Tuesday, May 31, 2005

René Talbot's review of "Szasz Under Fire"

I don't believe that this has been referred to in the blog. René Talbot has a review of Szasz Under Fire in the March/April 2005 edition of Radical Philosophy.

"Szasz's replies are to the point, sometimes full of polemic and irony but always based on the libertarian ground of his thinking."


Psychiatrist Testifies Crime Was Driven By Mental Illness

Another appearance by Park Dietz, one of the leading psychiatric "whores of the court," to use Margaret Hagen's phrase. (Hagen contributed a chapter to Szasz Under Fire.)

KCCI-TV (Iowa)

Psychiatrist Testifies Crime Was Driven By Mental Illness
Tape Plays Of Huss' Arrest After Killing

A psychiatrist testified Thursday that a convicted murderer's act was driven by mental illness -- not by sex.

State prosecutors are asking a Polk County jury to declare Loren Huss a sexually violent predator.

In 1986, he killed his girlfriend, Marilyn Sheets, and then mutilated her body. If the jury finds it was a sexually motivated homicide, that could sway its decision on whether Huss is a predator.

Late Thursday, the defense played a disturbing audiotape that police recorded when they tried to take Huss into custody just after they found Sheets' body.

For several minutes, you can hear Huss repeat the same Bible passage while screaming, laughing and crying. It took five police officers to subdue him.

During this trial, Huss testified that he was delusional that night. He said he thought his girlfriend was the devil and he thought he was going after the devil.

Some physical evidence at the crime scene, including the fact that Sheets was found naked, helped lead psychiatrists hired by the state to conclude the killing was a crime partly driven by sex.

A defense psychiatrist said Thursday that the killing was driven by Huss' mental illness.

"We ask the question, is this more like the behavior of a man who was just engaged in sexual activity or is this more like the behavior of a man who had just engaged in psychotic activity? It's an easy call," said psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz.

Prosecutors argue that the homicide shows Huss acted on his sexual urges. They also point out incidents in the years before the murder, including a rape and another case when Huss attacked, stripped and badly beat a woman in a parking lot.

Prosecutors say it's a pattern. Huss said he's no longer a threat and he should be released.

KCCI (with link to video of this "news" story)

Police training to handle people off medication, in unstable state

Mental illness spurs lessons

Police training to handle people off medication, in unstable state

By Wendy Harris
Post-Crescent staff writer

Outagamie County sheriff’s deputy Wang Lee “responded” to a noise complaint at an apartment Friday to discover a 20-something man and his female friend in party mode.

The man was intoxicated, but he also was talking a mile a minute, and at first was unusually gregarious as he invited Lee and another officer to join the party.

As Lee tried to talk the man into turning down the loud music, he became belligerent. But Lee played it cool, took his time and discovered the man’s bottle of Depakote, a prescription drug commonly used to treat bipolar disorder. The man had gone off his medication and was in the midst of a manic phase.

“It’s a different way of thinking,” Lee said later. “We’ve been trained to notice and identify people in crisis and know the symptoms and signs.”

Friday’s incident wasn’t real, but rather a role-playing scenario that culminated a week of training for law enforcement personnel. The goal was to teach them how to identify mental illness during calls and how to diffuse situations.

“It’s better to practice with an actor and process the mistakes you make rather than make them in real life,” said Karen Aspenson, executive director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill-Fox Valley.

The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training, organized by the local NAMI office with support from the Appleton Police Department, is the only training of its kind so far in the state.


Drugs, Sex, and AIDS by Paul Varnell, Independent Gay Forum

Drugs, Sex, and AIDS

By Paul Varnell

First published May 18, 2005, in the Chicago Free Press.

Recently, our fair city of Chicago issued a report by an ad hoc group calling itself The Chicago Task Force on LGBT Substance Use and Abuse.

The original advocates of the report deserve credit for wanting to address a long-standing problem in the gay community. But the final report, long-delayed and over-edited in order to offend no one, was so infected with drug treatment industry myths, mealy-mouthed social worker jargon and such feeble suggestions for dealing with the problem that it was almost useless.

