Friday, July 21, 2017

Comments by Explorer86

Showing 55 of 55 comments.

  • ‘Trump will be authoritarian, that’s for sure. But his is likely to be a clumsy authoritarianism, oafish rather than Orwellian. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, leftists and millennials won’t find a dystopian, fictionalized version of Trumpism—they’ll find themselves. In the Party, in the treatment of ideas as disorders, in the Two Minutes Hate against those who are offensive or different, in the hounding of unpopular opinions, in the memory-holing of difficult things, they will see their own tragic creed reflected back to them. They will find a stinging rebuke from history of their own embrace of the sexless, joyless, ban-happy urge to control almost every area of individual thought and life. I hope they heed to this rebuke, and change.’

    http://reason.com/archives/2017/02/10/orwells-1984-a-better-reflection-of-the

  • Interesting post.

    But I have to say that most people who have had a near death experience would disagree with some of what you wrote.

    Also, consider this: How could something like the Big Bang possibly have happened? The idea is basically that the Universe was a singularity that started expanding. Ok. Expanding where? Empty space? Empty space is still something. It can’t just expand into nothing. When a balloon expands, does it expand into nothing? And the Universe can’t be finite. If it’s finite, then what happens when you reach the end? Do you fall off? How? Where to?

    So the only conclusion we can reach is that the Universe is infinite. Which is not really a concept we can grasp in any “natural” sense. It’s logically absurd. But less so than the other options. And trying to grasp it makes one realize what those who say that “All is one” really mean.

  • Great writing.

    It does seem that the drug-centered explanation for why some people experience some relief some of the time is the best one. This is also evident in the fact that other types of drugs, like benzos or opioids seem to calm them down as well.

    People have taken intoxicants to “take the edge off” unpleasant feelings since time immemorial, so this is hardly surprising.

  • By the way, here’s one thing to consider: A few days ago I noticed a film on Youtube titled “The Truth About Depression”, challenging some of the assumptions of the biomedical model (although not in a way I would entirely support). It received hundreds of thousands of views. The guy who made it is with…Guess what?

    He’s one of the guys working for…Alex Jones’ Infowars. The epitome of “alternative facts” in the public’s eye at the moment.

  • @shook

    “Frank, as to your points, there have been some real breakthroughs in 2016, especially with the genetics of Schizophrenia. It is early, but I think we are headed there.”

    I think a lot hass been written about those “breakthroughs” on this site.

    I’m not sure why you’re citing genetic research as an example of getting where we’re supposed to be though. It’s the opposite.

    P.S.: Some food for thought regarding genetics and schizophrenia….What the Nazis did in in Germany:

    “If a nation murdered and sterilized an estimated 73% to 100% of its diagnosed schizophrenics, yet a generation later that nation had a higher rate ofincidence of new cases of schizophrenia than did surrounding nations, shouldn’t we have questions about the claim by the mental health establishment that schizophrenia is highly heritable?”

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2013/01/what-happened-after-a-nation-methodically-murdered-its-schizophrenics-rethinking-mental-illness-and-its-heritability/

  • P.S.: If your thumb hurts and you paralyse your hand, your thumb will stop hurting.

    I assume that if there is ever a medical “cure” for any “mental illness”, this is the form it will take.

    Didn’t a guy once stop being depressed after he survived a gunshot to the head?

  • I’m trying to figure out what exactly the differences between the “patients” and the “normals” could be. One thing comes to mind: A recent study showing people living in areas with less green and blue experience more anxiety and other problems than people in areas with lots of green and blue: “Our analyses do indeed show a relationship between GSA [green space availability] and any anxiety disorder, with prevalence being lower when more green space is available…BSA [blue space availability] was related to all health variables, with the exception of any substance use. Moreover, its associations with these health variables were stronger than those of GSA.” https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/12/access-green-blue-spaces-may-improve-mental-health/

    Maybe the “patient” group has a disproportionately large number of city-dwellers? I don’t know, it’s just a wild guess. Is there any data on whether people who live in cities are more likely to encounter psychiatry than others?

  • @humanbeing: I wouldn’t say “positive thinking”. But what is quoted is pretty much part of the fundamental premise of many cognitive-oriented approaches: the idea that you get to regulate your own thoughts.

