Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Psychiatry Today

Joe Arnold is here, packed house again, giving us a talk on psychotropic medications. He's a practicing psychiatrist and a Wanderer. He has shared about this topic with us before, but thinking evolves, goes deeper, pulls in more and more of a world view. Philosophers know this from personal experience.

Cranks, Quarks and Dorks: that's not the title of the book he's sharing, more a paraphrase. He's wrestling with the authoritarian aspects of the Apollonian paradigm or archetype.

Heavy duty STEM theories are hard going sometimes, especially if you're not fluent in their cryptic equations (code languages for generalizations). It's a "back to basics" discussion, a kind of recap of physics. Nirel just walked in, with her girlfriend Max, and Barry. Wow, what a huge turnout.

I'm wondering about group psyches, mobs, currents that clearly transcend individuals. You might call them meme viruses, but that maybe reads too much into an analogy. "PR campaigns" won't cover it either. Some churches call it the zeitgeist (Holy Spirit). Television, the hottest and most volatile of the several media, is of critical importance in both spreading and quashing these movements.

Rationality is important to a psychiatrist, as it's critical to most diagnoses in that field that patients be suffering from a shortage of same.

That's an oversimplification of course. Some conditions, in need of treatment, result from a perhaps over-abundance of rationality. Thinking too clearly may be a recipe for existential alienation.

Octavia Butler novels come to mind. Her talented and gifted bore the brunt.

Paranoia was sweeping OPDX tonight and Lindsey was too busy trying to get fire lanes open, than do much more than telegraph her thinking. She was calling for help.

I went to my desk and sketched a draft of what I was getting, somewhat like a cartoonist. Like check out this one, shared again on Facebook recently, in honor of mom's visit to the Nevada Test Site.

Actually, Joe is far more suspicious and skeptical of science writers these days, so his investigation into the nature of rationality is more directed against his peers, other commentators on psychiatry.

The view I will share, when we go around the table, is that Psychiatry as a discipline should no way retain its monopoly, going forward, over the control of psychotropic substances.

I've taken some lessons from the "Voodoo House" on this (a silly term, invented by Willamette Week), but my thinking goes way back, and stems from interviewing many sources.

Mature cultures have other ways to manage psychotropics aside from as "cures" for "mental illnesses". Using the "illness" model so exclusively puts pathologies and their treatments in the drivers' seat, a situation we can ill afford.

The churches have a lot to do with this state of affairs, in not wanting to take on their deeper heritage. It'd take another Nietzsche to really get to the bottom of all this.

In the meantime, we continue to live under the yoke of Prohibition.

My other question for psychiatry is to what extent is there a literature of "social ills (pathologies)" and their cures. The standard model seems to isolate the "illness" to the single individual which may not be the appropriate unit of analysis in all cases.

We've all heard of "family therapy", but mob psychologies spread to far beyond a family. Does psychiatry allow itself to look at the spread of pathological ideologies (the "military-industrial complex" for example).

The focus on "the brain" may be somewhat unhealthy (too restrictive) if that causes these good doctors to avoid thinking about the importance of television, other media.

The spread of Freudianism (or Jungianism or whatever) should be studied as if it were the propagation of a mass delusion, a way of performing a kind of "group psychoanalysis" within that profession. The confinement of "mental illness" to a neuroscience discussion is blocking a lot of progress on other fronts. George Lakoff tries to bust out of that straitjacket, but he's a creature of his discipline, some might say a prisoner.