Too few lawmakers address foster youth aging out or the failed foster care system. Let’s fix it.

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A woman sits at the steps of the BC Legislature as hundreds of people, many youth who have aged out of foster care, rallied to ask for better support for youth aging out of care. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

Someone sent information this morning that said “Youth speak out on ‘aging out’ of foster care; requesting extension on age limit”

Lane Ball out of Huntington Beach, West Virginia is developing a story with Nexstar about how foster care facilities push for the “aging out” limit to be extended. We hope that somewhere in the development that he realizes there is a financial incentive to keep children in state custody, and most importantly, we hope that Lane Ball reports how badly the foster care system is failing our most vulnerable youth. If Lane doesn’t “get it” and report it, you can bet that we will.

Young adults that age out of foster care often do not have familial ties to their own biological families. Sometimes it is because the family was so bad that the child could not be safe around any of them, but for the most part, about 90% of the time, the state severs a child’s ties with biological family members out of “respect” for the foster placement’s wishes.

It is most of the time too difficult for foster “parents” with very little training to integrate the new family with the biological family. The result is that children age out of foster care very often not knowing who they are or where they came from.

What makes it even worse for them is that throughout their lives in foster homes, they are about 80% of the time prescribed psychotropic drugs “to help them cope”. Once they age out, they no longer have access to their medicines.

Many will turn to street drugs and about 75% of the aged-out youth will end up in jail or prison within 2 years of aging out. It is reported that at least 1 in 7 foster children will fall into the hands of human sex traffickers. I think the number is higher because social workers are not required to report missing foster children. There are no amber alerts for them, and city reports show that between 60% to as high as 99% of children rescued in sex trafficking stings were in state custody before they were trafficked. Even the Department of State admits that the U.S. foster care system is a problem.

Less than 3% of foster children ever go to college and less than 2% will ever graduate. Foster placements simply fail to teach the vulnerable youth how to make it in this world and by the time they turn 18 and hit the road, they are ill prepared for what life throws at them.

Lane’s report today shows that lawmakers are taking notice. He says, “When someone ages out of foster care, it can be difficult adjusting to life as an adult. This past year, the federal government offered a safety net for individuals not quite ready to be on their own, but that will soon no longer be the case”.

“Supporting Foster Youth and Families Through the Pandemic Act”  created specifically to aid foster children during the Covid pandemic expires on September 30, 2021. Apparently, the Annie E. Casey Foundation is pushing for legislation that will support foster youth between the ages of 18 to 27-years-old.

Some CASA advocates as well as US Senators Sherrod Brown from Ohio, and  Shelly Moore Capito from West Virginia are taking notice and working on legislation that will provide support for foster youth that are aging out.

West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito stated, “Throughout my time representing West Virginians in Congress, I’ve consistently worked to deliver needed resources and support to our state’s foster children, and help improve West Virginia’s foster care system as a whole. As legislation is introduced, I’ll prioritize the well-being of those in foster care, regardless of their age, who were particularly hard hit by the pandemic”.

Senator Brown from Ohio said, “It’s critical that Congress act now and extend the moratorium on ‘aging out’ of foster care. Now more than ever – as we continue to recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot afford to cut young Ohioans off from critical housing and support services. Every young person deserves a safe and stable place to call home”.

Other senators from other states do not seem to be concerned about foster youth until they realize that there is something in it for them, and there is now about $100 Billion ASFA 1997 dollars and the Trillions of dollars put out into communities through the American Rescue Plan, The Family First Act, the American Family Plan, and countless other Acts that have been made to increase access to quality healthcare and services. Hopefully lawmakers will get on the ball and help desperate, vulnerable foster youth that have no ties to family that can support them.

As Lane Ball develops his story, I hope he does he research well and reports the facts about how badly the state has failed our most vulnerable children that are now becoming young adults and being set free in this messed up world. Our prayers go out to them that God will clear the path and work with everyone’s Hearts and Minds to make each foster youth a successful member of society, hopefully by beginning before they age out not knowing what to do. We pray for people that care to make a powerful difference in their lives each and every day so that they can become the people that God created them to be.

