Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Antipsychotic Meds Tied to Diabetes in Children

A Reuters/FOX News article makes an observation that is not news to adult users of these medications, but brings up the point that this side effect may also appear in children being treated for bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The usual suspects: Risperdal, known generically as risperidone, Zyprexa (olanzapine), Seroquel (quetiapine) and Abilify (aripiprazole).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Latest Psychological Research Scandal

An article in Psychology Today reports that a Danish researcher has come under fire for fabricating experimental results over a decade.

Diederik Stapel, a well-known and widely published psychologist in the Netherlands, routinely falsified data and made up entire experiments, according to an investigative committee.

But according to Benedict Carey of the New York Times, the scandal is just one in a string of embarrassments in "a field that critics and statisticians say badly needs to overhaul how it treats research results...."

While inaccurate and even fabricated findings make the field of psychology look silly, they take on potentially far more serious ramifications in forensic contexts, where the stakes can include six-figure payouts or extreme deprivations of liberty....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Study Suggests Strangers Can Spot "Kindness Gene"

An AFP/Yahoo article describes how there may be a genetic component to being kind and caring.

People with a certain gene trait are known to be more kind and caring than people without it, and strangers can quickly tell the difference, according to US research published on Monday.

The variation is linked to the body's receptor gene of oxytocin, sometimes called the "love hormone" because it often manifests during sex and promotes bonding, empathy and other social behaviors.

Scientists at Oregon State University devised an experiment in which 23 couples, whose genotypes were known to researchers but not observers, were filmed.
One member of the couple was asked to tell the other about a time of suffering in his or her life. Observers were asked to watch the listener for 20 seconds, with the sound turned off.
In most cases, the observers were able to tell which of the listeners had the "kindness gene" and which ones did not, said the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences edition of November 14.

"Our findings suggest even slight genetic variation may have tangible impact on people's behavior, and that these behavioral differences are quickly noticed by others," said lead author Aleksandr Kogan, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto.

Nine out 10 people who were judged by the neutral observers to be "least trusted" carried the A version of the gene, while six out 10 deemed "most prosocial" had the GG genotype.
People in the study were tested beforehand and found to have GG, AG or AA genotypes for the rs53576 DNA sequence of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene.
People who have two copies of the G allele are generally judged as more empathetic, trusting and loving.

Those with AG or AA genotypes tend to say they feel less positive overall, and feel less parental sensitivity. Previous research has shown they also may have a higher risk of autism.

"The oxytocin receptor gene in particular has become of great interest because a select number of studies suggest that it is related to how prosocial people view themselves," Kogan said.
"Our study asked the question of whether these differences manifest themselves in behaviors that are quickly detectable by strangers, and it turns out they did."
However, no gene trait can entirely predict a person's behavior, and more research is needed to find out how the variant affects the underlying biology of behavior.

"These are people who just may need to be coaxed out of their shells a little," said senior author Sarina Rodrigues Saturn, an assistant professor of psychology at Oregon State University whose previous research established the genetic link to empathetic behavior.

"It may not be that we need to fix people who exhibit less social traits, but that we recognize they are overcoming a genetically influenced trait and that they may need more understanding and encouragement."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Yet Another Testimonial for TMS (Trans-Cranial Magnetic Stimulation) of San Diego describes how the Botkiss Center for TMS Therapy in Del Mar has been treating patients with depression by running a powerful, pulsating magnetic field along certain areas of the skull. This procedure has just been approved by the FDA and recognized as an option by the American Psychiatric Association, but since it is relatively new, insurance companies will not help pay for it. The cost can be substantial - between $7,000 and $10,000 - for the series, but if you have tried everything else without success, can afford the price, and object to the intrusive nature of ECT (electro-convulsive therapy), this may provide the relief that you are looking for. As with all other methods of treating depression, there is no guarantee of a cure, of course.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Warrior Relaxation Response Center: An Oasis in the Desert for Vets with PTSD

After hearing several favorable reports and reading the article in the Colorado Springs Gazette, I decided to investigate the Warrior Relaxation Response Center for myself and was not disappointed.

Antione Johnson, who put up a large chunk of his life's savings to start the center, impressed me with his knowledge of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the most cutting-edge technologies being used to help combat veterans deal with it. The lavender-scented atmosphere and equipment are designed to induce the relaxation response when flashbacks or other symptoms of PTSD rear their ugly heads. I told him that the latest word we are putting out on the street is that PTSD is not a mental illness, but an adaptation to a real threat, and that it requires an equally powerful adaptation to negotiate the return to civilian life.

The Warrior Relaxation Response Center is located at the intersection of Circle Drive and Airport Road, at 2535 Airport Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80910, and the phone number is 719-339-6313. To hear more about this innovative approach, check out his YouTube video.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Psychologists Challenge Some Proposed Diagnoses in DSM-5

Looks like the continuing series of disputes over the content of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Edition (DSM-V) has a new wrinkle, according to an article in USA Today:

"The next edition of the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic bible will lead to millions of healthy people being labeled with a mental disorder and treated with potentially dangerous drugs, some psychologists say.

"They've drawn up an online petition urging the group to reconsider adding a number of diagnoses to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), to be published in 2013.

"Among the disorders the petition calls 'unsubstantiated and questionable' are 'apathy syndrome,' 'Internet addiction disorder' and 'parental alienation syndrome.'

"The petition, posted Oct. 22, now has more than 5,000 signatures, says David Elkins, president of the Society for Humanistic Psychology and professor emeritus at Pepperdine University...."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Catch-22 for the Mentally Ill

The Hopeworks Community blog has a provocative entry on "Psychiatric Anosognosia," a catchall explanation that can be used to nullify any observations on the part of a person diagnosed with mental illness (even though severe cases are not dysfunctional 100% of the time) and justify forced hospitalization/medication.

We are reminded of this useful observation on "confirmation bias":

“Confirmation biases contribute to overconfidence in personal beliefs and can maintain or strengthen beliefs in the face of contrary evidence. Hence they can lead to poor decisions, especially in organizational, scientific, militiary, political and social contexts.” 50 years of social psychology research clearly prove that personal blindness (confirmation bias) is a normal, regular, predictable characteristic of “normal” human beings that influence all areas of human life including “scientific” endeavors.

Friday, October 21, 2011

How Pornography Can Induce Sexual Dysfunction

We only occasionally refer to Psychology Today, but there is one article that spotlights another objection to pornography in addition to the usual (i.e., moral standards, exploitation of its subjects, its addictive nature, and raising unrealistic expectations in the consumer).

"A growing number of young, healthy Internet pornography users are complaining of delayed ejaculation, inability to be turned on by real partners, and sluggish erections.

"Lots of guys, 20s or so, can't get it up anymore with a real girl, and they all relate having a serious porn/masturbation habit. Guys will never openly discuss this with friends or co-workers, for fear of getting laughed out of town. But when someone tells their story on a health forum, and there are 50-100 replies from other guys who struggle with the same thing. This is for real.

"Threads relating to this issue are springing up all over the Web on bodybuilding, medical help, and pick-up artist forums, in at least twenty countries...."

Misuse of Mental Health Terms

The BBC News Magazine (U.K.) raises an excellent point: When psychological terms with scientific definitions are casually bandied about, does it contribute to our understanding of mental illness or reduce the stigma associated with the diagnosis? You know what the answer to this rhetorical question is.

"The neighbour who keeps his house tidy has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). A socially awkward colleague is autistic. The weather isn't just changeable, it's bipolar.

"Such analogies are so familiar they surely qualify as cliches. They are also inaccurate and, to many, deeply offensive.

"Campaigners are targeting what many say is an increasingly common practice - deploying the language of clinical diagnosis to describe everyday personality traits.

"Using these terms metaphorically is just a joke, not to be taken seriously, argue some. Others, however, warn that this serves to further obfuscate conditions that are widely misunderstood and stigmatised...."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Antidepressant Use Has Risen Sharply Over Past 20 Years

USA Today cites a U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that chronicles the increasing use of antidepressants in the United States.

Here are some of the major points:

1. Antidepressants are the third most common prescription drug.
2. Less than one-third of people taking one antidepressant and less than half of those taking multiple antidepressants had seen a mental health professional in the past year.
3. Women are 2.5 times more likely to take antidepressants than men and 23 percent of women aged 40 to 59 take antidepressants, more than in any other age/sex group.
4. Fourteen percent of white people take antidepressants, compared with 4 percent of blacks and 3 percent of Mexican Americans. The researchers found no association between income and antidepressant use.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cortisol Injection May Prevent PTSD reports that a new study indicates that an injection of the steroid hormone cortisol within 6 hours of a traumatic event may reduce the possibility of PTSD. The sample was rather small (17 persons), but has the promise of leading to a way to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The findings suggest there may be a 'window of opportunity' immediately following a trauma during which action can be taken to prevent PTSD, said the researchers, who are now conducting a wider study.

