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Why We Need To Take A Look At The Way We Treat Prisoners And Do It Differently

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The USA locks up more people per capita than any other nation in the world. The rate is 668 per 100,000 people which equals over 2.3 million. There has been an increase of 500% over the last 40 years. Changes in sentencing law and policy - not change

  • Reflect On:

    What really goes on in many prisons? Why does this breed more violence, adds to social disharmony and increases mental illness issues? We also highlight prisons that are a shining example of what can be done to truly rehabilitate people.

“Violent offenders, more often than not, are victims long before they commit their first crime: A former inmate who spent two years in a Boston prison for robbery was given away by his mother, a heroin addict, by the time he was 5 — the same year her boyfriends began beating him up; when he was 8, he watched another kid get shot in the head in his housing project.

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Another man, in and out of prison from age 18 to 33 for assaults and drug crimes, grew up getting routinely beaten by his mother and frequently saw neighbors get stabbed and shot in the New York community of his childhood.” (source)

If you had been around violence, crime and poverty all your life, and this was all you had known, would it be any surprise that you too, may also end up committing crimes? Would you think it might be difficult to grow up as a ‘good person’ if all you had seen was the opposite of love?  Would you think that being forced into another repressive life, which was even worse than what you had experienced previously, would be good for you and would somehow turn you into a better person by the time your sentence ended?

No – of course, it wouldn’t.

This is the reality of many prisoners face, that their time spent locked away for their crimes, actually makes them worse.  What does this do to society as a whole?  Do we ever really think about how this impacts all of us?

With the numbers of those incarcerated, increasing all the time, it is not hard to fathom the implications this has on all of us for the future.

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‘Corrections’ Is A Term That Is Not The Reality

Whilst many prisons are called ‘correctional centers’ shouldn’t they be a place of rehabilitation so that the prisoners become better people? So that they don’t commit these crimes again, and instead start to contribute positively to society? The reality of what goes on inside prisons is often the exact opposite.  For those that have spent time in jail, there is a strong chance they will end up re-offending.  Texas for example, incarcerates more people per capita than any other country in the world, and suffers from a staggering 60% recidivism (re-offending) rate.

Shouldn’t we take look at why this is so, and try and stop it from happening?

Hurt People, Hurt People

I know, you may be thinking that if a person has committed serious offenses, they deserve to be locked away, to do ‘time’ to pay for their sins? Yes – that is true.  However, what we don’t often realize is that the way prisoners are treated in the majority of prisons often makes them worse, and they become even more broken, as prison life encourages more violence and increases mental instability.

If someone is never shown any kindness and compassion, will they ever become an example of this themselves?

The causes of crime are complex. Poverty, parental neglect, low self-esteem, alcohol and drug abuse can be connected to why people break the law. Some are at greater risk of becoming offenders because of the circumstances into which they are born. (source)

For the innocent victims of a false sentence – which you will always find in any jail –  can you imagine what these harsh and cruel environments would do to their own spirit?

With over 2 million people incarcerated just in the USA alone, there are over 11 million prisoners worldwide (source).  These are astronomical numbers and it is clear that there is indeed, a very big – and growing – problem, particularly in America.

This subject has so many layers that it is impossible to give them all the focus they need, and I do understand the reaction many people have to this subject; those that do the crime should pay the time. However, as a concerned citizen who believes that we are all actually spiritually connected to each other, I think it’s important to highlight these issues.

The number of women in prison has been increasing at twice the rate of growth for men since 1980. Women in prison often have significant histories of physical and sexual abuse, high rates of HIV, and substance abuse problems. Women’s imprisonment in femaleled households leads to children who suffer from their mother’s absence and breaks in family ties. (source)

To become more aware of this problem, Netflix and Youtube have many eye-opening documentaries that highlight issues that I want to bring attention to, which are all mentioned below.

Another huge layer to all of this is, how many innocent people are actually in jails? Is the system breaking good, innocent people that were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and are in fact, terribly unfortunate victims of a failing ‘justice’ system?

Prisons Should Not Be ‘For Profit’

USA prisons (and others around the world) are often run ‘for profit’, so the increasing numbers and overcrowded jails, may in fact, actually be all by design to line the pockets of powerful people and companies.

Because of this reach, the market for privatized services dwarfs that of privatized facilities. The private-prison industry’s annual revenues total $4 billion. By comparison, the correctional food-service industry alone provides the equivalent of $4 billion worth of food each year, according to Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm. Corrections departments spend at least $12.3 billion on health care, about half of which is provided by private companies. Telephone companies, which can charge up to $25 for a 15-minute call, rake in $1.3 billion annually. The range of for-profit services is extensive, from transport vans to halfway houses, from video visitations to e-mail, from ankle monitors to care packages. To many companies, the roughly $80 billion that the United States spends on corrections each year is not a national embarrassment but a gold mine.

Today, a handful of privately held companies dominate the correctional-services market, many with troubling records of price gouging some of the poorest families and violating the human rights of prisoners. But the problem doesn’t end there. These companies are often controlled by private-equity firms, which through financial alchemy transform the prison-industrial complex into lavish returns for pensions, endowments, and charitable foundations. And, as successive administrations have ramped up immigration enforcement, they’ve also squeezed money out of immigrant detention. (source)

It begs the question, Is the prison system actually a legal human trafficking industry? Is it in their interests to keep them at overcapacity?

