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Τετάρτη, 18 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Finding partners can be tough, and especially so if there is a tendency to over-analyze their initial moves in the relationship. Sometimes, people behave in a perfectly healthy way at the start of a relationship that is misunderstood or misinterpreted. Realizing what is actually healthy and what is not may save a relationship from failing before it even really gets started. Here are some warning signals that should only warn you of sanity.

1. Some may be wary if their new date doesn’t immediately respond to texts. This may make the person look uninterested or apathetic to the potential correspondence, but it could mean that the person just isn’t constantly plugged into technology. They may have other interests outside of the cell phone, or may just be waiting for a good time to set aside and give you 100% of their attention. Forbes recently wrote an article on how constantly being on a smart phone increases stress and reduces productivity.

2. Some new partners may be upset if the other wants to hang out with their friends alone. Not introducing you to their existing friends and setting time aside to be alone with friends are two different things. Continuing to see existing friends outside of a relationship shows loyalty to a life already being lived. Also, having a life outside of a relationship shows that the person has a well balanced perception on their priorities. As long as your partner is keeping healthy relationships outside of yours, then you are able to have the time to do that as well.

3. Some may be concerned if their new partners continue to date other people and they’re open about it. This can actually lead to a healthier relationship. If you end up with this person long term it isn’t because he or she settled. They had other options, but chose to stay with you. This is a great way to tell that you have a special connection with your partner.

So, what if he doesn’t immediately disclose his entire life story? While feeling like a stranger to your partner is not a good feeling, it is not fair or healthy to not allow time for a relationship to grow. It is healthy to be guarded when meeting new people, so if it takes a while for your partner to become vulnerable to you, that is a good thing. Changingminds explains that being vulnerable leads to trust, which will then allow a strong, healthy relationship.

It may seem direct and off-putting if a partner is up front with you about their feelings on the relationship. This could go one of two ways, either making you feel like you are attached to a clinger or making you feel rejected. This is a very healthy method of communication, however. As long as a partner is up front with their feelings, the other person is able to know there the relationships stands and plan accordingly.

It can be easy to go through partners if every move they make is over analyzed. Be careful about disqualifying people for doing things that don’t seem right, but are actually healthy behaviors. Partners who are open and honest and continue to lead a life outside of the relationship are the ones who are loyal and in the relationship for the long term. Always keep an open mind before ending a relationship.

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We have often written about how to impress women and what they, now its time we talk about what men like and need in their relationships. Men are often reluctant to discuss things they need emotionally and prefer to be quiet and suffer inside, but as a wonderful partner you probably want to know what your man really needs from your relationship. 

Here are some obvious needs for men:

1. Appreciation

Men often complain that their partners don’t appreciate them or say what they like about them. The term ‘male ego’ is famous, and as a partner you must take care of your man’s ego. Praise him and appreciate his effort, efficiency, love, and love-making prowess. They really love to hear how good they are in bed. Most men don’t require constant appreciation but when something is good why not just say it and improve his day? Keep telling your man about his good looks, gestures, and whatever you like about him.

2. Communication

Often women feel their men should get their clues or hints to find out what’s missing or bothering them, but men actually need good communication to know these things, and will rarely get your clues. Lack of communication leads to disappointment in women (as to why he is not getting any clue) and irritation in men.

3. Live your own life

Men want their partners to have their own life and keep their own identity. This does not mean they don’t love you or are not interested in you, they will support you in your activities and plans. Have your own set of friends, goals, activities, and passion. You must have a life which is going to surprise your partner every day in a happy manner.

4. Good love Life

This is one of the most important things a man desires in a relationship. If you are a woman who satisfies your man’s desires he will remember it always. Keep your man happy and he’ll keep you happy in return.

5. Respect

Mostly men command, not demand, respect. This is a basic factor in a healthy relationship, you should respect your partner for what he has been doing for you, your relationship, and your family. He should feel his efforts are being acknowledged by you. Hardships will always be there but you should learn to conquer them together.

