Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Evolution, Compassion, and the Corporation

7/30/08. Michael Shermer is the publisher and editor-in-chief of "Skeptic" magazine, and the founder of the Skeptics Society.

He talks about his new book "The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and other Tales from Evolutionary Economics."

How to Get the Biggest Bang for 10 Million Bucks

7/30/08. Political scientist Bjorn Lomborg discusses how governments should spend money now to help the most people with the most pressing problems. See if you agree with his list of priorities. Professor Lomborg is best known for his book "The Skeptical Environmentalist."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Professor Randy Pausch dies at 47 --- inspired millions with his last lecture.

7/29/08. Professor of Computer Science Randy Pausch gave a last lecture a while back --- a lecture, he said, to leave to his three young children a message in a bottle they can take with them on their journey through life. His last lecture has been made into a best selling book, with the help of Wall Street Journal writer Jeffrey Zaslow, who lives in the Detroit area. This lecture and book are filled with wisdom.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Waltraud "Wally" Prechter

7/23/08. Today, Wally Prechter spoke to our Psychological Aspects of Dentistry class at the University of Detroit Mercy, School of Dentistry about manic-depressive illness or bipolar disorder. I teach this course with another UDM Faculty member, Ms. Kim Werth, a dental hygienist and a counselor.

Wally left a deep impression on the students and faculty with her knowledge, compassion, integrity, and commitment to improving research and treatment for bipolar disorder.

She has lived through the nightmare of her husband's mental illness and now continues to triumph over her trauma and give back to her community and country.

Wally is on a mission to cure the illness that robbed the life of her brilliant and creative husband who committed suicide on July 6, 2001. Heinz Prechter was a victim of manic depression, a psychiatric illness with a strong genetic base, with no known cause or cure.

As an immigrant from Germany coming to a land he grew to love deeply, Heinz Prechter introduced the sunroof to North America and founded the American Sunroof Company starting his journey to success from a one man operation in a two car garage in Los Angeles --- before becoming a leader in Detroit's downriver community.

To suffer from manic depression is to have a brain disease. About 2 1/2 percent of the population age 18 years and over --- about 5.7 million American have manic depression in a given year. Manic depression is a treatable condition --- with medication such as Lithium and psychological therapy --- many people with the illness go on to lead normal, often highly productive lives. But many with illness never get properly diagnosed, and even when diagnosed they often do not receive the treatment they need and do not consistently take their life saving medications.

Send donations to the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Fund of the University of Michigan:

U of M Office, Depression Center Development Office, MCHC F6241, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-02905 or phone 734.647.9138.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Voices of Bipolar Disorder

7/17/08. This article is from the New York Times, and features people afflicted with bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, talking about how their illness affects their lives.

To learn more about bipolar disorder, I recommend Dr. Kay Jamison's autobiography, "The Unquiet Mind." Dr. Jamison has manic-depressive illness and in her book she describes growing up and living with this highly treatable disorder. Dr. Jamison is a psychologist and a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School. She is a world-renowned authority on manic-depressive illness, suicide, and creativity and mental illness.

For an exhaustive scientific work on manic-depressive illness, I recommend "Manic-Depressive Illness. Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression," 2007, 2nd edition,by Frederick K. Goodwin, M.D., and Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Side-Effects of Antidepressants

7/16/08. This is a review of "Side-Effects" by Alison Bass. The antidepressant Prozac was released in 1987 --- and since then many more antidepressants have become available. There has never been a shortage of lawsuits claiming that some antidepressants cause suicidal thoughts, aggression, or suicides. Despite large-scale studies by the Federal government and others showing no danger in these drugs, some citizens are still skeptical of life-saving medications to treat the disease of mood disorders.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Taking a Cue from Ants on Evolution in Humans

7/14/08. Edward O. Wilson, Professor of Biology at Harvard, is the author of the ground breaking "Sociolobiology" and "On Human Nature," among many other books. He is a world renowned experts on ants.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Why Dirty is Funny

7/11/08. Jim Holt, author of "Stop Me If You've Heard This. A History and Philosophy of Jokes," tells us why dirty jokes often make us laugh. It is not, he says, that dirty jokes corrupt us, it is that we are already corrupted.,0,1133811.story

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Synapse and The Soul

7/8/08. This is a review of Michael S. Gazzaniga's new book: "Human. The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique."

Dr. Gazzanga is the author of six previous books including "The Ethical Brain," "The Mind's Past," and "Nature's Mind."

He is the director of the University of California - Santa Barbara's SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, as well as its Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience. He serves on the President's Council on Bioethics and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

VIA Inventory of Signature Strengths

7/2/08. Most people spend more time working on their weaknesses than developing their character strengths. With effort, we can sometimes move a character weakness from crummy to lousy. With hard work, we can sometimes move a character strength from good to great.

Take the Values in Action Inventory of Signature Strengths - at no charge, developed by psychologists Christopher Peterson and Martin E.P. Seligman -- two of the founders of Positive Psychology -- and get a new look at your character strengths.

Is There Anything Good About Men?

7/2/08. If you already think you know the answer to this question, don't read this. For those with an open mind, I suggest you read what Professor Roy Baumeister has to say. Dr. Baumeister is a Professor of Psychology and Head of the Social Psychology Area, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. Social psychologists do not come any smarter --- he is a profound thinker.

Paul McHugh on 5 best books about the factions and follies of psychiatry

7/2/08. Dr. McHugh, a University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, discusses 5 of his favorite books that uncover the endless nonsense, weird ideas, outrageous claims, disasters, treatments, factions and follies of psychiatry , in his usual crisp, blunt, and honest style. His observations come from a high powered mind that hits the bull's eye.

Ten years ago, I invited Dr. McHugh to speak at a Michigan Psychological Association conference on his ideas about how to think clearly about psychiatric problems --- discussed in detail in his book "The Perspectives of Psychiatry," written with Paul Slavney.

Dr. McHugh's article "Psychiatric Misadventures" --- is simply a gem.