Tuesday, February 21, 2012

With Two You Get Eggroll

From the odd crimes department, this incident occurred on February 13th, in Pennsylvania:

Directly Lifted from the AP story:

"LEECHBURG, Pa. — Police say a western Pennsylvania man who claims to have split personalities confessed to robbing a Chinese restaurant after reading about it in the newspaper and realizing he was the person who did it.
Online court records don't list an attorney for 23-year-old Timothy Beer, of Leechburg, who's been jailed since surrendering in Sunday's robbery of the China King Restaurant about 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
Beer came to the police station Tuesday, saying he wasn't feeling well and "did something stupid."
Beer told police he ordered food and became angry when he perceived the person waiting on him was continuing to speak Chinese. The next thing Beer remembers, he was playing video games at his cousin's home — but says he later realized he committed the robbery when he read about it in Tuesday's Valley News Dispatch."

Some Thoughts:

1. People still read the newspaper?

2. Weekend, 23 years old, Chinese food, and playing video games? I'm gonna guess there may have been some THC involved in this dissociative state.

3. There is no longer "Multiple Personality Disorder." The correct term is "Dissociative Identity Disorder." There was a time (especially in the West Coast) where further diffraction of the personality was considered de rigeur for the therapy--a person would go in with two seperate personalityies and walk out with five or six. This often would occur during hypnotherapy. That is not what is recommended. Re-integration of the dissociative personality should be the goal of therapy in these situations.

4. There are many different types of dissociative states. Ever missed the exit while driving, becuse of "zoning out?" That is a dissociative state. Some psychiatric illnesses, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also can have episodes of dissociation (e.g during "flashbacks"). There are amnestic fugue states (where a person may "wake up" wandereing around in a strange city, confused) And, of course, there can be substance induced dissociation. None of these are of the "multiple personality" type-- dissociative identiy disorder.

5. I lifted a Doris Day movie title for this post, but "The Three Faces of Eve." might have been a better choice, and is certainly worth seeing. Does Hollywood present Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) well? "Primal Fear," and "Sybil" (like "Three Faces," also stars Joanne Woodward) do give DID a fair, by Hollywood standards, treatment. "Secret Window," "Fight Club," and "Identity" take the concept and run with it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Some new tunes

Time to dust of the blogspot and make a genuine attempt at scribbling some notes. Having recently returned from California, in the Bay Area, I was reminded of a couple of tunes, coincidentally with my format of one old and one new.

Of course, San Fran is not new to music. Every aspect of American music has had some time in the city by the bay (Journey, "Lights"). One does not have to more than just sit on the dock (Otis Redding) overlooking the golden gate bridge, to see some of the wonderment that led many a lyricist to wax rhapsodic on this town. And although it has been claimed to be built on rock and roll (Starship, "We Built this City"), it was the flower power days of past for which places like The Haight became synonymous with the entire music scene of the 60's.

So, with that in mind, I will promptly ignore pretty much all of the above genres for the two selections and proceed in a common non sequitur manner!

The story of Johnny Mathis' "Yellow Roses on Her Gown" is true. It was written by a man who grew up initially in the Bay area, and his father had to move out of town, because of his work. If the internet research is to be believed, the Father was a lawyer who had been defending individuals accused of communist activities during the McCarthy days. Again, if the internet is to be believed, this move caused his mother to be unable to go on. Even without the backstory, this is one of the most beautiful storytelling pieces of music ever written, and my favorite of Mathis' songs.

The next tune is new, and appears on an album released in 2011, called Map of the Forbidden City. The musician, however, is far from new, although he has had a near two decade absence from the music scene. The American audience, for the most part, never really got into Thomas Dolby's storytelling style, instead seeing the facade of the mad genius of synthpop, which became part of the roots of techno. In this album, which is a diverse as can be, Thomas crafts an alternative world full of fantastical songs, and shows that he has surely matured as a songwriter. He works with a British colleague of his on this tune, some guy named Knopfler. It is a wonderful bit of songwriting, and one of my favorites of 2011. The tune is not available online very easily, so for those of you with Spotify, may I send you here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Life, The Universe, and Everything

As noted in a previous posting, Life's been pretty hectic in the Doc-osphere. Health care is certainly an enjoyable subject, but ironically, it has been health care issues that have generally kept me away from the blogging. All is well, rest assured, and it is high time to return to a bit of writing.

I have learned a few important lessons over the past year, in part due to having an ill loved one, and due to what would best be described as "soul searching." In the area of psychiatry (and just in general!), this is certainly not a bad thing to do periodically-- taking stock of one's self and one's roles. My spirituality, even as it relates to my work, has grown stronger, and I am learning to not to restlessly fight with time; as it unecessary, and, invariably, a battle that one will lose.

Too many.

Troop deaths due to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010: 462

Troop deaths due to suicide in 2010: 434. Including reservists: 468

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


POSTERIZE: From Wikipedia: North American slang [1] derived from an action in the game of basketball, in which the offensive player "dunks" (see slam dunk) over a defending player in a play that is spectacular and athletic enough to warrant reproduction in a printed poster.

After the Lakers championship win over (my beloved) Celtics this year, Ron Artest did a very curious thing in his post-game interview.

He thanked his psychiatrist. Twice.

Artest thanked "everybody in my hood," "my doctor" and "my psychiatrist."

"Thank you so much," he said to the ABC reporter. "There's so much commotion going in the playoffs. She helped me relax."

Do we have a new Poster Boy for Mental Health?

