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mobile addiction

5/24/12 2:00pm

"Cell Vibration Syndrome" Creates a Buzz


Vibrating? It might be in your head. Photo via

If you've ever felt that telltale buzz, but when you checked your cellphone there was no text or missed call, you may be on the cusp of a mobile addiction. According to psychology professor Larry Rosen from California State University, these imagined cellphone vibrations are actually a fairly common phenomenon. In his new book, iDisorder, Rosen says we live in an age where every oddity is soon classified as some kind of mental ailment, so it's not surprising that people's affinities for their cellphones have reached the level of addiction. "Interacting with our technology can make us display signs and symptoms of everything ranging from depression to mania to narcissism to voyeurism - you name it," says Rosen. Coining the term 'cellphone vibration syndrome,' Rosen believes the phenomenon is related to anxiety. "Our body is always in waiting to anticipate any kind of technological interaction, which usually comes from a smartphone," he says. "With that anticipatory anxiety, if we get any neurological stimulation, our pants rubbing against our leg for example, you might interpret that through the veil of anxiety, as 'Oh, my phone is vibrating." Rosen explains he's never met a person—particularly males as most men carry their phones in their pockets—that has not experienced a phantom cellphone vibration. He says phantom vibrations become a cause for concern when they begin to interfere with other parts of people lives: "Most of the people will report that what it does is it gets in the way of their social relationships, because they are constantly focusing on reducing the anxiety about what they're missing out on their phone."

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By Fionna Agomuoh

boy bands

5/24/12 12:47pm

"The Wanted" Want to Get Bieber Smashed


The Biebster is now legal in the UK. Photo via

Not long ago Justin Bieber confessed to the world that he does drink a little beer without getting "out of control," but it seems UK boyband The Wanted has taken the Beeb's proclamation as a challenge. Like many, his British buddies pounced on him as soon as he was "Baby" no more on his 18th birthday, but for arguably less dubious reasons—the legal drinking age in England (and Bieber's home country, Canada) is 18. Next time he finds himself across the pond, Bieber will be drinking like a fish if The Wanted's Tom Parker, 23, gets his way. "Ah mate, when he comes to England, I'm going to get him f**ked up!" Parker joked. "I really am." And despite Bieber's squeaky clean image, he's not putting up much of a fight against this new threat to his sobriety: "You know what's funny, he's just accepted it," said The Wanted's Nathan Sykes, 19. "I was watching an interview the other day and he was like, 'Yeah, they're going to get me drunk, there's nothing I can do about it.'" Hopefully for Bieber's main squeeze Selena Gomez, the princeling won't return from his drunken escapade with his own case of "Bieber eye." But The Wanted might just be buttering him up with drinks for a proposition: another tour together. "We're trying to make it happen so hopefully we'll be able to join him," said Sykes, "The guy's a little legend."

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By Bryan Le

drug War

5/24/12 11:45am

Cartels Fight for Press Attention


The gangs "seek new extremes" to grab media
attention. Photo via

It's a new type of paparazzi battle, and the images are far from red carpet material. In Mexico's struggle between the more established drug-smuggling Sinaloa cartel and the younger, paramilitary Zetas, more innocent victims are being killed in increasingly gruesome ways, often involving mutilation. To make matters worse, these dismembered bodies are dumped in public locations, and presented to the world through internet photos and videos posted on YouTube, all in the name of intimidation and propaganda. Earlier this month, 49 decapitated bodies were discovered alongside a highway in Nuevo Leon; a leader of the Zetas cartel, Daniel de Jesus Elizondo Ramirez, has since been taken into custody for the murders. Other recent incidents include two criminal groups and their allies depositing 14 headless bodies in front of city hall in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, and hanging nine people, four of them women, from a bridge in the same city. “What was once viewed as extreme is now normal," says Alejandro Hope, a security analyst with the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a nonpartisan think tank. "So these gangs must find new extremes. And the only real limit is their imagination, and you do not want to know what is the limit of psychopaths.”  Martin Barron, an expert on security at the National Institute of Criminal Science, says that since most of those murdered are innocent victims, not cartel members, the killings are simply a tactic to show force. "[The cartels' actions] tell the world, the government, their opponents, that ‘I am alive! You have not defeated me. I still am here.’ They show muscle,” he says. “Now why have things gone so far? Why cut off the heads, hands and feet? Previously, these organizations settled matters with a bullet in the head. Not anymore. Now there is a psychopathology at work. Some of these people obviously enjoy this, and they are teaching their surrogates, teenagers, to enjoy it."

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By McCarton Ackerman

Recovery events

5/24/12 10:45am

Stars Speak to Honor Women's Recovery


Judy Collins, sober 30 years, spoke of her
son's suicide after a relapse. Photo via

US Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack and singer Judy Collins spoke about their own fights against addiction at Father Martin's Ashley's fifth annual Women in Recovery luncheon on Tuesday. Collins, who has been sober for 24 years, shared with the crowd how she copes with her daily struggle, saying "This disease breaks your hearts, but in recovery you have to live on life's terms. There are always going to be things you want to change in the world, but the only thing you can change is yourself." Collins has worked for years in recovery advocacy and and suicide prevention—a subject she is all too familiar with since her son, also an addict, took his own life after a relapse in 1992. "An alcohol survivor and a suicide survivor," she told a rapt audience, "they do the same thing to you. They ruin your life and they break your heart, and you have to learn to live with both." Congresswoman Mack was honored at the luncheon for her work in fighting prescription drug abuse and described herself to the crowd as a daughter, widow, and mother of addicts. Actress Lynda Carter and other supporters were present to help raise money for treatment programs for women. Peter Musser—the supervisor of the women’s program at Father Martin's Ashley treatment facility—has stated that addiction is different for women. "If [a woman] has addiction in her family history, it is more likely that the self-medication will become a full-blown addiction,” he said. “She may be drinking in secret. She may still be able to maintain. But it is insidious."

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By Valerie Tejeda


5/24/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: May 24, 2012


Dreadful? Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

addiction and genetics

5/23/12 5:21pm

DNA Predicts Smoking Behavior (to a Point)


Blame DNA? Photo via

One specific gene marker can help predict how much a person will smoke, a new meta-analysis finds. Researchers from 50 medical institutions nationwide analyzed the genetic material of over 32,000 smokers and non-smokers of African ancestry, to see if certain genes were linked to smoking activity. (Past research linking genetics and smoking behavior has focused primarily on populations of European descent, leaving a need for more research among other ethnic groups.) Data gathered included the age at which people began smoking, how many cigarettes they smoked per day, and how successful they were at quitting. The study found that a variant in a nicotine receptor gene is linked to smoking about one extra cigarette per day. This genetic marker is on the same gene—though in a different spot—as that implicated in smoking behavior among people of European ancestry. African Americans, on average, start smoking later and smoke fewer cigarettes per day, yet are less likely to successfully quit than people of European descent, and face a higher risk of smoking-related lung cancer than most other US populations. Sean David—MD, DPhil, a clinical associate professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the lead researcher of the study—hopes these findings will pave the way for improved treatments to help smokers quit, and for expanded preventative measures against lung cancer and other smoking-related diseases. He says the finding that this gene plays a role in “different ancestral groups” adds to the evidence of its significance, and “suggests it as a target for drug discovery and development.”

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By Sarah Beller


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