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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Beating the Black Dog: Depression

1 in 5 suffer from depression of various forms, and many more will suffer at least one bout during their lifetime. It is also estimated that roughly 15% of depressed people are dangerously on the brink of suicide. 
This clip decodes prevalent myths about depression. Many of the most gifted people throughout history have suffered from mental illnesses. Darwin, Lincoln, and Churchill all suffered from depression. 
The clip depicts Kate O’Connor, a gifted and well-rounded girl who had her first bout of depression 6 weeks into the start of University. 

You’ll see the first 10 mins of this 45 mins documentary which pretty much wraps up her story. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Forensic Psychology: Inside the Killer’s Mind

After Dr. Malinek’s talk last week about forensic psychology, I decided to dig this clip up from Investigative Reports. It features Dr. Dorothy Lewis, a psychiatrist who has devoted her life to studying serial killers, and her theories about what makes a serial killer. She says that a combination of brain injury, abuse, and mental illness creates a lethal cocktail which can potentially turn someone into a killer. 
The clip features Terrence Wainright, a 42 year old who had no previous history of violence, but suddenly snapped one day and killed his 15 year old daughter and wife. You will see Dr. Lewis’s testimony for the defence. 
She also testified for Arthur Shawcross, who killed 13 women and children. This is in part 3. 
Try to watch part 5 of the clip! It shows current research being done on brain scans of convicted murderers compared to normal controls. What’s really interesting is that Dr. Raine, the researcher at the forefront of finding patterns in brain scans of killers, had his brain scanned and it was virtually identical to a serial killers. 

Take home message from Dr. Lewis is: abuse has to be identified early and prevented if we are going to decrease the number of killers out there! 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Contagious Laughter = Mass Hysteria ?

On my walk home today, I was listening to the Radiolab podcast on laughter. They mentioned this contagious laughter disease that spread in Tanzania soon after the country gained independence and it was so interesting. A producer of the show went to investigate and explained that this "disease" may not have been caused by a specific pathogen but rather a psychological response to independence and new culture. Check it out for yourself!

Click here to read the article that was put out about it in 1963 from the Central African Medical Journal.

Click here to listen to the entire podcast about laughter (and I highly recommend this podcast in general).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Art Therapy Among Refugees in Uganda

While procrastinating today, I became interested in mental health initiatives for refugees and came across this video on youtube. While on the one hand, I think that this program is fantastic, I would also like to assume a critical eye for a moment to ask whether this is a quick fix, something unsustainable? I'd be curious to learn more about programs like this and to see the long term benefits, as well as to see the psychotherapy that happens behind these scenes.

Anyways - enjoy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Yemen- A Nation on Drugs

Yemen has been in the news lately, so here’s a clip showing the widespread use of Khat in Yemen. Khat is a plant used as a stimulant which has become part of the Yemeni culture. It’s a drug that takes up alot of land, water, and human resources. The WHO has described Khat as a drug of abuse. 
The drug takes over peoples’ lives; 90% of men chew khat and up to 50% of women chew in less public displays. The drug is said to increase alertness, decrease appetite, and cause euphoria. 
When I was in Ethiopia last summer, I was offered this stuff left, right, and center. Here’s an old article which demonstrates the khat dilemma in Ethiopia:
Along with the lingering al-Qaeda presence, Khat has become a symbol of all that ails this poor nation with one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The high rate of suicide in Kimberley, South Africa

This is a follow- up from Deb’s article last week. Although suicide rates are a large concern in many urban communities, lesser developed communities often have much higher suicide rates. 
This clip shows the city of Kimberley, capital of the Northern Cape in South Africa. It’s a city with high unemployment and little opportunities for its people. This is a city which is all too common in most parts of Africa. Youth are caught up in crime, violence, and drug abuse, and have noone to turn to for help. 

Suicide is on the rise in South Africa. Suicide accounts for 17% of deaths in Kimberley, more than twice the national average. 

PS: The sound quality isn't the greatest in this clip, but it gets better in some parts if you just wait a bit. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stigma of Mental Health

"That failure has already and will continue to come at a tremendous cost to doctors and patients. 'I still believe that the people who are the most vulnerable are often the most empathic,' Dr. Dyrbye said. 'They are the ones who get most attached and put the needs of the patient first.'

Dr. Dyrbye continued, 'Until we know what really helps them and what works best, our learning environment will continue to eat away at our students’ empathy and altruism.'”

