Behavioural Medicine (Opinion)

Published works/trials of interest
User avatar
Registered User
Posts: 18130
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Behavioural Medicine (Opinion)

Post by kenobewan » Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:28 am

Mother, 48, who already has TWELVE children gives birth to quintuplets after conceiving naturally

A woman who already had 12 children has given birth to quintuplets after conceiving them naturally.

The 48-year-old woman from Melbourne, Australia gave birth to two boys and three girls by caesarean section today.

Tragically one of the girls died before the birth.

A team of 30 specialists including paediatricians, anaesthetists and nursing staff delivered the five babies, the first quintuplets in Melbourne for three decades.

The chances of conceiving quintuplets naturally is about one in 55 million, doctors say.

A spokesman for Monash Medical Centre where the historical birth took place said: ‘Mum is doing well.

‘One unfortunately did not make it.’

The four surviving babies will be cared for around the clock in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.

According to Channel Seven, the family of 16 children, who wished not to be identified, is now one of the largest families in the Australian state of Victoria.

The last quintuplets born in Victoria were the Kissane quintuplets in 1980 who were born 11 weeks premature. None of the babies survived. ... z25WylKvCX

User avatar
Registered User
Posts: 18130
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Behavioural Medicine (Opinion)

Post by kenobewan » Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:39 am

Dead mum's body found, toddler alive and alone for days in a Yarraville property

EMERGENCY services received a 000 call about a woman lying motionless on the floor of her home 31 hours before she was found dead with her distraught toddler by her side.

Police found the body after conducting a welfare check about 9pm last night at an apartment in Tongue St, near Somerville Rd, Yarraville, in Melbourne's inner west, where they also found the toddler.

But it has now been revealed that a passer-by called triple-0 about 2pm on Monday, the same day she is believed to have died.

Police said today that the 15-month-old just wanted to be held by officers after being left alone with his mother's body for at least two days.

Ambulance Victoria has now revealed it received reports of a woman lying on the floor of the property at 2pm on Monday – but paramedics left the scene after finding the curtains closed.

The little boy's toys outside the Yarraville flat where a woman was found dead. Picture: Mike Keating

“Paramedics attended the home on Monday, just before 2pm, after a 000 call from a passerby stating there was a woman lying on the floor,” Ambulance Victoria Acting MICA Group Manager Greg Gibson said.

“When paramedics arrived they found the curtains were drawn, so there was no visibility into the unit. They confirmed that they were at the correct address and unit but were unable to see a patient.

“They spent considerable time knocking on the door and windows to establish whether there was a patient, however there was no response. Our control room called back the original caller who was unable to provide any further information.

“Given the conflicting description of the scene and the lack of evidence suggesting that anyone was inside, the crew then cleared the scene.”

He added: “The thoughts and condolences of Ambulance Victoria are with the family and friends at this time.”

Toddler clung to rescuers

This afternoon, police said they were now treating the death of the 25-year-old woman as non-suspicious, and homicide squad detectives were no longer investigating.

They said the toddler just wanted to be held by officers at the tragic scene.

Earlier forensic police and the homicide squad spent the night examining the apartment, and established a crime scene, before later declaring the case non-suspicious.

“The investigation has been referred to local detectives,” Victoria Police spokeswoman Kelly Yates said this afternoon.

“Police will prepare a report for the Coroner,” she added.

An autopsy will be undertaken to determine the cause of death.

As neighbours of the 25-year-old single mum expressed sadness that the toddler had been alone "in his nappy" for days before being rescued, police revealed the boy had been found close to his mother on the lounge room floor wearing pyjamas.

When picked up by officers, he was reported to be clingy and didn’t want to let go.

His mum, found by police around 9pm last night, was fully clothed and there were no signs of injury.

The unit was said to be in neat condition.

Authorities said the little boy was suffering from severe dehydration and was taken to the Royal Children Hospital for treatment including immediate fluid replacement and a suspected severe nappy rash.

Royal Children’s Hospital spokeswoman Justine Nancarrow confirmed by late morning today that the toddler had been discharged “in a satisfactory condition”.

Neighbours tell of a doting mother

Tongue St resident Brenton Dohse said he was sad to hear his neighbour had died leaving her son who "she doted on".

"If she died Monday and he was in there alone... probably in his nappy... that's really sad," he said this morning.

"She absolutely doted on her little boy. She loved him."

