Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

Mental-health treatment and policies in the US

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The US mostly treats mental illness by either shooting the person or putting them in prison. Actual medical treatment is less common—even when the problem is obvious and acute. Sam Collins writes at ThinkProgress:

Months before Myron May opened fire on students in a Florida State University (FSU) library, his closest friends made three unsuccessful attempts to admit the troubled lawyer and FSU alumnus into a mental health clinic, even as he spoke about the voices in his head and mentioned plans to purchase a gun.

According to May’s friends’ accounts in the Tampa Bay Times, law enforcement officials either ignored or laughed at May’s pleas for help in the months before he shot three people at FSU and was killed by police. Sessions with May’s psychologist also didn’t help; after a one-hour appointment, he was deemed fine and continued to receive the medication that caused his paranoia.

May’s friends later reached the height of their frustration when staff at Mesilla Valley Hospital in New Mexico told them that even in his psychotic state, they couldn’t take May. Instead, he would have to seek their services on his own accord.

“You have to commit a crime to get the help you need. Why isn’t it the reverse?” said Kimberly Snagg, a Houston lawyer who described May as one of her best friends, told the Tampa Bay Times. “This could have been avoided. The entire thing.”

According to a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), less than 30 percent of the 61 million Americans who have a mental illness get connected to inpatient medical services. . .

Continue reading.

“Best healthcare system in the world”? Please.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 November 2014 at 2:36 pm

The U-curve of happiness: What underlies the mid-life crisis

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Written by LeisureGuy

21 November 2014 at 6:06 pm

Interesting profile of Stephen Glass today

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First read the account of the man who discovered Glass’s fabrications and broke the story, and then read the profile of Glass today by a woman who was a close friend at the time.

BTW, Charles Lane seems like a total jerk, according the account in the first link. I commented on that story:

It seems to me that Glass simply has a deep-seated personality disorder of some sort that has left him irredeemably broken. But Lane is simpler: he seems to be a lazy jerk: unwilling to do his job (thus allowing Glass to get away with so much) and then unwilling to confront the problem, and then when it is unavoidable, doing his best to keep the guy who solved the problem from getting credit. I have run into this sort of scum fairly frequently during my work career: there seems to be at least one in every organization, and often more. They are the sort that go behind your back when they think that you are a threat, and they generally see anyone who is competent as a threat (because they know that they themselves are incompetent).

 

Written by LeisureGuy

11 November 2014 at 3:52 pm

Posted in Media, Mental Health

How the drug war blocked research into a promising experimental PTSD therapy​: ecstasy

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The War on Drugs has been an unmitigated disaster: it has cost trillions over the years, it’s had little effect on the availability of drugs, it has corrupted law enforcement agencies over and over (cf. Serpico), it has created incredibly wealthy criminal cartels, it has caused the death of hundreds of thousands if not millions, it has wrecked the lives of people sent to prison, often for trivial and even harmless offenses.

And it has prevented research into drugs that could be genuinely helpful to many, as Max Ehrenfreund reports in the Washington Post:

Since 2001, 364,000 veterans have received treatment for possible post-traumatic stress disorder. Some researchers believe the vets could benefit from a drug called MDMA. For 30 years, the federal government has blocked research into MDMA because it is the active ingredient in ecstasy, better known as the party drug that fuels raves.

“When it comes to the health and well-being of those who serve, we should leave our politics at the door and not be afraid to follow the data,” Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, a retired Army psychiatrist, told The New York Times. “There’s now an evidence base for this MDMA therapy and a plausible story about what may be going on in the brain to account for the effects.”

Ecstasy first became popular among psychiatrists as a therapeutic tool after the Vietnam War. The drug, they found, made people more trusting and gave them the courage to talk about their pasts. They called it “penicillin for the soul.” Yet no real research had been conducted on the drug. In 1985, the Reagan administration placed MDMA on Schedule I, declaring it an illicit substance without medical value despite the objections of an administrative law judge.

