If you think this newsletter is late, you are right. (I blame DSL
problems and business travel.) Here it is, at last, and hopefully
better late than never.
Please send all correspondence to meds@MentalMeds.org
If you are
submitting material for the site or newsletter, include your URL or any
other contact information you wish to appear, and I'll include it.
(Just be careful to tell me what you want to appear, and what you do
not want to appear!)
Kevin Thompson, Ph.D.
P.S. As always, if you do not wish to receive email from me, please let
know, and I will remove your name from my list.
Do you have experiences you would like to share about how you have
coped with mental illness? Uplifting stories? Educational stories?
Email me with your idea, and if it makes sense, I will be happy to
include it in a future issue.
More funny stuff from around the Internet.
A depression joke,
A businessman was in a great deal of trouble. His business was
failing, he had put everything he had into the business, he owed
everybody-- it was so bad he was even contemplating suicide. As a last
resort he went to a priest and poured out his story of tears and woe.
he had finished, the priest said, "Here's what I want you to do: Put a
beach chair and your Bible in your car and drive down to the beach.
Take the beach chair and the Bible to the water's edge, sit down in the
beach chair, and put the Bible in your lap. Open the Bible; the wind
will rifle the pages, but finally the open Bible will come to rest on a
page. Look down at the page and read the first thing you see. That will
be your answer, that will tell you what to do."
A year later the
businessman went back to the priest and brought his wife and children
with him. The man was in a new custom-tailored suit, his wife in a mink
coat, the children shining. The businessman pulled an envelope stuffed
with money out of his pocket, gave it to the priest as a donation in
thanks for his advice.
The priest recognized the benefactor,
and was curious. "You did as I suggested?" he asked.
"Absolutely," replied the businessman.
"You went to the beach?"
"You sat in a beach chair with the Bible
in your lap?"
"You let the pages rifle until they
"And what were the first words you saw?"
From Mental Jokes
Psychiatrist, to his nurse: "Please just say we're very busy. Don't
keep saying it's a madhouse in here!"
has nothing to do with mental illness, but I
can't resist it .
Did you hear that someone broke into our local police station
and stole the toilet? Right now the cops have nothing to go on.
Send me your
favorite joke, funny story, or amusing picture, as long as
it is related to mental illness. Keep it upbeat, please! Jokes
involving mental illness are welcome, but jokes that demean mental
illness are not. If it's appropriate, I'll put it up on the humor page.
and Schizophrenia: Whose Reality is This, Anyway?
by Kevin Thompson, Ph.D.
We all receive information about the world through our senses, in a
manner that seems unremarkable. Our common sensory experiences enable
us to build models of reality that are similar, and this shared
understanding helps us to live and work together in a reasonably smooth
These models are not completely consistent with each
other, of course, or we would not have different beliefs. We also
wouldn't make the common mistake that just because we believe
something, everyone else should believe it, too! However, these
differences are the result of different priorities and thought
processes, not disagreement about the reality we perceive through our
Yet not everyone shares this consensus. Some people
perceive a reality that is both quite different from the norm, and has
elements that are clearly wrong. They suffer from a set of symptoms
The most dramatic symptoms of psychosis are hallucinations (false
perceptions), and delusions (false beliefs).
are sensory perceptions that do not originate in physical reality.
Because these are perceived as coming from the senses, it can be
difficult for the person to tell that they are not real. Hallucinations
can take the form of false images, sounds (often voices), physical
touch, or even smell and taste.
