Archive for October, 2010

Is Mental Illness a Brain Disease?

Suicide, mental illness: Tough topics that need to be talked about

The Oklahoman Editorial Oklahoman    Published: October 27, 2010

JOE Rolston IV was a bright man and a successful attorney. He also suffered from mental illness and recently killed himself at age 46. To their credit, his loved ones aren’t hiding from that.

In Rolston’s paid obituary Sunday in The Oklahoman, they wrote: “The endearing qualities that made us love Joe were a mask, of sorts, that hid the relentless pain of bipolar disorder and manic depression. There was an abiding sadness that tugged at Joe’s heart and caused him to seek an end to his ever present pain and inability to love himself.”

They urged readers to go to the National Institutes of Health‘s website to learn more about depression and bipolar disorder.

These conversations need to be had. Suicide was the leading cause of violent death in the United States in 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The highest rate was found among those 45 to 54 years old. All too often, however, those left behind stay quiet about it because of the stigma that can be associated with mental illness.

In Broken Arrow on Tuesday night, a second annual suicide prevention forum was held. On the program were discussions about risk factors associated with suicide, and ways to help the community craft suicide prevention strategies.

One of the scheduled speakers was Joan Benedict-Dickey, whose daughter committed suicide three years ago at age 22. Benedict-Dickey isn’t reluctant to tell others how her daughter died, but when she does it’s almost always a conversation-stopper.

“Had she died of cancer, diabetes or something, there would have been some understanding,” Benedict-Dickey told the Tulsa World. “Mental illness is no different than diabetes or cancer. It is a brain disease.”

This is a point mental health experts in Oklahoma have been making for years, particularly now as they deal with smaller budgets brought on by the effects of the recession. Terri White, commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuses Services, recently told legislators that about 70 percent of Oklahoma adults aren’t able to get treatment for mental illness, and 40 percent of children who need help with mental health issues can’t get it.

Untreated, these conditions can lead to criminal activity — it’s estimated that about half of Oklahoma’s prison inmates have mental health-related issues — or to self-destructive behavior. Consider that during the first three quarters of this year, calls placed to the state’s suicide prevention hot line were up 65 percent over the same period a year ago.

The drivers of the Broken Arrow forum are a pair of high school teachers. One of them, Kristen Gillespie, was a first-year teacher when one of her students committed suicide. “We’re trying to break the silence,” Gillespie says. Good for them.


Online Assessments helps diagnose Mental Illness

There may be some benefits in diagnosing people without seeing or speaking to them BUT I find this idea quite dangerous.  The Black Dog Institute admit to having a close relationship with the pharmaceutical industry and say that :

‘New drugs have brought great advances in recent years in the treatment of the mood disorders. The Black Dog Institute is at the forefront of research into therapeutic benefits of drug treatments, and works closely with pharmaceutical companies.  For example, Institute researchers conduct clinical trials of new drugs.  Institute specialists often speak at medical conferences, including conferences sponsored by companies making medical or pharmaceutical products.

ABC News Online 24 October, 2010

It is hoped a new online mental health self-assessment service will help doctors achieve more accurate diagnoses for their patients.

Research by The New South Wales Black Dog Institute found sufferers of mental illness are likely to reveal more information about their condition online.

The institute has created the mood assessment program, or MAP, which is now available to GPs and psychologists all over Australia.

Patients can complete the assessment at home and doctors do not see the patients’ answers, but receive an automatically generated report.

The institute’s Professor Gordon Parker says MAP is based on nearly a quarter of a century of the clinical expertise.

“The MAP is unique. No other computerised program offers such a thorough assessment of depressive illness,” he said.

“It provides referring practitioners with a range of information about their patient including depressive subtype, likelihood of bipolar disorder, personality predisposition and social and environmental detail.”

He says MAP also alleviates the burden on consultation time.

Dr Louise Stone from the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine says the program can also help rural GPs to assess patients who cannot get to regular appointments.

“With the MAP program being online, one of the advantages of that approach is that rural and remote practitioners particularly can get an almost second opinion about the way they see their patients,” she said.

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A pessimist is…

A pessimist is someone who makes difficulties of their opportunities.

An optimist is someone who makes opportunities of their difficulties.

                                                US President  Harry Truman

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You can’t learn…..

You can’t learn and be perfect at the same time!

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Choice Theory Helps With:

School systems   Training teachers and administrators to implement Dr. Glasser’s renowned quality school ideas.  The focus is on using choice theory to improve the system by changing the approach to educating students.

A Glasser Quality School includes a competence-based classroom and aims at having no low grades, no discipline problems and high achievement on standardized tests.  Measurable quality work and joyful students, staff and parents is apparent throughout the school.

Addiction   Effectively help those suffering from addictions and other health related problems as well as provide aid and comfort to their families through reality therapy interventions.  Education and prevention are the key to lifelong wellness

Criminal Justice Dr. Glasser developed reality therapy in a detention facility for young women called The Ventura School for Girls in California.  The book, Reality Therapy, describes some of the work he did there.  Reality therapy, based on choice theory, has helped people look at new and more effective ways to deal with the various aspects of corrections.   Reality therapy teaches that we need NOT be victims of our past or present unless we choose to be.