He said he believed the woman had lived in the house for 12 months after moving from Tasmania and had expressed future plans of relocating back to the state

"She didn't have many visitors. She often walked past while I was out doing some gardening and we'd have a quick chat, mostly about kids. She was nice to talk to," he said.

Mr Dohse said the woman "was looking OK" last time he saw her.

"It (her death) will come as a big shock to the community. This kind of thing doesn't really happen in Yarraville."

He said he first became wary that something was amiss next door when he heard two women knocking on the woman's door at midday yesterday, calling her name.

"They knocked for quite a long time. They knocked forever," he said.

He said paramedics had arrived at the scene 15 minutes later and police had attended the scene throughout the night. ... 6465148703

User avatar
Registered User
Posts: 18130
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Behavioural Medicine (Opinion)

Post by kenobewan » Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:38 am

Starbucks, Gloria Jean's drinks loaded with calories, study reveals

HOLD off on that luxury hot chocolate - it's packed with more calories than a steak dinner.

Cafe customers combining decadent, creamy milk drinks with cakes and other treats are stacking on the kilojoules, buying as much as three-quarters of their energy needs for an entire day.

Some are wolfing down the equivalent sugar of almost two-and-a-half cans of soft drink in a single large drink, dietitians warn.

Researchers from Griffith University in New South Wales found the average order for individuals at Gloria Jean's Coffees and Starbucks Coffee was loaded with a similar kilojoule count to a healthy square meal.

Researcher Ashleigh Collins, who this week presented the findings at the International Congress of Dietetics in Sydney, said consumers needed to be mindful of how much they were putting in their mouths.

"The cafe culture is growing, so there needs to be more awareness,'' Ms Collins said.

The study tracked 1903 customers aged 16 and over in NSW and Queensland over several months to June last year.

The average purchase contained 1485 kilojoules - almost as much as a home-cooked steak and veg, roast lamb and veg, chicken stir fry, or pasta and salad meal recommended by health experts.

Dietitians suggest cafe food and indulgent drinks be viewed as a treat as part of an otherwise healthy diet.

Super-sized drinks, full-cream milk and added cream and sugar did the most potential damage to waistlines.In one case, an order for a large iced chocolate with cream, raisin bread and cheesecake topped almost 7000 kilojoules, or 77 per cent of an average adult's daily energy requirement.

"We were shocked that nine out of every 10 people thought their purchase was only a 'drink' or a `snack','' co-author Jacqui Freeman said.

Dietitians Association of Australia chief Claire Hewat said it was encouraging that many food outlets now displayed kJ content in stores

But she urged businesses to continue reformulating menus in line with nutrition guidelines.

A Gloria Jean's spokesman said customers had a choice of sizes and option of skim or soy milk over full cream

"We encourage our guests to enjoy our drinks as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a balanced diet,'' he said.

Starbucks' drinks nutrition brochure suggests skim milk, no whipped cream, fewer syrup pumps and calorie-free sweeteners to reduce kilojoules, fat and sugar. ... 6467632087

User avatar
Registered User
Posts: 18130
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Behavioural Medicine (Opinion)

Post by kenobewan » Mon Sep 10, 2012 5:52 pm

Elderly driver kills mum, unborn baby at fair

A HEAVILY pregnant woman and her unborn baby have died after being struck by an out-of-control car at a community fair.

Kerryn Blucher, 33, died near the exit of the Cleveland Showgrounds in bayside Brisbane on Saturday afternoon.

She had been hit by a hatchback driven by a 76-year-old woman, who was unhurt.

To the horror of onlookers gathered at the Redland Spring Festival, medical treatment from paramedics and bystanders was unable to save the woman, from Crestmead, 25km south of Brisbane, and her unborn child.

Ms Blucher was 35 weeks' pregnant. She is survived by her husband and a young daughter.

A spokeswoman for Queensland police said the incident was still under investigation.

People aged 75 and older must retain a current medical certificate when driving in Queensland or face fines.

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Scott Emerson said every death on the roads was a tragedy but there were no immediate plans to review licensing requirements.

Police are calling for witnesses to contact CrimeStoppers. ... 6468531293

User avatar
Registered User
Posts: 18130
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Behavioural Medicine (Opinion)

Post by kenobewan » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:21 am

AFL club devastated over player's death

A PORT ADELAIDE Australian rules footballer, John McCarthy, has died while holidaying with teammates in Las Vegas.

The club confirmed McCarthy had died a fall from a building in the US city. Details surrounding the fall are still unclear but there were witnesses.

