April 23, 2006

Disturbing Things

Grrrrrr. I should be able to link to at least one of these pieces, but nooooo, The Weekend Australian, doesn't have their page one feature article linked on their own bloody site!

First disturbing thing:

From small article: Shrinks prove forgetful in disclosing drug links:

“Mental health experts who developed international guidelines for diagnosing mood disorders, schizophrenia and depression all have financial ties to drug companies that are not disclosed in the book of the guidelines.

More than half of the 170 specialists who worked on the manual used by health professionals around the world to diagnose mental health conditions failed to detail financial links to the pharmaceutical industry.

It includes all of those who wrote the sections on schizophrenia and mood disorders.”

If you’re thinking that’s “no biggie”, consider these examples:

“…Although agoraphobia does exist, “the presence of that disorder in the manual came from the fact that drugs were found to treat it.”

Likewise, the inclusion of other panic and anxiety disorders was driven by the fact of a new class of drugs becoming available, allegedly effective in treating those disorders.

One of the researchers (from Tuft University, Massachusetts) began her investigation:

“after discovering that five of the six panel members studying whether premenstrual problems were a mental disorder had links to Eli Lilly & Co, which was trying to market the anti-depressant Prozac to treat the [PMT] symptoms.”

The accelerating medicalisation of our existence, of all human behaviours, is insidious, dangerous, and wrong. Oh, nearly forgot - it's also corrupt.

Update: Captain, newly returned from Tokyo, kindly provided a link to a related piece on the USA Today site, it's well worth reading.

Second disturbing thing:

I really wish I could find link to this long article, as I would like everyone to be able to read the whole thing, but in lieu of a link, and with only limited time, I can only provide you with selected quotes.

All material is taken from an excellent piece, published in The Weekend Australian, April 22-23, 2006, Inside the mind of a brutal zealot, by Matthias Kadluntzel. [The article was first published in The New Republic]

I cannot even begin to do justice to the background introduction to the story, which starts off detailing the way in which Iran used children as young as 12 years in the war with Iraq in 1980, so I won’t attempt to convey that picture to you. The central purpose of the piece is to outline the mindset of the man who is now the President of Iran – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Basiji is the mass movement that was created in Iran in 1979. Ahmadinejad reportedly served as a Basij instructor during the Iran-Iraq War.

The following are discontinuous extracts from the article:

“The sacrifice of the Basiji was ghastly. And yet today it is a source of national shame, but of growing pride.”

“A younger generation of Iranians, whose world views were forged in the atrocities of the Iran-Iraq War, have come to power, wielding a more fervently ideological approach to politics than their predecessors.

The children of the revolution are now its leaders.”

“Since Ahmadinejad became President, the influence of the Basiji has grown. In November, the new Iranian President opened the annual “Basiji Week”, which commemorates the martyrs of the Iran-Iraq War.

According to a report in Kayan … nine million Basiji – 12 per cent of the Iranian population – turned out to demonstrate in favour of Ahmadinejad’s anti-liberal platform.

As Basiji ideology and influence enjoy a renaissance under Ahmadinejad, the movement’s belief in the virtues of violent self-sacrifice remains intact.

During this year’s Ashura festival, school classes were taken on excursions to a “martyrs’ cemetery”. And since 2004 the mobilization of Iranians for suicide brigades has intensified, with recruits being trained for foreign missions. A special military unit has been created bearing the name “Commando of Voluntary Martyrs”.

According to its own statistics, this force has so far recruited about 52,000 Iranians to the suicidal cause. It aims to form a “martyrdom unit” in every Iranian province.

The Baiji’s cult of self-destruction would be chilling in any country. In the context of the Iranian nuclear weapon program, however, its obsession with martyrdom amounts to a lit fuse.”

“Ahmadinejad … is predisposed toward apocalyptic thinking. In one of this first TV interviews after being elected president, he enthused: “Is there an art that is more beautiful, more divine, more eternal than the art of the martyr’s death?


