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United States

Surgeon General Says 1/5 of Americans are Nuts 517

twitter writes "According to this NYT article , Uncle Sam wants to help his anxious (14.9%), mood swinging (7.1%), and even schizophrenic (1.3%) subjects. Dr. Satcher, the surgeon general of the United States, claims "22 percent of the population has a diagnosable mental disorder," and goes on to say that the US needs more and more freely available shrinks. Young people are a higher priority. Is mega - profiling on the way? Is the future tagged drugged and released under surveillance?" Free reg. req. to read - and twitter, who submitted this, assures us that he's not one of the crazy ones, just so you know. *grin*
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Surgeon General Says 1/5 of Americans are Nuts

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  • Wow, I think he's a little off his rocker.

    *grin*

    regards,
  • I'm just waiting for someone to say that 2/5 Europeans must be crazy, because everyone knows that the US is the sanest country in the world!

    mumblemumblearmsraces...claimingallmuslimsonperman entjihad...stillbelievethatcommunismi ssomethingtobefeared

    I dunno.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    And she tells me that her profs keep encouraging everyone to look into psych+law as a career, because of this trend. The need for people to diagnose and treat people with mental illnesses will only grow if the nature of the world stay's the same. It's no conincidence that mental illnesses are growing at roughly the same rate as divorces - they have a very high correlation, since the damage done when you are very young can effect you for the rest of your life, without your even knowing it. That's why trained professionals to help us sort out our sordid past will be even more in demand in the upcoming years... Throw the whole Y2K/Millenium mess into the mix and all the nuts start coming out. And I won't EVEN get into the Linux zealots :) (j/k!)
  • "Diagnosable mental disorder" doesn't equate to "nuts". People who are tense in social situations might be "diagnosable" as having some sort of anxiety disorder if it's severe enough or interferes with their activities - but that doesn't make them crazy by decree, much less raise the specter of universal surveillance.

    (Which is not to say that the way the law abrogates the rights of people with serious mental illness isn't a disgrace. But those laws don't cover everyone with any condition listed in the DSM [appi.org].)

  • by jw32767 ( 58363 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @12:22AM (#1467049) Homepage
    It's interesting to note that mental illness has come to the attention of the media and the public is a big way in the last 10-15 years. With this finding (22% of people are mentally ill), I wonder if this is mearly an artifact of social conditions and dietary problems in today's society, or whether 22% of people all through history have had these kind of mental problems. I don't know, but it would seem to me that people have gotten along fine in the past 2000 years...
  • I kinda wish I didn't use all my moderator points in the "how to fix /." thread last night.

    Don't post just for the sake of posting. I'm sure the old hard drives at Andover don't need any more strain. Especially for pointless vacuous drivel.

    Go ahead and nuke me down for OT, it doesn't matter much. If we want /. to get fixed, we have to do it logged in. While only AC's complain, nobody will take it all that seriously. Be unpopular, complain while logged in. Maybe once people start sacrificing their precious karma (really, who cares?) others will start doing it as well, until karma is no longer our focus here.

    My $/50

    (5VCK4Z!)
  • by sufi ( 39527 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @12:22AM (#1467051) Homepage
    Hey - the country that spends the most money in the world on psychs and shrinks already wants more?

    How can this be, are we just inventing new disorders so that we can all be unique in our illness?

    The stresses of life are always increasing, and we are having to work harder and harder to stay afloat, we have so many expectations and pressures that it doesn't surprise me that mental health is on a downward spiral. We don't have *time* to stay sane.

    Perhaps it's time to promote a more natural and holistic approach to mental health and mental illness, how about promoting meditation, peaceful time, walks in the woods, true relaxing things. But oh no, we don't have time to do those things do we... maybe we should just do the prozac thing instead!

    Why does GenX seem so very appealing now??

    Hohum
  • Mental illness covers a whole raft of things.

    Take depression, for instance. Clinical depression is the flu of mental illnesses. It is easily treated by counselling and, if nessesarry, drugs. It kills a lot of people, though.

    Why is that different to someone who is (say) going blind? They no longer see the world they way other people do. Things they used to be able to do easily they can no longer do. Some forms of blindness can be treated - but counselling is always needed.

    What's the difference? Is it just the stigma attached to having something wrong with your head?

    I know a girl who is increadibly smart, funny, pretty and wonderful. She stopped breathing at birth, and nearly died. If they hadn't got oxygen to her she would have been severly brain damaged. As it is, she occasionally has short (1-2 second) blackouts where she "loses time".

    Is omething like that a mental illness or a physical illness.

    Yes, there are differneces, but no more between mental illnesses and physical ones that different physical ones.

  • by PD ( 9577 )
    That's MISTER Nuts to you, buster.

  • Ignore the Y2K/Millenium / Linux zealots quip. This is very true. Almost everybody I know who has some sort of mental disorder also had problems as a child. They were abused by one or more of their parents, relatives, and or schoolmates. Think twice before you let somebody abuse some one else.

  • last year i was diagnosed as being mentally ill and after i ran around the city naked but not petrified in a dazed state of mind the police came and locked me up then the doctors told me i was mentally ill and needed to be treated cause i had a chemical brain imbalance but i refused to take the pills so they give me a shot in my ass and i didn't like that so after a few times i agreed to take the medication orally after a few months they told me i was doing better and could be discharged and go home as long as i kept getting therapy and that's what i did.

    now i'm sane and normal or so everyone says but life can bite ya in the ass sometimes so ya just gotta take it in stride but sometimes i wish there was a better world where people aren't such assholes and everything wasn't so shitty and i think i need to get laid.

    sorry for the strange AC rant but i needed to get that out. thank you for your support.

  • Abraham Lincoln was known to suffer from depression.

    Winston Churchill was Manic Depressive (ie. Bipolar Disorder).

    Edgar Allen Poe had something, I can't remember what.

    Today, we know mental illness exists. We've known it for a long time, but it's much better understood today, so more people are diagnosed. That doesn't mean that it's a recent phonomenon.


    Man's unique agony as a species consists in his perpetual conflict between the desire to stand out and the need to blend in.

  • My female significant other, is a psych/english major, which means she takes lots of wierd but useless classes. One of her 200 level courses began with a 20 min. segment of video tape showing a "average man of the street" (i.e. this individual had no mental problems of clinical worth) being asked questions about his life, work, etc. Then the class was told that the full tape was given to undergrads, grads, psychologist, psycharitists (sp?) and they were asked to try and diagnos if he had any mental illness or what not. It was found that there was a high correlation between years education in psychology and the number/amount/severity of mental illness diagnosised in the videoed man. With most of the psycharitists (sp?) diagnosing multiple problems and the undergrads mostly giving him a clean bill of health. The performers of the study wrote it up and published it somewhere, much to the chagrin of the well educated psychology degreee holder. Lastly the class was warned not to be looking for what they wanted to find, or they would more than likely find it wether or not it was there.

    Which finally gets to my point, that the Surgeon General studied hundreds of extremely psych-educated studies all looking for mental illness in the general populace. I would be extremely leary of the conclusions without strict review of the sampling process and what-not.
  • Sigh.

    It is a bad shrink who responds to every problem with drugs.

    Talking about it is probably the best treatment, with drugs for extreme cases in addition to talking.

    I've done both, and realised when I got off the drugs that I feel no different now than with the drugs. It was the talking that made the difference. The drugs may clear up your mind so that talking may have an impact, but drugs alone won't do a damn thing.
  • by Dacta ( 24628 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @01:43AM (#1467065)

    A lot of people here seem to be suggesting that this report would classify them as mentally ill becuase they like to be on their own, rather than socialize.

    I don't think this report is talking about that. I'll post the bit that seems to be most appropriate. Make your own conclusions, but to me, this is very different from the computer geek type of person who is so forthright about their opinions on Slashdot. (From http://www.nih.gov/mhsgrpt/chap ter4/sec2.html#types [nih.gov])

    Social Phobia
    Social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, describes people with marked and persistent anxiety in social situations, including performances and public speaking (Ballenger et al., 1998). The critical element of the fearfulness is the possibility of embarrassment or ridicule. Like specific phobias, the fear is recognized by adults as excessive or unreasonable, but the dreaded social situation is avoided or is tolerated with great discomfort. Many people with social phobia are preoccupied with concerns that others will see their anxiety symptoms (i.e., trembling, sweating, or blushing); or notice their halting or rapid speech; or judge them to be weak, stupid, or "crazy." Fears of fainting, losing control of bowel or bladder function, or having one's mind going blank are also not uncommon. Social phobias generally are associated with significant anticipatory anxiety for days or weeks before the dreaded event, which in turn may further handicap performance and heighten embarrassment.

    The 1-year prevalence of social phobia ranges from 2 to 7 percent (Table 4-1), although the lower figure probably better captures the number of people who experience significant impairment and distress. Social phobia is more common in women (Wells et al., 1994). Social phobia typically begins in childhood or adolescence and, for many, it is associated with the traits of shyness and social inhibition (Kagan et al., 1988). A public humiliation, severe embarrassment, or other stressful experience may provoke an intensification of difficulties (Barlow, 1988). Once the disorder is established, complete remissions are uncommon without treatment. More commonly, the severity of symptoms and impairments tends to fluctuate in relation to vocational demands and the stability of social relationships. Preliminary data suggest social phobia to be familial (Rush et al., 1998).

  • by x00 ( 82065 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @02:01AM (#1467081)
    I think you bit a little hard there.

    Yes, Mental Illness is a serious problem for people and is not to be taken lightly. In this day and age, however, people treat the odd "down" feeling as depression.

    Life is more and more stressful (just the daily commute into London is enough for a day) and what Sufi said can be very useful in helping daily stresses and preventing problems from developing further..

    This is not to say that a walk in the woods will solve everything. It certainly won't help schizophrenia, which to my understanding is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, as well as some behavioral problems, but it can help.

    The percentage to me (22%) sounds a little high though. The last time I heard, it was estimated that 10% of the UK had some mental illness...

    I'm not a doctor of anykind.. I just speak from experience...
  • > The thing is that 1/5th of the population can't be abnormal, purely because they are 1/5th of the population!

    I think you've made my point. There is a difference between "abnormal" and experiencing a mental illness. In fact, the article says "Mental disorders are usually not defined by laboratory tests or physiologic abnormalities of the brain..."

    But people do suffer from mental illness, just like they can suffer from the common cold. The problem is that everyone knows when they have a cold and they can easily get help for it. They know they need additional rest and fluids and, if the symptoms progress, they can even see a physician without embarrassment.

    That's not the case with mental illness. Once people realize they have a problem and seek professional help, it's much easier to begin to have a positive attitude and make jokes about being "crazy". It helps to talk about it, and it's a lot easier to talk about with levity.

    On the other hand, those that haven't sought treatment aren't so willing to joke about it. They may already feel ashamed and inferior.

    Now the major spin that this study has been receiving has been that people aren't getting treatment because of the stigma. And /.'s spin is to heighten that stigma.

    In some other context, I wouldn't have a problem with jokes about mental illness, but this is about as tasteful as wearing blackface to an NAACP meeting.
  • by DeadSea ( 69598 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @02:05AM (#1467093) Homepage Journal
    Everybody has some sort of diagnosable mental disorder. Any psychologist could lend their interpretation to your story to make you fit one of the DSM categories.

    Furthermore, there are some conflicting disorders of which you probably have one or the other, especially when it comes to sexuality. (Doesn't like sex enough, likes sex too much.)

