Thursday, April 30, 2015

Don't serve family, God, or country -- have fun!, say childless people

"In the 1970s, one in ten women reached menopause without giving birth to a child. But by 2010, it was one in five, according to data gathered by the Pew Research Center, and one in four for women with a bachelor’s degree. A quarter of educated American women are getting through life without ever having children.
That critical thinking plays a role in falling birthrates is backed up by a study conducted at Kansas State University, in which researchers found that “people’s desire to have children is most influenced by the positive and negative interactions, and the trade-offs.” These are detailed elegantly in an essay by Lionel Shriver, the author of We Need to Talk About Kevin, a book in which a mother’s life is ruined by her psychopathic son. “I could have afforded children, financially,” Shriver writes. “I just didn’t want them. They are untidy, they would have messed up my apartment. In the main, they are ungrateful. They would have siphoned away too much time from my precious books.”
Shriver acknowledges that this attitude could be interpreted as selfish. But, it seems, her feelings are indicative of “a larger transformation in Western culture no less profound than our collective consensus on what life is for.” In other words, she's saying, an existential shift in the way educated humans approach living—a switch from living for the (possibly celestial) future to enjoying the present—has led humans to think much more carefully about having children, since the drawbacks tend to outweigh the benefits. “As we age,” she writes, “we are apt to look back on our pasts and question, not, did I serve family, God, and country, but did I ever get to Cuba, or run a marathon? Did I take up landscape painting? Was I fat? We will assess the success of our lives in accordance not with whether they were righteous, but whether they were interesting and fun.”


The article from the Atlantic is worth reading, if tremendously dispiriting.

One important factor neglected in the article is that so many college-educated men these days aren't up to the task of serving as husbands and fathers. It could be not so much that women are choosing not to have children, but that they can't even contemplate the possibility of having children with any of the man-boys they know.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Martin Seligman's $287 million Positive Psychology program for the Army still isn't working

"I rarely count on good things happening to me."

USA Today
"More than half of some 770,000 soldiers are pessimistic about their future in the military and nearly as many are unhappy in their jobs, despite a six-year, $287 million campaign to make troops more optimistic and resilient, findings obtained by USA TODAY show.
Twelve months of data through early 2015 show that 403,564 soldiers, or 52%, scored badly in the area of optimism, agreeing with statements such as "I rarely count on good things happening to me." Forty-eight percent have little satisfaction in or commitment to their jobs.
The results stem from resiliency assessments that soldiers are required to take every year. In 2014, for the first time, the Army pulled data from those assessments to help commanders gauge the psychological and physical health of their troops.
The effort produced startlingly negative results. In addition to low optimism and job satisfaction, more than half reported poor nutrition and sleep, and only 14% said they are eating right and getting enough rest.
The Army began a program of positive psychology in 2009 in the midst of two wars and as suicide and mental illness were on the rise. To measure resiliency the Army created a confidential, online questionnaire that all soldiers, including the National Guard and Reserve, must fill out once a year.
Last year, Army scientists applied formulas to gauge service-wide morale based on the assessments. The results demonstrate that positive psychology "has not had much impact in terms of overall health," says David Rudd, president of the University of Memphis who served on a scientific panel critical of the resiliency program.
The Army's effort to use positive psychology to make soldiers more resilient has been controversial since its inception in 2009. A blue-ribbon panel of scientists from the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded last year that there is little or no evidence the program prevents mental illness. It argued there was no effort to test its efficacy before the Army embraced it . The panel cited research arguing that, in fact, the program could be harmful if it leaves soldiers with a false sense of resiliency.
The Army disputed the findings, pushing ahead with its positive psychology program that now costs more than $50 million a year. At least 2.45 million soldiers have taken a self-assessment test that is a crucial part of the resiliency program, and 28,000 GIs have been instructed on how to teach other soldiers the curriculum.

Other results:
-- Forty-eight percent or about 370,000 soldiers showed a lack of commitment to their job or would have chosen another if they had it to do over again. Only 28% felt good about what they do.
-- About 300,000 soldiers or nearly 40% didn't trust their immediate supervisor or fellow soldiers in their unit or didn't feel respected or valued. Thirty-two percent felt good about about bosses and peers.
-- In one positive trend, more than 400,000 soldiers or 53% said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied with their marriage, personal relationship or family. About 240,000 expressed dissatisfaction.
-- For physical fitness, nearly 40% were in good shape, 28% were borderline, and 33% did poorly.
Retired vice admiral Norb Ryan, head of the Military Officers Association of America, and Joyce Raezer, executive of the National Military Family Association, said the results are not surprising. Fourteen years of war and recent decisions to downsize or cut funding for the military have left morale low, they said.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Robert E. Lee's Oedipal complex

Behold the putrefaction that lies beneath the impeccable surface!

The following excerpt is from Richard Brookhiser's review of Jonathan Horn's The Man Who Would Not Be Washington, which appeared in the Feb. 5, 2015 edition of National Review.
"Rebellion crept up on Lee slowly but inexorably. He was on duty in Texas as the country began falling apart, and was irked by the swaggering of secessionist Texas Rangers. His wife sent him a biography of George Washington. "How his spirit would be grieved could he see the wreck of his mighty labours," Lee wrote back. The Lincoln administration wanted Lee to take command of the Union Army after the fall of Fort Sumter (Winfield Scott was still the nation's top general, but at 75 years old and over 300 pounds he was no longer fit for field command). "How can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my native state?" Lee answered. Scott told him, "You have made the greatest mistake of your life."
So why did Lee do it? Horn sees it as the culmination of a life of dutiful self-denial. "At this crucial juncture," Horn writes, "Lee surrendered to events. He could not have his own way. So he would have Virginia's way." Horn's textured portrait suggests another possible motive, though Horn himself does not say so: After all Lee's services, personal and professional, to the Army, to crazy and feckless relatives, to a crushing moral and familial inheritance, maybe he welcomed some destruction. He was certainly good at it. "It is well this is so terrible!" he remarked at the Battle of Fredericksburg, as his men repulsed six suicidal Union charges. "We should grow too fond of it."

I agree whole-heartedly that Lee seemed to welcome some destruction.

