Commentary: A Victory for PatientsNovember 1st 1997
In the spring of 1997, legalization of physician-assisted suicide seemed inevitable. In the space of a month, two appellate courts had declared a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide, overturning long-standing state laws in New York and Washington that prohibited the practice. Many observers expected the U.S. Supreme Court to follow suit. Earlier, Oregon had become the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Although that decision was still being contested in the courts, had the Supreme Court recognized and accepted a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide, Oregon was ready to become the first state in which it was practiced.
It was a bad combination, I'll allow that. The call from the emergency room reached me the Saturday morning after I had finished reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I hadn't gotten a lot of sleep, partly because I finally reached page 1,168 around midnight, partly because I couldn't get my mind off John Galt, Hank Rearden, Francisco d'Anconia, Dagny Taggart and the rest of Rand's characters. Before I drifted off, I was already drawing parallels between the current state of psychiatry and Rand's fictional world in which the mind is denigrated, and autonomy and free will nearly stamped out.
Mysterious Brain Disease Defies Easy SolutionNovember 1st 1997
It appears randomly in about one out of one million people. In the United States that means somewhere over 200 people get it, and die from it, each year. We know that they die because no one can survive it-mortality from the disease is 100%. It is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), among the deadliest, and least understood, of all brain diseases.
Consumer Employment: Advocacy Assumes Another FaceNovember 1st 1997
The goals of National Coalition for Mental Health Professionals and Consumers are to educate the public about the problems of managed mental health care and to develop alternative health delivery models. I think greater media coverage has spawned greater awareness of the difficulties with managed care and has provided legislators with vital information. Certainly sharing their stories has made many people feel less alone and isolated within a system they find frustrating and depriving. I think media advocacy has helped doctors find support for their right to stand up to these abuses and band together in greater numbers to fight for integrity and quality in mental health care delivery.
A Psychiatrist's Journey from Parent to Founder of Research Advocacy OrganizationNovember 1st 1997
In 1988 I was working as a general adult psychiatrist with a specialty in addictions. One day, a newly referred patient came to my office accompanied by his mother. Although he was well groomed, he was distinctly "nerdy." When I inquired about his chief complaint, his mother quickly explained that, although he had graduated from community college, he was unable to secure a job interview due to his obsessing on the details of his resume.
The S.O.S. Campaign: Educating the Public About SchizophreniaNovember 1st 1997
Inspired, in part, by the initial success of treating young patients with new atypical antipsychotic medications, the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) has initiated a major consumer campaign to educate the public about schizophrenia. S.O.S. (Signs of Schizophrenia) is designed to help parents and children recognize symptoms and seek treatment, emphasizing the importance of early detection and care.
New Weight Loss Controversy FlaresNovember 1st 1997
America's pop culture can send a dizzying blur of mixed signals. On the one hand, its massive restaurant and food industries serve up an abundance of calorie laden, often unhealthy processed meals that have turned Americans into the most overweight people in the world.
Late-Life Depression, Dementias- Top Educational Priorities for AAGPNovember 1st 1997
Lack of energy, recurrent thoughts of death and difficulty with concentration are viewed by more than half of medical decision-makers in families as natural components of aging rather than as symptoms of clinical depression, according to a Louis Harris and Associates survey. Additionally, 93% of all adults polled said they believe depression is a normal side effect for those suffering from a medical condition.