Tag Archives | Psychiatry

Conspiracy Theory as a Personality Disorder?

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Photo: John Allspaw (CC)

“The treatment of ‘conspiracy theories’ by the US intelligentsia is reminiscent of the Soviet commissions that labeled political dissidents mentally ill,” claims Kerry R Bolton at Foreign Policy Journal:

While psychiatry as a means of repressing political dissent was well-known for its use the USSR, this occurred no less and perhaps more so in the West, and particularly in the USA. While the case of Ezra Pound is comparatively well-known now, not so recognized is that during the Kennedy era in particular there were efforts to silence critics through psychiatry. The cases of General Edwin Walker, Fredrick Seelig, and Lucille Miller might come to mind.

As related by Seelig, the treatment meted out to political dissidents in psychiatric wards and institutions could be hellish. Over the past few decades however, such techniques against dissent have become passé, in favor of more subtle methods of social control.

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Psychologists who helped CIA interrogate terror suspects lost sight of moral principles


This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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By Laurence Alison, University of Liverpool

During the War on Terror, the CIA’s operations subjected hundreds of suspected terrorists to harsh interrogation techniques, which were often criticised as constituting torture. Now, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the operation has made it clearer than ever that the CIA used many forms of “enhanced interrogation” to elicit information – very harsh methods indeed that simply did not yield the intended results.

As a leaked State Department memo put it, the report “tells a story of which no American is proud”.

This is a matter of outrage for everyone, but as psychologists, we have a particular obligation to speak out. Many of the approaches the CIA used were developed by our discipline, and by individuals who will have known about the codes of conduct by which US psychologists are bound – which include beneficence and non-maleficence, and respect for rights, dignity and integrity.… Read the rest

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Boredom and ADHD

Richard A. Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College, has written a lengthy essay for the New York Times in which he questions the explosion in diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in American children. He comes up with an interesting hypothesis: it’s because of boredom, which as those of you who’ve watched Albert Nerenberg’s documentary Boredom know, is fixable:

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is now the most prevalent psychiatric illness of young people in America, affecting 11 percent of them at some point between the ages of 4 and 17. The rates of both diagnosis and treatment have increased so much in the past decade that you may wonder whether something that affects so many people can really be a disease.


And for a good reason. Recent neuroscience research shows that people with A.D.H.D. are actually hard-wired for novelty-seeking — a trait that had, until relatively recently, a distinct evolutionary advantage.

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Reconciling hallucinations in the locus of misfortune

People who suffer from schizophrenic symptoms are finding new ways of coping. Here is one such person who finds that hallucinations of angry voices can be a way to notice problems in their life.

The research of Dr. T. M. Luhrmann has found that Americans often suffer from distressing voices related to war and conflict.

Does culture make a difference to schizophrenic symptoms?

Organizations like Hearing Voices Network are experimenting with new ways of living with schizophrenic symptoms as opposed to trying to exorcise them away.

Dr. Arthur Hastings describes the use of the psychomanteum for bereavement. This use of a mirror angled in such a way that the user doesn’t see their own reflection can reconcile people to their lost loved ones and meditate on concepts of togetherness.

Dr. Jeffrey J. Kripal argues that there is a kinship between these experiences and writing itself:

Are we in a renaissance that is radically altering our perception of imagination in relation to objective truths?… Read the rest

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Confessions of a Non-Compliant Patient

Photo: Candy (CC)

Photo: Candy (CC)

Judi Chamberlin writes for the National Empowerment Center, Inc.:

A famous comedian once said, “I’ve been rich, and I’ve been poor, and believe me, rich is better.” Well, I’ve been a good patient, and I’ve been a bad patient, and believe me, being a good patient helps to get you out of the hospital, but being a bad patient helps to get you back to real life.

Being a patient was the most devastating experience of my life. At a time when I was already fragile, already vulnerable, being labeled and treated only confirmed to me that I was worthless. It was clear that my thoughts , feelings, and opinions counted for little. I was presumed not to be able to take care of myself, not to be able to make decisions in my own best interest, and to need mental health professionals to run my life for me.

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Does Watching Porn Make You Stupid?

F2_jordy_porn_550Poor Jordy.

