The incident at the Tate Modern

Brain scans in order.

Let’s face it, no people in their right mind – with perfect brain health – would do something like this, knowing fully well they would get arrested and possibly put away for a long time.

Brain-based health conditions carry a huge stigma, but when you think about it that strokes, brain tumors and traumatic brain injuries can alter someone’s personality rather dramatically, you realize that it is the brain that creates any person’s personality and that we have relatively little control over it.

That idea makes us feel uncomfortable and that’s why we prefer to assign blame to other people’s brain-based conditions that make them do bizarre things such as throw a random young boy off a building. It simply makes no sense. Hence, there is some pathology at work here. Period.

Landlords…

Never had any problems with landlords in the Netherlands. Never.

Had three in Florida. The first and the third were fine, but the second one was not and his attorney was rumoured to have mafia ties, I kid you not. But I heard that later. I think it was actually a legal aid lawyer who told me that who I talked with later, long after I’d moved out and his lawyer started pestering me. I’ll spare you the details.

My third landlord was the husband of the person I volunteered with on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays. (He was a builder, built huge places, the way they are in Florida. Nice guy. I think he was in the US Army for a while, and they lived in places like Morocco. ) She stopped by one day – to bring me two birds – and was appalled and suggested I move in to one of their places. They owned a small apartment building that was mostly used by snowbirds (people from for example Canada who take winter vacations in Florida).

Some time later, I moved to Britain.

In Southampton, I knew several landlords. (Only one of them was mine.)

One said that only educated people were decent human beings, and I was too shocked to respond. He called tenants who rang him because the washing machine or heating wasn’t working (properly) “bad tenants”. This was not my own landlord, but someone I met within a business context and was friendly with for a while. Wasn’t actually a bad guy at all, strangely enough.

I also knew one who proudly told me how he had tricked an elderly woman with beginning Alzheimer’s out of her flat, I kid you not.

On another occasion, the same guy was talking with me about a new building he was constructing and then added that it did not have to be very good “as it is only for tenants”.

In Portsmouth, I’ve met two who dump rubbish on other people’s front courts and patios. I caught one red-handed and the other one admitted it.

I have principles.

If I can help make things better for people who come after me who are less strong in some way – okay, except physically as I am getting old and I am feeling it – I will try to do that. And that baffles the hell out of (most) Brits. But that is not my problem.

Breaking through the confusion about “narcissists”

In this very clear video, Sam Vaknin explains the distinction between the media’s and many people’s every-day use of the word “narcissist” – often meaning no more than “I don’t like that person” and/or “I am envious of that person” – and the personality disorder and elaborates on the variations of the disorder. (A related word that seems to be often intended to convey disdain is “co-dependent”.)

Sam Vaknin is blessed by his high intelligence, which often allows him to rise above his disorder to a large degree, but when you listen to what he says, in any of his videos, it remains important to discern when his disorder is doing the talking.

It can be quite confusing. Even listening to many of these videos, depending on your own situation (whether you have people with NPD in your life or not), you may start to wonder at some point about your own mental health… maybe because it makes you aware of how vulnerable we all are as humans.

It is always important to monitor your own behaviour in the company of people with NPD, to ensure that you stay grounded and don’t get swept away or pulled under by the effect someone else’s disorder has on you. Most people should be able to do that because they have the ego functions that people with NPD lack… except, when they become aware of the fact that they should have been doing this, they’ve often already been pulled under.

(Comparison that may help: When you are being targeted by a constant barrage of tennis balls from a row of tennis ball cannons, the only thing you are still aware of is the tennis balls and all your activity may become focused on dodging the tennis balls, getting hit, getting hurt and getting angry. The rest of the world drops away. That means that you are no longer grounded. There could be a bus shelter to the left, in which you would be safely shielded from the tennis balls, or you might be able to walk over to the cannons and pull the plug, but you are no longer able to notice that when you are not grounded.)

But Vaknin’s right: there is a lot of complete bullshit out there about the disorder and all it seems to accomplish is that it freaks people out and attracts a lot of angry people. People who feel angry would probably benefit more from going for a run or playing squash – or tennis.

By the way, psychopathy (a step further) appears to be promoted by war situations, by babies being exposed to the effects of war in the womb and when growing up. Brain chemistry. The brain becoming immune to some degree, and parts of the brain not developing. This could indicate that bombing countries in retaliation for terrorist attacks could lead to more terrorist attacks in the future. Something to think about.

The western world pays a lot of attention to attacks taking place on its own soil, for instance at train stations, but considerably much less to events such as Americans accidentally bombing a children’s hospital in, say, Pakistan.

A very complicated topic. What it all seems to boil down to is that the world is in need of more compassion and more empathy (I probably often mix the two up) – and less aggression.

Peace

It helps tremendously if you can VISUALIZE brain-related conditions for which other people tend to assign blame and make remarks such as that one should be able to grow out of it, admit it and seek help for it, and what have you.

It appears that people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) simply lack part of the brain in which empathy is created (though it is not the only part of the brain that is related to empathy, apparently). If you can’t feel empathy for others, you cannot feel empathy for yourself either.

That explains the usual Catch-22 aspects of the condition.

