The Road Home
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The Road Home

I shave on Fridays. I do it with great anticipation. Fridays are the days I get to see my daughters. I shave so that when I kiss them they won’t get scratched, that when they cuddle up to me in front of a movie there is nothing that could disturb our proximity. Today, as I stood in front of the mirror, looking at my grey, exhausted pallor, I realized that this would be the last time I performed this ritual for the next month.

For now is the time to release that which has patiently paced, tightly wound deep inside of me. I can feel him straining against the conventions that bind.

He has the scent of The Great Depth.

With self discovery must come separation from the known, from that which I love most.
I cannot remain safe and grow.
Nor will I be able to teach my children to reach beyond themselves if I cannot do it myself.

I leave you with something called Tikkun Olam, a spiritual compass that I seek to reconnect with, a code I hope to impart to my children through my own lived practise.

To banish darkness with love
To bring healing to humankind
To battle ignorance by imparting wisdom
To overcome hatred by imparting love
To awaken the divine spark, even in the darkest of souls
To dissolve anger with kindness

With much love and courage,

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The evolution of psychiatric treatment.
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The evolution of psychiatric treatment.

Lobotomy, a procedure whereby a sharp instrument such as an icepick was inserted through holes that were drilled in the skull or through the eyesocket above the eye and were designed to sever the connections between the frontal lobe and the rest of the brain. Though thoroughly discredited by the 1970s, in the late 1930s through the 1950s, lobotomies became an increasingly common treatment in America for mental illness:

“Doctors at the time were using many strange methods to treat patients who were depressed or mentally ill. Psychiatrists used electrotherapy, where they ran varying amounts of electricity through people’s brains and bodies. They used hydrotherapy, where they gave their patients baths, douches, wet packs, steam, spritzers, and shots from hoses. … A German psychiatrist developed something called the ‘electric shower.’ The patient was fitted into a helmet that gave his brain a ‘shower’ of electricity. …

“These doctors weren’t just doing experiments in dark basements somewhere, hidden from the American Medical Association, or from the public eye. They were the subjects of articles in magazines and newspapers that applauded their efforts [including] Time, Newsweek, Scientific American, Science Digest and Nature.
“In 1935, visiting London, Dr. Walter Freeman witnessed a presentation on chimpanzees whose frontal lobes had been operated on. No one knew why exactly, but the monkeys all became passive and subdued after the operation. Another doctor attending the presentation was a Portuguese neurologist named Egas Moniz. He returned to Lisbon and in late 1935 began performing similar frontal lobe experiments on human beings. Moniz called the process ‘psychosurgery’ [it later became known as ‘lobotomy.’]

“Encouraged [by early experiments in this area] Freeman … conducted many more prefrontal lobotomies. In that early period, Freeman’s statistics said that out of his first 623 surgeries, 52 percent of the patients received ‘good’ results, 32 percent received ‘fair’ results, and 13 percent received ‘poor’ results. The remaining 3 percent died, but they weren’t included in the ‘poor’ results category. Freeman would later get closer to the truth when he admitted that his fatality rate was almost 15 percent. …

“Many of Freeman’s patients were so damaged by the surgery that they needed to be taught how to eat and use the bathroom again. Some never recovered. One of Freeman’s most famous patients was Rosemary Kennedy, sister of future president John F. Kennedy. Rosemary was born slightly retarded, but she lived an almost normal life until she was twenty-three. Then Freeman went to work on her. He performed a prefrontal lobotomy in 1941. Rosemary wound up in a Wisconsin mental hospital, where she stayed until her death, more than sixty years later. …

“The news coverage was universally positive. … The New York Times ran a story applauding Freeman’s success rate, which their reporter put at 65 percent. … Freeman’s lobotomy might have gotten popular without the support of the press. America’s hospitals were flooded with mental patients. By the late 1940s, there were more than a million mental cases in hospitals or asylums. More than 55 percent of all patients in American hospitals were mental cases. One study reported that the population of mental patients in American hospitals was growing by 80 percent a year.

“There was no real treatment for these people. They were often drugged, shackled, kept in straitjackets or locked in rubber rooms. Doctors were able to keep them from harming themselves or others, but they had a cure rate of about zero. Besides, keeping them in hospitals was expensive. Freeman offered a solution. His motto was, ‘Lobotomy gets them home!’ Directors of mental institutions heard that loud and clear. One of Freeman’s colleagues said that a procedure that would send 10 percent of mental patients home would save the American taxpayer $1 million a day. Freeman claimed a success rate well above 10 percent. Most hospitals and institutions welcomed him and his lobotomy.”

My Lobotomy
Author: Howard Dully
Publisher: Broadway Books
Copyright 2007 by Howard Dully and Charles Fleming
Pages 63-69

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Understanding the link between emotional abuse and psychosis.

Understanding the link between emotional abuse and psychosis.

Today’s selection — Psychosis in children comes from parenting, not genetics:

“In an astonishing admission in the Guardian last month, Robert Plomin, the country’s leading genetic psychologist, admitted of the Human Genome Project’s quest for genes for psychological traits of all kinds: ‘I’ve been looking for these genes for 15 years and I don’t have any.’

“On the other side of the equation, the evidence for the role of maltreatment in causing emotional distress in general, and emotional abuse and neglect in particular, has become overwhelming. This applies as much to the extreme disturbance of psychosis (mostly schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) as to more common problems such as depression and anxiety.

“A definitive analysis of the 41 best studies into the impact of childhood adversity on the risk of psychosis (mostly schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) was published in 2012. It broke down the role of different kinds of maltreatment. Emotional abuse meant exposure to behaviour such as harshness and name-calling from parents. Emotional neglect meant lack of love and responsiveness. Overall, in order of impact, emotional abuse increased the risk of psychosis the most (by 3.4 times, physical abuse and emotional neglect did so by 2.9, sexual abuse and bullying by peers by 2.4).

“That emotional abuse is more damaging than sexual and physical abuse may seem surprising, although they tend to go together. One study found that the emotionally abused were 12 times more likely to be schizophrenic than the general population (compared with six times for the physically abused and twice as likely for the sexually abused). Another study followed adolescents for 15 years and found that over a third became schizophrenic if both parents were hostile, critical and intrusive, compared with none where only one parent was or neither were. In his definitive book, Models of Madness, John Read, a clinical psychologist at Liverpool University, shows that in the 10 studies testing the matter, the more extreme the childhood adversity, the greater the risk of adult psychosis. The results are similar for the number of adversities. In one large study, those subjected to five or more adversities were 193 times more likely to suffer psychosis than those with none.

“Similar findings come from studies of less extreme emotional distress. In the definitive one, which followed 180 children from infancy to the age of 18, 90% of those who suffered early maltreatment qualified for a mental illness. Emotional neglect under the age of two was a critical predictor.”

with thanks to act

Author: Oliver James
Title: “Emotional child abuse has to be banned – the science backs up our instincts”
Publisher: The Guardian
Date: 3/31/14

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