It is ironic that Robert E. Lee did not follow the Federalist example set by his fellow Virginian, George Washington. We can be pretty sure that George Washington would not have approved of the Confederacy. He would have squashed it like he squashed the Whiskey Rebellion. And who commanded the U.S. forces who squashed the Whiskey Rebellion? Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee III, the father of Robert E. Lee.

It is even more ironic that Lee's supposed reluctance to raise his sword against his native state led directly to Virginia's utter and complete destruction (think Poland or the Philippines in World War II). Lee killed more Virginians by donning a Confederate uniform that he would have had he taken command of the Union forces. With Lee at the helm, the Union's victory would have been even surer and swifter than it proved to be. (It took the Allies six years to defeat Hitler; the Confederacy lasted only four years.) At some level, Lee must have known that the war was unwinnable from the outset. The Union simply had too great an advantage in men and material. But he chose to fight, and brought devastation to the South.

It is interesting to consider that Lee's motives for treason rebellion against the United States may have been, in part, patricidal. And not just in the form of symbolically slaying "the Father of his country," George Washington, by destroying his creation, the United States, and thereby becoming greater than even him. Lee had plenty to complain about with regard to his own father, which could be why Lee hardly ever spoke about his boyhood. Lee's father was in debtor's prison for a year when Lee was 2-3 years old. When he got out, the family had to move into a much smaller house and lived under "straitened circumstances." When Lee was 5 years old, his father was injured in a political riot. Lee's father then abandoned his family and took off to the West Indies "to recover from his injuries." Well, he spent the next six years in the Caribbean, "recovering," and mentioned his son Robert only once in his infrequent letters home. Meanwhile, his wife and five surviving children had to manage as best they could without him. Light-Horse Harry died in 1818, when Lee was 11 years old. He had never returned home.

Robert E. Lee spent his life trying to be the man his father wasn't -- a man of honor and duty. Legend has it that he made it through four years of West Point without ever earning a single demerit. He earned the nickname of "the marble model," for the perfection with which he executed his duty and for his impeccable demeanor. His was an example of repression that put all others to shame. He was the perfectly civilized, i.e., the perfectly repressed, man. Until, of course, the lid came off and the volcano erupted. He grabbed the chance to destroy the Union because if he couldn't kill his long-dead father, he would kill what his father, as a loyal officer of George Washington's army, had helped to create. Lee's unrepressed id sent Pickett's men marching up that long hill at Gettysburg to their slaughter, and it delighted in the bloodshed. Much like Adolf Hitler, Lee's true motives were destruction, not victory. In 1945, Hitler, with every German city reduced to rubble, finally accomplished what he had set out to achieve. In 1865, with his father's native state of Virginia starving, burned, and bled white, so did Lee.

Monday, April 27, 2015

It doesn't matter where you go to college.

"It doesn’t much matter where you go to college.
What matters is “how you go,” says Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana. He then lays out the results of the Gallup-Purdue Index, a national survey of 30,000 college graduates that was first released last year. The survey attempts to quantify not only what graduates earn but also how well they are navigating adult life.
A mere 39% of college graduates report feeling engaged with their work, and in that group as many hail from top-100 schools as don’t. The three most important contributions that college makes to a sense of workplace thriving after graduation: Having one professor who made you excited about learning, feeling as though teachers cared about you, and working with a mentor. Graduates who checked those boxes were more than twice as likely to sense they are flourishing at work.
But only 14% of those surveyed said they had hit that trifecta in college. Other positive factors from undergraduate experience: working on a long-term project, having an internship and participating in extracurricular activities. Where graduates went to college barely registered as a predictor of job satisfaction."

None of those three factors can be achieved via MOOCs, by the way.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

At Melville's Tomb -- Hart Crane (1899-1932)

Often beneath the wave, wide from this ledge
The dice of drowned men’s bones he saw bequeath
An embassy.  Their numbers as he watched,
Beat on the dusty shore and were obscured.

And wrecks passed without sound of bells,
The calyx of death’s bounty giving back
A scattered chapter, livid hieroglyph,
The portent wound in corridors of shells.

Then in the circuit calm of one vast coil,
Its lashings charmed and malice reconciled,
Frosted eyes there were that lifted altars;
And silent answers crept across the stars.

Compass, quadrant and sextant contrive
No farther tides . . . High in the azure steeps
Monody shall not wake the mariner.
This fabulous shadow only the sea keeps.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Born in the U.S.A. -- Bruce Springsteen (acoustic, from Tracks)

Yes, I think that most politicians are too dumb to understand the lyrics to this song.

Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up

 Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

 Got in a little hometown jam so they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land to go and kill the yellow man

 Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says "son if it was up to me"
Went down to see my V.A. man
He said "son don't you understand now"

 Had a brother at Khe Sahn fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there he's all gone
He had a woman he loved in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms now

 Down in the shadow of penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years burning down the road
Nowhere to run ain't got nowhere to go

 Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a long gone daddy in the U.S.A.

 Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a cool rocking daddy in the U.S.A. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Madness in Civilization -- Andrew Scull

This shining review of Andrew Scull's Madness in Civilization is particularly noteworthy, given that the reviewer, Daniel Pick, is a psychoanalyst, and Scull is habitually dismissive of psychoanalysis. Veterans of my Abnormal Psychology course should pat themselves on the backs for already knowing about Henry Cotton, Walter Freeman, and Julius Wagner-Jauregg (malarial treatments).

