Friday, February 12, 2010

Psychiatry today

Psychiatry is a medical specialty officially devoted to the treatment and study of mental disorders. The Discipline of Psychiatry's research focuses on the clinical, psychological and sociocultural aspects of psychiatric disorder, and medical education.

The old psychiatric institutions at the turn of the century give us the earliest look at psychiatry's barbaric practices. These instituti
ons were basically prisons where the "insane" were kept. In this places several controversial methods where applied as an attempt to treat the different illnesses. Some of these methods include:

Trepanation is perhaps the oldest form of neurosurgery. It involves the removal of a piece of bone from the skull, and it has been performed since prehistoric times. It was practiced by several cultures such as the Ancient Egyptian one. The procedure is still performed today, for both medical and non-medical reasons. In the past the procedure was used as a treatment for afflictions ranging from simple headaches to severe mental disorders.

Lobotomy is a psychosurgical procedure in which the frontal cortical tissue is destroyed, the theory being that this leads to the uncoupling of the brain's emotional centers and the seat of intellect. They were used mainly to treat a wide range of severe disorders, including schizophrenia and clinical depression. In the 1940s and '50s, the lobotomy was performed on at least 40,000 US patients.

Electroconvulsive therapy was used mainly for severe depression, which has not responded to other treatments. For some people, it has been a life-saver; but others have found it far from helpful, and consider the risk of its potential long-term side effects to be unacceptable. It is also now most commonly used to treat mania and schizophrenia. The most important side effect of ECT is memory loss. In addition, immediately after treatment people experience drowsiness, headache and nausea, and loss of appetite. Other effects include apathy, and loss of energy.

Corpus callosotomy, used mainly for the treatment of epilepsy, consists in cutting the corpus callosum (fibers that connect the two halves of the brain). It helps the hemispheres share information, but it also contributes to the spread of seizure impulses from one side of the brain to the other. It drops the attacks in about 50%-75% of cases decreasing the risk of injury and improving life quality. Nevertheless it may cause numbness, depression and difficulty speaking among other things.

Nowadays there are new institutional configurations for doing scientific research. Some celebrate these changes but others are seriously worried about them. Currently the commercial sector invests more than 70% of all American R&D budget. In psychiatry a large part of this money is invested by Big Pharma companies. These companies spend $19 billon a year on promoting their products; nevertheless they do not always address the correct sector of the population with their advertising strategies.

One of the main mistakes made by contemporary psychiatric practices may be encouraging patients to alleviate their afflictions just by taking medication; not by having a holistic approach that might also include a change in lifestyle, playing sports and the practice of meditation.


JanetK said...

Some people suspect that Big Pharma tries (and often succeeds) in getting any condition for which they have a pill, classified as a disease.
Pills and talk still seems better that surgery at least (maybe) until the recent deep brain stimulation. In general, the history of psychiatry has seemed to me to be a history of trying to fix a watch with a hammer.

the walking man said...

The practice of medicine no matter the discipline, seems to me to more profit driven than care oriented.

Yes, absolutely psychiatry in its birthing was a brutal practice where man messed around in brain in a hope to alleviate suffering, that was, unfortunately a part of the learning process.

But now we have switched from the metal scalpel for the chemical and it still amounts to the same thing. R&D a chemical that might work on a certain set of receptors or prolong the time a body chemical takes to reabsorb or one that has serious side effects worse than the syndrome it tries to cure.

Rush that drug to market, recoup the cost of the research and what do you find? A chemical rushed to market, a scalpel put in the hands of a doctor who knows no more about it than the research company told him.

I am no guinea pig and once I saw what the American Pharma was doing I refused to take part in their grand experiment anymore. It is a good thing to talk and to realize that though I may be insane it is because of who and what I am which causes others to label me as insane. But because it is me it makes it my insanity and normal for me.

Call me a cynic but in this 21st century practice of everything is business there is no corporation anywhere, in any field including finance and medicine, that has anything other than their own survival at heart.

Humans have become nothing more than a source of profit and to me that is one definition of true insanity.

Life, life is the cure for psychiatric problems. a life spending a reasonable amount of hours in introspection and coming to an understanding of the self is the cure for a range of malady's but we all have come to want a pill.

Take this pill and find out how easy it is to remain calm, controlled, lose weight, gain weight, cure this, stop that.

As I age my body is breaking down into base components, losing some of its complex structure, and yes there are medications I take but there are none that I will take that have not been available for over a decade and the profit of them is more than the cost of them.

I don't think that institutionalization for some disorders is out of line but what i have seen is that with intention and for greater profit the institutions have made themselves a comfort zone which guarantees repeat business. And that to me is wrong, so very wrong.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thank you very much for your great contribution, that is a very interesting comment, first I did not know that they also try to create new disseases classifications, that is amazing, no ethics at all.
The metaphor of the hammer is so real, it might also be aplied to other medical specialties I think.

Brian Miller said...

how far we have we just dispense the pills to lobotomized and control...

Mariana Soffer said...

The Walking man:
Regarding your first sentence, all I can tell you is that my father was a surgeon, an a director of a hospital, and he said to me once that medicine is all about money, that if they spend a third of what they do in medicine in sanitary and prevention matters much more people will be benefitted indeed (this was at least in my country).
Regarding what you say about levels, I also think they are a necesity but indeed there are no precise descriptions for all possible mental configurations, neither a precise line between madness and sanity.