I offer two solutions; (1) place children will family or someone that they already know and trusts so that their lives are not disrupted any more than it has to be, and (2) localize foster care so that youth do not end up in strange places with strange people far from where they no their way around. This will prevent children from being trafficked and provide more stability.

If you want to offer any solutions, please do so in the comment section. Thanks for reading. We look forward to hearing from you.  

Alaska state worker arrested on child pornography charges one day after adopting 4 kids

A white balding man's mugshot

A malware alert on a company computer led IT to report an Eagle River man with four adopted foster children to the FBI. Now he is facing child pornography charges. Agents arrested John Daniel Brooks, 51.

State records show Brooks is an analyst-programmer for the Department of Environmental Conservation, and a registered foster parent with whom the state Office of Children’s Services had placed four children, ages 1 to 13.

Brooks and his wife had officially adopted the children just one day earlier. Casey Grove, from Alaska Public Media in Anchorage says, “Agents searched Brooks’ home and devices and found hundreds of digital images of child pornography hidden in various computer folders, and when they asked him, Brooks said he was sexually attracted to children. He admitted that he had agreed to become an assistant with one of his daughter’s scouting group, in part because of his attraction to children, according to the charges”.

Brooks has worked for the Department of Environmental Conservation since 2010, and he was placed on unpaid leave this week, so taxpayers are still paying him. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is asking anyone with further information about Brooks’ activities to call the FBI at (907) 276-4441.

Defense, denial, and rationalization addicts use that slow the recovery process, and what family and friends can do to help.

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Denial and rationalization are two common defense mechanisms that addicts can use that can slow or prevent recovery. Denial is common among addicts. Denial happens when a person fails to accept or acknowledge a reality. Sometimes the truth hurts, and emotions can be difficult to deal with. Addicts can also be manipulative, and this comes from the addict’s ability to rationalize their behavior to themselves and to convince others that there is not a problem.

Everyone uses defense mechanisms to protect themselves from anxiety and in social settings to cope with what is happening around them. Defense mechanisms are usually healthy ways that people have to deal with whatever is happening but become pathological when maladaptive behaviors emerge from the unconscious mind to manipulate or deny reality. Addicts use defense mechanisms to rationalize their addiction and to protect their own ego.

Addicts deny that they have a problem. They deny that they are addicted or that an addiction is the cause of any negative consequences. Often times an addict will blame others for problems and therefore shift the focus off of themselves and the addiction so that someone else or something else is to blame. This is also the way that an addict compartmentalizes their addiction because morally the addict most likely does not want to be an addict or behave like an addict. Extreme denial can lead to dissociative disorders where the addict becomes detached from reality all together and can no longer cope.

Rationalization is the addict’s way of justifying their behavior both to themselves and to other people around them. Addicts can use logic manipulatively to avoid the issues of their addiction. They can even convince their friends and family that nothing is wrong and sometimes even have their friends and family rationalize their behavior for them. Projection and acting out are other defense mechanisms, but they also stem from the addicts ability to deny that they have a problem and shift the blame on to others therefore creating the rationalization that nothing is wrong with them and that someone or something else is to blame.

Defense mechanisms become an addict’s reality and recovery becomes further out of reach. Denial is a major roadblock to recovery and the main reason that addicts do not seek help. Nobody wants to admit that they are wrong or that they have a problem and lots of people do not like asking for help even when they know that they have a problem. A person will have a hard time accepting the fact that an addiction has taken control of their life and that can prevent treatment all together.

Family and friends may even deny that someone is addicted and say that the person has a reason for acting the way they do, that something bad is to blame. The sad thing about that is that the addict has to admit that they have a problem and take responsibility for their life. And sometimes, family and friends may know that their loved one is addicted but the more they push the addict to get help, the more the addict becomes further withdrawn from the people that could be positive influences in their life.

Common behaviors may include acting out, accusing loved ones of be judgmental and condemning, playing the victim, or manipulating the situation and blaming others, and minimizing harm caused by the addiction.

Depression and other mood disorders may also surface further complicating things for both the addict and the people around them. The addict may seem like they just don’t care. The addict may truly believe that they are the only one affected by the addiction and not realize the negative effects the addiction is having on their family.