This could also mean that/why people with NPD rely on notably empaths to “create” empathy for them. Symbiosis.

(People with NPD, by the way, lack emotional empathy, not cognitive empathy, apparently, according to a 2010 paper from the same research group.)

So, yes, the brains of people with NPD are wired differently. They did not ask for this, so stop blaming them. Look for what is good in them, and embrace that instead.

They’re like, hey, albinos. Or hey, people who go grey prematurely. Not their fault.

They’re like giraffes that people insist are, say, antelopes.

Or, like I wrote before, table lamps of which we demand that they change themselves into coffee makers.

Let go of it… All the frustration etc. It’s futile.

They are right. They are special. It’s part of the neurodiversity we have on the planet. (The brain is a miraculous thing!)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23777939

Now I am done waffling about narcissists in a rather chaotic manner. Continue reading

I (initially) can’t stop laughing

(Please note that there appear to be two main types with narcissistic personality disorder, grandiose or overt on the one hand and covert narcissism on the other. This post probably mainly concerns the former.)

So, I stumbled upon someone on YouTube who says that he is a sadistic narcissist, that he enjoys deliberately hurting people – which is not admirable – and in spite of that, and in spite of knowing that he feels utterly miserable inside, I can’t stop chuckling because he is an amazing master spinner.

He does it so well that it’s very entertaining and his humour is entertaining too. He says that he is a dinosaur and that he was a therapist for a dinosaur once. Then comments “committed suicide”. And you have to laugh, but, yep, he is definitely a sadistic narcissist.

I’ve run into it before. I can’t help it, ya have to laugh. With my apologies to the hurt souls eternally buried inside all narcissists out there for the instances when they are not actually trying to be funny.

(They cannot be healed or fixed. Do not ever for a second think that you can heal someone with narcissistic personality disorder. The only thing you can do – also for the narcissist – is to be your best possible you and remain true to who you are, no matter what. Lead YOUR life.)

This interviewee did not CHOOSE to be this way; his brain is wired this way and he did not create his brain. Remember that.

These days (now that I know about the disorder), I therefore usually try to choose not to be angry at people with narcissistic personality disorder (who sometimes trip over cultural differences and the fact that I am who I am, instead of who they think I am or would like me to be).

I do not apply that same leniency toward so-called flying monkeys. These are mentally well people who do have a choice and who are tricked into or paid to mess with the life of someone they know or the life of a complete stranger. They make the deliberate choice to do that, unquestioningly. (No, dear sadistic narcissists out there, unh uhn. I saw that one coming from a mile away.)

(I’d been wondering why I had been getting all these ads for “Harry’s razors” lately, and vaguely remembered that there was a previous time here in England when I was getting lots of razor ads. Then it clicked. “Harry” was the name of my brother in law and he committed suicide. He was clinically depressed. I won’t say more than that, can’t give too much away to the sadistic narcissists out there. Is this funny? No, of course not, but unlike people with narcissistic personality disorder, I can choose to respond in a healthy way and see it for what it is. It is an immature way of saying something like “this is how bad I hurt inside”, wanting to make you feel the same way, possibly so that you understand how they feel without them realizing that. It is like a kid throwing the plate against the wall because he does not want to eat the veggies, and THIS MUCH is how he hates the veggies.)

Another example. Not being allowed to do any online marketing for any of my business activities – by hijacking my internet access – and then sending me a link about “permission-based marketing”. Translation: “Are you hurting already?”

Anyway, in another video, this interviewee says that narcissists are “frequently targeted by stalkers and erotomaniacs” who are “inevitably rebuffed” by the narcissists.

(That’s called “being delusional”.) ( 5 January 2018: This represents fear, the fear of being unmasked as incomplete or flawed human beings, in the eyes of people with NPD.)

(In an earlier video, apparently now deleted, he said that narcissists are often stalkers.)

He says he was diagnosed as “gifted” at age 9 when it was actually initially thought that he might be retarded, he says, with an IQ of 180. His IQ was reassessed again at age 25 and age 35, he says, and that it is interesting that his IQ went up, whereas it normally decreases with age. He continues to say that it was 185 when he was 25 and 190 when he was 35. “Oh, sorry, the other way around.”

He says he went to university at age 9, was at medical school at age 12. (See footnote.)

His first PhD was in philosophy, he says, and he also has a PhD in physics. His Wikipedia page says that he obtained that in 1982, at a university that did not start until the year 2005, according to Wikipedia. But I don’t know who added those data to Wikipedia. And the page says that that for-profit organization published his thesis, which is not necessarily the same as having done the research there. Oh, but wait, his LinkedIn profile says that he did his PhD in philosophy there. In the 1980s. And I found another website that says that that organization was indeed founded in 2005.

See the tragedy of this condition? See why people who have it are so angry at the world? They have to try to hurt others to be able to feel better about themselves…

Some handle their condition very well, manage to adapt. Many also find a way to contribute to society. Not all of them.

Lots of people, including psychologists, paint people with this condition in a very dark light that does little more than freak “normal” people out. One person with a practical, realistic and very healthy approach is psychotherapist Les Carter, by contrast.

