Nov 142019
 

Social and environmental justice, or more to the point, injustice, are often treated separately, but they are very interconnected. This intersection of social and environmental injustice might well be what eventually triggers widespread revolution, given that it is typically less affluent people who suffer the burden of the cost. In tropical countries, the poor often live right by the coast, while the wealthy reside in more exclusive hillside communities protected from flooding, for instance. Revolution was touched off in Syria by the intersection of social and environmental injustice, given that water scarcity linked to global warming created great suffering for poor farmers, while wealthier farmers could bribe officials to secure scarce water. This provides a country level example of what could happen on a global scale! Hence, it might be wise to consider the intersection of social and environmental justice when considering either.

Apr 252019
 

Some people have raised the issue of what defines mental illness, which is made clear in my book, Mental Illness Defined: Continuums, Regulation And Defense (https://bradbowinsbooks.com/mental-illness-defined/). Besides not aligning with the true nature of psychopathology, discrete diagnoses are less humanistic than a continuous characterization, whereby mental health problems range from normal to extreme levels. Take personality disorders, where in clinical practice there is an us versus them orientation. My continuous model of personality disorders views these problems as extreme and enduring expressions of common psychological defense patterns. For instance, avoidance is a normal survival defense when applied to dangerous agents, but when it occurs repeatedly in response to agents offering reward potential it is highly dysfunctional—avoidant personality disorder. We all engage in avoidance but it is the degree that counts, so the client and therapist are not all that different. The same applies to psychosis where based on a continuous model psychotic level cognitions represent the extreme range of thought content, thought form, and sensory perceptual experiences. We all experience psychotic level cognitions during sleep when dreaming, but with psychosis they occur repeatedly in the conscious and awake state, due (from my perspective) to impaired regulation over psychotic level cognitions. Hence, a value of my continuous model of mental illness (aside from aligning with scientific research and not pharmaceutical marketing needs plus our preference for discrete entities to simplify information process) is that it is much more humanistic!

Feb 202019
 

MENTAL ILLNESS DEFINED: CONTINUUMS, REGULATION AND DEFENSE presents a perspective on mental health and illness divorced from financial influence, and one that aligns with scientific evidence. The Diagnostic And Statistical Manual (DSM), which is essentially the diagnostic bible of mental illness, began emphasizing discrete conditions with the third edition (DSM-III). The starting point was Panic Disorder known to those in the pharmaceutical industry as the “Upjohn Illness.” Prior to this newly created discrete entity, panic was viewed as part of anxiety, a more intense expression. In DSM-II it was seen as “anxiety neurosis,”—“This neurosis is characterized by anxious over-concern extending to panic and frequently associated with somatic symptoms.” In 1964 Donald Klein published an article suggesting that panic was a distinct illness, and that these attacks could be forestalled by staying on medication. The study was partially funded by Geigy and Smith & Kline & French suggesting the possibility of bias in his concept. Klein being on the DSM-III task force, apparently persuaded the other members of the anxiety and dissociative disorders subcommittee that his view was correct, and panic disorder became an entity. The following year in 1981 Upjohn marketed alprazolam (Xanax) for this disorder when the market for benzodiazepines was declining. Research funded by Upjohn did not show much support for panic disorder as a distinct entity, but it was a good marketing story. Xanax became one of the hottest drugs in psychiatry by the early 1990’s being prescribed by psychiatrists for this new and widespread disorder.

Industry funded experts establish criteria for discrete disorders as laid out in the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual (DSM), and these experts are often funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Lisa Cosgrove and colleagues (Financial ties between DSM-IV panel members and the pharmaceutical industry) published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics in 2006 uncovered some relevant findings. They found that 100% of the “mood disorders” and “schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders” panel members had one or more financial associations with companies in the pharmaceutical industry. As David Healy has stated, “As often happens in medicine, the availability of a treatment leads to an increase in recognition of the disorder that might benefit from that treatment.” Panic disorder is such as example.

Natural entities tend to be continuous and mental illness is no exception. Separate continuums do occur, such as depression, anxiety, hypomania-mania, and psychosis as laid out in the book, but subtypes represent fictions as with discrete categories. Quantitative variation often yields qualitative variation as an emergent property. For example, intense levels of anxiety (quantitative) triggers the fight/flight/freeze response central to panic (qualitative). Likewise, melancholic depression with vegetative features emerges with intense depression. Beyond bias for profit considerations, we are all prone to seeing discreteness to simplify information processing: it is easier on the brain to see distinct items than follow a concept such as quantitative variation yielding qualitative variation as an emergent property. However, if psychiatry and clinical psychology are ever to become true sciences, then fictitious entities to simplify information processing and satisfy marketing needs of pharmaceutical companies must be discarded!

