This blog has now moved to:
See you there!
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. https://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.
Like other (non-psych) medical problems, mental illnesses can be exacerbated by situational triggers. And the theory is, if you figure out what those are, you can avoid them. Personally, I’m pretty sure I could avoid the majority of things that make me extremely stressed, but my stepping out to preserve my mental health would often offend and anger other people.
For example, tonight I had made plans with a relative to go over to their house for dinner after work. I’m leaving out a lot of stressors, but they decided we were going to a friends’ house instead, and we got to the house about an hour after I normally eat dinner. The friend had not started planning dinner – she only started going through the refrigerator after we got there, trying to figure out what she had that she could feed us. There was chaos in the kitchen and I wasn’t anywhere familiar and I really wanted to just leave.
But you can’t walk out on a family friend you haven’t seen in ten years who invited you over for dinner, just because she didn’t have dinner ready when you got there. Especially when she’s clearly stressed out – if you walked out on someone who was displaying social penitence for something, you’re going to make them feel pretty awful.
Whenever people talk about feeling trapped by social requirements, someone always wants to say “Of course you can, look at me, I do it all the time!” which is funny because that person is usually the one person in the room everyone thinks is an asshole, but who doesn’t know they’re an asshole, because they’re not socially sensitive enough to know that they’re shooting themselves in the foot over and over.
The point, of course, is not that people who feel trapped by social requirements are unaware that they are free agents; the point is that social requirements (if you prefer, intense expectations) have consequences whether you follow them or break them, and sometimes avoiding a trigger means lots of different triggers instead. So you take the least worst course of action that you can make for yourself.
So I did that. I feel bad, this entry is late, and there’s no science. But, I didn’t feel bad, offend someone, make them angry at me, and feel worse and have no entry at all because I was too strung out to concentrate.
Stuff like this contributes to mental health being so difficult to achieve and maintain.
What could be hotter than Johnny Depp, you ask? The answer is: the sexiest, awesomest citation manager ever. No, wait, don’t run away (skip to the bonus picture of the baby miniature donkey, at least). Zotero is a Firefox extension that captures citations from the webpage you’re viewing (automatically, if you like), along with associated full texts, webpages, images, and more. It stores everything for you, lets you tag entries with multiple tags, lets you store as many notes as you want on an entry, and they’re working on collaboration support, so that you can share your library, contribute to mutual libraries, etc. It not only solves the problem of having to switch between Word, a reference manager, and your browser, and cut-and-paste and retype things manually, and it lets you keep track of lots and lots of information and organize it in ways that let you make better use of it. In short, leaps and bounds better than anything that existed before. Big step forward in helping us do better research, and helping humanity, and all that warm fuzzy stuff that I sincerely believe in, and the kind of thing that I want to (after I’m finally out of school) help make happen.
And now, the baby miniature donkey!
So cute. So awkward.
Schizoaffective disorder is a less well-known diagnosis than schizophrenia, depression, or bipolar disorder, and it tends to confuse people. It was categorized under schizophrenia in earlier versions of the DSM, but in the current version you have to have a mood episode for a “substantial portion” of the time, as well as having psychotic symptoms outside of a mood episode.
That last bit is important because some people with bipolar disorder have psychotic symptoms during manic periods, and some people with bipolar disorder and some people with major depressive disorder have psychotic symptoms during depression. But (according to the DSM-IV) they don’t have psychotic symptoms outside of mood episodes.
But we don’t know from this what schizoaffective disorder actually is. Is it having both a mood disorder and schizophrenia at the same time? Is it a separate disorder from either? (And what about if your depression isn’t long enough or severe enough to be schizoaffective disorder and you get diagnosed with schizophrenia with comorbid depression? Is that a totally different thing?)
Goodwin and Jamison do a quick review, which I will summarize:
The five major schools of thought are:
Another school of thought might be that schizoaffective disorder is actually several different things, which is what they tentatively suggest (we’re a little short on actual research to draw strong conclusions):
Again, this is still speculative and we don’t have enough research to confirm (or deny) it. But it’s pretty interesting, no? Maybe we’ll get a bipolar 0.5 to complement I and II? Since all the love’s been going in the other direction, maybe it’s time the crazier among us got a little more attention. And what kind of “less severe” schizophrenia manages to hit you with something akin to major depressive disorder, yet still be less disabling than regular schizophrenia?
I’m probably going to switch to posting longer, higher-quality stuff once a week or so, and post news stories or tidbits the other days of the week. Attempting to do topics justice while still posting frequently doesn’t go so hot with a full-time job. (I’m having a lot of fun, though. Here and at the job. But not, you know, too much fun.)
Here is a sampling of topics I’d like to write about at some point (not in any order). If anyone votes for anything, I’ll bump it up in the schedule. If anyone wants to propose a topic, I’ll drop it in the list as long as it’s vaguely appropriate.
I was in the second of two all-day meetings today. The first I got through by being actively interested plus taking adderall, but by today I was so tired of paying attention that the adderall wasn’t much help. (It doesn’t fix not wanting to pay attention, luckily; the first add medication I tried caused me to pay attention to everything anybody said no matter what even if I really wanted to think about something else.) So tonight is Random Facts From Goodwin & Jamison (2007) Night, instead of semi-coherent post on something substantive night.