Tag Archives | Insanity

We Are All Susceptible To Delusions

Former psychologist Frank Tallis on “monosymptomatic delusion” — in which an otherwise sane person latches onto one big outlandish idea. It is possibly responsible for both demonic possession and falling in love. Via New Scientist:

Once a patient came in and said: “I am possessed by a demon.” This guy wasn’t insane, he wasn’t schizophrenic – he just had this particular belief. In my day we called it “monosymptomatic delusion”, but now it would be called something like “delusional disorder”. That’s when you’re completely sound and reasonable in every respect except you have one belief that is absolutely bonkers.

You have to have an openness to it. Lots of people are open to all kinds of spiritual and magical beliefs. An individual could have a perfectly harmless interest in the supernatural but then something happens that triggers this delusion and they get stuck with it, reinforcing it by piling up one misinterpretation after another.

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Most People With A Mental Disorder Are Happy

headA reminder that “normal” does not necessarily equal “happy”. Via BPS Research Digest:

It’s easy for us to slip into all-or-nothing mindsets. An example would be: a person has some psychological problems so their life must be miserable. But that’s a mistaken assumption. So argue a team of Dutch positive psychologists, who’ve studied over seven thousand people over a three year period.

Yes, those participants with a psychological disorder were less happy than those without, but the majority (68.4 per cent) of the mentally troubled said they “often felt happy” during the preceding four weeks. “The possibility of coexisting happiness and mental disorders is of clinical relevance,” write Ad Bergsma and his team. “A narrow focus on what goes wrong in the lives of the client and forgetting what goes well, may limit therapeutic results.”

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Is One Out Of Ten Wall Street Workers A Psychopath?

MCDAMPS EC020With clinical psychopaths dramatically overrepresented in finance, one can only assume that mentally healthy workers must learn to imitate psychopathic behavior to remain employed. Via the Huffington Post:

One out of every 10 Wall Street employees is likely a clinical psychopath, writes the trade publication CFA Magazine. In the general population the rate is closer to one out of every 100.

Journalist Sherree DeCovny pulls together research from several psychologists for her story, which helpfully suggests that financial firms carefully screen out extreme psychopaths in hiring.

A clinical psychopath is bright and charming, writes DeCovny. He lies easily, and may have trouble feeling empathy for other people. He’s more willing to take dangerous risks…the outcomes matter less than the gambles themselves — and the chemical rush of serotonin and endorphins that accompanies them.

This is hardly the first time that mental illness has been equated with a certain capacity for professional success — especially in the financial sector, where some stock traders have actually scored higher than diagnosed psychopaths on tests that measure competitiveness and attraction to risk.

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Confessions Of A Serial Killer Groupie

A look at the strange boundaries of love from First Person, a briefly ran, ten-year-old television series created by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris, featuring interviews with notorious and strange people. Sandra London describes her idyllic days spent in high school and going steady with a serial sex killer, which lead to several decades of similar romantic obsession:
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How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy

catnapIs a microscopic, mind-altering parasite spread by cats responsible for car accidents, hoarding behaviors, and schizophrenia? Respected scientists are now saying that “crazy cat lady” disease is real and millions of people are infected. Shocker from Kathleen McAuliffe in the Atlantic:

Jaroslav Flegr is no kook. And yet, for years, he suspected his mind had been taken over by parasites that had invaded his brain. So the prolific biologist took his science-fiction hunch into the lab. What he’s now discovering will startle you. Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia?

The parasite, which is excreted by cats in their feces, is called Toxoplasma gondii and is the microbe that causes toxoplasmosis — the reason pregnant women are told to avoid cats’ litter boxes. Since the 1920s, doctors have recognized that a woman who becomes infected during pregnancy can transmit the disease to the fetus, in some cases resulting in severe brain damage or death.

