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[P]
Living with Schizoaffective Disorder (Part III)

By MichaelCrawford in Culture
Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 06:43:57 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

This is the conclusion of a three-part series on the mental illness that I suffer from.

Part I explained the symptoms than schizoaffective disorder shares with manic depression. Part II covered the experiences I have had that are in common with schizophrenia.

In Part III I explain what to do if you think you're mentally ill: the importance of accurate diagnosis, my experience with psychotherapy, and how you can build a livable new world for yourself. Finally I explain why I'm so bold as to write about my illness in such a public way, and recommend some books and websites for further reading.


Contents

Part I:

Part II

Part III:

If You Think You're Mentally Ill
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If you feel you may be sufferring from a mental illness, or could be in danger of doing so, I urge you in the strongest terms to seek the advice of an experienced mental health professional - a psychologist or psychiatrist.

(Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental illness. They have M.D. degrees and are licensed to prescribe medicine. Psychologists hold graduate degrees and practice "talk therapy".)

This is important for more reasons than to simply relieve your sufferring.

As I said before, if left untreated a mental illness can cause permanent damage. Besides the kindling that occurs with untreated manic depression, there is the damage that bad decisions or the inability to maintain relationships can do to your life. If you get severely depressed, there is the danger of suicide. It is much easier to deal with a mental illness before you become desperately ill. Look at it this way: an office visit is much cheaper than a hospital stay.

Accurate diagnosis is important. It is difficult to diagnose many mental disorders, and if you're misdiagnosed you may not receive the treatment you need. It is common to mistake manic depression for schizophrenia and vice versa. Other illnesses that can be confused with manic depression include Attention Deficit Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder.

There is the danger of that antidepressants may cause one to become manic. An occurrence of even one manic episode in your lifetime is enough for a diagnosis of manic depression. I feel the history of every patient who receives antidepressants for the first time should be investigated to determine the danger that their medicine may cause mania. Although general practitioners - regular medical doctors - may legally prescribe antidepressants, I am strongly of the opinion that it is unethical for them to do so except in emergencies, as they do not have the training or experience to determine whether one might be manic depressive.

Do not engage in the self-deception of self-diagnosis. It is common for people to hear about illnesses of all sorts on Oprah or Donahue (or the Internet!) and to then fool themselves into thinking they share the diagnosis with the talk show guest. If you research an illness carefully enough before you consult a doctor, you can even fool him into agreeing with your diagnosis.

Failure to diagnose correctly can be life threatening. A number of serious medical conditions cause disturbances in thought and affect, for example stroke, brain injury as well as cancer of the brain, thyroid or andrenal gland. When the grandmother of Mindfullness author Ellen J. Langer complained to her doctor that a snake living in her head was giving her headaches, he diagnosed her as senile and refused to investigate further. It was only after her death that an autopsy found the brain tumour that killed her.

Mental disturbance can be caused by heavy metal poisoning - the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland was inspired by real hatmakers who were sickened by the mercury used in the manufacture of felt hats.

Drugs of abuse can cause mental disturbances that last long after the drug itself has worn off. Besides the damage that addiction can do to your life and that of your loved ones, drugs, including alcohol, can cause such things as paranoia, anxiety and depression.

It is common for people with psychiatric illnesses to "self-medicate", but this ultimately causes more problems than it solves. Besides the alcoholic drowning their sorrows with drink, I have heard that alcohol suppresses hallucinations for the schizophrenic. Many times I have been warned by my doctors of the tempting danger that drugs hold especially for the manic depressive.

Neuroses can be caused by unresolved traumas early in life. For example childhood sexual abuse and violence, or living through times of famine and war. Having an addicted family member usually causes the entire family to behave in dysfunctional ways that leave lasting scars on everyone.

Perhaps you carry a terrible secret, a secret that you've never told anyone. Carrying the memory of childhood trauma continues to cause damage in adulthood far out of proportion to the original injury. Perhaps it is time to find someone you can trust to share your secret with. The injury you sufferred can never be undone, but it is within your power to change how you live with it today.

Mental illnesses can be mistaken as physiological ones: I have heard of a woman who was diagnosed and treated as epileptic when she was a young girl, then suffered for years because the medicine did not relieve her symptoms. It was only when she turned 16 and wanted to get a driver's license that further investigation found she really sufferred from anxiety.

My diagnosis at Alhambra CPC included CAT scans of my head, blood and urine tests and neurological tests to rule out such things as tumours and poisoning. A psychiatrist will usually do a thyroid panel before treating someone for manic depression. (There was another patient at Alhambra who arrived in a catatonic stupour and slowly awakened during our time there. It turned out that he had a physiological condition that caused the buildup of ammonia in his blood.)

However, there is no blood test for psychiatric illness; at best blood tests can rule out other physiological conditions. Tests such as Positron Emission Tomography can detect such things as the excessive metabolization of sugar in the right brain hemispheres of manic people, but PET scans are very expensive and so only commonly performed for research purposes.

Diagnosis of a mental disorder is made from the patient's history, observation of the patient's current behaviour, talking with the patient, and psychological diagnostic tests.

I had the Rorschach Inkblot Test, the Thematic Apperception Test, in which I explained what I thought to be happening in some pictures, and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory in which I answered a lengthy questionaire about my thoughts and feelings.

I also took an IQ test. Being manic I was feeling quite intelligent, so I was appalled to find that my score was off about 20 points from the two IQ tests that school psychologists had given me a child. The psychologist who tested me in the hospital reassured that my brain was not degenerating, but that psychosis caused a temporary decrease in intelligence. She said my intelligence would recover when the episode passed. However she warned me that my intelligence would fail to recover fully if I had repeated manic episodes.

If you don't have the money to pay for treatment you may still have options depending on where you live. Even in the United States, which does not have publicly funded health care for most illnesses, there are government-supported mental health clinics in many communities, as well as private non-profit clinics that charge their patients based on their ability to pay.

Many psychologists and psychiatrists offer sliding scales, where they charge lower income patients less money. Not everyone offers this, so you have to call around.

Some psychiatric medications are expensive; treatment with clozapine for schizophrenia costs thousands of dollars a year. The government might assist in the cost of your medicine, and some drug companies offer "compassionate drug plans" in which qualifying patients receive their medicine free of charge directly from the drug company. In addition the drug companies often give psychiatrists free advertising sample packs of drugs, which the psychiatrists then give to their patients who cannot afford to buy them.

Therapy
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Q: How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Just one, but the lightbulb has to want to change.

Early on, in the year before my diagnosis and for a while afterwards, I saw a number of psychologists. (I had also seen one for a while when I got really depressed in eighth grade, and had also seen a couple of school psychologists in elementary and junior high school, but didn't feel any of them helped much because I was such an unwilling patient.) I would typically seek a therapist out because I felt really bad, but after a few months I would feel better and stop going. Early on I really disliked having anything to do with psychologists and wouldn't see one any more than I absolutely had to.

That's a pretty common phenomenon for therapy patients. It seems that many of the people who seek out therapists are not in a position to get better in any substantial way, because they have no commitment to making any real change in their lives.

Achieving real change is a lengthy process, and it is often painful. Seeing a therapist just until you feel better for a while is not likely to effect meaningful change. And in fact for a bipolar person it's not likely that the therapist will have made any difference in such a short time - you could consult a brick wall for your depression for a few months, and after a while the inevitable bipolar cycle while make you feel better.

There came a point, I think it was around the Spring of 1987, that I noticed that I always kept falling into the same hole, and that I was not having any success in making my situation any better. I was on medication for much of the time since I was diagnosed, and although it provided some relief, I did not feel that it did much to make my life substantially better either. The symptoms weren't so bad with the medication but I still experienced them and life just plain sucked in general.

I made a really important decision then. It's the sort of decision everyone needs to make if they're going to get anything out of therapy, and is one of the more significant turning points in my life. I decided I was going to see a psychotherapist and stick with it no matter what happened, that I was going to keep going even if I felt better. I was going to keep going until I was able to effect meaningful, positive, lasting change in my life.

(Simply deciding to see a therapist for a long time is not enough. You have to decide that you're really going to change, and to face up to the work it will require and to face the fear that it will arouse. Lots of people see therapists for years, even decades, and never get anything out of it beside a little temporary comfort. I know some people like this and I find them incredibly vexing. These people don't want to change, and quite possibly will never change. They may even feel that they're good little therapy patients because they attend regular therapy for so long. However they must be very frustrating to their therapists who spend years trying to get their patients to face themselves only to have every effort deftly deflected.)

It's important to pick out a good therapist that you can work with effectively. I don't think nearly all therapists are all that enlightened - I'm sure almost all learn a lot of important theory in graduate school, but I don't think any amount of theory is going to make anyone an insightful human being.

Even if you find a therapist that's good in general, you may not personally be able to work with them. For that reason it's best to shop around. And that's why it's best not to wait until you really need help to find a therapist - if you feel, as I did at first, that psychologists are only for crazy people, then likely you're not going to see one until you are crazy. When that happens it's hard to take the time to shop around, and it's also much harder to pick up the pieces. If you think you're ever going to need to see a therapist, it's best to start when you're in a strong enough position emotionally to see one on your own terms.

At the time I made my fateful decision, I was getting by OK. I was desperately unhappy, but life was manageable. It was not like when I first saw a psychiatrist at Caltech, when I was ready to climb out of my own skin.

I got a very poor impression of the first therapist I saw. Her primary concern was whether I had the financial means to pay for her sessions. She was really quite shrill about the money, and kept emphasizing that she did not offer a sliding scale. I had a good job at the time, and would have had no problem paying her fee, but in the end decided she was just not someone I cared to be around.

The second therapist I saw was someone I rather liked. I'd responded to her ad in The Good Times offerring New Age therapy. (Santa Cruz is a pretty New Age kind of place, one reason I decided to stay there after living in the urban Hell of Southern California.) She seemed like a pretty happy and enlightened woman, and was quite pleasant to talk to. She seemed to like me at first too.

But when I explained my history to her - mania, depression, hallucinations, hospitalization and finally my diagnosis, she said she wasn't competent to deal with someone as troubled as I. She said I should consult with someone who specialized in challenging cases. I was really disappointed.

She gave me the names of several other psychologists. One of them was someone I'd seen at the County Mental Health department who I thought was competent enough but I didn't want to see anymore because I did not feel that she cared for me as a person. The next one on the list was the therapist I ended up sticking with.

All told, I saw my new therapist for thirteen years.

That's a lot of head-shrinking. I made a lot of changes during that time. Aside from my emotional growth, I got my career as a programmer started and built it up to eventually become a consultant, dated several women and eventually met and got engaged to the woman I am now married to. I also got my B.A. in Physics from UCSC and started (but unfortunately did not complete) graduate school.

Life certainly hasn't been easy for me as a consultant, especially since the economic downturn, but despite that I've been doing well mentally and emotionally for quite some time, and I credit that to my work with my therapist, not to any medicine I might take. The only professional help I require is a brief appointment with a doctor at the local mental health clinic every month or two to check my symptoms and adjust my medication.

Life's been pretty damn hard but I'm able to deal with it, and despite the obstacles I face I am able to maintain my optimism most of the time. That's a far cry from my experience of 1987, when I had few external difficulties but could barely tolerate living through the day - despite medication.

Who is this miracle worker you ask? I'm sorry, I can't tell you, much as I'd like to. When I wrote my first web page about my illness, I had her read it and then asked her if she'd like me to give her name. She said she would rather her name be kept private. I would rather give her the credit she deserves, but I respect her feelings so I won't give her name.

One of the main objectives of therapy is for one to develop insight into one's condition. I would like to discuss the many insights I found but I feel I could not discuss them adequately in the space I have here. I would like to discuss just one of them, as the key point I learned also applies to many other engineers and scientists. If you feel that you would like to know more than I can say in what follows, then I encourage you to read David Shapiro's book Neurotic Styles, especially the chapter on Obsessive Compulsive Style.

One day after I had been seeing my therapist for about seven years, she said to me, "I think it's time" and handed me a photocopy of the Obsessive Compulsive Style chapter of Shapiro's book. I took it home to read and found it nothing short of astounding. As I read it I often burst out in hysterical laughter as I came across something that seemed deeply familiar from my own experience. I still find it very embarrassing to find a lifetime of experience so neatly summarized in a single chapter of a book that was published when I was one year old. I just had to read the whole book so I bought my own copy and have since read it several times.

Obsessive compulsive style is distinguished from obsessive compulsive disorder by being a personality trait rather than a psychiatric condition that can be treated with medication. It is characterized by, among other things, rigid thinking and a distortion of the experience of autonomy.

Shapiro says:

The most conspicuous characteristic of the obsessive-compulsive's attention is its intense, sharp focus. These people are not vague in their attention. They concentrate, and particularly do they concentrate on detail. This is evident, for example, in the Rorschach test in their accumulation, frequently, of large numbers of small "detail-responses" and their precise delineation of them (small profiles of faces all along the edges of the inkblots, and the like), and the same affinity is easily observed in everyday life. Thus, these people are very often to be found among technicians; they are interested in, and at home with, technical details... But the obsessive-compulsive's attention, although sharp, is in certain respects markedly limited in both mobility and range. These people not only concentrate; they seem always to be concentrating. And some aspects of the world are simply not to be apprehended by a sharply focused and concentrated attention... These people seem unable to allow their attention simply to wander or passively permit it to be captured... It is not that they do not look or listen, but that they are looking or listening too hard for something else.

Shapiro goes on to describe the obsessive-compulsive's mode of activity:

The activity - one could just as well say the life - of these people is characterized by a more or less continuous experience of tense deliberateness, a sense of effort, and of trying.

Everything seems deliberate for them. Nothing is effortless... For the compulsive person, the quality of effort is present in every activity, whether it taxes his capacities or not.

The obsessive-compulsive lives out their lives according to a set of rules, regulations and expectations which he feels are externally imposed but in reality are of his own making. Shapiro says:

These people feel and function like driven, hardworking, automatons pressing themselves to fulfill unending duties, "responsibilities", and tasks that are, in their view, not chosen, but simply there.

One compulsive patient likened his whole life to a train that was running efficiently, fast, pulling a substantial load, but on a track laid out for it.

My therapist focussed on my own rigid thinking starting very early in our work together. My experience now is that I have a sense of free will that I did not possess before I began seeing her. However obsessive-compulsive style is a trait that is so deeply ingrained in me that I don't think I can ever be completely free of it. However I find that being able to focus my attention so intensively is an advantage to my computer programming. I find that programming allows me to experience being obsessive-compulsive in a way that I find enjoyable, like taking a holiday to go back to a familiar place from my past.

The Reality Construction Kit
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And so I come to the most important part of this article. If you take nothing else away from what I have written, take this. This is important whether or not you're mentally ill. I think we would all be better off if more people understood the following:

Reality is not something that just happens to you. Reality is something you make.

Most people never question the reality they experience. Most people are fortunate to have no reason to ever question it; their reality works well for them. The people who have reason to give up their reality are usually forced into it, either because they are insane, or because life just doesn't work for them. There is no satisfying measurable definition of sanity or insanity; instead, some people have a reality that works for them, and some people don't. Some people might be satisfied with their reality but society might not be satisfied with the behaviour their reality causes them to exhibit, and so we sometimes commit the mentally ill involuntarily to mental hospitals.

Even if you don't feel the need to question your reality or make a new one, I assert it is worthwhile for you to understand this in the event you ever have to, or ever need to try to help someone make a new livable world for themselves. At the very least it will help you to understand why some people are so difficult to get along with, and help you relate to them. It's not simply that some people hold different opinions, it's that many people, not just the insane, live in a completely different world from the one you experience.

There is an objective reality, but we cannot experience it directly. It is also without significance or meaning. The reality we experience is drawn from the objective reality but sliced, diced, julienned and pureed by the food processor of our bodies, cultures and minds.

This is a very old idea. But I first came to understand it when I took a course at UCSC called Anthropology of Religion, taught by Professor Stuart Schlegel. Among other things Dr. Schlegel discussed the cosmologies of various cultures, and how they created their worlds. He explained this in a theoretical framework first advanced by the philosopher Immanuel Kant.

