What is Dopamine?

Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are brain chemical messengers that help your nerve cells communicate with one another.

Different neurotransmitters attach (bind) to different receptors on nerve cells. When a neurotransmitter binds to the right receptor on a nerve cell, it triggers that cell to take a specific action. Think of it like a key in a lock. 

Different neurotransmitters are associated with many physical and psychological processes in the body. For example, dopamine is involved in things like:

  • motivation and reward
  • movement
  • mood
  • attention, learning, and memory
  • sleep and dreaming

Neurotransmitters travel along neuronal pathways, which are basically long chains of nerve cells (neurons) that help different parts of the brain talk with one another. 

Some pathways that appear to be associated with schizophrenia symptoms have been identified. These pathways use dopamine as their primary messenger, and include the mesolimbic pathway and the mesocortical pathway.

What is Complex PTSD?

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (sometimes called complex PTSD or c-PTSD), is an anxiety condition that involves many of the same symptoms of PTSD along with other symptoms.

First recognized as a condition that affects war veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be caused by any number of traumatic events, such as a car accident, natural disaster, near-death experience, or other isolated acts of violence or abuse. 

When the underlying trauma is repeated and ongoing, however, some mental health professionals make a distinction between PTSD and its more intense sibling, complex PTSD (C-PTSD).

Complex PTSD has gained attention in the years since it was first described in the late 1980s. However, it is important to note that it is not recognized as a distinct condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the tool that mental health professionals use to diagnose mental health conditions.

Both PTSD and C-PTSD result from the experience of something deeply traumatic and can cause flashbacks, nightmares, and insomnia. Both conditions can also make you feel intensely afraid and unsafe even though the danger has passed. However, despite these similarities, there are characteristics that differentiate C-PTSD from PTSD according to some experts.

The main difference between the two disorders is the frequency of the trauma. While PTSD is caused by a single traumatic event, C-PTSD is caused by long-lasting trauma that continues or repeats for months, even years (commonly referred to as “complex trauma”).

Unlike PTSD, which can develop regardless of what age you are when the trauma occurred, C-PTSD is typically the result of childhood trauma.

When it comes to Complex PTSD, the harmful effects of oppression and racism can add layers to complex trauma experienced by individuals. This is further compounded if the justice system is involved.

The psychological and developmental impacts of complex trauma early in life are often more severe than a single traumatic experience—so different, in fact, that many experts believe that the PTSD diagnostic criteria don’t adequately describe the wide-ranging, long-lasting consequences of C-PTSD.

Symptoms of Complex PTSD:

In addition to all of the core symptoms of PTSD—re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal—C-PTSD symptoms generally also include:

  • Difficulty controlling emotions. It’s common for someone suffering from C-PTSD to lose control over their emotions, which can manifest as explosive anger, persistent sadness, depression, and suicidal thoughts.4
  • Negative self-view. C-PTSD can cause a person to view themselves in a negative light. They may feel helpless, guilty, or ashamed.5They often have a sense of being completely different from other people.
  • Difficulty with relationships. Relationships may suffer due to difficulties trusting others and a negative self-view.6 A person with C-PTSD may avoid relationships or develop unhealthy relationships because that is what they knew in the past.
  • Detachment from the trauma. A person may disconnect from themselves (depersonalization) and the world around them (derealisation). Some people might even forget their trauma.
  • Loss of a system of meanings. This can include losing one’s core beliefs, values, religious faith, or hope in the world and other people.

All of these symptoms can be life-altering and cause significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of life.

Einstein Lectures at Lincoln University

In 1946, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist traveled to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the alma mater of Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marshall and the first school in America to grant college degrees to blacks. At Lincoln, Einstein gave a speech in which he called racism “a disease of white people,” and added, “I do not intend to be quiet about it.” He also received an honorary degree and gave a lecture on relativity to Lincoln students.

The reason Einstein’s visit to Lincoln is not better known is that it was virtually ignored by the mainstream press, which regularly covered Einstein’s speeches and activities. (Only the black press gave extensive coverage to the event.) Nor is there mention of the Lincoln visit in any of the major Einstein biographies or archives.

In fact, many significant details are missing from the numerous studies of Einstein’s life and work, most of them having to do with Einstein’s opposition to racism and his relationships with African Americans.]