Coloured People Incarcerated In Higher Numbers

There is also a very high disproportionate amount of people of color compared to white in USA jails, which is of huge concern by itself.

The reality of what is going on inside the prison system makes for indeed, truly brutal viewing, but it is very important for us all, to beware of the reality. It is another part of our society that desperately requires great change because it does truly impact us all.

The USA, and other countries lock up many people for what are seemingly minor crimes. Some, as you will learn below, are almost unbelievable.

What impact does this have on the families who are left behind: a young child’s father or mother taken away, leaving them for years, without that important role model in their lives.  What psychological damage does this do to them, what impact does this have on society,  and how will it impact their own futures?  Will they too, resort to crime, or drugs and alcohol one day?

On a positive note, I also show you what good is being done in some prisons around the world that are actually able to rehabilitate people in a way that is truly transformative. This is what we need to do for broken and hurt people, we need to help give them a purpose for taking control of their lives and making amends of the mistakes they once made.  Only then, will this help society.

13th

This documentary, available on Netflix is the best place to start if you are interested in looking at how the justice system became such a mess, you will see why it became an industry for profit, and why there are far more colored people incarcerated.

You will discover the very shocking untold history lesson about slavery and how it never really left the USA, coloured people were instead moved into the prison system for very petty crimes at an ever-increasing rate.

13th, a film by American Ava DuVernay, explores the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States. It was named 13th after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1865, which abolished slavery throughout the United States except as a punishment for conviction of a crime. 

Prisons that are run for-profit, mean that some people may go to jail for a long time, despite their offense being quite minor.  This also means that there are now many young people in adult jails.

In the USA it seems that it’s very easy to be put in detention centers for seemingly minor crimes.  This robbing of their childhoods can ruin their entire lives which we will cover below when we discuss the documentary Kids For Cash.

DuVernay shows that slavery has been increasingly perpetuated since the end of the American Civil War through criminalizing behavior and enabling police to arrest poor men and force them to work for the state under what is known as ‘convict leasing’  This factual documentary shows eye-opening statistics about the huge increase in prison numbers that are of colored people.

Ava examines the prison-industrial complex and the emerging detention-industrial complex, discussing how much money is actually being made by corporations from such incarcerations.

Kids For Cash

This is a great one to watch after viewing 13th, because it then brings attention to the concern regarding young children being put in detention centers, also for very petty crimes. These centers, are again, mostly run for profit.

The kids for cash scandal centered on two judges at the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In 2008, two judges, Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella were accused of accepting money in return for imposing harsh sentences on juveniles simply to increase occupancy at for-profit detention centers.

This documentary shows the damage this can do to the individual, quite often exposing a typical ‘naughty’ pre-teen to horrific and frightening treatment which goes on in ‘kid’ jails, that they really aren’t mentally able to cope with.

This, of course, can impact them for life, because of the trauma (imagine being 12 and not able to see your parents for months at a time, whilst being involved in, or witness to many extremely violent acts) they may themselves end up turning to violence in there just to survive, which then means they likely will end up staying imprisoned much longer.

Judge Mark Ciavarella was found to have forced thousands of children to have ‘extended stays’ in youth centers for offenses as trivial as mocking a school staff member on Myspace or trespassing in a vacant building.  How utterly ridiculous, and a crime in itself, that so many kids have been put away for these kinds of silly things.

This incarceration of minor offenses has led to permanent emotional trauma, and some victims have ended up committing suicide or becoming drug and alcohol addicts. This is what psychological trauma does.  A life, and families ruined because of money-hungry people in positions of power.

Thankfully, Judge Ciavarella was convicted on 12 of 39 counts and sentenced to 28 years in federal prison.

Whilst it is great that he has been locked away himself, it does not mean that the youth prison system is now a good one, they are still being run for profit.

Time: The Kalief Browder Story

This documentary series found on Netflix is an absolutely harrowing and gut-wrenching story of what goes on in many prisons around the world.  It is hard not to feel your own heart break after witnessing this horrific account of what maximum security prisons did to an innocent, young and good man who had a promising future ahead of him.

In 2010, 16-year-old Kalief Browder, from The Bronx NYC, whilst walking home from a party, was accused of stealing a backpack by police, and not only was he thrown in jail without a trial, but he was sent to one of the toughest adult prisons in NYC, Rikers Island.  If convicted, Kaleif faced up to 15 years in prison – for stealing a backpack no less.

This lengthy sentence seems unbelievable, yet this is how punishment is dealt out in the USA.  They are incredibly tough on minor crimes. It seems like any of us could be easily accused of something, thrown in jail, and unless we had money to pay for bail, we also may have to wait a very long time to have our case heard.  This is very wrong, and once again, the vulnerable, and impoverished people have to pay a price whilst those with money will have a much easier time dealing with the justice system.  When we look into the ‘for profit’ prison industry, could this be why they are so tough on crimes, and quick to send people to prison?