    And it does work for many problems. For example, SMART Recovery is among the best approaches to overcoming addiction: https://www.thefix.com/content/why-smart-recovery-will-never-replace-alcoholics-anonymous

    ‘This tool basically assists someone in changing their belief system about alcohol and/or drugs and it’s fairly effective, boasting a recovery rate anywhere between 35% and 50% over a one-year period, depending on the study.’

  • Perhaps it would be good to add a bit about the notion of neuroplasticity and how brain changes are a common result of life events, including our own thoughts.

    “Purely mental activity can change the brain in physiologically significant ways. And to back up this fact we look again to the work of Dr Jeffrey Schwartz[3], who has taught OCD patients techniques to think their way out of obsessive thoughts. After exercising these thought practices, research showed that the brains of OCD patients looked no different than the brains of those who’d never had OCD. If you change your thoughts, you change your brain physically – and this is voluntary.” – Steven Slate

  • All this talk of psychiatry reminds me of this quote:

    “An ideology is reluctant to believe that it was ever born, since to do so is to acknowledge that it can die . . . It would prefer to think of itself as without parentage, sprung parthenongenetically from its own seed. It is equally embarrassed by the presence of sibling ideologies, since these mark out its own finite frontiers and so delimit its sway. To view an ideology is to recognize its limits.” – Terry Eagleton (1991:58)

  • Yeah, about “anti-social”, it isn’t at all clear what that even is. Wasn’t Whitaker called a “menace to society” by one of the chief headshrinkers? He didn’t exactly “diagnose” him but he was basically calling him anti-social. What else does “menace to society” mean? So basically we have here a talented, hard-working, well-meaning person exposing the truth for the public to see, in its own interest…and gets called anti-social by a person whose very job is supposed to be to make people’s lives better. What gives?

    Love the video in general though. Good stuff.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2017/01/14/fmri-mental-illness/#.WHt2EFzRMk4

    ‘A remarkable and troubling new paper…Sprooten et al.’s analysis included 537 studies with a total of 21,427 participants. Five mental illnesses were examined: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)…

    …The results were rather surprising. It turned out that there were very few differences between the different disorders in terms of the distribution of the group differences across the brain…In other words, there was little or no diagnostic specificity in the fMRI results…

    …Sprooten et al. suggest that “the disorders examined here arise from largely overlapping neural network dysfunction”, in other words that the transdiagnostic trait is a neurobiological part of the cause of the various different disorders. But it seems to me that there’s no reason to assume this.

    What if the common factor is more straightforward: something like anxiety or stress during the MRI scan?’

  • It can certainly make one a bit of a social pariah, all things considered. Especially among those “progressive” types who see the belief in biological mental illness as a sign of englightenment (and i’m afraid to say that I was one of them for most of my life) and its “denial” as some kind of cruelty…Which is ironic, considering the profile of the majority of the “deniers”. It’s like they don’t even take two seconds to find out what exactly is going on.

  • ‘“We have cured cancer in mice for decades—and it simply didn’t work in humans.”[1] Even chimpanzees, our closest genetic relatives, do not accurately predict results in humans—of the more than 80 HIV vaccines that have proven safe and efficacious in chimpanzees (as well as other nonhuman primates), all have failed to protect or prove safe in humans in nearly 200 human clinical trials, with one actually increasing a human’s chance of HIV infection.’ http://www.neavs.org/research/limitations

    If this is the case for physical illnesses, then what does it say about psychological problems?

  • Psychiatrists are among the most damaging elements to ever exist in any society. I have no more patience for these quacks. Dealing with them and their idiocy is, ironically, making my own depression worse.

    I am probably going to take an indefinite break from arguing with their type. I have no more energy for such stupidity.

    Good luck with everything to all you activists and I hope the beast gets what it deserves soon.

    P.S.: To any of you “doctors” who might be reading this, hear this and remember it: I do not know which circle of Hell you are going to, but it’s probably a deep one. It’s no less than you deserve.

  • This is where you guys start showing your social engineering/totalitarian colors.

    First of all, yes, making choice available for psychiatric meds, but not for other things would be inconsistent. And? How is this an argument against the choice principle? It’s an argument against selective choice, for sure, but not against choice as such.

    Secondly, psychoactive substances have been around since the beginning of civilization. The right to ingest these things was so self-evident that the very idea of trying to ban them would have seen absurd. It was more fundamental than the right to vote. It wasn’t until the 20th century that drug prohibition became the norm (for selected drugs, anyway).