Denial is just the start of complications to treatment. As the addict denies that they have a problem and places the blame on other things or other people, family and friends may also question their own beliefs about the addiction. Everyone starts to rationalize the addict’s behavior and make excuses. Reality becomes distorted and an addict may withdraw themselves from anyone that disagrees with them and become isolated, or they could just decide to hang around with other people that share their addiction. Afterall, those people are more understanding and less judgmental. The best thing that family and friends can do is admit that there is an addiction and to be understanding rather than judgmental.

How we approach intervention is important. It is possible to push a person further away and further into a crowd of people that share their addiction. This can result in death and other horrible outcomes. Strategies that are proven to be effective are motivational techniques that involve both the addict and their family and support group. Showing an addict how their addiction is affecting the people they care about can sometimes motivate them to change their life and their behaviors. Nobody wants to hurt the person they care about. It is also important to show the family how their action may be enabling the addiction or pushing the addict further away from accepting help. Counseling centers have experts that can help guide a family to accept that their loved one is addicted and teach family and friends to listen and understand the addict so that they can help them recover.

One of the best resources for family and caregivers is the National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI) and a motivational tool they published several years ago for family members dealing with schizophrenia, “I am not sick, I don’t need help”. Although the booklet is written for people dealing with a family member that suffers schizophrenia, the techniques used to help them want help are also useful to help an addict accept help and it is a useful tool to teach family members and friends how they can help someone they care about who is suffering from addiction or some other disorder.

If someone you know is looking for free resources.

SAMSHA National Helpline 1-800-662-4357

US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration

Yes! Class action status against Wade Correctional Center in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana means advocates can move forward.

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The federal lawsuit claiming abuse at Wade Correctional Center in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana prison alleges harsh treatment and isolation of the mentally ill and has been granted class action status.

Until taxpayers decide that enough is enough, they will just have to keep paying for the damage done through the misconduct of those in charge. State officials of course denied the lawsuit’s allegations when it was filed and do not want to respond now either. That too, of course caused prolonged suffering that taxpayers will just have to keep paying for until it decides that enough is enough and puts the bad actors out!

Jeremy Alford from LA Politics reported…..Finally, a federal judge granted class-action status on Monday to a lawsuit involving several inmates at Wade Correctional Center in Claiborne Parish. The inmates allege that the mentally ill in the prison were not treated humanely in recent years. Based on reporting from the Associated Press, “U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote’s decision means the criminal justice advocates who filed the lawsuit in 2018 can potentially seek relief for hundreds of prisoners. … Exactly how many is unclear but the ruling by the Shreveport judge says there were 366 people being held at the buildings in question in March 2020.”

Another baby dies in government custody.

Another baby dies in government custody. This time in an England where prison guards ignored a pregnant mother and let her suffer for 12 hours! Before coming in to take the dead baby the young mother had just given birth to by herself, alone in a prison cell.

I saw a report from Sophia Ankel at Insider this morning about an18 year-old inmate who tragically lost her baby in HMP Bronzefield (womens prison) in Ashford Middlesex, England. Unfortunately, the United States is no better and is often the model that other countries follow. Everyone hates us but they want to be like us.

The United States healthcare system is a uniquely complex system made of both private and public sectors. From an international perspective, The United States spends more than any other country on healthcare though we do not necessarily have the best healthcare delivery system. The Department for Professional Employees (DPE) 2016 Fact Sheet shows though the US has the best doctors in the world, but that the treatment in the U.S. is inequitable, overspecialized, and neglects primary and preventative care. The result is that American’s health care is poor in comparison to other advanced industrialized nations. References for my latest healthcare research topics can be found here.

Thinking again about this young woman and her baby I have to wonder how does the United States healthcare system and prison system compare with England’s? England invests less than the United States, but English people have a better healthcare system than America. England may in some cases even treat prisoners better than the U.S. does. The United States can be barbaric at times. I hate to admit that.