    It also doesn't address the degree of the mental disorder. A mild form of a disorder, may actually be benificial sometimes. Just look at the amount of art that comes out of people we would probly slap a disorder on today. (Take Van Goegh for instance).

    And yes, I know which two disorders I would be most likely to be diagnosed with.

  • Welcome to the conspiracy theory of the week.

    A thorough study of mental illness in America, that happens to agree with many other past studies, reveals that 22% of Americans have some kind of mental illness in a given year.

    You would like to blame it on the drug companies.

    You would also like to tell people to "Take a walk in the park" or some other such strategy. If that works for you, great. But don't ask everyone else in the country to rely on your solution, because everyone is unique, and different people respond to different treatments.

    Many people with severe depression respond well to SSRI (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor, like Prozac). Would you take it away from them if it works? Would you rather have someone unable to hold down a job or have any kind of meaningful social interaction so that they can prevent the pharmaceutical companies from getting a few more dollars?

    Most of the 22% are still functional. They may experience a decrease in quality of life, but they manage to get by. For example if someone has a fear of public speaking, and their career suffers because of this, this would be a mental illness. It would also be a treatable mental illness, quite probably without any medication.

    Don't be so quick to judge. Not everyone is as stable as you are. Maybe drugs are used too often in the industry, but a lot of people who do take them are helped by them.
  • by chettm ( 121283 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @03:11AM (#1467098)
    One of my Grandfathers couldn't work for 30 years because of depression. An uncle lost his medical practice and ended up living in a rat-infested old house on disability. My father spent 6 months in a psychiatric hospital getting ECT in the early sixties. My mother never finished her PhD because of psychiatric problems. I myself take Prozac, probably for life. I don't take it to pretend there are no problems in my life: I take it so I can continue to move and speak. I *do* play a musical instrument, and am learning a lot about a culture of the past (17th century english radicals). It's a lot easier to do this when you don't have to spend 75% of your energy fighting with the constant desire to kill yourself. Mental illness is real, and most mentally ill people are not Woody Allen-style self-absorbed whiners. It's very likely my family's illnesses have a genetic basis, and this is probably true for many others. And before you social-darwinist assholes mutter under your breath "So why let them breed?" Let me say I have as much right to be alive as anyone else. I am a gifted teacher, a skilled programmer, a scholar of intellectual property ethics and a loving husband and father. None of those things were possible during the years I spent doing talk therapy and stress management alone. If you back hurts, you may need tylenol or a massage. If it hurts because of the malignant tumor wrapped around your spinal cord, you better try something a little more heavy duty. I have no idea whether 20% of the US population is mentally ill or not. I do know there are a lot of depressed people who never get help. Some idiot called depression "the common cold of Psychiatry". It isn't. Think high blood pressure: often almost invisible from the outside, but a massive killer if ignored and untreated. It would be ridiculous for anyone to go running to the medicine cabinet every time they felt sad or anxious. It would also be ridiculous for some guru of the medical establishment to decide that anyone whose feelings and behavior don't measure up to some abstract standard is "sick" and should be "fixed" with pills. But it is a crime against humanity to mock the wretches consumed by the suffering of depression as "whiners" who need to "get over it". The only people who think psychiatric drugs are poison are those who haven't been eaten alive by a psychiatric disease.
  • Having lived close to several people who have been clinically depressed, I can assure you that drugs can and DO help, in certain cases. Other times, even more drastic measures are needed.

    However, I think that studies like this ("Major anti-depressant company releases study showing that X-percent of americans are depressed") serve to diminish the importance of real psychological problems.
    I'm sorry, but when you're clinically depressed, all the nice walks in the world won't pull you out of it. It's an illness, usually caused by a chemical imbalance. It can be triggered by circumstances, sure, but often depression sets in for no good reason. It's more likely that somebody will GIVE UP playing a musical instrument. After seeing a close family member spend two years primarily sleeping on the couch, not caring about his family or whether he even continued to live, and through several attempts at various drugs, I can assure you it's not just that easy to pull yourself out.
    There's not a clinically depressed person in the world that doesn't desperately want to get better. How can you enjoy life when everything tastes bland, there's no color, and you feel utterly alone in a room full of people?
    Just as proof that this case of depression was clinical and not just some "get some fresh air and feel better" rut, he finally went through a course of ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) which had a startling effect. He's pulled around 180 degrees and is enjoying life to the fullest, even starting a new career. ECT is a drastic treatment with a very high success rate-- even though there are downsides, such as effectively "erasing" one's memory of the months prior to the treatment. It surely is not as simple as "play with a kitten and you're cured."

    You might say somebody with bipolar disorder is just having "mood swings." Well after having (unsuccessfully) dated somebody with a severe case of bipolar disorder, I can assure you that going from a giddy, hyper-active superduperfabulous high and then plummeting to a crying mess in the corner of the room within a span of 20 minutes, for no particular reason, is definitely not a normal thing. You have to be close to somebody with a problem like this to get an idea of what it's really like.

    I can believe that 1/5 of americans have some sort of diagnosable mental disorder, but only a small portion of those will actually require treatment. I do think Prozac is over-prescribed, almost treated as a cure-all, as is Ritalin. However, there are many cases where the drugs (and other treatments) are necessary and actually do work. Don't discount those.
  • What is this guy on about? Sounds like crazy talk to me.

    Better get the medication.

    Nurse!
  • Now lets think about this for a second.
    psychiatrists "cure" by medicating till you got
    the "warm fuzzies"or till you're so flattened out
    as to be inneffectual.
    Behavioralists (psychologists)are really handy if
    your rat gets depressed,but not otherwise.(usually wind up as high school councilors)
    Analysts will help you pick the scabs off any
    psychic damage you have week after week making you
    deal with it,but not promoting much healing.
    All that most people really need is a good
    counciling psychologist to teach them the SKILLS
    neccessary to keep care of their head.Unless one
    is just too far gone or an organic,one doesnt need
    medication or to jump through the hoops of the
    rest of these clowns.
    I find it interesting that "gov't.findings say
    1 in 5 need flattened out with lithium"(thats what
    i boil it down to).Of course then those people
    wouldnt care so much about shady goin's on in
    Washington.Medicated are less likely to try to
    decipher all the crap they hear during this campaign year too.
    "Dont worry big brothers gonna make everything
    alright".Now have another Prozac.
  • huey.

    I remember a documentary on some world health organization. The comment I remember most is the quote that doctors in 3rd world countries are concerned with things like leprosy, cholera, and other communicable deadly diseases. Doctors in America and other "1st world?" countries concern themselves with things like depression and obesity.

    It's true, I'm a cold hearted bastard. No one needs to point that out, but if people can't stay on an even keel while surrounded by the wealth and opulance (sp?) of America then suicide is a decent option. Blow your brains out and quit soiling the gene pool. Remember this is Darwinism in action. People can't cope with the enviroment, so they remove themselves. Eventually, you're just left with the ones that can cope and the species is improved.

    The problem with people today is television, or more correctly, peoples willingness to accept what they see on the TV as plausible. People sit all day looking at soap operas, those shows where people all have maids and butlers/constantly party/wear fancy clothes/take exotic vacations/live in luxurios houses/have affairs/etc but never work/clean house/use the bathroom/etc. Eventually people begin to wonder why their lives aren't as dramatic. Why doesn't my boyfriend bring me flowers and expensive perfumes on a daily basis? Why can't my wife clean house, hold a job and tend to our 4 children all while wearing a ball gown and fancy jewelry as she prepares dinner for 12 guest? Why does my husband have to work all day, and when do I get to go on a 6 month cruise?

    People start believing this shit even if they don't admit it. They develope expectations, and when those expectations aren't fulfilled (which they almost never will be) the person goes into a funk. Reality and their expectations of it are out of kilter, and only one will change.

    The psych's answer to the problem: give 'em drugs and counselling. My answer: grow the fuck up. Life is not TV and TV is not life. Most people are ugly compared to whats on TV. Most people work damned hard to barely get by. 6 month cruises are few and far between, but if you accept that the average persons life has a beautiful side you can have good time daily. Fancy houses, cars and boats are a burden not a blessing unless you can afford to have someone else care for them (or you like caring for them yourself). Quit concentrating on obtaining all the fluff and concentrate on enjoying what you have and watch the depression disappear.

    But of course this neither makes money for anyone nor does it make anyone feel as if they've made a heroic effort to overcome something. I hear it now, "Oh, I spent three years in a depressive funk and was only able to overcome it with intensive counselling and Prozac." All I can say is, "Shut-up you big cry baby. Grow up and get a life."
  • Me thinks the percentage of people spending time on this site who are nuts is probably 80%. Gritsboy, Statue Man and ESR come to mind.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @02:16AM (#1467120)

    Just like there is in selling say.. ummm.. food?

    There is no arguemnt that some drugs are over-prescribed, or are just a waste of time.

    For some people, though, drugs like the anti-depressants you dismiss so easily mean the differnce between life and death by suicide.

    Unless you have been (clinically) depressed you'll say stuff like "Go enjoy life more", or "Go for a walk in the park", and think it makes a difference.

    The only (non-drug) solution I've ever found to deep depression is extremly intense exercise to the point of exhaustion, sleep, eat, exercise, work - work - work, exercise, exhaustion, sleep.....

    When you are really depressed, you can't - mustn't - give yourself time to think. Why do you think depressed people cut themselves? I've done that kind of thing. I don't enjoy the pain, but it keeps your mind off how depressed you are.

    People will say "Can't your friends help you?" When you are depressed you are on your own. You have your own distorted view of what is wrong, and no amount of logical arguement is going to persude you otherwise.

    When I'm not depressed, I'd pay $1000's for there to be a way for me to to take the drugs I need when I am depressed, becuase when I'm depressed there is no way I'm going to take drugs.

    I'm no drug addict, either. I haven't been to a doctor in 5 years. I took some throat lozenges about six months ago. I don't smoke, I drink a little, and that's it.

    Drugs make a difference.

    This is the first time I've ever posted as an AC on Slashdot, and I defended Microsoft (well... a little, at least) in the Mindcraft saga! Does that say something about the stigma mental health patients have?

  • Do you expect any less from Roblimo? How that guy ever was declared a journalist is beyond me. He makes John Katz look like Edward R Murrow.

    1. Surgeon General states 1 in five crazy
    2. Surgeon General states "We need more free shrinks" (i.e. shrinks on the government payroll)
    3. Said shrinks therefor would be under the office of Surgeon General.

    Hmmmmm.


    But then, I must be in the 20%.

  • I can think of a few lifestyle factors that might make some forms of mental illness more common today than in the past.

    I recall reading that minor dehydration can lead to increased irritability and depression, and that USAmericans tend to be slightly dehydrated much of the time due to our penchant for sugary and/or caffeinated beverages.

    Today's USAmericans also tend to get significantly less sleep then folks did a few years back.

    There are known environmental factors which affect the development of the nervous system. Lead exposure is one such - children who grow up in lead-contaminated areas are more likely to end up with poor impulse control and behave violently.

    And families - which, when functional, are an important psychological support mechanism - are more likely to be broken up and scattered.

  • umm...hello!

    It is being rather ignorant to ask someone with a mental disorder to simply "stop", or "act right", or "think". Overdrugging is an issue and drugs are not required for every single thing that the big fat pharmaceuticals tell us they are, HOWEVER, for many people, a significant improvement in their /life/ can be provided by drugs which counter-act their problem.

