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Recent Trends in Philosophy

Disclaimer: the following post is fiction. It was composed for strictly satirical purposes, and the views expressed within it are not be confused with the views of the author in any way, shape, or manner whatsoever.

A new philosophy is sweeping some quarters of the world at the present moment. This new philosophy goes by the name of invalidism, and it involves a devaluation of all customary values. The mantra of true believers of invalidism is, “I think I can’t, I think I can’t, I think I can’t”. Proponents of invalidism have replaced the Cartesian cogito, “I think, therefore I am”, with the invalidist cogito, “I can’t, therefore I can’t.” Invalidism is all about the corrosive power of negative thinking.

Allied with, and related to, this invalidism is a small but growing school of thought, mutilated by the moniker, disablism. Disablists are enthusiasts in the pursuit of inability. Incapacity is their field of endeavor and expertise, their profession, as it were. Disablists feel that the government should be paying them to practice a new nerve-soothing exercise they have come up with by the name of vegetation. Some disablists have learned to vegetate with facility.

Invalidism and disablism are both branches of the more general and all encompassing philosophy of medicalism. Medicalism would replace residential neighborhoods with a gigantic nationwide communal complex known as the hospital. There are to be two basic classes of citizen in this communal development project, patients and staff. Patients are experts in the theories of invalidism and disablism. The hospital staff works devotedly as servants for the more sophisticated and aristocratic patient savants and their elaborate theories.

Proponents of medicalism believe in medicine, or better functioning through the use of performance affecting drugs. Their philosophy involves a belief that millions upon millions of years of evolution can be improved upon by the instantaneous addition of a few choice chemicals. Medicalists have made mistakes, in some instances, but in the name of science. They believe all their endeavors are ultimately directed at improving nature. They also believe that the amazingly convoluted mental gymnastics invalidists and disablists sometimes display are the result of defective and mutant genes.

Bleakness is the new buzzword in our expanding age of medicalists, invalidists, and disablists. The increasingly complex nature of contemporary living means increasingly complex problems demanding increasingly complex solutions. These solutions are often arrived at in a laboratory, and make mega-bucks for their discoverers. Gone are the good old days when the simple joys of living made people content. Happiness, at present, can only be found in a medicine cabinet.

ADHD 3, Nature 0

You’d think that a parent into green parenting would know better than to buy the ADHD myth. You’d think that anyway.

Here’s an article in the mother nature network that buys the bullshit, Study finds genetic links between ADHD and other neurological disorders, and, no, not because it makes good fertilizer.

A new study, published in Science Translational Medicine, has found that many different rare genetic variants are responsible for the condition. On top of that, some genes associated with ADHD have also been linked to other neurological disorders. Up to 75 percent of people with autism and autism spectrum disorders also have ADHD, but it was unclear whether or not these two conditions were genetically linked.

Disease designations like ADHD are arrived at by committee selection, and not by solid evidence. We actually have no ADHD to speak of; instead we have behavioral traits, dubbed “symptoms”, also selected by committee. I don’t want to go into the absurdity of seeking genetic matches for these committee decisions.

The new study looked at the DNA from parents of 173 of the children and found genetic variations — such as missing or copied genes — in the children who had ADHD and other neurological conditions.

This sounds very much like the theory linking junk DNA to “mental illness” labels. I would think that environmental factors, and this is where our green mom isn’t thinking, would have a lot more to do with the matter.

Although the article didn’t go into the very un-green subject of pharmaceutical products, I figure if our would-be green mom has to psychiatrize her kids, she’s probably doping ‘em up, too.

Nice try, mom. I wouldn’t believe anything you said at this point. If this article were on a ball game, nature must be depicted as the loser.

Riding out major recessive disorder

It’s psychiatry. Naw, it’s the economy, dummy. It’s still the economy. This, at any rate, is my response to an opinion piece appearing in The Milford Daily News with the heading Mental illness and the economy.

There can be a lot to be depressed about in this economy. Depressive disorders affect approximately 18.8 million American adults or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. This includes major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder.