NHS (England’s Department of Health) never offered the young mother counseling, but the department did help the guards that failed to help the young woman which is not unusual here in the states for either of the department agencies. About 50% of U.S. inmates suffer from mental disorders prior to entering the prison system, and U.S. prison conditions are reportedly more inhumane than any third world country.  Often American prisoners develop mental disorders because of the abuse they suffer at the hands of the United States Department of Justice.

The Guardian reports that the woman called for help three times during labor, and that none of the guards came to help her. They said the “vulnerable woman, identified only as Ms A, was ignored by prison guards despite multiple calls for help as she went into labor in her jail cell at HMP Bronzefield in Middlesex, England, on September 26, 2019”.

A prison watchdog said “the teenager gave birth completely on her own and was found in her bed cradling her dead baby 12 hours after calling her cell bell. The woman described being in constant pain during this ordeal, even passing out and waking up again only to find that her daughter had died. She bit through the umbilical cord and tried to clean the blood out of her cell”.

Still, according to The Guardian, the young mother was never offered counseling or any type of care. “Police and coroner involvement immediately after Baby A’s death, and a lack of understanding by the prison of the role of the local child death review team, meant Ms. A did not receive the routine bereavement and practical support that would normally be provided”.

Counselors were sent to offer support to the guards that allowed the mother to suffer and the baby to die. They still work at the prison. BBC reports that Vicky Robinson, the prison director stated, “This was tragic and extremely sad. We are deeply sorry that this has happened, and our thoughts throughout have been with the family”.

Reading about this case this morning made my heart hurt. I can’t imagine what that vulnerable mother is going through, and in a cell where no one can offer support or care. It is just unthinkable that it even happens in modern day societies.

Lori Yearwood, a contributing editor at the Economic Hardship Reporting Project says that Currently, 23 states do not have laws against shackling of incarcerated pregnant women, and that despite a federal law that prohibits the shackling of expectant mothers, that 85% of incarcerated women who are in state prisons or county jails often remain at the mercy of guards.

Sophia Casias shuffled across the floor at the Bexar county adult detention center in San Antonio, Texas, on March 2017 seven months pregnant, hands cuffed and feet bound, as a guard stood in front of her, holding the chain connected to her handcuffs.

“Casias couldn’t keep her balance though and crumpled on to the wet cement floor. She sobbed and felt as if she couldn’t breathe. She would later realize that she had felt the same way when multiple family members sexually assaulted her as a child”.

Casias recounted that after she fell “a female guard grabbed me by the hair and was making me get up. She was screaming: ‘Bitch, get up.’ Then she said, ‘That is what happens when you are a fucking junkie. You shouldn’t be using drugs or you wouldn’t be in here.”

Lori Yearwood says that the recently enacted federal legislation such as the Prison Policy Initiative of 2018 and the First Step Act of 2018, that are meant to prohibit the most punitive measures against prisoners, including shackling of pregnant women is not enough and that “85% of incarcerated women in America are still at the mercy of the guards who can choose exactly how to control their every movement – as well as the movement of their unborn children”.

Lorie Goshin, associate professor at Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing in New York and the lead investigator of a recent study about the treatment of incarcerated pregnant women says that “We dehumanize this group of women to such an extent that we don’t see how wrong this is….. just how unnecessary and cruel it is”.

The practice of shackling pregnant women during birth also violates the 2010 United Nations rule that “instruments of restraint shall never be used … during labour, during birth and immediately after birth”.

Despite laws, guards are in charge and probably do not even know about the laws. Not-for-profits distribute pamphlets to inmates and in support groups, but who educates the people in charge? To make matters even worse, the federal government does not require prisons or jails to collect data on pregnancy and childbirth among female inmates.

Rhode Island is the only state that has what is called “a private right of action”, an enforcement mechanism allowing the illegally shackled woman to sue for monetary compensation.

A 2017 report from the American Psychological Association addresses the acute psychological trauma that shackling inflicts saying, “Women subjected to restraint during childbirth report severe mental distress, depression, anguish, and trauma”.

Terry Kupers, MD, a psychiatrist and the author of the book Solitary: The Inside Story of Supermax Isolation and How We Can Abolish It, implores staff “to be very careful that we do not re-traumatize them. Because re-traumatization makes conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder much worse….Women who get locked up, tend on average to have suffered many more childhood traumas”.