6. Games Free Relationship

Most men don’t like being manipulated. They expect their partners to know how to be treat someone with respect. A relationship free of mind games or blaming games lasts longer. Take care of the fragility of your relationship and trust the man you chose. This will help them trust you, love you, and respect you as well.


Last but not least – comfort. In their busy stressful life men want some peace, which they expect from their partner. They want to feel comfortable and relaxed when they are with you, which will help relieve their stress. This is about being in touch with them emotionally, men do have emotions although they may not show it. They get strength from you, so you should be supportive.

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Children having temper tantrums and misbehaving is something that happens to almost every parent out there, without them even recognizing the issue. These are the little behaviors and actions that, if in time you don’t react to them properly, will bring about certain repercussions in your children’s lives.

We are all aware of this, but it is also confirmed by Mrs. Emma Jenner, a very famous woman known for her show on TLC “Take Home Nanny”, in which she revealed five behaviors of current parents that sooner or later would suffer the consequences.

Emma tells us that it is vital that parents start demanding more from their children; in other words, to expect more from them. To involve them in their endeavors and difficulties. To give them less, in order to force them to get themselves going. To challenge them, that is.


1.You are afraid of your children

Example: If a child wants to drink milk from a different cup, and not their usual one, parents immediately start looking for another cup instead of ignoring their request. They do so out of fear that the child will cry or refuse to eat.

For Emma this is a huge mistake. Why are you afraid? Who is your child to be in command of the both of you? You have to let them cry if they want to and go someplace else if you don’t want to hear it. But never raise your children indulging every single one of their wishes along the way. And above all think about what message you´re sending them when you give them all they want just because they are crying. Are you going to do something about it?

2. Making excuses (“That´s how children are”)

If you justify their misbehavior and outbursts in public by using this phrase, you’re motivating them to continue misbehaving and be irresponsible.

Well, children are capable of doing much more than their parents can expect. This goes for respect, manners, everyday domestic work, generosity and self-control. Or maybe you think that a child can’t set the table by himself unless you order him to?

Of course he can, what happens is you haven’t taught him to, nor you expect him to learn how to do it. It’s that simple. Raise the expectations you have for your children, that way you’ll teach them how to behave properly, said Emma.

3. You don’ let others scold them
This is very bad. Back in the day, teachers and professors could scold our children when they behaved improperly.

They were our eyes and ears when the children were out of our sight. Nowadays this is almost impossible, given the fact that, if a teacher or an employee gives a piece of their mind to a child,parents tend to get mad; they don´t even try to find out what happened  to cause this kind of a reaction from a superior. If you act like this, you’re basically telling your children to misbehave and that neither you, nor the teacher, or the employee would do anything to stop them.

4. Children come in the first place

We understand, by nature’s work, and thanks to it, we parents tend to look after our children too much. It’s good for evolution, I understand that and I defend it, says Emma, but we should also create a timetable adaptable to children’s needs, such as food, clothes, nursing and others.

Nevertheless, parents nowadays are taking it to another level, subjecting their own obligations and mental health to children, to satisfying all their needs and requests. You can’t give them everything they want, when they want. Neither can you burst out running for everything they ask for. Remember that this will take your peace and your health away, it will stress you out, but above all, it will show your children they are the ones that are in control.

Keep in mind that nothing will happen to your child just because you’ve taken some time for yourself (unless there’s an emergency of some kind), neither will anything happen if you say No. 

5. They use to take advantage of the shortcuts

According to Emma, parents today often resort to a series of shortcuts to avoid their children getting bored and thus start misbehaving. This is why they pack them with electronic devices whenever they´re waiting for a doctor’s appointment, boarding a plane, waiting for a bus, or just cooking and cleaning at their homes. You have to teach your children how to be patient. They should learn how to amuse themselves on their own. They should also learn that food won’t be ready and served whenever they want it to be. But above all you should teach them they need to help in the kitchen, but not with actual cooking, but with doing the dishes. You also shouldn’t set off running like crazy because your child fell over. He or she will know how to get up on their own.