Sadly, Kalief’s family were not able to afford his $3000 bail, so Kalief went straight to Rikers Island, a jail notorious for it’s violent criminals and for being very poorly managed.  It is widely known as ‘hell on earth’ and somewhere no teenager should be found in.

Whilst waiting to have his hearing on the alleged crime, Kalief ended up spending an astronomical 3 years in jail experiencing what can only be described as completely disturbing and ongoing violent, physical and mental abuse.

Kalief, slight in stature and still a teenager, was regularly attacked by dangerous and much older gang members, and was thrown in solitary confinement for months at a time.  He often had food withheld from him, and never had any access to mental health programs.  Kalief was also often violently attacked by cruel prison guards.

Due to this ongoing inhumane treatment, and, not surprisingly, feeling so hopeless, Kalief tried to commit suicide under the watch of prison guards – who were later found to have cruelly taunted Kalief whilst he was doing this –  they took him down from the noose just as he was about to pass out, then they proceeded to violently beat him. This was not the last time he tried to take his own life in jail, yet nobody of authority helped him with his mental health issues.

This gruesome footage of what happened to Kalief was released to the public and is also shown in the documentary, and it indeed displayed this sickening and cruel treatment by the hands of the prison guards. This is the reality of many prisons, where the guards commit despicable crimes themselves.

Those guards, to this day, have never been held accountable for their own disgusting behavior against this innocent, young man.

Kalief never had his case go to trial, the ‘witness’ disappeared to Mexico, and after an unfathomable 30 separate visits to court to see if his case would, at last, be heard by the court, Kalief eventually was released.

Whilst Kalief was now a free man after 3 years of mental and physical torture, his mind was anything but, and his story does not have a happy eneding. After his release, and when the trial against the city began to try and receive compensation for his time in jail, Kalief wrote this:

“People tell me because I have this case against the city I’m all right. But I’m not all right. I’m messed up. I know that I might see some money from this case, but that’s not going to help me mentally. I’m mentally scarred right now. That’s how I feel. Because there are certain things that changed about me and they might not go back.” He also said, “Before I went to jail, I didn’t know about a lot of stuff, and, now that I’m aware, I’m paranoid. I feel like I was robbed of my happiness.”

Kalief’s unforgettable and deeply traumatic experiences caused such everlasting damage to his health and well-being. His time in jail crushed his spirit and most tragically, he wasn’t able to cope with his haunting memories and how his mind had now become.

Akeem Browder, a prison reform campaigner, is the truly inspiring, fiercely intelligent, brave, older brother of Kalief, and has since started the Kalief Browder Foundation in honor of his brother’s life:

The KBF strategies support youth and young adults, typically in middle/ high school and college, who were negatively impacted by the incarceration system and the school to prison pipeline particularly and labeled “At Risk Youth”. We aim to enhance their social emotional learning skills through critical thinking exercises, relationship building lessons, mentoring through narrative change and skill building. The KBF has engaged the youth impacted by the incarceration system to shift into the role of leaders for systems change through its work in New York within it’s legislative body. Listening to the community and its needs allowed us to develop a curriculum that speaks directly to the necessities that our youth and young adults face day to day. The criminalization of poverty, race and trauma has held our poor communities in its grips far too long for us to not find a way out.

Akeem has since been campaigning to get Rikers Island shut down. The documentary received much press and celebrity attention after it’s release, but sadly whilst there has been a lot of ‘talk’ about Kalief’s story, to date, no one has helped much financially to get the foundation seriously off the ground.  To make real changes, to hire staff and to run a foundation properly, funds are needed.

You can help keep Kalief’s memory alive, and to support the foundation which strives to bring about much-needed change to the justice system.

PLEASE Donate here

Kalief’s story deserves to be heard, in the hope that something good can one day come out of it.

When They See Us

When They See Us is a 2019 American miniseries which was created, co-written, and directed also by 13th director Ava DuVernay for Netflix. It premiered on May 31, 2019 and is a four-part series. It is based on the highly publicized 1989 Central Park jogger case and explores the lives and families of the five male suspects who were prosecuted on charges related to the brutal rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City.

The series explores the shocking way that 5 innocent young males who were targeted for committing this crime against a young white woman in Central Park, just because they were black, and were in the park that night.  The film shows they were coerced into a false confession and there was actually never any solid evidence that they did it, yet the prosecution was still able to pin the crimes on all 5 boys.

After spending years in jail, they later ended up being exonerated, what they all experienced whilst in prison was truly horrific, especially Korey Wise, who having been beaten many times in jail – sometimes almost to his death – was often placed in solitary confinement for long periods at a time.

A truly harrowing scene in the film is of Korey (played by the brilliant Emmy Award-winning actor Jharrel Jerome) shouting ‘Why doesn’t anyone care about me?’.

This, I think sums up the prison system and how many inmates feel, innocent or not.

Whilst DNA evidence ended up clearing their names (how this came to be, is an extraordinary story in itself) and they are all now out of jail, their lives of course, have been forever turned upside down.  How can you get back that time, or how can you ever erase all of those horrific experiences? How can your brain ever really recover from that?

