Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hello Stranger -- Barbara Lewis (1963)

Shoo-bop, shoo-bop, my baby
Shoo-bop, shoo-bop
Hello stranger
It seems so good to see you back again
How long has it been?
Seems like a mighty long time
Shoo-bop, shoo-bop, my baby
It seems like a mighty long time
Ahhh my my my my I'm so glad
You stopped by to say hello to me
Remember, ah that's the way it used to be
It seems like a mighty long time
Shoo-bop, shoo-bop, my baby
It seems like a mighty long time
Shoo-bop, shoo-bop, my baby
Shoo-bop, shoo-bop
Ohh, yes I'm so glad
You're here again
If you're not gonna stay
Please don't tease me like you did before
Because I still love you so although
It seems like a mightly long time
Shoo-bop, shoo-bop, my baby
It seems like a mighty long time
Ohh, ohh my, my, my, my, I'm so happy
That you're here


See also: Baby, I'm Yours (1965)

Friday, October 30, 2015

CPB Classic: Psychiatric Medication, Suicide, and Morality

"Now do you understand why you stay awake all night, horrified that you are wasting your life?"

An assortment of mental health related posts, from May 2013.

Nothing is funny to a psychiatrist...

In my experience, patients are often too eager to attribute positive treatment gains to pharmacological effects. The psychological effects of medication are especially clear when patients report significant improvement within a day or two after starting SSRIs, or after taking homeopathic doses of their prescribed medications, or when they say that they "only take my Wellbutrin when I'm having a bad day."

Lost in Medication

Some psychiatrists seem to be more effective than others, and their patients tend to do better whether or not the patient is receiving active or placebo medication.

The Lethality of Loneliness

This is one of the best psychology-related magazine articles that I have encountered in a long while. It is well worth reading by anyone interested in the field. The scope is remarkable: from Frieda Fromm-Reichmann to the biology of stress to evolutionary psychology to behavioral genetics to MRI studies to Romanian orphans to Harlow's and Suomi's monkeys.

More Americans die by suicide than in car crashes

"The number of deaths caused by suicide has risen precipitously in the last decade, surpassing those caused by car crashes and even some of the most fatal diseases, according to a government report released Thursday."

The moral burden of war

"Soldiers know all too well how much killing — mostly of civilians — goes on in war. Congratulations make them feel that people back home have no idea what happens when a human body encounters the machinery of war.

...the obscenity of war is not diminished when that conflict is righteous or necessary or noble. And when soldiers come home spiritually polluted by the killing that they committed, or even just witnessed, many hope that their country will share the moral responsibility of such a grave event.

Their country doesn’t."

"Finding our way through is what we are called to do."

A spiritual response to the Newtown elementary school mass murder.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Is Sleep Deprivation Research Ethical?

Getting only four hours of sleep a night for five nights in a row has the same negative effects as going without sleep for 36 hours straight. Some people are more "sleep resilient," but this is probably a result of genetics, not "training." Experiencing sleep deprivation may increase vulnerability to the negative effects of future sleep deprivation. In other words, if you attend a military school that encourages sleep deprivation, your performance in future sleep-deprived environments (e.g., the military) might be worse than others who had never been sleep-deprived.

"This particular study of about 100 subjects, which Dr. Goel is leading, aims to see if people respond equally to two different types of sleep deprivation. It compares acute, total sleep loss (going 36 hours without sleep) with chronic sleep deprivation (in this case, just four hours of sleep between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. for five nights). Preliminary results indicate that the answer is yes, Dr. Goel says.
“There are huge individual differences. [But] if you are resilient to total sleep loss, you are resilient to being chronically sleep-deprived or if you’re vulnerable to one, you are vulnerable to the other,” she says.
The study is also looking for genes and other so-called biomarkers—substances in the blood—that can predict which people are more vulnerable to the effects of sleep loss. Dr. Goel says the researchers expect to finish the study later this year.
In earlier studies, the Penn lab and others have found that attention, reaction time and cognitive speed tend to be particularly affected by sleep loss. This is a big problem for driving. Higher cognitive functions, like reasoning, tend to be less affected. Mood plummets: People interpret even neutral facial expressions as more negative. Sleep-deprived subjects also eat more and gain weight: In Penn studies, they eat about 500 extra calories a day, veer toward fat-laden foods and gain about 2 pounds in a week.
But not everyone tolerates sleep loss the same: In general about one-third of people are resistant to the effects of sleep loss, one-third are vulnerable and one-third are somewhere in the middle, Dr. Dinges says.
The study is being funded by the Office of Naval Research. Dr. Dinges has also just completed a study looking at how long it takes to recover from sleep deprivation. In earlier studies, it seemed to only take a few days of regular shut-eye for people to recover from sleep loss and perform like they were well-rested.
But this new study seems to refute that. People might seem fine, but if they lose sleep again, their performance plummets more than expected. “There’s a memory in this biology,” Dr. Dinges says. “They are carrying a vulnerability.”
If the results hold up and are replicated, he says, the days of human sleep-deprivation studies might be numbered. “If I can’t reverse what I’ve induced, then these experiments are no longer ethical,” he says. “I’ve got to stop doing this.”"

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Suicidal Students in Korea Go to Healing Centers and Pretend to Be Dead

The Daily Mail sure keeps alive that traditional English "The Wogs Begin at Calais" spirit. This sure seems like a strange practice, but it also seems totally attuned to Korean culture. Whether it works or not is an empirical question. My objection is that it is actually impossible to imagine being dead, as imagination requires consciousness and death is the absence of consciousness. It's like having them imagine what their existence was like before they were born.