Dec 172018
 

Temperature values for global warming are reported in degrees above pre-industrial levels, with average values dominating. However, it seems far more sensible to report values for regions where global warming is having the most impact, namely the Arctic and Antarctic. On average, we are about 1 degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels, and this frankly does not seem to disturb most people, particularly if defensively downplaying the impacts of global warming. Considering that the Arctic and Antarctic regions are now about 2-4 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, and 3-4 degrees is when runaway negative feedback cycles occur, I suggest that these regions need to be the focus. In researching global warming (see, At The Tipping Point: How To Save Us From Self-Destruction, bradbowinsbooks.com) and understanding how natural entities are highly interconnected, I came to appreciate that it is these negative feedback cycles that will be most telling. They include occurrences such as:

  • Open water absorbing more heat, driving more melting of sea ice, more heat absorption.
  • Carbon soot on ice absorbing light, melting ice raising temperatures with greater light absorption from open water.
  • Melting water from glaciers creating a lubricating surface causing the glacier to slide into the sea, where it melts, leaving less cooling ice.
  • Melting permafrost releasing methane, that ramps up temperatures, resulting in more permafrost melting.

 

Perhaps it is time that we move away from the focus on average temperature increases and emphasis temperature increases in the Arctic and Antarctic where it really counts. Those who spin things to not see an impact of these regions on the overall world and themselves personally, really need to appreciate that all things in nature are connected!

Aug 162018
 

THE INFORMATIVE GOD by Brad Bowins.MD

We do seem to be very religious and spiritual by nature, but why? The answer in short is that religion offers hope for a positive scenario beyond this life. In one form or another something more optimistic than “the end” that science posits, is provided by these beliefs. You might wonder why we care. Human intelligence is a wonderful thing, enabling us to solve many problems, but it comes with a price, that being awareness of our own mortality, and that of loved ones. Although we do not know for sure, it is unlikely that our pets are weighed down by such concerns. The weight we feel from this, heightened at critical times during our life, cries out for a solution.

As a psychiatrist and researcher, specializing in theoretical research, I have investigated a diverse range of topics, the results presented in peer-reviewed papers (psychiatrytheory.com) and books (bradbowinsbooks.com). I thoroughly research each topic from different perspectives, with the goal of achieving the truth. One of my early discoveries being that we naturally distort things to the positive side as a key defensive strategy, at least those of us who have good mental health. Consistent with this defense, we generate reassuring scenarios for what happens after our time on this world is over, the answers being core to religious and spiritual beliefs. This is not to say that religions lack benefits beyond psychological defense; indeed, throughout time they have offered a mostly constructive way forward and social solidarity. However, what distinguishes the various forms of religion and spirituality is answers to the questions that really matter to us at a deep level.

Then science enters with concepts that counter religious beliefs, such as how there is no evidence for an afterlife. So, on the one hand we have religion and spirituality offering hopeful solutions to our concerns about what comes after death, and on the other hand, science knocking these promises down. Defenders of religious beliefs often reject science, wall religion off as separate, or misinterpret science. Followers of science frequently see religious beliefs as uninformed. There never really seems to be any way of merging or aligning them, or is there?

The search for an answer to what happens after our time here is over, that is consistent with science, became my goal. To achieve this goal, I set about exploring what major religions, present and past, might contribute. Based on this exploration, I can confidently say that we are indeed very spiritual, with almost every conceivable solution proposed, from heaven, passage into underworlds of multiple forms, continuation as spirits, and even the “deceased” person still present with the modern day Torajan people of Sulawesi, Indonesia. My search also looked at relevant science, and as it turns out, some of the concepts are very informative regarding the ultimate solution.

In going through all the information, I was struck by how religion and science readings share one thing in common, at least in terms of details; they often present quite dry and tedious. From this awareness, I decided to present this non-fiction information in a light and entertaining fiction and travelogue format. Following a life-changing experience, a young physician realizes that he needs to seek the answer to what happens after our time here is over. The Horror leads to The Curiosity, his journey of discovery taking him around the world exploring several of the major religions—Ancient Egyptian, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, Maya, Inca, Anishinaabe and Objibwe, Hinduism, Buddhism. Along the way, he encounters many interesting characters, and enters into a romance with his soul mate. He also experiences further trials and tribulations, that strengthen his resolve to succeed. With much information but no clear answers, he ventures forward to The Discovery. Intrigued by the notion of permanence and impermanence, he learns how this plays into the ultimate answer during visits to the perspective changing Torajans and the “heavenly paradise” of Hawaii. Combining this understanding with scientific knowledge, he achieves an answer showing how we are all immortal in a very real sense. You will be surprised at how simple the answer ultimately is.

Beyond providing an informed answer to the ultimate question of what happens after our time here is over, a “treasure” more valuable than the sum of all others discovered to date, is revealed! This treasure has amazing implications for how the universe is likely structured, and for accessing vast amounts of information.

For a refreshing and optimistic answer to the ultimate question, take a journey of discovery to THE INFORMATIVE GOD.

May 112018
 

We all love our identities, whether that be professions, race, the clubs we belong to, or political affiliations. These identities seem to be a source of pride and belonging. However, they come with a price tag in terms of in-group and out-group distinctions that frequently lead to discrimination and persecution, as we have seen all too often with race. What if the identities are not real, and yet still favor such behavior? As genetic research has progressed scientists are calling into question the notion of race identities, given that we all share the same genes with minor changes for skin pigmentation and some other features. There is no clearly distinct “race.”