Kant referred to objective reality as nouminal reality. Nouminal reality is everything that exists, in all its detail and complexity. It is too vast and complex to experience, and much of it is out of reach of our senses because it is too large, too small, too far away, lost in noise or detectable only with frequencies of light or sound we cannot percieve.

Nouminal reality is also without meaning - it is uninterpreted, because in nouminal reality there is no one to interpret it. From Physics I know that all that exists are subatomic particles interacting in incomprehensible numbers and complex ways. The division of our world into spaces and objects is a fiction created by our minds - in the nouminal world there are no objects, just a continuity of space punctuated by infinitesimal particles.

There is no past and future in nouminal reality. There is time. But the only things that exist, exist now. What once was doesn't exist anymore and what is yet to come does not yet exist.

Kant called what we actually experience subjective reality. It is created from nouminal reality first through a process of selection and then interpretation.

We can only see the wavelengths of light our eyes can detect, hear the frequencies of sounds our ears will accept, and understand a limited amount of complexity. Complexity is managed through a process of that combines and simplifies the raw material of nouminal reality into the subjective reality of the objects we percieve. We then apply interpretation to the objects based on our culture and our personalities. There is only so much we can pay attention to or even notice at all. In a very real sense we only see or hear what we want to, although the decision might be made at a very primitive level in our brains. Some sights or sounds are scary and capture our attention because during evolution those of our ancestors who gave significance to such experiences survived to reproduce.

Importantly, many of the selections and interpretations involve choices, although unconscious ones, that are influenced first by our biology, then our culture, then our personality. And the salvation of the mentally ill is that although the choices are made automatically at first, we can make new choices. I'm not saying it's easy, but one can influence one's reality over time and eventually establish new patterns of automatic choices that can result in a reality that is much happier to live in than, say, the world of fear and despair I used to inhabit.

The objective of psychotherapy is not to provide you with a professional friend to listen to your tales of woe. It is to help you construct a new reality. While you can expect your therapist to be sympathetic when you are in crisis, a good therapist also challenges her client to question their assumptions. Therapy is hard because the answers to such questions are often painful to face.

Everyone who starts therapy hopes to get back to the good old days before they began to suffer, but that's not what therapy will do for them. Instead therapy helps you to let go of those of your beliefs, even your most cherished beliefs, that led you astray. In the end a successful therapy client may be very different than they ever were before, but if the therapist does her work well the client will ultimately be more truly themselves than they ever have been in their lives.

Therapy alone is enough to treat the neurotic individual. But as I said there is a biological component to the construction of reality. Despite all that therapy has done to help me, my brain is unable to regulate its chemistry on its own. That is why I must take medication. If I didn't, the power of my chemical imbalances would overwhelm me. Someone with a mental illness whose roots come from biology must take medicine.

But someone with a biological mental illness must have both kinds of treatment - only rarely if ever does one suffer this illness without developing a neurosis. That's why I feel it is irresponsible for general practitioners to prescribe psychiatric medicine without referring the patient to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist. Giving someone only medicine at best gives them temporary relief from their symptoms without them ever developing the insight they really need to take control of their lives.

So you can see that it is a great benefit that we construct our realities. But it can be terrible too. In Anthropology of Religion Dr. Schlegel also discussed millenarian movements, that is the phenomenon of people believing the end of the world was at hand.

Sometimes a person comes along who has the dangerous combination of being both delusional and charismatic. While of course charisma comes naturally for some people, I feel it can also arise as an unusual symptom of mental illness. After all if manic depressives can experience euphoria as a symptom, cannot the terrible neediness of the paranoid drive them to whatever lengths it takes to attract followers? These people become cult leaders.

One of the other factors in creating a cult is for the group to become isolated. The isolation contributes to the cult members losing their grip on reality. There really is no such thing as "normal" in society - at best there is only what is average, or commonly experienced by most people. If someone strays too far from the mean, their interactions with others will tend to correct them. The lack of that correction is what causes the isolation that many of the mentally ill experience to make them sicker. When a group gets isolated, that's how a charismatic but delusional leader can bend the minds of otherwise healthy people.

I was moved to write my first web page about my illness shortly after the Heaven's Gate mass suicide. When I heard about it I just freaked out and spent a couple of weeks in a seriously troubled state of mind. It was the worst off I'd been in a long time.

It wasn't simply that the incident vividly reminded me of the times I had been suicidal. It was that it made me question the very foundations of my reality. The people who "shed their vehicles" with the aid of barbituates to go join the extraterrestrial visitors were not depressed, in fact the videotapes they left behind showed them to be apparently happy and healthy people, and intelligent ones too: the cult operated a successful web design firm! What upset me was the realization that despite my best efforts to maintain a firm grounding in reality, I knew that even perfectly sane people could be fooled into killing themselves quite enthusiastically. I knew that I could be fooled too, if I wasn't careful.

This can happen to entire nations. If international and economic conditions lay the right foundation, a single delusional and charismatic leader can incite a whole country to become a murderous cult. In For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence Alice Miller discussed the violent abuse Adolf Hitler's father subjected him to as a child and how that led to his adulthood as the pathologically violent leader of Nazi Germany.

Such pathology, while too horrible for most people to contemplate, is an expected consequence of the reaction of normal human nature to extreme circumstances. Lest you think it's not worth your concern, I want you to consider for a moment the following: If it can happen to Heaven's Gate, if it can happen in Jonestown, if it can happen in Waco, if it can happen to Cambodia, if it can happen even to a large, populous, powerful, modern and industrialized nation like Germany, then it can happen here.

Why am I Saying All This?
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There was a long time that I tried to keep my illness a secret, but I eventually decided to acknowledge it publicly. It was a difficult decision, but ultimately I have decided it is a better way to live. I can be open and honest, without feeling that I need to lie to protect myself. If there are negative consequences to speaking openly about my illness, I take a great deal of comfort in the inspiration that my writing has been to others who suffer.

I was moved to write this particular article today after I saw the movie A Beautiful Mind last night.

It is the story of John Forbes Nash, a brilliant mathematician who was struck down early in his career by severe schizophrenia. He sufferred in obscurity for decades (tormented by hallucinations and paranoia) before he recovered in the early 90's. Dr. Nash was awarded the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economics for the pioneering work he did on Game Theory as his Ph.D. thesis in the early 1950's.

Throughout my life I have always felt it important to speak out about the things that I believed in. That's why I posted John J. Chapman's Make a Bonfire of Your Reputations on my website after I first read it in The Cluetrain Manifesto.

However, I have not always been such an eloquent speaker. It took me a long time to learn to write well, and when I was young I was unable to speak convincingly at all. It has happened quite a few times that speaking out caused me trouble, and it was especially difficult to get anyone to listen during the times my illness made it difficult to organize my thoughts.

It is likely that you've heard or read the ramblings of a mentally ill person and written them off as inspired by delusions. But there is often truth behind even the most paranoid manifestoes, sometimes a terrible truth, if only you were able to decipher their real meaning.

I have found that getting people to listen to me doesn't require that I avoid embarrassing or forbidden topics, only that I discuss them eloquently enough that I gain my readers respect by the way I express my ideas. I'd like to suggest that you learn to write and speak well too, if you have something to say that you think others won't want to hear.

One of the reasons I used to work so hard to keep my illness a secret is that while in the grip of my symptoms I did a lot of things that I regret. Most people regarded me as a pretty weird guy in general, and having such a reputation to live down does not help when trying to establish a career in a competitive industry or in trying to find the affection of a loving woman. It might well happen that some who knew me when I was the most ill might post embarrassing comments in response to this article. It might also happen that potential consulting clients - or my current ones - read this and wonder about my competence.

It is a risk that I accept in order to live true to myself. While at times I am in the grip of insanity, I take full responsibility for everything I have ever done. The best defense that I have is to let my words speak on my behalf.

As Maggie Kuhn, the founder of the Gray Panthers said:

Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind - even if your voice shakes.

Recommended Reading
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I don't actually agree with what everything some of these web sites have to say, but I present them all so you can judge for yourself. I think the debate is healthy.

While I provide links to these books online so you can easily find out more about them, please do your part to support local bookstores. Many of these can be found in any bookstore.

  • Schiller, Lori and Bennett, Amanda, The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness [P] [ A]
  • Pirsig, Robert M., Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values [P] [ A]
  • Kesey, Ken, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest [P] [ A]
  • Edwards, Betty, The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain [P] [ A]
  • Peck, M. Scott, The Road Less Traveled [P] [ A]
  • Shapiro, David, Neurotic Styles [P] [ A]
  • Berne, Eric, Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships [P] [ A]
  • Langer, Ellen J., Mindfullness [P] [ A]
  • Aronson, Elliot, The Social Animal [P] [ A]
  • Jamison, Kay Redfield, An Unquiet Mind [P] [ A]
  • Jamison, Kay Redfield, Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament [P] [ A]
  • Jamison, Kay Redfield, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide [P] [ A]
  • Duke, Patty and Hochman, Gloria, A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness [P] [ A]
  • Duke, Patty and Turan, Kenneth, Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke [P] [ A]
  • Vonnegut, Mark, The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity [P] [ A]
  • Miller, Alice, Hannum, Hunter (translator) and Hannum, Hildegarde (translator), For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence [P] [ A]
  • Cronkite, Kathy, On the Edge of Darkness: Conversations about Conquering Depression [P] [ A]
  • Nasar, Sylvia, A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash [P] [ A]

Copyright 2003 Michael David Crawford. All Rights Reserved.

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Poll
Best motion picture portrayal of mental illness?
o A Beautiful Mind 21%
o One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 31%
o Pi 42%
o Shine 4%
o The Ruling Class 0%

Votes: 61
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Part I
o Part II
o Part I
o Living with Schizoaffective Disorder
o The Best of Both Worlds
o When Did it Happen?
o A Poorly Understood Condition
o Someone You Know is Mentally Ill
o Life on a Roller Coaster
o Melancholi a
o The Strange Pill
o A Risky Treatment
o What if Medicine Doesn't Help?
o Coming Up: Schizoid Symptoms
o Part II
o The Heebee-Jeebies
o Hearing Voices
o Dissociation
o Paranoia
o Geometric Visions
o Next: How to Deal With Mental Illness
o If You Think You're Mentally Ill
o Therapy
o The Reality Construction Kit
o Why am I Saying All This?
o Recommende d Reading
o [top]
o kindling
o Mindfullness
o Rorschach Inkblot Test
o Thematic Apperception Test
o Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
o The Good Times
o Santa Cruz
o my first web page
o David Shapiro's
o Anthropology of Religion
o Professor Stuart Schlegel
o Immanuel Kant
o my first web page about my illness
o For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence
o A Beautiful Mind
o John Forbes Nash
o the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economics
o Game Theory
o Make a Bonfire of Your Reputations
o The Cluetrain Manifesto
o Maggie Kuhn
o Pendulum Resources
o Dr. Ivan's Depression Central
o Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
o National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
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Display: Sort:
Living with Schizoaffective Disorder (Part III) | 168 comments (142 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
Holy word count (2.33 / 12) (#12)
by NaCh0 on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 05:48:38 PM EST

Jonkatz?? Is that you?!

--
K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
Thank you (3.80 / 5) (#18)
by KittyFishnets on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 06:20:55 PM EST

This series was excellent.

D

Excellent in.. (1.20 / 5) (#72)
by shwag on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:37:55 PM EST

..disclosing how ignorant much of society still is about the role authority plays in our beleif systems.

[ Parent ]
Write-in Vote (none / 0) (#19)
by Alfie on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 07:19:32 PM EST

Best portrayal of mental illness: Donnie Darko.



Another I wish I'd thought of (none / 0) (#20)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 07:23:54 PM EST

After I submitted the article for voting, I went to the video store with my wife and came across Girl, Interrupted.

I've been wanting to see it for eons, but passed over it tonight so I could watch The Matrix. I'm perhaps the one computer geek remaining on earth who hasn't seen it yet.

Some folks who read my discussion of solipsism in part II were wondering what I thought of The Matrix, but I couldn't say because I hadn't seen it yet. However I read a number of stories like that when I was a kind and they were all favorites. I'll post a note about my reaction to it tomorrow.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

The Matrix (4.00 / 1) (#23)
by Anonymous 7324 on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 08:13:34 PM EST

superior execution, innovative special effects, millenia-old ideas. In any case, it's not exactly meant to be a treatise on the idea of "brains in vats", so to speak. For that, The Mind's I edited by Hofstadter et al., is quite good.

[ Parent ]
The Thirteenth Floor (5.00 / 2) (#32)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 10:27:05 PM EST

If you like the ideas in the Matrix about computer simulated realities, then I recommend The Thirteenth Floor. It's more of a thinking movie and less of a cool SFX, Sci-fi-action movie that the Matrix is.

[ Parent ]
teh Matrix (none / 0) (#54)
by tkatchev on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 11:38:28 AM EST

The everlasting appeal of "the Matrix" is not in the fairly trite exposition of solipsism, but rather in its messianic idea for the Biblically illiterate.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Girl, Interrupted (none / 0) (#76)
by ocelot on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:58:22 PM EST

If you're going to see the movie, and haven't already read the book, make sure you read the book as well. The movie is (in my opinion) not nearly as good, and the theme is basically the complete opposite from the theme of the book. It's still a fun movie, but it's just that - a fun movie. Not one that's going to provide any sort of real insight.

[ Parent ]
sigh... (none / 0) (#22)
by relief on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 08:11:21 PM EST

i guess i have ADD, not manic depression.

----------------------------
If you're afraid of eating chicken wings with my dick cheese as a condiment, you're a wuss.
"Why am I saying all this?" (none / 0) (#25)
by NFW on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 09:07:14 PM EST

One word: Catharsis

I hope you enjoyed writing it as much as I enjoyed reading it. :-)


--
Got birds?


All my best writing is like that (none / 0) (#37)
by MichaelCrawford on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 12:46:50 AM EST

When I get a bug up my ass to write about something, I write about it obsessively, for days on end. I stop doing everything I should be doing so I can write.

I edit meticulously too, writing many drafts.

I don't stop writing until I'm spent and it's posted on the web.

I even write that way when I'm writing about programming.

Not everything I write is so driven - but the stuff that's not driven is just not very good.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

for me it's with code (none / 0) (#90)
by NFW on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 05:41:07 PM EST

I do some writing, but I only get really obsessive with software. For the latter project I had my nose glued to my monitor for almost six months. It feels really good to get lost in a project. Almost makes me look forward to being unemployed again.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

Accepting a diagnosis (5.00 / 5) (#26)
by headhound on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 09:31:50 PM EST

It's also important to be very very cautious when deciding whether to accept a diagnosis.

Bipolar is not something that can be identified through clinical means.  It is a diagnosis that is made through observation, "experience", and interviewing the patient.  The psychiatric community admits openly they don't know where bipolar comes from or what the cause is.  The medication for bipolar merely treats the symptoms, not the root cause, because they don't know what the root cause is.

The symptoms of bipolar are also similar to the symptoms of everyday life - unbidden emotions that don't have a rational explanation, unexplained mood swings, highs, lows, crashes and euphoria.  Despite what some would want to believe, these are all valid parts of human emotional experience.  It's not the mere existence of these "symptoms" that indicates bipolar.  It's more the intensity and the level of debilitation.  But even these are inherently subjective questions.

Since the medication prescribed to bipolar sufferers does not address the root cause and only affects the symptoms, it also yields medicative effects on people that aren't bipolar.

Patients that are diagnosed bipolar are told never to go off the meds due to the dangers of kindling.

This all points to one terrible truth.

If you are diagnosed and follow the prevailing advice, you will never know if you have been misdiagnosed.

There is no room made for a cure, even if one may exist.  There is no allowance made for the possibility that someone could recover 100% from bipolar.  Experience "symptom relief" from medication is offered as proof that one is bipolar, when it's not that simple.  The desire to go off the meds leads to warnings of kindling, and even is described as a red flag that manic symptoms may be recurring.

Do not accept a diagnosis of bipolar upon yourself without really feeling into it responsibly and thoroughly.  Is it possible you are experiencing the effects of emotional trauma?  Is it possible you are experiencing situational difficulties?  Are you simply feeling distracted by feelings you have that are getting in the way of your desire to be efficient and successful?  Are you scared or anxious that you can't control your feelings as much as you believe you should be able to do?  Answering yes to any of these questions are NOT indicators of bipolar and should not lead one to wondering if they should accept such a diagnosis.

