Uncategorized

Tragic Irony: Psychiatrist dies after alleged attack by her daughter: Dr Katherine Thomsen-Hall, a distinguished forensic psychiatrist at UMass Medical School (where I taught until 1994) was allegedly murdered by her 16-year-old daughter Valerie on Sunday night. The girl apparently is in treatment for bipolar disorder; friends of the family are quoted as reporting that there was little more than normal tension between mother and daughter, although the police had been called to their home once previously after an altercation. Dr Thomsen-Hall worked treating the often violent inmates of the Framingham Women’s Prison, Massachusetts’ only facility for the detention of female convicts. She had given up a thriving private practice and mental health advocacy work in Little Rock to attend a one-year forensic psychiatry fellowship at UMass in 1997, and then decided to remain on the faculty.

I was impressed by something that receives scant notice in the news story. A friend commented that Valerie had “appeared a little mellow. She told me she was on a new prescription that was supposed to keep her calm.” One of my ongoing concerns and teaching points in my work is that psychiatrists do not more readily recognize the disinhibiting properties of the benzodiazepine anti-anxiety sedative medications (e.g. clonazepam [Klonopin], diazepam [Valium], alprazolam [Xanax], lorazepam [Ativan]) prescribed with such impunity for agitation, anxiety, sleep, etc. I began to speculate that the new medication Valerie had started on “to calm her” was one of these and that, untested on her, it may have lowered her barriers against acting out her anger. Think of it as akin to becoming uncharacteristically violent when drunk, which happens in a small proportion of drinkers (we psychiatrists have a diagnosis for it: “pathological intoxication”); the effect on the CNS is very similar. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know in this case…

Uncategorized

Down at the bottom left of the page you’ll see this:

<>
I just joined the webloggers webring. You can navigate to other blogs in the ring as follows:


KEY


  • <<

    – takes you to the previous

    site in the webring

  • ?



    takes you to a random

    site in the webring

  • 5



    shows you the previous

    5
    sites

  • webloggers

    takes you to the webloggers webring

    page

  • #

    – takes you to a complete list

    of sites in the webring

  • 5

    – shows you the next

    5
    sites

  • >>

    – takes you to the next

    site in the webring
  • Uncategorized

    Do you more appreciate the digest function of this ‘blog (telling you what I’ve read so that you don’t have to) or the pointing function (suggesting what might be interesting for you to read)? In other words, should the posts generally be long or short?

    Uncategorized

    Of course, the defendant could have used the argument from biological imperative. A Natural History of Rape : Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion by Randy Thornhill (University of New Mexico) and Craig T. Palmer (University of Colorado), takes an evolutionary perspective critical of the prevailing view that rape is a crime of violence and power. They suggest that sexual coercion evolved to increase the reproductive fitness of those men who would otherwise be poor competitors as mates, and that it was therefore selected for. The authors suggest that women dress conservatively and that school curriculums teach alternate ways to channel this natural urge. A review by two scientists, Jerry Coyne of Chicago and Andrew Berry of Harvard, in tomorrow’s issue of the journal Nature accuses the authors of scientific shabbiness. I agree.

    Uncategorized

    New York woman charged after staking claim to thousands in bank error. The woman said she thought the mistaken $700,000 deposit, which occurred because her bank account number was one digit off from a United Nations account, was her winnings in a lottery. Her credit card records failed to substantiate her alleged lottery ticket purchases (Why didn’t she report having paid cash??)The deposits were made between February 1998 and October 1999 by the governments of France, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Namibia, Uruguay,

    St. Kitts and Dominica, according to court papers. By the time the error was discovered last fall and the assets in the account frozen, only $450,000 remained. If convicted, she faces a maximum 30-yr sentence and a $1 million fine. (Let’s hope some of the missing funds were transferred to her attorney’s account as a retainer…) [Nando Times]

    Uncategorized

    Mardi Gras ended, leaving New Orleans ankle-deep in trash. Officials plan to weigh the detritus deposited by the estimated 1.5 million revellers to see if it set a record. Tied as it is to the lunar calendar, Mardi Gras fell later than usual this year, and balmy weather encouraged the crowds.