Atypical vs. Typical Antipsychotics

Atypical antipsychotics are also called second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs). They’re a newer class of medications that work differently in your body than previous (first-generation or typical) antipsychotics. Both help to regulate neurotransmitters, chemicals in your body that allow neurons to signal to each other.

Studies have found that the brains of people with schizophrenia are more sensitive to the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate. High or low dopamine levels can lead to hallucinations and disordered thinking.

While typical antipsychotics (FGAs) block dopamine in the brain, SGAs block both dopamine and serotonin. This results in some key differences.

The most significant difference is that SGAs are less likely to cause extrapyramidal symptoms. These are movement disorders that are common and serious side effects of FGAs. Some of these side effects can become permanent.

Both types of antipsychotics work to treat positive symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and delusions. But SGAs may also help treat negative symptoms, like decreased pleasure or lack of motivation.

Common Atypical Antipsychotics taken:

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify) can be prescribed for adults and adolescents ages 13 and up. You can take it as an injectable solution available through a healthcare professional, or in one of four oral forms:
    • tablet
    • oral solution
    • Abilify Discmelt, an orally disintegrating tablet
    • Abilify MyCite, a tablet with a patch sensor that lets your doctor know you’ve taken the drug
  • Aripiprazole lauroxil (Aristada) is a prodrug, which means it’s inactive until a chemical reaction in your body changes it into aripiprazole. It also requires a medical professional to administer an injection.
  • Asenapine maleate (Saphris) is unique in that it’s available as both a tablet and a patch. Studies show that it’s particularly good at preventing relapse. The FDA has approved its use for children older than 10 to treat bipolar disorder, but not schizophreniaTrusted Source.
  • Brexipiprazole (Rexulti) treats schizophrenia and depression. Doctors usually prescribe it as a once-daily tablet. A generic form is not yet available.
  • Cariprazine (Vraylar) is FDA-approved to treat schizophrenia and bipolar I disorder. It can take a long time to build up in your body and to leave your system. If you stop taking it, you might still feel its effects for up to 4 weeks.
  • Clozapine (Clozaril) is the oldest SGA and remains the “gold standard” for those with treatment-resistant schizophrenia. The FDA has approved its use for reducing suicidal behavior in people with schizophrenia. It’s available as a tablet, an orally disintegrating tablet (Fazaclo), and an oral suspension (Versacloz). Clozapine is not FDA-approved to treat schizophrenia in children or adolescents, but some doctors prescribe it off-label.
  • Iloperidone (Fanapt) is a twice-daily tablet that can treat both positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. It can cause serious problems, such as stroke or even death, in older adults with dementia.
  • Lumateperone (Caplyta) is approved to treat schizophrenia and depressive episodes of bipolar disorder. It can increase suicidal thoughts in adults ages 18-24. The FDA has not approved it for pediatric use.
  • Lurasidone (Latuda) is a once-daily tablet that doctors can prescribe for people ages 13 and older. A 2020 study found that lurasidone continued to reduce schizophrenia symptoms in adolescents for the full 2 years of the study.
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa) is another drug used to treat schizophrenia or bipolar I disorder. It’s available as a tablet, orally disintegrating tablet, or long-acting injectable administered by a healthcare professional. This is one of the atypical antipsychotics that the FDA has approved for adolescents. It can cause serious side effects, such as drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS).
  • Paliperidone (Invega) is derived from a different drug, risperidone. It comes in different forms, including extended-release tablets and long-acting injectables with different brand names. Paliperidone is approved to treat schizophrenia in children ages 12 and older, but it could have broader potential.
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel) is available in an immediate-release tablet that you take two or three times a day, or an extended-release tablet that you take once daily. It’s the least likelyTrusted Source of the SGAs to cause extrapyramidal symptoms. It’s also FDA-approved for treating schizophrenia in adolescents.
  • Risperidone (Risperdal, Perseris) is one of the earliest SGAs and is the most commonly used SGA among children. Doctors prescribe it for children as young as 5 years to treat irritability associated with autism, but it’s only approved for treating schizophrenia in children 13 years and older. It comes in four forms:
    • regular tablet
    • orally disintegrating tablet
    • oral solution
    • injectable administered by a healthcare professional
  • Ziprasidone (Geodon) is available as a twice-daily capsule, or you can have a healthcare professional give you an immediate-release injection.