Something about this sets off my bullshit detector, but I’m no scientist. However, I do know that most guys watch porn or at least have at one time or another. It’s hard to find statistics without dredging up a bunch of crap from the usual purveyors of moral outrage, but what little I could find suggested between 70% and 77% of American men watch porn. (and I bet a healthy slice of the one’s who say then don’t are lying.)

Anyway, this reminds me of all of the anti-masturbation stuff people used to believe… Wait. Used to? Forgot about this.

Researchers found less grey matter in the brains of men who watched large amounts of sexually explicit material, according to a new study.

The research, which appears in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, could not determine if porn actually caused the brain to shrink however, and the authors called for additional study on the topic.

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Moroccan Mentally Ill Imprisoned At Mausoleum To Await Cure from ‘Demons’



Being diagnosed with a mental illness is stigmatizing just about anywhere in the world (The United States only got around to forcing insurance companies to cover mental health treatment less than two decades ago.) but some places are worse than others. In Morocco, the belief that the mentally ill and drug addicted are possessed by evil spirits is a fairly common one. The Bouya Omar mausoleum is a particularly heinous last stop for families looking for spiritual cures for their loved ones’ psychiatric illnesses. The residents are chained, beaten, robbed and left to the mercy of a small group of religious acolytes who supposedly run the place.

Via Yahoo! News:

…A thin mist hangs in the air as a handful of troubled souls wander aimlessly around the Bouya Omar mausoleum in central Morocco, the occasional chilling cry rising from behind its walls.

These are Morocco’s “possessed” — from violent schizophrenics to hard drug users — who are believed to be tormented by evil spirits and whose relatives bring them here to await deliverance.
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How To Spot A Psychopath

BreivikSo how many psychopaths are in your life? Writing for the Telegraph, Tom Chivers says, “We think of psychopaths as killers, alien, outside society. But, says the scientist who has spent his life studying them, you could have one for a colleague, a friend – or a spouse”:

There are a few things we take for granted in social interactions with people. We presume that we see the world in roughly the same way, that we all know certain basic facts, that words mean the same things to you as they do to me. And we assume that we have pretty similar ideas of right and wrong.

But for a small – but not that small – subset of the population, things are very different. These people lack remorse and empathy and feel emotion only shallowly. In extreme cases, they might not care whether you live or die. These people are called psychopaths.

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Is Religion Good for Your Brain?

Eastman Johnson, Child at Prayer, circa 1873A scientific justification for otherwise inexplicable belief systems? From Discovery News:

If you live in Georgia, you’re more likely to have a healthy brain than if you live in Minnesota. That’s according to an annual state-by-state ranking released this week by a national health education campaign called Beautiful Minds.

While Georgians could use more “mental stimulation through reading and game playing,” their high level of religious activity elevated them to a No. 10 ranking. And while Minnesotans read more and are active in their communities, their low level of religious activities contributed to their No. 31 ranking.

Why the emphasis on religion? Research has linked religious activity with everything from reduced stress to better memory retention.

One recent study, published in December of 2013 in JAMA Psychiatry, found that people at risk of depression were much less vulnerable if they identified as religious: Brain MRIs revealed that religious participants had thicker brain cortices than those who weren’t as religious (those with a family history of depression often have a thinning of the cortices).

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LSD Reconsidered for Therapy

William Rafti (CC)

William Rafti (CC)

Strange as it may seem in what in many cases is an extremely reactionary period of time, the war on some drugs has loosened up considerably and not just in the burgeoning mariajuana legalization movement. Research into the medical benefits of psychedelic drugs has resumed and appears to be making significant headway. The New York Times reports on the comeback of LSD in psychiatric treatment:

He heard about the drug trial from a friend in Switzerland and decided it was worth volunteering, even if it meant long, painful train journeys from his native Austria and the real possibility of a mental meltdown. He didn’t have much time, after all, and traditional medicine had done nothing to relieve his degenerative spine condition.

“I’d never taken the drug before, so I was feeling — well, I think the proper word for it, in English, is dread,” said Peter, 50, an Austrian social worker, in a telephone interview; he asked that his last name be omitted to protect his identity.

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