DSM-5 Could Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health

From OP-ED News:  http://www.opednews.com/articles/DSM-5-Could-Bel-Hazardous-by-Elayne-Clift-121222-710.html

By
12/22/2012

Ava C., adopted from Asia and raised in small-town America, knew she looked different than her classmates, but no one ever talked about her origins. Over time, she began to withdraw.   Following a psychiatric diagnosis of depression, she thought of herself as “mentally ill.”   One day, while in a major city’s bustling Chinatown, she realized, “All around me were people who looked like me, doing ordinary things.   They apparently didn’t feel “sick.’ That’s when my depression lifted.”

People like Ava — from different cultures, classes, races, or genders — often experience life’s stresses in unique ways. Too frequently they are labeled ill or abnormal by the psychiatric establishment.

Dr. George Albee, Emeritus Professor at the University of Vermont, once noted that “the highest rate of “idiocy and lunacy’ in America was first among the millions of immigrant poverty-stricken Irish after the potato crop failure of 1845, then on successive waves of poor Swedes, then Slavs and Russian Jews, then Southern Italians, now Blacks and Hispanics”as each group achieved economic success their incidence of “idiocy and lunacy’ fell to the population average.”

As the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, is released this year, experts are sounding cautionary notes.   Among the “psychiatrist’s bible” critics is Dr. Paula J. Caplan, a feminist psychologist who served as advisor to two DSM-4 committees before resigning due to concerns about “how fast and lose they play with the scientific research related to diagnosis.”   Caplan has become the leading voice in alerting therapists and the public to the manual’s “unscientific nature and the dangers that believing in its objectivity poses.”

“It is widely believed “that if only a person gets the right psychiatric diagnosis, the therapist will know what kind of measures will be most helpful.   Unfortunately, that is not usually the case,” Caplan says. “Getting a psychiatric diagnosis can often create more problems than it solves, including difficulties with obtaining health insurance, loss of employment, loss of child custody, the overlooking of physical illnesses”and the loss of the right to make decisions about one’s medical and legal affairs.”

Caplan worries that the authors of the DSM make “expansive claims about their knowledge and authority, wielding enormous power to decide who will and will not be called mentally ill and what the varieties of alleged mental illness will be.”   She doesn’t deny that psychotherapy and medication can be helpful, but she sees worrisome connections between “drug companies’ concealment of the harm their products can cause and some professionals’ pushing of particular drugs while on the payroll of pharmaceutical companies.”

The American Psychiatric Association (APA), which writes the DSM, says its purpose is to establish criteria for diagnosis and “not to create medical conditions out of the full range of human behavior and emotions.”   It also claims to be dedicated to “ensuring that the development of DMS-5 is the most open and inclusive in the history of the manual.”

Still, Caplan remains concerned about the “shroud of secrecy” that she sees enveloping the process.   As director of the Coalition for Informed Patients and Doctors, she has called for Congressional hearings about psychiatric diagnosis “in an attempt to explore the nature and extent of harm that many Americans have suffered solely because of being given a psychiatric label.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.opednews.com/articles/DSM-5-Could-Bel-Hazardous-by-Elayne-Clift-121222-710.html

Catastrophiliacs

From In These Times:   http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14292/catastrophiliacs

For some, the end of the world can’t come too soon.

BY Sasha Lilley
December 20, 2012

When the financial crisis unfolded in the early years of the new millennium, many radicals hoped the end was nigh. The capitalist system had finally arrived at its terminus—the last stop on the line. Where the Left had failed, the inexorable limits to capitalism would deliver. Needless to say, it has not turned out so well. Expecting predestined forces to transform society for the better forms one half of the couplet of Left catastrophism. The other consists of the idea that the worse things get, the more auspicious they become for radical prospects—that if conditions become dire, the scales with fall from the eyes of the misled masses.