Daily Mail
"South Korea is facing a suicide crisis as a huge number of people are becoming depressed due to the pressures of modern life and killing themselves.
The sad statistic that 40 people kill themselves every day is blamed on the country’s hyper-competitive society where young people are under constant pressure to succeed while the middle-aged and elderly complain of ever-growing financial burdens.
But in a strange response to the country's growing suicide epidemic, bizarre 'death experience' schools are being set up to teach depressed pupils to appreciate life again, by showing them what it’s like to be dead.

They are made to sign fake wills and are locked inside coffins where they are given mock funeral services.
And at the Seoul Hyowon Healing Centre in the capital, business is booming. 
Sitting between rows of coffins, with pens and paper littering small desks, the students listen as the head of the centre, former funeral company employee Jeong Yong-mun, explains that the problems we face in life are a part of life. They are told they must accept them and try to find joy in their hardships.
Among the students are teenagers who can’t cope with exam pressure in school, parents who find themselves useless after their children have left home, and the elderly terrified of being a financial burden on their young families....
And the elderly are worried about being a burden as they are four times more likely to commit suicide in South Korea than in any other developed country. 
The only country with a higher death rate is the small South American nation of Guyana, which sees 44.2 suicides per every 100,000 people. In South Korea some 28.9 people kill themselves for every 100,000, according to the World Health Organisation."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Attempted Suicide by Motor Vehicle -- Jack McAtee

"Jack McAtee, a St. Louis native living in the ski town of Breckenridge, had been driving amid the mountains of Colorado when his car swerved off the road and tumbled more than 100 feet into a river below, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The car was totaled, but, miraculously, McAtee swam to the surface and escaped with only a scratch above his left eye. He had fallen asleep at the wheel, he told a state trooper that Thursday evening last September.
But the trooper’s suspicions were roused by the young man’s odd behavior — he seemed carefree one moment, erratic the next — so he took McAtee to the hospital, then to protective custody at the local jail, then to a mental health facility at Summit Safe Haven in Frisco, Colo., a mountain town at the northern end of Colorado’s Tenmile Range.
The next morning, according to Colorado newspaper the Summit Daily News, McAtee walked out of Safe Haven with just $67 and the clothes on his back. And that was the last anyone saw of him. There were no more phone calls, no bank withdrawals, no run-ins with the police. Nothing.
Until this August, when a pair of French hikers bushwhacking down a mountain near Frisco came across a skull on the rugged, steep slopes.
The skull, DNA tests revealed, was Jack’s.
Then there was the other lead, the one the McAtees didn’t want to think about. Jack had stopped taking medicine for bipolar disorder just before the crash, the family told the Summit Daily News. It had happened before, and on three of those occasions he’d gone missing for a short while. Usually he popped back up again.
But the state trooper who met Jack McAtee wrote in his report on the incident that he believed the crash might have been intentional, according to the Summit Daily News. Maybe he was trying to die.
Maybe he was already dead."

Monday, October 26, 2015

Woman with Body Integrity Identity Disorder blinds herself with drain cleaner?

I'm sorry, but who is the psychologist who helped her to perform this self-maiming? And why hasn't the psychologist been charged? is also skeptical about this story. For reporters on a deadline, some stories are just "too good to check."

NY Post

"For most people, going blind is their worst nightmare, but for this North Carolina woman it was a dream come true.
Jewel Shuping, 30, was so desperate to be blind that she poured draining cleaner in her baby blues to wipe out her eyesight — and she couldn’t be happier.
She suffers from an illness called body integrity identity disorder (BIID) — a disease that causes able-bodied people to strongly desire a disability.
I really feel this is the way I was supposed to be born, that I should have been blind from birth,” Shuping told Barcroft Media.
The afflicted woman knew from a young age she wanted to be blind, and would attempt to harm her eyesight by staring at the sun while “blind-simming,” or pretending to be blind.
By the time Shuping turned 21, the idea of being blind was “a non-stop alarm that was going off” and she sought the help of a sympathetic psychologist to help her carry out her ultimate desire in 2006.

The psychologist gave her eye-numbing drops before sprinkling a few droplets of drain cleaner into each pupil.
“It hurt, let me tell you. My eyes were screaming and I had some drain cleaner going down my cheek burning my skin,” she said.
“But all I could think was, ‘I am going blind, it is going to be okay.”
Dr. Michael First, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, says that people who suffer from BIID can’t control their need to be disabled.
“These people are aware that this feeling of theirs is unusual — they know it is coming from within them. They can’t explain it,” he said.
Shuping is now studying for a degree in education and is hoping to help other blind people live an independent life. She hopes that by sharing her story, it will encourage other sufferers of BIID to seek professional help."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

An Essay on Man: Epistle II -- Alexander Pope (1688–1744)

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of mankind is man.
Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the stoic's pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much:
Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd;
Still by himself abus'd, or disabus'd;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd:
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world! 
For the whole thing, click here.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

I Am a Terrifying and Imposing Figure / The Ballad Of Guiteau -- Assassins (Stephen Sondheim)

I am going to the Lordy,
I am so glad.
I am going to the Lordy,
I am so glad.
I am going to the Lordy,
Glory Hallelujah!
Glory Hallelujah!
I am going to the Lordy...

Come all ye Christians,
And hear from sinner:
Charlie Guiteau.
Bound and determined
He'd wind up a winner,
Charlie had dreams
That he wouldn't let go.
Said, "Nothing to it,
I want it, I'll do it,
I'm Charles J. Guiteau."

Charlie Guiteau
Never said "Never"
Or heard the word "No."
Faced with disaster,
His heart would beat faster,
His smile would just grow,
And he'd say:

Look on the bright side,
Look on the bright side,
Sit on the right side
Of the lord.
This is the land of
He is your lightning,
You his sword.

Wait till you see tomorrow,
Tomorrow you'll get you reward!
You can be sad
Or you can be President-
Look on the bright side...
I am going to the Lordy...