    Uncategorized

    There’s this scurrilous piece of psychiatric humor I get emailed to me, or psychiatric mailing lists in which I participate, with regularity, likening web use to a mental illness and “diagnosing” it in DSM-IV terms. May not be so scurrilous. Caught in the web: UF/Cincinnati study shows internet addicts suffer from mental illness. Twenty interviewees self-selected because their web use was problematic — with problems including marital strife or loss, work or school failure, going without sleep, shirking family responsibility, isolation, and consequent social and legal consequences — were found to have a variety of diagnosable psychiatric problems. “Every study participant’s Internet use met established diagnostic criteria for the family of psychiatric

    illnesses known as impulse control disorders, which include kleptomania, a recurrent failure to resist impulses to shoplift, and

    trichotillomania, the recurrent pulling out of one’s hair…” Most qualified as well for diagnosis with various other psychiatric disorders including manic depressive disorder, other psychotic disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse problems, other impulse control disorders and eating disorders. Participants described spending over 30 hrs./wk. online in such puruits as chatrooms and MUDs. (When you think about it, as internet use becomes more pervasive, people with psychiatric illnesses will of course be a segment of those online. Why would we anticipate that their web use would be any less difficult for them than other spheres of their life? Indeed, the convenience and anonymity of use make it so attractive that pathological web use may become disproportionate.)

    Uncategorized

    The BBC reports on Bacteria with a silver lining. “A strain of bacteria that can manufacture

    tiny crystals of silver has been reported

    by Swedish scientists. This skill may

    eventually prove useful to engineers who

    want to fabricate extremely small optical

    and electronic devices.”

    Uncategorized

    Tragic Irony: Psychiatrist dies after alleged attack by her daughter: Dr Katherine Thomsen-Hall, a distinguished forensic psychiatrist at UMass Medical School (where I taught until 1994) was allegedly murdered by her 16-year-old daughter Valerie on Sunday night. The girl apparently is in treatment for bipolar disorder; friends of the family are quoted as reporting that there was little more than normal tension between mother and daughter, although the police had been called to their home once previously after an altercation. Dr Thomsen-Hall worked treating the often violent inmates of the Framingham Women’s Prison, Massachusetts’ only facility for the detention of female convicts. She had given up a thriving private practice and mental health advocacy work in Little Rock to attend a one-year forensic psychiatry fellowship at UMass in 1997, and then decided to remain on the faculty.

    I was impressed by something that receives scant notice in the news story. A friend commented that Valerie had “appeared a little mellow. She told me she was on a new prescription that was supposed to keep her calm.” One of my ongoing concerns and teaching points in my work is that psychiatrists do not more readily recognize the disinhibiting properties of the benzodiazepine anti-anxiety sedative medications (e.g. clonazepam [Klonopin], diazepam [Valium], alprazolam [Xanax], lorazepam [Ativan]) prescribed with such impunity for agitation, anxiety, sleep, etc. I began to speculate that the new medication Valerie had started on “to calm her” was one of these and that, untested on her, it may have lowered her barriers against acting out her anger. Think of it as akin to becoming uncharacteristically violent when drunk, which happens in a small proportion of drinkers (we psychiatrists have a diagnosis for it: “pathological intoxication”); the effect on the CNS is very similar. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know in this case…

    Uncategorized

    Coincident with the item below about the corporatization of weblogging is this review in today’s Slate on The Rise of the Newsportal  by Chris Suellentrop. Discusses six of these, which are essentially political news blogs, right?

    Uncategorized

    Jupiter’s terrible tides: “Powerful tidal forces from Jupiter have molded two of the solar system’s

    most bizarre worlds, fiery Io and icy Europa. Images released this week

    reveal new details of tidal action on the two moons.” [from the SpaceScience.com mailserver]

    Uncategorized

    The Corporatization of weblogging?? “…will probably be fine

    with many of the thousands of independent Webloggers

    who pioneered the concept. Romenesko says as

    Weblogging becomes more widespread among

    corporations, there’s likely to be some resentment from

    the pioneers who see it as an anti-corporate concept.

    Cooper, meanwhile, thinks Weblogs make sense in the

    corporate environment, and suggests that they would be a

    useful feature of company intranets. A Weblog pioneer

    herself, Cooper says that when she announced she would

    be taking the Weblog concept to Star Tribune Online, the

    reaction from the Weblog community was overwhelmingly

    supportive.” [E&P]

    Uncategorized

    Down at the bottom left of the page you’ll see this:

    <>
    I just joined the webloggers webring. You can navigate to other blogs in the ring as follows:


    KEY


  • <<

    – takes you to the previous

    site in the webring

  • ?



    takes you to a random

    site in the webring

  • 5



    shows you the previous

    5
    sites

  • webloggers

    takes you to the webloggers webring

    page

  • #

    – takes you to a complete list

    of sites in the webring

  • 5

    – shows you the next

    5
    sites

  • >>

    – takes you to the next

    site in the webring
  • Uncategorized

    Do you more appreciate the digest function of this ‘blog (telling you what I’ve read so that you don’t have to) or the pointing function (suggesting what might be interesting for you to read)? In other words, should the posts generally be long or short?

