Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A brief criticism of everything

Today, one of my colleagues posted the following link to an article

Nose jokes aside, and moving further and further away from Freud, I find this study to be very exciting and I hope it is an indication of the direction that mental health will be taking.

Many of us feel that the new DSM V is a bit of an embarrassment to the field.  It is not scientific, it is based on symptoms and not causes, and in many ways is much more of a political document than a medical one. 

Real research that tries to find the causes of problems will eventually lead to better treatment. Catch-all terms that change over time and are merely descritive of behaviors that are currently out of favor are not very helpful.

This article is a very small first step.  The authors state that: The results showed that nose neurons from the schizophrenia patients had much higher levels of one particular microRNA (called miR-382) than those taken from the unaffected controls, as Shomron explains: .......After some more research, the team found that this particular microRNA molecule regulates the expression of genes that are involved in the creation of neurons.
This is just a marker, it is not a cause.  But it takes us way beyond the early theories of only environmental causes. It shows that true schizophrenics have a different brain chemistry, as the result of a mutation in the expression of a gene.

BUT, i also want to make it clear that I believe that biological explanations will only rarely be sufficient.  That's why DSM VI will also be a failure, as they are basing their future on finding more bio-markers.

However, if Psychology is going to remain relevant to anything but advertising, we will have to interact and collaborate with other sciences to develop a better understanding of what shapes human behavior, both adaptive and maladaptive.  I think these sciences need to include both the more basic ones --biology, chemistry, genetics, as well as the more general ones, such as sociology, anthropology, and even climatology.  

We can't be stuck doing the things we did forty years ago and calling them different names.

So, up your nose to your brain!


Sunday, May 12, 2013

interconnecting parts

The world we live in now has become increasingly complex.  We are all so much more interconnected that the things we do and the things we use have effects on other people's lives, usually without any intention, or even awareness on our part.

There are large things we do that effect other peoples physical and psychological health. We make choices about how we behave politically that make a difference.  The things we choose to buy, the places we go, the people we choose to interact with all effect those people.  Many of these are intentional choices we make about how to use our time, resources and energy.

How we treat the people we interact with makes  big difference in the kind of world we live in.  If we are friendly, positive and up-beat, most of the people around us will respond to us that way.  This is not universally true, but it does make a difference.

The reverse is also more true than not: if we treat others with anger, scorn, disdain or indifference, we will find that the world we live in is not pleasant.

The world was not designed to give us up-lifting, meaningful or fun and rewarding times.  Quite the contrary, our species has survived because it has (mostly ) learned to adapt the the local conditions. Our species has survived and become dominant because we have learned to be social and to work together.  However, we have also learned to divide into small groups and fight for resources.  This behavior may no longer be adaptive, but it has not yet been extinguished.

The problems most of my patients bring into my office are usually the result of some behavior that is basically necessary for survival but is now being misapplied.  Anxiety is an example of being too fearful, and of trying to control things that cannot be controlled.  Paranoia is from a loss of trust. Addictions are usually a perversion of what was pleasurable. Depression is often, to a large degree, from feelings of incompetence and worthlessness.

So be aware of how you feel, and how you express yourself to those around you.  How you act does change the world you live in, and that world, in turn, will change you.  It is a constant, interactive process.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Old White Man

For various reasons I had a sessions this week with two brothers and a sister.  They were in their late forties and they compared their impressions about what it was like growing up in their family.

But now their father, who was a distant father but a very successful businessman, is eighty-eight. He has been a widower for a long time, and now he is home, by himself, and moves with great difficulty.  His children, mostly his daughter, come to see him four or five times a week to bring him food and cook for him.

He is not very sociable, because is usually tired, and they often find him asleep in his chair.

His daughter explained that this is true because every night he sits up in the chair, facing the door, trying to stay awake.  He holds a 35 caliber pistol on his lap and waits for "them" to come and try to take away his.........well, that's not quite clear.

One of his son's says that the gun doesn't have a bullet in the chamber and the old man doesn't have the strength in his hands to pull the lever and get his weapon ready.  But it's the thought that counts.