Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

ImageMany mental illnesses are as bad for you as smoking, research has suggested.

Life expectancy for people with mental health problems is less than for heavy smokers, experts have found.

Serious mental illness can reduce a person’s life expectancy by 10 to 20 years, when the average reduction in life expectancy for heavy smokers is eight to 10 years, according to researchers from Oxford University.

But critically, mental health has not been the same public health priority as smoking, they said.

The study, published in the journal World Psychiatry, analysed previous research on mortality risk for a whole range of problems – mental health issues, drug and alcohol abuse, dementia, autistic spectrum disorders, learning disability and childhood behavioural disorders.

The authors examined 20 papers looking at 1.7 million people and over 250,000 deaths. They found that the average reduction in life expectancy for people with bipolar disorder was between nine and 20 years, it was 10 to 20 years for schizophrenia, between nine and 24 years for drug and alcohol abuse, and around seven to 11 years for recurrent depression.

The loss of years among heavy smokers was eight to 10 years.

“We found that many mental health diagnoses are associated with a drop in life expectancy as great as that associated with smoking 20 or more cigarettes a day,” Dr Seena Fazel of the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University said.

“There are likely to be many reasons for this. High-risk behaviours are common in psychiatric patients, especially drug and alcohol abuse, and they are more likely to die by suicide.

The stigma surrounding mental health may mean people aren’t treated as well for physical health problems when they do see a doctor.

Many causes of mental health problems also have physical consequences and mental illness worsen the prognosis of a range of physical illnesses, especially heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Smoking is recognised as a huge public health problem.

There are effective ways to target smoking, and with political will and funding, rates of smoking-related deaths have started to decline.

We now need a similar effort in mental health.”

Dr John Williams, head of neuroscience and mental health at the Wellcome Trust, which funded the study, added: “People with mental health problems are among the most vulnerable in society.

This work emphasises how crucial it is that they have access to appropriate healthcare and advice, which is not always the case.

We now have strong evidence that mental illness is just as threatening to life expectancy as other public health threats such as smoking.”

At the Wellthisiswhatithink desk, like most people, we have had a few run ins with mental illness in the family and friends coterie. Thankfully, the stigmas associated with mental illness is reducing – albeit achingly slowly. Especially as it is increasingly understood that mental illness does not betoken “weakness” or “badness” but rather chemical imbalances in the brain that are no more the sufferer’s “fault” than, say, diabetes.

We warmly welcome this research finding and trust it is widely studied at government level. A heap of misery can be lifted off the shoulders of sufferers and their families through early intervention, prompt care and adequate treatment with “talking therapy” and medication.

Assuming Government now longer feels itself morally bound to take action (it seems simple need is the least strong motivator for many Governments worldwide now, sadly, as you can see below) then what about this thought?

mental-illness-not-contagiousJust imagine the hurricane of productivity and wealth that would be released if mentally ill people became weller, faster, and more thoroughly well, and lived that way longer.

Yes, that’s something we’d like to see in our shiny new hard-headed neo-con austere world.

Meanwhile, here’s some additional reading on how Government in rich “advanced” countries consistently fails the mentally ill:

UK: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/cuts-send-rates-of-mental-health-disorders-among-young-soaring-9392996.html

UK: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/12/risks-deep-cuts-mental-health

Australia: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/mental-health-funding-cuts-spark-fears-of-social-mess-20140518-38hz9.html

Australia: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/these-two-budget-charts-show-how-much-money-joe-hockey-is-cutting-from-hospitals-and-schools-2014-5

USA (four stories): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/mental-health-budget-cuts/

USA: http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/10/10/mental-health-loses-funding-as-government-continues-shutdown/

coupleWe heard coverage of this story on the radio a little while ago, and it struck us as terribly sad then – it’s good to see people with some clout taking it up.

We are forever depressed and angered by the way the poorest and least able to defend themselves are chewed up by “the system”, when these are the very people we should be looking after most intensively.

Regular readers will know that we are especially concerned about the fate of “vets” in particular, most obviously in the US, where 100,000+ of them languish in jail, usually for drug abuse and minor theft issues, but also in many other countries around the world including Australia. This is just one more especially tragic and completely avoidable case of a hero falling through the cracks once he’s been discarded by the services.