As much as your doctor might communicate to you that there is a danger in going off your meds due to the possibility of "kindling", there is also a danger in accepting the diagnosis because of the possibility of being misdiagnosed without ever realizing it.  Great care should be taken either way.

As I wrote in the comments of part I, I had been diagnosed bipolar and have since realized that I am not.  I am continually given one of two responses: either that I was misdiagnosed, or that I'm in danger of "kindling".  I feel that neither are true in my case.  But other times when I'm challenged to bring forth a cure to prove that bipolar diagnosis is not permanent, and cannot, I am discredited.  But the truth is, the fact that I cannot bring forth a cure is evidence that all is not what it seems regarding bipolar.  If bipolar were one illness, one condition that had a chance of responding to one cure, then my own experience should be applicable to relieve other bipolar sufferers, and it's not.  This only proves to me that bipolar has been overdefined, overdiagnosed, and oversystemetized.  It's inherently a different experience for everyone suffering from it, which implies different possibilities for full recovery, depending on the person.

Take the author's warnings for what they are: not a representation of the reality of bipolar illness, but a representation of his own experience with it.

head

Psychiatry in general (4.00 / 3) (#67)
by jimmyt on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:28:44 PM EST

I'm a medical student thinking of going into research psychiatry, and I thought your comment was interesting. You point out bipolar illness has been overdefined and oversystematized. Others have written that "psychiatrists can slap a diagnosis on any normal human feeling" or "psychiatrists try to make everyone the same" and things like that. I think that, unfortunately, this is often correct, and regrettable. But if you can find a good, well-trained psychiatrist or psychologist who is not trying to work some jackass angle or who is simply trying to use you to fill a space in the day, this shouldn't be a problem.

In institutions where I have been, there is always the concern that we will interfere with someone's rights by incarcerating them or overmedicating them needlessly, and it's a very difficult question to answer sometimes whether someone is TRULY a danger to others.

Someone above wrote that psychiatrists "remove diversity", their point being that the problem was that society was unaccepting of differences in people and psychiatrists spend their careers trying to jam round pegs into square holes. . . But isn't it unrealistic to really expect society to change? From a practical standpoint, it is much easier to help someone fit into society.

Anyway, psychiatry is one of the most difficult medical specialties (IMHO) because of just the points people have been raising in this thread. In general, psychiatrists are well aware of the ethical problems that people in this thread are bringing up, and I guarantee you that very few psychiatrists are 100% sure that what they do is unquestionably the "right thing". The mind is poorly understood, and the very nature of treatment of mental illness is frought with difficult ethical and scientific questions that have not yet been satisfactorily answered. Answering these questions over the next 30-40 years or so will be fun, and will help a lot of people.

[ Parent ]
Society et al (4.00 / 4) (#89)
by headhound on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 05:21:58 PM EST

What a classic non-opinion.  Nod to the point, feel entitled at your willingness to recognize it, then move on, ignoring it entirely.  It just what too many psych folks counsel us to do with our emotions.  Funny that you say you agree with me when I disagree with you so strongly.

The fact is that society is all our people.  Not a subset majority, not a homegenization.  It's everyone.  Society changes all the time so it's not unrealistic to expect it to change.  Every time you help someone to fit into society, you are further homogenizing it and changing it for the worse.  If you think that recognizing the validity of the rest of society is preferable to recognizing the validity of the sufferer's experience, you are part of the problem.

If there are so many psychiatrists trying to work some jackass angle, or using you to fill the space in the day, it brings up a question: at what point does it switch from being a problem with those particular psychiatrists, to being a problem with the whole system that these psychiatrists operate within?

Mental health professions would take a massive turn for the better if they just adopted one shift: Turn away from the thought that a sufferer's mental illness is outside that person, a disease that is not part of the soul and needs to be treated and controlled; and turn towards the interpretation that one's "mental illness" is the part of the person's soul that needs the most self-love, understanding and acceptance, the part that needs to be reconciled and resynthesized into the overall person.

head

[ Parent ]

More of the same (4.00 / 3) (#96)
by jimmyt on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 06:30:39 PM EST

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by your statement that I "feel entitled at my willingness to recognize" your point....I guess you mean you think I'm patting myself on the back at my own magnanimity for acknowledging that others may also have valid opinions? Maybe you're right ;-)
"If you think that recognizing the validity of the rest of society is preferable to recognizing the validity of the sufferer's experience, you are part of the problem."
I'm not saying that the individual's experience is not important. I'm saying that there are certain things one needs to do as a member of any community to avoid a miserable existance. For example, be able to earn money to get a house and buy food to eat. Some mental illnesses render the invividual unable to fulfill these requirements, and they suffer as a result. It may well be a problem with society as a whole, but while others are working on that problem, there are a hell of a lot of mentally ill homeless people, etc. that need help in the meantime.
Turn away from the thought that a sufferer's mental illness is outside that person, a disease that is not part of the soul and needs to be treated and controlled; and turn towards the interpretation that one's "mental illness" is the part of the person's soul that needs the most self-love, understanding and acceptance, the part that needs to be reconciled and resynthesized into the overall person.
I take this to mean that you take issue with the application of the traditional disease concept to mental illness (e.g. saying schizophrenia is akin to hypertension, or AIDS, or something), and believe that there is a fundamental problem with the philosophy of mental health treatment. For many so-called mental illnesses (e.g. multiple personality disorder, many of the personality disorders, etc) I agree with you (not patting myself on the back, by the way). I would encourage you to write more about this method of helping people with these kind of troubles.....It would be interesting to see how that approach would help someone who is mentally ill. To my knowledge, that approach has not been particularly successful in the past. Not to be an asshole, but what I mean is that if you have a way to help mentally ill people better than the current system, by all means please do.

There was a schizophrenic patient I once had who used to have a job, a wife, and a home, until he lost these things because of his illness. He came to us in the hospital after being found on the side of the road horribly sick from exposure after trying to walk from Dallas to Oklahoma City in the dead of winter, at the urging of his auditory hallucinations. Upon entering the hostpial, he couldn't make a complete sentence, because his thoughts were so disorganized, and he sat in his room on the corner of his bed all day. People had to help him dress and remind him to clean himself, and remind him to eat. In my opinion, this is unquestionably an "illness" in the usual sense of the word. After a few weeks on an atypical antipsychotic, he was able to talk to us again and was no longer hearing voices. Every time I spoke to him, the profound sadness he felt about the things he had lost hung in the air like a fog, and, rather than missing the voices he expressed a overwhelming fear that they would return to torment him again. But the medication kept the voices at bay, and when he was discharged, he had an apartment and a (albeit menial) job lined up. To me, this is clearly superior to being dead of exposure on the side of the highway. Though if I guess he had died on the highway he would have made it to heaven with his "soul" intact.

[ Parent ]
Nondrug Treatments (none / 0) (#97)
by Alfie on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 06:46:56 PM EST

It would be interesting to see how that approach would help someone who is mentally ill. To my knowledge, that approach has not been particularly successful in the past. Not to be an asshole, but what I mean is that if you have a way to help mentally ill people better than the current system, by all means please do.

Check out http://www.moshersoteria.com/. A paper on the study and an article are published there.

Loren Mosher was chief at the Center for the Studies of Schizophrenia at NIMH between 1968-1980. Sadly, funding for studying nondrug approaches in modern times is pretty much nonexistent.



[ Parent ]
Very interesting (5.00 / 1) (#98)
by jimmyt on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 07:19:40 PM EST

That article was very interesting. I've heard of this guy before, and I think he's got some interesting ideas. There was lot I liked about the article. I haven't read the articles completely enough to give you a detailed critique, but I broswed through it. I'm not sure I agree with his assertions that he's been shunned in the psych. community because of some variation on the evil drug-company plot or something like that....If he's been shunned in the psychiatry comminuty, I think it's more likely as a result of what people percieve as alarmist posturing than as a result of some variation on an evil drug-company plot or somthing. Or maybe the majority of psychiatrists simply disagreee with his beliefs. Basically I'm not a big fan of conspiracy theories and I'm naturally skeptical of his claim...But you never know, I guess...

Another thought on this kind of treatment is that it seems a little like an unrealistic "nirvana" for patients...What I mean is that when patients are placed back into society they will not be allowed to behave however they want, etc. E.g. if someone's illness makes them want to shit in the middle of every room they enter, it does them no good (does it??) to encourage them to engage in this behavior as part of treatment. A big part of what elicits people's psychopathology is the stresses that society places on them. A temporary reprieve from these proessures is not necessarily a bad thing, but I do think that his way could be too much of a good thing. I guess I agree, in principle, that many types of mental illness would be amenable to this kind of treatment, and if someone does more studies and prove that it works as well as, say, Prozac, I'll be glad to make it a part of my practice someday, and I bet many other psychiatrists would do so as well.

[ Parent ]
clarifications (3.50 / 2) (#103)
by headhound on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 08:16:51 PM EST

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by your statement that I "feel entitled at my willingness to recognize" your point....I guess you mean you think I'm patting myself on the back at my own magnanimity for acknowledging that others may also have valid opinions?  Maybe you're right  ;-)

All right, this is admittedly a tangent from the point of the content, and I got myself into it by flaming you.  So a brief explanation before I get to the meat: it's disingenuous to act like you agree with a point by "recognizing the validity" while you actually disagree with it.  It's simply lip service and it's a manipulative technique to distract both your opponent and yourself from the fact that you are unwilling to incorporate the viewpoint into your own.  If you agree, then reconcile it into your own point of view.  If you disagree, either stop participating or say you disagree and state why.  But it's lazy to say "good point!" as a disarming technique and you should expect to be called out on it.

Now, your point about helping people to cope when their symptoms are getting in the way of them even being able to function is fine.  I actually don't regret that I was on medications before I recognized my symptoms for what they were.  But your point doesn't support externalizing the illness at all.  Your last sentence is cute, but totally unrelated to the point you were making.  It's sad that he was suffering so much and it's great that you all helped him.  But it doesn't mean that his illness doesn't have an emotional basis that can't be further understood on an emotional level and integrated into his person or "soul".

What I regret is that I had to deal with doctors telling me that my symptoms were external, not part of "me", that it was something to control, that I'd always have the illness, that I'd have to be on the meds for the rest of my life.  Just because medication might help the symptoms of an illness does not prove the validity of the philosophy of the psychiatric model.

I'm probably not going to get very far making my point with you because it looks like I'm trying to challenge a basic logic, when you pick out flaws in my logic by relying on the very logic I'm trying to challenge.  An example is the fact that you're asking me to go ahead and help people with what I know, and that you believe that "this type" of treatment hasn't been very helpful in the past.  It just betrays your bias towards looking at things systematically and in aggregate, when my whole point is that that's the problem.  With what I did to cure myself, I can't bottle it and apply it to other sufferers.  You think that proves your point, when actually it points out that if my illness could be cured in a way that won't work for others, then there's evidence of an invalid system.  Maybe bipolar is just a correlation of manifested symptoms, when the root causes are different for every single person.  It's of course impossible to disprove that at this point, but as is consistent with my first point, I expect most psychiatrists would shrug and say, "Valid opinion!" and move on, rather than actually try and integrate it into their approach.

head

[ Parent ]

I agree with you (5.00 / 1) (#99)
by acronos on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 07:19:41 PM EST

I too, am a bipolar who considers himself cured.  My psychologist just believes that I was misdiagnosed.  I have not had any real symptoms in more 5-7 years.  I still have symptoms of depression now and then, but compared to what I experienced before it is not even significant enough to be worthy of the word depression in my opinion.

However, I disagree with my psychologist.  I was clearly cycling about 10 years ago and for most of my childhood.  I have also noticed an anecdotal relationship between diet and my symptoms.  High amounts of caffeine used to cause me problems.  I still avoid high amounts of caffeine.  I often wonder if this is unique to me or if others have experienced this coloration.  However, I don't claim to know what cured me.  I also am aware of bipolars who have gone years and then relapsed.  For now, I will go with what I think is right, then if it happens to me, I might reconsider.  I am very sensitive to the symptoms, and between my wife and I we should be able to recognize it very early and get help if needed.  


[ Parent ]

Caffiene (5.00 / 1) (#101)
by Alfie on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 07:41:49 PM EST

Caffeine is a drug which stimulates the sympathetic nervous system--the system which is responsible for the "flight or fight" response. Ingesting large amounts of caffeine very well could affect your mood and your physical health.



[ Parent ]
Last pages as boring as the first (1.08 / 12) (#27)
by xeoatthermopylae on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 09:48:19 PM EST

Instead of simply writing about what he felt, heard and experienced, the author insisted upon presenting himself first as an expert on psychology and only second as a psychotic. The result is poor writing.

He is also "vexed" that others might not go to a therapist, not considering that perhaps they are not insane, as he is. Once again his self-centered view skews reality.

In summary the article is self-centered, misleading, and boring, boring, boring...

Vexation (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 09:51:11 PM EST

Thank you for your support.

If you read what I said more carefully, you will find that the people I find vexing are the ones who consult with therapists, sometimes for years, without any intention to get better.

I'm sure they have many reasons why they want to undergo psychotherapy, but having treatment succeed is not one of them.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

xeoatthermopylae (none / 0) (#59)
by mcgrew on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 12:21:03 PM EST

I suspect that the poster is one of those who hates and fears the mentally ill. Your response to him, imo, was excellent.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Finally some sanity! (1.25 / 4) (#73)
by shwag on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:39:08 PM EST

I completely agree. Anyone who thinks they should see a shrink needs to have their head checked!

[ Parent ]
Broken record? (5.00 / 4) (#110)
by Smerdy on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 11:22:14 PM EST

If you think you have a valid viewpoint, why do you feel compelled to repeat it over and over in different threads without adding any new justification?

[ Parent ]
Imprisonment (1.62 / 8) (#29)
by coffee on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 10:00:11 PM EST

Anyone here been commited? Against your will? Get drunk and I'll show you how. Take those bastards down to Chinatown.
Revolutionary Communist Party of America
GO TO PANASONIC CROUTON RUBIK'S CUBE ATTACK!
Yes and No. (5.00 / 3) (#31)
by Alfie on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 10:26:47 PM EST

I was suffering from headaches, and I had missed two weeks of school. My mother asked if I would go to the hospital for some tests. Along the way, she bought supplies, which is when I realized something weird was up. Turned out I had been committed for observation.

So, I didn't really get a chance to exert my willpower. My understanding is that it is common for psychiatrists to lie to a patient if such a lie would get cooperation without the use of force.

Anyways, since I'm such a creampuff, I didn't argue. I was nice, and I basically did what was asked of me. I wasn't forced on any drugs. They had me signed up to take Zoloft, but I palmed that and dumped it into the trashcan. My understanding is that it's not uncommon for patients to do such a thing when they don't feel like they have the ability to tell the doctor "no".

The hospital was very nice. It was a children's hospital--I was 16 at the time and my mother had signed all the consent forms. Apparently, parents can consent for their kid. The staff was young--I'd say they were in training. They were all very nice. The patients I was with were nice too. There was one male kid in a NIN shirt with scabs on his wrist from slashing. There was a shy female kid who had problems at home. She tried to commit suicide one night by swallowing ink (not very effective, obviously).

All in all, I was totally confused as to why I was there. The staff seemed to be unsure as well. Anyways, it seems the doctor was into researching autism. They thought I had asperger, or high-functioning autism. Basically, I was very good with numbers, having worked hard to develop the ability while I learned programming. I wasn't so good at adding large numbers and stuff like that, but I could remember an impressive string of numbers compared to a normal kid my age. I think I could remember up to sixteen different numbers in order after hearing them aloud. My memory isn't so good anymore. :)

Anyways, I had tons of endorphins running through my system because I was in constant pain. This is apparently what the doctor was all excited about--there's a bunch of theories that autists have too many endorphins, etc. Not that they ever told me they thought I was an autist; I learned that weeks after the visit when I finally got a chance to look at my records. At the time I was totally confused as to why I was there. I think they didn't want me to know in order to do the research. It kind of ruins the research if the patient knows what he or she is being tested for.