Whilst the exonerated 5 have been able to seek financial compensation, it took a whopping 11 years of fighting in court to be eventually given to them, and the money of course, does not make up for the time and the destruction of their health and mental well-being that they lost in prison due to a justice system that can often be anything but.

Many victims of false incarceration do not ever win any financial justice for their time spent in prison.

Those who targeted these boys, have not been punished for their own despicable behavior, which is another example of how the system gets away with their own criminal activity.

Happy Jail

I am now able to share with you now some more positive stories about what can be done in jails.

Happy Jail is a documentary that is currently streaming on Netflix. The story revolves around Marco O Toral, who became the manager of the Philippine jail known as CPDRC in Cebu province, known for a Michael Jackson dance video that went viral in 2007.  What is immediately fascinating is that Marco was a previous inmate of this exact jail for seven years.

I highly recommend watching this 5 part series as it is very heartwarming and inspiring in that you see for your own eyes, what compassion, kindness, fun, and joy can do for people who have ended up in jail due to the crimes they commit.  Marco Toral, is I think, an extraordinary human being, who was able to keep violence and drug use at a minimum, due to the way he treated the inmates.

Marco would meet every new inmate and treat them with kindness, often giving them money to use at the jail shop.  He would, of course, lay down the rules, and the punishment for breaking them was a painful paddle on the bottom, as a last resort.

Whilst watching Happy Jail, I was struck by how the prisoners were constantly smiling, seemingly enjoying their time, and this is because Marco allowed them to dance, play music, play games, and have their family members not only visit them each week but that it would be in close contact where they would come inside the prison.

I personally feel that perhaps it is enough punishment simply being locked away in the same building for years at a time, never being allowed out until their time is served.  Surely, during this time we can then work on encouraging people to learn from their own mistakes from a spiritual level? 

Marco received harsh criticism by the media and some government members as he was seen as being ‘not tough enough’ on the prisoners, but you perhaps you will see for yourself if you think this was the case.

Bastoy – Norway

Bastoy, which sits on an island in Norway, is quite an incredible place that is doing a remarkable job to rehabilitate prisoners. Inmates, who live in small houses, not cells, are required to look after the island, (which also has its own small shop) have work duties and responsibilities that require them to get close to nature and to work with others.   They learn to also look after themselves and learn to interact well with other people.   There are animals to look after and they can play music, learn cooking and study.

A Governor was interviewed for this short documentary (below) and I think what he said should be how all Governors look at their own prisons.

‘I think my job as a Governer at Bastoy Prison is if I can put a person back into society who has actually been trained to be a good member of society’

Another guard said this:

“We punish them them by taking away their freedom, but we don’t take away their life”

Halden Prison – Norway

Also in Norway, Halden Prison is known as the worlds most ‘humane’ prison.  It is designed with an architecture that takes into account it’s surrounding nature, where prisoners have access to beautiful views of the land, because connecting with nature is good for the human spirit.  The warden’s of Halden state that ‘being imprisoned’ is enough punishment.

Punta de Rieles – Urugay

Located in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, Punta de Rieles is known as “the prison from which nobody wants to escape”.  It is set on a 100-acre property which has lots of outdoor space where inmates can live, work, do yoga, have pets, and play music. At Punta de Rieles, the focus is on helping prisoners prepare to go back into society after they leave.

The prison’s director shared that their focus is to help the inmates be ‘better’ people than when they first arrived. Using ‘repression’ won’t rehabilitate people. They allow their inmates to study and also teach them how to start up a business. The funds earned enable the inmates to purchase things from the prison shop, or they can save up for when they leave.  Punta De Rieles has a bakery, restaurant, brick factory, barbers, carpentry, and grocery stores.

Rehabilitation IS Possible

It seems very clear that the common way people are incarcerated today is simply not helping them become better people.

However, rehabilitation IS possible, and the way we can actually do this is seen in the last few documentaries above.

They all have a common theme, allow the inmates to have access to nature, to not be ‘locked up’ in ugly and depressing surroundings, give them responsibilities, encourage them to learn skills, have a purpose and above all, to be treated with compassion.

Whilst it must be said, that rehabilitating serial killers and very violent gang members might not be an easy task, it is something that must be attempted. Violence breeds violence so if we want to put an end to it, we have to see all people as human beings that may have had a very damaging upbringing which has affected their behavior.

Read More:

Research Shows That Time In Prison Does Not Successfully “Rehabilitate” Most Inmates

How Shelter Cats Are Changing Prisoners Lives In Indiana

Why Brazil Gives Ayahuasca To Prison Inmates On Their Path To Redemption

The Top 10 Most Startling Facts About People of Color and Criminal Justice in the United States

Jennifer Gonnermans Interviews With Kalief Browder

The Business Model Of Private Prisons

Global Prison Population Soars

kaliefbrowderfoundation.com

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Alternative News

Research Suggests Many Diagnosed With ADHD May Not Actually Have A “Disorder”

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The fact that ADHD is diagnosed strictly on behavioural characteristics and not brain imaging or other science means that many who have this label don't formally have a neurodevelopmental disorder.

