Friday, December 19, 2008

Book Review - 'American Therapy - The Rise of Psychotherapy in the United States,' by Jonathan Engel - Review -

Book Review - 'American Therapy - The Rise of Psychotherapy in the United States,' by Jonathan Engel - Review - "Engel describes an experiment that seems to have been animated by these very questions. In 1979, a Vanderbilt University researcher named Hans Krupp divided 30 patients with psychological problems into two groups, one to be treated by trained psychotherapists, the other by humanities professors with no psychological expertise. The result? The two groups reported improvement at the same rates. “Effective psychotherapy,” Engel writes, “seemed to require little more than a willing patient and an intelligent and understanding counselor who met and spoke regularly and in confidence"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Psychiatrists Revising the Book of Human Troubles - Readers' Comments -

Psychiatrists Revising the Book of Human Troubles - Readers' Comments - "The largest mental health facility is Rikers Island. The second is the Los Angeles County Jail. Remember Erhard Seminar Training, EST? It wasn't that long ago that psychology was regarded on the right as junk science. The only thing that puts mental illness on the political agenda is the money the drug companies can make with all their new pills. They really are following the exact model of the tobacco companies. Which would you consider a war on mental illness to be closer to, the war on cancer or the war on crime? Patients may well be crazy, but they are far more honest than the doctors that treat them"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

PatientsLikeMe : Forum : Inner Chatter

PatientsLikeMe : Forum : Inner Chatter: "I've been having these never ending conversations in my head with my doctor, and it is driving me nuts! I just started back on topomax which is notorious for brain fog. I've got a few things I'm feeling guiltiy about, and I'm having some mixed states. He didn't want to give me topomax because he said it wouldn't control my mania, and we all know how much bipolars love to get high. All in all I'm just a mess. You can say it was a mistake to go back. Maybe it was, but what were my options? I've been on three different meds in the past few months and I'm afraid my doc was about to withdraw treatment. He is fed up with me. I don't blame him. I would be too. I'm at the end of my rope with no place to go. So topomax is it. I'm manic, and I'm going to try to hide it from him. Of course I'll be down by the time I see him. I just have live with the guilt and the shame and the bewilderment as to what to do. Basically there are medications that make me feel like crap that do control my mania. I have refused to take them. Now the chickens have come home to roost. Now I have to pay the piper. Pay me now or pay me later. And after this I get to look forward to a nice bout of depression. Isn't that special? Still, I can't go back to the crap. I've used up all my free trials so it's the topomax or nothing.

I just figured something out! I knew it would help my thinking to write something down. I know this is unbelieveably simple, but this shows what a fog I'm in. Duh! I need to try a little extra. I was reading what others were saying about topomax. I'm taking 100 a day. Some are taking as much as 400 a day. Just thinking about it seems to clear my head. Is that the placebo effect or what? I'm so strange. I'm just a strange old man with nothing to do except complain. I still feel guilty about my doc. He's not really a doc. He's a nurse practioner. Doctors don't do anything for me. They think they deserve a lot of money, and they try to keep other people from doing things that they think only they should do. They're stuck up pricks that you have to suck up to. Is that a little negative? I have problems with authority, doctors and policeman. Try me. Don't treat me. Really doctors are the biggest reason we don't have universal health care. They were the biggest impediment to medicare. They get away with murder. Armys cause wars. Police cause crime, and doctors'll kill ya. Well, you've been a great audience. Remember to tip your bartenders and waitresses. This has been really good for my mental health. Thankyou and good night.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Vets for Freedom

Vets for Freedom: "I am a disabled vietnam veteran. I mean you no harm. For some reason I am compelled to tell you that it is exactly your philosophy that gets us into these unspeakable horrors. I know you believe in what you're doing. I know there are two sides to everything, and change doesn't come easy. But someday your way of doing things will be extinct, and the world will be a better place for it. I am putting everything I have into reaching that day. I probably won't see it in my life time. That doesn't mean it isn't worth pursuing. Thank you for your time."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Downsizing to 100 square feet of bliss -

Downsizing to 100 square feet of bliss - "Californians have begun building 100-square-foot homes for minimalists

Couple says you don't need to keep up with the Joneses to be happy

One designer's home is so tiny, there's no space for his wife

'I like the idea of showing people how little a person could need'"

"I don't think bigger is better," he says.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Top Psychiatrist Failed to Report Drug Income -

Top Psychiatrist Failed to Report Drug Income - "From 2000 through 2006, Dr. Nemeroff earned more than $960,000 from GlaxoSmithKline but listed earnings of less than $35,000 for the period on his university disclosure forms, according to Congressional documents"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Psychoanalytic Therapy Wins Backing -

Psychoanalytic Therapy Wins Backing - "Intensive psychoanalytic therapy, the “talking cure” rooted in the ideas of Freud, has all but disappeared in the age of drug treatments and managed care.