The report called for a “safe, visible, sustained and supportive dialogue on the topic of substance use and abuse.” It confidently asserted that “not all substance use is problematic.” It preachily admonished us all to be “supportive and nonjudgmental about ... substance use and abuse” and urged us to “find common ground on which to define when substance use becomes abuse.”


Sentenced to Church

A Kentucky judge is facing criticism for letting some drug and alcohol offenders attend worship services instead of going to jail or rehab.

District Judge Michael Caperton said he's trying "to help people and their families."

He said there's no violation of the separation of church and state because he said "worship services" instead of "church." He also said it's optional for the offenders.

An American Civil Liberties Union lawyer said the practice has "serious constitutional problems." The lawyer said the judge is letting people who go to services avoid jail, while people who decline have to go to jail. The lawyer said that violates the state's required "neutrality" toward religion.

The judge has offered the option about 50 times to repeat offenders. It's unclear what effect the sentence has had.

Full Story

Friday, May 27, 2005

British Medical Journal's clever plan to increase violent crime

BMJ 2005;330:1221-1222 (28 May), doi:10.1136/bmj.330.7502.1221

Reducing knife crime: We need to ban the sale of long pointed kitchen knives

"Britain in the grip of knives terror—third of murder victims are now stabbed to death." Daily Express,, 31 January 2005
"Stabbing rampage kills one, injures five—a large kitchen knife was found." Independent, 24 December 2004

Violent crime in the United Kingdom is increasing; figures from London show a 17.9% increase from 2003 to 2004,1 and one easily accessible weapon used in many incidents is the kitchen knife. Unfortunately, no data seem to have been collected to indicate how often kitchen knives are used in stabbings, but our own experience and that of police officers and pathologists we have spoken to indicates that they are used in at least half of all cases. UK government statistics show that 24% of 16 year old boys report carrying knives or other weapons and 19% admitting attacking someone with the intent to harm.2 Although other weapons—such as baseball bats, screwdrivers, and chains—are also carried, by far the most common weapons are knives.3 In the United Kingdom in the first two weeks of 2005 alone, 15 murders were attributed to stabbings and 16 other non-fatal attacks.4

To tackle this increasing problem, various measures are being considered by the government, particularly targeting the adolescent age group. These include raising the minimum age for purchasing a knife from 16 to 18 years and allowing head teachers the power to search pupils for knives.5 However, not all crimes are committed with newly purchased knives, and every household and home economics department in schools contains a plethora of readily available weapons. The modern stainless steel kitchen knife has a high quality blade that makes it unnecessary to look further for another lethal weapon.

Most domestic kitchen knives are based on two designs, the dagger variety with a pointed tip—for example, vegetable knife or carving knife—and the blunt round nose variety—for example, bread knife. When using a knife to harm, a blunt nosed knife is unlikely to cause serious injury, as penetrating clothing and skin is difficult with it. Similarly an assault with a knife with a short blade such as a craft knife may cause a dramatic superficial wound but is unlikely to reach deep structures and cause death. A dagger type knife, however, can penetrate deeply. Once resistance from clothing and skin is overcome, little extra force is required to injure vital organs, increasing the chance of a fatality (likened to cutting into a ripe melon).6

As knives are so readily available, does a culinary reason exist for so many domestic knives to be of the dagger variety, or are we just sticking to tradition? Knives as we recognise them were made first from copper and bronze between 3000 and 700 bc, and some are very similar in design to those used today. Personal eating knives were first used in Britain in the 14th century and became commonplace during the 1800s when manufacturing processes improved.7

Knives were used to spear meat, lifting it from plate to mouth, so pointed tips were vital for this function. Also, with repeated sharpening of a flat blade, a pointed tip inevitably develops. However, now domestic knives do not need sharpening, and numerous other kitchen utensils can be used to spear food. The current practice of eating with forks and blunt ended table knives was introduced in the 18th century to reduce the injuries resulting from arguments in public eating houses. In 1669, King Louis XIV of France noted the association between pointed domestic knives and violence and passed a law demanding that the tips of all table and street knives be ground smooth.8 Today many households have a block of kitchen knives of which several will be of the long pointed variety.