The culture we live in search for instant satisfaction without putting effort in getting it, therefore pop the pill.

I completelly agree with your thinkings. I was curious about what did they diagnosed you to be? I was supposed to be maniac depressive according to an MD, which is obviously ridiculous indeed. I am really far from it

ines said...

Great post, really left me thinking about all the things we are not able to see in this society, probably because we are inmersed in it.
Thanks for it

Esteban said...

What a daring pot you wrote, I guess the establishment would not be very happy with it, I think deeper research on this subject should be performed in order to impulse the modification of this reality

ArtSparker said...

An interesting trajectory, from surgical interention to pharmaceutical. Perhaps it's market-driven today, with prescriptions, and correcting the prescriptions, providing more long-term "economic growth" than one-time interventions with a knife. I have found yoga to be helpful personally in dealing with depression.

Enchanted Oak said...

It's frightening to ponder the profit-driven Big Parma machine and its impact on the common man in the long- or short-term. What about one case: Abilify? It's advertised heavily here in the US as a panacea for making the other psych drugs you take work better. Pop this pill, and surely your meds will work at last. (Pay no attention to the possible horrific side affects.) They charge an arm and a leg for it, ripping off the poor soul who just wants to get free of depression and who isn't getting relief from the other drugs they're taking and paying a fortune for.
We have become a pill-popping culture, and we pay for it mightily. I ask myself regularly, did the medication save me from my deep depression last year, or did the cycle simply lift? So with my doctor's approval, I carefully cut the meds little by little, and each time I do I feel a little more freedom. Thought-provoking post, Mariana.

J said...

Hi Mariana, there are rumours that the new DSM V will have more pharma company input than any of the previous ones. I agree that prevention is often pushed aside in favour of cures, and I think that in the psychiatric realm this is maybe harder to see and implement as it is often healthy social relationships that are key, which are often a political battlefield in a way that preventive measures for heart disease etc are not.
If a government cannot lift a population out of poverty, for instance, then that population is likely to suffer more in the psychiatric area, I think, but a share out to the poor is not always welcome.

Val said...

This is an excellent post Mariana because you've covered it all. I've had my own personal experiences with the profession and then of course, my late husband Dave had his. I agree with you about the different therapies. It is in the best financial interest of a the doctor to keep a patient dependent on drugs, thus ensuring their client list is full at all times and a cash cow without end. If a person remains in a situation like this, dependent on a doctor's prescription pad, they become sicker through a false belief that they are not able to get well or at least capable of functioning without the pills or injections. There are people, like Dave who need the drugs to control symptoms such as paranoia and hallucinations, that is a fact, but I also think the nature of mental illness makes it difficult to control the victimization of patients by the system because right off the bat they are deemed unreliable and nothing they say is believed or taken seriously. As for the ECT's, they are barbaric and should be outlawed. Dave had a series of six and as he was a minor at the time (under 18 years of age) his only legal guardian, a father who abused him, was given the control to sign for them and of course he did, thus wiping out his memory. More than anything, this destroyed him. I believe, that if a person wants to understand mental illness, more research must be done regarding the complex and many times unhealthy relationships within the family unit, emotional trauma and the affects of abuse, rather that solely focusing on the biological aspects alone. There is a great deal to be learned about the root of mental illness by studying the way in which human beings process negative experiences on both an emotional and intellectual level at an early age, before coping skills have been learned. This is where I believe most, but not all mental illness begins. Thanks for having the courage to post this Mariana, it's important to read.

Pablo Trincado said...

Son increibles los caminos que ha debido tomar el ser humano para llegar a nuestro estado. Muchas de las practicas actuales, tanto psicologicas, psiquiatricas y quirúrgicas, son el resultado de estos estudios barbáricos.
Que decir de la cocaína, efedrina, marihuana, que antes fueron de usos chamánicos, después médicos, y hoy, parte de una masiva búsqueda social.
Gran parte de las momias incas encontradas en el norte de Chile tienen indicios de ser muertes por traumatismos. Hoy hemos tecnologizado estas muertes con la guerra.
Que difícil es hoy, con el camino recorrido, tomar partido entre el bien y el mal. y más difícl aún es apuntar con el dedo al pasado.
me parecen tus interesantes tus post mariana, muchos saludos!

Tyko Brae (exgen. NB) said...

This I like. Maybe psychiatry is driven by profit, but what is also obvious is the lack of knowledge. Physiology and medicine have eventually become scientific, but psychiatry seems to me being stuck in medieval thinking. But I am a layman, so what do I know? If you have the time, please look at this clip: No science - No cure

Anonymous said...

In the old days, it was exorcism or torture. Then came lobotomy and all the practices you described in this post. The fashion today is pills. The truth is that the brain continues to be a huge mystery to us humans. The question is: will we preserve life on Earth until we have learned how to use 100% of the brain or will we wipe out resources and destroy the planet before that?

Harlequin said...

no wonder there are so many psychiatric survivors groups.... no wonder I have so much empathy with them and support for them!
dangerous times indeed when pharmaceutical industries run so many agendas in so many places.... so many drugs, so little time

Ted Bagley said...

'One of the main mistakes made by contemporary psychiatric practices may be encouraging patients...' to believe that there is actually something wrong with them.

A Cuban In London said...