But now researchers are reporting that the therapy can be effective against some chronic mental problems, including anxiety and borderline personality disorder.
In a review of 23 studies of such treatment involving 1,053 patients, the researchers concluded that the therapy, given as often as three times a week, in many cases for more than a year, relieved symptoms of those problems significantly more than did some shorter-term therapies"

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus: "“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer [the questions of suicide].”"

Friday, September 26, 2008

The United States of Mind -

The United States of Mind - "Certain regional stereotypes have long since become cliches: The stressed-out New Yorker. The laid-back Californian.
But the conscientious Floridian? The neurotic Kentuckian?
You bet -- at least, according to new research on the geography of personality. Based on more than 600,000 questionnaires and published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, the study maps regional clusters of personality traits, then overlays state-by-state data on crime, health and economic development in search of correlations."

View Interactive
View an interactive map of states' personality profiles, with details on each state's rankings in all five categories.
Even after controlling for variables such as race, income and education levels, a state's dominant personality turns out to be strongly linked to certain outcomes. Amiable states, like Minnesota, tend to be lower in crime. Dutiful states -- an eclectic bunch that includes New Mexico, North Carolina and Utah -- produce a disproportionate share of mathematicians. States that rank high in openness to new ideas are quite creative, as measured by per-capita patent production. But they're also high-crime and a bit aloof. Apparently, Californians don't much like socializing, the research suggests.

As for high-anxiety states, that group includes not just Type A New York and New Jersey, but also states stressed by poverty, such as West Virginia and Mississippi. As a group, these neurotic states tend to have higher rates of heart disease and lower life expectancy.

Lead researcher Peter Jason Rentfrow, lecturer at the University of Cambridge in England, said he was startled to find such correlations. "That just blew me away," he said.

Psychologists unaffiliated with the study say it's intriguing but limited. There's no way to unravel the chicken-and-egg question: Do states tend to nurture specific personalities because of their histories, cultures, even climates? Or do Americans, seeking kindred spirits, migrate to the states where they feel at home? Maybe both forces are at work -- but in what balance?

Another issue: The personality maps may reinforce stereotypes and tempt us to draw overly simplistic conclusions, said Toni Schmader, a psychologist at the University of Arizona. Knowing Arizona ranks low in neuroticism, Ms. Schmader said, she might conclude that sunny weather makes for sunny dispositions. But if the data had turned out the other way, the sun could just as easily be blamed for high neuroticism -- for driving Arizonans stir crazy by keeping them cooped up in air conditioning.

"We tend to reject information that doesn't agree with our stereotypes," Ms. Schmader said.

Cross-cultural psychology was all the rage in the 1930s and 1940s, driven by a craze among anthropologists for comparing child-rearing practices in modern and pre-industrial societies. But the discipline fell out of favor, partly because of concerns that the comparisons were driven more by value judgments than standardized assessments.

In the past decade, the field has been reinvigorated by the development of a 44-question personality test that evaluates five traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness. Some psychologists disagree with this matrix; others would add traits such as honesty. But the assessment, called the Big Five Inventory, has been widely used in scientific research.

Mr. Rentfrow came to the field full of questions gleaned from a life spent hop-scotching across America. Why were his neighbors in Texas so relaxed, so courteous, so obsessed with sports? Why did New Yorkers seem so tense and inward-focused, often brusque to the point of rudeness?

Eager to dig deeper, Mr. Rentfrow turned to a huge collection of psychological tests administered online from 1999 to 2005.

The assessments were linked to each respondent's current residence, so there was no way to tell if a New Yorker was a New Yorker born and bred, or had just moved from Kansas. But that suited Mr. Rentfrow's purposes. He wasn't trying to gauge how life in New York had shaped any one individual. His goal was a psychological snapshot of the state, and for that he needed to include even recent migrants -- who may, after all, have been drawn to New York because the big-city bustle suited their personality.