Homelessness is very often the result of family break-up (especially for young people), substance abuse, mental illness, (especially affecting people who were tossed out on the streets under the trendy move towards de-institutionalisation, but without anything like adequate provision for the de-institutionalised being put in place), post-traumatic stress, and other matters that a genuinely civilised system would deal with effectively.

Instead, we see an increasing reliance on anti-homelessness laws that are a weak and vindictive response that ties up the time of police who should be doing much more important work, and which victimises victims.

We must do better.

The UN Human Rights Committee says the U.S. should stop criminalising homeless people for being homeless.

Jerome Murdough, 56, a mentally ill homeless veteran, was just trying to stay alive during a New York City cold snap when he thought he found his spot: a stairwell leading to a roof in a Harlem public housing project. But that desperate act set in motion a nightmare ride through New York’s criminal justice system that would end with Murdough dying of heat stroke in a Riker’s Island jail cell. New York officials now say the system failed Murdough every which way.

When he was discovered, he should have been offered shelter.

When he was arraigned, he should not have been slapped with $2,500 bail.

When, unable to make bail, he ended up in jail, Murdough, because he was on medication for a mental condition, should have been monitored every 15 minutes, not left unwatched for at least four hours.

It was during that untended time that Murdough, as an official told the Associated Press, “basically baked to death.”

Now, as New York officials discuss the “tragedy” of last month and scapegoat one Riker’s Island guard for Murdough’s death — suspending him for 20 days — the United Nations has taken notice. Murdough is just the latest statistic in a series of needless deaths of homeless people while under arrest for “crimes” related to being unhoused, such as loitering or trespassing.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee in Geneva on Thursday condemned the United States for criminalising homelessness, calling it “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” that violates international human rights treaty obligations. It also called upon the U.S. government to take corrective action, following a two-day review of U.S. government compliance with a human rights treaty ratified in 1992.

“I’m just simply baffled by the idea that people can be without shelter in a country, and then be treated as criminals for being without shelter,” said Sir Nigel Rodley, chairman of the committee in closing statements on the U.S. review. “The idea of criminalising people who don’t have shelter is something that I think many of my colleagues might find as difficult as I do to even begin to comprehend.”

The Committee called on the U.S. to abolish criminalisation of homelessness laws and policies at state and local levels, intensify efforts to find solutions for homeless people in accordance with human rights standards and offer incentives for decriminalisation, including giving local authorities funding for implementing alternatives and withholding funding for criminalizing the homeless.

Those recommendations run counter to the current trends in the nation. Laws targeting the homeless — loitering laws that ban sleeping or sitting too long in one public spot, or camping in parks overnight — have become increasingly common in communities throughout the country as homelessness has skyrocketed.

The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP), a D.C.-based advocacy organization which monitors laws that criminalise homeless people and litigates on behalf of poor people regularly conducts reviews of cities criminalising homelessness and finds more and more laws banning such activities as sitting or lying in public places with each new survey.

“We welcome the Committee’s Concluding Observations and call on our government to take swift action to solve homelessness with homes, not jails and prisons,” said Maria Foscarinis, the NLCHP executive director, in a statement. The NLCHP had submitted a report to the U.N. Committee for review.

Paul Boden, executive director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, an umbrella organization of advocacy groups in the Western U.S. that is hoping states will sign onto a Bill of Rights for homeless people, said that more and more homeless people are being arrested, prosecuted and killed for actions relating to their poverty. (See below.)

Article reproduced from Alternet.org

Meanwhile, in a tragic irony given the UN report, video has emerged in the last few days of yet another tragedy.

We warn you, this video is very distressing.

 

The shooting in Albuquerque of a homeless man dead has drawn attention to the city’s officer-involved shootings, especially those involving the mentally ill.

Since 2010, the city’s police have shot 37 people, The New York Times reports. The New Mexico Public Defender Department estimates that 75% of those shot had a mental illness, even though nationally about half of those shot by police have mental health problems.

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has identified the man in the recently released video as 38-year-old James M. Boyd. The Albuquerque Journal reports dispatchers informed APD officers responding to the incident that Boyd was mentally incompetent and possibly had paranoid schizophrenia.

The disturbing video from March 16 shows officers aiming their weapons at Boyd, who was camping illegally. We later learn was holding knives, but he doesn’t appear to be threatening the officers.

At the beginning of the video, Boyd gathers his bags containing his belongings.

