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Health

Yale Thinks I Have an Eating Disorder

This is outrageous — the Yale Administration’s Mommy-Knows-Best attitude, if that’s what it is…but no, I don’t think it’s that. I think it’s the “You’ll do what I say, OR ELSE, young lady!” attitude. In loco parentis* on steroids! I have to cheer this woman for writing this up, even if she did see fit to post it on HuffPo.

Coming on the heels of Prof. Rubenfeld, he of the Yale Law School, and in light of Yale’s reputation for having an unfortunately highly Progressivist weltanschaaung, I find myself disgusted with Yale altogether. When Lucy grows up I’m sending her to Oxbridge.

Herewith, the whole thing. I just don’t see how to break it up without ruining the flow.

–J.

Yale University Thinks I Have an Eating Disorder

“I don’t know if my body is even capable of gaining three more pounds.”

The nurse looked at me apprehensively. “It’s easy to gain a couple pounds. What I’m afraid will happen is that you’ll lose it again and you’ll just be cheating yourself.”

I couldn’t keep the impatience out of my tone. “So you’re just going to keep checking on me until I graduate?”

“If we don’t tackle your low weight now, it will kill you.”

***

In the past three weeks alone, I have spent ten hours at Yale Health, our student health center. Since December, I have had weekly weigh-ins and urine tests, three blood tests, appointments with a mental health counselor and a nutritionist, and even an EKG done to test my heart. My heart was fine — as it always has been — and so was the rest of my body. So what was the problem?

The medical professionals think I have an eating disorder — but they won’t look past the number on the scale, to see the person right in front in them.

I visited the cancer hospital on September 17, 2013, worrying about a lump in my breast. It turned out to be benign, but I received an email in November from the medical director about “a concern resulting from your recent visit.” My stomach lurched. Was the lump malignant after all?

I met with a clinician on December 4 and was told that the “concern” was my low weight and that I would meet with her for weekly weigh-ins. These appointments were not optional. The clinician threatened to put me on medical leave if I did not comply: “If it were up to the administration, school would already be out for you. I’m just trying to help.”

I’ve always been small. I’ve been 5’2” and 90 pounds since high school, but it has never led to any illnesses related to low weight or malnutrition. My mom was the same; my whole family is skinny. We all enjoy Mom’s fabulous cooking, which included Taiwanese beef noodle soup, tricolor pasta, strawberry cheesecake, and cream puffs, none of which make the Weight Watchers shortlist. I just don’t gain weight easily.

Yet the clinicians at Yale Health think there’s more to it. Every week, I try to convince my clinician that I am healthy but skinny. Over the past several months, however, I’ve realized the futility of arguing with her.

“You should try to gain at least two more pounds.” (What difference does two pounds make?)

“Come next week to take a blood test to check your electrolytes.” (No consideration that I had three exams that week.)

“I know you’ve said in the past that you don’t eat as much when you get stressed out.” (I’ve never said that.)

So instead of arguing, I decided that perhaps the more I complied, the sooner I could resume my normal life.

I was forced to see a mental health professional. She asked me all of the standard questions — how I felt about my body, how many calories I ate. I told her everyone’s body is beautiful, including mine. When I said I didn’t know how many calories, since I don’t care to count, she rephrased the question, as if that would help.

Next step was a nutritionist. The nurse passed a post-it note, saying “Here are two times for the nutritionist next Tuesday. Usually it takes three months to get into nutrition at all.” What a privilege! Now I get to feel guilty about using clinical resources in desperately short supply!

Finally, I decided to start a weight-gain diet. If I only had to gain two pounds, it was worth a shot to stop the trouble. I asked my health-conscious friends what they do to remain slim and did the exact opposite. In addition to loading up on carbs for each meal, I’ve eaten 3-4 scoops of ice cream twice a day with chocolate, cookies, or Cheetos at bedtime. I take elevators instead of stairs wherever possible.

Eventually, the scale said I was two pounds heavier. When I saw her last Friday, I felt my stomach tighten, my heart racing. Would I finally be granted parole?

“You’ve gained two pounds, but that still isn’t enough. Ideally, you should go up to 95 pounds.” I hung my head in disbelief. I’ve already shared with you the memorable exchange that followed.