“In September last year, he concluded his first speech before the UN by imploring God to bring about the return of the 12th Imran. He finances a research institute in Tehran whose sole purpose is to study and, if possible, accelerate the coming of the imam.”

A politics pursued in alliance with a supernatural force is necessarily unpredictable. Why should an Iranian president engage in pragmatic politics when his assumption is that, in three or four years, the saviour will appear? If the messiah is coming, why compromise?”

I have been vaguely following the coverage and commentary around Iran’s newly acquired ability to enrich uranium, for energy, and potentially for nuclear weapons. I didn’t particularly see any compelling reason to get hysterical about it all, at least not just yet. After all, if American has no problem with Russia, or China, or Israel, and a whole bunch of other countries having an arsenal of nuclear weapons, then, really, where do they get-off giving “permission” to some countries, but not others?

Well, I think I’m a tad less blasé about it now.

So, what time does the bombing start?


  1. Having returned from Tokyo I am pleased to see that there is a fine piece decrying the corruption of my profession.

    Being one of those doctors who tends to be a low prescriber, I have little contact the drug reps these days. Which is unfortunate, because they tend to be very seductive and very generous. Some friends have a fine time travelling the world at the indirect expense of the consumer.

    Their tactics are pretty basic and forumlaic. They identify doctors who are likely to be 'influencers'. The 'influencers' then dictate the prescribing practices of category A doctors (ie pill pushers). They encourage off indication prescription and higher doses than those approved. No one seems to care at all in the hierarchy of the profession.

    The exposure of the DSM, a defacto standard in Australia, is a complete scandal. You have no idea how gullible doctors everywhere use this manual as a bible of psychiatry. Worse than being corrupt, it is indicative of a dumbing down of science. Long gone are the halcyon days when the DSM considered masturbation a psychiatric disorder.

    Psychiatry has become the worst offender in the disease mongering industry. Having said that, I think that the Iranians need their fair shair of help.

    http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20060420/a_conflicts20.art.htm is a link that works to the above (sorry, I don't know my tags).

    Psychiatric research is without doubt the worst genre of science that exists. When there are no gate-keepers we all suffer. When I am out of the dog-house (as a whistle-blower) I will say a lot more.

  2. I've had some more sake so I am going to continue to abuse your hospitality with my valuable insights.

    If its not obvious already, the consequences of a distorted and unreliable diagnostic system are enormous. What exactly is all of that government funding going to? The PBS establishes a trough for medications that are designed to treat conditions that have only become incorporated as ones that respond to those medications.

    It has long been my contention that life has become increasingly medicalised. One can no longer be sad or worried, you have to be depressed and anxious.

  3. And yet, one can no longer be melancholic, which is a great shame, since melancholy is such a lovely word and resonates so lyrically and perfectly with the condition itself.

    However, there is no drug for melancholy, so it’s a normal human condition, or occasional frailty, no longer available within our human repertoire. The experts have decided it doesn’t exist.

    Captain, I also find the scope creep of definitions highly suspicious. The definition of “depression” and the types of depressive malaise and other mental illness continue to expand. For example, bi-polar – there used to be a fairly tight definition, but it has grown to include every psychiatric symptom under the sun, including schizophrenic symptoms.

    In any other field anyone presenting these sorts of ever-expanding “definitions” would be very promptly asked: “so, you don’t have a bloody clue what you’re talking about then?”

    Perhaps far worse though is the appropriateness and the efficacy of the drugs. They make people feel different, not necessarily better. The wrong medication does harm, or does nothing. And yes, in Australia that’s being paid for with tax payer's money.

    However, not largely different to physical medications, eg, for cholesterol, which is essentially unproven as being any use at all, yet is covered by the PBS.

    The key difference is the gross anxiety of the medical & pharma industries to take control of everyday normal behaviours & moods, so that no-one feels anything. It's not a happy pill they aspire to producing & dispensing: it's a numbing pill.