  • Reflect On:

    Why is medication the only resort to combating the symptoms of ADHD? Why are other interventions, like meditation, dietary changes, a change in lifestyle/environment never really discussed or emphasized?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, has become an epidemic. According to the Centres for Disease Control (CDC), ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviours (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active.

They go on to state that it’s normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. “However, children with ADHD do not just grow out of these behaviours. The symptoms continue, can be severe, and can cause difficulty at school, at home, or with friends.”

The CDC claims that children with ADHD might daydream a lot, forget or lose things a lot, squirm or fidget, talk too much, have a hard time resisting temptation, have trouble taking turns, and make carless mistakes or take unnecessary risks. But are these really symptoms of a serious “neurodevelopmental disorder?”

Is This Science-Based?

It’s not as if children are taken into the lab and have their brains scanned to determine if serious brain abnormalities exist. ADHD is diagnosed purely off of behaviour, and there may be something very wrong with diagnosing someone with neurological abnormalities simply baed on observation, instead of actual science. Who is to say that the behaviours listed above are not those of a normal child, or even a normal adult, especially within a school or work environment that does not seem to be foster a human being’s natural state? Perhaps the person or child in question doesn’t actually have neurodevelopmental problems, but is simply responding appropriately to the environmental that they find themselves in?

There is hardly any evidence suggesting that there is a neurological problem, as is often expressed by the medical industry. There are studies, however, that do show differences. For example, one of the largest imaging studies of ADHD to date recently identified differences in five regions of the brain, with the greatest differences seen in children rather than adults.

It’s important to note here the the brain of a child is still developing, and that the structure is not permanent and continues to develop until early adulthood.  More than 3,000 people diagnosed with ADHD had an MRI compared to controls, to measure the volume and the size of seven regions of the brain that were thought to be linked to ADHD–the pallidum, thalamus, caudate nucleus, putamen, nucleus accumbens, amygdala, and hippocampus. The study found that overall brain volume and five of the regional volumes were smaller in people with ADHD — the caudate nucleus, putamen, nucleus accumbens, amygdala and hippocampus.

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“These differences are very small — in the range of a few percent — so the unprecedented size of our study was crucial to help identify these. Similar differences in brain volume are also seen in other psychiatric disorders, especially major depressive disorders.”–Dr Martine Hoogman, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.(source)

Smaller brain regions do not equate to a neurodevelopmental disorder or a lack of brain functioning though. This is simply an assumption. As with depression, where 6 decades of research that serotonin (or norepinephrine, or dopamine) deficiency is the cause of depression and anxiety, scientific credibility has not been achieved. This is well known. A New England Journal of Medicine review on major depression stated:

” … numerous studies of norepinephrine and serotonin metabolites in plasma, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid as well as postmortem studies of the brains of patients with depression, have yet to identify the purported deficiency reliably.”

Despite this fact, drugs are being prescribed that alter brain chemistry based on the prevailing unsubstantiated ‘theories’ regarding several ‘mental disorders.’ Here is an eye opening quote regarding the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:

“[DSM-V] is a wholesale imperial medicalization of normality that will trivialize mental disorder and lead to a deluge of unneeded medication treatment – a bonanza for the pharmaceutical industry but at a huge cost to the new false positive patients caught in the excessively wide DSM-V net.”–Allen Frances, DSMIV Taskforce Chair (source)

Financial Ties With Big Pharma

Speaking of the DSM, American psychologist Lisa Cosgrove and researchers have investigated financial ties between the DSM panel members and the pharmaceutical industry. She published her research in the journal Plos OneThe study found that, of the 170 DSM members who sat on panels of ‘mood disorders,’ ‘schizophrenia’ and other psychotic disorders, most of them had financial ties to drug companies. The connections were especially strong in those diagnostic areas where drugs are the first line of treatment for mental disorders:

The revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), scheduled for publication in May 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), has created a firestorm of controversy because of questions about undue industry influence. Some have questioned whether the inclusion of new disorders (e.g., Attenuated Psychotic Risk Syndrome) and widening of the boundaries of current disorders (e.g., Adjustment Disorder Related to Bereavement) reflects corporate interests. These concerns have been raised because the nomenclature, criteria, and standardization of psychiatric disorders codified in the DSM have a large public impact in a diverse set of areas ranging from insurance claims to jurisprudence. Moreover, through its relationship to the International Classification of Diseases, the system used for classification by many countries around the world, the DSM has a global reach.

Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Carlat has said:

“And where there is a scientific vacuum, drug companies are happy to insert a marketing message and call it science. As a result, psychiatry has become a proving ground for outrageous manipulations of science in the service of profit.”

Questioning The System

Dr. Marcia Angell, a physician and longtime Editor-in-Chief of the New England Medical Journal (NEMJ), also considered one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals in the world, said the following:

It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. (source)

Here is another great quote:

“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.”–Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard professor of medicine and former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Medical Journal  (source)

A very interesting and uncharacteristic article in the New York times titled The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder raised awareness about this issue in 2013. The article discusses efforts to expose the manufacturing of a “profit driven machine into which our children are being fed.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the diagnosis had been made in 15 percent of high school-age children, and that the number of children on medication for the disorder had soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990.