What a cracking post! I agree with your last sentence. Sometimes a holistic approach is better than pills. And as for shrinks, the best one lies within you. :-)

Of course, if you can only break through and out of Cortazar's 'absurd'.

Greetings from London.

the walking man said...

Mariana...the right way to ask that question would be to ask at age 18 what did the label you?

at age 25 what did they label you?

at age...

I've never believed in labels. especially since every supposed professional had a different one that never made any sense to me. They saw what they wanted and in their flawed vision I was supposed to see myself?

Oh no I think not.

Anonymous said...

of the past
are viewed now as barbaric,
but some, too, are regaining favor as 'wise'

another great post, mariana, and, happy <3 day to you

× × ×


Harlequin said...

it's no wonder there is a psychiatric survivors network and no wonder that I empathize with and support them; as long as there is a drug that can "fix" something, pharmaceutical companies will construct a need for the drug.... so many drugs, so little time....

J said...

So Mariana, do you think you could do some trepanning?
I think you could have a good attempt, maybe even set up your own trepanning business.
Mariana's One Stop Trepanning Shop- convulsions and voices in the head a speciality, special cheap rates for multiple holes! Open on Sundays!

tipota said...

such a concise yet disarming review of psychiatric history. perfect in the way that its finely crafted like a work of art and also has so many other dimensions in attendance. it made me wonder how present day evolutions in the field would compare. (if there was a way of defining what they are while taking holistic and spiritual trends and practices into consideration.)
and i asked 'have the class levels of acceptable, social, adaptable, integrated behaviors changed?' ie, is there a difference in acceptable levels of mental 'displacement' (or psychiatric conditions deemed unacceptable and thus controlled and medicated with full cooperation of both social and medical organization as guided by mental health standards) in terms of tolerance levels and the idea of some 'mental illnesses' being socially acceptable w/o intervention (such as shown in the movies, the "mad scientist" or "obsessed lover" or "wackheaded
artist"-like me ha ha)while others require pharmaceutical intervention, still others require institutionalization which in the early days was unusually severe compared to todays standards, however, it is very interesting to think about and i really like the way it is structured smoothly and coherently

Mariana Soffer said...

Brian Miller:
Well yes, is sad to put it that way dough, I prefer to think that somehow we evolved a little since that, although you have to make a strong effor to do it. Thanks for sharing your opinions here

Mariana Soffer said...

Ines: true it is harder to see things when you are in the middle of them.

Mariana Soffer said...

Esteban: I guess not, I tried to soften it indeed, cause I do not wanted to be too harsh, I try to avoid that kind of things latelly. But it was not that easy to do here.

Mariana Soffer said...

Glad you found it interesting. And also a good tip to share here, I just started practicing meditation, but was also thinking about doing yoga, I am searching for it.

Mariana Soffer said...

I never heard of that drug, I guess it did not get here, or at least with the name you call it, but never even heard about a drug that has a similar effect to it.
You are right I guess we will pay, there is no escape from that, eventually it will get to us probably it already is.
I wonder myself about the effects that drugs have in me, I am not that sure about wether they are just a bandaid or they are helping me to rebuilt my integrity and then I will be able to stop taking them. I think the gradual reduce(even is the best way to get rid of them) is tricky because you have to re-learn to have a better life quality while you take less chemicals and keep a kind of balance among the two factors in the process of giving up the pills.
Makes me happy to know you are feeling more free, is great to hear it.
Love to you from me

Mariana Soffer said...

Interesting fact, I did not know it.
Great point, prevention in this field is less clear (as it while considering an illness such as hepatitis VS a depression that could be thought as voluntary solvable mind thing). I agree that social relationships are very very important, but probably not the only thing.
It is true but I also think poor people have different priorities, such as being able to have a place to live and being able to eat, and I think that also education should be included in it, because without it, nothing works really.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot for your compliment, you are really kind with me.
It is like the golden eggs hen story indeed (hope you know this).
You are right that is horrible how they make us belive that pills are the only way to change things, we are so easy to manipulate when it comes to mental health things. And there is also what you say that since they are thought of being mentally disabled they are not taken seriouslly.
It is a very hard/important/moving/deep/relevant what you tell us here about dave, thanks for doing it. I knew other cases also where the legal guardian is the victimizer of the patient, the laws are awfull regarding protecting victims from the injuries these people can make them still.
I completelly agree with what you say regarding more research on relationships, with the others and also with the different inner aspects/sides of the patient and also think is fundamental the way people can deal/cope with the hardships/coping skills. It is probablly true that most illnesses have a real life trigger that makes them come to life, but probably their biological configurations makes them more or less prone to it.
It is really gratifying to be able to discuss this kind of things with people like you for me.

Mariana Soffer said...

Pablo trincado said:
The path that human beings had taken to reach their states are incredible. Many of the current practices, psichiatric and quirurgic ones, are the outcome of barbaric studies/research indeed.
Cocaine, effedrine, pot where ones used by chamans then by doctors and nowadays part of a massive social search for some relief.
Many of the Incas mummies from the north of Chile seem to have died from tramatisms. Today we have "technologized" this deaths with wars.
It is very difficult nowadays, after the path we have traveled, to take sides between the evil and the rightfull. And even harder is to point properly to the past things.
I find your post interesting, greetings

Mariana Soffer said...

