Saturday, June 23, 2012

People Matter


Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, by Robert Zubrin (Encounter, 328 pp., $25.95)

"A ruling idea of the last two centuries has been materialism: the notion, as arch-materialist Daniel Dennett asserts, that “there is only one sort of stuff, namely matter—the physical stuff of physics, chemistry, and physiology—and the mind is somehow nothing but a physical phenomenon.” One consequence of this belief has been the rise of antihumanism—the stripping from people of their transcendent value and a reduction of them to mere things in the world to be studied, understood, reshaped—and ultimately controlled..."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Judith S. Wallerstein, Ph.D. RIP

6/21/12. I had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Wallerstein about 25 years ago when she spoke about her longitudinal research on the effects of divorce on children at an all-day conference for the Michigan Psychological Association.

Atul Gawande: Failure and Rescue


The following was delivered as the commencement address at Williams College on Sunday, June 3rd.

Dr. Gawande:

"We had a patient at my hospital this winter whose story has stuck with me. Mrs. C. was eighty-seven years old, a Holocaust survivor from Germany, and she’d come to the emergency room because she’d suddenly lost the vision in her left eye. It tells you something about her that she was at work when it happened—in the finance department at Sears..."

Book Review: Born Together - Reared Apart

6/21/12. Nancy Segal's book on the history of the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart.

Matt Ridley reviews "Born Together - Reared Apart," and focuses on IQ and twins --- when the environment matters:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Theory and Psychotherapy


T. Byram Karasu, M.D.:

"...Interestingly enough, these theories of mind do not always address the complex problems of daily practice. Many renowned thinkers have elegant, complex, and highly elaborate theories that ostensibly attempt to explain the human mind and its operating principles as well as strive for relevance in the clinical setting. Yet, as R. Michels says, the information, knowledge, and wisdom that a practitioner needs largely exist underground, transmitted through supervision, case conferences, and collegial agreement as a kind of professional folklore. Such folklore of practice is not completely unrelated to the theories of mind; in fact, it often uses the same terms and theories. But it has no cohesive conceptual base of its own, and when cornered, quickly falls back to the already reified theories of mind. Since these are often overrated and inherently limited in actual application to the patient, the gap between theory and practice remains..."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Psychology vs. Public Policy


Richard Epstein:

"I first met Jonathan Haidt at an academic conference on psychology held in Berlin in 2004, and was impressed with his findings about how ordinary people make moral decisions in their everyday lives. His recent book, The Righteous Mind, carries with it the subtitle, “Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.” This work follows his earlier book, The Happiness Hypothesis. His arresting hypothesis about human nature is captured in the title of his important article in Psychology Review, 'The Emotional Dog and its Rational Tail.'

Received wisdom often has it that ordinary people engage in deep philosophical deliberation before they reach judgments about what’s right and wrong in individual cases. Haidt rightly rejects the claim that these deliberative processes precede our judgments. Our everyday behavior reveals exactly the opposite pattern. Any modern defender of what used to be called “faculty psychology,” opposed to the Lockean theories of the tabula rasa (blank slate), needs a model of the mind that treats it as something more sophisticated than a set of unorganized neurons that organizes itself solely through experience..."

Book Review. Ignorance: How It Drives Science

6/19/12. Sandra Blakeslee reviews Stuart Firestein book on how ignorance drives science.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Risky Rise of the Good Grade Pill

6/11/12. Stimulant medication helps youngsters and adults with ADHD do better in school, work, family and social life.

There is no doubt that some people without ADHD take ADHD medication to stay awake, study for longer periods of time, and so on. How many people abuse stimulants is not known.

To guard against misuse of these medications, people suspected of having ADHD must undergo a comprehensive psychological and medical evaluation. This evaluation should consist of interviews with parents (where appropriate), interviews with the child or adolescent, and teachers' observations. Psychological assessments such as intellectual, academic, and personality testing are often helpful in making a differential diagnosis, ruling out learning disabilities, emotional disturbance, and family conflicts, among other concerns.

Symptoms of ADHD must be chronic --- some symptoms appear before age 7 years; and pervasive --- symptoms appear across setting.

Friday, June 1, 2012