Perhaps it would be better if we changed the name of this class of disorder to recessive disorders. In the confusion, some peculiarly mischievious and lucky major recessives might be able to affect a quick turn around, and make off with a bundle.

The author, one John Griffin, claims a 9.5 % rate for major recessive disorder in this country. We’ve got a 9 % jobless rate in many parts of this country now. I wonder how many of this 9 % are deeply recessed?

The author of this piece points to a 15 % suicide rate among recessives for which he blames that bug-a-boo of bug-a-boos, the will o’ the wisp, “stigma”.

This is a tragedy. In a country with as much medical care available as we have, you have to wonder why this happens. It has to rest with a stigma still attached. To those who are in depression, there seems nowhere to go for help. Not wanting to attach a stigma to themselves, they hide their depression until it worsens. What kind of nation do we have when those truly suffering among us have to risk a stigma for something that falls beyond their control?

“Stigma”, in this case, sounds an awfully lot like a housing crisis and shortage. The author claims that there are places without “stigma”. I’m hoping that what he means is that there are places that provide safe and affordable housing for all.

The poor grow poorer. Foreclosures continue. Personal tragedies and wars surround us. No wonder 18.8 million suffer from depression.

Correction: recession. I thought we’d resolved that one.

The negative effects of captivity and air pollution on mental health

Captivity in zoos increases the chances that a chimp will behave bizarrely. This is the situation described in a report to Global Animal, Captivity Fatal To Chimps’ Mental Health?

The documented behaviors, which included self-mutilation, repetitive rocking, and consumption of feces, are symptoms of compromised mental health in humans, and are not seen in wild chimpanzees, the authors say. The study found that even chimps at very well regarded zoos displayed the disturbing behaviors.

This study has to make one wonder as imprisonment in a mental hospital is seen as an antidote for bizarre behavior in humans. The evidence, as exhibited by chimpanzees, our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, is that such is not necessarily the case.

He (Nicolas Fisher-Newton) and co-author Lucy Birkett used both direct observations and published sources to document the behaviors of 40 chimpanzees at six zoos in the U.S. and the U.K. The collected data, covering a two-year period, was then compared to observations made of wild chimpanzees, such as 1023 hours of documentation on wild chimps in Uganda.

Where the wild is, as far as the human species are concerned, is a good question. Captivity in mental hospitals is, on the other hand, probably much less conducive to good “mental health” than residence in a community.

A recent study also found that zoo visits boost a child’s science and conservation education more than books or classroom teaching alone. Over 50 percent of all school children aged between 7 and 14 showed improvements in their knowledge of animals, habitat and conservation after just a single zoo visit.

Out of this observation naturally arises the question, would chimpanzee intelligence and conservation consciousness be increased by having chimpanzees visit human mental hospitals to observe and study the inmates?

In another online story, air pollution has been found to have an adverse effect on the mental health of mice: Air pollution linked to mental problems. I would suspect that the imbibing of polluted or poisoned water would not be the greatest thing for a mouse’s mental health either.

Ohio State University researchers said the cognitive problems were observed in mice exposed to polluted air. The researchers said in a statement that this is one of the first studies to look at pollution’s impact on mental health and ability.

Mice are not chimpanzees, or human beings, but if dirty air affects mice so drastically it must certainly affect chimpanzees and humans as well.

The mice in the study were exposed to either filtered air or polluted air for six hours a day, five days a week for 10 months, which is about half the rodents’ lifespan.

Now it is my contention that if we were to appropriate the wealth and resources of * robber barons, and if we were to reverse the green house effect created by those * robber barons, then these actions would have a correspondingly positive effect on the present and future mental and physical health of mice, chimpanzees, and human beings.

* Note: I’m expanding the currently archaic definition of robber baron, in this instance, from the large industrialist of the 19th century, and heirs, to include technological, corporate, investment, and entertainment moguls (think glutton oink oink) operating in the world of the present.