Soooo, anyways, one day the doctor tried to get me to take naltrexone, which is an opiod antagonist. I had no idea what that meant at the time, but I told him no. To make a long story short, I ended up taking a little bit of the pill--I popped it into my mouth at the station, walked to my room, and dropped it into the can. Unfortunately, it didn't have a coating so enough disolved in order to have a reaction.

I'm very glad I didn't take the whole pill. Apparently the treatment involves causing gross brain damage in an attempt to make the autistic patient more "emotional". Vision loss is a common side-effect, due to, well, I'm not sure. Either loss of neurons or loss of connections between neurons. Not like I was told any of this. Btw, this is a one-time treatment. The single dose is supposed to be high enough to cause a permanent change in the patient's brain.

And this is how I began my long trip of learning about the various brain-damaging and brain-disabling treatments of psychiatry. Quite frankly, I'm amazed the profession has made it as far as it has without getting more popular attention.



[ Parent ]
naltrexone (none / 0) (#36)
by cyclopatra on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 12:28:25 AM EST

(re: Naltrexone and brain damage/vision loss etc) Do you have any links to studies that back this up? I searched briefly on Google but couldn't find anything; there was a note that vision loss appears to occur when naltrexone is combined with Haldol (an antipsychotic), but it appears to be pretty frequently prescribed for alcoholism and heroin addiction (and just about everything else under the sun, just to see if it'll work, from what I can tell), so I would have expected to find something fairly quickly if brain damage and/or vision loss were at all common as side effects, or if the changes induced by it were permanent (all of the pages I found emphasized that the effects lasted only as long as the drug was in your blood).

On another note, it appears that naltrexone did pretty badly in controlled trials for autism, and that there's some serious disagreement now as to whether it should be continued as a treatment.

Cyclopatra
All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

Dosage (none / 0) (#38)
by Alfie on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 12:49:33 AM EST

Whether brain damage occurs depends on dosage. When used to treat autism, the doses are high enough to cause vision loss.

I was kept in the dark about my treatment. I don't really know how it works, and I have to admit part of me is scared to dig too deeply. I tend to have a love-hate relationship with learning about psychiatric treatments, especially those related to what they did to me.

Btw, you probably won't see "brain damage" mentioned on pages about psychiatric treatments. The term tends to be avoided, for obvious reasons.



[ Parent ]
Obvious Reasons (none / 0) (#47)
by Alfie on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 04:10:07 AM EST

"Obvious reasons" being lawsuits.



[ Parent ]
Watch Alfie Babble! (none / 0) (#50)
by Alfie on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 05:37:25 AM EST

Heh, despite already posting too many replies, here comes another. This issue to close to my heart--I hope you understand.

My main motivation for creating the "FEELNFUL" chemical example (1, 2) is what happened to me in real life. I do not deny my symptoms. Because of the intense pain I constantly suffered and because of the shameful, to me, nature of the cause of my pain, I was in fact very shy and withdrawn from people. I was also decent with remembering numbers because when working on the computer, from things such as using ResEdit to cheat on games to playing with hex dumps and assembly, I had learned how to briefly memorize strings of digits pretty well. Doing so is easier than constantly flipping between windows, and hey, I thought it was a pretty cool trick to learn. So I had a lot of symptoms for aspergers, whatever that's worth.

However, completely ignored by the research biopsychiatrist was the possibility that there was a very good reason for the abnormal levels of endorphins in my system. I did have a catscan and a blood test done weeks before, so I'm guessing they knew my endorphin levels were extremely high. I was slowly learning to deal with all of the pain on my own. The psychiatric commitment came as a shock to me. I never imagined anything like that could happen to me. I had a lot of shocks and deeply embarrassing moments at that hospital. For a sixteen year-old who was deeply embarrassed about sex for a particular reason, one of the tests they did marked the lowest point of my life. I really don't know what to say. I mean, I can tell you that I'm sure that bastard of a doctor is probably a good person overall, but... eh. What can I say? I learned many things. One of which is that psychiatrists generally do not get in trouble when they hurt patients. A hurt patient means a lawsuit, and no one wants that, especially not the hospital. I have no doubt that all the painful, hurtful things which happened to me won't be expressed in the resulting published research.

One life damaged for the scientific gain. I have a problem with that philosophy. Research which hurts a patient will result in treatments which hurt a patient. The research psychiatrists should focus on making their patients better and do their research within that constraint. I repeat: research which harms patients will result in treatments which harm patients. ECT and psychosurgery are dead ends. So are psychiatric drugs where the main effect is to disable or cause dysfunction in the patient's brain.

I'm thinking about the "Are you saying we're all monkeys with revolvers?" quote from X-Files. I'm wondering if the research biopsychiatrist couldn't have spent a little more time pondering whether it was a good idea to "correct" my abnormal chemicals levels. Maybe he should have considered the possibility that, hey, my body is the result of millions of years of evolution and maybe it knows what it's doing. Without a good concept of why the abnormal chemical levels are occurring in the first place, it's reckless to "adjust" them. If they had tried the social approach, they would have learned exactly why my chemical levels were so abnormal. They would also have realized that using naltrexone in my case is an inappropriate treatment. But noooooo, they had to do research where the patient has no clue what's going on.

I find myself sympathizing with lab rats now. :p



[ Parent ]
? about asperger's for alfie or anyone (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by massivefubar on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 11:58:34 AM EST

When I was a child, the school psychologist diagnosed me as a high-functioning autistic. I never received nor desired any treatment and, to be honest, I am unclear about what the purpose of any treatment would be. I am happy as I am and would not wish to be changed. I have a friend who is diagnosed with a more extreme case of Asperger's, but he does not wish to be changed either. Indeed, he feels superior to the rest of us, for he feels that we do not think as logically and as clearly and that we are overly influenced by emotion and by the herd. I understand why it's a bad idea to be the kind of autistic who sits in a dark room rocking all day, but I don't feel diseased or broken, and I have to confess to feeling that I and people like me are being defined as being diseased simply for the profit of others. I guess what I am asking is, what is the purpose of changing the high-functioning autistic's brain if in fact it can be changed? Unless I am reading your story incorrectly, it sounds as if the doctors hospitalized you because your mother was unhappy. It seems that the disease was your mother's, if unrealistic expectations can be considered a disease. Not every child is destined to be captain of the speech team, class president, and football hero rolled into one. Life and society would be chaos if we all fit today's definition of total mental health. Or so it seems to me?

[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by Alfie on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:12:34 PM EST

what is the purpose of changing the high-functioning autistic's brain if in fact it can be changed? Unless I am reading your story incorrectly, it sounds as if the doctors hospitalized you because your mother was unhappy.

Well, I'm guessing the purpose was medical research. I was specifically asked if they could publish the information by a different doctor whom I was seeing before and after the commitment. This would also explain why I wasn't told my diagnosis or what was going on at the time.

By the way, I don't think I'm superior. I've always wanted to get around to socializing more. However, at the time I was dealing with intense pain and embarrassment. I was trying to focus and cope as best I could. Part of me hoped that they could actually help me, but I was also so scared from the trick they pulled to get me there, so I was on the defensive. I had a choice, and I decided to wait and see what would happen. After all, all of the nurses were very nice, and the hospital was clean and modern with pastel colors. I guess I was hoping maybe they really could help me. I wanted to know why I was there and what they intended to do first. Over the next few days it became apparent that they were testing me. Small stuff like watching me do a puzzle, etc. No big deal, until some of the more embarrassing tests happened. The day the doctor had me take the naltrexone, the idea that they'd have me take medication was a complete surprise. Sure there was the Zoloft, but they hand that stuff out like candy. I was so confused about what was going on. I hardly got to see the doctor my entire visit--most of the time I was with the nursers/counselors. I wanted so badly to ask him what was going on and have everything explained to me. That's why I kept asking, "Where is the doctor?" during my episode.



[ Parent ]
A mirror reverses an image (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by mcgrew on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:09:29 PM EST

Assuming you are in the US, if it was indeed research, your mother would have had to sign a release that she knew the dangers. Unless the doctor willfully caused harm, or made a stupid mistake, his insurance company would have won the lawsuit.

Which is another point- the doctor doesn't suffer from a malpractice suit, his insurance company does. And malpractice insurance is part of his overhead. Fear of a lawsuit will NOT cause the results of the research to be hidden.

The brain is the least understood organ in the body.

Medical research often kills and/or maims, and this is true of studies of physical diseases, as well. Thalidomide caused thousands of horribly disfigured children. "Fen fen" (I'm sure that was misspelled) is a diet drug that was pulled off the market because it killed a lot of people.

At least these researchers are trying to minimize danger, and actually bring relief to sufferers. That isn't true of industry, where people are routinely sacrificed so a group of rich bastards can get richer.

My Grandfather fell four stories down an elevator shaft in 1959 while working for Purina. The elevator had no door! He lived a mental and physical cripple, bedridden, for the next ten years so Purina's stockholders wouldn't have to bear the cost of a God damned door on the elevator. My Grandmother sought legal advice and was told there was nothing she could do. Twenty years later it came out that Purina was one of the lawyer's clients. A pure conflict of interest, but evil bastards don't care much who they hurt, or how. My Grandmother lived in poverty the rest of her life. Nobody got in a bit of trouble for this industrial manslaughter.

Tyson Foods had a chicken processing plant somewhere down south ten or twenty years ago. The plant manager had all the exits locked to prevent the minimum wage workers from stealing chicken pieces. The plant caught fire, and the workers were trapped inside. Twenty five people died a horrible death. This was on the news for a couple of days, then forgotten.

The plant manager served two years in a "country club prison" for horribly murdering those 25 people for profit. If this were not a Plutocracy, he would have been given life in prison, and Tyson Foods would have been shut down, liquidated, and the sale of the assets would have gone to the victims' families. Those folks are likely to still be working shit jobs for $5.45 an hour.

Ford's accountants and lawyers figured the cost of lawsuits from the families of people horribly burned to death by Pinto's gas tanks exploding when rear ended to be less than the cost of retrofitting the tanks, so people died.

At least if you had been maimed, it would have been out of the doctors' ignorance, not for filthy lucre.

The Unites States has indeed established a state religion- the worship of green paper. It is disgusting.

Sorry I got off topic and started ranting about something else.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Naltrexone (none / 0) (#39)
by sigwinch on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:19:25 AM EST

You seem to be badly misinformed about naltrexone. It is a common and fairly safe drug. It temporarily and reversibly blocks opiod receptors on neurons, and those receptors are not essential. It is routinely given to recovering addicts in high doses, and very high doses of more powerful opioid antagonists are routinely used to treat overdose.

A brief web search shows that the single dose is not give as a cure, but rather to see if it has any effect. A positive response is said to be immediate and profound, whereas a negative response shows that further attempts are pointless.

Apparently the treatment involves causing gross brain damage in an attempt to make the autistic patient more "emotional".
It does not. The effects of naltrexone and similar drugs are completely reversible. Wait a week and your brain will be back to normal (whatever normal is for you).

Furthermore, it is not an attempt to make the patient more emotional. Endorphins are powerful regulators of mood and behavior. It has been shown that some autistics have abnormal levels of certain endorphins, and that their problems diminish when the endorphins are blocked.

Unfortunately, it didn't have a coating so enough disolved in order to have a reaction.
Thus conclusively proving you had abnormal levels of endorphins. Perhaps from the headache, perhaps not.
Vision loss is a common side-effect, due to, well, I'm not sure.
It is not. A brief web search shows one report of vision loss when combined with another drug (haldol, a powerful antipsychotic tranquilizer). Given the wide and successful use of naltrexone, one case study wouldn't scare me away from it.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Yes. (none / 0) (#43)
by Alfie on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:42:35 AM EST

In my case they were combining it with Zoloft. And you aren't paying attention to the dosage. Any drug will cause brain damage at high enough doses. The vision loss is indicative of brain damage.



[ Parent ]
Also, (none / 0) (#44)
by Alfie on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 02:04:51 AM EST

To be honest, I don't know whether it was a one-time dose. I always assumed it was, but in retrospect I cannot say. The nurse at the station seemed very surprised the doctor was prescribing it to me, and she took the time to show me a one-paragraph entry in a medical book about naltrexone. I couldn't really understand what the entry meant, but I didn't care since I didn't plan to take the naltrexone anyways. I wish I had palmed the pill like I did with the Zoloft, but I was frightened to death after the psychiatrist had badgered me into taking it in his little broom-closet (so it seemed) office in the back of the ward. So, I popped it into my mouth, and disposed of it back in my room. I only received a fraction of the dose, but that was enough so that I suffered throughout the night. I had to have a counselor stay with me as I cried for hours. I kept asking "Why can't I think?" and "Where is the doctor?"

So, anyways. I guess that's life, eh?



[ Parent ]
Thank you (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by Misanthrope on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 10:28:43 PM EST

This article was very interesting, especially since i'm writing a paper on the effects of misdiagnosis of schizophrenia for bipolar disorder. I was wondering if anyone knew a really good source on this topic because i'm having troubles finding really focused material. A lot of information helped me a lot as well considering what goes on inside my mind from day to day.
Misanthrope
Disorders: Collect them All (2.75 / 8) (#34)
by coffee on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 10:31:10 PM EST

v What a load of shit. Psychiatry can slap a disorder onto any aspect of being human. The DSM makes good toilet paper. Can you collect them all?
1 Overview A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following: 1.has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements) 2.is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love 3.believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) 4.requires excessive admiration 5.has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations 6.is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends 7.lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others 8.is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her 9.shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
1) http://www.psychologynet.org/npd.html
Revolutionary Communist Party of America
GO TO PANASONIC CROUTON RUBIK'S CUBE ATTACK!
Why you are not a psychiatrist (3.66 / 3) (#40)
by jjayson on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:19:55 AM EST

You can take any number of medical conditions and interpret them in an overly broad manner. Many fist year med student convince themselves that they have various diseases because they think they see symptoms in themselves. It doesn't mean that the description is wrong, just that it is often incomplete and needs year of human study to properly apply and fill in the gaps.

_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
ohhh smarty! (2.33 / 3) (#68)
by shwag on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:30:53 PM EST

I see...so it takes "years to understand" so everyone else is obviously unqualified and below the bar. Thanks for telling me, but I'll use my OWN intelligent rather then some one elses claimed leadership! If they were worth following, I think that would have shown itself!

[ Parent ]
Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by Alfie on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:34:49 AM EST

I gave my opinion the DSM here and here. (Be warned: the last entry rambles.)

The DSM is needed because, well, there has to be some structure to the diagnosis of mental disorders. It comes in handy when testifying in court, or when justifying a bill to a client/insurer. It's not perfect, but there aren't a lot of alternatives when many of the diagnoses have no known biological basis. In the end, it often comes down to a judgement call on part of the doctor. The key question is usually whether the patient is "functioning" well in his or her life.



[ Parent ]
Yep (5.00 / 2) (#35)
by twh270 on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 11:28:14 PM EST

Perhaps you carry a terrible secret, a secret that you've never told anyone. Carrying the memory of childhood trauma continues to cause damage in adulthood far out of proportion to the original injury. Perhaps it is time to find someone you can trust to share your secret with. The injury you sufferred can never be undone, but it is within your power to change how you live with it today.
I can attest to this. A family member committed suicide due to never dealing with what happened to them. This was a man with a wonderful wife, three kids, many friends, active in church. About as close as you can get in real life to Pleasantville.

So if you have an issue you've never dealt with, and it's causing you pain... find someone to talk to. You will be ashamed, and hurt, and angry. But on the other end of that tunnel of darkness is light. Healing is tough; it's tougher to live in pain forever.

-Thomas

good job (none / 0) (#41)
by zzzeek on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:21:52 AM EST

you ramble on and on way too much, but i was very impressed with the therapy section.  I was expecting another "therapy sucks" rant, as sentiment about therapy is so prevalently negative these days, but it was refreshing to read a description of someone who really "gets it" and understands how it actually achieves something positive for the client.

Not for everyone (none / 0) (#169)
by ringwood on Thu Jun 26, 2003 at 10:15:00 AM EST

It isn't helpful for everyone - I for instance get little out of talking about my problems and invariably the advice I get is to me obvious; periodically I do go because I find the occasional visit gives me something where regular weekly or monthly visits do not.

