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Showing posts from January, 2012

Grief? Depression? Both?

The New York Times reports this week on a proposed change to the definition of depression for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) V.  Asking, When does a broken heart become a diagnosis? it raises the specter that normal grief at the death of a loved one could be classified as a psychiatric disorder.

An estimated 8 to 10 million people lose a loved one every year, and something like a third to a half of them suffer depressive symptoms for up to month afterward, said Dr. Jerome Wakefield, author of The Loss of Sadness.  This would pathologize them for behavior previously thought to be normal.

Okay, before we get our knickers in a twist -- oops, too late.  Knickers in a twist is the current US national pastime.  Nevertheless, there is a larger context here.  Several, in fact.

DSM Context I - Follow The Money

In Memoriam - Mary Kirigin

This is one of my favorite photos of my mother, standing next to my sister Mary.  That smiling mouth agape, as if to say, Can you believe what I get to do now!


I am writing on Monday, in the few minutes before I head over to the Pato Loco for the memorial service, to be followed later by a funeral in Utah.  Not sure about my publication schedule for the next few weeks, and taking personal privilege with the topic.  It's your blog, my doc once said.  So it is.
Mama was a survivor, in the real world, not reality TV world sense of the word.  She was also a public person, and I learned from her how to set a public face, mostly a competent face.  Privately it was more often harried, the face I see in the mirror, more every day.

The thing therapists think you are supposed to say to survivors is Wow!  You are so strong!  Me, I don't care for that line.

God, Tebow and the Problem of Suffering

You know, they could be right.  Maybe God is responsible for Tim Tebow's astounding success.

First, the one take away from this article:  It's not magic-thinking.  It is pattern-seeking, hard-wired into our brains, one of the things our brains are built to do.

I Am A Professional -- Do Not Try This At Home

A whole world of football fans are suddenly theologians, explaining the ways of God.  And how silly for me to caution non-professionals from this endeavor.  Everybody with a frontal cortex is a theologian.  Our brains are built to ask Why?  Everybody with an anterior cingulate cortex looks for patterns that make sense of the events of the world.  That is what the anterior cingulate cortex does.

How is this for a pattern -- A new quarterback about whose talents many have doubts delivers a win.  Somebody sticks a microphone in his face.  He gives glory to God.  Next week, he wins again.  Again he gives glory to God.  Again he wins.  Again he gives glory to God...

And what is w…

The Stages of Change and Weight Loss

Continuing the thread from last week, the average person in the US dies sooner than the average person in forty-nine other nations of the world.  Our higher death rates are linked to our astounding rates of overweight and obesity.  People with severe mental illness die even earlier, 15-25 years earlier.  We have the same life span as the people of Sudan.  The same things kill us as kill everybody else, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer.  They just kill us sooner, because even more of us are overweight and obese.

Side bar: I have growing difficulty using the term mental illness, because I think the term leads to an artificial bifurcation of mental and physical illness.  The weight issue is a case in point.  Most psychiatrists accept the biological model of mental illness, that our diseases are brain diseases.  Nevertheless, most consider the physical aspects as outside their purview.  As a consequence, the part of our disease that is going to kill us does not get treatment.

Weight…