October 2010 Archives


He looked more like the romantic hero from the era of Lord Byron than a psychiatric patient – he wore his hair longer than today’s style and he obviously pumped iron.  Indeed, I found out that working out was an important part of his life.

He was 28, and he had just been released from a two day stay at hospital and his medication was standard fare — Zoloft (sertraline) antidepressant.

I had no clue why he had to be seen by me on an emergency basis. It turned out he had been admitted to the hospital because he was uncomfortable about his roommate’s anger.  He had been concerned he might get “attacked.” I had no way of telling whether the roommate had an actual history of this sort of behavior or if this was delusional.  But the roommate was not the patient before me. “Just give me klonopin,” Lord Byron said. “Everybody else does.” Read more on Fixing The Problem Is Much Better Than Taking Addictive Drugs…

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He looked different from most of the depressed patients that walk into a psychiatric clinic.  He was 24, thin and spare.  His hair was longer than average and hung loosely over his brow, his clothes were black and macabre –what the young folks call “Goth”.  That style makes everyone look depressed, but I could tell his depression ran deeper than fashion styles.

He was actually a handsome young man, and he had sensibly avoided the face and body piercings that Goths favor.  He was open about his choice of lifestyle, relishing his chance to educate me. But while he was talking, I could see he was so depressed, he could have been the poster child for the diagnostic manual.

But something more was going on here. He told me that he had adopted the Goth look at age 13; that nothing else could express how he felt about life — or rather, how he didn’t feel. Read more on What If Life Is Not Worth Living?…

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It would have been better to just say “no.”

Last week two young men died on the football field.  One known epileptic; another from some kind of cardiac accident.  Both had presumably passed some kind of medical clearance including a physical examination, signatures from parents, whatever.

In my day, which was not over thirty years ago, I heard about those diagnosed with epilepsy not playing football.  After all, people who have an alteration of consciousness such as epilepsy are held from driving cars, as they could lose control and the car could kill others, as well as themselves. Seems to me that people who had that capacity might not be ideal candidates for a full body contact sport. How long seizure-free is long enough? What kind of seizure?  There are all kinds of possible questions.  Hats off to ABC Good Morning America where the questions were asked, how do things like this happen? Both parents and kids want the chance at sports and may be minimizing symptoms. Read more on Choose Life Over Football…

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A few weeks ago I was flipping the channels on TV and discovered something disturbing. In fact, I think it took me this long to cool down before I could write about it. Apparently, I discovered “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” quite accidentally. I’ve heard that if a preacher in the pulpit talks about politics, his or her church can lose its tax-exempt status.  This always seemed to me to be a way to separate church and state.

Considering that most of the Founding Fathers, as is well documented elsewhere, were mostly Deists or Unitarians and some were on a road barrelling toward atheism, as well as the large number of people who came to the colonies for religious freedom, this has always made cosmic sense. Apparently, people were given free rein to talk about politics in the pulpit from 1788 (ratification of the U.S. Constitution) until the Johnson Amendment in 1954, which a bunch of Christian lawyers feel is unconstitutional, because it is an abridgment of Freedom of Speech. Read more on Religion And Politics Shouldn’t Mix…

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“I really don’t need medicine.  I am fine and I applied to the fire department and I will be a firefighter.”

This is a typical response from a man.  In our culture, we raise junior John Wayne types — tough and independent.

He was in the room with his mother, who was fighting back tears.  “I have tried everything to make him take medicine.  I can beg him, but he does not take it very often.” Read more on The Mother Who Learned To Trust…

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I was a staff psychiatrist at the Las Vegas VA, when the endocrinologist who was assigned from that august institution to take care of me told me that Meridia for weight loss would be a good idea.

Surprisingly, the first thing that came up on my search today was something from the Forbes magazine health editor. Duh, this is a business story.

When I declined Meridia, because of what he thought were “only a few”
reports of sudden death, I was packing on the weight steadily– due exclusively because of his treatment for me — which included taking a lot of insulin which obviously I did not need.  After all, I had a bit much blood sugar and he never noticed it was chasing my triglycerides, and/or never saw this, although it had been starting even then to become evident to me. Read more on Harmful Drugs Are Reported As Business News — Not Health Or Medical…


“Argumentum ad hominem’  is what we called this back in the days when I was on the debating team in prep school.  I was interested because it was supposed to be something that the more academic kids like me did instead of sports — where I consistently had shown prize-winning ineptitude for many years.

Besides, it was something you could do with (?against?) boys prep schools. Even in choral singing, the lowest of the altos were the only ones who actually got to stand next to boys.  Here, on the debating team, there was at least an equal number of boys and girls, and everyone got to talk to a real live boy. Read more on Name-Calling Attacks…

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Every doctor has known the frustration of trying to help a patient who just won’t even try to comply with treatment.

Everyone who is in the military, works for the government or a corporation/company of just about any size knows the frustration of dealing with an unresponsive or non-functional bureaucracy.

In my line of work, I deal with both — traveling around and answering cries for help and then finding obstructions, denial and wishful thinking making the solutions impossible. Read more on The Benefits Of Singing…

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She hated my guts from the moment she walked in the door.  No — before she even walked in the door.

We shrinks have one of those psychobabble words describing what she did to me —transference.”

I have feelings, and I am a human, so it is pretty hard to take care of people who hate my guts. Read more on Transference, Counter-transference — Don’t Be Cruel To Your Shrink…

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She was 29 years old and so obese that she had to walk through the door to my office sideways.  She had put on most of the weight, she said, after she had
been date-raped.

She did not remember much about what happened.  She knew the guy who had been with her, and avoided him as best she could, although she still had thoughts of him, that intruded into either her nighttime dreams or her daytime thoughts.  And she had the characteristic “hyper-arousal.”  I have learned, the hard way, never to think of slamming the door or clapping my hands to test this one.  I only did that once or twice and always regretted it.  I just asked her if a sudden noise made her jump in the air, ever, and she nodded.  “How did you know?”  she asked. Read more on Roofies, Ruffies, or Mexican Valium: It Doesn’t Say “I Love You.”…