Sexual orientation is an identity that even has the “pride” label associated with homosexuality. You might say, “Yes, but sexual orientation involves real identities.” But are they? These identities fuel massive amounts of in-group and out-group based discrimination against “homosexuals.” In addition, inner confusion and turmoil is common, and certainly in younger people, when fantasies and actions do not align with sexual orientation identity. A person who engages in a “homosexual” act or has fantasies of doing so, but identifies with being “heterosexual” often experiences a great deal of distress, that at times can even lead to suicide.

It turns out that these sexual orientation identities are not real, only “existing” for about 200 years! In OUTING THE TRUTH ABOUT SEXUAL ORIENTATION, I as a highly experience psychiatrist, psychotherapist, researcher, and founder of the Centre For Theoretical Research In Psychiatry & Clinical Psychology (psychiatrytheory.com), reveal what it is all about. The answer eliminates any in-group and out-group motivation for discrimination and persecution, and replaces inner confusion and turmoil with understanding.

This model of sexual orientation aligns with scientific evidence and encompasses 4 components: homoerotic and heteroerotic behavioral capacities, activation of these capacities by circumstances, erotic fantasy, and social construction showing how we create various understandings of sexual orientation. Learn how countless animal species from insects to primates engage in homoerotic and heteroerotic behavior, setting up both behavioral capacities within us. Circumstances greatly influence which capacity is activated at a given time, and erotic fantasy amplifies the strength. The perspective presented makes sense of puzzling aspects of sexual orientation behavior, such as the impact of sexual abuse, and explains why some individuals favor a “homosexual” identity, while most identify with being “heterosexual.” For an enlightening and informative take on sexual orientation read OUTING THE TRUTH ABOUT SEXUAL ORIENTATION (bradbowinsbooks.com).

Apr 062018
 

Everyone has wondered what happens after their life is over. Religions try to provide an answer, but in this day and age of increasing scientific progress, the answers generated are highly questionable. Accepting “the end” that science seems to provide, is not very reassuring, but is it even possible that something more than this dismal scenario occurs after death? As a psychiatrist and researcher with eclectic interests presented in peer-reviewed publications and books (see psychiatrytheory.com and bradbowinsbooks.com), I decided to research this issue, and discovered that indeed there is a very real possibility, based on scientific principles, that there is immortality of a kind. The answer is developed and presented in my book, THE INFORMATIVE GOD, and in a fashion designed to entertain!

Mar 242018
 

Book page

Vasectomy is widely promoted as a “safe and simple procedure.” Rarely are men or their spouses informed that a life long pain condition, known as Post-Vasectomy Pain Syndrome (PVPS), is caused by the procedure. Months or years after being vasectomized, close to 15% of men will experience pain in one or both testicles, with the pain being severe in approximately 5%. Frequently, the pain is worsened by sex and other physical activities, motivating the sufferer to avoid pleasurable pursuits. Too embarrassed to speak up about the problem, many men suffer in silence, and if they do raise the issue with a physician the problem is often misdiagnosed, particularly when years have passed since the vasectomy. In third world countries where vasectomy is intensely promoted as a “safe and simple procedure,” effective treatment is essentially non-existent. Treatment for PVPS often involves sophisticated microsurgery that is very expensive, not covered by most health insurance plans, and not widely available. For those lucky enough to access treatment there is often no resolution of the pain, as it can recur on the treated side and arise in a seemingly unaffected testicle. Vasectomy: The Cruelest Cut Of All (The Modern Medical Nightmare Of Post-Vasectomy Pain Syndrome) debunks the “safe and simple procedure” myth and calls for an end to vasectomy.

The book was published in 2006, and in many areas of medicine this would mean that much of the information is outdated. However, consistent with how the “safe and simple procedure” rhetoric persists in urology and the larger medical community, an intensive search of the scientific literature almost ten years later failed to reveal any studies that actually significantly advanced our understanding of PVPS. Debate still carries on as to the best treatment, with the same old focus on removal of structures. More encouraging is the experimental application of robotic and computerized controlled surgical techniques, offering the potential of more effective vasectomy reversal in the future.

Mar 242018
 

Book Page

Imagine a book that provides the answer to what happens after our time on this world is over, reveals a “treasure” worth more than all others combined, and merges religion and science. The Informative God is that book! Following a life changing event, a young internal medicine specialist embarks on a round the world odyssey to uncover the meaning of life and death. This adventurous journey of discovery highlights the contribution of past and present religions. Making the most of this information and the input of science, he achieves the answer that also identifies a “treasure” of infinite value. Consistent with the uniqueness of these discoveries, the book represents a first for combining fiction, non-fiction, and travelogue. For a refreshing and optimistic answer to the ultimate question, take a journey of discovery to The Informative God.

Mar 242018
 

Religion and science are typically seen as being incompatible, and this is mostly true if there is a focus on specific issues, such as evolution. As a researcher and psychiatrist with eclectic interests, I have arrived at a concept that merges religion and science based on a common feature, information, presented in The Informative God book. The concept cannot be adequately presented in a post, but essentially relies on how information can be preserved indefinitely, and how this aligns well with a religious orientation. My approach then applies scientific processes to provide for a scenario compatible with religion.
Brad Bowins, MD