This interviewee who describes himself as a sadistic narcissist, with genuine NPD, says that women tell him that he sometimes gives off the vibe of a machine and sometimes the vibe of a child. He then adds that he thinks that he stopped developing at age 9. That strikes me as insightful, but perhaps he was told this. And he says that for him, everything is geared toward “impressing the living hell out of his interlocutor”.

Elsewhere, he says that empathy is a bad strategy, that it costs too much, that it requires an investment, an investment that may not give you a return. But that is coming from someone who has no idea what empathy is, other than, in his eyes, something he can exploit in others.

Narcissists often do try to be the best they can be because of course, they eventually figure that they seem to have some kind of problem, but this being the best they can be is in the context of who they are, not of who the rest of us are. They cannot change themselves, just like a table lamp cannot decide to be a coffee maker. They are often highly practical people, in my experience. (They are also rarely what or who most people seem to believe they are, in my experience. That said, successful narcissists may have someone who helps them fix the mismatch between reality and what they want reality to be?)

He says that, relative to “normal” humans, people with narcissistic personality disorder are as different as “aliens”, “a form or AI” or “long-necked giraffes”.

Well, to “normal” humans like me out there I say that when caught between a rock and a hard place remember that life is too short to let it ruin your day. It is what it is. We can accept that. People with narcissistic personality disorders can’t. They are caught in views that they cannot release because those views own them, not the other way around.

What I haven’t seen anyone mention yet is that narcissists can also team up in small groups to target people. One may start targeting the person, while pretending to be one of the others, to undermine the target’s credibility. The target may not know of the existence of the other two… so it is impossible for the target to suspect those one or two others. I don’t know if this is always a mix of one grandiose narcissist with one or more covert narcissists, but it seems likely.

For more, see also this video below. I haven’t watched it yet, but I read the description under the video and so should you.

 

Footnote 3 January 2019:
Research by an English documentary maker back in 2009 confirmed that he was a child prodigy, was at university by age 11, and does have a high IQ. He was taken under the wing of a rich businessman at a young age. He got into business and then landed in jail for securities fraud, at age 24.

See more here (highly insightful!): https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/i-psychopath/.

Here is another one that sounds interesting:

Lauren McCluskey: We need specialized teams with psychologists, psychiatrists, IT specialists and investigators

I have said it many times before.

Police officers are not equipped to deal with cases of stalking and so on, at all. They do not have the knowledge to assess them (and are sadly too often led by their personal bias toward the victims).

It happened in the cases of Shana Grice, Molly McLaren and Bijan Ebrahimi in the UK.

And it happened in the case of Lauren McCluskey in the US as now transpires.

It has happened in many other situations.

Having specialized teams that are not part of the police but of new to be set up organizations and that respond instantly would also often benefit many people who could normally go on to murder someone because they would get the intervention and treatment they need IN TIME.

They too are criminalized and unnecessarily victimized if they are in ill mental health. Instead of saying that they believe they need help but being ignored by police or simply being ignored by police – period – or even being egged on by police after concerns are reported, they would get the help that just might stop them from committing murders, murders like those of Shana Grice, Molly McLaren, Bijan Ebrahimi and Lauren McCluskey.

Police officers often see themselves as superior experts in just about anything but in reality, their level of knowledge is often no different from that of the average homeless meth addict or industrious takeaway owner.

On the other hand, police officers now also waste a lot of time chasing up silly “he said she said” disputes and playing thought police. Silly “he said she said” quarrels and normal breakup situations could quickly be weeded out as representing little danger if there were dedicated teams of specialists to assess these situations.

The need for specialized IT staff on these teams is also made clear by the McCluskey case; see the screen shot below from the case review. (This looks like sadistic stalking to me, by the way. The taunting nature of it, the mix of openly seeming supportive with regard to what he was actually doing too, albeit in the dark, except that sadistic stalking usually occurs on much longer time scales, as far as I know, but it is a complex phenomenon that is almost impossible to escape from if it happens to you.)

The way the situation currently is, contacting police is the worst you can do if you are being stalked and harassed. Why? Because it will enrage your stalker and as police usually do nothing or next to nothing, it will greatly amplify the stalker’s power. At best, it makes no difference.

In addition to this proposed overhaul of police, we also need changes in the medical profession. Police officers and medical professionals are currently among the biggest propagators of mental health stigmas, stopping people who need it from getting treatment.

There appears to be a huge gap between the knowledge about physical health (with mostly physical effects) and the knowledge about brain-related or “mental” health. The fact that there is even a stigma on pain – as pain is not visible and often not directly measurable – indicates that there is a tendency to place stigmas on any health issues that are not visible or hard to show in a visual form. (Even having a brain scan that shows differences can help a lot.) People are being blamed for brain-related health conditions as it is often assumed that all humans have total control over them. The mere fact that personalities can change after a stroke or other type of brain injury already shows that we don’t.

(Hence, I also believe that it is wrong to criminalize people with brain-related health conditions, which is not the same as declaring them “insane”. We need different approaches to mental health and much better care. Genuine professional care. Support.)

 

PS
Years ago, I screamed or cried at police over the phone “What the hell does this guy want from me? Ask him what he wants from me so that I can give him an answer so that he can move on and leave me in peace.” Police thought it was hilarious, but frowned at me. Delusional old cow.