Amy Ard, executive director of Motherhood Beyond Bars, a Georgia not-for-profit worries, “if I am someone who needs to be chained, how can I expect to also see myself as someone capable of protecting my child?”

A former inmate at the California Institute for Women in Corona, Harriette Davis, now 64 and an anti-shackling advocate remembers herself being handcuffed to a hospital bed before giving birth to her daughter 36 years ago. The attending doctor told the guard to remove the shackles, Davis says, so that Davis could move freely, helping her baby travel more easily down the birth canal. “She’s not going anywhere,” Davis says the doctor assured the guard. She said the guard finally removed the shackles just before her baby was born.

Davis bursts into tears as she speaks by telephone from her home in Berkeley, California. “It’s inhuman and it’s not necessary and it’s emotionally and mentally unhealthy”.

The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, with Louisiana and California having the most incarcerated people. According to data from the 2019  Sentencing Report, black women are almost twice as likely to be incarcerated as white women. Advocates say they are making modest progress.

Danielle Edwards, a former Georgia prisoner says that she was taken to and from court hearings and doctor appointments shackled, including leg irons and handcuffs. To prevent the metal around her ankles from cutting into her skin, Edwards wore two pairs of socks. Shackling terrified her.

“It’s all very confining, uncomfortable and cold,” she says. “And it’s scary because when your feet have that limited mobility, you don’t know if you are going to misstep and fall on your stomach.”

She says that at eight months pregnant, standing in front of a judge, a sinking feeling overtook her. She pleaded with the judge to send her to rehab instead of prison so that she could keep her baby after birth.

“And I’m standing there in shackles and once I asked him for that chance he said: ‘Do you actually think I am going to let you walk out of this courtroom? Absolutely not.”

Delaware pastor convicted of child sex abuse. Alicia is awarded $1.5 million, but says it’s not about the money.

What makes this case even more horrible is that besides her abusers testifying that she has false memories, they said she had false memories because of the psychotropic drugs the doctors have had her on since she was a child. So it’s a big circle of abuse where the systems just keep pointing fingers instead of addressing the problems. The members of the church that testified were the same people that abused her. Imagine finding the strength that she did as a sex trafficking survivor, only to have the people she accused of abusing her testify that she has false memories because of the psychotropic medications the doctors keep her on.

courtesy Alicia Cohen and Delaware Online

Alicia Cohen, 41, who was awarded $1.5 million by a federal jury said in her 2019 civil lawsuit that Ronald Cohen, also known as “Rafi” and “Raphael”, began sexually abusing her when she was three years old, and then started selling her to other men for sex about two years later, when they were living in Oklahoma.

Alicia says that Ronald Cohen used his “religious facade” and “ministries,” including the nondenominational Miracle Tabernacle, as a cover for child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking and that he filmed and sold videos of her being raped.

Ronald Cohen denied the claims as “false, frivolous, and defamatory” and was “shocked at the verdict” defense attorney Dan Boyce said Friday. Cohen asked Boyce to file a motion for judgment in his favor, or a motion for a new trial.

Attorney Dan Boyce He also said Cohen is in his 70s and depends on Social Security, and that he is “judgment proof” based on his finances. Dan Stephenson, Alicia Cohen’s attorney, said the case was not about money, but about holding Ronald Cohen accountable. “The central issue in the case was whether the defendant raped his daughter repeatedly for years as a child. The jury clearly said ‘yes’ and awarded both compensatory and punitive damages”.

“Due to the actions of defendant, plaintiff has suffered extreme mental, physical, psychological, and emotional trauma. She has spent an enormous amount of time and money seeing doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and other therapists.”

The jury did not rule in Alicia’s favor on the sex trafficking charge and Boyce says that the judge refused to allow an expert defense witness to offer an opinion that Alicia Cohen’s memories from 30 years ago were false.

Cohen disagrees with the outcome saying, “We brought a mountain of evidence including objective, medical, and admitted facts. We had treaters, treater records, and expert witnesses supporting what Alicia said.” Alicia claims that her father ran a sex trafficking ring in the 1980s.