This will help them become stronger. Of course, if something really bad happens, you should go help them, but do so calmly, without losing your composure.

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Featured photo credit: Young hippie in a red dress dancing in the middle of the road on a hot summer day via

By Caroline Hindle

If you asked most people if they are freethinkers, the vast majority would automatically give a ‘yes’ response. Most people are lying to themselves, are you?

Most people hold fixed beliefs about life in one way or another, and those beliefs are largely based on what they’ve been taught by the society they live in, the family they come from, or even just what makes them feel comfortable and at peace with themselves.

Freethinkers don’t ascribe to beliefs just because those beliefs make them feel better about themselves and life in general. Freethinkers are dedicated to discovering the truth, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

Here are 8 things that freethinkers do differently:

1. They think for themselves

Freethinkers don’t simply accept things as true because they’ve been told that certain things are a certain way. They combat accepted beliefs, common notions, and things that they’ve been taught using reason. They battle against the emotions that cause them to believe things that can’t be verified by reason, despite the appeal of succumbing to them.

2. They face disturbing truths

Freethinkers face the truth as they discover it, about themselves and about life, even if it makes them feel frightened or uncomfortable. The most difficult truths to accept are those which make us feel like we’ve been doing something wrong in life and that we should change in some way. Most people are unwilling to accept painful truths and their egos will play all sorts of tricks on them to prevent them from doing so.

3. They search for evidence

Freethinkers hold evidence above hearsay and what makes them feel good. They research any claims that are made and accept them only when there is sufficient evidence to justify their doing so. They don’t parrot opinions of other people just because they sound persuasive or appeal to them, and they never express opinions that can’t be supported by adequate evidence. If new evidence comes to light that goes against what they previously thought to be true, they change their minds accordingly.

4. They’re true to themselves

Freethinkers don’t betray their way of thinking about things because they want to impress or get in with people who hold certain beliefs. They aren’t afraid of being rejected by people who don’t care for the truth. They behave in a way that is in line with their convictions.

5. They never get complacent

Most habit is rotten and suffocating: it represses all spontaneity. The only way to achieve excellence is in the struggle to open up new land; only in the process of traversing great mountains can we hope to find true power in becoming. ~ Alexander Gesswein, Ethics

Freethinkers realize that new information can transform their perception. They never get so attached to a belief that they can’t change it. They carve out new paths and are at the forefront of change.

6. They doubt everything

Freethinkers follow Kierkegaard’s famous maxim: ‘de omnibus dubitandum est’ – everything must be doubted. They doubt even their own perception of themselves and the world. Love of truth and the necessity of being honest with oneself requires this from the freethinker. He knows how easy it is to fool himself, to view himself and his convictions in a favourable light.

7. They take the risk of being alienated

Freethinkers understand that devotion to the truth might mean that they frequently swim against the stream in human relationships. Only when a person starts trying to speak the truth do they find out how unpalatable it is to people and how badly they can react to it. Life is very difficult and people cling on to illusions to help them get through. Robbing people of these can cost them their popularity.

8. They know themselves

Freethinkers are able to look at themselves and their actions in an objective light. They understand when they behave in a way that is contrary to reason and their ethical code, and they try to remain conscious of their words and actions at all times.

Freethinkers are a tiny minority in human society and always have been. That’s why the few instances of true freethinkers have stood out in history. It’s difficult and often dangerous to be a freethinker, and many freethinkers have lost their lives by staying faithful to the truth, starting with the Greek philosopher Socrates, who was put on trial by his native Athenian democracy for corrupting the youth of Athens and impiety against the gods.  Since then, being a freethinker hasn’t gotten any easier, and it will likely not become any more so in the future.