McCarthy, 22, was one of 11 Port players holidaying together in Las Vegas and staying at the Flamingo hotel, part of the Caesars chain.

They left Australia on Saturday after the club's best-and-fairest dinner on Friday night.

The Port Adelaide chief executive, Keith Thomas, said the club was devastated over the death.

''It is our understanding that at the time of his death he wasn't with any of the other Port Adelaide players,'' Mr Thomas said. ''The day has been spent trying to make sure that John's parents and his family have been informed and supported.''

Mr Thomas said it was not known if alcohol was involved in McCarthy'sdeath. ''My understanding is that he fell from a building, but I don't have any more detail than that,'' he said.

McCarthy's teammates are making plans to return from the US as soon as possible.

A hotel spokeswoman saidMcCarthy was found at 5.40am local time on Sunday on the hotel's south driveway. He was unresponsive, she said.

''He was transported to the University Medical Centre of Las Vegas, where he was pronounced deceased,'' the spokeswoman said.

McCarthy moved to Port Adelaide at the end of the 2011 season after four seasons with Collingwood. ... z2661tdoFj

User avatar
Registered User
Posts: 18130
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Behavioural Medicine (Opinion)

Post by kenobewan » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:25 am

NYC bans big, sugary drinks at eateries, theatres

NEW York City's health board has passed a rule banning super-sized, sugary drinks at restaurants, concession stands and other eateries.

The regulation passed overnight puts a 16-ounce (473mL) size limit on cups and bottles of non-diet soft drinks, sweetened teas and other calorie-packed beverages.

The ban will apply in fast-food joints, movie houses and Broadway theatres, workplace cafeterias and most other places selling prepared food. It doesn't cover supermarkets or most convenience stores.

City health officials say the ban is necessary to combat a deadly obesity epidemic.

The restaurant and beverage industries have assailed the plan as misguided. They say the city's health experts are exaggerating the role sugary beverages have played in making Americans fat.

Some New Yorkers have also ridiculed the rule as a gross government intrusion.

The unprecedented regulation would follow other ambitious health moves on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's watch.

Some have proven to be pacesetters, such as making chain restaurants post calorie counts prominently on their menus; McDonald's announced this week that it would start displaying the information across the US next week, before a federal requirement that could force all major chains to do so next year.

New York City also has barred artificial trans fats from restaurant food and taken aggressive steps to discourage smoking. Starting this month, dozens of city hospitals are asking mothers of newborns to listen to talks about why they should breast-feed instead of using formula.

Mr Bloomberg and other advocates for the soft drink plan - who include a roster of doctors and such food figures as chef Jamie Oliver - see it as another pioneering step for public health.

They say the proposal strikes at a leading cause of obesity simply by giving people a built-in reason to stop at 16 ounces (473mL): 200 calories, if it's a regular Coke, compared to 240 in a 20-ounce (591mL) size. For someone who drinks a soda a day, the difference amounts to 14,600 calories a year, enough to add about 1.8kg of fat to a person's body.

Beyond the numbers, some doctors and nutrition experts say the proposal starts a conversation that could change attitudes toward overeating. While there are many factors in obesity, "ultimately it does come down to culture, and it comes down to taking some first steps", said Dr Jeffrey Mechanick, a Mount Sinai School of Medicine professor who has studied the effect of government regulation on the obesity epidemic.

Soft drink makers and sellers say the plan unfairly singles out soft drinks as culprits for the fat problem, represents an overweening government effort to regulate behaviour and is so patchy as to be pointless. Because of the web of who regulates what, it would affect a belly-buster regular soda sold at a sports arena but not a 7-Eleven Big Gulp, for instance.

An average New Yorker goes to the movies about four times per year and buys concessions only twice, said Sun Dee Larson, a spokeswoman for the AMC Theatres chain.

"We firmly believe the choices made during the other 363 days have a much greater impact on public health," she said in a statement.

Today's vote is unlikely to be the final word on the proposal.

A soft-drink industry sponsored group called New Yorkers for Beverage Choices - which says it has gathered more than 250,000 signatures on petitions opposing the soda plan - is considering a lawsuit and exploring legislative options for challenging the plan if it passes, spokesman Eliot Hoff said. It's not clear what legislative routes there may be: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she's not interested in trying to block the expected health board vote, though she has said she isn't a fan of the soda idea.

The rule wouldn't apply to lower-calorie drinks, such as water or diet soda, or to alcoholic beverages or drinks that are more than half milk or 70 per cent juice.