"If there is a subtext to Scull's mostly cool and appraising survey, it is indeed the propensity of the doctors to go mad for their theories and to regard abandonment of doubt as tantamount to professional strength. The notorious surgeon Henry Cotton, who was allowed during the interwar years to bring havoc to the lives of his patients in New Jersey, was already the protagonist in one of Scull's earlier books, Madhouse (meaning not so much a residence for the mad, but a site of mad operations). Cotton's reign at the Trenton State Hospital is also briefly recapped here. His crazed surgical practices were based upon his settled view that the patients were almost invariably suffering from sepsis; their condition often required, in his eyes, the excision of parts or the whole of their internal organs. He caused much misery (and many deaths) with his unfettered assaults upon stomachs, spleens, cervixes and colons. Despite the serious misgivings of colleagues, nobody seemed able to stop him or blow the whistle. Such institutional failings and cover-ups, a collective incapacity to curb the lunacy of the individual or coterie, as we know all too well from more recent scandals, provide the most shocking story of all.
From Cotton we move on to the vicissitudes of insulin treatment, the sagas of those experiments to deliberately infect physically healthy patients with the blood of malaria sufferers, and so to the postwar brain operators such as Walter Freeman, who so refined the treatment that he boasted of how he could deal with a dozen or more people in sequence in a single afternoon. Scull's description of Freeman's fast-track 'transorbital lobotomy' is not for the faint-hearted. Few would defend this now, but ECT remains in existence, refined from the earlier experimental phases and a subject of division and debate in the psychiatric profession.
Scull is a good storyteller and not shy of expressing his own opinions. He offers up the best and worst of what has been thought and imagined, and what has been done, in the name of mental healing. Given the forest of monographs, theses and grand theories that faces any new entrant to what we might call 'history of madness studies', it would be hard to imagine a more useful single-volume synthesis. Well researched, strong on details and alert to the big picture, this book certainly deserves to find a wide readership. It sits well with other moving testimonies to the dilemmas of the doctors and the possibly counterproductive effects of certain weapons in their arsenal. It complements the accounts of success and failure by various surgeons themselves, in dealing with physical rather than mental illness. In fact the recent bestselling works Do No Harm and Being Mortal might well be read alongside Madness in Civilization; all three would be on my recommended reading list for aspiring medical students and therapists alike."

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Hessians weren't drunk at the Battle of Trenton

War on the Rocks
"In the winter of 1776, as Washington and his staff began to plan their next move, they realized a rare opportunity had presented itself. German Christmas celebrations traditionally include copious amounts of beer, and to the 1500-man garrison at Trenton, New Jersey the Christmas of 1776 was likely no exception. Since any mid-sized colonial town had plenty of beer available, Washington’s staff hypothesized that on Christmas night the garrison would be unready for combat, thanks to the ready availability of American beer, and the German propensity for drinking it. An unnamed officer on Washington’s staff is reported to have said,
They make a great deal of Christmas in Germany, and no doubt the Hessians will drink a great deal of beer and have a dance to-night. They will be sleepy to-morrow morning.
Confident they could overwhelm the thoroughly buzzed Hessians, Washington and his staff planned one of the most daring operations of the entire Revolutionary War. The Continental Army would stage on the Pennsylvania bank of the Delaware River on Christmas Day. Once night fell, the army would ferry across the river, march nine miles to Trenton, and ultimately conduct a pre-dawn assault on the town.
The operation was beleaguered from the outset. The crossing proved difficult, and the operation ran almost three hours behind schedule. The weather was also uncooperative. ...[Nevertheless, when the] Hessians attempted to form in battle order, but were quickly cut down by American cannon, which had a clear field of fire from the high ground. ... Before long, the Hessians were in a fighting retreat, under harassing fire from the Americans. The Hessian commander was mortally wounded, rendering the Hessians leaderless. Cornered in an orchard outside of town, the Germans surrendered to the ragtag Americans.
In the final accounting, The Americans suffered no KIA and only a handful of wounded. The Germans suffered around 100 killed and 200 wounded. Nearly 1000 Hessians were captured. The biggest surprise, however, came as the Continentals took stock of their captives.
Every one of them was completely sober.
The ragtag Americans had beaten the Hessians, some of the finest soldiers in the world, using surprise, mobility, and firepower at the decisive point. The rumored German propensity for beer never played a role in the fighting at all.
It’s a commonly accepted trope that alcohol increases one’s confidence. Usually, it’s the drinker’s confidence that is unduly increased, but in the Battle of Trenton, the opposite proved true. Washington’s confidence in the appeal of American beer gave him the impetus to launch his assault on Trenton. The battle had powerful repercussions for the momentum of the war, and restored the confidence of the Continental army.
If you’re looking to commemorate the Battle of Trenton, look no further than the Stone Fence, a staple of any tavern in colonial America, and rumored to have been a favorite of Ethan Allen:
2oz Dark Rum [I would use Goslings, if I were you, ed.]
Hard Cider
Directions: Pour the rum into a pint glass, add 1 or 2 ice cubes, and fill with hard cider. Garnish with lemon twist, and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Keep guns out of the hands of angry men!

Behavioral Science and the Law

Below is the abstract of a really important article, regarding gun control and mental illness. The authors found that almost 9% of firearms owners self-report impulsive angry dyscontrol (e.g., "I lose my temper and get into physical fights"; "Sometimes I get so angry I break or smash things"; "I have tantrums or angry outbursts"). Further, they found that less than 10% of these angry/high-risk for lethal violence gun owners had ever been psychiatrically hospitalized.

So, if you were trying to reduce gun violence by restricting gun ownership by prior psychiatric hospitalization, you would be missing a whole bunch of people. That's because the kinds of people who get psychiatrically hospitalized usually have serious mental illness, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. But only about 4% of serious violence is caused by people with serious mental illnesses. The rest is caused by angry guys with guns.

So the authors suggest a quite reasonable policy of restricting firearm possession based on criminal history: misdemeanor violence (e.g., assault and battery); DUIs; drug-related crimes; and, temporary domestic violence restraining orders. They recommend laws that allow the "preemptive removal of firearms from high-risk individuals," such as already exist in Connecticut, California, and Indiana. In Virginia, as in most other states, felons are already banned from owning firearms. I would rather see the criminals above lose their gun rights than to keep hearing about ineffective gun control policies that do little except stigmatize people with mental illnesses.