 

Police shooting James Boyd

 

One officer then says “do it” while another throws a flash grenade that explodes as officers and a police dog charge him.

 

Albuquerque police shooting James Boyd

 

The man drops his bags and scuffles briefly with the police dog before turning his back as if to retreat, but he is immediately shot in the back.

 

Albuquerque police shooting James Boyd

 

Officers then restrain the mortally wounded man and the video reveals he has a small knife in each hand, although it is unclear from the video when he pulled the knives out.

 

Albuquerque police shooting James Boyd

 

In a press conference held shortly after the March 15 shooting, APD Chief of Police Gorden Eden said he believed the shooting was justified. According to his version of events, the man threatened APD officers with knives after they approached while he was sleeping at his illegal campsite.

Eden said officers were attempting to use non-lethal means when they threw the flash grenade. But the man pulled out two knives and threatened an officer handling the police dog, according to the police. “The officers then perceived a directed threat immediately to the canine handler who was trying to redirect the dog towards the suspect, when the shots were fired,” Eden said.

While Boyd’s actions in the video appear non-aggressive, Eden said he had not obeyed officers’ demands. “The suspect did in fact make a decision not to follow the directions that were provided to him by the officers,” he said.

According to The Times, Boyd had a history of mental illness and may not have followed the officers’ directions because he believed he was a federal agent who shouldn’t be bossed around.

The APD has a history of allegedly using excessive force during confrontations with civilians, spurring the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an ongoing investigation into the matter in November 2012. Of the 37 people shot since 2010 more than 20 were killed, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

In 2013 a judge ruled that the 2010 fatal shooting of an Iraq War veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder was not justified.

This week, an attorney announced he intends to file a class-action lawsuit against the APD over repeated shootings of people with mental health problems. The lawsuit would seek to guarantee additional training for officers to peacefully end confrontations with mentally ill people.

The video recently sparked a large demonstration in Albuquerque streets against recent APD shooting deaths, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Some community members have criticised the APD for making arrests and resorting to riot gear and tear gas during that 12-hour demonstration sparked by the shooting. Another demonstration followed, and another is set for Friday.

However, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and Eden said the police actions were an appropriate response to some protesters who behaved like a mob committing illegal acts.

APD Chief Eden started at his position February 27. He previously spent eight years serving as the U.S. marshal for New Mexico in the same Department of Justice still investigating the APD. As the new ADP chief, Eden has vowed to begin improving the department before the investigation reaches its conclusion. He said his major priorities are community outreach, bolstering APD’s leadership structure and police retention. Eden also hopes to increase the department’s manpower, which currently stands at 900 officers although he said there is funding for 1,100 officers.

From Business Insider and others

Well, having viewed the video, we believe this is an unlawful or morally reprehensible killing, at best, and barefaced murder at worst. This man was clearly no threat.

The “flash-bang” is launched as he is complying with the police commands. He is further assaulted when he is clearly no threat whatsoever.

Even if he was initially considered a threat, (even though we cannot see why), why was force not used to disable him (shooting at his legs, for example) rather than to kill?

The police concerned are on “administrative leave”. In our opinion, they should be in court. As for the police chief believing the shooting was justified, well, if that’s what he calls “community outreach”, then words fail us.

Adam Lanza was clearly a deeply disturbed person: why did he not get the help he needed?

 

When faced with unspeakable horror, we struggle to make sense of it by finding reasons. But sometimes the answers are unsatisfying. Sometimes the answer is simply “insane”.

The father of shooter Adam Lanza who was responsible for the appalling Sandy Hook elementary school shooting has spoken publicly for the first time since he released a statement the day after the massacre expressing sympathy for the victims’ families and puzzlement over his son’s actions, in a magazine interview.

A spokesman for Peter Lanza said Monday that Lanza would not be commenting further.

Peter and Nancy Lanza (who was also a victim of her son’s actions, one of six adults who were killed, along with 20 children) separated in 2001 and divorced in 2009.

He last saw Adam in October 2010 and wanted to maintain contact with him. But Nancy Lanza wrote him an email saying Adam didn’t want to see him, despite her efforts to reason with him. Several plans to meet with his son fell through. Peter Lanza said he felt frustrated and even considered hiring a private investigator to find out what his son was doing “so I could bump into him.” He said he felt that showing up unannounced at his son’s home would only make things worse.