    Uncategorized

    Of course, the defendant could have used the argument from biological imperative. A Natural History of Rape : Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion by Randy Thornhill (University of New Mexico) and Craig T. Palmer (University of Colorado), takes an evolutionary perspective critical of the prevailing view that rape is a crime of violence and power. They suggest that sexual coercion evolved to increase the reproductive fitness of those men who would otherwise be poor competitors as mates, and that it was therefore selected for. The authors suggest that women dress conservatively and that school curriculums teach alternate ways to channel this natural urge. A review by two scientists, Jerry Coyne of Chicago and Andrew Berry of Harvard, in tomorrow’s issue of the journal Nature accuses the authors of scientific shabbiness. I agree.

    Uncategorized

    New York woman charged after staking claim to thousands in bank error. The woman said she thought the mistaken $700,000 deposit, which occurred because her bank account number was one digit off from a United Nations account, was her winnings in a lottery. Her credit card records failed to substantiate her alleged lottery ticket purchases (Why didn’t she report having paid cash??)The deposits were made between February 1998 and October 1999 by the governments of France, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Namibia, Uruguay,

    St. Kitts and Dominica, according to court papers. By the time the error was discovered last fall and the assets in the account frozen, only $450,000 remained. If convicted, she faces a maximum 30-yr sentence and a $1 million fine. (Let’s hope some of the missing funds were transferred to her attorney’s account as a retainer…) [Nando Times]

    Uncategorized

    There’s this scurrilous piece of psychiatric humor I get emailed to me, or psychiatric mailing lists in which I participate, with regularity, likening web use to a mental illness and “diagnosing” it in DSM-IV terms. May not be so scurrilous. Caught in the web: UF/Cincinnati study shows internet addicts suffer from mental illness. Twenty interviewees self-selected because their web use was problematic — with problems including marital strife or loss, work or school failure, going without sleep, shirking family responsibility, isolation, and consequent social and legal consequences — were found to have a variety of diagnosable psychiatric problems. “Every study participant’s Internet use met established diagnostic criteria for the family of psychiatric

    illnesses known as impulse control disorders, which include kleptomania, a recurrent failure to resist impulses to shoplift, and

    trichotillomania, the recurrent pulling out of one’s hair…” Most qualified as well for diagnosis with various other psychiatric disorders including manic depressive disorder, other psychotic disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse problems, other impulse control disorders and eating disorders. Participants described spending over 30 hrs./wk. online in such puruits as chatrooms and MUDs. (When you think about it, as internet use becomes more pervasive, people with psychiatric illnesses will of course be a segment of those online. Why would we anticipate that their web use would be any less difficult for them than other spheres of their life? Indeed, the convenience and anonymity of use make it so attractive that pathological web use may become disproportionate.)

    Uncategorized

    The BBC reports on Bacteria with a silver lining. “A strain of bacteria that can manufacture

    tiny crystals of silver has been reported

    by Swedish scientists. This skill may

    eventually prove useful to engineers who

    want to fabricate extremely small optical

    and electronic devices.”

    Uncategorized

    “It just spoils the fun of it,”

    said a spokesperson for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of the Wall Street Journal‘s push to do a political-style poll of Academy members to forecast the Oscar winners. “The Academy Awards are important to the people who win, and they’re important to the

    people who don’t win, but it’s not like electing a president, and part of the fun of it is waiting until they open the envelopes to see

    who wins.”

    Uncategorized

    Coincident with the item below about the corporatization of weblogging is this review in today’s Slate on The Rise of the Newsportal  by Chris Suellentrop. Discusses six of these, which are essentially political news blogs, right?

    Uncategorized

    Jupiter’s terrible tides: “Powerful tidal forces from Jupiter have molded two of the solar system’s

    most bizarre worlds, fiery Io and icy Europa. Images released this week

    reveal new details of tidal action on the two moons.” [from the SpaceScience.com mailserver]

    Uncategorized

    The Corporatization of weblogging?? “…will probably be fine

    with many of the thousands of independent Webloggers

    who pioneered the concept. Romenesko says as

    Weblogging becomes more widespread among

    corporations, there’s likely to be some resentment from

    the pioneers who see it as an anti-corporate concept.

    Cooper, meanwhile, thinks Weblogs make sense in the

    corporate environment, and suggests that they would be a

    useful feature of company intranets. A Weblog pioneer

    herself, Cooper says that when she announced she would

    be taking the Weblog concept to Star Tribune Online, the

    reaction from the Weblog community was overwhelmingly

    supportive.” [E&P]

    Uncategorized

    “It just spoils the fun of it,”

    said a spokesperson for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of the Wall Street Journal‘s push to do a political-style poll of Academy members to forecast the Oscar winners. “The Academy Awards are important to the people who win, and they’re important to the

    people who don’t win, but it’s not like electing a president, and part of the fun of it is waiting until they open the envelopes to see

    who wins.”