Charlie Guiteau
Drew a crowd to his trial,
Led them in prayer,
Said, "I killed Garfield,
I'll make no denial.
I was just acting
for someone up there.
The Lord's my employer,
And now He's my lawyer,
So do what you dare."

Charlie said, "Hell,
If I am guilty,
Then God is as well."
But God was aquitted
And Charlie committed
Until he should hang.
Still, he sang:

Look on the bright side,
Not on the black side.
Get off your backside,
Shine those shoes!

This is you golden
You are the lightning
And you're news!

Wait till you see tomorrow,
Tomorrow you won't be ignored!
You could be pardoned,
You could be President-
Look on the bright side...
I am going to the Lordy...

Charlie Guiteau
Had a crowd at the scaffold-

I am so glad...

-Filled up the square,
Som many people
That tickets were raffled.
Shine on his shoes
Charlie mounted the stair,
Said, "Never sorrow,
Just wait till tomorrow,
Today isn't fair.
Don't despair..."

Look on the bright side,
Look on the bright side,
Sit on the right side...

Of the...

I am going to the Lordy,
I am so glad!
I am going to the Lordy,
I am so glad!
I have unified my party,
I have saved my country.

I shall be remembered!

I am going to the Lordy...

Look on the bright side,
Not on the sad side,
Inside the bad side
Something's good!
This is you golden
You've been a preacher-

Yes, I have!

You've been an author-

Yes, I have!

You've been a killer-

Yes, I have!

You could be an angel_

Yes, I could!

Just wait until tomorrow,
Tomorrow they'll all climb aboard!
What if you never
Got to be President?
You'll be remembered-
Look on the bright side-
Trust in tomorrow-

And the Lord!

Friday, October 23, 2015

CPB Classic: Clinical Psychologists and the Scientist-Practitioner Divide

"Perhaps if you participated in some research studies over at the university, I might understand you better."

From April 2013:

The Boulder Model on who should become a clinical psychologist

Who is the "right kind of person" to become a clinical psychologist? Are you more interested in people than in things? Do you read great literature?

Unspeakable, Unbearable, Horrible Truth

What good are the data drawn from empirical research studies? Maybe only clinical data matters.


Apparently, research psychologists dread being mistaken for clinicians. Well, same to you, buddy. I hate it when I tell people that I'm a psychologist and then they instantly assume that I spend all my time conducting useless studies and publishing worthless research.

Uh-oh, I'm still annoyed by something I read on the Internet...

"Much has been said about the hazards of people practicing psychology who do not have adequate scientific training, who do not consistently demonstrate the habits of mind associated with the scientist. However, not enough is said about the converse hazard: research psychologists who know about scientific methods but who lack understanding about people, who lack what James Bugenthal (1987) called, "the normal sensitivity that all of us have in relating to others, but...carried to a greater than normal acuity" (p. 11)."

So why did you become a clinical psychologist?

Probably because, in part, I watched this episode of M*A*S*H at a tender age (most likely when I was 10). It's available on Netflix -- Season 7, The Billfold Syndrome.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

More than 90% of felony cases are plea bargained -- here's how it works

You're accused of a crime you didn't commit. You have no money for bail. You have no money for a decent lawyer. You're offered two years in prison if you plead guilty now, and threatened with up to 10 years in prison if you insist on going to trial (as per your Sixth Amendment rights). You should know that prosecutors often have convictions rates greater than 90%. So what do you do? 100% chance of two years in prison + a felony record that sharply limits your job prospects, versus either a) 90% chance of 10 years in prison + felony record, or b) 10% chance of being found not guilty at trial. Care to roll the dice and place your faith in the American Criminal Justice System?

"One of the hardest lessons during my five years at Rikers came in the case of 23-year-old inmate Chris Barnett, who was driven by the brutality of the jail to confess to a crime he didn’t commit....[H]e’d been out for a carefree motorcycle ride when a teenager darted out from behind a bus. “It was like he fell out of the sky and was on top of my bike. Before I knew what happened, it was over.” An accident, it seemed to me...
Despite the Sixth Amendment’s heralded guarantee of a speedy trial, I learned at Rikers, trial is often years away. This would be a long wait for anyone, but for the detainee who can’t afford a couple thousand offhand in bail—which is a lot of detainees—the pretrial years must be spent behind bars. The only alternative would be the expedient plea bargain, frequently offered by the district attorney: If the accused foregoes trial and accepts some measure of guilt, he will typically receive a lighter sentence than what would have been handed down had he gone to trial and lost. But what it also means is that detainees will agree to it, not necessarily because they’re guilty, but because the pathway to trial is just too daunting.
...Chris sustained a broken hip, broken collarbone and internal injuries, but the teenager was dead. Chris denied he’d been drinking, and a Breathalyzer confirmed it. He also said he hadn’t been speeding, which was borne out by eyewitnesses as well as a police test on the tire marks. Though Chris had been neither drinking nor speeding, he still was arrested for vehicular homicide, which perplexed me, as this seemed like a clear-cut accident. But I assumed there had to be more to this. After all, I only heard the inmates' version of things.
In the sessions that followed, I learned that Chris, like most at Rikers, had been raised in a poor neighborhood, had dropped out of high school and was involved in minor skirmishes with the law. But after a couple of misdemeanor charges, he went back to school, earned a GED and was thrilled to have landed an entry-level position on Wall Street. The pay was low, but the future was promising, and Chris was smart enough to see the possibilities.
...His family lacked the resources to pay his bail, but he did have a steady girlfriend who promised to see him through the ordeal....
The district attorney was offering Chris a plea bargain of two to four years. If he accepted it, he would serve two years in prison upstate and remain on probation for the remaining two. But as part of the offer, he would also have to accept the felony. If he insisted on a trial and lost, his sentence could be in the range of eight to 10 years. There was a lot at stake here. More than anything, Chris wanted to hold on to his job and the life he was creating. But if he accepted the felony, he could say good-bye to Wall Street, and frankly most other job opportunities, forever.
As Chris hashed it over with me, he became angry. “I’m sorry this kid is dead—but I didn’t do anything wrong. He ran out from behind a bus. I wasn’t drinking and I wasn’t speeding. It was an accident! I’m not accepting this offer! Doesn’t he have any responsibility for what happened? I got hurt too! I’ll take my chances at trial.”