Guns, Impulsive Angry Behavior, and Mental Disorders: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R)
  1. Jeffrey W. Swanson Ph.D.3,*,
  2. Nancy A. Sampson B.A.1,
  3. Maria V. Petukhova Ph.D.1,
  4. Alan M. Zaslavsky Ph.D.1,
  5. Paul S. Appelbaum M.D.2,
  6. Marvin S. Swartz M.D.3 and
  7. Ronald C. Kessler Ph.D.1
Article first published online: 8 APR 2015

DOI: 10.1002/bsl.2172

Abstract: Analyses from the National Comorbidity Study Replication provide the first nationally representative estimates of the co-occurrence of impulsive angry behavior and possessing or carrying a gun among adults with and without certain mental disorders and demographic characteristics. The study found that a large number of individuals in the United States self-report patterns of impulsive angry behavior and also possess firearms at home (8.9%) or carry guns outside the home (1.5%). These data document associations of numerous common mental disorders and combinations of angry behavior with gun access. Because only a small proportion of persons with this risky combination have ever been involuntarily hospitalized for a mental health problem, most will not be subject to existing mental health-related legal restrictions on firearms resulting from a history of involuntary commitment. Excluding a large proportion of the general population from gun possession is also not likely to be feasible. Behavioral risk-based approaches to firearms restriction, such as expanding the definition of gun-prohibited persons to include those with violent misdemeanor convictions and multiple DUI convictions, could be a more effective public health policy to prevent gun violence in the population.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Why did the Boston Marathon bombers do it?

Boston Globe
"Western commentators sometimes blame harsh economic conditions, dysfunctional family circumstances, confused identity, the generic alienation of young males, a failure to integrate into the larger society, and so on. None of this is convincing, as the Tsarnaev case shows.
Born in the former Soviet Union to a Chechen father who had sought asylum in the United States in 2002, both Dzhokhar and his brother Tamerlan had received the gifts of free education, free housing, and free medical care from various US governmental agencies.
Their paths to becoming US citizens could scarcely have been smoother. So why did the brothers feel compelled to build two explosive devices and detonate them in a crowd of spectators?
Growing up, the Tsarnaevs were typical examples of what I call “Mecca Muslims,” meaning that they were not raised to be zealots. The parents — at least in their early years in the United States — do not seem to have been very devout. The brothers rarely observed Islamic strictures: one had dreams of becoming a boxing champion and spent most of his days training while the other had a busy social life, dated girls, and smoked pot.
Yet when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrote a bloodstained note in the final hours before his capture, the first words he used were: “I believe there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger.” That is the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith, and it is the most important of the five pillars of Islam. Today it is also the banner of ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram.
What he wrote next made it clear that he was no naive dupe but a fully-fledged “Medina Muslim” — that is to say, a committed believer in the literal application of the teachings and practice of the Prophet Mohammed after his move to Medina and adoption of jihad — holy war — as a method.
“I’m jealous of my brother who ha[s] [re]ceived the reward of jannutul Firdaus [the highest level of Paradise] (inshallah) before me. I do not mourn because his soul is very much alive ... I ask Allah to make me a shahied (iA) [a martyr] inshallah to allow me to return to him and be among all the righteous people in the highest levels of heaven. He who Allah guides no one can misguide. A[llah Ak]bar!” He also offered this explicit account of his and his brother’s motivations: “the ummah is beginning to rise/ [unintelligible] has awoken the mujahideen, know you are fighting men who look into the barrel of your gun and see heaven, now how can you compete with that[?]”
When people commit violence in the name of religion, we must consider the possibility that they mean what they say."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Benedict de Spinoza, on the philosopher's mission

To love that which is eternal, infinite, and good.

"After experience had taught me that all things which frequently take place in ordinary life are vain and futile, and when I saw that all the things I feared, and which feared me, had nothing good or bad in them save in so far as the mind was affected by them; I determined at last to inquire whether there was anything which might be truly good, and able to communicate its goodness, and by which the mind might be affected to the exclusion of all other things; I determined, I say, to inquire whether I might discover and attain the faculty of enjoying throughout eternity continual supreme happiness.... I could see the many advantages acquired from honor and riches, and that I should be debarred from acquiring these things if I wished seriously to investigate a new matter.... But the more one possesses of either of them, the more the pleasure is increased, and the more one is in consequence encouraged to increase them; whereas if at any time our hope is frustrated, there arises in us the deepest pain. Fame has also this great drawback, that if we pursue it we must direct our lives in such a way as to please the fancy of men, avoiding what they dislike and seeking what pleases them.... But the love towards a thing eternal and infinite alone feeds the mind with a pleasure secure from all pain.... The greatest good is the knowledge of the union which the mind has with the whole of nature.... The more the mind knows, the better it understands its forces and the order of nature; the more it understands its forces or strength, the better it will be able to direct itself and lay down the rules for itself; the more it understands the order of nature, the more easily it will be able to liberate itself from useless things; this is the whole method."

—Benedict de Spinoza, Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Killed Paive -- July 8 -- 1918 -- Ernest Hemingway

Desire and
All the sweet pulsing aches
And gentle hurtings
That were you,
Are gone into the sullen dark.
Now in the night you come unsmiling
To lie with me
A dull, cold, rigid bayonet
On my hot-swollen, throbbing soul.          


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Gone Daddy Gone -- Violent Femmes (1983)

Oh yeah, I was there (with my future wife). Dig the xylophone solo.

Beautiful girl, lovely dress
High school smiles, oh yes
Beautiful girl, lovely dress
Where she is now, I can only guess
'Cause it's gone daddy, gone
The love is gone
Yes, gone daddy, gone
The love is gone
Yes, gone daddy, gone
The love is gone
Yes, gone daddy, gone
The love is gone away
When I see you
Eyes will turn blue
When I see you
Thousand eyes turnin' blue
'Cause it's gone daddy, gone
The love is gone
Yes, gone daddy, gone
The love is gone
Yes, gone daddy, gone
The love is gone
Yes, gone daddy, gone
The love is gone away
Tell by the way that you switch and walk
I can see by the way that you baby talk
I can know by the way that you treat your man
I can love you baby till it's a cryin'
'Cause it's gone daddy, gone
The love is gone
Yes, gone daddy, gone
The love is gone
Gone daddy, gone
The love is gone
Yes, gone daddy, gone
The love is gone
Beautiful girl, lovely dress
Fifteen smiles, oh yes
Beautiful girl, lovely dress
Where she is now, I can only guess
'Cause it's gone daddy, gone
The love is gone
Yes, gone daddy, gone
The love is gone
Yes, gone daddy, gone
The love is gone
Yes, gone daddy, gone
The love is gone away
Gone away
Gone away
Gone away