  4. Well, there is melancholic depression and it is pharmacologically treatable.

    The bipolar disorder thing is definitely a problem. There are now two types of bipolar illnes, I and II. The first one is a typical manic illness that is hard to misdiagnose. The second however merely requires a depressed person to have a good day ocassionally. This then qualifies for a whole range of new medications. Not surprisingly pharmas who are looking for new markets in the crowded depression area vigorously push clinicians to recognise bipolar II. As such there has been an artificial (IMHO) increase in the prevalence of this disorder. The usual suspects in the profession however talk about how modern life may be creating illness.

    The antidepressants that are mostly used today cause anorgasmia. Which brings us back to Freud and his theory of sex and depression. Could it be that getting rid of sexual pleasure lifts our mood? I think not!!

  5. Captain – you would have seen the latest research noting all of the fringe-benefits of sex, yes? They came out some mths ago, but only just made it into our papers yesterday. No big surprises, although of some interest is that the benefits only apply for your conventional heterosexual intercourse!

    I had quite forgotten that the “bi” in bipolar had effectively been separated from each other. Had also quite forgotten where & why I was reading material, but it did come to me. May be of interest to you that material was distributed to all staff during mental health week, inclusive of numerous links to information about various conditions – tens of thousands of people in just that one company received the info. This would have been a couple of years back. I remember wondering how the hell a doctor would make an accurate diagnosis with an endless list of pretty much every behaviour under the sun, let alone the dangers in the hands of workplace managers.

    Didn’t know that there were new treatments for bipolar, as lithium has always been the only thing on the market. Find that a bit curious, since “real” bipolar doesn’t respond to medications for depression, etc – widely & incorrectly prescribed to bipolar patients.

    Modern life is creating illness? No, I don’t think so. It’s a continual redefinition of what is “normal” and not normal; constant boundary-drawing around people’s behaviours. Eg, homosexuality is no longer a mental illness, so hey, they have to fill the voids left by behaviours that become mainstream & okay – for every “deviance” removed from the medial books, they make up 20 new things to replace it! Notwithstanding real illnesses, of course. Perhaps progress would be made if they focused on helping with those, instead of making up new conditions, and extending conditions so that everyone is eventually suffering from a “mental illness”. Imagine if all of those efforts went into good treatments for the genuine illnesses. But, not as much money in it, and the “cures” are notoriously elusive.

  6. P.S - in the USA Today link it said:

    "And melancholia was eliminated in favor of major depressive disorder."

  7. I have been doing my own research abou the benefits of heterosexual sex over many years and can confirm the benefits.

    Its actually Major depression with melancholia as a specifier.

    In the newest edition that is due to come out shortly, mental illness is going the way of general medicine. If you can have a cold and it is considered an illness, so too a dressing-gown day.

    Dr Yolnde Lucire recently wrote a book about RSI and demonstrated that it was a psychological epidemic. Pretty much after workplaces were informed of it, everyone got it. It has now largely disappeared.

  8. It's a good thing that Amadinejad doesn't rule Iran, or control its foreign or military policy. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei still rules everything. I think they're playing good cop bad cop with the US. Amadinejad says something horrific while Khamenei sits back & watches the reaction before action is taken.

    caz, BTW I hope you're safe from that wicked cyclone headed to OZ.

  9. Cubicle - I'm at the arse end of the arse end of the world - Melbourne, and we have silly weather here ("four seasons in a day"), rather than scary weather.

    Your comment on Iran is interesting.

    Captain - yes, I remember the RSI outbreaks and the controversy, and yet, it has miraculously vanished from the medical radar.

    From the non-physical realm, I think one of the most frightening - and damning - developments, which was eventually, and far too quietly swept under the carpet, was the whole "recovered memory" thing. Merely the fact that no-one "recovered" happy memories should have raised suspicions, along with the remarkable similarity of "recovered" events. I still find it something of a surprise that the entire therapy industry didn't collapse from that single area of gross discredit; but didn't happen - the whole thing has been "forgotten". Funny that.

  10. Anonymous4:55 PM

    "I'm at the arse end of the arse end of the world"

    Ahhhh... yes Caz.. But it's such a nice arse!!