The Pike Creek pastor Ronald Cohen, and his friends testified saying “Entirely false.” “Not an iota of truth.” “Absolutely preposterous.” “Never happened.” And denied any existence of a child sex trafficking ring.

The half-dozen of those who were accused, and one woman who Alicia Cohen claimed was a victim testified that the accusations were untrue and the trafficking never occurred, and apparently, even though the jury believed that Alica was sexually assaulted and abused, they did not believe that all of those people were part of the sex trafficking ring that Alicia claims they are.  

The federal jury found Ron Cohen liable on five of 14 counts: sexual abuse of a minor, assault or battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.

The jury did not find Ron Cohen liable for nine other charges under federal, New Jersey and Florida law, and two other states where Alicia Cohen alleges she was raped.

Alicia said that she was “grateful” for the verdict and the work of her legal team, as well as “the people who have supported” her. “This verdict will help me to heal and move forward. It redirects my focus from the past to the future. I don’t feel stuck anymore”.

Borderline Personality Disorder or Adoptee? — Finding Joy…….

I came across a video on youtube where Dr Ramani was talking about borderline personality disorder (bpd) and how to recognise it from the 9 traits of it. Watching it I thought wow! This sounds so much like the traits of an adopted person. There are the 9 traits according to Dr Ramani. You can […]

Borderline Personality Disorder or Adoptee? — Finding Joy…….

ASFA 1997 Incentivized Foster Care ~a taxpayer’s opinion

Let’s break something down as far as Title IV-E goes. The Department makes a TON of money off our kids when they remove them. Incentive based kidnapping is the real plague in the states. I’ll use numbers based on where I live. First, they receive the report. Doesn’t matter how true or false it is. It’s their foot in the door to your livelihood. They’ll create a false claim of immediate danger because Title IV-E must have proof of a “Service plan” and they have to show reason for removal. Once removed the department gets paid $3k/child and $4k if they are disabled or handicapped. That’s only within the first month. Afterwards, they take the children to doctors, psychologists, and therapists under their grant and pay. They claim one child as 3 to triple the money back on their efforts. Once again, libel and slander. Not to mention coercion and collusion. Lastly, they put them into foster care such as emergency foster facilities or foster homes. No check are made for the welfare of the children so practically ANYTHING could happen to our babies and they exercise plausible deniability, yet won’t investigate the claims of the children or yourself if you find out. The foster facility gets a check for $3k/mo per child. This is suppose to go towards food, medical and clothes. Yet time and again we see children with dirty or worn clothes, dirty faces, bruises and so on. You may be wondering how much does 1 state’s “Department” gets out of all of this? Our state got $2.2 BILLION in August of 2020 alone!!! Scary huh? Sadly I’m sure it’s more in some other states but this is the real truth! Look it up. I’m sure you’ll find it. We need to protect our children from these kidnappers and abusers and speak out!!! Contact your Senators, mayors, governors and all public officials about the corruption they are Llowing through their absolute refusal to act!!! Tell your Senators to REPEAL the Adoption and Safe Families Act and to return our children!!Remember these children are the future of our nation and if we give up now the future is lost! Speak out! BE HEARD!! DON’T GIVE UP!! ~ Annalee Bobbitt

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Related Articles : What I wish I had known. Case Preparation Child Welfare CasesFrom a mom shoved in the system:,How to approach a legislator, lawyer, judge, and any other important person in a legal case., Think it won’t happen to you? Mom, who got $9.6M in same case, daughter sued Orange County. A look at the Right To Lie Case.

Genetic Enhancements and Brain Machine Interfaces

“Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” Isaiah 43:7

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Unfortunately, not everyone defines morals the same way and not all scientists look at the same moral compass. A few years ago, I looked at Karen Moxom’s Mind Over Matter Project that is moving beyond implanting chips in people who are paralyzed or missing a limb to implanting chips in addict’s brains to change their behaviors (Moxon, K, Ph.D., Ignacio Saez, Ph.D., and Jochen Ditterich, Ph.D., 2019). What I found disturbed me, and leads us back to moral and ethical questions about how technology should be used.