The outer edges of Left catastrophism are inhabited by those who see the collapse of society—not simply capitalism, but civilization—as a route to a better world. Both poles of catastrophism can be found here. For some, the collapse is preordained, the result of “peak oil,” the scarcity of other natural resources, or the implosion of industrial society. For others, it needs hastening.

The most prominent proponents of this broad outlook label themselves “anti-civilization” and often, but not exclusively, identify as anarchists. Adversaries of civilization believe that the original catastrophe, begetting the catastrophe of the present, was the emergence of settled agriculture in the Neolithic period circa 8,000 B.C., when humans purportedly stopped living in harmony with the land and started organizing complex economies. A return to a hunter-gatherer society, they argue, is the only conceivable future that is sustainable. Such a transformation would necessarily require the dramatic reduction of the majority of the human population, since foraging would not provide a fraction of the food that the world’s inhabitants need. However—and auspiciously, as they see it—the collapse may deliver such a reduction. As the now-defunct publication Green Anarchy put it:

Some time when you’re on a busy street, in line at the post office, on the bus, look around. Get used to the idea that most of these people will not live a lot longer. Who among them would survive if the food stopped coming into the city for a month? … We will be throwing the stinking dead bodies of our families into pits and kneeling in garbage coughing up blood. … Within that range of imagined futures, even the bad extreme is not so bad, and at the good extreme we see the Earth quickly healing to its former fecundity, and people living peacefully with other life, and never sliding out of balance again.

Opponents of civilization tend to take a dim view of other humans. They eschew mass collective revolutionary action in favor of subversion by the chosen few who have little interest in whether others perish. Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, and Aric McBay’s tome Deep Green Resistance lays out a series of scenarios for taking down industrial civilization, including through the strategy of “decisive ecological warfare.” (One critic described the book as an encounter between evangelical Protestant Noah Webster and the Red Army Faction.) It predicts that the depletion of accessible oil reserves, or peak oil, will cause the global capitalist economy to fall apart around 2015. Radicals will have a choice either to sit back and watch, or to hasten the collapse, while organizing mutual aid through small autonomous communities. Decisive ecological warfare, the most militant of possible strategies, would aim to reduce fossil fuel consumption immediately by 90 percent through an escalating above and below ground strategy targeting industrial, and especially energy, infrastructure.

Continue reading at:   http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14292/catastrophiliacs

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Violence in America? We’re all responsible

From The LA Times:   http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/showtracker/la-et-st-violence-in-america-newtown-20121222,0,3290140.story

After Newtown, the NRA points a finger at Hollywood, which is sure to stand up for itself. But what we need is responsiblity. Taken by all of us.

By Mary McNamara
December 21, 2012

For years, the National Rifle Assn. has been telling us that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

In the wake of the Newtown shootings, the group has added a twist. Guns don’t kill people; television, film and video games do.

Breaking its days-long silence, the NRA on Friday offered its solution to making American schools safer — armed guards — and laid the blame for the seemingly endless cycle of mass shootings on “a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.”

That would be the entertainment industry, which as Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s vice president, went on to explain, creates violent video games, films and television shows that inundate our youth with “the filthiest form of pornography.”

Citing, rather inexplicably, old films including “American Psycho” (which was an adaptation of a novel), the NRA condemned Hollywood for its addiction to violence.

This is a complete cultural contradiction. If we are to be a society that celebrates firepower, that believes the answer to violence is violence, then it would follow that our art forms would reflect that.

Which, of course, we are and which, of course, they do. As far apart as the NRA and Hollywood may seem from each other politically, they are two of the more powerful forces affecting popular culture. Intentionally or not, their relationship is symbiotic.

As we have been told repeatedly during the last week, the gun lobby is among the most powerful in Washington, able to cow politicians and presidents into policy often in direct opposition to their personal and publicly stated opinions.