    As for ADD, it is a proven and diagnosable disease, resulting from a lack of some chemical in the brain. The lack of the chemical makes patients brains feel like they need more activity and they become fidgety, distracted, inattentive, etc. You can't just say "behave!" or "act/think right!". That's just plain stupid. When they are given the chemical that restores the balance in the brain they behave "normal" and both them and people around them have better lives.

    Unless you are incredibly think, I can't see how you can say that children are not be tought safe sex, abstinence or health risks. It is shoved down their throat every day. I think we're doing the job. The federal government even runs abstinence commercials. I don't know who you talk to, but nobody I have ever known or can think of would or has ever considered "just give them the morning after pill" a solution.

    You are over-hyping a problem which doesn't exist. In fact, perhaps the other extreme is more prevelent. /Psychotherapizing/ EVERYTHING.

    A lot of diseases are just plain biological, and have to be treated biologically.

    Jazilla.org - the Java Mozilla [sourceforge.net]
  • I think the problem is that normal sadness/depression is too often mislabeled as a mental disorder, either by the psycs or by the people themselves. Wouldn't life be great if all we had to do when we got sad was pop a pill that made us happy?

    No, the problem is when folks like you who have not bothered to educate themselves on the issue continue to propogate inaccurate stereotypes.

    Anti-depressants do NOT make you happy. They just make you not depressed. The first glaring sign of your ignorance on the topic is your lumping sadness/depression together as if they were the same thing. It's normal to be sad when bad things happen. Nobody will argue with that.

    Clinical depression is a medical condition with physical causes. Taking medication for such a condition is no different than a diabetic taking insulin. In both cases the patient is simply supplementing their supply of a chemical that their body isn't producing enough of. (Well, it's more complicated than that, but that's close enough for this discussion.)

    Yes, being sad is part of a normal life and it's good to learn to deal with it in a healthy way. But being sad ALL THE TIME, even when things are great, isn't a normal part of life, and someone who has found themselves unable to feel happy about good things may very well need medical attention.

  • I think the stigma with mental illness has lessened to some degrees in the past few decades. There were clearly mentally ill people before, but they were generally locked away in sanitariums and ignored by most of the population.

    I had a great aunt who had Alzheimers disease. Her husband, who grew up during the Great Depression, would never admit that there was anything wrong with her. He did everything he could to hide her condition until they simply couldn't take care of themselves and my parents moved them in with us.

    She had severe symptons. She seldom recognized people. She always hid her stuff because she thought people were trying to steal from her. Once hidden, she couldn't find stuff, which just reinforced her feeling that people were stealing from her. Through all this and more, her husband was too ashamed to admit that there was anything wrong with her. We made sure that she got all the help she needed and made her as comfortable as possible. She would have never received any help a generation earlier.
  • Nod...

    I thought it was perfectly inept of roblimo to use that headline after the disclaimer about social stigma that Dateline talked about.

    Here Katz is pouring out his heart about the cruelties of the American social standard and Rob decides to preserve a little of that. Too bad moderators can't chew on stories, that one would get a few "Flamebait/Troll" ratings from people that understand.

    I've got close friends who have all sorts of "mental disorder" and don't think them any worse for it. ADD, clinical depression, seasonal affective disorder... is that at all comparative to accute schizophrinea or some other debillitating disease?

    And what about those people debillitated by accute mental disorder. Call em "nuts" and lock them up? Diagnose and medicate "en masse?" Sure if you want to run the US that way I suppose it will work, but I think I'll emmigrate faster than you can say "compulsory examinations."

    Mental "disfunction" is only relative to what is normal. Some people are paranoid and refuse to use public toilets and wash their hands 50 times a day. Some people don't give a damn and would eat their lunch off the floor of the "Trainspotting" bathroom scene. Who's sicker here? Who needs medication? Maybe they both just need some careful, understanding person to talk to. (and one that won't just churn them out the revolving door with a "Loveline" sort of answer - oh you're related to an alcoholic and have obsessive behavior, go see a specialist)
  • "Drugs don't make any difference"

    Pardon? You couldn't be more wrong, arrogant, or ignorant. I'm sure you like being smug and sarcastic, but give it up, we're not impressed.

    Anti-depressants are a drug like any other drug. Over-priced? I'm sure they are. If so, there are plenty of cheap alternative medicines like St. Johns Wort or tryptophan (although they are not nearly as potent, and so they might not help a more serious case).

    I'm on an anti-depressant right now. I probably will be for quite a while. There is *no* "haze -- what sort of information are you basing *that* on? What there is is a somewhat easier time dealing with the mood swings I experience if I *don't* take something. It's a chemical imbalance, you moron. It's treatable, and no one should be ashamed to use it if they need it.

    Drugs aren't the answer -- anyone who expects that has been misinformed (and no competant doctor is promising anything like that to their patients). Of course lifestyle and attitude changes are needed. But without the medicine to correct the neurochemical problems, you can struggle for years and not see results (because you have that immovable physical block in the way).
  • Yes, it would be nice if we could holistically and homeopathically treat everything. But we can't, and we can't simply drop /all/ drugs for just another form of medicine. Both can coexist, and they will have to. Modern life is so woefully different from anything our body has ever evolutionarily encountered. Since we can't simply remove ourselves from modern life (well, some can), we have to have some "hard" medicine to cope. Walks in the park are fine, but as the pain-killer commercial says, I'm going to have a meeting in 5 minutes whether my headache is gone or not. Sometimes there is just no time for a walk in the park. Same for many things. We can't possibly expect to change our whole lifestyle so radically...we just have to do what we can, and supplement the rest with "reparative" (instead of "preventative") medicine.

    Jazilla.org - the Java Mozilla [sourceforge.net]

  • No, you are wrong. A sceptical attitude towards this sort of sensationalism is very healthy, the true insult to the people who really are mentally ill is that every little depression is now being classified as a mental illness.

    Anxiety, depression, stress, and even mild degrees of schizophrenia (and yes I know very well that schizophrenia is very different from the "somethines I'm Jack, sometimes I'm Jill" jokes) are normal. You do not have to be mentally ill because you are going through a bad period in life, or because you choose to seclude yourself, or because you have a bad temper. Only when we realize this can we help the people who really are sick, and yes, nuts.


    -
    We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.
  • What do you base that on? Doctors are ethical as much as any other group is ethical, i.e. it varies from person to person. Dr Mengele anyone? How about the doctors in the US who participated in programs testing the effects of radiation on unsuspecting citizens?

    Just because someone has an MD, that does not make them ethical. In fact, given how much most doctors charge hard working people for necessary services (then take 3 days off a week to golf), I'd say the medical profession isn't a sterling example of ethics.

  • Van Goegh(sic) was WAY nuts. This is the guy who cut of his ear for fun, and later suicided. Ypu can see the progress of his mental disease throught the WIERDNESS of his paintings.

    Anyone would consider him for the booby hatch.

  • It's not that there's a "norm" that you have to adhere to. Well, I take that back. If you're in highschool, ignoramous school administration tries to apply a norm to the way you act. But, in the time-honored words of The Frantics, "they be turkeys."

    Whether a behavior is considered a disorder is when it is disruptive or debilitating, or dangerous.

    Crying for no reason is both disruptive and debilitating. Not caring when you cross the street because it doesn't matter much if you get hit is dangerous.

    I don't think the pharmeceutical firms are without sin on this issue, they do overprice and some of them have probably generalized. Don't fault the researchers who create the drugs, fault the PHB's that market them.

    Again, like other posters have said when responding to this kind of thing, I can see you've never been there, so you just don't understand.

    Depression, clinical depression, when it comes back to someone who's been fighting it, when it's there it's like a warm blanket that insulates you from reality, and makes you feel like things are the way they ought to be. That depression is the way you were ment to be. It's comforting, it's addictive, and it's incredibly destructive.

    I've never taken antidepressants, but there have been people close to me who have. They don't "cure" the mental disorder, nobody but the PHB's and the ignorant say they do.

    What they do is allow someone who knows that their depression is destructive to assert their willpower over the things that are happening to them - to remove that warm blanket so that they can confront reality, because they know that even if it is an ugly and difficult reality, it needs to be confronted.

    Drugs alone will only add to the emotional trauma. But carefully controlled drugs and a willingness to slay the beast that controlls your life is far better than wallowing in the protective silence of emotional isolation.

  • A number of people have noted that apparently, somehow, our ancestors got along without being treated for mental illness, so why can't we? I think this is a valid question, and I think there are several places where the answer can be found.

    First, we live in a much more tightly packed society than we did 100 years ago. IIRC, 100 years ago, the worlds population was only 1 billion and the US population was only around 100 million. Today, we are looking at 6 billion and around 275 million respectively. When you have someone this tightly packed, anti-social behaviours become much more dangerous. Instead of the Lizzie Borden murders which shocked a nation with 2 dead people, you have the Columbine massacre with half a dozen dead. Why? More targets, closer together. Furthermore, when you don't have enough elbow room, the frustrations caused tend to aggravate any latent mental disorders. Even worse, high population density tends to allow people with mental illnesses to "hide from society". Since nobody really knows everybody anymore, it is far too easy for people to slip through the cracks.

    However, I do think that there is another possible problem that is often overlooked: the crap we eat. It is well established that many foods have psychotropic effects that are not well understood: just ask any woman about chocolate around "that time of month". Repeat after me: sugar does have a noticeable effect on the behaviour of small children. I know; I have one. Give him candy and he will be insane for the rest of the day. And we've only had sugar in massive quantities since the start of the twentieth century -- about the time everyone seems to have started to slip their cams. I'm not going to get into what I think some of the psychotropic effects might be (I'm not a P-Sychiatrist); I'll just note that many foods definitely have them.

    As someone who used to work for a consortium of Physicians, let me say that you should not discount the money effect on the equation. Designer drugs like ZoLoft, Luvox, and Prozac are some of the most heavily advertised drugs out there. Literally, insanely beautiful women come to Doctor's offices, fix lunch on-site for the Doctor and their whole staff, then hand the Doctor a bunch of samples. If you don't believe me, the next time you are in a Doctor's office look around and count the amount of junk that the Doctor has from various drug manufacturers. And this junk is rarely for anti-biotics: it's for Zoloft, Luvox, Prozac, occasionally you'll see some for Claritin or something along those lines. But usually, it's the psych drugs. And these medicine's are IMHO radically overprescribed: in fact, most doctor's do nothing to accurately diagnose mental conditions before trying Zoloft and friends. This is a Bad Thing.

    Finally, I am really, really concerned that the Pols are trying to turn mental illnesses into such a big issue in this campaign (take a look at Tipper Gore sometime). They simply are not a national policy problem. I don't buy the whole "awareness" gig: usually, "awareness" campaigns boil down to "creating an issue" in my book. Even the awareness that is advocated seems to me to be a way for teachers and parents to assuage their guilt that they have been so negligent in their jobs that kids have to be drugged to sit in class.

  • I think there is a bit of a stigma present on mental disorders, perhaps evinced by Roblimo's use of the term "crazy".

    Not every person with a psychological disorder is a psychotic. And there is very little distinction between normal and non-normal. Mental health is a spectrum. Every body has their own little mental foibles. Just like the bacteria that live with us, you can't reach adulthood and NOT have your own little mental abnormalities. It's part of life. Somebody bites his nails, somebody taps, somebody talks in their sleep, somebody doesn't like touching public fixtures, somebody is nervous in a crowd, somebody can't stand the noise...it's all a spectrum and few people are more-normal than others. Some people, unfortunately, have pretty extreme cases, which are /usually/ tied to a chemical imbalance and is no "fault" of their own. It is very irresponsible and 16th century to treat the mentally ill with such a stigma. They are no different than someone who has leukemia, or cancer, or any other physical disease, yet they are treated with such disrespect. Grow up.