Enforcement would be conducted by an existing corps of city restaurant inspectors. A violation would lead to a $US200 ($191) fine. ... z26Nafzbff

User avatar
Registered User
Posts: 18130
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Behavioural Medicine (Opinion)

Post by kenobewan » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:59 am

Tougher pool law to cut deaths

ALL homeowners will now have to register their backyard pools and will be subjected to random inspections under a raft of new laws to address an alarming rate of drowning deaths.

Property owners face fines up to $5000 while vendors will be stopped from selling or leasing properties unless they meet fencing requirements.

Local Government Minister Don Page announced the new laws yesterday after a seven-month review.

"We're putting in place regulations that make it more onerous, I guess, on pool owners to actually, firstly, register their pool and also certify themselves that it actually complies," Mr Page said.

Pool owners must join the registry within 12 months or face a fine of up to $2200, and if they certify a pool complies with laws but are found to be wrong, they face a maximum $5000 fine.

The exact number of backyard swimming pools is unknown but the government estimates about 340,000.

On average, six children drown in home pools each year with a further 36 children suffering brain damage.

Other proposed changes include compulsory pool inspections when a property is sold or is being leased, and mandatory inspections of facilities - such as unit blocks or tourist accommodations - where pools are used more often.

Certificates of compliance will last for three years and will be issued by private certifiers or council inspectors, with council certification costs capped by the government at $150.

But Mr Page said councils will have to be more vigilant and put plans and resources in place so more pools are checked each year.

"I want councils to be pro-active in terms of this and some councils have quite strong pool inspection regimes but some don't," he said.

Royal Life Saving CEO Rob Bradley welcomed the changes but said more needs to be done to put NSW in line with Queensland, which has the toughest backyard pool legislation with all private pools needing safety inspections.

He said the organisation is advocating a nationally consistent home-pool fence legislation and compliance.

The Manassa family welcomed the proposed changes after their son Patrick, 4, almost drowned in their backyard pool at Galston this year.

Patrick was pulled unconscious from the pool and his older brother Anthony, 18, gave him CPR.

"We had an incident that happened right under our nose and our pool is fully fenced," the boys' mother Therese said.

"These changes will keep people ... more responsible." ... 6473744351

User avatar
Registered User
Posts: 18130
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Behavioural Medicine (Opinion)

Post by kenobewan » Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:13 am

Unconscious man found in Mornington

POLICE are considering viewing CCTV vision from all pubs and bars in Mornington to determine what led to a man suffering serious head injuries in an assault early yesterday.

The man, 28, was in a critical condition in The Alfred hospital after a passerby found him unconscious and bleeding from the mouth, lying next to a rubbish bin in Empire Street about 4am.

Detectives believe the man's injuries were consistent with an assault, but do not believe robbery was a motive, as the man was found with his wallet and mobile phone.

Detective Senior Constable Rohan Brock said a work colleague of the man had told police the victim had gone out by himself.

The man was wearing a dark T-shirt and dark jeans. Anyone with information is urged to contact police. ... z26f5IHm4S

User avatar
Registered User
Posts: 18130
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Behavioural Medicine (Opinion)

Post by kenobewan » Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:14 am

National push to prevent dementia

Australia is leading the world with the first publicly-funded program to reduce the risk of developing dementia.

A new brain health program, Your Brain Matters, will be launched by Alzheimer's Australia this week.

Alzheimer's Australia chief executive Glenn Rees says it was funded by the federal government in the 2012 budget, the first prevention program for dementia in the world to receive public funding.

He says this signalled the condition was being treated as a chronic disease, rather than a normal part of ageing.

About 280,000 Australians have dementia, with this figure set to soar to almost one million by 2050. ... 95591.html

User avatar
Registered User
Posts: 18130
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Behavioural Medicine (Opinion)

Post by kenobewan » Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:16 am

Anthony Watmough admits Stilnox led to exile

MANLY second-rower Anthony Watmough has lifted the lid on the incident which he claims led to his exile from the NSW side, revealing he was banished from the Blues after having a poor reaction to the controversial sleeping drug Stilnox.

Watmough, who will be a key figure in tomorrow night's preliminary final against Melbourne at AAMI Park, made his debut in the opening game of the 2005 series but had to wait until 2009 to make his second appearance for the Blues.

The 29-year-old Sea Eagles star last night admitted he was axed from the team as a result of a bad reaction to taking two Stilnox tablets while in camp in the lead-up to Origin I, which was won by Queensland at Suncorp Stadium.

