Brad Bowins

Feb 122017

It has been 10 years since I published Vasectomy: The Cruelest Cut Of All, The Modern Medical Nightmare Of Post-Vasectomy Pain Syndrome. Has the problem vanished maybe because urologists and prospective patients actually get it and refrain from performing and accepting the procedure, respectively, or medical advances have occurred that fully correct the problem? Absolutely not! In some locations vasectomy counselling must now precede the procedure by at least a day, but otherwise nothing. I still receive emails from those vasectomized who have developed ongoing pain, asking for my advice. The latest was from a mid-twenties man, who is somewhat in denial attributing it to short-term complications. Adjusting to the reality of life-long chronic pain from a procedure that never had to occur in the first place is very difficult, and even more when you might be facing 60+ years of pain!


I find it amazing that such a barbaric procedure continues largely unabated, and how so many men fall victim to it despite the information that is out there in my book and other writings. Unfortunately, the money made from performing vasectomies and vasectomy reversals makes it too appealing to physicians. In addition, given that most men who have the procedure do not develop PVPS, and how it can arise years after being vasectomized, it is easy for physicians to downplay the significance. However, approximately 15% of vasectomized men develop some degree of PVPS, with maybe 5% severe and intractable pain. Based upon how men’s health issues, other than for prostate cancer, seem to rate somewhat below dog and cat health problems, I am not too optimistic that the message will get out. However, there is always hope and once again I call for an end to vasectomy. When this becomes a reality I will actually believe that men’s health issues are truly valued.

Feb 122017

The sexual orientation categories of homosexuality and heterosexuality are typically viewed as absolute, although prior to industrialization neither designation was recognized, and sexual orientation was viewed in various other ways. We all see things according to the times we live in, and certainly this is true for sexual orientation. You might ask, why worry about how we view it? Beyond the value of discovering the truth, the way we have framed sexual orientation has created a massively neurotic scenario, and fuels discrimination. Assume that you identify with being heterosexual but have some fantasies of same-sex contact or actually engage in it. Since you are heterosexual how can this be? Are you actually gay? However, since you’re mostly attracted to other-sex individuals you can’t be gay. Take a person who identifies with being homosexual who feels some desire for an other-sex individual they really like and might want to have children with. The same confusing thoughts often follow. Maybe the person in each example is bisexual, but in a world of homosexual and heterosexual categories having both identities is not easy to understand. You see what I mean about neurotic. Then there is discrimination based upon the in-group and out-group distinctions that follow from this dichotomized way of viewing sexual orientation. Perhaps the frustration some feel related to the neurotic way we frame sexual orientation produces anger, worsening discrimination. Bisexual individuals frequently experience more discrimination because they often experience negative reactions from both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Yes, we have created a neurotic scenario and one that generates discrimination, and is simply wrong!


In my book Outing The TRUTH About Sexual Orientation I address the problem of how we frame sexual orientation, and propose an alternative. In line with how false the designations of homosexual and heterosexual are, no theory to date has shown how homosexuality could have evolved; many try but they are as full of holes as a spaghetti strainer. A major part of the answer is that we all have homoerotic and heteroerotic capacities representing side-by-side abilities organized dimensionally—From low to high. During our evolution both capacities served a function, and in support of this proposition, homoerotic behavior has been found in countless species of insects, reptiles, amphibians, fish, rodents, mammals, and primates. Indeed, the more that researchers look with open eyes, the more instances of homoerotic behavior they find. For primates, humans included, homoerotic behavior serves the functions of alliance formation, tension reduction, and reconciliation in an evolutionary context, and even today in many instances. Heteroerotic contact can also facilitate these functions in certain instances, and of course other-sex contact fosters reproduction. What this all means practically for us is that if you experience a homoerotic fantasy or engage, it is very natural, simply an expression of your level of homoerotic motivation. Since homoerotic and heteroerotic motivations are separate, homoerotic activity does not impact on your other-sex desires. No neuroticism needed! If you fantasize and/or engage more with other-sex individuals, it simply means that you have a higher heteroerotic motivation than homoerotic motivation.

