Archive for August, 2011

Reflections on Child Development and Epigenetic Theory

August 28, 2011

By Luke Pinneo

(Academic summary, written June 27, 2008)

Few ideas have adversely distorted western society so much as Sigmund Freud’s audacious claims. This assignment, I am aware, is not the place to elaborate this point, but it’s important for me to illustrate my distain for Freud in order to fully convey my appreciation of emergent theories.

I will simply say that Freud emerged at a critical and vulnerable time in mankind’s history, and offered what was at the time a much-sought-after understanding of human motivation, where not long before, mentally ill humans were thought “possessed” by demons. So on a public thirsty for understanding, Freud assertively showered down upon them a warped picture of man based on a bogus sexual construct that still infects and pollutes our professional approach to the human mind today. Numerous claims that he habitually used cocaine are uncertain, but during his time, it was common practice to medicinally stir the drug into a tonic to treat headaches and the like. Few knew its full range of problems. I do not know the correlation between Freud’s beliefs and his supposed drug use – or if he in fact used cocaine at all – and I don’t feel the requirements of this assignment warrant further research into the matter, but anyone familiar with Mic Jagger, can assert that sheer arrogance and strong sexuality typifies the chronic cocaine user. Again, arrogance and sexuality.

Regardless, drug induced or not, I find it unfortunate that Freud’s shallow and ridiculous ideals have been so widely accepted and integrated into our society. To reduce our entire species to little more than primitive animals with only sexual motivations is, to understate, quite sad. If, as a species, we are to evolve to our full potential, we must have a paradigm shift in our way of thinking.

Which is why I find emergent theories exciting, namely, Epigenetic Theory.

Epigenetic Theory is refreshing if only in its title. The theory has an anchor point with genes, and then expands in every direction to account for all the other factors that influence human development. It is organic and not rigid and represents everything modern scientific models should emulate: Networks of knowledge, research and schools of thought. Early (outdated) researchers would say “She is unhappy because she is sexually inadequate,” or something to that effect. Geneticists would likely say “she is depressed because her mother and her mother’s mother have hormone imbalances.” Epigenetic developmentalists would say, “she expresses a feeling of hopelessness only lately: She lacks a healthy diet, has little moral support now, feels pressure from her work. Her mother was depressed a great deal and it’s likely that environmental factors are triggering something that may be innate, but is manageable.”

In short, Epigenetic Theory is holistic in a way all sciences and medicine should be. With that, I also think it’s important to note here the problematic divide between science and spirituality. I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find that after reading about Freud, we spring boarded to Erik Erikson – not Carl Jung. When studying the motivation and behavior – and spirit – of man, Jung allowed quality to remain in the foreground, where others had nearly banned it completely. I mention this because much of what Epigenetic Theory has unraveled, is better understood from a qualitative viewpoint than from numbers and figures and quantitative data. Still, traditional science clings to data and is slow to loosen its grip, dead and cold as data may be. In fact, with history as our proof, science has an embarrassing tendency to gravitate along the lines of conventional thinking, and in so doing, slows human evolutionary growth. In fact, it has only been during brief, historic periods of science unmooring itself and sailing off into the unknown, that our species has propelled itself forward. Take the Renaissance for example, the information age as another.

So upon my brief introduction with, and first glance at Epigenetic Theory, it appears refreshingly unconventional in that it integrates various bodies of knowledge, ideas and is thus not closed off. It has a fluid membrane, not a rigid wall. We will find, I am quite sure, that as we move forward, the greatest discoveries and advance of our time and future will be largely attributed to integration of the sciences.

Epigenetic Theory rests within a framework of great potential for integration with all sciences, possibly leading to unprecedented and astonishing advances. At a minimum, it deserves great praise for exploring human development as it should be explored: holistically. Epigenetic Theory is not perfectly holistic, but within it are signs that we are moving in the right direction. Where no one can be sure if we’re moving toward something promising, it is at least clear from Epigenetic methods that we’re moving away from outdated worldviews.

How to earthquake proof your furniture

August 23, 2011

Whenever we stare a natural phenomenon in the face, like say, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, we often wonder, “how can I keep my family safe?”

As I type this, I would estimate that there are no less than a quarter of a million articles hitting the web right now about being prepared for earthquakes. And so here I won’t echo the pundits’ cry for stockpiling food and water, having an emergency phone tree set up, and keeping your gas tank at least half full.  But I will mention one of the most overlooked, most dangerous, and yet easiest to avoid hazards in the home when it comes to tremors: bookshelves, dressers, and other high furniture.

It takes a big quake to topple a building, but it doesn’t take one to tip over furniture, especially that top heavy shelf, loaded with board books in the kids’ room.

A quick safety install will help you sleep better at night. Most new furniture purchased today comes with these kits included in the assembly hardware. But if not, the hardware is super easy to find. Some of you may already have.

Here’s the basic hardware needed:

Wall Anchor – This style is available in the hardware section in nearly department store, and at just about every hardware store I’ve ever been to. You can certainly find it in the big box stores too. This is hands down the best, easiest to install, and one of the strongest drywall anchors out there. They usually come packaged with corresponding screws. Plus – it’s minimally invasive, which means if you remove it, patching the hole with plaster is piece of cake. For anyone who’s ever struggled with drywall installs, this is a godsend.

Straps or Brackets – There are a lot of different kinds of both straps and brackets on the market. When I’m talking about brackets, I’m talking about a simple “L” bracket, with one end that mounts to the top to the furniture, and the other to the wall. Straps do the same thing and in fact, they might be the easiest way to go. Straps from an old backpack or duffel bag can be cut to length, singed at the ends to avoid fraying, and used just as well. Whether you buy or make the strap, I recommend using a nail to poke pilot holes through both ends where the screws will go. This will keep the strap from twisting around the screw when you install.

Screws – As most of the wall anchors come with screws, you should have what you need for the wall. When attaching the strap or bracket to the furniture however, a wood screw is best. You should choose one that is slightly shorter that the panel your screwing into is thick. I recommend drilling a hole that is smaller then the screw. This will avoid the wood from cracking, and will ease screwing. Be careful not to drill all the way through the panel. Also avoid making a hole that is the same size or larger than the screw itself as this will prevent it from getting any bite into the wood. If this happens, simply stick a toothpick or two into the hole, and break it off clean at the surface of the panel. This will fill the hole enough to make the screw go in tightly.

Final steps – Once your wall anchor is installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and you’ve made your pilot hole in the furniture, you’re ready to tie the two together. Use washers as these will prevent the screws from slipping through the bracket or through the pilot holes you made in the strap.

Tighten everything snug. The holes in both the dry wall, wood or press-board furniture can easily strip if over tightened.

And that should do it.

A bit of a disclaimer here – I’m no expert and please don’t take my suggestions as gospel. The procedure above is simply something I’ve done in my home, that if nothing else, helps me sleep at night knowing I’ve lessened the risk for my family. The risk is not gone. But it is less.