Continue reading at:   http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/showtracker/la-et-st-violence-in-america-newtown-20121222,0,3290140.story

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Pope Benedict Uses Christmas Speech To Call Same-Sex Marriage A ‘Manipulation Of Nature’

From Think Progress:   http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/12/21/1370301/pope-benedict-uses-christmas-speech-to-call-same-sex-marriage-a-manipulation-of-nature/

By Rebecca Leber
on Dec 21, 2012

At his annual Christmas speech to the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI called same-sex marriage a “manipulation of nature” to be deplored and an attack on the “essence of the human creature.”

It was the second time this week that Benedict took aim at marriage equality:

People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.

The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned.

Benedict has repeatedly condemned same-sex marriage as “defection in human nature” that bears an “immense human and economic cost.” Most recently, he used his World Day of Peace message to claim that marriage equality presents a “serious harm to justice and peace.”

The War Against Too Much of Everything

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/business/adbusters-war-against-too-much-of-everything.html?hp

By JEFF SOMMER
Published: December 22, 2012

IF you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet, don’t bother.

Skip the mall and the neighborhood store, resist the urge to shop online and, by all means, don’t buy anything you don’t truly need.

So says Kalle Lasn, 70, maestro of the proudly radical magazine Adbusters, published in Vancouver, British Columbia. Mr. Lasn takes gleeful pleasure in lobbing provocations at global corporations — and his latest salvo is “Buy Nothing Christmas.”

“As our planet gets warmer, as animals go extinct, as the humans get sicker, as our economies bail and our politicians grow ever more twisted,” Americans just go shopping, Adbusters says on its Web site. Overconsumption is destroying us, yet shopping is “our solace, our sedative: consumerism is the opiate of the masses.”

“We’ve got to break the habit,” Mr. Lasn said in a telephone interview. “It will be a shock, but we’ve got to shift to a new paradigm. Otherwise, I’m afraid will be facing a new Dark Age.”

Of course, retailers will be facing a Dark Age if people really stop shopping. And because consumer spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of United States gross domestic product, an abrupt shift to nonconsumption would drive the already faltering economy to its knees.

There are no signs that consumers are heeding Mr. Lasn’s call, says Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NPD Group. “I find that people are shoppers or they’re not,” he said. “Shoppers keep shopping.”

So it’s easy to dismiss this latest campaign as yet another empty gesture from a figure on the radical fringe. Why take Mr. Lasn’s words seriously?

Well, last year, a campaign prompted by Mr. Lasn and his magazine improbably caught fire. It was Occupy Wall Street.

Adbusters gave Occupy its name and opening date and designed the poster with Occupy’s defining image: an elegant ballerina perched atop Wall Street’s raging bull while gas-masked figures loomed in the background. The poster contained this text: “What Is Our One Demand? #OccupyWallStreet. Sept. 17th. Bring Tent.” A digital version went viral.

Mr. Lasn’s main role in the Zuccotti Park occupation, however, pretty much ended there: he remained in Vancouver, never visiting the Lower Manhattan encampment and participating in the local organizational work that made it possible. But his contribution began long before then.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/business/adbusters-war-against-too-much-of-everything.html?hp

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How I Gave Up Christmas and Found Serenity

From Alternet:   http://www.alternet.org/belief/how-i-gave-christmas-and-found-serenity

Give Christmas the heave ho-ho!

By Adele M. Stan
December 20, 2012

I can’t remember exactly when it was that I gave up Christmas, but I’ve never regretted it. While my friends and family run around in a frenzy of mall purchases and the attendant anxiety of how to pay for it all, I bask in the serenity of having let it all go — well, most of it.

It seemed to happen in stages. One year, I asked my brothers that they stop buying gifts for me and to forgive me for not buying gifts for them. It took a while for that to take. One brother refused to buy into the pact. Another has a wife from a non-Western country who, in dealing with her in-laws, expresses her love by thoroughly embracing the traditions of her new homeland. But, as time went on, everybody seemed to accept, however grudgingly, that I was not taking part.

Eventually, I stopped making the 300-mile trek to go home for Christmas. I made a point of getting there every Thanksgiving instead, a holiday for which the company of family is its own reward, and love is shown through the preparation and sharing of food. Sometimes we even pull out the guitars and make bad music together, passing out rhythm instruments to the kids.