Perhaps the pointed kitchen knife has a culinary purpose that we have failed to appreciate? We contacted 10 chefs in the UK who are well known from their media activities and chefs working in the kitchens of five leading London restaurants. Some commented that a point is useful in the fine preparation of some meat and vegetables, but that this could be done with a short pointed knife (less than 5 cm in length). None gave a reason why the long pointed knife was essential. Domestic knife manufacturers (Harrison-Fisher Knife Company, England, personal communication, 2005) admit that their designs are based on traditional shapes and could give no functional reason why long pointed knives are needed. The average life of a kitchen knife is estimated to be about 10 years.

Many assaults are impulsive, often triggered by alcohol or misuse of other drugs, and the long pointed kitchen knife is an easily available potentially lethal weapon particularly in the domestic setting. Government action to ban the sale of such knives would drastically reduce their availability over the course of a few years. In addition, such legislation would make it harder to justify carrying such knives and prosecution easier.

The Home Office is looking for ways to reduce knife crime. We suggest that banning the sale of long pointed knives is a sensible and practical measure that would have this effect.

Emma Hern, specialist registrar in emergency medicine, Will Glazebrook, specialist registrar in emergency medicine Mike Beckett, consultant in emergency medicine

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Immediate treatment of people who may have contracted HIV could be doing more harm than good, researchers claim

I was drawn to that subhead, "Immediate treatment of people who may have contracted HIV could be doing more harm than good, researchers claim."

Instead of some distressing news about the ineffectiveness of early treatment of infected persons, we learn that the drugs may not prevent those treated from behaving irresponsibly, and that they cost the UK's National Health Service money. It may as well be an article about how leg casts may do more harm than good because they allow skydivers to jump again.

The taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for medical treatments. But a physician should no more concern himself with the future sex habits of an HIV-infected homosexual than he should the jump plans of a skydiver. HIV transmission requires that two persons engage in risky behavior, except when rape occurs, and voluntary sexual behavior should be no business of medicine or the state. People have just as much right to infect themselves with HIV as they do to commit suicide, and the responsibility to cope with the physical and economic consequences, lamentable though they may be. (And there is nothing wrong with charitably helping ill people.)

Beware physicians who define treatment as doing harm or good in a way that doesn't pertain to the person being treated. That is medicine in service to "society" and the State, not to the individual.

BBC News
25 May 2005

Concerns over early HIV treatment
Immediate treatment of people who may have contracted HIV could be doing more harm than good, researchers claim.

The treatment, known as PEPSE, can reduce the chance of infection if taken within 72 hours of potential exposure.

But sexual health experts from London's Mortimer Market Centre warn knowledge treatment is available could increase risky behaviour and HIV transmission.

...The researchers, led by Dr John Richens, write in the journal: "We are concerned that there is pressure to make PEPSE available for homosexual men regardless of cost and without proper consideration of possible negative consequences on service delivery and HIV transmission.

"We believe that there is a distinct danger that the promotion of PEPSE could reinforce rising trends in risky sexual behaviour and might add to, rather than lessen HIV transmission."

Dr Martin Fisher, an HIV/Aids consultant at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, said it was true there was not a robust evidence base for the policy.

But he said concerns that PEPSE treatment would lead to complacency and risky sexual behaviour had not been borne out by the data which was available.

He said: "In the two studies that have examined behaviour after individuals have taken PEPSE, the opposite appears to occur.

He added that, while PEPSE could cost up to £1,000 per patient, it was still significantly cheaper than providing treatment for HIV infection, which costs up to £1m.

Dr Fisher also said PEPSE is given to healthcare workers after occupational exposure, where the absolute risk is lower than that of risky sex between gay men.

And Will Nutland, of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "There is no firm research foundation on which to base the argument that increasing the availability of PEPSE will lead to an increase in sexual risk taking."

