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I’m working on setting up my blog on its own server. If you use http://empiricalinsanity.net to access this blog, things may be down/absent/weird at that URL at times in the next couple days. http://empiricalinsanity.wordpress.com will stay pointing to this version. Apologies.
More Dichotomy Week stuff: A call to end the notion of a mind-brain split, in an article in Psychiatric News from earlier in August.
There’s this virtual reality device that simulates psychosis, called Virtual Hallucinations. It’s been mentioned in some news stories as an empathy-inducing device for police officers, and it seems to be helpful. I think that’s great (and I’m really pleased to keep seeing mention of more police forces being trained in handling mental illness issues).
But it’s weird to see it presented (not in that article but in some others I’ve seen) as letting people experience what it’s like to be schizophrenic. That’s like saying that induced nausea and malaise and having your head shaved is like having cancer and going through chemotherapy.
Maybe someday they’ll be able to simulate delusions and lack of insight and thought disorders and other things like not having insurance and not having a job and having strained or absent friendships and family relationships and physical health problems and all the other things that often go along with actually having a mental illness, and then that will be like what it’s like to have schizophrenia. (Or bipolar and schizoaffective disorders, since it’s simulating psychosis, not psychosis in schizophrenia.)
This is an awesome idea. I hope the execution is just as good. (I’ve linked to the MindHacks article because the original site plays noises at you.)
Michael (who comments here a lot) lent me a book on educational videogames, which I have yet to read, but am looking forward to. Educators can learn a lot from the cognitive psychology principles involved in videogame design. I had a conversation at lunch today with a fiction writer who is trying to get into manga, about how science fiction writers complain that no one is interested anymore. The popularity tells you where people are at. And how to reach them.
Unfortunately, it’s not free to the public like the article implies; you have to be a “qualified investigator for research with legitimate scientific aims”. (I think they just mean “not proprietary” by public.)
But still. Huge online databases are some of the best new tools technology can give research. I’m glad we’re seeing more and more.
And dammit, I want to poke around in the database.
Modafinil (more commonly known as Provigil), a drug approved for use in sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and shift work disorder, appears to be helpful with bipolar depression.
The article notes that the manufacturer supplied both the modafinil and the matching placebo. I wonder how much placebo costs? Are there places that manufacture brand-name placebo? I mean, there must be, for researchers to run studies.
A J. Lieb has published in the journal of
WackyMedical Hypotheses the theory that lithium and antidepressants cure infections, using language such as “transform the humanitarian and economic landscapes of nosocomial, surgical and antibiotic-resistant infections, as well as reduce the burden of epidemics, pandemics and bioterrorism.” That kind of language is like sending up a bright red flare to people who check to see if a theory is promising way more than it can deliver.
My favorite quote is from the abstract of one of his other Medical Hypotheses papers on the same topic: “Such philosophers of science as Paul Feyerabend have argued that special interests invariably oppose revolutionary paradigms.”
I think this is funny because he’s lauding lithium and antidepressants from the rooftops, thus making a perfect target for all the anti-psychiatry people who blame powerful drug company interests for their own treatment/philosophy not getting adopted as the industry standard. We could just put them in a jar and let them fight.