to tear us apart and to cause us to lose hope what binds us together is stronger. It may be that “love never ends” as the Apostle Paul once wrote to a Corinthian church community fraying at its edges. Love, he said, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7).

This is not the sappy love of pop songs or the fleeting infatuations we incorrectly label as love. This love, true love is at the very core of whom God has made us to be. This is persistent love, love that refuses to give into the cruelties of this world. This is an indefatigable love.

As a Christian, my faith has shown me that God dwells in love, inhabits love, embodies love. This radiant, ever-present love is the source of my hope in times like these.

And this love binds us not because we believe the same things or attend the same church or even because we are citizens of the same nation. This love binds us because we are humans created in the very image of God. In moments of great inhumanity, it is the miracle of God’s love that our true humanity, what most makes us the people God created us to be, crowds out the darkness. In the end, it is our love for another that shines most brightly.

When we heal the wounded, we love one another. When we pray for the grieving, we love one another. When we hope against hope for a better world, we love one another. The perpetrators of violence never succeed as long as love abides.

By this point, we should have stopped the race, given up hope of ever seeing the finish line. We should have counted all our hopes as vanity and delusion.

But we don’t because even on a day like yesterday, love wins. Love always wins.

via Rev. Dr. Eric D. Barreto: Love and Hope in the Wake of Boston.

Boston Marathon Bombings, history, future, Cognoscenti:

 I asked him how he was feeling. Was there a sense of something being “over” in Boston? He said, “No. I’m angry. I’m angry at the temerity of someone who would do this. But you know what? If they wanted to kill a lot of people they picked the wrong marathon. They picked the wrong city. We must have saved 20 people today just at our hospital. There are five others.”

I don’t know if all the runners will decide to run again next year. But if they do, they will be, to me, as heroic as those farmers years ago in Lexington. And we who live here pledge to be there as well. Screaming our heads off.

As Dr. Medzon said earlier, whoever did this, they picked the wrong marathon. They picked the wrong city.

via Boston Marathon Bombings: Our History Will Be A Guide For The Future | Cognoscenti. 

Boston Marathon bombs, The Washington Post: simple design … <$100.

The bombs that tore through a crowd of spectators at the Boston Marathon could have cost as little as $100 to build and were made of the most ordinary ingredients — so ordinary, in fact, that investigators could face a gargantuan challenge in attempting to use bomb forensics to find the culprit.

Investigators revealed Tuesday that fragments recovered at the blast scene suggest a simple design: a common pressure cooker of the kind found at most discount stores, packed with an explosive and armed with a simple detonator. A final ingredient — a few handfuls of BBs, nails and pellets — helped ensure widespread casualties when the two devices exploded Monday near the race’s finish line, law enforcement officials said.

The devices’ design was immediately recognized by counterterrorism experts as a type touted by al-Qaeda for use by its operatives around the world. Similar devices have been used by terrorists in mass-casualty bombings in numerous countries, from the Middle East to South Asia to North Africa.

via Boston Marathon bombs had simple but harmful design, early clues indicate – The Washington Post.

Pressure-cooker bombs,  do-it-yourself , guardian.co.uk:  easy to make, with simple instructions available on the internet … who needs expensive guns?

 The highlight from the latest FBI briefing on the Boston bombing was the disclosure that pressure-cooker bombs might have been used in the attacks. Such devices are frequently used in trouble spots around the world and the homeland security department has been warning of their potential appearance in the US for almost a decade.Pressure-cooker bombs are relatively easy to make, with simple instructions available on the internet. The attempted Times Square bomber used a similar device in May 2010 in a foiled bid to cause mayhem in New York.

via Pressure-cooker bombs in Boston: lethal do-it-yourself | World news | guardian.co.uk.

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