Thursday, December 16, 2021

Shadow of a Doubt - November 2021


November 2021

NCAS Public Lecture Series

Bizarre Psychological Disorders, Part 2

Brian A. Sharpless
Visiting Research Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London
Adjunct Professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Saturday, November 6, 1:30pm - 4:00pm US/Eastern (UTC-04:00)
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center
2nd Floor (West Room)
4805 Edgemoor Lane
Bethesda, MD [map] [directions]
(Bethesda Metro station)
FREE admission – Everyone welcome, members and non-members

 Also a YouTube Live Event with Q and A 

NCASVideo YouTube Channel:

People are nothing if not confusingly complex, and some end up thinking, acting, and behaving in unusual, odd, and extreme ways. Some of the strangest psychological disorders that they can acquire are not well-known to the public or even many mental health professionals, despite some – such as isolated sleep paralysis – actually being fairly common in the general population.

In a continuation of his November 2019 NCAS lecture, Brian A. Sharpless will focus on five interesting psychological conditions and phenomena.  Some you may have heard of.  For instance, Fear of Missing Out or "FOMO", though not a recognized disorder, has received a great deal of popular attention in social media circles.  Other conditions, such as Body Identity Integrity Disorder (BIID), are a bit more obscure.  People with BIID wish to intentionally damage healthy body parts (e.g., amputate a limb) and/or become physically disabled.  Needless to say, certain treatment options have raised ethical issues.  Dr. Sharpless will not only describe these and other fascinating conditions, but will also place them in historical and cultural contexts and summarize their respective scientific literatures.

An author and licensed clinical psychologist with a practice in the Washington DC area, Dr. Sharpless currently holds academic appointments as a visiting research fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London and as an adjunct professor at the Washington DC campus of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology . He was formerly on faculty at Pennsylvania State University, Washington State University, and the American School of Professional Psychology.  He received his PhD in clinical psychology and MA in philosophy from Pennsylvania State University and completed post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Sharpless has broad interests in abnormal psychology and psychotherapy.  He has over 50 publications on common and lesser-known disorders, psychodynamic therapy, professional issues, and the history/philosophy of clinical psychology.  His three books, Sleep Paralysis: Historical, Psychological, and Medical Perspectives (co-authored with Dr. Karl Doghramji), Unusual and Rare Psychological Disorders: A Handbook for Clinical Practice and Research, and Psychodynamic Therapy Techniques:  A Guide to Expressive and Supportive Interventions are all available through Oxford University Press.  This research been featured on TV, radio, and in other media outlets, and he is a frequent speaker at conferences and public events in the United States and abroad.

Twitter:       @briansharpless

At the speaker's request, this live-streamed event will not be recorded for the NCAS YouTube channel.

Health & Safety FAQs:

Will the event be streamed or recorded?
Streamed, yes.  Not recorded.

What measures will be taken to protect the health of all attendees?
CDC guidelines and Montgomery County regulations will be followed, as specified here:

From the CDC:
As of Friday, November 5, Montgomery County is an area of moderate community transmission:

Montgomery County has suspended its mandate requiring face coverings indoors in locations accessible to the public.

Seating will be arranged normally.  Attendees are encouraged to avoid sitting close together if possible.
Refreshments will not be served; instead, bring your own beverage, or use the water fountain in the hallway.

I'd rather not ride the elevator to the meeting room, is there a stairway?
Yes, there's a stairway near the elevator.

Message to Current and Prospective NCAS Members
In response to the economic hardship and other uncertainties that our members may be facing, in 2020 NCAS automatically extended by one year all memberships that expire in 2020 or later.  Payment will be accepted for new memberships as well as renewals for 2019 and before: new and renewed will have a bonus year added.  Each life member may sponsor a new one-year membership at no charge.  (Double life memberships may sponsor two.)  Send your sponsored member's name and contact information to This offer will end on December 31, 2021.
November PhACT Lecture
Our skeptical neighbors to the north, the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking (PhACT), will host their next online event on Saturday, November 20 at 2 PM ET.  Microbiologist Elisabeth Bik is an image forensics detective who left her paid job in industry to search for and report biomedical articles that contain errors or data of concern. She has done a systematic scan of 20,000 papers in 40 journals and found that about 4% of these contained inappropriately duplicated images.  Event details at

December NCAS Lecture
Paleontologist Thomas Holtz will present "Mass Extinction Events and What Causes Them."  We are in the 5th or 6th mass extinction in Earth's history. We'll look at the record of past events, and what we know about how they happened. What are the possible implications for humanity’s future?  Saturday, December 11 at 1:30 PM at Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.

Torn From Today's Headlines
By Scott Snell
Launch Preparations Begin for the James Webb Space Telescope
NASA's next flagship observatory is scheduled to launch on December 18 from European Spaceport, located near Kourou, French Guiana.  On October 21, JWST senior project scientist/Nobel laureate (and 2016 Klass Award laureate) John Mather sent the following message to the JWST team:

“On behalf of all scientists and all curious people everywhere, thank you to the team who made the Webb telescope possible! It represents decades of work by over 10,000 of us, putting our hearts and minds and fingers together through troubles, nights, weekends, and COVID.

“Now we’re near launch, and everyone wants to know if I’m worried – will it work? My opinion has no effect on the hardware, but we did what it takes to win. We sketched, we argued, we worried, we analyzed, we made a plan, we wrote down everything, we made checklists, we built the parts, we put them together, we tested as though our lives depend on it. We have backup electronic systems for everything where we can. Everyone on the team knows how much this mission matters to the world.

“Our scientific colleagues are ready to go. We’ve decided where we’re going to look for the whole first year of scientific observations. We’ll be hunting for the first objects that grew out of the primordial big bang material, we’ll be looking at distant galaxies to see back in time, we’ll be looking inside dust clouds to see stars and planets being born today, we’ll be looking at planets around other stars to see if they have atmospheres, and we’ll be looking close to home at everything in the solar system from Mars on out.

“But before we do that, we have to set up the equipment. We’ve got an hour-by-hour plan, and it takes 6 months. First, we unfold the observatory by remote command, then we wait for its plastic sunshield to dry out, then we let the telescope cool down, then we focus it, then finally we check out the four instruments. They come from the U.S., Europe, and Canada, and they will make images and spectra, spreading out the light into rainbows that tell us what’s happening inside the stars and galaxies – what’s their chemistry, how hot are they, how are they moving? The data will come back by radio to the computers and scientists around the world. We’ll be asking and trying to answer: Where did we come from? How is life possible here on Earth?

“It will be worth the wait.”

A recap of the 2016 NCAS Philip J. Klass Award Presentation Dinner for John Mather:

AmazonSmile: Thanks to our members who are supporting NCAS!
When shopping at, you'll find the same low prices, vast selection, and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that a portion of the purchase price (0.5%) goes to NCAS! It's simple and automatic, and it doesn't cost you anything!

AmazonSmile's disbursements to NCAS in the second quarter of 2021 came to $24.84, meaning that nearly $5000 of purchases were designated in support of NCAS.  (As an example of how NCAS can put that money to good use, it's more than enough to cover an hour of a Montgomery County lecture room rental.)

Thanks again to our members who have chosen to support NCAS!

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