I think the fundamental suspicion with regard to therapy has to do with its open-ended nature. I'm still fighting to get my medical cover to include a decent amount of therapy visits - the annual per family amount would allow any one member to go to about 8 sessions in 12 months. Not to mention the ridiculous requirement that you have to pre-arrange visits to a psychiatric hospital - like I plan my psychotic episodes in advance.

Or that insurance in general does not cover suicide. Although it is of course easy to create an accident.

[ Parent ]
I suffer from S-A disorder (none / 0) (#45)
by Orion Blastar on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 02:35:29 AM EST

and it was not well documented or explained to me exactly what it is. I don't have the attention span to read all of your story, so I will have to read smaller chunks of it and skim the rest.
*** Anonymized by intolerant editors at K5 and also IWETHEY who are biased against the mentally ill ***
*smack* (none / 0) (#148)
by nklatt on Mon Apr 21, 2003 at 05:17:43 PM EST

You say you suffer from this and complain that "it was not well documented or explained to me" yet you won't apply the effort to read this?!

[ Parent ]
The disease is the symptoms (3.00 / 3) (#46)
by aersixb9 on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 02:55:07 AM EST

       Mental disorders fall into two catergories - there are people who have suffered brain damage, but these cases are quite obvious, and characterized by complete and utter incoherence, while the majority of people diagnosed with mental illness are relatively subtle cases that are diagnosed and treated in close to 20% of the American population. (source: www.nimh.nih.gov)
       Mental illness is instead an attack on the basic freedom of belief and freedom of speech here in America. If a person feels persecuted by the police, they are said to be a paranoid and can have their right to a trial removed. (California Penal code section 1368, 1369, 1370, 5150) If a person desires a reality in which sex is prevalent, or in which it is not necessary to work all day, every day then they are said to be delusional. If a person feels primal urges towards violence, or if they do not believe in cleanliness and daily bathing, then they are said to be schizophrenic and are drugged until they feel no desire to experience violence, or until they feel it is important to be clean.
       Perhaps violence has no place in American society. That it has had a place in our evolution is unquestionable, however - and stating that a male who feels violent urges is somehow diseased or abnormal should be a crime in and of itself. Psychiatrists do not treat diseases - they remove diversity, and do so with the power of drugs and law.

Legal murder (none / 0) (#48)
by richarj on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 04:44:48 AM EST

So if I feel a compulsion to say murder you, that should be okay?

"if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty
[ Parent ]
No, but... (none / 0) (#52)
by Smerdy on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 10:13:46 AM EST

...it should be OK if you "hear voices" telling you to do it and don't follow their "commands." I think that's what he was saying.

[ Parent ]
I hear dead people (5.00 / 1) (#111)
by richarj on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 11:40:57 PM EST

No I was simply responding to the stupidity of his statements. He assumed that all mental illness is just diversity and not actually dangerous for the sufferer or others. By his logic serial killers shouldn't be locked up because they just have a diverse outlook. The fact is that most of these illnesses make the sufferer lead a lower quality life, and most sufferers think that their lower quality life is acceptable but it isn't. If someone is housebound from their illness is that diversity, what if they kill themselves or can't do what they want in life? I know many people that cannot work, have a relationship, go to the movies etc because of their illness, I don't find that diverse I find that discouraging.

"if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty
[ Parent ]
s'cuse my ignorance (none / 0) (#49)
by jann on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 04:50:01 AM EST

but how can you get a "B.A." bachelor of arts in PHYSICS ... I thought that was a BSc thing ... or is that only in Australia

J

BA is the watered down version (1.00 / 1) (#51)
by NaCh0 on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 06:18:34 AM EST

BA is almost all gen-ed classes with a few physics thrown in for posterity.

BS is the real math-based deal.

--
K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
[ Parent ]

Depends on the school (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by Salted on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 02:00:20 PM EST

Some only offer one or the other. When both are offered, you're right, the BA is usually a more general, liberal-arts degree.

[ Parent ]
Bullshit. Stop the superiority complex. (none / 0) (#87)
by jjayson on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 05:02:22 PM EST

At the Letters and Science college of Cal they only give BAs, including for fields like Math, Physics, and Computer Science.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
BA for Physicis? (none / 0) (#105)
by kesuari on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 09:39:29 PM EST

So why is that? What advantage is there to giving out a BA when a BSc would be more appropriate?

(For the record, I'm also from Australia. Here, a BA is more-or-less seen as a totally useless degree. In [at least] one of the toilets at Melbourne Uni, there is 'pull here for an Arts Degree' above the toilet paper roll. No Uni in its right mind would give someone a BA if the did a Science course.)

[ Parent ]

No difference (none / 0) (#106)
by jjayson on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 09:47:07 PM EST

I think the reason is somewhere in history on how degrees were awarded, but it might also stem from there no longer being as precise a dividing line between the arts and sciences anymore. Would you give a BS or BA to someone with an Economics or Business Management degree? I think that instead of trying to classify a field into one of two categories (it is either an art or a science) it makes more sense to just give a degree and eliminate that artificial separation (and implicit hierarchy that says the BS is a more difficult route than a BA).

If the largest college of one of the leading Universities in the world can give only BAs then I think it establishes a good case for getting rid of the distinction entirely. I am not just saying this because I have a BA in Math, either.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

A little history (5.00 / 1) (#112)
by lurker4hire on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 11:41:01 PM EST

During the middle ages the first western universities (paris, oxford) curriculum was centred on the study of the seven liberal arts. Which were:

Grammer
Rhetoric
Logic
Music
Geometry
Astronomy
Mathematics

The BA was the mark of finishing the first stage of your learning, and has been used since then. The BSc is a recent invention (50 - 100 years or so), and probably has something to do with the trend toward 'discrediting' anything 'arts' during the 20th century. (facts might be slightly off as I'm working from memory of a lecture I attended 2 years ago)

Hence a BA is appropriate for math. Physics with its early roots in astronomy (Copernicus, Galileo, etc) is also, not surprisingly, offered as a BA in an institution with a healthy respect for history. You might even say that getting a BA in physics is a mark of attending a superior school, however then you would be an elitist asshole ;) .

Oh, and I personally would give a great big BS to economics and management majors ;)

[ Parent ]

Oh and... (none / 0) (#113)
by lurker4hire on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 11:48:16 PM EST

... historically the study of science was called 'natural philosophy', it is only in the past century or two that specialization has become the norm. Like the BSc, the precise dividing line is a distinctly modern thing. Early science was often done by amateur hobbyists, like Goethe (famous for his poetry, also important for his work on botany).

Some speculate that we've gone as far as we're going to get through specialization, and that its time to start studying a diversity of fields again. Only time will tell I guess.

[ Parent ]

umm... (none / 0) (#120)
by jjayson on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 01:54:52 AM EST

Thanks for the history. I knew there was problably some historical reasoning for it, but I had no idea what it was. However, I hope you are not saying that I said "getting a BA in physics is a mark of attending a superior school" because I didn't. A BA and a BS is the same to me, since at Cal you only receive BAs (unless you are in a couple of the much smaller colleges that give BSes).
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
clarification (none / 0) (#129)
by lurker4hire on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 10:21:07 AM EST

Sorry if it appeared as if I was implying that you said that, I did not intend it. I was just making a general remark regarding a certain type of person who cares more for the letters on their diploma than the education they receive.

IMO (and yours too I think, from your posts), what matters is what you learn and how you apply that in the greater world outside academia (or inside it if that floats your boat).

[ Parent ]

Big difference (none / 0) (#122)
by kesuari on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 04:29:32 AM EST

I'm getting the impression there's a larger difference between Higher Education in Oz and America, or that I'm misunderstanding something. If someone studied Education or Theology, would you just award them BAs? My mother has a BEd, BTheol (Hon.) after her name... I've never thought there was a segregation into two for whether you get a BA or a BSc. (And you seem to be calling BSc 'BS'.)

[ Parent ]
The difference in only in the name. (5.00 / 1) (#124)
by jjayson on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 06:31:53 AM EST

So some university in your country calls them a Bachelors of Education or a Bachelors of Theology. At Cal, not exactly a minor university but one of the best in the world, you get a Bachelors of Arts with a major in Education (or Theology). Now, how is that any different?
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
A name is not as minor as you might think (none / 0) (#125)
by kesuari on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 08:03:47 AM EST

Change a name and the way you think about something changes drastically. The difference might appear skin deep, but it can change the culture. (Which, as you say, doesn't necessarily change whether your education is any different.)

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but would you rather a rose or a stencher? (And in that consider that in some predecessor to English, 'stench' was as neutral as 'smell'.)

[ Parent ]

Australian BAs (none / 0) (#150)
by stormie on Mon Apr 21, 2003 at 08:26:52 PM EST

I have an (Australian) BA majoring in Computer Science. At the uni I went to (Macquarie Uni, in Sydney), there was very little difference between a BA and a BSc. Basically, to have gotten a BSc, I would have had to do exactly the same computing courses and I did for my BA, and exactly the same maths prerequisites. The only thing is, outside of the computing and maths, I would have had to have done a certain number of other "science" courses to make up the numbers.

In the BA, outside of the computing and maths, I could do anything. I wanted to do philosophy and politics, and get my brain out of the labs for part of the day. I'm very glad I did, I enjoyed uni more, learned just as much computer science, came out (I think) a more well-rounded person, and to be honest, I haven't copped any prejudice for "only" having a BA..



[ Parent ]
It depends (none / 0) (#133)
by epepke on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 12:25:57 PM EST

At the school I graduated from (FSU), if you had extra humanities credits, you could choose to get a B.A. or a B.Sc. If you lacked the humanities credits, you could only get a B.Sc. So, a B.A. was a B.Sc. plus. I asked around about what to get, and most people told me I should get a B.Sc., because people somehow think it's more "hard-core." I got the B.A., because I've never enjoyed pleasing dumb people.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Questioning the term "disease" (4.37 / 8) (#53)
by Smerdy on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 11:01:53 AM EST

I'm another one of the many people doing programming-related work while being schizo-something. (It's either schizophrenia, schizoaffective, or something else, but I don't know for sure.) I've really enjoyed your articles, but there is one important possibility you haven't discussed: You don't even entertain the possibility that, for instance, being schizo-affective is anything but a disease. I am inclined to think that it is wrong to do so.

The well-known connection between psychosis and creativity was enough to get me started doubting why these conditions should be classed as overall bad. Why should it be a tragedy for someone to have the sorts of inspirations that I have?

We in our consumerist Western society live in the midst of a plethora of negative influences. We are encouraged to sell our labor to other people, and to compete daily with each other in doing so. We are taught to take this competition to every level, forming hierarchies of power in every area of life and worrying about the security of our places in them. We are taught to leave large parts of our lives out of our own hands, whether they be delegated to government bureaucracies or our employers (later in life) or parents (earlier in life).

All of these things seem to me to feed the negative symptoms of the most common kinds of psychosis. Our society promotes a constant level of anxiety, worrying about status in artificially imposed contests. It seems obvious how this can lead to depression. The social order promotes the isolation that depressed people feel, albeit magnified. It gives people many subjects for paranoid delusions, from friends conspiring to embarrass, to government intelligence agencies mounting surveillance. I remember reading (I don't know where) a discussion about the changes of the common paranoid delusions over time. They almost all end up coming directly from the strong undercurrents of society, and the competitive undercurrents of ours lead to these especially painful delusions.

Another thing I've noticed about myself is that I only have trouble "collecting my thoughts" to speak when I'm engaged in ritualized conversations that are almost meaning free, including "small talk." When I'm talking about something that truly interests me, I have no problem speaking clearly and convincingly; in casual conversations where the participants pretty much know the outcome from the start, I often say awkward things in a poorly articulated way. So, at least for me, this aspect of "the disease" would not be a "symptom" if my society were based more around creativity instead of compliance.

It seems to me that schizo* symptoms arise from an underlying increase in sensitivity and flexibility. As you mentioned, in other societies people with these traits are honored as shamans or oracles. In our society, they're viewed as "weird" by their peers and liabilities by their "superiors."

While Joe Average manages to fit himself into his assigned place in the social machine at an early age, we sensitive people pick up on all of the contradictions in the system, perhaps subconsciously. I think it's not even controversial that the modern Western lifestyle forces people to do more unwanted work and experience more negative stress than they did in past centuries. We experience things like delusion and depression as signals from our subconsciouses to get out of the mentally unhealthy situations and arrangements that serve as inspiration. We aren't inherently unhealthy. We simply possess the means to notice the sickness inherent in the lives we are raised to lead.

I've left out phrases like "I conjecture" in the above because it saves some typing, and because I feel rather strongly about what I've written. Nonetheless, I am open to criticism regarding this. The problem about most responses is that the people who give them have never tried living outside of a materialist, consumerist Western-style society. This makes it pretty hard for them to use empirical data to refute what I've proposed.

I am self-diagnosed. I've regularly experienced all of the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder but hallucinations. (Incidentally, this is true of John Forbes Nash also; the hallucinations found in the movie about him are pure fiction.) I have never received any "professional help" and I'm not taking any anti-psychotic drugs. I feel sure that the problems I face are due to the types of negative stress present in my lifestyle to date, and I'm moving to avoid these causes.

I'm about to graduate with a bachelor's degree in computer science with a perfect GPA at one school and begin a PhD program at another school, both rated in the top schools for the field. I sincereley feel that taking medicines which essentially serve as depressants would have influenced my life in a negative way and left me worse off now. I think that my early realization of my condition and time spent analyzing my symptoms as they happen and understanding the causes have been much more effective than any mind-dulling medicine could be.

I recognize that there are people out there who are unable to do this due to the severity of their conditions, though I doubt things would be so bad for most had they grown up in different environments. Nonetheless, I just wanted to bring my ideas up for discussion here, since I think they show much more promise for getting to the root of the problem than those Michael mentioned. I think people with the neurological basis for schizoprenia and schizoaffective disorder in truth have a rare gift for mental sensitivity, and a focus on current negative consequences of that only leads us away from trying to create a world where we can enjoy that without accepting the pain that now comes with it.



Aspirin for the soul (4.00 / 1) (#74)
by mcgrew on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:42:38 PM EST

I think it's not even controversial that the modern Western lifestyle forces people to do more unwanted work and experience more negative stress than they did in past centuries.

It's not controversial because it's not true.

Before the labor movement in the 20th century, the monied classes were pretty much as they are now, while everyone else, from farmers to carpenters to blacksmiths, worked from sunup to sundown, six days (or even seven) a week. You didn't learn to read, you didn't go to school, you worked as soon as you could do something useful around the house.

The blacksmith didn't make wrought iron fences and carraige wheels because swinging a heavy hammer all day in front of blistering heat because he thought it was fun, he did it because that's what his father did and it was the only way he knew to not starve to death. The same went for the farmer, and everyone else. Children went to work in sweatshops in horrible conditions by age six.

Even today's worst working conditions are heaven compared to the lives of all but the wealthy few in previous times.

I sincereley feel that taking medicines which essentially serve as depressants would have influenced my life in a negative way and left me worse off now.

If you are not suffering, you need no relief. If you ARE suffering, some of the newer drugs do not intoxicate, such as the tranquilizers and other drugs from the 20th century did. The seritonin reuptake inhibitors for instance, such as the Paxil I am taking for a temporary condition, do not affect your thoughts, intellect, or creativity. They only affect mood (although your mood can affect your thoughts, etc).

To make an analogy for a physical ailment, if you have a headache you can do one of three things: Take an opiate, which will affect your judgement and creativity but relieve the headache (as one would have had to do in the 18th or 19th century), take an aspirin, which does not affect mood or judgement, or suffer.

Your suffering from the headache will affect your mood, judgement, creativity, and thoughts. It's hard to concentrate with a bad headache. Rather than affect your thoughts, moods, and creativity negatively, aspirin affects them in a positive way.

Antidepressants are aspirin for the soul.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Maybe I chose some words poorly (5.00 / 1) (#79)
by Smerdy on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 02:22:05 PM EST

About more unwanted work and negative stress for people today:

The kinds of work you mention people doing from sun-up to sun down are very different from what most do today: they are done because the people doing them can see their utility clearly, though this may be based on being raised to think this way. I think most Westerners today do things because they can find "jobs" where they are paid to do them by someone else and possibly don't see (or care about) the direct results of their labor. This is perhaps more of what I meant than "unwanted."