He added: "Ensuring that key at-risk communities know that PEPSE is available, and that it is not a morning after pill, is an important strand in the UK's HIV prevention strategy.

"Additional funding should be made available to key sexual health centres to provide PEPSE under strict prescribing criteria".


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Anti-social behaviour 'inherited'

BBC News
Tuesday, 24 May, 2005

Anti-social behaviour 'inherited'

Anti-social behaviour in some children could be the result of their genetic make-up, a study says.
UK research on twins suggests children with early psychopathic tendencies, such as lack of remorse, are likely to have inherited it from their parents.

These young children may also display inherited anti-social behaviour, the Institute of Psychiatry team found.


Professor Marian Fitzgerald, visiting professor of criminology at the University of Kent, said this early-onset anti-social behaviour was different from that seen more commonly among teens aged 15-17.

"Most people who get involved in crime and anti-social behaviour are not genetically predisposed..."

Full article here:


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Anti-depression implant?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration may soon approve a medical device that would be the first new treatment option in the United States for severely depressed patients in a generation, despite the misgivings of many experts who say there is little evidence that it works.

The pacemaker-like device, called a vagus nerve stimulator, is surgically implanted in the upper chest. Its wires are threaded into the neck, where it stimulates a nerve leading to the brain.

It has been approved since 1997 for the treatment of some epilepsy patients, and the drug agency has told the manufacturer that it is now "approvable" for severe depression that is resistant to other treatment. But in the only rigorously controlled trial conducted so far in depressed patients, the stimulator was no more effective than sham surgery.

Full Story

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Cruel Compassion, The American Enterprise Online

Cruel Compassion
Karlyn H. Bowman (kbowman@aei.org), Sally Satel, Christina Hoff Sommers

TAE contributing editor Karlyn Bowman recently sat down with Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel, M.D., resident scholars at the American Enterprise Institute, to discuss their new book One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture is Eroding Self-Reliance.

TAE: You criticize what you call "therapism." What is that?

CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS: Therapism celebrates emotional self-absorption and the sharing of feelings. Its proponents believe that vulnerability, not strength, characterizes the American psyche. They see us as an anguished, emotionally apprehensive population that requires a vast array of counseling to cope with the trials of everyday life.

TAE: Let's start with the myth of the fragile child.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Why Smoking is Good for Houston

After months of debate, a ban (effective September 9) was placed on smoking in indoor dining areas.


When City Councilman Michael Berry voted against the recent smoking ban, he said, "If you don't like smoking restaurants, don't go to them. What we heard over and over again, and it disturbs me, is this notion that 'I want to go to [someone's restaurant], and I want to tell him how to serve me on my terms,' which is 'I want you to serve me with no smoke,' even though he wants to serve those people who smoke."

There were plenty of nonsmoking restaurants in this city before the ban... The owners of these places made the decision to not allow smoking, just like other owners chose to let people light up. Now the decision's been made for all of them.


What we are suggesting is that City Council overstepped its bounds by enacting the smoking ban, placing the success of the hospitality industry and its workers in jeopardy, all the while ignoring the social benefits of smoking as well as a slew of more pressing issues. Kids shouldn't take up smoking, but when it comes to rational adults, we think choice is a good thing.

Call us crazy.

Full Editorial

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Fit Tend to Fidget, and Biology May Be Why, a Study Says

I saved an article from the Jan 28 New York Times from which the following is excerpted:

The Fit Tend to Fidget, and Biology May Be Why, a Study Says

Overweight people have a tendency to sit, while lean ones have trouble holding still and spend two hours more a day on their feet, pacing around and fidgeting, researchers are reporting in findings published today.

The difference translates into about 350 calories a day, enough to produce a weight loss of 30 to 40 pounds in one year without trips to the gym - if only heavy people could act more restless, like thin ones.


The normally dependable psychiatric publicists at the Times surprisingly failed in this instance to note that fidgeting is a symptom of mental illness. This is a gross oversight that could have been avoided had their liberal bias not dissuaded them from reading The Heritage Foundation's "A Policymaker's Guide to Mental Illness."