"'One can think about it as the morning-after pill for PTSD,' said study researcher Joseph Zohar of Tel Aviv University in Israel. Doctors call such precautions that are taken after the fact, such as the contraceptive pill ingested after sex, 'secondary prevention.'"

"If the findings are confirmed, 'this will be the first time that there is secondary prevention in psychiatry,' Zohar said.

"The study will be published in the October issue of the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Not All Who Hear Voices Are Mad

Hearing Voices Network USA Launches Website

On September 14, 2011 (World Hearing Voices Day), the Hearing Voices Network USA launched its website at “We are joining countries across the world – including Australia, Greece, England, Wales, Denmark, the Netherlands and more – in finding a way to recognize this important date and celebrating the diversity of our human experiences,” the announcement states. It adds that World Hearing Voices Day “. . . challenges the negative attitudes towards people who hear voices and the incorrect assumption that hearing voices, in itself, is a sign of illness.”


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mental Health Day

OK, Monday is World Mental Health Day and would like to invite to it's blog party... Here is the Info - If you don't have a blog but still want to be part of it let me know and I'll post your story as a guest blogger. If you do post on your blog about World Mental Health Day 2011. Hat tip: Chato B. Stewart.

"The World Health Organization (WHO) designated October 10 as World Mental Health Day to help spotlight the lack of care mental disorders often receive around the world. We hope to help increase awareness of these disorders and their treatment through hosting this blog party."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's Mental Illness Awareness Week

NAMI has announced Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct. 2-8). This year’s theme is “changing attitudes, changing lives.”

Like National Recovery Month, Mental Illness Awareness Week chips away at destructive ideas that tell us having bipolar is something to be ashamed of or we can “just get over it” if we only had the right moral fiber.

The National Alliance for Mental Illness coordinates Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). Although activities vary from community to community, MIAW events range from art exhibits to workshops with mental health professionals, from library displays to health fairs.

The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding on Tuesday, Oct. 4, aims to bring the discussion into faith communities.

National Depression Screening Day on Thursday, Oct. 6, an initiative of Mental Health America, also falls within this week of outreach and education.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What, Only 10 Minutes?

Normally we do not report trivial news stories, but this is exceptionally trivial, so it stands out. A Canadian news source,, has this amazing tale:

Edmonton senior sues over gum mishap
Mark Strashok Sep 23, 2011

An Edmonton senior is suing Kraft Canada for $100-thousand after getting gum stuck in her dentures.

The Edmonton Sun reports the statement of claim was filed a couple of weeks ago by Elsie Pawlow, who says the incident caused her to suffer depression.

The allegation is that Elsie bought five packages of Stride gum, but then had to dig it out of her dentures after it broke up into little pieces.

She then went into a bout of depression that lasted about 10 minutes.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Most Successful of All Mental Disorders

The Daily Mail (U.K.) has run an article, "One in 25 Bosses 'Is a Psychopath' but Hides It with Charm and Business-Speak." A better term would be "sociopath," as we do not imply that they are serial killers, but these are the people who would not lose any sleep making ruthless decisions.

Business leaders are four times more likely to be psychopaths than the general population, a study has found.

One out of every 25 company high-flyers is believed to have the mental disorder but disguises it through their high status, charm and manipulation in the workplace.

And only favourable environmental factors - such as having had a happy childhood - prevent their psychopathic tendencies turning them into serial killers.

Psychologists say today's ruthless corporate culture benefits people like Kevin Spacey's character in the recent movie Horrible Bosses, by rewarding their natural callousness and disregard of others' feelings.

The findings emerge in a survey led by New York psychologist Paul Babiak to discover how many psychopaths had infiltrated major firms....

Dr Babiak said: 'These were all individuals who were at the top of an organisation - vice-presidents, directors, CEOs - so it was actually quite a shock.'

The results revealed that psychopaths were actually poor managerial performers but were adept at climbing the corporate ladder because they could cover up their weaknesses by subtly charming superiors and subordinates.

This, said Dr Babiak, makes it almost impossible to distinguish between a genuinely talented team leader and a psychopath.

Prof Hare told Horizon: 'The higher the psychopathy, the better they looked - lots of charisma and they talk a good line.

'But if you look at their actual performance and ratings as a team player and productively, it's dismal. Looked good, performed badly....

Because we believe in presenting all sides of a story, we will mention what Dr. Helen Smith had to say at the conservative site Pajamas Media.

"I have taken a continuing education course from Robert Hare, the co-author of the book mentioned above [Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work] and in the course, he told us that it is a very dangerous thing to diagnose someone with psychopathy. We dealt in the course with adults and juveniles who were jailed for violent and other crimes. Often times, Hare and his colleagues would warn us to be very careful in our diagnosis, lest someone who was charged with a crime end up being discriminated against because of the psychopathy label if untrue. Shouldn’t his co-author, Paul Babiak, use the same good advice? Should he use a study of only 200 people to make such a generalization?..."

EDITORIAL NOTE: Dr. Helen Smith's main objection was the focus on business leaders, but sociopaths have wormed their way into positions of leadership in politics, organized crime, and the military.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Challenge Worthy of Him

The Associated Press ran a story about a brilliant 13-year-old Noah Egler, who has Asperger's syndrome. Instead of being ashamed of something that made him different from his peers, they encouraged him to assert his curiosity and challenge himself in ways that your typical school system cannot.

Although he was half the age of medical students at the summer program at the Indiana University Northwest medical school, he was not at all out of place.

Noah summed up himself with these words: "I'm technically a nerd, and I hang out with other people who are technically nerds."

His interests are quite wide-ranging, and like many other Aspies, he becomes an expert in the subjects that engage his attention. They include chemistry, mechanics, electronics, cooking, karate, and (what could possibly turn into his career) computerized prostheses, in other words, robotic limbs for amputees.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Scientific Explanation for - Beer Goggles!

io9 has the article:

It's a fairly well-known idea that people start looking better and better the more one drinks alcohol. But is there actually a scientific reasoning behind this? It might all have to do with a little something called bilateral symmetry....

...There are many different forms of symmetry, including radial, spherical, and bilateral, which is the one that humans possess. All this means is that it is possible to cut an organism in half so that one side is identical or the mirror image of the other. The different types of symmetry are determined by how many different possible ways one could create these symmetric counterparts. In humans and other organisms with bilateral symmetry, there's only one possible line of symmetry, which is known as the sagittal plane, which runs right down the vertical center of our bodies. (Obviously, we're only talking about external appearances here - our insides aren't symmetric.)

Right, so that's the quick and dirty version of what biological symmetry is. But what does that have to do with booze? Well, it's thought that we and other organisms have a strong evolutionary preference for the appearance of symmetry, and this means people who are considered attractive are often those who display a high degree of bilateral symmetry. And, as NCBI ROFL reports, researchers at London's Roehampton University hypothesized that a reduced ability to judge this symmetry brought on by the general visual impairment of alcohol might well account for the phenomenon that people seem more attractive when one is drunk. It's really that they simply seem more symmetrical - or, perhaps more accurately, less asymmetrical....

Monday, August 22, 2011

Psychologist Speaks Out Against Vets Who Use PTSD as an Excuse for Criminal Behavior

Psychology Today has an article by Bret A. Moore, Psy.D., with the title "Criminal Behavior Is Not a Symptom of PTSD."

At least once a month, there seems to be a new case in the media depicting a veteran who has been convicted of a serious crime such as drug trafficking, child pornography, theft, rape, and even murder. In many of these cases, a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder is cited by the veteran's attorney as the cause of the behavior.

So, can PTSD cause criminal behavior? Yes and no. There is no doubt that PTSD can cause a person to make bad choices that lead to antisocial behaviors. Increased use of alcohol or drugs can lead to driving while intoxicated, domestic violence, and petty theft to support their drug or alcohol use. Increased physiological arousal, which causes the service member to always be on-guard, can lead to violent behavior that is out of proportion to a perceived threat. There are even cases in which combat veterans with PTSD have been found not guilty of murder when they were put in a situation, which reminded them of a previous stressful combat experience, and they felt they were defending themselves against an enemy combatant....

At this point, some of you may be considering my views as unsympathetic or even cynical. This is not the case. I have a great deal of sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of veterans with PTSD, some of which have found themselves in trouble with the law. My issue is with the numerous bogus claims by individuals who insist that PTSD caused them to download child pornography, sexually assault a female after a night at the bar, or rob a convenience store. In my opinion, it's insulting to those suffering from this disabling condition and feeds the stigma that combat veterans with PTSD are unstable, dangerous, and crazy.