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

When is Killing Moral?

"Anybody up for a little after dinner morally justified killing ?"

I think that this writer's views on Just War theory are deeply mistaken, especially as applied to PTSD treatment. It sounds like he would tell veterans, "Don't worry about killing those people, it was done in the service of justice." OMG, what a reaction that would get in a PTSD group. And, "Because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were only last resorts and conducted only in the interest of bringing about a just peace, your killings are morally good." That's another one sure to provoke bitter laughter. And, "It's not like you killed any non-combatants, right? Because that doesn't happen much during modern warfare, right?" Now the guy would probably be in physical danger. And, "It's not like the guy you killed was a fellow human being, with a family who loved him, and friends who counted on him, with his own hopes and dreams and struggles and flaws, just like you. No, it's not like that at all. He was an enemy combatant and you were morally justified in killing him. And morally justified killing is A-Okeleedokelee OK."

"It was him or me. When I first got back I was glad it was him. But now...I wish it had been me. He was just a kid. Like me."

-- WWII combat veteran, on his killing of an "enemy combatant" sixty years earlier

Real Clear Defense
"There is another approach to Just War theory that avoids the “necessary evil” problem, and still articulates moral limits to killing. In opposition to the “presumption against killing” model, James Turner Johnson advocates a “presumption for justice.”
Johnson argues that rather than starting from a presumed duty not to kill and then looking for ways to override that duty, the classic Just War tradition (Augustine, Aquinas, Vitoria, etc.) begins from considerations of justice and what it requires in a particular situation. Justice, not a duty against killing, is the ever present demand and determines the morality of killing. In Johnson’s model, just killing is not a necessary evil, but a morally good act in service of justice.
One must be careful not to confuse “morally good” with “desirable.” In Johnson’s model, war is still a last resort, but not because there is a standing duty not to kill. It is a last resort because the goal of war is peace, and if a just peace can be achieved without violence, it ought to be. If war must be fought, however, it can be fought without committing intrinsically evil acts.
The difference between the two models becomes clearer with a side-by-side comparison. In both models, a soldier who kills an unarmed civilian is committing a morally evil act. However, a soldier who kills an armed, fighting enemy in combat looks very different in each model. In Childress’ model, he is still committing a morally evil act, but it is one that he is permitted to engage in because his duty not to kill has been overridden.  He is allowed to use the evil means of killing to pursue a moral good. For Johnson, the soldier who kills an enemy combatant is committing a morally good act in service of justice.
The idea of killing as a moral good is an important one because it can help soldiers and military leaders understand their own moral actions in war. Killing always leaves psychological scars. For the soldier, the misguided view of just killing as a moral evil that one is allowed to “get away with” adds to that psychological distress. He sees himself as a murderer who deserves punishment, and when doesn’t receive that punishment, he tends to punish himself. That self-punishment is one cause of the high rates of depression, substance abuse, and suicide among veterans.
Johnson’s view of killing in service to justice, rather than in conflict with justice, will help soldiers understand that they are not doing anything morally wrong when they justly kill in combat. Nothing can erase the horrible experiences of war, but by understanding his actions morally, the soldier can find respect for himself."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The roots of Nobel Prize winning malaria treatment in Communist China

"[Communist Chinese dictator] Mao’s role [in the development of a particular malaria treatment] was simple.
In the 1960s, he got an appeal from North Vietnam: Its fighters were dying because local malaria had become resistant to all known drugs. He ordered his top scientists to help.
But it wasn’t easy. The Cultural Revolution was reeling out of control, and intellectuals, including scientists, were being publicly humiliated, forced to labor on collective farms or even driven to suicide. However, because the order came from Mao himself and he put the army in charge, the project was sheltered. Over the next 14 years, 500 scientists from 60 military and civilian institutes flocked to it.
Meanwhile, thousands of American soldiers in Vietnam were also getting malaria, and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research began its own drug hunt. That effort ultimately produced mefloquine, later sold under the brand name Lariam.
While powerful, mefloquine has serious drawbacks, including nightmares and paranoia. In 2003, dozens of American Marines in Liberia got malaria after refusing to take pills because of military scuttlebutt that several Special Forces soldiers who killed their wives after returning home from Afghanistan in 2002 had been driven insane by the drug.
China’s effort formally began at a meeting on May 23, 1967, and was code-named Project 523, for the date.
Researchers pursued two paths. One group screened 40,000 known chemicals. The second searched the traditional medicine literature and sent envoys into rural villages to ask herbal healers for their secret fever cures.
One herb, qinghao, was mentioned on tomb carvings as far back as 168 B.C. and praised on medical scrolls through the centuries, up to the 1798 Book of Seasonal Fevers. Rural healers identified qinghao as what the West calls Artemisia annua, or sweet wormwood, a spiky-leafed weed with yellow flowers.
In the 1950s, officials in parts of rural China had fought malaria outbreaks with qinghao tea, but investigating it scientifically was new. It also had at least nine rivals from traditional medicine with some anti-malarial effects, including a pepper.
In the lab, qinghao extracts killed malaria parasites in mice. Researchers tried to find exactly which chemical worked, which plants had the most, whether it could cross the blood-brain barrier to fight cerebral malaria, and whether it worked in oral, intravenous and suppository forms.
Outmoded equipment slowed research. But by the 1970s it was known that the lethal chemical, first called qinghaosu and now artemisinin, had a structure never seen before in nature: In chemical terms, it is a sesquiterpene lactone with a peroxide bridge. Trials in 2,000 patients showed that it killed parasites remarkably rapidly.
However, the body eliminated it so fast that any parasites it missed made a comeback. So scientists began mixing it with slower but more persistent drugs, creating what is now called artemisinin combination therapy. (One new combination includes mefloquine.)"