Since then, researchers have had a difficult time getting MDMA for use in clinical trials, and federal grants have been hard to come by as well. A not-for-profit organization in Santa Cruz, Calif. appears to be the only source of funding for studies right now. “Ecstasy is an illegal drug,” a spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs told the Los Angeles Times. The V.A. “would not involve veterans in the use of such substances.”

Meanwhile, some veterans have been seeking out the drug on their own, desperate for relief from the psychological burdens of coming back from war. In a given year, 11 percent to 20 percent of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan experience PTSD, which can produce debilitating systems difficult to fully relieve.

One study, especially approved by the Food and Drug Administration and published in 2011, found that five out of six victims of PTSD were cured after receiving the drug before two sessions with therapists, compared to only a quarter of those who sat through the treatment sessions after taking a placebo. There were no serious side effects. . .

Continue reading. And that’s the drug that doctors are not allowed to use. The US is more interested in jailing people than in helping them.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 November 2014 at 1:21 pm

Chicago Priests Raped and Pillaged for 50 Years

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I think one of the things that make pedophile priests, preachers, and teachers so repellant is that their very JOB is to help guide people on a moral path, and in particular help the young. I’m not suggesting that, say, a pedophile cement-truck driver is any better, but at least he is not mocking the very core of his mission.

And then, to add to the betrayal, the Catholic church quite systematically and deliberately denied the victims help, but gave plenty of help to pedophiles, protecting them from the police, moving them to new hunting grounds when people started to wake up to what was going on.

I really do not see the Catholic church as retaining any moral authority whatsoever, but I’m sure others will disagree. But really the Catholic church did everything in its power to protect pedophiles and cover up their crimes, and in the process simply ignoring the frightful psychic damage done to their victims. And they did all this with an air of piety and in the name of Jesus Christ.

The pedophiles should suffer for their crimes, but one has to recognize that they did not choose pedophilia, and I suspect some really did try to fight their irresistible impulses. The worst of the crimes, in my view, were done those who were NOT pedophiles, but did all they could to protect and help the pedophiles “to avoid scandal,” because (apparently) “scandal” is worse than anything—much worse than raping children, apparently, and denying help and justice to the victims.

Barbie Latza Nadeau writes in The Daily Beast (appropriate venue, I think):

Some of the accusations against perverted priests are handwritten letters penned by worried mothers. Others are emails sent decades after the abuses occurred. There are letters so old the mimeographed typewriting is smudged and difficult to read. There are emails so recent, they call into question just how much of the clerical abuse is still going on. In all, more than 15,000 pages from the secret archives of the Chicago Archdiocese’s Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review have been released on the Chicago Archdiocese website relating to hundreds of lurid sexual-abuse crimes by 36 perverted priests dating back to the 1950s. The most recent documents are only a year old.

The disturbing document dump was released Thursday as the retiring Cardinal Francis George prepares to leave the post he has held since 1997. They follow a similar gesture last January when the archdiocese released 6,000 pages of documents pertaining to 30 pedophilic priests as part of a legal settlement brokered by Chicago attorney Jeff Anderson. The Chicago Archdiocese has paid more than $130 million in abuse-victim settlements. “We cannot change the past but we hope we can rebuild trust through honest and open dialogue,” George said in a statement on the eve of the document release. “Child abuse is a crime and a sin.”

While the document trove is impressive, many of the names and an abundance of detail has been blackened out, no doubt for privacy issues. Records on two of Chicago’s most notorious pedophile priests were not released because of ongoing legal action. The cases involving Daniel McCormack, who is accused of molesting three young boys, including an 8-year-old he allegedly molested on Christmas Eve, and Edward Maloney are not included because McCormack’s records have been sealed by a judge as part of his admission; Maloney is appealing his laicization with the Vatican in Rome.

The allegations include accusations of priests plying young victims with alcohol and cigarettes, of fondling, masturbating, and performing oral sex on minors, and a strong current of denial and well-documented coverup by the church that can be traced all the way to Rome.