Who in his right mind wouldn't rather be a heavy person than mentally ill? Not too heavy though, lest one waddle into another mental illness: obesity.

Psychiatric wonder drugs to the rescue! They induce good, synthetic fidgeting and pacing while vanquishing the mental illnesses that are associated with bad, natural fidgeting and pacing. Given the scientifically precise dosage, you can feel great about your improved physical and mental fitness as you stride around the facility. Who says you can't have your cake and eat it, too?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Tel Aviv court accepts terminally ill patient’s request to be disconnected from life support


'Death with dignity’ OK’d

Tel Aviv court accepts terminally ill patient’s request to be disconnected from life support
By Vered Luvitch

TEL AVIV - A 59-year-old terminally ill patient should be allowed to disconnect from life support machines, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled Monday morning.

Yael Hirschorn has been suffering from Muscular Dystrophy for the past eight years. The illness has forced her to remain in bed and connected to a respiration machine at all times. Meanwhile, her only way to communicate with those around her is through the use of her eyelids.

Hirschorn’s daughter petitioned the court and asked that her mother not be reconnected to the respiration machine once it is disconnected for regular cleaning.


Thursday, May 05, 2005

Just What We Need

From George Will's column today (not bad, really):

"Fox is working on a pilot about 'a priest teaming with a neurologist to examine unexplained events.'"

As Murray Rothbard used to say, "Are we to be spared nothing?"

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Manias and obsessions

ablutomania ---mania for washing oneself
aboulomania---pathological indecisiveness
agromania---intense desire to be in open spaces
anglomania---craze or obsession with England and the English
anthomania---obsession with flowers
aphrodisiomania---abnormal sexual interest
arithmomania---obsessive preoccupation with numbers

Thoughts on Peter Kramer's "depression"

Thoughts on "There's Nothing Deep About Depression By PETER D. KRAMER":

Peter Kramer misleads his readers asserting that “. . . depression is a disease like any other. . . not a perspective,” (“There's Nothing Deep About Depression,” April 17). Depression is not a disease for several reasons: Diseases are lesions of the body and found in the cadaver at autopsy. Depression is not found in a cadaver. Depression has symptoms, no signs. Depression is diagnosed through conversation, not blood tests. It takes at least two people to be depressed, and only one person to have a disease. Thought and behavior is always accompanied by change in the body. That is different from saying physical changes cause thought and behavior. If depression is a disease, so is courage, heroism, love, and faith. It can't be that just bad things are caused by the brain. In fact, life itself must be a disease, for surely we are each genetically programmed to die. --- JAS

MAGAZINE DESK April 17, 2005, Sunday There's Nothing Deep About Depression By PETER D. KRAMER (NYT) 2901 words Late Edition - Final , Section 6 , Page 50 , Column 1 DISPLAYING FIRST 50 OF 2901 WORDS - Shortly after the publication of my book ''Listening to Prozac,'' 12 years ago, I became immersed in depression. Not my own. I was contented enough in the slog through midlife. But mood disorder surrounded me, in my contacts with patients and readers. To my mind, my book was never really...

'One Nation Under Therapy': They Don't Feel Your Pain

New York Times
Sunday Book Review
May 1, 2005

'One Nation Under Therapy': They Don't Feel Your Pain

ONE NATION UNDER THERAPY How the Helping Culture Is Eroding Self-Reliance.By Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel.310 pp. St. Martin's Press. $23.95.

THE alarmist nonfiction book is a staple of publishing. In fact, it is such a staple that it has its own backlash genre, the anti-alarmist alarmist book. Anti-alarmist alarmist books argue the counterintuitive points: that the kids are all right, that everything is getting better not worse, and that we have nothing to fear but therapy itself. Christine Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel's ''One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture Is Eroding Self-Reliance'' is one of the latest examples, joining a canon that includes ''The Myth of Self-Esteem,'' ''The Progress Paradox'' and ''The Culture of Fear.'' According to Sommers and Satel, our self-pity and self-concern are doing something far worse than simply annoying our friends. Self-absorption, they claim, is destroying America.