Monday, October 19, 2015

Critic George Scialabba endorses ECT for major depression

"George Scialabba is no wild man. A soft-spoken, introverted soul, he doesn’t drink or smoke; no alcohol, tobacco, or recreational drugs. Healthy, moderate eating (no red meat, and "a kind of cerebral Mediterranean diet") keeps Scialabba, at age 67, lean to a degree that is downright un-American. He has never married nor fathered children, and lives alone in a one-bedroom condo he has occupied since 1980. He doesn’t play sports ("I don’t exercise — I fidget"). For 35 years, Scialabba, a Harvard College alumnus, held a low-level clerical job at his alma mater that suited his low-profile style. For the past decade, his desk has occupied a windowless basement in a large academic building.
That’s the physical Scialabba: a bespectacled reed who could slip into any cocktail party nearly unnoticed.
The intellectual Scialabba is another story. Over those same 35 years, he has written nearly 400 essays and book reviews for The American Conservative, The Boston Globe, Commonweal, Dissent, Grand Street, The Nation, The Village Voice, The Washington Post, and many other outlets. His acuity, erudition, and polished prose have earned him thousands of readers and the admiration of some of the country’s leading minds.
Over the past 40 years, he has suffered several bouts of clinical depression, and received virtually every form of psychotherapeutic and drug treatment, with indifferent results. In 2005 Scialabba endured a midlife crisis that triggered a major depressive episode. [A midlife crisis at age 57?] "I was watching other writers of my age publishing books and writing for The New York Review of Books or The New Yorker," he recalls. "I was appearing in less prestigious places and had no books. It kind of grated on me, and I became obsessed with it." Things got so bad that Scialabba took a three-month medical leave from Harvard to undergo electroconvulsive therapy. He did the same thing after another major depression in 2012.
And it worked. Although there were short-term lapses of memory, there have been no long-term effects, and Scialabba says, "I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is as desperate as I was." He’s grateful to Harvard and to his labor union, the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, for establishing policies that made those leaves possible.
Scialabba has been very open in print about his depressions. He wrote a first-person essay, "Message From Room 101," for Agni, and The Baffler recently published lengthy excerpts from his medical records, offering a backstage view of how therapists saw Scialabba’s plight.
It has not all worked out quite the way Scialabba envisioned, but it has worked out. "I always imagined I’d be a professor of intellectual history at some small college in Ohio or something," he says. "I didn’t have the Sitzfleisch to be a scholar."
Yet evidence of Scialabba’s strength of character goes beyond surviving his depressions. "While everything in the culture was insisting that what he does — reviewing books, writing essays — has no large value, and certainly no economic value," says Summers, "George kept on turning out his great writing for 35 years, all the while working his clerical job, arranging rooms for meetings at Harvard. To do that, you have to have grit.""

Sunday, October 18, 2015

First Death In Nova Scotia -- Elizabeth Bishop (1965)

In the cold, cold parlor
my mother laid out Arthur
beneath the chromographs:
Edward, Prince of Wales,
with Princess Alexandra,
and King George with Queen Mary.
Below them on the table
stood a stuffed loon
shot and stuffed by Uncle
Arthur, Arthur's father.

Since Uncle Arthur fired
a bullet into him,
he hadn't said a word.
He kept his own counsel
on his white, frozen lake,
the marble-topped table.
His breast was deep and white,
cold and caressable;
his eyes were red glass,
much to be desired.

"Come," said my mother,
"Come and say good-bye
to your little cousin Arthur."
I was lifted up and given
one lily of the valley
to put in Arthur's hand.
Arthur's coffin was
a little frosted cake,
and the red-eyed loon eyed it
from his white, frozen lake.

Arthur was very small.
He was all white, like a doll
that hadn't been painted yet.
Jack Frost had started to paint him
the way he always painted
the Maple Leaf (Forever).
He had just begun on his hair,
a few red strokes, and then
Jack Frost had dropped the brush
and left him white, forever.

The gracious royal couples
were warm in red and ermine;
their feet were well wrapped up
in the ladies' ermine trains.
They invited Arthur to be
the smallest page at court.
But how could Arthur go,
clutching his tiny lily,
with his eyes shut up so tight
and the roads deep in snow?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Nobody Does It Like Me -- Michele Lee

That's right: The leading lady from Herbie the Love Bug

If there's a wrong way to say it
A wrong way to play it
Nobody does it like me

If there's a wrong way to do it
A right way to screw it up
Nobody does it like me

I've got a big loud mouth
I'm always talking much to free
If you go for tact and manners
Better stay away from me

If there's a wrong way to keep it cool
A right way to be a fool
Nobody does it like me

I hear a love song or ballad
I toss like a salad
Nobody tosses like me

And when my evenings get tougher
I just take two bufferin'
And drink a hot cup of tea

Last night I met an old acquaintance
At a fancy corner pub
He said: Come on, let's have some supper
So he used my credit-club

If there's a wrong way to take a guy
The worst way to make a guy
Nobody does it like me

If there's a wrong bell, I ring it
A wrong note, I sing it
Nobody does it like me

If there's a problem, I duck it
I don't solve it, I just muck it up
Nobody does it like me

