Friday, August 31, 2012

Managing Mental Health at Work

8/31/12. The is the best time in human history to get help for mental misery --- but the stigma of getting help to mend minds still lingers.


8/30/12. University of Michigan positive psychologist Christopher Peterson discusses the role of quoting catchphrases in everyday life.

Do you have a favorite catchphrase you use? 

"What we have here is a failure to communicate."

"Make my day." 

"She's a Druish Princess."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Tale of Mental Illness - from the Inside

8/28/12. Elyn Saks, Professor of Law, talks about growing up with schizophrenia.

Neil Armstrong RIP

8/28/12. Charles Murray provides insight into a great American.

Hail to Rolling Luggage

8/28/12. Christopher Peterson, Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan:

"I recently took an AMTRAK train from Ann Arbor to Chicago for a weekend visit with my parents. Because I would be gone for just a few days, I decided to take a duffel bag rather than my rolling luggage. I regretted this decision very quickly when I parked my car several blocks away from the train station. In addition to a few changes of clothing, I brought with me several hardcover books and my laptop computer. I came close to dislocating my shoulder as I schlepped my duffel bag down the sidewalk..."

Professor Peterson's book on Positive Psychology is a gem.

Tricks from the Elderly to Stop Worrying

10 Steps to a Better Relationship

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cheescake Factory Medicine

8/27/12. Americans who are pro-choice when it comes to abortion somehow have not figured out that Obamacare is not pro-choice when it comes to consumer choice and medical care.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Imagining Ted Bundy


Imagining Ted Bundy

A psychologist ponders what Ted might have said
Ted Bundy once aspired to become the governor of Washington State. People who thought they knew him believed he could do it. However, his secret life as a serial killer knocked him off course. He called his fatal urge his “entity.”
Bundy was one of the country’s most notorious serial killers. Just before his execution in 1989, he confessed to killing at least 30 young women. Educated and charming, he used every trick he could think of to persuade law enforcement to save him from Florida’s electric chair. None worked.
Dr. Al Carlisle evaluated Bundy after his first arrest in 1975, before anyone realized the enormity of his criminal career. A psychologist at the Utah State Prison, Carlisle was asked to do an evaluation for the court. “I spent about twenty hours with Bundy on the psychological assessment,” he told me for a chapter in my book The Mind of a Murderer. He came away with valuable material..."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How That Yawn Gets Passed Along


Carol Tavris:

"I confess that I started reading Robert Provine's book about the "curious behavior" of its title—yawning, laughing, hiccupping, tearing up, sneezing, vomiting, tickling, itching, farting and belching—with a sigh: "It's come to this? All the big topics of love, war, sex, and money are taken, and we're reduced to a book about belching?" But within eight pages I was smitten. In this charmingly written and profoundly informative book, Mr. Provine gives us what he calls "sidewalk" neuroscience, a "scientific approach to everyday behavior based on simple observations and demonstrations that readers, even advanced grade-schoolers, can use to confirm, challenge, or extend the reported findings..."

Friday, August 24, 2012

That Someone in Your Head


David Eagleman:

"Take a close look at yourself in the mirror. Beneath your dashing good looks churns a hidden universe of networked machinery. The machinery includes a sophisticated scaffolding of interlocking bones, a netting of sinewy muscles, a good deal of specialized fluid, and a collaboration of internal organs chugging away in darkness to keep you alive. A sheet of high-tech self-healing sensory material that we call skin seamlessly covers your machinery in a pleasing package.

And then there’s your brain. Three pounds of the most complex material we’ve discovered in the universe. This is the mission control center that drives the whole operation, gathering dispatches through small portals in the armored bunker of the skull.

Your brain is built of cells called neurons and glia—hundreds of billions of them. Each one of these cells is as complicated as a city. And each one contains the entire human genome and traffics billions of molecules in intricate economies. Each cell sends electrical pulses to other cells, up to hundreds of times per second. If you represented each of these trillions and trillions of pulses in your brain by a single photon of light, the combined output would be blinding..."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Delayed Development - 20 Somethings Blame the Brain


Melinda Beck:

"...Recent research into how the brain develops suggests that people are better equipped to make major life decisions in their late 20s than earlier in the decade. The brain, once thought to be fully grown after puberty, is still evolving into its adult shape well into a person's third decade, pruning away unused connections and strengthening those that remain, scientists say..."

Joseph Epstein: The Comic Stylings of Joe Biden

Backing the NYPD - By Accident


Heather Mac Donald:

"A recent column by New York Times reporter Ginia Bellafante inadvertently tells the truth about the public-safety desires of the poor—and thereby undermines the Times’s relentless crusade against the New York Police Department. The main thrust of Bellafante’s article is an attack on New York City for “inadequately . . . rank[ing] the needs of the poor” in its budget priorities. Her evidence is the allegedly slow pace with which the New York City Housing Authority has installed security cameras in its housing projects and the “mere” $51 million that it has allocated for doing so. That sum, Bellafante contends, compares poorly with the cameras now “commonplace to see . . . affixed to office buildings and expensive co-ops” (those cameras are privately funded, but who’s counting), with the “hundreds of millions of dollars for the development of lush tourist-luring green spaces like Brooklyn Bridge Park and Governors Island” which the city is planning, and with a proposed $20 million to assist with Carnegie Hall’s renovation..."