THIS I want to share!

There are many resources out there, including by clinical psychologists, who make you feel that you are a complete idiot if your natural tendency is to take the gentle approach of decency and goodness if there is someone in your life who has a narcissistic personality disorder.

Let’s face it, most of us know nothing about personality disorders, so if you find yourself the target of “sadistic stalking” which happened to me or whatever it is that happened to you that made you look into narcissistic personality disorder and then recognize it (it’s how I realized that I have a friend on the other side of the world who has this disorder), you will find that there is no one to advise you and the only thing you have – besides your own inner compass – is what you find on the web. And a lot of that information is, well, crap, practically speaking.

NOBODY chooses to have a personality disorder and if there is one mental health condition that I think the people who have it would do almost anything for NOT to have it, it’s narcissistic personality disorder, because it is my impression that life hurts almost all the time when you have that.

As mentioned, I have a long-time friend who has this disorder and after I began to understand that, and started reading up, I made mistakes. I became afraid of these people. Being afraid is silly. This mistake makes me feel very stupid, in hindsight, but hindsight is always 20/20.

So, don’t repeat my mistake if there is someone in your life who has narcissistic personality disorder.

(By the way, in Britain, people with this condition appear to be revered – and very very common. Why is that? This is something I will want to dive into, eventually. I suspect that Theresa May is a covert narcissist, for example, the way in which she lies, the complete lack of empathy and the way she acts all personally injured at times. Or is it just a public persona that she adopts, because it is revered in Britain?)

Continue reading

When someone is sabotaging your reputation behind your back…

… you may be dealing with someone who has a narcissistic personality disorder.

This is one of the reasons why narcissists like single immigrants who are relatively “fresh off the boat”. They have no local network yet, no local friends yet for emotional support, and nobody who will stand up for them in that environment, nobody who knows them well. Narcissists perceive them as “easy prey”, with less work required.

Don’t hold it against them. Nobody chooses to have a personality disorder. Learning about the disorder is very helpful.

Here is more:

Why Portsmouth should diminish traffic

I wrote an article about it on LinkedIn. If you’re interested, you can find it, and you don’t need me to post the link here. Southampton can’t do anything as drastic as this. Bournemouth can’t. Chichester can’t. London can’t. But Portsmouth can.

And Portsmouth can turn this into a giant plus and use it to boost the economy, but it won’t. Because it is drowning in crap such as bullying and corruption, also at city council level, and likes seeing itself as the powerless whining underdog a little bit too much. There is very little true vision left in this town, where too much of the focus is on traditional capitalism and on the past. The industries of the past are GONE, folks. Quit waffling about that and move forward.

Here are a few links to supporting studies:

All I hear is stupid excuses.

  • The impact of cars on our space

    No space for trams. Sure there is!

  • The people with more than 2 cars will protest and shout very loudly. Wear ear plugs! (What about the 80 or 90% or 95% of the rest of your population? 70% have no car or only 1 car. Many of Portsmouth’s inhabitants hardly ever get out of Portsmouth.)
  • Shop owners will complain. Show them that most of their customers are actually coming from within a small radius and give them decent business support! Most are probably delusional in thinking that their customers come from miles away and may blame traffic measures for their own failures (a certain pet supplies shop owner comes to mind).
  • A certain lawyer will whine. Tell her to shut up. She doesn’t know what she is talking about. (If she makes you feel stupid and ignorant, that’s because she is talking complete rubbish!)

Continue reading

How to deal with homelessness

Someone just shared this video on LinkedIn and it struck me that, say, the local LibDems have no reason not to take similar action here in town, say, once a month. It would show true leadership.

Continue reading

Compulsive sexual behavior disorder

Sex addiction is now formally a mental health condition in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) list. It will take until January 2022, however, for this to kick in in healthcare.

Like alcoholism and drug addiction, it can cost people their jobs and it also tends to lead to a lot of lying to cover up what is going on.

 

Diversity. Inclusivity. Non-discrimination. Easy to talk about. Hard to put into practice.

A few years ago, I was contacted by an organization that provides diversity training. Part of its mission was the following:

We seek to be an open, transparent, inclusive non-profit organisation, promoting diversity and equality.
We also firmly believe that individuals should be treated equally regardless of disability, gender, ethnic origin, religion and sexual orientation.

I met with its Chairperson, who asked me to take a look at the organization’s Articles.

I did that and found that they were (a slightly adapted version of) older standard Articles, even though the organization was set up more than half a year after the change in the standard Articles (28 April 2013).

Different in the newer version was that it no longer discriminated against mental health versus physical health. The Mental Health Discrimination Act 2013 had something to do with that.

This is the offending sub-clause in the articles up to 28 April 2013:

18. A person ceases to be a director as soon as—

(e) by reason of that person’s mental health, a court makes an order which wholly or partly prevents that person from personally exercising any powers or rights which that person would otherwise have;

Compare it with sub-clause 18d, which is not discriminatory toward mental health relative to physical health:

18. A person ceases to be a director as soon as—

(d) a registered medical practitioner who is treating that person gives a written opinion to the company stating that that person has become physically or mentally incapable of acting as a director and may remain so for more than three months;

The newer version reads:

18. A person ceases to be a director as soon as—

(e) [paragraph omitted pursuant to The Mental Health (Discrimination) Act 2013]

Even though the fact that the sub-clause in question (18e) was rendered invalid by the Mental Health Act because of its discriminatory nature, I felt that the organization should update its Articles.