Christmas, on the other hand, held such expectations of material splendor that it was impossible to have any quality time with my nieces and nephews, wound up as they were on the highs of the day, with their exhausted parents busy trying to police the pandemonium. And so, one year, I decided to stay home and cook myself a duck. I could have gone to the families of friends nearby, but that would have been just another permutation of what I had escaped, so I opted for solitude. It was delicious — both the duck and the solitude.

On Christmas, the phone doesn’t ring, except for the occasional well-wisher. The streets are quiet, and no one expects you to check your e-mail. If you’ve ever wished for a moment of silence, of peace, of space to contemplate the abundance of life, spend a Christmas alone, and your wish will be granted.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/belief/how-i-gave-christmas-and-found-serenity

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The Commercialization of Family

From Common Dreams:    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/22-2

by Ralph Nader
Published on Saturday, December 22, 2012 by Common Dreams

Family is the foundation of our American society. In many ways, the family unit is one of the last bastions of decency holding out against encroaching corporate commoditization — the corporations can sell food, medicine, clothing, entertainment, even child and elder care, but they can’t provide the love, selflessness and generosity that close family members can provide one another. But if there was a way to commercialize all those generational, biological bonds, you can be sure that profit-hungry companies and clever marketers would discover it. In the holiday season, thoughts about family abound. But the advertisements that dominate all forms of commercial media aren’t about the benefits of family life, about how parents shape the character and personality of their children, about how turning off the screens and engaging in conversation is the cornerstone of human development. Advertisements aimed at children are meant to tantalize and sell the latest toys, gadgets and video games — many of which serve as electronic babysitters that feature violence and undermine parental authority.

Every holiday season, the commercial media relentlessly hype the big products of the season with “Holiday Shopping Guides” and “Hot Lists.” These lists feature toys and gadgets that are, inevitably, in “extremely limited quantities,” forcing parents to battle it out at early morning store openings to get the latest and greatest items. These “hot item lists” are released by the retailers themselves, such as Toys-R-Us, Walmart and Target. It’s not clear why many of these items are “hot,” aside from the fact that the chain stores that sell them say so. At one time, the big Christmas item was “Cabbage Patch Kids,” and then it was “Tickle Me Elmo,” then “Furby,” and then the “Nintendo Wii”. In 2012, Furby is back — a furry, owl-like electronic doll that talks. It was popular back in 1998 and sold millions in the late 90’s. Hasbro, the manufacturers of Furby, assumed that they could replicate the same big holiday rush sales with the same toy and the same marketing hype. According to Yahoo! Shine’s Holiday Gift Guide for parents, “Desperate parents are turning to Amazon.com, where some versions of the $54 toy are selling for $80 or more, and to eBay, where less-popular colors are selling for about $75. The hottest colors come with the highest prices: $1,000 to $2,500 for a single Furby.” One of the new features of the 2012 Furby is that is can interact with iPods and iPads — another electronic gadget that advertisers tell children they need to be hip.

The Furby hype is, of course, a retail trick, designed to fuel children’s desires for a new product. This translates into children nagging parents to acquire a new toy.

Spreading “joy with toys” is a major part of what the holidays in America have become — selling directly to children, withohttp://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/22-2ut respect to limits, boundaries or even common decency. The result is young children are spending more time absorbing corporate marketing, resulting in shorter attention spans, reduced vocabularies, and less understanding of their local communities.

The only defense against the onslaught of commercializing childhood is for parents to become more aware of the “corporate week” — that is, their children spending more than 40 hours a week interacting with corporate products. These activities often involve idly sitting and absorbing entertainment with little to no historical or educational value. Children are spending less time reading, writing, studying, and having conversations with friends and family. The “corporate week” does not inspire critical thinking at a level beyond quick, Pavlovian responses. The potential impact on the developing psyche of young children of heavy exposure to the violence and crass humor found in entertainment is disturbing.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/22-2

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