She had finally cracked me. I was Sisyphus the Greek king, forever trapped trying uselessly to push a boulder up a hill. Being forced to meet a standard that I could never meet was stressful and made me resent meals. I broke down sobbing in my dean’s office, in my suitemate’s arms afterwards, and Saturday morning on the phone with my parents. At this rate, I was well on my way to developing an eating disorder before anyone could diagnose the currently nonexistent one.

It seems Yale has a history of forcing its students through this process. A Yale Herald piece from 2010 told the story of students in similar situations. It’s disturbing how little things have changed. “Stacy” was “informed that if she kept failing to reach [Yale Health]‘s goals for her, she would be withdrawn for the following semester.” Unfortunately, “the more she stressed out about gaining weight, the more she lost her appetite.”

Furthermore, a recent graduate messaged me saying that her cholesterol had actually gone up due to the intensive weight-gain diet she used to release herself from weekly weigh-ins.

It is clear that the University does care about students suspected of struggling with eating disorders. And it should. Eating disorders are particularly prevalent on college campuses and Yale is no exception. However, because the University blindly uses BMI as the primary means of diagnosis, it remains oblivious to students who truly need help but do not have low enough BMIs. Instead, it subjects students who have a personal and family history of low weight to treatment that harms our mental health. By forcing standards upon us that we cannot meet, the University plays the same role as fashion magazines and swimsuit calendars that teach us about the “correct shape” of the human body.

I was scheduled to have a mental health appointment at 9:00 a.m. and a weigh-in at 10:30 a.m. this past Friday. But I’m done. No more weigh-ins, no more blood draws. I don’t have an eating disorder, and I will not let Yale Health cause me to develop one. If Yale wants to kick me out, let them try — in the meantime, I’ll be studying for midterms, doing my best to make up for lost time.

. . .
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

New Drugs May Transform Down Syndrome

It’s rather shocking to me how many presumably-intelligent people say neuroscience is “quack science.” In the first place it’s still a young science, as sciences go. But if many theories (or “sub-theories”) turn out to be wrong, or severely incomplete, that doesn’t disqualify the validity of neuroscience, which is the study of how the nervous system — including the brain — works. Scientists develop theories about this, and prove, improve, or disprove them depending on new discoveries that they make. And then, of course, we utilize the results.

Great stuff has already come out of neuroscience. And speaking from personal experience, that includes some of the much-maligned anti-depressant medications, which can turn a life that has become extremely unpleasant into one that can be downright enjoyable and experienced as being worth the living.

This is wonderful news indeed.

From Scientific American.

New Drugs May Transform Down Syndrome

Recent breakthroughs may lead to pharmacological treatments for the chromosomal disorder

Mar 1, 2014 |By Jenni Laidman

‘People born with Down syndrome have always been considered to be incurably developmentally delayed—until now. In the past few years a number of laboratories have uncovered critical drug targets within disabled chemical pathways in the brain that might be restored with medication. At least two clinical trials are currently studying the effects of such treatments on people with Down syndrome. Now geneticist Roger Reeves of Johns Hopkins University may have stumbled on another drug target—this one with the potential to correct the learning and memory deficits so central to the condition.

‘Down syndrome occurs in about one in 1,000 births annually worldwide. It arises from an extra copy of chromosome 21 and the overexpression of each of the 300 to 500 genes the chromosome carries. “If you go back even as recently as 2004, researchers didn’t have much of a clue about the mechanisms involved in this developmental disability,” says Michael Harpold, chief scientific officer with the Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation. But all that has changed. “In the past six or seven years there have been several breakthroughs—and ‘breakthroughs’ is not by any means too big a word—in understanding the neurochemistry in Down syndrome,” Reeves says. [ ... ]‘

Scientific American The article continues with a description of the subject research.

New, Better CPR Method — 5-min. video

Chest-Compression-Only CPR Video

From Sarver Heart Center at the University of Arizona. Links at source. They are an Amazon Associate.