  • It would reflect the organization’s stated values and objectives.
  • Unless the person was familiar with company law, whoever read that sub-clause might not know that it was invalid.

The organization’s Chair didn’t see the need.

 

Illness and the social self (upcoming Uehiro lectures)

The annual Uehiro lectures will take place in Oxford next week. This year, they are by Richard Holton, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. Their topic interests me because I feel strongly that we need to start looking differently at various forms of illnesses. Continue reading

Sadistic stalking and other forms of stalking

In my book “We need to talk about this“, I mention a phenomenon called “sadistic stalking”. (This comes from the stalking classification by forensics psychologist Lorraine Sheridan. You can find the description below.)

Imagine you’re a middle-aged woman and you’ve been stalked anonymously for years. One day, you open your front door to go to the supermarket and you find the remains of your dead husband on your doorstep. He passed away years ago, but your stalker has dug him up. Say it all out loud, as if you were talking to a friend or colleague, telling them about what is going on in your life. Then picture yourself explaining what is happening to a police officer. Now imagine that you are also feeling very upset while you are trying to convey this information.

How can other people tell whether you are mentally well or not? You will certainly sound as if you’ve lost your mind. You will very likely be assessed as the one with the mental health problem and if not, you may be told that you’ve mistaken the remains of the prey of a fox.

This example comes from a real case that happened in Britain. The woman in question had a heart attack when she found her deceased husband’s remains. She was later sectioned (declared a danger to herself or others) and spent months on a psychiatric ward as a result of the tremendous damage her sadistic stalker’s relentless targeting had done to her life. Consider this. Sadistic stalkers pick their targets because they perceive them as happy, content… and stable. Undoubtedly, many people in her surroundings did not believe the poor woman while all of that was going on and thought she was merely seeing ghosts, compounding her hardship. Living in a situation like that for years is immensely taxing.

Incidentally, that particular stalker was trying to convey the message “What’s he got that I don’t have?” when he left the remains of the deceased in front of the woman’s house.

Conclusion?

  • When you look at the victims (I prefer “targets”) of this phenomenon, you see how little we know about mental health and how hard it is to determine who is “crazy” and who isn’t.
  • (Also, we need a very different approach to how society deals with stalking.)

Sadistic stalking can even be much more devious and much more “crazy-making”. If you describe someone else’s “crazy” and “crazy-making” behaviour, how can you avoid sounding “crazy” and being considered “crazy”?

People often assess other people’s mental health on the basis of what they think sounds crazy just like they assess other people’s beauty  on the basis of what they they think is beautiful. Professional assessments are still subjective too, even though attempts continue to be made to standardize diagnoses.

This is from the front matter of the book “A week in December” by Sebastian Faulks. I encountered it on a camp site.

Continue reading

Liberty

I just ran into the case of KW, a 52-year-old woman who suffered a brain haemorrhage during an operation at age 34. A complicated matter. Am still reading and mulling it all.

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCOP/2014/45.html

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2015/1054.html

http://www.mentalcapacitylawandpolicy.org.uk/js-mill-strikes-back-mostyn-j-takes-on-the-supreme-court/

http://www.marilynstowe.co.uk/2015/10/22/when-a-judge-disagrees-with-precedent/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/high-court-judge-removed-from-second-case-this-year-over-his-passionate-view-of-the-law-a6705001.html

We need a global guideline for eugenics – urgently

People are currently focusing on Trump and his silly comments, but perhaps they should be focussing on Britain.

A few days ago, British newspaper The Guardian reported about a eugenics meeting that allegedly had been convened in secret, involving someone who has previously advocated child rape. This meeting is supposed to have taken place at University College London and white supremacists supposedly were present at this meeting. Continue reading

Tony Blair on social engineering

Interview with Mark Easton, BBC. Date unknown, but near the end of Tony Blair’s premiership.

Keep in mind that “hooliganism” and “anti-social behaviour” are often labels used to indicate (and reject) people from a lower socioeconomic class in Britain and that this “hooliganism” for example gets expressed in graffiti.

Of course, causing (increased) financial hardship for parents by taking any benefits away is most definitely not “in the best interest of the child”.

Tony Blair did consider graffiti “anti-social behaviour”. During a photo-op as part of his crusade, he hosed down graffiti and said that older generations of his family would have abhorred such behaviour. It then turned out that his own grandmother had been a “commie” graffiti vandal.

There probably is a work by Banksy somewhere in response to all of this.

Tony Blair also criminalized a lot of behavior that is essentially merely human behavior. That too was in nobody’s best interest and probably did nothing toward decreasing inequality in Britain.

It did not enable (more) people to flourish.

Flying to Cyprus for a designer baby

A designer baby is any baby who is preferred over another baby, the way one might pick a handbag or a rug.

The only exception should be when the resulting baby ends up having a life not worth living. In my book “We need to talk about this“, I give a definition of “a life not worth living” that has held up so far. This definition does not represent what I feel, but what could be doable to work with in practice.