I'm also biased towards seeing things from an upper middle class perspective. Do you dispute that people without much worry of starving have to work longer hours in general today than they did a few decades back? I think I remember reading about a study that concluded this. At any rate, I said "in past centuries" in my original message, and you responded with a message about the 20th century. It might be necessary to look back before the Industrial Revolution to see a time when most people worked for themselves. Any ways in which you think life in that time was worse are not relevant here, unless you have information on their having had the same or higher amounts of "mental illness."

> To make an analogy for a physical ailment, if you have a headache you can do one of three things: Take an opiate, which will affect your judgement and creativity but relieve the headache (as one would have had to do in the 18th or 19th century), take an aspirin, which does not affect mood or judgement, or suffer.

I'm surprised you phrased your analogy like you did, given the context of what you were replying to. I think you've left out some options. If you realize you are experiencing headaches because your job/life is too stressful, because you are eating poorly, because you aren't getting enough sleep, or because of any one of many other possible lifestyle-related causes, then you can change your life and stop the headaches.



[ Parent ]
words... (none / 0) (#159)
by mcgrew on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:52:11 PM EST

I think most Westerners today do things because they can find "jobs" where they are paid to do them by someone else and possibly don't see (or care about) the direct results of their labor. This is perhaps more of what I meant than "unwanted."

Sorry, could you give me an example of such a job? The fry cook knows what he produces, as does the lawyer and doctor. If you are talking about a stockbroker, well... if you have doubts about your profession, change it!

If you consider yourself "upper middle class" then you likely make close to or over a hundred grand a year. I personally think doing a job one thinks is worthless and that one hates, for sixty hours a week until age 65 or 70 is crazy! Jesus, sell the damned Jaguar and buy a used economy car, sell that half million dollar house and get one for 50-60k, stop eating fifty dollar lunches every day. Bank the money and you can retire in five or ten years.

If that's what you mean, you're not talking about mental illness, you're talking about stupidity.

Do you dispute that people without much worry of starving have to work longer hours in general today than they did a few decades back?

First of all you didn't say "a few decades back, you said "in previous centuries". And secondly, yes, I do dispute that fact. I'm 50. My dad always worked 40 hour weeks, and very often worked overtime, usually when he could get it. My mom worked full time as well.

They grew up during the depression, when EVERYYONE worked as much as they could get.

At any rate, I said "in past centuries" in my original message, and you responded with a message about the 20th century

No, I spoke of before the industrial revolution, from prehistory to through the industrial revolution. The sweatshops pre-dated the industrial revolution and lasted until well into the 20th, when the labor movement was born.

If you realize you are experiencing headaches because your job/life is too stressful, because you are eating poorly, because you aren't getting enough sleep, or because of any one of many other possible lifestyle-related causes, then you can change your life and stop the headaches.

Headaches aren't caused by lifestyle. A lot of things can cause a headache, from allergies to minor dehydration. A glass of water may cure your headache, it may not. You may have migranes, in which case the aspirin won't help.

You seem to be deliberately avoiding the points I am trying to make and picking at words. Change "headache" to muscle aches. Before the 20th century about all one could do was live with it, as the muscle aches were caused by back breaking work that was completely unavoidable, and not working and opiates would have the same effect- you would starve.

Change "headache" to "arthritis". Try to see the point, because I don't want a pointless word game argument.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

jjayson? (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by Smerdy on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 05:05:10 PM EST

You seem to have rated my post as a 1 without providing any criticism of it. As far as I know, there was no reason to treat what I said as "trolling" or anything else like that, so why did you give it a 1? Because you disagree with my views?

[ Parent ]
A few reasons. (none / 0) (#108)
by jjayson on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 10:48:24 PM EST

First, I don't believe that you suffer from schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Everybody that I have ever known know what they suffer from. Saying "I'm schizo-something" leads me to two conclusions: you have not been professionally diagnosed and that you really do not suffer from it. People that do have problems have to deal with it is a regular basis and it is nearly impossible to forget (no matter how much they may want to).

Second, if you can go all the way up through a PhD program with perfect grades, graduating at the top of your class, that only provides more proof that you really do not suffer from anything. I have never heard of that story with anybody with a serious mood affective disorder or schizophrenia. I'm sorry, but my well experienced psychiatrist would have a very hard time believing that too. He had a hard time believing that I could just finish a bachelors degree, much less with a perfect GPA and a PhD.

Third, it is very hard to be schizophrenic or schizoaffective while not experiencing the hallucinations (a necessary part for the diagnosis).

Forth, I find the view that nothing is wrong and we are all just different to very very harmful. While I do agree that many people are misdiagnosed with mental problems, this doesn't mean that there are people with real problems that don't have some fluffy, new-agey "just make your own reality" solution. Mental problems have been around for thousands of year, without the modern "social machine" to cause them.

Fifth, the delusions are more than just hypersensitivity. While all your rhetoric may sound good to some, to me it is empty. Saying that there is some "sickness inherent in the lives" we lead means nothing except to clue me that you really have no clue either. Some of us were very happy in the lives we were ripped from and would like nothing better than to turn back the clock to them.

Sixth. Self-diagnosis doesn't mean anything. You shouldn't do it. They are always wrong. Don't pretend that you can self-diagnose yourself and all of the sudden you now understand what it is like to be many of us. If you think you have a problem, go see somebody who really can offer a diagnosis. Arm-chair psychiatry doesn't cut it.

There are more, but that should be enough to justify my rating.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

Responses (none / 0) (#109)
by Smerdy on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 11:19:18 PM EST

> Saying "I'm schizo-something" leads me to two conclusions: you have not been professionally diagnosed and that you really do not suffer from it. People that do have problems have to deal with it is a regular basis and it is nearly impossible to forget (no matter how much they may want to).

You're right. Like I said in the comment itself, I am self-diagnosed, so I have nothing to "forget."

> Second, if you can go all the way up through a PhD program with perfect grades, graduating at the top of your class, that only provides more proof that you really do not suffer from anything.

I said I was starting a PhD program. We'll see how it goes.

> Third, it is very hard to be schizophrenic or schizoaffective while not experiencing the hallucinations (a necessary part for the diagnosis).

No, they are not required in the American criteria. Hallucinations appear in a list of 5 symptoms, 2 of which are required for diagnosis. I regularly experience the other 4.

> Forth, I find the view that nothing is wrong and we are all just different to very very harmful.

I didn't say nothing is wrong. I suggested that the problem may be more social than personal. An individual is part of society, and so viewing the problem this way suggests active ways you can work to cure yourself just as much as any other interpretation.

> Fifth, the delusions are more than just hypersensitivity. While all your rhetoric may sound good to some, to me it is empty. Saying that there is some "sickness inherent in the lives" we lead means nothing except to clue me that you really have no clue either. Some of us were very happy in the lives we were ripped from and would like nothing better than to turn back the clock to them.

A view that many aspects of modern life are inherently sick and twisted is hardly uncommon. If you aren't familiar with this, you might want to read the works of conventionally accepted authors like Marx or Thoreau, or the articles on a progressive web site like CounterPunch.

> Sixth. Self-diagnosis doesn't mean anything. You shouldn't do it. They are always wrong.

Can you support these statements objectively, in a way that applies to anyone on the planet?



[ Parent ]
Misunderstanding the DSM (none / 0) (#114)
by richarj on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 11:54:57 PM EST

No, they are not required in the American criteria. Hallucinations appear in a list of 5 symptoms, 2 of which are required for diagnosis. I regularly experience the other 4.

There is more to the disease than just reading the criteria and saying oh I experience that. Sometimes I hear voices but I am not schizo. How often and how severe each of the symptoms should be taken into account as well as how each of the individual symptoms interact with each other. For all you know you may have 4 different diseases with only one symptom from each. That is why you shouldn't diagnose yourself, you need a professional to do it. If it doesn't effect you enough to see a professional then you obviously don't have the symptoms bad enough for it to be classified as a disease in your case. You might disagree with me but I have ill all my life and cannot work properly because of it. I know is a huge difference between minor symptoms and major ones.

"if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty
[ Parent ]

Generalizing based on your personal case? (1.00 / 1) (#115)
by Smerdy on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 12:07:15 AM EST

Given how poorly understood the whole business is by everyone, "professionals" included, I think you need a bit more backing if you're going to state that someone needs the help of a "mental health professional" (which didn't even exist much before the 20th century, I think) to deal with schizophrenia. I am nearly positive that the set of characteristics associated with schizophrenia are not present in 98% of people, and that they are present in me, so I think I have every right to make the claims I do, "disease" or not.

[ Parent ]
Aaargh (none / 0) (#118)
by richarj on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 12:47:57 AM EST

Let me say this simply.

The characteristics or symptoms do not make the disease. Fo you understand that?

"if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty
[ Parent ]

Funny.... (none / 0) (#127)
by Smerdy on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 09:25:33 AM EST

I've often heard it said exactly that little understood conditions like schizophrenia are characterized by their symptoms alone.

[ Parent ]
Planktonic Platypus (none / 0) (#130)
by richarj on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 10:24:47 AM EST

Do you believe everything you hear?

"if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty
[ Parent ]
Diagnosis... (none / 0) (#140)
by kraant on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 10:58:53 PM EST

Sometimes I hear voices but I am not schizo.

Are you sure? Perhaps you should see a shrink...
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]

correction (none / 0) (#119)
by jjayson on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 01:50:29 AM EST

Third, it is very hard to be schizophrenic or schizoaffective while not experiencing the hallucinations (a necessary part for the diagnosis).
That shouldn't have said hallucinations, but it should have said delusions. My words often don't hit the page correct, sorry about this misunderstanding.

And I don't read CounterPunch. It is too full of political liberal tripe for me to take seriously. Oh but wait. Externalizing problems is exactly the liberal attitude. There is never anything wrong with the individual, but it is always society's fault.

Can you support these statements objectively, in a way that applies to anyone on the planet?
Yes. Ask any doctor about self diagnosis, and he will tell you not to trust it at all. First year med student think they have all sorts of diseases. There is more to just reading a short description and making a conclusion. It takes experience and training to correctly interpret the description and properly apply it, filling in the missing gaps that are there.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
Oh, good! (none / 0) (#126)
by Smerdy on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 09:24:07 AM EST

> That shouldn't have said hallucinations, but it should have said delusions. My words often don't hit the page correct, sorry about this misunderstanding.

Then we don't have a problem, since I already said I've experienced extended delusions.

> Ask any doctor about self diagnosis, and he will tell you not to trust it at all.

To me this sounds a lot like: "Ask any auto mechanic if you should fix your car instead of having him do it for a high price. He'll tell you there is no way you would do it properly." Maybe he is right, but we also have good reason to question whether his answer is impartial!



[ Parent ]
fix? (none / 0) (#131)
by richarj on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 10:31:17 AM EST

You are not asking the doctor to fix anything. You are asking for a diagnosis, which will be the doctors learned opinion as opposed to your learned opinion. Also the doctor will see your disease more objectivley (this is more important than actual knowledge of the disease sometimes). The Doctor has seen how many patients with different disorders? How many people have you seen with those disorders? The Doctor has spent time learning about those things, how much time have you.

I would trust a mechanic to do a better job on my car because I know I don't know that much about cars. On the other hand I do know a lot about computers and wouldn't trust a computer technician as far as I could throw him/her. But that doesn't mean that a different viewpoint would not help. If I was the computer and broken how do I know that I do not perceive myself as un broken? Maybe my web cam is showing a cached image of me. I look fine through that web cam don't I?

"if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty
[ Parent ]

Mechanical doctor (none / 0) (#160)
by mcgrew on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:02:14 PM EST

To me this sounds a lot like: "Ask any auto mechanic if you should fix your car instead of having him do it for a high price. He'll tell you there is no way you would do it properly."

And on a newer model he would be correct for all but the most minor things.

But even on an old 60s or 70s car that a "shade tree mechanic" could fix him or herself, you would find folks who KNEW that the carburator needed adjusting because it ran rough, when a timing strobe would show it was a little out of time. Adjusting the carburator without checking the spark or the timing or the dwell or the point gap could result in burning a hole in a piston- and I knew more carburator fiddlers than people who even OWNED a dwell meter or strobe.

You sound like one of those knowitalls who think they know how a car (or brain) works. Go ahead, self diagnose that chest pain as heartburn. You may die from heart disease.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Self-diagnosing fun! (5.00 / 1) (#121)
by kesuari on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 04:19:52 AM EST

No, they are not required in the American criteria. Hallucinations appear in a list of 5 symptoms, 2 of which are required for diagnosis. I regularly experience the other 4.

Okay, according to that 'A' list, I could decide I suffer from the hallucinations (but only if I wanted to. Normally I would say I was just hoping to hear something and so I do), and from incoherent speech (an exaggeration, but a lot of people I speak to would say I suffer from that simply because I know too much so it sounds incoherent when really it makes perfect sense). I don't know what 4 or 5 require, so I may or may not be able to exaggerate myself into those. But all you need is two, so lets self diagnose me as schitzo!

(I might also say that from the B list, I don't have that brilliant interpersonal skills, but that's just shyness.)

C.... I guess you could say that if we're allowing A to be counted.

If we're self diagnosing, I might decide to call myself bipolar (it was decided that I was depressed last year, and when I decided that feeling naseous and a total inability to think was  simply not worth the drugs—especially because year 12 exams were coming up soon—I stopped taking them and felt much happier than ever before for a couple of months, and if I recollect that time, my brain feels like a vast, unexplorable expanse, so in the spirit of self diagnosis, let's count that too).

I don't (ab)use drugs, so I certainly satisfy E. (Max of two bottles of Coke/Pepsi a week, and I've had one of those guarana drinks, but they wreak absolute havoc on the sleep cycle, as well as the infrequent drink.)

One of the previous articles mentioned something about an inability to tell the difference between dreams and real life. The amount of times I was incredibly worried I've forgotten to do homework I dreamt up is amazing. (I've eventually been able to tell the difference by trying to remember events surrounding it or finding some tangible proof.)

So yep! Wow, I'm skitzo!

(Disclaimer: I do not consider any of that in the least bit true. I'm sure anyone could do this if they wanted. I know I lack anywhere near enough knowledge to really be able to do this, and even if I were a Psychiatrist, I'd still consult another before I thought of doing anything.)

[ Parent ]

Paradigm conflict? (none / 0) (#128)
by Smerdy on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 09:41:47 AM EST

I think we are looking at things in very different ways.

You view diagnosis as a way to find out that you have a disease, so you can turn your "recovery" over to a pre-determined process, and hopefully one that involves the least decisions on your part. It would certainly be helpful to make sure that the people who come up with the treatment plans see things the same way that you do in that case.

I view the diagnostic criteria as evidence that personal characteristics that I thought made me different from everyone else actually fit into a pattern that applies to many people. I can use this information to learn more about myself, but I don't have to come to the same conclusions as the people who wrote the guidelines.

[ Parent ]

Some comments (none / 0) (#132)
by epepke on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 12:13:49 PM EST

First of all, the psychiatric community is very careful to call these things disorders, not diseases or illnesses. There's a technical reason for this. Diseases and illnesses are supposed to have etiologies. When an etiology is discovered for a mental disorder, it sort of magically leaves the realm of psychiatry and becomes taken over by neurology (such as with epilepsy).

Second, mental disorders are so common that it's hard to see how they could have no survival value. Current thinking is that if there is a genetic component to them, it's some sort of complex interaction that can produce the mild forms frequently and the severe forms occasionally. Many conditions are like this. Sickle cell anemia, for example, is an antimalarial adaptation. The heterozygous case confers malaria resistance, while the rarer homozygous case is life-threatening.

Third, I have some sympathy with your interpretation of culture. The modern world is a very regular, 8 to 5 kind of place. In a hunter-gatherer band, a bipolar might be highly valued for his ability to chase down the prey for two or three days without sleep. Schizoaffectives might be valued as shamans. However, in these cultures, full-blown schizophrenics etc. still have no place. For some speculations about this, see The Trouble with Testosterone by Robert M. Sapolsky and Touched with Fire by Kaye Renfield Jamieson.

