Tag Archives | Psychiatry

The Invention Of The Heterosexual

tumblr_lz08yrqbBK1qg39ewo1_400Salon interviews historian Hanne Blank, who argues that the categories of “straight” and “gay” as we know them today arose with the spread of psychiatry in the late nineteenth century. So I guess Blank is saying, this Valentine’s Day, thank Freud?

“Heterosexual” was actually coined in a letter at the same time as the word “homosexual,” [in the mid-19thcentury], by an Austro-Hungarian journalist named Károly Mária Kertbeny. He created these words as part of his response to a piece of Prussian legislation that made same-sex erotic behavior illegal, even in cases where the identical act performed by a man and a woman would be considered legal.

Psychiatry is responsible for creating the heterosexual in largely the same way that it is responsible for creating the various categories of sexual deviance that we are familiar with and recognize and define ourselves in opposition to. The period lasting from the late Victorian era to the first 20 or 30 years of the 20th century was a time of tremendous socioeconomic change, and people desperately wanted to give themselves a valid identity in this new world order.

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Family History of Psychiatric Disorders Shapes Intellectual Interests

Cleveland tower at the Graduate College, Princeton University. Artist: Magneticcarpet (CC)

Cleveland tower at the Graduate College, Princeton University. Artist: Magneticcarpet (CC)

Via ScienceDaily:

A hallmark of the individual is the cultivation of personal interests, but for some people, their intellectual pursuits might actually be genetically predetermined.

Survey results published by Princeton University researchers in the journal PLoS ONE suggest that a family history of psychiatric conditions such as autism and depression could influence the subjects a person finds engaging.

Although preliminary, the findings provide a new look at the oft-studied link between psychiatric conditions and aptitude in the arts or sciences. While previous studies have explored this link by focusing on highly creative individuals or a person’s occupation, the Princeton research indicates that the influence of familial neuropsychiatric traits on personal interests is apparently independent of a person’s talent or career path, and could help form a person’s basic preferences and personality.

Princeton researchers surveyed nearly 1,100 students from the University’s Class of 2014 early in their freshman year to learn which major they would choose based on their intellectual interests.

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Personality Disorders To Be Removed From Psychiatrists’ Bible

DSM-IV-TRVia ScienceDaily:

A newly published paper from Rhode Island Hospital reports on the impact to patients if five personality disorders are removed from the upcoming revision to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th edition (DSM-5).

Based on their study, the researchers believe these changes could result in false-negative diagnoses for patients. The paper is published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and is now available online in advance of print.

The DSM-5 Personality and Personality Disorders work group made several recommendations to change the approach toward diagnosing personality disorders. One of those recommendations is to delete five personality disorders as a way to reduce the level of comorbidity among the disorders. The ones originally slated to be removed include paranoid, schizoid, histrionic, narcissistic and dependent personality disorders.

More recently, the Work Group recommended that narcissistic be retained. Lead author Mark Zimmerman, M.D., director of outpatient psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital, points out, however, that no data were cited describing the impact this deletion had, or might have, on the overall prevalence of personality disorders.

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Twenty Percent Of Americans Had Mental Illness In Last Year

A shocking statistic, made worse when you learn that 60% of the mentally ill did not receive any treatment. From MedPage Today:

About 20% of American adults reported having had a mental illness during the preceding year, a government survey found.

The figure rose to almost 30% of those in the 18 to 25 age group, compared with 14.3% of patients 50 and older, according to researchers from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

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And of the nearly 46 million U.S. adults who reported having had a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder when surveyed in 2010, some 60% didn’t receive any treatment for the condition.

The most common reason for not getting mental healthcare was not being able to afford it.

The researchers noted that although the 20% figure is “relatively high,” just 5% reported having serious issues that interfered with their normal activities.

Although more of those with serious mental illness reported receiving treatment, a large proportion — 39% — didn’t receive any mental health services.

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Sex Addiction – A Real Epidemic?

Newsweek devotes some serious column inches to the "epidemic" that has made its way into popular awareness via notable celebrities such as Tiger Woods and Domenique Strauss-Kahn:
Valerie realized that sex was wrecking her life right around the time her second marriage disintegrated. At 30, and employed as a human-resources administrator in Phoenix, she had serially cheated on both her husbands—often with their subordinates and co-workers—logging anonymous hookups in fast-food-restaurant bathrooms, affairs with married men, and one-night stands too numerous to count. But Valerie couldn’t stop. Not even after one man’s wife aimed a shotgun at her head while catching them in flagrante delicto. Valerie called phone-sex chat lines and pored over online pornography, masturbating so compulsively that it wasn’t uncommon for her to choose her vibrator over going to work. She craved public exhibitionism, too, particularly at strip clubs, and even accepted money in exchange for sex—not out of financial necessity but for the illicit rush such acts gave her. For Valerie, sex was a form of self-medication: to obliterate the anxiety, despair...
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Researchers Extol The Medical Benefits Of Magic Mushrooms

10704200_e19ddddf2aNot only that, but the researchers at John Hopkins say they’ve found the perfect dosage. Sadly, this looks to be one of those cases in which society lags behind science. Via Yahoo News:

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have been studying the effects of psilocybin, a chemical found in psychedelic mushrooms. Now, they say, they’ve zeroed in on the perfect dosage level to produce transformative mystical and spiritual experiences that offer long-lasting life-changing benefits, while carrying little risk of negative reactions.