Peter Lanza said Adam was 13 when a psychiatrist diagnosed him with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism not associated with violence. But he believes the syndrome “veiled a contaminant” that wasn’t Asperger’s.

“I was thinking it could mask schizophrenia,” said Peter Lanza, who lives in Fairfield County, Conn., and is vice president for taxes at a General Electric subsidiary, GE Energy Financial Services. Peter Lanza told the magazine that his son as a young child was “just a normal little weird kid” who used to spend hours with his father playing with Lego.

 
 

But as he grew older, Adam’s mental health problems worsened, according to Connecticut State Police documents.

Lanza was apparently motivated by a desire to kill more people than Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer, according to a report from the US at the time of the shootings.

Adam Lanza believed he was in competition with Breivik who killed 77 people in July 2011. Most of them were teenagers attending a summer camp.

Police sources briefed on the Newtown investigation reportedly told CBS that Lanza was obsessed with Breivik and wanted to exceed his death toll. Lanza targeted nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School because it was the “easiest target” with the “largest cluster of people.” Once the police arrived, he killed himself.

A Yale University professor diagnosed Lanza in 2006 with profound autism spectrum disorder, “with rigidity, isolation, and a lack of comprehension of ordinary social interaction and communications,” while also displaying symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, the documents show.

Peter Lanza said his and Nancy Lanza’s concerns about Adam increased when he began middle school.

“It was crystal clear something was wrong,” he said. “The social awkwardness, the uncomfortable anxiety, unable to sleep, stress, unable to concentrate, having a hard time learning, the awkward walk, reduced eye contact. You could see the changes occurring.”

After the killings, police investigators discovered that Adam Lanza had written violent stories as a child and later became interested in mass murders. Lanza’s home computer reportedly held details of his gruesome plan. The State Attorney’s report on the computer’s contents makes grim, deeply worrying reading.

Several files — which investigators believe belonged to Lanza — are related to pedophilia, and dozens of others have violent themes.

A file titled “pbear” contains a document that advocates for pedophiles’ rights and the liberation of children, according to the report. “Pbear” is a term that’s short for “pedobear,” a popular meme on the online message board 4chan. Know Your Meme describes it as a cartoon mascot that is used as a signal when illegal pornographic content has been posted. (The meme is sometimes mistaken as a symbol for pedophiles, but it generally is not.)

Another document titled “Lovebound” contains a screenplay about a relationship between a 10-year-old boy and a 30-year-old man. A file called “babies” contains writings that describe being attacked by babies and efforts to defend against them.

And there’s even more strange content:

Adam Lanza pedophile documents on computer

 

The computer also contained instant message transcripts from 2010 and 2011 that show Lanza discussing homosexual fantasies. Another document titled “Selfish” describes why females are selfish.

The state’s report is thousands of pages long, but investigators still couldn’t conclusively determine Lanza’s motive for the Newtown, Conn. shooting. Lanza killed 20 children, five adults, and his mother before shooting himself at the school.

The question on everyone’s lips must therefore be, “how did this obviously profoundly disturbed young person slip through the gaps in the system, to perpetrate the massacre?” One does not have to be a weak-willed ultra-liberal to speculate that with better treatment, Lanza may never have committed his horrifying acts.

Mental illness stats for America. The percentages don't look that different anywhere in the Western world.

Mental illness statistics for America. The percentages don’t look that different anywhere in the Western world.

Indeed, let us say it, and say it clearly: because it is only by confronting this awful truth that we may prevent future events that leave us equally devastated.

Much as it rails against our desire to levy on him the violence he levied on others, our desire to abuse, and to revenge ourselves on him and his memory – all perfectly understandable responses – the hardest truth of all is that, lost inside his insane fantasies, Adam Lanza was a victim here, too.

And the little children and others he killed would be alive today if the mental health system had not failed him.

And there are people walking around today who will die violently in the future if we do not act to improve it now.

We will surely never be able to prevent all such events. But we can certainly do better than we are doing now. And let us also remember that, properly treated, whether in a hospital or in the community, even people with profound mental disorders can and do recover to live a life with quality and calm.

And let us also remember, this day, before we demonise them, that the mentally ill are statistically far more likely to be the victim of violence than they are to be the authors of it.

