Psychiatric Times Vol 26 No 6

Psychiatric Disability: A Step-by-Step Guide to Assessment and Determination

June 11, 2009

The epidemiology and management of psychiatric disability have gained increased attention for a variety of reasons in the past 3 decades. There are issues of empowerment, advocacy, and reduction of stigma. There are also concerns about cost containment as well as reliability, validity, and efficacy of the determination process.

Fatih Akin’s Head On

June 10, 2009

Der Spiegel has anointed Fatih Akin the new face of the German film industry. Of Turkish descent, Akin has no interest in the ghosts of Germany’s past or in facing history through films such as The Reader-which still attract large audiences and Oscar nominations in America. Akin finds his inspiration in the new Europe and in the lives of people like himself who are the rising generation of Europe’s immigrants.

Depression and Comorbid Anxiety: An Overview of Pharmacological Options

June 10, 2009

Although depressive and anxiety disorders are classified as distinct groups of illnesses, studies document their frequent co-occurrence and provide evidence of a common biological substrate and a shared vulnerability.

The Book of Ethics: Expert Guidance for Professionals Who Treat Addiction

June 10, 2009

Fewer than a handful of books have been published on the ethical dimensions and challenges in treating and helping persons living with an addiction. Therefore, this book is a welcome contribution to the literature almost from the start. The contributors in this 9-chapter text range from community- and hospital-based professionals to behavioral program directors to ethics center directors and researchers to psychology, neurology, and psychiatry professors and fellows. The book aims to provide general advice on central issues encountered routinely by those experienced in addiction services and research. Contrary to the book’s rather biblical and authoritative title, the editors “offer this work modestly,” given the relative newness of focused ethical analysis in addiction treatment and care.

Psychotherapy Supervision (2nd ed)

June 09, 2009

who remarked that the problem with most new books he reads these days is that there is “too much space between the covers.” After all, he queried rhetorically, “Do I really need more than 250 pages or so on any one subject?” Days before this conversation, I had accepted an invitation to write a review of Psychotherapy Supervision and had received the 632-page tome by mail.

DSM-V: Applying the Medical Model

June 09, 2009

In “Changes in Psychiatric Diagnosis” (Psychiatric Times, November 2008, page 14) Michael First relates the sad fact that the reorganization of DSM is still without formal guidelines and continues to be subject to the vicissitudes of groupthink and vocal constituencies. He relates that he and Allen Frances envisioned the application of biologically based diagnostic criteria when summarizing the work of DSM-IV, but complains that no criteria are forthcoming as yet.

Clinical Reflections: The Journey Out of Madness

June 08, 2009

I first met 22-year-old “Linda” when she was brought to the emergency department (ED) after a drug overdose. Although the drug Linda had ingested-clonazepam-was a CNS depressant, she did not appear groggy or sedated. In fact, her speech was rapid and pressured; she showed marked psychomotor agitation, which was demonstrated by her twitching feet and the incessant twisting of her hair. This presentation suggested a paradoxical response to her medication. Her chief concern was, “I feel as if I am going to come out of my skin.” I was puzzled.

Troubled Waters

June 08, 2009

Every August, during my lakefront vacation, I kayak to the middle of Otter Pond, lay the paddle across my knees, and drink in the tranquil scene around me. Sunshine glints hypnotically off the rippling water. Every muscle relaxes, my cares recede. But this past summer, my annual reverie was interrupted by the shriek of a young child. “Let me out, let me out!” he cried, teetering halfway out of a passing paddleboat. “I want to swim back to the house!”

Female Sexual DysfunctionWhat We Know, What We Suspect, and Enduring Enigmas

June 08, 2009

From time to time, health conditions emerge that are relative “orphans” when it comes to having the resources of a health care discipline or subspecialty to take ownership or accept responsibility for developing the body of knowledge that underlies their systematic evaluation and treatment. Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is such a class of conditions.

From Pedophilia to Addiction

June 08, 2009

The study and treatment of human sexual problems should fall under the purview of clinical psychiatry. Sexual behavior is an important factor in most of our patients’ lives and may help define their sense of competence and serve as a force leading to interpersonal bonding

Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason

June 05, 2009

Psychiatry is eminently corruptible. Soviet psychiatrists of the 1950s disgracefully organized themselves into the medical arm of the Gulag state. Political dissidence became prima facie evidence of impaired reality testing, of “sluggish schizophrenia.” We like to believe in the benefits of scientific progress, but for Soviet inmates, progress was prefixed with a minus sign; every apparent advance in psychiatric technology left them more tightly controlled and worse off.

