Tag Archives | Mental Illness

Things That Could Get You Locked Up In A Nineteenth-Century Insane Asylum

What makes someone a menace to the world? The Knitting Genealogist on reasons given for why people were committed to the Retreat, a progressive asylum two hundred years ago:

Whilst researching, I was fascinated by the reasons people were certified and admitted to the asylum. On admission, patients had already been ‘certified’ and these certificates were placed in the Admission records. A common reason for admission was “Religious melancholy” or simply “Religion”. Here are just a handful of the most interesting answers, from the 1820s:

“A violent attachment to a female not approved by his friends.”

“Perhaps attending overmuch to business.”

“By fright, caused by a man (unknown) getting into his Lodging room, secreting himself under some Linen in a corner of the room, and after about five weeks after this he was attacked with the first fit…”

“A tedious confinement with an affected family”.

“Suppose a fear of not being able to pay his just debts owing to the depression of the times”.

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Are Shooting Spree Killers Following A Cultural Script?

Via the Public Library of Science, Daniel Lende on the need to understand horrific mass shooting as a cultural practice with underlying meaning, rather than as anomalous, randomized insanity:

Paul Mullen, the esteemed Australian forensic psychologist, invokes cultural scripts as central to understanding why young men like James Holmes, Anders Breivik, and Jared Loughnerdo what they do. It is not because they are insane, some idea that seized them from the inside. Rather, they act out something – and the young men who do so are not random members of society, but have definable characteristics.

Mullen compares these mass killings to the Malaysian amok, a recognized “culture-bound syndrome” often defined as a “spree of killing and destruction (as in the expression “run amok”) followed by amnesia or fatigue.” (For more references, [search] Google Scholar for “amok Malaysia”.

Mullen also counters the common explanation in the United States and elsewhere that these killers must somehow be insane or mad.

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Adam Lanza’s DNA To Be Studied In Search Of ‘Killer’ Genes

If certain mutations or abnormalities are blamed for Lanza’s actions, what will we do with other individuals who possess them? The Christian Post reports on a possible preview of witch hunting in the 21st century:

An “Adam Lanza DNA study” has been given the go ahead to see if there is anything inside his genetic makeup that could have given any indication of the horrific acts he was capable of ahead of time.  The study, which is believed to be the first of its kind, is expected to delve into Lanza’s DNA in the hope of finding any kind of genetic abnormalities or mutations in his DNA.

The study has been commissioned by Connecticut Medical Examiner, H. Wayne Carver, who has reached out to geneticists at the University of Connecticut to carry out the study. It is expected that the geneticists will analyze his entire genome in huge detail to try and find any mutations.

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Dr. Barry Taff on Psi and Psychosis

Barry Taff writes about encountering the mentally ill in parapsychology research:

There is one thing I feel absolutely secure in saying after spending the last forty-four years of my life conducting parapsychological research; that the paranormal attracts more emotionally disturbed people than any other area of human interest or endeavor.  The chronic encounters with such psychotic people never seems to end.  The question is why?

Men or women, tall or short, thin or fat, rich or poor, educated or ignorant, beautiful or ugly, they appear to be everywhere,  and growing in numbers.  Perhaps many such troubled individuals enter this field with the hope of resolving their own emotional demons?  Perhaps others are seeking the greater truth that underlies our presence and reality?  And yet perhaps others, enter it because it requires absolutely no formal education whatsoever to explore, unlike any other discipline of science?

Keep reading.

Hat tip: Doubtful News.… Read the rest

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The Mentally Ill Are More Likely to Be Victims Than Perpetrators of Violence

Picture: Vitaly Efimenko (CC)

Graham Brown writing at Bipolar World, from 2005:

In this article there is summarised the results of just a few studies regarding mental illness and violence from a number of very respectable sources to allow a fair and unbiased assessment of the risk posed by those with a mental illness for you, the reader, to consider.

Firstly, from the Canadian Mental Health Association and it’s pamphlet – “Violence and Mental Illness”,

In today’s media reports about mental illness, there is a tendency to emphasise a supposed risk between violence and mental illness.  News stories regularly suggest that there is a strong connection between mental illness and crime.  In fact, people with a mental illness are more likely to be the victims, rather than the perpetrators of violence.”