Pablo trincado:
Thanks a lot for your insightfull comment, it made me think lots of things. You have an important point regarding actual practice origins and also about the illegal drugs uses.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts about deaths due to traumatisms, they are really interesting,I have to think more about it.
So true what you say in the end, but I am convinced that it is possible to know (at least I am) about what is/how to find the answer to it.
Thanks a lot to you for sharing all of this with us.
Cheers to you my new friend.

Mariana Soffer said...

Lucy in the sky:
Yes, witch hunting and other old practices were probably the predecessor of those kind of things.
Well your question is really big. I do not know, all I can say now is that probabbly if we stop thinking we are the center of everything and the most and only important think, it is less likelly for destruction to occur.
But I will keep thinking about this.
Thanks for your words lucy.

Mariana Soffer said...

I did not know those groups exists, how interesting indeed. Are there any of them you can point to, so I can see something?
You are right it is very dangerous that, one of the biggest perils I think. I hope dough time is no so little, if we do not despair it might not be indeed.
Love for you dear Harlequin

Mariana Soffer said...

Ted Bagley:
Well a post above mentions that pharmaceutical companies probably pay/commit brivery in order to make new afflictions be declared as official illnesses in the DSMV.
Probably classification-mania plays a role in this.

Mariana Soffer said...

A Cuban In London:
glad to see you here! very interesting sentence regarding our inner shrink. I do belive that the key for healing is inside each person.
I am sorry to tell you that I do not know what you are refering to with cortazar's thing, but I will research about it, or you are welcome to reference me.

Thanks a lot for sharing your words here.

Mariana Soffer said...

the walking man:
The labeling probably depends mostly on what where the current psychiatric trends at the time you were diagnosed.
IT is true that every one has a different label, and also that the same person provides a different label at different moments.
Yes you where supposed to see yourself trough their biased vision, I am happy you did not do it.
I sometimes just do not think, which is great for me.

Mariana Soffer said...

You are right t, I like that you proviede us with another angle of this discussion. I read parts of the averroes and avicena life history and many things they did sounded interesting and promising to me.

Thank you very much my friend.I hope you also had a happy valentine yourself.

Mariana Soffer said...

I do not think I could do treppaning, I get scared just by thinking of it.
Maybe I could hire someone to do it for me (just kidding).
You are funny man, I like that, thanks for making me smile with your words.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot for your great compliment of think this as an artwork, you are too kind my friend.
It is tricky to define/separate as you mentioned, maybe we should try to avoid it to understand more.
I do constantly ask myself if things did change or not, and even if the pre-socratics greeks where right at thinking that time was circular and not linear (history repeating).
I can't respond properly to your questions, the truth is I do not know. Just thought that maybe nowadays we have more shades of grey between the "mentally ill" and the "sane" people than before.
Glad you liked how I structured the text, cause it is usually very difficult for me to assemble it in a coherent way.
Very interesting thoughts the one you wrote here, thanks a lot for that my friend.

Uncle Tree said...

Whatever happened to 'mind over matter'?
Isn't that what psychology is supposed to endorse?

My boy has to take Adderal for ADHD. The schools demand he do so, otherwise we could be charged with child neglect. He acts better when he's on it, yes, but his appetite isn't normal, nor are his sleeping hours. Speed is now considered to be a psychiatric drug, when it used to be used as a diet pill.

Huxley was a prophet (by chance, of course) in his Brave New World. Not all the pills are blue, but I've heard they're the best. He-he!

I use to like the purple barrel-shaped one's, myself. ;)

Hoping all is well with you, sweet niece! Hugz, UT

Life itself could be a scam. Preservatives are for wimps.

foam said...

"Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you." - C. G. Jung (1875-1961)


Mariana Soffer said...

Great post opening, good point.

I once took ADD meditation myself, I used it actually for an uncommon purpose: To stop taking illegal stimulants. So I used to have a pill of modafilino (I do not know how you call it) with me so I could take it when I had the irrisitible urge to do the other dangerous things, it kind of worked for me, it helped me to get rid of the bad habit with less suffering, and the replacement was not hard to give up afterwards. easy to give. But you are right about what you say of the strange secondary effects that the pill brings along, they can be very dangerous for some people, besides the problems that you mentioned becoming irascible is a pretty common one. Speed, Really? did not know about it. But I do know it is very harming for the organisms, it screws you up pretty quickly and it is addictive.

I loved what you said about Huxley, did not remember that fact from the book.

I am doing ok my uncle, hope you are too.

Mariana Soffer said...

foam: Fantastic quote, made me wanna read Jung, have you done that? do you recomend where can I start from to understand some?

Take care man cheers to you

Snowbrush said...

Well, it's all about money, I suppose. Here (in the U.S.), drug companies advertise prescription products on TV, charge hundreds of dollars a month for them, in some cases, and make minor changes to them to extend their patent protection. Of course, there is no reason to believe, on the face of it, that new drugs are anymore effective than their older counterparts, and as to safety, the real human testing starts when they go public and it continues for a generation. There is also the fact that much of the research these companies do is paid for by taxpayers who then reap no benefit for their investment--unless you count access to more and more redundant and expensive medications.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot for sharing your opinions with us. Seems things are like the song Lisa sang in Cabaret ... "money makes the world go round, the world go round".
Also thanks for providing those interesting facts here that I did not knew which are how they extend the patent protection. And that research was in part paid by tax money. They are relevant here.
The only thing I can tell you regarding not knowing if the older drugs are better or not, is that regarding the anxiolitic pills like Valium versus the actual ones such as alplax or alprazolam, the more actual ones produce less side effects than the previously done ones. Which does not mean that they really result to be better if you make a full comparison among the too.
Take care and be well.