We need more smuggling in the UK says government

Cigarettes seized by customs officers at Birmingham Airport

Cigarettes sold in non branded packaging could appear on the shelves of shops by 2015 in a landmark move by the Prime Minister

By Claire Carter, and Peter Dominiczak

In a surprise u-turn, it seems that David Cameron has decided that given the alleged “health benefits” of Australia’s plain packaging policy, the UK will follow the same plain packaging approach by 2015.

Unfortunately the government appears to have given no consideration to the downside to plain packaging in that such nanny-state tactics have been a gold-mine for tobacco smugglers in Australia or that given the openness of free-trade between mainland Europe and the UK the only winners here will be both amature and professional tobacco smugglers.

Tobacco smuggling: HMRC ‘failures’ highlighted by MPs

Tobacco smuggling written evidence

 

Crikes oh Lor! A good news Health story.

Almost inevitably it is… Experts warn… Scientists warn… Uncle Tom Cobbley and his Nanny warns, but this one is different, it modestly celebrates the raising of the wrist.

We tipplers have always known that the safe Units crap was made up on the back of an envelope, much like that secondary smoke will laser its way through walls and kill entire families while they sleep, especially the Cheeeldren!

And on the cure for a cold being alcohol (with a little bit of spicy help), I can concur…

Many years ago the Gay Buddhist, my wife and I were working our way down a bottle of Tequila. I had a  stinking cold, and I mean really stinking , coughing up stuff that looked like well masticated Pistachios. Ness curled up and went to sleep, but the GB and I decided to go out for a curry, Cardiff Curry houses staying open till 3 in the morning in those days.

We both had a Vindaloo, and mine was so goddam hot my eyeballs were sweating. Then we went back to the flat and polished off the rest of the Tequila. The next day I woke up and the cold had completely gone.

So raise your glasses ladies and gentlemen…

Our Enemy, The State

Our enemy, the state

“It [the State] has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste, with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men.

– Henry L. Mencken, 1926 

The above is one of the opening quotations in Albert J Nock’s 1935 classic “Our enemy, the state” and to my mind this single phrase along with the above quotation typifies my current view of the increasingly statist world within which we are forced to exist (I will not say “live”).

I am well aware that this viewpoint, while being common among libertarians, is very much at odds with the propagandised masses that surround us, who see the state as a beneficent or at least benign entity which would deliver an earthly utopia if only it weren’t for x, y or z. (more…)

Sowell: “Studies Prove…”

Often we hear that “all the experts agree” that A is better than B or that “studies prove” A to be better than B. ….

A fascinating discussion of the fact that statistical studies can be interpreted and presented in various ways…with varying degrees of rigor and of intellectual honesty…for various reasons. Dr. Sowell provides some excellent examples in this three-part article.

Part 1: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell080906.php3

Part 2: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell081006.php3

Part 3: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell081106.php3

Obama Administration to Delay Health Law Requirement until 2015

“Postponed till after midterm elections.” How convenient.

Obama Administration to Delay Health Law Requirement Until 2015

By JACKIE CALMES
Published: July 2, 2013 2 Comments

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that it would delay for a year, until 2015, the Affordable Care Act mandate that employers provide coverage for their workers or pay penalties, responding to business complaints and postponing the effective date beyond next year’s midterm elections.

Story continues at

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/03/us/politics/obama-administration-to-delay-health-law-requirement-until-2015.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1&

Lard of the Glen.

Apparently a consignment of lard has washed-up in Scotland.

Storms over the east coast have resulted in several unusual relics from World War II washing up on an Angus beach.

Staff at St Cyrus nature reserve said four large, barrel-shaped pieces of lard have appeared on the shore.

The fat is believed to have escaped from the wreck of a merchant vessel that was bombed in WW II.

Scottish Natural Heritage said the lard was still a brilliant white and smelled “good enough to have a fry up with.

Only in Scotland could they elect celebrate…

A washed-up tub of lard.

A washed-up tub of lard.

Angus McHardy [who might just be Scottish], a local resident and retired fisherman, said he remembers similar events in the in early 1940s.

“I’d never seen anything like it,” he said. “There was quite a lot washed up at St Cyrus and beyond, not quite to Montrose.”

“Some barrels were complete and others were just lumps. People collected it. My grandma boiled it up to get the sand out. It was great because we couldn’t get fat during the war.”