"Well here it comes, we'll get the story straight now," Watmough told Triple M's The Rush Hour.

"I took some Stilnox and went walkabout. They just didn't agree with me and I must have got spotted while I was walking around near the pool.

"It all blew up from that. It was nothing massive. It wasn't a big thing. I had never had them before and went sleepwalking.

"I was young and I suppose a little bit reckless at that stage and had a couple and didn't know what they would do."

Asked whether he had committed any atrocities while under the influence of Stilnox, Watmough said: "I have no idea. I remember vaguely bits. I was out near the pool and I locked myself out and couldn't get in."

He admitted he was found wearing only a towel and had to be taken back to his room by team officials.

Revelations of Watmough's use of Stilnox came as the sport of swimming prepare to investigate rumours some of its stars used the drug as part of an initiation ritual at the recent Olympics in London. The allegations centre on the 4x100m men's relay team and have been denied.

Use of prescription drugs such as Stilnox have also been an issue in rugby league in recent years. Three years ago, members of the Queensland rugby league team were alleged to have mixed Stilnox with energy drink Red Bull in the lead-up to the third game of the Origin series.

The Queensland Rugby League refuted the claims. This year, amid ongoing concerns over the abuse of prescription drugs, the ARL Commission has begun a study into whether there is any credence to the fears.

Several club chief executives have also spoken publicly of their concerns that prescription drug abuse is a major issue in the sport.

The timing of Watmough's comments is likely to be questioned by Manly officials given the side's title defence goes on the line tomorrow night in foreign territory. "No one said anything," Watmough said of his NSW exile. "I only knew from what I read in the papers so someone was obviously saying something.

"I'm just lucky that I got a second chance and I'm back in there and hopefully winning for the Blues next year.

"I've supposedly had my papers stamped a hundred times from every team and I keep getting let back in. I always prove them wrong in the end which is pretty satisfying."

Watmough also claimed he had been made to look like an "axe murderer" after being caught urinating in public last year and revealed he had spoken to NSW chief adviser Bob Fulton about his career at the behest of former coach Des Hasler.

"Dessie teed it up, he said 'l want you to have a chat to Bozo' and I thought 'Oh God, here we go, I'm going to cop it now'," Watmough said. "But we went down to a little cafe in Narrabeen and he just said 'you haven't done anything really wrong, you haven't gone out and bashed anyone, you haven't run over anyone, you haven't killed anyone but you don't want off-field things to ruin your rep career'." ... 6477629214

User avatar
Registered User
Posts: 18130
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Behavioural Medicine (Opinion)

Post by kenobewan » Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:18 am

Men top death list for drownings

ALMOST 300 Australians drowned in the past year, with more than eight out of 10 victims male and the estimated cost to the economy $1 billion.

The National Drowning report, released in Parliament yesterday, found the number of drownings for the year to June 30 was 284. The death toll is down on the previous year's tally of 310, but that total was inflated by dozens of deaths in the Queensland floods.

The total is a 1 per cent - three fatalities - reduction on the five-year average. Two hundred and thirty-two of those who died were men. The main location of drownings - 104 deaths - was in inland waterways. There were 55 deaths at beaches, and 55 drownings resulting from watercraft accidents. Only 22 died in swimming pools.

Seven toddlers died in bathtubs, a 75 per cent rise on the five-year average. The biggest killer of children under four remains swimming pools, with eight deaths. The 21 toddler drownings this year is below the five-year average of 32.

''Alcohol was known to be a factor in 26 deaths, with men accounting for 77 per cent,'' the report said. ''Alcohol was most likely to be a factor in drowning deaths of people aged 55-64.'' Drugs were involved in 22 deaths, with cannabis the most common illicit substance detected.

While 59 deaths were classified as visitors to the specific location, only six were international tourists. The report says contrary to assumptions about Asian tourists drowning, these deaths were predominantly from Sweden, Belgium and Switzerland.

NSW recorded the most deaths with 105, followed by Queensland (75) and Victoria (37).

The Royal Life Saving chief executive, Rob Bradley, said the figures were incredibly disappointing. He said it was estimated drownings and brain injuries cost the economy about $1 billion a year. ... z272UbekVd

User avatar
Registered User
Posts: 18130
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Behavioural Medicine (Opinion)

Post by kenobewan » Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:14 am

Swimming danger for older men

OLDER men haven't got the water safety message.