    Thirdly, look at the actual consequences of a repressive response to these things. Alcohol Prohibition? How did that work out? Gang violence? Narco cartels beheading people? People overdosing on the streets because they aren’t aware of the purity or because they mix their drugs with other drugs to enhance their effects, as a result of poor education or? Crackdowns on “legal” opioids leading them to start using street drugs or to mix them with booze because they don’t have enough pills for the desired effect?

    Not to mention the fact that in traditional societies as well as places like 19th century England, drugs like opioids were widely used but problems were not nearly as large as they are now.

    The drugs themselves are just part of the story. The social context matters even more, as does the personality of a user.

    Do you have a problem with heroin prescriptions in the UK as well? Or the heroin maintenance programs in Switzerland, which are highly successful?

    Why did the use of opioids rise to a similar extent in the same period in the US and the UK, but the problem use and overdose rate remained about the same in the UK, while it rose drastically in the US? And why has the number of heroin users in the last years in the US been falling but the number of heroin deaths has actually increased in the same time?

    Why do Northern European countries have a bigger problem with alcohol binge drinking and related violence than Southern European countries ever though alcohol is a lot more socially incorporated in the latter, and kids already learn to drink with their families at a young age? Maybe it is precisely because of that?

    Again, context is highly important.

    Nuance, yes. You seem to be missing most of it.

  • Here’s some encouraging news, as was written in another article on the site a while ago: Recent polls in 15 countries show that the great majority of non-psychiatric medical practitioners and students believe that psychiatrists are too powerful, unscientific and illogical.

    There is hope yet. If only we could get the doctors to actually express these views that they have of their brethren of a more quackish persuasions.

  • Heck, I’d be willing to bet that what they do in Swiss clinics where they inject heroin addicts with heroin twice a day (so-called heroin assisted treatment) is much safer than daily neuroleptics.

    Wasn’t it Szasz who said that moderate doses of opioids are probably safer than these new complex compounds?

    Either way, the causal link between neuroleptics are heart disease is now becoming more and more established.

    ‘The risk for cardiovascular disease in people with psychosis increases after their first exposure to antipsychotic drugs, according to new research published online February 7 in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

    “This change in risk is evident early in the course of treatment, within several weeks of continuous use, but may continue over years,” study investigator Debra L. Foley, PhD, of the University of Melbourne in Australia, told Medscape Medical News.’ http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/737485

  • I really liked reading this. Very good.

    I have recently been reading and thinking about the materialist philosophy predominating in modern society and just how unfounded it is. And obviously, it has influenced psychiatry greatly.

    Here’s the problem: There isn’t a single element in the human brain that you don’t find in the rest of the universe. There isn’t a special type of atomic particle that makes these brains conscious. So how do we explain this?

    1.One idea is that of panpsychism. Every single particle in the universe is conscious in some way, it just becomes more complex when neurology is involved. But this is really a terrible way to explain the unitary nature of our individual minds. It’s a stretch to imagine that these small conscious particles could form our unified self-reflections. Not to mention our rationality, our values, etc. So I would intuitively say that panpsychism is false.

    2.Emergentism. The mind emerges out of complex arrangement of matter. So we can investigate which arrangements lead to this happening. But this is a lazy, ad hoc explanation. Why, exactly, should these arrangements lead to consciousness? No matter how it’s arranged, how and why should the material give rise to something so radically different from it, a subjective, self-aware experience?

    Now here are some viable explanations:

    1.Dualism: There are two fundamentally different substances that interact with one another.

    2.Idealism: There is only consciousness.

    Both of these are anti-materialistic, and as such, are not taken seriously in the current intellectual climate. And yet, that intellectual climate is nothing other than the triumph of ideology over common sense. It is completely intellectually, factually and logically bankrupt.

    There are people who can explain the problem better than I can, but I think that’s the gist of it.

    Some people would respond to this by explaining consciousness as having an evolutionary advantage. I don’t know about that. If they’re referring to Darwinian evolution, it has serious problems and limitations of its own (and I accept that many will now call me a loon, but that’s life). Some type of evolution obviously exists, but I believe the Darwinian interpretation is fundamentally inadequate and missing something. For example, it simply cannot account for the rapid formation of new forms. That’s why you now have so-called evo devo theorists who question its validity (even though they assume the materialist position, usually). If Darwinism doesn’t fit reality, then so much worse for Darwinism.