This also means, however, that parents should get all the assistance they need. This means that the baby (and child) should get all the assistance he or she needs to enable him or her to FLOURISH.

Society creates so many hindrances for anyone who isn’t mainstream. We should embrace diversity as it enriches society and we should address the artificial impairments so that they disappear.

I also believe that techniques like CRISPR should be used first to help remedy these “lives not worth living”. Why? Because it is a logical approach, based on the application of (generally globally accepted) principles instead of personal preferences.

Model and former Miss Great Britain Danielle Lloyd is flying to Cyprus for a designer baby:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-42611687/danielle-lloyd-on-why-she-s-choosing-the-sex-of-her-next-child

 

How seeing problems in the brain makes stigma disappear

 

File 20171005 15464 vaswym.png?ixlib=rb 1.1
A pair of identical twins. The one on the right has OCD, while the one on the left does not.
Brain Imaging Research Division, Wayne State University School of Medicine, CC BY-SA

David Rosenberg, Wayne State University

As a psychiatrist, I find that one of the hardest parts of my job is telling parents and their children that they are not to blame for their illness.

Children with emotional and behavioral problems continue to suffer considerable stigma. Many in the medical community refer to them as “diagnostic and therapeutic orphans.” Unfortunately, for many, access to high-quality mental health care remains elusive.

An accurate diagnosis is the best way to tell whether or not someone will respond well to treatment, though that can be far more complicated than it sounds.

I have written three textbooks about using medication in children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral problems. I know that this is never a decision to take lightly.

But there’s reason for hope. While not medically able to diagnose any psychiatric condition, dramatic advances in brain imaging, genetics and other technologies are helping us objectively identify mental illness.

Knowing the signs of sadness

All of us experience occasional sadness and anxiety, but persistent problems may be a sign of a deeper issue. Ongoing issues with sleeping, eating, weight, school and pathologic self-doubt may be signs of depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Separating out normal behavior from problematic behavior can be challenging. Emotional and behavior problems can also vary with age. For example, depression in pre-adolescent children occurs equally in boys and girls. During adolescence, however, depression rates increase much more dramatically in girls than in boys.

It can be very hard for people to accept that they – or their family member – are not to blame for their mental illness. That’s partly because there are no current objective markers of psychiatric illness, making it difficult to pin down. Imagine diagnosing and treating cancer based on history alone. Inconceivable! But that is exactly what mental health professionals do every day. This can make it harder for parents and their children to accept that they don’t have control over the situation.

Fortunately, there are now excellent online tools that can help parents and their children screen for common mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder and more.

Most important of all is making sure your child is assessed by a licensed mental health professional experienced in diagnosing and treating children. This is particularly important when medications that affect the child’s brain are being considered.

Seeing the problem

Thanks to recent developments in genetics, neuroimaging and the science of mental health, it’s becoming easier to characterize patients. New technologies may also make it easier to predict who is more likely to respond to a particular treatment or experience side effects from medication.

Our laboratory has used brain MRI studies to help unlock the underlying anatomy, chemistry and physiology underlying OCD. This repetitive, ritualistic illness – while sometimes used among laypeople to describe someone who is uptight – is actually a serious and often devastating behavioral illness that can paralyze children and their families.

In children with OCD, the brain’s arousal center, the anterior cingulate cortex, is ‘hijacked.’ This causes critical brain networks to stop working properly.
Image adapted from Diwadkar VA, Burgess A, Hong E, Rix C, Arnold PD, Hanna GL, Rosenberg DR. Dysfunctional activation and brain network profiles in youth with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A focus on the dorsal anterior cingulate during working memory. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2015; 9: 1-11., CC BY-SA

Through sophisticated, high-field brain imaging techniques – such as fMRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy – that have become available recently, we can actually measure the child brain to see malfunctioning areas.

We have found, for example, that children 8 to 19 years old with OCD never get the “all clear signal” from a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex. This signal is essential to feeling safe and secure. That’s why, for example, people with OCD may continue checking that the door is locked or repeatedly wash their hands. They have striking brain abnormalities that appear to normalize with effective treatment.

We have also begun a pilot study with a pair of identical twins. One has OCD and the other does not. We found brain abnormalities in the affected twin, but not in the unaffected twin. Further study is clearly warranted, but the results fit the pattern we have found in larger studies of children with OCD before and after treatment as compared to children without OCD.

Exciting brain MRI and genetic findings are also being reported in childhood depression, non-OCD anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD and schizophrenia, among others.

Meanwhile, the field of psychiatry continues to grow. For example, new techniques may soon be able to identify children at increased genetic risk for psychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

New, more sophisticated brain imaging and genetics technology actually allows doctors and scientists to see what is going on in a child’s brain and genes. For example, by using MRI, our laboratory discovered that the brain chemical glutamate, which serves as the brain’s “light switch,” plays a critical role in childhood OCD.

What a scan means

When I show families their child’s MRI brain scans, they often tell me they are relieved and reassured to “be able to see it.”

Children with mental illness continue to face enormous stigma. Often when they are hospitalized, families are frightened that others may find out. They may hesitate to let schools, employers or coaches know about a child’s mental illness. They often fear that other parents will not want to let their children spend too much time with a child who has been labeled mentally ill. Terms like “psycho” or “going mental” remain part of our everyday language.