Let's not make PTSD a scapegoat for crime. Instead, let's direct our efforts at better understanding this disorder and improving treatments so that veterans can lead more satisfying and rewarding lives. However, as a student of human behavior I am well aware that people are experts at finding ways to shift responsibility for their actions, particularly those actions that will bring about unwanted consequences.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

North Carolina Faces a Mental Health Dilemma of Charlotte, NC has a gut-wrenching story of how the state of North Carolina faces a sharp reduction in federal funds because too many people with mental illness have been put up in adult care homes, which are custodial in nature and do not provide psychiatric treatment. After years of "kicking the can down the road," the state, which faces a $2.7 billion budget shortfall, lacks the money to build community-based mental health centers and inpatient facilities, adult care homes are worried about going out of business if Medicaid money is cut off, and families of mental patients are concerned that their relatives may be forced into the streets.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Study Confirms Our Gut Feeling About Narcissists

The Daily Mail (U.K.) ran an article about how narcissists can smooth-talk their way to the top but are unable to live up to their high opinion of their leadership abilities.

They may be charming, confident and climb the job ladder with ease, but when they reach the top, narcissists are actually not very good at their roles.

Such people are often too self-obsessed to do their jobs properly, according to a study.

Those who love themselves and have vast self-confidence often impress others with their self-belief, dominance and authority, leading them to climb the career ladder effortlessly....

Scientists at the University of Amsterdam proved their theory by conducting an experiment involving 150 people, split into groups of three.

One of the three was randomly assigned as group leader as part of a task intended to choose a job candidate.

Information about the candidate was handed out, some to a single member, some to the entire group.

The group was told that all three members could contribute advice, but that their leader was ultimately responsible for any decisions.

The study was designed to see how narcissistic leaders could hold back information about candidates, a tactic that could result in a less skilled person given the job, thereby damaging the company.

Questionnaires given to 'employees' and 'leaders' revealed that employees hailed narcissistic leaders as the most effective.

But they were wrong....

The results are published in the journal Psychological Science.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Popular Drugs to Go Generic Soon

WebMD reports:

...Within six months of a drug losing its patent, 80% of patients begin using its generic form. According to the IMS Institute’s most recent annual report, the average co-pays for generic drugs in 2010 were just over $6 as compared with nearly $24 for brand-name medications. That represents a huge potential savings for consumers....

So which drugs can you soon expect to see in generic form? Cholesterol lowering Lipitor; the anti-biotic Levaquin; Concerta, which treats symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Protonix for the treatment of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and Zyprexa, which is used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia, all go off patent this year.

In 2012, the antidepressant Lexapro; Viagra for erectile dysfunction; Plavix, which prevents blood clots; and asthma medication Singulair are just a few of those losing their patents. For a full list you can see this report from market research firm, EvaluatePharma.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Good News: Epidemic of PTSD Failed to Materialize After 9-11

USA Today reports that 10 years after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC, the American public has proved more resilient than psychologists expected. Their assessment is tempered by the realization that not all the long-term effects of this man-made disaster are in. The article goes on to say that many variables affect the general population, including life events that predispose a person to post-traumatic stress, closeness to the scene of the terrorist attacks, emotional reaction to events, and how much of a feeling of closure one had to the news that Osama bin Laden had been cornered and killed.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

"In Times of Crisis, Mentally Ill Leaders Can See What Others Can't"

A professor of psychiatry writing for the Wall Street Journal holds out hope for people with depression who question their ability to lead:

When times are good and the ship of state only needs to sail straight, mentally healthy people function well as political leaders. But in times of crisis and tumult, those who are mentally abnormal, even ill, become the greatest leaders. We might call this the Inverse Law of Sanity...

When not irritably manic in his temperament, Churchill experienced recurrent severe depressive episodes, during many of which he was suicidal. Even into his later years, he would complain about his "black dog" and avoided ledges and railway platforms, for fear of an impulsive jump. "All it takes is an instant," he said.

Abraham Lincoln famously had many depressive episodes, once even needing a suicide watch, and was treated for melancholy by physicians. Mental illness has touched even saintly icons like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., both of whom made suicide attempts in adolescence and had at least three severe depressive episodes in adulthood.

Aristotle was the first to point out the link between madness and genius, including not just poets and artists but also political leaders....

An obvious place to start is with depression, which has been shown to encourage traits of both realism and empathy (though not necessarily in the same individual at the same time).

"Normal" nondepressed persons have what psychologists call "positive illusion"—that is, they possess a mildly high self-regard, a slightly inflated sense of how much they control the world around them.

Mildly depressed people, by contrast, tend to see the world more clearly, more as it is....

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cloak of Anonymity Brings Out the Dark Side of People

The Guardian (U.K.) describes a phenomenon well known to bloggers and those who frequent social media. People who post on these sites anonymously will write things that they will not say to that person face-to-face.

Take the case of comedian Stewart Lee, who collected pages of anonymous comments about his TV show. Many of them, like the ones listed below, were disturbing or threatening:

"I hate Stewart Lee with a passion. He's like Ian Huntley to me." Wharto15, Twitter
"I saw him at a gig once, and even offstage he was exuding an aura of creepy molesty smugness." Yukio Mishima,
"One man I would love to beat with a sh*t-covered cricket bat." Joycey,
"He's got one of those faces I just want to burn." Coxy,
"I hope stewart lee dies." Idrie, Youtube
"WHAT THE HELL! If i ever find you, lee, i promise i will, I WILL, kick the crap out of you." Carcrazychica, YouTube
"Stewart Lee is a cynical man, who has been able to build an entire carrer [sic] out of his own smugness. I hope the f**king chrones disease [sic] kills him." Maninabananasuit,
"I spent the entire time thinking of how much I want to punch Stewart Lee in the face instead of laughing. He does have an incredibly punchable face, doesn't he? (I could just close my eyes, but fantasizing about punching Stewart Lee is still more fun than sitting in complete, stony silence.)" Pudabaya,

The psychologists call it "deindividuation". It's what happens when social norms are withdrawn because identities are concealed. The classic deindividuation experiment concerned American children at Halloween. Trick-or-treaters were invited to take sweets left in the hall of a house on a table on which there was also a sum of money. When children arrived singly, and not wearing masks, only 8% of them stole any of the money. When they were in larger groups, with their identities concealed by fancy dress, that number rose to 80%. The combination of a faceless crowd and personal anonymity provoked individuals into breaking rules that under "normal" circumstances they would not have considered.

Deindividuation is what happens when we get behind the wheel of a car and feel moved to scream abuse at the woman in front who is slow in turning right. It is what motivates a responsible father in a football crowd to yell crude sexual hatred at the opposition or the referee. And it's why under the cover of an alias or an avatar on a website or a blog – surrounded by virtual strangers – conventionally restrained individuals might be moved to suggest a comedian should suffer all manner of violent torture because they don't like his jokes, or his face. Digital media allow almost unlimited opportunity for wilful deindividuation. They almost require it. The implications of those liberties, of the ubiquity of anonymity and the language of the crowd, are only beginning to be felt....

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Did You Know that Anorexia Is the Deadliest Psychiatric Disorder?

WebMD reports that - Anorexia is the most lethal psychiatric disorder, carrying a sixfold increased risk of death -- four times the death risk from major depression.

The odds are even worse for people first diagnosed with anorexia in their 20s. They have 18 times the death risk of healthy people their age, according to an analysis of the medical literature by Jon Arcelus, MD, PhD, of the University of Leicester, England, and colleagues.

The study found anorexia to carry twice the death risk of schizophrenia and three times the death risk of bipolar disorder. Although anorexia is by far the deadliest eating disorder, death rates are also higher than normal in people with bulimia and "eating disorder not otherwise specified" (EDNOS, a common diagnosis for people with a mixture of atypical anorexia and atypical bulimia)....

EDITORIAL NOTE: Read the whole article - it has some startling statistics.

Customer Loyalty, or "Lunatic Behavior?"

FOX News has an article about the lengths to which fast-food fanatics will go to score their favorite meals.

Adam Moore once drove 500 miles just to eat a burrito at a Chipotle he'd never been to. So far he has visited all 71 of their restaurants in Colorado.

Alan Klein is working on a smartphone app to help fellow enthusiasts track down the transient McRib sandwich.

John Ruck, an 82-year-old retiree in St. Petersburg, Fla., has road-tripped to 48 Chick-fil-A openings - not for the coupons but for the camaraderie. He went to his first in January 2006, while grieving his wife's recent death, and found them therapeutic.

He said he doesn't mind sleeping in parking lots because he brings a comfy chair. The only time he suffers is during the karaoke. "I've never been subjected to such torture for 52 meals," he said with a laugh.