Karen Moxom speaking about her Mind Over Matter project stated that “Technology in neuroscience will soon let us simply think about something we want our computers to do and watch it instantaneously happen” (Moxon, et al., 2019). As the technology, she is working with becomes more available and safer to use there are also ethical questions to ask about when the technology is appropriate to use and how it should be used in the future. The technology can change someone’s life that is missing an arm or a leg by decoding algorithms of recorded neuron activity to carry out the patient’s intention to move. There is also a theory that the device will work with memory patients that suffer from Alzheimer’s or be able to change an addict’s decision-making process so that they make better decisions. Besides deciding how to use the device, there are also cost and inequality concerns because the device will be costly. Another concern is that no one knows what the societal impact of being able to plug thoughts into a computer will be. She did not mention any of those things in her reports though.

Besides the fact that technology has taken off so fast that there are not ethical guidelines in place to refer to when ethical questions arise, the definition of “personhood” may need to be changed to make the experiments legally ethical. Moxon’s study from 2015 intended to establish genuinely causal relationships between neurophysiological activity and behavior shows  brain-behavior causality can be achieved by disrupting neural activity with an external intervention and observing the consequent change in behavior. The study shows in neurorobotic BMI, brain-behavior causality is not between the brain and the body, but between the observed neurophysiological activity within the brain and an external device outside the body. Possibilities are endless and there are numerous studies about how neurol coding in the interface can be used to change behavior. They all show how beneficial the technology can be to someone that is missing a limb or suffering from paralysis or Parkinson’s disease but do not say much about the possible adverse effects of using the device.

“Who makes these judgments and how?” R&D (research and development) is crossing the line in genetic modifications. Science is always going to seek answers. Scientists are inquisitive beings that will always have more questions about how humans and other things are made and how to improve them. Addictions is a field with little scientific data to base any decisions on. Addicts are often misunderstood and are rarely cared for. Most addicts end up in jail and there are experiments there that raise ethical questions also, but the big question that I have about Moxom’s work is who gets to decide how a person is supposed to think and behave? To link that back to genetic modifications, who gets to decide what the perfect human is? Will we ever have eyes blue or brown enough? Will humans ever be the desired look? with the desired personality?

Who’s desire? It cannot be a matter for either science or society alone to decide. We as a culture have to decide what we will and will not accept as morally and ethically acceptable. Will we allow the definition of personhood to be changed so that scientist’s work does not legally violate human rights?

When considering genetic data healthcare professionals have to consider what data needs to be collected and how it should be analyzed and used. We also have to be careful with labels because words count and they can hurt. Patient’s lives can easily spiral out of control if they receive the wrong treatment or no treatment at all. Someone may become depressed or financially stressed, and that can lead to more problems with a person’s health. Low self-esteem about a known genetic characteristic might lead someone to think that they cannot be a good parent or that they can only have children that are physically and mentally disabled. Do we as a society believe that if someone does not look like or think like us that they should not be born? Adoption and fostering is an alternative that many people with physical disabilities choose to take out of fear that giving birth to a biological child will create a person who’s life will not be successful and appreciated. While many children do need homes and people that they can trust, do the genetically challenged people that want children think that by chosing to adopt and foster believe that they are receiving the “perfect child” because of the way that the child looks? That person will end up being disappointed because most orphan children have already suffered unthinkable trauma that looks cannot cover up. Jiankui’s work creating genetically enhanced babies was condemned because he deceived vulnerable patients into using a risky, untested procedure with no medical justification (Sample, 2019).

Society needs to be more aware of how our thoughts and actions affect others. Genetic enhancement can be life-saving such as with treating memory problems before a patient develops Alzheimer’s, or to cure blood disorders, cancer, blindness, AIDS, cystic fibrosis, and other diseases. Genetic screening can be used by doctors to detects pre-existing genetic characteristics.  The goal for most medical scientists is to create a healthier society. Gene editing can be done to prevent diseases, cure diseases, and to change or improve physical appearance, metabolism, and physical capabilities. Mental faculties such as memory and intelligence can also be genetically enhanced. Food can be genetically modified and created.