    Jazilla.org - the Java Mozilla [sourceforge.net]
  • I suppose that you were diagnosed sometime in your adult life and the motivation to overmedicate [slashdot.org] never touched your doctors. Or have you had any experience with overmedication?

    I think it's a balance to maintain... no, non-medicinal cures usually can't fix clinical disorders... yes, sometimes drugs make some mental health patients worse...

    so where do you draw the line?
  • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @03:48AM (#1467192) Homepage
    Two observations.

    First, the question whether 30-something percent of Americans are diagnosable with a mental disorder is pretty meaningless. Because it all depends on your definition of a mental disorder.

    In reality, there is a whole spectrum of conditions from one extreme (let's keep it one-dimensional for simplicity, although it's not) of Maslow's super-people who are wise, strong, sensitive, can take it, etc. etc. to the other extreme of heavy-duty clinical disorders when people cannot survive on their own. People at extremes are fairly rare and it's obvious whether they are mentally ill or healthy. The situation is more complicated for the mess in the middle. Basically, you can pick any line and call people to the left of it "mentally sick" and people to the right of it "mentally healthy". Depending on your definitions (where you draw the line) you can have from 10 to 90% of the population either sick or healthy -- you choose!

    The second issue is of treating mental disorders with drugs. Again, it's fairly obvious that heavy-duty disorders need to be treated with drugs, because that the only thing that (sometimes) works -- at least the only thing we know of. The interesting question again concerns the mess in the middle, and the question is: do we all want to be well-adjusted? In each society there is sort of a picture of a "mentally healthy" individual and those that deviate from this picture are supposed to work on getting closer to it. But is it a Good Thing? I think it can be shown that most of the world's greatest literature and poetry, and to a lesser degree music, was created by severely maladjusted people. It is likely that have they been treated to become "normal", no masterpieces would have been created.

    The question of "do you want to be more normal?" is actually a very deep one and has to do with the person's identity. If I have periodic situational depressions, is it part of me? If I make them go away, does it make "me" less of me? There are two extremes, neither of which seems to work: one is "when severely depressed, take walks in the woods", and the other is "if you wake up in bad mood, take the yellow pill and it will pass". Where the right middle is, I am not sure.

    Yours in craziness
    Kaa
  • It's "classic" OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and there's a lot out there that'll help. I suggest seeing the OCD FAQ, which goes into detail on what can be done.

    From what I understand, it usually requires brief periods of taking some fairly low-strength meds to virtually wipe it out. You can go fine, sometimes for years, before the next bout.

  • by KahunaBurger ( 123991 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @02:42AM (#1467199)
    I am, like many others, writing from work, or I would take the time to tear into you the way you deserve. But likely it wouldn't do any good. Let me just inform the rest of the /. readership that this asshole has no idea what he is talking about. I have spent most of my life with clinical depression, and the last several year on medication for it. Walks in the wood, socializing, and other things the previous poster flecklessly recomends will help you feel better when you are situationally depressed. When I was chemically depressed, I had friends, enjoyable pasttimes and people who loved me. I also had episodes of unshakable depression. You don't tell diabetics that they would have more energy if they just stopped taking insulin and got some fresh air, don't insult depressives the same way.

    And before you dismiss me as "lost in the fog of prozac" maybe you should learn something about modern antidepressants instead of spouting your own assumptions as revealed truth. Prozac and similar drugs give me no "fog." In fact, on a moment to moment or even day to day basis, they have no overall effect on my mood. My kitten purring makes me happy, fighting with my NICOE makes me sad. But when I look back over my week, I don't have any incidents where I spent 6 hours curled up in a ball crying for no reason, or wandered across the street without looking on the assumption that if I got hit by a truck it wouldn't matter much.

    And if those kind of unprovoked depressions are something you don't have to worry about in your life - CONGRADULATIONS! You probably aren't clinicaly depressed.

    The only thing I have ever regretted about psychoactive medication is that lies like those told in this post prevented me for so long from getting the help I needed. Frankly, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  • There are several things going here at once, and I think it's necessary to separate them before discussion will help.

    Mental health in the US is completely ignored unless you have money to pay for treatment (or are violently wacko of course.) All you have to do is talk to and watch the homeless in your city for a while, and you'll find some rather obvious cases. Part of the legacy of the Reagan years is that public mental health care is no longer available, the streets are our mental hospitals for those that can't afford better -- and it's hard for them to maintain family ties or keep a job. The mentally ill have been abandoned by the very same government bemoaning the lack of treatment. This is rather cruel treatment, but the mentally ill have never fared well, cf. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey.

    Mental health is sometimes used as an excuse for behavior control. If a child is unruly, don't worry about why too much, just find a drug that quiets them down. If a child has behavior problems, and you have money, just institutionalize them over the summer so they are out of the way. While some children can benefit from such treatment, inarguably, it is applied to many more that are only lacking love or attention from parents. Drugs are cheaper than time though.

    I find it rather amusing that the same government so concerned with the "War On Drugs" is peddling pharmaceuticals out of the other side of their mouth. Oh, just say "no" to free(as in speech) mood altering drugs, I get it. There should be no doubt that there is a marketing side to this desire to solve mental health problems thru drugs. It may be good therapy in many cases, but don't assume it is always applied where appropriate. Profits increase if it is applied more widely than it should be.

    Mental health problems continue to be a serious stigma in terms of employment and housing. We need some real education on the subject, and this is the only part of the government's announcement I find valuable.

    A good start on the problem would be making sure everyone who *wants* mental healthcare can get it. It's in no one's best interest to have the mentally dysfunctional wandering the streets I think.
  • by gleam ( 19528 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @03:52AM (#1467210) Homepage
    Sure, I'm just one more guy in a long list of people disagreeing with you...but hear us out. I'll agree that the medication may be overpriced (my 50mg zoloft is $2 a pill, I think), but overpriced is very relative.

    That $2 a day has helped me survive my first semester of college. For all of high school, I would have breakdowns, complete, utter, intense breakdowns, every few weeks. Stress would build up, and tiny thing after tiny thing would start to set me off. I'd cry in the middle of class for no reason, I'd cry at home for no reason. I struck out at family, friends, loved ones, when they were trying to help me. You've clearly never experienced true depression, and for that, you're extremely lucky.

    It's not fun. Yes, taking walks, seeing movies, exercizing, and whatnot all help...but they don't help enough.

    I had a breakdown a couple months ago, my first at college. It was right on schedule, too. And you know what? I barely made it to class that week or two. I barely left my room, I barely spoke to anyone. I sat it out, and wasn't functional for two days. It was not cool.

    So over thanksgiving I went to my doctor, and we talked about my breakdowns. My family on both sides has clinical depression in the gene pool, and I was lucky enough to receive some bad blood. I'm not the only one in my extended family on antidepressants, and both my parents have been on them. They aren't a panacaea, and they aren't, despite what you may believe, "happy pills".

    I like to think of them as "not sad" pills. I'm unbelievably stressed right now. I have a 10 page paper due in 3 hours, and a final exam just after that. My weekend has been hell, and I've had almost no time to myself. And you know what? I can handle it. I don't like it, and I feel the weight, but taking those walks, and doing those things you suggested help a LOT--but only when I can bring myself to do them.

    Depression is nasty. It shuts you down while it takes control, and it's hard to predict. I have a chemical imbalance in my body, and my zoloft helps correct it. It's not like I don't get sad, or I don't have emotions anymore--I do. They just don't shut me down completely.

    So please, realize that you're lucky--realize that we aren't all as lucky as you. Some people in this thread were genuinely hurt by your statements, and that shouldn't be something anyone aims for, and I'm sure you didn't. Nonetheless, we're no different from you.

    On a final note, for a little while I thought the same things that you think...until I realized that four years of trying to work it out on my own didn't help. So now I'm seeing a counselor, and I'm on my not-sad pills. And you know what? I'm doing okay.

    I'm not doing great, but antidepressants don't make you do great. They make you *you*. I felt like a different person when I was depressed...now I feel like me all the time, and I think that that is the most important thing anyone, or any pill, can give you.

    Warmest regards,
  • > There are *far* better ways to deal with stress than to pop a pill.

    This is an ignorant statement.

    Mental illness isn't just stress. You've obviously never been exposued to much mental illness.

    Why don't you tell the patient who says to you "the demons keep telling me to hurt myself", "Hey why not take a walk, take up an instrument..."

    arn

  • Your aunt got better treatment than my great-grandmother.

    It was the late 1940's, she was showing signs of what might have been either Alzheimers or just plain senility. What was the accepted cure in that time?

    Frontal lobotomy.

    To say that it failed to cure the problem is an understatement. At least with medications, one can always stop taking them if they don't work.


    Geoff
  • I think it comes down to drugs being the "band aid fix" and lifestyle changes/homeopatic being the preventitive medicine. I have seen people who are depressed. And really, I know the difference between depressed and sad (I am not sure most people do).

    I understand that depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and I believe it. I have spent hours trying to convince someone that they should at least look into the idea of getting medication. I only question what causes it? The chemistry inside of a biological system is too complex for modern science to figure out.

    Mental medication should not be administered without psycology. Psychiatry and psycology should go hand in hand but often don't. I think it is an abomidation that anyone takes prozac/paxil/whatever and then thinks, "I'm fixed!" I know that there are some cases where it is too difficult but most people should be searching for the source of the problems. Mental health does have a stigma attached to it in the USA (and elsewhere) because we think that it is these people who have problems. I have come to believe that everyone has problems but it is people in mental health that have decided or been forced to deal with it.

    My personal belief is that 90-100% of all people could gain something from therapy. Few choose to because strong people can deal with it without help. Asking for help should not be shameful. I diddn't need help, but I am much more satisfied with my life now that I am examining where I am coming from, what I want, who my friends are, what makes me uncomfortable and why, etc...

    America is all about funding tertiary care not primary prevention.

    Pharmacuticals would love if every american took their drug even if they don't need it.

    -pos

    The truth is more important than the facts.
  • by bpdlr ( 3132 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @12:24AM (#1467244) Homepage Journal

    The full version of the report is available here [nih.gov].

    Hee hee, I always knew you Yanks were crazy ;-)

  • by Otto ( 17870 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @04:02AM (#1467245) Homepage Journal
    Is this why pharmaceuticals spend BILLIONS on research, and labs employing thousands of scientists and doctors? I'm not trying to exonerate the big fat pharmaceutical companies, but after they spend those BILLIONS, they have to make it up somehow. They're not selling sugar pills you know.

    I agree, and no, it's not all crap. But I agree with the original poster for the most part. A lot of these drugs are developed with good intentions in mind, but when they're giving them to the wrong people, what the hell are you going to do?

    Remember that it's not the drug company who decides who should take the drug, often times. Usually it's some doctor who only knows what little he's read about it. And of course the drug company wants to sell it to everyone they can. They did spend a whole hell of a lot developing it. Everything is not simple in this world, bud.

    ADD, the disease, is not a simple matter of bad parenting or bad behavior. If it is, then the stupid doctor is misdiagnosed and /unnecessarily/ prescribed drugs. Drugs should be prescribed when and if they are necessary. The problem is in the diagnosis, NOT the drug. The drug does help the disease, but it is worthless if the kid didn't have ADD in the first place! This is also the fault of parents who think they can just "fix" their children whom they've brought up poorly by giving them pills. This is totally irrelevant to ADD.