About the author

Caroline Hindle
Caroline Hindle is a freelance writer, editor, and translator living in Athens, Greece. She has an MA in Ancient World Studies, but has a wide spectrum of interests, including philosophy, history, science, literature, politics, morality, and popular culture.
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Have you ever had the feeling that your current significant other is “the one?” He or she makes you laugh when you don’t even feel like smiling, knows exactly what to say when you’re in need of comfort, and understands you better than anyone ever has. You can completely be yourself in the relationship, and the connection you have to  is like a powerful magnetic force that pulls you in. Sometimes, that “the one” feeling can happen more than once. But these five signs are strong indicators that your relationship was destined to happen. 

If you find these characteristics in your relationship, you may have found your soulmate:

1. You Have an Intense Connection

While you have plenty of other friends and family members that you love, your bond to this person surpasses the bond in your other relationships. You feel closer to your new partner. You feel like they know you inside and out — perhaps better than you know yourself. The deep and undeniable connection is mutual. You can’t get enough of one another.

2. Your Attachment Doesn’t Quite Make Sense

The connection you feel for each other doesn’t have a long, drawn-out history behind it. You may have been accused by others of moving too fast or becoming too intense too soon. From the moment you met you felt drawn to this person, and you really can’t quite explain it to family members or friends. The fact that you haven’t known each other for a long period of time doesn’t matter.

3. You Stay Close

Your past may be full of many ex’s or only a few, but either way you’ve let them come and go without much of an afterthought. After meeting this person, you don’t feel the need to contact or even think about a former flame, because you can’t imagine your life before this person came into it. You stay near this person, communicating and interacting regularly, if not a bit obsessively, and you spend as much time together as possible.

4. You’re Experiencing New Emotions

The pull of “new” emotions might seem weird. But you probably find yourself in a rollercoaster of emotions that can be overwhelming at times — feeling a deep love that you’ve never felt before, or maybe you’re showing emotions you didn’t know you had in you, such as jealousy or fear. With a relationship this intense, your emotions may seem out of control at times.

5. You Fight, A Lot

It’s true that love can make you crazy. Even the most peaceful people can find themselves in a sudden argument when emotions are high. The love and passion you feel for each other can often result in a fight, with both of you desperately trying to get your point across, all the while hating that you’re disagreeing. Small things can escalate into big things, and arguments from the past may sneak their way into present fights. You may be afraid that an argument means you’re drifting away or losing one another, but in the end your passion brings you back together. It’s almost impossible for you to stay mad at your significant other for long, because it means not being able to talk with each other or spend time together.

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Relationships are a beautiful part of life. Whether they are romantic or just friendly, connecting with another human being is undoubtedly one of the best experiences that life has to offer. Of course, within relationships, as with so many other things in life, change is inevitable. I doubt that there are very many of us, if any, that have maintained the exact same partner and/or core group of friends throughout the vast majority of our lives.

Despite this seemingly natural turnover, what is it about certain relationships that makes them outlast many others? I’ve come up with 8 signs that I think are a great signal that a particular relationship is worth keeping, but be sure to pay attention to the last one I mention, since it alone can override all of the other points, and in my opinion it’s the most important.

1. You Are Truly Yourself

There are many people that find a lot of value in the idea of compromise, but when it comes to giving up elements of yourself to please or maintain a relationship, I personally don’t feel that it is very healthy. The best and often longest lasting relationships are those in which both parties can effortlessly be themselves without being faced by or fearing judgement, ridicule, or pressure to change. We all know when we are being fake, it’s therefore up to us to first see why we are being fake and then decide whether or not our true self belongs in this relationship.

2. Celebration Over Comparison

I also made this point as part of another article I wrote earlier in the year entitled 9 Common Traits Of Happy People (That They Don’t Talk About), and I make it again because I feel it definitely applies in the realm of great relationships. The best relationships are those in which ego-based comparisons are cast aside and are replaced by a genuine happiness for the accomplishments of the other person. Rather than putting up a face that shows your pleasure for the other person when they get their dream job or land a hot date, the best relationships are those in which you actually feel happy for them.