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Color Preferences Of The Insane

colorwheelDoes a shift towards favoring yellow, and then orange, occur among the mentally disturbed? This was the finding of an admittedly questionable 1931 study on the link between aesthetic preference and insanity. (Purple must be beyond all reason.) Via Neatorama:

The year 1931 stands out in the history of research about insane people’s favorite colors. That summer, Siegfried E. Katz of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Hospital published a study called “Color Preference in the Insane.” The full citation is:

“Color Preference in the Insane,” Siegfried E. Katz, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, vol. 26, no. 2, July 1931, pp. 203–11.

Assisted by a Dr. Cheney, Dr. Katz tested 134 hospitalized mental patients. For simplicity’s sake, he limited the testing to six colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. No black. No white. No shades of gray.

“These colors,” he wrote, “rectangular in shape, one and one-half inches square, cut from Bradley colored papers were pasted in two rows on a gray cardboard.

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Woman Mauls Elderly Man In Another Gulf Coast Vampire Attack

110909-pcso-hmed-8a.grid-4x2In a brutal incident reminiscent of one in Houston three weeks ago, a wheelchair-bound Florida man taking shelter from a storm had part of his face eaten off at an abandoned Hooters restaurant by a young woman claiming to be a vampire. Someone once told me that Pensacola is one of the worst places on Earth, and I’m starting to understand why. Via ABC Action News:

A St. Petersburg man who had dozed off in his motorized wheelchair woke up to find himself being attacked by a woman, according to police. Morton Ellis, 69, said he fell asleep after parking his wheelchair on the porch of a vacant Hooters to escape the rain.

He said the woman, 22-year-old Josephine Rebecca Smith, told him she was a vampire as she bit off chunks of his face and part of his lip.

Ellis managed to fend her off and called police.

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40 Percent Of Europeans Have Mental Illness

blogstagefright2The percentage will only increase, with an aging population, the stresses of modern life, et cetera, which leads to the question: What happens when the majority of the public across an entire continent are classified as ‘mentally ill’? Via Reuters:

Europeans are plagued by mental and neurological illnesses, with almost 165 million people or 38 percent of the population suffering each year from a brain disorder such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia, according to a large new study.

With only about a third of cases receiving the therapy or medication needed, mental illnesses cause a huge economic and social burden — measured in the hundreds of billions of euros — as sufferers become too unwell to work and personal relationships break down.

“The immense treatment gap … for mental disorders has to be closed,” said Hans Ulrich Wittchen, director of the institute of clinical psychology and psychotherapy at Germany’s Dresden University and the lead investigator on the European study.

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The Mad Scientist: A History

Movieland_Wax_Museum_Buena_Park_CA_Vincent_Price_House_of_Wax_1962_60618BBeginning with Faustus of Milevis, covering the historical association between genius and mental illness, mad alchemists of the Renaissance, grave robbing and organ snatching, io9 has a rollicking look at the mad scientist in Western culture:

The mad scientist can be usefully defined as an individual who conducts scientific experiments, invents something scientific, or does original scientific research, all while suffering from both psychological and moral insanity.

Historically the mad scientist has fallen into one of two modes. The first, what literary critics have variously labelled as “Promethean” or “utopian,” roughly follows the model of the figure of Prometheus from Greek mythology: the scientist is not inherently evil, and in fact is usually portrayed as either a self-sacrificing idealist or a deluded comic figure. The scientist’s mad science is morally ambivalent and ultimately degrades the moral sensibilities of the humans it comes in contact with. The Promethean/utopian mad scientist has noble goals but fails through human weakness, both his/her own and others’.

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Russian Cannibal Who Ate Victim’s Liver Arrested

"He was always different," says his mother. Moscow resident Nikolai Shadrin murdered and ate a stranger and scattered body parts in various locations across the city. When the police arrived at his apartment to arrest him, they found Shadrin eating his victim's liver with potatoes. Also, he has a very sunny demeanor and says he can't remember the whole episode because he was very drunk when it happened.
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