Side Effects of Antipsychotics:

All atypicals carry a risk of mild to severe side effects. These side effects differ from person to person and drug to drug.

Some common side effects include:

  • sedation
  • dizziness
  • low blood pressure when standing up (orthostatic hypotension)
  • significant weight gain
  • metabolic syndrome
  • diabetes
  • hypertension
  • abnormal cholesterol
  • heart disease
  • complications in the third trimester of pregnancy
  • suicidal thoughts and behaviors

With some SGAs, extrapyramidal symptoms may still occur, especially at high doses.

It’s important that you take care of your physical health while using antipsychotics. SGAs can cause you to gain weight or worsen overweight or obesity if you already have it, leading to other chronic conditions.

You may also become resistant to your medication, so it’s important to stay in touch with your healthcare team and keep them updated if your medicine stops working.

Finally, be sure to continue your medication, even if you feel better. Suddenly stopping the medication can cause problems and may increase your risk of a relapse of symptoms.

Tributes to Thich Nhat Hanh

In his peaceful opposition to the Vietnam war, his support for Martin Luther King and most of all his dedication to sharing with others not only how mindfulness and compassion contribute to inner peace, but also how individuals cultivating peace of mind contributes to genuine world peace, the Venerable lived a truly meaningful life.

~His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

The government hopes that the Plum Village community will continue the Zen master’s vision and aspiration for engaged Buddhism, and so contribute to the prosperity of society, and, together with the wider Buddhist community in Vietnam and abroad, promote peace in the world.

~ President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh of Vietnam

Thich Nhat Hanh is respected by many as the most influential spiritual leader. He showed his love for humankind through his actions. His teachings on happiness touched many hearts. His footsteps and words will continue to live on through the practices of the people.

~ Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea

Thich Nhat Hanh’s legacy is one of insight, compassion, and respect for our planet and for one another. His memory and teachings will continue to inspire the next generation of environmental and social activists in the enduring struggle to protect the Earth and its people

~ Al Gore, Former Vice President of the United States

Thich Nhat Hanh influenced me and so many others by blending his unique approach to mindfulness with a fierce commitment to social justice. When I invited him to visit the World Bank, he touched the lives of hundreds of staff members and even led them on a walking meditation through the busy streets of downtown Washington, DC.  He will be deeply missed but his legacy will live on through his many disciples in all corners of the world.

~ Jim Yong Kim, Former President of the World Bank

Thich Nhat Hanh was a lifelong peace advocate who taught that polarization can be overcome as we nurture tolerance, inclusiveness, and the understanding of our deep interconnection with all human beings.

~ Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations

Thay taught me that being a social activist is not separate from being a contemplative. Thanks to him, untold numbers of us opened our lives to the path of socially engaged Buddhism.

~ Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot of the Upaya Institute and Zen Center

Having Thay as a brother and friend, was one of the greatest gifts in my life. At this time of grieving, I’d like to stretch out my hand to countless others who feel empty-handed at his passing and say: Let’s honor his legacy of Interbeing by joining hands worldwide, ready to carry on with renewed dedication to Thay’s work of peacemaking.

~ David Steindl-Rast, Catholic Benedictine monk, author, and lecturer

Thich Nhat Hanh… exemplified simplicity and humility.

He was one of the first people who helped me grapple with what mindfulness really meant. Many teachers try to focus on letting go of the mind. That’s such a daunting concept. But he emphasized mind-full-ness. These teachings had so many simple yet profound implications. They weren’t highly philosophical or abstract — rather grounded in reality. 

~ Father Richard Rohr – Franciscan friar, teacher, author and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation

From Thay (“teacher,” in Vietnamese) I learned much but perhaps the most important was the skill of deep listening as an avenue to conflict resolution, helping to melt away countless political barriers in the negotiations. His insights and practices helped to open a new fertile space of collaboration through which governments were able to come to the historic agreement.

~ Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and a student of Thich Nhat Hanh

The most venerable Thich Nhat Hanh was one of the most respected moral and spiritual figures of our times. Not only was he one of the most articulate and inspiring proponents of Buddhist teachings and practice, but he was also a beacon of truth in his nonviolent campaigning for human rights.

~ Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist monk and author

Thich Nhat Hanh had a dramatic influence on me. He once asked me, ‘What is more important, being successful or being happy?’ I thought ‘both!’ But he said, ‘You have to choose—you can be a victim of your success but you can never be a victim of your happiness.’

~ Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO

Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings and practices transformed my life. Millions of people have been touched by his wisdom. Mindfulness is more powerful than nuclear energy.

~ Alejandro González Iñárritu, Academy Award-winning director

Thich Nhat Hanh was the most influential Buddhist teacher of the past fifty years. In addition to promoting mindfulness, his ability to present Buddhist insights and practices in clear, accessible, and heartfelt language greatly increased the number of people exposed to Buddhism. Thich Nhat Hanh’s legacy will continue to shape Buddhism’s present and future.

~ Jeff Wilson, Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies, Renison University College, and author of Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture

Absinthe

Sometimes referred to as “the green fairy,” absinthe is a highly alcoholic green liquor made from a variety of aromatic herbs. It is said to have been invented in 1792 by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire, a French expatriate living in Switzerland, as a means of delivering the medicinal qualities of wormwood in a relatively palatable form.

The liquor is prepared from the leaves of common wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and other ingredients steeped in alcohol, including licorice, star anise, fennel, hyssop, and angelica root. Many absinthe drinkers believed that wormwood was the source of its legendary hallucinogenic powers, but most modern scientific analysis attributes its effects to the very high alcohol content, sometimes as high as 70 or 80 percent. In addition, some less-reputable distillers used toxic chemicals to fake the brilliant green color and other characteristics of absinthe, further contributing to its toxicity and notoriety.

The traditional absinthe drink was prepared with a special slotted spoon on which a sugar cube was placed. Water was sluiced over the sugar and into a glass containing absinthe until the liquid turned a milky, greenish- white color. This correct color and consistency, called “louche,” indicated that the bitter taste of straight absinthe had been adequately diluted. Only a few daring individuals would drink absinthe straight.

Absinthe was popular in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century among artists and writers, including the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and the Irish poet Oscar Wilde. Postimpressionist painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec combined absinthe and cognac to produce a drink he called an “earthquake.”

The popularity of absinthe in America was largely restricted to the demimonde, or cultural underworld, of New Orleans, a city with deep ties to France. On Bourbon Street in the French Quarter (Vieux Carré), an establishment known as the Old Absinthe House had a spigot used solely for dripping water through sugar-loaded absinthe spoons.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, opposition to absinthe began to develop among people who disapproved of recreational intoxicants. An almost hysterical fear of absinthism led to the drink being lumped together with opiates and other powerful drugs. Exaggerated accounts of debaucheries committed by absinthe drinkers led legislators on both sides of the Atlantic to ban its production and consumption. The United States banned absinthe in 1912, almost a decade before Prohibition.

72 Micro-Seasons of Japan

There are many ways to think about the year, from the four seasons to the solstices, to holidays and yearly school traditions, to our everyday appointments and deadlines. In Japan, there are 72 micro-seasons that each connect around five days to happenings in the natural world…

The 72 milestones are smaller steps of change that reflect the rhythms of Japan’s ecosystems, but they also embrace the impermanence and constant change that can be applied to any ecosystem.

The 72 Seasons:

BEGINNING OF SPRING

East wind melts the ice (Feb  4th – 8th)

Bush warblers start singing in the mountains (Feb 9th – 13th)

Fish emerge from the ice (Feb 14th – 18th)

RAINWATER

Rain moistens the soil (Feb 19th – 23rd)

Mist starts to linger (Feb 24th – 28th)

Grass sprouts, trees bud (March 1st – 5th)

INSECTS AWAKEN

Hibernating insects surface (March 6th – 10th)

First peach blossoms (March 11th – 15th)

Caterpillars become butterflies (March 16th – 20th)

SPRING EQUINOX

Sparrows start to nest (March 21st – 25th)

First cherry blossoms (March 26th – 30th)

Distant thunder (March 31st – April 4th)

PURE & CLEAR

Swallows return (April 5th – 9th)

Wild geese wild north (April 10th – 14th)

First rainbows (April 15th- 19th)

GRAIN RAINS

First reeds sprout (April 20th – 24th)

Last frost, rice seedlings grow (April 25th – 29th)

Peonies bloom (April 30th – May 4th)

BEGINNING OF SUMMER

Frogs start singing (May 5th – 9th)