Uncomfortable truths, perhaps. But truths, nevertheless.

psychology

There’s a name for everything nowadays. Everybody thinks they know what you mean when you say you’re happy or sad. But what about all those emotional states you don’t really have words for? Here are ten feelings you may have experienced, but never knew how to explain.

1. Dysphoria

Often used to describe depression in psychological disorders, dysphoria is general state of sadness that includes restlessness, lack of energy, anxiety, and vague irritation. It is the opposite of euphoria, and is different from typical sadness because it often includes a kind of jumpiness and some anger. You have probably experienced it when coming down from a stimulant like chocolate, coffee, or something stronger. Or you may have felt it in response to a distressing situation, extreme boredom, or depression. This is not to be confused with Dysmorphia, which is when people have a compelling view of their own body which is not born out by logic – for example, a skinny eating-disorder affected individual thinking they are fat.

2. Enthrallment

Psychology professor W. Gerrod Parrott has broken down human emotions into subcategories, which themselves have their own subcategories. Most of the emotions he identifies, like joy and anger, are pretty recognisable. But one subset of joy, “enthrallment,” you may not have heard of before. Unlike the perkier subcategories of joy like cheerfulness, zest, and relief, enthrallment is a state of intense rapture. It is not the same as love or lust. You might experience it when you see an incredible spectacle — a concert, a movie, a rocket taking off — that captures all your attention and elevates your mood to tremendous heights. For the Wellthisiswhatithink crew, it is anytime we see Southampton FC beat one or all of Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool or Tottenham.

3. Normopathy

Psychiatric theorist Christopher Bollas invented the idea of normopathy to describe people who are so focused on blending in and conforming to social norms that it becomes a kind of mania. A person who is normotic is often unhealthily fixated on having no personality at all, and only doing exactly what is expected by society. Extreme normopathy is punctuated by breaks from the norm, where normotic person cracks under the pressure of conforming and becomes violent or does something very dangerous. Many people experience mild normopathy at different times in their lives, especially when trying to fit into a new social situation, or when trying to hide behaviors they believe other people would condemn. What we want to know at Wellthisiswhatithink is what compulsive on-going un-Normopathy is called, because we frankly think we “suffer” from it.

4. Abjection

Julia Kristeva

Julia Kristeva

There are a few ways to define abjection, but French philosopher Julia Kristeva (literally) wrote the book on what it means to experience abjection.

She suggests that every human goes through a period of abjection as tiny children when we first realize that our bodies are separate from our parents’ bodies.

This sense of separation causes a feeling of extreme horror we carry with us throughout our lives.

That feeling of abjection then gets re-activated when we experience events that, however briefly, cause us to question the boundaries of our sense of self.

Often, abjection is what you are feeling when you witness or experience something so horrific that it causes you to throw up. A classic example is seeing a corpse, but abjection can also be caused by seeing faeces or open wounds. These visions all remind us, at some level, that our selfhood is contained in what Star Trek aliens would call “ugly bags of mostly water.” The only thing separating you from being a dead body is, well, almost nothing. When you feel the full weight of that sentence, or are confronted by its reality in the form of a corpse, the resulting nausea is “abjection”.

This one really interested us, Dear Reader, because we clearly remember an isolated incident in our early childhood where total despair overwhelmed us and we simply sobbed in utter existential horror for an hour. Since then, the incident has recurred very rarely, always at night, and always when fast asleep, and with no apparent specific stimuli. The depth of distress is simply inexplicable, and quite impossible to put into words – it is total loss and unassuageable grief. We have always assumed it related to a traumatic death in the family when we were two, but maybe it goes even earlier than that? It doesn’t happen all that often, (thank Goodness) so we are minded to ignore it. Then again, the idea of death also, if we are to be frank, distresses us unreasonably, so who knows …?

5. Sublimation

English: Sigmund Freud

Here’s looking at you, kid.

If you’ve ever taken a class where you learned about Sigmund Freud’s theories about sex, you probably have heard of sublimation. Freud believed that human emotions were sort of like a steam engine, and sexual desire was the steam. If you blocked the steam from coming out of one valve, pressure would build up and force it out of another. Sublimation is the process of redirecting your steamy desires from having naughty sex, to doing something socially productive like writing an article about psychology or fixing the lawnmower or developing a software program. (This is the theory behind the vast amounts of sport played at boarding schools, of course. Ed.)

