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ICYMI: 'Backburner' Relationship Psychology And Why We Fear Strangers

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10/31/2015 06:00am ET

ICYMI Health features what we're reading this week.

This week, in honor of Halloween, our colleagues across HuffPost explored the science of our most commons fears and how we can overcome them.

We were also captivated by a frightening article about extreme sleepwalking, a sleep disorder that can result in the sleeper turning violent without any knowledge of his or her actions.

And on a disturbing note, we spent time with a story about the role of identity politics on the war on drugs in America, and how, as an increasing number of white middle-class families are torn apart by heroin, the conversation and punitive laws surrounding drug addiction are changing.

Read on and tell us in the comments: What did you read, listen to, watch and love this week?

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Sometimes the best way to overcome common fears -- such as sharks, germs, flying and strangers -- is to face them directly.

It's a stretch to say fearing strangers is irrational – of course, it's natural to be cautious of people you don't know. But children and adults, for that matter, are far more likely to be sexually assaulted, kidnapped or killed by someone they know than by a stranger.

The term "mental health" is relatively new to our lexicon.

Like our understanding of mental health, the vocabulary used to describe it is fluid, with certain terms falling in and out of favor as we discover new ways to diagnose, treat, and think about the various conditions that can arise in the human mind.

Robert Clare via Getty Images

Keeping in touch with exes makes sense from an evolutionary perspective: you're shopping for the best mate among your romantic options.

'What-ifs' only become backburners if you actually reach out to them.

If there's a "switching error" between REM sleep and wakefulness, the sleeper has access to his motor skills, but not to consequences of his actions.

People who exhibit violence during parasomnia are not behaving with full awareness or intent. But while intent is relevant in the courtroom, it probably doesn’t matter to the person on the receiving end of the axe.

The surging heroin crisis among middle-class white white Americans is changing the country's language and legal approach to drug addiction, which also points to troubling racism.

When the nation’s long-running war against drugs was defined by the crack epidemic and based in poor, predominantly black urban areas, the public response was defined by zero tolerance and stiff prison sentences. But today’s heroin crisis is different.

Atlantic editor James Hamblin interviews the people trying to diversify our protein sources beyond animal meat -- creating sustainable alternatives from from peas, soy nuts and even bugs.

It's a kind of introductory vehicle, to get people used to the idea before we go towards whole insects, or Bug Macs, or whatever that might be.

Fewer black men are applying to medical school, while applications from other minority groups, including Asians, Hispanics and black women, are growing.

'If you can relate to [patients], it's a lot easier for them to feel at home and comfortable with you,' he says.

Also on HuffPost:

9 Unexpected Things That Could Save Your Marriage
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