Take the case of Father Gregory Miller, whose 275-page dossier is filled with congratulatory letters of advancement within the archdiocese. But his file is also dotted with frequent warnings of misconduct. On Page 105 of the Miller dossier (PDF), one brief summary of an allegation states, “while in Fr. Miller’s quarters in the rectory, he instructed XX to remove his clothes; Fr. Miller also removed his clothes and had an erection; Fr. Miller took his hand and rubbed XX’s leg two times, then placed his hand on XX’s stomach and began to move his hand down to XX’s genital area” the rest of the complaint has been blocked by the diocese.

A few years later, Miller’s assignment as a parish priest was renewed. Despite an “acknowledgement of misconduct policies” added to the priest’s record in 2004, followed by a “pastoral intervention plan” in 2005, Miller’s record shows the addition, in 2007, of another congratulatory letter in which the clearly improper priest is appointed to serve a second term as pastor of Saint Bernadette in Evergreen Park for six more years. “The support you have received for this reappointment is an indication of the fine pastoral leadership you have given the people of Saint Bernadette as you have proclaimed the Gospel there these past six years,” the letter from Cardinal Francis George states, followed by a personal note. “Gary, it is my hope that this will be a time of personal renewal for you as you continue your priestly service to the people who have been entrusted in your care,” the cardinal writes.

In 2012, a new complainant wrote an email to Leah McCluskey of the Chicago Archdiocese’s abuse committee, stating: “To whom, After having watched, and been wrenched by the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State story… I have a story to tell,” the unnamed accuser writes. “It goes back to 1972-73 at a parish in South Byron.”

Further documents show that the archdiocese did investigate the email, while placing Miller on watch yet again, telling him not to be alone with minors. Records state that the victim, clearly bolstered by the Sandusky case, was 13 at the time of Miller’s abuse. In a file memo in 2012, McCluskey states that when she confronted Miller, he said he did not know the young man making the claims, but when pressed with further details, McCluskey writes, “Fr. Miller responded by saying that he would like to ‘reserve comment at this time.’”

According to the memo, Miller then asked what the statute of limitations in Illinois was and to define what the allegations meant. “Fr. Miller asked for a definition of sexual abuse. I told Fr. Miller that sexual abuse does not have to mean penetration and that it may be sexual touching over and/or under clothing of the victim and/or any touch that is unwanted by the victim. I added that sexual abuse may also be showing or viewing pornographic images (to/with a victim).”

More disturbing still, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 November 2014 at 5:44 pm

Posted in Mental Health, Religion

Hyper-capitalism produces hyper-consumerism and distracts us from what is important

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Salon has an extract from what seems to be quite an interesting book by Mark Taylor, Speed Limits: Where Time Went and Why We Have So Little Left:

Market capitalism has long been associated not only with rationality but also with the freedom of choice. By the latter half of the twentieth century, economic principles defined reason as much as reason characterized markets. Rationality came to be defined largely by what made economic sense, and what was not in a person’s, a company’s, or a country’s economic self-interest was considered irrational by definition. Choice, defined by economic logic, came to be widely considered an unquestionable good—the more choices, the better. Within this regime, freedom of choice is little more than the freedom to buy and consume. According to this logic, economic progress can be measured by the increasing number of choices that consumers have. Though rarely acknowledged, increasing the number of choices is really less about improving human well-being than it is about expanding the market.

Think of it: 48,800 items in the average American supermarket, 500 or more stations on satellite TV, 125 beverage options in a single Coke machine, 65 different styles with 140 color and fabric options—a total of 9,100 options from a single dress company, a new Nook with 700,000 Google apps. Does this endless proliferation of consumer products really give people more choices or just different variations of the same options? Is it really true that more choices are always better?