Call it fanaticism or simply dedication, but these are the type of ultra-enthusiastic fans that every restaurant craves. Restaurant groupies have always been around, but they're more valuable at a time when the economy is forcing consumers to choose carefully when they eat out, and a few online posts can inform the opinions of thousands. While there are no known statistics on these fanatics or even agreement on who qualifies as one, restaurant chains realize that influencing a few hyper-excited fans with free food and T-shirts can sometimes be more effective — and much cheaper — than a big advertising campaign.

"You really can't buy publicity like that," said Chris Arnold, spokesman for Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., referring affectionately to "lunatic customers" who do things like dress up as burritos to score free meals at the Colorado-based chain. He adds that the company tries to cultivate "loyalty and, in extreme cases, even evangelism."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Depressive Advantage

Sure, I heard of The Bipolar Advantage, but this article in brings up the intriguing point: depression isn't all bad, if you happen to be a depressive realist.

Many psychologists and researchers have something to say about this intriguing theory. In 1988 psychologists, Shelley E. Taylor and Jonathon D. Brown, reviewed evidence that non-depressed individuals held positive illusions in three domains:

• The non-depressed view themselves in unrealistically positive terms.

• They believe that they have greater control over environmental events than is actually the case.

• They hold views of the future that are more rosy than data could justify.

In essence, this theory proposes that the typical non-depressed person uses happy illusions to maintain their self esteem and get through the day. In comparison, the individual having mild to moderate depression is reported to have a more realistic perspective of his or her image as well as in interpreting information from the external world. Some would caution to not extrapolate that all happy people are necessarily delusional nor does it mean that people with depression are not sometimes distorted in their thinking. Yet this theory does seem to give a silver lining to having what some people call a depressive personality....

EDITORIAL NOTE: As one with personal experience with depression, I frankly confess it's something I wouldn't wish on my own worst enemy. On the other hand, it has forced me to learn patience, and during my days in the intelligence field, I did not let political correctness or false optimism deter me from reflecting on the evil that man is capable of.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Beware of the Sugar Blues

Therese J. Borchard wrote an article in Psych Central, "Why Sugar Is Dangerous To Depression," that provides practical guidance to avoid overdosing on sugar.

"People who suffer from depression are especially vulnerable to sugar’s evil power. I am so sensitive to white-flour, processed foods that I can practically set an alarm to for three hours after consumption, at which time I will be cursing myself for inhaling the large piece of birthday cake at the party because I am feeling so miserable. That doesn’t stop me from eating dessert at the next gathering, of course, but the awareness between sugar and mood does help me better understand some of my crashes."

Monday, July 11, 2011

How to Spot a Psychopath

That's the kind of title that grabs your attention. Jon Ronson in The Guardian (U.K.) describes his encounters with a mental patient named Tony who had been diagnosed as a psychopath.

Tony said the day he arrived at the dangerous and severe personality disorder (DSPD) unit, he took one look at the place and realised he'd made a spectacularly bad decision. He asked to speak urgently to psychiatrists. "I'm not mentally ill," he told them. It is an awful lot harder, Tony told me, to convince people you're sane than it is to convince them you're crazy.

"When you decided to wear pinstripe to meet me," I said, "did you realise the look could go either way?"

"Yes," said Tony, "but I thought I'd take my chances. Plus most of the patients here are disgusting slobs who don't wash or change their clothes for weeks on end and I like to dress well...."

The article mentions the Robert Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R), which is used to identify psychopathic personality disorder. The test looks at 21 different traits:

Factor 1: Personality "Aggressive narcissism"

Glibness/superficial charm
Grandiose sense of self-worth
Pathological lying
Lack of remorse or guilt
Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
Callousness; lack of empathy
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

Factor 2: Case history "Socially deviant lifestyle".

Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
Parasitic lifestyle
Poor behavioral control
Lack of realistic long-term goals
Juvenile delinquency
Early behavior problems
Revocation of conditional release

Traits not correlated with either factor

Promiscuous sexual behavior
Many short-term marital relationships
Criminal versatility
Acquired behavioural sociopathy/sociological conditioning (Item 21: a newly identified trait i.e. a person relying on sociological strategies and tricks to deceive)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shockney Announces Retirement

This news item is an update to the Colorado Springs Gazette story posted to this blog on the 5th of June. Agencies that could be pursuing actions against "Doctor" Shockney were not issuing statements to the news media.

The state board, which could revoke Shockney’s license and recommend criminal prosecution, did not return calls for comment Wednesday. Citing confidentiality rules, board staff will not say if the board is investigating Shockney.

The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s office, which could prosecute Shockney for fraud, criminal impersonation and a number of other crimes, also did not return calls for comment.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Johnson & Johnson Issues Product Recall for Risperdal/Risperidone,

FOX News has an article about pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson & Johnson recalling 16,000 bottles of its antipsychotic Risperdal and another 24,000 bottles of a generic formulation of the medicine made by Patriot Pharmaceuticals because of a musty or moldy odor caused by a chemical called TBA. "While not considered to be toxic, TBA can generate an offensive odor and a very small number of patients have reported temporary gastrointestinal symptoms when taking other products with this odor," J&J said on Friday.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Give Therapy a Chance

Studies have shown than when properly applied, psychotherapy can be as powerful as any medication, and DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) has been preaching for years that these two go hand-in-hand and should be combined with regular support group sessions.

In the WebMD article, "Top 7 Therapy Myths Debunked," Heather Hatfield addresses these widely held (but still fallacious) beliefs:

1. My childhood doesn’t matter.
2. All therapists are the same.
3. I don’t need therapy, just drugs.
4. It’s not going to work.
5. It’s too expensive.
6. It’s going to send me over the edge.
7. I don’t have time.

New Study Reveals Popularity of Bullies

FYI Living ran an article that provides some insight as to why school systems have traditionally covered up for bullies by blaming their victims. research suggests that most aggressive behavior in children is actually not the result of psychological or social problems, but rather a desire to maintain one’s social position in the group. In fact, new studies reveal that most bullies actually have excellent self-esteem; the higher one’s social ranking in school, the more likely he/she is to have been involved in an aggressive incident. That’s right, if it’s true that being class president is just a popularity contest, then perhaps the class president is actually the class bully.

Since the victims of bullies commonly experience depression and social anxiety, this new data supports the implementation of anti-bullying programs in schools. These programs provide students with an environment where they can openly discuss the effects of aggressive behavior and learn conflict resolution skills from adults and peers.

The study collected data from 3,772 students across 19 middle and high schools. Students were asked to name five kids who had physically or verbally abused them, as well as five kids who they had picked on. The study revealed that the desire to achieve or maintain popularity was directly proportional with aggressive behavior. In fact, the more popular a student was, the more likely he/she had been involved in an aggressive situation....

Here's the clincher: "According to a recent study involving 5th and 6th graders, it’s not the bullies who are disliked by their classmates, but the kids being bullied."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

They Call It "Paris Syndrome"

A BBC article describes how Japanese visitors to Paris are subject to a state of shock when they get there.

A dozen or so Japanese tourists a year have to be repatriated from the French capital, after falling prey to what's become known as "Paris syndrome".

That is what some polite Japanese tourists suffer when they discover that Parisians can be rude or the city does not meet their expectations.

The experience can apparently be too stressful for some and they suffer a psychiatric breakdown.

Around a million Japanese travel to France every year....

A PERSONAL NOTE: When I went to Paris on 2 occasions, I posed as a French-speaking Japanese tourist after hearing all those tales they tell about how Parisians treat American servicemen.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Another Reason Why We Need to Beware of Imitations

This shocker of a story appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette today:

Edwin Shockney’s 2009 book “Delusional Entitlement Disorder” describes people who increasingly expect quick payoffs without hard work and “believe that standards, rules and laws do not apply to them.”

He could be describing himself.

Shockney says he has a master’s degree in counseling and a doctorate in psychology, which give him the expertise to diagnose patients, advise government agencies and testify in almost 150 local court cases.

In reality, the Colorado Springs man quit at least three colleges. He has no bachelor’s degree and no master’s. And his doctorate came from a defunct California seminary based in a strip mall.

But through an ever-evolving string of embellishments and outright lies, Shockney has hoodwinked the Colorado professional counselors oversight board, the Catholic Church, local lawyers, police, a large defense contractor and countless patients for more than a decade.

He has gotten away with it despite repeated complaints to authorities.

And his deceptions could have serious repercussions because his court testimony has influenced dozens of child custody and criminal cases that may now warrant new trials....

