Pacific Islanders Need To Be Heard

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.


This was a topic I can remember discussing in my environmental science class when it came to the environment as it applied to people’s health. Regarding the topic of environment and health, there is definitely the concern for the Pacific Islanders, specifically the Marshall Islanders, who have to deal with the thermal expansion of the Pacific Ocean as well as a myriad of problems made manifest by climate change and outside interference.

Not only is there the worry of rising tides destroying the infrastructure, but the sewage is washed up, causing fever and dysentery; and the saltwater has infiltrated the salinized underground freshwater if it hasn’t already been infiltrated by pesticides. If that is not a big enough problem, there are droughts that affect the interior of the islands. In a drought that occurred in 2013, 1/3 of all Marshallese were directly affected by it, with food and water shortages. These water shortages can only affect a country like the Marshall Islands where the overwhelming majority of the water that is collected comes from rainfall.

The more the planet gets warmer, the more intense the health issues are. Climate change would contribute not just heat stroke and tropical diseases, but also rising sea levels that destroy crops and the acidification of the water that kills fish. As such, food not grown on the Marshall Islands, such as rice, flour, and meat, have been imported and has contributed to an unhealthy lifestyle. Sixty-five percent of the Marshallese population is overweight or obese.

The biggest problem for the people of those islands is that the sea level may rise to 16 inches in the next 50 years. Adding to the constant water infiltration and the encroachment of floods, the Marshall Islands may not be inhabitable by the time that happens.

We as Westerners usually associate the post-apocalyptic world as being reserved within the context of what future MIGHT unfold. “Hunger Games” comes as an example. However, for a lot of people in this world, such as Native Americans when it comes to colonization, they are already living in a post-apocalyptic world, which really is not hard to think about. When your whole society is destabilized by some occurrence, whether it would be an invading army, land encroachment, or natural disasters, it can be pretty apocalyptic.

We also usually think about a post-apocalyptic world is one caused by a nuclear explosion. As it turned out, Marshallese people were first-hand witness to (and victims of) atomic bomb tests conducted by the US government from 1946-1958. It actually forced residents from the islands Rongelap and Utrik to evacuate. As a result, some of the people were exposed to the radiation, and as a result, 1.6% of all cancer diagnoses can be traced back to those nuclear tests.

Because of the long military history between the Marshall Islands and the United States, Marshallese residents can immigrate to the United States freely. The only issues in the foreseeable future is how to not only manage the climate and keep a strong tie with the island but also how to handle the tens of thousands of Pacific climate refugees who are sick in a wide variety of ways, if there are important people who are not cynical enough to use that exodus as political fodder for the 2020 elections.

To understand how much environmental destruction has an effect on the Pacific population is to have empathy. If anyone in the United States of America were to experience all that was described, their government would not hesitate to use all of their funding to research, combat, and quite possibly reverse climate change. Perhaps it will one day come to that point when they WILL suffer and regret having apathy. I am a powerless graduate student and the only course of action I can come up with is to spread the word.

How Pornography Is Harmful To Men And Women

DISCLAIMER: These articles were originally posted on Odyssey and Swoon.


To most, the subject of pornography is confrontational in and of itself, but it would be appropriate for me to explain this problem by including research (and I don’t mean “research”) and reasoning.

I am not a Psychology major, but I hope to turn such problems into a benefit. For a long time, this was an article waiting to be written, but now I have the chance to discuss the subject with people of this all-too-human struggle; especially since this is an online platform that appeals to Millennials, for we are the ones who grew up with the Internet and need to read this.

I would like to start by stating that viewing adult entertainment is not an isolated part of society, especially since nearly half of all male college students would say otherwise. Although women can get addicted, the overwhelming majority of addicts are male. It is not just young people who suffer in silence, but also celebrities, like Terry Crews and Russell Brand.

And I know what you are thinking: “If that’s the case, then I should be fine because everyone else is doing it.”

It is a rationalization that is too tempting to conjure, but it does not mean that it is healthy. In fact, it is that reason why this addiction is a societal problem. There are even companies that produce content and are using their business model to attract the demographics most afflicted with addiction.

However, there is also a growing number of young men who are voluntarily abstaining from viewing the imagery.

You may think it’s not hurting you. Is it not? As it turns out, there is proof that habitual consumption can cause erectile dysfunction among the young male demographic who typically would not be afflicted by it.

It may also be of surprise to find that it can be as addictive as narcotics. It is one thing to watch this material, but it is another to be stimulated by it. The viewing of explicit images and videos among excessive consumers has also been linked to the decreased connection between the ventral striatum and the prefrontal cortex (which is common in the brains of addicts). If you are stimulated by porn, then you would want to maintain that euphoria without serious thought. This is how the imagery becomes an addiction since it also involves numbing the reward-seeking part of the brain that produces dopamine. This causes anyone being addicted to escalate their fetishes into darker territory. It may not hurt you in the short-term, but the afflictions are very subtle.