Beneficence is a foundational moral principle that means that doctors have a moral obligation to make decisions based on what is best for the client and to set their own needs aside to focus on the needs of the clients throughout the relationship. Fidelity is a moral principle that pertains to the importance of building relationships based on trusts. On agreeing to participate in a research project, participants are entrusting themselves to the researcher who has an obligation to protect each participant as much as possible from any harm as a result of participating in their research. Most genetic enhancements probably are for the good of the patient, but then there are other processes and procedures that may cause more harm. The entire mind, body, and spirit of each patient would have to be evaluated to assess how appropriate a genetic enhancement will be. In doing so I hope that doctors will remember that we are all made by God and in his image.

References

Moxon, Karen,  Guglielmo Foffani, (Brain-Machine Interfaces beyond Neuroprosthetics, School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Retrieved From,), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2015.03.036

Moxon, K, Ph.D., Ignacio Saez, Ph.D., and Jochen Ditterich, Ph.D., (2019), Mind Over Matter: Cognitive Neuroengineering, The Dana Foundation, Retrieved From, http://dana.org/Cerebrum/2019/Mind_Over_Matter_Cognitive_Neuroengineering/

Sample, Ian, (2019), Chinese scientist who edited babies’ genes jailed for three years, The Guardian, Retrieved from, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/30/gene-editing-chinese-scientist-he-jiankui-jailed-three-years

The Biological Basis of PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that occurs after a person experiences a traumatic event. PTSD can be the result of combat, abuse, assault, a natural disaster, an accident, or a terrorizing event (DSM-5). Symptoms can include a person reliving the event so much so that they live their life on guard as if they expect the event to reoccur. They may even isolate themselves socially so that they avoid reminders of the event. Sometimes people with PTSD develop anxiety, become depressed, or turn to drugs to escape.

Psychological distress following exposure to a traumatic or stressful event with or without fear-based symptoms can vary. A combination of symptoms has been recognized in the DSM to include adjustment disorders marked by reactive attachment disorder and social engagement disorder that can develop into PTSD. The DSM includes diagnostic criterion for trauma and stress related disorders such as reactive attachment disorder, disinhibited social engagement disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder, and adjustment disorders. Clinical characteristics of anhedonic and dysphoric symptoms resulting from demanding situations or the inability to feel pleasure because of circumstances are shown in the DSM-5 for both children and adults. The DSM considers direct and witnessed exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence leading to reoccurring involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the trauma. Flashbacks and other disassociative reactions are also listed to make the diagnosis.

These reactions to fear can cause problems in relationships and at work so what is happening? Neurobiological and physiological changes happen after a traumatic experience in the central and autonomic nervous systems. The brain rewires itself to cope with the experience by decreasing the volume of the hippocampus and activating the amygdala. The brain begins to act differently in an abnormal way so that processing memories is affected that can result in physical behavior that cause the body to act as if it is reliving the experience. These behaviors may cause other physical damage, but more research has to be done to find out what the physical and medical effects of PTSD actually are.

If symptoms are persistent and last for more than a month, a doctor can diagnose PTSD by gathering medical history and completing a physical exam on the patient. The physical exam rules out any physical causes of the symptoms.  After ruling out any physical or medical reasons someone shows symptoms of PTSD, the doctor can then refer the patient to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional that is specially trained to assess and use tools to evaluate a patient for PTSD.

Treatment for PTSD can involve both medication and counseling with the goal of reducing symptoms to help the patient cope and make daily life manageable. Psychotherapy can be used with both the patient and the family to teach new coping skills and to help work through the symptoms of PTSD. Patients that attend individual, group, and family therapies have better outcomes than patients that attend individual therapy or do not seek treatment at all. Medications may include serotonin inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Paxil, Celexa, Luvox, Prozac, and Zoloft; and tricyclic antidepressants such as Elavil and Doxepin, mood stabilizers such as Depakote and Lamictal, and atypical antipsychotics such as Seroquel and Abilify are sometimes used to control feelings of anxiety. Blood pressure medicines such as prazosin or propranolol are also sometimes used to control nightmares.

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