The example I like to give is epilepsy. Epilepsy once had all the stigma that mental illness today has. In the Middle Ages, one was considered to be possessed by the devil. Then, more advanced thinking said that people with epilepsy were crazy. Who else would shake all over their body or urinate and defecate on themselves but a crazy person? Many patients with epilepsy were locked in lunatic asylums.

Then in 1924, psychiatrist Hans Berger discovered something called the electroencephalogram (EEG). This showed that epilepsy was caused by electrical abnormalities in the brain. The specific location of these abnormalities dictated not only the diagnosis but the appropriate treatment.

The ConversationThat is the goal of modern biological psychiatry: to unlock the mysteries of the brain’s chemistry, physiology and structure. This can help better diagnose and precisely treat childhood onset mental illness. Knowledge heals, informs and defeats ignorance and stigma every time.

David Rosenberg, Professor, Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Wayne State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

What can be done to improve treatment for PTSD after a loss

 

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People who unexpectedly lose a loved should be identified early enough and appropriately counselled.
Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters.

Lukoye Atwoli, Moi University

The unexpected death of a loved one can cause severe distress to relatives. It can lead to mental complications including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A world mental health survey shows that about 5.2% of people who lose loved ones suffer from PTSD. But how do you know who suffers from PTSD after a traumatic loss so that you can give them the care they need?

Unfortunately, in Africa most people go undiagnosed. This is because only two countries on the continent have carried out national surveys on mental health – South Africa and Nigeria. Concerning trauma and PTSD, the only significant data emanated from the South African Survey, since the Nigerian one did not have a high enough prevalence rate to enable detailed analysis.

The recent global survey identified a number of predictors that significantly increase the risk of PTSD after a loss. These include: whether the deceased is either a spouse or child, being female, believing that one could have done something to prevent the death, prior exposure to a traumatic event and having a previous mental disorder before the trauma.

Using these predictors it was possible to construct a model that can be used to determine those with the highest risk of developing PTSD after the unexpected death of a loved one. This model makes it feasible for clinicians helping people who have suddenly lost loved ones to develop interventions that are evidence-based and with high probability of success. This should provide opportunities for affected people being able to be provided with the appropriate care after this traumatic event.

PTSD and death

PTSD happens after a person is exposed to an event that poses a threat to their life. It is a group of symptoms that include re-experiencing the event, changes in emotions and cognitive functions. Irritability, reckless or self-destructive behaviour, sleep problems and low concentration are common.

Families and caregivers can recognise PTSD in a loved one because the symptoms are a change from their usual behaviour. These signs and symptoms begin within a month of experiencing the traumatic event like the unexpected death of a loved one.

The person may experience nightmares or flashbacks, will avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings associated with the traumatic event.

Due to the trauma, the person may also develop memory problems and feelings of detachment from friends, colleagues and family are common. The person may also display exaggerated negative beliefs about themselves, others or the world. In some cases, depression and drug abuse is noted.

People who have unexpectedly lost a loved one are at a higher risk of getting PTSD so they should be identified early enough and appropriately counselled.

The high prevalence and meaningful risk of PTSD makes the unexpected death of a loved one a major public health issue. Due to a collaborative initiative under the World Health Organisation (the World Mental Health Surveys Initiative) it is now possible to predict the occurrence of PTSD after a traumatic event such as the unexpected death of a loved one.

The resulting screening assessments will be useful in identifying high risk individuals prone to PTSD for early interventions.

Data deficit

Raising relevant data is one of the biggest challenges to tackling the issue of PTSD in Africa.

African countries should carry out national mental health surveys because they provide information that can be used for planning care and rationally allocating resources in mental health. They also provide information necessary in policy formulation and mental health interventions.

The ConversationWithout a national survey, countries often misallocate resources, ending up with situations in which they neglect the most important problems and intervene disproportionately in low priority areas. This is responsible for the current situation in which what is probably a silent mental ill-health epidemic which is sweeping across the continent.

Lukoye Atwoli, Dean, Moi University School of Medicine, Consultant Psychiatrist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Mental Health, Moi University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Thank you, Theresa May, for the hate you encourage

(But not really.)

Another example of what Ms May’s reign is resulting in:
http://metro.co.uk/2017/10/21/pregnant-woman-denied-nhs-treatment-after-taking-polish-husbands-name-7016266/

I have a hospital appointment next month and I will likely cancel it and go to an optician instead, and pay for my examination. My eyes require an examination every six months, and my eye condition (pigment dispersion syndrome) makes me very angry and powerless because it really hampers what I can do with my life. It tethers me to fridges, pharmacies and hospitals. (It makes me particularly angry because I was finally free from having to have periods and I was so enjoying that freedom.)

I hate that stupid class system that only the British have and that classifies human beings into lesser and higher humans. I too will never be anything but fourth-rate in Britain. I have tick marks in so many “negative” boxes against me. I will never even be second-rate here and this is currently actively driven by the government here.

After reading what it says in that Metro article, I will definitely cancel my hospital appointment. I have had plenty of state-driven hatred and human rights violations in Britain and am sick of it. I won’t put up with any more of it. Enough is enough.

