A trick I’ve used to fall asleep is to pick a category, bands, birds, animals, sea creatures, flowers which is fairly broad and try to go through the alphabet thinking of an example from each one. I find that the reason that this works is that frequently worry and anxiety can keep us awake so giving the brain something to do is helpful.
The reason to avoid waking a sleep walker is that they have no idea where they are. They are in a different world.
Every week, a quarter of Americans take a painkiller that could be dampening our collective feelings of empathy. In a paper published online this week, scientists claim that acetaminophen, Tylenol’s main ingredient, makes people more likely to think that other people’s pain isn’t a big deal.
Pet rats are wonderful. They’re smart, playful, affectionate, and often hilarious. I think it’s important to distinguish between the kind you willingly keep your home, and the wild kind (especially the huge city-dwellers).
Sorry, but I don’t believe altruism exists. Doing something compassionate to be seen as such is in fact selfish. And I’ve seen compassion make people rather myopic, sneering at what they’d label as socialism – social programs to support the aftermath of their political views.
There are a handful of traits that scientists and philosophers would argue would make us human, including self-awareness and language. Another key part of being human is thought to be our ability to empathize (although I sometimes find myself doubting some humans’ abilities to empathize). I also doubt that we are the only animal that has empathy. However, this can be tricky to test. If we define empathy as Franz de Waal does as ‘‘the capacity to be affected by and share the emotional state of another, assess the reasons for the other’s state and identify with the other, adopting his or her perspective’’ how would we go about testing this in a non-human animal?
Take, for example, pigs. We know that pigs are ‘intelligent’ animals (whatever that word really means) and that they feel emotions such as stress. They are also social animals, and so presumably if other animals do empathise with one another, then a pig might be a likely candidate.
…when neuroscientist Agustin Ibanez met Carlos, he suspected even odder effects were to come. By changing the man’s heart, Ibanez thought, the doctors might have also changed their patient’s mind: Carlos would now think, feel and act differently as a result of the implant.
How come? We often talk about “following the heart”, but it is only recently that scientists have begun to show that there is literal truth in the cliche; the heaving lump of muscle contributes to our emotions and the mysterious feelings of “intuition” in a very real way. Everything from your empathy for another person’s pain to the hunch that your spouse is having an affair may originate from subtle signals in your heart and the rest of your body.
…So the folklore may be right: people who are in touch with their heart are more likely to be swayed by their instincts – for good or bad.