dinsdag 25 oktober 2011

Restored lives

The New York Times has a series "Restored Lives" about people who have overcome psychiatric problems.

- In the first article ("Expert on Mental Illness Reveals Her Own Fight") the story of Linehan - designer of a therapy for borderline disorder - is told. In her early 20s she had a lot of borderline problems herself.

- The second article ("Learning to Cope With a Mind’s Taunting Voices") tells about Joe Holt, a computer consultant and entrepreneur who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia. His main problem was sometimes hearing people insult him. For a long time he took this for real - what caused many broken friendships and lost jobs. Now he is aware of the danger and tries to check whether what he hears is real.

- The third article ("A High-Profile Executive Job as Defense Against Mental Ills") tells about Keris Myrick, who has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. She did considerable effort to find a job that fit her and she finds that a busy job helps against hearing voices. In her view her mind starts producing voices and illusions when it is bored.

- As a side-article there is "Memoir About Schizophrenia Spurs Others to Come Forward". It tells about "The Center Cannot Hold.", a book written by Elyn R. Saks, a professor of law at the University of Southern California about her struggle with schizophrenia.

- the fourth article is "Finding purpose after living with delusion". It tells about a man who saw that his hallucinations did have a real core. In his case his messianic visions could be implemented by doing some good. He has a website about his vision of psychosis: "A blueprint for schizophrenia".

zaterdag 22 oktober 2011

Teaching young children works - but differently

Th education of very young children like with Head Start is often criticized because when tested later the effects become smaller and smaller. So learning to read at 4 may help you in the first classes of primary school but when you are at high school your grades will not be much different from if you hadn't followed that program.

However, according to this article ("Occupy the classroom") there are other effects that are ore lasting: those children repeat less grades, are less likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability, or to suffer the kind of poor health associated with poverty. They are also more likely to graduate from high school and attend college.

Probably the attention of adults and learning to focus and learn are more important than what you actually learn at this young age. So mom teaching you to cook or dad teaching you to fish or track the traces of animals might be just as effective.

dinsdag 4 oktober 2011

Too much altruism

The NY Times has an article ("The Pathological Altruist Gives Till Someone Hurts") that discusses how too much altruism can become harmful. The article contains items from a a book that will appear in November of this year.

This harm can concern the receiver. The article gives the example of an oncologist who kept on treating a patient for whom there clearly was no hope - despite the fact that the treatment was very painful.

One way to sacrifice oneself is for a group with a cause like a religion or a political party.

Another was is to tolerate a lot from other people like the spouses from alcoholics, other addicts or abusive partners do.

Yet another way is to be desireless like the article discusses for anorexics: “They try to hide their needs or deny their needs or pretend their needs don’t exist,” Dr. Bachner-Melman went on. “They barely feel they have the right to exist themselves.” They apologize for themselves, for the hated, hollow self, by giving, ceaselessly giving.

At the end the article discusses a very special form of "altruism": people who keep large numbers of dogs, cats or other animals. This may be too much for them and result in neglect of those animals. Yet they don't see that and instead feel happy about being needed by all those animals.

Talk Therapy Lifts Severe Schizophrenics

The NY Times has an article ("Talk Therapy Lifts Severe Schizophrenics") that discusses cognitive behavioral therapy for people with schizophrenia. The experimenters used the same kind of therapy that is used for depressive people to treat the "negative" symptoms (listlessness, exhaustion and emotional flatness) of schizophrenia.

Just as with depressives the therapy consisted of a combination of addressing false beliefs (like that you are not worthy of the attention of others) and goal setting. It took longer than with depressives but they got good results.

There are also CBT therapies that address the "positive" symptoms of schizophrenia (like the hallucinations) but these are not discussed in te article.