And I’ll get my eye meds some other way too. (That’ll be the modern variety that does not require refrigeration, by the way.)

Yes, of course, there are worse things than having a stupid eye condition that in itself is quite interesting/funny. But I don’t get to choose whether I have it or not.

So Theresa May wanting to subject me to discrimination on account of it is something I will not stand for. If I put up with abuse without protesting, I become a party to it and just as guilty of my own abuse.


Appointment cancelled. Strangely enough, the message I received in response was “We are grateful for this questionnaire response based on your experience of our services. All completed questionnaires are completely anonymous. Thank you for your support.” The form I used requested many personal details.


For those of you who don’t know that, we foreigners go through an interview process before we get our national insurance number and card. We need it for all sorts of things. It is also on our tax papers, for instance. (But apparently, I can cut the thing in two and throw it out now.)

Sugar in the diet may increase risks of opioid addiction

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As North America’s opioid crisis worsens, schools across Canada are purchasing naloxone anti-overdose kits. Research suggests that risks of opioid addiction could also be addressed through attention to children’s nutrition.
(Shutterstock)

Francesco Leri, University of Guelph

Could a diet high in refined sugars make children and adults more susceptible to opioid addiction and overdose? New research, from our laboratory of behavioral neuroscience at the University of Guelph, suggests it could.

Approximately 20,000 people died of fentanyl-related overdoses in the United States last year and in Canada there were at least 2,816 opioid-related deaths. During 2017 so far, over 1,000 people have died of illicit drug overdoses in British Columbia. High schools are stocking up on the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and universities are training staff to administer the drug.

Nobody is talking about sugar.

And yet there is substantial experimental evidence that refined sugar can promote addictive behaviours by activating the brain’s rewards centres in much the same way as addictive drugs. Opioid abuse is also associated with poor dietary habits, including preferences for sugar-rich foods, as well as malnutrition. These connections have led to questions of whether excessive consumption of refined sugar may affect vulnerability to opioid addiction.

To explore the possible role of a sugar-rich diet in opioid addiction, we investigated whether unlimited access to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) altered rats’ neural and behavioural responses to the semi-synthetic opioid, oxycodone.

Our findings suggest that a diet high in corn syrup may dampen the reward associated with oxycodone and may therefore encourage consumption of higher quantities of the drug.

Opioids, high fructose corn syrup and addiction

High fructose corn syrup is a refined sugar that typically includes more fructose than glucose. It is a commonly used food additive in North America, produced by chemically processing corn. Although it is employed in many processed foods, its use in soft drinks appears to have the biggest impact on health. In fact, there is a significant relationship between increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain, metabolic syndrome and hypertension.

Recently, our laboratory has been exploring the impact of HFCS on behaviours and brain markers of addiction in laboratory rats. In one study conducted by my PhD student Meenu Minhas, animals had unrestricted around-the-clock access to bottles containing a water solution sweetened by HFCS. After about a month of voluntary drinking, the bottles were removed and, after a few sugar-free days, animals’ behavioural and neural responses to oxycodone were assessed.

Similar to other opioids, oxycodone induces pharmacological effects that include analgesia, euphoria and feelings of relaxation. Some common street names include: “hillbilly heroin,” “perc,” and “OC.” Oxycodone is the active ingredient in a number of formulations which include intravenous injections, immediate release solutions/capsules (Percocet, Percodan, OXY IR, OXY FAST), and extended release preparations (OxyContin).

Oxycodone is also highly addictive and has impacted the lives of numerous North Americans. There are estimates that its consumption increased by almost 500 per cent from 1999 to 2011. The U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that approximately 27.9 million people aged 12 or older used oxycodone products. Moreover, 4.3 million people aged 12 or older reported misusing oxycodone-containing products in the past year.

Dampening drug’s reward may increase use

At the neural level, HFCS exposure decreased oxycodone-induced release of dopamine, which is a desire-promoting neurotransmitter active in the brain’s reward circuits.

Furthermore, at low doses, sedative drugs like opioids and alcohol normally interfere with inhibition and stimulate a variety of “psychomotor” behaviors — such as sociability, extroversion, talkativeness, sensation seeking and interest in novelty. Our study in rats found that exposure to the high fructose corn syrup reduced this psychomotor stimulation induced by oxycodone.


(Shutterstock)

Our experiments show that chronic exposure to high fructose corn syrup had an impact on both the neural and behavioural responses to oxycodone, resulting in changes likely to affect drug-taking and drug-seeking behaviour. They suggest that a high sugar diet may dampen the reward associated with a given dose of oxycodone. And that this may cause people to consume more of the drug.

These results suggest that nutrition, and high fructose corn syrup intake in particular, can influence responses to opioids — a finding that may be relevant both to clinical uses of opioids and to treatment of addiction.

The ConversationWe can win the war on opioid addiction only if we tackle the problem from multiple angles. Our findings, and those of other laboratories, strongly suggest that prevention of unhealthy diets may not only help reduce the obesity epidemic, but also reduce environmental factors that may predispose to opioid addiction.

Francesco Leri, Professor of Psychology, University of Guelph

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.