    Unfortunately, no, it is not irrelevant. The original posters point was that the culture looks as drugs as a "quick fix" solution, when in fact it is nothing of the kind. The real problem is that majority of diagnoses for ADD are wrong/incorrect. And this goes for a lot of mental health disorders as well. The parent/patient just wants a quick fix so they accept it. The doctor wants to make his cash, so be it. The drug company wants to sell their drugs, so be it. The whole damn system is geared towards a quick fix solution, and it's damn hard for the average man to fight against it. So, the average man doesn't try, and pretty soon he's of the same quick fix "better living thru pharmacology" mindset that everyone else is. It's a self perpetuating system and it's just wrong.

    This has been so totally disproven. Where were you? Sugar does not cause hyperactivity any more than butter will help a burn wound.

    Never heard of the butter one, but I got pretty nutty as a kid when I ate sugar. Of course, I was eating it straight, so maybe that would have something to do with it.

    Oh, and a "study" is always secondary to the real-world evidence of your eyes and ears. This is science we're talking about here.

    These factors are all irrelevent to the disease of ADD. Do you tell a schizophrenic to move to a better neighborhood? Or a clinically depressed person to get a better education? Or someone with OCD to watch less tv?

    No, but I sure as hell wouldn't say, "here's a bunch of drugs for ya, buddy! These'll fix ya right up!" Any treatment should look at the overall situation, not simply one aspect of it.

    ---
  • Don't take this the wrong way, but it seems to me that the quote from the article "Many people with mental disorders ... fear discrimination because of the stigma attached to mental illness, the study found" could be justified by the Slashdot headline "Surgeon General Says 1/5 of Americans are Nuts." Now, being an insensitive clod myself, I can appreciate the headline, and I find it amusing. But, at the same time, I realize that the word "nuts" might not be the most positive word to use.
  • > Yes, it most certainly is. If you're diagnosed,
    > or more accurately labelled, with a syndrome,
    > you can't have a gun, just the same as if
    > someone charged you with a domestic violence.
    > Mind you, you aren't convicted of anything.
    > It's a very effective way to implement gun
    > control.

    That is a frightening thought.

    While I would definitly agree that there are
    psychological disorders that should preclude
    a person from operating dangerous devices (like
    a gun), the idea that this action can be
    "prescibed" so broadly is frightening.

    {iinfo about compnesation deleted}
    > Now you know what's driving this.

    Well yes and no. I think some of these things are
    motives at the local level, I do not doubt that
    22% of americans are diagnosable. However...
    what does that mean?

    I Could probably be diagnosed with ADD right now.
    Thats certainly a mental health issue. However,
    I function pretty well. I spent an entire year
    depressed once. It sucked, but hey...its normal
    shit happens.

    No to go on my personal tirade...I think this is
    a sign of a sick society. I think that Western
    society in general has been on a rather dangerous
    path for at least a few thousand years now.
    However...I can only really comment in much depth
    on what I see around me today.

    What does our society do?

    We glorify money and abhor real spiritual and
    emotional growth. We have accepted and even
    glorified the idea that the few get rich and live
    lives of privilidge, off the work of others.
    Someone with money just has to put their money
    in the right place (think stocks) and overnight
    their money could double or tripple, or more.
    All sorts of more money, for doing nothing.

    We have completely undermined the very foundations
    of our society. These days parents usually both
    work, leaving noone to care for children. The
    traditional teachers of social skills and morality
    are gone.

    Have you ever wondered why tribal societies often
    have rites of passage for children as they enter
    adulthood? Have you noticed that as a culture
    we don't. We have a few fixed ages where suddenly
    "Oh look, your a man here are the keys". We have
    trivialized everything.

    We are the "Fast Food Culture". Don't get me wrong
    I am not arguing for abandoning cities and
    breaking up into tribes and hunting wild game.
    Technology is great, its fine, but our culture is
    sick. If we don't fix it, it WILL get worst.

    Then again...maybe im just mentally ill
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I took Paxil and Depakote for 2 years after being diagnosed with bipolar during a major depressive episode. While I was apprehensive about taking drugs, I decided to give them a change.

    The 'haze' you speak about, for me, was none existant. I was actually able to concentrate on what was going on around me instead of being overwhelmed by voices, lights, etc.

    The pdoc told me that most people (~80%) can stop taking medication after 2 years and 'fully recover.' I took it for 2 years and stopped.

    I would say that I've had a succesful treatment. Others I've known have had less than succesful treatment with the same drugs I've used.

    It seems to me you just had an unsuccessful treatment and are bitter or you are just talking out of your ass.

  • by PhilHibbs ( 4537 ) <snarks@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @12:28AM (#1467256) Homepage Journal
    "Mental health problems do not affect three or four out of every five persons, but one out of every one."

  • You missed my point. Where did I say ALL doctors are unethical or ALL doctors play golf 3 days a wekk. I happen to know a few who do. I also know some very hard working doctors (hard working != ethical). I also know some very ethical ones.

    My point was that you cannot simply state that doctors as a profession have ethics, any more than most other professions.

    At least I log in to make my comments, right or wrong. They are my opinons, nothing more :)
  • Perhaps he needs looking at, he seems to be showing signs of anxiety about Americans
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @02:57AM (#1467268) Homepage Journal
    First, as someone who has taught hyper-intelligent 11-year-olds, I can say absolutely that those who are exceptionally gifted are usually bored to tears in schools, become disruptive, get labelled as "bad" or "defective" and end up on skid row.

    People do not tolerate difference well.

    On the other hand, this is not what the report is talking about. The report is talking about paranoia. Schizo-effective disorders. Manic depression. Depression. Mania. Schizophrenia. OCD. ADHD. MPD. BPD. All these lovely, and VERY VERY REAL disorders that destroy an untreated person's ability to think AT ALL.

    Imagine counting numbers in your head, and being unable to stop. It'll drive you nuts after a while and it's all due to a minor chemical imbalance. Very trivial to sort out. Doesn't need to affect you otherwise. The only difference is you no longer have those damn numbers there.

    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders are no fun, and have nothing to do with being different. They are often "harmless" (having to wash your hands 60 times, whilst whistling the theme to Star Trek, remembering that the soap must always be to the right of the hot water tap, and your feet are exactly 3 centimeters apart), but they are always disruptive in some way. (Any difference from the "programmed" routine will lead to the person freaking out and feeling the world is about to end. Literally.) That's not a fun way to be, and, again, has nothing to do with difference.

    You're right in saying that we need to change how we think, but some behaviours exist purely in a chemical or electrical glitch in the brain. You can't train yourself around it, any more than you can fix a hard-disk crash by debugging a program.

    Hardware failures call for hardware solutions. Software failures call for software solutions. If you recognise the difference, you will always do better than if you use the wrong solution for the wrong problem.

  • You are absolutely correct with respect to chemical depression and other biochemical disorders. I know people who suffer similarly and are helped through medication.

    However, the poster you flamed is also correct. We are resorting to chemical solutions for nearly all of our problems, in no small part because pharmeceutical companies are creating and expanding markets for their products. As another poster commented, calling every minor deviation from an unattainable "norm" a sign of mental illness is an insult to those who truly are mentally ill and require help. Worse, it obfuscates the entire issue and ruins any chance at attaining a coherent public policy to effectively help those who need it.

    I find it absolutely chilling, though unsurprising, that another poster mentioned a friend of his who is a pharmacist and whos business strategy is to "keep people a little sick as long as possible" to milk their prescription dollars. Make no mistake about it, pharmaceutical companies are doing the same thing on a much, much grander scale. Yes, they make medicine which help us. But at the same time, they patent folk-lore cures which have been in use for thousands of years, then price the product out of reach for many who need it. How long before the patent a really effective cure for, say, cancer, then bury it to maintain their profit margins on their other cancer treatments? (Perhaps AIDS would be a better hypothetical scenerio, but the point remains). On the one hand they help us, while on the other they abuse and even sometimes destroy us. I do not find it the least bit inappropriate to condemn them when they behave in the latter manner, and to call attention to their behavior when it is inappropriate. Which IMHO labelling anyone with minor issues as mentally ill is.
  • This has nothing to do with profiling.

    This is a problem that needs more attention. And it's good to see the US government putting more effort into helping people. Yes, helping people who need help.

    Ever hear of the doctor-patient confidentiality thing?

    I've known many people with various mental disorders. I, myself, have gone through tough times and managed to find help, thanks to those I know who have been through the same things. I am now a very happy and satisfied person. The problem is that many people do not get the help they need and end up killing themselves.

    That's what sad.
  • 22% isn't all that bad. If I said that 22% of all our ancestors were physically ill in some way, that wouldn't be seen as odd. Likewise, most people aren't ashamed of being physically ill, but mental illness is treated very differently.
  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @02:58AM (#1467275) Homepage Journal
    It's gotta be more than that...

    - -Josh Turiel
  • They have helped me and a lot of other people. You can't make a good judgement on weather a treatment works on a sample size of 1. Yes there are bad mental health providers. Yes some people have been on the wrong drugs. And it took my doctor a few time to find the right thing for me to be taking before we hit the right drug.

    You're right, a sample size of one is nothing.

    However, the first indictations coming out of research centers everywhere are saying that these medications are NOT improving the majority of their patients lives.

    I have known a few people who took stuff like this. I'm sorry, but everyone I've ever seen take some form of mental health drug (about 4 people total) just got more fucked up in the head the more they took whatever drug it happened to be that week...

    4 out of 4 is still nothing in terms of sample size, but it's on a bit more personal level for me anyway.

    ---
  • Following is a brief article on the nature of modern cognitive/cognitive-behavioral therapy I wrote up for a lay audience. Note the lack of intolerance, snap diagnoses of "nuttiness," profiling, or indiscriminate prescriptions of antipsychotics. Perhaps this very limited look at a few small facets of modern psychology will help clear up some of the misconceptions and prejudices regarding the field.
    Note that I am currently in the last year of an undergraduate education in psychology. I am far from an authority or spokesperson in this field.

    One of the most important issues that must be tackled in cognitive therapy is the tendency of people to evaluate their automatic thoughts at the same level as sensory data. Since some thoughts and feelings come about quickly and without deliberation in response to a given stimulus, our natural tendency is to see them as intrinsic to the world or to our selves. This is one cause of the persistence of maladaptive behaviors, as the subject does not believe that any other response is possible (at least without violating their essential personality).
    Take, for example, a subject who becomes angry upon breaking hir diet. It may seem to hir that this is what makes hir become angry. However, Cognitive Therapy (CT) holds that the anger actually proceeds out of high-speed, transparent thoughts like "this means I'm stupid and have no willpower" or "now I'll have to give up on my Ph.D. and join the circus. What a waste!" If the goal of therapy is to reduce inappropriate anger, then the initial place to intervene is not the behavior, but the evaluation.

    I am interested in the application of this theory to emotional states, not just reactions. It seems to me that a close parallel can be drawn to the way in which people interpret daily and essentially meaningless fluctuations in their attitudes as much more significant than they really are. For no reason at all (or, shall we say, due to a transient chemical imbalance due to a minor infection or a bee sting or an extraterrestrial anal probe), a person might wake up one morning feeling unusually irritable. This could lead to pointless squabbles, inconsiderate behavior, and a snowballing host of minor nastiness which will lead to a much greater depression in mood than was necessary. Or they might decide that they must be angry about something, leading to their placing a lasting misinterpretation on a formerly neutral element of their life.