EDITORIAL COMMENT: The bottom line is that psychotherapy offer a great deal of scope for quacks who take advantage of highly vulnerable people. Since they are likely to come up with strange and unsound advice with no scientific basis, they can hurt a lot of patients before the authorities yank their chain and either/or strip them of their licenses or initiate criminal proceedings.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Twelve Essential Traits of Survivors

The Survivors Club, based on the Ben Sherwood book with the same title, studies the traits of resiliency that psychologists and even the military have taken an interest in. "12 Essential Traits That Make You a Survivor," provides a quick look at what they believe is the "right stuff."

Friday, June 3, 2011

"8 Signs Someone Is at Risk of Suicide"

This list, from, is a good start, but far from exhaustive. One should look for other symptoms as well: having a plan for doing oneself in, multiple suicide attempts, giving away prized possessions, a lifelong pattern of pessimism and cynicism, an unusual calm and tranquility, etc.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Recognition at Last!

Chato B. Stewart, whom I met at the recently-concluded DBSA national conference in Houston, TX, has honored me with a cartoon in Mental Health Humor. In the drawing, my hair appears to be blacker, thicker, and curlier than it really is (maybe I became subject to reverse heritability from 2 great-nephews who are part African-American.:-) Yes, I claim full responsibility for the narrative that accompanied that cartoon.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Test Your Knowledge of Moods

WebMD has an interactive quiz on mood disorders that could prove to be as educational to you as it was to me.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Look What I Found on Facebook!

Bipolar Disorder Batesy, an insider's view of bipolar disorder, is the newest addition to our Blogroll.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Largest Colorado Delegation in Years Takes on DBSA National Conference

Not less than 7 DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) members and 2 service dogs from the Colorado Springs area converged upon Houston, TX for the DBSA national conference at the Westin Galleria Hotel. Here's a narrative of what happened, compiled from assorted e-mails and eyewitness accounts:

Dated 21 May 2011: Yesterday we showed up at the Westin Galleria hotel in Houston, got the 2 women in our party settled in the hotel, picked up our registration packets, and got ready for Saturday's events.

As the Coloradan with the most experience in attending DBSA conferences, I feel obligated to share my knowledge with the others. I'm scheduled - and pumped - to give the presentation "Supporting Veteran-to-Veteran Recovery" this afternoon. It's the first in recent history to address the mental health experiences of active-duty and former military personnel. Fellow veteran Clarence Jordan, one of the keynote speakers, will be given some time to address the class before I do my thing. During the rehearsal for comedy night, we were pleased to see how much progress we had made over the months, and professional comic David Granirer once again was helpful in offering suggestions for improvement & words of encouragement. This is when I decided to stick more faithfully to my script and not give in too often to the temptation to ad-lib my way through 5 minutes of fame. George Pollard, a member of our delegation, was quite impressed by the facilitator seminar, which is very much like a summit meeting of experienced support group facilitators from all over the United States.

The host for our latest visit to Houston is David Hender, whom I have known since January, 1999. We first met during the dark days when both of us worked in the call center from hell [Cheap Tickets]. David had my back 12 years ago, and one of the ways to show my gratitude for, and confidence in him was to pay for his registration fee and ticket to the comedy show. We're staying at a comfortable house in Katy, TX which is known in some circles as "the fastest-growing city in America." This is believable, as entire neighborhoods had changed beyond recognition since my last visit to Houston.

My newest digital camera, the Nikon L120, is exceeding expectations, and I plan to give it a lot of exercise during the day, while using it as a prop during the comedy show.

A word about the Galleria: the largest shopping mall in Texas appears to be doing well, and is bustling with activity. I found no vacant store spaces, and the one that was boarded up happened to be under renovation for a new Microsoft store opening up soon. MAC Cosmetics, where one of my nieces worked while she lived in Houston, is still in business, and the skating rink continues to be a popular attraction.

21 May, Part B: The vets presentation was quite successful, and the people in a neighboring room had to close its door to block out the enthusiastic audience reception. Clarence Jordan, whom I saw face-to-face for the first time after lunch, spoke for 10 minutes before I started on my presentation, and was a big help to me. His passion, leadership skills, and command of details were evident to everyone who heard him, either in my class Saturday afternoon, or when he appeared as the final keynote speaker on Sunday morning. This conference marked the beginning of what I hope will be a long and productive friendship. Incidentally, it was quite reassuring to be able to fit in the same desert camouflage uniform I obtained 20 years ago!

Our host in the Houston area, David Hender, proved his worth enough times for me to designate him the "8th member" of the Colorado delegation, and I felt justified in paying to get him into the conference. Although he became sick and couldn't attend the comedy show, he obtained an understanding of our content by sitting through the final rehearsal.

On Saturday night David Granirer presented 8 amateur stand-up comics, including myself, to a warm and supportive audience. This comedy show has become a regular feature of DBSA conferences, and despite the predictions of a religious crackpot, the world did NOT come to an end on Saturday night! As a trained librarian, I was able to read the audience like a book (this is what librarians do), and found the people to be warm and eager to encourage our efforts. Our production was the culmination of many hours of work, either individually or as a group. David Granirer was quite patient, helpful, and professional in guiding us to develop our scripts.

Ingalill Atala, another one of the 8 amateur stand-up comics, wrote the following summary: "The roses and trophies were such a nice touch. I don’t know about anyone else but the audience was amazing and made me feel so special. Each fellow comedian was incredible and so brave to “get out of the box”. If it were not for the other 7, I could not have done it. If it were not for David and the DBSA, we could not have done it. My mother is so my mother. On Sunday she declared, 'Ingalill you need to be a Stand-Up Comedian.' Maybe now you all understand my ending."

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Yes, I could appear in a future comedy show, but would rather step aside and let someone else experience this art form. By participating in this program, you develop many of the skills that are essential to the recovery model: overcoming phobias, communicating with other people, focusing on a project from beginning to end, learning from mistakes, and working with other team members who are just as eager as you are to entertain an audience.

22 May: My 63rd birthday was noted in passing, and we mourned the death of Sadie, shown on right, one of the two therapy dogs we brought to the conference. She and her partner Smokie (a male Dachshund) served as goodwill ambassadors for service dogs and opened the eyes of many people to their value in helping out people with psychiatric disabilities. There was an outpouring of compassion and support from organizers and attendees at the conference, and at least Sadie was able to die among friends and be treated with proper dignity as arrangements were made to cremate her remains in Houston and send the ashes to Colorado.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Is Academic Psychiatry Out of Touch with Reality?

John McManamy and I may be of different political persuasions, but are fighting on the same side in the never-ending struggle against our common enemy, mental illness.

In his "Knowledge Is Necessity" blog, he raises this intriguing point:

"A lot of what passes for academic psychiatry these days is performed by researchers who don’t even see patients. This explains why the DSM symptom lists are so spectacularly out of touch with clinical reality...."

1. McManamy has acquired an awesome level of knowledge as an informed layman, to where he can impress psychologists and psychiatrists at their professional conferences.
2. Rare is the psychiatrist who does therapy anymore, and this disconnect is as catastrophic as separating the mind from the body instead of treating both as an inseparable unit.
3. Divorcing research from clinical observation makes it infinitely harder for science to come up with answers, or to even ask the right questions.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Contrary to Popular Belief, Men Think About Food and Sleep More Than Sex

The Daily Mail (U.K.) has published an article that debunks some widely-held assumptions.

Rumor has long had it that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

And it turns out it’s true. Men spend more time thinking about food – and sleep – than they do about sex, a study shows.

They think about all three more often than women do.

The research found that, contrary to popular wisdom, men do not think about sex every seven seconds.

In reality, it is more like once every waking hour.

The study was carried out by Professor Terri Fisher, a psychologist at the Ohio State University in the U.S....

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Feel Your Schmerz

Just as the German word der Schmerz can refer to physical or mental pain, modern science has discovered that there is a definite connection between physical and intense emotional pain. A WebMD article says:

Rejection really does hurt. That’s the message of a new study that suggests physical pain and the pain of rejection may “hurt” in the same way.

Researchers found that physical pain and intense emotional pain, such as feelings of rejection after a bad breakup of a relationship, activate the same “pain” processing pathways in the brain.

"These results give new meaning to the idea that social rejection 'hurts,'" says researcher Ethan Kross, PhD of the University of Michigan, in a news release.

"On the surface, spilling a hot cup of coffee on yourself and thinking about how rejected you feel when you look at the picture of a person that you recently experienced an unwanted breakup with may seem to elicit very different types of pain,” says Kross. “But this research shows that they may be even more similar than initially thought...."