As though I try to be a lady
I'm no lady, I'm a frog
And when I talk like I'm a lady
What I sound like is a frog

If there's a wrong way to get a guy
The right way to lose a guy
Nobody does it like me

Nobody does it
No, nobody does it

Nobody does it like me
Nobody does it like me

Friday, October 16, 2015

CPB Classic: Suicide in the Military

From March 2013, three posts:

CAPT Peter Linnerooth, RIP [U.S. Army psychologist]

Military Suicide [The Life and Death of Clay Hunt]

Suicide in the Trenches [poem by Siegfried Sassoon]

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Iran was behind the Khobar Towers attack (duh)

Lest we forget...
The Washington Times - Monday, October 5, 2015
"Bill Clinton’s administration gathered enough evidence to send a top-secret communique accusing Iran of facilitating the deadly 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist bombing, but suppressed that information from the American public and some elements of U.S. intelligence for fear it would lead to an outcry for reprisal, according to documents and interviews.
Before Mr. Clinton left office, the intelligence pointing toward Iran’s involvement in the terror attack in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. servicemen and wounded hundreds was deemed both extensive and “credible,” memos show.
 It included FBI interviews with a half-dozen Saudi co-conspirators who revealed they got their passports from the Iranian embassy in Damascus, reported to a top Iranian general and were trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), officials told The Washington Times.
The revelations about what the Clinton administration knew are taking on new significance with the recent capture of the accused mastermind of the 1996 attack, which has occurred in the shadows of the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran.
Ahmed al-Mughassil was arrested in August returning to Lebanon from Iran, and his apprehension has provided fresh evidence of Tehran’s and Hezbollah’s involvement in the attack and their efforts to shield him from justice for two decades, U.S. officials said.
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh told The Times that when he first sought the Clinton White House’s help to gain access to the Saudi suspects, he was repeatedly thwarted. When he succeeded by going around Mr. Clinton and returned with the evidence, it was dismissed as “hearsay,” and he was asked not to spread it around because the administration had made a policy decision to warm relations with Tehran and didn’t want to rock the boat, he said."

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Preventing Mass Shootings through Parental Licensure?

"Opponents of abortion ask with sincere anguish, “What about the babies?“, but we should be at least equally concerned about those babies’ long and perilous journey after birth. It may be time for us directly to confront the painful problem of weighing the procreative rights of adults against the basic rights of their potential children.

Suppose we come to a river and find it full of children being swept down by the current, thrashing and struggling to keeps their heads above water. We can leap in and save a few, but they keep coming, and many drown in spite of our best efforts. This is Harris’s (cited in Shanker, 1993) analogy for attempts to socialize children in the public schools.

It is time to go upstream, Harris insists, to see what is pushing all those children into that river of no return. What we shall find upstream is increasing numbers of immature, indifferent, unsocialized, or incompetent people, most of them unmarried and many economically dependent, who are having children whom they cannot or will not competently rear. The licensure of parenthood is the only real solution to the problem of sociopathy and crime.

Prior to World War II, most developed countries maintained what amounted to a tradition of parental licensure. The ancient taboo against out-of-wedlock births led most young people to understand that if they wished to produce a keep a baby, they must first get married, and for that a license was required from the state. A child’s jingle from that time said it all: “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage.”

But the sexual revolution of the 1960s discarded that bit of ancient wisdom, and the institution of “no-fault” divorce (which is often faulty in the extreme when children are involved) compounded the problem. It is time, I believe, to consider legislation designed to redress the balance-to place the rights of children once again ahead of the procreative rights of prospective parents.

In most jurisdictions, children are given for adoption only to mature married couples who are self-supporting and neither criminal nor incapacitated by psychiatric illness. If only these minimal requirements were made of persons wishing to retain custody of a child they have produced biologically, millions of American children would be saved each year from Harris’s maelstrom, and hundreds of billions of tax dollars would be saved with which to make their world a better place. It is something to think about."


“The fact itself, of causing the existence of a human being, is one of the most responsible actions in the range of human life. To undertake this responsibility-to bestow a life which may be either a curse or a blessing-unless the being on whom it is to be bestowed will have at least ordinary chances of a desirable existence, is a crime against that being.”

- JOHN STUART MILL (1859/1956, p. 124)


“It still remains unrecognized, that to bring a child into existence without a fair prospect of being able, not only to provide for its body, but instruction and training for its mind, is a moral crime, both against the unfortunate offspring and against society; and that if the parent does not fulfill this obligation, the State ought to see it fulfilled, at the charge, as far as possible, of the parent.”

- JOHN STUART MILL (1859/1956, p. 121)




Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Malcolm Gladwell: School Shootings as a Slow-Motion Riot

"The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts." -- Malcolm Gladwell