He added: “After a storm in the late 60s or early 70s, the lard came up on-shore again. The seagulls thought it was a bonanza.”

Scotland has found a seemingly inexhaustible supply of saturated fats. The First Minister must be delighted. The Hell with North Sea oil when Scotland can lay claim to fat deposits that would put Überwald to shame.

Does this mean the Scottish people will re-elect…

Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond

…despite the best nannying efforts of Ms Sturgeon (why are these Scottish pols so fishy?) to nanny and coerce the population into “health”?

And I speak as someone who has had a lunch of deep-fried cheese washed down with an excellent beer in the Czech Republic.

The Succession

Now much has been said about abolishing primogeniture which as Single Acts of Tyranny points out is like something from the Dark Ages. He of course goes further so read the whole thing. Good post.

But, yesterday, and before I read SAoT’s spot-on post, I clocked something. The extreme form of morning sickness that the Duchess of Cambridge has is frequently associated with a multiple pregnancy. Now being a monarch is very much a lottery of life thing at the best of times but if it is a case of twins born a couple of minutes apart it kind of focuses debate as to the arbitrariness of the order of succession.

Now, I’m a computer geek with no kids but I have a little knowledge of the mechanics and my understanding is that particularly for multiple births a C-section is often the delivery method of choice. I assume in such cases the order of succession is defined by which child is taken from the womb first. I assume this is down to the clinical decision of a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. A more obscure form of determining a future Head of State is beyond me.

Just a thought. At the risk of sounding vile both involve appraising entrails. Whether of a princess or a goat matters little.

Although, to be fair, if they are identical twins they can alternate the more tiresome duties, “It’s an even numbered day so you get to open the industrial park outside of Swindon!”. Nobody will know the difference. I can see an upside. Especially if it is the tiresome “spectacle” of the Royal Variety Performance with Joe Pasquale in his sodding bath-chair being as tedious as ever.

It goes without saying that I wish them all the best. The wife of a mate of mine had a tricky pregnancy recently. All worked out OK in the end but… For a while my mate didn’t look anywhere near 100%. Nor would you, nor would I. I never saw his wife at the time.

Complete and utter Bollocks Study of the Week Pt 69.

But bloody nice try guys!

This is the study that all us fellas would absolutely love to be true, but it’s the usual crapola based on statistical insignificance and wishful thinking.

But come on ladies, it might be true, think of all the expensive shit you shovel on your faces in the hope of beating wrinkles, the mad diets you put yourselves through to lose weight, the self help books you devour by the ton… You want to be less depressed, become more affectionate, sleep better (it certainly makes me sleep better, and with a smile on my face!) It’s more than a mouthful, it’s a meal!! Swallow don’t spit!

The Sheep Sheep Song

Smoking during pregnancy is a controversial issue that gets anti-smoking puritans frothing at the mouth. In Blackpool they are taking a proactive stance by screening mothers-to-be for carbon monoxide in their blood. I’ll let Emma Harris of the Evening Gazette take up the narrative.

WOMEN are now being screened for signs of a deadly chemical as part of Blackpool’s bid to cut the number of mums-to-be smoking.

The resort still has the highest rate in the country of pregnant women who light up – at 29 per cent.

I hope these chemical checks are being performed with the permission of the women concerned. After all, according to the statistics, more than 70% of pregnant women in Blackpool don’t smoke making nearly three quarters of the tests redundant and a waste of resources if the screening is involuntary. Unfortunately Ms Harris doesn’t elucidate.

But health bosses say this is the first time the figure has been below 30 per cent since records began.

Nor does Ms Harris expand on when records began so we have no idea what percentage of pregnant women smoked prior to this. The percentage of so called deprived families increased when local housing associations started accepting hell knows how many problem families from other deprived parts of Lancashire, especially Liverpool and Manchester. There is also a growing East European migrant population that appears to enjoy smoking. It seems the figures don’t discriminate between locals and incomers. For all I know the local born smokers could be trending towards the national average.

Smoking while pregnant poses a higher risk of serious health problems to the unborn child, including low birth weight, pre-term birth, placental complications and even still-birth.

