Archives for April, 2010
Part II (Read Part I, here.) When did the shift in treatment for schizophrenia really begin to turn things around? By the end of the 1980s, scientific and academic knowledge on treating schizophrenia was well established and a new generation of antipsychotic medications began to hit the market. But, making treatment available was still such a failure that in 2003 the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health declared America’s mental health system be in “total disarray” and recommended it be “fundamentally transformed.” Seven years later, that transformation has yet to happen. And while bright lights of excellent care exist, most people who develop schizophrenia are not able to access the full range of treatments and services that science knows offer the best prognosis. Tragically, without basic treatment, far too many who need care end up homeless or incarcerated. And the Los Angeles County Jail now has the dubious distinction of being the largest psychiatric treatment facility in the nation.
Just in time for National Mental Health Month: We are fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with Katie Cadigan, producer of an important new documentary, narrated by Rita Moreno, titled When Medicine Got It Wrong. The film shows the history of a group of ordinary parents and their struggle to change the political, medical, and cultural attitudes towards schizophrenia in the United States. The film will be airing on public television stations around the country in May.
Eric J. Nestler, MD, PhD, will discuss the biology of depression this Saturday at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York as part of NARSAD’s Healthy Minds Across America series. Details and free registration are online here. Welcome, Dr. Nestler. You have done a broad range of research into both addiction and depression. Can you share with us first some of your recent findings concerning addiction? We have been focusing on the mechanisms by which repeated exposure to drug abuse changes the brain to cause addiction. Given that the behavioral abnormalities that cause addiction are long-lasting—some people remain at risk for relapse despite years of abstinence—we have focused on drug-induced changes in gene expression as the basis of addiction.
After reading moving comments from Annapurna (click and scroll down--worth reading), about his/her struggle with having chronic illness that is expected to lead to an early death -- Heaven forbid -- we began talking at home about dying and American culture. Why are so many in our secular culture fascinated yet struggling with the topic of near death experiences, or death in general, or avoiding it altogether? We began writing about this very topic. Shortly before we were going to post, we discovered that Elisha Goldstein (in what Jung called “a synchronicity” but we believe to be much more), had written a powerful blog post about death and dying and life. Although we have observations, opinions, and ideas, we would like to continue the conversation by simply telling the story of our friend, Bernard.
A new study to be published in the journal Psychological Science reveals that the cosmetic use of Botox may do more than get rid of wrinkles. As a molecular and developmental neurobiologist at Scienceblog.com reports, it may actually stop you from smiling--inside and out!
In this brief, but interesting video clip from Charlie Rose, Dr. Helen Mayberg, who is one of NARSAD's Healthy Minds Across America researchers, tells us what neuroscientists and the rest of us need...
We want to welcome a respected researcher, Dr. Judith Rapoport. Dr. Rapoport is on the Science Committee of NARSAD, which is hosting the Healthy Minds Across America series. A full schedule, details and free registration are at the HMAA website. What kinds of research are you working on now in your position as the Chief of Child Psychiatry at the National Institute for Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland? We have several different studies on normal brain development, sex differences in brain development, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and childhood onset schizophrenia. We are also very well known for our studies on childhood onset obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Did you ever go to a restaurant and feel overwhelmed by the number of entrees? What about the vast variety of laundry detergents? Cars? Career choices? Potential spouses? Pizza toppings (any of you remember the days before pineapple was considered a legitimate pizza topping?)?
Today we interview Benita Shobe, the President and CEO of NARSAD, the Brain and Behavior Research Fund, whose free program Healthy Minds Across America is happening each weekend through May 8th. A schedule of events near you and free registration is at the HMAA Web site. Please tell us about Healthy Minds Across America. In April and May, NARSAD presents a national series of public education forums that highlight the latest breakthroughs in mental health research. Healthy Minds Across America represents a rare opportunity for people to meet the world’s leading experts on illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder — and hear their messages of hope on the latest medications, treatments and support to improve the lives of those suffering from psychiatric illnesses.
To give our readers a better sense of what an effective mental health treatment plan looks like, I have been recreating a treatment plan here through a series of blog posts. To see other posts in the Mental Health Treatment Plan series, please click here. In our book, Therapy Revolution, I strongly advocate for the use of mental health treatment plans for all therapy patients/clients. One therapist commented, saying that using a treatment plan during therapy was “rigid” and “unsophisticated” and that she liked to “go with the flow.” She was emphatic—a treatment plan “constrained her creativity as a therapist.” But therapy is not about the therapist. It is about helping patients. And, as we mentioned before, the greatest creativity is actually supported by structure, such as the Sonnet, Haiku, the use of the musical scale and chords, the mathematical rules, the rules of basketball, and so on.