Rethinking Thomas Insel

Every time I read a statement from the current director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Thomas Insel, I have to meditate on how good it would be if the NIMH were to hire a new director. His speech at the 2011 APA convention bash in Honolulu was apparently no exception. Psychiatric News has an article on the affair, Brain, Gene Discoveries Drive New Concept of Mental Illness.

Insel said psychiatric research today promises to produce a true science of the brain based on three core principles (see Points to Remember):

• Mental disorders are brain disorders.
• Mental disorders are developmental disorders.
• Mental disorders result from complex genetic risk plus experiential factors.

A few corrections are called for here.

1. Mental disorders are not brain disorders. Brain disorders are brain disorders.
2. Mental disorders are not developmental disorders. Developmental disorders are developmental disorders.
3. Speculations about the source of mental disorders are just that, speculations.

He draws some pretty peculiar conclusions from research in DNA.

One of the most surprising findings from the Human Genome Project has been that psychiatric disorders, unlike common medical illnesses, appear to be the result of extremely rare, but highly penetrant—or potent—genetic variations. And these variations are not associated with any specific illness, but with a variety of phenotypes recognized as mental disorders, Insel said.

Dr. Insel wants us to think a mental disorder is a brain disorder. This isn’t just semantic confusion, its definitional confusion. This is New Psych Speak talking. This is Big Brother Big Sister therapeutic nanny state propaganda. Brain is no more mind than ‘war is peace’. Perhaps a more apt analogy would be to confuse a radio with the music it plays. They are not synonymous.

After making mental disorders out to be common medical illnesses, he would base these common medical illnesses on rare genetic variations. If these common medical illnesses were based on rare genetic variations they wouldn’t be common medical illnesses. I think we’ve got a long ways to go before we can say a common mental disorder is caused by a rare genetic variation. On the other hand, I think we can safely say that every individual on earth is the result of his or her own rare genetic variation.

“Rethinking mental illness means changing the emphasis so that you make sure the worst outcomes don’t happen,” he said. “We need to ask the question, How does variation in the genome lead to changes in particular neuronal circuits, which in turn bias the way an individual deals with emotional regulation?”

Dr. Insel is confusing the thought process with the organ of thought again. If genetics explains everything then “the worst outcome” has already occurred. Research, at pains to find an organic explanation, is pursuing the genetic angle. In the process of trying to lay it all on the genome, this same research is having to bow to environmental factors more and more. Perhaps eventually the genetic factor is going to count for less and less, that is to say, perhaps the problem wasn’t so organic to begin with.

Paper would make ‘anorexia’ biological in origin

Call it the medicalization of everything. According to Fox News, Anorexia Might Be a Disease Like Diabetes, Scientists Say.

Anorexia may be a disorder more of the metabolism than the mind, according to a new paper that argues the disease is a sort of cousin of diabetes.

We’ve managed to take self-control out of the equation so often now that one has to wonder who’s at the wheel (e.g. god, nature, or the designated chosen one)? The feeling used to be that anorexia had something to do with body image. Body image is a matter of thought and perception. Metabolism presumes that there can be no conscious control of the matter. Freedom and responsibility just flew out the window.

Obesity, the result of over eating, is a common cause of diabetes. I think it fair to say that obesity is a cousin of diabetes. Over eating changes the metabolism of the human body and one of the outcomes of this change is diabetes. Had a person practiced a little restraint when it came to his or her appetites rather than becoming grossly obese, a person would also have warded off the development of diabetes.

The review of past research on the topic, published in the June issue of the Journal Molecular Psychiatry, finds that certain genetic and cellular processes get activated during starvation in organisms ranging from yeast to fruit flies to mice to humans. The idea, said study researcher Donald Dwyer, is that in people with a broken starvation response, a few initial rounds of dieting could trigger a metabolism gone haywire.

Wait a minute…”genetic and cellular processes”, you say? What came first, the chicken or the egg? Any metabolic change you get here wasn’t the result of dad humping mom, was it? It was the result of suppressing natural appetites.

I still think, given the evidence, over eating is much more closely related to diabetes than under eating. The issue is does the word ‘metabolism’ excuse the human organism from the exercise of responsible self-control. I don’t think it does.

