Saturday, April 17, 2010

updates on brains

First, many thanks to the folks offering comments on the previous post.

Mickbic recommended Why Psychiatry Needs Therapy -, which is well worth reading, as are the comments on the article and Letters to the Editor: Your Diagnosis of Psychiatry Is Wide of the Mark - I think the author is taking a more temperate position overall than some readers do; taking drugs for your brain should not be done casually. (Says a guy who did his share of mescaline and LSD in the '70s.) Still, I think the right thing to do is to try the experiment if the doctor approves, and if I don't see an improvement, I can quit. While I worry that I won't be in a position to be objective, I can trust other people to tell me if they're seeing an improvement or not.

A couple of people (Pamela and Kevin) pointed out that Louann Brizendine's work may not be all it could be. See Language Log: The male brain.

Via Blue Jean, an interesting article on Serotonin here. If it applies to me, it's very mild. I just feel, well, foggy and scattered and lacking in purpose.

ETA: Emma thinks Shorter is an "old fogy." I didn't mean to side with him; the responses create a dialogue, not a chorus.


  1. If you're interested in the politics behind the DSM, you might find Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness by Christopher Lane worth reading. (He does get into a fairly typical screed against the pharmaceutical industry in the second half of the book. The first half is fascinating, though.)

  2. I have no problems with screeds against the pharmaceutical industry. Too often, people who point out that drugs can help many people are focusing on the pharmaceutical part, which can be a wonder for many folks, and ignoring the industry part, which can be just plain evil.

    I'll watch for it at the local used bookstore, 'cause the local library doesn't stock it, alas.

  3. I became aware of the life and work of the late Judi Chamberlin as a result of checking out the website of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry. I have been a mental health consumer for a little over fifteen years and just recently bought a copy of Judi's 1978 book ON OUR OWN: Patient-Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System. The State of Vermont apparently has some laws favorable to consumers, but for the most part I find the mental health culture to be a culture of sickness and shortened life spans rather than a culture where regaining mental health is emphasized.

    Another good book about the mental health system is GIRL INTERRUPTED.

    I would urge anyone considering going to a psychiatrist for the first time to be a little skeptical about their own expectations of finding relief by taking some type of magic pill with iatrogenic side effects.

  4. serial, no doubt that they're nuts! Someone long ago pointed out that people tend to choose their jobs based on their fears, and that's especially true of shrinks, who kind of have to be obsessed with mental health.

    Good link.

  5. Will:

    I may well be better because I am on medication rather than not being on it. My oldest daughter had a relapse after being off her medication for several years.

    I am still recuperating from being forced to take haldol three years ago.

    A friend reports of someone she knows having a good experience with medication.

    Sorry to come across as absolutist. I just don't want anyone to have a negative experience with psychiatry as many have had.

  6. Mickbic, noted and appreciated. This is such a hard subject to talk about: words of caution can sound like condemnation or recommendation, depending entirely on the reader's triggers. I want to blithely say doctors know more now than they did, but any time people make changes, they're likely to make mistakes too.

    So I'm stuck with saying brain drugs help some and hurt others and anyone who's tempted to try them should proceed with caution. That's my plan, anyway.