Friday, April 17, 2015

Biology, Evolution, and Excellent College Teaching

Biology professor James J. Krupa, University of Kentucky
"TO TEACH EVOLUTION at the University of Kentucky is to teach at an institution steeped in the history of defending evolution education. The first effort to pass an anti-evolution law (led by William Jennings Bryan) happened in Kentucky in 1921. It proposed making the teaching of evolution illegal. The university’s president at that time, Frank McVey, saw this bill as a threat to academic freedom. Three faculty members—William Funkhouser, a zoologist; Arthur Miller, a geologist who taught evolution; and Glanville Terrell, a philosopher—joined McVey in the battle to prevent the bill from becoming law. They put their jobs on the line. Through their efforts, the anti-evolution bill was defeated by a forty-two to forty-one vote in the state legislature. Consequently, the movement turned its attention toward Tennessee.
John Thomas Scopes was a student at the University of Kentucky then and watched the efforts of his three favorite teachers and President McVey. The reason the “Scopes Monkey Trial” occurred several years later in Dayton, Tennessee—where Scopes was a substitute teacher and volunteered to be prosecuted—was in good part due to the influence of his mentors, particularly Funkhouser. As Scopes writes in his memoir, Center of the Storm: “Teachers rather than subject matter rekindled my interest in science. Dr. Funkhouser . . . was a man without airs [who] taught zoology so flawlessly that there was no need to cram for the final examination; at the end of the term there was a thorough, fundamental grasp of the subject in bold relief in the student’s mind, where Funkhouser had left it.”
I was originally reluctant to take my job at the university when offered it twenty years ago. It required teaching three sections of non-majors biology classes, with three hundred students per section, and as many as eighteen hundred students each year. I wasn’t particularly keen on lecturing to an auditorium of students whose interest in biology was questionable given that the class was a freshman requirement.
Then I heard an interview with the renowned evolutionary biologist E. O. Wilson in which he addressed why, as a senior professor—and one of the most famous biologists in the world—he continued to teach non-majors biology at Harvard. Wilson explained that non-majors biology is the most important science class that one could teach. He felt many of the future leaders of this nation would take the class, and that this was the last chance to convey to them an appreciation for biology and science. Moved by Wilson’s words, and with the knowledge that William Funkhouser once held the job I was now contemplating, I accepted the position. The need to do well was unnerving, however, considering that if I failed as a teacher, a future Scopes might leave my class uninspired.
I realized early on that many instructors teach introductory biology classes incorrectly. Too often evolution is the last section to be taught, an autonomous unit at the end of the semester. I quickly came to the conclusion that, since evolution is the foundation upon which all biology rests, it should be taught at the beginning of a course, and as a recurring theme throughout the semester. As the renowned geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky said: “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” In other words, how else can we explain why the DNA of chimps and humans is nearly 99 percent identical, and that the blood and muscle proteins of chimps and humans are nearly identical as well? Why are these same proteins slightly less similar to gorillas and orangu­tans, while much less similar to goldfish? Only evolution can shed light on these questions: we humans are great apes; we and the other great apes (gibbons, chimps, gorillas, bonobos, and orangutans) all evolved from a common ancestor.

To truly understand evolution, you must first understand science. Unfortunately, one of the most misused words today is also one of the most important to science: theory. Many incorrectly see theory as the opposite of fact. The National Academy of Sciences provides concise definitions of these critical words: A fact is a scientific explanation that has been tested and confirmed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing it; a theory is a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence generating testable and falsifiable predictions.
In science, something can be both theory and fact. We know the existence of pathogens is a fact; germ theory provides testable explanations concerning the nature of disease. We know the existence of cells is a fact, and that cell theory provides testable explanations of how cells function. Similarly, we know evolution is a fact, and that evolutionary theories explain biological patterns and mechanisms. The late Stephen Jay Gould said it best: “Evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world’s data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts.”
Theory is the most powerful and important tool science has, but nonscientists have perverted and diluted the word to mean a hunch, notion, or idea. Thus, all too many people interpret the phrase “evolutionary theory” to mean “evolutionary hunch.”
Not surprisingly, I spend the first week of class differentiating theory from fact, as well as defining other critical terms. But I’m appalled by some of my colleagues who, despite being scientists, do not understand the meaning of theory. As I was preparing to teach a sophomore evolution class a few years ago, a biology colleague asked how I was going to approach teaching evolution. Specifically, he asked if I would be teaching evolution as a theory or a fact. “I will teach evolution as both theory and fact,” I said, trying hard to conceal my frustration. No matter. My colleague simply walked away, likely questioning my competence to teach the class.
ONCE I LAY DOWN the basics of science, I introduce the Darwinian theories of evolution. Charles Darwin was by no means the first or only to put forth evolution; others came before him including his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, who wrote about descent with modification. Later, while Charles was amassing evidence in England for natural selection, one of the most eloquent scientific theories ever, Alfred Russel Wallace was also developing the same theory during his travels in Indonesia. But it was Charles Darwin alone who advanced the theory of descent with modification, with his bold idea that all species belong to the same tree of life and thus share a common ancestor. He also gave us sexual selection theory, which explains how evolution is shaped by competition for mates as well as choice of mates. Too often only natural selection and descent with modification are emphasized in introductory biology classes. I also cover Darwin’s theories of gradualism (including the nuance of punctuated equilibrium); descent from a common ancestor; multiplication of species; and sexual selection. I emphasize that five of the theories explain the patterns of evolution, while natural and sexual selection are the mechanisms that drive evolution."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Kurt Vonnegut explains marriage, and marital problems

Kurt Vonnegut, 1922-2007
"Freud said he didn't know what women wanted. I know what women want: a whole lot of people to talk to. What do they want to talk about? They want to talk about everything.
What do men want? They want a lot of pals, and they wish people wouldn't get so mad at them.
Why are so many people getting divorced today?
It's because most of us don't have extended families anymore. It used to be that when a man and a woman got married, the bride got a lot more people to talk to about everything. The groom got a lot more pals to tell dumb jokes to.
A few Americans, but very few, still have extended families. The Navahos. The Kennedys.
But most of us, if we get married nowadays, are just one more person for the other person. The groom gets one more pal, but it's a woman. The woman gets one more person to talk to about everything, but it's a man.
When a couple has an argument nowadays, they may think it's about money or power or sex or how to raise the kids or whatever. What they're really saying to each other, though without realizing it, is this: "You're not enough people!"
A husband, a wife and some kids is not a family. It's a terribly vulnerable survival unit."