Behind that growth has been drug company marketing that has stretched the image of classic A.D.H.D. to include relatively normal behavior like carelessness and impatience, and has often overstated the pills’ benefits.

According to Kelly Brogan, MD, psychiatrist:

Psychiatric studies funded by pharma are 4x more likely to be published if they are positive, and only 18% of psychiatrists disclose their conflicts of interests when they publish data.

Psychiatry is particularly susceptible to industry corruption because of the highly subjective, non-biological, impressionistic nature of diagnostic criteria. With our “governing body” the American Psychiatric Association heavily funded by pharmaceutical companies, the temptation is all too great to open the diagnostic umbrella to encompass behavioral criteria like “makes careless mistakes” or “often has difficulty waiting his or her turn.”

Looking At ADHD Differently

What about other aspects of ‘ADHD’ that are never really emphasized? Recent work in cognitive neuroscience shows that people with an ADHD diagnosis and creative thinkers have difficulty suppressing brain activity that comes from the “Imagination Network.” This suggests people with ADHD might have differences in parts of the brain that actually makes them ‘superior’ in many ways, but it’s information that pharmaceutical companies can’t make a profit off of.

Currently, there are no school assessments to evaluate creativity and imagination. The fact remains,  people who show characteristics of ADHD are more likely to reach higher levels of creative thought and achievement compared to those who don’t show these characteristics.

“By automatically treating ADHD characteristics as a disability– as we so often do in an educational context– we are unnecessarily letting too many competent and creative kids fall through the cracks.”–Scott Barry Kaufman, Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. (source)

Scrutinizing ADHD Treatment

A longitudinal NIMH study, the only one of its kind, demonstrated that after an initial decrease in ADHD symptoms, at three years, there was deterioration in the medicated group, and by six, worse attentional and behavioral symptoms than unmedicated controls, and increased functional impairment. Despite claims that stimulant side effects are “generally mild,” data accumulated by psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin has demonstrated quite the opposite. He cites studies that demonstrate concerning risks for:

  • Motor and vocal tics
  • Addiction, withdrawal and rebound
  • Growth suppression
  • Adverse cardiovascular effects
  • Mania, suicidality, psychosis

A study by Nasrallah et al in which more than 50% of young adults treated with ADHD medication experienced PET-confirmed brain atrophy, concluding “cortical atrophy may be a long-term adverse effect of this treatment.” In rhesus monkeys, Wagner et al demonstrated long-term changes to dopamine levels and receptor density, related to compensatory changes the brain undergoes in the setting of chronic intoxication. Subjects abstinent from stimulants for three years were found to have persistent dopamine-related brain changes on PET scans, related to Parkinsonian pathology.

That being said, many people have reported success with medications, but could this be placebo?

Alternatives

Dr. Kelly Brogan sees pharmaceutical intervention for symptoms of ADHD as very harmful for a child’s development:

When we interfere with behavior and brain growth, when we force children to conform to our needs as busy, distracted, and often chronically ill adults, we may be fundamentally compromising their expression of self, as Breggin cites Greenough et al.

Spontaneous or self-generated activities–play, mastery, exploration, novelty seeking, curiosity, and zestful socialization-are central to the growth and development of animals and humans and necessary for the full elaboration of CNS synaptic connections. (source)

She looks at other ways to treat these symptoms, and feels the first line of defense is dietary solutions. 

Some studies have, indeed, emerged that show a link between a gluten/casein free diet and improvement in autistic symptoms, and some parents have already seen the benefits of implementing this research.

The Mayo Clinic claims that certain food preservatives and colourings could increase hyperactive behaviour in some children. It would be best to avoid these, regardless of whether they are linked to ADHD or not.

It has also been suggested that EEG biofeedback (electroencephalographic) could help. It’s a type of neurotherapy that measures brainwaves. You can read more about that here.

In 2003, a study published in the journal Adolescence looked at how regular massages for 20 minutes twice a week could improve behaviour in the classroom. This is interesting because studies have also suggested that tai chi and yoga may also help improve ADHD symptoms. According to the studies, children with ADHD that practiced tai chi became less anxious or hyperactive. (source)

Other safe interventions are out there, you just have to look for them.

The Takeaway

I hope this article provides insight for people as well as parents who are considering using medications if their child is labeled as having ‘ADHD’. This article is not meant ignore symptoms of ADHD, but the idea of administering drugs so someone can better fit into a regimented environment should be questioned.

A challenge to convention like this can often be vilified, and that’s ok. We are going through a period of time where it’s best to keep an open mind, as new information is emerging in various areas that challenge our long-held belief systems.

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The Brown Mountain Lights – An Unexplained ‘Paranormal’ Phenomenon That’s Happened For Centuries

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The "Brown Mountain Lights" have been an observed phenomenon in North Carolina for a very long time. Below, there is more information as well as one out of many supposed paranormal experiences had by people who have visited the mountain.

  • Reflect On:

    Is paranormal really out of the ordinary? Or is it something that's simply normal about our world, and a type of phenomena that's been happening since the beginning of time? Just because we don't understand it, doesn't mean its not real.