I think part of making ourselves aware of mental health issues is dealing with the stigmata of mental illness. Cultures and subpopulations deal with this in different ways (a topic I would like to explore in future posts), but I found this article about risk of doctor suicide very alarming (click on the title of this post); if the medical educational system can't even grapple with the stigmata of mental illness, what hope does that leave for our patients? I don't mean to undermine doctors, especially those with known mental illness. Rather, I believe our society needs a paradigm shift to make everyone able to recognize signs of distress, and for society to make people, especially those who provide health care, not feel less adequate for seeking help. Interestingly, this article spoke specifically about U.S. doctors and medical students which also leaves question about international medical students. Should med students be required to have weekly counseling sessions? Thoughts?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bob Larson- The Exorcist Exposed

Watch Reverend Bob Larson speak about exorcism. He says that the most common cause of demonic possession is sexual abuse (accounting for 50% of demonic possession). He even performs many of his exorcisms publicly. 
The second half of the clip shows Fox interrogating him about his finances since many people claim he has cheated people for money. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Exorcism in India

After trying doctors, as a last resort, people with debilitating ailments often consult the exorcist. In this clip, you get to see the case of a 15 year old girl, Munee, who seeks the help of the exorcist after battling with depression and strange behavior for 8 months. The exorcist puts her into a trance and communicates with the spirit possessing her. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Afflictions: Culture & Mental Illness in Indonesia (Trailer)

Here's another clip which depicts mental illness in Indonesia. This film is one of the first films on mental illness in the developing world.

From the youtube commentary:
Based on footage shot over 12 years in Bali and Java (Indonesia). The film explores the relationship between culture, mental illness, and personal experience. The role of traditional medicine vs. psychiatric treatment, family support, community rejection or acceptance, and beliefs about its causes are explored in three case studies. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Indian Girl with Pica

This is a video of an Indian girl, Pakeeza, who has Pica. It's an eating disorder where the person has an appetite for non-nutritive substances like coal, soil, paper, etc.

Fortunately, Pakeeza has not shown any health problems, even though she eats pebbles and bricks.

Little research has been done on the causes of pica. However, recently cases of pica have been linked to obsessive- compulsive disorder.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Howard Dully's Journey: 'My Lobotomy'

Howard Dully's Journey: 'My Lobotomy'

Following up from last week, this is an interview with Howard Dully, one of the youngest recipients of the ice- pick lobotomy. He was 12 years old at the time. Now, he is a 61 year old bus driver who went on a quest to find out details of what happened to him. He gives details in his critically well- received memoir "My Lobotomy".

In an interview, Howard Dully says: "I'll never know what I lost in those 10 minutes with Dr. Freeman and his ice pick. By some miracle it didn't turn me into a zombie, crush my spirit or kill me. But it did affect me. Deeply. Walter Freeman's operation was supposed to relieve suffering. In my case it did just the opposite..."

Several physicians have said that because Howard was so young when the operation occurred, it is possible that his brain had a better capacity to repair or compensate, compared to older patients who were operated on.

Here is a website detailing some other interesting cases, including Howard Dully's:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lobotomy: How Science Went off the Rails !

Viewer Discretion is advised! This short clip is a trailer for the PBS Documentary about Dr. Walter Freeman's work performing "ice-pick" lobotomies (a form of psychosurgery); his attempt to solve the problems of psychiatry in the 1940s & 50s.

One of the most horrifying medical treatments in the history of medicine was approved by the medical establishment, the media, and the public!

You can watch the full documentary here:

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mental Illness in Bali

From the youtube commentary: 
According to the official governmental position, mental illness is almost non-existent in Bali. However, after interviewing almost half a million Balinese, Professor Lu Ketut Suryani (a Balinese psychiatrist) uncovered a far more sinister reality.
She estimates that over 7000 people in Bali suffer from serious chronic mental illnesses, but are not reported (and naturally not treated). For various reasons, their families have been reluctant to seek help. As a last resort, these families may either abandon their mentally ill relatives in the jungle (hoping they will die or just forever disappear) or keep them under restraints, chained, or inside makeshift cages. The survey-team encountered numerous cases where people were being locked up for several years (in some cases over a decade), in conditions that would have been considered inhumane even for livestock in the West!
The irony in all of this is that almost every one of these cases is treatable.