Posted by: thealienist | August 25, 2014

Frozen: The Cold, Hard Truth

I recently watched Frozen with my daughter and my wife.  It was a delightful movie, and Olaf was not nearly as creepy as I had feared from the trailers.  As I thought about the movie, I wondered what the psychological themes were behind the movie.  At first glance, I think that I see two major themes.

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Posted by: thealienist | August 25, 2014

Foundations of Mental Health: You are a Stimulus

It seems that recently people have spent a lot of time trying to prove that they are not stimuli for others to react to.  On one news site, I saw a picture of a nude woman on a public street who had pained her body with the words, “Still not asking for it.”  I have seen pictures and videos of citizens protesting government violence by throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at police.  I have seen police officers calling for peace while brandishing clubs and guns.  I have had patients dressed in motorcycle club jackets and bandanas and wearing long hair and beards wondering why people would be anxious around them.  The examples could go on and on.  Sometimes we forget that what we look like and how we behave affect those around us.  Other times, we just enjoy sending out mixed messages.

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Posted by: thealienist | August 20, 2014

What’s Happening in Ferguson?

Some situations just seem to scream for a psychological analysis.  In Ferguson, MO, a young black man was shot under suspicious circumstances.  The effects have spread from a grieving family and involved police officer to the community of Ferguson, then national media, then our entire nation and international media.  Is this because this incident was so unique?  Was the young man so famous or the Ferguson police department so infamous that fame was assured?  No.  There are other things at work here. Read More…

Posted by: thealienist | May 9, 2013

Foundations of Mental Health: Dependency

In my previous post, I talked a bit about responsibility.  Unfortunately, many (in the pursuit of excessive responsibility and imagined independence) overlook the health promoting effects of appropriate dependence.  In this post, I would like to discuss how dependence can be effective for one’s mental health and for the mental health of those around them. Read More…

Posted by: thealienist | May 1, 2013

Foundations of Mental Health: Responsibility

One of the fascinating things about mental health issues is the realization that careful balance that needs to be observed in order to live life well.  One of the issues I frequently encounter in my life, in my patients’ lives, and in public discussion is the balance between responsibility and dependence.  Today, I would like to start a discussion on the side of responsibility. Read More…

Posted by: thealienist | April 23, 2013

I’m Back – and Wondering About the Past Year

I’m sorry for the prolonged absence, but I have been busy at school, in practice, and with my family.  For those who occasionally stop by, thanks.  I hope to post more regularly from now on.

It seems to me that more issues of mental illness have been coming up in the news lately.  We had the Aurora cinema shooting, the Sandy Hook school shooting, and the Boston bombing.  We have the gun control debates.  In each of these, and in numerous other reports, conversation has turned to the issue of mental illness and public safety.  The argument seems to be that “if only we (society) had known that these people were mentally ill, we could have prevented this.”  Does anyone else see a problem with this?

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Posted by: thealienist | August 5, 2011

An Analysis of “Anatomy of An Epidemic”: Part III

Chapter 3 of Robert Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, is fairly short and begins his discussion of the history of psychopharmacology and the changes it brought to the practice of psychiatry.  Much of this section seems to revolve around the concept of the “magic bullet.”

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Posted by: thealienist | August 1, 2011

Critique of the Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial

The crown jewel of biological psychiatry is the randomized, controlled trial.  If it is well-constructed, it can be simple, elegant, and powerful.  But in assessing medications, it can have some problems.

How can we assess the value of a tool independently of the one who uses it?  If I give golf clubs to 100 people, the better golfers will use them better and have better scores.  If I give paintbrushes to 100 people, the better artists will make better paintings.  If I give hammers to 100 people, the better craftsmen will make better structures.  What will happen if I give better medications to 100 doctors? Read More…

Posted by: thealienist | July 29, 2011

Foundations of Mental Health: Ceremony/Ritual

I recently sang at the funeral for the wife of a friend of mine.  The funeral was very nicely done.  It impressed on me the positive role that ritual can have in our lives.  The function like sign-posts and mile markers on our travels through life.  They remind us of the major events in life and encourage us to stop for a moment, get outside ourselves, and share in the intersection between our own personal self-realization and our communal social existence.  Read More…

Posted by: thealienist | July 28, 2011

An Analysis of “Anatomy of an Epidemic”: Part II

I hope this post will be short.  It seems unfair to expect much out of a chapter entitled, “Anecdotal Thoughts,” but Robert Whitaker felt it was important enough to include, so I will cover it. Read More…

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