Maybe you would want to do other activities that are more productive?

Even if your “activity” lasts for 15 minutes, maybe that amount of time could have been spent reading a chapter from a book. You may have also basked in your lust as a de-stressor. If you felt sad, stressed, or insecure, you would put on Private Mode and go to work. This is one of the symptoms of addiction; by treating something (alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping, etc.) as a de-stressor. This would cause it to become habitual until it rules your life.

Dr. Gary Wilson makes note of a group of young men who are mostly not religious congregating around the action of no longer indulging in the content, which includes the founder of the NoFap Reddit thread and movement. A journalist for powerfully stated that the concern of the addiction does not come from religious figures, but “…coming from young men themselves. From us.”

Some claim that this medium liberates women. Does it really? Ran Gavrieli, who has worked with victims of sex trafficking, made it a point in personifying pornography, saying what makes something sexual is, “whatever men find arousing.” Such a statement is easily applied to the mad, capitalistic pursuit of filmed prostitution.

A link does exist between early consumption and misogynistic views of women later in life. It would make sense that a medium that can alter your mind can also alter your view of women as sexual objects. What also makes the industry disturbing is not only the dubious consent by the actors participating in it, but also the predatory nature of people in positions of power to influence the youngest demographic to keep consuming it.

But it is possible to change.

As Terry Crews stated in his video, the more people you tell about your addiction, the less power it has. Shame is a major part of why people continue to struggle with their addiction since it makes them unable to seek help. There has not been a lot of scientific scholarship into this branch of addiction because there were not enough case studies, which are increasing with the rise of the NoFap movement. What the proponents of the movement reported is a boost in energy and sexuality.

I do not think that making something illegal will magically cure the addiction. Such a simplistic act of legislation just does not apply to human nature. I would rather live in a world where such industries are heavily regulated and the population is more educated about this type of addiction.

When someone is addicted and he comes out about it, he should not be responded to with shame, rather with the exact opposite –– with empathy; with the understanding that addicts are really ourselves if we were confronted with titillation and exoticism as self-medication for our own powerless, meaningless lives.

The sad reality is I want to believe that the content is harmless. I want to believe that it is a marriage-stimulator and a sex educator, but there is a difference between wanting to believe something and actually seeing it for what it is.

As a realist, I will say that there is nothing glamorous about the medium. It’s not a loving relationship nor an exotic adventure. It is all just a meaningless dopamine trip.

Not surprisingly, this is how psychologist Gabor Mate connects the power of addiction to the addiction to power.

When this cycle can affect anyone, then it can affect society. This causes the very concept of male sexuality to mutate unnaturally, especially during boyhood. This can especially affect society where there is high expectation on men to be more virulent and tough. Since there is a lot of aggression, coercion, and humiliation in the scenes, almost all of the respondents in one study were either numb to it or were pleasured by it.

Although porn itself is not an excuse for men sexually mistreating women, it can definitely influence that behavior. Since the aggression that is involved can alter the mind, it can also blur the distinction between consent and rape. This can only be possible when the actresses are portrayed as always “wanting it,” regardless if it is in a private or public place. Not only can this rewire male psychology into becoming more aggressive, but also female psychology into becoming more passive.

Women are viewed as sexual objects through a monitor screen, in daily life, and on set. What makes this disturbing is that the industry does not care if it includes ordinary women or sex-trafficked girls since what really matters is how much profit is involved without regard to human life. The people within the industry also seek out girls who recently reached the age of consent.

When the actresses no longer fulfill the expectations of the industry, they are immediately disposed of. What is more, it is impossible for these actresses to reintegrate into society, so when they are not disposed of, they are entrapped in this life. They may also carry with them the sexually transmitted diseases that are prevalent in the industry. By frequenting a site, buying a DVD, or paying a subscription, how would you not be indirectly responsible for contributing to the system that causes these actresses to suffer?

Since women are treated as commodities, this can completely alter the concept of love into one that is less human and more conditional and capitalistic. A former well-known adult film star would have scoffed at love for that reason. He also admitted that during his career, he started to view women as sexual objects.

It would make sense considering how the industry (in most of the content at least) enables you to pick any type of woman you want to be pleasured by, whether she is thin or full-figured, black or white, short or tall, in her 20’s or her 40’s; without much effort.

This may lead you to tell me “Why wouldn’t I want to engage in this? It’s not like I’ll ever meet a woman like that in real life.” That is exactly the problem, which is it raises the limit of what would make the “perfect” woman and places high expectations on women who you never even met. When you look at an adult film actress, you are merely looking at a facsimile of who she really is.