A Man Without a Country (2005), pp. 47-48

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

50th anniversary of the Moynihan report

In 1963, the out-of-wedlock birth rate for whites was 3%; for blacks, it was 23%. In 2008, the out-of-wedlock birth  rates were 41% for Americans overall, and 72% for blacks.
"Fifty years ago this month, Democrats made a historic mistake.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, at the time a federal official, wrote a famous report in March 1965 on family breakdown among African-Americans. He argued presciently and powerfully that the rise of single-parent households would make poverty more intractable.
“The fundamental problem,” Moynihan wrote, is family breakdown. In a follow-up, he explained: “From the wild Irish slums of the 19th-century Eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: a community that allows large numbers of young men to grow up in broken families ... never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future — that community asks for and gets chaos.” 
Liberals brutally denounced Moynihan as a racist. He himself had grown up in a single-mother household and worked as a shoeshine boy at the corner of Broadway and 43rd Street in Manhattan, yet he was accused of being aloof and patronizing, and of “blaming the victim.”
In 2013, 71 percent of black children in America were born to an unwed mother, as were 53 percent of Hispanic children and 36 percent of white children.
Indeed, a single parent is the new norm. At some point before they turn 18, a majority of all American children will likely live with a single mom and no dad.
[C]hildren of unmarried moms are roughly five times as likely to live in poverty as children of married couples.
[G]rowing up with just one biological parent reduces the chance that a child will graduate from high school by 40 percent, according to an essay by Sara McLanahan of Princeton and Christopher Jencks of Harvard. They point to the likely mechanism: “A father’s absence increases antisocial behavior, such as aggression, rule-breaking, delinquency and illegal drug use.” These effects are greater on boys than on girls.
What can be done?
In line with Moynihan’s thinking, we can support programs to boost the economic prospects for poorer families. We can help girls and young women avoid pregnancy (30 percent of American girls become pregnant by age 19). If they delay childbearing, they’ll be more likely to marry and form stable families, notes Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution."

Whoa! How'd the eugenic thinking sneak in there?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Grey whale kills Canadian tourist in Mexico


"A Canadian woman died from injuries sustained when a grey whale crashed into a tourist boat as it returned from a short excursion out of the resort city of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.
Two other passengers were injured in the accident, which took place close to the beach around 11am on Wednesday, according to a statement released by tour company Cabo Adventures.
“The captain had to make a movement to avoid a whale that surfaced just in front of the boat,” the statement said. “The whale hit one side of the boat, leaving two people injured and another passenger hurt who, unfortunately, later died in hospital.”
Port director Vicente Martínez said the woman was 45 years old. Some reports said she was 10 years younger. The collision happened on the Pacific coast side of the Baja California Peninsula. One reported version said the whale jumped out of the water and landed on the boat filled with 24 people, including the crew.
The confusingly worded statement from the tour company appeared to suggest that the victim fell into the water during the collision. Once she was pulled back into the boat, it said, she immediately received mouth to mouth resuscitation from another tourist who happened to be a qualified nurse before naval rescue paramedics arrived and took her to the hospital."

Monday, April 13, 2015

Army substance abuse programs "in disarray"

One way to reduce alcohol and other substance abuse in the military is to recruit and retain more females.


"Twenty thousand soldiers who seek help each year at Army substance-abuse clinics encounter a program in such disarray that thousands who need treatment are turned away and more than two dozen others linked to poor care have spiraled into suicide, a USA TODAY investigation has found.
The Army's transfer of substance-abuse outpatient treatment from medical to non-medical leadership in 2010 has led to substandard care, the mass exodus of veteran personnel and the hiring of unqualified clinic directors and counselors, according to senior Army clinical staff members and records obtained by USA TODAY.
"This is the crux of the whole thing," said Wanda Kuehr, a psychologist who agreed to speak out about the problems after retiring Feb. 2 as the program's director of clinical services. Non-medical managers want to "get the reports in on time and fill the slots. They think that makes a good program. Our goal is to give treatment to soldiers. And (the bosses) see that as inconsequential ... What's happening to soldiers matters and the Army can't just keep pushing things under the rug."
Five current staff who described similar problems in interviews declined to be identified for fear of Army reprisals. They "are very frightened if they tell the truth they will lose their job," Kuehr says. "It's sad when we have (such) a climate."
The Army emphatically denies that its substance-abuse treatment efforts have declined.
One tragic result: the Army estimates that since 2010, about 90 soldiers committed suicide within three months of receiving substance-abuse treatment. At least 31 suicides followed sub-standard care, according to tabulations by the clinical staff, although they did not specifically link the deaths to poor treatment.
In a 2012 case, Army managers hired an unlicensed counselor at Fort Sill in Oklahoma over the objections of senior clinical personnel. The counselor began seeing patients and gave a "good" rating to a soldier who hanged himself two hours later, according to an internal Army report provided to USA TODAY.
An Army survey over the past year finds that 104,000 soldiers — one in eight canvassed — report serious drinking problems.
An Institute of Medicine panel of scientific experts on substance abuse warned in a 2012 report that the military faces a public health crisis in drug and alcohol abuse.
Non-medical supervisors have told counselors to take time away from sessions to shovel snow, mop floors, clean toilets and take out the trash. A 2013 work memorandum at Fort Bragg in North Carolina reminded counselors to clean their mops and buckets after using them.
Attrition has been high. Scores of psychologists and social workers who served as counselors or clinical directors at dozens of Army bases began resigning, retiring, shifting to other positions or taking new jobs with the surgeon general or the Department of Veterans Affairs since the change in commands.
About half the 48 counseling positions at Fort Hood in Texas, the Army's largest base, are unfilled, increasing "risk of negative patient outcomes, provider burnout and further clinical staff loss," according to a Jan. 13 Army memo."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Casabianca -- Felicia Hemans (1793-1835)

The boy stood on the burning deck
  Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle's wreck
  Shone round him o'er the dead.