New Yorker
"In a famous essay published four decades ago, the Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter set out to explain a paradox: “situations where outcomes do not seem intuitively consistent with the underlying individual preferences.” What explains a person or a group of people doing things that seem at odds with who they are or what they think is right? Granovetter took riots as one of his main examples, because a riot is a case of destructive violence that involves a great number of otherwise quite normal people who would not usually be disposed to violence.
...Granovetter thought it was a mistake to focus on the decision-making processes of each rioter in isolation. In his view, a riot was not a collection of individuals, each of whom arrived independently at the decision to break windows. A riot was a social process, in which people did things in reaction to and in combination with those around them. Social processes are driven by our thresholds—which he defined as the number of people who need to be doing some activity before we agree to join them. In the elegant theoretical model Granovetter proposed, riots were started by people with a threshold of zero—instigators willing to throw a rock through a window at the slightest provocation. Then comes the person who will throw a rock if someone else goes first. He has a threshold of one. Next in is the person with the threshold of two. His qualms are overcome when he sees the instigator and the instigator’s accomplice. Next to him is someone with a threshold of three, who would never break windows and loot stores unless there were three people right in front of him who were already doing that—and so on up to the hundredth person, a righteous upstanding citizen who nonetheless could set his beliefs aside and grab a camera from the broken window of the electronics store if everyone around him were grabbing cameras from the electronics store.
Granovetter was most taken by the situations in which people did things for social reasons that went against everything they believed as individuals. ...You can’t just look at an individual’s norms and motives. You need to look at the group.
...We misleadingly use the word “copycat” to describe contagious behavior—implying that new participants in an epidemic act in a manner identical to the source of their infection. But rioters are not homogeneous. If a riot evolves as it spreads, starting with the hotheaded rock thrower and ending with the upstanding citizen, then rioters are a profoundly heterogeneous group.
Finally, Granovetter’s model suggests that riots are sometimes more than spontaneous outbursts. If they evolve, it means they have depth and length and a history. Granovetter thought that the threshold hypothesis could be used to describe everything from elections to strikes, and even matters as prosaic as how people decide it’s time to leave a party. He was writing in 1978, long before teen-age boys made a habit of wandering through their high schools with assault rifles. But what if the way to explain the school-shooting epidemic is to go back and use the Granovetterian model—to think of it as a slow-motion, ever-evolving riot, in which each new participant’s action makes sense in reaction to and in combination with those who came before?
In the day of Eric Harris, we could try to console ourselves with the thought that there was nothing we could do, that no law or intervention or restrictions on guns could make a difference in the face of someone so evil. But the riot has now engulfed the boys who were once content to play with chemistry sets in the basement. The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts."


Monday, October 12, 2015

Krauthammer speaks the truth on mass murder

"But the deeper truth is that [stricter gun control laws] would have made no difference. Does anyone really believe that the (alleged) gun-show loophole had anything to do with Roseburg? Universal background checks sound wonderful. But Oregon already has one. The Roseburg shooter and his mother obtained every one of their guns legally.  
As for the only remotely plausible solution, Obama dare not speak its name. He made an oblique reference to Australia, never mentioning that its gun-control innovation was confiscation, by means of a mandatory buyback. There’s a reason he didn’t bring up confiscation (apart from the debate about its actual efficacy in reducing gun violence in Australia). In this country, with its traditions, public sentiment and, most importantly, Second Amendment, them’s fightin’ words.
Obama didn’t say them. Nor did he seriously address the other approach that could make a difference: more aggressive psychiatric intervention. These massacres are almost invariably perpetrated by severely disturbed, isolated, often delusional young men.
Yet even here, our reach is limited. In some cases, yes, involuntary commitment would have made a difference. Jared Loughner, the Tucson shooter, was so unstable, so menacing, that fellow students at his community college feared, said one, that he would “come into class with an automatic weapon.” Under our crazy laws, however, he had to kill before he could be locked up.
Similarly, the Navy Yard shooter had been found by police a few weeks earlier in a hotel room, psychotic and paranoid. They advised him to get psychiatric help. Advised. Predictably, he fell through the mental health cracks. A month later, he killed 12 and was killed himself, another casualty of a mental-health system that lets the severely psychiatrically ill — you see them sleeping on grates — live and die wretchedly abandoned.
The problem is that these mass-murder cases are fairly unusual. Take Roseburg. That young man had no criminal history, no psychiatric diagnosis beyond Asperger’s, no involvement in public disturbances. How do you find, let alone lock up, someone like that?
There are 320 million Americans. Schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of the population. [But most of these mass murderers are NOT schizophrenic.] That’s about 3 million people. Only a tiny fraction are ever violent — and predicting which ones will be is almost impossible. Loner, socially isolated, often immersed in a fantasy world of violent video games. There are myriad such young men out there, but with different ages of onset, in different stages of derangement. Only a handful will ever harm anyone. What to do? Forcibly apprehend them, treat them, put them on perpetual preventive parole? By the tens of thousands?"

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Anthony and Cleopatra, Act IV, Scene 14