- Delusions are powerful beliefs
that are clearly wrong and impervious to evidence. Delusions are often
paranoid in nature, with individuals believing, for example, that
secret government agencies are spying on them, or trying to control
Hallucinations and delusions are the primary
symptoms of psychosis. They are often accompanied by an inability to
recognize that anything is wrong. This lack of insight, which is
makes treatment very difficult.
who are in the grips of a severe psychotic episode seem "crazy" to
onlookers, but their behavior makes perfect sense from the right
perspective: The psychotic person is responding rationally to
experiences that the rest of us do not share.
can arise from many different reasons. Many illegal drugs and
prescription medications (such as cocaine and amphetamines), taken at a
large enough dose, can cause psychotic symptoms. Psychotic episodes can
also occur during severe manic episodes, for people who have bipolar
disorder. However, the illness most associated with psychosis is
Schizophrenia is a very serious illness. While it
includes psychosis as the most obvious set of symptoms, this illness
often causes severe suppression of the normal range of emotions as
well. The blunted emotions can rob the ill person of all joy in life,
and produce a strange, almost emotionless style of behavior ("flattened
affect") that is very disturbing to others.
schizophrenia is less advanced, and less satisfactory, than for
depression and bipolar disorder. The newest generation of "atypical"
antipsychotic medications does a better job in treating schizophrenia
than the older "typical" antipsychotics, but is far from ideal. On the
positive side, these medications frequently help with both psychosis
and blunted emotions. On the negative side, they seldom do a perfect
job of either, and the side effects can be severe. Side effects include
diabetes, permanent movement disorders (such as Tardive Dyskinesia),
Parkinsonism, serious weight gain, depression, and sexual dysfunction.
for psychosis arising from bipolar disorder tends to be more
successful, partly because the psychosis is more episodic than for
schizophrenia, and partly because there are fewer to treat. Atypical
antipsychotics are used in this case as well, so while the treatment
may work, the side effects remain as significant problems.
bad news is that much remains to be done in understanding and treating
psychosis, in all the cases where it arises. The good news is that the
last few decades have seen much progress, and more will come..
Ph.D. is the author of Medicines for Mental Health: The
Ultimate Guide to Psychiatric Medication
You can find information about treatments for depression, bipolar
disorder, schizophrenia, and sexual problems on his Web site at
I mentioned in the last newsletter that I was working with a Public
Relations consultant to notify
major periodicals, distributors, and other interested parties that Medicines for Mental Health
is available in online bookstores. As a result, the American
Psychiataric Association and the Psychiatric
will be reviewing my book. So if you are a member of the former, or
subscribe to the latter, keep your eyes open for a book review!
on Resources: CNS Response
is a company that is in the forefront of developing objective
diagnostic techniques for mental illness. They have pioneered a
technique known as Referenced-EEG
short), which has two intriguing characteristics.
First, the technique uses a variation on electroencephalogram (EEG)
technology to collect information about electrical activity in
different parts of the patient's brain. A computer program then
compares the recorded information to a large database of similar
recordings, obtained from people who have normal and abnormal
mental-health, and who were taking a variety of different medications.
The program performs a statistical analysis to derive useful
information about the patient's condition.
Second, in an unusual twist, the analysis provides not a diagnosis, but
a prediction about the medications that should be the most useful in
treatingn the disorder. This seems counterintuitive, at first. After
all, diagnosis has been the central pillar of medical science from day
one, so how can we treat an illness that we do not diagnose? Yet we
routinely treat problems that lack a formal diagnosis (headaches, for
example), because we select medications that treat a particular set of
symptoms. So this approach is not as unfamiliar as it seems, at first.
The novelty of the rEEG technique lies partly in its elimination of the
diagnostic paradigm for treatment, but primarily in providing any kind
of objective test for use in psychiatry. The use of any objective
analytical technique in psychiatry is new, and something of a culture
shock for psychiatrists. How well the field can adapt to this concept
may well be as important for its success as how well the technique can
be shown to work.
and rEEG ®
are registered trademarks of CNS Response.
You Looking for Writers?
If you are looking for articles on mental-health and medication issues,
for an online or printed publication, send me a note. I write for
various publications, and may be able to help.
MentalMeds News --
Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Thompson
May be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided material is
attributed to Kevin Thompson, Ph.D. at www.MentalMeds.org