Modernization’s strategy of planned obsolescence, entrepreneurs’ insistence on incessant innovation, and modernism’s dedication to making it new intersect in the world of contemporary fashion to expose the irrationality and inefficiency of today’s markets. Modernism, we have seen, is defined by its thoroughgoing commitment to the new or, more precisely, to an endless process of renewal. Though rarely acknowledged, what artists promote as a stance of radical critique in the name of creative innovation turns out to reinforce the very economic forces many of them claim to resist. Since the new must always be renewed, something like planned obsolescence is intrinsic to modern art. While the avant garde endorses as an aesthetic ideal that which often seems utterly impractical, for industry and finance it is actually both practical and necessary for economic growth. If the market is to flourish, the excessive is indispensable, the frivolous essential, and the useless useful. This is not to suggest that the lines joining the avant-garde and expanding markets are clear or direct. To the contrary, much innovative modern art struggles to subvert market forces. Yet as we have seen in our consideration of hedge funds and private equity funds for art, the market has extraordinary recuperative powers that enable it to incorporate opposition and turn resistance to its own ends. When artistic resistance is transformed into economic promotion, high art is popularized and commodified and commodities are further aestheticized.

Nowhere are these dynamics more clearly on display than in today’s . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 November 2014 at 1:34 pm

Interesting view of ADHD, with a natural fix

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Richard A. Friedman is a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College. He writes in the NY Times:

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is now the most prevalent psychiatric illness of young people in America, affecting 11 percent of them at some point between the ages of 4 and 17. The rates of both diagnosis and treatment have increased so much in the past decade that you may wonder whether something that affects so many people can really be a disease.

And for a good reason. Recent neuroscience research shows that people with A.D.H.D. are actually hard-wired for novelty-seeking — a trait that had, until relatively recently, a distinct evolutionary advantage. Compared with the rest of us, they have sluggish and underfed brain reward circuits, so much of everyday life feels routine and understimulating.

To compensate, they are drawn to new and exciting experiences and get famously impatient and restless with the regimented structure that characterizes our modern world. In short, people with A.D.H.D. may not have a disease, so much as a set of behavioral traits that don’t match the expectations of our contemporary culture.

From the standpoint of teachers, parents and the world at large, the problem with people with A.D.H.D. looks like a lack of focus and attention and impulsive behavior. But if you have the “illness,” the real problem is that, to your brain, the world that you live in essentially feels not very interesting.

One of my patients, a young woman in her early 20s, is prototypical. “I’ve been on Adderall for years to help me focus,” she told me at our first meeting. Before taking Adderall, she found sitting in lectures unendurable and would lose her concentration within minutes. Like many people with A.D.H.D., she hankered for exciting and varied experiences and also resorted to alcohol to relieve boredom. But when something was new and stimulating, she had laserlike focus. I knew that she loved painting and asked her how long she could maintain her interest in her art. “No problem. I can paint for hours at a stretch.”

Rewards like sex, money, drugs and novel situations all cause the release of dopamine in the reward circuit of the brain, a region buried deep beneath the cortex. Aside from generating a sense of pleasure, this dopamine signal tells your brain something like, “Pay attention, this is an important experience that is worth remembering.”

The more novel and unpredictable the experience, the greater the activity in your reward center. But what is stimulating to one person may be dull — or even unbearably exciting — to another. There is great variability in the sensitivity of this reward circuit.

Clinicians have long known this to be the case, and everyday experience bears it out. Think of the adrenaline junkies who bungee jump without breaking a sweat and contrast them with the anxious spectators for whom the act evokes nothing but terror and dread.

Dr. Nora D. Volkow, a scientist who directs the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has studied the dopamine reward pathway in people with A.D.H.D. Using a PET scan, she and her colleagues compared the number of dopamine receptors in this brain region in a group of unmedicated adults with A.D.H.D. with a group of healthy controls. What she found was striking. The adults with A.D.H.D. had significantly fewer D2 and D3 receptors (two specific subtypes of dopamine receptors) in their reward circuits than did healthy controls. Furthermore, the lower the level of dopamine receptors was, the greater the subjects’ symptoms of inattention. Studies in children showed similar changes in dopamine function as well.

These findings suggest that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2014 at 8:31 pm

Posted in Mental Health, Science

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