    Also: Even if Natural Selection guides evolution, it can only explain why consciousness survived: it cannot explain how something so different from matter can arise in the first place. And we often do forget how fundamentally different the purely objective is from the subjective. For example, can you explain the redness of red using biochemical explanations?

    Oh and speaking of “psychopathology”, let’s take one extreme example: Near Death Experiences. Why is it that people who report such intense and life-changing experiences actually have minimal brain activity levels (by the way, brain activity is also reduced, although not to the same extent, when people trip on psychedelics, as Bernardo Kastrup notes)? From a materialistic perspective, this makes no sense at all. And if you add reports where people report things that happened in the room they clearly would not be able to report “normally”, you start to a get a very interesting picture of the phenomenon.

    Then there is the extensive research on paranormal phenomena such as telepathy and other variants strongly indicating something very interesting is going on (e.g. Dean Radin is a good reference).

    Now add the Anthropic Cosmological Principle: The notion that if conditions were even slightly different at the beginning of the Universe, human life would never evolve. It is telling that Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA (of all people!), was well-aware of the problem. He put forward the “directed panspermia” hypothesis, the idea that an advanced civilization from outer space planted the seeds of life on Earth, based on the premise that other planets had more favorable conditions for life to evolve much before ours (although even he admits that he has absolutely no hard data for such a claim).

    Also, here’s something Thomas Nagel has to say about congnition present in “higher” forms of life, and then later of the problem of value: “Just as consciousness cannot be explained as a mere extension or complication of physical evolution, so reason cannot be explained as a mere extension or complication of consciousness. To explain our rationality will require something in addition to what is needed to explain our consciousness and its evidently adaptive forms, something at a different level. Reason can take us beyond the appearances because it has completely general validity, rather than merely local utility. If we have it, we recognize that it can be neither confirmed nor undermined by a theory of its evolutionary origins, nor by any other external view of itself. We cannot distance ourselves from it….

    This, then is what a theory of everything has to explain: not only the emergence from a lifeless universe of reproducing organisms and their development by evolution to greater and greater functional complexity; not only the consciousness of some of those organisms and its central role in their lives; but also the development of consciousness into an instrument of transcendence that can grasp objective reality and objective value.”

    On value: “Whether practical reason is emergent or reducible to activity at the micro level through some form of psychological monism, value realism requires consciousness to be active and rules out epiphenomenalism in human action.”

  • @Francesca

    “I don’t think street drug use is either desirable…”

    The great majority of street drug users experience no significant adverse effects due to their drug use: http://theinfluence.org/newsflash-despite-our-drug-related-problems-non-problematic-drug-use-is-the-norm/

    So, the question is: Desirable to whom? It seems that if they are using these drugs and experiencing no negative consequences, it would seem to me that this can, indeed, be described as “desirable” from a net effect perspective?

  • “But also, some people are clearly wired differently, mostly due to slight variations in their unique genetic codes. They had different placements of a few amino acids along their double helix.”

    How do you know that they are clearly wired differently? Did you have them tested genetically?

    If so, what did you discover? Which genetic differences did they clearly have?

    What causal role did these genetic differences play? How, exactly, did these genetic factors contribute to their problems? Which exact mechanism are you speaking of?

  • Good article.

    I see some potential problems and obstacles in the cooperation between MIA-minded people and critics of mainstream addiction ideology. Both are anti-mainstream and I see some overlapping…But I also see areas where there might be some very, very big problems.

    Consider these statemeents by critics of mainstream addictology:

    “There are no published studies that establish a causal link between drug-induced neural adaptations and compulsive drug use or even a correlation between drug-induced neural changes and an increase in preference for an addictive drug.” – Heyman, G.M.

    “people are active agents in–not passive victims of–their addictions.” – Stanton Peele

    “In my view, addiction (whether to drugs, food, gambling, or whatever) doesn’t fit a specific physiological category.” – Marc Lewis

    “It is more probable that addiction is a normal human bonding to an object, in spite of the negative social and cultural evaluations it is subjected to.” – Cohen, P.

    “addiction is not a chemical side effect of a drug.” – Stanton Peele

    “Is being addicted really something else as not wanting to change behavior?” – Cohen P.

    I could list more but I think that’s enough for the point I’m making.

    P.S.: By the way, I think it is important to note that Szasz would completely agree with these quotes.

