Tag Archives | Psychiatry

Brain Imaging Reveals Psychiatric Disorders are Not Neurological Disorders

Areas affected in neurological disorders (a) and psychiatric disorders (b). From The British Journal of Psychiatry

Areas affected in neurological disorders (a) and psychiatric disorders (b). From The British Journal of Psychiatry

More proof that psychiatric disorders are still a big mystery.

via Mad in America:

Some researchers have been arguing to reclassify all psychiatric disorders as diseases of the brain and nervous system, similar to epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease. Neuroimaging research, however, reveals that psychiatric disorders appear to be distinct from neurological disorders, according to a new study published in this month’s issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

“We acknowledge that the distinction between the fields of psychiatry and neurology involves multiple factors, ranging from social and historical to biological and that any new classification should ultimately reflect an improvement in clinical outcomes,” the authors wrote.

In recent years, noting that neurological disorders can often lead to symptoms similar to psychosis and that many psychiatric disorders have accompanying physical and motor symptoms, some specialists, known as “distinction abolitionists,” have pushed for eliminating the distinction between these two classifications.

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Generation meds: the US children who grow up on prescription drugs

Edward, aged 16, holds his daily dose of pills. Photograph: Baptiste Lignel/Otra Vista

Edward, aged 16, holds his daily dose of pills. Photograph: Baptiste Lignel/Otra Vista

Photographer Baptiste Lignel interviewed six boys and six girls about their use of medication for behavioral problems and depression.

Sarah Boseley and Baptiste Lignel via The Guardian:

In America, medication is becoming almost as much a staple of childhood as Disney and McDonald’s. Kids pack their pills for school or college along with their lunch money. Some are taking drugs for depression and anxiety, others for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The right drugs at the right time can save young people from profound distress and enable them to concentrate in class. But some adolescents, critics say, are given medication to mask the ordinary emotional turmoil of growing up; there is a risk that they will never learn to live without it.

According to America’s Centers for Disease Control, 11% of four- to 17-year-olds in the US have been diagnosed with ADHD, a label for those who are disruptive in class and unable to concentrate; just over 6% are taking medication.

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Landmark Schizophrenia Study Recommends Less Drugs and More Therapy

Therapy is more effective at managing schizophrenia than drugs.

via Mad in America:

Results of a large government-funded study call into question current drug-only approaches to treating people diagnosed with schizophrenia.  The study, which the New York Times called “by far the most rigorous trial to date conducted in the United States,” found that patients who received increased drug counseling along with individual talk therapy, family training, and support for employment and education experienced a greater reduction in symptoms, were more likely to resume work and school, and reported a higher quality of life than those receiving current standard treatments.

Current treatments for schizophrenia in the United States, or the control condition in this study, often require lifelong use of antipsychotic drugs.  Side effects from these drugs are so severe that almost three out of four patients stop taking their prescriptions, against medical advice, after a year and a half.

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Victims File Suit Against CIA Torture Architects for ‘Systemic Brutality’

Suleiman Abdullah Salim, who survived the CIA's brutal torture regime, was released after five years of being held without charge. (Photo via ACLU)

Suleiman Abdullah Salim, who survived the CIA’s brutal torture regime, was released after five years of being held without charge. (Photo via ACLU)

This article originally appeared on Common Dreams.

The two psychologists credited with creating the brutal, post-9/11 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) torture regime are being sued by three victims of their program on charges that include “human experimentation” and “war crimes.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Tuesday filed the suit against CIA contractors James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, on behalf of torture survivors Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, as well as the family of Gul Rahman, who died of hypothermia in his cell as result of the torture he endured.

The suit, which is the first to rely on the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, charges Mitchell and Jessen under the Alien Tort Statute for “their commission of torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; non-consensual human experimentation; and war crimes,” all of which violate international law.… Read the rest

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University of Minnesota owes mistreated psychiatric subjects an apology

University of Minnesota, St. Paul Campus
I think they owe a little bit more than a paltry apology.

Carl Elliott via StarTribune:

Thanks to a former Fairview Hospital patient with the courage to speak out about his mistreatment, the University of Minnesota is finally ending a controversial research practice. As of last month, the university will no longer test experimental drugs on mentally ill patients who have been involuntarily confined to a locked psychiatric unit under a 72-hour hold (“U halts recruiting of confined patients,” Sept. 26).

Yet instead of thanking the patient who spoke out, or apologizing for recruiting him under coercive conditions, the university has done its best to discredit him.

In July 2007, Robert Huber came to Fairview for help. He was hearing voices and feeling panicked. His treating psychiatrist, Dr. Stephen Olson, used a 72-hour emergency hold to confine Huber to a locked psychiatric unit. Then Olson asked Huber to sign up for a research study testing an experimental drug.

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Conspiracy Theory as a Personality Disorder?

She's protected

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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