  • Antony. Eros, thou yet behold'st me?
  • Eros. Ay, noble lord.
  • Antony. Sometimes we see a cloud that's dragonish;
    A vapour sometime like a bear or lion, 2980
    A tower'd citadel, a pendent rock,
    A forked mountain, or blue promontory
    With trees upon't, that nod unto the world,
    And mock our eyes with air: thou hast seen
    these signs; 2985
    They are black vesper's pageants.
  • Eros. Ay, my lord,
  • Antony. That which is now a horse, even with a thought
    The rack dislimns, and makes it indistinct,
    As water is in water. 2990
  • Eros. It does, my lord.
  • Antony. My good knave Eros, now thy captain is
    Even such a body: here I am Antony:
    Yet cannot hold this visible shape, my knave.
    I made these wars for Egypt: and the queen,— 2995
    Whose heart I thought I had, for she had mine;
    Which whilst it was mine had annex'd unto't
    A million more, now lost,—she, Eros, has
    Pack'd cards with Caesar, and false-play'd my glory
    Unto an enemy's triumph. 3000
    Nay, weep not, gentle Eros; there is left us
    Ourselves to end ourselves.
    [Enter MARDIAN]
    O! thy vile lady!
    She has robb'd me of my sword. 3005
  • Mardian. No, Antony;
    My mistress loved thee, and her fortunes mingled
    With thine entirely.
  • Antony. Hence, saucy eunuch; peace!
    She hath betray'd me and shall die the death. 3010
  • Mardian. Death of one person can be paid but once,
    And that she has discharged: what thou wouldst do
    Is done unto thy hand: the last she spake
    Was 'Antony! most noble Antony!'
    Then in the midst a tearing groan did break 3015
    The name of Antony; it was divided
    Between her heart and lips: she render'd life,
    Thy name so buried in her.
  • Antony. Unarm, Eros; the long day's task is done,
    And we must sleep.
    [To MARDIAN]
    That thou depart'st hence safe,
    Does pay thy labour richly; go. 3025
    [Exit MARDIAN]
    Off, pluck off:
    The seven-fold shield of Ajax cannot keep
    The battery from my heart. O, cleave, my sides!
    Heart, once be stronger than thy continent, 3030
    Crack thy frail case! Apace, Eros, apace.
    No more a soldier: bruised pieces, go;
    You have been nobly borne. From me awhile.
    [Exit EROS]
    I will o'ertake thee, Cleopatra, and 3035
    Weep for my pardon. So it must be, for now
    All length is torture: since the torch is out,
    Lie down, and stray no farther: now all labour
    Mars what it does; yea, very force entangles
    Itself with strength: seal then, and all is done. 3040
    Eros!—I come, my queen:—Eros!—Stay for me:
    Where souls do couch on flowers, we'll hand in hand,
    And with our sprightly port make the ghosts gaze:
    Dido and her AEneas shall want troops,
    And all the haunt be ours. Come, Eros, Eros! 3045
[Re-enter EROS]
  • Eros. What would my lord?
  • Antony. Since Cleopatra died,
    I have lived in such dishonour, that the gods
    Detest my baseness. I, that with my sword 3050
    Quarter'd the world, and o'er green Neptune's back
    With ships made cities, condemn myself to lack
    The courage of a woman; less noble mind
    Than she which by her death our Caesar tells
    'I am conqueror of myself.' Thou art sworn, Eros, 3055
    That, when the exigent should come, which now
    Is come indeed, when I should see behind me
    The inevitable prosecution of
    Disgrace and horror, that, on my command,
    Thou then wouldst kill me: do't; the time is come: 3060
    Thou strikest not me, 'tis Caesar thou defeat'st.
    Put colour in thy cheek.
  • Eros. The gods withhold me!
    Shall I do that which all the Parthian darts,
    Though enemy, lost aim, and could not? 3065
  • Antony. Eros,
    Wouldst thou be window'd in great Rome and see
    Thy master thus with pleach'd arms, bending down
    His corrigible neck, his face subdued
    To penetrative shame, whilst the wheel'd seat 3070
    Of fortunate Caesar, drawn before him, branded
    His baseness that ensued?
  • Eros. I would not see't.
  • Antony. Come, then; for with a wound I must be cured.
    Draw that thy honest sword, which thou hast worn 3075
    Most useful for thy country.
  • Eros. O, sir, pardon me!
  • Antony. When I did make thee free, sworest thou not then
    To do this when I bade thee? Do it at once;
    Or thy precedent services are all 3080
    But accidents unpurposed. Draw, and come.
  • Eros. Turn from me, then, that noble countenance,
    Wherein the worship of the whole world lies.
[Turning from him]
  • Eros. My sword is drawn.
  • Antony. Then let it do at once
    The thing why thou hast drawn it.
  • Eros. My dear master,
    My captain, and my emperor, let me say, 3090
    Before I strike this bloody stroke, farewell.
  • Antony. 'Tis said, man; and farewell.
  • Eros. Farewell, great chief. Shall I strike now?
  • Eros. Why, there then: thus I do escape the sorrow 3095
    Of Antony's death.
[Kills himself]
  • Antony. Thrice-nobler than myself!
    Thou teachest me, O valiant Eros, what
    I should, and thou couldst not. My queen and Eros 3100
    Have by their brave instruction got upon me
    A nobleness in record: but I will be
    A bridegroom in my death, and run into't
    As to a lover's bed. Come, then; and, Eros,
    Thy master dies thy scholar: to do thus 3105
    [Falling on his sword]
    I learn'd of thee. How! not dead? not dead?
    The guard, ho! O, dispatch me!
[Enter DERCETAS and Guard]
  • Antony. I have done my work in, friends: O, make an end
    Of what I have begun.
  • All. Alas, and woe! 3115
  • Antony. Let him that loves me strike me dead.
[Exeunt Guard]
  • Dercetas. Thy death and fortunes bid thy followers fly.
    This sword but shown to Caesar, with this tidings,
    Shall enter me with him.
  • Diomedes. Lives he?
    Wilt thou not answer, man?
  • Antony. Art thou there, Diomed? Draw thy sword, and give me 3130
    Sufficing strokes for death.
  • Diomedes. Most absolute lord,
    My mistress Cleopatra sent me to thee.
  • Antony. When did she send thee?
  • Diomedes. Lock'd in her monument. She had a prophesying fear
    Of what hath come to pass: for when she saw—
    Which never shall be found—you did suspect
    She had disposed with Caesar, and that your rage 3140
    Would not be purged, she sent you word she was dead;
    But, fearing since how it might work, hath sent
    Me to proclaim the truth; and I am come,
    I dread, too late.
  • Antony. Too late, good Diomed: call my guard, I prithee. 3145
  • Diomedes. What, ho, the emperor's guard! The guard, what, ho!
    Come, your lord calls!
[Enter four or five of the Guard of MARK ANTONY]
  • Antony. Bear me, good friends, where Cleopatra bides;
    'Tis the last service that I shall command you. 3150
  • First Guard. Woe, woe are we, sir, you may not live to wear
    All your true followers out.
  • All. Most heavy day!
  • Antony. Nay, good my fellows, do not please sharp fate
    To grace it with your sorrows: bid that welcome 3155
    Which comes to punish us, and we punish it
    Seeming to bear it lightly. Take me up:
    I have led you oft: carry me now, good friends,
    And have my thanks for all.
[Exeunt, bearing MARK ANTONY]