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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘Dimensions of Temperament’

Abu Ghraib, Auschwitz and Mumbai

It is, of course, decidedly early to pronounce on just who is behind the terrorist attacks in Mumbai; but it is almost certainly radical Islamists of one persuasion or another. One senior Indian military officer has claimed that the attackers came from Pakistan – yet one of the gunmen in the Oberoi Trident Hotel managed to get hooked up to a TV channel and told them he was from the ‘Deccan Mujahedeen’, a (previously-unknown) group of Indian Muslim extremists.  Given the marginally-improved state of the usually-hostile/often-verging-on-war relations between India and Pakistan, one might almost be forgiven for hoping it was an internal Indian operation that could not so easily be a catalyst for open military confrontation between the two nuclear powers. However, in light of the Hindu orgies of violence against Muslim communities which have followed previous Islamist terrorist incidents on Indian soil, thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths might prove equally unpalatable.   Where ever the attackers originated from, few will be surprised if they didn’t have at least tacit assistance from radicals in Pakistan. And few will surprised, given the sophisticated level of organisation in the Mumbai attacks, if the hand of al-Qaeda isn’t to be found somewhere in the pulling of the strings.   What… Read More

Tribal War in South Ossetia

As the Russian-Georgian conflict in South Ossetia inches towards a volatile, dangerous and perhaps quite short-lived peace, it is a good time for those who would intervene – ‘soft cops’ like France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy and ‘hard cops’ such as American Vice President Dick Cheney – to study the nature of such conflicts, how they arise, how they can be managed, hopefully resolved and, better still, prevented. Better informed, their interventions may have a chance of working. With ethnic Russian breakaway forces in Abkhazia equally determined to resist Georgian attempts at reintegration and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pronouncing that Moscow cannot work with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, with both armies bloodied and ready to resume combat at the slightest provocation, with civilian dead estimated in the thousands and the two governments hurling accusations of ethnic cleansing and would-be genocide at each other, there is every potential for an awful lot more lives to be lost in the next few months. At root South Ossetia is a conflict of PURPLE tribalism. The PURPLE vMEME seeks security in belonging; in belonging to some, it demarks itself from others – all too easily leading to prejudice & discrimination against those who are “not… Read More

Iran: Jaw, Jaw or War, War?

Early in June the Israeli airforce carried out an exercise – sending 100 F15s and F16s out over the Eastern Mediterranean and Greece – supported by aerial tankers for in-flight refuelling. It was an impressive logistical feat and is being portrayed in the media as a dry run for bombing the Iranians’ principal nuclear facility at Bushehr. Interestingly it was not the Israelis or any of the other Middle Eastern states which ‘leaked’ the story but the Americans – with the spin that the Israelis were demonstrating to Tehran that they do have the capability of getting as far as Bushehr. As the news leaked (June 20), the Israeli government stepped up the war of words with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (struggling to regain domestic credibility after more corruption allegations) saying: “Iran will not be nuclear.” Even more ominously Deputy Prime Minster Shaul Mofaz told journalists a strike on Iran was now “unavoidable”. Arch neocon John Bolton, one-time US ambassador to the United Nations, has gone on record as saying he believes Israeli will strike in between the presidential election in November and the inauguration of the new President. A strike before the election might influence it unduly; if Barack Obama… Read More

Time to turn against Cannabis!

The dangers of cannabis use are back on the front pages thanks to a report just published in The Lancet from a team led by Theresa Moore & Dr Stanley Zammit. From their meta-analysis of 35 studies from around the world, Moore & Zammit inferred that any use of cannabis – which means even taking the drug just once – was associated with a 41% greater risk of experiencing some form of psychosis – and possibly even developing full-blown Schizophrenia. People who smoked the most cannabis were the most likely to suffer a psychotic breakdown; for frequent users, the risk rose to between 50% and 200%. Overall, cannabis could be to blame for one in seven cases of Schizophrenia and other life-shattering mental illness. With up to 40% of teenagers and young adults in the UK believed to have tried cannabis, the researchers estimated that the drug could be behind 14% of cases of Schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses. Perhaps fortuitiously Gordon Brown announced on 18 July that the status of cannabis was to be considered as part of a wide-ranging drugs review commissioned by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. The Brown-Smith move was initiated a week after former Tory Party leader Iain Duncan Smith called for reclassification of cannabis from ‘C’ back to ‘B’ in… Read More

For Sian and Gillian Baverstock

Isn’t it strange how the death of someone you have fond memories of can affect you? This morning I learned of the death of Gillian Baverstock this Sunday past  (24 June) at the age of 76. From pursuing the obit columns, I realised that Gillian’s daughter, Sian, had died last year from a heart attack at the age of 44. Who were Gillian and Sian Baverstock? Well, for starters, they were respectively the daughter and granddaughter of Enid Blyton and wife and daughter respectively of Donald Baverstock, one of the early controllers of BBC 1 who was later involved in the setting up of Yorkshire Television. (It was Baverstock who commissioned the first series of ‘Doctor Who’ – and it was from the forum of the Doctor Who fansite Outpost Gallifrey that I learned of Gillian’s death.) In 1988 I enjoyed a 6-7 months romantic relationship with Sian, during which I met Gillian several times. She was every bit the charming, elegant and articulate woman described in the obits though she kept a polite distance emotionally from much of what was going on around her. She was as reserved as she was welcoming. The Baverstocks were a troubled family, though, for… Read More