Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ye're all going to dieeee

Die, I tell you, die ... ye're all going to die, die a most horrible death ... die, yes you ... die. And so reports the BBC: "Many more people will die of heart problems as global warming continues, experts are warning," they tell us.
"Climate extremes of hot and cold will become more common and this will puts strain on people's hearts, doctors say ... A study in the British Medical Journal found that each 1C temperature drop on a single day in the UK is linked to 200 extra heart attacks."

"Heatwaves, meanwhile, increase heart deaths from other causes, as shown by the events in Paris during summer 2003."

The worst of it is that these people are serious and so is the BBC. They cannot see how stupid they look, how stupid they sound, and how stupid they are. In fact, they are beyond stupid. They are barking mad.

Amongst other things, I wonder if any of them know what a Saturated Adiabatic Lapse Rate is [The higher up you go, the colder it gets], and what thus happens when you drive from the coast (altitude 0ft) to my home, altitude a smidgin short of 1000ft? Are they really saying that this puts people at risk of a heart attack?

It is these people that are the real health hazard – they sap our life energy with their constant, sterile diet of scare stories. But if they are so in love with the idea of death, they should embrace it and save us leading them there. I am sick to the back teeth of them.


Mental health claims overblown

Comment from Australia by Dr Tanveer Ahmed, a consultant psychiatrist

There has never been a federal election where mental health has received such attention. Led by the charismatic and politically savvy Patrick McGorry, criticism of the government's lack of commitment to the sector has been ceaseless. He has been further aided by the advocacy group Get Up!.

The rise of mental health services to the heady heights of the national conversation is unprecedented, but not coincidental. The net of mental health has never been cast wider and at a time when almost all human distress, at least in the West, is transmitted through the language of psychology.

It underlines a fundamental shift in our beliefs about human nature, from a long held view that people were resilient to a current belief that we are inherently vulnerable to external circumstance. And once the diagnosis of illness is systematically offered as an interpretive guide for making sense of distress, people are more likely to perceive themselves as ill.

McGorry and the former adviser to the government on mental health who resigned in disgust, John Mendoza, have suggested in several interviews that one in two of us will suffer from a mental illness at some stage in our lives. According to such hyperbole, only the common cold can command a wider reach in medicine.

Criticism from the profession has been minimal, largely due to a belief that any extra money for the sector can only be a positive. But a psychiatrist in Adelaide, Jon Jureidini, has combined with a researcher to dispel the myths being espoused by eminent but nonetheless empire-building doctors.

Several of the claims being made are false and are being repeated by Get Up! despite being clearly informed of their errors.

According to the researchers, one-third of Australian suicides are not due to inappropriate discharges from hospital, as McGorry and Mendoza claim. The data they initially used was not related to a random sample from the community, but a group of community mental health patients. This oversight means their claims are out by a factor of 30 - seven preventable suicides out of 750 as opposed to 38 out of 113. Nor are 750,000 young Australians being denied desperately needed mental health services, the premise upon which Headspace and early intervention centres are based. McGorry's claims are based on a 2007 survey where a quarter of 16- to 24-year-olds experienced a mental disorder in the previous year but only 23 per cent of them accessed treatment.

But satisfying a checklist of symptoms does not correlate with a need for treatment, as the very architect of the diagnostic system within psychiatry's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Robert Spitzer, has said.

In one of the most heralded critiques of modern psychiatric diagnosis, Professors Wakefield and Horwitz, in their 2008 book The Loss of Sadness describe how context has been removed from what is called illness within mental health.

Instead, as long as people satisfy a criteria for impairment they can be considered ill. Grief-like or behaviourally disturbed reactions to significant losses, such as that of a job, divorce or bankruptcy, automatically qualify as illness. Only the death of a loved one is classified separately.

Much of the posturing around mental health funding does not mention the significant contribution of drug and alcohol abuse that overlaps with what passes for mental health, especially in the field of early psychosis. This is likely to be calculated, given drug use raises questions about morality and individual responsibility whereas mental health elicits a non-specific sympathy.

Psychiatric diagnosis has enormous cultural power in many other fields, from the marketing of antidepressant medications to preventive efforts in schools, general medical practice, disability claims and many legal proceedings. What might seem like abstract, technical issues concerning these definitions have important consequences for individuals and how their suffering is understood and addressed.

Psychiatry has always been the most political of medical disciplines and tends to produce the best doctor-politicians. McGorry is a shining example. While the sector could certainly do with more funds, the exorbitant claims regarding untreated mental illness are indicative of a blurring of the lines between illness and normal, human responses to adversity.


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