3. You Lift Each Other Up

Although a lot of “comfort” can be found in mutually wallowing in a particular experience (such as complaining) or behaviour (such as drinking), the most valuable relationships are those in which each individual helps the other rise from hardship. This help can come in the form of truly listening, providing reminders, or an assortment of other ways, but no matter how it comes it always does everything it can to ensure that the other person never gets caught in an ongoing unhealthy state. Even though the action of change ultimately needs to come from the person caught in it, the most valuable relationship partners remind them of, and help them find, that power.

4. Differences Aren’t A Deal Breaker

Many relationships are built off of similarities, and for obvious reasons. It would be much easier for me to find common ground, interests, and compatibility with someone who like myself enjoyed playing sports, creating films, and public speaking than it would for me to do the same with someone who enjoyed staying indoors, painting, and scrapbooking. Despite this common foundation, differences will inevitably arise in even the most naturally compatible of relationships, and those that are worth keeping tend not to let those differences come between them. A great relationship is one in which time spent by one person doing what they are passionate about is truly seen as as valuable to the other person as quality time together – even if that passion is experienced with someone else.

5. The Past Is The Past

If asked to explain one of our most cherished relationships most of us would quickly resort to a number of memorable moments to help paint the picture of how close the connection really is. As awesome as reliving the past can be, the best relationships tend to be those that stay within the present moment. This is particularly helpful for overcoming any challenges the two of you may have faced at one point in time. Rather than forever holding past transgressions or issues against them, even if just quietly in the background of a seemingly now trouble-free connection, the choice to let the past go and be in the present allows both people to more fully enjoy everything that the other has to offer.

6. No Mind Games

Particularly in the realm of romantic relationships, a lot of people love the thrill and uncertainty that comes with trying to figure the other person out, often screwing up a number of times along the way. Despite this, the most valuable relationships tend to be ones that no longer feature any mind games. You both know who the other is, love them for being that way, and can each be yourself comfortably without the unnecessary mind chatter.

7. An Extension Of The Human Experience

As with #2, my 7th sign also appeared in my other article and for good reason. I believe that the best relationships are those in which both people see the relationship as an extension of the human experience and not the basis of their happiness. The more we rely on others to provide us fulfillment, the more we hold ourselves back from being truly independent, and ultimately the more pressure that the relationship has to operate within. It’s often when relationships are not being looked at to fill a particular void, or to make us feel a certain way, that most of the truest and most valuable relationships are formed.

8. Knowing That It Can End At Any Time

This may sound like a particularly morbid way to end an otherwise lighthearted list, but I truly believe that the best relationships are ones in which both people recognize and are at peace with the fact that it could change, and possibly even end at any given time. This understanding, in my opinion and experience, paves the way for a freedom that ultimately makes a relationship of the deepest variety available. It’s not to say that every relationship must come to an end at some point, but this understanding gives it, and both people involved, the freedom to fully explore whatever it moulds itself into.

Even though I do not consider or promote myself to be a relationship expert of any kind I truly hope that you have enjoyed this list. Whether you agree with all 8 of the signs or not, I hope that I’ve at the very least given you some food for thought. Be sure to share any thoughts and insights towards any of the signs via the comment section below, and feel free to share any others that you feel belong on the list!

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Τρίτη, 17 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Like all people, I experience a range of emotions, some high and some low.  At this point in my life, I’ve learned how to raise my vibration deliberately, and I am pretty good at hanging around in happiness for longer periods of time, but I’ve noticed my mind plays tricks on me when I’m in the lower vibrations. My guess is that yours does too!

See, when we are in the lower vibrations, we are a “match” to thoughts that mirror how we feel inside.  When we are sad, the sad thoughts pile one on top of the next. When we are angry, more things to be angry about present themselves easily and relentlessly.