Presumably Blackpool health bosses have strong evidence to support this higher risk claim of serious anti and post natal health problems due to women smoking during pregnancy. Stronger than the weasel word poses that is. Let’s see the statistics of birth complications linked directly to smoking. Blackpool, with nearly a third of pregnant women sucking on cancer sticks, should be bursting at the seams with neo-natal victims and smoking induced maternity misery. It isn’t.

Nationally, the average rate of women who admitted smoking during pregnancy during 2011/12 was 13 per cent.

[Insert sound of gramophone needle being clumsily and noisily removed from record track]

What about the women who didn’t admit to smoking whilst pregnant? Having seen how women like Stacey Solomon suffer public demonisation by the Witchfinders General anti-smoking puritans for indulging in a habit that is legal, how many pregnant women are willing to admit they smoke? The average rate of women who admit to smoking during pregnancy, in a nation where the government and media actively collude to discriminate against smokers, is only as good as the honesty of the women who were polled. Unless of course we are to believe that pregnant women are somehow incapable of lying to protect themselves from the baying, finger-pointing, Cromwellian masses.

Fran Frankland, lead for reducing tobacco use in pregnancy with NHS Blackpool, said measures had been taken to try to tackle the problem.

Fran Frankland’s time would be better spent reducing drug abuse during pregnancy which is a far greater concern in Blackpool than lighting up a fag.

Blackpool, which has high levels of deprivation, has a high rate of smokers across the general population.

Obviously not so deprived they can’t afford to smoke…

She said a new scheme started in October which saw midwives trained to screen women for carbon monoxide – a poisonous gas in cigarette smoke, which takes the place of oxygen in the blood and causes damage to the body.

There is a national shortage of midwives in the NHS which is said to be at crisis point yet their precious time can be co-opted to assuage the demands of the anti-smoking lobby?

She said: “If they test positive, they are automatically referred to our specialist stop smoking service for support.

If they test positive? So they are wasting vital resources testing non-smokers then?

They can opt out of this at any time of course, but the door is always left open for them to come back at any time.

But can they opt out of the initial screening if they don’t want it? Once a smoker’s guilty secret is out how hard are they pressured into taking up this optional specialist service? Are they supplied with a pamphlet stuffed with tactically ambiguous ifs, coulds and mights so that they can make up their own minds?

They are given information on the risks of smoking during pregnancy, so if a woman does choose to opt out, it’s not because she doesn’t know or isn’t aware of the issues. It’s for some other reason.

That other reason being – mind your own damned business? People are sick and tired of being lectured and harangued by self-righteous busybodies. Are you even listening Fran Frankland?

This has been really useful for us to identify women who are smoking.

So they don’t take a woman’s word for it unless it comes disguised as the national average. Does this mean the test on Blackpool women is involuntary? Who the hell do these people think they are?

We don’t have a specialist midwife here in Blackpool purely for women who smoke during pregnancy, because of the large numbers, but we do have a specialist stop smoking clinic.

Does any hospital have a midwife purely for women who smoke during pregnancy? And why does Blackpool need a “specialist” stop smoking clinic? One that seemingly approves the implementation of involuntary medical procedures on pregnant women to justify what? Jobs for the girls and boys? At what cost? And on who’s say so? What ever happened to the much cheaper GP’s advice to not smoke during pregnancy and let the patient make up her own mind?

I think sometimes for some women, it’s a bit like the chances of winning the Lottery – they just don’t think it will happen to them.

What won’t happen to them? Giving birth to an underweight or premature baby? Because it never happens to non-smoking mothers? Ever?

It’s trying to help them understand it may not have happened to their mum, or in their previous pregnancy, but it could still happen.

Of course it could still happen. It can happen to anyone- smoker and non-smoker. So the point being made here is…?

It costs more than £10,000 to deliver what is termed as a complicated birth – in women who smoke during pregnancy, the placenta can be broken down, causing birth complications.

More weasel words. So let’s see the figures on difficult births. How many can be directly attributed to smoking?

As the rate of women smoking in pregnancy has dropped by 3.5 per cent – that’s roughly a decrease of 48 women – there has been a potential saving of close to £500,000.