Fourth, it is really of questionable value to judge the entire spectrum of a mental disorder simply from one case, especially one's own. The sample size is too small, and also someone who has a condition is overwhelmed by being close to the problem. Personal experience has a tautological element. If it doesn't cause problems for you, then it doesn't. If, on the other hand, it does, then it does. In the latter case, I think it would be perverse not to seek some way to ameliorate the situation.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
thanks (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by Xenophon on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 12:01:52 PM EST

I've really enjoyed reading this series. One of the best I've ever read on K5.

m4d 5k111z


ms=nv;

I saw The Matrix last night (none / 0) (#57)
by MichaelCrawford on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 12:05:20 PM EST

Until last night I was probably the last computer geek on earth who hadn't seen The Matrix. Now we all have. I hadn't meant to avoid it, it's just that my wife doesn't like sitting in movie theatres much, so we don't get out to the movies very often at all. Sometimes we see things on video.

I was asked in Part II whether I found The Matrix disturbing after I wrote about being freaked out by solipsism.

My wife was worried too. She wanted me to see The Matrix because she knew it to be the ultimate geek movie, but at the point Morpheus offered the choice of pills to Neil she stopped the tape to ask me if I was really sure I wanted to see the movie. We discussed what I had written, but I reassured her that those troubles were long in the past.

In the end, The Matrix turned out for me to be just a movie. A thought provoking one, but not one to send me to a psychiatrist. As I said I'd read actually several science fiction stories that were on the same theme, and they all had been favorites. But even those didn't disturb me when I first read them, it was only when something else was going wrong that I got so upset.

I am reminded most of a story I read long ago, I'm sorry I don't remember the author or the title. Some guy awakens one day to find himself immersed in a tub of nutrient solution, and all around him are racks and racks of more sleeping people in tubs.

Rather than being held in slavery by machines, though, all the people are kept that way because the earth is so overpopulated because there's no room for everyone to move around freely.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


Fear (2.50 / 4) (#66)
by shwag on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:28:19 PM EST

I personally would rather die then not see the real world. Have you ever stopped to ask what you are running from. Maybe your whole voyage through all your different intellecual source could all of been avoided if you would have just asked yourself one question.

"Is it possible that the only thing wrong with me is that I beleive there is something wrong with me?"

[ Parent ]

Not seeing the Matrix (none / 0) (#104)
by kesuari on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 09:28:55 PM EST

Until last night I was probably the last computer geek on earth who hadn't seen The Matrix. Now we all have.

Actually, don't worry. You weren't quite the last. I mean, I've seen the first half hour or so of it, but that's all (ran out of time... I would like to see the end but I don't often borrow videos, and my siblings hog the tv anyway (note to any aspiring parents: no matter what you might think, stop at number two. Your unborn would-be children will thankyou for it)).

[ Parent ]

The Cell (none / 0) (#149)
by Casioitan on Mon Apr 21, 2003 at 06:36:23 PM EST

Don't see that one.

[ Parent ]
When I saw that scene in the Matrix (none / 0) (#153)
by sos on Tue Apr 22, 2003 at 11:32:34 PM EST

I read the first 2 parts of this great article, and I didn't read the comments, but I also thought particularly of that scene in the Matrix. I don't have any particular mental illness that I'm aware of, but I nearly passed out during that scene the first time I saw it (I had to sit outside for a minute of two to recover, missing a fairly important plot point unfortunately!). It was very weird, it felt like my own reality was being subsumed by the reality of the movie (which is all very ironic of course). It hadn't ever happened before, and I still get a lessened version of it when I go to see a movie to this day.

I still loved the movie, though. :-)

--- My real e-mail address isn't quite scalding.
[ Parent ]

I'm the one who made the post he referred to (none / 0) (#161)
by mcgrew on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:11:58 PM EST

Well, I didn't have to pause the movie or anything (I thought from the trailers it would be stupid, and by the time all my online geek friends raved about it it was gone from the theaters) but the "what if..." was a bit disturbing to me.

I'm glad it was no problem for Michael.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Reflections on this excellent piece (4.00 / 1) (#58)
by mcgrew on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 12:13:12 PM EST

Michael, this series was not only enlightening, it was a delight to read. You mentioned space constraints and size constraints more than once. I urge you to flesh out the parts of this into as much detail as you wish or can, then see if you can get it published as a book. Find a catchy title. I think that it could possibly earn you a little cash, while at the same time make the world a little better place to live in.

-----

In Anthropology of Religion Dr. Schlegel also discussed millenarian movements, that is the phenomenon of people believing the end of the world was at hand.

My Grandmother often expressed her belief that we were living in the Biblical "end days". She died at age 99 in January. She was right- these are the end times. It was the end times for someone living in the year 200.

It is always the end times- because YOUR life will end. At the end of your life you, personally will experience armageddon.

I was struck by the biblical passage that said in the end days, that people would beg for death but death would not come. She told me many times in the last several years of her life that she didn't know why people wanted to live "to be a hundred. It's no fun to be old," she said.

------

Q: How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Just one, but the lightbulb has to want to change.

That joke was in a book I read a long time ago titled "The World's Worst jokes." It was a verry funny book- to me, anyway. I like bad jokes. It had a whole chapter devoted to "shrink jokes." Here are a few, and if anyone is offended I apologize. They're really just stupid jokes.

"Doc, my wife's crazy."
"What's her problem?"
"She likes eating grapes."
"There's nothing crazy about eating grapes."
"Off of the wallpaper?"

"Doctor, my wife thinks she's an elevator."
"This sounds serious, please have her come in to talk to me."
"I can't, she doesn't stop at your floor!"

"My wife thinks she's a chicken."
"I can cure that, bring her in."
"But... I need the eggs!"

"My wife thinks she's a racehorse."
"Hmmm... this will take some very expensive therapy."
"That's ok, she just won the Kentucky Derby."

One last light bulb joke:

Q- How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
A- That's not funny you sexist pig!

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie

Published? (1.00 / 5) (#70)
by shwag on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:36:17 PM EST

Getting this book published would only do harm, by spreading more ignorance and blind following.

[ Parent ]
Anyone who thinks they should see a therapist.... (1.50 / 6) (#61)
by shwag on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:11:51 PM EST

...should get their head checked. While this article goes over so many topics that are neglected in typical western thought, it contains so many gross abuses of authority and category. Yes, YOU do decide your reality. Do you want to put your life to the mercy of Pscychology Drugs? as this author seems to suggest many times. Of course he is going to go mad whenever he stops taking them, because he so so balanced from all the addiction! Know yourselfs people! Who is to say what the 'right' balance of chemicals in your head should be. Sure, Shapiro's description of a obsessive-conpulsive sounds EXACTLY like me. But the difference is the i LIKE me...and if I didn't like behaving this way I would probably change it with my WILL because _I_ take responsibility for my actions. If this sounds like too much responsibility for you, then go ahead and give the responsiblity to the drugs and then see how much control you have when you rely on externals.

My experience (5.00 / 2) (#82)
by acronos on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 02:41:42 PM EST

I was diagnosed with manic depression in 1993 when I was 23.  Over the next year, for the first time in my life, I started taking anti-depressants.  For most of my life, when someone would tell a joke, I would laugh not because I though it was funny, but rather because I knew now was a time I was supposed to laugh.  Within months of taking such drugs I found myself for the first time in my life laughing because jokes were funny.  I found myself actually being afraid of dieing when I almost got in an accident.  Before I looked at death with longing.  I also found women to be vastly more attracted to me.

I took such drugs for about 4 years.  In that time I learned what it felt like to be "normal."  How do I know I was more normal on these drugs than off you ask?  Look at the previous paragraph.  Once I knew what normal felt like, I needed the drugs less and less because I could usually achieve that state without drugs.  I no longer cycle between severe depression and mild depression/hypomania.  Or, at least the cycles are extremely mild.  The only drug I continue to take is St. Johns Wort.  I still occationally see a psychologist, but I really do not need anything stronger anymore.  I am able to keep a job, finnish a semester of school, and have a wife now.  My enjoyment of life is thousands of times greater.  Now life is fun, and I love living.  However, it is a miracle that I survived before.  You say you like yourself as you are.  Great!  I am glad to here that.  I also like myself now, but I didn't before.

You probobaly will just write off anything I say as the ravings of a druggie,  I tend to write off what you say as someone with a neurotic aversion to being labled with mental illness.

[ Parent ]

I feel sorry for you (none / 0) (#117)
by richarj on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 12:40:39 AM EST

I have heard your argument before many times. You are afraid to accept that you might need help from others, so afraid that you go out of your way to accuse any such help as being dangerous. I hope you get over this. I hope you realise that it is ok to be ill. Being ill doesn't mean you are inferior or superior. Accepting help doesn't mean you are inferior either.

"if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty
[ Parent ]
It's very simple. (2.00 / 3) (#123)
by tkatchev on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 05:33:32 AM EST

"Psychiatric medication" is simply a euphemism for "legal drugs".

You see, the poor dirty plebs and niggers do crack and crystal meth, and subsequently they get thrown in jail and raped.

White, affluent programmers and PR managers do Prozac, etc. that they buy legally from their local pharmacist.

This is one of the uglier class distinctions in modern American society.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

You're not paying attention. Do you have ADD? (none / 0) (#162)
by mcgrew on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:19:14 PM EST

The antidepressants do NOT intoxicate. Crack, meth, heroin DO. They are NOT the same thing.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Any experience with (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by daragh on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:18:16 PM EST

Occupational Therapy? My fiance works in mental health OT and regularly deals with people suffering from severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia etc. I'd be interested in hearing about any experiences.

No work.

The Source of Authority (1.71 / 7) (#64)
by shwag on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:18:47 PM EST

I wouldn't do anything this guy recommends without first listening to Alan Watts lectures on the Source of Spiritual Authority. Religions used to hoaks people into living by rules with the idea of God. Now Crawford is trying to make you fall into the authority of doctors and authors who want to tell you how to behave. Did it ever occur that maybe you act the way you do for a _reason_ and that maybe your behavior shouldn't be changed. You just need to gain some self-knowledge about why you act the way you to in order to love yourself. Alan Watts - "The public education system is like a library where all the books written must be based upon books already in the library."

The authority of doctors and authors. (5.00 / 4) (#78)
by acronos on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 02:14:23 PM EST

How is your recomendation to read Alan Watts any less "the authority of doctors and authors" than Crawford's recomendation to use therapy. His therapists objective, as he described it, was the same as your advice - know yourself.

[ Parent ]
Oh how I wish I could change (none / 0) (#152)
by deaddrunk on Tue Apr 22, 2003 at 03:14:42 PM EST

I sometimes wish I had cancer, just so people would care.

[ Parent ]
People care all right (none / 0) (#166)
by sal5ero on Sun May 04, 2003 at 04:26:58 AM EST

just not about anyone but themselves - they use mental illness as an excuse to leave. at least in my experience.

[ Parent ]
I understand myself just fine (none / 0) (#167)
by setmajer on Mon May 19, 2003 at 11:54:02 AM EST

I'm just having trouble convincing my girlfriend, family, landlord, phone company, grocer, car dealer....

A moral point of view too often serves as a substitute for understanding in technological matters. >>> Marshall McLuhan
[ Parent ]
Mental Illness? (3.00 / 1) (#65)
by shwag on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:23:33 PM EST

Where is the line that decides what is mentaly healthy and mentaly ill?

Read - Thomas Szasz - Insanity, The Idea and Its Consequences.

Read - Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia's Dead End Kids by Donna Gaines link

911 (4.00 / 1) (#75)
by Elektro Schock on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 01:44:42 PM EST

"Such pathology, while too horrible for most people to contemplate, is an expected consequence of the reaction of normal human nature to extreme circumstances." Hmm, 9/11 may also have changed the US. An explanation of the changes in foreign policy, civil rights and democratic control. I remind you of the fact that the Pentagon was hit.

Ive found this story really interesting (2.00 / 1) (#80)
by Niha on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 02:24:55 PM EST

   I have to say I didn´t feel like reading it at first,but it has come to be one of the most interesting articles I´ve read here lately...The only problem I have found is when you mentioned about trying drugs until finding the right one.I think it didn´t appeared the need for a specialist in the search.

A bigger problem... (4.00 / 1) (#83)
by artsygeek on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 03:17:51 PM EST

A bigger problem than finding a good "talk therapist" is finding a good psychiatrist who will give you the right meds.  Some psychiatrists are averse to concern about "inconvenient" side effects, as the side effect isn't going to kill you, and changing meds may cause you to use something less effective.  The biggest problem I've had is family members getting involved that don't know what they're talking about and giving my psychiatrist spurious information, and my psychiatrist not understanding both the insomnia and my strange sleeping habits.(I'm nocturnal).

Excellent series (none / 0) (#84)
by 8ctavIan on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 03:47:36 PM EST

I want to thank you Michael. It was truly an excellent series. After reading the first one, I waited impatiently for the next. I must say that it is the best thing that I have seen on Kuro5hin. I think you've set a standard for quality for future K5 articles.

I also admire your courage. It's not an easy thing to talk about mental illness, but you did it in such a candid and informative way. I learned a great deal and again, I thank you.


Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice. -- H.L. Mencken

I wonder.... (3.50 / 2) (#85)
by Smerdy on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 04:14:42 PM EST

I wonder if so many people would be complimenting this series of articles if it had made any suggestion that being "mentally ill" can be worth some negative effects for the sake of benefits like increased creativity. (This would still be stopping short of analyzing how environmental conditions that we take for granted could be causing most if not all of unwanted symptoms, like I did in an earlier comment.) I think for people who have chosen to go on psychiatric medication for long periods, this article is appealing because it reaffirms their choices. For people who view themselves as sane, it gives them a chance to imagine how bad their lives could be and then return to the safety of their real circumstances, much like watching a horror movie. If the articles had suggested that, instead, the "sane" were the ones missing something valuable, I'd wager there would be less commenter support overall.

[ Parent ]
Problems, Psychiatric Medications, &c. (5.00 / 1) (#91)
by Alfie on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 05:43:11 PM EST

I would point out that psychiatric drugs are not the only way to get help. And there are people who obviously need help.

As far as psychiatric drugs go, there are many problems. I may write an article on them in the future if I can find enough sources on the web so I don't have to type pages from my books. There are several issues Michael has not mentioned, the most important ones being Tardive Dyskinesia and withdrawal & rebound effects. Lithium, for example, frequently causes mania upon withdrawal:

Lithium and Anticonvulsant Withdrawal Reactions

Lithium raises the serious issue of confusing withdrawal difficulties with relapse. In fact, lithium withdrawal reactions exactly mimic the manic symptoms that lead to the start of lithium treatment. Doctors prescribe lithium primarily to treat mania; often, mania rapidly follows lithium withdrawal. How is the doctor or patient to know whether this condition is withdrawal mania or a return of the orginal psychiatric problem?

Some doctors refuse to see a specific syndrome of withdrawal from lithium. Others suggest that a true lithium withdrawal syndrome cannot merely resemble mania but that "tremor, dizziness, and sometimes epileptic seizures" should also be observed.[1] We believe, however, that the latter opinions are further instances in which doctors have thoughtlessly attributed disturbed reactions after drug withdrawal to the patient's "underlying illness" rather than to the drug treatment itself.