Wednesday, August 8, 2012



Heather McDonald:

"...And so the Departments of Education and Justice have launched a campaign against disproportionate minority discipline rates, which show up in virtually every school district with significant numbers of black and Hispanic students. The possibility that students’ behavior, not educators’ racism, drives those rates lies outside the Obama administration’s conceptual universe. But the country will pay a high price for the feds’ blindness, as the cascade of red tape and lawsuits emanating from Washington will depress student achievement and enrich advocates and attorneys for years to come.

This past March, Duncan released some newly gathered national discipline data. The “undeniable truth,” he said, was that the “everyday educational experience for many students of color violates the principle of equity.” The massive media coverage of Duncan’s report trumpeted the discipline disparity—blacks were three and a half times more likely to get suspended or expelled than their white peers—as convincing evidence of widespread discrimination. (The fact that white boys were over two times as likely to be suspended as Asian and Pacific Islander boys was discreetly ignored, though it would seem to imply antiwhite bias as well.)

The Department of Education has launched investigations of at least five school systems because of their disparate black-white discipline rates. The Department of Justice has already put the Barnwell, South Carolina, school district under a costly consent decree, complete with a pricey outside consultant, and is seeking similar control of other districts. The theory behind this school discipline push is what Obama officials and civil rights advocates call the “school-to-prison pipeline.” According to this conceit, harsh discipline practices—above all, suspensions—strip minority students of classroom time, causing them to learn less, drop out of school, and eventually land in prison..."

Can You Fake a Mental Illness?


"...Today, less than 1 percent of felony defendants raise an insanity defense, and a tiny fraction of those succeed. Yet in a state like Colorado, where proving insanity can avert a death sentence, the temptation to appear mentally ill must be strong. And so modern forensic psychologists, just like their forebears, watch for malingering with a sharp clinical eye. They determine whether the symptoms match those of well-studied pathologies and whether the signs remain consistent over time. They also can apply a battery of tests that essentially fake-out the faker..."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Why David Brooks can look forward to old age

Can Hospitals Be More Like Restaurant Chains?

8/6/12. Atul Gawande, M.D. in the New Yorker:

"...I’d come from the hospital that day. In medicine, too, we are trying to deliver a range of services to millions of people at a reasonable cost and with a consistent level of quality. Unlike the Cheesecake Factory, we haven’t figured out how. Our costs are soaring, the service is typically mediocre, and the quality is unreliable. Every clinician has his or her own way of doing things, and the rates of failure and complication (not to mention the costs) for a given service routinely vary by a factor of two or three, even within the same hospital..."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Living With Voices


T. M. Luhrmann:

"Modern American psychiatry treats auditory hallucinations as the leading symptom of serious psychotic disorder, of which the most severe form is schizophrenia. When the German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin first distinguished dementia praecox, as he called it, from manic-depressive disorder in 1893, back when Freud was drafting the Interpretation of Dreams, he argued that schizophrenia could be recognized by its persistent, deteriorating course. These days, schizophrenia is often imagined as the quintessential brain disease, an expression of underlying organic vulnerability perhaps exacerbated by environmental stress, but as real and as obdurate as kidney failure. The new post-psychoanalytic psychiatric science that emerged in this country in the 1980s argued that mental illnesses were physical illnesses. Many Americans and most psychiatrists took away from this science a sense that serious mental illnesses were brain dysfunctions and that the best hope for their treatment lay in the aggressive new drugs that patients often hated but that sometimes held symptoms at bay.

The book that defined the era was called The Broken Brain (1984) by Nancy Andreasen, later editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, member of the National Academy, and recipient of the National Medal of Science. Her leading example was schizophrenia, recognized by its characteristic combination of hallucinations (usually auditory), delusions, and deterioration in work or social life.
The commonsense understanding that accompanied this wisdom was that nonpharmacological treatments for schizophrenia were useless.

But recently a new grassroots movement has emerged. It argues that if patients learn to address their voices directly and appropriately, as if each voice had intention and agency, the voices will become less hostile and eventually go away. From the perspective of modern psychiatry, this assertion is radical, even dangerous. But it is being taken seriously by an increasing number of patients and psychiatrists..."

Decoding the Science of Sleep

My World With Louis Armstrong


Charles L. Black, Jr.IN the middle of May 1955, at the Savoy Ballroom on Lenox Avenue

in Harlem, a philanthropic organization in the black community gave

a reception in honor of the thirty or so lawyers who had worked on

the case of
Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court decision

that declared school segregation unlawful and thus began the end of the

old Southern racist regime. I, by the grace of somebody or something, was

there. Thurgood lined us all up in front of the orchestra to receive the applause

of the whole crowd, Margaret Truman, Averell Harriman, everybody.

I turned and looked, a little wistfully, at the trumpet-player in the orchestra,

a young black; “I wonder,” I thought, “whether I wouldn’t rather

have been honored in the Savoy Ballroom for trumpet-playing?” Then I

heard Thurgood, moving down the line, “... Charlie Duncan. And next

over there is Charlie Black, a white man from Texas, who’s been with us all

the way.”