Feb 102017

Warming of the planet from carbon dioxide (CO2) and other so-called greenhouse gases is a problem in contrast to what some still believe, and a problem that will not go away. Much like alcoholism it persists despite denials of its existence. The problem arises from our burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas. Generally speaking, there are three ways of dealing with the problem: First, prepare as best we can for a globally warmed world, second, switch to greener sources of energy, and third, sequester carbon from the atmosphere. In, At The Tipping Point: How to Save Us From Self-Destruction, I cover each of these options in detail. Even ten years ago few spoke openly about relying on the first option, but more and more I hear politicians stating this very option. However, it is very sad when it comes down to just allowing a fully globally warmed world to occur with all the associated costs. Given our technical capabilities, which largely created this problem in the first place, we should be able to solve the problem. Of course, part of the solution involves checking our endless growth economic model with the associated hyper-consumerism, something few seem open to. The second option, switching to greener sources of energy frequently falter because they often run counter to the endless growth economic model. In addition, our energy needs are so great that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to supply all that we need from green energy.


The best option we have is to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, with one possibility consisting of machines that can do this. Unfortunately, when the carbon costs of producing all the associated piping to transfer the carbon underground are considered, this option loses its lustre. However, there is a way that actually has numerous spin-off benefits and will help return the planet to a more natural state: Converting our major annual seed crops to perennials. Annual plants only last a year with their roots dying off, whereas perennials last more than a year, the roots remaining alive. Annual seed crops include wheat, corn, rice, soybean, sunflower, oat, barley, chickpea, common bean, peanut, pearl millet, rape, and sorghum. Perennial fruits include apple, apricot, avocado, banana, blackcurrant, grape, kiwi, pear, pineapple, plum, strawberry, and raspberries. Perennial vegetables include eggplant, broccoli, asparagus, leek, potato, rhubarb, spinach, taro, sweet potato, and watercress. Perennial herbs consist of alfalfa, basil, dill, garlic, ginger, horseradish, lavender, mint, onions, oregano, sage, and thyme. We are then very familiar with perennial crops, and of course there are trees that are perennial.


When it comes to annual plants there are several problems. First, because the plant dies off each year they are net releasers of carbon to the atmosphere. Second, given their limited root structure they are very poor at retaining water, and with dwindling fresh water supplies this is a major issue. Third, due to how weak they are we have to add nutrients such as nitrogen that commonly run off with fresh water polluting waterways. Global data for corn, rice, and wheat annual crops indicate that only 18-49% of nitrogen applied as fertilizer is taken up by crops while the rest is lost. Herbicides and pesticides also have to be liberally applied with health costs.


Perennials, on the other hand, with their extensive root system are great absorbers of carbon from the atmosphere. The soil carbon sink is the fastest carbon sink, and the only one that can really help get global warming under control quickly. The oceans absorb a great deal of carbon but it is a slow process that is currently destroying coral reefs due to acidification. Rocks can absorb a massive amount of carbon but this process occurs over thousands of years. In addition to the carbon sequestration value of perennials there is water retention: The roots of perennials hold water and release it when needed, thereby minimizing irrigation needs. In addition, perennials retain nutrients eliminating or greatly reducing fertilizer use. Via artificial selection, hybridization, and utilization of genome knowledge, all of our major annual crops can be converted to perennials. Ten of our thirteen most common annual seed crops, such as wheat and rice, have natural perennial relatives, an occurrence that will greatly assist in the conversion. The United Kingdom’s Biotechnology and Biological Services Council has calculated that if we replaced only 2% of annual crops with perennials, we could remove enough carbon from the atmosphere to halt the increase in atmospheric CO2! If we were to replace all farmland with perennials we would sequester about 118 parts per million of CO2, enough to return the world to preindustrial levels! Another option is to replace our agricultural lands and cities with trees, but I doubt that this option will be accepted.


