July 17th, 2012


The Politics of Psychosis: Is that Real Treatment or is that Sears Treatment?‏

One of the ironic aspects of psychiatry that is raised by critics of the profession concerns the hospitalization of political dissidents by the Soviet Union. Americans were horrified by the way that political prisoners were tortured with brain-damaging sedatives. Psychiatrists in the West denounced the practice as an unethical violation of medical standards. Their critics observed that it was ironic that psychiatrists considered chemical torture of dissidents to be unethical but to torture a "true" mental patient was perfectly ethical.

In reading Thomas Szasz's monograph on schizophrenia as a sacred symbol, I encountered a quote that tied in with some other aspects of mental degradation that I had encountered. Szasz quotes a source as saying that certain physical changes are associated with the onset of schizophrenia, including insomnia. This touched on two cases I have encountered, one of which is that of a neighbor who successfully recovered from addiction to brain-damaging pharmaceuticals. He described the effects that insomnia had on his thought patterns. It was as if he were dreaming in a wakeful condition. He was not awake enough to think rationally, nor was he asleep enough to avoid a fight with the arresting officers.

It is perfectly normal to experience dream-like hallucinations during the transition between being fully awake and fully asleep. These are not considered symptoms of disorder. On the other hand, they could shake a person up badly enough for a friend or relative to be concerned. Perhaps a future understanding of psychotic symptoms will consider them to be perfectly normal aspects of insomnia.

The current standard of treatment for someone who exhibits psychotic symptoms as the result of insomnia is to label her for life as a schizophrenic and get her addicted to a strict regime of chemicals that effectively lobotomize the patient by interfering with her dopamine activity. If the patient lacks the support she needs to tail off of the drug regime, she will exhibit extreme symptoms of psychosis whenever she fails to take her brutal prescription. The casual observer (and a number of psychiatrists) might mistake these withdrawal symptoms for an organic disease.

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The more informed we are about the nature of the psychiatric profession, the less likely we are to be the victims of charlatan practice. How do you feel about spending tax and insurance money torturing people who have difficulty getting a good night's rest?

Links: Thomas Szasz on schizophrenia as a sacred symbol. The abuse of psychiatry in the USSR and the West. A meta-analysis of sleep and mental disorders. Insomnia and schizophrenia.

Is it a successful society? You decide.

Here's the story of an African city, the place where my family comes from. Actually two cities, or rather, the two faces of the same country.

White silver sands sprawling all along the coast, dotted with small hotels and picturesque old restaurants. It's a misty early Sunday morning, and the tourists still haven't started flocking to the beach. Only a few groups of the cheerful, drunken party-goers from the previous evening are crawling back to their motel rooms. Beach vendors are just beginning to open their small kiosks, others are hanging their goods right on the branches of the trees, or arranging it on wooden grilles on the ground: fresh bananas, pineapples, coconuts, and traditional African garments in all the warm colors of earth and tree. The low tide has revealed a large part of the shore, and topless kids are collecting small sea creatures stuck in the sand, others are riding bikes or just jogging. The sun has risen over the sea, and it's time the city woke up, at long last.

Everyone who has been to Maputo, or who has at least watched a travel documentary about Mozambique, would instantly recognize the romantic side of this country. At the opposite end of the city, long before sunrise, the local people have left their homes and headed to the local bazaars. They carry their stuff on their heads - the women, mostly. Large, heavy bags, and baskets. They say the weight doesn't matter, what matters more is keeping the perfect balance.

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Isn't it time we had an honest dialogue about the US?

I am not sure what TV show this video is from, but it is pretty spot on, even for fiction.

After watching it and picking up heart up off the floor, it made me think about how I used to think about my country, and how I think now.

I am not sure how to contort this post to include all the necessary parts to 'make a propah t_p post', but I know there are more non-US citizens in this community than any other.

I don't want to hear from people from the US. I want to hear from the others.

Suppose the US was your friend. They had an ego, sure; but you tolerated them because, hey, United States, yo! Then someone did what the character did in the video,  totally deflated Uncle Sam's ego, then gave them some great advice to eschew in their humble mode.

Based on the video, if you were BFF with the US, after a tough slap of reality, what kind of tough love advice would you give us?

ETA: far be it for me to tell someone not to post, but when you do, you prove their point. Also I now recognize the "West Wing" flavor of this video, a show I never missed an episode of and pretty much quit watching TV after it ended. Thanks for the clue givers.