    But the other option is for them to conclude that they're experiencing a temporary change in affect, and if they ride it out things will no longer seem as they do. This is the natural response to exogenous difficulties. If you got up one morning and found that your usual bus stop had changed to another route, you'd find a way to get where you were going despite the inconvenience. But to be angry just because you feel kinda angry is like getting on the bus even though it's now going to Katmandu, because that's what I do in the morning

    Of course, persistent unexplained emotions may be a sign of something deeper, which does require attention. This model merely recommends that the long-term trends carry weight, not the day-to-day wackiness.

    I hope that as biochemistry's role in consciousness becomes more accepted, ideas like this will seep into the collective definition of self, or that perhaps we will adopt a distinction between the essential self and the contingent one - that is, between the broad ideas and styles that persist over time, as opposed to day-to-day changes in response to circumstances up to and including quantum phenomena. There may even be a neurological basis for this. Although the brain is structurally differentiated into hundreds of distinct modules, on a cellular level its work is done through connections, and its communication is probabilistic in nature. That is, losing any number of cells will weaken the possibility that a strongly-potentiated pathway will be able to activate, but it's never really removed (unless a whole area is summarily lesioned). Oliver Sacks writes about profoundly disabled Parkinsonian patients who would occasionally awaken from a near-coma to temporarily display the same integrity of intellect, emotion, and character they had before their brains started to dissolve.

    Ns of 1 are like demons. . . they can be used to win great fame and fortune, but the psychologist who treats them carelessly will end up being dragged down to Hell
    My point is that I hope to see people gradually give up the idea that their emotions are to be given supreme confidence. This goes for both momentary fluctuations and for persistent but senseless reactions (for example, that rack of sunglasses at the University Co-op that makes me feel scared and threatened). A common objection is that this would lead to a loss of humanity, of people being treated like computers / rats / tabulae rasa who can be molded as The Man sees fit. But if we put the tools in the hands of the subject, wouldn't the result be more individuality? Right now we tend to cherish even senseless impulses, because they seem to come from the same place as our valued beliefs and complex thoughts. What if we chose to take control of them, in the same way that we accept that obesity, high blood pressure, and skanky hair can (to a great extent) be changed rather than changing us?

    I suppose all psychotherapy has this premise somewhere inside it. After all, the very idea that there is a "person" with a "problem" implies a division between the individual and certain of hir mental phenomena. Different schools, however, make widely differing assumptions about just where the division cuts. They rarely seem to articulate this, and I'm beginning to think it may be a significant source of their disagreements. Psychodynamic therapies in general (Freud, Jung, Erickson) seem to have a fairly robust role definition for the healthy individual, and consequently see a great deal of the subject as garbage to be shoveled away. Cognitive/behavioral theory leaves the individual and the therapist great discretion in deciding which habits to break and which to leave, and also avoids the issue of whether elements of the latter set are intrinsic nuances of the self, habits that happen to be useful, or "problems" that have just escaped the axe for now. At the other extreme, humanist therapy (Rogers, Maslow) takes a deliberately hands-off approach, working to establish a daoistic flow in which the personality can resolve itself and foreign elements will naturally sift through. Much seems to depend on whether humanity's intrinsic self-programming is seen as being broadly useful but often inappropriate, undifferentiated and requiring educated application, or universally healthy but misdirected by pathological environments.

    Interestingly, there is one theory which entwines the idea of emotional lability and the question of what is essential to the self, although they are somewhat encrypted. The interpersonal psychology of Tim Leary (and later psychologists) directly suggests that people adopt a wide range of personalities and attitudes, depending on the situation. In order to get a handle on an aggressive subject, the therapist should actually become dominant and aggressive, forcing them to experience submission. To reach a severely insecure or spiteful subject, the therapist should express love and consideration (he wrote extensively on whether to expect similar or opposite responses from various behaviors). The concept of health which emerges from this is of an individual with a stable core, such that seemingly inconsistent personalities can be put on as the situation dictates.

    I see this as the next natural step after acknowledging that sometimes traits and emotions can be taken off.

    - laborit
  • I get uninformed, poorly written pieces with ripped-off headlines ... then I get insulted, get called "nuts". Got a back problem? You fucking cripple. You gimp. How do you like the insults now?

    Asshole.
  • by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @12:33AM (#1467299)
    On of the big points the report tries to make is that many people won't seek help because of the negative stigma associated with mental illness. How does /. report on this? By calling people "nuts".
  • Stay inside. 20% of the population is crazy.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder...... found out I had it when slashdot ran that article about geeks having autism heh... got it diagnosed 2 weeks ago and got some medicine, but they dont seem to be working at all, I feel no different, still can't leave my house, and no side affects have happened .. drugs suck!

    #----------------------------
    $mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;
  • by Hanno ( 11981 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @12:35AM (#1467308) Homepage
    "Less than 5% of the population is normal. Or are they the exception?"


    With a few friends, I recently had a long discussion on a similar subject...

    Basically, it seems that "normal people" do not exist. People usually say that "normal is what everybody's doing".

    But when you look around, you'll see that what we call "normal behaviour" - being polite to each other, helpful, friendly, healthy etc. etc. - is not actually "normal", but only what we desire to be normal. It is an ideal.

    The things that actually are normal let's me have a rather grim view on our society.

    "Unnormal" is much more common than we think. In fact, it is the norm. It is normal...

    ------------------
  • I find it odd that in this place (/.) where we so frequently complain about being outcast or stigmatized by our peers, so many of the comments here are willing to do the same for those with mental problems.

    This report is not talking about druggin people, or profiling those who are different, it's saying that we need to genuinely help those who need it and try to remove the social stigma from admitting you have a problem.

    Think about it -- If I had cancer, everyone would be sympathetic. If I had a severe depressive disorder, people would stay as far away as possible. Why? It's right in the title of this story -- so offensively claiming you're "nuts"...
  • > First off, I'd argue that YHWH is the Christian
    > Trinity, but that's a theological discussion for
    > offline... =)

    Well as a side note for your offline discussion
    remember...thats the same case that Islam makes.
    So Allah, YHWH, and the Christian God are all
    the same (according to the Koran which IS
    afterall by tradition the Word of God Himself
    as given to Muhammed by the Angel Gabriel
    directly)

    > There's a really simple way to figure out which
    > God. A person takes everything that would be a
    > requirement/necessity for an entity to be God.
    > For example: eternal, outside of space/time,
    > sovereign over everything, omnipotent,
    > omniscient, etc.

    Whao...thats quite a bit of inital assumptions.
    So why exactly does there have to be a God?
    Personally, I look around me, and I see no need
    to believe that everything around me was
    created by some deity. Just because current the
    current body of scientific knowledge can not
    describe the workings of the entire universe (and
    quite possibly never will) simply is a testiment
    to how complex things are, that does not
    necissarily mean it was created by some God.

    If YOU feel the need to believe in God, go ahead.
    You have every right to believe in whatever
    God you chose. However, I wholly reject the idea
    that "Any intellectually honest person would have
    to conclude that the Christian God is the one and
    only God"

    That sir, is intellectually dishonest, narrow
    minded thinking.

    As quoted in the Principa Discordia (ie its a good
    quote but given the source, I take it with a
    grain of salt ;) )
    "The opposite of a simple truth is plainly false.
    The opposite of a great truth is also true"
    -- Neils Bohr

  • with a really really bad mental disorder.

    It's called Slashdot Addiction Disorder. I think a few people I know have it too...
  • There seems to be an opinion floating around here that mental illness simply doesn't 'truly' exist. That most depression is just a 'down' feeling, and that other disorders such as bipolar disorder could be cured by a lifestyle change.

    Ladies and gentleman, I hate to tell you this, but mental illness is real. Depression isn't a 'slightly draggy feeling' that you can just shake yourself out of. It's a chemical imbalance. Yes, there are things one can do to help from diet and exercise to therapy, but sometimes all that isn't enough. In those cases you have people who have been given a new chance for life due to drugs.

    One poster commented 'It's a way for people to not have to take responsibility for their actions'. This is simply not true. While a few bad apples may abuse the system in this manner, it's the exception not the rule. Mental illness is hard to understand because it doesn't have physical signs that are easily understandable like migraine headaches, arthritis or heartburn. It's easy to get at some grasp of what it must be like to get heartburn. It's far harder to understand what it's like to be truly manic.

    Another poster commented 'all solutions cannot be found in a pill'. I agree with you 100%. But I would also argue that sometimes pills help. If somebody has a back injury, we don't get upset that they use pain relievers, yet there is an attitude of intolerance for somebody who is manic depressive to use mood stabilizers. Some people feel that they should be able to 'just control themselves' and stop random switches between mania and depression. These people also probably don't realize the statistics for how dangerous these disorders are. I agree there is a problem with overmedication today, but medication itself is far from unneccessary.

    A sidenote to Roblimo. I've never criticized /. admins before, and I agree that political correctness is mostly a bunch of baloney, but the title truly is very inappropriate. Just a thought for consideration
  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @12:38AM (#1467342) Homepage Journal

    Why is it, that whenever people don't conform to an artificial, and usually unattainable, norm, they're considered ill or defective?

    Someone who prefers to be a loner or not socially active. Someone who prefers computers to physical sports. Someone who'd rather read a book than go freeze at a football game. People with ideas and ideals that aren't "mainstream".

    Similarly, we're medicating our children nowadays to make them conform. A child has trouble learning in school. But it's not the fault of the teachers or their teaching method. Do we change the way we teach that child? Vary from the cookie-cutter educational approach? No, it's Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. GIVE 'EM DRUGS!

    A kid has some sort of emotional trauma. Do we work through it? Do we help the child out? No, it's a MENTAL PROBLEM. GIVE 'EM DRUGS!

    Nowadays, CHILDREN are getting pregnant in high school. Do we try to reinforce the values of abstinance? Teach safe sex? Alert them to the potential health risks and other consequences? Nope! They need The Morning After Pill! GIVE 'EM DRUGS!

    Does anyone else see the problem with this? All soloutions cannot be found in a pill. Better living through pharmacology is a MYTH. We don't need to change how we ACT. We need to change how we THINK


    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!

  • I agree with you 100%

    "I agree, and no, it's not all crap. But I agree with the original poster for the most part. A lot of these drugs are developed with good intentions in mind, but when they're giving them to the wrong people, what the hell are you going to do?

    Remember that it's not the drug company who decides who should take the drug, often times. Usually it's some doctor who only knows what little he's read about it. And of course the drug company wants to sell it to everyone they can.
    They did spend a whole hell of a lot developing it. Everything is not simple in this world, bud.

    Unfortunately, no, it is not irrelevant. The original posters point was that the culture looks as drugs as a "quick fix" solution, when in fact it is nothing of the kind. The real problem is that majority of diagnoses for ADD are wrong/incorrect. And this goes for a lot of mental health disorders as well. The parent/patient just wants a quick fix so they accept it. The doctor wants to make his cash, so be it. The drug company wants to sell their drugs, so be it. The whole damn system is geared towards a quick fix solution, and it's damn hard for the average man to fight against it. So, the average man doesn't try, and pretty soon he's of the same quick fix "better living thru pharmacology" mindset that everyone else is. It's a self perpetuating system and it's just wrong. "

    The problem lies, not with the drugs themselves, but people (doctors, parents) being careless, and overzealous in prescribing them. I mean, plenty of these drugs work marvelously for people who actually have the diseases, they save lives or improve the quality of lives. There is nothing inherently wrong with the drugs themselves, or for their application. The problem is that everybody is so careless and overzealous and thinks they are the solution to everything. Perhaps that was what the original poster was getting at, but he was using poor examples IMO, and making it seem as if chemical medication itself was bogus and unnecessary. It is fine for what it was meant...not as a general panacea for any stray from the norm.