Mr. Rentfrow said his sample was proportionate to the U.S. population by state and race. Though it underrepresented the extremes of poor and rich, that shouldn't skew the results, he said.

While the findings broadly uphold regional stereotypes, there are more than a few surprises. The flinty pragmatists of New England? They're not as dutiful as they may seem, ranking at the bottom of the "conscientious" scale. High scores for openness to new ideas strongly correlates to liberal social values and Democratic voting habits. But three of the top ten "open" states -- Nevada, Colorado and Virginia -- traditionally vote Republican in presidential politics. (All three are prime battlegrounds this election.)

And what of the unexpected finding that North Dakota is the most outgoing state in the union? Yes, North Dakota, the same state memorialized years ago in the movie "Fargo" as a frozen wasteland of taciturn souls. Turns out you can be a laconic extrovert, at least in the world of psychology. The trait is defined in part by strong social networks and tight community bonds, which are characteristic of small towns across the Great Plains. (Though not, apparently, small towns in New England, which ranks quite low on the extraversion scale.)

The findings pleased Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, who said it was nice to have scientific proof that his state is super-friendly. "That's the Nebraska I know," he said.

But Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman can't understand how Nevada got ranked so low in agreeableness. "We're probably the most agreeable folks in the world, because we have to treat visitors with a great deal of kindness ... to get a big tip," he said.

In Florida, meanwhile, tourism official Dia Kuykendall groped to explain her state's high "conscientious" ranking. She was having trouble reconciling that with, say, the party scene on Miami Beach. "Conscientious of how they look?" she wondered.

The research did give Ms. Kuykendall an idea for a new Florida tourism pitch: "Come visit us, we're not neurotic!"

Social scientists suggest other applications for the research as well. In the Northeast "stress belt," health officials might consider programs to help folks relax. In the Midwest, a dutiful state like Kansas might look to woo more innovative personalities, perhaps by nurturing an artists' enclave or encouraging young chefs to start restaurants, said Richard Florida, an economic development analyst who has written extensively on geography and psychology.

"Most cities are still trapped in the idea that they can recruit a call center or build a big stadium" to spur revitalization, Mr. Florida said. "This is a big wake-up call for policy makers."

It's also a wake-up call for proud residents of the great state of wherever -- some of whom aren't fond of the findings. Mr. Rentfrow said he's had to help some of them feel better. Yes, North Dakota and Wyoming rank quite low in openness to new ideas. But why label them narrow-minded and insular? Say, instead, he suggests, that they value tradition. New York may be neurotic, but he offers another way to put it: "It's a state in touch with its feelings."

Or take a cue from Ted Ownby, who studies Southern culture at the University of Mississippi. His state came up highly neurotic -- and he suspects his neighbors would be proud.

"Here in the home of William Faulkner," Mr. Ownby said, "we take intense, almost perverse neuroticism as a sign of emotional depth."

Write to Stephanie Simon at

Copyright 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Another one bites the dust

BHOPAL, India - A teenage girl in central India killed herself on Wednesday after being traumatized by media reports that a "Big Bang" experiment in Europe could bring about the end of the world, her father said.

The 16-year old girl from the state of Madhya Pradesh drank pesticide and was rushed to the hospital but later died, police said.

Her father, identified on local television as Biharilal, said that his daughter, Chayya, killed herself after watching doomsday predictions made on Indian news programs.

Story continues below ↓


"In the past two days, Chayya had asked me and other relatives about the world coming to an end on September 10," Biharilal was quoted as saying.

"We tried to divert her attention and told her she should not worry about such things, but to no avail," he said.

For the past two days, many Indian news channels held discussions airing doomsday predictions over a huge particle-smashing machine buried under the Swiss-French border.

The machine, called the Large Hadron Collider, was switched on on Wednesday, at the start of what experts say is the largest scientific experiment in human history.

The machine smashes particles together to achieve, on a small-scale, re-enactments of the "Big Bang" that created the universe.

Leading scientists and researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, said the experiment was safe. They dismissed as "pure fiction" doomsday predictions that the experiment could create anti-matter, or black holes.

But in deeply religious and superstitious India, fears about the experiment and the minor risks associated with it spread rapidly through the media.

In east India, thousands of people rushed to temples to pray and fast while others savored their favorite foods in anticipation of the world's end.