Dave King said...

I visited some of those old institutions in my student days - and later when my Grandfather was in one - for wholly insufficient reasons. They were hugely destructive an d totally unenlightened. Not fit for any sort of creature. I think we need to be reminded occasionally what things used to be like - some of the old attitudes still survive in nooks and corners.

Mariana Soffer said...

Dave King:
thanks for sharing your personal experience in this area.
I would have guessed for the pictures you see of them that they were somber places, almost phantamagoric.
I also agree with you, I think we need to review the past and try to relate it properly with actuality, to see how did we end up where we are, and stop what things are we keeping from the old times that became obsolete and need to be actualized..

Sandi McBride said...

When I was studying to become a nurse, we had to do a rotation at Dorothea Dix...things weren't much better then, 43 years ago...not much better at all...

Яakro said...

I’ll always be surprised by the frivolity of big pharma companies… By the way, I just read a short but interesting approach to schizophrenia by Huxley… It made me think about the complexity of perception…


Mariana Soffer said...

Sandi McBride:
Thank you very much for sharing your personal experience/feelings here. I was thinking that one of the things that got better are the side effect of the ansiolitics, taking valium produced much more problems than taking aplrazolam/alpax produces now. This does not mean that there aren't things that got worst more recently.

Mariana Soffer said...

I agree that is impressive how they handle things. I worked at in a research team. Here most teams used to work for big pharma companies such as amgen and pfitzer, so I got some insight about how they proceed.

Perception is a huge topic to discuss about Here: I wrote some facts regarding how easily the way we percieve gets distorted.

geek said...

Well, how can those people treat something they can't understand? That's what's lacking in Western Medicine, sometimes -- the ability to understand the one with the illness.

aditya said...

Hello Mariana

You might well be spot on with the ending !!! :)

Anonymous said...

It's that aquarius time of year again, have you been having your birthday lately Mariana?

J said...

It's that aquarius time of year again, have you been having your birthday lately Mariana?

Mariana Soffer said...

Happy to see you around here my friend. I am lately relating things to the problem we have with ego, which might be related to humans omnipotence and their idea about their ability to know and solve most things, which is really lucking a more humble viewpoint in order to provide better solutions for issues and problems by starting from a less rigid frame from where to observe things.

Mariana Soffer said...

Hi pal, thanks for your nice encouraging comment.

Mariana Soffer said...

J and Anonymous:
actually no, is November 30, I guess far enough not to belong, I am not sure dough. I am curious how does this relate to it? I do not know anything about this era characteristics. (I guess you and anonymous where the same)

J said...

I got it mixed up Mariana.

Rob Bryanton said...

Hi Mariana, your comments about the participation of Big Pharma in this are right on the money. But I also found it fascinating to read an article in Wired magazine indicating the Big Pharma is now wrestling with the fact that over the last couple of decades the observed positive effects of placebos who doubled, making it much harder for them to prove the effectiveness of new drugs, and even casting doubts about some drugs that are already on the market. Isn't that incredible?

Fond regards as always!

Jason Gusmann said...

the surgical and pharmaceutical techniques which we humans will use to literally change our minds will never fail to fascinate me, or you, obviously. simply put, drugs won't work without therapy, exercise, meditation, etc. they'll be good for a day, a week, but a lifetime is outside the confines of even the most powerful med. at least on the positive tip.

EXSENO said...

Some of these procedures I have not even heard of.
However there are two that I do know about and frankly I think they are/were, terrible.

The Lobotomy, which does nothing more then turn a person into a mental vegetable and the Electric Shock treatment, which in my very humble and uneducated opinion is nothing more then torture and I doubt very seriously that it ever helped anyone.

Mental illness of any kind effects eveyone around them and even though we know more now then we did years ago, we still don't know enough. It is such a sad thing.

Mariana Soffer said...

Sorry if I was confusing, I was asking you about the aquarious time of the year and the implications about it.

PS: Basically that was it. Let me answer your emails tomorrow or the day after, I need to think a little about it.
Thanks J

Mariana Soffer said...

Rob Bryanton:
You are right about the placebos, the effect they produce it is amazing, I did read a lot about them indeed, there is a great radioshow called "all in the mind" that has a speciall program dedicated to tell the history about placebos, and you find incredible facts about them indeed. I also talk a little about them in this post

I think the fact that placebos make it harder for medications to prove their effectiveness, goes hand in hand with the demonstration that a different approach to healing is working better for many things, and that just pill popping is a very limited thing.

A pleasure to see you here and thanks a lot for the great link to the magazine article, it was really interesting to read!

Mariana Soffer said...

Jason Gusman:
Very nice words in which you put your thoughts, I think it is like you said it in almost all cases. You are taking a more global view of humans by adding their hole lifetime to their picture and not just addressing the period when the problem existed. I like that, always adding new dimensions to things

Mariana Soffer said...

They are pretty scary, aren't they? I think yes indeed.

Regarding this practices I think there might have been some sadistic factors that propelled this practices ass well as the pure scientific ones, don't you think?

You are right, I think that mental illnesses are among the most terrible things for humanity.