For instance, have you ever been upset at someone, and then every last little terrible thing they had ever done in their life suddenly popped into your memory? Have you ever been in an argument and just kept thinking of new reasons to be mad?

The truth is, when you are in a negative state, the floodgates of negative thoughts will open.  Suddenly, there’s not just one reason to be mad, there’s a dozen.  Almost instantaneously, there’s not just one reason to feel down, there’s a hundred more marching in behind it. 

These thoughts don’t mean that you are failing, or making mistakes or headed toward a miserable end in life. It’s just the Law of Attraction, bringing you thoughts that you are a vibrational match to in a temporary state, that’s all.

This can be tricky for someone who is trying to deliberately raise his or her vibration.  While you may want to “think positive,” thinking positive does not come naturally from a place of depression or anger.

This can be even trickier for someone who doesn’t know about the Law of Attraction, and it’s why many people get “stuck” in the lower vibrations for long periods of time.

Understanding this mechanism has been very helpful to me, and my hope is that it will be for you as well. 

When the negative thoughts start to pile up, I’ve learned it can be very effective to remind myself of how attraction works. Instead of taking these thoughts too seriously, I’ll simply tell myself “The only reason why I am thinking these negative thoughts right now is because I am in a low vibrational state.  When I am feeling better, it will all make sense and I’ll feel optimistic about my life again.”

This is helpful because it’s a quick reminder to me that good things can still happen for me, and when I feel a little happier, I’ll find the solutions I need and make the progress I am seeking.  Instead of worrying and fussing and getting too caught up in the negativity, I remember these thoughts aren’t particularly rational, and they aren’t a true representation of me or my life.

The truth is, I’ve found my way to a smile or a laugh almost every single day of my life, and chances are you have too.  Even people who don’t understand the power of positive thinking are known to be happy from time to time, and this means that our negative thoughts are never universally significant or valid. We are all seeking our happiness, and this is why even the most miserable people are usually still able to find it with regularity.

You are a powerful creator when you are happy, and anyone who can find happiness can become what they want to become.

This reminder gives me a little relief, and relief is exactly what you need when you are down to pick yourself back up. Relief is always the path back to happiness, and this statement can be an effective step in the right direction.

So when you’re upset or mad, and it seems like you’re getting nothing but hostile or depressing thoughts, remember that your mind plays tricks on you when you are down.  From a low vibrational state, low vibrational thoughts are magnetized to you.  However, when your mood bounces back up (and it always does) you will be a magnet for thoughts that remind you of your power and a stream of reasons to be happy and grateful for your life and everything in it-even the things that seem so awful in the moment.

You can do, be or have anything that you want, and you’ll see this truth more clearly when the storm passes. All you have to do is hang on for a little bit.

XO, Andrea

My name is Andrea Schulman, I am a former high school psychology teacher and the creator of ‘Raise Your Vibration Today.’ I teach people about the Law of Attraction with fun, clarity and success! Check out my member website to learn how to create your reality with your thoughts.

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Do you offer unconditional giving? Or do you find yourself often giving and expecting something in return?

Many people operate from a place of “shortage consciousness.” Meaning, they believe that the more YOU have, the less THEY can have. They believe there are only so many resources, and we all must fight to stake our claim.

However this just isn’t true.

There isn’t a shortage of anything. There’s no shortage of money, or health, or inspiration. There’s plenty to be had by anyone who is willing to tap into it through positive expectation.

This is why giving is SO important. Giving of yourself freely, without expectation of anything in return, is a HUGE message you send to the universe that says “I believe I am so prosperous I can give it away and I will be just fine!”

The problem with limited or conditional giving

When we avoid giving out of fear we tell the universe “I don’t believe there is enough to support me, so I must hold on to what little I have.”

Even worse, there is the method of giving in order to receive. In this method the person gives and gives, but only because he or she believes they MUST give in order to receive back from others. Conditional giving like this is just another form of shortage consciousness.

