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Showing posts from 2011

No New Year's Resolutions - Change Your Life

Weight Loss For Sale
It's all done with computers.  Automatically, 12:01 AM !2/25/2011, the Target ads disappear from television screens and Facebook sidebars, the Jennie Craig ads go up.  Next morning, the Lifestyle section of the newspaper switches from appetizer and eggnog recipes to yogurt and exercise programs.  After months of selling excess, now it is time to sell restraint.
How did it work for you last year?  It worked really well for the media.  How did it work for you?
You can't buy change.  And sure as one set of ads replaces another at 12:01 AM, you cannot lose weight by buying a weight loss program.  You yourself, not just your body but even your brain has to change.
Meanwhile, Excess Weight is Killing Us In The US
How many times have you heard that the US has the best health care in the world?  I won't dwell on that nonsense.  But clearly we do not have the best health.  Out of 221 nations, the US ranks #50 in life span.  That puts us at the 77%, a low C at St. J…

Hey, Jesus - Happy Hanukkah!

I must be one of ten people with mental illness in the United States of America who does NOT have holiday trauma issues.  My personal desperate darkness starts each year in late July and breaks some time in late October, with mild depression fading out through November.

Thanksgiving to New Year's is pretty much my best time of year.

Nevertheless, this year I have been sad, not depressed really, just sad, as I read on Facebook the hostility that has come to be the litmus test of Christian fervor.  Evidently inspired by Fox News, Merry Christmas is no longer an expression of joy and good cheer, but a battle cry against the First Amendment and the great American experiment of freedom and tolerance of difference.

Irony abounds here.  One of my own ancestors came over on the Mayflower, as a matter of fact.  The Puritans wanted freedom to practice their religion, not anybody else's, just their own, including a prohibition against Christmas, which they outlawed in 1659.  They knew t…

Changing Attitudes - Building the Therapeutic Relationship

What if your chart had your picture on it?  What if, as your doctor picked up your file from the top of the pile, just before you walk in the room, there on the cover is a picture of you from when you were well?



Maybe several pictures, images of the life your illness or your meds took from you?  Images of the life you manage to live anyway?  What if your doctor could see, not only your diagnosis, but also -- you?

What if your doctor knew what you still can do?

Okay, the chart is digital where I go for care.  My photos could come up as a slide show!

I want my chart to include my degree from Reed College.  It would come up as soon as the doc hit escape from the slide show.  If your doctor still uses paper file folders, your degree or certificate or major award could be stapled to the inside left cover, right across from the case notes of last month's visit.


Maybe my degree from Yale would be more impressive.  It's a Master's, and it's in Latin.  But I want my doctor to k…

The Therapeutic Alliance - Or Not

My therapist asked, Does writing your blog help you overcome your trust issues with psychiatry?

Hah!  So she doesn't read my blog.

Not that I think she should.  Of all the many things about which I have strong opinions, whether care providers should google their patients is not one of them.  They can have that discussion among themselves.

Trust My Psychiatrist?

But her question started me thinking.  I trust my own psychiatrist.  How did that happen?  I tucked that question away for a future blog.

Then last September David Mintz wrote about Psychodynamic Psychopharmacology.Psychodynamic psychopharmacology explicitly acknowledges and addresses the central role of meaning and interpersonal factors in pharmacological treatment.

One particular paragraph brought my therapist's question and my tucked away post back to mind:

The Prescriber and the Placebo Effect

An analysis of the data from a large, NIMH-funded, multicenter, placebo-controlled trial of the treatment of depression fou…

Does Your Psychiatrist Respect You?

My biggest surprise since becoming a mental health blogger -- how little self-reflection psychiatrists do.

Healer, Know Thyself

Clinical education for clergy usually happens in a hospital.  For every patient contact hour, we would spend another hour writing verbatims (one third what the patient and the chaplain said, one third what the chaplain was thinking, one third what the chaplain was feeling), and then another hour discussing what we were thinking and feeling in group or individual supervision.

Continuing education for clergy includes more large doses of self-reflection.  I don't know how many times I have created my genogram, a family tree that includes the dynamics of relationships: alliances, roles, conflicts, secrets, patterns... for my first family counseling course, for a seminar on family systems in congregations, for doctoral work in congregational development, while training congregational leaders to show them how to do their own.  I once even made a genogram of a co…

Holiday Shopping for True Happiness

A friend of mine reports for work at Target on Thanksgiving, 11:30 PM.  They are ready with extra security.  Only thirty people can enter the store at a time.  There are even line judges, to prevent jumping.  Oh, the humanity!


Me, I will do my shopping right here in the very chair in which I am writing this post.  Save your hippocampal glial cells damage from your overactive HPA axis!  Save your toes!  Internet!

Oh, and because this year's flu shot missed, this week's blog post is a rerun, dedicated to the topic of shopping for, of all things, meaning.

From Friday, December 17, 2010,

Holiday Shopping for Loonies and Normals AlikeLast year I got an earlier start with my efforts to help you purchase the perfect Chanukah/Kwanzaa/Christmas present.  Here are the links, one for your favorite loonie, the other your favorite normal.  The first is even diagnosis specific.  The most popular pick turned out to be a bluetooth phone for the one who talks back to his/her voices, but is…

Narrative and the DSM

My therapist once picked up the DSM and said, This could be called The Book of Behaviors That Make Therapists Nervous.

An apt description.  It is filled with descriptors: adjectives, behaviors, impulses, thoughts, feelings that are all human adjectives, behaviors, impulses, thoughts and feelings.  Almost none of them are strange in and of themselves.  Almost all of them are familiar to all of us.

It's just that at some point, when these descriptors add up, somebody starts to get nervous.

Diagnosis -- Recognizing Deviation From The Norm

I Told Them I Was Sick - DSM Revisited

Have you heard about the man whose tombstone read, "I told them I was sick"?

A New Diagnosis Or Two

So, the docs earned their big fee and the Pension Fund got its money's worth out of this three-day psychiatric evaluation.  I have a couple new diagnoses.

That is really not so remarkable.  If you attend a Peer to Peer course, NAMI's signature ten-week self-help program for loonies, you know this.  One week, the participants go round the circle and tell their diagnoses, or rather, their history of diagnoses.  Most trace a whole tour through the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

Where Diagnoses Come From

Support the Troops - Stop Shopping

So I am back from getting my head examined, that three day intensive evaluation.  I had my doubts about this enterprise.  At my most anxious, my therapist reminded me I would get air miles.  That would be something, at least.  To my surprise, I also received some surprises.  And the experience was worth a couple of blogposts.  This one will be about PTSD, or make reference to it.  Next week we will play with the DSM.

I start at the Hilton.  Well, before that, my pension plan, which is how I ended up at the Hilton, not to mention how I ended up getting a three day psychiatric evaluation at the Gabbard Center, which does not usually happen for loonies in my tax bracket.

Decent Benefits For People With Mental Illness? 

The Episcopal Church Pension Fund was established by one of the biggest robber barons of the 19th century, J.P. Morgan, doing penance for his sins.  Like how Charles and David Koch aren't.  Since then, clergy have put the equivalent of a whopping 15% of our salaries into …