    "Never heard of the butter one, but I got pretty nutty as a kid when I ate sugar. Of course, I was eating it straight, so maybe that would have something to do with it."

    I got wacky when I ate lollipops too. Turns out I was allergic to the /red dye/ (apparently very common in young children).

    "No, but I sure as hell wouldn't say, "here's a bunch of drugs for ya, buddy! These'll fix ya right up!" Any treatment should look at the overall situation, not simply one aspect of it."

    Yes, but in many cases, medication is /exactly/ what the patient needs...ignoring that can cause more damage. A change of scenery or yoga is not a solution to a psychotic or schizophrenic disorder for example. These types of diseases, predicated by chemical imbalance, need to be solved by rebalancing by chemical medication. I am the first one to say how unnecessary so many drugs are, and how our society thinks of them as food you need to get through the day (I mean, the pharmaceuticals want us to take one for /everything/ - tired? take a drug. not tired? take a drug. hungry? take a drug. Sad? take a drug. Itchy? take a drug). However there are many well-defined cases for which drugs are the best or only solution. Our culture needs to stop whining and thinking any discomfort is a disease needing to be cured with medication. It is not the medication that is inherently bad.

    Jazilla.org - the Java Mozilla [sourceforge.net]
  • ...we have a solid, medical argument in our Europe/US flamewars. It's official.

    Regards,

    Grin-Duck-And-Run-Nuary

    P.S. Only 22%? Then you are more sane than the rest of the world...

  • by Dacta ( 24628 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @12:42AM (#1467351)

    If this report said "One Fifth of all Americans are in Danger of dying from an easily curable skin disease" would the title of the story have been the same?

    Not only does this story title help reinforce the sterotype that mentally ill people are somehow different to other ill people, it makes me wonder if the (mainly) American trait of extreme parainoa (sp?) maybe somehow linked to the increase in mentally ill people.

    Now, I am in no way qualified to pretend to be informed about this (apart from occasionally suffering from extreme depression), but I do know that some mentally ill people create "worlds of their own", and they need to be treated by being shown reality.

    If a mentally ill person, who thought that people were following him/her read that story (and a lot of the other ones on Slashdot), what would they think?

    Doesn't a great deal of the "alternative" press contribute to this problem?

    (That' not supposed to be a Troll, BTW)

  • ... only 20% of Americans are crazy?!?!

    Regards, Ralph.
  • *yawn*

    People taking things literally again!

    Yes, I am well aware that there are very serious mental illnesses which aren't treatable with homeopathy and meditation etc, I myself was diagnosed with clinical depression and lost 3 jobs over it. I was on anti-depressants for 3 years and it's a *HORRIBLE* situation to be in.

    I was advocating a *holistic* approach which by definition of the word means it covers *all* approaches. What I'm saying is that doctors *VERY* rarely consider things like meditation, herbal remedies and the like which for a lot of mental problems *CAN* be of great benefit, particularly in the cases of stress related illnesses.

    I'm not trying to put anyone down or offend anyone.
  • Although I would dissagree with the diagnosis I am not surprised at the findings. During my time in the US I found the people far to wrapped up in the material world and lacking in their love of nature and the true appreaciation of life. It is a beautiful country but most people seem to have more interest in the theme park side of life. The crowds of Disneyland compared to walking in the San Gabriel mountains on my own. In fact just walking seemed to be a lost art there.

    My point being that so many have lost their souls chasing the dollar that they appear mad. They cannot see it because they think that chasing the dollar is the only true path. They honestly believe that the US is the richest country in the world because money is the thing that they value, and therefore they judge the counties success by its bank roll. They have lost sight of the real wealth that they own, outside the cities and within themselves.

    Even those that seek a different path end up joining some stupid church that wants to measure its successs by its bank balance rather than by the happiness it can bring to others.
  • That's true of a lot of therapists and pdocs, yes. Not all, sadly. Some -will- try to blame you for your problems, and (very very rarely!) abuse victims are handed back to their abusers.

    The only thing I can really say that could be helpful is - Use Common Sense! Even when down, depressed and vulnerable, you'll still have a good idea who to trust and who not to, if you let yourself.

    The same is true of chemical or electrical problems. There -are- a few doctors out there who will delight in overdosing you on wholly inappropriate medication so they can stuff you in a hospital. But even the most clinically depressed and suicidal person on the planet can tell the difference between someone like that, and a caring, considerate, thoughtful doctor who makes the effort to prescribe something helpful.

    (The usual way to tell is to speak up when something doesn't work for you. If the doctor listens, and tries something else, they're probably someone you can work with. If they tell you to shut up and keep taking the pills, chances are -they- need to be in the looney bin, and that if you keep listening to them, you'll end up there yourself, through no fault of your own.)

    Last, but not least, DON'T trust professionals to keep confidence. They'll often share information, especially if it's stuff they're not familiar with. Confidentiality agreements aren't worth the paper they're written on, and there's nothing you can do about it, either.

    On the other hand, if you see a mental health professional who -IS- professional, and -IS- genuinely supportive, intelligent and competent, the chances are they -can- be trusted, at least to a degree. Just never share more than you have to, for them to be able to help.

    (Though don't go the opposite way, and make them guess. Psych drugs have some interesting side effects, such as liver damage, brain damage, and/or death. Keeping guessing to a minimum is often a good idea.)

  • This isn't skepticism, this is dismissal -- "they're not ill, they're nuts". I personally found the titling of the article to be pretty insensitive. Could you imagine an article with the headline "Doctors Say Cancer Kills Losers"?...
  • or more accurately labelled, with a syndrome, you can't have a gun...

    it sounds like you've got a good perspective on the social stigma society induces on those diagnosed with mental disorder... which is what the previous poster was preaching against, right?

    The schools also get between $400 and $2500 per year extra for each student that's diagnosed with whatever today's fashion is

    I wonder if that has anything to do with the overmedication of "ADHD" children? I know my brother has authentic ADD, and sometimes I procrastinate so much sometimes I make myself wonder (well, maybe i'm just too wired).

    There are several kids I remember who I thought were allright, a little high-strung, but the medication they were put on really messed them up. Some of the drugs that "cure" "ADHD" cause manic depression.
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @12:55AM (#1467408)
    AS IS STATED IN THE PROPHECY! Book of the Subgenius, Chapter 12: Dateline for Dominance. Page 119! Look under "1991", and read along with me as I quote:

    20% of U.S. population now considered clinically insane. Concentration camps for 'abnormals" are opened in some states; SubGeniuses begin waging open war on non-SubGeniuses.

    So "Dateline for Dominance" as printed in my 1987 version of "Book of the SubGenius" is only 8 years behind the times. It just means that we counted the dates wrong and the saucers are 8 years late in coming, and that X-Day won't be until 2005! Woo-hoo!

    ...and if you're worried about 20% of us being nuts, wait'll 1992, when...

    What we would call "lunatic-fringe kooks" account for 43% of U.S. population. Over 2 million separate, active sects. Well over half, however, are basically aligned with the Church of the SubGenius. The rest are violently anti-SubGenius, anti-individual, anti-thought Conspiracy dupes who still cling to a now-useless lifestyle. The United States is divided between these two powerful social forces.

    The Fifth Civil War: Abnormals vs. Normals. During this period, the U.S. reverts to medieval barbarism.. Feudal warlord chieftains rule the thousands of mini-states into which the country has splintered. Bands of outlaws roam the countryside and the cities. Law as we know it is non-existent. Only huge corporations provide any stability to the social structure; they have *become* the "government", and jealously guard the remaining pockets of high technology. Most corporations run by "Bob".

    AIYEEEEEEEEE YES! LET THERE BE SLACK!

    Everything else you wanted to know is available at http://www.subgenius.com [subgenius.com]. Might I recommend:

    some classics [subgenius.com]

    Our Y2K preparedness page [subgenius.com]

    Our effort to skew Time Magazine's Top Fraud of the Century" [pathfinder.com] poll in favor of our spiritual Leader, J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, because Time (of all magazines, after publishing The Cult of Greed and Power!) was probably too scared to have L. Ron Hubbard on the list. Unlike Elron's cult, OUR cult isn't afraid of being labelled for the fraud it is! HAH!

    They'll never clean my cage! Now give me some more of... (post runs out)

  • No, you are wrong. A sceptical attitude towards this sort of sensationalism is very healthy, the true insult to the people who really are mentally ill is that every little depression is now being classified as a mental illness.

    And I suppose classifying a cold as an illness is insulting to someone who has terminal pneumonia or classifying a cut as an injury is insulting to someone who has a severed limb. There are severe and minor mental illnesses, just as there are severe and minor physical illnesses. And, like physical illnesses, there are mental illnesses which are self treatable or get better "on their own."

    Calling something a mental illness is simply a way to say that there is a mental process which hampers the individual's ability to function and is hopefully treatable. If anything, reducing the stigma of seeking attention for minor mental illnesses will help those with major mental illnesses since they will be less stigmatized as well.


    --
  • Here in Australia (and, I believe in Britain) the government is cutting funding to public mental health facilities.

    They are turning what should be places of long term care for the very sick into short term hotel rooms for people after major mental trama. The people are then pushed back into the community as soon as they are deemed to be able to "cope on their own"

    Of course, many can't and end up on the streets. Others, as you mentioned kill themselves, and in the worse case kill others.

    Australia's worse mass-murder was commited by someone who had spent time in a mental insitution. He was then allowed to buy guns - because there was no system to check up on him.

    It was this tragedy that ended up meaning Australians had to give up their semi-automatic weapons.

    I would love to hear how someone would propose to get around this one without "tagged, drugged and relased under surveillance". Sure - don't relase him is the obvious answer, but he had been well enough to live normally for a number of years before he relapsed and killed 30+ people.

    It's way too easy to say "Keep the government out of it" or something. I want to hear a solution, not political bullshit.

  • I'm going to try very hard to not flame you but you're totally off base.

    The cost figures you're quoting is the maximum, worst-case scenario for mental illness - say, if 20% of americans were paranoid schizophrenics, it might cost that much. Obviously (even to a foreigner), that's not so.

    The treatment figures - well, drug therapy is actually a product of the 1950's. Yes, the fifties do seem a long way away, but they're not the middle ages. Perhaps a little remedial reading is in order.

    Inpatient care is a transitory thing (1 or 2 weeks at a spell, maximum) for nearly all of the mentally ill. It's been like that since the late 1960's and 1970's, where a policy of deinstitutionalization was adopted.

    The point is that you're creating a conspiracy to "take away our lives and our money" where none exists. Treating the mentally ill actually saves money; we lose massive amounts of economic productivity through illnesses like alcoholism, like depression or anxiety. True, many illnesses, such as schizophrenia, are only marginally treatable, but those represent a tiny fraction of the whole. What's more, those people are already treated at the state's expense.

    Making the resources available to treat mental illness is an overall winner, not a loser. No doubt mental illness isn't as compelling as physical illness, but it's at least as important.

    --
  • You think the government can help you?

    Oh yeah, forgot to mention that I live in Canada.

    They even paid for me to finish high school at the college I went on to do engineering at.
  • Ever stop to think how much money is to be made in the pharmaceutical industry? I mean, the sheer profits to be gained are amazing, compared to any other industry.