Conditional giving sends a message that says “I must EARN what comes my way, as I am not deserving of what I want exactly as I am.”

So this new year, I invite you to give a little more freely and without expectation. Offer some of your time, or money or skills to someone who could benefit from it. Just remember to give knowing in your heart that you can give it all away and you would be just fine.

Give just to experience the freedom of knowing all is well regardless of how much you give. Give to practice the knowing that you have access to infinite resources.

You may be surprised with what comes your way next.

Case in point…

This afternoon I was cornered in the parking lot of Best Buy by a woman asking me if I could spare a couple of dollars.

I don’t know if she was swindling me or if she genuinely needed it, but I had a five dollar bill on me so I pulled it out and gave it to her and wished her well.

The way I saw it, I found myself fortunate enough to be able to share some of my prosperity to someone who may smile a little brighter today because of it. Five dollars is nothing to me, but it appeared to be much more significant to this woman.

Just a few minutes later, we ended up finding a birthday present we had already bought online for my son on sale for $70 less than what we paid for. So, we cancelled our original online offer and picked up the new gift from Best Buy and went on our merry way.

Are these two events connected? I don’t know. But I will tell you this, when I offer unconditional giving, the money always comes back to me, and usually in a much higher amount.

Just something to consider!

XO, Andrea

My name is Andrea Schulman, I am a former high school psychology teacher and the creator of ‘Raise Your Vibration Today.’ I teach people about the Law of Attraction with fun, clarity and success! Check out my member website to learn how to create your reality with your thoughts.

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Credits: Susanne Reichinnek/Institut de neurobiologie de la mediterranee

By Dom Galeon

French researchers have found a way to monitor a neural process involved in the formation of memory. A test conducted on the brains of mice may give us a glimpse into what happens in our own brains when memories are being formed.


Researchers at the Institut de Neurobiologie de la Méditerranée in Marseille, France have found a way to monitor a neural process that they suspect helps memories form.

The researchers looked at brain cells present in mice and humans that keep track of location and distance. These neurons got the attention of scientists because they were seen to fire in a certain sequence when a the brain is at rest. It may be mentally retracing its path, says researcher Rosa Cossart, as part of a process that helps in the formation of memories in mice.

All that was needed was to map this neural sequence.

To map neural activity in the hippocampus, Cossart and her team added a fluorescent protein to the neurons of four mice. The injected proteins were to light up when calcium ions flood the cell, indicating that the neuron is actively firing signals. They observed 1,000 neurons per mouse.

The result was a fluorescent map of brain activity never before monitored at such a scale.


The brain activity of the mice was monitored while the creatures walked on a treadmill and while they were at rest. The researchers were able to confirm how the neurons were firing sequentially, as if taking note of distance travelled. Furthermore, the same neurons lit up when the mice were at rest — firing more rapidly and in sequential blocks, as if reflecting on the previous activity and committing it to memory.

Cossart believes that each sequential block represents a particular chunk of the mouse’s earlier experience. “We’ve been able to image the individual building-blocks of memory,” she says.

George Dragoi at Yale University, however, wasn’t so sure about these findings. The neurons fired while at rest, Dragoi comments, may have been just regular brain activity not necessarily involved in memory formation.

Kamran Diba at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, although fascinated wit the research has similar reservations. He wonders why the neurons were working in blocks at rest if they were functioning individually while the mice were in action.

Reservations aside, these results may prove to be useful in medical research (like Alzheimer’s), provided that additional studies be made to confirm the same patterns in human brain activity.

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Some people are more vulnerable. Chicago Public Media, CC BY-N

Hon. Professor Drug Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Drug use is common, drug addiction is rare. About one adult in three will use an illegal drug in their lifetime and just under 3m people will do so this year in England and Wales alone. Most will suffer no long-term harm.