Anyhow, if you’ve ever gotten your frustrations out by building something, or gotten a weirdly intense pleasure from creating an art project, you’re sublimating.

Other psychiatrists have refined the idea of sublimation, however. Following French theorist Jacques Lacan, they say that sublimation doesn’t have to mean converting sexual desire into another activity like building a house. It could just mean transferring sexual desire from one object to another — moving your affections from your boyfriend to your neighbour, for example.

6. Repetition compulsion

Ah, Freud. You gave us so many new feelings and psychological states to explore! The repetition compulsion is a bit more complicated than Freud’s famous definition — “the desire to return to an earlier state of things.” On the surface, a repetition compulsion is something you experience fairly often. It’s the urge to do something again and again. Maybe you feel compelled to always order the same thing at your favourite restaurant, or always take the same route home, even though there are other yummy foods and other easy ways to get home. Maybe your repetition compulsion is a bit more sinister, and you always feel the urge to date people who treat you like crap, over and over, even though you know in advance it will turn out badly (just like the last ten times).

Tagliatelle Carbonara is not sinister, Sigmund. It is an entirely rational and calm decision, made in light of all available evidence.

Tagliatelle Carbonara is not sinister, Sigmund. It is an entirely rational and calm decision, made in the light of all available evidence.

Freud was fascinated by this sinister side of the repetition compulsion, which is why he ultimately decided that the cause of our urge to repeat was directly linked to what he called “the death drive,” or the urge to cease existing. After all, he reasoned, the ultimate “earlier state of things” is a state of non-existence before we were born.

With each repetition, we act out our desire to go back to a pre-living state. Maybe that’s why so many people have the urge to repeat actions that are destructive, or unproductive.

Speaking personally, in the Wellthisiswhatithink sweatshop we do not wish to cease to exist.

Then again, we do find it difficult to ever order anything other than Tagliatelle Carbonara at Pacinos. However we think it is because that particular offering is, without question, the best pasta dish in the world.

7. Repressive de-sublimation

Political theorist Herbert Marcuse was a big fan of Freud and lived through the social upheavals of the 1960s. He wanted to explain how societies could go through periods of social liberation, like the countercultures and revolutions of the mid-twentieth century, and yet still remain under the (often strict) control of governments and corporations. How could the U.S. have gone through all those protests in the 60s but never actually overthrown the government? The answer, he decided, was a peculiar emotional state known as “repressive de-sublimation.” Remember, Freud said sublimation is when you route your sexual energies into something non-sexual.

Marcuse: whose best ever quote has to be "Free election of Masters does not abolish either the Masters or the Slaves".

Marcuse: whose best ever quote has to be “Free election of Masters does not abolish either the Masters or the Slaves”.

But Marcuse lived during a time when people were very much routing their sexual energies into sex — it was the sexual liberation era, when free love reigned.

People were busily de-sublimating. And yet they continued to be repressed by many other social strictures, coming from corporate life, the military, and the government.

Marcuse suggested that de-sublimation can actually help to solidify repression by acting as an escape valve for our desires so that we don’t attempt to liberate ourselves from other social restrictions.

A good example of repressive de-sublimation is the intense partying that takes place in college. Often, people in college do a lot of drinking, drugging and hooking up — while at the same time studying very hard and trying to get ready for jobs. Instead of questioning why we have to pay tons of money to engage in rote learning and get corporate jobs, we just obey the rules and have crazy drunken sex every weekend. Repressive de-sublimation!

Or as we like to put it when we are in table thumping mood about what is wrong with society, “Bread and circuses, sheeple, bread and circuses! It’s all bloody bread and circuses!” Er …. nurse, our pills please. The little pink and white ones.

8. Aporia

You know that feeling of crazy emptiness you get when you realise that something you believed isn’t actually true? And then things feel even more weird when you realise that actually, the thing you believed might be true and might not — and you’ll never really know? That’s aporia. The term comes from ancient Greek, but is also beloved of post-structuralist theorists like Jacques Derrida and Gayatri Spivak. The reason modern theorists love the idea of aporia is that it helps to describe the feeling people have in a world of information overload, where you are often bombarded with contradictory messages that seem equally true.

In other words, what, if anything, are we supposed to believe, any more? Quite.