Dr. Glasser’s ideas have been used successfully with the criminal justice system, court-ordered programs such as domestic violence groups, adjudicated youth, gang members, parole officers, military police and civilian police officers.

Relationships Whether speaking about marriage, partnerships or dealing with family issues such as parenting skills, Dr. Glasser’s ideas have helped couples, parents, teachers, foster parents and others develop happier, more fulfilling relationships.

The focus of counselling with choice theory is improving relationships and is applicable with even the most difficult or at-risk populations.

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WHO Knew If Flu Was True?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

David H. Freeman

Two recently released European reports have raised the possibility that scientists who helped fuel world fear of an H1N1 flu crisis were motivated by ties to drug companies enriched by the ensuing rush to stockpile medications.

The reports, which were from credible parties, including a Council of Europe committee and the British Medical Journal, noted that several of the World Health Organization scientists behind that agency’s pressuring of governments to take dramatic action in response to the flu had received consulting or other fees from the drug companies, but that WHO hadn’t bothered to identify these potential conflicts of interest. (Though the scientists in question had previously identified these ties in research-journal papers).

With H1N1 turning out to fall far short of the devastating pandemic WHO and others predicted, many of the world’s governments have ended up with vast unused stores of antiviral and other medications snatched up at WHO’s urging.

There’s no evidence that the scientists ginned up the warnings in order to channel sales to drug companies that had been good to them, and it seems unlikely that’s the case. Scientists widely agreed there was plenty of reason to fear that H1N1 could become widespread and deadly. And we surely want our scientists, institutions and governments to err on the side of caution in these matters.

It may even be that the rapid action taken by governments at WHO scientists’ prodding was at least partly why H1N1 appears to have been something of a dud, so that the wasted drugs are in a way a sign of WHO’s competence rather than its failure. (WHO actually continues to warn there’s still a real danger of H1N1 getting out of hand.)

Still, science is supposed to be tough on biases, and especially blatant conflicts of interest. It has long been standard to insist that scientists openly and clearly state any ties they have to any corporations when there is any chance that their work could be seen as benefiting those corporations. But there’s little question that conflict of interest remains a big problem in medical research.

A 2003 Journal of the American Medical Association review of conflict-of-interest meta-studies involving some 67 conflict-of-interest studies and 398 other research reports confirmed a strong correlation between industry sponsorship and positive findings. (I provide sources in Wrong for that last and the following points).  And the problem may be worse than it looks, because companies often disguise that they are behind certain findings by paying university researchers to put their names to studies actually conducted and written up by the companies–so-called “ghost authorship,” a problem that infects about three-quarters of industry-backed drug trials.

One study found According to another study, at least 30 percent of published medical researchers have been in a potential conflict-of-interest situation, and as few as 2 percent of researchers fully disclosed that fact. Every single one of the 170 psychiatric experts contributing to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) used to diagnose psychiatric disorders had financial ties to manufacturers of psychiatric drugs.

Remember this situation every time you hear of research that concludes a drug works well, or a new type of test is effective, or, yes, an infectious disease is about to wreak havoc on the world unless governments buy up all the treatments they can get their hands on. That’s not to say the specific research is likely to be wrong–but it’s another reason why we need to be wary consumers of research conclusions.


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Suicide Is Not The Answer

Step six of G.R.O.W.’s 12 Steps to Recovery is We Endured Until Cured.

In their Readings For Mental Health the question is asked ‘Thinking of Killing Yourself?’  If you are seriously considering this step, it is safe to say that right now you are feeling angry, helpless, full of self-loathing and a sense of permanent defeat.

You may be telling yourself that suicide, the permanent removal of yourself from the world and your problems, is the only possible course of action…THIS IS ABSOLUTE NONSENSE!  Suicide is completely unnecessary despite your terrible feelings.

They go on to say that even though you are now at a dead end where death or outright insanity seem the most likely ways in which your life may be changed, you have a third alternative, which is to change yourself. If you are feeling this bad, there is something in the way you are living, or in the way you think about yourself, your values or goals, which is very much mistaken. You will have to change, as it is beyond anyone’s power, however, to change the people around them.  It is in your power, however, to change your relationships with others and to modify your life so as to be more in tune to reality, the reality of ordinary living.

Why Do You Feel So Bad About Yourself?

Do you feel yourself to be unlovable?  Are you involved in a deteriorating relationship?  Does someone you love fail to love you?  Are you someone’s doormat?  Or are you always doing things that you feel bad about?  Are you trying to live up to some impossible standards?  Do you think to yourself, ‘If I can’t be the person I ought to be, then I have no right to exist at all.’?  Or perhaps you have cut yourself off from people until your life has become a desert and your insides are full of madness – whatever your problems, the change that leads toward life and eventually good feelings and actions, will not be easy or without a price.  The change will entail the sacrifice of some of your most dearly held hang-ups. You will probably need a humbler idea of what you can and should do and you need friendship, someone with whom you can share your burden, a close friend, a group, a professional counsellor or all of these.