The over-55s are now the age group with the most drowning deaths in Australia and men make up 74 per cent of fatalities, the latest Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report revealed.

More men are drowning than women - 82 per cent compared with 18 per cent.

While the older generation appear more at risk, Royal Life Saving chief executive officer Rob Bradley said he feared an "explosion in drowning deaths" for the 18 to 44s age group.

Mr Bradley said this group could have missed out on proper swimming or water safety education and, along with the older men, were not heeding warnings.

"The feared explosion in drowning deaths in this age range (18 to 44) appears to be under way," Mr Bradley said.

"We're also concerned about the over-55s. They're probably overestimating their abilities from the days of their youth, they're not heeding the warning signs and they probably not using common sense - so they're putting themselves at risk."

Alcohol was a factor in 26 drowning deaths, with men making up 77 per cent of these fatalities. The figures revealed that, while there were eight per cent fewer deaths than last year, there had only been a 1 per cent decrease in drowning deaths in the past five years - and no real improvements across all age groups.

Overall, 284 people drowned in Australia from July 1, 2011 to June 30 this year, down from the previous year's total of 310.

The report said 232 men and 52 women drowned with most deaths - 105 - in NSW followed by Queensland and Victoria.

There was a 25 per cent increase in deaths in the 15 to 24 age group.

Most deaths occurred inland, followed by beaches. Backyard pools were responsible for the majority of the drowning deaths of children up to age four.

The number of children drowning in bathtubs or spas increased to seven in the past year - a 75 per cent spike over five years. ... 6478370251

User avatar
Registered User
Posts: 18130
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Behavioural Medicine (Opinion)

Post by kenobewan » Sun Sep 23, 2012 5:08 am

The devil inside

Digital guru Jaron Lanier has a name for the part of his personality that gets sucked into petty scraps online. It's called his ''inner troll'' and sometimes it gets out of hand.

''[I've] found that I can be drawn into ridiculous pissing matches online in ways that just wouldn't happen otherwise,'' the American high-tech visionary writes in his 2010 book, You Are Not a Gadget.

But Lanier and his tech-savvy peers aren't the only ones at the mercy of this creature. Sometimes it turns the most sensible, considerate person into a toxic tyrant hidden behind the safety of a computer screen.

High-profile victims, such as television host Charlotte Dawson and NRL star Robbie Farah, have generated headlines in recent weeks but bullies don't restrict their prey to celebrities.

For Lanier, part of the problem is the mob mentality of web culture.

Psychologists also have a few theories about the motivations of our ''inner trolls''.

They come down to two main arguments, says a professor of social and political psychology at Murdoch University, Craig McGarty.

The first suggests online anonymity frees people from normal social constraints, which emboldens them to do nasty things they would never dare if they could be identified.

The second theory argues that online anonymity doesn't necessarily turn people into jerks. Rather, it liberates them to take on new identities - good and bad - depending on their audience and which online groups they identify with.

Aggressive behaviour can get out of hand on the web because people lack the usual facial cues or gestures to tell them what they're doing is hurtful and they rarely suffer consequences for poor behaviour.

A senior clinical psychologist at the University of Technology, Dr Rachael Murrihy, says online bullies often minimise their behaviour as joking or teasing.

''They often don't acknowledge the seriousness of what they're doing,'' she says. ''It's often motivated by boredom, to get a rise out of others … or by jealousy.''

This was true for Sam, a 20-year-old university student from Melbourne who once bullied schoolmates to impress her ''cooler'' peers. The otherwise ''completely normal kid'' started taunting people face-to-face but quickly moved to anonymous methods via phone, email and online messaging.

''It kind of felt acceptable and fun because everyone with you was egging you on,'' she says.

''Afterwards, if you saw the kid the next day and they were sitting by themselves, you'd feel guilty but … there were definitely times when it didn't even cross my mind or bother me.''

A Sydney-based researcher and the co-author of an upcoming book on cyber psychology, Karyn Krawford, is investigating whether some cyber bullies suffer a lack of empathy resulting from internet addiction.

''If you spend too much time on the internet, it actually unlearns the empathy you may have had at an earlier stage,'' she says.

For Sam, the turning point came in year 8 after she herself was bullied and when her mother caught her hacking into a schoolmate's email. ''She got extremely angry and … sat me down and we had a really big chat,'' she says. ''She said, 'You're doing exactly to these kids what they were doing to you … Why would you do it when you know how it feels?''' ... z27E95eMxr

Post Reply