Thanks for stating your interesting opinion here!

Harlequin said...

Hey, Mariana-- I am back to give you some sources for the psychiatry survivors; here are a few to get you going:
Judi Chamberlain, 2002, the Testimony of Judi Chamberlain,http://www.aapd-dc-org/News/disability/testjudichamberlain.html

Bradley Lewis, 2006, Moving beyond prozac...... the birth of postpsychiatry U of Michigan press

David Oaks, 2002,

windows into madness, 2002, Adbusters, 10,3


J said...

Interesting you should mention the power of placebos because the power of the mind is even greater when you consider that someone can have surgery without anaesthetic, just hypnosis.

Anyone who can last a full length documentary on it can find one here. Amazing stuff.

~pi said...

things that make me...tremble,

though i believe in

"help by words"

beijo, mariana :)


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Genial dispatch and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you as your information.

Rick said...

Hello Mariana. I left you a comment, but I believe it went straight into the blogosphere and disappeared like water swirling down the sink in a drain cleaner commercial!

What I was saying was that this was a thoughtful, timely post, especially in a world where people so easily and sheep-like cede control to others of their mental, emotional, and social issues. Once it was religious figures, now it is scienctists- the people who brought us machine guns, atom bombs, pollution and spy satellites.

I'd trust my head to a vice before I'd trust it to a psychiatrist.

Mariana Soffer said...


Excellent, thank you very much, that was what I was looking for (I could not reach the info trough the links but I did trough searching the net perfectly).
Let me tell you that I like adbuster magazine, I used to read it when I lived in the states, it had great fake ads and thought provoking articles.
Hugs my friend

Mariana Soffer said...

Exactly, the power of the mind is amazing, which is one of the factors that makes popping pill so difficult to evaluate. I sometimes call it suggestion as well.
You know it is funny but I used to ask my mom to practice hypnosis, cause MD's are the only ones that can do that legally at least in this country, I did this since I was a kid, I always thought there was lots of stuff to take advantage of from this practice.

Mariana Soffer said...

Yes, pretty scary indeed, I was talking to J regarding helping that way, you can check the link in his comment which is very interesting.
Thanks as always for being so supportive

Mariana Soffer said...

My pleasure to help, next if you do not mind just post some info about yourself, I like to know a little more about the people who read my posts in order to connect better to them.

Mariana Soffer said...

You can help being a poet I see, great way to put in words what happen, to tell you the truth I am having problems with internet myself, my connection and other things around gmail are either not working properly or being misunderstood by myself.

Very nice what you said my friend, and you put this in a bigger context, which is great, it is true we are like sheeps, well we tend to be. By the way have you seen the movie "idiocracy", check it out, it is great.

Hope you do not indulge too much into vices, I can tell you from personal experience that is not a great thing neither for your mind nor for your help.

Thanks for writing my friend.

J said...

It surprised me, after watching the documentary, how effective hypnosis is. I have known people to have a tooth filled by a dentist with hypnosis to block the pain, but in this documentary it is a full hernia operation, with no anaesthetic but a hypnotist telling the patient to relax while the surgery is being done.
I wonder what kind of connection there may be with other forms of mind altering there is, like brain washing and propaganda or other social aspects. Brain washing is obvious and extreme case, and the power of propaganda is based on other things such as peer pressure and paranoia, but there may be a role for a state of trance in our everyday lives.
If it is possible to ignore the pain of an operation, what other sorts of pain is it possible to ignore, yet still the cause of pain is still there?

Mariana Soffer said...

I know it is pretty impressive, actually I know that there have been experiments where they made believe patients that they where receiving morphine injections, when indeed they weren't and the pain they felt diminished notably, which was also confirmed while looking at the fmri scan of the brain by noticing that the part that is turned on while in pain was highly reduced in activity. That is incredible as well I think.

You also reminded me about the work I am currently performing, cause I am doing opinion mining, which is used for advertising, which influences your mind, sometimes not for improving human life quality, but for earning more money. Nevertheless it can be and is used for good causes as well.

J said...

Which leads to the next question about the relationship between placebo and hypnosis, if they are the same but differing in degree?

J said...

Mariana, I flipped through this guy's too expensive for me to buy book in the shop today, full of cool graphs and charts, some of which are on his site, like this.
I like a nice chart now and then.

J said...

He says,

" I notice these days that I can spend hours at my computer, in a cloud. A swampy blur of digital activity, smeared across various activities and media and software."

That's it, he's got it, that's my life too and I suspect many of your blog readers.

Anonymous said...

I think your final point is important. This attitude, "let's cure it all with medicine, " is dangerous and lessens the ability of some patients to take accountability.

I'm not of the opinion that all medicine is dangerous or negative - but instead I support an approach that includes other methods of treatment and healing.

Anonymous said...

You know, one time I went to a psychiatrist, I was so down and out, couldn't cope with the death of a loved one, oh man the medicines they put me on, I was a zombie. I just got up after a few weeks and threw them all out:

you are your own best doctor.

Obviously, some people do need chemical assistance, but generally we don't need them, as you say, modern psychiatric practices like to dispense too many pills.

Hope this comment finds you really happy, Mariana. Believe it or not, I feel the deepest happiness and bliss in the moments that I am alone in silence.

Un beso

Mariana Soffer said...