    P.P.S.: Also: Am I mistaken or is there not a single critique of AA on the entire site? This might be pretty much a deal-breaker for some people.

    I believe that it is possible that people who feel harmed by the disease model of addiction and the ideologically similar AA model might actually see MIA and some of its views as *antithetical* to their struggle.

    There are those of us who feel demoralized by psychiatric diagnosis and the way society views it, as well as demoralized by having been told that substances are powerful and we are powerless over them.

  • Years ago, I was hospitalized for 3 weeks (not by force) and luckily, didn’t have any particularly negative experiences.

    But I remember one day a person who had suffered a stroke was admitted. He was almost immobile. The next day, one of the technicians decided he wanted him to walk (?!), got him out of his chair and naturally he fell on the floor. Afterwards, the technician dragged him across the room and kicked him repeatedly.

    It’s just…I don’t even have words for it.

  • Great post like always.

    One more important thing I would note: We don’t even know if this gene actually plays a protective role at all!

    1% of the population has what we call schizophrenia. That’s 1 in 100. But we only know of 22 people who have that gene. That’s not nearly enough to know what role it plays. We’d need WAY more people with the gene to be able to say anything at all.

  • ‘In conclusion, maybe the real “breakthrough” we should be working for, would be to get the NIMH and eventually the media to become interested in a “person in context” view of mental distress and mental disorders, so that biological facts will not be taken out of context, and we can orient our institutions both toward doing more prevention of distress and disorder in the first place, and more appropriate interventions once problems have occurred!’

    Oh god yes please. Sometime in my lifetime, hopefully.

  • I would say that even if we find biomarkers, the main question is: What do they even mean? Are they the cause or the effect? Or maybe both? Causality works both ways: our social environment, our behavior, our thoughts and our free will cause these neuronal changes just as much as those changes cause the former. It’s a bit of a chicken or egg question, I suppose.

  • 75% of all those addicted to opioids in the US were not introduced to them by doctors, but got them elsewhere. Furthermore, these people already had a history of problems with other street drugs like cocaine. Indeed, monodrug addicts are actually a minority. That’s not really what addiction is about. It has little to do with any specific drug or activity: it’s something inside the person; it’s a type of behavioral pattern. And if we look at it from the other side: Out of the large number of people who are prescribed opioids for pain, only about 1% develop a problem.

    It is sad to see that even this site spreads nonsense about iatrogenic addiction and the like. Apparently, the anti-establishment feeling is so strong here it overrides rational thinking when it comes to addiction.

  • This is one area of the movement that I don’t fully agree with. In fact, it’s kind of self-defeating. The idea that a drug can *cause* you to do something, that is. Because if biochemical factors don’t cause what we call “mental illness”, then …Well, you see where this is going.

    P.S.: On a related note, I obviously don’t agree with the disease model of addiction either.

  • I generally agree more than not with what you have written, but I do have to write some things, things that even the most anti-drug war people seem to be unaware of, but is vitally important. And this is that no drug is inherently addictive. There is absolutely no evidence of any kind of brain disorder. There are certain neural correlates in heavy users (every behavior has neural correlates, every habit, not just drug use), but there is absolutely no causal link established in all the literature on the topic. There isn’t even any established correlation between an increase in preference and neural correlates. Not even for heroin.

    Which brings us to the core of the issue: You have to believe you are addicted to feel addicted. This might sound surprising but evidence shows that it is our ideas about drugs that lead us to behave in certain ways. As such, the percentage of users of a certain substance who have a problem with it is not fixed. Right now, in the US, about 17% of nonmedical users of opioids are problem users (yes, even problematic nonmedical users are actually a minority of all nonmedical users). The % for heroin is higher but this has much more to do with social and psychological context and set than with the drug itself.

    There have been historical periods where only 1% (!) of opium users were actually excessive users. I believe the Punjab region at some point. And generally, moderate opium use was the characteristic use of the majority of Asian users.

    A highly recommended book is The Cult of Pharmacology. I would also recommend the writings of Steven Slate.

    I write none of this to encourage drug use. But I believe a paradigm shift is necessary. The sooner it happens, the better.

    I would also point out research that deals with predicting relapse. The two most important factors predicting it are lack of coping skills and…..belief in the disease model of addiction. Therefore, the mainstream model is actually HARMING people, not helping them.