“Recent studies have showed that alcohol and substance abuse far outweigh mental illness in contributing to violence.  A 1996 Health Canada review of scientific articles found that the strongest predictor of violence and criminal behaviour is not major mental illness, but past history and criminality.”

On the question of does mental illness cause violence?  The CMHA does go on to say:

“Mental illness plays no part in the majority of violent crimes committed in our society.  The assumption that any and every mental illness carries with it an almost certain potential for violence has been proven wrong in many studies.

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Crazy People Make Sense

Picture: Aries Author (CC)

Quinn O’Neill writes at 3quarksdaily:

Given the amount of senseless and stupid behavior that we perceive, it might seem outrageous to claim that people – all people – make perfect sense. The crux of my argument rests on the idea that behaviors are caused, and to the extent that they are caused – fully, I believe – they will always make sense if the causal factors are understood.

This seems to be the approach that we intuitively take when we observe unusual behavior in animals. We don’t blame the animal and label it a dumbass, we assume there’s something causing the behavior, like an illness, the presence of another animal, or the animal’s having been trained by humans. A bizarre behavior could also have a strong genetic component; maybe it’s evolved because it’s adaptive or maybe it’s the result of a spontanteous deleterious mutation. In any case, we’re likely to attribute the behavior to material causes rather than to blame the animal.

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The Dangers Of Lucid Dreaming

Ryan Hurd recounts a strange tale of lucid dreaming and mass murder, at Reality Sandwich:

I got the weirdest phone call last week. The editor of Gawker, A.J. Daulerio, contacted me, requesting information on lucid dreaming.  (Lucid dreaming is knowing you’re dreaming while firmly in the dreamstate). He said he’s doing a new piece on lucid dreaming and Jared Loughner, who was sentenced yesterday with life in prison without parole for his deadly rampage in Tuscon, AZ in January 2011.

Turns out, Gawker had got a hold of some emails from Jared Loughner, and Daulerio has been going through them looking for new insights in the horrendous mass shooting that left six dead and wounded 14, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. It got weird when Daulerio asked, “So, you talked to Jared, right?”

“Nope, never spoke with him,” I replied.

“But you emailed with him, right?”

“No, never did. Uh…why?”

“Because we have an email from him to you.”

That’s when my nervous laughter began.

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Ketamine Is “The Most Important Discovery In 50 Years” For Treating Depression

So says a new review in the journal Science, which declares that the club drug is vastly more effective than the serotonin-boosting antidepressants typically prescribed for mood disorders. Via TIME Healthland:

It didn’t seem likely that a drug could repair brain cells within hours, but new research explored suggests just that. Ketamine rapidly spurs the growth of new synapses, the connections between brain cells, and is associated with “reversal of the atrophy caused by chronic stress,” the authors write.

Unfortunately, the hallucinogenic effects of ketamine mean that it can’t be used in the same way typical antidepressants are, and fears about its potential for misuse also hamper its development. Researchers are frantically trying to develop compounds that have the same effects as ketamine without producing a “high.”

In the meanwhile, however, ketamine is already FDA approved [...] But clinical use of the drug in the community remains rare. Fears about abuse continue to run high, though ketamine has never caught on as a major street drug.

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Thomas Szasz, Psychiatrist Who Disputed Existence of Mental Illness, Dies at 92

Picture: NIH (PD)

John Mariani reports for syracuse.com:

Dr. Thomas S. Szasz, a psychiatrist who questioned the existence of mental illness and fought against the forced treatment of patients, died Saturday at his home in Manlius. He was 92 and died from complications from a fall and a spinal compression fracture, his family said.

In “The Myth of Mental Illness,” published in 1961, Szasz argued that behaviors that colleagues attributed to diseases of the brain actually described “problems in living.” He called treating people against their will “a crime against humanity” in a 1992 profile in The Post-Standard.

“I am probably the only psychiatrist in the world whose hands are clean,” Szasz told the newspaper. “I have never committed anyone. I have never given electric shock. I have never, ever, given drugs to a mental patient.”

The approach Szasz rebelled against treated people as patients whose behavior somehow failed to meet the expectations of government or some other authority, said Dr.

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