The breakthrough could speed the day when doctors use psilocybin–long viewed skeptically for its association with 1960s countercultural thrill-seekers–for a range of valuable clinical functions, like easing the anxiety of terminally ill patients, treating depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and helping smokers quit.

The Johns Hopkins study involved giving healthy volunteers varying doses of psilocybin in a controlled and supportive setting, over four separate sessions. Looking back more than a year later, 94 percent of participants rated it as one of the top five most spiritually significant experiences of their lifetimes.

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‘Knowing It in Your Gut': Cross-Talk Between Human Gut Bacteria and Brain

Stephen "Gut-Busting" Colbert. Photo: Cliff (CC)

Stephen "Gut Feeling" Colbert. Photo: Cliff (CC)

ScienceDaily reports:

A lot of chatter goes on inside each one of us and not all of it happens between our ears. Researchers at McMaster University discovered that the “cross-talk” between bacteria in our gut and our brain plays an important role in the development of psychiatric illness, intestinal diseases and probably other health problems as well including obesity.

“The wave of the future is full of opportunity as we think about how microbiota or bacteria influence the brain and how the bi-directional communication of the body and the brain influence metabolic disorders, such as obesity and diabetes,” says Jane Foster, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

Using germ-free mice, Foster’s research shows gut bacteria influences how the brain is wired for learning and memory. The research paper has been published in the March issue of the science journal Neurogastroenterology and Motility.

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Can You Improve Your Mental Health From Your Computer?

HAL 9000Via the The Economist:
The treatment, in the early 1880s, of an Austrian hysteric called Anna O is generally regarded as the beginning of talking-it-through as a form of therapy. But psychoanalysis, as this version of talk therapy became known, is an expensive procedure. Anna’s doctor, Josef Breuer, is estimated to have spent over 1,000 hours with her. Since then, things have improved. A typical course of a modern talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, consists of 12-16 hour-long sessions and is a reasonably efficient way of treating conditions like depression and anxiety (hysteria is no longer a recognised diagnosis). Medication, too, can bring rapid change. Nevertheless, treating disorders of the psyche is still a hit-and-miss affair, and not everyone wishes to bare his soul or take mind-altering drugs to deal with his problems. A new kind of treatment may, though, mean he does not have to.
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O Magazine Touts The Wonders Of Ecstasy

468019_0b823646bfThe Oprah Magazine comes out in favor of MDMA as a therapeutic wonder drug, attempting to dispel hysterical, ‘rave’-related media cliches (propagated by Oprah herself, among others) along the way. Writer Jessica Winter tried MDMA for the first time for the sake of the article, and describes the enormous personal benefit she gained in the weeks after:

To a layperson, the notion of using a drug like Ecstasy as a therapeutic tool for healing trauma might make as much sense as adding cocaine to a diabetic’s weight loss regimen. Ecstasy was the signature stimulant fueling a worldwide party culture in the 1980s and ’90s, epitomized by massive all-night dance “raves” crammed with blissed-out revelers and pulsating with electronic music at festivals and exurban warehouses across North America and Europe.

Yet MDMA’s beginnings were innocent, even banal. In 1912 it was included as an intermediate chemical in a patent that the German pharmaceutical company Merck filed for an antibleeding medication.

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God, The Army, And PTSD

An Army Chaplain's MemoirFrom a 2009 article in the Boston Review by Tara McKelvey:

When Roger Benimoff arrived at the psychiatric building of the Coatesville, Pennsylvania veterans’ hospital, he was greeted by a message carved into a nearby tree stump: “Welcome Home.” It was a reminder that things had not turned out as he had expected.

In Faith Under Fire, a memoir about Benimoff’s life as an Army chaplain in Iraq, Benimoff and co-author Eve Conant describe his return from Iraq to his family in Colorado and subsequent assignment to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He retreated deep into himself, spending hours on the computer and racking up ten thousand dollars in debt on eBay. Above all, he was angry and jittery, scared even of his young sons, and barely able to make it through the day. He was eventually admitted to Coatesville’s “Psych Ward.” For a while the lock-down facility was his home.

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