Repressed memories go to court, men and women have orgasms for science, and then there is the fox and the chicken coop.
June 21, 2005
When the dawn comes, night will be a memory too, or will it?--No field of social science is as controversial or emotional than the issue of repressed memories. People under psychotherapy--sometimes hypnosis--will charge that years ago they were subject to sexual abuse and had repressed the memory. Often, the cases turn into criminal matters and people--mostly men--have gone to jail when someone--aided by a therapist--“recalled” the memory. What makes it controversial and emotional is that many therapist think there is no such thing. One of those doubters is Elizabeth F. Loftus, a world-famous psychologist, now embroiled in a fascinating law suit, chronicled by the Los Angeles Times. Loftus, a professor at U.C. Irvine, read a report in a journal written several years ago by a psychiatrist whose patient, then 17, recalled the repressed memory of her mother sexually abusing her. She had sealed off the painful experience and only under therapy did it emerge. She was named in the report only as Jane Doe [You really don’t want the Doe family moving in next door. They are nothing but trouble]. Skeptical, Loftus hired two private detectives, and managed to track down Ms. Doe and her family, and investigate further. Her conclusion, the girl probably had never been abused and the psychiatrist had mishandled the treatment. The story doesn’t end there. Ms. Doe is now suing Loftus, claiming she now is being abused by the psychologist’s report and that Loftus is probing her private life “for professional and commercial exploitation.” Loftus, ranked among the top psychologists of the 20th century, is one of the leading critics of repressed memory and has made herself a number of enemies, including therapists who have almost made a cottage industry out of patients recalling what may or may not have ever happened. The case has reached the California Supreme Court.
So how was it for you? Hello? Hello!--Researchers in the Netherlands report that when women have orgasms, parts of their brain shut down. Well, duh! When they fake it, the researchers said, that doesn’t happen. Also duh. How do they know this? Read on. It almost makes you want to join their lab. The scientists at the University of Groningen, reporting at a meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, said that they injected dye into subjects’ blood stream that detected changes in brain activity. Then they scanned. The men were tested at rest, during erection, and while they were being whacked off by a woman [that is a technical term, of course]. They were also asked to fake an orgasm. The data on the men turned out to be a little woozy because the mens’ orgasm didn’t last long enough to get complex readings. Women were tested the same way. When the women faked an orgasm, their cortex lit up with the exertion. When they had a real orgasm, it was not active, knocked out by the sheer joy, the absolute pleasure, the.… never mind. I made that part up. Motion was involuntary. The section of the brain that shut down was the amygdala, the part of the brain involved with anxiety and fear, which explains a helluva lot, doesn’t it?
That fox guarding the chicken nest does Windows--Everyone knows--or thought they knew--that all you have to do to get a computer virus or trojan horse or spyware is buy a computer with Windows installed. Sooner or later, usually sooner, your machine would grind to a halt. Now, it turns out, Windows is not the most dangerous thing to have on your computer. Security software, designed to prevent attacks through Microsoft software is. Hackers are now attacking the programs you buy to protect yourself, and one has already used that to attack computers: The Witty Worm was sent out to computers 72 hours after a weakness was discovered in Internet Security Systems software. According to the Yankee Group, a consulting firm, the number of vulnerabilities found in security products such as Norton Antivirus is increasing sharply, surpassing even the number found in Microsoft products. They found 60 flaws in a variety of programs designed to protect computers, double the number from the year before. And the number is rising. There’s not a lot of irony in technology, but here we have companies making billions of dollars selling software designed to shut down the lapses in Microsoft programs which now are even more vulnerable, in part because Microsoft has been cleaning up its act. Symantic, the largest company, is the most vulnerable. McAfee, the second largest, has managed to close a number of doors and windows and improve security.