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
  As born to rule the storm;
A creature of heroic blood,
  A proud, though child-like form.  The flames rolled onhe would not go
  Without his Father's word;
That father, faint in death below,
  His voice no longer heard.  He called aloud'say, Father, say
  If yet my task is done?'
He knew not that the chieftain lay
  Unconscious of his son.  'Speak, father!' once again he cried,
  'If I may yet be gone!'
And but the booming shots replied,
  And fast the flames rolled on.  Upon his brow he felt their breath,
  And in his waving hair,
And looked from that lone post of death
  In still yet brave despair.  And shouted but once more aloud,
  'My father! must I stay?'
While o'er him fast, through sail and shroud,
  The wreathing fires made way.  They wrapt the ship in splendour wild,
  They caught the flag on high,
And streamed above the gallant child,
  Like banners in the sky.  There came a burst of thunder sound
   The boyoh! where was he?
Ask of the winds that far around
  With fragments strewed the sea!  With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,
  That well had borne their part
But the noblest thing which perished there
  Was that young faithful heart.


  1. Young Casabianca, a boy about thirteen years old, son of the admiral of the Orient, remained at his post (in the Battle of the Nile), after the ship had taken fire, and all the guns had been abandoned; and perished in the explosion of the vessel, when the flames had reached the powder.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Miss Dior Cherie -- directed by Sophia Coppola, ft. Maryna Linchuk

Song: Moi je joue, by Brigitte Bardot

Moi je joue
Moi je joue à joue contre joue
Je veux jouer à joue contre vous
Mais vous, le voulez-vous?
De tout coeur
Je veux gagner ce coeur à coeur
Vous connaissez mon jeu par coeur
Alors défendez-vous

Sans tricher, je vous le promets
J'ai gagné, tant pis c'est bien fait
Vous êtes mon jouet
A présent, ce ne sera plus vous mais toi
Et tu feras ca t'apprendra
N'importe quoi pour moi

Sans m'en faire, je vais t'assurer
Un enfer de griffes et de crocs
Tu crieras bientot "Au secours"
Alors décidant de ton sort
Pour m'éviter quelques remords
Je t'aimerai plus fort
Oh oui plus fort
Oh oui oui oui, plus fort
Oh la la...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mass Murder-Suicide by Airline Pilots

Last year, we had Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 And now, of course, we have Germanwings Flight 9525. See also my post from March 2014 on mass murder and suicide by aircraft.

Washington Post
"While incredibly rare for a pilot to kill himself — and everyone else on a plane — there is both national and international precedent for what experts call “aircraft-assisted pilot suicides.” According to Federal Aviation Administration data, 24 American pilots have killed themselves while flying their planes in the last two decades. Twenty-three of those pilots intentionally crashed their craft, and one student pilot jumped out of his plane mid-flight.
All of the pilots who killed themselves were male and middle-aged.
While none of the American pilots who killed themselves were flying a big commercial aircraft, it has happened elsewhere.
In November of [2013], a Mozambique Airlines E-190 jet  carrying 33 passengers went down in Namibia [Flight 470]. No one survived the crash, which became the subject of great mystery because the plane was only one year old, flown by an experienced pilot, in good weather.
According to cockpit voice recordings reported by the International Business Times, the co-pilot left to use the bathroom, and when he returned, he found the door shut. Inside, the pilot had switched the plane’s altitude reading from 38,000 feet to ground level, IBT reports. Recordings show someone pounded on the door to the cockpit as the plane plummeted. Investigators later concluded the plane had crashed because of “intentional actions by the pilot.”
Echoes of that tragedy were found in a pair of late 1990′s crashes. In 1997, more than 100 people were killed with a pilot or crew member forced a plane to crash in Indonesia [SilkAir Flight 185].  Two years later, a Cairo-bound airliner that plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean off Nantucket in 1999 [EgyptAir Flight 990]. All 217 passengers and crew were killed. During the plane’s tailspin, its pilot, Gamal al-Batouti whispered the Arabic phrase, “I rely on God,” — traditionally uttered moments before death. 
Depression appears to be the leading cause of aircraft-assisted suicides, and in 2010, the FAA did away with a generations-old ban on pilots taking anti-depressants . The aviation agency, which has mental health restrictions for pilots, now can issue certificates permitting pilots to take Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, and Lexapro, CNN reports."

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Supermax prisons: US leads the world in number of citizens held in solitary confinement

They do get a television set, if they behave. And some books and arts and crafts materials. But they have to stay in the cell for up to 23 hours a day.

Irish Examiner
"Since opening in 1994, the ADX [United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado] has remained not just the only federal supermax but also the apogee of a particular strain of the American penal system, wherein abstract dreams of rehabilitation have been entirely superseded by the architecture of control.
The use of solitary confinement in the United States emerged as a substitute to corporal punishments popular at the end of the 18th century.
Inmates at Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, which opened in 1829, were completely isolated from one another in cells outfitted with skylights, toilets and access to private outdoor exercise yards, where they worked at various trades, took all meals and read the Bible.
Other US states tried, but quickly abandoned, the so-called Pennsylvania System, and an 1890 Supreme Court ruling against the use of solitary on Colorado’s death row noted that “a considerable number of the prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semifatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to arouse them, and others became violently insane; others still, committed suicide, while those who stood the ordeal better were not generally reformed.”
In 1983, after the assassination of two guards in separate attacks on the same day, by members of the Aryan Brotherhood, the Marion [Illinois] penitentiary was converted to the first modern all-lockdown facility, the entire prison now a solitary unit.
Beginning in 1989 with California’s Pelican Bay, states began building their own lockdown penitentiaries, inspired by the Marion model.
The renewed use of solitary coincided with the era of mass incarceration and the widespread closing of state-run mental health facilities.
The supermax became the most expedient method of controlling an increasingly overcrowded and psychologically volatile prison population.
A result of this unfortunate confluence has been a network of ever more austere and utilitarian penitentiaries, built specifically to seal off a significant portion of state and federal inmates, using methods that would shock many Americans.
According to a 2014 Amnesty International report, more than 40 states now operate supermax prisons.
On any given day, there are 80,000 US prisoners in solitary confinement.
Robert Hood, the warden of the ADX from 2002 to 2005, told me that when he first arrived on the campus, he was struck by “the very stark environment,” unlike any other prison in which he ever worked or visited — no noise, no mess, no prisoners walking the hallways.
When inmates complained to him, he would tell them: “This place is not designed for humanity,” he recalled.
“When it’s 23 hours a day in a room with a slit of a window where you can’t even see the Rocky Mountains — let’s be candid here. It’s not designed for rehabilitation. Period.
Hood was not trying to be cruel with such frankness. The ADX was built explicitly to house men often already serving multiple life sentences and thus facing little disincentive to, say, murder a guard or another prisoner.
In the past, Hood has memorably described the ADX as “a clean version of hell”.