The rapid recurrence of mania can happen even among patients who have been taking the drug for years, are seemingly "well-stabilized," and are withdrawn from it for only four or five days.[2] In one study, researches abruptly switched twenty-one previously manic patients to placebos. They had taken lithium continuously for an average of four years. The authors write: "Within 14 days on placebo, 11 patients relapsed into severe psychotic states with paranoid, manic and depressive syndromes. ... Most of the other patients not relapsing into psychotic states reported anxiety, nervousness, increased irritability and alertness, [and] sleep disturbances."[3]

One review systematically examined fourteen published studies of lithium withdrawal involving 257 "manic-depressive" patients with an average of thirty months of stable lithium treatment. Of the new manic episodes that occurred, more than 50 percent were experienced within three months of withdrawal. Also observed was a staggering 28-fold increase in the risk of new manic episodes for patients just withdrawn from lithium.[4] Another review of published and unpublished studies on lithium withdrawal yielded similar conclusions.[5] This evidence led one doctor to state candidly: "[F]rank manic symptoms are the defining feature of significant withdrawal effects and appear to be of a comparable severity to those seen in manic illness generally, often requiring hospital admission."[6]

Increases in energy and alertness, heightened emotional response, increased concentration, and decreased thirst are sometimes reported even in patients who do not experience mania during withdrawal.[7]

An editorial in the British Journal of Psychiatry openly states that when patients take lithium for less than two years, they risk undergoing frequent recurrences of manic episodes shortly after withdrawal. The author, a psychiatrist, believes that these are genuine withdrawal effects and recommends informing patients of the danger before they decide to undertake lithium treatment.[10] Nonetheless, the same psychiatrist maintains that taking lithium for more than ten years does not carry this withdrawal risk. This conclusion contradicts well-accepted clinical experience indicating that the longer a drug is taken, the greater is the risk of withdrawal reactions.

Psychiatrists are belatedly beginning to realize that the rapid recurrence of mania aftrer lithium withdrawal is a real withdrawal effect. However, many practicing doctors undoubtedly continue to attribute withdrawal-induced mania to their patients' "chronic disease." These doctors then persist in exposing their patients to lithium despite its many long-term adverse effects.

Tegretol (carbamazepine) is an anticonvulsant drug widely used as a treatment for many problems, including mania. Upon withdrawal, Tegretal can provoke serious emotional flare-ups--including paranoia, hostility, and agitation--in previously disturbed people.[8] These withdrawal reactions can also occur in mentally stable individuals, as in one documented case involving a patient treated for a physical disorder.[9] Other anticonvulsants or anti-epileptic drugs such as Depakene (valproic acid), Depakote (divalproex sodium), and Dilantin (phenytoin), are also widely prescribed in psychiatry. The risk of seizures needs to be considered when any anticonvulscant drug is withdrawn, whether or not a seizure disorder was previously present. Other symptoms of anticonvulscant withdrawal may commonly include anxiety, muscle twitching, tremors, weakness, nausea, and vomiting.

  1. Schou (1993), p. 515.
  2. Lapierre et al. (1980); Christodoolou and Lykouras (1982).
  3. Klein et al. (1981), p. 255.
  4. Suppes et al. (1991).
  5. Faedda et al. (1993).
  6. Goodwin (1994), p. 149
  7. Balon et al. (1984).
  8. Heh et al. (1988).
  9. Darbar et al. (1996).
  10. Goodwin (1994).

The above is from Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medications by Peter Breggin, M.D. and David Cohen, Ph.D..

Another issue with lithium is memory loss and intellectual impairment, which can get so bad as to interfere with a person's job, especially for a programmer. If anyone is thinking about starting psychiatric drugs, or knows someone who is, I would recommend finding a copy of Your Drug May Be Your Problem. It's useful for patients, family, and doctors, who may not realize some of the problems with the drugs they are prescribing.



[ Parent ]
wow. (2.50 / 2) (#86)
by jdube on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 04:34:08 PM EST

That was amazing. I've had, shall we say, my share of difficulties. Your piece moved me.


-------
Invicem Cedund Dolors et Volutpas
There Are Two Ways to Go (3.00 / 1) (#92)
by t reductase on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 06:00:10 PM EST

Way number one is the Michael Crawford way of more less complete dependence on the medical system. The key to this strategy is finding good people. There are a lot of airheads out there. I recently talked to one psychiatrist who suggested drug-receptor interreactions are controlled by gravity rather than by electrical forces. One must shop around as Michael Crawford did. The second route is almost complete indpendence from the medical system. One learns what one needs to know about the drugs. The best drug for a particular person is discovered by trial and error and by before taking a drug looking at side-effects of the various drugs and seeing which side-effects one can live with. The best antipychotic is almost always a newer generation antipychotic, called atypicals. There are only about five. The same applies to mood stabilizers. One reads Immanuel Kant on one's own. This route minimizes damage done by airheads but takes reading up.

Dependence on the medical system (4.00 / 1) (#94)
by MichaelCrawford on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 06:10:19 PM EST

One thing I learned early on is that I had to take responsibility for and control of my treatment.

I was seeing the County Mental Health Department for a while, and there were good people there and I got treated for free, but I didn't feel that they had any expectation that I would get better, and I had the feeling of being hooked into a system of dependency.

One thing I'm very fortunate to have found is good people. Besides my therapist, there was the therapist who ran my group therapy and the psychiatrist I started seeing just before my hospitalization in 1994. Also the psychiatrist and psychologist I saw at Alhambra CPC in 1985 were very good.

I never was too impressed with the first psychiatrist I saw, when I cracked up at Caltech.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Your Route Has Worked Well For You (3.00 / 1) (#100)
by t reductase on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 07:21:06 PM EST

This is obvious from the coherence of the article.

[ Parent ]
Heh (4.00 / 1) (#102)
by MichaelCrawford on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 07:52:33 PM EST

Not all of what I have written has been so coherent.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Thanks (5.00 / 1) (#93)
by yokuyakuyoukai on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 06:06:57 PM EST

I would also like to thank you for posting this article. It takes a very brave man to expose himself this much. You see i am also mentally ill. I suffer from major depression and without medication i rarely leave my bed.
"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding." --Kahlil Gibran

You're very welcome (4.00 / 1) (#95)
by MichaelCrawford on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 06:11:41 PM EST

It is my hope that in writing this I can bring a measure of relief to those who also suffer.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

I'm sure you do (4.00 / 1) (#136)
by borderline on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 05:45:06 PM EST

I'm sure you do help by sharing your insights like this. Personally, I'm not having any problems with my reality right now. But if that were to happen to me, or anyone I know, I will have your articles in mind. Thanks!

[ Parent ]
Amazing, and Thanks (3.00 / 1) (#107)
by localroger on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 10:25:16 PM EST

I did not read your first two installments when they posted because they were so long, and I've been terribly busy at work. Fortunately this is not IRC and works hang around to be read at leisure.

Still, I am sorry that I waited. Rarely does one find such eloquence combined with such passion and concrete firsthand experience. Things like this are the reason I (and I'm sure many other people) hang around K5.

I can haz blog!

agree about needing to want to change (4.00 / 1) (#116)
by Lonesome Phreak on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 12:16:24 AM EST

My major turning point was driving down the road, and almost getting in a wreck because my mind was "off somewhere else". I'm sure it happens to everyone, but this was the third time in a week. It got me seriously thinking about what was going on in my head. The reason I was not paying attention was because my sleeping patters had become way off due to manic depression.

I finally went in to a free clinic (there are actually several here in town that have a wealth of services), and they diagnosed me as bipolar II. After several different medications, I finally found the right combination (Wellbutrim and Seroquil). I've been on them for about six months now, and I have finally "stabilized" to the point of carrying on a normal life.

My girfriend is bipolar I, and isn't doing quite as well. It seems life itself has been stacked against her as of late, from infections, sickness, and so on. She went off her meds for a bit while she was ill, and hasn't really gotten back on them since. I can only hope she gets better.

very very good (none / 0) (#134)
by The Terrorists on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 12:40:49 PM EST

Do you write for a living professionally? You should.

Watch your mouth, pigfucker. -- Rusty Foster

I would like to, but don't yet (5.00 / 1) (#135)
by MichaelCrawford on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 12:47:28 PM EST

Wow, thanks!

I've been programming for a living for fifteen years. There are very few people who work as actual coders for fifteen years without moving into management or some other job that's not right in the trenches. How many 38 year old coders do you know?

I've been feeling for some time that I need to get out of programming and do something else. I haven't made the change yet for economic reasons, but I am steadily working to get in a better position financially so I will have more flexibility.

When the opportunity arises, I would like to stop programming (except for Open Source work, for enjoyment) and write professionally.

I don't get nearly the enjoyment out of programming anymore that I do out of writing.

In the meantime, you can expect to see more of my writing posted on K5 from time to time.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Can you help me, human? (1.60 / 15) (#137)
by BankofAmerica ATM on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 09:24:04 PM EST

<a href=http://slashdot.org/~BankofAmerica_ATM/journal/>My experiences are listed here.</a> I still have trouble tapping into my host-body's brain from time to time, can you help?

STOP PROJECT FAUSTUS!

Can you help me, human? (1.83 / 6) (#138)
by BankofAmerica ATM on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 09:25:53 PM EST

My experiences are listed here. I still have trouble tapping into my host-body's brain from time to time, can you help?

STOP PROJECT FAUSTUS!

demons (none / 0) (#139)
by gdanjo on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 10:42:33 PM EST

We all have our demons. I am happy you have found yours.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT

Sytematic Treatment Enhancement Program for BD (none / 0) (#143)
by nutate on Mon Apr 21, 2003 at 01:59:48 PM EST

The STEP-BD program is running in cities across the U.S. and is the first large scale study on the efficacy of different types of treatment for bipolar. I encourage anyone in need to check it out.

Deja-vu (none / 0) (#147)
by gauntlet on Mon Apr 21, 2003 at 04:41:17 PM EST

Just wanted to say thanks for the articles. This has really helped me to understand my uncle, who has suffered schizoid symptoms since his mid-twenties, and who became an alchoholic in a quest to quiet the voices in his head.

I think you treated the topic with the respect it deserves, acknowledging the inherent uncertainty in the field.

In particular, your description of hallucinations has really enlightened me as to what they must be like.

You describe the experience of a hallucination as having a sense of belief that something is absolutely true, and then momentarily afterward having the experience to which the truth applies.

When I experience deja-vu (most recently was about 5 weeks ago), I notice that I'm perceiving the input differently. I'm filled with a sense of rememberance, but no details of what it is I'm remembering until after they occur (again, as it were).

Would you relate the deja-vu experience of remembering something before you hear it to the hallucination experience of believing something before you experience it?

Also, with deja-vu, it seems to me that the stimulous is secondary to the belief. Whatever happens to be going on is what you will seem to remember. Is it the same with hallucinations? Obviously, the false input in a hallucination comes from the person's mind, but I'm wondering if you think it comes as a reaction to the "belief" aspect of the hallucination, or if they are more intertwined.

Into Canadian Politics?

salad dressing as one possible treatment (3.00 / 1) (#151)
by mreardon on Tue Apr 22, 2003 at 09:06:48 AM EST

Just as in Lorenzo's oil: fats may be one part of the answer.

YATY (Yet Another Thank You) (3.00 / 1) (#154)
by Jasper Lamar Crabb on Wed Apr 23, 2003 at 11:36:43 AM EST

I've been a casual reader of K5 for about a year, but hadn't thought to become a member until this particular sequence of articles appeared. They happen to be freakishly timely in relation to what is occurring in my own life. This post is unlikely to be of much value to the general discussion generated be Mr. Crawford's piece, as I'm not (yet) ready to discuss my mental health on a public forum; I also lack sufficient knowledge of psychiatry/pharmacology to contribute anything truly well-informed on those subjects. So, really, this is my longwinded way of saying I haven't much to say except thank you, Mr. Crawford. In a big way.

A Beautiful Mind (none / 0) (#155)
by klash on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 12:12:15 AM EST

You didn't say what you thought of the movie A Beautiful Mind. I'm curious to know your opinion of how it portrayed mental illness. Though I know nothing about mental illness, I had the feeling throughout the movie that the director was far more concerned with creating artificial tension and and emotional moments than showing anything real.

I echo all the comments about how great this series has been!

A beautiful mind (5.00 / 1) (#156)
by MichaelCrawford on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 12:36:56 AM EST

I really enjoyed the movie, but I think it may not have been all that accurate a depiction of Dr. Nash' actual experience.

I think that most people who hear voices don't actually see hallucinations of people doing the speaking. And someone becoming convinced that they are part of a secret government effort to fight a communist conspiracy would arise somewhat spontaneously, without an imagined visit to an elaborate secret laboratory.

I've had my own share of delusions regarding government conspiracies, and they all arose from the most tenuous of clues. The slightest suggestion of anything that stimulates paranoia gets blown far out of proportion to your actual experience, while at the same time you don't question your beliefs.

Like I said about the woman with the late library book, a random helicopter passing overhead was enough to prove an elaborate conspiracy to her, she didn't have to actually meet or talk to the conspirators.

I think what A Beautiful Mind depicted of Dr. Nash obsessively trying to find patterns in the text of magazines somewhat mirrors my own experience. I have had times when I've encountered great difficulty, and devoted tremendous mental energy to trying to understand what was going on. It is an exhausting experience. During these times I would strain to detect the slightest clue that would aid my understanding, while ironically being miles away from understanding what I was really experiencing.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Hollywood Got This One Right (none / 0) (#163)
by t reductase on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 01:24:13 AM EST

People with schizophrenia have large concerns. Stopping a nuclear war is a typical goal of someone with schizophrenia. All the fake films, 'Spider' being at the top of heap, which hallucinate the schizophrenic mind fall far far below the so-called Hollywood glitz of 'A Beautiful Mind'. I thought at first some issues were left out of the film but people with schizophrenia can be tangential and remarks which might indicate a steady motivation for some are often gone tomorrow when an individual has schizophrenia. I think Nash is most likely still working on how to stop nuclear war despite protestations otherwise and no peace marches. Ones with schizophrenia are intensely political.

[ Parent ]
Concerns of the mentally ill (5.00 / 1) (#164)
by MichaelCrawford on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:49:57 AM EST

When I was hospitalized in 1994, one of my biggest worries at the time was the North Koreans, who were rattling the nuclear saber back then too. I think my worries were legitimate, and still are, I discuss them (lucidly, I hope) here.

The difference between then and now is the sense of personal responsibility I felt to warn the world about it, and the urgency I felt to do so.

Another thing I was distressed about is this little joke I used to have. Just before going to grad school I read Richard Rhodes' book The Making of the Atomic Bomb. The book ends just after the successful invention of the first practical hydrogen bomb.

And do you know what the code name of the first hydrogen bomb test was?

Mike.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

No (none / 0) (#165)
by Smerdy on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 10:45:15 AM EST

Hollywood got it wrong, by suggesting that hallucinations were what drove Nash and others to do this. It's actually much more subtle than that.

[ Parent ]
what's funny (none / 0) (#157)
by tichy on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:10:11 AM EST

Despite all that therapy has done to help me, my brain is unable to regulate its chemistry on its own. That is why I must take medication.
But your brain is able to regulate its chemistry on its own, by deciding to take the medication. If not the brain, what is causing the decision? Funny gray slimey things.

Excellent articles, btw.

My copy of this article on my own website (none / 0) (#158)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:32:43 AM EST

I also have a copy of this article on my own website. It's all in one place with an easier to remember URL. I've split it into one HTML page per section to make it easier to digest, and added some photos to the bodies of some of the pages instead of just linking them as I had to do for Kuro5hin. Finally I've made some minor corrections and may do so in the future. Please see:

Thanks to everyone who participated in the discussion, and thanks to everyone who commented on my drafts, for helping me do the best job I could.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


Addiction vs Abuse (none / 0) (#168)
by ringwood on Thu Jun 26, 2003 at 08:25:16 AM EST

We should clearly distinguish between addiction and abuse - they are not interchangeable terms, one does not equal the other whatever your local propaganda may say. It is perfectly possible to live your entire life as an addict and have it have no more negative impact than the same level of inconvenience experienced by any person who needs regular medication; except of course we live in a lunatic society where you have to put far too much time, effort and money into obtaining materials of unknown potency, possibly containing dangerous adulterants; this despite research clearly showing that the simplest way to combat the artificially created negative effects of addiction is to give addicts access to pharmaceutical grade materials along with a little counselling. Of course this is far too difficult for the simpletons and cowards in office.

Abuse tends to be an ill-defined concept - some would consider drinking too much on Saturday night leading to a poor state on Monday to be abuse; some define it so broadly that any sort of intoxication is considered abuse. Can we draw a line? If I am drunk all weekend and every night, but totally sober at work am I abusing? Is not my choice to to intoxicated? Sure it may be doing permanent damage, but I'd be well aware of the harmful effects of alcohol.

Living with Schizoaffective Disorder (Part III) | 168 comments (142 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
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