9. Compersion

We’ve gotten into some pretty philosophical territory, so now it’s time to return to some good, old-fashioned internet memes. The word compersion was popularised by people in online communities devoted to polyamory and open relationships, in order to describe the opposite of feeling jealous when your partner dates somebody else. Though a monogamous person would feel jealous seeing their partner kiss another person, a non-monogamous person could feel compersion, a sense of joy in seeing their partner happy with another person. But monogamous people can feel compersion, too, if we extend the definition out to mean any situation where you feel the opposite of jealous. If a friend wins an award you hoped to win, you can still feel compersion (though you might be a little jealous too).

10. Group feelings

Some psychologists argue that there are some feelings we can only have as members of a group — these are called intergroup and intragroup feelings. Often you notice them when they are in contradiction with your personal feelings. For example, many people feel intergroup pride and guilt for things that their countries have done, even if they weren’t born when their countries did those things. Though you did not fight in a war, and are therefore not personally responsible for what happened, you share in an intergroup feeling of pride or guilt. Group feelings often cause painful contradictions. A person may have an intragroup feeling (from one group to another) that homosexuality is morally wrong. But that person may personally have homosexual feelings. Likewise, a person may have an intragroup feeling that certain races or religions are inferior to those of their group. And yet they may personally know very honourable, good people from those races and religions whom they consider friends. A group feeling can only come about through membership in a group, and isn’t something that you would ever have on your own. But that doesn’t mean group feelings are any less powerful than personal ones.

Anyway, hope you found all that fascinating and even helpful. We did.

(Much of this content – the intelligent stuff – was originally published on iO9.com)

Failing the mentally ill teenager – again – and yet another young life lost. I reproduce this story from the West Australian because – as with previous posts – it must be clear to everyone that we are simply not doing enough to help young people and we need to be kept reminded of the fact until we are.

Alysha and her Mum. They are both in our prayers today.


Look at the comment of the WA health minister at the end of this article. Simply incredible that she should refer to the raft of services available when we know for a fact that services are hopelessly inadequate anywhere. Minister – Ministers, everywhere, in Australia and overseas – while ONE child takes their own life because they can’t get the help they need, you have failed. Zero is the goal. Until then, you are failures. Simple as that.

Stop giving us excuses. Give us ACTION. ACTION THIS DAY!

A teenage girl clinging to life in a Perth hospital has sent a powerful message to the WA Government about the state of its mental health services in two videos she recorded before she attempted suicide.

Alysha Devereux, 17, is in a critical condition in intensive care at Joondalup Health Campus where doctors have told her devastated mother Roxanne Devereux they fear her daughter is permanently brain dead.

Alysha tried to take her life in the backyard of her Clarkson home three weeks ago.

She recorded the videos on her iPad, talking about her long battle with depression.

In the videos, she launched a damning criticism of the State’s mental health services, slating a lack of adequate care for adolescents with mental health problems.

“Too old for some places. Too young for other places. The mental health system is fucked, absolutely fucked. It’s like saying you can’t have a mental problem between 16 and 18 because there’s nowhere for us to put you,” she says.

“Tonight I’m going to die. I’ve had enough. Something needs to be done about the mental health system otherwise more people like me are going to die.”

Last week, a six-month review of WA’s mental health services found they were overstretched, under- resourced and fragmented.

Professor Bryant Stokes, who led the independent review, said more beds for adolescent mental health patients were urgently needed.

Joondalup Health Campus chief executive Kempton Cowan said Ms Devereux shared Alysha’s videos with him and he planned to pass them to the relevant ministers.

“The videos are heartbreaking and have affected me deeply,” he said. “My heart goes out to Alysha and her family at this very difficult time.”

Ms Devereux said Alysha’s mental health had deteriorated this year, but she could not get the help she needed. Alysha had attempted suicide twice in September and was taken to the Bentley Adolescent Unit, WA’s only secure psychiatric unit for adolescents, as an involuntary patient.

But Ms Devereux said her daughter was discharged the next day and when they went to their local child and adolescent mental health clinic, they were told the next available appointment to see a mental health specialist was three weeks away.

Before Alysha could go to that appointment, she attempted suicide again on October 29.

Mental Health Minister Helen Morton, who was told about the videos’ content yesterday, said she was shocked by Alysha’s circumstances and pointed to “a raft of services available”.

She urged parents and young people in distress to contact their GP or the mental health emergency response line, 1300 555 788 (metropolitan) or 1800 676 822 (Peel).