National Surveillance, Privacy, and Social Media

When you’re a member of the medical community, patient privacy is one of the utmost concerns you’ll ever have. The topic has been covered in this blog previously.  With Mr. Snowden admitting that our government is spying on its citizens, he’s alerted us that patient confidentiality is jeopardized (along with everything else imaginable). Did he break the law for the greater good? Hmm…

But let’s add a wrinkle to the subject.

People are on social media for all sorts of reasons.  Here are some of them:

  • Education information
  • Health resources
  • Product/service awareness
  • Entertainers
  • Public officials
  • Business affairs
  • News media outlets
  • Music
  • Merely to socialize and find new contacts/friends

Unfortunately, there are millions of people on social media who breached their own privacy long ago before the surveillance programs came to light. The topics they’ve posted. Documents for all of the world to see. The language and behavior on social media would make a truck driver blush.  This is the World Wide Web, after all. Firewalls are only as strong as the people behind them, and the character behind the people.

So what does social media have to do with psychology?  Critical thinkers understand.


Psychiatric Medications and the Youth Population*


While psychiatric medicines such as Lithium, Abilify and Risperidone exist designed specifically for younger consumers, pharmaceuticals need to create safer ones.  A young person’s brain isn’t fully developed until their early twenties.  The body as a whole should have the capacity to withstand medications. Presently, many youth experience toxicity, weakened bones, and neurological challenges from appropriate drug usage.  Kidney damage, at times irreversible, is one of the consequences from Lithium.

All medications have side effects and not every user will experience them.  However, side effects associated with psychotropic drugs can be greatly reduced with newer medicines targeted for this segment of the population.

*First-generation psychiatric drugs went on the market before the late 1980’s. These medications can result in neurological problems.  Second generation psychiatric drugs went on the market after the late 1980’s. These medications can result in weight gain, diabetes, elevated levels of cholesterol, and neurological problems. 


Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids (aka anabolic-androgenic steroids) are non-prescribed drugs composed of the male hormone testosterone for muscle enhancement (“the ideal body”), and sports performance enhancement.  These drugs come in the form of injections, pills, and gels/creams.  Even though many users don’t take them on a continuous basisthe usage history fosters many consequences.

Adolescent Males

  • Psychiatric difficulties
  • Aggression
  • Violence
  • Growth inhibition (i.e., height, genitalia)
  • Suicide

Adolescent Females

  • Muscle Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Potential psychiatric difficulties
  • Growth inhibition (i.e., height, breasts)
  • Acne
  • Ceases/prevents menstruation


  • Psychiatric difficulties
  • Ceases menstruation
  • Significant breast size decrease
  • Diminishes female sculpture
  • Pregnancy difficulties
  • Cancer
  • Death


  • Psychiatric difficulties
  • Significant breast size increase
  • Genitalia reduction
  • Aggression
  • Violence
  • Cancer
  • Death

The bodily effects from anabolic steroids are irreversible for many users.


Harmful Effects of Noise Pollution

Noise pollution (aka sound pollution) is defined as harmful environmental noises (i.e., construction equipment, lawn mowers, living near industrial areas, airports, freeways, railway systems etc.).

The following are consequences from noise pollution:

Children (more vulnerable because of developing organs)

  • Ignoring teachers in classroom because they’re conditioned to ignore sounds
  • Hearing Loss
  • Stunted reading and language skills
  • Elevated stress levels
  • Elevated blood pressure levels


  • Abnormal menstruation cycles
  • Abnormal embryos
  • Miscarriages
  • Premature births

Men and Women

  • Psychological difficulties
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Blurred vision
  • Tinnitus
  • Hearing loss
  • Sleeplessness


Personality Assessments in the Workplace

“Personality assessments” need to become the norm as a requirement of the pre-employment process in all organizations, not just among those for the safety and emergency workforce.  It’s a controversial issue, but there are precautions which Human Resource Management can establish in alleviating/reducing lawsuits:

  • Write up the policy, place it on Intranet and company website, and on applications which applicants have to check and sign off on before any potential interviews can take place;
  • The policy should emphasize that applicants can be re-examined after 90 days, but with an entirely different Tester, when results from initial assessment are unfavorable;
  • If the applicant refuses to adhere to examination, the process ends immediately. Documentation stating applicant’s refusal is attached with the incomplete application for record-keeping purposes;
  • If second assessment results are also unfavorable, the pre-employment process ends immediately, with these results and the former attached to the application.