There are immediate risks from overdose and intoxication, and longer-term health risks associated with heavy or prolonged use; damage to lungs from smoking cannabis or the bladder from ketamine for example. However most people will either pass unscathed through a short period of experimentation or learn to accommodate their drug use into their lifestyle, adjusting patterns of use to their social and domestic circumstances, as they do with alcohol.

Compared to the 3m currently using illegal drugs there are around 300,000 heroin and/or crack addicts while around 30,000 were successfully treated for dependency on drugs in England in 2011-12, typically cannabis, or powder cocaine.

A powerful cultural narrative focusing on the power of illegal drugs to disrupt otherwise stable, happy lives dominates our media and political discourse, and shapes policy responses. Drug use is deemed to “spiral out of control”, destroying an individual’s ability to earn their living or care for their children, transforming honest productive citizens into welfare dependent, criminal “families from hell”.

This is a key component of the Broken Britain critique of welfare and social policy advanced by the Centre for Social Justice and pursued in government by the CSJ’s founder Iain Duncan Smith in his role as secretary of state for work and pensions. However, the narrative has resonance far beyond the political arena and underpins most media coverage of drug addiction and the drug storylines of popular culture.

Most drug users are ..?

In reality the likelihood of individuals without pre-existing vulnerabilities succumbing to long-term addiction is slim. Heroin and crack addicts are not a random sub set of England’s 3m current drug users.

Addiction, unlike use, is heavily concentrated in our poorest communities – and within those communities it is the individuals who struggle most with life who will succumb. Compared to the rest of the population, heroin and crack addicts are: male, working-class, offenders, have poor educational records, little or no history of employment, experience of the care system, a vulnerability to mental illness and increasingly are over 40 with declining physical health.

Problem cannabis use is less concentrated among the poor, but is closely associated with indicators of social stress and a vulnerability to developing mental health conditions.

Most drug users are intelligent resourceful people with good life skills, supportive networks and loving families. These assets enable them to manage the risks associated with their drug use, avoiding the most dangerous drugs and managing their frequency and scale of use to reduce harm and maximise pleasure. Crucially they will have access to support from family and friends should they begin to develop problems, and a realistic prospect of a job, a house and a stake in society to focus and sustain their motivation to get back on track.

In contrast the most vulnerable individuals in our poorest communities lack life skills and have networks that entrench their problems rather than offering solutions. Their decision making will tend to prioritise immediate benefit rather than long-term consequences. The multiplicity of overlapping challenges they face gives them little incentive to avoid high risk behaviours.

Together these factors make it more likely that, instead of carefully calibrating their drug use to minimise risk, they will be prepared to use the most dangerous drugs in the most dangerous ways. And once addicted, motivation to recover and the likelihood of success is weakened by an absence of family support, poor prospects of employment, insecure housing and social isolation.

In short what determines whether or not drug use escalates into addiction, and the prognosis once it has, is less to do with the power of the drug and more to do with the social, personal and economic circumstances of the user.

Heads in the sand

Unfortunately the strong relationship between social distress and addiction is ignored by politicians and media commentators in favour of an assumption that addiction is a random risk driven by the power of the drug.

It does happen. But the atypical experience of the relatively small number of drug users from stable backgrounds who stumble into addiction and can legitimately attribute the chaos of their subsequent lives to this one event drowns out the experience of the overwhelming majority of addicts for whom social isolation, economic exclusion, criminality and fragile mental health preceded their drug use rather than being caused by it.

Viewing addiction through the distorting lens of the minority causes policy makers to misunderstand the flow of causality and pushes them towards interventions focused on changing individual drug-using behaviour and away from addressing the structural inequality in which the vulnerabilities to addiction can flourish.

Until we re-frame our understanding of drug addiction as more often the consequence of social evils than their root cause, then we are doomed to misdirect our energy and resources towards blaming the outcasts and the vulnerable for their plight rather than recasting our economic and social structures to give them access to the sources of resilience that protect the rest of us.

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