What are “paranormal experiences”? I don’t really understand the term anymore, it’s used to describe events and experiences that are out of the ordinary, it implies that these events are not ‘normal.’ It’s almost 2019, and more people are starting to become aware of the fact that “paranormal” experiences are actually quite normal, quite common, and well documented throughout history. We have evidence in the form of video footage, pictures, and actual physical evidence from several different supposed events. Not only that, ‘paranormal’ discoveries have been the subject of rigorous investigations by governments and researchers around the world. The ‘Stargate’ program in the United States, for example, was one that studied these experiences in order to use them for intelligence purposes, and they worked. Here’s a great example from the Central Intelligence Agency’s electronic reading room about an individual who was able to move solid objects through solid barriers, by simply using his mind. You can read more about that, in-depth, here.

We live in a strange world, one in which we don’t quite understand and for the most part, we still shy away from and label findings in the paranormal world as different, not real, pseudoscience or the stuff of imagination. Humanity has a long history of not accepting certain phenomena based on the fact that it may shatter a few of our long-held and ingrained belief systems, wherever they may come from. We also have a long history of phenomena not being acknowledged to protect certain interests. The UFO issue is a great example, where suppression, although kept secret for multiple reasons, is kept due to the new energy and propulsion systems that could come from it.

The story that’s the topic of this article is no different, it will definitely shatter your belief systems if you’re not into this stuff, but if you are, you probably won’t be surprised, especially given the fact that the experience took place at Brown Mountain, North Carolina, which is a place full of stories similar to this one.

Brown Mountain is known for what’s now become known as the “Brown Mountain Lights.” They represent a series of strange lights in the form of multiple colours that are often spotted near or on Brown Mountain. The lights can be seen from multiple spots, there was also help from the city of Morganton (North Carolina) via building an overlook on North Carolina highway 181. They are fairly well known…

Below is one of many pictures and pieces of footage that’s been floating around out there for a very long time. Hers’s a good blogging website where citizens have also posted more information and resources.

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A website based in North Carolina who takes interest in this lore explains it quite well:

Brown Mountain is a low ridge in Burke County that, during dry, crisp evenings in the autumn, is host to a genuine and baffling mystery. When conditions are right, mysterious glowing orbs can be seen to rise up off the mountain, hover and wobble about fifteen feet up in the air, and then disappear. There’s no denying that the lights are real. They have been observed by countless witnesses and photographed on many occasions. But what they are is still unknown.

The Brown Mountain Lights have been observed for centuries, and multiple legends have arisen around the phenomenon. The Cherokee were aware of the lights, and according to some accounts claimed that the lights were the souls of Cherokee women searching for their men who had died in a great battle between the Cherokee and the Catawba that took place on Brown Mountain. Another legend says that the lights are the the ghostly echoes of lights that appeared during a search for a murdered woman in the 19th century.

The common theme this site doesn’t seem to include is extraterrestrial or extradimensional.

Below is a video that was taken from Scientists at Appalachian State University, who caught the phenomenon on camera as well. Researchers captured these glowing lights simultaneously by two time-lapse digital video cameras near the mountain, which is located just north of Morganton. The cameras are operated by Daniel Caton and his colleague Lee Hawkins, of the physics and astronomy department at Appalachian State.

The lore of Brown Mountain is filled with so many stories, real stories, from real people, that it’s surprising how little well known it still is.  As far as the lights go, there are many different explanations that have come forth. Everything from extraterrestrial to interdimensional, to ghosts and more.  Skeptics have suggested that they are headlights from automobiles from the valley below, but the lights have been observed for more than one hundred years. If you look up pictures, videos and stories about the phenomenon, you’ll see how ridiculous the headlight explanation is. Some have suggested that the lights could be a naturally-occurring electrical discharge caused by the geological fault line below the mountain.

Below is  Charles Braswell Jr. (right) who shows Carl White a photo taken of the Brown Mountain Lights. White is the host of the show, “Life in the Carolinas.”

One Experience (out of many) On Brown Mountain

This story was shared last year by a YouTuber who has a channel called “Insane Disappearances.” This man has done a lot of research into missing persons inside of National Parks. Himself and other researchers in the field describe many similar strange findings that all of these experiences have in common. He managed to conduct an interview with a person who chose to remain anonymous, due to fear. After her experience (she was also with two others), she explains how she was harassed by police as well as park authorities, asking to confiscate the pictures and the video footage she took. She kept receiving calls on a regular basis from authorities asking her about her experience, and on multiple occasions, authorities emphasized how it was a long day, she was dehydrated and simply hallucinating.

I don’t usually share stories that comprise simply of witness testimony, but after listening to this woman’s story, seeing the pictures and watching her videos of her experience, it really resonated with me and really came across in an extreme genuine fashion. The way she was telling it just makes me believe this is a genuine person who actually had a strange experience. What was also interesting to note was her urgency in getting the pictures as well as the videos up online for public access before they could be taken away from her.

