Electronic media

Psychiatrists’ use of electronic communication and social media and a proposed framework for future guidelines Most psychiatrists use social media to some extent to interact with patients – if not emailing then texting, etc. Here’s a recent paper I wrote on the topic

(Español) Mental Health in China

China is transforming the provision of mental health to its citizens under a new law that takes effect tomorrow. Its first national mental health legislation should have wide-ranging effects on provision of mental health services, but perhaps the most significant and controversial change is one that banishes most forms of involuntary treatment. The law also mandates strict limits on use of seclusion and restraints and ends the use of psychiatric admission as punishment or to enforce treatment of individuals who do not have a mental illness. It also forbids the practice of requiring patients to participate in labor or limiting their right to communicate with the outside world. An editorial appearing online in AJP in Advance yesterday calls the new…
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the digital footprint

Very interesting new article published about interpreting private traits from online behavior entitlted: Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior by Michal Kosinskia,1, David Stillwella, and Thore Graepel. Here’s the abstract: We show that easily accessible digital records of behavior, Facebook Likes, can be used to automatically and accurately predict a range of highly sensitive personal attributes including: sexual orienta- tion, ethnicity, religious and political views, personality traits, intelligence, happiness, use of addictive substances, parental sepa- ration, age, and gender. The analysis presented is based on a dataset of over 58,000 volunteers who provided their Facebook Likes, detailed demographic profiles, and the results of several psychomet- ric tests. The proposed model uses dimensionality reduction for…
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screen time

“Daddy, can I use the iPad?” What a question. ‘Well,’ I think to myself, ‘on the one hand it will give me thirty minutes to get some work done, on the other hand, it’s another half hour lost to Good Luck Charlie or whatever pre-teen show my six year old seems to adore.’ “OK, thirty minutes,” I say. Cue little brother: “Daddy can I use the iPad?” ‘Well,’ I think to myself, ‘can I get a two for one here? Both children occupied with screens? Now I’m ruining two minds – but what a break.’ My guilt has apparently abated. “Let me get my phone for you,” I say, “just thirty minutes.” How many times does this happen across the…
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I have become interested in memes, I think mostly because I like the name. Defined as “An element of a culture or behavior that may be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, esp. imitation” they seem increasingly important. Seems like we live on this stuff – packets of information on Facebook, bytes of data in songs, and glitzy images that flash across our screens as we gaze into our phones. What laws govern these memes? Are they subject to the physical principles of entropy, gravity, and vectors? Or perhaps they conform to the quixotic principles of molecular genetics — memes, for example, in red states cannot transmit easily to blue states not because of competing hegemonies but…
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Illness, treatment, and tragedy

In the wake of the Connecticut killings, I have been asked many times “what did that guy have, you think?” I have no idea – smarter people than I have speculated he had a neurodevelopmental disorder, that he looked odd, and the history suggests he struggled socially – that he was something of a pariah. I don’t doubt any of these hypotheses – they all fit the bill. I’m just not so sure knowing really makes much of a difference at this point. Maybe, perhaps, ideally it might have helped to know his diagnosis prior to his snapping and murdering innocent people, but even then, I’m not so sure. Let my gratitude for the DSM V revisions not be overlooked…
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Healthy Focus

Everyone says “you better love what you do” probably because we spend so much time doing it! I think there’s something more and recently I’ve come to think that loving your work enables a healthy focus and this healthy focus can be protective – it feeds and sustains you when the chips are down. And the chips can really be down at work – low morale, frustrating interpersonal conflicts, you name it. But if the work is compelling to you, if you find kernels of meaning in your work, a healthy focus on the work itself enables a healthy distance from the vicissitudes in the workplace. This is of course complicated when co workers critique or worse disparage our efforts,…
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Finding Silver Linings

You know, most developments in our lives can be viewed from different if not utterly divergent perspectives. I was reading snippets the other day from one of Gottman’s book on Divorce (http://www.gottman.com/) and a fascinating principle that must broadly apply to other domains of life besides marriage is this notion of a struggle between positive and negative interpretation of events. He argues that well compensated (not financially, though I’m sure that must help) individuals in the marriage dyad tend to view and or incorporate negative data from their partners into a fundamentally positive paradigm — that is, when you’re in a good mood, even things that usually piss you off roll off your back. And the converse is true: irritable…
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The New York Times loves psychiatry

… which of course is great and the articles they publish are mostly incredibly well thought out and cogent. But sometimes even cogent articles raise questions in patients’ minds… which is good, but perhaps unsettling. Best, I would think, to raise these questions with your therapists, psychiatrists etc straight away – not necessarily as a test to make sure your therapist or doctor is apprised of what’s going on in the NYT — but more to feel that any unanswered questions or unsettled feelings get addressed, because unspoken concerns in psychotherapies and psychiatric treatments can impact them deeply.

Early detection of psychopathy>

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/magazine/can-you-call-a-9-year-old-a-psychopath.html?src=rechp Powerful story I spend a lot of time with young people, and sometimes I wonder… can we teach empathy??