Is Changing Worth The Effort?  Is Life Worth Living?

Of course it is.  If you are living under a self-imposed death sentence, you are only existing; your most basic self is telling you that life, as you are living now, is intolerable and you must do something about it.  YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO LIVE, you have a right to be healed of your hurt and to learn to become whole.  Whatever your view of afterlife, if you kill yourself, the game is over and you have lost.  You have lost the sunshine coming through the trees, children laughing, the healing caress of a friend and you have lost your chance to understand yourself realistically without fear or hate.  Though you may not have any extraordinary talent or power, you still have positive value to others, your place is unique, there never has been and never again will be another just like you.

Even if your life seems meaningless to you, you are in no position to understand the meaning of your life and it may be far different from what you believe.  You have been given the gift of life…bitter or sweet, it is precious. Don’t squander it in anger or self-pity.   If you will accept the blackness you now feel as a challenge to grow, and endure it while you re-evaluate yourself and your life, you will find your future far better than anything you have ever known.

Maureen McKenna 2010

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Words of M. Scott-Peck

Scott-Peck, a psychiatrist, believed that unless we are helping people to grow spiritually (as well as in other areas) we are not helping them to grow at all.

Christ’s commandment is not to like one another; it is to Love one another!

While all forms of thinking should be tolerated, some forms of behaviour should not.

The major obstacle to peacemaking is passivity.

Peacemaking ultimately must begin at a grass-roots level.  It begins with You!

Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult because once it is accepted, it no longer matters.

The time and the quality of the time that their parents devote to them, indicate to children the degree to which they are valued by their parents.

To function successfully in our complex world it is necessary for us to possess the capacity, not only to express our anger but also, not to express it!

The spiritually evolved individual is an extraordinarily loving person and with his or her extraordinary love comes extraordinary joy!

True acceptability of their own and each others’ individuality and separateness is the only foundation upon which a mature marriage can be based and real love can grow.

Love is the free exercise of CHOICE.  Two people love each other only when they are quite capable of living without each other but CHOOSE to live with each other.

Maureen McKenna 2010

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Seven Universal Laws

1 Law of Pure Potentiality is experienced through Silence, Meditation, Non-Judgment and Communion with nature

2 Law of Giving – the principle here is to learn to give that which you seek.  In every seed is the promise of thousands of  forests.

3 Law of Karma – every action generates a force of energy that  returns to us in like kind.  What we sow is what we reap!    The Law of Attraction fits in here – like attracts like!

4 Law of Least Effort – Nature’s intelligence functions with effortless ease; with carefreeness, harmony and love.  Grass doesn’t try to grow, it just grows.  When the season is right, your desires will manifest.

5 Law of Intention and Desire – Attention energises and Intention transforms.  Whatever you take your attention away from will wither, disintegrate and disappear.  Use your ‘intent’ for the benefit of humanity.

6 Law of Detachment – In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty and the willingness to ‘let it go’, step into the unknown.  Relinquish your attachment to the result.  Attachment is based on fear and insecurity.  Attachment comes from poverty consciousness.  Without uncertainty and the unknown, life is just a stale repetition of outworn memories.  You become a victim of the past and your tormentor today is yourself left over from yesterday.

7 Law of Dharma – Choose a purpose in life – A unique gift or special talent to give to others.  Service to Humanity – Ask ‘How can I help those who I come into contact with?’

Based on  The Seven Spiritual Laws by D.Chopra

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Your Quality World

William Glasser claims that all of us are aware we live in a world we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell and we call it the real world or reality; we are inclined to assume that it’s the same world for all of us.

Optimists and pessimists live in the same world, as do the sane and crazy but each sees it differently. He says that much of what we see may be close to what others see or we couldn’t get along at all but it is not the same.

Glasser says that choice theory explains that the reason we perceive much of reality so differently from others has to do with another important world, unique to each of us, called the quality world.

This small, personal world, which each person starts to create in his or her memory shortly after birth and continues to create and re-create throughout life, is made up of a small group of specific pictures that portray, more than anything else we know, the best ways to satisfy one or more of our basic needs.

What these pictures portray falls into three categories:

  • the people we most want to be with
  • the things we most want to own or experience
  • the ideas or systems of belief that govern much of our behaviour

Any time we feel very good, we are choosing to behave so that someone, something, or some belief in the real world has come close to matching a picture of that person, thing or belief in our quality worlds.  Throughout our lives we will be in closer contact with our quality worlds than with anything else we know.

Glasser says that most of us know nothing about our basic needs but what we know is how we feel and we always want to feel as good as we can. Therefore, the overwhelming reason we chose to put these particular pictures into our quality worlds is that when we were with these people, when we owned, used, or experienced these things, and when we put these beliefs into action, they felt much better than did other people, things or beliefs.

Our quality worlds contain the knowledge that is most important to us.  As much as we may try to deny the importance of this knowledge, according to Glasser, we cannot.  When we say, I don’t care, we are not telling the truth.  If what we are talking about is in our quality worlds, we care deeply.

For each of us, this world is our personal Shangri-la, the place where we would feel very good right now if we could move to it.

Maureen McKenna 2010

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