So how much extra did the remaining 96.5% of smokers cost in real terms? Since only the potential saving was quoted I’m going to hazard a guess and say the actual additional cost of whelping a smoker in Blackpool is close to a big fat zero. If it was otherwise the health officials wouldn’t be scraping the bottom of the reality barrel in order to brag about apocryphal savings.

Ms Frankland added: “That’s without the emotional cost of babies having to be rushed off into neo-natal care.

Maybe Ms Frankland should refrain from adding the emotional cost of alarmism to the stress of pregnancy in order to justify her salary.

“The work we’ve been doing is starting to have an effect so hopefully it will now grow.”

The numbers of women smoking during pregnancy has fallen dramatically over several decades. However, Ms Frankland feels duty bound to justify the expansion of her “specialist” service. I prefer to call it rent seeking.

Dr Arif Rajpura, director of public health, added: “We have been working very hard on this for several years now.

“It is very gratifying to see the downward trend as this means far more babies get a healthy start in life.”

Having a statistic that is more than double the (questionable) national average is something to be gratified about, I can see that now. As for more babies getting a healthy start in life – says who? There are no end of strapping lads and lasses born into families who smoke. There are sick children born into families who do not smoke, drink or abuse drugs. Are the lifestyles of non-smokers blamed for their afflicted newborns? Or is it that filthy smokers offend the senses of the puritans and must be punished and vilified at every level of society? The most reviled of all being the consenting adult female who indulges a certain legal habit during pregnancy.

The days of trust me, I’m a doctor are long gone because the profession has lost all credibility through empty alarmism and sanctimonious nannyism. So let’s see the evidence, medical profession. Crusading rhetoric isn’t proof. Neither is spinning non-existant potential savings. I sure hope doctors and other clinical staff are not advocating the non-consensual testing of pregnant women for CO at the behest of government sponsored pressure groups even if it’s for the perceived own good of patients. Health fascism and political correctness have no place in medicine. The NHS exists to try and heal people, not to crush freedom of choice beneath its dictatorial heel. So please do stop singing your imperious, we-know-best song because people, whether you like it or not, are not the sheep you want them to be.

Hooray for Hockney!

Absolutely no need for me to comment further on this. David Hockney speaks eloquently for all Libertarian smokers like myself.

The Trickcyclists

The way that we think and talk about psychiatric illness has implications for all of us – not only mental health professionals and their patients, but anyone with affected friends and family members, policy-makers struggling to know what services to provide and pharmaceutical companies considering future profits. So it’s unsurprising that a proposed new edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), widely described as the “psychiatrists’ bible”, is causing much furore – but slightly more surprising that much of the dissent comes from within psychiatry.

Oh yeah. That document is medicine’s Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It is toxic and refuses to die.

Since the publication of the third edition in 1980, the DSM has employed a checklist approach to assigning diagnoses. By ticking off the symptoms listed under each disorder, a mental health professional can reach a diagnosis that is likely to be in agreement with the judgment of any other mental health professional.

Huh? I mean that is spectacular. Let me tell a story here. In the late ’90s I had chronic back pain. I saw several doctors and physios and it was sorted but not by the first person I saw, not even by the third. A diiference in clinical technique is enormously valuable. Now don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying the earlier attempts to sort me were incompetent. What I’m saying is what works with one patient doesn’t necessarily work with another. Certainly not with maladies as essentially mysterious as bad backs or disorders of the noggin. Not least because the guy I finally saw I had faith in. Not my previous GP who when taking my history asked what I did and when I told him he said, “Oh, I wish I’d done physics – I only did medicine to please my mother”. I was speechless.

The main focus has been the broadening of psychiatric diagnoses, making an increasing range of behaviours targets of psychiatric concern. (As evidence this is already happened to an alarming degree: last year about one in four US citizens took a psychiatric drug.)

That means on an average 767 in the US 75 folks are on jollop for insanity! Let us hope none of them are near the yoke or throttle!

For example, it has been proposed that grief should be dropped as an exclusion criterion for the diagnosis of depression, raising the risk that normal grief reactions will be considered evidence of illness.