Textbook of Violence Assessment and Management

June 05, 2009

The foreword to the Textbook of Vio­lence Assessment and Management promptly reminds readers that the mental health system has been invested in the prediction and prevention of violence since its inception. In a field dedicated to promoting wellness via the management of cognition, emotion, and behavior, violent thoughts, feelings, and actions are of primary concern. When psychiatric illness or psychological distress manifests as violence, the costs in terms of human suffering are extreme, wreaking havoc in the lives of patients, clinicians, and society at large-often with irrevers­ible consequences.

In the Year 2019: Psychiatry in Law and Public Policy

June 04, 2009

Whether you credit the idea to Niels Bohr or Yogi Berra, it is true that predictions are very difficult to make, especially about the future. It is a daunting task, yet obviously an intriguing one, to try to imagine what our field will be like in 10 years or more.

Psych Advisory Panel Recommends FDA Approval of Some Uses of Antipsychotics

June 03, 2009

The FDA’s Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee (PDAC) flashed partial green lights to 2 manufacturers of atypical antipsychotics. The committee recommended approval for 2 new uses for Seroquel XR (quetiapine fumarate) extended-release tablets and also gave first-time approval in this country for Serdolect (sertindole).


June 03, 2009

From this book’s title, iBrain, I expected to learn about the positive impact of the computer world on the ever-evolving brain. I was in for a surprise. iBrain is a nuanced account of brain anatomy and function, brain plasticity, the impact-good and bad-of the Internet and Web access on the brain, and how to have a healthy brain and life in the face of our technological world. The book is written by psychiatrist-neuroscientist Gary Small, MD, director of the Memory and Aging Research Center at UCLA, and his wife, Gigi Vorgan, a film and television actor and writer. Small and Vorgan have a linear, easy-to-understand writing style that includes entertaining and educational case vignettes.

The Value of Nothing

June 03, 2009

Eastern philosophy and religion have always had what the philosopher Hajime Nakamura2 called “a preference for the negative.” This stands in stark contrast to our Western penchant for the positive, and our proclivity for defining and intervening is most pronounced in the overactivist mode of modern American medicine."

The Insanity Offense

June 02, 2009

Make no mistake: Dr Torrey is on the side of the patient. He is enraged by the plight of the seriously mentally ill in the postinstitutional era, and he takes aim at a troika of villains-deinstitutionalization, the civil liberties bar, and the antipsychiatry movement. These 20th-century forces have conspired to relegate citizens with mental illness to a deplorable state of neglect that puts us all at risk. The Insanity Offense threads a needle of making us fear the violent mentally ill without stigmatizing them as a group.

Guideline on Post-MI Depression

June 02, 2009

Patients who have had a myo­cardial infarction (MI) should be screened and appropriately treated for depression, according to a guideline recently issued by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).1 The group recommends use of a standardized depression symptom checklist during hospitalization and “at regular intervals” thereafter.

Have You Ever Felt Awe and Wonder?

June 02, 2009

I have been practicing psychodynamic psychotherapy for more than 30 years. During this time, there has been an accepted taboo against coupling psychotherapy with spirituality-despite a number of articles that have been written on this subject.

Moving In and Out

June 02, 2009

Then he fell silent and moments passed. I knew, of course, about his father’s recent death and their stormy relationship. I was moved by his sadness-could feel it within. I found myself thinking about my own father’s death. The silence between us continued, and finally I said, “It is so sad.” His crying intensified; he did not look at me. I felt a teary mist in my eyes and thought, “Now what?” Should I try to stay inside where he was and reflect again on his sadness, or should I back away by offering him a more cognitive level of dialogue? This question-whether to move in or out or, perhaps more accurately, to offer him the choice of where he feels most safe-is at the heart of some forms of psychotherapy. However, as we shall see, this is not the case in all forms.

Parting of the Ways: A Sea Change in Business as Usual

June 01, 2009

A collaborative effort of prominent medical leaders seeking to wean professional medical associations (PMAs) from pharmaceutical and device industry funding serves as a major step toward building best practice models for managing conflicts of interest (COI), said the president of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP).

Confabulation: A Bridge Between Neurology and Psychiatry?