I find your comments very interesting, sorry for the late reply. But as you where talking about in the last one about the cyberlife it got too intense at a point for me cause I got involved in many social networks, blogs, collaborations, etc, so I guess I reached my limit, and I need to slow down or I will be living in the clouds endlessly. Regarding your comment about placebos and Hipnosis, I am not sure they are similar, I think they act in very different ways, even dough the last one can act as a placebo as well. And regarding informationisbeautifull, I must tell you that I am a fan of it, I love visualization and indeed my work involves creating some new things, they are amazing, I have a bunch of links I think you might find interesting, which I can send them to you one of these days.
As always thanks very much for commenting.

Mariana Soffer said...

Poetgrin: I think the same, medicine is just one tool we have to solve things, but if should not be taken as the only one, cause in that way we leave out a large range of great tools that might work even better in many cases than it.
Thanks for sharing

Mariana Soffer said...

It is true that you are the best doctor for your own self. If you learn to listen carefully and pay attention, even dough with medical assistance things work much better, I think also that learning from our feelings and intuitions is fundamental for our own wellbeing. Here is something Kundera wrote regarding your beautifull last sentence: -Why has the pleasure of slowness disappeared? Ah, where have they gone, the amblers of yesteryear? Where have they gone, those loafing heroes of folk song, those vagabonds who roam from one mill to another and bed down under the stars? Have they vanished along with footpaths, with grasslands and clearings, with nature? There is a Czech proverb that describes their easy indolence by a metaphor: 'they are gazing at God's windows.' A person gazing at God's windows is not bored; he is happy. In our world, indolence has turned into having nothing to do, which is a completely different thing: a person with nothing to do is frustrated, bored, is constantly searching for an activity he lacks.

Uncle Tree said...

I love what Kundera said about purposeless meandering. This so fits in with "A Leprechaun's Gaze", which I have posted once again.

We tend to label everything, and mindless wanderer's are sometimes seen as lazy. Someone else might say that what Rainbow Eyes does is good for everyone, and there are excellent reasons for him to do so. Emptying the mind is a therapeutic response to too much information. He is doing nothing, but then again, his body runs on it's own.

Love ya, sweet niece!
Take care, UT

Shadow said...

i'm mighty glad psychiatry has changed over the years...

J said...

Yeah send those links.

Mariana Soffer said...

here are some of them, hope you like this:
Some more which are animated but not specially for visualizing particular things:
and, from here check the projects like phytolaxis, we feel fine, the wale hunt and universe

Enjoy and please let me know what you think!

Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle Tree:
It is true, what a coincidence that your amazing poem is related to kundera saying. Particularly when you say : "Gazing upon the looking glass", which causes me the same sensation the saying does.

What you say about emptying the mind I find to be pretty much related to Buddhist meditation techniques. I think also that turning off the higher layer of the brain, the cognitive part, might help us to be more connected with our lower and more fundamental ones. Besides like you say we let our bodies run on their own, because the ANS (autonomous nervous system) takes care of it (breath, heartbeat, ..)

I love you very much my uncle
Which you the best.

Mariana Soffer said...

Me too I think we have much more options nowadays than we did before, we are able to chose at least, it depends more on our own approach.
Thanks for being here dear poet!

J said...

I dig the artinfo, and note the difference on the fleshlight maps- touch/touched/male/female.

Did you check out the protein synthesis dance?

Mariana Soffer said...

I did that too, I think it opens an interesting new dimension to things.

I did check the dance is great, I checked all that I sent you so far, I am really entusiatic about visualizations.
And of course I am really glad you liked it.

Anonymous said...

You know, I have never read Kundera, but I will now. Thank you for the beautiful quote.

Anonymous said...

Hello again, sorry I have read him- Unbearable Lightness of Being- the only book I've read by him, its fantastic (I thought the name was familiar but did not recognize it at first).


aditya said...

Heyy Mariana

7 days ago, I gulped down the prescription for the viral fever I thought I was suffering from.

The entire following night, I was on sort of a psychedelic trip. Images of light knitting patterns on my white wall, my bed creeping, slanting, almost floating in air were felt throughout.

A friend who did the same, felt the same.

Yesterday I found out it had been typhoid all the time ..

Thought, you might be interested :)

Mariana Soffer said...

He is a ver good writter who has marvelous books but also some that I consider so so, I recomend you to choose carefully before pipcking one, the most famous one might be a good start it is called "The Unbearable Lightness of Being".

Mariana Soffer said...

Excue me, I had not notice your following comment was created while I reply last to you. It is great that you already read what I recomended and liked it a lot, but for example I would not advice you to read Immortality, it was quite boring for me, but maybe I did not get it. You never know.

Mariana Soffer said...

Sorry I spiked your last comment, did not noticed, Actually I did but some time ago, so I do not have it fresh in mind mind, but I remember that I found it pretty cool.
By the way another person I might suggest for visualizations, specially in computational linguistics: Franco moretti.

J said...

Hmm, I'm looking at Franco Moretti on the web and although there are pieces by and about him there are no examples of graphs and charts that I can find. I think he will have to wait. Reading his articles he seem to be mapping literature against geography, saying it is a new way to analyse the vast body of world literature. I don't really know if he is saying anything new but I haven't seen much of his work.

Stu said...

I have a pretty dim view of psychiatry (and medicine) these days, especially with regard to the influence of the 'Big Pharma' companies.

