By Julia McKinnell - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - 0 Comments
Or your doctor wants to have sex or your caregiver weasels her way into your will…
Forensic psychiatrist Ronald Schouten defines an “almost psychopath” as someone who has an unusual amount of difﬁculty knowing how to treat people. “Long before you get to the full-blown diagnosis (of psychopathy), there’s lots of bad stuff that goes on.”
Schouten, who has degrees in law and medicine, assesses “almost psychopaths” in his daily work. He’s co-authored a guidebook, along with former defence attorney Jim Silver, called Almost a Psychopath: Do I (or Does Someone I Know) Have a Problem with Manipulation and Lack of Empathy? It helps identify the “almost psychopath” in your midst, whether it’s your boss, doctor or caregiver.
Schouten estimates 10 to 15 per cent of people exhibit psychopathic traits, “traits that may actually help an individual become a well-regarded member of society,” the authors write. “A superficially charming and engaging personality combined with a ruthless willingness to do ‘whatever it takes to get the job done’ can be extremely useful in high-stakes pressure-filled environments.”
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
It’s seems to be a truth universally acknowledged in the scientific literature that women are the sadder sex. Women are twice as likely as men to suffer depression, and recent reports out of Canada add to the body of evidence on the collective female funk. According to Public Health Agency of Canada researchers, suicide rates are on the rise among teenage girls while they are dropping among young men. Another recent survey of 26,000 students across Canada found a higher prevalence of “emotional problems” among girls. In particular, while girls and boys reported feelings of depression at about the same rate in grade six, by grade 10, an inequality emerges: Thirty-eight per cent of girls reported feeling blue on a weekly basis, compared to 25 per cent of boys.
As one epidemiologist summed it up for Science-ish, “There is a saying among researchers at the population level: ‘Women live longer but they suffer more.’”
Theories about this gender gap in depression abound. There’s the biological explanation: Some say swinging sex hormones during a woman’s “window of vulnerability”—or her reproductive years—explain why females are twice as likely as males to develop depression starting around puberty. As this review put it, “Women are at a particularly high risk for depression during periods of hormonal fluctuation, such as during the premenstrual period, pregnancy, the postpartum period, the transition to menopause, and the early postmenopausal years.”
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 7:40 PM - 0 Comments
UPDATE: A French court ruled against Sophie Robert on Thursday, ordering her to remove the offending segments from “Le Mur” and pay about $45,000 in various fines.
“For more than 30 years, the international scientific community has acknowledged that autism is a neurologic disorder… In France, psychiatry, being very largely dominated by psychoanalysis, ignores these discoveries.” The Wall documentary.
Culture writes on illness. That’s evident in the battle around a French documentary about autism entitled “Le Mur” or “The Wall.” Today, a court in the northern city Lille will decide whether the film, released online last year, should be censored at the request of psychoanalysts in the country, since it essentially charges that their approach to the disorder ignores decades of scientific progress. Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 2:26 PM - 80 Comments
Here’s the lede of a science story from Saturday’s Winnipeg Free Press:
WINNIPEG — Depression and substance abuse plague about half of American women who reported having an abortion, according to a new University of Manitoba study.
The study, published in the current issue of the Canadian Journal of Psychology, suggests there’s an association between mental disorders and abortion…
Eager to investigate this shocking headline claim—the Edmonton Journal, picking up the story, literally gave it the headline “Depression or drug abuse found in half of women who aborted”—I set out to find the study. This presented something of a problem, since there has not been a “Canadian Journal of Psychology” since 1993. I spent a little while rifling through Canadian Psychology and the Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology until a helpful reader on Twitter clued me in. Yes, you guessed it: it can be found in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. First place I should have looked, really.
That’s an understandable mistake. It’s a bit more of a problem that the first sentence of the article—an article that includes a warning from the lead author to the effect that it is “important the study is not misinterpreted”—is totally false. Because of, y’know, misinterpretation.
The paper, entitled “Associations Between Abortion, Mental Disorders, and Suicidal Behaviour in a Nationally Representative Sample”, does what it says on the tin: the data are taken from interviews with a demographically representative subset of the U.S.’s National Comorbidity Survey Replication project. It is hard to know what numbers the reporter added or multiplied or pulled out of a hat to reach the conclusion that “Depression and substance abuse plague about half of American women who reported having an abortion.” (I spoke to the lead author of the study, and she can’t figure it out either.) But a good guess would be that she looked at this section from the article’s main chart—
—and simply added together the estimated lifetime incidence of depression among women who had had an abortion (29.3%) and the lifetime incidence of substance-use disorders (24.6%). It will probably have occurred to you that there might be some overlap there between depression and substance abuse, which go together like poached eggs and hollandaise. You don’t need a Ph.D. to know that the depression group is likely to contain almost all of the women in the substance-abuse group.
And this naïve math (which is hardly attributable to a failure to grasp hyper-advanced statistics) is compounded by the wording of the offending sentence, which doesn’t say that “some percentage of abortion recipients have, at some point before or after getting an abortion, experienced depression or substance abuse or both.” It uses present tense, unjustifiably implying that all the women in question are plagued by both problems now.
This mess is already being picked up, “carelessly” garbled even further, and circulated around the globe by pro-lifers, despite the personal entreaties of the scientist who helped the newspaper with its reporting and the many, many methodological and interpretive caveats in the original study. This kind of thing is exactly why a lot of scientists hate talking to reporters. Nor does it make sincere research into therapeutic abortion any easier. The UM study can’t be used to attribute psychiatric morbidity to abortion, but it could be used by fair-minded pro-lifers (let’s assume for the sake of argument that there were some) to raise questions about abortion’s place in our society and argue for a research program.
Oh, I know: we’re a hundred years away from that kind of discussion being possible. But the inadvertent propagation of urban legends only pushes that day further into the future.