Where is this investigation leading?

If Dwyer is right, difficult-to-treat anorexic patients may need drugs to get their metabolisms back on track, much as diabetes patients have to take insulin shots. But so far, the idea has not been tested in humans.

This Donald Dwyer guy wants to bank in on a future pharmaceutical product, and he’s using a standard excuse that is being used over and over again by biological minded members of the psychiatric profession. This “disease” can only be “maintained” by taking this or that drug permanently, just like insulin for diabetes, even if this “disease” is a “disease” only by a far stretch of the imagination. This goes directly to my next point, the pharmaceutical industry is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Look! What we’ve got here is a money-making scheme, pure and simple. Use your head, and be wary of any bogus speculative “research” of this sort.

Canadian Psychiatrists and Sugar Pills

You want statistics? A survey in Canada found that 1 in 5 Canadian physician respondents have prescribed sugar pills. What this press release, The Power of Placebos, doesn’t go into is the ineffectiveness and damaging capacity of almost all prescription psychiatric drugs.

A recent survey, led by McGill Psychiatry Professor and Senior Lady Davis Institute Researcher Amir Raz, reports that one in five respondents – physicians and psychiatrists in Canadian medical schools – have administered or prescribed a placebo. Moreover, an even higher proportion of psychiatrists (more than 35 per cent) reported prescribing subtherapeutic doses of medication (that is, doses that are below, sometimes considerably below, the minimal recommended therapeutic level) to treat their patients.

Maybe, just maybe, the minimal recommended therapeutic doses are too high.

The survey, which was also designed to explore attitudes toward placebo use, found that the majority of responding psychiatrists (more than 60 per cent) believe that placebos can have therapeutic effects. This is a significantly higher proportion than for other medical practitioners. “Psychiatrists seem to place more value in the influence placebos wield on the mind and body,” says Raz. Only 2 per cent of those psychiatrists believe that placebos have no clinical benefit at all.

Psychiatric drugs have been known to impede the process of mental health recovery in some instances. When the drugs don’t work, of course, sugar pills work better. Also when drugs, falsely claiming to be medicine, are harmful, as they all too often actually are, poof, ‘mind over matter’ magic can look sooo goood!

I see an argument against psychiatric treatment coming.

Raz’s own interest in placebos grew out of his work in three very different areas: his explorations into how people’s physiology is influenced by their expectations of what is about to happen, his work on deception; and the time he spent as a former magician. Together, these three separate areas of experience have led Raz to explore what remains an uncomfortable hinterland of medical practice for many practitioners – the use of placebos in medicine.

This line of pursuit has got to lead eventually to some kind joke starting with the line, “What’s the difference between a confidence man and a psychiatrist?” Obviously, the answer is not going to be so much as people might have once thought there was.

Canadian psychiatrists prescribing sugar pills? Considering the 25 years of life lost for the patient, according to some recent studies, because of psychiatric drugs usage, I think they should be commended for doing so.

Perhaps It’s Time to Change Models

The DSM, through DSM-V revisions, is being restructured according to the latest reports. This restructuring is based on the latest scientific discoveries.

You can believe that if you’re naïve perhaps, or if you’re a convert to the “mental illness” religion, but it doesn’t really hold water. The most apt analogy for this revision process that I can think of is with a woman going to her beautician for her scheduled ‘make over’.

This is an instance of bad science approving itself.

Why bad science? Well, essentially because the science of specifically medical model psychiatry, the very psychiatry behind the manual, is based primarily upon premise. Good science isn’t based upon such premises. Good science is based upon evidense.

What premise do I mean? I mean the premise that “serious mental illness” is biologically determined. Theory has it that “serious mental illness” is 70 % or so determined by hereditary, and that the other 30 % is determined by environmental and social factors.

Biological determination of this sort allows our psychiatrists to see “chronicity”, “incurability”, or “non-recovery” as a matter of biology rather than as a matter of professional and systemic failure. Were the case the way they’d have it, then the situation becomes less rather than more mutable.