Colorado Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council (MHPAC) to Expand MIssion by Next Year

The Colorado Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council (MHPAC), which is involved in soliciting input and drawing up applications for federal block grant funds, will be morphing into something quite different in the coming year. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced that the FY 2012 block grant will combine substance abuse and treatment with the mental health block grant. This will entail responsibility for a much larger amount of money, and a major change in the composition of the Council. The best-case scenario: more cross-pollination between two interrelated but separate operations that should be working more closely together. On the other hand, such a major change could slow down the momentum established by the current Council, which has been operating smoothly and harmoniously for the past several years.

A Great-Books Program for People with Limited Time

Brian Johnson, in an interview with Dr. David Van Nuys in Shrink Rap Radio, describes how he distilled the essence of books on philosophy, psychology, and motivational literature in a Web site called "Philosopher's Notes" (sliding scale charges for material).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

David Duerson Gave His Brain to Science for a Reason

CNN has an article about the late Chicago Bears safety David Duerson, who left a note requesting that his brain be studied before shooting himself in the chest.

As with other athletes exposed to repeated brain trauma, Duerson's brain showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a dementia-like brain disease.

"Dave Duerson had classic pathology of CTE and no evidence of any other disease," said Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist with the Bedford VA medical center, and co-director of the Boston University School of Medicine Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. "He had severe involvement of areas that control judgment, inhibition, impulse control, mood and memory."

CTE has been found in the brains of 14 of 15 former NFL players thus far studied at the Boston University center....

Saturday, April 30, 2011

"Positive Psychology" May Not Be a Good Fit for Asians

The Esperanza magazine Web site is the bearer of bad news:

Thinking happy thoughts, focusing on the good and downplaying the bad is believed to accelerate recovery from depression, bolster resilience during a crisis and improve overall mental health. But a new study by University of Washington psychologists reveals that pursuing happiness may not be beneficial across all cultures.

In a survey of college students, Asian respondents showed no relationship between positive emotions and levels of stress and depression. For European-American participants, however, the more stress and depression they felt, the fewer positive emotions they reported.

The study indicates that psychotherapies emphasizing positive emotions, which can relieve stress and depression in white populations, may not work for Asians, who make up 60 percent of the world population....

A Cartoon That Describes the Plight of the Mentally Ill

It's one of those pictures that speaks volumes, by cartoonist Chato B. Stewart, whose work appears in the respected Web site Psych Central.

We Are for Real, and Taking Care of Business!

Here is a summary of what the DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) Colorado state organization has been doing and/or accomplished since Feb. 1, 2010:

1. In February of 2010 we secured office space at the Pikes Peak Partnership, 1352 N. Academy Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO 80909. We also purchased liability insurance.
2. In March, 2010 we had our first meeting of the Board of Directors for the year.
3. Plans were made to begin offering the Pathways to Recovery class beginning in June 2010.
4. The Board directed the President (now called Chair) who also serves as the Executive Director, to find income sources besides donations from board members to meet agency expenses. Expenses at that time were $350 per month.
5. Janet Karnes passed on info about the Chinook Fund, which provides seed money to new nonprofits who do not have their 501 (c)3 status yet.
6. Application for a grant was made to the Chinook Fund, and a $2,000 grant was awarded in June.
7. Steve Bell, Executive Director, made a site visit to encourage and counsel with the leaders of DBSA Boulder and DBSA Longmont. Meetings were productive and led to a joint facilitator training meeting in June. As a result of the training, each chapter now has two additional facilitators for their support groups. Charles Sakai assisted.
8. First Pathways 8-week class for job-seekers is conducted. Ten enrolled, 5 graduated (attended at least 6 out of 8 sessions and completed homework). Three members of the class secured full- or part-time employment.
9. Board meeting in Alamosa, July 2010. By-Laws revised.
10. Second Class for Pathways was held in the fall of 2010. Eight enrolled, four graduated, including Doreen Daily, a resource advocate (peer specialist) with MHA-Pikes Peak Region. She is now a Pathways Facilitator. The fall class was led by Charles Sakai.
11. Steve Bell gave presentations on the nature of mood disorders to Bayaud Enterprises in Denver, the Pikes Peak Workforce Center, a psychology class at Colorado Technical University, and Newman University at the invitation of the instructors, and/or program directors.
12. Fall 2010 - preparation of tax-exempt application began in earnest in September.
13. Application for 501 (c)3 status completed and submitted on January 2, 2011. Approval and notice received from IRS six weeks later.
14. January 2011 - Third Pathways series began. Completed last week of February. As with the end of each class, a graduation luncheon or potluck was done. Doreen Daily facilitated this session and arranged for a luncheon at the Black-Eyed Pea restaurant.
15. Beginning in late January, phone calls or e-mail contacts from consumers and family members began coming in at a rate of one or two a day. Demand for new support groups outside of Colorado Springs continues to grow. Local consumers are referred to DBSA Colorado Springs chapter.
16. Meetings were held with peers from Denver and Pueblo who want to start new support groups, one in each city to begin with. This would fill the need for peers and family members looking for support groups in those communities.
17. In February 2011 George Pollard recruited Cathy Smith to do clerical and administrative work in the office once or twice a week. George will facilitate the spring Pathways class.
18. Purchased our first used computer for $50, and installed it in our office at the Pikes Peak Partnership. We are now looking for a printer, and may acquire one soon.
19. DBSA Colorado - BrainStorm Career Services now has 5 volunteers (including an Executive Director. The spring Board meeting was held on Saturday, April 30, 2010 at Pikes Peak Partnership. Steve Bell was re-elected as Chair/Executive Director, George Pollard remains as Vice Chair and volunteered to be an acting internal auditor, and Charles Sakai was elected as Secretary and board member. The current board agreed to remain until the end of this year.


DBSA Colorado State:

1. Establish 4 new support groups outside of Colorado Springs - 2 already in the works.
2. Provide relevant information and referrals to 200 incoming contacts.
3. Conduct at least 2 leadership training workshops for existing chapters.

BrainStorm Career Services;

1. Conduct 4 Pathways to Recovery classes.
2. Assist at least 20 Pathways students in securing meaningful and sustainable employment OR getting enrolled in formal education to further their career goals. Seventy percent of these students would still be on the job or attending school after 6 months.
3. Conduct at least 3 vocational rehabilitation consultations or workshops with large employers in El Paso County [Colorado] to educate them about hiring persons with psychiatric disabilities.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Excellent Question: What Are The Benefits of Being Able to Laugh?

Chato B. Stewart has been published in BP Magazine, a magazine for people with bipolar disorder, their family members and friends, and all those with a professional interest in this medical condition (such as psychologists).

Words Of The Wisdomless: Moods

"Only one person can change your mood, that person is you! You can let people lift you up, or let them knock you down. This means it is vital to pick
your friends wisely! Too bad, we can't pick our family... Well, at least, we can ignore them on Facebook!" - By Chato B. Stewart

An article on about "Laughter is good for your health" said how laughter relaxes the whole body. Just one good laugh a day can make a positive difference. Yes, laughter helps with stress, and many believe that laughter can also boost your immunity by... "decreases the stress hormones and increases immunity cells and infection fighting antibodies". The article went on to say that laughter antibodies help the immune cells and are necessary to fight off colds and infections and speed up recovery....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Nice Treatment, if It Works

Lately hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been touted as a treatment of choice for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain (TBI), both of which are associated with depression. Sadly, much of the findings in favor of this method have been anecdotal in nature, and it is not cheap (80 sessions at $200 apiece, for an estimated total of $16,000). The Veterans Administration published a meta-analysis of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and while it is good for carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, air or gas embolism, and a few other ailments, the jury is still out concerning how effectively it can help patients with PTSD or TBI.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Study Attributes Motive to Overuse of Consumer Credit

In the Science News article, "People Who Overuse Credit Believe Products Have Unrealistic Properties," we read:

A University of Missouri researcher says people who overuse credit have very different beliefs about products than people who spend within their means. Following a new study, Marsha Richins, Myron Watkins Distinguished Professor of Marketing in the Trulaske College of Business, says many people buy products thinking that the items will make them happier and transform their lives.

"There is nothing wrong with wanting to buy products," Richins said. "It becomes a problem when people expect unreasonable degrees of change in their lives from their purchases. Some people tend to ascribe almost magical properties to goods -- that buying things will make them happier, cause them to have more fun, improve their relationships -- in short, transform their lives. These beliefs are fallacious for the most part, but nonetheless can be powerful motivators for people to spend...."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones Seeks Treatment for Bipolar II Disorder

Both CNN and the Los Angeles Times have reported that Catherine Zeta-Jones, wife of Michael Douglas, checked herself in to a mental health facility for treatment.

This explanation is from the L.A. Times:

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depression, is typically lifelong and recurrent, David J. Miklowitz, PhD, said. Some people have their first episode in childhood, others later in life; the majority, during the teen years. Some people experience episodes every few years; others are in and out of episodes constantly.