May 27, 2009

Mr A is a 73-year-old resident of a nursing home, where the irate aides describe him as “a liar and a troublemaker.” Mr A’s “stories” were regarded by the staff as deliberate mischief on his part.

A Physician’s Personal Experience-The Gift of Depression

May 27, 2009

Depression is an insidious, ugly beast, creeping into the mind over time until one is engulfed and powerless, feeling only a sense of futility and heaviness. In my case it came some months after I had had to retire from a fruitful and enjoyable academic neurodevelopmental pediatrics practice, because of onset of a degenerative neuromuscular disease. My depression was manifested mainly by weight loss, poor affect, anger and irritability, fitful sleep, and thoughts of suicide. Luckily, my primary physician recognized the signs immediately and recommended both pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. For both therapies and for this physician, I am extremely grateful. However, in this essay, I will speak of the ways I experienced psychodynamic psychotherapy and its ramifications into many parts of my life.

Pathological Anger, Existentially Speaking

May 27, 2009

Anger is an emotion that is familiar to everyone. An episode of anger may dissipate quickly and harmlessly or evolve into a murderous rage. Between the benign and malignant end points in this spectrum, a seething, chronic anger may come to dominate a person’s thinking, feeling, and behavior.

APA and Pharma-Funded CME Part Ways

May 27, 2009

Following the recommendations of a working group set up to examine the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, the Board of Trustees has voted to phase out industry-sponsored educational programs and industry-supplied meals at annual meetings and educational symposia.


May 22, 2009

Despite their severe physical impairment, disability, and frequent medical complications, tetraplegic patients reported a very positive outlook on life, according to a recent study. In another, 63% of major lottery winners chose to con­tinue working full-time at their same jobs.

Role of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Depression

May 13, 2009

Acupuncture is associated with an increase in the level of neurobiologically active substances, such as endorphins and enkephalins. There are also data indicating that acupuncture induces the release of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine.

Depression or Major Loss, or Both?

May 13, 2009

Why do Drs Pies, Wakefield, and Horwitz feel that “blue” feelings after a major loss (such as death of a spouse) or, for that matter, any loss have to be either “grief” or “major depression”?

The Lure of the Context–Dependent Psychiatric Diagnosis

May 13, 2009

In “Major Depression After Recent Loss Is Major Depression-Until Proved Otherwise” (Psychiatric Times, December 2008, page 12), Dr Pies highlights one of the more provocative questions encountered when we train in clinical psychiatry: “Suppose your new patient Mr Jones, tells you he is feeling ‘really down.’ He meets all DSM–IV symptomatic and duration criteria for a major depressive episode (MDE) after having lost his wife to cancer 2 weeks ago. Should you diagnose MDD?”

Psychiatrists Should Not Fall Back on DSM

May 13, 2009

The polemics between Drs Pies and Wakefield and Horwitz (“An Epidemic of Depression,” Psychiatric Times, November 2008, page 44) have validity, but their commentaries did not touch on the real bone of contention. Dr Pies does not believe that just because psychosocial precipitators of a depression-specifically, bereavement-are known, somehow the significance of the depression should be viewed differently.

An Epidemic of Depression

May 13, 2009

“An Epidemic of Depression” by Wakefield and Horwitz (Psychiatric Times, November 2008, page 44) raised the issue that DSM does not take into account the context in which symptoms arise for the diagnosis of MDD. The authors opine that the diagnosis should require that symptoms be “excessive” or “unreasonable” relative to the context in which they arise, and that “the efficacy of these medications for the treatment of normal sadness is often overstated.”

Depressive Symptoms After Loss

May 13, 2009

To improve validity, we proposed extending the current MDD bereavement exclusion-which excludes “uncomplicated” (relatively brief, lacking certain severe symptoms) depressive bereavement from diagnosis-to also exclude uncomplicated reactions to other major stressors, such as romantic breakups, job loss, and serious medical diagnoses.

The Couch in Crisis . . . Join the Fray!

April 27, 2009

I couldn't help but notice that it has become possible lately to lift recent editions of the Sunday New York Times with only a single hand. Not too long ago, the Sunday edition had a lot more reassuring heft to it.

I Used to Be a Doctor

March 20, 2009

I used to be a doctor. Next I was a provider. Now, I’m a non-covered entity. I liked being a doctor…I still do. I never liked being a provider. But being a non-covered entity is a secret victory. I’ll explain.