Dr Craig Haney, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, testified that “a shockingly high percentage” of the prisoners in solitary confinement are mentally ill, “often profoundly so” — approximately one-third of the segregated prisoners on average, though in some units the figure rises to 50%.
The emptiness that pervades solitary confinement units “has led some prisoners into a profound level of what might be called ‘ontological insecurity,’” Haney, who worked as a principal researcher on the Stanford Prison Experiment while in graduate school, told the senators.
“They are not sure that they exist and, if they do, exactly who they are.”
According to David Cloud, a senior associate at the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organisation dedicated to the reform of the criminal justice system, “The research is pretty conclusive: Since people started looking at this, even 200 years ago, when a guy named Francis Gray studied 4,000 people in ‘silent prisons,’ the studies have found that the conditions themselves can cause mental illness, stress, trauma.”
The devastating effects of solitary confinement, even on those who showed no previous signs of psychological problems, are now so broadly accepted by mental health professionals that policy makers are finally taking notice.
Last year the New York State attorney general approved a deal forbidding the placement of minors and mentally ill prisoners in solitary; in January, New York City banned solitary for anyone under 21."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Nashville prosecutor fired for offering sterilization as an alternative to long-term incarceration

Jasmine Randers, who most people probably wouldn't want for a mother.

ABC News

"A Nashville prosecutor has been fired after reports surfaced that he made sterilization of women part of plea negotiations in some cases.
Former Assistant District Attorney Brian Holmgren confirmed Wednesday that he was fired from the Davidson County District Attorney's office. He declined to comment specifically on his dismissal, and officials would not say what prompted his firing.
The firing came after The Associated Press reported that the invasive surgery was part of plea bargain talks at least four times in the past five years in child abuse and neglect cases. The most recent of those cases was first reported by The Tennessean newspaper.
That case involved a woman with a 20-year history of mental illness who had been charged with neglect after her 5-day-old baby mysteriously died. Her defense attorney said Holmgren wouldn't go forward with a plea deal to keep the woman out of prison unless she had the surgery.
District Attorney General Glenn Funk, who came to the office in September, banned the practice after the mentally ill woman's lawyer complained to him late last year. Funk said he was not aware of any other cases.
The cases evoke a dark corner of American history where the mentally ill, minorities and those deemed "deficient" were forced to undergo surgery so they could not have children.
Holmgren, who has been both praised and fiercely criticized for his aggressive courtroom tactics on behalf of children, said he routinely asked abusers and mothers who gave birth to infants who test positive for drugs to go on birth control. A court could not order someone to take birth control, so defendants in those cases would have to consent to such a condition.
But the case of 36-year-old Jasmine Randers, a woman with a history of fleeing mental institutions and the people who tried to help her, proved particularly vexing, he said.
"I had significant concerns that this woman could cause harm to a fetus or a baby if she got pregnant again," Holmgren said. He didn't trust her to take birth control, and her history worried him.
Randers stabbed herself in the stomach when she was pregnant in 2004 and then was arrested at the Nashville airport after making threats to her unborn child when she was pregnant again in 2012, he said. She was under court supervision for her mental illness when she fled her home state of Minnesota and gave birth to a baby in 2012 that would die five days later in Nashville.
The cause of the girl's death was undetermined, but Holmgren said investigators could not find any sign that she had provided diapers or formula for the infant in Nashville after giving birth to the girl in Arkansas.
Randers has since been found not guilty by reason of insanity and is confined to an institution.
With other cases, Holmgren said he has never told a woman that she has to undergo sterilization to get a plea deal, but he acknowledged it was discussed on some occasions. He said sometimes a defendant would want to undergo the procedure."

The Daily Tennessean has a good article with details of the Randers case.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Two Thirds of People on Antidepressants Aren't Clinically Depressed

What Dr. Forman (below) doesn't say is that the main reason patients are taking antidepressants even when they are not needed is that many physicians actually believe the "chemical imbalance" theory of depression. Primary care physicians should be referring patients to a mental health expert (e.g., clinical psychologist) to make the diagnosis and recommend treatment options.

Medical Daily

"A new study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reports some 69 percent of people taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the primary type of antidepressants, have never suffered from major depressive disorder (MDD). Perhaps worse, 38 percent have never in their lifetime met the criteria for MDD, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder, yet still take the pills that accompany them.
In a society that is increasingly self-medicating itself, capsules, tablets, and pills are turning from last resorts to easily obtained quick fixes. Between 1988 and 2008, antidepressant use increased nearly 400 percent. Today, 11 percent of the American population takes a regular antidepressant, which, by the latest study’s measure, may be a severe inflation of what’s actually necessary.
“I think while psychotherapy is another option to helping people obtain better mental health, there are roadblocks,” said Dr. Howard Forman, medical director of the Addiction Consultation Service at Montefiore Medical Center. Forman, who wasn’t involved with the study, points toward cost, availability of experts, and time demands as the main reasons people may decide to pursue alternatives."

Source: Takayanagi Y, Spira A, Bienvenu O, et al. Antidepressant Use and Lifetime History of Mental Disorders in a Community Sample: Results From the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2015.