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Religion, Science and Society – What doesn’t come down to belief?

 

We have to realize that just about everything comes down to belief, with standardized ‘ritual’ practices, social expectations and taboos. Instead of polarizing the discussion between religion and science, I believe it is more fruitful to take what works and forget the rest.

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Today’s Top Tweet – Armchair psychologists doing more harm than good?

I’m using a really old computer tonight, waiting for more RAM to come in the mail. Rather than carry my newer laptop up and downstairs all the time (which has plenty of RAM), I thought I’d just copy a quote from Today’s Top Tweet instead of using highly.co (which really only works with a half-decent computer). 🙂

People have a tendency to make accusations of mental illness against someone if they’re angry with the person, or if they sense that the person is acting differently from what is normally expected.


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Today’s Top Tweet – Is psychiatry “fixated” at a base level of human understanding?

Is psychiatry “fixated” at a base level of human understanding? Generally speaking, I would say yes and no.

Yes… because individual spirituality is often suspect in psychiatric circles. We’ve all heard the phrase “magical thinking.” Problem is, some people really are on the edge, and not in a good way. So that only reinforces psychiatry’s potential marginalization of sane, non-violent individuals who might be pioneers in redefining how we, as human beings, relate to God and all of creation.

No… because psychiatry does recognize recognized religions. That means it’s okay, from the psychiatric perspective, to identify with traditional “Catholics”—a social group that tends to closet or turn a blind eye to in-house gays while at the same time calling homosexuality disordered. Contradictory?

Having said that, there are always exceptions. Some psychiatrists no doubt are more open-minded and aware than others. Contrary to what the APA and other “Royal Colleges” would have us believe, there is variation among psychiatrists, just as there are exceptions and variations among Catholics and Catholic priests.

Sociologically, psychiatry is a lot like a religion. And its ever-changing DSM∞ is reminiscent of new interpretations of religious scripture. If practitioners in a given “school” deviate too far, they’re out. So even those who think freely must toe the line or lose their jobs, in both psychiatry and religion.


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Today’s Top Tweets – I hate to say “I told you so…” but I really did

Today’s top tweets all have to do with psychiatry, which is a good follow-up to yesterday’s post.

The first tweet points to an anthropological critique. The second to a mainstream psychiatric piece that begs some intelligent reflection; specifically, could some gene mutations be a part of human evolution? And the third to an almost laughable tract by a writer, who not unlike a cleric in the medieval Church, is offended by the very prospect of dialog.

I find that surprising and, frankly, a bit disquieting in the 21st century.


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Today’s Top Tweets – At one time considered part of psychiatry’s dark history, ECT is on the rise again

English: Portrait of Mary Shelley

Portrait of Mary Shelley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was an undergrad student taking psychology courses in the mid 1980s, ECT was portrayed as something from one of the dark chapters in psychiatric history.

“We know better now” was the general message put out by psychology textbooks.

So when I recently heard that ECT was on the rise again, I was truly surprised.

Actually, ECT never entirely went away, despite what those psychology textbooks claimed.

I understand that only those who are severely depressed undergo treatment. But surely there’s a better way.

Scientists don’t even know why it works. Some theorize that it temporarily blunts the emotions by decreasing blood flow to a region of the brain.

Critics say that ECT usually causes disorientation and memory loss and when the treatment wears off, things are even worse.

To me, the whole thing sounds like something frightening out of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle era or perhaps further back to Mary Shelley.

Sociologically, statistics show that late middle aged women receive this treatment significantly more than men.

No wonder I abandoned psychology as my undergrad major and switched to sociology. As one sociology professor put it while I was contemplating the change, “psychology is hindering your intellectual development.”

Of course, sociology fell short too. As did philosophy and, as you may have read yesterday, the academic study of religion.

That’s why I like to talk about the issues. Nobody has everything all figured out. And anyone who emphatically thinks they have are probably insane, naïve, brainwashed or fanatical.

 


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Today’s Top Tweets

Every morning I go through the news in specific categories. I tweet stories that I feel are important because they are often overlooked on the front page. I often react to the stories and would like to comment. But I don’t always have time. So today I thought I’d list some of the top tweets. There are more, listed at right column.


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Is Psychiatry Overdoing It With The Diagnoses?

MRT scan of human head

MRT scan of human head (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I go through tons and tons of news stories every day and, not being a computer, cannot read each one fully. I admittedly scan a lot of stuff, looking for good content and also to avoid contentious material that might unduly offend readers or go too far against my own standards.

Back in high school we were taught that speed reading and skimming would be an increasingly important skill as we entered the “new information age.” This was the late 70s, early 80s. And boy oh boy, were they ever right!

So here are two articles that I skimmed earlier today. They differ from extreme anti-psychiatry polemics because they are not anti-psychiatry, but rather, written by someone who was in medical school and yet can still think for themselves (his or her gender is not specified at the web site).

I think anyone who blindly accepts all the latest psychiatric labels should have a quick scan too.