The story starts off with the woman hiking with her friends. All of a sudden, her friends instantly disappeared from the trail, but everything else remained the same. She started to look for them and began to experience strange things, like the path shifting, noticing water streams in an area of the mountain where she was sure there were no streams. She heard strange noises, and captured shots of a strange orange glowing orb that appeared to follow her. She also claims that sometimes, this apparition took on the form of a humanoid looking being. Her friends also had unique experiences as she did, and when they eventually came out of the situation, they compared notes, pictures, footage and stories…

As the day progressed, I kept feeling like, almost like the forest was kind of re-arranging itself around me. I swear that I turned directly behind me but the trail would be different… I also kept hearing things and weird whooshing of air… I kept seeing what looked like these bright orange colours that were, I don’t know if they were following me…

Here’s a message from the YouTube video description:

If you have an open mind this is the place to be. Join me, become intrigued as I case-read the four hundred and eleven baffling unsolved cases about hundreds of random people from clusters all over the globe who mysteriously vanish without a trace and are either never seen again or found hundreds of miles away from their last known location; deceased under weird circumstances. Todays episode is a validations interview that will answer all your questions about what happens to people who venture into our national parks to never be seen or heard from again. But with evident proof like this everyone’s perception will always be different because of their own level of experiences. So with that being said I believe her because the people that weren’t there to see what she saw are not going to believe her at first because those people are looking for extensive detailed analyzation, picking apart the evidence in her footage, lie detector tests, etc. at the end of the day she had an experience; an amazing yet creepy experience that answered every single question ever asked

It might be time to plan a trip to Brown Mountain ;). You can find all of the pictures, footage and interviews on his channel if you want to dive into this particular mystery a little further!

Similar The Hessdalen Lights

Known as theKnown as the Hessdalen Interactive Observatory, scientists at the University of Ostfold, Hessdalen, Norway have captured and documented many strange anomalies that seem to plague the area. It’s the only official 24 hour UFO observatory in the world. Radar and cameras have tracked and filmed numerous unexplainable phenomenon, the fastest one recorded at 30,000 km per hour. (Faster than any known air-craft today.), scientists at the University of Ostfold, Hessdalen, Norway have captured and documented many strange anomalies that seem to plague the area. It’s the only official 24 hour UFO observatory in the world. Radar and cameras have tracked and filmed numerous unexplainable phenomenon, the fastest one recorded at 30,000 km per hour. (Faster than any known air-craft today.)

Below is many unexplained pictures taken from the Observatory. You can find more here.

The Takeaway

There is a simple takeaway message that goes with this article and it’s the fact that it’s okay to entertain an idea without accepting it. It’s also important to acknowledge phenomena that are not ‘officially’ acknowledged within the mainstream as ‘real,’ simply because these realities have tremendous implications, and they are indeed real. Strange stories, occurrences, and footage coming out of this area confirm without a doubt that the phenomenon of the Brown Mountain lights are indeed real, as far as what they are, remains to be unknown.

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Alternative News

New Plastic “Zeoform” Turns Hemp Into Almost Anything

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Zeoform is a material that changes everything. It's made from cellulose fibres and water. Their patented process converts cellulose fibres into an industrial strength moulding material capable of being formed in into an array of products.

  • Reflect On:

    Zeoform is 100% non-toxic, biodegradable, compostable and ‘locks up’ carbon into beautiful, functional forms. A perfect solution for emerging hemp industries and bio-waste nations. Solutions exist, finding solutions are not the issue, so what is?

What if today’s plastics could be made from materials which were not only sustainable, but non-toxic? At the moment, our plastics are made from oil, which means not only are we putting toxic chemicals into our atmosphere, but we are also filling our environment with products that cannot bio-degrade.

To combat this problem, a company out of Australia has created a promising new product called Zeoform, made entirely out of water and cellulose taken from hemp plants. This means their plastic is not only eco-friendly in production but is also biodegradable!

As stated on their website:

Zeoform is a revolutionary material that changes everything. Made from cellulose fibres and water – and absolutely nothing else! Our patented process converts cellulose fibres into a super strong high tech moulding material capable of being formed into a multitude of products. ZEOFORM is 100% non-toxic, biodegradable and ‘locks up’ carbon from waste into beautiful, functional forms.

zoeform_chair

According to Zeoform, their product is very durable and relies only on the natural process of hydrogen bonding that takes place when cellulose fibres are mixed with water. No glue or bonding material is necessary because the bond created is already so strong. The final material can be formed into almost anything and can be cut, routed, machined, drilled, screwed, nailed, and glued in the same way wood and wood composites can be. It can also be coloured/dyed, and finished in any way creators like.

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The material is inherently water- and fire-resistant and can be reinforced further in both categories with some small adjustments to ingredients. Zeoform can also be made into anything, from car parts to paper, moulds, furniture, and even musical instruments – the possibilities are endless.

zeoform_guitar

Given the practicality of this material, the company hopes to expand their patented technology and begin offering manufacturing licenses to larger facilities around the world. Since there is plenty of infrastructure already set up where this type of product can be built, switching over from our current unsustainable and toxic method of production is very possible and should be a high priority, especially considering our environmental state. Sure it might mean disaster for big oil, but isn’t it time we put us and the environment ahead of profit?

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