Now that is mad! For some reason I’m thinking of Marilyn Monroe. In an interview she once said she’d spent hundreds of hours in therapy and thousands of dollars on it and she wondered why the journalist was asking why she was depressed? Grief is part of life. Expecting someone to be chipper when the missus has cleared out the joint account and run over your dog on the way to elope with the milkman is bizarre. I mean it would be very odd not to feel a bit unhappy about that turn of events. Indeed verging on psychopathic.

In the case of severe mental illness, the discovery that a large proportion of the population (about 10%) sometimes experience “subclinical” hallucinations and bizarre beliefs has led to the inclusion of an attenuated psychosis syndrome.

“Bizarre beliefs”? OK call me in on that! I tend to think the best possible next POTUS is former Governor Johnson. Fewer than 10% of Americans share this view. What really disturbs me is how redolent that is of the Soviet Union and diagnosing dissidents as mad. For many, many years the US psychiatric establishment refused to believe their Russian counterparts could do something so at variance with medical ethics. This is bizarre and I would think almost willfully so. The entire history of medicine is steeped in profound quackery.

Behind these concerns about the expanding scope of psychiatry lies a deeper problem. The proposed revision has been constructed on the basis of clinical consensus – psychiatric folklore institutionalised by committee – rather than scientific research.

That reminds me of a nursing student I lived with. We were watching Dracula and it had scenes of the Victorian Bedlam Mental Hospital. He quipped, “So no change in psychiatric nursing then!” I mean would you approve a cancer drug on the basis of “consensus” and not research? You might as well prescribe tar-water! Or here’s another medical consensus. Up to and including the Battle of Waterloo the standard treatment for a gun-shot wound was bleeding. Any modern combat medic would regard that as the very last thing to do. Try saying that 200 years ago though and the consensus of grizzled heads would laugh you out of town.

Defenders of the DSM and similar systems argue that some kind of categorical method of diagnosing patients is required to allow communication between clinicians.

The easy lie rather than the difficult truth? Here’s a story for you. V=IR. You probably know that as Ohm’s law. That’s how they teach it in schools anyway. Now the full version is rather more terrifying than that – that presupposes a linear, isotropic and homogenous medium amongst other things! Or here’s another. Kepler’s laws of planetary motion are fine physics but it ain’t the full nine-yards. For that there is the disturbing function and even then that’s approximate. It is nails but if you really must know here’s a publication that ought to do it for you. It was written by my solar system dynamics lecturer, Carl Murray. Now he’s not a brain surgeon. He’s merely a rocket scientist. Really! He did work for NASA.

Oddly enough that probably will make you go mad as a trout. Relativity or Quantum Mechanics have nothing on it.

Obesity Epidemic?

One of the things in the press that annoys me no end is the idea that Britain is in the rip of an “obesity epidemic”. now the first thing to say is obesity is not communicable so the word “epidemic” is inappropriate anyway but what really annoys me is that over the last few years this idea has become so entrenched as a received an unquestioned truth. Whole swathes of Finnish forest have been been turned into articles on the subject and how best to tackle it without ever once questioning whether the phenomenon is real or not. In that spirit I shall now put in my tuppence purely anecdotally.

I live in Cheshire, just south of Manchester. It’s very middle-class around here. I often see the hordes of kids getting off the bus after school finishes. I don’t recall seeing any bloaters. If anything I’d say the kids are more svelte than the ones I was at school with in the ’80s and ’90s. That was in commuter-belt West Gateshead which again was a reasonably middle-class area – not as posh as round here but by no stretch deprived. So middle-class(ish) kids don’t tend to be fat… So what about those who have “Mums that go to Iceland”. Er… no. I’ve lived in some pretty rough inner-city areas (most recently Levenshulme) which probably could be termed “deprived” and to be honest didn’t notice much difference.

Now I tend to not like shopping and my idea of Hell on Earth is somewhere like the Trafford Centre (and purgatory is the M60 just outside it) but things like Christmas shopping are a case of needs must when the Devil vomits in your kettle. Now if anywhere provides a cross-section of the North West populace then surely it’s the Trafford Centre. And no I didn’t see more than the odd sea-monster. So is the North West particularly unusual? I very much doubt it.

Anyway, that’s my take on it – unscientific though it may be – I don’t believe in the obesity “epidemic”.

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