Bipolar I is characterized by severe manias, said Miklowitz, during which people either "feel on top of the world" or irritable and angry. They sometimes feel like they have superpowers or heightened perception; their thoughts race and they're loaded with energy. Usually people with bipolar I swing between this manic state and a "flip side" of extreme depression during which they slow down, feel sad and lose interest in activities they usually enjoy (including sex). They can suffer from fatigue and insomnia, and can become suicidal.

People with bipolar II swing from severe depression to a milder and briefer manic state called hypomania. They aren't impaired to the extent that folks with bipolar I can be. "People notice a change, but it's not extreme," Miklowitz said.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Stating the Obvious About Alcoholics

A Live Science report stresses a major reason why alcoholism is so difficult to treat:

Only 1.2 percent of the nation’s more than 7.4 million adults ages 21 to 64 with an untreated alcohol abuse disorder thought they could be helped by treatment, the report said.

And among those with an untreated alcohol dependence disorder, a more severe condition, only 7.8 percent recognized they needed treatment, according to the report. Alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence are considered disorders in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).

The report, released yesterday (April 7), is based on data from national surveys of 67,500 people conducted between 2006 and 2009....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Men's Health List of "100 Angriest Cities in America"

The higher the number, the more steamed-up the people are likely to be.

How did we gauge rage? Statistically (and from a safe distance). We calculated the number of aggravated assaults per capita (FBI), the number of people with high blood pressure (CDC), the amount of time spent in traffic during rush hour (Texas Transportation Institute), and the number of anger-management specialists per capita (American Psychological Association).

Most PO'd
100 Detroit, MI
99 Baltimore, MD
98 St. Petersburg, FL
97 Las Vegas, NV
96 Newark, NJ
95 Charleston, WV
94 Dallas, TX
93 Houston, TX
92 Philadelphia, PA
91 Miami, FL
90 Riverside, CA
89 Memphis, TN
88 Oklahoma City, OK
87 Louisville, KY
86 Los Angeles, CA
85 Jersey City, NJ
84 Fort Worth, TX
83 Jacksonville, FL
82 Indianapolis, IN
81 Boston, MA
80 Chicago, IL
79 Orlando, FL
78 New Orleans, LA
77 Stockton, CA
76 Oakland, CA
75 Sacramento, CA
4 Washington, DC
73 St. Louis, MO
72 Phoenix, AZ
71 Baton Rouge, LA
70 San Jose, CA
69 Tampa, FL
68 Aurora, CO
67 El Paso, TX
66 Winston-Salem, NC
65 Birmingham, AL
64 Tucson, AZ
63 Santa Ana, CA
62 Bridgeport, CT
61 Billings, MT
60 Tulsa, OK
59 Manchester, NH
58 New York, NY
57 Lexington, KY
56 Little Rock, AR
55 St. Paul, MN
54 Charlotte, NC
53 San Diego, CA
52 Fresno, CA
51 Atlanta, GA
50 Cleveland, OH
49 Columbus, OH
48 Lubbock, TX
47 San Antonio, TX
46 Plano, TX
45 Richmond, VA
44 Greensboro, NC
43 Providence, RI
42 Albuquerque, NM
41 Denver, CO
40 Austin, TX
39 Kansas City, MO
38 Jackson, MS
37 Bakersfield, CA
36 Milwaukee, WI
35 San Francisco, CA
34 Chesapeake, VA
33 Corpus Christi, TX
32 Nashville, TN
31 Sioux Falls, SD
30 Raleigh, NC
29 Toledo, OH
28 Laredo, TX
27 Cincinnati, OH
26 Buffalo, NY
25 Minneapolis, MN
24 Norfolk, VA
23 Honolulu, HI
22 Wilmington, DE
21 Durham, NC
20 Seattle, WA
19 Des Moines, IA
18 Fort Wayne, IN
17 Pittsburgh, PA
16 Boise, ID
15 Omaha, NE
14 Portland, ME
13 Virginia Beach, VA
12 Portland, OR
11 Columbia, SC
10 Anchorage, AK
9 Reno, NV
8 Wichita, KS
7 Cheyenne, WY
6 Salt Lake City, UT
5 Madison, WI
4 Colorado Springs, CO
3 Fargo, ND
2 Lincoln, NE
1 Burlington, VT

For more information, go to Men's Health.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Who's the Crazy One Around Here?

From New Hampshire ran the following curious story:

A public backlash has followed the comments of a 91-year-old freshman state representative who said Thursday that funding for the mentally ill should be cut because he doesn't support state funding for "the crazy people" who should be sent to "Siberia."

State Rep. Martin Harty, R-Barrington, told Sharon Omand, a program manager at Community Partners, which provides behavioral health and developmental services for Strafford County, that he believed in eugenics and disagreed with her about the need for funds for mental health services.

"The world population has gotten too big and the world is being inherited by too many defective people," he told her....

..."New Hampshire is committed to taking care of those less fortunate and has a long history of doing so," said Republican former state Sen. George Lovejoy in a statement sent to the paper. "The goal of the new Republican majority of our legislature is to serve the voice of the people and Representative Harty does not."

Kate Messler is a special-needs student at Oyster River High School, and a player-manager for the girls' basketball team. She has been featured in Foster's for her participation in team sports.

Her mother, Patricia, said she was sickened by Harty's comments.

"The importance of groups like Community Partners and the support services within the schools are why Kate has prospered," she said. "Without them Kate would not be the person she is today."

Messler added there are no defective people.

"Everyone can make a difference whether you're able or disabled," she said. "There are no defective people in this world. No one is perfect."

UPDATE: Harty is resigning due to the "slightly unfavorable publicity" generated by his comments.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Efforts to Stop "Suicide by Cop"

In this rather lengthy Miller-McCune article, Julia Dahl describes the problem facing law enforcement when confronted by mentally ill or desperate individuals seeking to end their lives in a hail of bullets. One solution that has been producing results and preventing needless shootings has been CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) training, but not all police departments have embraced this technique.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Army Considers Using a New Class of Drugs for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

This hot news item was mentioned by Bob Brewin in his blog, What's Brewin', dated 2 March 2011:

The Army plans to test neuroprotective drugs to treat traumatic brain injury, the service's top scientist told members of the House Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee on Tuesday.

Dr. Marilyn Freeman, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for research and technology, told lawmakers the service plans to test the effectiveness of drugs that help prevent damage to axons, which carry electrical impulses from nerve cells.

The drugs, so the theory goes according to this video, help prevent TBI by ensuring axons don't die as a result of a brain injury.

I wish I had paid better attention in biology class.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

DBSA Colorado State Now a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit!

It involved some trouble and expense on our part, but the DBSA Colorado State organization has achieved 501(c)(3) status, and can now receive tax-deductible contributions. This milestone is a necessary step in our efforts to become a positive force for mental health consumers in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region.

Staying Cool Under Pressure

A Slate Magazine article revisits a topic addressed in books such as The Survivors Club.

"When I was researching Nerve, my new book about how people deal best with fear, pressure, and stress, I got quizzed about this constantly. Is cool-headedness born, people wanted to know, or is it made? We've been arguing about this question since the days of Socrates, but until recently, psychologists had very little hard data about how genes and experience interact to determine how we respond under stress. We now have a far more solid idea of where cool comes from, however. Poise under pressure, it turns out, does indeed have a strong genetic component—yet our poise is mostly the result of what we do to build it up throughout our lives."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Just Another Way of Saying, "Hollywood Eats Its Own"

The Bookworm Room blog makes this statement about actor Charlie Sheen's ongoing meltdown:

England’s Bethlem Royal Hospital, founded in the 13th Century as [St. Mary Bethlehem] part of a convent, eventually transformed itself into the world’s first facility dedicated to the mentally ill. By the 16th Century, when it housed only the mentally ill, it was famous for the cruelty with which those patients were treated. The word “bedlam,” which describes a situation that is completely out of control, is a bastardization of the hospital’s name....

The practice of making insanity a public show changed only when people realized the indecency and immortality of laughing and staring at people who were helpless victims of their own mental illnesses. People of good will now think to themselves, “I never would sink to such a low practice.”

Apparently the American media is not made up of people of good will. For as long as I’ve been aware of him, Charlie Sheen has been a substance abuser and a loathsome individual. Now, though, it’s apparent that his vices have caught up with him and rendered him mentally ill. Reading the transcripts of his interviews his definite evidence that he has parted with reality. Normal people, even eccentric people, do not say “I am on a drug, it’s called Charlie Sheen. It’s not available because if you try it you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.”