I never want to distance any male readers by insinuating that anyone who watches the material automatically thinks women are sexual objects. If all I did was lecture to the 70% of all young men who use pornography weekly that they are horrible human beings, then they would not listen to me or take the science and the accounts of former adult film stars into consideration.

What the opposition does need to take into consideration is that pornography is no longer opposed just by religious people, but by the young men who were themselves addictive consumers.

To all of the men who might also say “Well, I know that porn’s not real. I would never go out and do the things in it.” Indeed, the majority of addicts do not actually go out and treat women the same way the actresses are treated; but this goes back to what I said about being stimulated by the material (in this case, sexually), then you would want to seek out that behavior in order to maintain that high.

To go back to my disclaimer at the top, although I write about problems that affect women, I am not chivalrous because I am no knight in shining armor. I used to think that anyone who was anti-pornography was either a religious fundamentalist or a feminist. However, what did win me over was the science that can accurately explain without bias the harm that it can cause, in this case, towards women.

The reality is that it is impossible to separate abuse of the female gender from pornography. You can’t eat your cake and have it too. You can’t indulge in a medium that puts incredibly high expectations on women and expect that to not affect your overall view of women.

To somewhat paraphrase my previous article about the addiction, I would rather live in a society where people are educated about the medium than a society where the medium IS the education. There is obviously a lot to stomach when it comes to the connection between this material and misogyny, but I would hope that science would become the truth that sets people free, literally and figuratively.

The Love-Hate Relationship Between Creativity And Mental Disorders

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.


While it is true that creativity and mental disorders such as pervasive depression disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia can coexist, that connection cannot be simplified in such a way as to imply that great art can only be inspired by great suffering. The factors that can provide that connection can come from inside the brain itself. The connection between creativity and mental disorders is complex and requires looking into it, not to find just the causation of creativity, but also about the process of its creation.

Creativity can only exist within mentally ill people when their ailments do not prevent them from doing so. Julia Wilde of Discovery News said eloquently that “Many creative types find themselves disabled by their disorders just as often as they are inspired by them.” Not only that, but mental disorders are quite different in terms of how they impact the brain. In the case of depressives, since their prefrontal lobes are shrunken, they do not find satisfaction in anything. It is only when their dopamine levels increase that they become creative. Whereas, people with schizophrenia have incredibly high levels of dopamine and hyperactivity in the frontal lobe, which can result in blurring between reality and fiction.

In some ways, it can be argued that the stereotype of the “Tortured Artist” is itself harmful, as it only implies that creative people can only be taken seriously and their works can only be regarded with awe when they have a mental disorder. Although famous artists and writers such as Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, and Vincent Van Gogh are the prime examples when it comes to this connection, it is not inherent within talented artists to have a mental disorder. According to Anthony Fantano, a well-known YouTuber who reviews music, who has more than one million subscribers, great art mainly consists of communication and skill.

It would make sense that people with mental disorders are more inclined to creativity, especially when these mental disorders consist of dwelling on negative thoughts and memories. By obsessing over them, they also include a myriad of solutions unique to those problems. It is even proven that the precuneus, the center of the brain responsible for retrieving those memories, remains active among creative people during the process of thought, whereas in any other normal functioning brain it remains deactivated. So the internal struggle may not simply be the inspiration for great works of art, but it is an assisting component. Not only does problem-solving become a major skill in this complex relationship, but Professor Nancy Andreason of the University of Auckland argued it also includes exploration, doubt, and curiosity.

Genetics may also play a role in mental disorders. A prime example would be the prevalence of suicide among Ernest Hemingway’s own family members. As it turns out, in a study conducted on Icelanders, Swedes, and Dutch people, people in creative professions have a 17-25% greater chance of being diagnosed with a mental disorder than people in non-creative professions, and this was proven by examining the genetics of creative people when looking at the prevalence of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

These “tortured artists” do not gain their innovation because of their disease, rather they gain it to counteract the disease by compensating that temporary lack of dopamine with tremendous bursts of creativity. The concept of mental disorders include many types of that affect the brain in different ways, which adds to the complexity of the “Tortured Artist” connection. I will definitely say that mental illness is not something that can lead to great works of art, but great works of art can be the treatment. Adrienne Sussman, from the Stanford Journal of Neuroscience, agrees by stating “…instead of trying to eliminate them [mental illness] by medication, we should embrace these mental states as valuable in their own right.” No amount of prescriptions and anti-depressants can fix the complexities that exist within mental disorders and art can provide an in-sight and, quite possibly, the remedy for them.