Worms surface (May 10th – 14th)

Bamboo shoots sprout (May 15th – 20th)

LESSER RIPENING

Silkworms start feasting on mulberry leaves (May 21st -25th)

Safflowers bloom (May 26th – 30th)

Whats ripens and is harvested (May 31st – June 5th)

GRAIN BEARDS & SEEDS

Praying mantises hatch (June 6th – 10th)

Rotten grass becomes fireflies (June 11th – 15th)

Plums turn yellow (June 16th – 20th)

SUMMER SOLSTICE

Self-heal withers (June 21st – 26th)

Irises bloom (June 27th – July 1st)

Crow-dipper sprouts (July 2nd – 6th)

LESSER HEAT

Warm winds blow (July 7th – 11th)

First lotus blossoms (July 12th – 16th)

Hawks learn to fly (July 17th – 22nd)

GREATER HEAT

Paulownia trees produce seeds (July 23rd – 28th)

Earth is damp, air is humid (July 29th – August 2nd)

Great rains sometimes fall (August 3rd – 7th)

BEGINNING OF AUTUMN

Cool winds blow (August 8th – 12th)

Evening cicadas sing (August 13th – 17th)

Thick fog descends (August 18th – 22nd)

MANAGEABLE HEAT

Cotton flowers bloom (August 23rd – 27th)

Heat starts to die down (August 28th – September 1st)

Rice ripens (September 2nd – 7th)

WHITE DEW

Dew glistens white on grass (September 8th – 12th)

Wagtails sing (September 13th – 17th)

Swallows leave (September 18th – 22nd)

AUTUMN EQUINOX

Thunder ceases (September 23rd – 27th)

Insects hole up underground (September 28th – October 2nd)

Farmers drain fields (October 3rd – 7th)

COLD DEW

Wild geese return (October 8th – 12th)

Chrysanthemums bloom (October 13th – 17th)

Crickets chirp around the door (October 18th – 22nd)

FROST FALLS

First frost (October 23rd – 27th)

Light rains sometimes fall (October 28th – November 1st)

Maple leaves and ivy turn yellow (November 2nd – 6th)

BEGINNING OF WINTER

Camelias bloom (November 7th – 11th)

Land starts to freeze (November 12th – 16th)

Daffodils bloom (November 17th – 21st)

LESSER SNOW

Rainbows hide (November 22nd – 26th)

North wind blows the leaves from the trees (November 27th – December 1st)

Tachibana citrus tree leaves start to turn yellow (December 2nd – 6th)

GREATER SNOW

Cold sets in, winter begins (December 7th – 11th)

Bears start hibernating in their dens (December 12th – 16th)

Salmons gather and swim upstream (December 17th – 21st)

WINTER SOLSTICE

Self-heal sprouts (December 22nd – 26th)

Deer shed antlers (December 27th – 31st)

Wheat sprouts under snow (January 1st – 4th)

LESSER COLD

Parsley flourishes (January 5th – 9th)

Springs thaw (January 10th – 14th)

Pheasants start to call (January 15th – 19th)

GREATER COLD

Butterburs bud (January 20th – 24th)

Ice thickens on streams (January 25th – 29th)

Hens start to lay eggs (January 30th – February 3rd)

Underground Carnivorous Plant Discovered

Scientists have discovered a carnivorous plant that grows prey-trapping contraptions underground, feeding off subterranean creatures such as worms, larvae and beetles.

The newly found species of pitcher plant was unearthed in the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo. Like other pitcher plants, Nepenthes pudica has modified leaves, known as pitfall traps or pitchers, that its prey fall into before being consumed. (One species is so large it can trap rats.)

No other species of pitcher plant known to science catches its prey underground. The plant forms specialized underground shoots with small, white, chlorophyll-free leaves, the researchers said. The pitchers are much larger than the leaves and have a reddish color.

“This species places its up-to-11-cm-long (4.3-inch-long) pitchers underground, where they are formed in cavities or directly in the soil and trap animals living underground, usually ants, mites and beetles,” said lead study author Martin Dančák of Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic, in a news release.

Only three other groups of carnivorous plants are known to trap underground prey, but they all use very different trapping mechanisms and, unlike Nepenthes pudica, can catch only minuscule organisms, the researchers said.

Source: CNN