Now, Artest is no shrinking violet. He's no New Age Bill Walton type, nor some sensitive European Dirk Nowitzki. (Although I could picture the latter going on about his psychoanalysis on a very long couch: "Ich habe eine neue Weltanschauung") No, Artest is about as Mean Streets as it comes. He was once called, by ESPN, "The Scariest Man in Basketball." He was suspended, and darn near kicked out of the NBA, for taking a fight right into the stands during a game in Detroit.

Sure, he was forced to undergo anger management, and (according to the same ESPN report) he has been in therapy since childhood. But to mention it on a post-game interview on one of the biggest nights of his professional career was fascinating.

The blogosphere in the shrink world has tried  to make hay of this interview. The gamut runs from giving kudos to his therapist and psychiatrist, to hoping that the stigma of mental illness may be lessened by his "coming out." Some in the sports world are not a as kind, and harassed him and his "craziness," yet most were at least pleased with the bit of honest fresh air.

Poster Boy? I'm still not sure. (He did also plug his new music single in the interview.)  But it seems that Ron is at least benefiting from some of what we call in the shrink biz as "insight:"  To quote Ron: "When I'm upset, it's not good. I'm not really thinking about the game. I feel like I've failed." 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Music Update

I've been listening to quite a bit of Muse and was fortunate enough to see them live as they opened for U2, and as headliners at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA. Muse has been one of those bands that has just been doing their own thing for the past decade, regardless of popularity. They've found a significant audience in their home in the UK, and have a rapidly growing audience here in the states, perhaps due, in part, to the popularity from their work on the Twilight soundtrack.
Muse pulls from all sorts of genres: alternative, prog, classical, jazz, electronica, and metal. The eclectic mix is often compared to Queen, Radiohead, and Pink Floyd, although I think that is selling the absolute diversity of this band quite short. Lead Matthew Bellamy is a complete virtuoso, and appears completely comfortable behind seemingly any instrument.
Their albums span all of the above genres, often covering several in the same song. The song "Knights of Cydonia," is off the album Black Holes and Revelations. The video solidifies what one hears on the song: that Matthew and Company were Ennio Morricone fans.
As enjoyable as all of their albums are, Muse is one of the few not-to-be-missed live bands in the past 20 years. These guys own the stage from start to finish, and are able to create the "Big Rock Show" sound at will.

You've never heard of Eliane. Unless you happen to have been attending coffeehouse shows in NYC or Switzerland. Trained at The New School in Jazz, she adds Brazilian and rock sounds, for a wonderful eclectic mix. She's has turned a few heads in the music world recently, and has toured internationally over the past few years.  This song "As If" is off a self produced CD, and is just one facet of this exceptionally talented young woman. I do hope to hear much more from her in the future.

Worthwhile Research

A study done at UCSD and UC-Davis has looked at the link between chocolate consumption and depression.  Shari Roan at the LA Times has a nice report on it here

A snippet:

When the researchers controlled for other dietary factors that could be linked to mood — such as caffeine, fat and carbohydrate intake — they found only chocolate consumption correlated with mood.
It's not clear how the two are linked, the authors wrote. It could be that depression stimulates chocolate cravings as a form of self-treatment. Chocolate prompts the release of certain chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, that produce feelings of pleasure.

There is no evidence, however, that chocolate has a sustained benefit on improving mood. Like alcohol, chocolate may contribute a short-term boost in mood followed by a return to depression or a worsened mood. A study published in 2007 in the journal Appetite found that eating chocolate improved mood but only for about three minutes.
it's also possible that depressed people seek chocolate to improve mood but that the trans fats in some chocolate counteract the effect of omega-3 fatty acid production in the body, the authors said in the paper. Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to improve mental health.
Another theory is that chocolate consumption contributes to depression or that some physiological mechanism, such as stress, drives both depression and chocolate cravings.
"It's unlikely that chocolate makes people depressed," said Marcia Levin Pelchat, a psychologist who studies food cravings at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. She was not involved in the new study. "Most people believe the beneficial effects of chocolate are on mood and that they are learned. You eat chocolate; it makes you feel good, and sometime when you're feeling badly it occurs to you, ‘Gee, if I eat some chocolate I might feel better.' "

Some Thoughts:

1. I hope this will lead to a double blind study, as I would be very willing to sign up. I'm not sure what the placebo control group would ingest, though! What's a placebo to chocolate?

2. We now have chocolate Cheerios!?!

3.  Previous studies on chocolate and mood show  a few consistencies:  Women reach for the cocoa more than men, there is at least a short term elevation of mood, and those with mixed anxiety/depression or atypical depression seem to use chocolate more.

4. Why does chocolate have any effect? Chocolate has several chemicals that are likely psychoactive: Serotonin is a mood enhancer (increased by medications like Prozac) and Tyramine potentiates Serotonin. Theobromine and Caffeine are both stimulants. (Side note: Dogs lack the enzyme to break down Theobromine, thus it is neurotoxic to dogs). Chocolate also has Phenylethylamine, which releases endorphins (natural opiods) which give  a sense of euphoria. This is similar to the "runner's high." One study done in 1995 (by Andrew Drewnowski at the University of Michigan)  showed that when one blocked this natural endorphin with a medication (Naltrexone), than the subjects ate less chocolate. (Side note: Phenylethylamine is also released when one is falling in love)

5. Over 3 million tons of cocoa beans are consumed around the world annually. The market value of the current annual cocoa crop is $5.1 billion. (Source: World Cocoa Foundation)