    In fact, it could be said that the pharmaceutical industry has one of the highest profit margins of any industry.

    That's why we're all nuts - there's money to be made. Just like Jordache Jeans, we all want a piece of the fashion pie... and smart pharmaceutical marketing types are doing their damnedest to add some 'authority' to their plans by getting some dupe to write a report about the decline of American mental health.

    Of course, the media helps to propagate the myth that Americans are insane too - after all, those Paxil commercials are worth a pretty penny, you know. Oh, and the odd nut case reacting badly to a mental health drug and killing a few of his coworkers is usually a nice windfall for the CNN/CBS/ABC/TW crowd too, so yeah, what the heck, lets promote drug use... it's worth it!

    (But oh, lets not give away the secret. Nobody reports on the drugs that these people were taking just prior to rampage, lest the big-P's get beset by lawsuits from disgruntled family members.)

    Don't buy the hype.

    In 100 years time "Mental Health can be cured by drugs" will be one of those nice little facts filed in the same section as "The Earth is Flat" and "The Sun revolves Around Earth" theories...

    There are *far* better ways to deal with stress than to pop a pill. Turn the TV off for a few weeks, for starters, stop reading the news and taking in all the FUD of society being propagated by profiteers of doom.

    Take more walks, learn to play a musical instrument, go to the library for a few hours a day and study some distant culture. Make a drastic change in your lifestyle somehow - the thing causing your depression is most likely *not* the most obvious thing in your life...

    Consider a change in career. *Live*.

    But whatever you do, don't try to live life through a haze of drugs - I don't care what some 'authority' says, it aint worth the loss you *will* suffer as a result of letting drugs dominate your life.

    No doubt, some pro anti-depressant user may come along and attept to refute my perspective in this thread, maybe some psych student will have some smart rebuttal, that doesn't matter. A little public flaming never really hurt, and I don't suffer from any DSM-documented "social disorders" that are likely to be triggered by a bit of controversy on Slashdot.

    The average brainwashed American drug user doesn't scare me.

    I am fairly confident that they know, deep down inside, under all that fog, that they're really not getting their moneys worth with Prozac or Paxil, and that no, it's not really working the way it was supposed to work, is it? If you don't notice it now, you will soon... but don't worry, the Big-P's will have a nice 'alternative' drug ready for you to use once you stop reaping 'rewards' from whatever it is you're on now.

    Feeling cheated by Prozac? Not getting the life improvement you thought you'd get from Paxil?

    That's coz it's a lie. Drugs don't make any difference.

  • not to nitpick but I think the link is actually here [nih.gov]
  • Banning divorce of something?

    I agree that:

    If our culture is experiencing such a signifcant display of mental illness, I think there's something fundamentally wrong. What can you expect from a nation whose citizens' ambitions are mostly to get stock options and be a celebrity?

    Given this, and given that it is not possible to treat the cause in all those already effected, what is wrong with at least attempting to treat the symptoms?

    Remember how the goverments of the world got together and eliminated smallpox? That wasn't bad, was it?

    You know that some physical diseases (eg Cholera (sp?) ) can only be defeated by combatting the symptoms (in Cholera's case, dehydration). If some mental illness can be treated the same, I would think that would be a good thing.

  • > Mental illness doesn't equal sad. It _is_ normal
    > to be "sad".... but major depression is
    > something different.
    >....If you have major depression, you should take
    > anti-depressants.

    Just about everyone I know has experianced a
    major depression at some point in their lives.
    It happens.

    I went through my major depression in my first
    year of Colledge. I ate twice a day at burger
    king, I slept ALL day, well into the evening,
    and sat online complaining all night. Spent my
    every waking hour obsessing over what was wrong
    with my life.

    Its the reason I failed out of school. I never
    took a single anti-depressent. I got through it
    by dealing with the issues, and slowly adjusting
    my attitudes.

    Yes, drugs work for some people. However I
    suspect for many they are just another mask
    that takes away the hurt and the pain, and
    allows them to be productive again.

    If depression is caused exclusivly by chemical
    imbalence...then re-balanece will help. However
    when it is caused by other issues, it is only
    by facing those issues (sometimes with the help
    of a therapist, I didn't have the luxery of one..
    if I did I may have stayed in school) not
    drugging yourself to happiness.

    In short...depression IS normal. Normal people
    experiance it. The answer is to deal with the
    issues and move on, not to medicate it away.
    These days doctors are giving out Prozac like
    it is candy. It makes me sick, I know a few people
    on prozac...they almost never see a therapist
    to actually talk about problems and work through
    them...all the doctors want to do is "Oh your
    not feeling well anymore...well ill up the dose"
  • There is more than one way to view "mental" health. More than one post here has been about how seeing, acting, and by other words, existing differently is not the same as having a mental disorder. But what is a mental disorder? Can you really point to your head and say that you have a diseased mind? The real question here is, "What consitiutes a mental disorder?".

    For more on the subject check out:
    This site about the myth of mental disease [rapidnet.com]
  • Hey, if those things worked, sure. Meditation, walks in the woods, those are all great for dealing with stress, but I'm not stressed. I go for walks all the time, come home, sit on my bed and start wishing I were dead.

    How about schizophrenia, instead? Explain to me how meditation is supposed to help a severly delusional schizophenic? What is it in peaceful time that would make a suicidal person want to kill theirself? In fact, such peaceful time is the worst thing to do when you're suicidal, because it gives you time to think, and believe me, thinking is the last thing you'd want to do.

    Excuse me if I'm a little sensitive. I respect your suggestion, that you're only trying to help or what not, but you don't understand. I get advice all the time, stuff like "think happy thoughts," and "get over it," and all it does is make me feel worse. Mental illness is real, whether you've ever felt that way or not.


    Man's unique agony as a species consists in his perpetual conflict between the desire to stand out and the need to blend in.

  • by JamesKPolk ( 13313 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @01:18AM (#1467527) Homepage
    What's funny about the school shooting mayhem, is the holes in the probing for causes.

    People blame the guns, which we've had for decades, but not the decline in parenting in recent decades.

    People blame the games, which we've had since kids played Cowboys and Indians (with toy guns, mind you), but not the increase in "anti-depressants", "anti-hyperactivity", "therapy", and all the popular new mental health fads.

    While I do believe that human biochemistry can be understood, and imbalances can be fixed (witness the success in diabetes treatment many people receive), I think that blood sugar/insulin interactions, and such, are a whole lot simpler than brain activity.

    No, I'm not blaming the drugs for the carnage. That people who kill are more likely to be drugged , doesn't prove that A caused B, or that B caused A. I'm just saying it should be considered.

    Once we have a working, clear model of how the brain works (yeah, right).. then I'll begin to trust all the new psychoactive drugs more.
  • Sure people (teachers, media etc) treat people who are different as mentally ill.

    That is not what this report is talking about.

    So as not to bore everyone, the only thing in this report that remotely relates to

    Someone who prefers to be a loner or not socially active. Someone who prefers computers to physical sports. Someone who'd rather read a book than go freeze at a football game. People with ideas and ideals that aren't "mainstream".
    is the problem of social phobia which is something very different to the typical loner/computer geek person.

    Did you actualy read the report? (or even the Slashdot story for that matter?)

    It's not talking about drugging people. It's calling for more properly trained people to, as you say, work though it

    Like you said, the report is saying we need to:

    We need to change how we THINK

    Sometimes that's not as easy as you'd think.

  • by Rhysling ( 20711 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @01:20AM (#1467534) Homepage
    The NYT article itself was predictable - more measures to increase the supply of practitioners, improve the supply of drugs, lower the costs of treatment, streamline the health care system...

    I mean, do you ever expect a group of special interests to publish something along the lines of: "Number of shrinks exceeds demand, other careers suggested"? Can you imagine a group of lawyers publishing something like that?

    But I want to touch on some larger issues involving mental illness here. OK, it's a bit of a rant.
    Do we want a world where children can be medicated by the state without the consent of their parents? And thus made "normal"?

    Do we want a world where mental health professionals are called in to consult on the innocence or guilt of 1/5 the crimes committed - "he was just on the down side of his cycle your honor, we've upped his dosage, he won't be murdering grannies anymore."

    And do we want a world where everyone just a little bit different is diagnosed and medicated so that they become "normal"? Oh brave new world that has such creatures in it!

    Why can't johnny read? Well, he can't focus and is disruptive in class! Drug him! At least if he still doesn't learn to read he won't bother anyone, sitting there, drooling in the back.

    If in school today I probably would have been diagnosed with ADD and given ritalin. I would have spent my days drooling in the back of a classroom, instead of asleep, and my nights asleep, instead of hacking on a computer. I probably would have grown up to be a perfectly malleable consumer type. Just the sort of citizen this government wants. (oh, no, he's showing signs of paranoia, better prescribe navane!)

    The declaration of independence gives Americans the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Note the word "pursuit". Happiness comes in part from the pursuit thereof. Great art, literature, culture, & invention have sprung largely from the minds of the disturbed and the unhappy. No doubt many of these individuals would have benefited from "treatment". And yet... Our culture would suffer with the loss of our more extreme elements. A world without Van Gogh and Van Morrison would be a much sadder place for "the rest of us" to live in.

    I'm totally against compulsory treatment for mental illness.

    I'm all in favor of making it easier for our citizens to seek out treatment. I'm against the state drugging anyone without their consent. The question of the insanity defense in the case of a crime remains a difficult one.



  • There is a school of thought which adheres to the belief that the incidence of mental disorders has not risen much, but rather that the incidence reporting of them has. As such, an argument can be made that the 'decay of American society' is not causing a sudden bout of mental illness amongst its members, but rather that the increasingly reliant American population is reporting in greater numbers the dark spots in their psyches.

    Anxiety (except in severe cases) and mood swinging (aside from manic depression) are hardly symptoms of severe disorder. People are becoming increasingly reliant on the power of professional opinion. Rather than being -- to borrow from MTV -- a skitzoid, someone is actually hypertense! American culture has a quasi-obsessive need to label everything, including their own idiosyncracies, and then to treat them.

    Ultimately, it won't do any harm to call upon the government and psychological/psychiatric bodies to provide free or low-cost treatment to the nations youth, assuming (quite safely) that it will not become a sort of mandatory exercise in fifth period on Thursdays. If people wish to discover that, in fact, their anxiety stems from a case of, well, anxiety that is all well and good.

    It is not the most potent forum for the surgeon general of America, but it is one of the safest to stand on just now. In the wake of difficulties rooted (at least, by the press) in disorderly minds -- Day Trading Massacres, High School Shoot Outs, etc -- a voice smoothly suggesting that our youth have access to psychological help will be heard, for the most part, on the same level as a waiter asking if you'd like some more bread.

    Some people won't, some people will and it will be barely remembered by the time the bill is paid.

    The most interesting aspect of the entire thing will be the panel discussions, message forums and assorted other communications hooplah dedicated to that famous debate of the twentieth century which almost seems to defy wording due to its nuanced nature:

    "Is psychological treatment a good thing or a bad thing?"

    That is the crux of it worded as basically as possible. Some people maintain that psychological treatment is a sham. That it is a contributing factor towards the distopian dream of normalisation. Others feel that it is as necessary to modern living as a weekend massage.

    And I imagine this topic's been posted to have just those two things discussed.

    So, get on with it. I'm done rambling.

    -l
  • So something like one out of five of the people around me are crazy.

    Boy, that sure explains a lot!

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