"There were a thousand more devotees yesterday as well as today compared to (any) other normal day," Benudhara Sahu, a temple official in Orissa state, told Reuters.

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Discovery or doom? Collider

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


8-year-old guitar wiz has reason to play the blues By CARRIE ANTLFINGER, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 21 minutes ago

ELKHORN, Wis. - When Tallan "T-Man" Latz was 5, he saw Joe Satriani playing guitar on TV. "I turned around to my dad and said, 'That's exactly what I want to do.'"


Three years and countless hours of practicing later, 8-year-old Tallan is a blues guitar prodigy. He's played in bars and clubs, including the House of Blues in Chicago, and even jammed with Les Paul and Jackson Browne. He has a summer of festivals scheduled and has drawn interest from venues worldwide.

And what, you might ask, would a kid not even in the third grade have the blues about? The state of Wisconsin for one, and some possibly jealous older musicians for another.

An anonymous e-mail sent to state officials complained that Tallan was too young to perform in taverns and nightclubs because of state child labor laws. His booking agent even got an anonymous letter threatening her with death if she keeps booking him.

When Tallan's father read him the state's letter saying he couldn't play clubs anymore (he can still play festivals), the boy's response — like his music — seemed beyond his years.

"He goes, 'It's not how many times you get knocked down but it's how many times you get back up and go forward,' Carl Latz said his son told him. "And I told him that's exactly what this is all about and if nothing else this letter just taught you a life lesson."

The lesson can be stiff: Each day he performs, the employer can be fined $25 to $1,000 and the parent from $10 to $250.

Latz claims that two weeks before getting the letter he overheard local blues guitarist Jammin' Jimmy, whose real name is James Kemeny, say Tallan shouldn't be in a bar and he was going to turn him in.

Kemeny, who's been playing for 44 years, denied badmouthing Tallan.

"It seems totally unbelievable that somebody would even go to that extreme to send a letter to somebody, let alone looking to find something about child labor laws," Kemeny said.

Boche said she has received backlash from musicians and area bar owners because she supports Tallan. Some have tried to take patrons away, she said. Some even called in fake incidents to police, causing them to look for guns or underage drinkers, she said.

"If my doors close and I never open again and this boy becomes successful, then I will be the happiest person in the world," she said.

Tallan's agent, Sharon Pomaville, said she received a threatening letter June 2 warning her to stop booking the boy. She thinks he's a local musician and believes he's harmless. Deputies came to her house, but she didn't want to pursue the case.

Greg Koch, 42, an internationally known guitarist and clinician for Fender Musical Instruments, called the backlash despicable.

He said most 8-year-olds don't have the strength or attention span to pursue guitar or can't endure the calluses.

"It's strange that a kid at this age would glean onto this particular kind of music and show the intensity and kind of the ability to function as kind of 8-year-old blues guy," he said.

Brad Tolinski, editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine, said kid guitar prodigies are rare, with one emerging perhaps every four or five years.

"It would be unusual to find an 8-year-old who can play Joe Satriani licks," he said.

Carl Latz said there's no explanation for Tallan's blues connection other than he seems to have an old soul.

"I've had more people tell me, they say 'It's a kid's body but it has a 70-year-old dude inside,'" Carl Latz said.

Tallan, whose heroes are Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, has 13 guitars and endorsements from at least nine companies to use their equipment. He can read music but plays mostly from memory.

He has two bands — one with veterans called T-Man's Blues Project and another with 16-and-younger bandmates called Tallan "The T-Man" Latz and the Young Guns. He also sings and plays drums, harmonica, bass and piano.

Tallan said he likes to play guitar to "put smiles on people's faces" when they are having a bad day.

"It sounds awesome," he said. "I think it's so much you can do on the guitar."

He knows 30 to 40 songs and someday hopes to write his own. It was his idea to start playing in public.

"He drags me around," his dad said. "I don't drag him around."

Tallan said the problems he's faced have doing nothing to dampen his ambition to be a blues rock star when he grows up. Just the opposite, in fact.

"Because I got more inspiration, I got more sadness in me," Tallan said. "I'm just feelin' it."


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Original Inspirations

Original Inspirations: "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. - Helen Keller

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sentient Developments: Heath & Britney: Why mental health is no laughing matter

Sentient Developments: Heath & Britney: Why mental health is no laughing matter: "'A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.' -- Max Planck"