The scene shocked the world. On New Year’s day, a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer shot and killed an unarmed black man who was, according to videos, already on the ground and being restrained.
There was an outcry of outrage across the Bay Area: in Oakland, San Francisco, and other cities groups of protestors jammed the streets and destroyed businesses, cars, and property belonging to people who had nothing to do with the tragedy.
The officer has since been charged with murder, but the question still looms large for residents, often poor and black themselves, who suffered at the hands of demonstrators: why did they do that? And what, exactly, did they want?
Certainly they wanted Oscar Grant’s killer to be charged with murder, but there were a shopping list of other demands ranging from more training of BART police to the immediate end to racism and an Israeli pullout from Gaza.
How does that make sense, observers wondered? Even if people agreed with the protestors, how could they possibly give them what they wanted?
Saybrook faculty member Benina Gould, who has studied the causes of conflict around the world, suggests that the question arises because the protestors themselves don’t fully know – at least not on a conscious level.
There’s good news for San Franciscans who are sick or injured – ambulance response times have increased noticeably after years of effort.
But it could have been great news.
That’s according to David Williams, a Saybrook PhD student in Organizational Systems, who is one of the nation’s leading experts in Emergency Medical Service (EMS) system. A consultant with Fitch & Associates, he works with communities to assess their emergency systems and advises them on improvements. He is also the research and author of two of the industry’s leading studies of operational and workplace practices and helped develop the leading EMS Leadership Forum called “Pinnacle.”
While stressing that he has not independently reviewed San Francisco’s EMS system, Williams says media reports indicate there’s still room for improvement – and that a more systemic, patient-centered, approach could be the answer in SF and across the country.
Homosexuality used to be a mental disorder. Shyness still is. So is not being shy.
The Diagnostics and Statistical Manual - the "Bible of Mental Illness" consulted by psychiatrists - is no stranger to controversy. What gets classified as a mental illness differs every decade, and impacts millions of lives.
But a new kind of controversy is surrounding the newest version of the DSM - before it's even been written. A group of prominent psychiatrists, including previous DSM authors, are saying that the new edition is being written under a cloud of secrecy - which is unscientific, inadvisable, and possibly immoral.
Without full disclosure of who's writing what, and why, they say, everything from personal prejudice to conflicts of interest could be codified as "best practice."
"(T)his unprecedented attempt to revise DSM in secrecy indicates a failure to understand that revising a diagnostic manual—as a scientific process—benefits from the very exchange of information that is prohibited by the confidentiality agreement," wrote Dr. Robert Spitzer, who chaired the writing of the DSM II in 1980, in a letter to his colleagues.
As millions of older Americans watch their retirement savings get wiped out by the financial crisis, medical experts are warning that the system of geriatric health care is in a crisis all its own - one that money can't solve.
Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and Associate Professor of Public Heath at Harvard, told the New York Times this week that the number of geriatricians has declined significantly over the last 20 years, while the number of Americans 65 and older is on track to double in the next 20.
The Washington post called this a crisis, noting that seniors make up just 12 percent of the population, but account for 34 percent of all prescriptions and 38 percent of all emergency medical service responses.
Even if we had the money to spend, experts agree, the system of care we've set up - too few doctors who can spend too little time with patients whose conditions are often complicated - won't adequately care for them. We need to do better.
A Humanistic approach to health care, which some practitioners have been applying to small groups, may offer a better approach - and that care is often community-based, focusing on patients' human needs as much as their medical needs.
According to a report to be published in the upcoming issue of Psychological Bulletin, people who attend church regularly - or at least have internalized a strong commitment to religious values - will have an easier time keeping their New Year's resolutions.
It's not just that it takes self-control to sit through religious services. Even accounting for selection bias, according to this blog post in the New York Times, people who attend services end up with more self-control, even if they didn't start with much.
Further, people with strong religious convictions are better at resisting temptation (if that's what one wants to do with it).
But what's most intriguing, from a Humanistic perspective, is the way in which the study does - and doesn't - correlate "religion" and "spirituality."