A more holistic approach is the way to go, I agree. It can be tough, though, when people have major physical as well as psychological issues.

For example, some people cannot exercise due to injury or illness, or may find it very difficult. Some people are very restricted in the kind of diet they can have. A lot of people find meditation very difficult, or decide that it's "not for them".

In my work I mainly talk to people who suffer from depression, and I'm used to hearing about these sorts of situations. I think in some cases medication may be the best option available. Ideally it should be combined with therapy/counselling, but that doesn't work for everyone either - some people simply aren't able and/or prepared to talk about their problems.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks for sharing what you think of this, it is very interesting what you say to me cause I follow what you write in your blog and feel pretty connected to it, I also admire you as an artist. I suffered for severe depression myself I am kind of recovered dough nowadays. Therefore when you say who you talk to in your work might partly explain why I feel connected to it and think I understand it beyond the explicit mining of the words.

Anonymous said...

a). los tratamientos otorgados por la psiquiatria fueron desproporcionados en sus comienzos, lo cual es comprensible. incluso hoy, fuera de los criterios diagnosticos, no es posible determinar bien qué neurotransmisor es el "deficiente" en cada patologia, aunque si se conoce, existen variaciones. en la depresion, por ejemplo, sube o baja la recaptacion de serotonina, dopamina. cual tratar, potenciar?, es complejo determinar, y que no existe un examen que indique con exactitud el mecanismo, por lo que la farmacologia se convierte en un arte o en una suerte de azar.

debemos considerar que -ademas- no todos los organismos responden de la misma forma a los farmacos. Y cuando lo hacen, presentan efectos secundarios: no se ha encontrado el farmaco que actue sobre los receptores especificos. es decir, inhibe los que corresponde y otros que no, de ahi los efectos secundarios.

b). respecto al TEC terapia electro convulsiva, ha sido criticada desde sus origenes, pero se utiliza en casos especiales. Aplicada de forma correcta, no produce una considerable perdida de memoria; su funcion es alcanzar el umbral de disparo que tienen las neuronas para generar las sinapsis y de esa forma re-establecer. es una forma de resetear el cerebro. ahora bien, lo que se consigue -al igual que con los antidepresivos- es lograr mantener la plasticidad neuronal, al generar dendritas (no tengo la fuente clara).

se cuida si que la convulsion sea proporcional a lo que se necesita. estos tratamientos son suspendidos en caso de que la convulsion en el paciente es superior a la esperada.

c). respecto a big pharma, existe un articulo en el newsweek respecto a la discusion de la efectividad de los antidepresivos frente al placebo. si bien el estudio parece consistente, lo que no se ha analizado con cuidado es el diagnostico de los grupos a comparar. de ahi que se sospecha de muchos intereses de las farmaceuticas.

en mi opinion, el antidepresivo es util. lo que no se realiza bien es el diagnostico.

d). y la psiquiatria esta en caos con la publicacion del dsm-V: con el hecho de aumentar criterios, disminuir patologias, aumentar patologias. quizas, es lo que esgrimen los propios psiquiatras, una necesidad de pepetuar la venta de farmacos a patologias que no lo son.

e). y una teoria que enfrenta a la psiquiatria respecto a la etiologia de las enfermedades mentales en the hygiene hypothesis. interesante, pero no tengo todos los datos.


jinksy said...

provide better solutions for issues and problems by starting from a less rigid frame from where to observe things

This struck me as the most salient point amongst all the verbiage...
Perception is the key.

Mariana Soffer said...

Muchisimas gracias por tu larga reflexion, tratare de contestar pero disculpa si no estoy muy lucida acabo de programar 8 hs seguidas.
a)Bueno creo que algo analogo sucede con la medicina en muchos casos.
b)Interesante lo que decis sobre TEC, yo no recuerdo bien como funciona este metodo, pero es cierto que lo importante siempre es que el beneficio que trae el procedimiento sea mayor que los problemas que produce el mismo. Igual no estoy segura de que los antidepresivos per-se mantenga la plasticidad, quizas eso sea efecto secundario de salir del estado depresivo. Los antidepresivos no creo generen dendritas, por lo menos no promueven eso especialmente, si liberan quimicos en el cerebro que permiten "aceitar" la communicacion entre las neuronas.
c) Totalmente de acuerdo que es util, el tema es como y cuando se aplica.
d)Por cierto se dice que las companias farmacologicas ponen dinero para que se agreguen o saquen patologias del dsm.
e)Me imagino de que se trata la hipotesis aunque no estoy segura, creo que debe estar relacionada con la idea de que con tan solo cumplir las condiciones higienicas (ej: promover el deporte y la socializacion)basicas de la poblacion seria mucho mas effectivo para mejorar el promedio de la salud mental, que invertir ese dinero en el uso del remedio (en este caso las tecnicas psiquiatricas).
Muchas gracias y porfa dime si no te queda algo claro o hay alguna explicacion que te interesaria entender mejor, ya que cuando tenga mas tiempo lo miro bien y te lo explico.

Mariana Soffer said...

jinsky: Welcome to my blog, thank you very much for your precise appreciation of the post. I think that what you say applies for practically all the areas, not just what I talk about here. It is a wise way of dealing with everything.

Yeah perception, but maybe putting things in practice is fundamental also.
I saw you have a very interesting blog, an interesting profile indeed, I will check it out with more detail soon, anyway thanks indeed.

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