This past June, Illinois became the 3rd state to allow psychologists to prescribe medications commonly used for psychiatric issues, after New Mexico and Louisiana have enacted similar laws. When it comes to gambles for our profession, and frankly for the general public, it doesn’t really get much bigger than this. The following list provides a brief overview of some of the most serious issues that face this discussion, both for psychologists and the general public.
I grew up in an environment that taught me my worth as a person was directly tied to my grades, my athletic performance, my list of extra-curricular activities, and my SAT scores. That if I wasn’t the best, I was the worst. That if I wasn’t perfect, I was a failure. At thirteen and in all my psychiatrized years to follow, I never had the chance to step back and process what this all meant, and whether these were values I wanted to hold onto, and I continued through high school and on to Harvard in this existential limbo, simply because I saw no other way.
Finnish reseachers report in Schizophrenia Research that antipsychotic use is associated with cognitive and memory impairments. The University of Oulu team studied forty people diagnosed with schizophrenia and 73 controls at the ages of 34 and 43 years. “Higher antipsychotic dose-years by baseline were significantly associated with poorer baseline performance in several dimensions of verbal learning and memory, and with a larger decrease in short-delay free recall during the follow-up,” they observed. More →
Asylum, the “international magazine for democratic psychiatry,” is inviting 500-1000 word submissions for a special themed issue exploring “the intersections between mental health and other forms of identification and identity in comics, graphic novels and sequential art.” According to a post on the Disability Studies Network, among other topics, the editors are interested in “personal reflections on your own favourite comic depictions of mental health issues” and “reflections on comics which are not about mental health directly, but are concerned with relevant themes: alienation; difference; altered states; extremes of behaviour, breaking taboos, etc.” More →
The journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology has published a review of what is known about psychedelic drugs’ biochemical effects in the human brain, their physical side effects, and their psychotherapeutic applications. “Hallucinogens have been part of spiritual practice for millennia, but controversy surrounding their mind-manifesting effects led to their proscription by the mid-20th century, largely without evidence of harm or toxicity and despite nascent data suggesting therapeutic utility in treating depressive illnesses,” writes a team of Kings College London psychiatrists. More →
An article in HRHero, a legal resource for human resource professionals, expresses concern about the expanding diagnostic categories in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. “More employees may qualify for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) than ever before, which means employers must be ready to address issues of mental disability accommodation,” writes Lisa Berg. She says employers should also be concerned about increasing numbers of lawsuits accusing discrimination based on these vague, broadening categories of mental disorders. “If you struggle with understanding whether you must accommodate an employee with a mental disorder, you’re not alone. The ADA has become a tricky law to navigate, and now that legal maze has become even more complicated.” More →
I had a soul-redemptive heart-to-heart reunion with a woman I had known from a distance but whom now (after our hours long coeur-a-coeur/heart-to-heart) I consider a close friend. I shared with her some very exciting and some challenging circumstances I have been experiencing of late. After I shared and shed a few tears she told me a story from her life that also poses, like my story, an invitation for profound change in our lives.
It seems almost every week now that we hear of a mass murder/shooting in the media. By now the pattern is too familiar to be as frightening as it once was. The response has also become reflexive: Guns should be made less available, especially to people with mental illnesses, and potentially dangerous people should be treated for their mental illnesses − involuntarily if necessary − so they can live safely in our community. Yet, nothing much changes, outraging the next set of victim’s families and communities.
It is hard to believe that a year has gone past since I posted Playing the Odds: Antidepressant Withdrawal and the Problem of Informed Consent. The feedback I received underscored the more controversial aspects of SSRI toxicity. Common themes concerned the abrupt onset of new symptoms 3 to 12 months after stopping the drug, reinstatement of the drug failing to help withdrawal related symptoms, the possibility that withdrawal-related symptoms can persist indefinitely and concerns about using benzodiazepines to help with tardive akathisia.
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