Happy Hump Day, MindSite News Readers. In today’s roundup, we share an essay from a retired sheriff who believes in the ideal mission of policing as service – and that it’s wholly unachievable amidst current police culture. Also, research shows that taking a shower may help promote creativity and a pair of gun clubs take aim at suicide prevention.

Plus, a look at perfectionism, An antidepressant drug may also help treat alcoholism. And California lawmakers consider financial protections for survivors of domestic abuse.

Retired sheriff: It’s not about bad-apple cops, it’s about “a culture rooted in a tribal mentality”

Via Twitter

As the nation grapples with the murder of Tyre Nichols, another unarmed Black man killed at the hands of police, Sue Rahr, the former sheriff of King County, Washington, shared her thoughts on why these horrors keep happening. In an essay published by The Atlantic, Rahr admitted that as a member of various shooting review boards, she never voted against an officer throughout her 33-year career – despite occasional misgivings about defending some officers’ actions. 

“The fear of being ostracized was stronger than the fear of getting shot,” she wrote. 

It’s a central problem in police culture, said Rahr – “a culture rooted in a tribal mentality, built on a false myth of a war between good and evil, fed by political indifference to the real drivers of violence in our communities.” She went on: “We continue to use police to maintain order as a substitute for equality and adequate social services. It will take a generation of courageous leaders to change this culture, to reject this myth, and to truly promote a mission of service – a mission that won’t drive officers to lose their humanity.”

Powerful words – from the horse’s mouth.

Stuck in a creative rut? Hop in the shower

Image: Shutterstock

Though the suggestion may seem tongue in cheek, research shows that the “shower effect” is real. While the name may seem to indicate a requirement for suds and water, you can set a scene to help induce the shower effect outside of the bathroom, too. The notion is that many of our best ideas pop up when we’re not focused on brainstorming, but rather while we’re in the midst of an activity that allows our mind to wander. Think taking a shower, a walk, or even briefly changing your immediate environment – something that “takes some of your attention so that they can influence your thoughts, but doesn’t take all of it so that you have no attention for these creative ideas that are incubating in the background,” cognitive science professor Zachary Irving told the Washington Post. He’s the lead author of a 2022 study that found mind-wandering during moderately engaging activities promotes creative idea-generation.

Another study published early last year in Molecular Psychology credits the brain’s “default mode network” (DMN) with helping generate new ideas. The DMN is a system of brain regions that activate when our thoughts are contemplative. For the study, researchers observed 13 patients undergoing brain surgery to have tumors removed. Each procedure required patients to remain awake so that surgeons could map out the cortex with electrical stimulation, inhibiting a very specific area of the brain for a short time, said Ben Shofty, functional neurosurgeon and lead author of the study. 

Patients were tasked with a brainstorming exercise – naming uncommon uses for common items. When surgeons stimulated tissue inside the DMN, the patient’s ability to generate creative ideas temporarily ceased. Prior to the study, evidence of the DMN’s role in creativity was only correlational, but this research provides direct evidence that the DMN is causally linked to creative thinking.

Creativity is “a basic part of what makes us human. We use it all the time,” Shofty said. “So, I think understanding that mechanism and how it works is super important for us to understand ourselves and what makes us human.” 

A pair of Minnesota gun clubs take aim at suicide

In an effort to reduce suicides, members of the Stock and Barrel Gun Club in Minnesota hosted a pair of mental wellness nights where attendees learned about mental health and completed a “Question Persuade Refer” (QPR) training course aimed at helping them recognize the warning signs of suicide in order to direct people at risk to life-saving assistance. “Mental health is a huge issue,” club president Kevin Vick told the MinnPost. “A lot of people have been under a tremendous amount of stress, particularly over the last couple of years. We see these events as very important ways to be able to get the word out that there is help out there.”

With research showing that handgun ownership is associated with higher suicide risk, QPR training offers people a practical approach to useful information that might help save a life. “You do QPR training the same way you do CPR training,” Vick said. “It’s an approach that most people are familiar with. That’s really important.”

Though a gun club hosting suicide prevention programming may be unconventional, said Dan Reidenberg, executive director of the Twin Cities-based nonprofit SAVE, he explained it’s necessary “given that 51% to 52% of suicides are by firearms.” He added, “We worked with them to promote it and learn in a way that this isn’t about gun restriction. It is about the importance of understanding the connection between firearms and suicide.”

In other news…

Via Twitter

Earlier this week, NPR’s Life Kit published a 21-minute episode on perfectionism, featuring an interview with therapist and author Katherine Morgan Schafler, author of The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control: A Path to Peace and Power. Despite the association of perfectionism with anxiety, depression, and other not-so-great mental health concerns, Schafler says it’s not always a bad thing. Perfectionism, she said, is “a force that can be constructive and also destructive, depending on how you manage it.”

An experimental antidepressant compound may help treat alcohol abuse. That’s according to scientists in the Department of Molecular Medicine at Scripps Research Institute. Results from a study published earlier this month showed that MAP4343, a steroid-type molecule, reversed excessive alcohol intake in mice with the condition. “These promising results suggest that we should test MAP4343 in people as a potential treatment for alcohol use disorder,” lead study author Candice Contet, said in a news release. With some 100 million people struggling with alcohol use disorder, researchers see a strong need for more treatment options.

A new California law may make it easier for survivors of financial abuse to get debt relief. In intimate partner relationships, financial abuse often pairs with physical and psychological harm. Because financial abuse didn’t previously fit into the family code, it was harder for abuse survivors to leave violent relationships, legal advocate Dan Sanders told Yes magazine. The new law “opened it up for people to have ways to…stand up for themselves, to exercise their rights, to make sure their voice is heard.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and connect in English or Spanish. If you’re a veteran press 1. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing dial 711, then 988. Services are free and available 24/7.

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Courtney WiseReporter

Courtney Wise Randolph is a native Detroiter and freelance writer. She is the host of COVID Diaries: Stories of Resilience, a 2020 project between WDET and Documenting Detroit which won an Edward R. Murrow...