From time to time, I find myself feeling the urge to articulate my views and delineate them from people with whom I may be identified. Rightly or wrongly, I feel that way with this website. Although the goal is to have wide ranging goals there is nevertheless a distinct perspective represented here. I feel the urge to articulate where I part ways with some of the views expressed here. I do this in the spirit of discourse. I am not certain I am correct. I may someday change my mind. I am just expressing my perspective.
In the world of emergency medicine time is a critical resource. But Ryan McGarry, ER physician and stage IV lymphoma survivor, understands at the bone that idle minutes mean something very different to a patient. He recalled, in a recent phone interview, “waiting on news if the therapy is working . . . is there more disease that we didn’t know about, is it getting bigger . . . the clock was torture, watching that dial go around is torture.” McGarry horridly remembers what it’s like to wait on a simple, overdue dose of anti-nausea medication. He reflects, “You’re clearly at an advantage as a physician or provider at any level if you’ve been a patient. It’s just an unbeatable perspective.”
When I as a European follow American politics I can’t help being amazed by the – I believe a polite expression would be – colorful personalities in the Tea Party and how they manage to continue to be a powerful part of American politics despite making claims that as I see them reported are easily debunked. American politics does not affect me directly but when I compare psychiatry as a part of the medical science to the Tea Party there are some striking similarities.
In his Alternatives Conference 2012 Address, Will Hall called attention to the ongoing phenomena of “medicalizing poverty and calling it mental illness.” Mental health systems and practitioners often tend to perceive and identify the myriad ways that impoverished people cope and adapt to adverse environments (such as food and housing insecurity) as pathological indicators of mental illness. A poor child who does not pay attention to the day’s lessons at school may be diagnosed with ADHD, yet focuses intense attention on how he will return home safely, take care of his siblings and get a meal. A young woman may be labeled as Oppositional/Defiant who bravely copes with an erratic mother and her abusive boyfriend. Behaviors that can make sense in one context (home, neighborhood), are flagged as dysfunctional and impaired in another (school & work).
Physical exercise and a yogic technique of progressive muscle tensing and relaxing have the power to alter people’s visual perceptions on a classic anxiety test, according to a study in PLOS One. Previous research has shown that people who are feeling socially anxious perceive point-light displays of ambiguous human figures as facing threateningly towards them more often than facing away. The study by Adam Heenan, a Queen’s University PhD candidate in psychology, found that people regarded these figures as less threatening after brief engagement in exercise or muscle relaxation. More →
Psychiatrists Richard Brown and Patricia Gerbarg will be giving a Breath~Body~Mind workshop live online August 16 and August 17, 2014. According to a press release, the psychiatrists “combine the most rapidly effective breathing techniques to improve mood, mental focus, heart and lung function, endurance, and stress relief.” They also particularly direct the integrative practice towards “individuals with psychiatric (anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADD) and medical conditions (cancer, lung problems, toxic exposures), and victims of abuse, terrorism, war, and natural disaster.” More →
Two opinion articles discuss the unscientific aspects of psychology and psychiatry, and posit ways for overcoming some of the conundrums… In Nature, a group of neuroscientists and psychologists argue for the vital importance of increasing interdisciplinary communication to overcome knowledge gaps. And a New York Times commentary looks at the recent controversy over international efforts to map the human brain as an example of our challenges trying to get studies of the mind on track. More →
University of British Columbia researchers conducted a meta-analysis that found positive effects from giving cognitive behavioral therapy to outpatients with medication-resistant psychosis. Publishing in Psychiatric Services, the researchers examined 16 published articles describing 12 randomized controlled trials involving 639 individuals. They found “overall beneficial effects of CBT” for positive symptoms and general symptoms. More →
In what they describe as the first large-scale, long-term, nation-wide study of its kind, Danish researchers have confirmed that ADHD stimulants double the risk of adverse cardiovascular events in children. In their study published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, the researchers followed over 700,000 children born in Denmark between 1990 and 1999. “Cardiovascular events were rare but twice as likely in stimulant users as in non-users, both in the total national population and in children with ADHD,” they concluded. “We found a complex, time- and dose-dependent interrelationship between cardiovascular adverse events and stimulant treatment in children and adolescents.” More →
In his Scientific American blog, Gary Stix reviews the latest investigations into the impacts of comprehensive lifestyle change approaches to preventing dementia. “Results of the first clinical trial that conforms to [the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's] pull-out-all-stops approach were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association’s International Conference in Copenhagen on July 13. The large-scale study of 1260 individuals at risk of cognitive decline showed that study volunteers who rigorously adhered to measures prescribed for diet, exercise, cognitive training, social engagement and management of cardiac risk factors had better results on a battery of tests of cognitive results than did a control group that had received more generic health counseling.” More →
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