Whether what is conventionally thought of as “serious mental illness” is determined by this, that, or the other hasn’t really been clearly established. The scientific method is not truth; the scientific method is merely a method for arriving at the truth.

The reason that “serious mental illness” is seen as 70 % determined by genes is because the people doing the seeing are biological medical model psychiatrists. Were another premise used, by another school of treatment, you’d get a different estimation.

In the case of an estimate like this you have to have well over 50 % of the determination to ground your theory. Biological medical model psychiatry wouldn’t be viable if its theory attributed more than 50 % of the basis for “serious mental illness” to the environment or society.

The key word here, folks, is theory.

This is an instance of theory guiding science rather than science guiding theory. Given another theory these estimates would reverse themselves with “serious mental illness” being 70 % determined by environment or society, and only 30 % or so determined by heredity.

The numbers 70 and 30 are, of course, purely arbitrary. It could be 80 and 20. It could be 60 and 40. The idea is that your estimate must support your theory.

The statistics you are not getting here are those dealing with the growing numbers of people labeled by doctors using the DSM. The number of those who become casualties of this labeling process, and the prescription drugging that goes along with it. These numbers are growing, and the revisions put in the upcoming version of the manual are not likely to reduce this incline one iota. In fact, if anything, the revision is likely to increase the numbers of people psychiatrically labeled and harmed.

Someday biological medical model psychiatry is going to have to look in the mirror, and the truth will be out. No amount of cosmetic effort is going to make this school of practice desirable.

US Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Rights Protection

The US Supreme Court made a very good decision recently. The story is found in an AP release, Court reinstates Va. mental health lawsuit.

The Supreme Court says Virginia’s advocate for the mentally ill can sue to force state officials to provide records relating to deaths and injuries at state mental health facilities.

What was going on here?

The Virginia mental health commissioner was trying to hamstring the state’s protection and advocacy agency by refusing to hand over information pertinent to human rights violations in that state. The state, in the person of the commissioner, was trying to use 11th Amendment of the US Constitution, an amendment designed to protect one state from intrusive actions on the part of another state, to justify not submitting to such a suit.

VOPA, Virginia’s protection and advocacy agency, can’t do its job if it’s denied access to information.

Protection and advocacy agencies are oversight agencies that were federally mandated after an uproar arose over institutional mistreatment during the 1970s.

The justices, in a 6-2 ruling Tuesday, reinstated the Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy lawsuit against Virginia’s mental health commissioner and two other officials.

This was the right decision to come to, and our Supreme Court justices deserve praise for arriving at it.

The federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., had dismissed the state advocate’s lawsuit. The issue for the court was whether the Eleventh Amendment prohibits a state agency from going to federal court to sue officials of the same state.

This decision sets a precedent that is bound to help other states better protect their citizens in institutional settings from harm and abuse as well.

Study links suicide rate to economic conditions

Recent research indicates that the suicide rate has a lot to do with the shape of the economy. There are more suicides in times of economic hardship, and fewer suicides in times of economic prosperity findings suggest. The study I’m referring to makes it look like suicide is less genetically determined than some people might have thought it was. This is according to a story in Physorg.com, Suicide rises and falls with economy: US study [shows].

The study pointed to peaks and valleys.

Suicide rates among people of typical working age, 25 to 64, were highest during the Great Depression in 1932, and lowest around the time of the dot-com Internet boom in 2000, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study showed dips and rises.

The CDC findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, show a series of higher suicide rates in times of trouble, such as during the oil crisis of 1973-75, and the double-dip recession of 1980-82.

Suicide rates were low during times of expansion.

Suicide rates were lowest when the economy was growing, such as the post World War II period (1939-1945) and during an extended period of financial expansion from 1991 to 2001.

This is curious because suicide has often been associated with “mental illness”, and “mental illness” is thought by some mental health professionals to have a biological basis. Now whether the poverty gene is connected to the suicide gene, and the prosperity gene is connected to the survival gene, the article didn’t speculate on.