Sexual Abuse: Trusting Memories

Recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) may be as trustworthy as memories that persist from the time of abuse, reports the journal Psychological Science. In a first-of-its-kind study, investigators checked out CSA memories of 128 individuals by interviewing others abused by the same perpetrator, or people who learned about the victim's abuse shortly after it occurred or when the abuser confessed. Over a six-month period, they found corroborating evidence for 37 percent of memories that had been recovered outside of therapy, nearly matching the 45 percent corroboration rate for continuous memories. Memories recovered in therapy, however, could not be corroborated. While not proving such memories are false, the finding suggests they should be treated cautiously. Elke Geraerts, a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University and the study's author, believes suggestive therapy can create an expectation that traumatic memories will be unearthed. "Too many therapists...

Cuddle my world

Maybe the first night of your freshman year was awkward. At least you didn't ask a stranger if you could caress his shoulder. But, according to REiD Mihalko and Marcia Baczynski, founders of Cuddle Party, that's your loss."We need more touch in our lives. Period," Mihalko says. Since 2004, his answer to this problem has come in the form of Cuddle Party, a company devoted to throwing self-described "affectionate play events for adults."This February, the University of Southern California invited them to join its Gender and Sexuality week. In Cuddle Party's campus debut, 20 students in pajamas transformed a regular dorm common room into the site of nuzzling, spooning, backrubs and the signature Cuddle Party puppy pile finale.The parties are facilitated by certified Cuddle Lifeguards who ensure consensual cuddling. Questions like, "Can I hold you now?" and, "May I touch you here?" are encouraged, and their website states clearly that erections should be embraced. ...

Ptsd: For Social Workers, The Price Of Caring

Listening to a victim of sexual assault or a survivor of a natural disaster, social workers hear traumatic stories. Recounting these upsetting events helps victims heal, but, says a recent study, can hurt social workers in the process. A study in the journal Social Work (by Brian Bride, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia) shows that social workers face a heightened risk of developing post-traumatic-stress disorder: 7.8 percent of the general population experiences PTSD in their lifetime, compared with 15 percent of the active social workers that Bride surveyed. Forty percent of participants reported thinking about their traumatized clients repeatedly and unintentionally; 28 percent reported difficulty concentrating and 26 percent felt emotionally numb. This "secondary traumatic stress" could reduce the quality of care social workers provide and may be responsible for driving people from the profession, which already suffers personnel shortages. Bride thinks many...

Weddings: You, Me and Poochy

Fido's more than man's best friend: increasingly, he's the best man or a groomsman, too. Incorporating pets into wedding ceremonies has become this year's hottest wedding trend--and one that experts predict is unlikely to tail off. Mindy Weiss, a wedding planner in Beverly Hills, Calif., says 40 percent of her clients now include pets in their big day, up from just a handful three years ago. Dogs usually serve as ring bearers, though brides will sometimes carry lap dogs or small cats in lieu of bouquets. Either way, couples want to honor their animal. "Pets represent an important link in a couple's relationship," Weiss says.Pet boutiques and suppliers have responded to the boom with new formalwear ranging from pooch pearls and tiaras to leopard stoles and top hats. Alexis Creations, a pet-supply manufacturer in San Antonio, Texas, distributes popular canine tuxedos--$85 for Chihuahuas, $135 for Great Danes--and will introduce a red velvet suit this month. Using pets takes some extra...

Keep On Truckin'

Stephen Fraser, 38, is earning a college degree--and without even leaving his Freightliner. He's one of 500 students enrolled at In-Cab University, the first accredited college catering to the trucking community. Drivers, whose classes start this week, listen to lectures while on the road and submit assignments at rest stops and loading docks using cell phones and Wi-Fi. "Rather than driving all day and dreaming about lottery winnings, I'm actually using my mind," says Fraser, a business-management major.As an additional perk, five major fleets have agreed to cover the $225-per-credit-hour tuition in exchange for long-term commitments--an effort to reduce the industry's 120,000-driver shortage. Besides science, business and humanities courses, drivers can enroll in "personal-growth electives" that address issues like navigating long-distance relationships. Now, that's learning for the long haul.

The Classroom: Other Schools of Thought

Since the publication of "Origin" in 1859, Darwin's theory of evolution has brought trouble to American classrooms. In 1925, 15 states considered legislation to forbid public schools to teach the theory. In Tennessee that year, high-school teacher John Scopes was found guilty--in the so-called Monkey Trial--of teaching evolution. More than 60 years later, in 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that Louisiana's Creationism Act, which promoted the teaching of creationism in public schools, was unconstitutional. Today, the God vs. science debate still rages--now often under the guise of "intelligent design," an argument that proposes that living organisms are so complex that some supernatural entity must have been at work.One current hot spot is the tiny town of Dover, Pa., where parents sued the school board last year after it mandated that teachers read a one-minute disclaimer pointing to gaps in evolutionary theory and steering students to the pro-ID book "Of Pandas and People" (by...

No Kitchen, Water Views

When Justin Omps, 28, moved aboard the Tycho Brahe last September, he transformed the timeworn tugboat into a floating frat house. Docked on the Potomac River at Washington, D.C.'s Gangplank Marina, Omps's 60-foot boat boasts an electric barbecue and a thatch-roof tiki bar lit by jumbo Christmas lights--and, inevitably, a trash bin overflowing with beer cans. Omps left behind a $1,000 apartment in Baltimore and now pays the marina just $700 per month. Saving money was appealing, but it is the marina's anything-goes lifestyle that keeps him onboard. "There's still a bit of pirate in the people who live here," he says.For Omps and thousands of so-called live-aboards--who include recent college graduates struggling to get by, retirees on a fixed income and divorces starting over--life on the waves has become an increasingly attractive alternative to city living. While there are no official Census counts, live-aboard numbers appear to be climbing. Marinas across the country have reached...
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