Friday, October 31, 2008

Studs Terkel, Chronicler of the American Everyman, Is Dead at 96

10/31/08. Studs Terkel was a gentle, curious man with a twinkle in both eyes --- who loved to find out about the lives of ordinary people. Just a few years ago, I talked with Studs when I shared an elevator with him -- two days in a row - when he gave a talk at an American Psychological Association meeting. He will be missed.

Michigan Psychological Association

10/31/08. The new Michigan Psychological Association Web site.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Scientists Prove It Really Is A Thin Line Between Love and Hate

10/30/08. There they go again --- scientists make discoveries about the biological basis of love and hate.

A Psychologist Helps Repackage Democrats' Message

10/30/08. Drew Weston, a psychology professor at Emory University, and a University of Michigan graduate, put together the "Message Handbook for Progressives From Left to Center." Democratic consultants say it is the first systematic, data-driven effort to mold the language of the left to fit the sensibilities of the center.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Boy's Life

10/27/08. Ever since he could talk, Brandon, now age 8 years, insisted that he was meant to be a girl. His parents decided to let him grow up to be a girl. This article discusses the ongoing scientific debate about the nature of gender.

Tony Hillerman. R.I.P.

10/27/08. Novelist Tony Hillerman dies.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Careful What You Wish For

10/26/08. Theodore Dalrymple reviews two books that portray the allure --- and limitations --- of liberation.

Dalrymple begins his review:

The idea that mankind might find life beautifully easy if only the right laws could be promulgated and the right social attitudes inculcated is a beguiling one. It suggests that dissatisfaction and frustration arise from error and malice, rather than from the inescapable and permanent separation between man's desires and what the world can offer him.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Try to Remember. Psychiatry's Clash Over Meaning, Memory and Mind"

10/23/08. Paul McHugh's new book with the above captioned title is going to be published in November. Below is a link to excerpts from this book.

Dr. McHugh, former Chair of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, has had a front seat to witness the wild misdirections of psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health clinicians. These misdirections began in the 1980s, with a mass tide of false allegations of child abuse cases. These cases were focused on child care workers in day care centers, but these false accusations that sometimes resulted in long prison sentences for innocent people spread with a fever pitch to other vulnerable groups --- parents locked in custody battles, and adults in therapy recalling "forgotten" sexual abuse. These cases were given much media attention.

We have witnessed patients who come to psychologists and psychiatrists with depression or difficulty with relationships. Some of these patients "remember" during psychological therapy forgotten sexual mistreatment in childhood --- and often get the diagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), among other labels. Families are torn apart when a child - who is now an adult - falsely accuses her father of sexually abusing her many years ago.

Just as Satan appeared in Salem, Mass. three hundred years ago, in our time a vast increase in the diagnosis of MPD is used to validate the huge numbers of adults who claim to have been sexually victimized during their childhoods.

Of course some adults have experienced horrific sexual abuse in childhood --- with resulting behavioral abnormalities stemming from such cruelty.

In my experience patients who have been victims of sexual abuse by a parent, for example, almost always have trouble forgetting the horror of their abuse. They do not have trouble remembering what their parent did. That adults repress these events - or block them out of their minds --- is a dangerous myth.

In his new book, Dr. McHugh sheds light on these psychiatric misadventures and aims to inform us about the nature of competent psychological treatment.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Late Bloomers. Why Do We Equate Genius with Prococity?

10/13/08. Malcolm Gladwell explains some myths about creativity and genius.

Monday Quotations


Our minds are lazier than our bodies.

--- La Rochefoucauld (1747 - 1827)

What kind of system isn't structured on greed? The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of system.

--- Milton Friedman (1912 - 2006)

A businessman is a hybrid of a dancer and a calculator.

--- Paul Valery (1871 - 1945)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

False Apology Syndrome - I'm sorry for your sins

10/8/08. Psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple laments the fashion of public apologies for distant events and calls this pattern of political breast-beating the False Apology Syndrome:

"The habit of public apology for things in which one bears no personal responsibility changes the whole concept of a virtuous person, from one who exercises the discipline of virtue to one who expresses correct sentiment. The most virtuous person of all is he who expresses it loudest and to most people. This a debasement of morality, not a refinement of it. The end result is likely to be self-satisfaction and ruthlessness accompanied by unctuous moralizing, rather than a determination to behave well."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday Quotations


To teach how to live with uncertainty, and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy in our age can still do for those who study it.

--- Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)

Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at age eighty and gradually approach eighteen.

--- Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

The character of human life, like the character of the human condition, like the character of all life, is "ambiguity": the inseparable mixture of good and evil, the true and false, the creative and destructive forces - both individual and social.

-- Paul Tillich (1886 - 1965)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Searching for Clarity: A Primer on Medical Studies

9/30/08. Science writer Gina Kolata describes the controversies and ambiguities of interpreting the results of medical studies. What we don't know may hurt us.