The Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM)

Readers of FmH know that, as a psychiatrist, I am deeply concerned about the travesty we have made of diagnosis, largely driven by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). There are many reasons it is flawed, but one of the most important is how far away the basis of classification it shapes is from person-centered knowledge. Now the disenfranchised wing of the profession of psychiatry, the psychoanalytically-driven proponents of the talking cure, fire back, with The Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM), a personality-based system of diagnosis and classification. Given their relative lack of power in Western psychiatry in the 21st century, I doubt it will go far, but it is a welcome effort, and I have placed my pre-order.

“If we go, the southern half of Iraq will light up like a candle.”


Seymour Hersh, one of our most important intelligence assets, writes in the New Yorker on Bush administration plans for the coming war with Iran. A series of quiet meetings have begun and the Iraq situation is being replicated in that only the converted are being preached to and Bush comes out of it taking the lack of dissent as encouragement. Ahmadinejad is routinely demonized as a ‘Hitler’ by this administration which does not know the meaning of the word diplomacy. Prejudice, hysteria, xenophobia and bellicosity have taken the place of any coherent threat assessment about how soon Iran could attain nuclear weapons capacity and what kind of danger that would represent. Just as in the buildup to the Iraq invasion, analysis of intelligence is being bypassed and raw data cherrypicked to fit preconceived agendas. For example, much is being made of supposed Teherani contacts of A.Q.Khan, the proliferation-mongering so-called ‘father of the Pakistani atomic bomb’ now under house arrest in Islamabad. It is unlikely the U.S. will allow the I.A.E.A., U.N. regulatory processes, and European diplomatic efforts to move forward any more than we did before moving on Iraq.

Covert teams of US forces are on the ground in Iran, Hersh reports, and the Air Force is drawing up target lists for a massive air campaign, the aim of which is regime change. The air force has begun flying simulated bombing missions which have all the earmarks of nuclear weapons delivery. Hersh argues that the dispersal and burial of Iranian nuclear facilities combined with the lack of intelligence about which surface manifestations hide strategic resources makes the use of the ‘bunker-busting’ nuclear weapons all but inevitably necessary. Since a prolonged bombing campaign based on a principle of attrition would likely provoke Muslim anger and retaliatory strikes against U.S., Israeli and other European interests around the world, a decisive strike that decapitates Iranian assets in one fell swoop becomes more likely in this messianic vision. Furthermore, we certainly do not have the resources for a prolonged ground war, making a definitive first strike the only feasible option. But there are apparently serious misgivings even among the Joint Chiefs of Staff about planning for the nuclear option. Opponents are shouted down and some are thinking of resigning, which will of course solidify the hardline stance in the administration.

Again, I can’t speak with enough urgency about the necessity for everyone to read the Hersh article and related coverage of what we are planning in Iran. Reach your own conclusions about whether this seems the urgent threat I feel it is. If you believe so, it is time to come together in a massive new movement focused on stopping the administration madmen from a course of action that will result in a nuclear strike on Iran. If we think the world as we knew it ended on Sept. 11, 2001, just wait; could the confrontation be coming as soon as this summer, to help the Republicans out in the November midterm elections? Or certainly before the fall of 2008.

Throughout my life, I have been much more or an activist (literal meaning: “one who is active“, right?) than during the mounting outrages of the Bush years, despite my growing conviction this administration’s insanity presents the greatest threat to life as we know it that I have seen in my lifetime. Somehow I justified my complacency by saying that my weblogging activities are a sufficiently potent form of activism, spreading the word (yeah, right to my all of 300 or so daily visitors??). But none of the righteous weblogging indignation of a community of writers far more articulate and passionate than I am stopped the tragic debacle of the destruction of Iraq. Part of the problem is how inured we have become to the outrages of the Bush era as they have accumulated unceasingly. But the outrages to which we are ramping up now are transcendent, and now is the time for far more. What can you, we, do to make sure the administration does not pursue this mad course of action?

Throw Scooter From the Train

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The White House needs a new strategy to deal with the Libby revelations: “Now White House aides have to figure out if they are going to embrace Libby or ditch him. Up to this point, officials could skirt the Libby case by maintaining the position that Scooter was a dedicated, loyal, super-competent guy who was innocent until proven guilty. Conservatives whose testimonials fill Libby’s Web page have repeated this line, too. Supporters could frame the trial as Libby v. the press or Libby v. an overzealous prosecutor. In both tales, the vice president’s former top aide was the selfless hero and the enemy was up to no good. This was a safe thing to do because the allegations all concerned Libby’s behavior with investigators and the grand jury. The White House could support him without getting into the question of whether or not he was a liar.

Now the dynamic has changed. Libby’s claims are hurting the White House, which means his former colleagues probably want to discredit him. This is often the response to aides who go off the reservation. There was a hint of this yesterday from Bush allies. Why would anyone believe what Scooter Libby says about what the president did? After all, he’s up on perjury and obstruction charges and from what we know, his defense is implausible. The problem with character assassination is that it does little to address Libby’s underlying claim. It is also disturbingly reminiscent of the tarring of Joe Wilson that caused the Plame affair to begin with.” — John Dickerson (Slate)

Interview with Rebecca Blood

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~C4Chaos: ~B-SCAN tidbit: “Once a blogger posted a little bio of me on his site. As you know, I rarely post about myself on my blog, and this was before I had a bio up, or even an about page. He assembled quite a picture based purely on the little tidbits I’d posted over the years, but that meant he had to comb through years of archives to do it. That really brought home the thing I tell people over and over: posting is publishing. Once it’s online, it’s out there. Think before you post.

And once I got an email from a German guy who wondered if I could send him pictures of having my head shaved. It was a little creepy.”

Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes Of All Time


“(as judged by notoriety, absurdity, and number of people duped)” (The Museum of Hoaxes) The article also has a link to this page, about speculation about the origins of April Fool’s Day. An interesting theory connects it to the calendar reform in 16th century Europe. Those who declined to switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, and thus continued to celebrate the new year at the end of March instead of the newly decreed day of January 1st, were supposedly subject to ridicule and practical jokes at that time.