In a decent world, Sheen would get the treatment he requires. In an indecent world, he’s paraded around for the media’s profit, just as the inmates at Bethlem Hospital were once paraded around for the profit of their ostensible caretakers. It’s embarrassing to watch someone sink into such complete degradation.

Some might say that Sheen wants this publicity. He’s actively seeking it, after all, as he has done for the length of his career. There’s a difference, though, between a mentally functioning person (even a low functioning person) taking appropriate steps to advance his career, and a mentally ill person treading that same path. It reminds me of the arguments the ACLU always makes about the paranoid schizophrenics on the streets of San Francisco: “They want to be there.” Yes, that’s true. They do indeed want to live on the streets, eating garbage, crawling with lice, and having suppurating wounds all over their body. But they want to live that way because they’re crazy as loons. Their desire to be dysfunctional (starving, filthy and diseased) on the streets is evidence of their insanity. A decent society, rather than saying “Great, eat garbage,” helps them out...

Stating the Obvious: Study Shows Speed Dating Rarely Works

An article in confirms what you probably figured out on your own by now.


* Humans and other animals can only handle so much variety before confusion and indecision set in.
* Speed dating usually presents us with an unnatural number of choices, so people often choose the wrong mater or can't choose at all.
* The findings help to explain problems with other situations involving variety, such as long menus.

Prior research indicates non-human animals also make poor choices, or none at all, when confronted with too much variety. For people, the discovery could help to explain all sorts of transaction and social failures, from inability to select a proper home after viewing dozens to what could be called the "George Clooney effect" -- the inability of some people to fully settle down even when dating multiple attractive, wealthy and otherwise desirable partners.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Human Guinea Pigs

We have to go to England to revisit a chapter in our history that many Americans are too ashamed to discuss: experimentations on people considered expendable, such as prisoners, mental patients, soldiers, blacks, and handicapped people. The Daily Mail (U.K.) has the story.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


We are still harvesting the bitter fruits of an alarming trend: criminalizing actions by children that would not have caused any alarm only a few years ago.

Fox 31 (KDVR in Denver) has a video.

Arvada Police are defending the way they handled the arrest of an 11-year-old boy. The Arvada boy was arrested and hauled away in handcuffs from his home for drawing stick figures in school - something his therapist told him to do.

His parents say they understand what he did was inappropriate, but are outraged by the way Arvada Police handled the case. The parents did not want their real names used....

Sunday, February 20, 2011

NEDAwareness Week 2011 (National Eating Disorders Association)

NEDAwareness Week is sponsored by NEDA (National Eating Disorders Assocation). NEDAwareness Week is a collective effort of primarily volunteers, including eating disorder professionals, health care providers, students, educators, social workers, and individuals committed to raising awareness of the dangers surrounding eating disorders and the need for early intervention and treatment.

NEDA appreciates your efforts, together we can accomplish a world without eating disorders.

National Eating Disorders Association

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Feature of L.A. Comedy Club: Psychotherapy

In the Los Angeles Times we read that Jamie Masada's Laugh Factory will be using an in-house psychologist to help the stand-up comics who perform at this venue to de-stress.

One of two clinical psychologists will be on hand four nights a week at the club to treat stand-ups; the free, no-appointment-necessary sessions will take place on a therapy couch that, appropriately enough, used to belong to Groucho Marx.

"This is serious. This is something we have to do," Masada says in a recent interview at the Sunset Boulevard club. "From Richard Jeni putting a gun in his mouth and blowing himself up [in 2007] to Greg Giraldo taking drugs and overdosing [in 2010], I just can't stand to watch all of my family, one by one [self-destruct]....

"Research shows that there is a higher degree of depression and bipolar disorder in comedians," she [Clinical psychologist Ildiko L. Tabori],says. "Laughter is a defensive mechanism. It's one of the more mature defense mechanisms, but it still masks whatever it is that's going on inside."

"Weeds" costar Kevin Nealon, who performs at the Laugh Factory, says many of his colleagues are drawn to stand-up as a form of validation. "A lot of comics, they're onstage getting attention and approval. It's one of the reasons they do stand-up," he says....

Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Antidepressant Doesn't Suppress Sex Drive!

Politics Daily, a subsidiary of AOL News, describes a new medication:

Here's some good news that should brighten up this cold, snowy January: The Food and Drug Administration has just approved a new antidepressant with minimal sexual side effects.

The most commonly used class of antidepressants -- called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) -- has quickly risen to the top of the charts for their ability to treat depression. These include such household names as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. But there's one problem with SSRIs: Many of them cause sexual dysfunction, including problems with achieving erection, delayed orgasm and loss of libido. As a result, patients frequently abandon their medication.

The new drug, vilazodone (the name suggests it could be an atypical antidepressant like trazodone or nefazodone), was developed by the company Clinical Data and will be marketed under the brand name Viibryd. In clinical trials, it did not have a negative impact on sexual desire or function....

Friday, January 28, 2011

Exactly as You Thought: Trans-Fats and Saturated Fats Contribute to Depression

Excerpts from an article:

Eating foods high in trans-fats and saturated fats increases the risk of depression, according to a Spanish study published in the US Wednesday, confirming previous studies that linked "junk food" with the disease.

Researchers also showed that some products, such as olive oil, which is high in healthy omega-9 fatty acids, can fight against the risk of mental illness.

Authors of the wide-reaching study, from the universities of Navarra and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, followed and analyzed the diet and lifestyle of over 12,000 volunteers over six years.

The report, published in the online journal PLoS ONE, noted the research was performed on a European population that enjoys a relatively low intake of trans-fats -- making up only 0.4 percent "of the total energy ingested by the volunteers."

"Despite this, we observed an increase in the risk of suffering depression of nearly 50 percent," said researcher Miguel Martinez....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

FDA To Consider Fate of ECT

Dr. John Grohol of Psych Central has ascended the soapbox to speak out on the proposal to "... downgrade electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) devices into the Class II medical device category — that is, a medical device that carries only 'medium risk.' Like a syringe." The American Psychiatric Association appears to endorse this change in writing.

"Currently ECT devices are classified as Class III devices — high risk. Yet they have never undergone the very basic safety and efficacy the FDA requires for all Class III medical devices and medications. Why not?

"We’re told the devices were 'grandfathered' into the Class III category because they’ve been around so long...."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another Compelling Reason Why Mental Illness Requires Our Attention

Usually he writes about military and political topics, but retired Marine Thomas D. Segel has this to say on his personal blog:

"Far too many voices have been raised in pontification about the mass shooting in Arizona. I have been very reluctant to add anything to the volumes of misinformation and unqualified statements that have headlined both electronic and print media for the past week. However, having worked in the field of mental health for many years, I do feel competent to examine that area of the current debate.

"If there is any health issue that is in need of serious reform, it is how the federal government and the many states of our union address the mental health care of the entire nation. Of all forms of illness, mental health causation is perhaps the least understood or researched. Treatment of the multiple forms of mental illness is also the most under funded area of medicine...."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Japanese Have a Word for It: "Hikikomori"

Michael Zielenziger's book, Shutting Out the Sun, describes a strange social phenomenon peculiar to Japan, but not to Western nations or even other Asian countries.

"More than one million young adults shut themselves in their rooms for years as a time. These adolescents and adults, known as "hikikomori", withdraw from societies for months or years at a time, not going to class, not working, not even leaving their homes, and often not even abandoning their rooms. These recluses become wholly dependent on their mothers to feed them....

"...Hiro a 26 year old, had locked himself in his room for seven years after being ridiculed by peers in his junior high school. He described to me his life as a hikikomori. Kenji, 36 years-old, had been alone in his room for almost two decades before he agreed to meet with me. He was unwilling to come out, unable to work or go to school or even sneak off to a movie. These men rarely even talk to their mothers, who leave hot meals at the bedroom door.

"These social isolates also account for much of the domestic violence in Japan, because frustrated, isolated men beat up their parents. These men are shut down and shut out of a Japanese society that demands a harsh and confining social order even as the new global architecture of commerce and media demands more individual autonomy, more self expression and ultimately more freedom for adults to shape their own destinies."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Loughner Case Exposes Deficiencies, Says Mental Health Advocate

Dr. E. Fuller Torrey wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal that reminds us that while most mentally ill people are not violent, we do have some who are walking time bombs.

These tragedies are the inevitable outcome of five decades of failed mental-health policies. During the 1960s, we began to empty the state mental hospitals but failed to put in place programs to ensure that the released patients received treatment after they left. By the 1980s, the results were evident—increasing numbers of seriously mentally ill persons among the homeless population and in the nation's jails and prisons.

Over the past three decades, things have only gotten worse. A 2007 study by the U.S. Justice Department found that 56% of state prisoners, 45% of federal prisoners, and 64% of local jail inmates suffer from mental illnesses....