So why is replacing our major annual seed crops with perennials, an incredible option, rarely discussed, and why is funding so limited for it? Very good questions. Part of the answer might have to do with the annual seed agriculture industry. Annual seeds have to be planted each year, then there is all that fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, not to mention expensive irrigation equipment. Perennial agriculture might well seem like a threat to profits, and in our endless economic growth system it’s mostly about products and profits. Instead of making the conversion, which scientists estimate could occur in even twenty years, let’s just prepare as best we can. Really?


For more information about converting our major annual seed crops to perennials read the free pdf of the Too Hot to Handle: Global Warming chapter, from my book, At The Tipping Point: How To Save Us From Self-Destruction, available on this blog site.

Feb 102017

The major diagnostic systems for mental illness, namely the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) associated with the American Psychiatric Association and International Classification of Diseases (ICD) linked to the World Health Organization emphasize discrete conditions, such as Major Depression and Persistent Depressive Disorder in the case of depression, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder for anxiety. Currently there is DSM-5 and ICD-10. These discrete conditions sound very good and are appealing, but totally inaccurate! This issue is addressed in my book, Defining Mental Illness: Continuums, Regulation, and Defense. Nature tends to be organized dimensionally, with truly discrete entities the exception, likely derived from trait variation related to natural selection. Due to this reality I proposed the Continuum Principle: Natural phenomena tend to occur on a continuum, and any instance of hypothesized discreteness requires unassailable proof. Evidence for discrete mental illness conditions does not even come close to this standard. A continuous organization captures the true nature of these conditions. The illusion of discreteness can arise as an emergent property of increasing severity, as with melancholic depression representing the most extreme end of the depression continuum. In a similar fashion extreme anxiety involves the fight, flight, freeze response producing a panic attack. Triggering circumstances can also create this illusion, such as with winter stimuli intensifying behavioral inhibition and reducing behavioral activation triggering depression, instead of representing the discrete condition of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—In DSM-5 this condition has been shifted to depression with seasonal pattern. Likewise, social circumstances combined with personality issues such as introversion and low self-confidence can trigger social anxiety.


Reading this some will get it, while others will think that this does not feel right, the latter reaction highlighting how we prefer discrete conditions because this approach simplifies information processing. We think in terms of good and bad people, homosexual and heterosexual, instead of gradients. To a large extent the major diagnostic systems for mental illness derive from how we prefer to see things, a very unscientific occurrence. Then there is the dark side of how pharmaceutical companies can market products easier to discrete conditions than continuums. In 2010 antipsychotics and antidepressants were in the “Top 5” bestsellers generating $16.9 billion and $16.1 billion, respectively, in sales, aided by the sellout of academic psychiatry to big pharma! Essentially, psychiatry became a captured discipline beholden to the pharmaceutical industry. Now you might wonder how this process occurs? Academic psychiatrists dealing with medications, as opposed to psychotherapy, rely heavily on pharmaceutical companies for research funding. These psychiatrists ensure that they are on committees determining the criteria for supposed discrete diagnosis. Typically, 100% of those on the Mood Disorders and Psychotic Illnesses sub-committees have links to the pharmaceutical industry. Naturally they are going to support discrete conditions, and certainly when they align with our natural tendency to see discrete entities.


This problem of the pharmaceutical industry capturing psychiatry and ensuring discrete conditions arguably began with Dr. Donald Klein, who in 1964 proposed panic as a discrete condition. He was funded at the time by Geigy and Smith & Kline & French. Due largely to his influence on the DSM-III Anxiety and Dissociative Disorders sub-committee, Panic Disorder became a discrete condition in DSM-III (1980). Previously in DSM-II panic was seen as an extreme expression of anxiety, anxiety neurosis, “characterized by anxious over-concern extending to panic, and frequently associated with somatic symptoms.” In 1981 Upjohn marketed Xanax (alprazolam) for the new discrete condition of Panic Disorder, despite its own research showing little support for a separate condition. Insiders referred to the “condition” as the “Upjohn Illness.” Xanax was a blockbuster seller. 35 years later with DSM-5 the same problem is playing out, but interestingly big pharm appears to be distancing itself from psychiatry given that there are no new products that are working out, despite the inherent biases within the system. This outcome is not surprising when a discipline is captured and removed from real science focused on true outcomes!